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23001  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Something big is brewing on: October 17, 2008, 01:41:11 PM
Ron "Night Owl" Gabriel!!!  NO has been with us for several years now, and does our DVDs, our promo clips, and is directing our documentary (working title "Tao of the Dog")   Please note that this is a ROUGH edit-- he almost didn't want to show it to me because it was so ruff.
23002  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: October 17, 2008, 01:04:15 PM
A point which I have been trying to make with GM on our SCE!  Come join me on the thread!

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

Acorn Crackup

As news that the FBI is launching an investigation of its voter registration activities hit yesterday, the left-wing housing lobby Acorn received another blow. The group's dirty laundry will be aired at a board meeting today in New Orleans as its national board debates the merits of a lawsuit filed against Acorn by two of its own board members.

Karen Inman and Marcel Reid are the Acorn directors demanding that audits and other financial records of Acorn be turned over to them so they can complete an internal management review. They claim the records will show the organization is rife with financial irregularities created during the 38-year leadership of Wade Rathke, its founder.

Mr. Rathke left Acorn earlier this year after it was revealed his brother Dale had embezzled some $1 million from the group and that Mr. Rathke had concealed that scandal from his own board for eight years.

But Ms. Inman says the lawsuit is about far more than gaining access to financial records. She held a news conference yesterday and expressed concern that Wade Rathke continues to run Acorn from behind the scenes even though Acorn's board voted over the summer to sever all ties with him.

The internal divisions inside Acorn have led several organizers to form a dissident group called Speaking Truth To Power. The dissidents called on Barack Obama this week to support their efforts at reforming the organization. Mr. Obama has gone to great lengths to distance himself from the roles he played as a top trainer and attorney for Acorn during the 1990s.

-- John Fund

McCain's Missed Opportunity: Exposing Obama's Welfarism

This week's Washington Post/ABC News poll contains a disturbing finding for Sen. John McCain. As the Post's own report puts it: "[Barack] Obama's pitch to the middle class on taxes is beginning to sink in; nearly as many [voters] said they think their taxes would go up under a McCain administration as under an Obama presidency, and more see their burdens easing with the Democrat in the White House."

When Republicans aren't even winning the tax question, you know it's probably going to be a bad year for the GOP.

At Wednesday night's debate, Mr. McCain went hard after Sen. Obama's plan to raise tax rates on the wealthy and on businesses, and may have done himself some good. A CBS News post-debate poll found 64% of viewers thought Mr. Obama would raise their taxes versus 50% who thought Mr. McCain would. What Mr. McCain failed to do, however, was rebut Mr. Obama's claim he would cut taxes for "95% of working families," the core of his pitch to the middle class.

As the Wall Street Journal and others have pointed out, this claim depends on including "refundable" tax credits -- i.e., tax money taken from some voters and given to others. When Mr. Obama talks about "sharing the wealth," he means it in the old-fashioned redistributionist sense -- but he calls it "tax cuts." Sufficing to burst this pretense would have been a simple question: "Mr. Obama, what rate would you cut working-class families' taxes to?" Mr. Obama would have had to explain he was really talking about sending income-leveling checks to large numbers of households -- something most voters would better understand as "welfare."

Mr. McCain turned in a solid debate performance but missed an opportunity to dismantle Mr. Obama's biggest selling point to voters on taxes.

-- Blake Dvorak, RealClearPolitics.com

Ms. Information

Why are Democrats trying to cover up their sweetheart relationships with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? And why does the media allow it?

This past week I appeared on Bill Maher's HBO show Real Time with Representative Maxine Waters of California. Ms. Waters fibbed on the air about her connections to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

It all began when Mr. Maher tried to the lay blame for the credit meltdown on inadequate regulation of Wall Street. I pointed out that among the biggest failures this year were Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and that Democrats had protected them against tougher regulation. I said to Ms. Waters: "You said [the system for regulating the mortgage giants] wasn't broke five years ago at a Congressional hearing, and you took $15,000 of campaign contributions from Fannie and Freddie."

Responded Ms. Waters: "That is a lie and I challenge you to find $15,000 that I took from Fannie PAC."

Naturally, on hearing such a categorical insistence from Ms. Waters that my facts were wrong, I double-checked the numbers on the Center for Responsive Politics' OpenSecrets.org Web site. CRP had listed all the political contributions from the Fannie Mae Pac after the federal bailout of Fannie and Freddie late in the summer. Sure enough, the report confirms that Maxine Waters was recipient of $15,000 in Fannie Mae Pac dollars since 1989. Altogether, some 354 current members of Congress had received a total of $4.8 million from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

This has become a pattern of congressional Democrats, who deny their incestuous relationship with Fannie and Freddie, even when it means strangling the truth on national TV. Ms. Waters said to me during and after the show that she had wanted to regulate Fannie. But here's what she said in a 2004 congressional hearing: "Through nearly a dozen hearings, we were frankly trying to fix something that wasn't broke. Mr. Chairman, we do not have a crisis at Freddie Mac, and particularly at Fannie Mae, under the outstanding leadership of Franklin Raines."

Imagine the number of times network news would be playing the clip of a Republican congresswoman caught lying on national TV. Ms. Waters no doubt felt her allies in most of the major media outlets would protect her. And the real scandal here is that, regrettably, she was right.

-- Stephen Moore

Quote of the Day

"If you talk to most of the scientists who are ardent about the issue, they have a political or ideological worldview that says mankind needs to stop putting CO2 into the atmosphere. It's a religious belief and it's widespread in the scientific community. . . . This wouldn't be important if it weren't for the policy implications. The direction we're going on policy is going to kill millions of people for no good reason. As it is environmentalists have already killed millions of people for no good reason, with the DDT ban" -- climate scientist Roy Spencer, a team leader on NASA's precipitation-monitoring Aqua satellite, in an interview on the San Francisco Chronicle's Web site.

Will the Real John McCain Please Stand Up?

John McCain often comes across as stodgy and stiff. Well, last night, at the nonpartisan Alfred E. Smith Memorial Dinner in New York, the senator brought down the house with his hilarious remarks on the election so far. With pitch-perfect delivery and impeccable timing, who knew that a white-tie affair would actually loosen him up?

On his penchant to overhaul his campaign staff, Mr. McCain self-mockingly announced that, once again, he's replaced his entire team of senior advisors, this time by one man: Joe the Plumber. Joe's concerned about getting hit by an Obama tax increase, Mr. McCain continued, because he recently signed "a very lucrative contract with a wealthy couple to handle the work on all seven of their houses " -- a shot at the McCains and their controversial housing assets.

On his relationship with Barack Obama, who was seated nearby, Mr. McCain revealed that while he likes to call his "friend and colleague . . . 'That One,'" Mr. Obama "even has a pet name for me: George Bush."

And in recognizing his underdog status, he lamented that "his friend " Chris Matthews of MSNBC was not a McCain supporter. "We've talked about it, and I've told him: 'Maverick I can do, but Messiah is above my paygrade.'"

Still, Mr. McCain said there was much cause for hope: "Even in this room full of proud Manhattan Democrats, I can't shake that feeling that some people here are pulling for me. I'm delighted to see you here tonight, Hillary!"

Like many other McCain speeches, this one was given from behind a podium and read from notes. Yet the crowd clearly loved him, as you could tell by the extended applause. If only every stop along the campaign trail was an Al Smith memorial dinner.

23003  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: ACORN on: October 17, 2008, 01:00:48 PM
I'll need to read the Supreme's decision-- it may rest more on precedural issues, or federalism issues-- certainly the AP report cited here doesn't even attempt to address more than win/lose.

ACORN has been on my radar screen a LONG time for massive, systemic registration/fraud.

Here's this from PD WSJ

Acorn Crackup

As news that the FBI is launching an investigation of its voter registration activities hit yesterday, the left-wing housing lobby Acorn received another blow. The group's dirty laundry will be aired at a board meeting today in New Orleans as its national board debates the merits of a lawsuit filed against Acorn by two of its own board members.

Karen Inman and Marcel Reid are the Acorn directors demanding that audits and other financial records of Acorn be turned over to them so they can complete an internal management review. They claim the records will show the organization is rife with financial irregularities created during the 38-year leadership of Wade Rathke, its founder.

Mr. Rathke left Acorn earlier this year after it was revealed his brother Dale had embezzled some $1 million from the group and that Mr. Rathke had concealed that scandal from his own board for eight years.

But Ms. Inman says the lawsuit is about far more than gaining access to financial records. She held a news conference yesterday and expressed concern that Wade Rathke continues to run Acorn from behind the scenes even though Acorn's board voted over the summer to sever all ties with him.

The internal divisions inside Acorn have led several organizers to form a dissident group called Speaking Truth To Power. The dissidents called on Barack Obama this week to support their efforts at reforming the organization. Mr. Obama has gone to great lengths to distance himself from the roles he played as a top trainer and attorney for Acorn during the 1990s.

-- John Fund

23004  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Civil Affairs Team 745 on: October 17, 2008, 10:26:53 AM
Partriot Post

Profiles of valor: Civil Affairs Team 745
United States Army Sgt. 1st Class Drew Kimmey, Capt. Stephen Ward and Staff Sgt. Carlo Alcazar, members of Civil Affairs Team 745, were recently recognized for their daring rescue of a Special Forces team leader during an Afghanistan mission last November. CA Team 745 was stationed at Firebase Cobra in Oruzgan, Afghanistan, alongside special operations detachments from the 3rd Special Forces Group, as well as personnel from the Afghan National Army and National Police. The teams left to provide humanitarian aid to a nearby village, only to discover that the village had already been evacuated. Ward noted that “the buildings had locks and barricaded doors, which was a clear indication that the village wasn’t abandoned, but had been turned into a defendable position.” Indeed, 300 Taliban fighters soon engaged the teams in a firefight.

After an hour of fighting, two Army disabled vehicles were pulled to the rear of the fight, leaving the ground forces commander in front of coalition lines, pinned down in a vulnerable building. Ward, Alcazar and Kimmey used their vehicle to get to the commander for a rescue but crashed into an enemy position, rendering their vehicle immobile. Ward and Alcazar were momentarily knocked unconscious in the crash. When they recovered, Alcazar began reloading ammunition belts so that Kimmey, the gunner, could continue pounding enemy fighters. Ward directed the effort to reach the ground commander under Kimmey’s cover fire. The unit remained under “continual, accurate and effective” enemy fire but managed to rescue the commander nonetheless. Once out of the building, team 745 stripped their vehicle to prevent the enemy from obtaining anything and ran beside a Special Forces vehicle for cover, there being no room for them on the truck.

For their bravery and heroic acts that day, Sgt. Kimmey, Capt. Ward and Staff Sgt. Alcazar were each awarded the Bronze Star with Combat “V” for valor.
23005  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post 2 on: October 17, 2008, 10:24:22 AM
Part Two


BUSINESS & ECONOMY
Big Brother turns banker
“The government’s role will be limited and temporary... These measures are not intended to take over the free market but to preserve it.” So promised President Bush, the day after Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson outlined plans to “invest” $250 billion to bail out the U.S. banking system. This measure, part of the recently enacted $700-billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TRAP, er, TARP), is ostensibly designed to encourage banks to resume lending to each other and to customers. In reality, however, the bailout legislation will reward poor banking practices as an unintended consequence of government attempts to supervene natural economic laws. Rather than replaying this tired song, shouldn’t we instead hold accountable those most responsible for creating the subprime bubble by making them bear the economic brunt of its bursting?

At the heart of this debacle is a fundamental disconnect between views of the role of government. One the one hand is the view that government is a guarantor, not a provider, of rights, and that people should have the same opportunity to succeed—or fail. On the other is the view that government is a grantor of “rights” —privileges, really—and that those privileges should be granted to “even out” unfair disparities existing between haves and have-nots. TARP is shaping up to be a tool of the latter view, unfortunately.

Adding a socialist tint to this measure, Paulson explained that participation in this “investment” program is mandatory. That’s right: the nation’s nine largest banks must accept the government’s largess, independent of financial standing. This gives rise to the maxim, “One person soils his pants, and now everyone’s gotta wear diapers.” Given that since before the beginning of the subprime meltdown free market principles have been compassionately, conservatively thrown under the bus, this maneuver should come as no surprise. Still, those charged with torchbearer duties should display a much firmer grasp of principles informing the Party of Reagan than to promulgate such positions. Worse still, the terms “limited” and “temporary” are wholly unrecognizable in the government’s lexicon. If these measures are indeed “not intended to take over the market,” why, then, is the U.S. government establishing a very significant ownership stake in our banking system? According to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s Wall Street Journal op-ed piece, the reason is to “restore more normal market functioning.” Well, okay then!

But wait a minute: isn’t government intervention in “normal market functioning” what got us into this mess in the first place? So are we now willing to believe that even more intervention into complex financial markets by individuals and entities with demonstrably bad track records of managing the governmental levers on America’s economic engine will yield better results? Certainly, government’s role in setting the stage for this crisis—from removing the wall between residential mortgage and equity markets, to mandating mark-to-market accounting, to poor oversight and bad practices of government sponsored entities (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—cannot be overstated.

Maybe there’s a lesson here. The Great Depression wasn’t “great” because of evil bankers, stockbrokers or investors. What made the worst economic meltdown in U.S. history so bad was pervasive, prolonged government meddling in economic markets, accompanied by shockingly poor governmental monetary policy. As one of the foremost scholars on the financial aspects of the Great Depression, Bernanke ought to know this well. So rather than championing “help” from one of the most obviously culpable players in the Great Depression, perhaps Bernanke would be better served by taking a page from studies with which—ideally, at least—he’s already familiar.

For a comprehensive look at the current economic crisis, don’t miss Mark Alexander’s essays: Economics 101: Crisis of Confidence (a comprehensive but quick reading analysis of the current financial crisis), Bailout v. Workout—The continuing crisis (an update on the crisis), and Drive-by Observations on the continuing crisis (a supplement of current opinion on the continuing crisis, updated regularly).

Income Redistribution: ‘Spread the wealth’
Joe Wurzelbacher, now simply known as “Joe the Plumber,” has been thrust into the spotlight as “everyman” representing the people who want to live the American Dream—all because he questioned Barack Obama about his tax plan at a rally this week. He didn’t believe that Obama was truthful when he stated in the second presidential debate, “Only a few percent of small businesses make more than $250,000 a year. So the vast majority of small businesses would get a tax cut under my plan.” But Obama reassured him, “It’s not that I want to punish your success. I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they’ve got a chance for success too. I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.” That’s known around our humble shop as “trickle up poverty.”

In fact, most people who taste success the hard way, through entrepreneurship, would indeed be hit with extra expenses by Obama’s government—and not just in higher taxes, but also by being forced to provide health insurance to employees. Further, the definition of “small business” varies by type: according to the Small Business Administration a “small business” can have up to $33 million in receipts, easily exceeding the $250,000 threshold.

One of Barack’s promises, that 95 percent of taxpayers are promised a tax cut, is a grand piece of misinformation that would make Josef Stalin proud. Forty percent of Americans already pay no income tax whatsoever and thus would simply be the beneficiaries of increased income redistribution. It’s yet another chance for Democrats to ensnare people into government dependence. And the $250,000 figure is only for couples. Individuals would have to make only $200,000 to be slapped with higher taxes. Finally, lest we forget, Obama has promised to “roll back the Bush tax cuts.” Translation: higher taxes for everyone, rich and poor alike.

As for Joe, his fame has earned him the scrutiny of the Leftmedia for daring to question their messiah. The New York Times carried a front-page hit piece about him today. So it’s official: The Times has now spent more time investigating the plumber from Toledo than they have the senator from Illinois.

 

From the ‘Non Compos Mentis’ File
The rigors of campaigning are taking their toll on Joe Biden. Talking about the economy this week, the Delaware Democrat said, “Look, John [McCain]’s last-minute economic plan does nothing to tackle the number-one job facing the middle class, and it happens to be, as Barack says, a three-letter word: jobs. J-O-B-S, jobs.” At least he didn’t say anything totally ridiculous like claiming to campaign in all 57 states.

As the old saying goes, there are three kinds of people in the world—those who can count, and those who can’t.

Nobel Prize devalued again
Whatever shred of dignity remained attached to the Nobel Prize following Yasser Arafat’s win in 1994, Jimmy Carter’s win in 2002 and Al Gore’s win in 2007 further eroded with Paul Krugman’s receipt of this year’s Nobel Prize in economics. Krugman, a Princeton University Professor, New York Times columnist and former Enron adviser, purportedly won for his trade theories—which advocate subsidizing some industries to maintain international competition. This used to be known as mercantilism. But the timing of the Nobel committee’s decision, just three weeks before the election, and the fact that over the past several years Krugman has become far better known for his scathing criticisms of the Bush administration than for his economic activity, more than suggest political motivations are at play.

In fact, Krugman the pundit is so far removed from Krugman the economist that investment officer and National Review Online contributing editor Donald Luskin noted that this is the first year the Prize has ever been awarded posthumously.

Although it’s remotely possible that Krugman—a self-proclaimed “unabashed defender of the welfare state” who has said that his “economic theories have no doubt been influenced by my relationship with my cats” —deserved the prize, it’s more likely the committee was continuing its pattern of selecting winners based not on merit but on degree of anti-Bush sentiment. Either that, or someone on the committee really likes cats.

