Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / News crew attacked
on: May 20, 2008, 01:59:36 PM
TV news crew attacked by officials at tax-funded Muslim school
Posted at: 05/19/2008 02:54:48 PM
By: Nicole Muehlhausen, Web Producer
News crew confronted during report at TiZA charter school
In an attempt to report about the new findings from the Department of Education Monday, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS went to Tarik ibn Zayad Academy in Inver Grove Heights. While on school grounds, our crew was confronted by school officials. Our photographer was injured while wrestling with the two men over the camera. Our photographer was examined by paramedics and suffered minor shoulder and back injuries.
The state education department on Monday directed the charter school to "correct" two areas related to religion at the school on Monday.
Tarik ibn Zayad Academy, which focuses on Middle Eastern culture and shares a mosque with the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, came under fire after a teacher alleged that the school was offering religious instruction in Islam to its students.
"The Minnesota Department of Education goes to great lengths to make clear to charter schools and their sponsors that, while schools should appropriately accomodate students' religious beliefs, they must be 'nonsectarian' under the state's charter school law," said the state's education Deputy Commissioner Chas Anderson.
The allegations first surfaced after an article by a columnist for the Star Tribune. The Education Department subsequently began a review of the south metro school and released its findings Monday. The agency said it was concerned about the school, with about 300 students, accommodating communal prayer and providing transportation to an after-school religious program.
"We have directed the school to take appropriate corrective actions regarding these matters and will continue to provide oversight to ensure that the school is in compliance with state and federal law," Anderson said.http://kstp.com/article/stories/S449649.shtml?cat=1
You can watch the attack on the news channel web site.
You Tube has it as well.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=895U5aVbU7k
To avoid blurring the line between religion and public education, a Twin Cities charter school must undertake "corrective actions," the state Department of Education said Monday.
Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, which teaches hundreds of Muslim students at its Inver Grove Heights and Blaine campuses, should modify its communal prayers on Fridays to make sure students aren't missing too much school, according to the state report.
The report also recommends the school provide after-school busing at different times for students who aren't participating in religious activities.
State officials did not have any concerns with the school's instruction or curriculum.
"With regard to the areas reviewed, most of TiZA's operations are in compliance with state and federal law," Deputy Commissioner Chas Anderson said in a statement.
The state's most important finding is that TiZA is not teaching Islam to students, said Asad Zaman, the school's executive director.
"When something is illegal, it's illegal," he said. "We have done nothing illegal."
He called the state's concerns minor but said the K-8 school will cooperate with the department to propose alternative schedules.
Many TiZA students take five minutes Monday through Thursday to pray, and this causes little interruption, according to the report. But on Fridays — the Muslim holy day — a 30-minute chunk of time is set aside for students to pray. The department is concerned that students
who pray that day may not fulfill the state's minimum hourly attendance requirement, that the prayer takes place in a public school building, and that younger students may not understand that teachers who decide to pray with them are not promoting Islam.
Zaman, who does not participate in the prayer time, said community volunteers run the Friday prayer in the school gymnasium. The state's other concern is with the school's transportation schedule: School is dismissed around 3:30 p.m.,
but no busing is provided until about 4:30 p.m. — when after-school activities end.
According to the report, some Inver Grove Heights students participate in a Muslim studies class that the adjacent Muslim American Society of Minnesota runs. The school said it does not track the number of students enrolled in the class.
Meanwhile, about 30 percent to 40 percent of the school's 400 or so students participate in the school's free program called CARE, which teaches students about empathy-building, problem-solving and anger management.
The school also offers Girl Scouts, Boys Scouts and community volunteer activities.
The bus arrives at the later hour to accommodate families, said Zaman, who added that it was preferred by 98 percent of parents.
It's also a financial move, because it is nearly $100,000 more expensive to bus students at 3:30 p.m., Zaman said.
The school already has discussed several scheduling solutions, Zaman said.
"We cannot solve everything right away," he said. "But this is not an unsolvable problem."
A columnist for the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, Katherine Kersten, sparked the investigation after she wrote that the school mixed the roles of religion and public education. Her column aired a substitute teacher's allegations that school officials promoted Islam in the classroom.
The school has received numerous threats and installed a new security system as a result of the column, Zaman said. State officials acknowledged that TiZA has received threatening messages and thanked school staff for cooperating at a time when students and employees were concerned for their safety.
The controversy has sparked national and local media attention, and on Monday, a KSTP-TV photographer had his camera briefly confiscated after he walked onto school property and began filming students as classes let out. Inver Grove Heights police officials said they were called to the scene, but as of Monday evening, no arrests had been made or citations handed out.
Joe Nathan, director for the Center for School Change at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute, said the controversy surrounding the school has diverted attention from the school's success in working with students from first-generation immigrant families.
"We will continue to follow the law," he said. "It's in the best interest of the children and community." Bao Ong can be reached at 651-228-5435.http://www.twincities.com/ci_9315800...e=most_emailed
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Obama and the Jews
on: May 20, 2008, 08:55:45 AM
Obama and the Jews
May 20, 2008; Page A21
America's Jews account for a mere 2% of the U.S. population. But they have voted the Democratic ticket by margins averaging 78% over the past four election cycles, and their votes are potentially decisive in swing states like Florida and Pennsylvania. They also contribute an estimated half of all donations given to national Democratic candidates.
So whatever his actual convictions, it is a matter of ordinary political prudence that Barack Obama "get right with the Jews." Since Jews tend to be about as liberal as the Illinois senator on most domestic issues, what this really means is that he get right with Israel.
And so he has.
Over his campaign's port side have gone pastor Jeremiah Wright ("Every time you say 'Israel' Negroes get awfully quiet on you because they [sic] scared: Don't be scared; don't be scared"); former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski ("I think what the Israelis are doing today  for example in Lebanon is in effect – maybe not in intent – the killing of hostages"); and former Clinton administration diplomat Robert Malley (an advocate and practitioner of talks with Hamas).
The campaign has also managed to clarify, or perhaps retool, Mr. Obama's much-quoted line that "nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people." What the senator was actually saying, he now tells us, is that "nobody has suffered more than the Palestinian people from the failure of the Palestinian leadership to recognize Israel, to renounce violence, and to get serious about negotiating peace and security for the region."
Still more forthrightly, Mr. Obama recently told the Atlantic Monthly that "the idea of a secure Jewish state is a fundamentally just idea, and a necessary idea, given not only world history but the active existence of anti-Semitism, the potential vulnerability that the Jewish people could still experience."
I can think of no good reason to doubt the sincerity of Mr. Obama's comments. Nor, from the standpoint of American Jewry, is there anything to be gained from doing so: The fastest way to turn whatever dark suspicions Jews may have of Mr. Obama into a self-fulfilling prophecy is to spurn his attempts at outreach.
Yet the significant question isn't whether Mr. Obama is "pro-Israel," in the sense that his heart is in the right place and he isn't quite Jimmy Carter. What matters is whether his vision for U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East – and the broader world view that informs it – will have ancillary effects favorable to Israel's core interests.
Take Hamas and Hezbollah, which pose the nearest threats to Israel's security. Mr. Obama has insisted he opposes negotiating with Hamas "until they recognize Israel, renounce terrorism and abide by previous agreements." He also calls Hezbollah a "destabilizing organization."
But if Mr. Obama's litmus test for his choice of negotiating partners is their recognition of Israel and their renunciation of terrorism, then what is the sense in negotiating without preconditions with Iran and Syria?
Alternatively, if the problem with Hamas and Hezbollah is that neither holds the reins of government, what happens when they actually do? Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary elections in January 2006; Hezbollah sits in the Lebanese cabinet. Would Mr. Obama be willing to parley if, in the course of his administration, either group should come to power?
Or take Iran, which Israelis universally see as their deadliest enemy. Yes, there are arguments to be made in favor of presidential-level negotiations between Washington and Tehran – perhaps as a last-ditch effort to avert military strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities. But does anyone seriously think Mr. Obama would authorize such strikes?
Instead, Mr. Obama says he favors "tough diplomacy," including tighter sanctions on Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps. Last fall, however, he was one of only 22 senators to oppose a Senate resolution calling for the IRGC to be designated as a terrorist organization, a vote that made him a dove even within the Democratic Party. Mr. Obama argued at the time the amendment would give the administration a pretext to go to war with Iran. It was an odd claim for a nonbinding resolution.
Or take Iraq. Israelis are now of two minds as to the wisdom of the invasion of Iraq, mainly because they fear it has weakened America's hand vis-à-vis Iran. Maybe. But is it so clear that a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq wouldn't further strengthen Iran's hand, and consolidate the so-called Shiite crescent stretching from southern Iraq to the hills overlooking northern Israel?
Finally, there is Israel itself. In the Atlantic interview, Mr. Obama declared that "my job in being a friend to Israel is partly to hold up a mirror and tell the truth," particularly in respect to the settlements. Yes, there are mirrors that need to be held up to those settlements, as there are to those Palestinians whose terrorism makes their dismantlement so problematic. Perhaps there is also a mirror to be held up to an American foreign-policy neophyte whose amazing conceit is that he understands Israel's dilemmas better than Israelis themselves.
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Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson: Arms
on: May 20, 2008, 08:35:50 AM
"One loves to possess arms, though they (sic) hope never to have occasion
-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to George Washington, 19 June 1796)
Reference: The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Library of Congress,
Mansucript Division, Microfilm Roll #51
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The Lawyers' War
on: May 19, 2008, 11:55:37 PM
The Lawyers War
May 20, 2008; Page A22
The war on terror is easily the most litigated war in history, and on the evidence so far the lawyers are winning. They may yet succeed in killing military commissions, despite their long U.S. history and a law duly passed by Congress and signed by the President.
The latest legal battle concerns the Pentagon's attempt to try the perpetrators of 9/11. You'd think this would be easy compared, say, to trying the eight Nazis who secretly landed on Long Island and Florida in June 1942. Those Nazis didn't kill any Americans. Yet they were captured within days and convicted by military commissions established by FDR; most were sentenced to hang within two months. The Supreme Court validated the action in Quirin. But today, nearly seven years after 9/11, the U.S. still hasn't tried the conspirators who planned the deaths of 3,000 Americans.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and five others have been referred for trial at Guantanamo Bay under the 2006 Military Commissions Act. Yet a guerrilla campaign by military attorneys and human-rights lawyers is throwing up obstacles at every turn. The latest is an attempt to discredit Brigadier General Thomas Hartmann, the legal adviser to the commissions who has been given the thankless task of getting the trials underway.
General Hartmann was disqualified this month from advising in the case of one terror defendant on the preposterous grounds that he had exerted "undue influence." How so? It seems he had told military prosecutors that they should get better training, and that the cases to try first should be the "sexy" ones that might "capture the imagination of the American people." Such as those involving the deaths of 3,000 Americans.
In his bizarre decision, Military Judge Keith Allred conceded this wouldn't disqualify the legal adviser in a normal military court-martial. But it was enough in this case because Congress wanted the military commissions to avoid even the "appearance of unlawful command influence." Congress didn't define such unlawful influence, however, so Judge Allred defined it himself. And his elastic definition included the fact that the antiwar Harper's magazine had published a screed against military commissions and General Hartmann. Seriously.
Keep in mind that the trial judge in each case, not General Hartmann, still makes the decision about admitting evidence and other trial conduct. All General Hartmann has been doing is providing some legal direction to the prosecutors trying the case, rather like a district attorney or U.S. Attorney. The logic of Judge Allred's ruling is that General Hartmann must defer more to prosecutors in al Qaeda cases than he would in courts-martial against American soldiers.
