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23101  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Newt on the EPA on: November 09, 2011, 10:01:51 AM

Dust in the Wind: Time for the EPA to Go!
by Newt Gingrich
The key to eliminating our oppressive regulatory regime is simply to replace the existing bureaucracy rather than try to reform it. The current systems are so entrenched that we need to start over with new organizations and new people.
Overbearing bureaucrats are especially prominent at the Environmental Protection Agency. The arrogance, economic ignorance, and dictatorial attitude of the current organization are well known throughout much of America.
The EPA bullies and dictates to businesses, small towns, and states. It routinely tells states what they have to do and then claims not to be at fault when the states tell local communities and businesses they must comply.
The EPA has become a clear example of "bureaucratic socialism"—an ingenious adaptation of European socialism.
Under "bureaucratic socialism," you get to own your company, but federal bureaucrats tell you how to run it.
Two recent events surrounding the rumors of stiffening "dust regulation," which led to a new height of anger against the bureaucrats, highlight the need to replace the EPA with a brand new Environmental Solutions Agency.
In a speech last week, EPA Administrator Linda Jackson acknowledged the anger when she said people referred to her officials as "jack-booted thugs."
What was amazing about her comments was her complete inability to ask why people would use terms like "jack-booted thugs" to describe the agency's behavior. She exhibited a total unwillingness to listen to her critics or try to understand their frustration.

Similarly, a Washington Post report on the dust rules was so infuriatingly one-sided and dishonest that it was easy to see why many Americans feel their concerns are trampled by an evasive bureaucracy.
On November 3 the Washington Post ran a story that claimed members of Congress were working to "ban [a] phantom EPA dust rule."
With great glee, the Post writers reported:
"Earlier this year, Republicans found what they saw as an ideal talking point to illustrate a federal bureaucracy gone batty.
"The Environmental Protection Agency, they warned, was trying to regulate something only God could control: the dust in the wind.
"'Now, here comes my favorite of the crazy regulatory acts. The EPA is now proposing rules to regulate dust,' Rep. John Carter (R.-Texas) said on the House floor. He said Texas is full of dusty roads: 'The EPA is now saying you can be fined for driving home every night on your gravel road.'
"There was just one flaw in this argument: It was not true.
"The EPA's new dust rule did not exist. It never did."
I was stunned by this assertion.
Everywhere I had gone in Iowa, people had been complaining about the proposed dust rule. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R.-Iowa), a senior and informed leader in the Senate, had been speaking out against the rule aggressively. In fact, he assigned a staff person to fight the EPA over the proposed rule.
The assertion that it was never considered was plainly dishonest.
Although there was never a formal proposal to create the rule, the prospect of stricter dust regulations had been on the table for months after EPA panels gave conflicting recommendations. Since the EPA makes no distinctions between urban, industrial dust and dust from agriculture or rural roads, many rural Americans were justifiably terrified that the agency was dragging its feet. It was not until mid-October that the EPA finally said it wouldn't tighten the rules, as its panel had recommended.
The Post's characterization of the issue as "hubbub over this phantom rule — surely one of the most controversial regulations that never was" was both false and insulting to the 112 House members and 26 Senators who had cosponsored legislation to prevent the agency from regulating farm dust.
The article, obviously based on one-sided, dishonest EPA description of the fight, suggested all of these elected representatives and their staffs were ignorant and cynical, instead of acknowledging their legitimate concerns on behalf of rural Americans. It was the Washington elite at its most infuriating.
Rep. Kristi Noem, a freshman Republican from South Dakota, the author of the bill on farm dust regulation, issued a powerful statement of myths and facts demolishing the EPA argument.
Between an administrator, who jokes that Americans perceive her officials as "jack-booted thugs," and widespread dishonesty and evasion about proposed dust regulations, it is clear the EPA must be replaced, not reformed.
We need a true Environmental Solutions Agency to replace the EPA—an agency that will emphasize innovation, collaboration, common sense and economic rationality. It can't be done with the same old bureaucrats. It will require new people in a new institution.
Your Friend,
23102  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Two on what to do on: November 09, 2011, 08:28:37 AM
The International Atomic Energy Agency is expected to unveil a report Wednesday on what it knows about Iran's efforts to develop nuclear weapons, and the early word is that it contains a few bombshells. But let's not overstate its significance. There's no scarcity of reliable information about Iran's nuclear programs, licit and illicit. The only question is whether the report will do much to end the current scarcity of Western will to do something meaningful to check them.

Start with what we already know about Iran's nuclear programs. In September, the IAEA came out with its umpteenth report on Iran.

It noted that Iran had enriched 4.5 tons of low-enriched uranium—sufficient, with further enrichment, for three or four bombs—and that a third of the uranium had been enriched in the last year alone. So much for the miracle of digital deliverance that was supposed to be the Stuxnet computer virus.

It noted that Iran had begun to deploy more advanced centrifuges, capable of enriching uranium at a significantly faster rate than the ones that it had acquired from Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan. So much for the success of sanctions in shutting down Iran's underground network of nuclear-parts suppliers.

It noted that Iran had enriched 70.8 kilos of uranium to a 20% level, a significant step toward bomb-grade material, and that it was planning to triple production at its heavily fortified facility near the city of Qom. So much for the idea that Iran faces a critical shortage of 20% enriched uranium, or that a diplomatic overture by the West to supply it could check Tehran's nuclear efforts.

Finally, the report made reference to the agency's previous disclosures about the "possible military dimensions" of Iran's nuclear program, including "producing uranium metal . . . into components relevant to a nuclear device" and "missile re-entry vehicle redesign activities for a new payload assessed as being nuclear in nature." So much for the enabling fiction that was the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, which judged "with high confidence" that Iran "halted its nuclear weapons program" in the fall of 2003.

The 2007 NIE now joins a September 1962 NIE—which claimed, just a month before the Cuban Missile Crisis, that the Soviets were unlikely to station missiles on the island—in the intelligence community's long hall of infamy. But Wednesday's IAEA report should at least put to rest the intel debate about Iran's drive to build a bomb. What remains is the policy debate.

Such a debate needs to be clear about four things.

First, it needs to abandon the conceit that there is a third way between allowing Iran's nuclear drive to proceed effectively unhindered or to use military force to stop it. The Obama administration came to office seeking a diplomatic grand bargain with Tehran, only to be rebuffed by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. It then tried sanctions, which came up short in the way most sanctions efforts do. As for covert action, see above. A (bad) argument can be made that a nuclear Iran could be contained. But another round of diplomacy or sanctions guarantees failure, signals weakness, and emboldens the hardest of Iranian hardliners.

Second, the debate must recognize that time is no longer on the West's side: Further temporizing in the face of our choice of evils inevitably means that Iran will get to make the choice for us. Israel may soon have to forsake its own (conventional) military option as Iran moves its nuclear assets to hardened installations. The U.S. doesn't suffer from Israel's military limitations, but further delay only increases the complexity and uncertainties of any strike.

Third, a debate needs to weigh the inevitable unforeseen consequences of a military strike against the all-too-foreseeable consequences of a nuclear Iran. Among the former: more Iranian meddling in Iraq and Afghanistan (particularly as U.S. troops withdraw), efforts to shut down the Straits of Hormuz, and perhaps an opportunistic war with Israel. Among the latter: all of the above, except this time with the added security of a nuclear umbrella, as well as a nuclear proliferation death spiral involving Saudi Arabia, Turkey and soon-to-be Islamist Egypt. If you thought the Cold War was scary, imagine four or five nuclear adversaries in the world's must unstable region, each of them at daggers drawn with one another.

Finally, any debate must take into account what the West can do to hasten the regime's demise. Opponents of military strikes argue that they would help the regime consolidate power. Perhaps. But the regime seems to have succeeded in re-establishing its domestic grip without the alibi of foreign intervention. And it bears wondering what a nuclear Iran might do with its weapons if faced with a slow-motion revolt on the Syrian model. Gently into that good night is not this regime's way.

Those are the contours of a real debate. A final thought: What would a strike on Iran do for President Obama's re-election chances? Improve them, I should think. At least it would be one inarguable accomplishment on which to run.

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2011     STRATFOR.COM  Diary Archives

Iran's Nuclear Program and its Nuclear Option
Details and specifics of the forthcoming International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on the Iranian nuclear program continued to leak out over the weekend, with the formal report expected later this week. The growing rhetoric about Iran — including talk from certain Israeli and American corners about an air campaign against Iran — had already begun to intensify in anticipation of the report, which will say more explicitly than previous IAEA assessments that Iran is indeed actively pursuing a nuclear weaponization program.
“The counterexamples are countries — specifically, North Korea and Iran — that already have a compelling, non-nuclear deterrent.”
There is a cyclical nature to this rhetoric, and the correlation with the most harsh IAEA report on Iran to date is hard to get past. But while the latest IAEA report is certainly set to contain new, specific information about Iran’s program, there has been little serious doubt in recent years that Iran has continued to actively pursue nuclear weapons. The impending IAEA report’s overarching tenor is not news to anyone — though it provides plenty of opportunity to talk about Iran’s program, point fingers at Tehran and once again raise the specter of war — something even those mostly looking to mount pressure for more aggressive sanctions may do.
Nuclear weaponization programs by their nature require large, fixed infrastructure that must be connected to significant sources of power. The development of such programs — particularly in countries operating without access to key, export-controlled materiel — demands considerable investment over many years. Any serious movement down this path is vulnerable to detection, which is likely to lead to an attack in short order as Iraq found out in 1981 and Syria found out in 2007. Essentially, if a country desires a nuclear deterrent because it lacks any deterrent at all, then it is unlikely to be allowed the uninterrupted space and time to develop one.
The counterexamples are countries — specifically, North Korea and Iran — that already have a compelling, non-nuclear deterrent. That existent, non-nuclear deterrent discourages pre-emptive attacks against the country while its nuclear development efforts are in their most vulnerable stages. In the case of North Korea, Pyongyang has demonstrated a very sophisticated ability to escalate and de-escalate crises year after year, keeping itself at the center of the international agenda but not inviting physical attack. One element of this is Pyongyang’s deliberate cultivation of a perception of unpredictability — the idea the North Korean dictator may not behave rationally — which convinces international actors to give the regime a wide berth. The other is continued ambiguity. North Korea has made a career out of crossing international “red lines” and has helped soften the blow of crossing those lines by doing so ambiguously, particularly with nuclear tests that are not overtly, demonstrably successful. Yet North Korea has a large but unknown number of conventional artillery and artillery rocket batteries within range of Seoul. North Korea’s real “nuclear” option is opening fire with those batteries before they can possibly all be destroyed. And that is what ultimately keeps the international response to North Korea’s nuclear program in check: the unwillingness to trade a difficult and uncertain military attempt to address a crude, nascent nuclear program in exchange for Seoul.
Tehran has three key deterrents. First, for years, the American troop presence in Iraq, particularly after post-surge quelling of violence, remained vulnerable to Iranian-instigated attack by Tehran’s proxies and with weapons provided by Tehran (something Iran demonstrated quite unambiguously that it had the capacity to do in the form of the explosively formed penetrator, a particularly deadly form of improvised explosive device). That dynamic will remain, after American troops depart, in the form of American diplomats and contractors, who will be protected by a small army of private security contractors. Second, Iran’s ballistic missile arsenal can target both American and Israeli targets across the region – and many missiles will likely be loosed before all their mobile launchers can be pinpointed and destroyed.
But the third deterrent is the critical factor. Iran has for decades cultivated the ability to essentially conduct guerrilla warfare in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. This is Iran’s real “nuclear” option. There are inherent vulnerabilities in such tight waters, in which Iran can bring to bear not just naval mines, but shore-based anti-ship missiles and small boat swarms. This threat might be manageable tactically (particularly if a massive U.S.-led air campaign surprised Iran), but even in the best-case scenario, no one can manage the markets’ reaction to even the hint of disruption to 40 percent of the world’s sea-borne crude.
This is the heart of the problem. Whether there are six key nuclear sites in Iran or 60 (and Iran presents a significant intelligence challenge in this regard), any attacker has to neutralize not just the nuclear targets and associated air defenses, but Iran’s dispersed and camouflaged military capabilities all along the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz. U.S. participation was decisive in a far less sophisticated air campaign against Libya. In an Iran scenario where so much must be hit so quickly, the United States is the only country capable of even attempting to bring the necessary military strike capacity against Iran.
But even the optimistic scenario must anticipate the potential for an outcome reminiscent of the 1980s Tanker Wars. While the United States and Europe are focused on the global economic crisis (and particularly the euro crisis in Europe), they will want to avoid at all costs video of burning oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, which could panic already skittish markets. As long as that is the case, the prospect of a military strike on Iran is dim. And in any event, surprise is a key element for a successful strike on Iran. The moment Iran should feel the most secure is when Israeli rhetoric about war is at its peak.
23103  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Extended conversation with Newt on Bret Baier Report on: November 08, 2011, 11:47:34 PM
Third post:

Good conversation!

