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23101  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A big POTH/NYTimes piece on: January 23, 2011, 12:01:22 PM
I've only read the first page of the piece, but it looks to be interesting in a POTH sort of way , , ,
============

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/23/magazine/23davutoglu-t.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha210
23102  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The First Amendment & Free Speech on: January 22, 2011, 11:37:23 PM
I have just added the words "Free Speech" to the name of this thread to make it relevant not only to First Amendment issues (which also fit on the Constutitional Law thread on the SCH forum) but to the efforts to silence speech politically such as we now see coming out of the Left.

This is the thread for discussing such efforts.
23103  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: January 22, 2011, 11:31:45 PM
Its me, wearing my Thread Police hat.  smiley  May I ask you to put this at
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1285.msg11155#msg11155  

I just renamed the thread a bit to dial it in a bit better.
23104  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: January 22, 2011, 11:25:02 PM
Thanks for the greater accuracy.
23105  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: January 22, 2011, 09:54:51 PM
Only if we put that choice to them.

Any comments from anyone on the substance of the article?  I always appreciate the Indian POV on Pakistan; the Indians (at least the pieces forwarded to me by my Hindu friend) always seem to have much more knowledge and insight into what is going on there whereas BO (and Bush too for that matter) just seems to be coyote to the various roadrunners of the region.
23106  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / New fines on: January 22, 2011, 09:54:05 PM
Sent by a not always reliable internet friend, but it sounds plausible:



Drive carefully my friends
 
California Traffic Tickets Fines Effective 01/06/2011

BE VERY CAREFUL OUT THERE!

THE LOS ANGELES TIMES HAS AN ARTICLE ON THE SUBJECT:

"FLOORING IT ON CAR FINES".  PASS IT ON TO YOUR FRIENDS AND ACQUAINTANCES!

HUGE California Traffic Tickets Fines Effective 01/06/2011

Please be extremely careful in your driving and car registration & insurance
matters.  State of California is broke and they are trying hard to squeeze
all of us hard to collect money.

Effective immediately, if you do not stop at the red light, be ready to pay
$436 in fines or if you pass a school bus with flashing red signals, you
will be charged $616.  The state of California is going for blood, so be
extra careful in driving, You cannot afford messing with them.  I have been
hearing that Highway Patrols are under pressure to issue a lot more tickets
than last year with at least 30% increase in fines over 2009, so beware of
radar guns, highway and traffic cameras installed everywhere and the tougher
enforcement of parking rules.

Just for your info, the next time you park in the handicapped zone, even for
a minute, you will be looking at almost $ 1000 in parking tickets , so it'd
better be worth it.

California needs money, so pay close attention to the rules of the road!

          Traffic Ticket Fines (Effective 01/06/2011)

VC 12814.6    $214           Failure to obey license provisions.

VC 14600(A)     $214         Failure to notify DMV of address change
within 10 days

Note: The fine may be reduced with valid proof of correction.

VC 16028(A)     $796         Failure to provide evidence of financial
responsibility (insurance)

Note: This fine may be reduced with proof of insurance on or after the
violation date.

VC 21453(A)     $436         Failure to stop at a red signal.

VC 22349           $214        Unsafe speed,  1 to 15 miles over the limit.

VC 22350           $328         Unsafe speed, 16 to 25 miles over the limit.

VC 22450           $214         Failure to stop at a stop sign.

VC 22454(A)      $616        Passing a school bus with flashing red signals.

VC 23123(A)      $148        Driving while using a wireless phone not
hands free, first offense .

VC 23123(B)      $256        Driving while using a wireless phone not
hands free, each subsequent offense.

VC 23123.5        $148        Driving while using a wireless device to
send, read or write text.

VC 23124            $148       Minor driving while using a wireless phone.

VC 22500            $976       Parking in a bus loading area.

VC 22507(A)       $976       Violation of disabled parking provisions,
first offense.

VC 22507(B)     $1876       Violation of disabled parking provisions,
second offense.

VC 26708            $178        Unlawful material on vehicle windows.

VC 27150            $178        Adequate muffler required.

VC 27315            $148        Mandatory use of seat belts.

VC 27360            $436        Mandatory use of passenger child restraints.

Note: This fine may be reduced by completing a court authorized child seat
diversion program .

VC 27400            $178        Headsets or Earplugs covering both ears.

VC 27803            $178        Violation of motorcycle safety helmet
requirements.

VC 34506            $616        Commercial Driver - Log book violation.

VC 4000              $256        No evidence of current registration.

Note: The fine may be reduced with valid proof of correction.

VC 4159              $178        Notify DMV of change of address within 10
days.

Note: The fine may be reduced with valid proof of correction.

VC 5200             $178         Proper display of license plates.

Note: The fine may be reduced with valid proof of correction.

VC 9400             $178         Commercial weight fees due.



--
Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers. -- Voltaire
23107  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / An Indian analysis: Pakistan's Multiple Crises on: January 22, 2011, 06:47:30 PM
Note the interesting comments on Indian Muslims at the end too.
===============
MONDAY, JANUARY 10, 2011
Pakistan Multiple Crises

Two to three years has been the average life span of elected governments in Pakistan ever since Z A Bhutto was PM from 1973 to 1977. His daughter Benazir alternated with her rival Nawaz Sharif from 1988 till 1999 when the Mian Sahib was overthrown by yet another saviour in Khaki, General Pervez Musharraf. And both former Prime Ministers were forced into exile.

Thus, going by past precedents the present combine of President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani would now seem to have run out of its allotted time. Several crises confront the PPP led government and there are no easy solutions, quite a few outside the range of the PPP leadership's capabilities to solve them.

The Commissar and the General

Apart from the ongoing turmoil in FATA and the tussle between the US and the Pak Army over North Waziristan is well known. An exasperated US administration finds itself unable to push the Pakistan Army led by Gen Kayani into launching operations in North Waziristan as it prepares for its draw down of forces later in the year. Each time the Americans press this issue or launch their drone attacks they slip in their popularity rating among the Pakistanis and each time Gen Kayani stonewalls he shines as a patriot.

The General has been driving a hard bargain with the Americans successfully as he silently strengthens his hold both on the system and the armed forces. Quite obviously, General Kayani has an agenda that goes beyond just refurbishing the image of the Army with generous assistance from the US. A professional Army does not need three year extensions in service to its Chief beyond the stipulated term unless the agenda is wider and political or ominously, even military and strategic.

Setting aside the economic crisis that engulfs Pakistan, there are two other crises that are brewing a political crisis in Islamabad and an ethnic-religious crisis in Karachi of grave dimensions that no one really wants to talk about.

A Political Crisis Unfolds

Zardari and Gilani are resigned to having to deal with an over bearing Army since this is the way of political life in Pakistan. But they have other disadvantages compared to their main political rival, Mian Nawaz Sharif and his PML (N) or even their ally the MQM led by Altaf Hussain both of who command personal loyalties and have strong cadre based parties.

Nawaz controls the Punjab, while Altaf controls Karachi. Gilani and Zardari are comparative lightweights in the PPP and do not command that kind of respect that these two do within their parties and people. Nawaz is a Punjabi, has close links with the Saudis and the Jamaat Islami, which has a following in the Pak Army. He himself has strong right wing religious leanings, which endears him to a section of the Army and the religious parties. Yes his attempts to manipulate the Army in the past despite being originally a protigi of the Army, and his religious leanings would make him unacceptable to the Army and the US.

In a free and fair election, Nawaz could possibly sweep Punjab and he who wins Punjab rules Pakistan. This is possibly Kayani's threat to the Americans at this juncture a few months before they plan their pull out. In the present crisis, perhaps Nawaz himself would not want to take over the reins of office so it suits him to see the government further weakened. He would rather wait it out unless an election is thrust upon him.

The MQM's Complaints

The MQM crisis is somewhat different. While the world's attention has been focused on the war in FATA against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the NWFP (Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa) ethnic and religious violence has been increasing alarmingly in Karachi. The MQM has for years complained and feared that the ingress of Pushtuns from the frontier many of whom are Talibanised would tilt the balance away from them while the activities of religious parties like the Deobandi parties like Lashkar e Jhangvi would further erode its hold in urban Sindh especially Karachi and Hyderabad. There is another complication in that politically the Mohajirs support the MQM, the Sindhis support the PPP and the Pushtun support the Awami National Party. The latter two invariably combine against the MQM.

Politically motivated targeted killings in Karachi have been increasing alarmingly. The Daily Times of Lahore reported that last year about 780 people were killed in ethnic, religious and political violence in Karachi which is similar to the suicide killings in the NWFP (797) and more than in the rest of the country (427). While the MQM may have its own political objectives in complaining to Gilani about the worsening law and order situation in Karachi the fact is that the metropolis has become a hot bed of rivalries between various competing and conflicting interests with strong overtones of a Talibanised culture and MQM fears it may have to cede ground to Wahhabi-Salafi beliefs brought in by more and more Pushtun leaving their homes for Karachi. Islamabad's failure to redress the MQM's complaints is the real reason for the threat of MQM to walk out although it is camouflaged in economic demands to bring in support from the Sindhis as well. To make matters worse for the MQM, its leaders have been trading insults with the PML (N) leadership. Consequently, the political situation looks very uncertain and the PPP looks extremely weak. And enter General Kayani centre stage?

The Assassination and the Islamic Fundamentalist Fervour

There is another development that could make the Army even more indispensible to the situation in today's Pakistan - the assassination of Salman Taseer the Punjab Governor and a close ally and friend of President Zardari, by one of his own guards for his opposition to Blasphemy Laws. It is not the first time that the religious right has resorted to punish those opposed to its creed. While Pakistan's liberal elite may mourn Taseer's death a wide section of the religious right has actually approved the killing.

The comments that were visible on Twitter and Facebook supporting the assassin were a chilling indicator of the direction Pakistan had taken in recent years. Killing for religion is frightening enough but the reaction that has been visible is even more frightening. The diktat by the Jamaate Ahle Sunnat Pakistan that no Muslim should attend Taseer's funeral sends a chill down every liberal spine.

The JASP is the largest body of the Barelvi group and considerate moderate in comparison to the Deobandhi-Wahhabi-Salafi Sunnis. Gen Zia's dream has become Pakistan's nightmare. The message to the liberal elite is - shut up and put up. The comment by the well known Pakistani commentator Cyril Almeida that, "Conservative forces are not just on a roll in Pakistan, they're pretty dominant. And liberal forces are not just on the back foot, but, really, they are extinguished," sums up the despondency and the gravity.

This is not the first time that a prominent Pakistani leader has been assassinated by suspected Islamic hardliners or attempts have been made. Benazir was killed by three years ago at the second attempt. They almost succeeded in killing Gen Musharraf in 2003 when he turned his back to the Taliban and some religious extremists in response to American demands. Then there were several attacks on the symbols of Pak power since September 11, 2001 including the Army and obviously the rot had set in but all this was swept away in the larger interest of preserving the peace and fighting the larger American war.

Teacher's Pets

In the midst of all this one would continue to have doubts about Pakistani leadership's commitment to fight terror. It is believed that, the well-known senior Pakistani terrorist Qari Saifullah Akhtar from the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami with links to both the ISI and Al Qaeda was released from custody in early in December 2010. He had been taken into custody in August 2010 for trying to recruit five Americans for Al Qaeda when they had visited Pakistan in November 2009.