Meanwhile, the press has distorted another recent Guantanamo decision. Susan Crawford, the former civilian judge who is supervising the military tribunals, dismissed the capital charges last week against one of the six al Qaeda 9/11 conspirators. Mohammed al-Qahtani was allegedly going to be the 20th hijacker on 9/11 had he been admitted to the U.S. He was captured in late 2001.
Echoing defense attorneys, the press is calling Judge Crawford's decision a setback for the tribunals and is reporting the now-routine claim he was tortured under interrogation. But those attorneys haven't seen Judge Crawford's ruling, which is under seal. We're told the judge separated al-Qahtani on grounds that he was less central to the conspiracy than were the likes of KSM, and that being tried with the five others might have prejudiced the death-penalty case against him. In other words, her ruling shows how independent Judge Crawford and the tribunals are from Pentagon pressure.
The larger game here, among many lawyers and most of the press, is to give the impression that military commissions are unworkable. The critics want to delay the trials long enough to push them into the next Administration, which they hope will then abandon commissions. Their ultimate goal is to get terrorists tried like any other defendant in civilian courts or regular courts-martial – fully aware of how daunting the chance of convictions would be.
The critics are especially worried that KSM and friends might go on trial before the November election, because their testimony is likely to celebrate their murders and remind the world how much they want to kill Americans. They deserve to be tried as "enemy combatants" under military tribunals precisely because they have violated the rules of war. The case against them also involves classified intelligence that can't be heard in open court.
Congress and the executive branch have decided that military commissions are necessary to defend the country, and the Supreme Court decided in Hamdan in 2006 that they are legal when properly established by both branches. The obligation of military lawyers is to get on with the trials, and see that justice is done to those who killed innocent Americans.
See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.
DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / WSJ A FARC fan's notes
on: May 19, 2008, 11:43:30 PM
A FARC Fan's Notes
March 25, 2008; Page A22
A hard drive recovered from the computer of a killed Colombian guerrilla has offered more insights into the opposition of House Democrats to the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.
A military strike three weeks ago killed Raúl Reyes, No. 2 in command of the FARC, Colombia's most notorious terrorist group. The Reyes hard drive reveals an ardent effort to do business directly with the FARC by Congressman James McGovern (D., Mass.), a leading opponent of the free-trade deal. Mr. McGovern has been working with an American go-between, who has been offering the rebels help in undermining Colombia's elected and popular government.
Mr. McGovern's press office says the Congressman is merely working at the behest of families whose relatives are held as FARC kidnap hostages. However, his go-between's letters reveal more than routine intervention.
The intervenor with the FARC is James C. Jones, who the Congressman's office says is a "development expert and a former consultant to the United Nations." Accounts of Mr. Jones's exchanges with the FARC appeared in Colombia's Semana magazine on March 15. This Mr. Jones should not be confused with the former Congressman and ambassador to Mexico of the same name from Oklahoma.
"Receive my warm greetings, as always, from Washington," Mr. Jones began in a letter to the rebels last fall. "The big news is that I spoke for several hours with the Democratic Congressman James McGovern. In the meeting we had the opportunity to exchange some ideas that will be, I believe, of interest to the FARC-EP [popular army]."
Mr. Jones added that "a fundamental problem is that the FARC does not have, strategically, a spokesman that can communicate directly with persons of influence in my country like Mr. McGovern." Semana reports that in the documents Mr. Jones "rules himself out as the spokesman but offers himself as a 'bridge' of communication between the FARC and the congressman." Semana says when it spoke with Mr. Jones, he verified the letter and explained that "he made the offer because the guerrillas need interlocutors if they want to achieve peace and that it is a mistake to isolate them."
But communications among FARC rebels suggest the goal was to isolate Colombia's government. A letter that Reyes wrote to top FARC commander Manuel Marulanda on October 26 reads: "According to [Jones's] viewpoint, [President Álvaro] Uribe is increasingly discredited in the U.S. . . He believes that the safe haven [for the rebels] in the counties can be had for reasons mentioned. Congressional Democrats have invited him to Washington to talk about the Colombian crisis in which the principal theme is the swap."
Semana reports that Mr. Jones made some proposals to the FARC, including a Caracas meeting with representatives of Venezuela, Colombia, the FARC, other South American countries, U.S. Congressmen and the Catholic Church. "It would be almost impossible for Uribe to reject such a meeting," Mr. Jones wrote, "without burning himself a lot, nationally and internationally. If he persists in being against it, I have understood that there are ways to pressure him from my country [the U.S.]."
In a letter to Semana, Mr. Jones said his words were taken out of context. He says he is not in favor of the "violent methods of the guerrilla" or "the military solutions" of the government. He had only a professional relationship with the FARC and had to address them as he did because he had to build trust. Mr. McGovern's office says it knew what Mr. Jones was doing and engaged with him because "we need to find an interlocutor who could discuss these things including the safe haven" for the guerrillas.
We think the documents reveal something else entirely: Some Democrats oppose the Colombia trade deal because they sympathize more with FARC's terrorists than with a U.S. antiterror ally. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1206...mEditorialPage
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Karambit Vs. straight blades
on: May 19, 2008, 07:46:29 PM
More seriously now, the only one that can help you is one you can pull during the middle of a fight wherein fear of serious bodily injury or death is at risk. Is there a difference between the three categories in this regard? What technique/grip is best for a FUT? etc etc.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Taser vs. Taser
on: May 19, 2008, 07:39:52 PM
May 19, 12:46 AM EDT
2 Colo. men exchange Taser shots over parked van
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) -- It wasn't exactly pistols at 30 paces, but police say a security company supervisor and a restaurateur shot each other with Tasers in a "bonehead" confrontation over parking.
Officers said neither man needed medical attention after the Saturday confrontation, but Harvey Epstein, co-owner of Mamacitas restaurant, was arrested on suspicion of felony menacing and using a stun gun.
A police report said Epstein and Casey M. Dane, a supervisor for Colorado Security Services Inc., were arguing over a metal boot that one of Dane's guards had clamped on a wheel of a van parked behind Mamacitas.
Dane told police he was afraid Epstein was going to hit him with a 2-foot-long pair of bolt cutters. Epstein told police he had only tried to remove the boot with the bolt cutters and hadn't threatened anyone with them.
Epstein told police Dane put his hand on a holstered pistol and threatened to shoot him. Dane told The Associated Press by telephone that he did put his hand on the holstered pistol but never threatened to shoot Epstein.
Both men drew Tasers.
"They shot each other," Police Sgt. Pat Wyton told the Camera newspaper. "It was just kind of a bonehead deal."
The guard claimed the van, owned by a Mamacitas employee, was on property he was hired to patrol. The van owner denied that.
Epstein, 36, told the AP in a phone interview Sunday he took out his Taser only after Dane pointed his at him and his mother, who was also outside. Epstein also said Dane repeatedly told him he was a police officer and that failing to comply with his orders was a federal offense, allegations that Dane denies.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The Next American Frontier
on: May 19, 2008, 02:26:28 PM
The Next American Frontier
By MICHAEL S. MALONE
May 19, 2008; Page A15
The entire world seems to be heading toward points of inflection. The developing world is embarking on the digital age. The developed world is entering the Internet era. And the United States, once again at the vanguard, is on the verge of becoming the world's first Entrepreneurial Nation.
At the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, Frederick Jackson Turner delivered a paper to the American Historical Association – the most famous ever by an American historian. In "The Significance of the Frontier in American History," he noted that, according to the most recent U.S. census, so much of the nation had been settled that there was no longer an identifiable western migration. The very notion of a "frontier" was obsolete.
For three centuries the frontier had defined us, tantalized us with the perpetual chance to "light out for the territories" and start our lives over. It was the foundation of those very American notions of "federalism" and "rugged individualism." But Americans had crossed an invisible line in history, entering a new world with a new set of rules.
What Turner couldn't guess was that the unexplored prairie would become the uninvented new product, the unexploited new market and the untried new business plan.
The great new American frontiers proved to be those of business, science and technology. In the course of the 20th century, Americans invented more milestone technologies and inventions, created more wealth and leisure time, and reorganized their institutions more times than any country had ever done before – despite a massive economic depression and two world wars. It all reached a crescendo in the magical year of 1969, with the creation of the Internet, the invention of the microprocessor and, most of all, a man walking on the moon.
Along with genetic engineering, we are still busily spinning out the implications of these marvels. Yet it is becoming increasingly apparent that the cultural underpinnings of these activities have changed in some fundamental way.
We still have schools, but a growing number of our children are studying at home or attending private schools – and those in public schools are doing ever more amounts of their class work on the Internet.
We still have companies and corporations, but now they are virtualized, with online work teams handing off assignments to each other 24/7 around the world. Men and women go to work, but the office is increasingly likely to be in the den. In 2005, an Intel survey of its employees found that nearly 20% of its professionals had never met their boss face-to-face. Half of them never expected to. Last summer, when the Media X institute at Stanford extended that survey to IBM, Sun, HP, Microsoft and Cisco, the percentages turned out to be even greater.
Newspapers are dying, networks are dying, and if teenage boys playing GTA 4 and World of Warcraft have any say about it, so is television. More than 200 million people now belong to just two social networks: MySpace and Facebook. And there are more than 80 million videos on YouTube, all put there by the same individual initiative.
The most compelling statistic of all? Half of all new college graduates now believe that self-employment is more secure than a full-time job. Today, 80% of the colleges and universities in the U.S. now offer courses on entrepreneurship; 60% of Gen Y business owners consider themselves to be serial entrepreneurs, according to Inc. magazine. Tellingly, 18 to 24-year-olds are starting companies at a faster rate than 35 to 44-year-olds. And 70% of today's high schoolers intend to start their own companies, according to a Gallup poll.
An upcoming wave of new workers in our society will never work for an established company if they can help it. To them, having a traditional job is one of the biggest career failures they can imagine.
Much of childhood today is spent, not in organized sports or organizations, but in ad hoc teams playing online games such as Half Life, or competing in robotics tournaments, or in constructing and decorating MySpace pages. Without knowing it, we have been training a whole generation of young entrepreneurs.
And who is going to dissuade them? Mom, who is a self-employed consultant working out of the spare bedroom? Or Dad, who is at Starbuck's working on the spreadsheet of his new business plan?
In the past there have been trading states like Venice, commercial regions like the Hanseatic League, and even so-called nations of shopkeepers. But there has never been a nation in which the dominant paradigm is entrepreneurship. Not just self-employment or sole proprietorship, but serial company-building, entire careers built on perpetual change, independence and the endless pursuit of the next opportunity.
Without noticing it, we have once again discovered, and then raced off to settle, a new frontier. Not land, not innovation, but ourselves and a growing control over our own lives and careers.
And why not? Each step in the development of American society has been towards an ever-greater level of independence, freedom and personal liberty. And as the rest of the world catches up to where we were, we've already moved on to the next epoch in the national story.
But liberty exacts its own demands. Entrepreneurial America is likely to become even more innovative than it is today. And that innovation is likely to spread across society, not just as products and inventions, but new ways of living and new types of organizations.
The economy will be much more volatile and much more competitive. In the continuous fervor to create new institutions, it will become increasingly difficult to sustain old ones. New political parties, new social groupings, thousands of new manias and movements and millions of new companies will pop up over the next few decades. Large corporations that don't figure out how to combine permanence with perpetual change will be swept away.