Now that we have learned that Newt did not divorce his dying wife on her deathbed, maybe the fact that he is head and shoulders above any of the other candidates will carry more weight.
23104  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Guro Crafty in Salt Lake City January 21-22 on: November 08, 2011, 11:04:54 PM
Joint seminar with Jared Wihongi

Details to follow.

PS:  Big congrats to Jared for his promotion to "Tuhon" in Pekiti Tirsia this coming weekend!
23105  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More on Cain's accuser on: November 08, 2011, 10:37:33 PM
second post-- following up with more detail to what GM already posted:

Who is Sharon Bialek?
Posted on November 8, 2011 by admin
As Ms. Sharon Bialek has placed herself in the public spotlight through making patently false allegations against Herman Cain, it is only fair to compare her track record alongside Mr. Cain’s.

In stark contrast to Mr. Cain’s four decades spent climbing the corporate ladder rising to the level of CEO at multiple successful business enterprises, Ms. Bialek has taken a far different path.

The fact is that Ms. Bialek has had a long and troubled history, from the courts to personal finances – which may help explain why she has come forward 14 years after an alleged incident with Mr. Cain, powered by celebrity attorney and long term Democrat donor Gloria Allred.

In the courts, Ms. Bialek has had a lengthy record in the Cook County Court system over various civil lawsuits. The following cases on file in Cook County are:

■2000-M1-707461 Defendant against Broadcare Management
■2000-M1-714398 Defendant in lawsuit against Broadcare Management
■2000-M1-701522 Defendant in lawsuit against Broadcare Management
■2005-M1-111072 Defendant in lawsuit against Mr. Mark Beatovic.
■2007-M1-189176 Defendant in lawsuit against Midland Funding.
■2009-M1-158826 Defendant in lawsuit against Illinois Lending.
Ms. Bialek was also sued in 1999 over a paternity matter according to ABC 7 Chicago (WLS-TV). Source: WLS-TV, November 7, 2011

In personal finances, PACER (Federal Court) records show that Ms. Bialek has filed for bankruptcy in the Northern District of Illinois bankruptcy court in 1991 and 2001. The respective case numbers according to the PACER system are 1:01-bk-22664 and 1:91-bk-23273.

Ms. Bialek has worked for nine employers over the last seventeen years. Source: WLS-TV, November 7, 2011

Curiously, if Ms. Bialek had intended to take legal action, the statute of limitations would have passed a decade ago.

Which brings up the question of why she would make such reprehensible statements now?

The questions should be – who is financing her legal team, have any media agreed to pay for her story, and has she been offered employment for taking these actions?

For More Information:
J.D. Gordon, Vice President of Communications
Friends of Herman Cain, Inc.

23106  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Reports of Newt's ex-wife's death greatly exaggerated on: November 08, 2011, 09:33:29 PM

My father, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, has been in politics as long as I can remember.

And as long as I can remember, media coverage about him has contained misstatements of facts. The vast majority are simple mistakes that are easily corrected, understood and rewoven into an ongoing storyline.

But one of them seems to have taken on a life of its own, and simple corrections have not sufficed to set the record straight. Why does this happen? I can't be sure, but I suspect that the narrative created by these untruths proves to be so much more compelling and more dramatic than what actually happened that it proves irresistible.

I'm talking about the story of my father's visit to my mother while she was in the hospital in 1980.

For years, I have thought about trying to correct the untrue accounts of this hospital visit. After all, I was at the hospital with them, and saw and heard what happened. But I have always hesitated, as it was a private family matter and my mother is a very private person. In addition, for the four people involved, it was one of a million interactions and was not considered a defining event by any of us.

My mother and I have both recently run into quite a few people who hold an inaccurate understanding of this hospital visit. Many think my mother is dead.

So, to correct the record, here is what happened: My mother, Jackie Battley Gingrich, is very much alive, and often spends time with my family. I am lucky to have such a "Miracle Mom," as I titled her in a column this week.

As for my parents' divorce, I can remember when they told me.

It was the spring of 1980. I was 13 years old, and we were about to leave Fairfax, Va., and drive to Carrollton, Ga., for the summer. My parents told my sister and me that they were getting a divorce as our family of four sat around the kitchen table of our ranch home.

Soon afterward, my mom, sister and I got into our light-blue Chevrolet Impala and drove back to Carrollton.

Later that summer, Mom went to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta for surgery to remove a tumor. While she was there, Dad took my sister and me to see her.

It is this visit that has turned into the infamous hospital visit about which many untruths have been told. I won't repeat them. You can look them up online if you are interested in untruths. But here's what happened:

My mother and father were already in the process of getting a divorce, which she requested.

Dad took my sister and me to the hospital to see our mother.

She had undergone surgery the day before to remove a tumor.

The tumor was benign.

As with many divorces, it was hard and painful for all involved, but life continued.

As have many families, we have healed; we have moved on.

We are not a perfect family, but we are knit together through common bonds, commitment and love.

My mother and father are alive and well, and my sister and I are blessed to have a close relationship with them both.

My sister and I feel that it is time to move on, close the book on this event and focus on building a great future. We will not answer additional questions or make additional comments regarding this meaningless incident, which occurred more than three decades ago.

As I said, my mother is a private person. She will not give media interviews. She deserves respect and should be allowed to live in peace.
23107  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: November 08, 2011, 06:35:27 PM

"The Tennessee law, that was the origins of the question at hand, was passed after the Occupy folks began their settlement.  It targets them."

"So? Most states didn't have a law banning the disruption of funerals until Westboro started their B.S. Now most states do, after legislators recognized a problem. The laws don't state "Westboro Baptists may not disrupt funerals", the laws forbid ANYONE from disrupting a funeral, no matter what their agenda might be. Sad that such a law might be needed in the first place.

"Ex post facto doesn't apply to this issue. Say you were 18 when the drinking age in your state changed to 21. You couldn't be charged for your possession of alcohol/consumption BEFORE the law went into effect, but if an officer contacts you with a beer in your hand the day AFTER....."

MARC:  GM's point here seems to me simple, logical, and persuasive.  Given the lack of prescience of the lawmaking process  cheesy I am willing to hazard a guess that MOST laws are passed AFTER some sort of problem has manifested itself and once passed from that point in time FORWARD the proscribed behavior is prohibited.
23108  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Italy takes over from Greece on: November 08, 2011, 06:17:37 PM
Vice President of Analysis Peter Zeihan explains how Italian debt has become the greatest threat to the eurozone.
Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.
The Italian government eked out a legislative victory today, but the victory was a hollow one. Only 308 of the parliament’s 630 MPs voted for the government’s budget, eight shy of a majority. The bill only passed because the opposition chose to abstain rather than defeat the budget. Italy has now taken the lead position in the contest of what can unravel the euro.
Greece, which has held that dubious honor for nearly two years, is actually now off the radar. Today the Greeks formed a national unity government that has the political authority to implement deep austerity while compartmentalizing political backlash against the system. It might not work, but it should last at least until the new year.
But today’s Italian budget vote — or more specifically the decision of several previously pro-Berlusconi deputies to abstain with the opposition — puts Italy squarely in the crosshairs.
Italy, like Greece, faces an insurmountable debt mountain. Italy, like Greece, has problems with political unity. But Italy, unlike Greece, has a leader who refuses to step aside in favor of a national unity government. Berlusconi has been at or near the top of the Italian political scene for a generation, and his People of Freedom party is his own personal political machine.
Berlusconi now has seven days to repair that machine. If he cannot muster an additional eight votes by Nov. 15, his government will fall in a scheduled confidence vote. That would push Italy into an election at a time when markets are waking up to the fact that it is not Ireland or Spain or even Greece that is the biggest threat to the eurozone. It is Italy.
Even in the worst-case scenario Greece only has about 350 billion euro of debt outstanding, most of which now is held either internally or by the European Central Bank. Italy has nearly 2 trillion euro in outstanding debt. An Italian credit cutoff would trigger a financial meltdown across Europe that would both be immediate and catastrophic.
Avoiding that would require a new Italian government without going through one of Italy’s famously destabilizing elections. In the aftermath of today’s budget vote, Berlusconi claims that he will resign after a series of austerity laws are adopted, ushering in a new unity government. Votes on those laws, however, are scheduled to be held after the confidence vote, so it’s not clear whether this is truly turning the page or simply stalling for time.
23109  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / And now for a completely different version on: November 08, 2011, 04:02:16 PM
23110  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lott on the "Bush did it too" strategy on: November 08, 2011, 03:51:57 PM

Lott dials in why the Bush ATF's program was completely different from the Obama ATF's OFF.


Blame Bush -- Is That Holder's Strategy to Get Out of the 'Fast and Furious' Mess?

By John Lott

Published November 08, 2011 |

Blame Bush. It has been almost three years since President Obama took office, yet he still blames Bush for the bad economy. Now the Obama administration is following the same strategy to get out of the "Fast and Furious" mess.

"Fast and Furious," also called the "Gunwalker" case, involves the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATF) agents ordering American gun dealers to sell guns to obvious Mexican drug gang members during 2009 and 2010. This was done over the objections of the gun dealers.

Both Fox News and the Washington Post started covering this scandal in early February this year. It may be excusable that Attorney General Eric Holder did not read the press reports, but, if we are to believe his congressional testimony Tuesay, he and his staff also neglected to pay attention to the 100 or so page "weekly reports" summarizing activity in the Justice Department.

Those reports began mentioning the operation as long ago as July 2010. When Holder testified before the House Judiciary Committee in May this year he claimed: "I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks." Holder reiterated again Tuesday that he simply didn't have the time to read even the summaries. Neither did his staff.

Holder had few options today.

Even President Obama gave an interview in March where he indicated that at that time Holder knew about the operation. With the president on record saying that he knew about the operation before April, Holder conceded Tuesday that probably knew about the operation at least a month earlier than he had previously testified.

The Obama administration has also tried to show the practice originated in the Bush administration during 2006 and 2007 under operation “Wide Receiver.” After all, it is what Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer argued just last week. When Breuer testified last week, he confessed that he had learned about "gun walking" tactics as far back as April 2010, but it wasn't the Obama administration's "gun walking" that he confessed to learning about, it was a program run briefly during the Bush administration.

And on Monday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-Vermont) pushed this further by asking the Justice Department’s inspector general to include the Bush-era operation in his investigation of “Fast and Furious.”

But trying to shift blame to President Bush doesn't hold water, as the two programs were very different.

Obama's "Fast and Furious" was a gun-tracing program that didn't even try to trace guns.

In sharp contrast, Bush's “Wider Receiver” program gave direct notice to the Mexican authorities so that they could try to track the guns as they crossed the border. Bush officials might have learned that Mexican police weren't up to tracing the guns, but at least they had a plan to try to have the guns followed.

"Fast and Furious" made no such attempt to notify the Mexican authorities in any way. Worse, the Obama officials knew that they had a problem. "Fast and Furious" gave out the guns, but agents and middle level people complained to administrators that the guns weren't being traced.

Indeed, when BATF agents' warnings that the guns weren’t being tracked during the Obama administration went unheeded, in despair at least one agent went to his local Radio Shack store to try jerry-rigging a GPS tracking bug for the guns.

A widely run Associated Press story last week by Pete Yost pointed out that both the Bush and Obama programs involved "gun-walking." Yet somehow Yost managed to leave out the very central point about tracing. Other articles, such as those in the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, have likewise left out this important point.

What is really missed by all this is the utter failure of gun tracing programs. The problem isn't really that the Obama administration simply screwed up the tracing plan. Few guns move from the U.S. to Mexico and just as drug cartels bring in drugs from other countries, they can bring in the weapons that they need to protect those drugs. Mexican drug cartels aren't getting their machine guns, grenades, and rocket launchers from the United States.

Why would the Obama administration not trace the guns? Why would they not inform Mexican officials about the program? One hopes that it was sheer incompetence combined with a desire to stonewall any investigation, but the fact that people knew that the guns weren’t being traced raises questions even about this plan.

The only other possibility -- deliberately increasing the number of guns sold to increase the share of crime guns in Mexico from the United States and thus generate support for more gun control -- is conceivable if only because "Fast and Furious" started at the same time that Obama began his campaign falsely claiming that most Mexican crime guns came from the United States.

We can only hope that even for the Obama administration that scenario is too cynical to be possible.