Let us know what you think: Click here to comment on this section
 

CULTURE
Judicial Benchmarks: CT court redefines marriage
As California voters prepare to weigh in on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court of Connecticut took a cue from the California Supreme Court and extended the right of marriage to same-sex couples. The 4-3 ruling is little more than typical liberal legislating from the bench.

Like California, Connecticut had already enacted a civil-union statute that bestowed upon same-sex couples all of the same legal rights that marriage provides. Illustrating their keen sense of the obvious, the majority’s opinion stated in part, “It is abundantly clear that preserving the institution of marriage as a union between a man and a woman is the overriding reason why same-sex couples have been barred from marrying in this state.” Unfortunately, however, that bit of sanity had no bearing on their eventual decision. “Interpreting our state constitutional provisions in accordance with firmly established equal protection principles leads inevitably to the conclusion that gay persons are entitled to marry the otherwise qualified same sex partner of their choice,” Justice Richard Palmer wrote in the majority opinion. “To decide otherwise would require us to apply one set of constitutional principles to gay persons and another to all others.”

Justice Peter Zarella, in the minority opinion, wrote, “The ancient definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman has its basis in biology, not bigotry.” He added that if that is to be changed, it should be “a decision for the legislature or the people of the state and not this court.” What a concept.

 

Village Academic Curriculum: Chicago schools
The Chicago Board of Education is set to vote next week on whether to approve a “School of Social Justice Pride Campus” to provide a “safe haven” for homosexual, transgender and bisexual students. “It is not going to be a ‘gay high school,’ but... it is meant to target kids who feel they have been victims of bullying for their sexual orientation or perceived orientation,” said an executive officer with the school system. Officials cite studies showing that students harassed because of sexual orientation do not perform as well in school as their heterosexual peers and have higher dropout rates. Since those studies were conducted by groups that advocate homosexual rights and their allies in the Chicago School district itself, we’re sure they are completely balanced.

In addition to providing counseling, the Pride Campus’s curriculum would include history and literature topics on sexual identity. In other words, the school board is promoting the homosexual agenda by normalizing such behavior through segregation and indoctrination. The students “won’t be told forthrightly about the risks of homosexual behavior... They’ll be confirmed in their confusion, and they won’t get the other side,” said Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality.

As noted in Mark Alexander’s essay, [“Gender Identity, The Homosexual Agenda and the Christian Response,”] children who are raised in homes without fathers are at a much greater risk for sexually deviant behaviors, and that “currently, only one in three children—and only one in five inner-city children—is in a home with a mother and father.” Could it be that the families of Chicago students would fall into that category? While we view homosexuality as a moral issue, the liberal agenda will continue to whittle it down to a biological destiny, one which special schools will help nurture and taxpayers will fund.

Regulatory Commissars: Car seats
Never mind mortgage and banking regulations. Since the 1970s, government has all but taken over one industry, regulating it to the hilt—and beyond. Whereas merely 38 years ago, the car seat industry enjoyed relative government-free obscurity, in 1971, the feds assumed the role of Super Nanny and issued the first standard for child safety seats. It’s been a bumpy ride ever since.

Today, every state as well as the District of Columbia has some type of law requiring car seat use, and it doesn’t end there. In Maine, children over 40 pounds must travel in a booster seat until they are 80 pounds or eight years old, whichever comes last. In Massachusetts, kids out of boosters must ride seat-belted in the back seat until they are 12, and parents violating these laws may garner fines of up to $500.

Still, there’s more. Deeming parents unqualified to install their own car seats, governments encourage professional installation at an inspection center, such as a police or fire station—and if your seat has reached its expiration date, an inspector may refuse to install it.

There’s no doubt car seats are important safety devices, but this mountain of mandates leads us to wonder, who’s getting a boost from car seat manufacturers?



And last...
At last, God can rest easy. He is no longer the target of a lawsuit in Nebraska where state senator Ernie Chambers filed his case in September of last year. Chambers, a Democrat and self-identified agnostic, was suing God for a permanent injunction preventing the Almighty from wreaking havoc and causing harm through such “acts of God” as tornados and earthquakes. The court’s Judge Marlon Polk tossed out the case, with prejudice, however, declaring the suit could not go forward because Chambers could produce no proof that he had served the Deity with papers informing of the lawsuit. Chambers took issue with the ruling, saying, “The court itself acknowledges the existence of God. A consequence of that acknowledgment is a recognition of God’s omniscience.” Therefore, Chambers said, “Since God knows everything, God has notice of this lawsuit.” We won’t argue with that, though Judge Polk was not persuaded. Perhaps he took the command “judge not” a little too literally.

Veritas vos Liberabit—Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus, et Fidelis! Mark Alexander, Publisher, for The Patriot’s editors and staff. (Please pray for our Patriot Armed Forces standing in harm’s way around the world, and for their families—especially families of those fallen Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, who granted their lives in defense of American liberty.)

23006  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post on: October 17, 2008, 10:23:04 AM
On cross-examination
“Reviewing the polls printed in The New York Times and The Washington Post in the last month of every presidential election since 1976, I found the polls were never wrong in a friendly way to Republicans. When the polls were wrong, which was often, they overestimated support for the Democrat, usually by about 6 to 10 points.” —Ann Coulter

Let us know what you think: Click here to comment on this section
 

GOVERNMENT & POLITICS
Campaign watch: Debate number three
Apparently, John McCain doesn’t think this campaign is over—he came out swinging in Wednesday night’s debate. McCain hit Obama hard on his alliances with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers and the voter registration front ACORN (more on that below). Obama did his best to shrug off the charges, but we think they are beginning to stick. Issues of character are indeed important, contrary to Obama’s wish to focus on “the issues.”

On the issues, McCain pounded Obama on taxes, citing “Joe the Plumber” (more on that below, as well) and pointing out that Obama is lying about just how many Americans will see their taxes go up under an Obama administration with a Democrat-controlled Congress. Obama responded with more class warfare. “[W]e both want to cut taxes, the difference is who we want to cut taxes for,” he said. In other words, Barack Obama decides who makes too much.

One of the highlights of the night was McCain’s retort to Obama regarding comparisons to President George W. Bush: “I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago.”

Of course, the topper was an inadvertent slip by McCain. During one exchange, he referred to Obama as “Senator Government.” McCain noted, “This really gets down to the fundamental difference in our philosophies. If you notice that in all of this proposal, Senator government wants—Senator Obama wants government to do the job.” We’d say that pretty much sums it up. Obama’s solutions always seem to grow the size of government.

It remains to be seen where this debate puts the poll numbers, but one thing we have noticed is that when Obama’s poll numbers go up, the market goes down, and vice versa. Maybe there’s something to that.

 

Inside ACORN
The Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN) is an organization that is tailor-made for Barack Obama. It is community based, it is ultra-liberal, and it will do and say just about anything to achieve its political ends. ACORN has drawn questions regarding its operating practices since its inception in 1970, but now the 350,000-member (their number) organization has been caught up in a nationwide scandal for its illegal voter registration practices.

In recent weeks there have been myriad charges filed against the organization from all around the country. In Las Vegas, ACORN offices were raided after complaints over thousands of fraudulent registration applications were submitted by ACORN workers and volunteers. The Michigan Secretary of State is on record noting that ACORN submitted “a sizeable number of duplicate and fraudulent applications.” Other states that are taking action against ACORN include New Mexico, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Missouri and Indiana—not coincidentally, these are all battleground states. Furthermore, the FBI has opened an investigation into the group.

The scope of the fraud clearly shows that it is a systematic campaign. And it is no GOP witch-hunt as the knee-jerk leftist reaction fired off by the media suggested in recent days. A look at just who is filing the complaints and pressing the charges readily demonstrates that the outrage is nonpartisan. These crimes are endemic to the organization as a whole and undermine our republic. The ACORN organization must be held accountable from top to bottom.

ACORN often hires urban poor and recently released felons to register voters. In some cases, they don’t even pay minimum wage—yet another example of the grand hypocrisy of the “mother” organization, but that’s another can of worms. Only so many Democrats can be registered in any given area, and when that limit is reached, ACORN’s minions sign up dead people, the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive line and Mickey Mouse. Homeless people are next, and since they stay in various places, they can vote once for each non-home. Given the level of recidivism among felons, we can only assume that ACORN’s felonious fellows do not experience a guilty conscience for committing such a “chump” crime.

Millions of us “simple-minded” citizens wonder how an organization that flouts our sacred right to vote and shamelessly works to undermine our institutions can continue executing costly programs and “getting out the vote.” Who pays for it all? Answer: We do. Liberal politicians like Barack Obama and his Demo colleagues benefit directly from ACORN’s antics, so, of course, they’re going to ensure their public funding. And now Obama—who has trained ACORN staffers, served as the organization’s lawyer, and recently contributed an eye-popping $832,000 to its coffers—wants to disavow their ties. As Bob Dole once asked, “Where’s the outrage?”

This week’s ‘Alpha Jackass’ award
“There is no question that western Pennsylvania is a racist area.” —Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), who, when not slandering our brave Marines, apparently enjoys slandering his own constituents

From the Left: Who wrote Obama’s memoir?
Suspension of disbelief is defined as “the willingness of a person to accept as true the premises of a work of fiction, even if... fantastic or impossible.” When it comes to Barack Obama, the American people have been asked to suspend disbelief regarding a number of things, including: Obama’s desire to bring people together despite his relationship with “Reverend” Jeremiah Wright, who preaches divisiveness and hatred; and Obama’s patriotism, despite his association with Weatherman terrorist William Ayers. According to writer Jack Cashill, Obama’s authorship of his much-celebrated memoir, Dreams From My Father, may be simply another fiction.

Cashill points out Obama’s lack of published works before contracting to write Dreams in 1990 at age 28. He did publish a few items: two poems in a college magazine (which Obama himself admitted were “very bad”), and a piece in the Harvard Law Review, referred to by Politco researchers as a “fairly standard example of the genre.”

Also telling is Obama’s inability to finish the Dreams manuscript on time, despite being given a year and a large advance to do so. Then, suddenly, the finished work appeared, and it demonstrated a level of literary skill that Obama had never before displayed.

Cashill proceeds to explore the possibility that Bill Ayers wrote Dreams. In doing so, he offers several technical comparisons in writing style and viewpoints to Ayers’ own memoir, Fugitive Days, right down to their shared penchants for untruths, changed names and faulty timelines. But Ayers is just a guy in Obama’s neighborhood. Right. Suspension of disbelief works for a movie, for two hours; it won’t work for this country for four years.

What the Palin probe really found
An Alaska state legislative investigator found in its final report of the so-called trooper scandal that Gov. Sarah Palin abused her power in trying to get State Trooper Michael Wooten fired. Democrat state senator and ardent Obama supporter Hollis French oversaw the investigation and insisted it be finished and released before Election Day. Predictably, the Leftmedia and the anti-Palin attack dogs (but we repeat ourselves) jumped on the abuse-of-power finding, but they do not wish to follow the facts of the story to its logical conclusion. Let’s take a look at what happened.

Wooten had a record of violent behavior, drinking alcohol on the job, illegal hunting, using a Taser on his 10-year-old stepson and threatening to kill a member of the Palin family. These were all valid reasons to seek Wooten’s removal from the force, and Palin apparently told Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan to fire him. Monegan refused and was in turn fired by Palin.

The report also recognizes that it was within Palin’s right as governor to fire Monegan, but the supposed problem that was raised by the report was that Monegan’s removal came in part because he would not fire Wooten, who was Palin’s sister’s ex-husband. The related history that Wooten shared with the Palin family is immaterial, or at least it would be in a non-election year. Look at the facts specifically. Wooten was a lousy officer and had no business keeping his job with the kind of behavior he displayed on numerous occasions. Monegan is responsible for the officers under his command; if he cannot, or for some reason will not, discipline them or remove them when necessary, then he is not doing his job and he should be removed. Where exactly does the abuse of power charge come from here? This report contains no recommendations for further action, so it holds little real value except as a campaign weapon for the Democrats.

Another Democrat family man
Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-FL) won Florida’s 16th congressional seat in 2006 after Republican Mark Foley was booted for sending lewd emails to teenage male pages in Congress. Foley became a national scandal and the butt of more than a few jokes on late-night talk shows. His disgraceful behavior, coming to light as it did just weeks before the 2006 mid-term elections, undoubtedly exacerbated Republican losses that year. Mahoney, his successor, was presumably going to restore honor to the seat, but we now learn that Mahoney is embroiled in a sex scandal of his own. He agreed to pay $121,000 to a former mistress who worked on his staff, was fired, and threatened to sue for wrongful termination. Additionally, as an incentive to keep her from spilling the beans to his wife and his constituents, he promised her a $50,000 per year job with Fletcher Rowley Chao Riddle, the agency that handled his campaign advertising. The CEO of the firm, Bill Fletcher, categorically denied any knowledge of the quid pro quo.

Furthermore, Mahoney was apparently engaged in more than one affair. His mistress wanted to end the relationship upon finding this out, but Mahoney threatened and fired her. “You work at my pleasure,” he said in a recorded phone conversation. “If you do the job that I think you should do, you get to keep your job. Whenever I don’t feel like you’re doing your job, then you lose your job.” Just in case the message wasn’t clear, he added, “And guess what? The only person that matters is, guess who? Me.”

The issue for Democrats now is what to do with Mahoney. They are in a quite similar position that Republicans faced with Foley. It is too close to the election to get a replacement on the ballot, so the Demos could run someone else under Mahoney’s name. However, Mahoney plans to stick it out. And Republican candidate Tom Rooney gains daily.

NATIONAL SECURITY
Warfront with Jihadistan: Afghanistan update
After “losing” the Iraq War because American troops are winning, the Left and its MSM handmaidens are now turning their attention to Afghanistan, chanting the all-too-familiar “we’re losing, and it’s time to get out” mantra. With a resurgent Taliban and al-Qa’ida, they claim the Afghan situation is hopeless. Fortunately, facts on the ground speak otherwise. On Sunday in Kabul, just 12 hours after coalition troops killed dozens of Taliban fighters, General David McKiernan, American commander in Afghanistan, told a news conference that there were “too many” recent reports asserting that the Coalition and their Afghan allies were losing the war, and he urged doubters to believe that the war against the Taliban could and would be won.

While there has been an upturn in enemy attacks in Afghanistan, leading to increased allied casualties and some erosion of support among the populace, the reasons for, and results of, the enemy attacks are anything but bad for the Coalition. One reason for the increase in attacks is that jihadis are giving up Iraq and moving to Afghanistan, clearly a sign that Iraq is being won. And although the number of Afghan attacks has increased, so has the death rate for the jihadis, as each attack has, for the most part, been disastrous for them.

The New York Times reports that the insurgents “have shown that they are capable of massing hundreds of fighters,” but those masses are typically cut to pieces by Coalition forces, with thousands being killed in the last year. As Canadian Brigadier General Richard Blanchette said about the recent attacks, “If the insurgents planned a spectacular attack prior to the winter, this was a spectacular failure.” Best to heed the words of Governor Sarah Palin from the VP debate: This is no time to “raise the white flag” of surrender.

Profiles of valor: Civil Affairs Team 745
United States Army Sgt. 1st Class Drew Kimmey, Capt. Stephen Ward and Staff Sgt. Carlo Alcazar, members of Civil Affairs Team 745, were recently recognized for their daring rescue of a Special Forces team leader during an Afghanistan mission last November. CA Team 745 was stationed at Firebase Cobra in Oruzgan, Afghanistan, alongside special operations detachments from the 3rd Special Forces Group, as well as personnel from the Afghan National Army and National Police. The teams left to provide humanitarian aid to a nearby village, only to discover that the village had already been evacuated. Ward noted that “the buildings had locks and barricaded doors, which was a clear indication that the village wasn’t abandoned, but had been turned into a defendable position.” Indeed, 300 Taliban fighters soon engaged the teams in a firefight.

After an hour of fighting, two Army disabled vehicles were pulled to the rear of the fight, leaving the ground forces commander in front of coalition lines, pinned down in a vulnerable building. Ward, Alcazar and Kimmey used their vehicle to get to the commander for a rescue but crashed into an enemy position, rendering their vehicle immobile. Ward and Alcazar were momentarily knocked unconscious in the crash. When they recovered, Alcazar began reloading ammunition belts so that Kimmey, the gunner, could continue pounding enemy fighters. Ward directed the effort to reach the ground commander under Kimmey’s cover fire. The unit remained under “continual, accurate and effective” enemy fire but managed to rescue the commander nonetheless. Once out of the building, team 745 stripped their vehicle to prevent the enemy from obtaining anything and ran beside a Special Forces vehicle for cover, there being no room for them on the truck.

For their bravery and heroic acts that day, Sgt. Kimmey, Capt. Ward and Staff Sgt. Alcazar were each awarded the Bronze Star with Combat “V” for valor.

Another agreement with North Korea
The Bush administration’s decision to ink an agreement with North Korea over its nuclear program last week has no redeeming value—except that doing nothing might possibly have been worse. In exchange for Pyongyang’s promise, yet again, to allow inspectors into its nuclear facilities, the State Department will remove North Korea from its list of terrorist sponsors. Neither Jimmy Carter nor Charlie Brown could be reached for comment on what seems about the hundredth time North Korea has yanked away the football after giving its solemn word to play by the rules. The agreement also angered Japan, the United States’ most trustworthy and vital ally in the Pacific Rim, as it trampled Tokyo’s demand that Pyongyang account for kidnapped Japanese.