Qari Akhtar has a colourful jihadi history. Qari and the HUJI have been very close to the Taliban and Al Qaeda; he was involved along with some jihadi Army officers in an assassination attempt on Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and Gen Abdul Waheed Kakkar in 1995 and over throw the government in 1995. Released in 1996, Akhtar fled to Afghanistan and then plotted the assassination of General Musharraf in 2003; he fled again to the UAE, deported in 2004 and released from custody again in 2007; was suspected to have been involved in the abortive attempt on Benazir in October 2007; detained in February 2008 and released in June 2008; and he was one of the main conspirators in the attack on the Marriott hotel in Islamabad in September 2008.

The ease with which Akhtar has been able to change residence only adds to suspicions that when the trail gets too hot the Pakistani establishment pulls in its assets for the trail to go cold and then release them when it is considered safe. This happens ever so often to Lashkar e Tayyaba leader Hafiz Saeed and the Jaish e Mohammed leader Maulana Masood Azhar.

Indian reactions

Some of us worry that this could have an adverse reaction in India. There is an overreaction in some sections about intolerance in India. We must learn to trust the Indian Muslim instead of assuming he will be influenced by events and thought processes or ideologies in Pakistan. In so doing we challenge his intelligence and doubt his loyalties. In Pakistan they demanded the funeral of Taseer be boycotted because he was a liberal, in India the Indian Muslim leaders refused to allow the killers of Mumbai 26/11 be buried on Indian soil because they were terrorists. That is the difference between them and us.

True there is a fringe element in India as in most democratic societies but it does not endanger the state in the manner it has in Pakistan where it is no longer a fringe element but may well have become mainstream. In fact, extreme belief has been state sponsored in Pakistan; not so in India. The trick is to marginalise the extreme fringe but not to frighten the mainstream. Reaction here tends to lose touch with Indian realities and creates more discord. Careless off the cuff remarks are more responsible for this sort of thing and do not make for responsible commentary. By Vikram Sood(ANI)
23108  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tea Party in NH on: January 22, 2011, 03:04:05 PM
Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Sat, January 22, 2011 -- 3:44 PM ET
-----

Tea Party Supporter Chosen to Lead New Hampshire Republicans

Jack Kimball, a Tea Party activist who ran for governor of
New Hampshire last year, was selected on Saturday to be the
new chairman of the Republican party in the state. He
defeated Juliana Bergeron, who had the backing of John H.
Sununu, the former governor and departing party chairman.

With the state's first-in-the-nation primary just over a year
away, Mr. Kimball's victory could further strengthen the role
of Tea Party members and possibly influence how presidential
candidates approach the state in the coming months.

Traditionally, party chairmen in New Hampshire remain neutral
in presidential primaries. But Mr. Kimball said recently that
the new party chairman should let presidential candidates
know that New Hampshire Republicans want their party to "get
back to its conservative values and stay there."

Read More:
http://www.nytimes.com?emc=na
23109  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: January 22, 2011, 02:54:41 PM
Grateful for the two nice young purples I rolled with last night.  Grateful for wonderful times with my children.  Grateful the boss let us rearrange the living room furniture so we have play room-- including playing with Conrad's "Kinect" game (It's like Wii, but much, much better).  Grateful for coming to a difficult decision about someone.
23110  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: January 22, 2011, 02:45:14 PM
GM:

Not sure why you put that in this thread huh

Anyway, with his permission here are some comments from Dr. Tricky Dog (PhD in Physics):

Indeed a fascinating consequence - I hadn't heard of this result previously.  What is semantically challenging though is the meaning of "reality does not exist when we are not observing it".  Words like "reality", "exist" and "observing" are somewhat misleading when their physics meaning is compared to our lay meaning.  What do we think someone is saying when that is said?  You have to have deep specialists knowledge to attach correct meaning to the words.

The problem with quantum mechanical contexts is that they are so anti-intuitive that it is difficult to talk about them at all (and still
make any sense).  The implications are subtle at best.  Particularly as none of these QM effects have been shown to apply at macroscopic scales - they get washed out on the way to big - observations about grains of sand don't apply to beaches.

And yet tremendously fascinating stuff.  The closer we look at the fabric of reality, the more we come to the conclusion that there are no threads in the fabric.  At least, not in the conventional sense.

23111  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Conflict of interest; Roads in the Constitution on: January 22, 2011, 12:25:24 AM
I saw that BD.  I could be wrong but my initial reaction is typical liberal/progressive hypocrisy.  Where are they when the libs meet with the ACLU et al?

Returning to whether the C. grants the Federal Govt the right to build roads, etc. this passage from "A Patriot's History of the United States" by Schweikart and Allen (recommended by Glenn Beck grin ) on page 233 says

"Like Calhoun and other disaffected Jacksonians, Harrison had once stood with the Democrats, and shared their states' rights sentiments.  Also like Calhoun, he thought the federal government well within its constitutional rights to improve harbors, build roads, and otherwise fund internal improvements."
23112  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Let us shed a tear on: January 21, 2011, 09:08:28 PM
Updated Keith Olbermann, the highest-rated host on MSNBC, announced abruptly on the air Friday night that he is leaving “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” immediately.

The host, who has had a stormy relationship with the management of the network for some time, especially since he was suspended for two days last November, came to an agreement with NBC’s corporate management late this week to settle his contract and step down.

In a closing statement on his show, Mr. Olbermann said simply that it would be the last edition of the program. He offered no explanation other than on occasion, the show had become too much for him.

Mr. Olbermann thanked his viewers for their enthusiastic support of a show that had “gradually established its position as anti-establishment.”

In a statement, MSNBC said : “MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract. The last broadcast of ‘Countdown with Keith Olbermann’ will be this evening. MSNBC thanks Keith for his integral role in MSNBC’s success and we wish him well in his future endeavors.”

MSNBC announced that “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” would replace “Countdown” at 8 p.m., with “The Ed Show” with Ed Schultz taking Mr. O’Donnell’s slot at 10 p.m. Mr. Olbermann did not discuss any future plans, but NBC executives said one term of his settlement will keep him from moving to another network for an extended period of time.

NBC executives said the move had nothing to do with the impending takeover of NBC Universal by Comcast.

Mr. Olbermann had signed a four-year contract extension in 2008 for an estimated $30 million. He hosted “Countdown” at 8 p.m. since 2003 and it became the foundation of the channel’s surge to status as the second-ranked news channel on cable television, after Fox News, surpassing the one-time leader CNN.

Mr. Olbermann’s outspoken, and sometimes controversial, support of liberal positions and Democratic candidates redefined MSNBC from a neutral news channel to one with that openly sought to offer viewers on the left their own voice, much as Fox News has done so successfully for an audience of viewers with conservative opinions.

Mr. Olbermann challenged Fox News publicly on numerous occasions, especially the top-rated cable host Bill O’Reilly, whom he regularly tweaked and frequently placed in the top circle of infamy on a segment Mr. Olbermann called “The Worst Person in the World.”

Ratings for his show grew, though he never really approached the level of popularity Mr. O’Reilly has achieved. But he helped grow the MSNBC liberal brand by his frequent invitations to one guest, Rachel Maddow, who was eventually offered her own show on MSNBC.

Ms. Maddow became the 9 p.m. host following Mr. Olbermann and has built such a successful show that some NBC executives felt less concerned about losing Mr. Olbermann as the signature star of the network.

According to several senior network executives, NBC’s management had been close to firing Mr. Olbermann on previous occasions, most recently in November after he revealed that he had made donations to several Democratic candidates during the 2010 congressional elections — one of them, coincidentally, was Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who has been the subject of many of his recent shows after being shot in an assassination attempt in Tucson on Jan. 8.

The top MSNBC executive, Phil Griffin, said the donations had violated NBC News standards and ordered Mr. Olbermann suspended. His fans responded with a petition to reinstate him that attracted over 250,000 signatures. Mr. Olbermann returned two days later. In his response he said the rules on donations had been “inconsistently applied.”

.
23113  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Bear Bryant on: January 21, 2011, 05:21:24 PM
It Don't Cost Nuthin'


At a Touchdown Club meeting many years ago, Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant told the following story:

I had just been named the new head coach at Alabama and was off in my old car down in South Alabama recruiting a prospect who was supposed to have been a pretty good player, and I was having trouble finding the place.

Getting hungry, I spied an old cinderblock building with a small sign out front that simply said "Restaurant." I pull up, go in, and every head in the place turns to stare at me. Seems I'm the only white fella in the place. But the food smelled good, so I skip a table and go up to a cement bar and sit. A big ole man in a tee shirt and cap comes over and says, "What do you need?"

I told him I needed lunch and what did they have today?

He says, "You probably won't like it here. Today we're having chitlins, collard greens and black-eyed peas with cornbread. I'll bet you don't even know what chitlins are, do you?"(small intestines of hogs prepared as food in the deep South)

I looked him square in the eye and said, "I'm from Arkansas , and I've probably eaten a mile of them. Sounds like I'm in the right place."

They all smiled as he left to serve me up a big plate. When he comes back he says, "You ain't from around here then?"

I explain I'm the new football coach up in Tuscaloosa at the University and I'm here to find whatever that boy's name was, and he says, "Yeah I've heard of him, he's supposed to be pretty good." And he gives me directions to the school so I can meet him and his coach.

As I'm paying up to leave, I remember my manners and leave a tip, not too big to be flashy, but a good one, and he told me lunch was on him, but I told him for a lunch that good, I felt I should pay. The big man asked me if I had a photograph or something he could hang up to show I'd been there. I was so new that I didn't have any yet. It really wasn't that big a thing back then to be asked for, but I took a napkin and wrote his name and address on it and told him I'd get him one.

I met the kid I was looking for later that afternoon and I don't remember his name, but do remember I didn't think much of him when I met him.

I had wasted a day, or so I thought. When I got back to Tuscaloosa late that night, I took that napkin from my shirt pocket and put it under my keys so I wouldn't forget it. Back then I was excited that anybody would want a picture of me. The next day we found a picture and I wrote on it, "Thanks for the best lunch I've ever had."

Now let's go a whole buncha years down the road. Now we have black players at Alabama and I'm back down in that part of the country scouting an offensive lineman we sure needed. Y'all remember, (and I forget the name, but it's not important to the story), well anyway, he's got two friends going to Auburn and he tells me he's got his heart set on Auburn too, so I leave empty handed and go on to see some others while I'm down there.

Two days later, I'm in my office in Tuscaloosa and the phone rings and it's this kid who just turned me down, and he says, "Coach, do you still want me at Alabama ?"

And I said, "Yes I sure do." And he says OK, he'll come.

And I say, "Well son, what changed your mind?"

And he said, "When my grandpa found out that I had a chance to play for you and said no, he pitched a fit and told me I wasn't going nowhere but Alabama, and wasn't playing for nobody but you. He thinks a lot of you and has ever since y'all met."

Well, I didn't know his granddad from Adam's housecat so I asked him who his granddaddy was and he said, "You probably don't remember him, but you ate in his restaurant your first year at Alabama and you sent him a picture that he's had hung in that place ever since. That picture's his pride and joy and he still tells everybody about the day that Bear Bryant came in and had chitlins with him..."

"My grandpa said that when you left there, he never expected you to remember him or to send him that picture, but you kept your word to him and to Grandpa, that's everything. He said you could teach me more than football and I had to play for a man like you, so I guess I'm going to."

I was floored. But I learned that the lessons my mama taught me were always right. It don't cost nuthin' to be nice. It don't cost nuthin' to do the right thing most of the time, and it costs a lot to lose your good name by breaking your word to someone.

When I went back to sign that boy, I looked up his Grandpa and he's still running that place, but it looks a lot better now. And he didn't have chitlins that day, but he had some ribs that would make Dreamland proud. I made sure I posed for a lot of pictures; and don't think I didn't leave some new ones for him, too, along with a signed football.