John R. Lott, Jr. is a contributor. He is an economist and author of the newly revised edition of "More Guns, Less Crime (University of Chicago Press, 2010)."
23111  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Craig Huey on: November 08, 2011, 10:53:10 AM
Craig Huey was the Rep. congressional candidate in my district, which is heavily Dem.  He almost won.
23112  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Thomas Paine 1776 on: November 08, 2011, 08:29:04 AM
"As parents, we can have no joy, knowing that this government is not sufficiently lasting to ensure any thing which we may bequeath to posterity: And by a plain method of argument, as we are running the next generation into debt, we ought to do the work of it, otherwise we use them meanly and pitifully. In order to discover the line of our duty rightly, we should take our children in our hand, and fix our station a few years farther into life; that eminence will present a prospect, which a few present fears and prejudices conceal from our sight." --Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776
23113  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Thomas Paine 1776 on: November 08, 2011, 08:28:26 AM
"As parents, we can have no joy, knowing that this government is not sufficiently lasting to ensure any thing which we may bequeath to posterity: And by a plain method of argument, as we are running the next generation into debt, we ought to do the work of it, otherwise we use them meanly and pitifully. In order to discover the line of our duty rightly, we should take our children in our hand, and fix our station a few years farther into life; that eminence will present a prospect, which a few present fears and prejudices conceal from our sight." --Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776
23114  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 08, 2011, 08:26:19 AM
Anonymous accusations carry little weight with me.

Women listen to other women in these things on a different level than men do.  FWIW my wife watched the snippets on the news and reacted rather poorly to this particular woman (thought she was looking for her 15 minutes of fame and how she could profit from it) and wondered why Gloria Alred, or any attorney for that matter, needed to be there.

Although Bill Bennet over the years has made points with which I agree, has never impressed me that much and his logic here does not overwhelm me.  He certainly understates the case against Bill Clinton.  In addition to the serial philandering (which included using state troopers as lookouts for Hillary) As an attorney general in AK Bill Clinton was accused of rape (Juanita Broderick) As Gov. he had a trooper bring a state employee to him and dropped his drawers.  As president, he groped a woman (name slips my mind) who came to him to plead for her husband's job and while she was there her husband committed suicide  (not to mention getting a blow job while in the Oval Office from Monica Lewinsky).

23115  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: November 08, 2011, 08:11:12 AM
BD:   I appreciate the citations you bring to the conversation-- which does mean a bit more effort must be put into this thread.  So help me out please.  What is the post number in this thread where the TE law was first mentioned?
23116  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: November 08, 2011, 08:02:41 AM
Grateful for an outstanding weekend of training.
23117  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ has been reading us again on: November 07, 2011, 10:00:20 PM
second post of day:

The Occupy Wall Street protesters aren't good at articulating what they want, but one of their demands is "end corporate welfare." Well, welcome aboard. Some of us have been fighting crony capitalism for decades, and it's good to have new allies if liberals have awakened to the dangers of the corporate welfare state.

Corporate welfare is the offer of special favors—cash grants, loans, guarantees, bailouts and special tax breaks—to specific industries or firms. The government doesn't track the overall cost of these programs, but in 2008 the Cato Institute made an attempt and came up with $92 billion for fiscal 2006, which is more than the U.S. government spends on homeland security.

That annual cost may have doubled to $200 billion in this new era of industry bailouts and subsidies. According to the House Budget Committee, the 2009 stimulus bill alone contained more than $80 billion in "clean energy" subsidies, and tens of billions more went for the auto bailout and cash for clunkers, as well as aid for the mortgage industry through programs to refinance or buy up toxic loans.

This industrial policy model of government as a financial partner with business can sound appealing, but the government's record in picking winners and losers has been dreadful. Some of the most expensive flops include the Supersonic Transport plane of the mid-1970s, Jimmy Carter's $2 billion Synthetic Fuels Corporation (the precursor to clean energy), Amtrak, which hasn't turned a profit in four decades, and the most expensive public-private partnership debacle of all time, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which have lost $142 billion of taxpayer money. A few other illustrative industry handouts:

•The ethanol subsidy, benefitting mostly corn farmers and corporate fuel blenders in the Midwest, costs about $6 billion a year through an array of tax subsidies, tariffs and mandates while making fuel and food more expensive.

• The Federal Communications Commission recently approved spending up to $4.5 billion a year on a Universal Service Fund to bring broadband development to rural America. Broadband service is already rapidly expanding (with some $65 billion in private capital) absent the subsidies, but Internet providers and telecom firms pressed for the program. This is in addition to a $5 billion Broadband Technology Opportunities Program run by the Commerce Department.

• The Department of Agriculture's Market Access Program helps advertise and promote the products of agribusinesses like the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council and Sunkist, the orange growers consortium that has received more than $800 million in the life of the program.

• Crop price supports for wheat, corn, rice, sugar and soybean farmers are supposed to help struggling family farms, but at least half the subsidies go to large and wealthy farmers and corporations. Congress can't seem to wean the farm belt off these payments even though commodity prices and farm incomes are near an all-time high. Restricting those funds to farmers with incomes below $250,000 would save $30 billion over the next decade.

• Some $8 billion has gone via Mr. Obama's Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Program to the likes of Nissan, Ford and Tesla Motors for more fuel-efficient cars. Another $2.4 billion has been routed to manufacturers trying to build battery-operated electric cars. As with the loan guarantees to Solyndra, if these companies succeed, the private investors get rich. If they fail, taxpayers lose.

According to the Pew Charitable Trusts's Subsidyscope data base, direct expenditures in the energy industry more than quadrupled in Mr. Obama's first year in office to $18 billion from less than $4 billion in 2008.

That doesn't include loan guarantees. The real scandal of Solyndra, the solar company that recently went bust, isn't that the taxpayers lost more than $500 million on a lousy bet by the Energy Department, but that the feds keep making these deals even when their rate of return is likely to be zero or negative. The Solyndra loan constituted less than 2% of the $40 billion in outstanding loan guarantees to dozens of energy companies, according to the House Budget Committee.

Republicans, for their part, favor handouts to the nuclear industry. Over the years the feds have provided billions of dollars in loan guarantees and cut-rate insurance to nuclear plants, though even nuclear-utility executives say new plants may not make economic sense in a world of cheap and abundant natural gas. Last month House Speaker John Boehner backed a $2 billion Energy Department loan guarantee sought by USEC Inc. for a uranium-enrichment plant in Piketon, Ohio.

• The Export-Import Bank has a portfolio of $14.5 billion of outstanding loan guarantees to assist major U.S. exporters. More than 90% of the funds went to 10 corporations, including Boeing ($6.4 billion), General Electric ($1.043 billion) and Caterpillar ($424 million).

Defenders claim government subsidies for business are justified because American firms must compete with subsidized firms from China and Europe. But as Milton Friedman was famous for advising: Never fight a subsidy with a subsidy. This industrial policy was also the rage in the 1970s and 1980s when Japan's keiretsu and Ministry of International Trade and Industry were going to dominate the world, but we know how that has worked for Tokyo.

For those who say this is good for American competitiveness, consider that ending all corporate welfare programs would finance a substantial cut in the 35% corporate income-tax rate that makes U.S. business less competitive but does a poor job of raising revenue because of these loopholes. A big rate cut would generate far more jobs and wealth than passing out checks to businesses one at a time.

As important as this economic damage is the corrosive effect that corporate welfare has on public trust in government. Americans understand that powerful government invariably favors the powerful, who have the means and access to massage Congress and the bureaucracy that average citizens do not. This really is aid to the 1% paid by the other 99%.

Yet the parade of subsidies gets longer each year, perhaps, as the old joke goes, because in Washington Republicans love corporations and Democrats love welfare. As House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan puts it: "How can we save billions of dollars from unjustified subsidy and entitlement programs, if we can't get corporate America off the dole?"

With American federal debt headed toward the worst European levels, this is an issue that should unite the tea party, the Occupy Wall Street protesters and Congressional deficit-cutters.

23118  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: On Bill Buckley on: November 07, 2011, 07:24:09 PM

Editor's note: We replace our regular Weekend Interview feature this week with an essay adapted from remarks by Neal Freeman, delivered yesterday on the 60th anniversary of the publication of William F. Buckley Jr.'s "God and Man at Yale." Mr. Freeman is chairman of the Blackwell Corporation, served on the board of National Review magazine for 38 years, and is a director of the William F. Buckley Program at Yale, which brings speakers to campus and sponsors for-credit courses.

New Haven, Conn.

It was my good fortune to be the guy standing next to Bill Buckley when he became Bill Buckley. When I went to work for him in 1963, he was a fiery polemicist in the world of the little magazine. Less than three years later—after the Buckley newspaper column had spread to every city across the country, after the Buckley for Mayor campaign in New York City, and after the launch of the "Firing Line" television program—he had become a large and influential presence on the national stage.

What I remember most vividly from those transformative years are three things. The first is his extraordinary personal courage.

When Bill Buckley set out to change the world, the ideological forces arrayed against him permeated the media, the academy, the political establishment and popular culture. As just one measure of the correlation of forces, consider the situation on the Yale campus.

As my own class approached graduation—that glorious June day when our commencement speaker, John F. Kennedy, got off the lambent line, "I now have the best of both worlds, a Harvard education and a Yale degree"—we conservatives sought to make a show of support for our emerging champion, Barry Goldwater. From a class of 1,000 young men, we managed to secure the support of five classmates. In addition to myself, one of our number is now an academic in California, one is a lawyer in New York, one is deceased and one is a lobbyist for the legalization of marijuana. Barry would have been proud of at least one of us.

Not included in our number, I should note, was our hard-drinking classmate, Richard B. Cheney. As God is my witness, Dick Cheney was a 160-pound scatback on the football team. Also not included was a quiet economics major named Arthur Laffer.

Enlarge Image

CloseWilliam F. Buckley Jr. in 1951 with his book that shocked the academic establishment.
.As scrawny as were our ranks in the undergraduate college, they dwarfed our support among the Yale faculty. Within the approximately 700-strong faculty, we enjoyed the support of two professors. One was a feisty lecturer in the law school, Robert Bork. The other was an Asian scholar named David Rowe. The odds on the Yale campus were, in rough approximation, the same odds that Bill Buckley faced across the broader culture—and Bill Buckley was undaunted by them. (My apologies. Bill would have found a way to include the word "synecdoche" somewhere in that last sentence.)

In the matter of physical courage, those of you who sailed through rough seas with him, or darted through New York City traffic on the back of his motor scooter, will know something of his fearlessness. What I remember is his demeanor during the mayoralty campaign. The public square could be a dangerous place during the 1960s. Political figures who stirred passions beyond the edge of consensus tended to attract not just controversy but gunfire.

As a political candidate, Bill Buckley stirred those same passions, but we were blessed with a first-rate security detail. It was called the NYPD. That year in New York, it seemed that every cop—white, black and Hispanic—was for Buckley for mayor. It was the first known sighting of what psephologists would later identify as the Reagan Democrat.

At the first threat-assessment meeting, Bill listened patiently to the cops' presentation and then thanked them politely. On the way out, he issued two directives. The first was that he would not be attending any subsequent security briefings. Reports that he could be shot the next morning did not concentrate his mind. They bored him. And second, he instructed me to make sure that threat reports never reached his wife, Patsy. The campaign was in its early weeks and Bill was still hopeful of winning her support.

The second Buckley trait that stands tall in my recollection is excellence. Bill resolved early that every speech he gave, every column he wrote, every edition of the magazine he edited must not be just competitive with, but superior to, the products of his liberal counterparts.

It was a humbling experience to be edited by Bill Buckley. I still have the original of the first editorial I wrote for National Review. We used Royal typewriters in those days to pound out copy on yellow foolscap: Here and there, one of my black words peeks through a blaze of red ballpoint ink. It was his conceit that if you couldn't write, you couldn't think; and that if you couldn't think, you were unlikely to prosper in his friendship.

The third trait is joy. The sound that rings in memory is that of Bill's laughter. Bill with a colleague in the office. Bill on the phone with a delicious story. Bill on the boat in the company of his many best friends. All Buckley ventures, be they commercial, political or simply for the good of the order, were aimed at high purpose but pursued in high spirit. When I left Bill's employ to start climbing the corporate ladder in New York, I took with me, for as long as I could, the privilege of editing his thrice-weekly column. An evening phone call from my star columnist would go something like this:

WFB: Mon vieux, I will be filing three columns within the hour. Do you know what that means?

Me: A particularly long and difficult evening for your editor?

WFB: Of course not. The copy will be pristine as always. It means that we can be at the boat by eight in the morning.

Me (cautiously, remembering a previous occasion when I had agreed to meet him at the boat only to learn later that it was docked in Miami): Where is the boat?

WFB: Stamford.

Me: Where is the boat going?

WFB: Nova Scotia. You'll love it this time of year.

Me: Bill, I'm running a commercial organization. I can't just leave a note for my secretary saying that I've sailed for Nova Scotia.

WFB: Why not? Secretaries at National Review handle that sort of thing all the time.