The single upside to the America’s appeasement is that the next president might enjoy an Inauguration Day free from North Korean threats. But the crisis will be delayed only for a time. The “oral agreements” that constitute the latest deal seem tailor made for Pyonyang to go back on—probably the only thing the corrupt regime can ever be trusted to do. Additionally, there is widespread belief that Kim Jong-Il may have suffered a debilitating stroke, or may even be dead, as he has not been seen publicly for months. A succession struggle among his cronies will do nothing to stabilize this already lunatic regime, adding to the possibility of a diplomatic crisis going kinetic. If this deal delays such infighting beyond the transition phase as the new administration settles into office, we are willing to make lemonade out of lemons and accept it as a necessary evil. But it is evil all the same, and no amount of State Department lipstick will change that fact.

23007  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post on: October 17, 2008, 10:17:51 AM
Inside ACORN
The Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN) is an organization that is tailor-made for Barack Obama. It is community based, it is ultra-liberal, and it will do and say just about anything to achieve its political ends. ACORN has drawn questions regarding its operating practices since its inception in 1970, but now the 350,000-member (their number) organization has been caught up in a nationwide scandal for its illegal voter registration practices.

In recent weeks there have been myriad charges filed against the organization from all around the country. In Las Vegas, ACORN offices were raided after complaints over thousands of fraudulent registration applications were submitted by ACORN workers and volunteers. The Michigan Secretary of State is on record noting that ACORN submitted “a sizeable number of duplicate and fraudulent applications.” Other states that are taking action against ACORN include New Mexico, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Missouri and Indiana—not coincidentally, these are all battleground states. Furthermore, the FBI has opened an investigation into the group.

The scope of the fraud clearly shows that it is a systematic campaign. And it is no GOP witch-hunt as the knee-jerk leftist reaction fired off by the media suggested in recent days. A look at just who is filing the complaints and pressing the charges readily demonstrates that the outrage is nonpartisan. These crimes are endemic to the organization as a whole and undermine our republic. The ACORN organization must be held accountable from top to bottom.

ACORN often hires urban poor and recently released felons to register voters. In some cases, they don’t even pay minimum wage—yet another example of the grand hypocrisy of the “mother” organization, but that’s another can of worms. Only so many Democrats can be registered in any given area, and when that limit is reached, ACORN’s minions sign up dead people, the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive line and Mickey Mouse. Homeless people are next, and since they stay in various places, they can vote once for each non-home. Given the level of recidivism among felons, we can only assume that ACORN’s felonious fellows do not experience a guilty conscience for committing such a “chump” crime.

Millions of us “simple-minded” citizens wonder how an organization that flouts our sacred right to vote and shamelessly works to undermine our institutions can continue executing costly programs and “getting out the vote.” Who pays for it all? Answer: We do. Liberal politicians like Barack Obama and his Demo colleagues benefit directly from ACORN’s antics, so, of course, they’re going to ensure their public funding. And now Obama—who has trained ACORN staffers, served as the organization’s lawyer, and recently contributed an eye-popping $832,000 to its coffers—wants to disavow their ties. As Bob Dole once asked, “Where’s the outrage?”
23008  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Something big is brewing on: October 17, 2008, 08:48:43 AM
Woof All:

We are working on something big.  Here is a very rough cut of a promo clip for the suits. 

TAC!
CD
=========================================


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4x0hZpV8GU
23009  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: October 17, 2008, 07:27:17 AM
WSJ:

A Liberal Supermajority
Get ready for 'change' we haven't seen since 1965, or 1933.Article
 
If the current polls hold, Barack Obama will win the White House on November 4 and Democrats will consolidate their Congressional majorities, probably with a filibuster-proof Senate or very close to it. Without the ability to filibuster, the Senate would become like the House, able to pass whatever the majority wants.

Though we doubt most Americans realize it, this would be one of the most profound political and ideological shifts in U.S. history. Liberals would dominate the entire government in a way they haven't since 1965, or 1933. In other words, the election would mark the restoration of the activist government that fell out of public favor in the 1970s. If the U.S. really is entering a period of unchecked left-wing ascendancy, Americans at least ought to understand what they will be getting, especially with the media cheering it all on.

 The nearby table shows the major bills that passed the House this year or last before being stopped by the Senate minority. Keep in mind that the most important power of the filibuster is to shape legislation, not merely to block it. The threat of 41 committed Senators can cause the House to modify its desires even before legislation comes to a vote. Without that restraining power, all of the following have very good chances of becoming law in 2009 or 2010.

- Medicare for all. When HillaryCare cratered in 1994, the Democrats concluded they had overreached, so they carved up the old agenda into smaller incremental steps, such as Schip for children. A strongly Democratic Congress is now likely to lay the final flagstones on the path to government-run health insurance from cradle to grave.

Mr. Obama wants to build a public insurance program, modeled after Medicare and open to everyone of any income. According to the Lewin Group, the gold standard of health policy analysis, the Obama plan would shift between 32 million and 52 million from private coverage to the huge new entitlement. Like Medicare or the Canadian system, this would never be repealed.

The commitments would start slow, so as not to cause immediate alarm. But as U.S. health-care spending flowed into the default government options, taxes would have to rise or services would be rationed, or both. Single payer is the inevitable next step, as Mr. Obama has already said is his ultimate ideal.

- The business climate. "We have some harsh decisions to make," Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned recently, speaking about retribution for the financial panic. Look for a replay of the Pecora hearings of the 1930s, with Henry Waxman, John Conyers and Ed Markey sponsoring ritual hangings to further their agenda to control more of the private economy. The financial industry will get an overhaul in any case, but telecom, biotech and drug makers, among many others, can expect to be investigated and face new, more onerous rules. See the "Issues and Legislation" tab on Mr. Waxman's Web site for a not-so-brief target list.

The danger is that Democrats could cause the economic downturn to last longer than it otherwise will by enacting regulatory overkill like Sarbanes-Oxley. Something more punitive is likely as well, for instance a windfall profits tax on oil, and maybe other industries.

- Union supremacy. One program certain to be given right of way is "card check." Unions have been in decline for decades, now claiming only 7.4% of the private-sector work force, so Big Labor wants to trash the secret-ballot elections that have been in place since the 1930s. The "Employee Free Choice Act" would convert workplaces into union shops merely by gathering signatures from a majority of employees, which means organizers could strongarm those who opposed such a petition.

The bill also imposes a compulsory arbitration regime that results in an automatic two-year union "contract" after 130 days of failed negotiation. The point is to force businesses to recognize a union whether the workers support it or not. This would be the biggest pro-union shift in the balance of labor-management power since the Wagner Act of 1935.

- Taxes. Taxes will rise substantially, the only question being how high. Mr. Obama would raise the top income, dividend and capital-gains rates for "the rich," substantially increasing the cost of new investment in the U.S. More radically, he wants to lift or eliminate the cap on income subject to payroll taxes that fund Medicare and Social Security. This would convert what was meant to be a pension insurance program into an overt income redistribution program. It would also impose a probably unrepealable increase in marginal tax rates, and a permanent shift upward in the federal tax share of GDP.

- The green revolution. A tax-and-regulation scheme in the name of climate change is a top left-wing priority. Cap and trade would hand Congress trillions of dollars in new spending from the auction of carbon credits, which it would use to pick winners and losers in the energy business and across the economy. Huge chunks of GDP and millions of jobs would be at the mercy of Congress and a vast new global-warming bureaucracy. Without the GOP votes to help stage a filibuster, Senators from carbon-intensive states would have less ability to temper coastal liberals who answer to the green elites.

- Free speech and voting rights. A liberal supermajority would move quickly to impose procedural advantages that could cement Democratic rule for years to come. One early effort would be national, election-day voter registration. This is a long-time goal of Acorn and others on the "community organizer" left and would make it far easier to stack the voter rolls. The District of Columbia would also get votes in Congress -- Democratic, naturally.

Felons may also get the right to vote nationwide, while the Fairness Doctrine is likely to be reimposed either by Congress or the Obama FCC. A major goal of the supermajority left would be to shut down talk radio and other voices of political opposition.

- Special-interest potpourri. Look for the watering down of No Child Left Behind testing standards, as a favor to the National Education Association. The tort bar's ship would also come in, including limits on arbitration to settle disputes and watering down the 1995 law limiting strike suits. New causes of legal action would be sprinkled throughout most legislation. The anti-antiterror lobby would be rewarded with the end of Guantanamo and military commissions, which probably means trying terrorists in civilian courts. Google and MoveOn.org would get "net neutrality" rules, subjecting the Internet to intrusive regulation for the first time.

 

It's always possible that events -- such as a recession -- would temper some of these ambitions. Republicans also feared the worst in 1993 when Democrats ran the entire government, but it didn't turn out that way. On the other hand, Bob Dole then had 43 GOP Senators to support a filibuster, and the entire Democratic Party has since moved sharply to the left. Mr. Obama's agenda is far more liberal than Bill Clinton's was in 1992, and the Southern Democrats who killed Al Gore's BTU tax and modified liberal ambitions are long gone.

In both 1933 and 1965, liberal majorities imposed vast expansions of government that have never been repealed, and the current financial panic may give today's left another pretext to return to those heydays of welfare-state liberalism. Americans voting for "change" should know they may get far more than they ever imagined.

Please add your comments to the Opinion Journal
23010  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton: Proximity on: October 17, 2008, 07:08:04 AM
"There are certain social principles in human nature, from
which we may draw the most solid conclusions with respect to the
conduct of individuals and of communities. We love our families
more than our neighbors; we love our neighbors more than our
countrymen in general. The human affections, like solar heat,
lose their intensity as they depart from the centre... On these
principles, the attachment of the individual will be first and
for ever secured by the State governments. They will be a mutual
protection and support."

-- Alexander Hamilton (speech at the New York Ratifying Convention,
June 1788)

Reference: The Works of Alexander Hamilton, Henry Cabot Lodge,
ed., II, 70.
23011  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Reproductive issues on: October 17, 2008, 06:34:26 AM
Concerning Jewish law's position on the right to care of the newly born aborted baby, I am glad Rachel that you recognize that this is the right thing to do.  Bright person that you are I invite you to take the next step in your thinking and deal with the idea that the right to life does not depend upon one's geographic location.  Inside the mother you can be killed, and outside the mother you can't.  I suppose it has the advantage of being a simple bright line test, but surely you can understand that there is a reasonable point of view that finds it utterly unpersuasive.

Thought experiment: Charles Manson's crew cut open Sharon Tate's belly and killed her 8 month old baby.  If I understand your logic correctly, if they killed the baby while it was still inside her sliced upon womb, it was not murder, but if they killed it after removing it, then it was murder. 

Does this not follow from what you say?

Turning to the piece posted:

I had understood how he said health to mean that he thought the claims in these cases were often a facetious claim to justify a late term abortion.

The self-righteous thought process of the piece is in some respects a tedious repetition of one half of a circle of reasoning we have all heard before-- what makes it tedious is that it does not acknowledge the thought process of the other side-- if what is alive and growing in the woman's stomach is a human baby, she doesn't get to kill it-- either privately or publicly.

And the disingenuity of this typical point makes me want to barf:

" Do many women who would prefer to not have an abortion need to be provided with the tools and resources they need to feel as though they can carry a pregnancy to term? Yes, absolutely, I’ve said as much and it’s the Democratic platform that is supporting such policies."

What "need to be provided with , , , resources" reduces to for me is "Pay for my baby or I get to kill it".  NO, YOU PAY FOR IT, THAT's HOW THINGS WORK IN A FREE SOCIETY.  If you didn't want it, you should have been more careful about who and how you let someone between your legs.

Also left out, as is typical in these pieces, is any recognition that the repeal of Roe v. Wade would not mean the repeal of abortion.  It would mean the return of shaping policies in this regard to where it belongs -- to the democratic branches of the States.

In this arena, the great probability is that the legislatures and governors, who are elected after all, will reflect the will of the people, which as best as I can tell is that some form of early term abortion be OK, especially in the case of rape, incest, and defective babies.

As ususal, what the liberal left fails to appreciate is how much the intensity of the opposition is triggered by the arrogance of liberal fascism in avoiding the democractic process in these issues (see e.g. using the courts to impose gay marriage) by using the courts to impose what they want instead of honestly doing the political work of the democratic process.
23012  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: October 16, 2008, 07:11:34 PM
Shades of Dan Quayle  rolleyes
23013  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Interview w Anderson Silva on: October 16, 2008, 02:51:06 PM
Interview w Anderson Silva

http://www.sherdog.com/videos/recent/Silva-My-Time-is-Already-Over-1795
23014  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: October 16, 2008, 12:54:32 PM
No biggie, but if you want, do an Advanced Search for "Islam" and see what threads pop up-- maybe one of them will suit your purposes better than this one here.
23015  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: October 16, 2008, 11:37:56 AM
A Voice from the Grassy Knoll

Joe Biden's home town of Scranton, Pa. got a bit of a black eye on Tuesday when the local paper reported someone at a GOP rally featuring Sarah Palin had yelled "Kill him" when Barack Obama's name was mentioned. But it turns out neither the Secret Service or anyone in the crowd can substantiate the story.

The Scranton Times-Tribune reported on Tuesday that when congressional candidate Chris Hackett mentioned Mr. Obama's name, a man in the audience shouted "Kill him." But the Scranton News-Leader reports on its Web site today that Secret Service agent Bill Slavoski said that neither he nor any of 20 law enforcement agents present heard anything like that.

"I was baffled," he said, noting that an investigation by his team couldn't turn up even one person who had heard the threat.

The Times-Tribune reporter who reported the incident stands by his story but referred all media questions to his editor. "The facts reported are true and that's really all there is," said reporter David Singleton. Perhaps the Times-Tribune's motto could be: "We report. You decide if we're making it up."

-- John Fund

Thank Goodness His Name Is Joe

In the 2000 presidential election, "soccer moms" got inordinate media attention as a key voting group. In 2004, the voting bloc du jour was "security Moms" influenced by 9/11. This year hasn't yet seen the emergence of a similar overstudied group. Instead we have "Joe the Plumber," the undisputed winner of last night's presidential debate -- he was mentioned more than a dozen times by the two candidates.

Joe Wurzelbacher is a blue-collar Everyman who confronted Barack Obama about his plans to raise taxes on those earning over $250,000 a year when the Democratic candidate toured his neighborhood near Toledo last Sunday. Mr. Obama famously defended his tax program by saying he believed it was best to "share the wealth." Last night, Joe's resistance to higher taxes became a central dispute between John McCain and Barack Obama.

Mr. Wurzelbacher is taking his new fame in stride. He made the rounds of network talk shows without any stage fright or a major faux pas. He told CBS's Katie Couric that he was suspicious of Mr. Obama's pledge not to raise taxes on the middle class. "So he's going to [raise taxes] for people who make $250,000 a year. When's he going to decide that $100,000 is too much, you know? I mean, you're on a slippery slope here."

On ABC's "Nightline," he added that Mr. Obama's tax plan "infuriates me." Indeed, the Ohio plumber is an opponent of progressive taxation in general. "Bill Gates, I don't care who you are. If you worked for it, if it was your idea, and you implemented it, it's not right for someone to decide you made too much."

While he's not talking about whom he's voting for, Mr. Obama seems unlikely to get Joe's vote. The Illinois Senator may regret stepping into his neighborhood last Sunday, because it sounds like he's going to be hounded by Joe the Plumber from now till Election Day.

-- John Fund

Vote Early, Vote Often?

A lot of ink has recently been spilled on the subject of how John McCain can turn his campaign around in the three weeks between now and Election Day. Less noticed is that the election has started already, and Barack Obama, so far, is running away with it.

Survey USA has put out data on early voting in New Mexico, Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia and Iowa -- all important states for Mr. McCain. Even where Mr. McCain still leads among "likely voters," the polling results show Mr. Obama leading by as much as 34% (in Iowa and North Carolina) among "early voters." Even Georgia, where Mr. McCain holds an 11-point overall lead in Survey USA's polling, Mr. Obama is ahead by 6% among early voters.

This reflects, in part, a conscious strategy by the Obama campaign to get supporters to vote early wherever possible. As the election-tracking Web site FiveThirtyEight.com points out, George W. Bush won the early-voting race in 2000 and 2004. If nothing else, Mr. Obama's headstart among early voters suggests that the Democrat-Republican enthusiasm gap is already being felt at the ballot box. Worse, though these probably aren't voters Mr. McCain could have persuaded anyway, the huge gaps may bode ill for the GOP if they testify to a general superiority of Mr. Obama's ability to get out his vote.

-- Brian M. Carney

Bizarre-Oh-Canada

In less time than John McCain has been the Republican nominee, Canada has completed yet another national election campaign, its third in four years. In the short span of 37 days, Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper won his second consecutive minority government with 143 seats, up from 127, inching toward a coveted 155-seat majority. Meanwhile, the opposition Liberal Party once again is in tatters.

Little short of scathing has been the Canadian press on the failures of Stéphane Dion, leader of the Liberals. Jeffrey Simpson of the Globe and Mail pronounces Mr. Dion "finished" and blames him for leaving his party "weakened financially, beaten politically, and split intellectually."