I made it clear to all my assistants to keep this story and these lessons in mind when they're out on the road. If you remember anything else from me, remember this. It really doesn't cost anything to be nice, and the rewards can be unimaginable.

Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant
23114  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: January 21, 2011, 02:39:42 PM
Doug:

Thank you for that post.   I confess I do not care for WND as a site, even though many of its biases are similar to some of mine because I think it often careless with inconvenient truths so I greatly appreciate your thorough and fair minded summary and analysis.

Marc
23115  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Stratfor: Be prepared! on: January 21, 2011, 02:23:53 PM
Woof All:
   Those of you in the DBMA Association will recognize below in what Stratfor calls "the flyaway pack" what we call the BOB "the Bug Out Bag/Bin" and may remember the vid-clip wherein I show the contents of my BOB for my truck.  I have an everyday Bin in my truck which includes a serious trauma kit as well as a first aid kit, basic tools, rope, duct tape, baby powder (if you have ever been stuck in a stopped LA freeway for a few hours on a hot day you will understand) toothbrush and paste, turkey jerky, a siphon, etc.

Forgive me the moment of advertising but in the coming months you will be seeing a major expansion of what we offer on our website in this regard.

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


Last week we saw the government collapse in Tunisia, and we’ve seen previous issues of a security nature, such as the earthquake in Haiti as well as the Israeli-Hezbollah war in Lebanon, and we thought it would be a good time to discuss the importance of ex-pats having a plan in the event of a country collapse.

As an ex-pat, when you arrive in the country, the first thing you should do is register with your respective foreign embassy. In essence, the U.S. has a system called the Warden program, which alerts you to local security issues as well as provides a communications network in times of trouble. The notification process for the Warden system is an umbrella notification from the local U.S. Embassy to specific people in the community known as wardens. If you think of this in concept of a spoke and a hub, where the notifications are pushed out to the local warden representative, who in turn makes a broadcast to those individuals that he or she are responsible for.

For emergency notification purposes from a communications standpoint, think about the use of message text capabilities that at times still operate when you’re unable to get a cellular connection, as well as satellite phones. It’s very important to have a flyaway kit or a backpack that you have prepared, that you can grab and go, that’s going to contain U.S. currency, local currency, food, water, a communications device such as a satellite phone, maps, and possibly even a weapon, depending upon your location. These items can be very hopeful in assisting you in getting out of the country.

One other aspect to think about is in event of the airports closing, which happens, you need to have other routes of travel to get out, such as boat, roads or trains perhaps, and that’s going to vary depending upon the geography and the nature of your country that you’re operating in as an ex-pat. At times, your local friends in the community may be able to help you either get out of the contrary or safe haven for periods of time, but again, that’s going to depend upon the country that you’re in and the risk that they may take by safe-having you. What I have seen historically over the years is individuals fail to make a plan and then there’ll be some sort of collapse of government or major terrorist attack, and at that point it’s too late. From your perspective as an ex-pat, you have to have some sort of gauge as to when you think it’s time to grab your kit and go.

23116  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Peyton Quinn on: January 21, 2011, 02:03:24 PM
My friend Peyton Quinn, author of the witty and wise "Bouncer's Guide to Barroom Brawling" is one of the originals of the reality-based self-defense movement (e.g. the developer of the "Bulletman") and the Head of the RMCAT (Rocky Mountain something) based in Colorado.

Here is a recent piece of his-- sorry for the weird formatting:
======================================
The Visual Cortex: Why sometimes we see what is not there, and sometimes miss what is there.

I have some cats and occasionally out of the corner of my eye I will think I see one for an instant, but then I turn and see it is just a black t-shirt on the floor. But for that flash of an instant I actually 'saw' an image of my black cat.

If you give it some thought surely all of you have had such an experience. That is where you momentarily identified something visually, often in your peripheral vision, and then an instant later you realized it was not what you thought you saw at first.

We must keep in mind that the act of vision actually occurs exclusively inside the total darkness of the human skull and brain. All the visual data from our eyes, which our only windows to the outside world of sight, are interpreted, identified and defined by our visual cortex. But there is even more to it than this.

As children we begin to develop the "pattern recognition" of things. That is a quick identification of people's faces, other objects, food etc. These patterns are then stored in the neural nets of our visual cortex and this is how we quickly recognize objects and people etc.

It is during this critcal childhood period that we develop right or left eye dominace, or right or left handedness or leggedness etc. I make sure to observe RMCAT attendnats for which is the dominat eye, leg and hand.

To give a good example of how this works there are cases where children (under the age of six especially) lost there vision, but it was restored many years later and in some cases as much as 40 years later.

In these cases the people have to then learn to "see". That is their 'vision is restored' but they can't identify anything or recognize anyone yet. They can't yet organize the images into any meaningful or coherent pattern. This is because their "bank of images" stored in their visual cortex has not had any real and coherent "deposits" made in it because their vision was lost at such an early age

While it is true that we can identify things we have never seen before this is achieved largely through interpolation of things we have already seen before. And sometimes we can get it wrong too.

An experienced homicide detective some years ago allowed me to read his reports of several witnesses testimony to a violent, criminal act they had seen. It was apparent to me that each whiteness told a somewhat different story, and some told a very different story about what they thought they had seen.  The detective then told me:  "Peyton, if 10 people witness an act of violence, then you will get 10 different stories"

Having laid out this basic conceptual foundation of visual perception let's now look at its practical impact on self-defense and environmental awareness.

From a training point of view if you have never seen a person pull a gun or knife on you, then you might not 'see them' pull a gun or knife on you immediately if they do so for real. The same goes for the 'sucker punch'.

In our RMCAT classes I have seen such blatant examples of this and yet it still can truly surprise me!  For example in the scenario based firearms course me and a co-instructor were walking out from behind the Shoji wall for a scenario with an attendant.The course had already gone through the legal module and so they knew the conditions necessary for them to even lawfully present (display) their gun.

  This particular time my co-instructor's blank firing pistol accidentally fell out of his belt where it was concealed in the small of his back. This was not 20 feet from the student. Yet that student did not even see or respond to this and my co-instructor calmly turned around and picked up the pistol and slipped it back into his belt.Now since most shootings occur in dim light we were training in dim light too but even so the video showed it so clearly that the student could not imagine how or why he did not see it when he later watched that video. He was flabbergasted.

In the portal of safety drill in the Hand to Hand fighting course we also see something similar. In this drill the student has a soft bat and he or she is to only produce the bat and strike at the instructor's hand when the instructor produces a large bowie knife for an 'attack'.

 
 I have seen police and even very well known martial arts people totally miss the large shiny Bowie knife being drawn on them from 10 feet away. Now part of this is because they were adrenalized and thus tended to 'tunnel into the face' of the person who might be verbally threatening them.



But there is also the fact that they have never had an irate person come up to them and draw a big bowie knife on them before either. So they did not immediately 'see it" happen. Their visual cortex may not have an 'instant decode' for this drawing of a bowie knife in this context.

 
 

 


Keep in mind that even 'missing' seeing the knife for a half second can be critical or might I say 'fatal' in real situation.



Let's look at this idea further. A boxer trains under adrenal stress. He learns to 'duck a shot' in training because of being previously hit by some shots.



This is "State Dependent Learning'. His 'non-self-aware' mind sees the preceding cues that indicate the punch is coming and his 'body' ducks reflexively.



Because he is adrenalized to some degree, and more so when he is hit in his early training, his visual cortex has stored the images of what precedes the impact of the blow. This can be a shoulder dip, the footwork of his opponent etc. The boxer might not be able to really articulate all these cues that his body responds to because they are not acted on by his self-aware mind.



But realize this is because these visual cues are no longer need to be processed in the self aware mind at all, they become instant 'reflexes' of the adrenal mind. You don't need to 'think' to jerk your hand of a hot stove. This is how we train at RMCAT,through state dependent leaqrning, you just don't get hit as hard as a boxer!



Now consider professional boxers a bit further for a moment.



Let's ignore the fact that you can't hit somebody in the head with a closed fist and not break the bones in your hands without the protection of tapped hands and a boxing glove. And even then almost all the 'great boxers' have broken bones in their hands in the prize ring.



Putting that aside though, the boxing training method is far superior to the Asian martial arts training methodology. This is largely because of this very dynamic, adrenal stress driven development of full power striking and the automatic reflex evasion of blows.



I think I can safely say that the average Western trained boxer (be it in an actual fight or an athletic contest) will defeat the average Asian methodology trained martial arts person. It isn't the 'techniques" that are important here at all, it is the training methodology.



But let's be frank, how many martial arts people are willing to undergo the rigors of Western boxing training? The answer is some, but not many.



Consequently, adrenal stress, scenario based training has some very significant advantages over any other training methodology for self-defense.



First the reflex is developed through this adrenal stress conditioning. It a real attack it will thus be the adrenal mind that responds and not the self-aware mind. Hence the response is instant like a boxer slipping a blow.



Second, the adrenal stress driven scenarios begin to establish new 'patterns in the visual cortex' of any impending attack or the 'attack in progresses'. Keep in mind a 'verbal woof' imitates the fight.



These cues are mainly visual but they are also auditory. And adrenal stress scenario based training allows these cues to have been 'seen' and heard before and thus 'recognized' and linked to an instant and effective motor response.



You will much more likely spot a 'sucker punch' coming if you have been sucker punched before. Likewise, after adrenal stress scenario based training you will spot the knife, the gun, the stick the 'tire iron attack' and much earlier and thus have a decent chance to avoid it.



Look at this on the very simplest level, 'It is hard to avoid something you have never seen before'.



Yet I know that we can legitimately expand on this concept great too.

Because as we increase our personal awareness, that is both an awareness of our 'external environment' and our 'internal environment' we have also enhance our entire ability and depth of perceptions of the 'world' and the people in it.



Consider that for 22 years now I have seen RMCAT attendants come back after a year or several years (17% of all rmcat attendats do come back in 3 years or less) and they are better, and at times very much better than when they left the course the first time, years ago. Yet they did no training at all in between.



My theory is it takes at least 3 months or more for the new neural nets to form and 'fire fully and properly" that are aquiered during the adrenal stress training. So when they come back, all the new neural pathways are a "go" and fire the needed motor responce (knee strike, a duck of a blow, etc) immediattely and powerfully in the new scenarios. So naturally they fight better and even de-escallte better.



Our external environment might include our noting raised voices signaling a potential physical conflict. Alternatively it might be a particular facial expression of someone we are negotiating with in business that tips us off to something we would otherwise miss perceiving. Or it could be something less subtle that we spot immediately, like the pistol in the hand of the 'determined man' just walking into the fast food place we are at.



Our internal environment is our 'gut feeling'.  With increased awareness we learn to trust our gut feelings too. We can do so partly because we have learned to cultivate and polish those perceptions that we call our 'gut feeling'.  My maxim here is "If there is any doubt, then there is no doubt, something isn't right, now be quite alert for what that is!"



The human brain's operation is almost mystical in its power. All the computer power on the planet harnessed all at once does not match the computational power or speed of the human brain. Yet as we see, the brain can 'get it wrong' sometimes.



Remember our previous article on the size of the moon for example. Our brain sees at as being larger on the horizon, but smaller in the higher night sky. But this is an illusion of the brain's processing. If you measure both moon's appearances, even by holding your finger tip to the width of the apparent image, then you will see that though it looks huge on the horizon or small when high in the sky, your finger measures the same width in either case.