And so they did. The joy that Bill Buckley brought to any room lingered long after his departure. Years after the event, I obtained excerpts of Bill's interview with the FBI on the occasion of my appointment to a federal position. At the end of such field investigations, the agent typically asks an omnibus, fanny-covering question: Would I, candidate Freeman, be likely to embarrass the administration? Replied witness Buckley, under oath: "I should think that the reverse is much more likely."

How then would Bill Buckley have addressed today's question: "Buckley's Legacy: How Would the Patron Saint Turbo-Charge Conservatism?" He would have begun, of course, with the obligatory quibble.

"Ontologically speaking," he might have mused, "how could conservatism ever really be said to be turbo-charged, as you so infelicitously put it?" After rejiggering the question to his satisfaction, he would have marched through the following agenda.

First, he would have summoned the Republican stalwarts for catechismic instruction. Mitt Romney, invited to dinner at 73rd Street, would have been given a pass on gun control, abortion, immigration and universal health care. Bill believed that every human being is endowed by his Creator with the unalienable right to flip-flop, though Bill might have regretted, in Mr. Romney's case, that it had been exercised so vigorously.

Instead, Bill would have bored in on what he perceived to be a lacuna: namely, the widespread presumption that Mr. Romney can fix our broken economy with an economic plan that is manifestly inadequate to the challenge. Mr. Romney would have squirmed through the evening. Bill would have barely survived it. He hated to drink alone.

Rick Perry's visit would have triggered the full WFB charm offensive. Tales of the original WFB and his wildcatting days in Mexico would have spiced the evening. Mr. Perry would have responded with a Dan Rather-sized Texasism, an impenetrable aphorism involving parched land and poisonous snakes. Bill would have been befuddled no more than momentarily—and segued quickly into a mini-lecture on why contemporary international affairs call for a somewhat less, uhhhh, parochial foreign policy than the governor has heretofore advanced.

When Sarah Palin came to lunch, Bill would have been on his best behavior. Patsy might even have persuaded him not to eat the salad with his fingers. After an hour and a half, Bill would have concluded, under the unbending terms of the Buckley Rule—which, as you will recall, holds that conservatives should support for election the rightward-most viable candidate—that Mrs. Palin was sufficiently rightward but insufficiently viable. As they parted that afternoon, Bill would have accepted an invitation to go spear-hunting for large mammals deep inside the Arctic Circle, a commitment that neither Sarah nor Patsy would ever let him forget.

The session with Newt Gingrich would have caused Bill to remark on the Speaker's X-ray insight, his barbed wit, his broad range of reference and allusion. It might also have caused Bill to remember an observation by the late Herman Kahn: "Some people learn through the eye by reading, others through the ear by listening. I learn through the mouth by talking." Bill would have counseled the Speaker to add to his senior staff an editor with plenipotentiary powers.

The summit meeting with Herman Cain would have excited high anticipation. Bill would have relished the prospect of a Cain-Buckley alliance for its sheer theatricality. During their time together, Bill would have spent his time much as he had with Mrs. Palin, in a quiet inventory of the intellectual warehouse. What does Mr. Cain know? What has he read? Is he . . . up to it?

I should also note—as long as we're channeling dead conservatives—that, had Bill ultimately endorsed Mitt Romney, National Review publisher William Rusher would have dashed back to the office to dictate his letter of resignation.

Beyond the political arena, Bill would have had advice for two other constituencies critical to his conservative enterprise. To the hardy band of right-leaning scholars beavering away in the American academy, he would have said: "Be brave, but until you have secured tenure, be no more brave than conscience demands. Concentrate your careerist energies on the edge of evolving scholarship, but celebrate loudly and redundantly the core values of the Western canon."

To the stewards of his movement's public diplomacy—the editors and publishers, writers and producers, the bloggers and talking heads—Bill would say: "Keep handy the metrics of fusionism and appreciate the vital contribution to our coalition made by each major strain of conservatism. Avoid sectarianism. Adhere strictly to principle, but polish to a high shine the fresh formulations of our timeless proposition. Labor without pause to coin language that will fire the imagination and ignite commitment. And along the way, please, have a little fun. Try to be a little less, uhhhh, constipated."

Let me close by saying why I have chosen to support the Buckley program and to serve on its board alongside Jim Buckley, my boss in several implausible political ventures, and Priscilla Buckley, my savior-editor when I was a columnist for National Review. There are two reasons. The first is to keep alive a longstanding but fragile tradition here at Yale. Decade after decade, Yale has done almost nothing to encourage but just enough to permit a culture of conservative dissent. I like to think of Yale's posture as a grudging but honorable acquiescence to the true spirit of academic freedom. I became a conservative while a student at Yale. Some of you in this room did as well. It's possible. Not likely, but possible.

The second reason to support this program is that Bill would have loved it. Bill Buckley had the most complicated relationship with Yale of any student since Nathan Hale. Starting off as a golden-boy student, very much in the line of Potter Stewart, Sargent Shriver, George H. W. Bush and such, Bill quickly became, with the publication of "God and Man," Yale's designated apostate. Yale's memories of the book, as Bill once described them, were "long and censorious." The relationship between the precocious graduate and the historic university was marked for many years by simmering tension interrupted occasionally by awkward confrontation.

The ice eventually began to melt and ultimately Yale invited Bill to join the faculty. His course in English composition, which debuted in the fall of 1997, became popular with both the students and their instructor.

The process of reconciliation was completed in the spring of 2000 when Yale awarded Bill an honorary doctorate. How pleased was Bill? When word began to spread of the award, I called to congratulate him. He picked up the phone saying, "Dr. Buckley here. Any metaphysical problems I can help you with today?"

23119  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Wolves, Dogs and other canines on: November 07, 2011, 07:14:57 PM
23120  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Self Defense with Pistols on: November 07, 2011, 07:05:19 PM
My philosophy on calibers is this:

"If he is not dead, shoot him some more."

You may quote me on that  cheesy
23121  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: November 07, 2011, 07:02:56 PM

Please post this in the Tax Policy thread and I will be glad to answer it for you.
23122  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 07, 2011, 07:01:39 PM
second post

Re Cain and China's nukes:  I think if you look at the whole transcript it will be clear that he was talking about development of a certain aspect of nuke technology.  The Pravdas simply are trying to plant a false meme.
23123  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Romney's awakening on: November 07, 2011, 06:59:31 PM
Mitt Romney's Presidential campaign strategy so far has been to play it safe and leave the bold policy ideas to others. So it's notable that the former Massachusetts Governor is finally beginning to wade into the deeper end of the reform pool.

In a speech last Friday, Mr. Romney laid out in more detail than he has before how he'd attack our fiscal maladies, and his remarks deserve more attention than they've received as a guide to how he might govern. His policy outline isn't the 2012 House Republican budget, but it qualifies as progress, especially on entitlements.

Like most other Republicans, Mr. Romney sets out a target of returning federal spending to around 20% of the economy by the end of his first term. That's in line with the modern historic average and down from the Obama heights of 24%-25%. It's also the right fiscal priority, because returning to pre-2009 spending levels is the only way to balance the budget without a huge tax increase.

To get there, Mr. Romney says he'll apply a simple cost-benefit test across the government: "Is this program so critical, so essential, that we should borrow money from China to pay for it?" That's a needless jingoistic formulation, but it does frame the question correctly in terms of choosing the programs that government should still pay for.

The mistake budget-cutters have made in the past is assuming that you can cut everything across the board. The political price of cutting a program is a high as it is for killing it, but the programs live to spend another day and grow back over time. To really balance the books, the feds have to make choices. Mr. Romney says his choices for elimination would include both the large (the Affordable Care Act) and less so (Amtrak, Planned Parenthood funding), and at least he's naming a few names.

Enlarge Image

CloseAssociated Press
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney
.Mr. Romney's bigger breakthrough is on the growth of the entitlement state, which is now 55% of the government and climbing. On Social Security, he endorsed "progressive indexing," essentially an income test that would slow the increase in future benefits for wealthier seniors. He would also gradually raise the retirement age to adjust for longer life spans.

The candidate notably didn't endorse private Social Security accounts so younger workers can build up wealth that they would own and be able to pass along to heirs. On this point his proposal is inferior to Rick Perry's or Herman Cain's, but he's offering more reform than President Obama ever has.

On Medicaid, Mr. Romney favors block grants to the states capped at inflation plus 1%, which means Governors would lead a wave of federalist experimentation instead of merely expanding the rolls with national taxpayers picking up the bill. This is now GOP orthodoxy, but no less valuable for that.

As for the hardest nut, Medicare, Mr. Romney has moved about two-thirds of the way toward Paul Ryan's "premium support" plan. Like the Wisconsin Congressman, he'd give all seniors a defined cash contribution to choose among private insurance options.

Still to come are major details like how the premium-support payments would grow over time, but even endorsing the Ryan concept is unusual in this Republican field. (Jon Huntsman is the laudable exception.) Mr. Romney also attempts to inoculate himself against Mr. Obama's inevitable Mediscare attacks by retaining traditional fee-for-service Medicare with its arbitrary price controls as an option for seniors, unlike Mr. Ryan.

But the key reform point is that Mr. Romney says that all beneficiaries would receive the same fixed payment whatever plan they chose. In other words, premium support would ensure that all seniors get basic coverage, but if they wanted more expansive coverage they'd have to pay for it themselves. This would introduce competition to keep down costs over time—the alternative to the brute price controls and rationing of ObamaCare.

Once seniors begin to see the results of competition, our guess is that most of them would migrate away from the Medicare status quo. Mr. Ryan's plan is purer and would do more practical good sooner, but Mr. Romney's revision may be an easier sell in a campaign. He also ruled out new taxes as part of entitlement reform, an important political marker.

This reform progress is politically important because it moves Mr. Romney toward making the 2012 contest a philosophical choice over the direction of government, rather than merely a technocratic argument over who can create more jobs. One problem with Mr. Romney's earlier rollout of 59—count 'em, 59!—proposals for job creation is that by the end of the campaign Mr. Obama will claim to agree with 50 or more of them.

Mr. Obama will want to blur the philosophic differences, while attacking Mr. Romney's bona fides on jobs by trashing his record at Bain Capital. Mr. Romney's record in Massachusetts makes it hard for him to draw a distinction with Mr. Obama on health care, and the Republican seems to be shying away from a fight over taxes—for example, he's adopted Mr. Obama's $200,000 income threshold for cutting capital gains and dividend taxes. That would let Mr. Obama fight the tax debate solely on his terms of soaking the rich, rather than on reform to spur economic growth.

What next year's GOP nominee needs is a clear reform alternative to Mr. Obama's vision of ever more government and the higher taxes necessary to pay for it. Mr. Romney still needs a bolder economic growth agenda, but his fiscal awakening is encouraging.

23124  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: November 07, 2011, 04:38:53 PM
Perhaps I flatter us, but I think that our readership here is several notches above normal and as such tend to be people who tend to influence other people. 

This is how change begins.
23125  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The last six seconds on: November 07, 2011, 04:36:30 PM

From: Albright, Andrew Mr CIV USA IMCOM <>
Subject: Fwd: "THE LAST SIX SECONDS...!!!"
Date: Saturday, December 18, 2010, 12:13 PM
Please thank an access control professional the next time you have a chance--the trailing speech by Lt. Gen Kelly pays tribute to two US Marines on ACP duty.  Pray for their souls.

De Oppresso Liber,


To Marines & My Friends:

On Nov 13, 2010 Lt General John Kelly, USMC, gave a speech to the Semper Fi Society of St. Louis, MO.  This was 4 days after his son, Lt Robert Kelly, USMC was killed by an IED while on his 3rd Combat tour. During his speech, General Kelly spoke about the dedication and valor of the young men and women who step forward each and every day to protect us. During the speech, he never mentioned the loss of his own son.  He closed the speech with the moving account of the last 6 seconds in the lives of 2 young Marines who died with rifles blazing to protect their brother Marines.


"I will leave you with a story about the kind of people they are, about the quality of the steel in their backs, about the kind of dedication they bring to our country while they serve in uniform. and forever after as veterans. Two years ago when I was the Commander of all U.S. and Iraqi forces, in fact, the 22nd of April 2008, two Marine infantry battalions, 1/9 "The Walking Dead," and 2/8 were switching out in Ramadi. One battalion in the closing days of their deployment going home very soon, the other just starting its seven-month combat tour.

Two Marines; "Corporal Jonathan Yale" and "Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter",
22 and 20 years old respectively, one from each battalion, were assuming the watch together at the entrance gate of an outpost that contained a makeshift barracks housing 50 Marines.  The same broken down ramshackle building was also home to 100 Iraqi police, also my men and our allies in the fight against the terrorists in Ramadi, a city until recently the most dangerous city on earth and owned by Al Qaeda.  Yale was a dirt poor mixed-race kid from Virginia with a wife and daughter, and a mother and sister who lived with him and he supported as well.  He did this on a yearly salary of less than $23,000.  Haerter, on the other hand, was a middle class white kid from Long Island.  They were from two completely different worlds.  Had they not joined the Marines they would never have met each other, or understood that multiple America's exist simultaneously depending on one's race, education level, economic status, and where you might have been born.