This higher level of anarchy will be exciting, but it will also sometimes be very painful. Entire industries will die almost overnight, laying off thousands, while others will just as suddenly appear, hungry for employees. Continuity and predictability will become the rarest of commodities. And if the entrepreneurial personality honors smart failures, by the same token it has little pity for weakness. That fraction of Americans – 10%, 20% – who still dream of the gold watch or the 30-year pin will suffer the most . . . and unless their needs are somehow met as well, they will remain a perpetually open wound in our society.
Scary, exciting, liberating, frustrating, infinitely ambitious and thoroughly amnesic. If you live in a high-tech community like Silicon Valley or Redmond or Austin, you already live in this world. It's hard to imagine more exciting places to be.
For all of our fears about privacy and security, for all the added pressures that will be created by heightened competition and clashing ambitions, America as an entrepreneurial nation will reward each of us with greater independence – and perhaps even greater happiness – than ever before. It waits out there for each of us. Being good entrepreneurs, it's time to look ahead, develop a good plan, and then bet everything on ourselves.
Mr. Malone's next book is "The Protean Corporation" (Random House). This essay was adapted from a recent speech at Santa Clara University.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PS WSJ
on: May 19, 2008, 01:02:48 PM
Proving that time heals some wounds, John McCain spoke Friday at the National Rifle Association, where he made nice with some of his tougher critics over the years. CEO Wayne LaPierre acknowledged that the group has had differences with the candidate, but emphasized the positive. "We're not foolish enough to ignore the vast areas of agreement in which John McCain has been a friend to gun owners," he told the Associated Press.
That may be news to NRA-ers who have not yet forgiven Mr. McCain for his campaign-finance reform. As the architect of McCain-Feingold, the Senator ticked off many NRA members who see the campaign-finance law as an infringement on their freedom to engage in the political process and defend Second Amendment rights. At the group's national convention in 2001, Mr. LaPierre noted that McCain-Feingold would all but kick the NRA out of politics by prohibiting the group's ability to run ads within 60 days of an election season. "Is it possible that John McCain thinks you have too much freedom?" the NRA chief asked at the time.
Mr. McCain has also ticked off gun owners for his support of mandatory background checks at gun shows, which he refers to "closing the gun show loophole"—a position he still takes. On other issues however, the Arizona Senator is seen as a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights. He voted against bans on assault rifles and against limitations on types of ammunition. According to his campaign's Web site, he has also opposed attempts to hold gun manufacturers liable for crimes committed with guns.
Mr. McCain is walking a delicate balance into the general election, letting traditional GOP groups know he cares about their issues while avoiding the kind of flip-flops that did in John Kerry. By declining to sugarcoat things for the NRA audience, Mr. McCain could also gain points with some swing voters, who may only need a few issues to be won over.
-- Collin Levy
The Sweetie Vote
As Hillary Clinton's campaign enters its final days or weeks, it's exposing new rifts within the feminist big tent. The head of Emily's List, Ellen Malcolm, recently attacked NARAL Pro-Choice America for its endorsement of Barack Obama. Though that endorsement came only when Mr. Obama's nomination was all but a fait accompli, Ms. Malcolm still saw betrayal. "I think it is tremendously disrespectful to Senator Clinton," she said, "and it certainly must be disconcerting for elected leaders who stand up for reproductive rights and expect the choice community will stand with them."
But that's not what it's really about, is it? Mr. Obama is also a pro-choice candidate. The real sting is that feminist groups are now abandoning a candidate who has been caught in the ultimate switchback — a woman with decades of career experience losing out to a charming male newcomer who can't equal her credentials but may beat her anyway.
During the campaign, NARAL acted as a frequent fact-checker on the abortion politics of both candidates. It showed some preference for Mr. Obama earlier on when it asked Mrs. Clinton not to go after Mr. Obama's "present" votes on abortion issues while in the Illinois State Senate-positions many of his critics see as an effort to fence sit on controversial issues.
The argument among feminists has been present throughout the primary as many of the most liberal women preferred the antiwar politics of Mr. Obama, even over the unity of the sisterhood. But the Clinton campaign has survived as long as it has largely because of the 60% of white women she has consistently drawn in the primaries. The feminists may give Mr. Obama their vote, but he won't get a free pass: They were out in force to critique him last week when he called a news reporter "sweetie." He apologized.
-- Collin Levy
Michiganders and Floridians Unite!
Hillary Clinton's campaign fired its latest salvo in the fight over Michigan's and Florida's delegates Friday. In an email blast, the former First Lady called on supporters to pressure the Rules Committee of the Democratic Convention to "count every vote."
"Count every vote" has been the mantra of the Democratic Party since Florida in 2000. But it's never made much sense. The goal should be to make every properly cast vote count. If someone shows up a day early or a day late to the polls, his vote doesn't—and shouldn't—count. Likewise, if a Democrat or Republican tries to cast a vote in the wrong party's primary (when that primary is not "open"), it doesn't—and shouldn't—count. (This happened to your correspondent in the New York state primary this year. He hadn't filed his party registration in a timely fashion, so his provisional ballot was rejected.)
In the case of Florida and Michigan, every ballot was cast in violation of party rules that were well known to everyone involved at the time. We'll never know how many Floridians and Michiganders chose not to vote because they understood what was going on. Changing the rules after the votes have been cast isn't democracy.
Knowing the rules before an election is run is essential to a fair ballot. If it were anyone else's delegates in jeopardy, you'd better believe that's the argument that Candidate Clinton would be making.
-- Brian M. Carney
Quote of the Day
Conservatism is alive and well in America; don't let anyone tell you differently. And by conservatism, I don't mean the warmed-over "raise your hand if you believe ..." kind of conservatism we see blooming every election cycle. No, I'm speaking of the conservatism grounded in principles based upon enduring truths: an understanding of the importance of human nature in the affairs of individuals and nations. Respect for the lessons of history, the importance of faith and tradition. The understanding that while man is prone to err, he is capable of great things when not subjugated by a too-powerful government -- Fred Thompson, writing at Townhall.com.
John McCain spent much of last week suffering self-inflicted wounds over his ties with Washington lobbyists.
Over the weekend, former Texas Congressman Tom Loeffler stepped down as a key McCain adviser after the campaign issued a stringent new hiring policy stipulating that no staffer could work for the campaign if he was also a registered lobbyist or did business on behalf of foreign interests. Mr. Loeffler was the fifth McCain aide to step aside over lobbying connections.
In February, the Arizona Senator easily weathered a New York Times story attempting to tie his official actions to his friendship with a female lobbyist.
Now the list of departing McCain lobbyists has unnecessarily revived the issue and allowed Barack Obama to piously claim that "John McCain is very much a creature of Washington." Mr. Obama can do this and get a media pass for it because he hasn't made a major issue of his lack of ties to lobbyists. While he will boast that he declines to take money from political action committees run by interest groups, he cheerfully has many lobbyists as part of his team and allows them to bundle contributions they've collected from other political players.
It was inevitable that Mr. McCain's occasional sanctimony on matters relating to money in politics would trip him up if he failed to meet an impossible standard for a practicing politician. He would have been better off to state simply that his career demonstrates his independence from special interest groups and disclose which of his advisers were working for outside interests. That would have been better than the parade of McCain officials who have left in the past week, creating the image of a campaign in disarray.
-- John Fund
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Pre-emption and Sucker Punches
on: May 19, 2008, 12:54:15 PM
I will be having dinner with Southnark this Thursday. Apart from the pleasure of good conversation, there will be one business item discussed: DBMA will be carrying SN's "Managing Unknown Contact" DVD. In my opinion this is an outstanding piece of work. (PS: I have a brief cameo in it as a Bad Guy
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Native American Fighting Systems
on: May 19, 2008, 12:48:51 PM
I have no basis for an opinion. A Navajo friend of mine writes:
Two perspectives on this topic;
First and foremost – old ways of fighting was banned on military Indian reservations [1885 to 1923]. By the time the musket and revolvers came around most of the old ways were put aside. If any Indian was caught practicing martial art or any type of warfare activities you were put in a cell. In some cases, even when the people danced to ask the great creator for guidance – it was thought that they were going up raise. The result was massacres of elders, women and children.
No one realizes that the prior American Indian generations were POW’s from about 1820’s to 1972-73. The Indian Tribe - Nations were finally given sovereignty – self determination, self governance. Yet there are still Bureau of Indian Affairs offices still alive and well on most Indian reservations. The BIA used to be part of the Department of Indian Affairs under the Department of Interior – War Department.
Look at stories of Geronimo – who was caught by his own people [Scotts], imprisoned to Fort Sill, Virginia, Florida, and back to Fort Sill. He was even taken to Europe for the World’s Fair. Back home on the Military reservations – now Indian Reservations, all arms were taken away – tomahawks, spears, bows & arrows, knifes. The people were given food, blankets, tents for shelter, etc. No need for weapons to hunt and gather anymore. The stories are sad – I have heard them oral stories and read some accounts in history.
I am very skeptical due to what history has stated. In addition, I grew up on an Indian reservation – all I saw was some boxing, judo, some karate. I never encountered anyone using Native American Indian martial arts of any type. Once in while I saw a bunch of drunks fighting in town, social gatherings, etc. Most of the best fighters were people who came back from the military.
Second perspective – I heard of a few Native Fighting systems that were being promoted in martial arts magazines. There was one from Oklahoma – Apaches, one from California – Pomo’s and one from Texas – Comanche. On other forums, I have even heard that there was Navajo system that someone had learned in Northern Arizona from a police officer. To me it’s Native fantasy or infatuation, half truths, off shoots of kenpo, shotokan, and kung fu.
I was asked and even talked about in some forums [World Modern Arnis Alliance, Dillman Karate International] regarding me being Navajo and that I would be the best person to talk to.
The warrior path was is a part of the man’s rites of passage from childhood to adulthood. Most of those rites of passage ceremonies are no longer practiced on the reservations. Just in a few families that I am aware of still practice them.
I met a man name Kurt Seanez while taking a Wing Chun seminar in Albuquerque with Phillip Romero. He shared with me that there are dances which depict some martial arts movements. Kurt was invited the Navajo Reservation to a ceremony. There he witnessed the dances. He told the host that there are martial arts movements in those dances.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CA S Ct decision
on: May 19, 2008, 10:40:44 AM
“In Thursday’s 4-3 decision legalizing same-sex marriage, the California Supreme Court stripped children of the right to be raised by a mother and a father. Most of the media coverage of the California Supreme Court’s decision has focused on the court’s declaration that there is a right to same-sex marriage. The ruling invalidated California’s Proposition 22, a state ballot initiative that passed with 61 percent of the vote in 2000, and which banned same-sex marriage in the state. But the California Supreme Court decision goes beyond simply giving same-sex couples the right to call their unions a ‘marriage.’ It also strips children of the right not to be artificially conceived or adopted by people other than a mother and a father. Indeed, the court does not recognize that children have any right whatsoever to a mother and a father. In the decision, the California court sees children primarily through the eyes of same-sex couples who want to secure custody and control of children. The court makes emphatically clear that it deems this to be a right of same-sex couples that is equal to—and identical to—the right of married mothers and fathers to adopt or conceive and raise their own children. In making this argument, the court addresses biological parenthood as an accident of nature that can be swept aside by the court in its pursuit of what the court understands to be justice.” —Terrence Jeffrey
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc)
on: May 19, 2008, 10:27:06 AM
Well, I certainly have seen some humor at Teddy's expense about withdrawal symptoms
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Medicaid Money Laundering
on: May 19, 2008, 09:59:00 AM
Medicaid Money Laundering
May 19, 2008; Page A14
Every politician moans that entitlement spending is out of control, so it ought to be easy at least to stop blatant fraud and abuse. Evidently not: Congress is currently resisting an attempt to rein in even a Big Con that everyone acknowledges.