Yet is quite 'obvious" that the moon is apparently much larger and more yellow when on the horizon and yet smaller and whiter in the high night sky right?



Yes, this condition is apparent at once but this is only an illusion and your brain has "got it wrong". Your visual cortex has thus been totally and convincingly 'fooled into seeing what is not there'.



An important part of self-defense training, and in fact, personal self-improvement in general is learning to re-train your brain to immediately see things just as they are. This means forgoing all denial and seeing with a 'non-reactive' mind or as the Japanese call it "mushien' which means 'no mind' or 'one mind'.
23117  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: January 21, 2011, 01:36:05 PM


The (In)Humanity of it all:
http://www.pjtv.com/?cmd=mpg&mpid=105&load=4753
23118  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Daniel Pearl on: January 21, 2011, 01:27:43 PM


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/world/documents/daniel-pearl-project/
23119  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rep. Study Committee: Spending Reduction Act of 2011 on: January 21, 2011, 12:07:57 PM
Members of the conservative Republican Study Committee in Congress have introduced the "Spending Reduction Act of 2011," a plan that lays out specific budget cuts amounting to $2.5 trillion over the next decade. The number sounds big, but it represents less than 10 percent of annual spending. The bill, according to Paul Bedard of US News, "would reduce current spending for non-defense, non-homeland security and non-veterans programs to 2008 levels, eliminate federal control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, cut the federal workforce by 15 percent through attrition, and cut some $80 billion by blocking implementation of Obamacare." It's a good first step, but it's also just that -- a first step
23120  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-China on: January 21, 2011, 10:47:45 AM
Alright gents, lets take this to the Education thread on the SCH forum please. smiley
23121  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / A kidnapping in Mexico on: January 21, 2011, 10:41:36 AM
Summary
Oliver Bernard Tschumi, a Swiss citizen, was confirmed kidnapped Jan. 18. Tschumi, a watch salesman and an importer of precious metals, disappeared while walking his dog; a group later demanded $300,000 for his release. The incident is a reminder of the need to practice situational awareness and to take other precautionary measures.

Analysis
The Swiss Embassy in Mexico City confirmed Jan. 18 that 50-year-old Swiss citizen Oliver Bernard Tschumi was kidnapped Dec. 19, 2010, in the city of Ahuatepec, Morelos state, while he was walking his dogs. The group holding Tschumi reportedly has demanded $300,000 for his return. An initial payment of $10,000 was made on an unspecified date by a business associate of Tschumi, who left a pair of duffel bags containing $5,000 each on an overpass in Ocotepec, Morelos state. According to media reports, the kidnappers have given no proof that Tschumi is still alive.

Tschumi, a businessman, reportedly lived in the Cuernavaca area of Morelos for 20 years, selling Swiss watches throughout Latin America and importing gold and other precious metals. He has a 9-year-old daughter and was reportedly newly married after going through a divorce in 2004. The nature of Tschumi’s business already raised his profile among criminals in the area. That he dealt with jewelry and precious metals lead to the (likely correct) assumption that Tschumi was wealthy or at least had access to large amounts of money.

Media reports also indicate that Tschumi was set in his ways, with a fairly predictable routine — most notably a predetermined, frequently used dog-walking route (along which his eyeglasses were found after his disappearance). This type of behavior can make an individual or his or her family easy targets for enterprising criminals. With knowledge of a target’s route, criminals can analyze and plot particular points along that route where they can gain a quick tactical advantage against the target at predetermined choke points and channels where the victim has very limited options beyond compliance.

In Tschumi’s case, it is clear that his situational awareness was poor. Even amateur criminals conduct at least some form of preoperational surveillance before attacking a target, while professional kidnapping gangs in Mexico can be expected to make even more extensive preparations. A common purse-snatcher may only surveil a target for a few seconds, while kidnapping gangs have been known to surveil potential targets for several months. Tschumi’s daily routine, in particular his dog-walking route, proved to be the weak point his kidnappers chose to exploit, a weak point they determined via pre-operational surveillance.

Practicing proper situational awareness can help one detect criminal surveillance of oneself or one’s family, home or office. This does not mean being a constant state of paranoia, but rather simply being aware of one’s personal surroundings. By paying attention to one’s surroundings, one naturally notices abnormal behavior.

In a place like Mexico, where the risk of being targeted by criminals is much higher than most regions, steps should be taken to identify potential criminal surveillance and prevent becoming the victim of a crime. Part of this includes varying the times and routes used for daily activities such as daily dog walks and commutes to and from the office. Varying times and routes (along with conducting simple route analysis to identify potential choke points and attack sites) is one of several ways to help identify possible criminal pre-operational surveillance, giving one the ability to address potential issues long before any actual attempt and to mitigate future risk.

Kidnapping-for-ransom operations are a real threat to anyone living or working in Mexico, not just the very wealthy. Pressure applied to criminal groups by the Mexican government’s struggle against drug cartels has indirectly led to more and more drug gangs targeting civilians like Tschumi to supplement revenue lost in the government offensive. The general lack of law and order and the focus of security forces on drug-trafficking organizations also has created space for other criminals to operate.

Mexico has overtaken Colombia as the kidnapping capital of the world, with more than 8,000 reported cases in 2009. According some estimates, up to 70 percent of kidnappings never are reported to the authorities. Maintaining proper situational awareness and taking precautionary measures like varying daily routes can help individuals mitigate this risk.

23122  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: January 21, 2011, 10:06:10 AM
Meanwhile BO's poll numbers are up  to 50-53% favorable , , ,
23123  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Steyn: Dependence Day 2 on: January 21, 2011, 07:33:12 AM
Not so long ago, Geert Wilders, the Dutch parliamentarian and soi-disant Islamophobe, flew into London and promptly got shipped back to the Netherlands as a threat to public order. After the British Government had reconsidered its stupidity, he was permitted to return and give his speech at the House of Lords—and, as foreigners often do, he quoted Winston Churchill, under the touchingly naive assumption that this would endear him to the natives. Whereas, of course, to almost all members of Britain’s governing elite, quoting Churchill approvingly only confirms that you’re an extremist lunatic. I had the honor a couple of years back of visiting President Bush in the White House and seeing the bust of Churchill on display in the Oval Office. When Barack Obama moved in, he ordered Churchill’s bust be removed and returned to the British. Its present whereabouts are unclear. But, given what Sir Winston had to say about Islam in his book on the Sudanese campaign, the bust was almost certainly arrested at Heathrow and deported as a threat to public order.

Somewhere along the way a quintessentially British sense of self-deprecation curdled into a psychologically unhealthy self-loathing. A typical foot-of-the-page news item from The Daily Telegraph:

A leading college at Cambridge University has renamed its controversial colonial-themed Empire Ball after accusations that it was “distasteful.” The £136-a-head Emmanuel College ball was advertised as a celebration of “the Victorian commonwealth and all of its decadences.

 Students were urged to “party like it’s 1899” and organisers promised a trip through the Indian Raj, Australia, the West Indies, and 19th century Hong Kong.

But anti-fascist groups said the theme was “distasteful and insensitive” because of the British Empire’s historical association with slavery, repression and exploitation.  The Empire Ball Committee, led by presidents Richard Hilton and Jenny Unwin, has announced the word “empire” will be removed from all promotional material.

The way things are going in Britain, it would make more sense to remove the word “balls.”

It’s interesting to learn that “anti-fascism” now means attacking the British Empire, which stood alone against fascism in that critical year between the fall of France and Germany’s invasion of Russia. And it’s even sadder to have to point out the most obvious fatuity in those “anti-fascist groups” litany of evil—“the British Empire’s association with slavery.” The British Empire’s principal association with slavery is that it abolished it. Before William Wilberforce, the British Parliament, and the brave men of the Royal Navy took up the issue, slavery was an institution regarded by all cultures around the planet as as permanent a feature of life as the earth and sky. Britain expunged it from most of the globe.

It is pathetic but unsurprising how ignorant all these brave “anti-fascists” are. But there is a lesson here not just for Britain but for the rest of us, too: When a society loses its memory, it descends inevitably into dementia. As I always try to tell my American neighbors, national decline is at least partly psychological—and therefore what matters is accepting the psychology of decline. Thus, Hayek’s greatest insight in The Road to Serfdom, which he wrote with an immigrant’s eye on the Britain of 1944:

There is one aspect of the change in moral values brought about by the advance of collectivism which at the present time provides special food for thought. It is that the virtues which are held less and less in esteem and which consequently become rarer are precisely those on which the British people justly prided themselves and in which they were generally agreed to excel.

 The virtues possessed by Anglo-Saxons in a higher degree than most other people, excepting only a few of the smaller nations, like the Swiss and the Dutch, were independence and self-reliance, individual initiative and local responsibility, the successful reliance on voluntary activity, noninterference with one’s neighbor and tolerance of the different and queer, respect for custom and tradition, and a healthy suspicion of power and authority.

Within little more than half a century, almost every item on the list had been abandoned, from “independence and self-reliance” (some 40 percent of Britons receive state handouts) to “a healthy suspicion of power and
authority”—the reflex response now to almost any passing inconvenience is to demand the government “do something.” American exceptionalism would have to be awfully exceptional to suffer a similar expansion of government without a similar descent, in enough of the citizenry, into chronic dependency.

What happened? Britain, in John Foster Dulles’s famous postwar assessment, had lost an empire but not yet found a role. Actually, Britain didn’t so much “lose” the Empire: it evolved peacefully into the modern Commonwealth, which is more agreeable than the way these things usually go. Nor is it clear that modern Britain wants a role, of any kind. Rather than losing an empire, it seems to have lost its point.

This has consequences. To go back to Cambridge University’s now non-imperial Empire Ball, if the cream of British education so willingly prostrates itself before ahistorical balderdash, what then of the school system’s more typical charges? In cutting off two generations of students from their cultural inheritance, the British state has engaged in what we will one day come to see as a form of child abuse, one that puts a huge question mark over the future. Why be surprised that legions of British Muslims sign up for the Taliban? These are young men who went to school in Luton and West Bromwich and learned nothing of their country of nominal citizenship other than that it’s responsible for racism, imperialism, colonialism, and all the other bad -isms of the world. If that’s all you knew of Britain, why would you feel any allegiance to Queen and country? And what if you don’t have Islam to turn to? The transformation of the British people is, in its own malign way, a remarkable achievement. Raised in schools that teach them nothing, they nevertheless pick up the gist of the matter, which is that their society is a racket founded on various historical injustices. The virtues Hayek admired? Ha! Strictly for suckers.

When William Beveridge laid out his blueprint for the modern British welfare state in 1942, his goal was the “abolition of want,” to be accomplished by “cooperation between the State and the individual.” In attempting to insulate the citizenry from the vicissitudes of fate, Sir William succeeded beyond his wildest dreams: Want has been all but abolished. Today, fewer and fewer Britons want to work, want to marry, want to raise children, want to lead a life of any purpose or dignity. Churchill called his book The History of the English-Speaking Peoples—not the English-Speaking Nations. The extraordinary role played by those nations in the creation and maintenance of the modern world derived from their human capital.

What happens when, as a matter of state policy, you debauch your human capital? The United Kingdom has the highest drug use in Europe, the highest incidence of sexually transmitted disease, the highest number of single mothers; marriage is all but defunct, except for toffs, upscale gays, and Muslims. For Americans, the quickest way to understand modern Britain is to look at what LBJ’s Great Society did to the black family and imagine it applied to the general population. One-fifth of British children are raised in homes in which no adult works. Just under 900,000 people have been off sick for over a decade, claiming “sick benefits,” week in, week out, for ten years and counting. “Indolence,” as Machiavelli understood, is the greatest enemy of a free society, but rarely has any state embraced this oldest temptation as literally as Britain. There is almost nothing you can’t get the government to pay for.