Battered by corruption scandals, the Liberals are stuck with just 76 seats in Parliament, down from 95, the party's lowest level of popular support ever. Mr. Dion's own trademark green streak -- he was formerly the Minister of the Environment and has a dog named Kyoto -- suggests his defeat may signal a turning away of Canadian voters from the agenda of the global warming activists. His so-called "Green Shift" carbon-tax platform was clearly rejected for Mr. Harper's pro-business, pro-defense, tax-cutting stance.

What's next for the Liberals? Two potential leaders -- hawkish Michael Ignatieff and socialist former Ontario Premier Bob Rae -- are once again circling each other. Either man would likely march the party even farther away from the center, guaranteeing a protracted period of soul searching. That would likely bolster Mr. Harper's ability to proceed with a conservative agenda, while the rest of the West seems to be careening to the left.

-- Adrian Ho

Have We Seen Our Last Lehman?

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson let slip in an interview with CNBC's Larry Kudlow last night that a "foreign regulator" had blocked a rescue deal for Lehman Brothers, whose bankruptcy now appears to have been the triggering event of a global collapse of confidence in lending markets.

Mr. Paulson was certainly referring to Britain's Financial Services Authority, widely rumored to have shot down a proposed Barclays rescue of Lehman (much as JP Morgan had rescued Bear Stearns). The FSA no doubt had good reason for not wanting a bank under its purview to be stuck with Lehman's questionable balance sheet. Nonetheless, the decision now seems penny-wise, pound-foolish in light of the $64 billion in British taxpayer money that subsequently had to be injected into British banks (assuming, of course, an injection wasn't going to be necessary anyway).

The episode also illustrates why Tuesday's global bailout may not be the magic bullet many hope. Commentators universally overlooked it, but Mr. Paulson acknowledged a practical limit to the safety net when he vowed the government's historic steps would serve to "avoid, where possible, the failure of any systemically important institution."

That "where possible" you could drive a truck through. It means our year-and-a-half of living dangerously, with banks distrusting each other in wholesale transactions, may not be over.

Mr. Paulson and Fed Chief Ben Bernanke, in separate comments yesterday, both waved off Lehman recriminations, saying at the time they lacked legal authority to prevent the firm's bankruptcy. TARP presumably has now given them that authority -- but not necessarily the ammunition. Even $200 billion in government capital injected in banks so far could end up being a drop in the bucket if more big writedowns are coming. Likewise, blanket guarantees to bank creditors could rapidly become non-credible if a couple very large banks go down -- that is, short of the Federal Reserve simply printing money to make good on the guarantees, which may yet be the solution.

23016  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: October 16, 2008, 10:34:30 AM
Woof All:

Those of us in the Hermosa Clan will remember Dog Tim Nelson, a.k.a. "The Hobbit".    Dog Tim lives an unusually close to nature life-- even when he was here in LA he was an , , , "urban camper" whose only transportation was his bicycle-- which he rode barefoot.  In LA this is quite a trick.  To come train in the backyard group or at the Inosanto Academy, he would bicycle all the way from his , , , campsite somewhere around Koreatown, train, go to the Dune with us and smoke us on the Dune, then bicycle home.  Dog Tim had the most amazing feet-- kind of like you would imagine a Cro-magnon man to have, hence his nickname "the Hobbit".

Tim's life took him elsewhere, but the guys continue to ask me from time to time if I have heard from him.  I just got an email with him and take the liberty of sharing it here with the Tribe.

TAC,
CD
====================

Hi Marc:

This Tim Nelson, the pony tailed big footed bearded guy of several years back who trained with you.

Well, just dropping a line; I am living in southern Oregon in the mountains with other people, living under tarps or tipis, baby on the way, girlfriend has a 5 yearold, live with other parents and mothers, we freerange goats in the forest, milk them and pack them. Moving more and more towards a nomadic life foraging and hunting and 'pastoraling'.

I was recently at a barter fair and was watching a 4 year old playing with a stick with an older man and the boys movement looked so natural and perfect to my eye, perfect in slow 4 year old form. and I wondered if you got some of your simple but profound ideas of movement from children that were naturals.

Health is good, bout with lyme, a doosy, rockin now. That's a whole world with info, trapping, hunting, tracking, are my main areas of passion other than the thousand things that go into parenthood, woods life, community life, spouse, they put bread/meat on the table and satisfy a similiar need the fighting may have, I pretty much wrestle who I can, and sport knife spar anyone I can too. using the video clips of the knife stuff I played with a large framed friend with an unusual fast and slow twitch muscle combo with hi coordination and I found it very neat stuff.

Well thats enuf, I bet you get lotsa emails, I wish you the best,
Tim
23017  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: BO's 95% Illusion on: October 16, 2008, 10:13:30 AM
Obama's 95% Illusion
It depends on what the meaning of 'tax cut' is.Article
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One of Barack Obama's most potent campaign claims is that he'll cut taxes for no less than 95% of "working families." He's even promising to cut taxes enough that the government's tax share of GDP will be no more than 18.2% -- which is lower than it is today.

 
APIt's a clever pitch, because it lets him pose as a middle-class tax cutter while disguising that he's also proposing one of the largest tax increases ever on the other 5%. But how does he conjure this miracle, especially since more than a third of all Americans already pay no income taxes at all? There are several sleights of hand, but the most creative is to redefine the meaning of "tax cut."

For the Obama Democrats, a tax cut is no longer letting you keep more of what you earn. In their lexicon, a tax cut includes tens of billions of dollars in government handouts that are disguised by the phrase "tax credit." Mr. Obama is proposing to create or expand no fewer than seven such credits for individuals:

 - A $500 tax credit ($1,000 a couple) to "make work pay" that phases out at income of $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 per couple.

- A $4,000 tax credit for college tuition.

- A 10% mortgage interest tax credit (on top of the existing mortgage interest deduction and other housing subsidies).

- A "savings" tax credit of 50% up to $1,000.

- An expansion of the earned-income tax credit that would allow single workers to receive as much as $555 a year, up from $175 now, and give these workers up to $1,110 if they are paying child support.

- A child care credit of 50% up to $6,000 of expenses a year.

- A "clean car" tax credit of up to $7,000 on the purchase of certain vehicles.

Here's the political catch. All but the clean car credit would be "refundable," which is Washington-speak for the fact that you can receive these checks even if you have no income-tax liability. In other words, they are an income transfer -- a federal check -- from taxpayers to nontaxpayers. Once upon a time we called this "welfare," or in George McGovern's 1972 campaign a "Demogrant." Mr. Obama's genius is to call it a tax cut.

The Tax Foundation estimates that under the Obama plan 63 million Americans, or 44% of all tax filers, would have no income tax liability and most of those would get a check from the IRS each year. The Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis estimates that by 2011, under the Obama plan, an additional 10 million filers would pay zero taxes while cashing checks from the IRS.

The total annual expenditures on refundable "tax credits" would rise over the next 10 years by $647 billion to $1.054 trillion, according to the Tax Policy Center. This means that the tax-credit welfare state would soon cost four times actual cash welfare. By redefining such income payments as "tax credits," the Obama campaign also redefines them away as a tax share of GDP. Presto, the federal tax burden looks much smaller than it really is.

The political left defends "refundability" on grounds that these payments help to offset the payroll tax. And that was at least plausible when the only major refundable credit was the earned-income tax credit. Taken together, however, these tax credit payments would exceed payroll levies for most low-income workers.

It is also true that John McCain proposes a refundable tax credit -- his $5,000 to help individuals buy health insurance. We've written before that we prefer a tax deduction for individual health care, rather than a credit. But the big difference with Mr. Obama is that Mr. McCain's proposal replaces the tax subsidy for employer-sponsored health insurance that individuals don't now receive if they buy on their own. It merely changes the nature of the tax subsidy; it doesn't create a new one.

There's another catch: Because Mr. Obama's tax credits are phased out as incomes rise, they impose a huge "marginal" tax rate increase on low-income workers. The marginal tax rate refers to the rate on the next dollar of income earned. As the nearby chart illustrates, the marginal rate for millions of low- and middle-income workers would spike as they earn more income.

Some families with an income of $40,000 could lose up to 40 cents in vanishing credits for every additional dollar earned from working overtime or taking a new job. As public policy, this is contradictory. The tax credits are sold in the name of "making work pay," but in practice they can be a disincentive to working harder, especially if you're a lower-income couple getting raises of $1,000 or $2,000 a year. One mystery -- among many -- of the McCain campaign is why it has allowed Mr. Obama's 95% illusion to go unanswered.

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23018  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on: October 16, 2008, 09:01:10 AM
It's been a while since German military officers attended rallies that feature threats to Jews. Last month Berlin's defense attaché in Tehran resumed that tradition at Iran's annual military parade.

The German envoy had the privilege of hearing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad promise to "break the hands" of invaders amid banners that read "Israel should be eradicated from the universe" and shouts of "Down with Israel" and "We will crush America under our feet."

Iran's parades are notorious for their "Death to Israel and America" slogans, which is why the European Union shuns these hate-filled spectacles. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was "very annoyed" about the attaché's faux pas, according to a report in Der Spiegel, and summoned Herbert Honsowitz, the ambassador to the Islamic Republic, to Berlin. Mr. Honsowitz, who is known for pushing trade between the two nations, has since returned to his post and is expected to serve out his term.

This episode illustrates the fundamental problem with Germany's attitude toward Iran: the disconnect between what Berlin says is its official policy goal -- stopping the mullahs' quest for nuclear arms -- and what Berlin actually does. Germany remains Iran's key Western trading partner. The German-Iranian Chamber of Industry and Trade counts about 2,000 members, including such big names as Siemens and BASF. In the first seven months of this year, Germany's Federal Office of Economics and Export Control approved 1,926 business deals with Iran -- an increase of 63% over last year. During that same period, German exports to Iran rose 14.1%.

For the record, French exports went up 21% during the first six months of the year, but they are still worth less than half of Germany's €2.2 billion of exports. Britain's exports to Tehran, only a fraction of Germany's trade with Iran, fell 20%. And while France and the U.K. are both pushing for tougher EU sanctions against Iran, Germany is reluctant to join their cause.

Given this reality, it's not surprising that Berlin's ambassador in Tehran apparently thought nothing of sending a military envoy to Iran's "Down with Israel" rally. He simply put Germany's mouth where its money already is.

23019  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Somali influx on: October 16, 2008, 08:49:11 AM
This could have gone in the Immigration thread as well.  As with most things from the NYT, caveat lector:

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — Like many workers at the meatpacking plant here, Raul A. Garcia, a Mexican-American, has watched with some discomfort as hundreds of Somali immigrants have moved to town in the past couple of years, many of them to fill jobs once held by Latino workers taken away in immigration raids.


Immigrant vs. Immigrant
This is the fourth article in a series that explores efforts by government and others to compel illegal immigrants to leave the United States.


Mr. Garcia has been particularly troubled by the Somalis’ demand that they be allowed special breaks for prayers that are obligatory for devout Muslims. The breaks, he said, would inconvenience everyone else.

“The Latino is very humble,” said Mr. Garcia, 73, who has worked at the plant, owned by JBS U.S.A. Inc., since 1994. “But they are arrogant,” he said of the Somali workers. “They act like the United States owes them.”

Mr. Garcia was among more than 1,000 Latino and other workers who protested a decision last month by the plant’s management to cut their work day — and their pay — by 15 minutes to give scores of Somali workers time for evening prayers.

After several days of strikes and disruptions, the plant’s management abandoned the plan.

But the dispute peeled back a layer of civility in this southern Nebraska city of 47,000, revealing slow-burning racial and ethnic tensions that have been an unexpected aftermath of the enforcement raids at workplaces by federal immigration authorities.

Grand Island is among a half dozen or so cities where discord has arisen with the arrival of Somali workers, many of whom were recruited by employers from elsewhere in the United States after immigration raids sharply reduced their Latino work forces.

The Somalis are by and large in this country legally as political refugees and therefore are not singled out by immigration authorities.

In some of these places, including Grand Island, this newest wave of immigrant workers has had the effect of unifying the other ethnic populations against the Somalis and has also diverted some of the longstanding hostility toward Latino immigrants among some native-born residents.

“Every wave of immigrants has had to struggle to get assimilated,” said Margaret Hornady, the mayor of Grand Island and a longtime resident of Nebraska. “Right now, it’s so volatile.”

The federal immigration crackdown has hit meat- and poultry-packing plants particularly hard, with more than 2,000 immigrant workers in at least nine places detained since 2006 in major raids, most on immigration violations.

Struggling to fill the grueling low-wage jobs that attract few American workers, the plants have placed advertisements in immigrant newspapers and circulated fliers in immigrant neighborhoods.

Some companies, like Swift & Company, which owned the plant in Grand Island until being bought up by the Brazilian conglomerate JBS last year, have made a particular pitch for Somalis because of their legal status. Tens of thousands of Somali refugees fleeing civil war have settled in the United States since the 1990s, with the largest concentration in Minnesota.

But the companies are learning that in trying to solve one problem they have created another.

Early last month, about 220 Somali Muslims walked off the job at a JBS meatpacking plant in Greeley, Colo., saying the company had prevented them from observing their prayer schedule. (More than 100 of the workers were later fired.)

Days later, a poultry company in Minnesota agreed to allow Muslim workers prayer breaks and the right to refuse handling pork products, settling a lawsuit filed by nine Somali workers.

In August, the management of a Tyson chicken plant in Shelbyville, Tenn., designated a Muslim holy day as a paid holiday, acceding to a demand by Somali workers. The plant had originally agreed to substitute the Muslim holy day for Labor Day, but reinstated Labor Day after a barrage of criticism from non-Muslims.

In some workplaces, newly arrived Somali Muslims have not protested their working conditions. That has been the case at Agriprocessors, a meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa. About 150 Somali Muslims have found jobs there, most of them recruited by a staffing company after the plant lost about half its work force in an immigration raid in May.

Jack Shandley, a senior vice president for JBS U.S.A., said in an e-mail message that “integrating persons of diverse backgrounds regularly presents new and different issues.”

“Religious accommodation is only one workplace diversity issue that has been addressed,” Mr. Shandley said.

Nationwide, employment discrimination complaints by Muslim workers have more than doubled in the past decade, to 607 in the 2007 fiscal year, from 285 in the 1998 fiscal year, according to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which has sent representatives to Grand Island to interview Somali workers.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids employers to discriminate based on religion and says that employers must “reasonably accommodate” religious practices. But the act offers some exceptions, including instances when adjustments would cause “undue hardship” on the company’s business interests.

=========

(Page 2 of 3)



The new tensions here extend well beyond the walls of the plant. Scratch beneath Grand Island’s surface and there is resentment, discomfort and mistrust everywhere, some residents say — between the white community and the various immigrant communities; between the older immigrant communities, like the Latinos, and the newer ones, namely the Somalis and the Sudanese, another refugee community that has grown here in recent years; and between the Somalis, who are largely Muslim, and the Sudanese, who are largely Christian.


In dozens of interviews here, white, Latino and other residents seemed mostly bewildered, if not downright suspicious, of the Somalis, very few of whom speak English.

“I kind of admire all the effort they make to follow that religion, but sometimes you have to adapt to the workplace,” said Fidencio Sandoval, a plant worker born in Mexico who has become an American citizen. “A new culture comes in with their demands and says, ‘This is what we want.’ This is kind of new for me.”

Ms. Hornady, the mayor, suggested somewhat apologetically that she had been having difficulty adjusting to the presence of Somalis. She said she found the sight of Somali women, many of whom wear Muslim headdresses, or hijabs, “startling.”

“I’m sorry, but after 9/11, it gives some of us a turn,” she said.

Not only do the hijabs suggest female subjugation, Ms. Hornady said, but the sight of Muslims in town made her think of Osama bin Laden and the attacks on the United States.

“I know that that’s horrible and that’s prejudice,” she said. “I’m working very hard on it.”

She added, “Aren’t a lot of thoughtful Americans struggling with this?”

For their part, the Somalis say they feel aggrieved and not particularly welcome.

“A lot of people look at you weird — they judge you,” said Abdisamad Jama, 22, a Somali who moved to Grand Island two years ago to work as an interpreter at the plant and now freelances. “Or sometimes they will say, ‘Go back to your country.’ ”

Founded in the mid-19th century by German immigrants, Grand Island gradually became more diverse in the mid- and late-20th century with the arrival of Latino workers, mainly Mexicans.

The Latinos came at first to work in the agricultural fields; later arrivals found employment in the meatpacking plant. Refugees from Laos and, in the past few years, Sudan followed, and many of them also found work in the plant, which is now the city’s largest employer, with about 2,700 workers.

In December 2006, in an event that would deeply affect the city and alter its uneasy balance of ethnicities, immigration authorities raided the plant and took away more than 200 illegal Latino workers. Another 200 or so workers quit soon afterward.

The raid was one of six sweeps by federal agents at plants owned by Swift, gutting the company of about 1,200 workers in one day and forcing the plants to slow their operations.

Many of the Somalis who eventually arrived to fill those jobs were practicing Muslims and their faith obliges them to pray at five fixed times every day. In Grand Island, the workers would grab prayer time whenever they could, during scheduled rest periods or on restroom breaks. But during the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims fast in daylight hours and break their fast in a ritualistic ceremony at sundown. A more formal accommodation of their needs was necessary, the Somali workers said.