The scene of this crime is Medicaid, the open-ended program that provides health coverage for about 59 million low-income people, with the rolls expanding every year. States determine eligibility and what services to cover, and the feds pick up at least half the tab, though the effective "matching rate" is as high as 83%. Now it turns out that states have been goosing their financing arrangements to maximize their federal payouts and dump more of their costs onto taxpayers nationwide.
The swindle works like this: A state overpays state-run health-care providers, such as county hospitals or nursing homes, for Medicaid benefits far in excess of its typical rates. Then the federal government reimburses the state for "half" of the inflated bills. Once the state bags the extra matching funds, the hospital is required to rebate the extra money it received at the scam's outset. Cash thus makes a round trip from states to providers and back to the states – all to dupe Washington.
The Government Accountability Office and other federal inspectors have copiously documented these "creative financing schemes" going back to the Clinton Administration. New York deposited its proceeds in a Medicaid account, recycling federal dollars to decrease its overall contribution. So did Michigan. States like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania fattened their political priorities. Oregon funded K-12 education during a budget shortfall.
The right word for this is fraud. A corporation caught in this kind of self-dealing – faking payments to extract billions, then laundering the money – would be indicted. In fact, a new industry of contingency-fee consultants has sprung up to help states find and exploit the "ambiguities" in Medicaid's regulatory wasteland. All the feds can do is notice loopholes when they get too expensive and close them, whereupon the cycle starts over.
The Bush Administration did just that. In 2003, it began audits that resulted in 29 states dialing back the practice. In 2007, officials tried to make the reforms permanent through formal rules changes, saying federal Medicaid dollars would only pay for Medicaid services received by Medicaid beneficiaries.
Naturally, the states were furious. All 50 Governors were (and are) opposed, while pressure groups like AARP and their media collaborators chime in with horror stories about "cuts" to the social safety net. Congress promptly forbade enforcement of the new regulations. That moratorium, which was slipped into last year's Iraq war funding bill, expires at the end of this month.
Now Congress wants to extend it until President Bush leaves office. The House passed a bill – 349-62 – but Harry Reid was unable to whisk it through the Senate unnoticed. Wavering GOP Senators are trying to strike a deal with the Bush Administration, which is threatening a veto, mostly with offers to beef up the $25 million allocated to "combat" Medicaid fraud and abuse. Of course, these antifraud troops only fight after state schemes have paid out. And should the moratorium stick around, states will merely revert to their con artistry, knowing they are no longer being watched.
A reform alternative would be for the government to distribute block grants, rather than a set fee for every Medicaid service. That would amputate Washington from state accounting and insulate taxpayers from these shakedowns. States would have an incentive to spend more responsibly, and also craft innovative policies without Beltway micromanagement. But we can dream.
In the short term, Congress could – but probably won't – allow the Administration to close this case. No one really knows how much the state grifters have already grabbed, though the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Administration remedies would save $17.8 billion over five years and $42.2 billion over 10.
We realize this is considered a mere gratuity in Washington, but Medicaid's money laundering is further evidence that Congress isn't serious about spending discipline.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson: Greeks and Romans
on: May 19, 2008, 09:41:54 AM
"The Grecians and Romans were strongly possessed of the spirit of
liberty but not the principle, for at the time they were determined
not to be slaves themselves, they employed their power to enslave
the rest of mankind."
-- Thomas Paine (The American Crisis, No. 5, 21 March 1778)
Reference: Paine Writings, Foner, 169.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors
on: May 18, 2008, 06:19:40 PM
Thank you for the great specificity of your answer.
Concerning the birth rate number of 4.0 for the Palestinians, this still is a HUGE number given the magic of compounding. I remember in the university reading that Latin American rates of 3.5 were yielding populations that had a median age of 16
$.0 is much worse than that, and add in the biological dynamics of sexual segregation in the Arab cultures and you have large all male groups wandering around with no jobs, nothing to do, and informed only by religious fascists.
In a completely unrelated vein, here is this interesting tranlation of a speech by Qaddaffy of Libya:http://www.memritv.org:80/clip/en/1731.htm
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Pre-emption and Sucker Punches
on: May 18, 2008, 06:06:48 PM
Extremely relevant in all this is the notion of "Prepare your witnesses". Good verbalizations are both decisive and good at communicating to observers that your intention is defensive. In contrast, if the first thing observers notice is a fight already under way and you are fortunate enough to win, they may describe you as the aggressor.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Pre-emption and Sucker Punches
on: May 17, 2008, 11:06:22 AM
The way each of us uses verbalizations will be and should be different. With regards to where Thompson says "whereas shorter sentences, certainly single syllables, send the message that the conversation is coming to an end." (and that fight is about the start)"
that often I use very brief answers to make clear that there is not to be any further dialog. For example to an ominous request for money, typically I simply answer "No." I NEVER say "Sorry" which is something I see many people do. The abruptness of the answer is intended to make clear, as Thompson notes, that I will not be intimidated and that any further harassment will not be tolerated.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena
on: May 17, 2008, 01:00:40 AM
May 10, 2008
Jews can't vote for Obama and be pro-Israel at the same time
By Ted Belman
ted-4.jpgIn the poll of Jewish voters (conducted April 1-30), it showed
Obama getting 61% of the Jewish vote against John McCain (32%). Yet in the
same poll Hillary Clinton beat Obama among Jewish voters 62% - 38%. So
obviously Jews are lifelong democrats who will vote for Obama, whom they
rejected in the primaries, rather than vote for McCain. Thus, for them,
party loyalty is preferable to Israel loyalty.
Recently I posted two articles by Yarom Ettinger, former Israeli Ambassador
to the US, The Prospects of a Palestinian State and National Interests of
the United States and It's American interests, stupid, both of which clearly
demonstrate that keeping Israel strong is to keep America strong. Thus to be
pro-Israel is to be pro-America.
Now some would argue that most Jewish Americans are not one issue voters but
they must realize that to favour a basket of issues or the Democratic Party
above favouring Israel, makes them less pro-Israel and thus less
pro-American. This I am sure will get howls of protest from the J-Street
Lobby which represents progressive Jewry, who would have you believe that by
forcing Israel to capitulate, they are acting in the best interests of
Israel and the US. I hope you don't buy their thinking. These articles fly
in the face of such thinking. Consider them carefully it is important.
While most Jews favour Obama in a run off with McCain because he is a
Democrat, they ignore how pro-Palestinian and anti-American he is.
Let me list the ways.
- Obama said "Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people,"
- Obama said "If there is an Arab American family [in the US] being
rounded up without benefit of an attorney, those are my civil liberties!"
- Everyone on Obama's foreign policy team, McPeak, Hamilton, Kurtzer,
Brezezinski, are anti- Israel and The Israel Lobby. Their policies are
closely aligned with Carter's and Baker's.
- Obama has been in bed with Jew haters and Islamic jihad for years.
Farrakhan and his dear friend Reverend Wright, Obama's spiritual guru, is a
vile Jew hater.
- Obama is the first Presidential candidate endorsed by Hamas. He is
the toast of the Islamic world. Obama's church posted a Hamas manifesto.
- Obama has been endorsed by William Ayers (Weatherman Underground
bomber, unrepentant domestic terrorist) (Member Communist Party USA, Early
mentor to Obama) Jeremiah Wright (Black Liberation militant, racist, and
Pastor) Tony Rezko (Corrupt Financier, ties to Terror Financing) Louis
Farrakhan (Nation of Islam Leader, racist, anti-American) Hamas Terrorist
Organization (Islamic Terrorist Organization) Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades
(Islamic Terror Irganization) Raila Odinga (Fundamental Islamic Candidate,
Kenya, Obama's Cousin) Daniel Ortega (Marxist Sandinista Leader. Nicaragua
Raul Castro (Hard-line Communist Leader, Communist Party Illinois (US
Communist Political Party) Socialist Party USA (Marxist Socialist Political
Party) The New Black Panther Party (Black Militant Organization,
anti-American and racist Mosques are preaching for Obama (muslims vote
- We know from this blog entry by the pro-Palestinian blogger Ali
Abunimah at The Electronic Intifadah, that Obama has moved to a move
pro-Israel position as his national aspirations developed. "The last time I
spoke to Obama was in the winter of 2004 at a gathering in Chicago's Hyde
Park neighborhood," Abunimah writes. "He was in the midst of a primary
campaign to secure the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate
seat he now occupies. But at that time polls showed him trailing. "As he
came in from the cold and took off his coat, I went up to greet him. He
responded warmly, and volunteered, "Hey, I'm sorry I haven't said more about
Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race. I'm hoping when
things calm down I can be more up front.' He referred to my activism,
including columns I was contributing to the The Chicago Tribune critical of
Israeli and US policy, 'Keep up the good work!"
- Ralph Nader agrees."(Obama) has run a brilliant tactical campaign.
But his better instincts and his knowledge have been censored by himself..He
was pro-Palestinian when he was in Illinois before he ran for the state
Senate, during he ran-during the state Senate."
- Obama served as a paid director on the board of a nonprofit
organization that granted funding to a controversial Arab group that mourns
the establishment of Israel as a "catastrophe." (Obama has also reportedly
spoken at fundraisers for Palestinians living in what the United Nations
terms refugee camps.). The co-founder of that Arab group, Columbia
University professor Rashid Khalidi, is a harsh critic of Israel who
reportedly worked on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization when it
was labeled a terror group by the State Department. Khalidi held a
fundraiser in 2000 for Obama's failed bid for a seat in the U.S. House of
- Ten years ago Obama went to a pro-Palestinian dinner at which Edward
Said was the guest speaker and they sat at the same table.
- Obama employed and continues to employ several Farrakhan acolytes in
high positions on his Illinois and U.S. Senate campaign and office staffs.
- Obama very recently and previously referred to the "cycle of
violence" in the Middle East. He thereby equates Arab criminal violence with
legitimate Israeli self-defence.
- Obama's Church reprinted the outrageous claim that Israel planned an
"ethnic bomb" to kill blacks and Arabs.
All items listed above cannot be characterized as a smear as they are all
How can Jews ignore all this or dismiss it as inconsequential? I don't get
ADDENDUM ( found this article after writing mine.)
A Curious Kind of Friendship; Barack Obama's dubious record on Israel
MARK HEMINGWAY, NRO
On April 21, Barack Obama found himself at a diner in Scranton, Pa. The
Illinois senator hadn't been available to the press in ten days, so a
reporter approached him.
Perhaps Obama was in a bad mood because he foresaw a drubbing - the next
day, Pennsylvanian primary voters went for Hillary. Or maybe he just didn't
like the reporter's question: "Senator, did you hear about Jimmy Carter's
trip? He said he could get Hamas to negotiate."
Looking down at his breakfast, the senator snapped back, "Why can't I just
eat my waffle?"