Plucked at random from The Daily Mail: A man of twenty-one with learning disabilities has been granted taxpayers’ money to fly to Amsterdam and have sex with a prostitute. Why not? His social worker says sex is a “human right” and that his client, being a virgin, is entitled to the support of the state in claiming said right. Fortunately, a £520 million program was set up by Her Majesty’s Government to “empower those with disabilities.” “He’s planning to do more than just have his end away,” explained the social worker.

“The girls in Amsterdam are far more protected than those on U.K. streets. Let him have some fun—I’d want to. Wouldn’t you prefer that we can control this, guide him, educate him, support him to understand the process and ultimately end up satisfying his needs in a secure, licensed place where his happiness and growth as a person is the most important thing? Refusing to offer him this service would be a violation of his human rights.”

And so a Dutch prostitute is able to boast that among her clients is the British Government. Talk about outsourcing: given the reputation of English womanhood, you’d have thought this would be the one job that wouldn’t have to be shipped overseas. But, as Dutch hookers no doubt say, lie back and think of England—and the check they’ll be mailing you.

After Big Government, after global retreat, after the loss of liberty, there is only remorseless civic disintegration. The statistics speak for themselves. The number of indictable offences per thousand people was 2.4 in 1900, climbed gradually to 9.7 in 1954, and then rocketed to 109.4 by 1992. And that official increase understates the reality: Many crimes have been decriminalized (shoplifting, for example), and most crime goes unreported, and most reported crime goes uninvestigated, and most investigated crime goes unsolved, and almost all solved crime merits derisory punishment. Yet the law-breaking is merely a symptom of a larger rupture. At a gathering like this one, John O’Sullivan, recalling his own hometown, said that when his grandmother ran a pub in the Liverpool docklands in the years around the First World War, there was only one occasion when someone swore in her presence. And he subsequently apologized.

“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” But viewed from 2010 England the day before yesterday is an alternative universe—or a lost civilization. Last year, the “Secretary of State for Children” (both an Orwellian and Huxleyite office) announced that 20,000 “problem families” would be put under twenty-four-hour cctv supervision in their homes. As the Daily Express reported, “They will be monitored to ensure that children attend school, go to bed on time and eat proper meals.” Orwell’s government “telescreen” in every home is close to being a reality, although even he would have dismissed as too obviously absurd a nanny state that literally polices your bedtime.

For its worshippers, Big Government becomes a kind of religion: the state as church. After the London Tube bombings, Gordon Brown began mulling over the creation of what he called a “British equivalent of the U.S. Fourth of July,” a new national holiday to bolster British identity. The Labour Party think-tank, the Fabian Society, proposed that the new “British Day” should be July 5th, the day the National Health Service was created. Because the essence of contemporary British identity is waiting two years for a hip operation. A national holiday every July 5th: They can call it Dependence Day.

Does the fate of the other senior Anglophone power hold broader lessons for the United States? It’s not so hard to picture a paternalist technocrat of the Michael Bloomberg school covering New York in cctv ostensibly for terrorism but also to monitor your transfats. Permanence is the illusion of every age. But you cannot wage a sustained ideological assault on your own civilization without profound consequence. Without serious course correction, we will see the end of the Anglo-American era, and the eclipse of the powers that built the modern world. Even as America’s spendaholic government outspends not only America’s ability to pay for itself but, by some measures, the world’s; even as it follows Britain into the dank pit of transgenerational dependency, a failed education system, and unsustainable entitlements; even as it makes less and less and mortgages its future to its rivals for cheap Chinese trinkets, most Americans assume that simply because they’re American they will be insulated from the consequences. There, too, are lessons from the old country. Cecil Rhodes distilled the assumptions of generations when he said that to be born a British subject was to win first prize in the lottery of life. On the eve of the Great War, in his play Heartbreak House, Bernard Shaw turned the thought around to taunt a British ruling class too smug and self-absorbed to see what was coming. “Do you think,” he wrote, “the laws of God will be suspended in favor of England because you were born in it?”

In our time, to be born a citizen of the United States is to win first prize in the lottery of life, and, as Britons did, too many Americans assume it will always be so. Do you think the laws of God will be suspended in favor of America because you were born in it? Great convulsions lie ahead, and at the end of it we may be in a post-Anglosphere world.

Mark Steyn’s most recent book is America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It (Regnery).
 

 
23124  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Steyn: Dependence Day 1 on: January 21, 2011, 07:28:07 AM
January 2011

Dependence Day
by Mark Steyn

On the erosion of personal liberty. Burke was right!


If I am pessimistic about the future of liberty, it is because I am pessimistic about the strength of the English-speaking nations, which have, in profound ways, surrendered to forces at odds with their inheritance. “Declinism” is in the air, but some of us apocalyptic types are way beyond that. The United States is facing nothing so amiable and genteel as Continental-style “decline,” but something more like sliding off a cliff.

In the days when I used to write for Fleet Street, a lot of readers and several of my editors accused me of being anti-British. I’m not. I’m extremely pro-British and, for that very reason, the present state of the United Kingdom is bound to cause distress. So, before I get to the bad stuff, let me just lay out the good. Insofar as the world functions at all, it’s due to the Britannic inheritance. Three-sevenths of the G7 economies are nations of British descent. Two-fifths of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council are—and, by the way, it should be three-fifths: The rap against the Security Council is that it’s the Second World War victory parade preserved in aspic, but, if it were, Canada would have a greater claim to be there than either France or China. The reason Canada isn’t is because a third Anglosphere nation and a second realm of King George VI would have made too obvious a truth usually left unstated—that the Anglosphere was the all but lone defender of civilization and of liberty. In broader geopolitical terms, the key regional powers in almost every corner of the globe are British-derived—from Australia to South Africa to India—and, even among the lesser players, as a general rule you’re better off for having been exposed to British rule than not: Why is Haiti Haiti and Barbados Barbados?

And of course the pre-eminent power of the age derives its political character from eighteenth-century British subjects who took English ideas a little further than the mother country was willing to go. In his
sequel to Churchill’s great work, The History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Andrew Roberts writes:

Just as we do not today differentiate between the Roman Republic and the imperial period of the Julio-Claudians when we think of the Roman Empire, so in the future no-one will bother to make a distinction between the British Empire–led and the American Republic–led periods of English-speaking dominance between the late-eighteenth and the twenty-first centuries. It will be recognized that in the majestic sweep of history they had so much in common—and enough that separated them from everyone else—that they ought to be regarded as a single historical entity, which only scholars and pedants will try to describe separately.

If you step back for a moment, this seems obvious. There is a distinction between the “English-speaking peoples” and the rest of “the West,” and at key moments in human history that distinction has proved critical.

Continental Europe has given us plenty of nice paintings and agreeable symphonies, French wine and Italian actresses and whatnot, but, for all our fetishization of multiculturalism, you can’t help noticing that when it comes to the notion of a political West—one with a sustained commitment to liberty and democracy—the historical record looks a lot more unicultural and, indeed (given that most of these liberal democracies other than America share the same head of state), uniregal. The entire political class of Portugal, Spain, and Greece spent their childhoods living under dictatorships. So did Jacques Chirac and Angela Merkel. We forget how rare on this earth is peaceful constitutional evolution, and rarer still outside the Anglosphere.

Decline starts with the money. It always does. As Jonathan Swift put it:

A baited banker thus desponds,
From his own hand foresees his fall,
They have his soul, who have his bonds;
’Tis like the writing on the wall.

Today the people who have America’s bonds are not the people one would wish to have one’s soul. As Madhav Nalapat has suggested, Beijing believes a half-millennium Western interregnum is about to come to an end, and the world will return to Chinese dominance. I think they’re wrong on the latter, but right on the former. Within a decade, the United States will be spending more of the federal budget on its interest payments than on its military.

According to the cbo’s 2010 long-term budget outlook, by 2020 the U.S. government will be paying between 15 and 20 percent of its revenues in debt interest—whereas defense spending will be down to between 14 and 16 percent. America will be spending more on debt interest than China, Britain, France, Russia, Japan, Germany, Saudi Arabia, India, Italy, South Korea, Brazil, Canada, Australia, Spain, Turkey, and Israel spend on their militaries combined. The superpower will have advanced from a nation of aircraft carriers to a nation of debt carriers.

What does that mean? In 2009, the United States spent about $665 billion on its military, the Chinese about $99 billion. If Beijing continues to buy American debt at the rate it has in recent years, then within a half-decade or so U.S. interest payments on that debt will be covering the entire cost of the Chinese military. This year, the Pentagon issued an alarming report to Congress on Beijing’s massive military build-up, including new missiles, upgraded bombers, and an aircraft-carrier R&D program intended to challenge American dominance in the Pacific. What the report didn’t mention is who’s paying for it. Answer: Mr. and Mrs. America.

Within the next five years, the People’s Liberation Army, which is the largest employer on the planet, bigger even than the U.S. Department of Community-Organizer Grant Applications, will be entirely funded by U.S. taxpayers. When they take Taiwan, suburban families in Connecticut and small businesses in Idaho will have paid for it. The existential questions for America loom now, not decades hence. What we face is not merely the decline and fall of a powerful nation but the collapse of the highly specific cultural tradition that built the modern world. It starts with the money—it always does. But the money is only the symptom. We wouldn’t be this broke if we hadn’t squandered our inheritance in a more profound sense.

Britain’s decline also began with the money. The U.S. “Lend-Lease” program to the United Kingdom ended with the war in September 1946. London paid off the final installment of its debt in December 2006, and the Economic Secretary, Ed Balls, sent with the check a faintly surreal accompanying note thanking Washington for its support during the war. They have our soul who have our bonds: Britain and the world were more fortunate in who had London’s bonds than America is seventy years later. For that reason, in terms of global order, the transition from Britannia ruling the waves to the American era, from the old lion to its transatlantic progeny, was one of the smoothest transfers of power in history—so smooth that most of us aren’t quite sure when it took place. Andrew Roberts likes to pinpoint it to the middle of 1943: One month, the British had more men under arms than the Americans; the next month, the Americans had more men under arms than the British.

The baton of global leadership had been passed. And, if it didn’t seem that way at the time, that’s because it was as near a seamless transition as could be devised—although it was hardly “devised” at all, at least not by London. Yet we live with the benefits of that transition to this day. To take a minor but not inconsequential example, one of the critical links in the post-9/11 Afghan campaign was the British Indian Ocean Territory. As its name would suggest, it’s a British dependency, but it has a U.S. military base—just one of many pinpricks on the map where the Royal Navy’s Pax Britannica evolved into Washington’s Pax Americana with nary a thought: From U.S. naval bases in Bermuda to the Anzus alliance down under to Norad in Cheyenne Mountain, London’s military ties with its empire were assumed, effortlessly, by the United States, and life and global order went on.

One of my favorite lines from the Declaration of Independence never made it into the final text. They were Thomas Jefferson’s parting words to his fellow British subjects across the ocean: “We might have been a free and great people together.” But in the end, when it mattered, they were a free and great people together. Britain was eclipsed by its transatlantic offspring, by a nation with the same language, the same legal inheritance, and the same commitment to liberty.