Last year, the Somalis here demanded time off for the Ramadan ceremony. The company refused, saying it could not afford to let so many workers step away from the production line at one time. Dozens of Somalis quit, though they eventually returned to work.

The situation repeated itself last month. Dennis Sydow, the plant’s vice president and general manager, said a delegation of Somali workers approached him on Sept. 10 about allowing them to take their dinner break at 7:30 p.m., near sundown, rather than at the normal time of 8 to 8:30.

Mr. Sydow rejected the request, saying the production line would slow to a crawl and the Somalis’ co-workers would unfairly have to take up the slack.

The Somalis said their co-workers did not offer a lot of support. “Latinos were sometimes saying, ‘Don’t pray, don’t pray,’ ” said Abdifatah Warsame, 21.

=======

e 3 of 3)



After the Somalis went out on strike on Sept. 15, the plant’s management and the union brokered a deal the next day that would have shifted the dinner break to 7:45 p.m., close enough to sundown to satisfy the Somalis. Because of the plant’s complex scheduling rules, the new dinner break would have also required an earlier end to the shift, potentially cutting the work day by 15 minutes.

Word of the accord spread quickly throughout the non-Somali work force, though the reports were infected with false rumors of pay raises for the Somalis and more severe cuts in the work day for everyone.

In a counterprotest on Sept. 17, more than 1,000 Latino and Sudanese workers lined up alongside white workers in opposition to the concessions to the Somalis.

“We had complaints from the whites, Hispanics and Sudanese,” said Abdalla Omar, 26, one of the Somali strikers.

The union and the plant management backed down, reverting to the original dinner schedule. More than 70 Somalis, including Mr. Omar and Mr. Warsame, stormed out of the plant and did not return; they either quit or were fired.

Since then, Ramadan has ended and work has returned to normal at the plant, but most everyone — management, the union and the employees — says the root causes of the disturbances have not been fully addressed. A sizeable Somali contingent remains employed at the factory — Somali leaders say the number is about 100; the union puts the figure at more than 300, making similar disruptions possible next year.

“Right now, this is a real kindling box,” said Daniel O. Hoppes, president of the local chapter of the union, the United Food and Commercial Workers.

Xawa Ahmed, 48, a Somali, moved to Grand Island from Minnesota last month to help organize the Somali community. A big part of her work, Ms. Ahmed said, will be to help demystify the Somalis who remain.

“We’re trying to make people understand why we do these things, why we practice this religion, why we live in America,” she said. “There’s a lot of misunderstanding.”
23020  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Brain damage in boxing, kickboxing, football, etc: on: October 16, 2008, 08:34:10 AM
Hat tip to Dog Ryan for this intereseting article:

Fix A Glass Jaw??!!!

Amir Khan searching for remedy after refusing to take defeat on the chin

The Times, October 9, 2008

A boxer can do a hundred abdominal crunches, a thousand press-ups and dance with a skipping rope all day. He can learn the art of attack and defence. But one question, particularly pertinent to Amir Khan, continues to vex even the wisest boxing brains (and that is not an oxymoron) - can anything be done about a glass chin?

“If we knew the answer, that would be like solving the biggest mystery in the history of all boxing,” Emanuel Steward, one of the sport's premier trainers, once said. Angelo Dundee, who guided the great Muhammad Ali, sees no great mystery. “You can't train a chin,” he said, simply.

Yet that is what Khan, 21, will be attempting under the tutelage of Freddie Roach at his Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles when the young Briton heads west next week to rebuild his career.  The trainer is devising a series of exercises, based on martial arts techniques, to “deaden the nerves on the jaw”, or at least try to condition them so that one big blow does not again leave Khan resembling a puppet cut loose from its strings. “Is it sound? I'm not sure,” Roach said. “But we've learnt some Thai techniques working with Manny Pacquiao [the Filipino world lightweight champion]. He was suffering with blows to his body, so, using martial arts, he got us to hit him with a stick.
“I'm not saying we are going to be hitting Amir Khan with a stick, but there is a belief you can deaden the nerves using pressure, tension, wrestling exercises with the chin on the ground. We'll try and deaden, or toughen, those nerves on the tip of his jaw.”

Most of the time will be spent trying to alter Khan's style so that he is not hit so often and does not suffer the sort of knockout blow that cost him a surprise 54-second defeat by Breidis Prescott in Manchester last month. It was his third knockdown in 19 professional bouts.

But the gym work on Khan's suspect jaw does raise, again, the question of whether a boxer can physically alter his ability to withstand a heavy blow or whether, for better or worse, he is stuck with his chin. “Not every great boxer has a great chin,” Roach said. “It is like a big puncher. They can be improved, but you generally get what you are born with.”

That has not stopped Roach embracing those martial arts techniques, usually employed to toughen up shins and feet for kickboxing and similar disciplines. There have long been theories, their effectiveness unproven, about strengthening the jaw muscles or conditioning the neck.

According to Dr Barry Jordan, a neurologist who was once chief medical officer for the New York State Athletic Commission and has researched boxing's effects on the brain, there are several factors to consider when weighing up why some boxers collapse while others, from George Chuvalo to Antonio Margarito, seem capable of withstanding sledgehammer blows.

Jordan believes that anticipating the punch and possessing strong neck muscles assist a boxer. There is little doubt that Khan not only has a suspect chin but sticks it out, too. “I think he's made mistakes looking for the big knockout because then you put yourself in harm's way,” Roach said. “He started out knocking people down with one punch, but the higher you climb, you need to protect yourself.”

Yet Jordan believes that, while training can make a boxer better able to roll with the punches, the glass chin is a weakness that is handed out at birth. “We know that there is a gene that makes certain boxers liable to neurological impairment over the long term and, while no one has ever conducted detailed research on the effects of one punch, a good chin is about a fighter's genetic predisposition to tolerate punishment,” he said. “In layman's terms, the blow, the sudden acceleration and rotation of the head, causes a disconnection. The ability to withstand that may alter during the career of a boxer.”

But, as far as he can tell, a boxer's tolerance cannot be greatly affected in the gym. If Khan is stuck with this weakness, his best hope is to not get hit, which is why he is spending the next six weeks with Roach. “They say Willie Pep didn't have a great chin, so he changed his style,” Roach said. “And we are talking about one of the greatest boxers of all time. We will be talking to Amir about the way he stands, holds his hands, everything.”

Khan will spar with Pacquiao, the world champion who faces Oscar De La Hoya in December, which should help him to become accustomed to heavy punches and please those who believe that a glass jaw is a matter of heart as much as chin.

No amount of work, though, may solve the abiding mystery of the porcelain jaw. “After that sort of knockdown, some guys roll over and die,” Roach said. “Some get better. Amir seems pretty positive to me, but I really won't know - no one will - until he's back in the ring.”

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/more_sport/article4909290.ece
 
23021  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: October 16, 2008, 08:09:11 AM
Grateful to be back home with my family and to have a nice big long slow but intense workout at my favorite neighborhood gym to clean all the airplane seats out of my hips and waist.
23022  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: October 16, 2008, 08:07:13 AM
Oy.

There were oddslike that on a last minute (literally!) fill in fight like that one was?

With regard to the Sharmrocks:  I never thought that much of Ken-- I'm hard pressed to think of a single impressive fight.  Frank OTOH has a number of really good fights to his credit.  I thought he fought well in his recent loss to Cung Le.  Given the size differential and converse fighting rep differential and the well known dislike between the adopted brthers, I suppose they could market an audience for a fight, , ,
23023  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington: Immigration; Hamilton on: October 16, 2008, 07:55:26 AM
"[T]he policy or advantage of [immigration] taking place in
a body (I mean the settling of them in a body) may be much
questioned; for, by so doing, they retain the Language, habits
and principles (good or bad) which they bring with them. Whereas
by an intermixture with our people, they, or their descendants,
get assimilated to our customs, measures and laws: in a word,
soon become one people."

-- George Washington (letter to John Adams, 15 November 1794)

Reference: The Writings of George Washington from the Original
Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799, Fitzpatrick, Ed., vol. 34 (American
Memory Co
==============
"States, like individuals, who observe their engagements, are
respected and trusted: while the reverse is the fate of those
who pursue an opposite conduct."

-- Alexander Hamilton (Report on Public Credit, 9 January 1790)

Reference: The Reports of Alexander Hamilton, Cooke, ed. (3)
23024  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rove on: October 16, 2008, 12:12:10 AM
Well, running on Hillary's solution to the Wall Street meltdown of buying up the bad mortgages certainly wasn't a great way to start out the evening , , ,  tongue

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

Obama Hasn't Closed the Sale
Both candidates continue to tinker with their strategies.By KARL ROVEArticle
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In the campaign's final two weeks, voters will take a last serious look at both presidential candidates. The outcome of the race isn't cast in stone yet.

Barack Obama holds a 7.3% lead in the Real Clear Politics average of all polls, but the latest Gallup tracking poll reveals that there are nearly twice as many undecided voters this year than there were in the last presidential election. The Investor's Business Daily/TIPP poll (which was closest to the mark in predicting the 2004 outcome -- 0.4% off the actual result) now says this is a three-point race.

 
APThis week also brought a reminder that Sen. Obama hasn't closed the sale. The Washington Post/ABC poll found 45% of voters still don't think he's qualified to be president, about the same number who doubted his qualifications in March.

This is seven points more than George W. Bush's highest reading in 2000 and the worst since Michael Dukakis's 56% unqualified rating in 1988. It explains why Mr. Obama has ignored Democratic giddiness and done two things to keep victory from slipping away.

First, he is using his money to try to keep John McCain from gaining traction. The Obama campaign raised $67 million in September and may be on track to raise $100 million in October. Sen. McCain opted last month for roughly $85 million in public financing, giving him less than half of Mr. Obama's funds for the campaign's final two months. Even with robust Republican National Committee fund raising to augment his spending, Mr. McCain is at a severe financial disadvantage.

So Mr. Obama is spending $35 million on TV this week versus the McCain/RNC total of $17 million. Mr. Obama is outspending Mr. McCain on TV in Virginia by a ratio of 4 to 1, in Florida by 3 to 1, and in Missouri and Nevada by better than 2 to 1. The disparity is likely to grow in the campaign's final weeks.

Money alone, however, won't decide the contest. John Kerry and the Democrats outspent Mr. Bush and the GOP in 2004 by $121 million and still lost.

Mr. Obama's other strategy is to do all he can to look presidential, including buying very expensive half-hour slots to address the country next week. He wants to give a serious, Oval-Office type address. This is smart. People appreciate Mr. Obama's empathy on the economy, but as they take a long look at what he wants to do about it, they will be less impressed, especially if Mr. McCain draws sharp contrasts with clear policy proposals.

Mr. Obama is trying to make the case that his lack of experience or record should not disqualify him. But in doing so, he seems to recognize that the U.S. is still a center-right country. His TV ads promise tax cuts and his radio ads savage Mr. McCain's health-care plan as a tax increase. It's a startling campaign conversion for the most liberal member of the Senate. We'll know on Election Day if he is able to get away with it.

About Karl Rove
Karl Rove served as Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush from 2000–2007 and Deputy Chief of Staff from 2004–2007. At the White House he oversaw the Offices of Strategic Initiatives, Political Affairs, Public Liaison, and Intergovernmental Affairs and was Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, coordinating the White House policy making process.

Before Karl became known as "The Architect" of President Bush's 2000 and 2004 campaigns, he was president of Karl Rove + Company, an Austin-based public affairs firm that worked for Republican candidates, nonpartisan causes, and nonprofit groups. His clients included over 75 Republican U.S. Senate, Congressional and gubernatorial candidates in 24 states, as well as the Moderate Party of Sweden.

Karl writes a weekly op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, is a Newsweek columnist and is now writing a book to be published by Simon & Schuster. Email the author at Karl@Rove.com or visit him on the web at Rove.com.
Similarly, Mr. McCain appears to be making three important course corrections. First, he and Gov. Sarah Palin are sharpening their stump speeches so their sound bites come off well on TV. Gone are offhand remarks and awkward comments read from notes perched on a podium. In are teleprompters and carefully crafted arguments. Mr. McCain is also more at ease than before and has an ebullient, come-from-behind underdog optimism that will serve him well in the final weeks.

Second, Mr. McCain is shaping a story line that draws on well-founded concerns about Mr. Obama's lack of record or experience. Mr. McCain is also bowing to reality and devoting most of his time to the economy. His narrative is he's the conservative reformer who'll lead and work hard to get things done, while Mr. Obama is the tax-and-spend liberal who's unprepared to lead and unwilling to act.

Mr. McCain is hitting Mr. Obama for wanting to raise taxes in difficult economic times, especially on small business and for the purpose of redistributing income, and for having lavish spending plans at a time when the economy is faltering. He's criticizing Mr. Obama for lingering on the sidelines while Mr. McCain dove in to help pass a rescue plan, necessary no matter how distasteful. And he's attacking Mr. Obama for not joining the fight in 2005 when reformers like Mr. McCain tried to rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Mr. McCain's other adjustment is his schedule. His campaign understands the dire circumstances it faces and is narrowing his travels almost exclusively to Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Missouri, Colorado and Nevada. If he carries those states, while losing only Iowa and New Mexico from the GOP's 2004 total, Mr. McCain will carry 274 Electoral College votes and the White House. It's threading the needle, but it's come to that.

This task, while not impossible, will be difficult. By mid-September, the McCain camp was slightly ahead in the polls. Then came the financial crisis. The past month has taken an enormous toll on the McCain campaign.

Whether it can find the right formula in the next 19 days to dig out is a question. If Mr. McCain succeeds, he will have engineered the most impressive and improbable political comeback since Harry Truman in 1948. But having to reach back more than a half-century for inspiration is not the place campaign managers want to be now.

Mr. Rove is a former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.
23025  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: October 15, 2008, 12:46:05 PM
See my entry today in the Iraq thread-- it mentions that recent attacks on Christians may have been the work of AQ.
23026  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: October 15, 2008, 12:44:42 PM
Then use something other than Wikipedia.  There's plenty out there on him and his influence on BO bodes quite ill for America.
23027  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: October 15, 2008, 12:40:48 PM


The Chaos Strategy

A federal appeals court ruled last night that Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner must provide county election boards with state voter registration information so they can check the validity of some 666,000 new voter registrations submitted to Ohio officials in recent months.

The order, which Ms. Brunner vigorously resisted, will mean county boards will be able to stop counting absentee ballots if the registration linked to them doesn't match the name of a real person listed in government databases.

Ms. Brunner's office had argued that the federal Help America Vote Act did not require any such matching, and that delays in processing absentee votes could mean some valid votes wouldn't be counted.

Meanwhile, thousands of additional suspect registrations turned in by activist groups like Acorn have surfaced in Ohio. Local election officials tell me the volume of possibly fraudulent registrations will make it difficult for them to process those that are valid. "It's almost as if groups like Acorn want deliberate chaos in the election system, which they can then exploit on Election Day to demand that suspect votes be given the benefit of the doubt and counted," one county official told me.


-- John Fund
23028  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: October 15, 2008, 12:37:51 PM
Can McCain 'Mondale' Obama?

In tonight's debate look for John McCain to tie Barack Obama to liberal positions that are essential to elements of the Democratic nominee's coalition.

Chief among them is so-called "card check" legislation that passed the House in 2007 only to be bogged down in the Senate. The bill is the No. 1 priority of Mr. Obama's union supporters and would provide a way to bypass the requirement for secret-ballot elections to unionize a company. Instead, employees would be deemed to have selected a union when a majority of workers sign a card stating support for such a move -- often in the presence of union organizers.

Mr. McCain briefly raised card check in a previous debate with Mr. Obama, but he now has an iconic liberal he can cite as a prominent opponent of the idea. Former Sen. George McGovern calls secret ballots in union elections a "basic right." He has even agreed to appear in an ad sponsored by a pro-business group that is running in seven states holding Senate elections.

"It's hard to believe that any politician would agree to a law denying millions of employees the right to a private vote," Mr. McGovern says in the ad. "I have always been a champion of labor unions. But I fear that today's union leaders are turning their backs on democratic workplace elections." In a follow-up interview with The Hill newspaper, Mr. McGovern said a secret ballot is fundamental to American understandings of democracy: "When we elect a president, sheriff or member of Congress, we walk into the voting booth and pull the curtain free of anyone trying to twist our arm."

Mr. Obama has been a staunch supporter of card check and will no doubt have to defend it if pressed in tonight's debate. As for the unions backing card check, they have done little to hide their displeasure with Mr. McGovern. "It is deeply, deeply disappointing that someone like Sen. McGovern, who got so much support from labor unions, has sided . . . against labor's top priority," AFL-CIO Organizing Director Stuart Acuff says. "It's shocking."


-- John Fund

Liddy Opens the Jar

How bad are things for Elizabeth Dole in North Carolina? One of the Senate GOP's headliners and stellar fundraisers has now been forced to reach into her own pocket to counter a Democratic spending onslaught.

Mrs. Dole has been battered by Democratic ads in support of State Senator Kay Hagan, who accuses Mrs. Dole of being a Washington show horse who doesn't deliver for North Carolina. One brutal ad sponsored by Chuck Schumer's Democratic Senate Campaign Committee shows two old-timers arguing about whether Mrs. Dole is "92 or 93." The ad clearly is meant to get voters thinking Mrs. Dole, 72, is older than she is -- though the real subject is a Roll Call ranking that found her the 93rd most effective Senator and another survey showing she voted 92% of the time with the Bush administration.