The week before, two important things had happened. One, Obama had declined
to condemn Carter's meeting with Hamas, though Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice had opposed the trip. Two, the Palestinian terrorist group
took the unusual step of endorsing him. When asked about the endorsement,
Obama's chief strategist, David Axelrod, was flattered that Hamas compared
his candidate to JFK: "We all agree that John Kennedy was a great president,
and it's flattering when anybody says that Barack Obama would follow in his
Republican nominee John McCain quickly took note. "We need change in
America, but not the kind of change that wins kind words from Hamas," he
The day following Wafflegate, Obama told the press it was a "bad idea" for
Carter to meet with Hamas, as it gave the group "a legitimacy that was
It's understandable that Obama would rather do just about anything than talk
about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Questions about Obama's support for
Israel have percolated in Jewish publications and elsewhere for more than a
year, and now they threaten to spill over into the mainstream media. In
March, speaking to reporters in Texas, Obama defended his record: "Nobody
has ever been able to point to statements that I made or positions that I've
taken that are contrary to the long-term security interests in Israel and in
any way diminish the special relationship we have with that country."
Trouble is, this claim is simply not true.
Obama has been battling the perception that he is insufficiently supportive
of Israel since last year, when he told the Des Moines Register, "Nobody is
suffering more than the Palestinian people." An Iowa Democrat and member of
the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), David Adelman, called
Obama's comments "deeply troubling." Obama claimed the remark was taken out
of context, but the Politico noted that talk of Obama's comment was one of
many reasons that a "real, if kind of inchoate, skepticism" dominated
discussions of Obama at AIPAC's annual policy conference in March of last
Whatever the context of that specific remark, many subsequent revelations
have given ample reason for skepticism: Obama has repeatedly claimed to
support Israel, but his record doesn't jibe with his rhetoric. Last year, he
announced he would vote against an amendment in the Senate declaring Iran's
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps - which has long supported Hezbollah
terrorists and otherwise abetted the murder of Israelis - a terrorist group.
The resolution passed 76-22, with the support of Hillary Clinton, Illinois
senator Dick Durbin, and a host of other reliable liberals. Obama missed the
vote while campaigning in New Hampshire, but he attacked Clinton on the
issue, saying the non-binding amendment might exacerbate tensions with Iran.
What's more, his life is marked by ties to anti-Israeli causes. A recent
report in the Los Angeles Times detailed Obama's close relationship with
Rashid Khalidi, a professor of Arab studies at Columbia University. In the
late 1970s Khalidi worked with WAFA, the official news agency of the
Palestinian Liberation Organization; during this period, the PLO and its
engaged in acts of terrorism. In 2005 Khalidi gained national attention when
he argued that, under international law, Palestinians have a right to
violently resist Israeli occupation.
While teaching at the University of Chicago, Khalidi co-founded the Arab
American Action Network (AAAN), an organization with a history of churning
out anti-Israeli propaganda. AAAN's current projects include "The Arab
American Oral History Project." The group's website asks, "Do you have
photos, letters or other memories you could share about Al-Nakba-1948?" "Al
Nakba" translates as "the catastrophe," and 1948 is the year in which Israel
Khalidi held a fundraiser for Obama's failed congressional bid in 2000,
while Obama was a state senator representing the liberal Hyde Park area of
Chicago. In 2003, Obama attended a tribute dinner for Khalidi where,
according to the Los Angeles Times, a speaker likened "Zionist settlers on
the West Bank" to Osama bin Laden.
The largess flowed in both directions. From 1999 to 2002 Obama served on the
board of directors of the Woods Fund, a grant-making foundation with assets
of $68 million whose nominal goal is "to increase opportunities for less
advantaged people and communities in the [Chicago] metropolitan area."
According to tax forms and annual reports, in 2001 and 2002 the Woods Fund
gave AAAN a total of $75,000 in grants. Bill Ayers, a former (and
unrepentant) member of the left-wing terrorist group the Weather
Underground, sat on the board with
The aforementioned Politico article also noted "[anti-Israeli] sentiment .
.. circulating largely on private email lists and in chatter about a posting
on the pro-Palestinian blog Electronic Intifada, which claimed (with little
evidence) that Obama was once on the Palestinian side." For some time
Electronic Intifada co-founder Ali Abunimah has been saying that, in private
conversations, Obama expressed unequivocal pro-Palestinian views. Abunimah
is an activist in Chicago's Palestinian community, and is on the board of
AAAN, with which he has a long history of involvement. Given Obama's own
involvement with Khalidi and AAAN, Abunimah's claim to have had such
conversations with Obama seems plausible.
There have also been flaps over campaign advisers. Zbigniew Brzezinski,
Jimmy Carter's national security adviser, has recently endorsed and
campaigned with Obama. Brzezinski was singled out recently for defending The
Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, a book arguing that "the United States
has been willing to set aside its own security in order to advance the
interests of another state [Israel]." After a campaign press release
described Robert Malley, an adviser to the Clinton administration on the
Arab-Israeli conflict, as an Obama adviser, the campaign sought to distance
itself from Malley - whom New Republic editor-in-chief Marty Peretz has
called "a rabid hater of Israel."
When it comes to Israel, perhaps the most controversial member of Obama's
campaign is his chief military adviser and national-campaign co-chairman,
Gen. Merrill McPeak. In 1976, McPeak wrote an article for Foreign Affairs
criticizing Israel for not returning to its 1967 borders and handing the
Golan Heights back to Syria. McPeak accused Jewish and evangelical voters of
placing their interest in Israel above U.S. interests in a 2003 interview
Oregonian. When asked what was holding back world peace, McPeak responded,
"New York City. Miami. We have a large vote . . . here in favor of Israel.
And no politician wants to run against it." Obama disavowed McPeak's stance
on Israel, but stands behind the campaign's relationship with the general.
Then there's Obama's pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright: "The Israelis have
illegally occupied Palestinian territories for over 40 years now. . . . [We
need to] wake Americans up concerning the injustice and the racism under
which the Palestinians have lived because of Zionism." Last year, the
bulletin at Wright 's church reprinted an article by a Hamas official.
Given Obama's past and current relationships, the Jewish community is taking
his rhetoric with hefty portions of sodium chloride. One well-known Jewish
Democratic strategist says that with Obama running, McCain could equal or
even surpass the 39 percent of the Jewish vote that Ronald Reagan captured
against Jimmy Carter in 1980. This could be a major factor in swing states
with significant Jewish populations, notably Florida and Pennsylvania.
According to Pennsylvania-primary exit polls, Jews went for Hillary, 62 to
There are two ways of looking at all this. Perhaps Obama is privately
hostile to Israel. Or perhaps he comes from a Hyde Park milieu so leftist
that he saw these relationships as normal political connections. In a sense
it doesn't matter: Regardless of why Obama tolerates terrorist sympathizers,
the fact that he has a history of doing so could destroy his candidacy. On
the national stage, and particularly in the Democratic party, Jews play a
"A normal liberal politician wouldn't get near this - the political instinct
would be, 'I don't want to touch this' - but none of it offended his
sensibilities," the Jewish Democratic strategist said. "He sat there in
rooms where Israel was likened to Osama bin Laden. He didn't walk out."
Posted by Ted Belman @ 12:07 pm |
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor Intel Guidance
on: May 17, 2008, 12:19:39 AM
All guidance from last week remains in place. Supplemental guidance:
1. Russia: Russia’s new president, Dmitri Medvedev, makes his first foreign trips next week: to Kazakhstan and China. Russian policy since the Cold War’s end regarding Central Asia has been myopic at best, arrogantly assuming that China would never dare do anything but blindly obey the Russian whim. The reality is somewhat different, with Beijing aggressively seeding its influence in an effort to dominate the region economically — a domination that would rob Russia of any pretense of security to its south. Medvedev might be a Putin patsy, but he is no fool. Is this the trip where Russia finally starts acting to arrest its fading influence in the region?
2. Colombia and Chavez: Interpol has ruled that the computer hardware Colombia’s military seized during a raid on a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) camp in March is genuine and has not been tampered with. The files gained indicate, among other things, that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is a FARC weapons supplier. This places Chavez in a horribly awkward position and robs him of what support he has been able to gain from most of his Latin American neighbors. He will have to react to this if he is to have any hope of retaining the initiative. What steps will he take?
3. Bolivia: The Bolivian lowland region of Santa Cruz is implementing its autonomy plan. One aspect involves directly defying the central government’s efforts to grab control of Santa Cruz’s financial flows. Should Santa Cruz be allowed to have its way, Bolivian President Evo Morales would lose the bulk of his country’s economic heft. He must act strongly, and he must act soon. Why is he not acting?
4. Pakistan, India and the United States: The United States is fed up with waiting for Pakistan to act against the Taliban and is becoming bolder in taking actions against the militia on Pakistani soil. Such actions enrage the Pakistanis and make Islamabad even more reluctant to act. And there is another player, too: India has moved 5,000 troops to the Line of Control with Pakistan in response to this week’s militant bombing attacks. India is not about to invade — New Delhi has not even canceled upcoming bilateral peace talks — but neither can the Congress government afford to seem weak. Washington is subtly encouraging Indian actions in order to up the pressure on Pakistan — subtly, because a public request for India to do anything would likely result in an oppositional response. Meanwhile, if anything, the Pakistani government is losing control over the country’s Islamist militants. No one is entertaining the idea of an Indian-Pakistani military conflict, but sooner or later something — American patience or the unstable governing coalitions in Pakistan or India — is going to snap.
5. Lebanon: Lebanon is fractured both within and across its many religious groups, its army is a joke and the government is a talk-shop at best. Yet if the Israeli-Syrian peace progress is going to go anywhere, it will have to include a deep bilateral understanding of those countries’ respective roles in Lebanon. Which means that everyone who has an opinion on the idea of an Israeli-Syrian peace deal is pulling strings in Lebanon to push their own agenda. In this mess, the largest uncommitted militant forces are Islamist militants. Most of these reserve groups are Sunni and are tied in one way or another to foreign intelligence services. It is not so important which faction goes with which service; what matters is which faction is actually able to injure Syrian and Israeli interests to the degree that their talks would be damaged. Everything else is just background noise (unless you are Lebanese).
6. Mexico: The Mexican army is moving toward a showdown with the Sinaloa drug cartel in Sinaloa state itself. Neither side is pulling punches, with Sinaloa targeting high ranking officials that could even include the president, and the army positioned to perhaps not only disrupt drug supply routes and financial holdings, but potentially splinter the cartel itself. It’s showdown time.
May 18- 20: Russian Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov will pay an official visit to Moldova with the intent of wrapping up transnational discussions
May 19- 20: Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimukhammedov, along with an energy delegation, will visit Azerbaijani President İlham Aliyev to most likely discuss energy issues
May 21: Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev will visit Ukraine to discuss bilateral ties and prospects for cooperation and is expected to meet Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko and parliament speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk
May 22- 24: Russian President Dmitri Medvedev will begin his first international trip by paying visits for talks with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Chinese President Hu Jintao
May 22: The Dalai Lama will addresses the United Kingdom’s House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee and give several talks in London
MIDDLE EAST/SOUTH ASIA
May 17: Kuwait holds the first parliamentary elections since Kuwait’s emir Sheikh Ahmad al-Sabah dissolved parliament in March. There is an anticipated gain in parliamentary seats for Shia and Sunni Islamist groups.
May 18: The World Economic Forum begins in Sharm el-Sheikh. Among the planned 1,500 guests from 55 countries, 12 heads of state will attend. Among those attending are U.S. President George W. Bush, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and leaders from Jordan and the Palestinian National Authority. Bush is set to meet with leaders from all three Arab countries.