But they were Marines, combat Marines, 'forged in the same crucible of Marine training', and because of this bond they were brothers as close, or closer, than if they were born of the same woman.

The mission orders they received from the sergeant squad leader I am sure went something like: "Okay you two clowns, stand this post and let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass."  "You clear?"  I am also sure Yale and Haerter then rolled their eyes and said in unison something like: "Yes Sergeant," with just enough attitude that made the point without saying the words, "No kidding sweetheart, we know what we're doing."  They then relieved two other Marines on watch and took up their post at the entry control point of Joint Security Station Nasser, in the Sophia section of Ramadi, Al Anbar, Iraq.

A few minutes later a large blue truck turned down the alley way - perhaps 60-70 yards in length-and sped its way through the serpentine of concrete jersey walls.  The truck stopped just short of where the two were posted and detonated, killing them both catastrophically. Twenty-four brick masonry houses were damaged or destroyed.  A mosque 100 yards away collapsed.  The truck's engine came to rest two hundred yards away knocking most of a house down before it stopped.  Our explosive experts reckoned the blast was made of 2,000 pounds of explosives.  Two died, and because these two young infantrymen didn't have it in their DNA to run from danger, they saved 150 of their Iraqi and American brothers-in-arms.

When I read the situation report about the incident a few hours after it happened I called the regimental commander for details as something about this struck me as different.  Marines dying or being seriously wounded is commonplace in combat.  We expect Marines regardless of rank or MOS to stand their ground and do their duty, and even die in the process, if that is what the mission takes.  But this just seemed different.  The regimental commander had just returned from the site and he agreed, but reported that there were no American witnesses to the event-just Iraqi police.  I figured if there was any chance of finding out what actually happened and then to decorate the two Marines to acknowledge their bravery, I'd have to do it as a combat award that requires two eye-witnesses and we figured the bureaucrats back in Washington would never buy Iraqi statements.  If it had any chance at all, it had to come under the signature of a general officer.

I traveled to Ramadi the next day and spoke individually to a half-dozen Iraqi police all of whom told the same story.  The blue truck turned down into the alley and immediately sped up as it made its way through the serpentine.  They all said, "We knew immediately what was going on as soon as the two Marines began firing."  The Iraqi police then related that some of them also fired, and then to a man, ran for safety just prior to the explosion.  All survived.  Many were injured, some seriously.  One of the Iraqis elaborated and with tears welling up said, "They'd run like any normal man would to save his life."  "What he didn't know until then," he said, "and what he learned that very instant, was that Marines are not normal."  Choking past the emotion he said, "Sir, in the name of God no sane man would have stood there and done what they did."  "No sane man."  "They saved us all."

What we didn't know at the time, and only learned a couple of days later after I wrote a summary and submitted both Yale and Haerter for posthumous Navy Crosses, was that one of our security cameras, damaged initially in the blast, recorded some of the suicide attack.  It happened exactly as the Iraqis had described it.  It took exactly six seconds from when the truck entered the alley until it detonated.

You can watch the last six seconds of their young lives.  Putting myself in their heads I supposed it took about a second for the two Marines to separately come to the same conclusion about what was going on once the truck came into their view at the far end of the alley.  Exactly no time to talk it over, or call the sergeant to ask what they should do.  Only enough time to take half an instant and think about what the sergeant told them to do only a few minutes before: "let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass."  The two Marines had about five seconds left to live.

It took maybe another two seconds for them to present their weapons, take aim, and open up.  By this time the truck was half-way through the barriers and gaining speed the whole time.  Here, the recording shows a number of Iraqi police, some of whom had fired their AKs, now scattering like the normal and rational men they were - some running right past the Marines. They had three seconds left to live.

For about two seconds more, the recording shows the Marines' weapons firing non-stop. the truck's windshield exploding into shards of glass as their rounds take it apart and tore in to the body of the son-of-a-bitch who is trying to get past them to kill their brothers - American and Iraqi - bedded down in the barracks totally unaware of the fact that their lives at that moment depended entirely on two Marines standing their ground.  If they had been aware, they would have known they were safe. because two Marines stood between them and a crazed suicide bomber.  The recording shows the truck careening to a stop immediately in front of the two Marines.  In all of the instantaneous violence Yale and Haerter never hesitated.  By all reports and by the recording, they never stepped back.

--- They never even started to step aside.  They never even shifted their weight.  With their feet spread shoulder width apart, they leaned into the danger, firing as fast as they could work their weapons.  They had only one second left to live.

The truck explodes.  The camera goes blank.  Two young men go to their God -- Six seconds.  Not enough time to think about their families, their country, their flag, or about their lives or their deaths, but more than enough time for two very brave young men to do their duty. Into eternity.

That is the kind of people who are on watch all over the world tonight - for you...and for us!!!!!!!

We Marines believe that God gave America the greatest gift he could bestow to man while he lived on this earth - FREEDOM...!!  We also believe he gave us another gift nearly as precious - our Marines, soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Coast Guardsmen - to safeguard that gift and guarantee no force on this earth can ever steal it away.

It has been my distinct honor to have been with you here today. Rest assured our America, this experiment in democracy started over two centuries ago, will forever remain the "land of the free and home of the brave" so long as we never run out of tough young Americans who are willing to look beyond their own self-interest and comfortable lives, and go into the darkest and most dangerous places on earth to hunt down, and kill, those who would do us harm.

God Bless America, and...SEMPER PARATUS!"
23126  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / SEAL 6 Commander speaks out on: November 07, 2011, 11:45:07 AM
23127  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: November 07, 2011, 10:08:52 AM
In the early days of the Republic several of the Founding Fathers had some very ripe words for the press and given the examples I have read I can see why.   

Certainly at this moment mcuh of the MSM has become a bunch of llttle Pravdas, but OTOH there are many outstanding places for citizens to inform themselves; I would unhumbly note we here on this forum do what we can.
23128  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: November 07, 2011, 09:03:13 AM
I think all of us are in agreement that free speech applies to everyone. 

I am unfamiliar with the particular judge's ruling and have no opinion on whether personal bias entered into her decisions. That said, FWIW my vote is that in many locations that there has been a substantial content-based disparity of treatment of the Tea Party and OWS by local authorities (and the Pravadast too, but that is a separate point). 

23129  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / 1000 posts on: November 07, 2011, 08:54:32 AM
It has been a few years since I began this thread, which with some pride I note I began before the advent of the Tea Party.  cheesy

For a long time the thread quiety bubbled along with a rather humble read-to-post ratio-- somewhere around 14.  I see that it is now about 77!-- which given that it had to offset the lower numbers of the early era means our current ratio is somewhere distinctly above that.

This speaks to a hunger for the timeless message of our Founding Fathers who gave us this exceptional republic founded upon the American Creed.  It is up to us to keep it such!

The Adventure continues!
23130  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Wilson, Duties & rights of Parents, 1791 on: November 07, 2011, 08:45:38 AM
"It is the duty of parents to maintain their children decently, and according to their circumstances; to protect them according to the dictates of prudence; and to educate them according to the suggestions of a judicious and zealous regard for their usefulness, their respectability and happiness." --James Wilson, Lectures on Law, 1791
23131  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Keeping track of the players on: November 07, 2011, 02:26:52 AM
AG Holder arranged the Marc Rich pardon.

Here's this on Breuer:

After graduating from Columbia Law School, (yet anothe stain on my alma mater!) Breuer was an assistant district attorney in Manhattan from 1985 to 1989. As a special White House counsel, he helped represent President Bill Clinton from 1997 to 1999 during independent-counsel and Congressional investigations, and the impeachment hearings.


Breuer made headlines when a friend from the White House, Sandy Berger, (a.k.a. Sandy "Fingers" Berger) asked for representation after an investigation disclosed Berger’s theft of classified documents from the National Archives.  (IIRC the documents would have proven that Hillary perjured herself with regard to the billing conspiracy of her law firm , , , or was it her husband's pardon of her brother? GM?)

On January 22, 2009, President Obama selected Breuer to head the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice.
23132  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: November 06, 2011, 10:31:36 PM
Let me see if I can remember these Mexican words of wisdom correctly.

"A los pobres, los hacen pendejos.  A los pendejos los hacen politicos.  A los policitos los hacen ricos.  A los ricos los hacen pobres."

or something like that.
23133  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: November 05, 2011, 12:14:22 AM
SO WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The nation is in peril of throwing away so very much more than it realizes.  Truth needs to be spoken!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

23134  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: November 04, 2011, 11:36:29 PM
For some years now, often under the influence of YA, I have been posting here of the incoherence of the US strategy in Afpakia.  Today there are some major entries on today's Afpakia thread, with YA leading the way, as usual.

This is profoundly serious stuff.  Serious wars are made of such things.

Yet where is a coherent conversation from the Republican preidential candidates? (Newt Gingrich excepted).  Instead opportunistic pandering abounds as President Baraq surges out of Afg with a surge that was about half of what the generals wanted.  Likewise Iraq.  And this week we see our words after busting the Iranian assassination plan for Washington revealed as bluster as we refuse to do what would really hit Iran hard, which is to go after its central bank, , , and Al Qaeda flags fly in Libya.

Where is the serious conversation that needs to be had?!?  angry angry angry

23135  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We were only bluffing , , , on: November 04, 2011, 08:27:13 PM
After the assassination plot on US soil of the Saudi ambassador came to light, Team Baraq sounded very fierce. 

Working from memory, near the top of the options was going after the Iranian central bank.  This is was asserted would have serious, substantial, immediate consequences on the Iranian economy.

Well, I read to today that it turns out it would cause the price of oil to go up, , , , so, surprise!!! , , , we are going to do nothing.
23136  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: November 04, 2011, 08:24:08 PM
Now there is an unpleasant thought.

Of course, just the fact/rumor that something had disappeared could have an intimidating effect all of its own.
23137  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: November 04, 2011, 07:59:13 PM
That has been floating around for a couple of years now, but in light of your preceding post you have me looking like a Jewish Don King. shocked
23138  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: November 04, 2011, 07:51:37 PM
Apparently at this point OWS has become completely dominated by the organized elements of the hard left, especially in certain locations.

My original point was that the ORIGINAL crowd contained many people who were fertile ground for us.   At this point, that would seem to be quite a bit less so.  Nonetheless, IMHO MANY of those watching (especially the coverage by the Pravdas) share the Tea Party sentiment about liberal fascism/crony capitalism.  I think it important that we continue to make clear that they share OUR sentiment and to offer them OUR solutions.

If we offer only snide comments, we create unnecessary resistance and unnecessarily inflame those whose operant modality is emotion.
23139  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizen-Police interactions on: November 04, 2011, 07:42:14 PM
Concerning canes:  My thought is this:  You may be able to have one BEFORE an incident, but AFTER the incident, my hunch is that the authorities (and plaintiff's attorney) will want to verify that you NEEDED it.  If you cannot show this, then it would seem to me that a rather troublesome claim that you came armed can be made.