It’s not likely to go that way next time round. And “next time round” is already under way. We are coming to the end of a two-century Anglosphere dominance, and of a world whose order and prosperity many people think of as part of a broad, general trend but which, in fact, derive from a very particular cultural inheritance and may well not survive it. To point out how English the world is is, of course, a frightfully un-English thing to do. No true Englishman would ever do such a ghastly and vulgar thing. You need some sinister rootless colonial oik like me to do it. But there’s a difference between genial self-effacement and contempt for one’s own inheritance.

23125  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Unresolvable strategic clash? on: January 21, 2011, 07:24:45 AM
The Simmering Strategic Clash of U.S.-China Relations

Chinese President Hu Jintao met with U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday for the long-awaited bilateral summit and grand state dinner. The night before, Hu met with Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Adviser Tom Donilon to discuss strategic issues.

Precious little was novel in Hu’s and Obama’s comments to the press Wednesday, though there were a few points worth noting. Obama stressed that U.S. forward deployment of troops in the Asia-Pacific region brought the stability that was necessary to enable China’s economic rise over the past 30 years — a thinly veiled warning to China against acting as if the United States were an intruder. Obama emphasized, as his generals have, that the United States has a fundamental interest in free and secure passage in international waters in the region, a push against China’s growing military clout in its peripheral seas. But aside from these points, Obama’s tone was relatively meek. Hu, for his part, was also relatively meek. He reiterated the need for ever deepening cooperation — i.e. for the United States not to confront China over disputes — and in particular the need for the United States and China to work multilaterally — i.e. for the United States to not act unilaterally.

“Hence we have an unresolvable strategic clash; tempers are simmering, giving rise to occasional bursts of admonition and threat.”
The lead-up to the summit prepared the world for positivity and good feelings. U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, in a speech last week, advertised an optimistic estimate of the growth of U.S. exports to China and seemed relatively satisfied with progress on China’s appreciation of the yuan. Obama echoed Geithner’s points, showing optimism about China as a model market for his national export initiative, and raising, but not harping on, the undervalued currency. Strategic disagreements were not allowed to interfere with the pageantry. Though the United States has warned that North Korea’s ballistic missiles pose a threat to the homeland, implying that China’s lack of willingness to restrain North Korea is extremely serious, nevertheless both sides signaled their agreement on moving toward resuming international negotiations to contain the problem.

Beijing and Washington have good reason to avoid confrontation. Both are overburdened with problems entirely separate from each other. The United States is consumed with the search for jobs while attempting to restore balances of power in the Middle East and South Asia so it can withdraw from these regions. China’s rapid economic growth is becoming more and more difficult to manage, and a slowdown could trigger a powder keg of social discontent. The United States could force an economic crisis on China, and China can, if not force the United States into crisis, at least make its strategic quandary far more complex (for instance by emboldening North Korea or helping Iran cope with sanctions). Hence, despite nationalist factions at home, Washington and Beijing continue to court stability and functionality.

To give an appearance of improving relations, all China need do is let the yuan crawl a bit upward, make a gigantic $45 billion purchase of U.S. goods (a reasonable use of surplus dollars timed to fit the meeting), promise to make U.S. products eligible for government procurement (which does not mean they will always be in fact procured), and launch another of its many (mostly ineffective) crackdowns on intellectual property theft. All the United States needs do is allow some relatively high-tech goods to be sold (though without loosening export restrictions in general) and refrain from imposing sweeping trade tariffs (though retaining the ability to do so any time). And to show the talks are candid, both sides can also offer faint words of criticism on topics like U.S. dollar hegemony or human rights violations.

This is, for the most part, the basis that U.S.-China relations have operated on since the 1970s — deepening economic interdependence coinciding with military standoffishness, and political mediation to keep the balance. The balance is getting harder to maintain because the economic sphere in which they have managed to get along so well is suffering worse strains as China becomes a larger force and the U.S. views it as a more serious competitor. But it is still being maintained.

But the strategic distrust is sharpening inevitably as China grows into its own. Beijing is compelled by its economic development to seek military tools to secure its vital supply lines and defend its coasts, the historic weak point where foreign states have invaded. With each Chinese move to push out from its narrow geographical confines, the United States perceives a military force gaining in ability to block or interfere with U.S. commercial and military passage and access in the region. This violates a core American strategic need — command of the seas and global reach. But China cannot simply reverse course — it cannot and will not simply halt its economic ascent, or leave its economic and social stability vulnerable to external events that it cannot control. Hence we have an unresolvable strategic clash; tempers are simmering, giving rise to occasional bursts of admonition and threat. Yet unresolvable does not mean immediate, and both sides continue to find ways to delay the inevitable and inevitably unpleasant, whether economic or military in nature, confrontation.

23126  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dealing with the adrenaline dump on: January 21, 2011, 07:22:38 AM
Woof Andraz:

Good to have you with us.  Before turning to the substance, I would interject that there is no need to apologize for your English.   The great majority of the American population would do well to speak it as well as you do cheesy

1)  Mark "Animal" MacYoung and I used to be participants together on Ray Terry's now-defunct "Eskrima Digest".  Always colorful, he has a lot to contribute to understanding in these things.  Next time we get together ask me to tell you a story about how a video of his influenced someone.

Rory Miller was recently brought to my attention by a good friend whose judgment I respect.  On his recommendation I bought Rory's book and found it most worthwhile.  My friend put me in email contact with Rory and we have exchanged emails.  Rory has a seminar here in the LA area the first weekend of February which I would attend but for the fact that I am giving a seminar in Chicago that weekend.  I would post the information here, but I don't have it at hand at the moment.

2) Some 25+ years ago when I trained with Paul Vunak he was very big on what you call "positive self influence" and I apply this idea as best as I can in my own training and teaching.  Here's a simple technique I learned from him in this regard. (If I remember correctly, it came from Manong John Lacoste via Guro Inosanto):  If you stub your toe (or some other such sudden unexpected pain) instead of hopping up and down holding the foot in question, do fighting movements with intent.  If you have something that suddenly startles you, use the adrenaline to do fighting movements with intent.  Of course if there are other people around, use your judgment!

3) Concerning NLP:  While it is not exactly on point to this discussion I'd be curious on your take on what I wrote a number of years ago here:
http://www.dogbrothers.com/pages/articles_ruminations_nlp.html

The Adventure continues!
23127  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Alexander's Essay on: January 20, 2011, 08:06:39 PM
I heard that contrast noted my someone earlier today.  Whoever it was went on to note that the honor of a state dinner usually goes to a few close friends.  

The mindboggling naivete and general pussiness of our Commander in Chief is doing damage for which we are going to pay dearly for a very long time.
===========================
Alexander's Essay – January 20, 2011

U.S. v Red China, Version 3.0
"[Confinement] to a passive commerce would [compel us] to see the profits of our trade snatched from us, to enrich our enemies and persecutors. [Our] spirit of enterprise ... an inexhaustible mine of national wealth, would be stifled and lost; and poverty and disgrace would overspread our country." Alexander Hamilton
Hu Jintao, president of the People's Republic of China (as designated by the central politburo of the Chinese Communist Party, not the Chinese people), arrived in Washington this week for a lavish state soiree with Barack Hussein Obama and company. Hu and Obama will meet eight times, culminating with an extravagant state dinner underwritten by a loan from China.

After China's Olympic coming out party in 2008, Obama kow-towed to Red China with a visit in November 2009. Obama expected Hu to reciprocate in 2010, but the Chinese dictator did not -- a clear signal that Jintao would come here on his own terms in his own time.

It was no small irony that Hu arrived in Washington on a China Air Boeing 747-400, a very large affirmation of U.S. trade relations with China.

Hu's primary objective on this visit is to promote the establishment of a "G-2" partnership, conferring the honor of the new world order upon the two most powerful economies in the world (assuming Europe is not considered one economy, which would demote China to the number three position).

Obama will chatter about human rights, particularly the oppression in Tibet and the imprisonment of dissident Liu Xiaobo, who was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize in absentia because he was "otherwise detained." Expect to hear about the incarceration of human-rights attorney Gao Zhisheng, among countless others. But these concerns are tantamount to watching a few snowflakes in a blizzard. Complaining to Communists about human rights violations is a waste of air.

There will also be talk about the impending environmental catastrophes created by China's economic expansion, and, of course, China's impact on global climate change.

However, U.S. negotiators are rightly more concerned about bilateral trade, the valuation of U.S. and Chinese currencies, Chinese restrictions on export of its natural resources, re-establishment of military-to-military communications, China's substantial military buildup and Beijing's influence in North Korea, where the Chinese plan an economic consortium, undermining U.S. efforts to isolate Pyongyang's dictator, Kim Jong Il.

Hu, however, is more concerned about China's substantial investment in the U.S., a two-edged sword, which is the trillion-dollar gorilla hovering over every other discussions or negotiations between the two nations. The size and strength of that gorilla is a game-changer.

The evolution of U.S./China relations over the last 60 years can be characterized by three distinct eras.

In 1949, a Soviet-inspired Marxist/Stalinist revolution subordinated the Chinese people to the will of a Communist tyrant, Mao Tse-tung. Mao's 25-year reign of terror resulted in the deaths of some 30 million Chinese during his "Great Leap Forward" to centralize China's agricultural production. He also supervised the near-complete eradication of China's cultural and intellectual advances during the "Cultural Revolution" of the 1960s, when his Red Guard murdered more than a million Chinese academic and cultural leaders and exiled the rest to communal farms for "re-education." (Indeed, the Red on the Chinese flags flying in our nation's capital this week is symbolic of horrendous bloodshed.)

During this infamous era of tyranny, the U.S. and Red Chinese governments were Cold War adversaries of the first order.

A second era of U.S.-Sino relations began in 1972, when President Richard Nixon traveled to the People's Republic of China as a first step toward opening diplomatic channels and normalizing relations. This rapprochement was codified over the next three decades with accelerated trade agreements. The strategic aim of these trade arrangements in world markets was to create economic bonds that would deter China from expansionist mischief.

That strategy worked reasonably well until 2008, when Leftist economic policies helped bring about a crisis of confidence in the U.S. economy and a politically fortuitous collapse of the U.S. securities markets. Obama and his socialist bourgeoisie rode that crisis into office.

Subsequently, Red China has underwritten the largest share of Obama's socialist plan for economic recovery, and now holds more than $1 trillion in Treasury debt (about 7 percent of our total outstanding debt). Of course, Obama's plan has accomplished little other than saddling future generations with enormous amounts of debt.

China's U.S. debt holdings have, however, given rise to a new era of relations with China, replacing the Cold War's mutually assured destruction (MAD) nuclear standoff doctrine with a new version of MAD based on an economic standoff doctrine.

Hu says, "We should abandon the zero-sum Cold War mentality." But the power of China's economic leverage can't be understated, and history provides no record of a Communist nation holding such leverage over a Capitalist nation.

The Chinese had no means of attacking North America with nuclear weapons during the Cold War, and they relied on the protective umbrella of the Soviet Union's offensive capabilities. But in this new era, the Chinese have the ability to manipulate their massive U.S. debt holdings; should they cut off their U.S. credit line and/or dump their U.S. securities, it could propel our economy into a tailspin.

Red China is well aware of the cards they hold in this latest era.

Both parties know, however, that should China take any action that is detrimental to the U.S. economy, the result would have dire implications for the welfare of their own economy. There are 1.2 billion Chinese, 800 million of whom are, in effect, slave-laborers in Chinese factories; these laborers receive an economic benefit of about $2,400 per year. If the Chinese Communists want to forestall a national revolution, they must make every effort to improve the standard of living of those laborers or risk widespread civil unrest. Such an improvement will require economic expansion in the range of 10 percent annually -- a daunting task that includes other risks, including runaway inflation. (In 2010, China's GDP grew 10.3 percent.)