May 20: The trial of eight Iraqi defendants resumes over the execution of 42 Baghdad merchants accused of profiteering. Former President Saddam Hussein’s cousin, Ali Hasan al-Majid, and former Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz are among the accused.
May 21-23: The Palestinian National Authority hosts an investment conference in an effort to stimulate the local economy.
May 21: India’s Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee visits Pakistan to hold talks on bilateral ties.
May 24: Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi visits Afghanistan to hold talks over bilateral ties.
This week (date unpublished): Chief nuclear negotiators from South Korea, the United States and Japan will gather to discuss the North Korean nuclear issue in the run up to the resumption of the formal six-way talks in Beijing
May 17: Construction ministers from South Korea, Japan and China will hold a meeting later this week to discuss measures for boosting cooperation in the logistical sector in Okayama, Japan
May 19: Thai parliament in session until this date; before May 19, the ruling People’s Power Party can still rewrite the constitution to avoid being disbanded by the courts for electoral fraud
May 20: BEA to launch yuan-based debit card on mainland
May 23: Date after which Indonesia is planning to raise the price of subsidized fuel by an average of 30 percent
May 19: Brazilian government auctions off right to build and operate the large Jirau hydroelectric dam on the Rio Madeira.
May 19: Around 1,000 Indians from around Brazil kick off a week-long protest against a huge dam planned for the Xingu River.
May 23: South American presidents meet in Brasilia to form Union of South American Nations (Unasur).
May 17 (ongoing): Djibouti government hosts the Somalia peace conference including Somalian government officials and representatives from the Supreme Islamist Courts Council
May 24: State governor elections will be held in Nigeria’s Bayelsa state, one of the country’s leading oil producing states in the Niger Delta region. Timipre Sylva, the candidate from the ruling People’s Democratic Party, is expected to win.
May 17-18: Opposition groups plan a “national assembly” in Moscow, which will likely lead to scuffles and police crackdowns
May 21: UEFA Champions League final between English soccer teams Chelsea and Manchester United in Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium; the United Kingdom and Russia have had strained relations recently and soccer matches are always a good outlet for general frustration with hooligan fans acting out in violence in the past. Security should be tight.
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Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hijacker working at airport
on: May 16, 2008, 03:52:05 PM
The Brits are our very good friends, so I include this here:
Afghan plane hijacker is now working as a cleaner at Heathrow
By DANIEL BATES
One of the nine Afghans who won the right to live in Britain after hijacking a plane is now working at Heathrow airport as a cleaner, it emerged last night.
Nazamuddin Mohammidy was one of a group who took over an internal Afghan flight in 2000 and landed it in the UK, where they threatened to kill those on board unless they were granted asylum. Now it has emerged Mohammidy, 34, was recently arrested while driving a car around the new Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport. Police suspected he was an unlicensed cab driver but were stunned when checks revealed he was one of the hijackers. He even had a British Airways pass on him. Mohammidy was among the gang, who claimed they were fleeing the Taliban, which took over an Ariana Airlines jet on an internal flight in Afghanistan in February 2000 armed with firearms and hand grenades.
The Boeing 727, with 160 passengers on board, was diverted to Stansted Airport in Essex. There, the hijackers kept police and SAS marksmen at bay for four days before giving themselves up. All were jailed, but later had their convictions quashed by the Court of Appeal. They have since been living in West London rent-free and on state benefits at an annual cost of £150,000 to the taxpayer.
Mohammidy has been living in Hounslow, Middx, with his family and has spent months employed by a firm that has a contract to clean a BA training centre at Heathrow. Sources last night insisted the BA pass didn't give him airside access, but did allow him into secure areas.
When police pulled him in Mohammidy, wasn't arrested for terror offences but for breaching his bail conditions over an assault charge. He is accused of beating up his former landlord. Yesterday Mohammidy appeared in court over the bail breach, but magistrates in Uxbridge bailed him again - meaning he is back on the streets. A Scotland Yard spokesman last night confirmed that Mohammidy had appeared in court over the bail breach, which took place in December. He will reappear before magistrates in Ealing on May 19.
The spokesman added: "In December 2007 Officers stopped and searched a man under section 44 of the Terrorism Act at Terminal 5. Inquiries revealed he was in breach of bail."
Mohammidy, and brothers Ali and Mohammed Safi, were jailed along with Abdul Shohab, Taimur Shah, Abdul Ghayur, Mohammed Kazin, Mohammed Showaib and Reshad Ahmadi in 2001 over the hijack.
But in 2003 the Court of Appeal ruled their convictions for hijacking, false imprisonment and possessing guns and explosives were unsafe.
The men were released and settled in private properties in Hounslow, where they, their wives and children enjoyed a standard of living far removed from the life they left behind in Afghanistan.
Their houses had large gardens, computers, video recorders and hi-fi systems. The Afghans were also been given lessons in English and computer skills at a nearby college.
In 2006 Mr Justice Sullivan caused widespread outrage after ordering the Home Office to grant the gang 'discretionary leave' to remain in Britain as Afghanistan was 'unsafe' to return to.
The judge also ruled there had been an 'abuse of power' at the highest level in the handling of the case and singled out former Home Secretary David Blunkett and his successor Charles Clarke for acting 'unlawfully.'
A BA spokesman said last night: "We have been helping police with their inquiries into a man who is employed by a cleaning contractor."http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/liv...n_page_id=1770
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics
on: May 16, 2008, 03:45:08 PM
Wesbury is one of the best around IMHO, thanks for sharing.
I think you raise an interesting line of thought in your introdutory remarks to Wesbury's piece. Would you please flesh out the implications of the fact that the Reagan cuts were phased in over three years? IRRC, per supply side doctrine, the acutalization of many gains was deferred untill the third year, which, contrary to monetarist predictions, is when the Reagan boomed kicked off.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Pre-emption and Sucker Punches
on: May 16, 2008, 03:41:01 PM
"In his book, "Dead or Alive:The Choice Is Yours" Geoff Thompson lists abstract question asking as both a deterrent/confuser and as a an action trigger.
"As a deterrent/confuser:
"This is generally used in the early part of the run-in before the adrenaline has started pumping. "How's your brother/mother these days?" "Is your sister's name Mary?" "Don't you know my cousin, David?". This can be a series of questions wherein your "recognition" of the attacker may buy you time, or plant the seed of doubt in their head (Maybe this guy really does know someone I know)
"As an action trigger:
"An action trigger would be defined as something that prepares you mentally for your pre-emptive strike while throwing your adversary off guard. It can be a simple question or something abstract that makes no sense at all. As Thompson writes, "A submissive question is also a subliminal indication that you wish to prolong the conversation, whereas shorter sentences, certainly single syllables, send the message that the conversation is coming to an end." (and that fight is about the start)
"I'm sorry I didn't hear you, what did you say?"
"What was the score in the game tonight?"
"Did you see that chicken video?"
"I saw a bouncer use the abstract question technique one night with an extremely drunk client. No matter what the drunk would say, the bouncer kept asking things like "What is your favorite color?", "Can you fix a radiator?", "Do pickles give you gas?". It completely disarmed the drunk by keeping him mentally off-balance. So much so that he forgot about the fight he was about to get into, mumble something about "Too confusing..." and wandered off.
"Not that a prolonged line of questioning would work in a sucker punch situation, but a single abstract question can buy you
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Oil being stored in tankers?!?
on: May 16, 2008, 12:51:37 PM
An Iranian Oil Mystery
May 16, 2008 | 0200 GMT
Iran confirmed on Thursday that it has booked a supertanker to store up to 270,000 tons of crude oil for up to 90 days. The Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) that Iran commissioned from Singapore-headquartered Tanker Pacific are expected to arrive in Iran the first week of June.
Iran already has more than 28 million barrels of oil floating in tankers outside its main export terminal in the Persian Gulf. The fleet of tankers storing this crude is owned by NITC, a subsidiary of state-owned oil firm National Iranian Oil Co. (NIOC), and has a capacity of more than 30 million barrels of crude — the equivalent of more than a week of Iran’s oil output.
There is something very wrong with this picture.
With oil prices soaring above $127 per barrel, any energy-producing country would be jumping at the opportunity to sell its crude and reap hefty profits. The Iranians, however, are choosing to store a huge bulk of their crude offshore in large tankers. Instead of making money off crude sales, Iran is expending loads of petrodollars to store nearly 30 million barrels of crude for weeks. Storing crude in offshore tankers for long periods of time is certainly not cheap.
So, what is Iran up to?
There are several possible explanations to Iran’s curious energy policy. Some energy analysts have speculated that Iran is holding out for a better market price to sell its oil. But with oil prices already hitting record highs, this explanation does not add up.
Another explanation is that the current policy is a result of the NIOC’s inferior management skills — which is certainly possible, given Iran’s poor track record in managing its investment-deprived energy sector. The intent behind such a policy would be for Iran to manipulate global crude prices by reducing exports and driving up demand.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad already threw around threats in recent days to cut Iranian oil output, sending jitters through the energy market that ended up pushing oil prices to $127 per barrel. From the standpoint of the Iranian Energy Ministry, the threats to reduce output combined with a reduction in exports could drive up prices further and allow the Iranians to get a better deal on their crude sales.
But it appears that the Iranians already tried this strategy — and failed — in the summer of 2006. Beginning in March of that year, the Iranian government issued threats that it would cut its crude production while storing around 20 million barrels of oil in tankers. But instead of selling at a higher price, the Iranians found that oil traders simply looked elsewhere to make up for the difference. In the end, the Iranians wound up selling the bulk of that crude at a major discount to Royal Dutch/Shell and India’s Reliance.
Moreover, Iran is highly unlikely to follow through with its threats of dropping crude output. The Iranians are already producing oil at capacity at 4.02 million barrels per day (bpd). With the Iranian oil sector accounting for approximately 80 percent of Iran’s total exports (with 12 percent of the country’s gross domestic product absorbed in energy subsidies), the country cannot afford to cut production and absorb the loss in income. Despite being the world’s fourth-largest oil producer, Iran is also the world’s second-largest importer of gasoline due to its faltering refining sector; and it is a major food importer. With food prices and inflation rising, Iran is all the more dependent on its oil revenues to maintain internal political stability, and it would be shooting itself in the foot if it took the hit of cutting its oil output.
The more likely reason behind Iran hoarding its oil is a drop in demand for Iranian crude — which spells far more serious consequences for the Islamic Republic.
Iran’s main oil export is a heavy crude that is difficult for refiners to convert into transport fuel. Most of the oil currently being stored off the Iranian coast comes from the Soroush and Nowruz fields, which produce approximately 190,000 bpd of low-quality, high-sulfur crude. Iran has already had a difficult time finding buyers for this heavy sour crude, but still is highly reluctant to cut the price down. The Iranians appear to have now reached a point where they have little choice but to take the hit in income and store the crude, in the hopes that demand for their product will rebound.
The main energy clients for Iranian crude include Japan, China, India, South Korea, Italy and other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nations. But as the global food crisis worsens and inflation rates continue to soar worldwide, these countries will be loath to put up with Iran’s high prices for low-quality crude.
Iran can easily disguise its energy woes with rhetoric on how it is punishing the West by cutting output and driving up global crude prices. These threats will continue to send a jolt through energy investors and bump up prices a notch or two. But Iran will have a much harder time reaping the benefits of high energy prices as long as its energy income is strained by a drop in demand for its crude. Oil is the backbone of the Iranian economy, and if Iran is resorting to storing up loads of crude in the Gulf for lack of buyers, its financial — and thus internal political — stability will soon be coming into serious question.