The DSCC spent $1.5 million against Mrs. Dole just in August, with Mr. Schumer personally defending the controversial ad, saying, "She's not the Elizabeth Dole that was elected when she first ran" in 2002.

Mrs. Dole told the Associated Press: "You get such a lot coming at you and spending a great deal of time raising money -- there just comes a point when you feel like you need to put some skin in the game."

Yet the decisive factor may be out of her control -- turnout in the McCain-Obama race. So far, Barack Obama has been outspending John McCain in the state, pouring money into voter mobilization. Pro-Democratic polling analyst Nate Silver calculates that the percentage of black registered voters has increased from 20.3% to 21.4%, while the number of white voters decreased from 76.7% to 75.2%.

A scheduled rally by Sarah Palin tomorrow near Greensboro may help Mrs. Dole and Senate Republicans more than it does Mr. McCain at this point. An ABC News analysis says the Dole-Hagan battle might determine whether Democrats storm to a filibuster-proof majority after November. Mrs. Palin will be joined by country singer Hank Williams Jr., performing his new song "The McCain-Palin Tradition."


-- Holman W. Jenkins Jr.

Quote of the Day

"Democratic politicians and activists are giddy over visions of a 60-seat majority in the Senate next year, but experts say they don't need quite that many to rewrite a wide range of national policies to reflect the priorities of their presidential nominee, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, if he is elected. Primarily, that's because Senate rules provide for expedited consideration of the budget bills, known as 'reconciliation' measures, that have become the favored legislative vehicles for the most ambitious spending and tax plans of recent presidents... [E]ven outside the reconciliation process, Democrats are likely to be able to attract crossover Republican votes on various domestic and foreign policy measures . . . and there is a strong possibility that a President Obama would be operating with more senators from his own party than any president since Jimmy Carter, even if Democrats do not make it to 60 seats" -- Congressional Quarterly's Jonathan Allen.

The Chaos Strategy

A federal appeals court ruled last night that Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner must provide county election boards with state voter registration information so they can check the validity of some 666,000 new voter registrations submitted to Ohio officials in recent months.

The order, which Ms. Brunner vigorously resisted, will mean county boards will be able to stop counting absentee ballots if the registration linked to them doesn't match the name of a real person listed in government databases.

Ms. Brunner's office had argued that the federal Help America Vote Act did not require any such matching, and that delays in processing absentee votes could mean some valid votes wouldn't be counted.

Meanwhile, thousands of additional suspect registrations turned in by activist groups like Acorn have surfaced in Ohio. Local election officials tell me the volume of possibly fraudulent registrations will make it difficult for them to process those that are valid. "It's almost as if groups like Acorn want deliberate chaos in the election system, which they can then exploit on Election Day to demand that suspect votes be given the benefit of the doubt and counted," one county official told me.


-- John Fund


23029  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / AQ #2 killed on: October 15, 2008, 09:38:11 AM
US troops kill No. 2 leader of al-Qaida in Iraq
By KIM GAMEL, Associated Press Writer 57 minutes ago


American troops acting on a tip killed the No. 2 leader of al-Qaida in Iraq — a Moroccan known for his ability to recruit and motivate foreign fighters — in a raid in the northern city of Mosul, the U.S. military said Wednesday.

The military statement described the man, known as Abu Qaswarah, as a charismatic leader who had trained in Afghanistan and managed to rally al-Qaida followers in Iraq despite U.S. and Iraqi security gains.

Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll, a U.S. spokesman in Baghdad, also said the military suspected that Iranian agents were trying to bribe Iraqi politicians to oppose negotiations over a security pact that would extend the presence of American troops in Iraq.

But, he said, the military had no reason to believe Iraqi politicians had taken the Iranians up on the offers.

"There are indicators that Iranian agents may come across the border and use money or other bribes to influence Iraqi politicians," Driscoll said. "It's a whole different matter whether Iraqi politicians would accept that."

U.S. troops killed Abu Qaswarah, also known as Abu Sara, on Oct. 5 after coming under fire during a raid on a building that served as an al-Qaida in Iraq "key command and control location for" in Mosul, the military said.

Abu Qaswarah — one of five insurgents killed — was later been positively identified, the military said, without elaborating.

The insurgent leader became the senior al-Qaida in Iraq emir of northern Iraq in June 2007 and had "historic ties to AQI founder Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and senior al-Qaida leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan," the military said.

It called him "al-Qaida in Iraq's second-in-command" as the senior operational leader for al-Zarqawi's successor, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir.

Driscoll said Abu Qaswarah directed the smuggling of foreign terrorists into northern Iraq and reportedly killed those who tried to return to their homelands rather than carry out suicide bombings and other attacks against Iraqis.

The announcement would indicate that al-Qaida in Iraq's leadership has maintained a presence despite recent reports that many had fled to Afghanistan and Pakistan where fighting has been on the rise.

Abu Qaswarah was described by the military as a "charismatic AQI leader who rallied AQI's northern network in the wake of major setbacks to the terrorist organization across Iraq."

The death of the senior al-Qaida in Iraq leader will cause a major disruption to the terror network, particularly in northern Iraq, the military said.

Nationwide violence has declined drastically over the past year, particularly in Baghdad, but the U.S. military has consistently warned al-Qaida in Iraq and other insurgents remain a serious threat.

A recent series of killings of Iraqi Christians in Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, has highlighted the continued dangers in northern Iraq, where many insurgents fled intensive U.S. military operations in the capital and surrounding areas.

The number of Christian families fleeing violence in Mosul since last week has reached 1,390 — or more than 8,300 people, local migration official Jawdat Ismaeel said Wednesday.

Ismaeel said humanitarian teams are distributing food and aid materials to all displaced families, who are largely seeking refuge in nearby Christian-dominated towns and villages.

Islamic extremists have frequently targeted Christians and other religious minorities since the 2003 U.S. invasion, forcing tens of thousands to flee Iraq. However, attacks declined as areas became more secure following a U.S. troops buildup, a U.S.-funded Sunni revolt against al-Qaida and a Shiite militia cease-fire. Driscoll said the attacks against the Christians bore the hallmarks of a "typical al-Qaida in Iraq tactic" of trying to provoke retaliatory killings by pitting members of religious and ethnic groups against each other.
23030  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / J Adams: on: October 14, 2008, 05:45:12 PM
"Duty is ours, results are God's."
John Quincy Adams
23031  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cover up on: October 14, 2008, 03:54:39 PM
London Sunday Times
October 12, 2008

Taliban Leader Killed By SAS Was Pakistan Officer

By Christina Lamb, in Kabul

British officials covered up evidence that a Taliban commander killed by special forces in Helmand last year was in fact a Pakistani military officer, according to highly placed Afghan officials.

The commander, targeted in a compound in the Sangin valley, was one of six killed in the past year by SAS and SBS forces. When the British soldiers entered the compound they discovered a Pakistani military ID on the body.

It was the first physical evidence of covert Pakistani military operations against British forces in Afghanistan even though Islamabad insists it is a close ally in the war against terror.

Britain’s refusal to make the incident public led to a row with the Afghan president Hamid Karzai, who has long accused London of viewing Afghanistan through the eyes of Pakistani military intelligence, which is widely believed to have been helping the Taliban.

“He feels he has been telling everyone about Pakistan for the past six years and here was the evidence, yet London refused to release it, because they care more about their relations with Islamabad than Kabul,” said a source close to the president. “He knows Britain is worried about inflaming its large Pakistani population, but that is no excuse.”

So furious was Karzai that he threatened to expel British diplomats. When some months later he was informed by the governor of Helmand that British officials were secretly negotiating with the Taliban, he expelled two men and accused Britain of wanting to set up a training camp for former Taliban fighters.

Karzai will visit London next month for talks with Gordon Brown in an attempt to repair the strained relations between the two countries.

“He is very sad about the breakdown of relations with Britain,” said the source. “He loves British culture and poetry, had a British education [at a school in India], likes tea in the afternoon and thinks Gordon Brown is a very decent man, not a cheat.”

British officials in Kabul refused to comment on the allegation that they had covered up the discovery of a Pakistani soldier. They insisted Karzai’s government had been informed of the negotiations with the Taliban, adding that “the camp was just a place for them to be reintegrated, learn about hygiene and things”.

During the war against the Soviet Union in the 1980s, officers from Pakistani military intelligence regularly accompanied Afghan mujaheddin inside Afghanistan and directed operations.

The Afghan claims of Pakistani involvement in Helmand were backed by a senior United Nations official who said he had been told by his superiors to keep quiet after Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN apparently threatened to stop contributing forces to peacekeeping missions. Pakistan is the UN’s biggest supplier of peacekeeping troops.

The coalition’s refusal to confront Pakistan changed after the bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul last July, when 41 people were killed. According to both British and US intelligence, phone intercepts led directly back to an Afghan cell of Pakistan’s military intelligence.

The past month has seen US forces carry out bombings and a ground raid on Pakistani territory. Claims of Pakistan’s involvement were rejected by Asif Durrani, the country’s chargé d’affaires in Kabul. “Afghanistan wants to blame someone else for its problems and Pakistan is just the whipping boy,” he said.

However, repeated accusations from Karzai about Pakistan’s active support for the Taliban have been backed by a senior US marine officer.

Lieutenant-Colonel Chris Nash, who commanded an embedded training team in eastern Afghanistan from June 2007 to March this year, told the Army Times that Pakistani forces flew repeated helicopter missions into Afghanistan to resupply a Taliban base camp during a fierce battle in June last year. Nash said: “We were on the receiving end of Pakistani military D-30 [a howitzer]. On numerous occasions Afghan border police checkpoints and observation posts were attacked by Pakistani military forces.”

Comments by Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith in The Sunday Times last week that a decisive military victory against the Taliban was not possible and negotiations should be opened have received widespread backing.

General Jean-Louis Georgelin, France’s military chief, said: “There is no military solution to the Afghan crisis and I totally share this feeling.”

Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, who initially dismissed the brigadier’s comments as “defeatist”, said on Friday that the US was now prepared to back talks with the Taliban.
23032  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: October 14, 2008, 03:46:31 PM
Acorn Feels Its Oats

The liberal anti-poverty group Acorn is fighting back against allegations by the McCain campaign that its habit of filing false voter registrations carries a danger of injecting voter fraud into the election.

Acorn announced today it will ask Senator McCain to call on Republican election officials in battleground states to guarantee that voters who have lost their homes to foreclosure will not lose their right to vote. Acorn also will mischievously release a video of a 2006 Acorn-sponsored event supporting immigration reform that Mr. McCain spoke at. "While in recent weeks your campaign has stooped to engaging in tactics that do not reflect the John McCain who proudly appeared at the 2006 Acorn event, we hold out hope that the 2008 John McCain will do the right thing," says a statement by the group.

Acorn will also ask for a meeting with what it calls Mr. McCain's "front men" who are chairing the campaign's voter integrity committee. It accuses former New Hampshire Senator Warren Rudman, a co-chair of the committee, of having "a well documented opposition to civil rights issues." The only example it cites is Mr. Rudman's 1983 opposition to a national federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King.

But Acorn's counterattack may be blunted today by news out of Ohio showing that fraudulently registered voters are already influencing the election outcome. The New York Post reports that Darnell Nash, one of four people subpoenaed in a Cuyahoga County probe of Acorn's voter-registration activities, "breezed into Ohio election offices" on September 30 and cast an invalid ballot. Mr. Nash did not show up for a hearing scheduled in his case yesterday.

-- John Fund

23033  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: October 14, 2008, 03:44:42 PM
If a respected journalist says something controversial at a media conference filled with reporters and bloggers but no one reports it, what is one to make of that?

Mark Halperin, an editor at large for Time magazine and coauthor of the campaign field guide "The Way to Win," was one of several speakers at yesterday's conference on the 2008 election sponsored by Time and CNN in New York. During his panel discussion, Mr. Halperin was asked if the media had been too soft on Mr. Obama. To the surprise of the largely liberal audience, his answer was yes. He went on to say that through the subtle choice of which stories to cover and where to deploy investigative resources, the national media had handed Mr. Obama "hundreds of millions in free publicity." He attributed the positive coverage in part to the historic nature of Mr. Obama's candidacy. But he also noted that only a few hands had gone up in the crowded room when the audience had been asked how many had voted for George W. Bush.

He quickly tempered his remarks by noting that John McCain had similarly been the beneficiary of positive media coverage in his 2000 campaign. "It is interesting that the media's favorite candidates in both parties both won their party's nominations this year," he observed. He called on reporters to look at their 2008 coverage of candidates after the election, in hopes that in the future "they do a better job treating people equally."

Mr. Halperin's comments were pithy, well argued and controversial. Yet, almost 24 hours after they were made, it appears none of the bloggers and reporters present for the event have chosen to report on them -- perhaps providing validation for his core statement about how bias is reflected in the choice of which stories to report and which to ignore.

-- John Fund
23034  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Black Swan on: October 14, 2008, 03:39:42 PM
The 1% Panic Our financial models were only meant to work 99% of the time.By L. GORDON CROVITZ

The Panic of 2008 is a crisis of trust. Investors don't trust the value of bad debts enough to offer market-clearing prices. Banks don't trust one another to stay in business long enough to do business together. And there's definitely no trust that Washington can avoid creating costly new moral hazards as it attempts to bail out the system.

But the most paralyzing loss of trust may be in Wall Street's system itself: How did the smartest people at the best banks running the most sophisticated financial models fail to forecast the collapse of mortgage-related securities? How did this unpredicted collapse devastate the system? And most of all, can we ever again trust the financial models on which value is supposed to be determined?

These questions matter because despite the current crisis, modern finance has delivered enormous benefits, from explaining to investors why they should diversify their investments to the creation of mutual and index funds. Related innovations helped financial institutions speed capital to its best use, fund new businesses and accelerate global prosperity. In other words, financial engineering worked beautifully -- until suddenly it didn't.

So what happened? Financial models take logic and historical data into account, but it's now clear that these elegant models have a serious weakness: They can't cope with illogical and uneconomic factors. Washington's insistence for years on artificial subsidies for mortgages through Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and other programs led to a loud "Does not compute!" that is still rocking the financial system.

 Here's how ill-conceived regulation poisoned the system. Until recently, bank CEOs and regulators slept well at night thanks to a financial model developed in the 1990s called "value at risk" or VaR. It assesses historical variances and covariances among different securities, informing financial institutions of the risks they're taking. By assessing risk factors across all securities, VaR can compare historical levels of risk for given portfolios, usually up to a 99% probability that banks would not lose more than a certain amount of money. In normal times, banks compare the VaR worst case with their capital to make sure their reserves can cover losses.

But VaR can't account for extreme unprecedented events -- the collapse of Barings in 1995 due to a rogue trader in Singapore, or today's government-mandated bad mortgages bundled into securities that are hard to value and unwind. The "1% likely" happened. And because the 1% literally didn't compute, there was no estimate of the stunning losses that have occurred.

Yale mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot pointed out the shortcomings of the VaR model in his "The (Mis)behavior of Markets," published in 2004. He noted that bell curves work for, say, disparities in the height of people. In markets, instead of flat tails of rare events at either end of the bell curve, there are "fat tails" of huge upsides and huge downsides. Markets are more complex than the neat shape of bell curves.

Last year's bestselling nonfiction book had a similar theme. In "The Black Swan," former trader Nassim Nicholas Taleb pointed out that extreme outcomes are actually common, warning that financial engineers -- "scientists," as he calls them -- ignore these unlikely outcomes at their peril. But today's credit panic was not entirely unpredictable. Mr. Taleb was prescient in writing, "The government-sponsored institution Fannie Mae, when I look at their risks, seems to be sitting on a barrel of dynamite, vulnerable to the slightest hiccup. But not to worry: Their large staffs of scientists deemed these events 'unlikely.'"

Likewise, the financial engineers at once high-flying hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management thought they had taken all risks into account, but the Russian financial crisis of 1998 blew their model. Last week the former general counsel of LTCM, James Rickards, reflected on how an incomplete VaR model undermined his firm. "Since we have scaled the system to unprecedented size, we should expect catastrophes of unprecedented size as well," he wrote in the Washington Post. "We're in the middle of one such catastrophe, and complexity theory says it will get much worse."

Global markets and new financial instruments are indeed complex. This complexity led to a fragility that made government meddling in markets more dangerous than ever before -- creating the 1% likely disaster. The good news for VaR and similar models is that the free market alone would not have allowed the bubble of subsidized mortgages, but the bad news is that it's far from clear that Congress has learned from the current crisis to pursue policy goals in ways that don't distort the fundamentals of markets.

Now the regulators trying to fix the damage in the financial system must also try to avoid more 1% likely crises. Transparent steps that restore market efficiency are better than complex, ad hoc policies that postpone market solutions. These programs should be judged on whether they make the financial models function better or function not at all. As we've learned, there's not much room in between.

Write to informationage@wsj.com
23035  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Spiritual Matters on: October 14, 2008, 03:08:09 PM
My wife found this and was greatly moved by it-- one of these days I will have both the courage and the time to watch it at the same time:

http://www.youtube.com:80/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo
23036  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Survialist issues: Hunkering down at home on: October 14, 2008, 03:03:36 PM
Sent by a friend:

Subject: Disaster Preparedness Begins at home
 
 September is National Preparedness month.  Please read and/or print
 out the following checklists to get your family ready at home.
 Compliments of the Dept of Homeland Security.
 