23140  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Coulter on the able race-baiting of Cain on: November 04, 2011, 03:27:57 PM
The Left’s Racist Witch Hunt
Posted By Ann Coulter On November 4, 2011

By spending the last three decades leveling accusations of “racism” every 10 seconds, liberals have made it virtually impossible for Americans to recognize real racism — for example, the racism constantly spewed at black conservatives.
In the last year alone, a short list of the things liberals have labeled “racist” include:
– Being a Republican;
– Joining the tea party;
– The word “the” (Donald Trump’s statement that he has a “great relationship with the blacks”);
– References to Barack Obama’s playing basketball (Trump again);
– Using Obama’s middle name;
– Scott Brown’s pickup truck;
– Opposing Obamacare;
– Opposing Obama’s stimulus bill;
– Opposing Obama’s jobs bill.
The surge in conservative support for Herman Cain confuses the Democrats’ story line, which is that Republicans hate Obama because he’s black.
Cain is twice as black as Obama. (Possible Obama campaign slogan: “Too Black!”)
This is why the liberal website Politico ran with a story on Cain that had everything — a powerful black man, a Republican presidential candidate, the hint of sexuality — except facts.
All we learned was: About a decade ago, as many as two anonymous women accused Cain of making unspecified “inappropriate” remarks and one “inappropriate” gesture in the workplace. (We had more than that on John Edwards’ mistress a year into the media’s refusal to report that story.)
If the details helped liberals, we’d have the details.
To have been accused of sexual harassment in the 1990s is like having been accused of molesting children at preschools in the 1980s or accused of being a witch in Massachusetts in the 1690s.
In the 1990s, one plaintiff won a $50 million jury verdict against Wal-Mart on the grounds that a “hostile environment” was created by her supervisor’s yelling at both male and female employees. In another case, a plaintiff won a $250,000 award for sexual harassment based on her complaint that a male colleague had reached for a pastry saying, “Nothing I like more in the morning than sticky buns,” while “wriggl(ing)” his eyebrows.
It got so crazy that a 6-year-old boy was suspended from class for a day for kissing a classmate on the cheek, and a Goya painting had to be removed from a Penn State classroom because a professor complained that it constituted sexual harassment.
With no standard other than the subjective offense taken by the accuser, absolutely anyone could be called a witch, i.e., a sexual harasser. So it’s striking that the only two conservative public figures accused of being witches both happened to be conservative blacks: Clarence Thomas and Herman Cain.
Liberals go straight to ugly racist stereotypes when attacking conservative blacks, calling them oversexualized, stupid and/or incompetent.
The late, lamented, white liberal reporter Mary McGrory called Justice Antonin Scalia “a brilliant and compelling extremist” — while dismissing Thomas as “Scalia’s puppet.”
More recently, Democratic Sen. Harry Reid called Scalia “one smart guy.” In the next breath, he proclaimed Thomas “an embarrassment to the Supreme Court,” adding, “I think that his opinions are poorly written.”
When Bush made Condoleezza Rice the first black female secretary of state, terror swept through the Democratic Party. What if people began to notice and ask questions: “Who’s that black woman always standing with George Bush?” Never mind! He’s probably arresting her.
In addition to an explosion of racist cartoons portraying Rice as Aunt Jemima, Butterfly McQueen from “Gone With the Wind,” a fat-lipped Bush parrot and other racist cliches, allegedly respectable liberals promptly called her stupid and incompetent.
Joseph Cirincione, then with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said Rice “doesn’t bring much experience or knowledge of the world to this position.” (Unlike Hillary Clinton, whose experience for the job consisted of being married to an impeached, disbarred former president.)
Democratic consultant Bob Beckel — who ran Walter Mondale’s 1984 campaign so competently that Mondale lost 49 states — said of Rice, “I don’t think she’s up to the job.”
When Michael Steele ran for senator in Maryland in 2006, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee dug up a copy of his credit report — something done to no other Republican candidate. He was depicted in black face with huge red lips by liberal blogger Steve Gilliard. Oreo cookies were rolled down the aisle at Steele during a gubernatorial debate in 2002.
Trafficking in racist imagery is consequence-free for liberals because they have ruined charges of “racism” with their own overuse of the term. By now, any accusation of racism has the feel of a Big Foot sighting.
It’s a neat trick, rather as if the Nazis had called everything “genocide” right before launching the Holocaust, and then admonished resisters not to “play the genocide card.”
Liberals step on black conservatives early and often because they can’t have black children thinking, “Hmmm, the Republicans have some good ideas; maybe I’m a Republican.”
The basic setup is:
Step 1: Spend 30 years telling blacks that Republicans are racist and viciously attacking all black Republicans.
Step 2: Laugh maliciously at Republicans for not having more blacks in their party.
It is beyond insane that Herman Cain would have considered running for president if he had the tiniest skeleton in his closet. To be an out-of-the-closet black Republican, you had better be a combination rocket scientist/Baptist preacher. Which, as it happens, Cain is.
Meanwhile, MSNBC is cutting into its prime-time programming to announce updates in the fact-free hit on Cain. That’s not because anyone there thinks he’ll be the nominee. Everyone knows it’s going to be Mitt Romney.
But liberals are determined to make sure that, six months from now, everyone has forgotten Herman Cain so they can go back to claiming Republicans oppose Obama because they hate blacks.
23141  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Romney on Medicare on: November 04, 2011, 03:12:01 PM

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney waded into the hot-button issue of Medicare, proposing to offer future seniors a choice between the current fee-for-service health plan or a voucher to purchase health insurance plans offered by private insurance companies.

The proposal, offered to conservative activists Friday afternoon, would be similar to one proposed by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin earlier this year, but with one big difference. Mr. Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, said he would keep the current system as an option, while Mr. Ryan and House Republicans voted to drop traditional Medicare altogether, except for those now 55 and older.

Still, the overall impact of the Romney and Ryan plans might not be that different over time. Under Mr. Romney's proposal, if competition from private plans drove down the cost of those options, premiums would rise on the traditional fee-for-service option, coaxing seniors away from the government-run plan, the Romney campaign said.

"These ideas will give tomorrow's seniors the same kinds of choices that most Americans have in their health care today. The future of Medicare should be marked by competition, choice, and innovation—rather than bureaucracy, stagnation, and bankruptcy," Mr. Romney said.

The Romney Medicare plan could become a hallmark of the 2012 presidential campaign should he win the Republican nomination. Democrats had already planned to make the Ryan plan a centerpiece of their efforts to unseat Republicans in Congress. Now, Mr. Romney has thrust Medicare privatization into the presidential race.

Mr. Romney did not say how much money he believes his proposal would save the government. He cautioned that he would make no changes to the system for current Medicare beneficiaries or those approaching retirement, meaning that any savings from his plan would be slow in coming.

But by turning the federal role in seniors' health care into a voucher – or "premium support – Mr. Romney would give the government considerably more latitude to lower its costs. A Congressional Budget Office analysis of the Ryan plan suggested that a voucher system would shift costs from the taxpayers to seniors, as the rising cost of health care outstrips the value of the voucher.

The Romney campaign, however, is putting its faith in the ability of a competitive market place to maintain health-care quality at lower costs and greater efficiency. He said the private plans would be required to offer coverage at least as good as Medicare's. Seniors could choose more generous plans but would have to pay more out of pocket. Seniors who choose less expensive plans would be able to keep leftover cash from their vouchers to pay other medical expenses such as co-payments and deductibles.

Ironically, the plan Mr. Romney laid out parallels President Barack Obama's health-care law, which the former governor has vowed to repeal. In both cases, taxpayers would subsidize the purchase of private health plans, with larger subsidies going to poorer consumers.

A campaign fact sheet stated that Mr. Romney's "goal is for Medicare to offer every senior affordable options that provide coverage and service at least as good as what today's seniors receive. Lower income seniors in the future will receive the most generous benefits to ensure that they are able to get care every bit as good as that provided in the current Medicare program."

23142  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: November 04, 2011, 01:29:06 PM
The Foundation
"Newspapers ... serve as chimnies to carry off noxious vapors and smoke." --Thomas Jefferson
Government & Politics
Leftmedia Welcomes Cain to Prime Time
Leftmedia outfit Politico dropped a bomb on Herman Cain's presidential campaign Sunday night with a story about two women accusing him of sexual harassment in the 1990s. Politico's story was anonymously sourced, though they claimed to have spoken to both women, and reporters later hedged when pressed on the specifics of their information. Regardless, in a culture that gets so much of its news in 140-character Twitter soundbites, the damage was done.
"During Herman Cain's tenure as the head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, at least two female employees complained to colleagues and senior association officials about inappropriate behavior by Cain, ultimately leaving their jobs at the trade group," Politico reported. "The women complained of sexually suggestive behavior by Cain that made them angry and uncomfortable, the sources said, and they signed agreements with the restaurant group that gave them financial payouts to leave the association. The agreements also included language that bars the women from talking about their departures." Fifteen years later, that has come in handy.
Cain's initial response was not a good one. Politico claimed that it had contacted his campaign before publishing the story, and yet he seemed woefully unprepared to offer a counterpoint. When first asked directly if he had ever been accused of sexual harassment, he threw the question right back at the reporter. He denied any wrongdoing and said he didn't even remember a settlement, but later said that he did remember though it was a small one (there were two, of $35,000 and $45,000, respectively) and it didn't go through him. The fact that the settlements were small and it was the women, not Cain, who left the NRA lends credence to Cain's innocence (he certainly deserves that presumption), but it would help if he got his story straight.
As for the details, he described one incident, saying, "She was in my office one day, and I made a gesture saying -- and I was standing close to her -- and I made a gesture saying you are the same height as my wife. And I brought my hand up to my chin saying, 'My wife comes up to my chin.'"
It wasn't long before the blame game started. Cain's campaign accused Curt Anderson, a former aide who now works for Rick Perry, of being the source of the story. To add confusion, the campaign later retracted that accusation before Cain himself reiterated it. The Perry camp denied any involvement, instead blaming the Romney campaign, thus completing the circular firing squad.
If this benefits anyone, it could be Newt Gingrich, who may well be the only candidate who understands Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment. We think he could be the next candidate to spike in the polls. Yet Cain's poll numbers are higher now than they were last week, particularly in the all-important early states of Iowa and South Carolina, and his fundraising is up as well. Perhaps that's indicative of conservatives rallying around one of their own who's under assault by the media juggernaut.
As for the Republican candidates, they need to cut the crap, quit attacking each other, and focus on beating Barack Obama in the general election. Besides, "the real story here is the media -- and Politico in particular," as National Review's Andrew McCarthy writes. "Politico's initial story was woven out of insufficient evidence, anonymous sources, and vague allegations that -- even if you construed every possible inference against Cain -- would amount to an impropriety that outfits like Politico would find too trivial to cover like this if the culprit were a left-leaning Democrat."
As if on cue, Bloomberg columnist Jonathan Alter wrote a column last Friday titled, The Obama Miracle, a White House Free of Scandal. No, Mr. Alter. Just because the media don't report Obama's scandals doesn't mean there aren't any, or that they aren't far worse than a hand gesture that made a woman uncomfortable.
What do you think of the allegations against Cain?
Open Query
"If you are running for president of the United States and have a sexual-harassment complaint or two in your background -- no matter how specious -- what possible excuse can you have for not knowing how those complaints were resolved, well before you announce that you are running for president? Especially if the resolution reflected well on you? How can you possibly justify your not being in command of basic facts about your own career -- the career that is the centerpiece of your campaign?" --National Review's Kevin Williamson
We Can't Wait: Suddenly, a Slew of Co-sponsors!
House Democrats rallied around Obama's "jobs" bill this week, with 90 members signing on as co-sponsors. The bill sat with only one sponsor, Rep. John Larson (D-CT), for three weeks after he introduced it in September. The sudden surge of support came at the direction of the House Democrat leadership, attempting to combat Republican criticism of the bill. The plan calls for tax hikes and promises to public unions, but it will only end up adding to the deficit with no net gain in jobs. If an $862 billion stimulus couldn't trim unemployment, a $447 billion stimulus won't do any better. In truth, this bill proposes nothing more than a pre-election payoff to Obama's Democrat constituencies.
Other Democrats seem to understand this. The Blue Dog Coalition has kept its distance, as have other Democrats facing tough races next year. The recent rush of support by other Democrats is most likely the result of good old-fashioned arm-twisting by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (such as threats to withhold campaign funds). There can't be many other believable explanations for 90 co-sponsors suddenly signing onto the bill after it languished without support for so long.
The Democrat Senate failed again Thursday on two separate votes to pass anything related to Obama's bill, but the Republican House has passed some 17 bills related to job creation. Here are some of them: March 31 they passed H.R. 872, The Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act, joined by 57 Democrats; May 5 they passed H.R. 1230, the Restating American Offshore Leasing Now Act, with 33 Democrats; May 11 they passed H.R. 1229, the Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act, supported by 28 Democrats; May 12 they passed H.R. 1231, the Reversing President Obama's Offshore Moratorium Act, along with 21 Democrats; June 22 they passed H.R. 2021, The Jobs and Energy Permitting Act, and 23 Democrats voted for it; July 26 they passed H.R. 1938, The North American Made Energy Security Act, with 47 Democrat votes; October 6 they passed H.R. 2681, The Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act, joined by 25 Democrats; October 13 they passed H.R. 2250, The EPA Regulatory Relief Act, H.R. 2250, with 41 Democrats; and finally, October 14 they passed H.R. 2273, The Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act, H.R. 2273, along with 37 Democrats. In other words, Senate Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is full of it when he blames Republicans.
This Week's 'Alpha Jackass' Award
Saint Barack
"God wants to see us help ourselves by putting people back to work." --Barack Obama
Note: This is not satire from The Onion. Apparently, Barry has actually conferred with the Almighty and determined that He approves of the so-called jobs bill. And here we thought that Leftists were the great defenders of that mythical "Wall of Separation."
Regarding Obama's assertion, White House spokesman Jay Carney later claimed, "Well, I believe the phrase from the Bible is, 'The Lord helps those who help themselves.'"
Hilariously, an official notation at the bottom of the White House's own transcript notes: "This common phrase does not appear in the Bible." Not only did Carney flub the defense, he ended up making an argument for the opposition. In other words, the supposed biblical principle isn't, "God helps those who get help from government first." Way to go, Jay.
Sound off on Obama's claim
The BIG Lie
"I'll tell you this: If President Obama and the House congressional Democrats had not acted [with the 2009 stimulus], we would be at 15 percent unemployment." --House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), repeating her unprovable claim
Meanwhile, the economy added 80,000 jobs in October and headline unemployment fell from 9.1 percent to 9.0 percent. That, of course, doesn't take into account those who have simply quit looking for work, meaning the real unemployment rate may be twice the reported number -- and that's with the stimulus.
New & Notable Legislation
The minibus spending bill the Senate passed this week to fund agriculture, the FDA, and other agencies is apparently not all it's cracked up to be, according to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the ranking member of the Budget Committee. Democrats claim that the bill cuts $1 billion compared to Fiscal 2011, which is a pitiful amount on its own, but Sessions argues that it will actually increase spending by $9 billion thanks to an accounting gimmick that doesn't factor in mandatory appropriations. No wonder the government has budget problems.
Several Senate Democrats proposed a constitutional amendment to give Congress power to regulate political campaign spending, specifically to prevent corporate donations. In a public statement announcing the proposal, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island credited the Occupy Wall Street movement with the background research: "The extent to which money and corporations have taken over the process is something that is reflected across our cities in the Occupy movement." So not only do Democrats propose to regulate how campaigns are funded, but they took courage from a bunch of 20-something street-dwelling socialist malcontents.
News From the Swamp: Social Security's Future
The inevitable Social Security default is coming at a quickening pace, according to analysts who have been studying the program. Even The Washington Post took notice. In 2010, America's favorite government program went cash negative, meaning that it paid out more in benefits than it took in through payroll taxes. This unfortunate milestone came years earlier than originally anticipated because of the hit that government revenues took due to the recession and the ensuing payroll tax cut gimmick of the first "stimulus." If Obama's plan to extend that cut becomes reality, Social Security will face a $267 billion shortfall next year.
Politicians on both left and right for years have feared taking on the coming Social Security funding crisis. Yet the figures don't lie. The number of people receiving Social Security checks will nearly double by 2035, at which point there will be only two workers paying into the program for every retiree drawing benefits. The steady rise in life expectancy bodes even more trouble, since people will draw from the system for increasingly longer periods of time. Yet leftists, employing their powerful mouthpiece, the AARP, to frighten seniors, reject the idea of raising the retirement age to save the program. A dangerous combination of arrogance and ignorance is standing in the way of reforming Social Security to reflect new demographic and economic realities. Its survival is not guaranteed just because it's popular; it also has to function.
From the Left: Government Gifts
The State Department recently spent $70,000 on some unusual Christmas gifts for U.S. embassies to hand out: Copies of Barack Obama's three books, "Dreams from My Father," "The Audacity of Hope" and his children's book, "Of Thee I Sing." The White House claims it had no knowledge of the State Department's purchase, which puts money directly into Obama's pocket. Granted, $70,000 isn't much money in federal budget terms, and Obama's royalties represent but a fraction of the total, but such activities do not reflect the upright principles and ethics that Obama was supposed to bring to Washington.
23143  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: November 04, 2011, 01:23:11 PM
Not the best of sentence structure, but I see only one reading:

The only pre-eminence is that "annexed to legal office". 

What else are you seeing?
23144  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: Non Farm Payrolls on: November 04, 2011, 01:16:23 PM
Non-farm payrolls increased 80,000 in October To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 11/4/2011
Non-farm payrolls increased 80,000 in October but were up 182,000 including revisions to August/September.  The consensus expected a gain of 95,000.
Private sector payrolls increased 104,000 in October.  Revisions to August/September added 84,000, bringing the net gain to 188,000.  September gains were led by health and education (+28,000), administrative/support (+26,000), leisure/hospitality (+22,000), and retail (+18,000). The biggest decline was non-residential construction (-24,000).
The unemployment rate ticked down to 9.0% from 9.1% in September.
Average weekly earnings – cash earnings, excluding benefits – increased 0.2% in September and are up 1.8% versus a year ago.
Implications:  The US labor market continues to make progress and once again shows, without a shadow of a doubt, that the US economy is not in recession. Including upward revisions for August and September, nonfarm payrolls increased 182,000, almost doubling the consensus expected gain of 95,000. Civilian employment, an alternative measure of jobs that factors in small business start-ups, increased 277,000. This gain helped push down the unemployment rate to 9%. A year ago the unemployment rate was 9.7%. During this time, private payrolls have grown at an average monthly rate of 152,000 while civilian employment has grown at a rate of 140,000 per month. In other words, we don’t need 150,000 jobs per month just to keep the unemployment rate steady. Because of the aging of the labor force, 150,000 jobs per month is more than enough to push down the jobless rate. Very quietly, without fanfare, private sector payrolls have grown by 1.8 million in the past year, while the workweek has lengthened and hourly cash wages are up 1.8%. Total hours worked are up 1.7% in the past year. A 9% unemployment rate means the labor market is still far from operating at its full potential, but it is moving in the right direction as are other data. October chain store sales were up 3.7% versus a year ago, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. This includes luxury department store sales up 4.5% and wholesale clubs (excluding fuel) up 7%. Meanwhile, compared to a year ago, core railcar loadings are up 5.8%, steel production is up 10.3%, and hotel occupancy rates are up 6.8%. Again, there are no signs of recession. Instead, plenty of signs of continued growth.
23145  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wolfowitz on: November 04, 2011, 08:36:33 AM
Those who opposed NATO action to liberate Libya from Moammar Gadhafi are mostly quiet now, but some seem eager to see trouble ahead. "Now comes the hard part," they warn—and they are half right. The Libyans face complex challenges. They need help and they need American leadership.

Dismissing what Libyans have accomplished as the easy part shows little regard for what they've achieved and against what odds. It seemed almost miraculous that Misrata, particularly, held out for months against greatly superior Gadhafi forces. According to the interim government's health minister, at least 30,000 Libyans died during the revolution, in a country of six million.

True, the Libyans didn't win by themselves. Without NATO's intervention they would probably have been crushed. But even George Washington and his heroic soldiers had help from the French.

The decision to support the Libyan revolution was right, and President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton deserve great credit for it. Nor was it wrong to refuse to commit U.S. ground forces.

But the failure of the U.S. to support the opposition more strongly in other ways was a costly mistake. The delay in recognizing the National Transitional Council, the continuing delays in getting them access to frozen assets, and the refusal to provide arms made the conflict longer and bloodier, deprived the country of some of its bravest potential leaders, and reduced our ability to secure the Gadhafi regime's surface-to-air missiles, now a major concern for us. Worst of all, having ceded leadership to others, we are less able to support those who share our values.

Enlarge Image

CloseAssociated Press
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton meets Libyan soldiers in Tripoli.
.The U.S. missed a rare opportunity to play a leading role in support of a cause that was widely admired in Libya and throughout the Arab world. Mrs. Clinton deserved a hero's welcome when she visited Tripoli, like the one that British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy received. Instead she was asked why the U.S. hadn't done more. As one student said, "Many people feel that the United States has taken a back seat." That mistake should not be repeated now.

Forty-two years of despotism have left Libya with virtually no functioning institutions, a poorly educated population, and no civil society. The violence of the rebellion has created new motives for revenge and put weapons in the hands of thousands.

It was Gadhafi, not NATO, who broke Libya, and NATO doesn't own Libya. For the first time in 42 years, the courageous Libyan people own it. But they face formidable challenges.

Libya's most urgent need is to bring its many armed groups into an organized security force and to secure their enormous weapon supplies. This is a task best achieved not by force but with money, to pay the new security forces and to buy back weapons. And it could also provide jobs for dangerously unemployed armed men. The Libyans have money, but much of it is still frozen in accounts here and abroad. The U.S. should get them much more rapid access to their own funds, if necessary by advancing loans against still-frozen assets. We should also establish a security assistance program to help train and organize the new Libyan forces.

Another urgent need, given the estimated 50,000 wounded, is medical assistance. Even basic things like aspirin and antibiotics are in short supply. The U.S. has a program to fly some severely wounded Libyans to the U.S. and Germany for treatment. Much more could be done, perhaps comparable to the assistance given to Haiti after its 2010 earthquake.

That would also maintain the goodwill that Libyans feel toward the U.S. and help replace the distorted image of the West fed to them for so long by Gadhafi. The new authorities in Tripoli told Sen. John McCain last month that they would even be willing to reimburse the U.S. for the cost of this humanitarian assistance.

A third important initiative would be to encourage Libyans to manage their oil revenues so as to avoid the "oil curse" that has damaged so many countries, particularly Libya. The experience of Norway and Alaska, which have given their people a direct stake in their oil revenues, could show Libyans how the country's wealth can be shared more fairly among all the people. That would also provide a safeguard against a future ruler gaining too much power.

Finally, if Libyans want it, we should help them with basic constitutional, electoral and political issues. We may not always agree with their decisions. But we can urge that those issues be decided freely and democratically, taking into account the views of all Libyan men and women, including ethnic minorities. We should also encourage the development of civil society groups that support democratic and humane values.

Success for Libya will not come easily or quickly. But success doesn't require perfection. Even in Central Europe, where conditions are more favorable, many new democracies are still struggling 20 years after the end of Soviet rule. But the U.S. will gain much if the Libyans can create a stable, representative government that respects the rights of its people. And there are risks if Libya fails to do so.

There is much that we could have done to end the bloody fighting in Libya more quickly. Today there is much that we can do, without a costly military commitment, to help Libyans build a better future. This is leadership the U.S. can afford. In the end, we will pay a higher price if we do nothing.

Mr. Wolfowitz, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, has served as deputy U.S. secretary of defense and U.S. ambassador to Indonesia.

23146  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: China and Russia spying on: November 04, 2011, 08:30:19 AM

WASHINGTON—The U.S. government accused the Chinese of being the world's "most active and persistent" perpetrators of economic spying, an unusual move designed to spur stronger U.S. and international action to combat rampant industrial espionage threatening U.S. economic growth.

Russian intelligence agents also are conducting extensive spying to collect U.S. economic data and technology, according to a U.S. intelligence report released Thursday that concluded China and Russia are "the most aggressive collectors" of U.S. economic information and technology.

"The nations of China and Russia, through their intelligence services and through their corporations, are attacking our research and development," said U.S. counterespionage chief Robert Bryant.

Mr. Bryant spoke at a rare public event Thursday to roll out the report by his staff at the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive. The report focuses on spying primarily for commercial and economic purposes, as opposed to national security. "This is a national, long-term, strategic threat to the United States of America," he said. "This is an issue where failure is not an option."

The bulk of this theft of U.S. corporate and economic secrets is carried out in cyberspace, where vast volumes of data can be stolen in seconds, according to U.S. intelligence officials. The spying campaigns have reached a crescendo, they said, as U.S. government and business operations have grown extraordinarily reliant on communication technology.

The U.S. is a prime target of economic espionage by countries like China and Russia that seek to build up their domestic industries with stolen technology and intellectual property from more advanced U.S. firms, officials say. The leading areas of theft are components of the U.S. economy: information technology, military technology, and clean-energy and medical technology.

 A lot of U.S. companies like to say they'll beat the Chinese at what the U.S. does best - innovation. They'll simply run faster than the Chinese. The problem is, they may not have history on their side. John Bussey has details on The News Hub.

It's illegal under U.S. law to steal corporate secrets from other companies, and there is less incentive for U.S. companies to pilfer from countries that are less developed.

Allies of the U.S. have also gotten in the game of stealing industrial secrets, the report said. It did not name those countries, but officials privately acknowledge that Israel and France have tried to steal U.S. secrets.

Thursday's report was unusual because it called out China and Russia by name as the top perpetrators of economic espionage, which is something U.S. officials have been reluctant to do for fear of harming diplomatic relations.

"When you hide these things, nobody does anything about them," said Alan Paller, director of research for the SANS Institute cybersecurity firm who also spoke at the rollout of the report.

A senior intelligence official said it was necessary to single out specific countries in order to confront the problem and attempt contain a threat that has gotten out of control. Economic espionage is condoned by both China and Russia and is part of each country's national economic development policy, the official said.

The Chinese government is believed to have been behind a number of recent high-profile cyber attacks, including multiple hacks of Google Inc. and the EMC Corp.'s RSA unit, a security company that makes the numerical tokens used by millions of corporate employees to access their network.

Cyberattacks revealed earlier this year on Lockheed Martin Corp. and the International Monetary Fund are also believed be traced to China.

The threat will accelerate in the coming years and presents "a growing and persistent threat" to U.S. economic security, according to the intelligence report, which reflects the views of 14 U.S. intelligence agencies.

At the Chinese Embassy in Washington, spokesman Wang Baodong called the U.S. charges "unwarranted allegations" that were part of a "demonizing effort against China." The Russian Embassy didn't respond to requests to comment but has in the past denied allegations of cyberspying.