It’s important to remember that Iran has an incredibly delicate social stability index to manage, with only about 55 percent of its population composed of ethnic Persians. The remaining population is made up of ethnic minorities who are kept in check by Tehran through a combination of military force and heavy state subsidies. If it is already having trouble sustaining its oil exports — and its economic problems continue to worsen — Iran runs the risk of losing its ability to function as a state, much less an aggressive one.
Tell Stratfor What You Think
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ
on: May 16, 2008, 12:17:30 PM
One More Time, Liberals Overplay Their Hand on Gay Marriage
Activist judges and how far they go to position themselves above the legislature or electorate has suddenly become an issue in the presidential race with the narrow 4 to 3 decision by California's Supreme Court to legalize gay marriage.
Barack Obama is unlikely to be pleased by the court's decision. He will recall how the issue of judicial interference with the political process bedeviled John Kerry's 2004 campaign after the high court in Mr. Kerry's home state of Massachusetts legalized gay marriage. Anti-gay marriage initiatives eventually passed that year in nearly a dozen states.
In California, the issue is guaranteed to be a hot political topic this fall. More than 1.1 million signatures have already been collected to put a measure on the November ballot that would change California's ban on gay marriage from a statutory provision to a Constitutional clause. Putting their preferences into the state Constitution is the last recourse of the state's citizens against being dictated to by the state's Supreme Court.
Public opinion seems fairly clear. In 2000, 61% of California voters approved a statutory ban on gay marriage while also leaving open a chance for other legal protections to be extended to gays. The measure, Proposition 22, passed in all but four Bay Area counties and even won a third of the vote in San Francisco.
Supporters of gay marriage assert that public attitudes have shifted since 2000, but they seem unwilling to test that belief through the democratic process. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a very friendly governor to gays, has twice vetoed bills to legalize gay marriage. All gay marriage supporters have to do is elect an even more gay-friendly governor, but instead they insist on court action. Once again, an overreliance on the courts to achieve social change may prompt a public reaction that rebounds to the benefit of conservative candidates.
-- John Fund
Winning the Votes of the Smarter Half
House Republicans started rolling out their election-year agenda this week. The initial object of their attention: Women.
The brainchild of Rep. Kay Granger, the new "American Families Agenda" is an attempt to pitch the GOP's free-market ideals at modern working moms (and dads). Ms. Granger says she tried to zero in on the biggest day-to-day needs for families: more "flex time," fewer burdens on small businesses (a huge number of which are owned by women), portable health care, school choice and college savings. Under her plan, military families would receive extra help and sexual predators would be cracked down on.
"This is an agenda that recognizes that while American families have changed, the laws that affect families, and in particular women, have not," Ms. Granger, a six term congresswomen from Texas, tells me. She should know --- having taught school, run a small business and served as mayor and legislator, all while raising three kids on her own.
House Republicans suffered a devastating loss in a special election in Mississippi this week, and the big goal of the "families" agenda is to show disillusioned voters that the party has a forward-looking agenda. Selling it will be a tough job given recent GOP scandals and spending frenzies, but women are a smart place to start. For decades now "women's issues" have been defined by the left, usually around the hot-button questions of abortion or "equal pay." Yet while many women care about such subjects, polls show the vast majority (including 60% of those women who hold down jobs while caring for a child at home under six) are most concerned with health care, the cost of living and the struggle to balance work and family obligations. And women make up the majority of the electorate now, so it's about time Republicans started listening.
By the way, Ms. Granger makes a point of giving a shout-out to two colleagues in particular for help in drafting the new agenda. One of them, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, last year became the first Member in more than a decade to give birth while serving in Congress. The other, Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn, just became a grandmother.
-- Kim Strassel
Quote of the Day I
"When Michael Dukakis ran for President in 1988, crime was perhaps the biggest issue in the campaign. It splintered his coalition, pitting blacks who saw the death penalty as racially unfair against blue-collar whites who demanded a hard line against crime and too often associated that crime with blacks. Today, by contrast, roughly 1% of Americans say crime is their top issue, and no one even knows what Obama's position on the death penalty is. For Obama, that's an enormous boon, and Bill Clinton deserves a lot of the credit. His policies -- especially his bold proposal for 100,000 new cops -- helped bring down the crime rate. And by embracing the death penalty, he eliminated one of the GOP's best wedge issues. That embrace was ugly at times, as when Clinton flew back to Arkansas during the 1992 campaign to oversee the execution of a mentally retarded man. But it was politically shrewd. And because Clinton did it then, Obama doesn't have to now" -- former New Republic editor Peter Beinart, writing at Time.com.
Quote of the Day II
"Should Obama even care about making tactical mistakes [such as writing off West Virginia and the working-class white electorate] when McCain's conservative base is disappearing before his eyes? While Obama was going down Tuesday, Democrat Travis Childers helped his party complete its trend-setting trifecta of upset wins in special elections in ruby-red, GOP-held House districts. So, despite boatloads of polling that shows McCain is competitive this fall, the fact remains that when Republicans vote these days, they're often voting for Democrats. In Childers' case, it wasn't even close. A last-minute visit from Vice President Dick Cheney couldn't even rescue Republican Greg Davis.... Indeed, while Democrats publicly worry that the drawn-out primary has drawn down their chances this fall, Childers' victory is yet another reason that party leaders' private confidence continues to soar" -- National Journal's "Politiscope" columnist, John Mercurio.
Bearish on McCain
BRUSSELS -- If Westerners don't like what they hear about Vladimir Putin's successor in the Kremlin, Dmitry Medvedev, maybe they're tuned in to the wrong news sources. And if Americans want better relations, maybe they should elect someone other than John McCain.
Those were the messages Thursday from the chairman of the Duma's foreign affairs committee, Konstantin Kosachev, who chalks up the West's criticism of Russia to "misinformation and bias." "Very often when I read" what the West has to report about Russia, "I don't even recognize my country," he says.
But that's not all. He blamed the West for the more aggressive bear it's facing today. Messrs. Putin and Medvedev -- he named them in that order -- are "ready for a different form of dialogue and cooperation with the West. But... the current position of Russia toward the West is very much provoked by a too-harsh approach by the West."
So which U.S. presidential candidate would be best able to improve relations? Mr. Kosachev left little doubt about his druthers. John McCain "is a person who has all his life fought against communism and yet [he] doesn't seem to distinguish between the Soviet Union and Russia," he says. "That may be a problem. We may need a broader approach, and that may come from one of the other hypothetical winners of the election."
This reassertive Russia might not have much use for democrats, but Democrats are another story.
-- Kyle Wingfield
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton" Well-Regulated Militia
on: May 16, 2008, 08:45:01 AM
"If a well-regulated militia be the most natural defense of a free
country, it ought certainly to be under the regulation and at the
disposal of that body which is constituted the guardian of the
national security. If standing armies are dangerous to liberty,
an efficacious power over the militia in the same body ought,
as far as possible, to take away the inducement and the pretext
to such unfriendly institutions. If the federal government can
command the aid of the militia in those emergencies which call
for the military arm in support of the civil magistrate, it can
the better dispense with the employment of a different kind of
force. If it cannot avail itself of the former, it will be obliged
to recur to the latter. To render an army unnecessary will be a
more certain method of preventing its existence than a thousand
prohibitions upon paper."
-- Alexander Hamilton (Federalist No. 29, 10 January 1788)
Reference: Hamilton, Federalist No. 29.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / This man is not likely to get sucker punched
on: May 16, 2008, 08:28:51 AM
Many of the clips we have seen so far have been young male escalations involving "the three Ss", but, we also want to be thinking about other types of situations as well e.g. criminal assault and other more serious matters. Here, from the WT forum, we have an example of an Israeli man not likely to get sucker punched. Yes there are variables here quite different from what most of us have in mind (being armed with guns, the socio-political dynamics involved) but notice his final comments about disrupting the prospective attacker's mental process; this I think is a key point for the discussion here in this thread:
I was asked in a couple of PM's to write up some examples of "spontaneous jihad". Spontaneous jihad is when a lone muslim gets the idea to go and an act of murder as party of an isolated terrorism.
In the first incident I was driving an unmarked jeep from Jerusalem to the north of Israel to teach a week long in service training for snipers. In Israel we have different colored license plates for our vehicles. Yellow and black plates for Israeli citizens both Arab and Jews, blue or green for Palestinians, red plates for police vehicles, Black with white letters for IDF and white with black letters for diplomatic vehicles. The jeep I was driving had yellow and black plates on it and inside the jeep I had green plates and also red plates that I could put on the Jeep if I saw the need. The jeep had a siren and pa system and a kojack blue light, along with two sets of radios law enforcement and IDF radios.
I left Jerusalem heading north through Ramallah in Samaria AKA northern part of the so called west bank. As I had a bunch of equipment related to the teaching of the course, I didn't want to be bothered by taking either my sniping rifle or my M16 rifle, so I was armed with a mini Uzi and a Glock 21 pistol which happened to be the first one that entered Israel.
Since I was going to be in for a long drive I was wearing the Glock in an IWB holster carried cross draw and was wearing the mini Uzi with the stock folded and the sling around my neck carried muzzle down between my legs. The Uzi had two mags in it and I carried four more if I remember correctly more in my left cargo pocket of my pants.
The weather was warm and while I drove I was drinking water to keep hydrated and about 30-45 minutes north of Ramallah I felt the need for a pit stop so I pulled the jeep over and walked away from the jeep which was parked along side the two lane country road. I walked away from the jeep into the brush as a means of concealment so if the jeep attracted unwanted attention I was away from it and hidden so I could then take the correct action if need be.
As I got ready to do my business I moved the Uzi from around my neck hanging down like a neck tie would, so I moved the weapon to my left shoulder, The reason being if it should happen to slide of my should it would not effect my aim, which could have resulted in wet pants.
I had just started when a Hamas looking Arab approached me from the right side asking me if I needed help. I replied that I was fine and he should freeze or suffer bad things to come. He kept walking towards me starting in on the usual BS we are family, we are cousins let me help you.
I told him that just because my forefather Avraham slept with some arab whore did not in my mind make us family and we all should learn that having sex with arab whores is not the thing to do.
My response was not what he thought he would get as it was far outside the norms of the middle east, which by the look on his face caused his thought process to short circuit which gave me time to finish and get myself together as it were. He then started to walk towards me again.
I told him he was either a terrorist looking for a victim or he was a fag but the end result would be the same that I would kill him where he stood. I then pivoted so he could see I was armed, which made him freeze.
He then got this grin on his face and said Yahud, Jew if every Jew was like you their would never be a Palestinian state but most Jews were week and they would get their state in the end and then he walked off.
He was later found by the IDF and had a large knife.
I was going to meet a friend from Sweden in the old city of Jerusalem for lunch and then to take him around the old city. I was dressed in civilian cloths i.e jeans t shirt and sandals and kippah on my head. I was armed with a micro Uzi and a Hi Power that I carried cocked and locked but under my t shirt.
I had just entered the old city via the Yaffo gate and was walking across the open area that is just inside the gate before you get to the maze that is the old city. I was walking toward the east for those of you that have been in the old city and to the north was 3 or 4 members of the "blue" police civilian police and to my right was a group of 8-10 arab males aged 18-25.