"We have an enormous stake in each other's success," Obama proclaimed in yesterday's press conference with Hu. "Nations, including our own, will be more prosperous and more secure when we work together," he said.

Hu concurred, saying, "We both stand to gain from a sound China-U.S. relationship, and lose from confrontation."

However, recall if you will that Red China is still under the oppressive thumb of Hu's Communist regime, and they do not answer to "the People." Mao may be dead, but his iconic image is ubiquitous in both urban and rural China, even appearing on the face of every denomination of Chinese currency. The Russian people tore down statues of V.I. Lenin soon after the collapse of the Soviet empire. The prevalence of Mao's image is a good indication that the Red Chinese government is still alive and well, despite reports of its imminent demise.

Needless to say the Red Chinese government, like all tyrannical regimes, does not handle civil unrest politely, as aptly demonstrated at Tiananmen Square 22 years ago. A likely response to civil discord would be the absorption of unemployed Chinese into the Red Army and service corps, bolstered by a resurgence of Communist nationalism. Predictably, that would be followed by some "creative activity" in the region to take the minds of the Chinese people off their empty stomachs.

Thus, China's rapid military expansion in the Pacific is a looming threat for Australia, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Indonesia and, of course, the U.S., as we have critical national interests in the region.

It has been said that "as goes the U.S. economy, there goes the world." The same can now be said of China, and this demands the full and undivided attention of every Western nation.

In the end, however, amid all of the posturing and pretense, the most valuable natural resource that the United States has in limitless quantity is Essential Liberty. Though Obama and his Leftist cadres are doing all they can to constrain that resource, it is the export of Liberty to China that will best protect our own national interests.

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!

Mark Alexander
Publisher, The Patriot Post

23128  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-China on: January 20, 2011, 05:52:00 PM
Unfortunately that seems to be true.
23129  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: January 20, 2011, 01:55:43 PM
He is a ratings gimmick for MSNBC, just like FOX uses that race baiting scumbag Al Sharpton.
23130  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-China on: January 20, 2011, 01:54:01 PM
I took the underlying point to be more a matter of we should not be looking to emulate them, that we should be who we are.  Properly understood, being who we are rejects His Glibness and the Progressives too.
23131  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: entertainment on: January 20, 2011, 01:50:41 PM
Smartass grin
23132  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: January 20, 2011, 01:49:57 PM
BD:

That idea in that piece is a profoundly challenging one.  If correct, much of what we know, isn't so.

What do you make of it?
23133  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: entertainment on: January 20, 2011, 01:45:08 PM
At the Paris Hotel; my friend, who will be the host of my Israel seminar, made the choice.  We were both in town for the SHOT Show.  I was irked at having to pay $30 for one hour of internet use in the business center.
23134  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Has Wright condemned this? on: January 20, 2011, 01:38:35 PM
I see GM has a new riff:  Instead of "Where's Waldo?" or "Where's Mohammed?" it is "Where's Wright?" cheesy
23135  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Dictatorship & Democracy on: January 20, 2011, 01:35:43 PM
Of all the differences between dictatorship and democracy, probably none is so overlooked as the ability of the former to project strength, and the penchant of the latter to obsess about its own weakness.

In 1957 the Soviets launched Sputnik and the U.S. went into a paroxysm of nerves about our supposed backwardness in matters ballistic. Throughout the 1980s Americans lived with "Japan as Number One" (the title of a book by Harvard professor Ezra Vogel, though the literature was extensive) and wondered whether Mitsubishi's purchase of Rockefeller Center qualified as a threat to American sovereignty.

Now there's China, whose President is visiting the U.S. this week amid a new bout of American hypochondria. In an op-ed last week in these pages, Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center noted that a plurality of Americans, 47%, are under the erroneous impression that China is the world's leading economy. News reports regarding Chinese military strides, or the academic prowess of Shanghai high school students, contribute to Western perceptions of Chinese ascendancy. So does the false notion that Beijing's holdings of U.S. debt amounts to a sword of Damocles over Washington's head.

Oh, we nearly forgot: Tough-as-nails Chinese mothers are raising child prodigies (a billion of them!) while their Western counterparts indulge their kids with lessons in finger-painting.

We'll leave it to others to debate the merits of Tiger-style mothering, except to say that the overnight success of Amy Chua's book fits the pattern of democratic fretting over our own perceived shortcomings. Such fretting does have its uses. Free societies that constantly adapt to swings in political opinion, innovations in the marketplace, evolving tastes and norms and the arrival of new neighbors are societies that almost never crack. Ours hasn't since Fort Sumter was bombarded 150 years ago this April.

 
Global View columnist Bret Stephens and Mary Kissel of the editorial board on Hu Jintao's visit to the U.S.
Slideshow: China's Dissidents Then again, it's a thin line between healthy self-criticism and neurotic—or opportunistic—self-loathing. The rise of China combines economic opportunities for the U.S. with competitive and strategic challenges. At a minimum, it's an occasion to pull up our collective socks and rethink some welfare-state attitudes about work, investment, entitlements and spending. The 112th Congress seems ready to do that by voting to repeal ObamaCare, and even President Obama is bowing to some economic sense.

If China's rise presents any immediate danger, it's the risk that it might cause Americans to ignore the sources of our strength. For all of China's genuine successes, there's an even greater dose of exaggeration—the product of a political system long adept at hiding its weaknesses to strangers.

China remains an underdeveloped country, its economy barely one-third the size of America's. Its leaders live in fear of peasant revolts, ethnic separatists, underground religious movements, political dissidents and the free flow of information. Its economy remains profoundly hobbled by corruption, inefficient state-owned enterprises and an immature banking system. (See Joseph Sternberg nearby.)

There is no genuine rule of law and its regulatory environment has become increasingly unpredictable for foreign investors and local entrepreneurs. It suffers from an aging population and environmental damage Americans wouldn't tolerate. Its greatest comparative advantage—cheap labor—is under strain from rising domestic wages and competition from places like Vietnam and Bangladesh.

Above all, China suffers from an absence of self-correcting mechanisms, beginning at the top with its authoritarian political system. And while it can trumpet achievements like a stealth fighter or bullet trains—some based on pilfered designs—it has a harder time adjusting to failure, much less admitting to it.

None of this strikes us as a particularly worthy model for the U.S. to emulate, and it's worth noting how few of China's neighbors seem eager to embrace its leadership. But it does seem to excite admiration among Western pundits with a soft spot for economic dirigisme and technocratic politics. That, too, is an old debate, one the technocrats always lose.

As Reagan showed in the 1980s, nothing cures a national funk as well or as quickly as a revival of economic growth. The U.S. has work to do to repair the damage of the last four years, but as always our fate is in our hands, not China's.
23136  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: January 20, 2011, 12:50:47 PM
Lets see now:

"On this side of the border, President Obama must:

"•Deploy the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border, not to combat illegal immigration as George W. Bush did but to help secure the area and ward off drug violence."

Is this even lucid?

"•Reboot and refocus the stale war on drugs with a new emphasis on curbing Americans' consumption that includes instructing the Justice Department to push for stiffer penalties for casual users of marijuana, cocaine and other illegal drugs."

Hello?  We've been there, done that.  America has the largest percent of its population incarcerated of any nation on earth by far, and a large % of those are there for crimes.

"•Reverse a dangerous and wrongheaded administration policy, recently detailed by The Washington Post, of not requiring gun dealers on the border to report bulk sales of high-powered semiautomatic rifles — the guns of choice for drug dealers."

Actually the guns of choice are ones unavailable to the American people; they are the military ones brought by defectors from the Mexican Army (indeed, this is where the Zetas, trained by the US government, began) and bought on in illegal international markets.  Maybe if the Mexican PEOPLE's right to bear arms were recognized, the narcos couldn't act with such impunity?

"•Start discussing the drug war in Mexico, with the American people, as a potential national security threat. What's going on in Mexico is not just limited to Mexico. Already, the Mexican drug cartels are spreading their operations and power into neighboring countries, such as Guatemala, Peru and Colombia."

Duh! --  WHICH IS A MAJOR REASON WE SHOULD BE CONTROLLING THE BORDER!!!

"How to help Mexico

"With regard to Mexico, Obama should:

"•Provide additional U.S. military advisers to train the Mexican army in counterinsurgency tactics and the taking down of drug lords.

Is this really the issue?

"•Ride herd on the $1.6 billion over three years that Congress provided to the Mexican government in the Merida Initiative but which has been slow to arrive, and make sure every dime gets to Mexico where it can be used to fight the cartels."

Where it will no doubt be put to good and honest use  rolleyes

"•Be prepared to hand over whatever other kind of support Calderon requires to quash the insurgency, including U.S. troops if necessary.

Anyone with a scintalla of knowledge about Mexican political culture and basic reasoning skills or better would know that this would be explosive!  Indeed, IMHO it could imperil the survival of the political order itself.   Also, a hot news flash:  The narcos don't walk around in uniforms or wear signs saying "I am a narco".

"•Dole out some tough love to our neighbors by making the case to Mexican officials — whether they want to hear it or not — that their situation does indeed compare with Colombia 20 years ago but that they can learn valuable lessons from it.

What does this mean?

"U.S. leaders have been much too timid in dealing with this crisis.

Duh.

"That has to stop.

Duh.

"After all, Americans are subsidizing this war. We buy the drugs that keep the cartels in business, and we provide the guns that keep the drug traffickers armed to the teeth. This is our baby, and it's time we owned up to it.

Certainly the American market is a sine qua non here, but so too are the extraordinay profits that are a result of our War on Drugs.  Maybe, instead of peeing into the wind we should look at decriminalizing/legalize & regulate the drugs so as to take the big profits out of it all.

Ruben Navarrette Jr., a member of the USA TODAY Board of Contributors, is a syndicated
23137  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Japan on: January 20, 2011, 12:26:20 PM
Commenting without specific knowledge, I note the possibility that a movement out of dollars could be part of the explanantion.  There are not many places for such money to go.  The Euro? Not hardly!  The Yuan?  Maybe, but doesn't China have a lot of capital controls?  Where else?
23138  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: entertainment on: January 20, 2011, 12:11:57 PM
PM shows promise.  I caught a bit of his Howard Stern interview while waiting for dinner at the hotel on Tuesday night.
23139  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: January 20, 2011, 12:02:47 PM
Grateful to be home with my family after a productive three day business trip.  Grateful that while on jury duty today that the Jury Assembly Room has internet connection! grin
23140  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dealing with the adrenaline dump on: January 19, 2011, 09:19:00 AM
Good conversation.

 I would add into the mix that fight and flight are not the only options.  Actually, there are 5 possible responses to aggression:

Fight
Flight
Freeze
Posture
Submit
23141  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The American (and first world) cultural context on: January 19, 2011, 09:14:52 AM
Those are points worthy of consideration.
23142  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: January 19, 2011, 09:06:37 AM
As Ben Franklin told us, we have a Republic gentlemen, if we can keep it.  The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. (I forget who said that).  We must do our part!
23143  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: January 19, 2011, 09:03:49 AM
Doug:

At the moment I am gettng charged $30 an hour at a business center at a Las Vegas hotel angry.  Let me think over whether to start a separate thread for Congressional matters.  I fear overfragmentation and blurred lines.  How would you define the subject matter for such a thread?