The U.S government doesn't have calculations of the economic losses due to economic cyberespionage. The senior U.S. intelligence official cited estimates of $50 billion in losses in 2009 due to lost intellectual property and counterfeiting, through all means of theft, including cyber break-ins.

"If our research and development—$400 billion a year—is pilfered, frankly, it will destroy part of our economic viability in this country," Mr. Bryant said.

Industrial espionage poses a number of national-security threats to the U.S., including the risk that stolen military technology will be handed to hostile countries like North Korea or Iran, the intelligence report concluded.

 WSJ's Chana Schoenberger has details of U.S. companies being deterred from taking advantage of easy access to the Chinese Yuan by bureaucracy and paperwork. Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images
.Government-sponsored economic spying is growing, the senior official said. Officials wouldn't say, however, how much of the industrial spying is believed to be from government agents, though they said government, intelligence services, and private organizations and individuals all took part.

U.S. officials have confronted foreign counterparts with allegations of industrial espionage, the senior U.S. official said, but the official declined to provide an example or cite a particular country's government. More confrontations are necessary, the official said, to begin to curb the spying.

One proposal intelligence officials are considering is building the cyberattack equivalent of the National Counterterrorism Center, which merges terrorism data from intelligence agencies and state and local governments.

Write to Siobhan Gorman at

Read more:
23147  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington 1784 on: November 04, 2011, 08:09:35 AM
"The foundation on which all [constitutions] are built is the natural equality of man, the denial of every preeminence but that annexed to legal office, and particularly the denial of a preeminence by birth." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to George Washington, 1784
23148  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russia and China taking advantage of situation on: November 04, 2011, 08:08:36 AM
Vice President of Strategic Intelligence Rodger Baker and Senior Eurasia Analyst Lauren Goodrich discuss how Russia and China are looking to exploit the European debt crisis to their advantage.
Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.
Related Links
•   In Europe’s Crisis, Russia Sees Opportunity
Colin: While Europe’s outlook is darkened by uncertainty, opportunity knocks for Russia and China as both look to seize the chance of taking advantage. Both have growing political influence and shedloads of cash, so what will they do? Welcome to Agenda, where STRATFOR’s leading analysts on Russia and China join me to discuss what Moscow and Beijing want.
Colin: With me now are Lauren Goodrich and Rodger Baker, thanks for joining me. While the Europeans sort out their mess, the Russians and the Chinese have shedloads of cash. Are there some bargains to be had in Europe? Are the Russians going to take advantage of this, do you think?
Lauren: The Russians are already taking advantage of it. The Russians are in negotiations at this time to pick up assets all across Europe, specifically in Central Europe. They are looking at things from energy firms, banks, credit unions, airports, ports… anything that gives them a strategic placement and foothold within Central Europe, something that they can use in the future. And Russia has plenty of cash to do this with. And so Russia right now is in negotiations with countries like the Czech Republic, Poland, Greece, of course, and then Italy to pick up assets.
Colin: Even Greece?
Lauren: Yes, in Greece they are picking up some of the largest assets. They are in negotiations and talks right now to pick up probably the state energy firms and maybe even Athens International Airport.
Colin: And what about the Chinese?
Rodger: The Chinese are really a lot more cautious than what we are seeing the Russians doing. The Chinese have talked about how the Europeans should get their own house in order, how the Europeans should have enough cash to do it themselves, and the Chinese are sending mixed signals depending upon what day of the week it is, depending upon which Chinese official it is. They are saying on the one hand we are willing to come in, we are willing to help out if Europe provides certain guarantees that our investments are going to be secured and that this will guarantee that the European Union and the eurozone will hold together. Or they are saying you know what, we really need to still watch, we need to see, we need to wait, we are just not so sure that Europe has its act in gear. And in some ways the Chinese get a little bit of a grand domestic PR (public relations) out of this. They get to seem the country that is the responsible economic country, at least for their home audience. They play this up, the same way they did toward the U.S. economic crisis, but in reality they are very concerned about the future of Europe.
Colin: So far they have been mostly looking at resources in terms of overseas acquisitions, but in Europe there are some big industrial companies which are probably undervalued. Do you think they have got any interest in them?
Rodger: The Chinese are looking at some of those. We have seen them show interest in the past. Things with technology, things in aerospace, in computer systems, ultimately things that would be related to dual-use technologies, they would love to get a better hold of. So they are watching those, but those are not necessarily going to be directly linked to the way in which they are looking the European investments. The Europeans are largely looking at China to invest in European bonds or to expand their purchase of European bonds, and that is where China is kind of holding back on right now.
Colin: Right and the Russians, of course, must be interested in some of European technology?
Lauren: Very much so. As far as technology, though, this is something that they have been looking into in a very long-term project. At this time though, with the crisis happening, they are looking to pick up very quick assets and things that give them political leverage. So where the Chinese seem to be doing things more financially motivated, economically motivated, or via technology, the Russians are thinking about the politics on this — how does this help them get leverage in Europe?
Colin: Can we turn this on its head for a moment? Because look at the harm that the mess in Europe is doing to China and Russia. For example, Europe is China’s biggest export market and it must be damaging the Chinese economy.
Rodger: For the last several years the Chinese economy has been struggling because of this European crisis, or in part because of the European crisis. And what it has done is it has taken a big toll on European exports, the combination of the U.S. and the European economic downturns, and that has brought to the fore inside China a very long-standing issue with the Chinese economy. The structural problems of the Chinese economy are now becoming very clear and very apparent. They have been known for a long time but they really have not been as visible.
And so we see the Chinese government in this very mixed position. On the one hand, they would really like to see the European economy just suddenly pick back up, start buying Chinese exports again and allow the Chinese simply to brush away some of these deeper reforms that are necessary, at least put them aside for a while. On the other hand, the Chinese cannot really count on this European resurgence of purchasing power anytime soon, and that means that in the end their attention is focused more on their domestic economy, on what they can do to try to not only pass themselves over this crisis but maybe use this crisis of the moment that forces them into being able to bring about economic change inside China.
Lauren: And this is very different than what we are seeing inside Russia. In Russia they are mainly worried because the Russians had counted on the Europeans to dump $100 billion in the next 3-5 years into modern technology, into the privatization programs and just in basic investment inside of the Russia. That money is not going to come anymore. Europe does not have $100 billion to dump inside Russia. So Russia is now having to revise its entire strategy for its economic future, which was supposed to be launched via these programs in the next few years. They are back to the drawing board.
But this does not mean that Russia does not have the money to do it themselves. Russia has $100 billion, Russia has $600 billion. So they have the cash to do it themselves, but the Russians tend to like to have other people pay for things before they pay for things. And so that is why they are going to have to step up if they want these programs to move forward.
Rodger: And this is an area, too, where we see the Chinese kind of keeping an eye on the Russians, because the Chinese have wanted a hand in a lot of this planned Russian privatization and sale of businesses. The Russians have been fairly reticent in allowing the Chinese in. The Chinese now see this as a potential opportunity, rather than to grab things in Europe necessarily, to grab things in Russia.
Lauren: So we could start actually seeing, probably, a strategic partnership between Russia and China economically grow. Which there is not much economic…
Colin: How likely is that?
Rodger: The Chinese really have got two big issues with the Russians. Number one, they would like to get it little bit more influence over the Russian economy overall. China continues to sit in a place where, even though it is economically much more powerful than Russia, politically it sees Russia as still having a lot more clout. China makes a lot more noise, but Russia seems to be a lot more influential, particularly in critical places for China like Central Asia, where they are pulling their resources from. Even more these days in Southeast Asia, where Russia is selling arms to, nominally, China’s opponents in Southeast Asia. This is troubling.
The second is energy, and the Russians and the Chinese go back and forth over energy prices. China wants to become a much larger consumer of Russian energy at a price much lower than what the Europeans pay. The Russians are not willing to make that deal with the Chinese.
Lauren: Which we will see if that changes because right now, as far as Russian exports, out of all of Russian exports 50 percent go to the EU. And if the EU market starts shrinking and the majority of those exports are energy, Russia has to find another market. If they have to do it at a discount then… they are going to have to do something.
Colin: Lauren what about the fallout on all of those countries that used to be part of the old Soviet Union? They went to Europe, basically, and this is where they had to be, this is the new thing for them, but now they must be looking at what is going on in Brussels and other European capitals and saying well maybe we should get closer to Russia again.
Lauren: Well the key country in that one is Ukraine. Ukraine has had a plan for 2011 to sign the very beginning steps to start a free trade agreement with Europe. It is on the shelf now, and no one in Brussels is returning Kiev’s phone calls at this time because they cannot even think about anything outside of the EU, let alone a country that Russia covets so much. The last thing Europe wants is to tick off Russia at a time that they are already in a crisis.
Colin: And President Medvedev has got, I think, trips to four European capitals this month — Rome, Athens, Berlin and Paris. So what is he up to?
Lauren: Yes. Well he is at the G-20 right now in France, he should be meeting with Sarkozy today. Next week he will be in Germany. What is interesting about the German visit, though, is that they will be discussing economics and Medvedev does have his economic team with him. But it is to launch the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline that directly connects Germany and Russia. So it is a very symbolic show of having Russia and Germany be such great partners together at a time when Europe is dividing within this crisis.
Colin: And the Chinese? They must be looking at these energy partnerships, and they need energy, and saying hey, we had better be part of this.
Rodger: They are watching energy partnerships. I think the Chinese probably will not be able to do much on the European front. Again, they are looking at being able to pull from eastern Russia and see what they can get out of that. And in some sense they hope that if the Europeans are going to continue to slow down, that will slow down the amount of energy going to Europe and require Russia to sell to them. What the Chinese are looking for is if they can see enough desperation in the European Union for Chinese money that they can exploit that.
The big thing on the table, I think, for the Chinese that they would be willing to put a lot of money down on is if the Europeans stop the arms embargo on China that they put in place in 1989, and that opens up new streams of technology for their own weapons development, for their own military improvements. That would be something for the Chinese that they would see very worthwhile to go ahead and lay down a whole load of cash.
Colin: Fascinating. Look, we will have to leave it there. Lauren and Rodger, thank you very much indeed.
Rodger: Thank you.
Colin: And that is Agenda for this week. Thanks for joining us. Bye for now.
23149  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / French paper hit by arson on: November 04, 2011, 08:04:38 AM,0,4620865.story

but paper shows courage:,0,4671429.story
23150  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Plans to end run via the UN on: November 03, 2011, 08:27:50 PM
Betcha Harold Koh is behind this , , ,

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is pushing for the United States to become a party to a global gun control law proposed by the United Nations. And President Barack Obama appears to be sympathetic to such an international power-grab and he's already displayed a propensity for bypassing the legislative process.

In fact, many believe the recent "Operation Fast and Furious" scandal had more to do with gaining support for gun control and gun ownership bans than it had to do with crimefighting and drug cartels.

"The Obama Administration will take its first major step in a plan to ban all firearms in the United States. The Obama White House intends to force gun control and a complete ban on all weapons for US citizens through the signing of international treaties with foreign nations," according to journalist Joan Sharon.

The goal of the treaty is to come up with internationally recognized rules governing the trade of guns and ammo. The United States is the world's largest exporter of arms.

To sooth concerns, the administration has said that it would sign the accord only if all other states agreed to it first, but pro-gun groups view the international treaty as a first step toward home-grown gun control.

U.S. lawmakers and groups like the National Rifle Association argue that it would essentially gut the Second Amendment by allowing an international authority to control American gun ownership.

A final version of the treaty is expected to be finished next year.

By signing international treaties on gun control, the Obama administration can use the U.S. State Department to bypass the normal legislative process in Congress. Once the U.S. government signs these international treaties, all US citizens will be subject to those gun laws created by foreign governments.
These are laws that have been developed and promoted by organizations such as the United Nations and individuals such as radical billionaire George Soros and New York City's Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
"The laws are designed and intended to lead to the complete ban and confiscation of all firearms," according to Sharon.
"The Obama administration is attempting to use tactics and methods of gun control that will inflict major damage to our 2nd Amendment before US citizens even understand what has happened," she added.
Critics believe Obama will appear before the public and tell them that he does not intend to pursue any legislation in the United States that will lead to new gun control laws, while cloaked in secrecy, his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, is committing the US to international treaties and foreign gun control laws.
"We will wake up one morning and find that the United States has signed a treaty that prohibits firearm and ammunition manufacturers from selling to the public. We will wake up another morning and find that the US has signed a treaty that prohibits any transfer of firearm ownership. And then, we will wake up yet another morning and find that the US has signed a treaty that requires US citizens to deliver any firearm they own to the local government collection and destruction center or face imprisonment," Ms. Sharon stated.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a columnist for The Examiner ( and New Media Alliance (  In addition, he's a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB ( Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty. 
He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations.  He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country.   Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com.   Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc.

To subscribe to Kouri's newsletter write to and write "Subscription" on the subject line.
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