 Generic Checklist for home:
 http://www.ready.gov/america/_downloads/checklist.pdf
 Older citizens:
 http://www.ready.gov/america/getakit/seniors.html
 http://www.ready.gov/america/_downloads/older_americans.pdf
 
 People with disabilities:
 http://www.ready.gov/america/getakit/seniors.html
 http://www.ready.gov/america/_downloads/disabilities.pdf
 
 Pet Owners:
 http://www.ready.gov/america/getakit/pets.html
 http://www.ready.gov/america/_downloads/pets.pdf
 
 Some other things to consider that you won't find on these lists:
 1.  You can never have enough water and food - try to get enough for 2
 weeks.
 2.  Get a crowbar, hammer, wrenches.  Remember that you do have a jack
 in the truck of your car.  You may need them to get someone out of the
 rubble when we have an earthquake.
 3.  Rope.  You can get 50' of nylon rope at Big Lots for $3 a bundle.
 4.  Get leather gloves.  Broken glass will be everywhere.
 5.  Have extra tennis shoes, socks, and clothes where you can get to
 them - how about a backpack in the trunk of your car?  You may be
 stuck wearing the same clothes for a week, so take that into
 consideration.
 6.  Make sure everyone in your family knows a designated relative's
 phone number out of state so you can all call in and leave message for
 each other.  In many cases it may be the only way you'll have peace of
 mind knowing that they are ok.
 7.  How will you protect your family from thugs and looters?  You
 won't find this on any list.  Take a lesson from Hurricanes Katrina
 and Wilma.
 
 Remember, we have plans in place to take care of children and
 dependent adults on site in the event of an earthquake.  If your
 children aren't able to go to school, bring them with you when you
 report.
 
23037  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: ACORN on: October 14, 2008, 02:26:29 PM
I disagree strongly with McC on shamnesty and wanna puke when I think about how either candidate will handle this once elected.

That said, BO is deliberately cheating by messing with the integrity of the electoral process itself and McC is not.
23038  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: October 14, 2008, 02:15:58 PM
GOOD POST!

It leads me to reflect a moment , , , perhaps at it core this IS the problem-- I don't WANT government to be TOO efficient.  There's a lot of foolishness that literally is on the books but as a practical matter, AT LEAST BEFORE TECHNOLOGIES SUCH AS THOSE WE SEE HERE, wasn't really enforced. 

Also, there were a lot of liberal fascist nanny do-gooder ideas that simply weren't practical that might become practical now or in the not-so-distant future.

Does this help?
23039  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Cub Scout fundraising for Conrad Denny on: October 14, 2008, 02:09:36 PM
Well, this was a big success , , ,
23040  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Seminar: 10/11-12 Guro Crafty in Bloomington IL on: October 14, 2008, 02:08:12 PM
I had an awesome time Terry.  I am pleased to see what you and Scott have been doing and congratulations on making DBMAA Instructor!  (Likewise to Robin and Will of Memphis on making Group Leader!)  There were lots of great people there-- a fine, fine weekend.
23041  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: October 14, 2008, 12:00:37 PM
Actually GM that is Rachel taking me to task for my comments on Buddhism.  cheesy

Very good Rachel!  cheesy

But let us be clear, If I read correctly the terrorist Tamils are not the Buddhists here:

"Ethnic Sinhalese Buddhists make up about three-quarters of the island's population; Tamils, both Indian and Sri Lankan, are the next largest ethnic group. Most are Hindu. Tamil terrorism is rooted in conflict between the Tamils and the Sinhalese, who predominate in government."

i.e.the Buddhists are the government/majority population, NOT the terrorist Tamils.

"The Tamil population began to agitate for secession in the early 1970s, following Sinhalese measures to establish their cultural and political dominance. For example, Sinhalese was made the only official language and Buddhism was decreed the official religion. In the 1970s, student groups and others turned to armed protest to press their case with the government."

Armed resistance to English being the official language of the US would certainly tick me off more than a little.  As for ANY religion being an official religion, that strikes me as a really bad idea-- which is a fundamental problem I have with Sharia by the way.  That said, from this article we do not know what practical consequences resulted from this declaration.

"The conflict escalated in 1983, when anti-Tamil riots in the capital, Colomo, killed thousands and displaced almost 100,000 residents. The moment was decisive for many Tamils, who lent large scale support to independence movements." 

Coincidentally enough the DBMA Ass'n has a representative in Sri Lanka named Prasad and I will ask him about this.  He is Christian, which may put him in a good position to comment from a relatively impartial point of view.

That said, I think my larger point remains valid and essentially uncontested by this piece.  So far it appears that we have an ethnic conflict.  There's nothing here about Buddha saying that the Sinhalese must submit cut off the heads of the Tamils if they do not submit to Buddha.

I look forward to Prasad's input.

TAC,
Marc
23042  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: McCain on: October 14, 2008, 11:40:33 AM
Actually I found some of the typed in commentary to be a bit over the top but overall a good piece of guerrila theater.  Wish I had been back there-- this is where I grew up  grin

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQalRPQ8stI
23043  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Indonesia on: October 14, 2008, 11:01:48 AM
Second post of the AM
=================================

LA Times

The Mujahedin Council wants to put an end to what it sees as Western depravity, including racy ads and beauty contests. But opponents say the bill threatens free expression.
By Paul Watson, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
October 14, 2008
JAKARTA, INDONESIA -- A beauty queen in a full-length evening gown is enough to make Abu Mohammed Jibril's blood boil.

Those bare arms and uncovered head. That cleavage. And don't get him started on the bikini portion of the show.


 
 Abu Mohammed JibrilMiss Universe is disgusting pornography to the deputy head of Indonesia's Mujahedin Council.

"It's destructive," he said of the contest that airs here. "Miss Universe is very famous, so Muslim mothers want their daughters to be like Miss Universe and copy what they've seen.

"So all of these things, like Miss Universe, fashion shows, are degrading morality. They're all porn. A Muslim woman should not let her hair be seen by other people."


Jibril's council hopes a proposed anti-pornography law will put an end to what it sees as Western depravity. But religious and cultural minorities, artists, teachers and other opponents warn that the bill, which supporters hope will come up for a vote in parliament this week, threatens free expression in Indonesia.

The Muslim council is headed by Abu Bakar Bashir, who has been widely accused of being the spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiah, Al Qaeda's affiliate in Southeast Asia, a claim he denies. Still, his council shares Al Qaeda's sharp disdain for what Bashir and his followers consider Western moral pollution.

When worshipers answered the call to prayer at Jibril's Jakarta mosque on a recent afternoon, one young man arrived wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a portrait of Osama bin Laden.

Jibril sat for an interview on a green prayer rug, behind the wooden lectern he uses for sermons. Vilifying immoral dress, loose sex and other social trends he sees as signs of social decay, he paused only for an occasional question -- and to answer the male voice reciting a verse from the Koran, which is his cellphone's ring tone.

To punctuate each point, he flashed his palms, fingers stretched wide in little starbursts around his white turban.

"It's not only drugs and criminals that are at the root of all the devastation of our younger generation, but also the culture of pornography," said Jibril. "That is why we find many husbands cheating on their wives, and many wives cheating on their husbands."

Indonesia's long debate over the anti-porn bill, which has gone through many revisions, is dividing a nation founded on principles that include "Unity in Diversity." The Muslim majority has long been known for respecting the rights of religious minorities. Although this is the most populous Muslim nation, women more commonly wear Western fashions than head scarves.

The proposed law casts a broad net for purveyors of smut. It defines porn as sexual material that includes photographs, cartoons, films, poems, vocalization, conversations and body gestures in the media, or in public shows, exhibits or performances.

Those that "arouse sexual propensity, desires or longings" or "contravene community ethics, decency or morality" would be criminal acts if the bill becomes law.

Producers of obscene material, which would include depictions of sexual intercourse, child pornography, sexual violence, masturbation and what is described as "allusions to nudity," would face up to 15 years in prison or a maximum fine equivalent to $1.5 million.

Distributors of porn, which also would include what the bill's drafters call racy advertising, could be sentenced to a maximum three-year prison term or a $500,000 fine.

Backers of the bill's provisions against the sexual exploitation of children, Internet porn and other, more conventional measures against indecency decry what they consider the overkill of the measure's more aggressive elements. The loudest opposition comes from the resort island of Bali, where Hindus are a majority and Western tourists exposing skin are part of the scenery.

On Saturday, thousands of protesters from around the country came to Bali to rally against the bill, which opponents say is a threat to minority cultures. To make their point, Papuan tribesmen danced wearing only traditional penis sheaths and body paint.

Bali Gov. Made Mangku Pastika raised objections to the bill in a letter this month to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the speaker of the House of Representatives.

Jibril discounts the governor's objections, which he says are to be expected from the leader of a province where "they gain income from allowing foreigners to shows their breasts, to get naked by the beach, to kiss on the lips in public." Jibril said he doubts the bill will pass because the government is a cabal of liars intent on prolonging the debate to manipulate voters. In the end, the politicians will side with minorities and Muslims will give up on peaceful protest, he said in what sounded like a veiled threat.

"There will be a time when Muslims are tired of holding these [mass protests] and then something unwanted can happen," he warned.

23044  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: October 14, 2008, 10:56:30 AM
ISTANBUL — High school hurt for Havva Yilmaz. She tried out several selves. She ran away. Nothing felt right.


Havva Yilmaz, center, with friends at a cafe in Istanbul. Ms. Yilmaz has embraced her religious identity, and has campaigned for tolerance of those who, like her, choose to express their beliefs.


“There was no sincerity,” she said. “It was shallow.”

So at 16, she did something none of her friends had done: She put on an Islamic head scarf.

In most Muslim countries, that would be a nonevent. In Turkey, it was a rebellion. Turkey has built its modern identity on secularism. Women on billboards do not wear scarves. The scarves are banned in schools and universities. So Ms. Yilmaz dropped out of school. Her parents were angry. Her classmates stopped calling her.

Like many young people at a time of religious revival across the Muslim world, Ms. Yilmaz, now 21, is more observant than her parents. Her mother wears a scarf, but cannot read the Koran in Arabic. They do not pray five times a day. The habits were typical for their generation — Turks who moved from the countryside during industrialization.

“Before I decided to cover, I knew who I was not,” Ms. Yilmaz said, sitting in a leafy Ottoman-era courtyard. “After I covered, I finally knew who I was.”

While her decision was in some ways a recognizable act of youthful rebellion, in Turkey her personal choices are part of a paradox at the heart of the country’s modern identity.

Turkey is now run by a party of observant Muslims, but its reigning ideology and law are strictly secular, dating from the authoritarian rule in the 1920s of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, a former army general who pushed Turkey toward the West and cut its roots with the Ottoman East. For some young people today, freedom means the right to practice Islam, and self-expression means covering their hair.

They are redrawing lines between freedom and devotion, modernization and tradition, and blurring some prevailing distinctions between East and West.

Ms. Yilmaz’s embrace of her religious identity has thrust her into politics. She campaigned to allow women to wear scarves on college campuses, a movement that prompted emotional, often agonized, debates across Turkey about where Islam fit into an open society. That question has paralyzed politics twice in the past year and a half, and has drawn hundreds of thousands into the streets to protest what they call a growing religiosity in society and in government.

By dropping out of the education system, she found her way into Turkey’s growing, lively culture of young activists.

She attended a political philosophy reading group, studying Hegel, St. Augustine and Machiavelli. She took sociology classes from a free learning center. She met other activists, many of them students trying to redefine words like “modern,” which has meant secular and Western-looking for decades. She made new friends, like Hilal Kaplan, whose scarf sometimes had a map of the world on it.

Their fight is not solely about Islam. Turkey is in ferment, and Ms. Yilmaz and her young peers are demanding equal rights for all groups in Turkey. They are far less bothered by the religious and ethnic differences that divide older generations. “Turkey is not just secular people versus religious people,” Ms. Kaplan said. “We were a very segregated society, but that segregation is breaking up.”

In a slushy week in the middle of January, the head scarf became the focus of a heated national outpouring, and Ms. Yilmaz one of its most eloquent defenders.

The government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged to pass a law letting women who wear them into college. Staunchly secular Turks opposed broader freedoms for Islam, in part because they did not trust Mr. Erdogan, a popular politician who began his career championing a greater role for Islam in politics and who has since moderated his stance.

Turkey remains a democratic experiment unique in the Muslim world. The Ottomans dabbled in democracy as early as 1876, creating a Constitution and a Parliament. The country was never colonized by Western powers, as Arabs were. It gradually developed into a vibrant democracy. The fact that young people like Ms. Yilmaz are protesting at all is one of its distinguishing features.

In many ways, Ms. Yilmaz’s scarf freed her, but for many other women, it is the opposite. In poor, religiously conservative areas in rural Turkey, girls wear scarves from young ages, and many Turks feel strongly that without state regulation, young women would come under more pressure to cover up.

The head scarf bill, in that respect, could lead to less freedom for women, they argued. But for Ms. Yilmaz, the anger against the bill was hard to understand.

So one day, armed with a microphone and a strong sense of justice, Ms. Yilmaz marched into a hotel in central Istanbul and, with two friends, both in scarves, made her best case





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


Page 2 of 3)


“The pain that we’ve been through as university doors were harshly shut in our faces taught us one thing,” she said, speaking to reporters. “Our real problem is with the mentality of prohibition that thinks it has the right to interfere with people’s lives.”



Generation Faithful

Ms. Yilmaz’s heartfelt speech, written with her friends, drew national attention. They were invited on television talk shows. They gave radio and newspaper interviews. Part of their appeal came from their attempt to go beyond religion to include all groups in Turkish society, like ethnic and sectarian minorities.

After Ms. Yilmaz left high school, she joined a group called the Young Civilians, a diverse band of young people who used dark humor and occasional references to the philosopher Michel Foucault to criticize everything from the state’s repression of Kurds, the biggest ethnic minority, to its day of “Youth and Sport,” a series of Soviet-style rallies of students in stadiums every spring.

Their symbol was a Converse sneaker. Their members were funny and irreverent. One once joked that if you mentioned the name Marx, young women without head scarves assumed you were talking about the British department store Marks & Spencer, while ones in scarves understood the reference to the philosopher.

In a tongue-in-cheek effort to change perceptions of Kurds, the group ran a discussion program called “Let’s Get a Little Kurdish,” which featured sessions on Kurdish music, history and — in a particularly rebellious twist — even language.

By March, the month after Parliament passed the final version of the head scarf proposal, the debate had reached a frenzied pitch. Ms. Yilmaz and some friends — some in scarves, some not — agreed to go on a popular television talk show. The audience’s questions were angry.

One young woman stood up and, looking directly at another in a scarf, said that she did not want her on campus, said Neslihan Akbulut, a friend of Ms. Yilmaz, who had helped to compose the head scarf statement. Another said she felt sorry for them because they were oppressed by men. A third fretted that allowing them into universities would lead to further demands about jobs, resulting in an “invasion.”

Ms. Yilmaz said later: “I thought, are we living in the same country? No, it’s impossible.”

They did not give up. They spent the day in a drafty cafe in central Istanbul, wearing boots and coats and going over their position with journalists, one by one.

“If women are ever forced to wear head scarves, we should be equally sensitive and stand against it,” Ms. Akbulut said.

One of the journalists said, “You don’t support gays.”

Ms. Kaplan countered: “Islam tells us to fight this urge,” but she said that did not affect a homosexual’s rights as a citizen. “I am against police oppression of homosexuals. I am against a worldview that diminishes us to our scarves and homosexuals to the bedroom.”

Ms. Yilmaz agreed. “When you wear a scarf,” she said, “you are expected to act and think in a certain way, and support a certain political party. You’re stripped of your personality.”

The young women say that the scarf, contrary to popular belief, was not forced on them by their families. Some women wear it because their mothers did. For others, like Ms. Yilmaz, it was a carefully considered choice.

Though it is not among the five pillars of Islam — the duties required for every Muslim, including daily prayer — Ms. Yilmaz sees it as a command in the Koran.

“Physical contact is something special, something private,” she said, describing the thinking behind her covering. “Constant contact takes away from the specialness, the privacy of the thing you share.”

Still, in Turkey, traditional rules are often bent to accommodate modern life. Handshaking, for example, is a widespread Turkish custom, and most women follow it. Turkey is culturally very different from Arab societies, and for that reason interprets Islam differently. Islam here is heavily influenced by Sufism, an introspective strain that tends to be more flexible.

“You can’t reject an extended hand,” Ms. Kaplan said. “You don’t want to break a person’s heart.”






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

(Page 3 of 3)



Young activists like Ms. Yilmaz are driving change in Turkish society against a backdrop of growing materialism and consumerism. Most young Turks care little for politics and are instead occupied with the daily task of paying the bills.

This is the seventh in a series of articles examining the lives of the young across the Muslim world at a time of religious revival.

That is an easier task in Turkey than in a number of Middle Eastern countries, because Turkey is relatively affluent. After three decades of intense development, its economy is five times bigger than Egypt’s — a country with roughly the same population.

The wealth has profoundly shaped young lives. In cities, young people no longer have to live with their parents after marriage. They take mortgages. They buy furniture on credit. They compete for jobs in new fields like marketing, finance and public relations.