One of the arabs walked away from the group and approached me asking if he could see the micro uzi, I told him he was insane and to get away from me. He again started with the family crap as he started to walk with me. I told him to get the hell away from me.
The arab the lunged at me grabbing for the Uzi, I gave him an elbow strike to the side of the head and grabbed him with my left arm wrapping him up and talking him down with me to the street while I drew the Hi Power from under my shirt.
I stuck the pistol into his face and thumbed the safety off, he was stunned by the blow to the head and before I could blow his head off out of my periphery vision I saw people running towards me. Thinking I was about to gt swarmed by his friends I raised the pistol towards the people running at me.
The people running towards me happened to be the police, I ordered them to grab the group of arab males and to get a pair of cuffs so we could cuff up the asshole I was sitting on.
The whole time I had in my right hand a cocked and unlocked Hi power which was loaded with hollowpoint ammo, at a time 99% of Israeli government and civilians were still using ball ammo.
We cuffed up the now bleeding arab and then I knew that virtue was the better part of valor so I removed the mag from my Hi Power and removed the round from the chamber and since I carried the `13 round mags down one round I just topped off the mag.
The cops were amazed at how fast I had been able to draw and chamber a round since at the time most of the people carried condition 3. I didn't have the heart to tell them that I carried with one up the tube and cocked and locked.
From the group of arabs we learned that when he saw me and the micro uzi he wanted to try to take it since with such a weapon he could murder a lot of Jews.
The thing that both incidents have in common is spontaneous jihad, since both attacks were unplanned and were done at the spur of the moment. The question is how can we identify those hadji's that might be leaning to spontaneous jihad, we can't.
So how do we defend against it?
By never letting your guard down and being ready to be as un-PC as you can be if their is a verbal dialog leading up to their desired attack. I have noticed that by being very crude about the family connection and other things tends to short circuit their thought process, it is the mental version of getting of the X.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan
on: May 16, 2008, 08:10:51 AM
Geopolitical Diary: The Possible Meanings of an Airstrike in Pakistan
May 15, 2008
An airstrike in the northwestern Pakistani town of Damadola on Wednesday struck the home of a Taliban leader, according to a militia spokesman quoted by Pakistan’s AAJ TV. Normally such events would not hold our attention, but a conflux of events on Wednesday suggests that this attack is laden with implications.
Details are still sketchy — partly due to the location’s remoteness, partly due to the security concerns of any U.S. military force acting there, partly due to the opaqueness of the Taliban’s internal workings and partly because the locals tend to recycle names with such alacrity that positive identifications require an uncomfortable amount of guesswork — but here is what seems to have happened.
The airstrike appears to have been launched from Afghan airspace, suggesting that it was almost certainly American in origin. This in and of itself is not particularly odd.
The United States only has two routes of supply into Afghanistan: one through the political ice floes of post-Soviet Central Asia and one through Pakistan. That dependence on Pakistan has forced the United States to turn a blind eye to Pakistan’s own blind eye regarding the Taliban. Pakistan’s government — especially its intelligence arm — sees some Taliban factions as a tool of influence, and so grants them succor. This limits U.S. military flexibility in hunting the Taliban, and similarly leads the Taliban to use the Pakistani side of the border to rest, recuperate, recruit and rearm.
What results is a merry-go-round of denials. The Taliban deny that they operate in Pakistan (yet have bases there), the United States denies that it pursues Taliban targets in Pakistan (yet has special forces on sustained deployments there hunting the aforementioned bases), and Pakistan denies that either of the others is doing anything in Pakistani territory (yet cooperates with the Taliban in hiding from the Americans and with the Americans in hunting the Taliban). This is all standard fare in Afghan-Pakistani border politics.
But two twists prompt us to think something more is going on.
The first — and this is where the tendency for a large number of people to use a small number of names comes into play — regards the name of the Taliban leader whose house was hit: Maulvi Ubaidullah. Maulvi Ubaidullah is the name of the Taliban defense minister from the pre-9/11 era when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan. In April the Pakistani ambassador to Afghanistan was kidnapped, and the terms of the ambassador’s release included Islamabad setting free captured Taliban leaders — including one Maulvi Ubaidullah. For someone to be terminated by Hellfire within a few weeks of being in Ameri-, er, Pakistani custody indicates more might be at work than simple coincidence. (In the American counterterrorism lexicon, such operations are called “catch and release.” Suspects are caught, interrogated and released so American operatives can track them back to their bases and allies — at which point liberal amounts of American military hardware are distributed from altitude.)
Second, the Pakistani army began “thinning out” troops from two areas in the South Waziristan region and had a prisoner exchange in an effort to make peace with the Taliban a day after the provincial government in North-West Frontier Province agreed to implement Shariah in the Swat and Malakand districts. Pakistan is in the throes of an unsteady freshman coalition government desperate to prove its strength. One surefire crowd-pleaser in Pakistan is to snub the United States publicly.
Taken together, the events point to one of two possible intriguing conclusions. First, that just because the United States is willing to grimace its way around Pakistan’s blind eye, it cannot let naked collusion pass. The Ubaidullah assassination could have been simply to emphasize for the new Pakistani authorities that Islamabad can say — and maybe even do — whatever it likes, but when it comes down to it the United States will not hesitate to attack high-value targets who have allied with al Qaeda, no matter in whose territory they happen to bed down. And if that destabilizes Pakistan, then so be it. For Washington, progress in the Afghan war might now (oddly) be more important than retaining the means to fight it effectively.
Second — and not particularly more or less likely — is that U.S. cooperation with the Pakistani government is independent of public relations between the two states. Washington has long enjoyed functional and fruitful — if not always friendly — ties with the Pakistani military, which remains the real power in the country. It is certainly feasible that American-Pakistani military cooperation has not suffered a whit even as political Islamabad becomes ever more shrill in voicing its unwillingness to cooperate with Washington.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ
on: May 15, 2008, 04:54:14 PM
Could Bob Barr become this year's Ralph Nader, helping to "spoil" the White House ambitions of John McCain.
The former Georgia Republican congressman announced he was seeking the Libertarian nomination for president this week, and immediately disputed that he is spoiling things for anyone. "The American voters deserve better than simply the lesser of two evils," he said as he outlined his platform to freeze discretionary spending and withdraw from Iraq.
Mr. Barr first has to win the nomination of the fractious Libertarians in Denver later this month. He faces opposition from 13 candidates, including former Democratic Senator Mike Gravel, an amusing oddity in this year's Democratic presidential contest.
If Mr. Barr wins the LP nomination, he would likely appear on some 45 state ballots and could tip some close races to the Democrats. "Barr obviously is dangerous. At least he negates any possible Nader benefit," says David Norcross, chairman of the Rules Committee at the GOP convention. Mr. Nader, widely credited with hurting Al Gore in the 2000 election, is running again as a liberal independent.
Still, Republicans claim they aren't concerned by Mr. Barr's possible appearance on all those state ballots. But they should be. You can bet cable TV producers who are backing Barack Obama will book the quotable Mr. Barr dozens of times. Don't be surprised if he even teams up with Mr. Nader for tag-team appearances, with the consumer advocate primarily blasting Democrats and Mr. Barr eviscerating Republicans.
So how should Republicans limit the potential damage Mr. Barr could cause them? For starters, John McCain should avoid giving unfortunate speeches such as the one he gave Monday endorsing the discredited cap-and-trade approach to limiting global warming -- a system that has flopped in Europe. Mr. McCain went so far as to say: "If the efforts to negotiate an international solution that includes China and India do not succeed, we still have an obligation to act" against global warming. Given the growth in carbon emissions of those two countries, that is a preposterous statement.
Mr. McCain may believe he can attract the votes of young people with his green street cred, but he would be advised not to go too far in alienating his conservative base. Mr. Barr will likely be there every step of the way exploiting conservative discontent with the GOP nominee.
-- John Fund
Tom Cole In the GOP's Stocking
Following the 2006 elections, Republicans faced a 30-seat deficit in the House of Representatives. With that number now grown to 37 seats, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole finds himself in possibly the most unenviable position in Washington. The Democrats' majority is almost sure to increase even more come November, leaving Mr. Cole, whose basic role is to help elect as many Republicans to the House as possible, facing what appears to be inevitable failure.
Since Tuesday's loss in Mississippi's 1st District, Mr. Cole has spoken in rather blunt terms about the state of affairs of the GOP. It was the third recent special election defeat in districts the GOP once dominated.
"When you lose three of these in a row, you have to get beyond campaign tactics and take a long hard look, 'Is there something wrong with your product?'" Mr. Cole said yesterday in a conference call with reporters. "What we've got right now is a deficiency in our message and a loss of confidence by the American people that we are going to do what we say we're going to do. We're not winning in places that Republicans probably ought to win on the basis of just being Republican."
Still, Mr. Cole didn't sound totally defeated, noting that two Democratic special election winners in Mississippi and Louisiana ran on platforms so conservative that they would have been welcomed "to the Republican caucus with open arms." He conceded that the Democratic strategy of running more conservative candidates in Republican districts was proving successful in winning seats now, but he also maintained that it would not be sustainable over the long term. Unfortunately for Mr. Cole, he may not have his NRCC chairmanship long enough to see if that statement proves true.
-- Kyle Trygstad, RealClearPolitics.com
Quote of the Day I
"Edwards stood next to Obama Wednesday night, basking in the applause of thousands of Michigan Democrats who were, for all practical purposes, cheering the end of the Clinton campaign.... No one missed the fact that Barack Obama and John Edwards looked right together. 'They looked fantastic together,' gushed Jill Zuckman, the Chicago Tribune's able political writer. 'They looked like a ticket'" -- The Nation magazine's John Nichols, covering yesterday's endorsement, in the future battleground state of Michigan, of Barack Obama by former rival John Edwards.
Quote of the Day II
"It is unusual for a single individual to hold the fate of an entire industry in his hand -- but that will be the case for the next president of the United States. He or she will have the power to enact unbearably strict fuel economy standards on the cars and trucks sold in half the country. By so doing, he could render vast swaths of the current car and truck lineup obsolete and doom their manufacturers to the scrapyard" -- Fortune Magazine's Alex Taylor III, on whether the next president will allow California and several other states to impose their own stringent CO2 emissions standards on automakers.
South Korea has been swept by mad cow fever in recent weeks, ever since President Lee Myung-bak agreed to re-open the country to imports of U.S. beef. Korea's protectionist farm lobby quickly mobilized in force, aided by a bizarre scaremongering campaign in the South Korean media. One TV documentary claimed Americans themselves don't eat American beef, preferring to import beef from Australia instead (not true: more than 90% of U.S. beef is consumed at home).
The same TV show also purported to prove that Koreans are genetically predisposed to contract the human form of mad cow, an odd assertion since no ethnic Korean has ever fallen victim to the disease.
But now an unexpected ally has leapt to the defense of American ranchers. From their U.S. homes, various Korean-American groups have entered the fight, with noticeable results. "We trust the American public health system," Lee Chang-yup of the Korean-American Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles was quoted as saying in South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper. Other groups have held their own press conferences and issued statements saying their members eat U.S. beef safely all the time and South Koreans should too.
Word from Seoul suggests the campaign is working. Passions have begun to cool as the scientific realities are given their due. Though the Seoul government just announced a 10-delay, President Lee insists the beef imports will eventually resume. If so, U.S. ranchers will have reason to thank Americans of Korean descent who defended American beef in its hour of need.
-- Joseph Sternberg