In past generations, women lived with their husband’s families, doubling their work.

“When you don’t have time to do anything for yourself, you don’t have time to question anything, even religion,” Ms. Kaplan said.

The economic changes that have swept Turkish society, bringing cellphones, iPods and the Internet, are transforming the younger generation. Young people are more connected to the Western world than ever before. A quick visit to a bookstore or a movie theater offers proof.

Observant Turks are grappling with questions like: Where does praying fit in a busy life of e-mail messages and 60-hour weeks? How do you hold on to Eastern tradition in a rising tide of Western culture?

The head scarf debate ended abruptly in June, when Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruled that the new law allowing women attending universities to wear scarves was unconstitutional, because it violated the nation’s principles of secularism.

Ms. Yilmaz got the news in a text message from her friend. In her bitter disappointment, she realized how much hope she had held out. “How can I be a part of a country that does not accept me?” she said.

Still, she has no regrets and is not giving up. “What we did was worth something,” she said. “People heard our voices. One day the prohibition is imposed on us. The next day, it could be someone else. If we work together, we can fight it.”
23045  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: ACORN on: October 14, 2008, 10:36:56 AM
copied from the 2008 thread:

Vote drives defended, despite fake names
By Richard Danielson, Times Staff Writer
In print: Tuesday, October 14, 2008


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mickey Mouse tried to register to vote in Florida this summer, but Orange County elections officials rejected his application, which had an ACORN stamp on it. 
 Mickey Mouse tried to register to vote in Florida this summer.

Orange County elections officials rejected his application, which was stamped with the logo of the nonprofit group ACORN.

Tow truck driver Newton Bell did register to vote in Orange County this summer. In the hands of ACORN, his paperwork went through without a hitch.

Two cases, two outcomes, each with a connection to ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

Nationwide, ACORN is a favorite GOP target for allegations of voter registration fraud this year.

That's not new. Similar complaints followed the 2004 elections. A criminal investigation in Florida found no evidence of fraud. ACORN even has a cameo role in the scandal over the 2006 firings of several U.S. attorneys by the Bush Justice Department.

Under attack again, ACORN leaders defend their work. Often, they say, things are as not simple as they're portrayed.

Take Mickey Mouse.

Yes, that's their logo. But they say their workers routinely scanned all suspicious applications.

"We don't think this card came through our system," said Brian Kettenring, ACORN's head organizer in Florida.

With more than 450,000 member families nationwide — 14,000 in Florida — ACORN is a grass roots advocacy group focused on health care, wages, affordable housing and foreclosure.  Bell, the truck driver, certainly, is more representative of ACORN's work in Florida than the cartoon mouse is.

This year, ACORN signed up 1.3-million voters nationwide and about 152,000 in Florida, mostly in Orange, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. ACORN estimates it flagged 2 percent of its Florida registrations as problematic because they were incomplete, duplicates or just plain bogus.

That's enough to give headaches to election officials and to provide ammunition to Republican activists.

Brevard County elections officials have turned over 23 suspect registrations from ACORN to prosecutors. The state Division of Elections has received two ACORN-related complaints, in Orange and Broward counties.  ACORN wasn't active in the Tampa Bay area. Last week, however, Pinellas County elections officials gave local prosecutors 35 questionable registrations from another group, Work for Progress. 

The GOP accuses ACORN of registration fraud all over the country. In Las Vegas, authorities said the group's petitions included the names of the starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys.

"This is part of a widespread and systemic effort … to undermine the election process," says Republican National Committee chief counsel Sean Cairncross, who describes ACORN as a "quasicriminal organization."

No, Kettenring said, it's more like Wal-Mart.

"Some percentage of Wal-Mart workers try to get paid without doing their work or steal from their employer," he said.

Some ACORN workers, he said, have simply made up names.

Maybe, elections officials say, but it's still annoying.

"We did experience a significant amount of problems, enough that we did contact the group to express some of our frustration with their work," said Linda Tanko, Orange County's senior deputy supervisor for voter services.

ACORN's problems included applications with unreadable handwriting, missing information, signatures that didn't match those on file, altered dates of birth or Social Security numbers, applications for people already registered to vote and names that appeared repeatedly, often with different addresses.

ACORN said it terminates canvassers who forge applications. In Broward County, it fired one worker after he turned in applications with similar handwriting and brought the matter to the attention of the Supervisor of Elections Office.

Pay to gather registrations started at $8 an hour, and the goal was 20 signups per day. The organization did not pay by the signature or pay bonuses for volume. The organization also tried to follow up on each registration, calling the person listed to confirm that the form is accurate.

In most states, ACORN must turn in every form that is filled out. "We must turn in every voter registration card by Florida law, even Mickey Mouse," Kettenring said.

Well, not yet, said Jennifer Krell Davis, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of State.

Florida does have a law saying third-party voter registration groups must turn in every form without regard to things like party affiliation, race, ethnicity or gender. So far, however, the state has not written the rules to implement it.

In Florida, ACORN is best known for its 2004 effort to lead a petition drive to raise the minimum wage. The FDLE looked into voter fraud allegations then and found no laws were broken.  ACORN also played a role in the firing of one of nine U.S. attorneys dismissed in 2006.  In New Mexico, U.S. Attorney David Iglesias was fired "because of complaints by elected officials who had a political interest in the outcome" of, among other things, a Republican voter fraud complaint against ACORN, according to an internal Justice Department report last month.  This year, 39 members of the House of Representatives have asked Attorney General Michael Mukasey to investigate ACORN.  One of those, Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Oviedo, also has written to supervisor of elections offices in Central Florida seeking "all ACORN-related registration of voters within the last two years."

Republicans also accuse Sen. Barack Obama of trying to distance himself from ACORN, which he represented in a federal lawsuit in 1995.

ACORN's political action committee has endorsed Obama, but the group says its voter registration efforts are nonpartisan.

And the McCain campaign's complaints now are puzzling, ACORN says, because two years ago McCain was the keynote speaker at an immigration reform rally ACORN co-sponsored in Miami. "In 2006," Kettenring said, "we were working together."

Richard Danielson can be reached at danielson@sptimes.com or (813)269-5311.

23046  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: October 14, 2008, 10:33:57 AM
JDN wrote:

"Not sure where to post this, but on this Subject and many others on this forum Islam in general has been badly maligned. 
Yes, we are are war.  And yes, there are some very bad Muslims as there are bad Christians, Jews, and Buddhists although
bad Muslims seem to rank near the top.  Yet, we seem to paint all Muslims as being bad; I don't think it's true.  I think we
need to stop being racists and simply be human and try a little tolerance and understanding."

Ummm , , , I invite you to name us some "bad Buddhists".  Any terrorist bombings?  Any fatwas?  Any beheadings? Any beatings of women by purity police?  Any destruction of the symbols of other religions?  Any thing at all?  rolleyes

I challenge you to show where this forum is about maligning Muslims and Islam.  This forum is about TRUTH.  To speak the Truth is not to malign- and to conflate the two is , , , a malignment of its own.

Where do we "paint all Muslims as being bad"? 

For example, I have repeatedly made the point here that we need to define this war with Islamic Fascism as being between Civilization and Barbarism, not against Islam when Islam respects "Pursuit of Happiness enabled by Freedom of Choice, informed by Freedom of Speech, and guaranteed by Separation of Church and State".    The very purpose of this formulation is to leave it up to Muslims to decide what their religion is to be!

There was a time (one thousand years ago) when Islam led the world in science and shone in many ways.  Then it decided to freeze itself in its understandings (I forget the name for this decision) and with this decision, things began to go downhill and now we have a situatiaon where intellectually brave and honest people are left to fairly wonder if they can respect "Pursuit of Happiness enabled by Freedom of Choice, informed by Freedom of Speech, and guaranteed by Separation of Church and State". 

If they cannot, then there is a fundamental problem unique to Islam and Islam is fundamentally seditious to the American creed in a way that has nothing to do with freedom of religion and everything to do with self-defense.   If they DO respect and support "Pursuit of Happiness enabled by Freedom of Choice, informed by Freedom of Speech, and guaranteed by Separation of Church and State", then we will see it in support from American Muslims (e.g. with language skills, as well as politically) for efforts to deal with Islamic Fascism. 

As for Muslims outside of America, for them too it is for them to decide what their religion is to be.  If the relgion is about fatwas for books and cartoons, then there is a fundamental problem.  If the religion is about death to apostates (see e.g. yesterday's post about Iran in Islam in Islamic Countries) then it is silliness incarnate to blather about racism.  (Indeed, in that Islam is not a race, it IS silliness, but that is a separate point.)

In this forum we are ALL about understanding-- WE SEEK TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IS TRUE, not to find ways to believe that avoid the search for Truth.    As for "tolerance", tolerance begets tolerance.  OTOH tolerance of that which seeks to destroy one's tolerance is simply , , , the path of those who fear to speak truth to religious fascism.

"Tere are more than 1.2 million Arab-Americans and about 7 million Muslim-Americans, former Cabinet secretaries, members of Congress, successful business people, normal average Americans from all walks of life."

I have seen articles suggesting that these numbers have been puffed up, but putting that point aside I will agree.  There ARE many American Muslims who are fine people and good Americans. (I'm not wild about that Muslim congressman from MI though).  Indeed we do not see here in America analogs of the Paristinian Revolt that we see in Paris and elsewhere in France.  America has been good to them, and many of them seek to be good to America.  There are some (far too few in my opinion) who help OUR country with their language skills.  There are some (far too few in my opinion) who sign up to serve our Armed Forces.  I have a doctor who is a Muslim.

JDN, I have complete confidence that you are a good person of a good heart and I am sorry that I feel the need for such vigorous words in this post-- but I utterly reject your charge that this forum is about racism and intolerance.

TAC,
Marc
23047  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: October 14, 2008, 09:38:50 AM
GM:

As always you paste interesting and pertinent pieces , , , without personal commentary.  Would you care to personally answer BBG's reasoned personal response to you?

Marc
23048  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: October 14, 2008, 08:21:00 AM
As a Noble winner, Stiglitz is certainly a big name, but I find this piece singularly unimpressive.

For example, lets look at his list of woe:

"Virtually all the indicators look grim. Inflation is running at an annual rate of nearly 6 percent, its highest level in 17 years. Unemployment stands at 6 percent; there has been no net job growth in the private sector for almost a year. Housing prices have fallen faster than at any time in memory—in Florida and California, by 30 percent or more. Banks are reporting record losses, only months after their executives walked off with record bonuses as their reward. President Bush inherited a $128 billion budget surplus from Bill Clinton; this year the federal government announced the second-largest budget deficit ever reported. During the eight years of the Bush administration, the national debt has increased by more than 65 percent, to nearly $10 trillion (to which the debts of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae should now be added, according to the Congressional Budget Office). Meanwhile, we are saddled with the cost of two wars. The price tag for the one in Iraq alone will, by my estimate, ultimately exceed $3 trillion."

a) inflation is a function of too much money being printed.  Gold has gone from $250 to over $900 during the Bush years and interest rates are negative.   The govt, via the Fed, prints money and as such this is 100% a government caused problem. 
b) the 6% number he quotes for inflation, is that of one month at the peak of peak oil prices, which have declined dramatically since then.  I don't know the time lag for new data, but it will be intereting to see.  I comment that making the point as he does based upon one month, a month which I am sure a bright fellow likes him to know to be a typical, is the sort of type of persuasion that I would expect from a chattering class piece, not a Nobel laureate.
c) Again, the government deficit is a function of , , , drum roll please , , , the government!!!  Duh!!!  The deficit has increased despite an increase in revenues (until this year at any rate!) because , , , shocking development here  , , , government spending has increased dramatically.
d) FM and FM, and their debt, are the creations of , , , the government!!!
e) war is waged by , , , the government!!!

Yet somehow from this tale of woe he concludes the cause was the free market and the solution is , , , the government!!!

I find it remarkably unserious for a lengthy piece (lengthy enough to require two entries in our forum here) by a serious economist to not address that the government has pushed private behavior towards the reckless due to causing inflation, due to negative interest rates, due to a dramatically fallling currency, due to the force of law of the CRA (Community Reinvestment Act or something like that) which forced lenders to lend to mass numbers of unqualified people-- people who numbers now swell the data of foreclosures--and particulary due to the FMs and all that they have spawned.  Add in the unintended consequences of the "mark to market" regulations too!  For him not to address these points in a piece that blames the free market and proposes MORE GOVERNMENT is simply extraordinary.

I am unable to comprehend the derivatives thing enough to comment there, but until I do understand better, it seems to me that what transpired would not have transpired or would have transpired to a significantly lesser degree but for the underlying impetus of unsound money and negative interest rates.
23049  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / VA Ratifying Convention on: October 14, 2008, 07:57:45 AM
"That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a
well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people trained
to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defence of a free state;
that standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty,
and therefore ought to be avoided, as far as the circumstances
and protection of the community will admit; and that, in all
cases, the military should be under strict subordination to,
and governed by, the civil power."

Recommended Bill of Rights from the Virginia Ratifying Convention,
27 June 1778

Reference: The Debates of the Several State..., Elliot, vol. 3
(659)
23050  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Water at Gulliver' on: October 13, 2008, 10:17:25 PM
America Will Remain the Superpower When the tide laps at Gulliver's waistline, it usually means the Lilliputians are already 10 feet under.By BRET STEPHENS
Article
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Constantinople fell to the Ottomans after two centuries of retreat and decline. It took two world wars, a global depression and the onset of the Cold War to lay the British Empire low.

 
APSo it's a safe bet that the era of American dominance will not be brought to a close by credit default swaps, mark-to-market accounting or (even) Barney Frank.

Not that there's a shortage of invitations to believe otherwise. Almost in unison, Germany's finance minister, Russia's prime minister and Iran's president predict the end of U.S. "hegemony," financial and/or otherwise. The New York Times weighs in with meditations on "A Power That May Not Stay So Super." Der Spiegel gives us "The End of Hubris." Guardian columnist John Gray sees "A Shattering Moment in America's Fall From Power."

Much of this is said, or written, with ill-disguised glee. But when the tide laps at Gulliver's waistline, it usually means the Lilliputians are already 10 feet under. Before yesterday's surge, the Dow had dropped 25% in three months. But that only means it had outperformed nearly every single major foreign stock exchange, including Germany's XETRADAX (down 28%) China's Shanghai exchange (down 30%), Japan's NIKK225 (down 37%), Brazil's BOVESPA (down 41%) and Russia RTSI (down 61%). These contrasts are a useful demonstration that America's financial woes are nobody else's gain.

On the other hand, global economic distress doesn't invariably work at cross-purposes with American interests. Hugo Chávez's nosedive toward bankruptcy begins when oil dips below $80 a barrel, the price where it hovers now. An identical logic, if perhaps at a different price, applies to the petrodictatorships in Moscow and Tehran, which already are heavily saddled with inflationary and investor-confidence concerns. Russia will also likely burn through its $550 billion in foreign-currency reserves faster than anticipated -- a pleasing if roundabout comeuppance for last summer's Georgian adventure.

Nor does the U.S. seem all that badly off, comparatively speaking, when it comes to its ability to finance a bailout. Last month's $700 billion bailout package seems staggeringly large, but it amounts to a little more than 5% of U.S. gross domestic product. Compare that to Germany's $400 billion to $536 billion rescue package (between 12% and 16% of its GDP), or Britain's $835 billion plan (30%).

Of course it may require considerably more than $700 billion to clean out our Augean Stables. But here it helps that the ratio of government debt to GDP in the U.S. runs to about 62%. For the eurozone, it's 75%; for Japan, 180%.

It also helps that the U.S. continues to have the world's largest inflows of foreign direct investment; that it ranks third in the world (after Singapore and New Zealand) for ease of doing business, according to the World Bank; and that its demographic trends aren't headed toward a tall and steep cliff -- as they are in the EU, Russia, Japan and China.

Above all, the U.S. remains biased toward financial transparency. I am agnostic as to whether mark-to-market accounting is a good idea; last month's temporary ban on short-selling financials seemed a bad one.

But a system that demands timely and accurate financial disclosure and doesn't interfere with price discovery will invariably prove more resilient over time than a system that does not make such demands. If Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were financial time bombs of one kind, then surely China's state-owned enterprises are time bombs of another. Can anyone determine with even approximate confidence the extent of their liabilities?

This isn't to say that the abrupt failure of the SOEs would be in anyone's interests, including the U.S.'s. But one of the unremarked ironies of the present crisis is that America's financial vulnerabilities came fully into view months before Europe's (or the rest of the world's) did. That's one reason the dollar has rallied in recent months. It's also why the U.S. is likely to come through the crisis much more quickly than, say, Japan, which spent the better part of the 1990s hiding its own banking crisis from itself.

Exactly how -- and how quickly -- the U.S. does come through is anyone's guess. Recessions are periodic facts of economic life that tend to last anywhere between six and 16 months. Severe recessions or depressions are fundamentally political events that can last a decade or longer -- however long economic policy remains bad.

If the next administration is wise, it will do what it can to help the markets clear, let the recession take its course, and do what it can to preserve intact a financial system that has served us splendidly. If it is unwise, it will embark on several years of grandiose social experimentation. Either way, the United States will eventually regain its economic footing and maintain its place.

Write to bstephens@wsj.com
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