Marc
23144  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: January 19, 2011, 08:59:59 AM
I fear you may be right.
23145  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury on: January 19, 2011, 08:58:17 AM
As always, Wesbury offers thinking worth the consideration.  This piece could be posted in other threads as well, but I put it here because, , , well, because I had to choose  smiley

Monday Morning Outlook
China and the Dollar To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 1/18/2011

Chinese leader Hu Jintao visits the US this week. Getting past the public
pleasantries, our leaders will have much to say behind closed doors. On economic
issues, the focus will be on monetary policy, particularly the role of the US
dollar, the RMB/$ exchange rate, and the recent jump in China’s inflation.
On the issue of the US dollar’s role as the world’s reserve currency, we
think the critical comments out of China – as well as other comments from
France, Russia, and the Middle East – are just bluster.
 
Countries that do not have a gold standard – which, at this point in history,
includes all of them – must still back their currencies with something. These
“reserves” create confidence. The Federal Reserve typically uses US
Treasury securities as reserves, although it also holds many mortgage-backed
securities these days. The Fed makes a profit on these holdings and turns them over
to the government. The European Central Bank also holds the sovereign debt of its
member countries and turns their earnings over to member governments.
 
Emerging market central banks have a choice of what to hold as reserves, and they
will always make the one that maximizes earnings and creates the most confidence in
their currencies. That’s why China links its currency to the dollar and holds
mostly US Treasury debt as reserves.
 
No one forces a foreign central bank to buy US Treasury debt. Each country would
prefer to have their central bank buy their own local government debt as reserves.
But who would trust these currencies if they were backed up by local government
debt? Imagine Thailand trying to encourage the use of its currency if it was backed
only by Thai government debt. And if fewer people held the currency, the central
bank would generate lower profits to hand over to the government.
 
In other words, the international role of the dollar is a by-product of
profit-seeking central banks pursuing their own self-interest. And that’s not
going to change anytime soon. There is simply no other instrument issued by anyone
that has the liquidity and certainty of payment of US Treasury debt.
 
Moreover, as emerging markets keep growing, their central banks will issue more
local currency, which will continue to elevate the demand for Treasury debt. So
while other countries must learn to accept the US dollar’s role, Americans
must learn to accept that, over time, the share of our debt owned by foreigners is
likely to keep rising. And, that the demand for US debt helps generate large US
trade deficits.
 
Many assume large foreign ownership of US debt makes the US vulnerable to foreign
governments. We think the vulnerability is the other way around. For example, the US
could protect Taiwan with its Navy. Or, instead, the US could send a message that
any attack would mean no payments on our debt to the attacking country until it
withdraws and makes reparations. The US did something similar when World War II
began. No wonder Hu Jintao told the Washington Post “the current international
currency system is a product of the past.” China realizes it’s
vulnerable. But, any major changes are decades in the future. The dollar will remain
the world’s reserve currency for a long time to come.
 
This does not mean the dollar cannot lose value. The yuan can strengthen as China
continues to emerge from Mao’s Communist tyranny. Since mid-2010, the yuan has
gained 3.5% versus the dollar, which adds to the 17.4% appreciation that occurred
between mid-2005 and mid-2008.
 
We think this trend will continue. It has to. The US is running a very loose
monetary policy, and because China links to the dollar it is experiencing rising
inflation. Commodity prices, like oil, are rising rapidly and China, which imports
lots of commodities for processing into consumer goods, is feeling that inflationary
pain before it hits home in the US. Letting the yuan gain versus the dollar is one
way for China to ease the pain from the Fed’s overly loose monetary policy.
It’s also a way for China to enhance the purchasing power of its workers and
companies.
 
The US should not take this week’s visit as an opportunity to lecture the
Chinese about the yuan. If we do, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke may find himself on the
receiving end of a lecture about the importance of price stability and how to run a
central bank. And he would deserve it.



This information contains forward-looking statements about various economic trends
and strategies. You are cautioned that such forward-looking statements are subject
to significant business, economic and competitive uncertainties and actual results
could be materially different. There are no guarantees associated with any forecast
and the opinions stated here are subject to change at any time and are the opinion
of the individual strategist. Data comes from the following sources: Census Bureau,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Federal Reserve Board,
and Haver Analytics. Data is taken from sources generally believed to be reliable
but no guarantee is given to its accuracy.

23146  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: January 17, 2011, 03:05:37 PM
"I don't think that a "he started it" is all that helpful.  That may be the case, and I do feel that Bork deserved a seat on the Bench, but there is more than that."  I get that, but part of my point is that the Reps did NOT respond in kind over RBG (as you know, she was my Consitutional Law prof) who was and is a mega-liberal-- compare the treatment of Thomas's lynching. After a while, this starts to feel like Charlie Brown, Lucy, and the football. cf the silence over extreme comments from the left and outrage over straight up criiticism from the right e.g. Glen Beck. 

"(Here's an opening) As the size of the government increases, which it has consistently across adminisitrations regardless of party, that then increases the number of political appointments that the president, with the Senate, is responsible for filling."   Agreed.

"And, whether you like it or not, the Senate has been responsible for preventing people from taking a place on the Supreme Court under necessary circumstances, as well (Fortas and the early Nixon defeats come to mind as examples)" As does that ridiculous hack woman that Bush43 tried appointing.

"I recognize that the Senate should not abdicate its advice and consent role, but I do think that a reform of the process could help the president, regardless of party.  Small tangent: I think that reform should focus primarilt on the executive branch positions.  I think the president should have more latitude as on appointments for those who will work for him than for those in a co-equal branch of government with lifetime appointments."

A fair distinction.  I agree.
23147  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: January 17, 2011, 02:58:21 PM
Gracias, jcordova. 

He aqui un analysis sobre la situacion en Tiajuana:

Summary
Baja California state, with its lucrative port of entry into the United States in Tijuana, is among the most sought-after territory for Mexico’s drug cartels. For years the state was controlled by the Arellano Felix Organization until that group’s disintegration and the rise of perhaps Mexico’s most powerful cartel, the Sinaloa Federation. Learning from its past experience, the Sinaloa Federation has moved over the past year to decentralize control among autonomous cells in order to prevent any single faction from becoming too dominant, and breaking off to form its own rival cartel, which has already led to a more stable security environment in the region.

Analysis
The criminal landscape in Mexico’s Baja California state has changed dramatically over the past year, and so have the internal workings of arguably the most powerful cartel in Mexico, the Sinaloa Federation. Dominated by the Arellano Felix Organization (AFO) in the 1990s and early 2000s, crackdowns by the Mexican government and internal divisions in the AFO led to the eventual rise of the Sinaloa Federation in Baja California in late 2010.

Taking its own experience with internal divisions into account, the Sinaloa Federation has adjusted its approach, decentralizing control and ensuring that no one faction becomes powerful enough to split from its parent organization and hold the lucrative Tijuana port of entry into the United States and its surroundings for itself. Despite the increase in organized criminal activity in the region over the past few months, this move has led to a more predictable security environment in the greater Baja California region — a drastic change from only a year ago.

Throughout the 1990s, Tijuana was controlled by the AFO, but a string of arrests and deaths of senior leaders of the groups — namely the Arellano Felix brothers, who made up the core leadership of the AFO beginning in the late 1990s and into the early 2000s — left the group’s operational capability severely diminished. Internal fighting between the faction loyal to the Arellano Felix brothers’ successor, Fernando “El Ingeniero” Sanchez Arellano, and those loyal to the group’s top enforcer, Teodoro “El Teo” Garcia Simental, led to a further degradation of the organization in the beginning of 2008. This conflict sparked incredible levels of violence in the region, until the Garcia Simental faction was dismantled by the Mexican Federal Police in January 2010. Out of desperation, Garcia Simental attempted to win back power by reaching out to the Sinaloa Federation for backing against Sanchez Arellano, knowing that the Sinaloa Federation had been trying to move into the lucrative Tijuana region for several years.

The strategy failed and the Garcia Simental faction was marginalized by Mexican security forces, but this left the AFO under Sanchez Arellano extremely weak, with only a few remaining cells still operating in the region. In the latter half of 2010, the Sinaloa Federation used the opening Garcia Simental had given it to solidify control over parts of western Baja California state, namely the Tecate and Mexicali regions, putting Sinaloa in prime position to seize Tijuana. The AFO knew it could not withstand another lengthy battle to retain control of its home territory against a much larger force with vast resources, and a deal was struck between the two organizations. The deal allows both organizations to operate independently and includes a nonaggression pact, securing for the Sinaloa Federation its long-awaited access to the lucrative port of entry into the United States.

As the Sinaloa Federation prepared to send its assets into the region in early 2010, it implemented a business plan for Tijuana that differed from its previous approach. Rather than have a traditional plaza boss who heads several cells and coordinates shipments of illicit goods across the border, the Sinaloa Federation sent numerous autonomous cells to work in the same area under the direction of Sinaloa No. 2 Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada Garcia. This information was finally made public by the Tijuana publication Zeta Tijuana (no association with the criminal organization Los Zetas) after it was able to obtain information from the interrogation of an aspiring Sinaloa cell leader in Tijuana, Jesus “El Tomate” Israel de La Cruz, who was arrested Jan. 4.

According to Israel de La Cruz, this new business structure with multiple autonomous cells working together was adopted after the Beltran Leyva brothers, who formed an important faction within Sinaloa, became too powerful and split from the Sinaloa Federation in 2008. A similar instance occurred with the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes organization in Juarez. This strategy is intended to prevent one cell leader from becoming too powerful, and therefore to keep them dependent on the parent organization, the Sinaloa Federation.

While this approach has generally stabilized the Tijuana region compared to the situation from 2008 to 2010, there is still some dissonance among the cells. A record 134-ton marijuana seizure in October 2010 resulted from a dispute between cell leaders over who was to smuggle which portion into the United States. Somehow, word of the massive shipment made its way to the Mexican military and law enforcement, resulting in the multimillion dollar seizure. After an enforcement sweep left numerous associates dead, business was back to normal.

Undoubtedly, there will be brief flare-ups of violence anywhere organized criminal activity is present — it simply comes with the territory of any illicit business — and there will be spikes in violence again in Tijuana. These two factors — Sinaloa’s decentralized approach, which prevents new rivals from springing up from within a cartel, and the agreement in place in Tijuana between the Sinaloa Federation and the AFO — have led to a more predictable operating environment not only for the cartels, but for the people and businesses of Tijuana, and have given the organizations operating in the area a set of rules to play by. That being said, historically, these types of agreements have been fleeting in nature, as they are often only followed as long as they are convenient to all parties involved. The question is not if the agreement will stay in place but how long it will prevail.

23148  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Tiajuana on: January 17, 2011, 02:57:24 PM
Summary
Baja California state, with its lucrative port of entry into the United States in Tijuana, is among the most sought-after territory for Mexico’s drug cartels. For years the state was controlled by the Arellano Felix Organization until that group’s disintegration and the rise of perhaps Mexico’s most powerful cartel, the Sinaloa Federation. Learning from its past experience, the Sinaloa Federation has moved over the past year to decentralize control among autonomous cells in order to prevent any single faction from becoming too dominant, and breaking off to form its own rival cartel, which has already led to a more stable security environment in the region.

Analysis
The criminal landscape in Mexico’s Baja California state has changed dramatically over the past year, and so have the internal workings of arguably the most powerful cartel in Mexico, the Sinaloa Federation. Dominated by the Arellano Felix Organization (AFO) in the 1990s and early 2000s, crackdowns by the Mexican government and internal divisions in the AFO led to the eventual rise of the Sinaloa Federation in Baja California in late 2010.

Taking its own experience with internal divisions into account, the Sinaloa Federation has adjusted its approach, decentralizing control and ensuring that no one faction becomes powerful enough to split from its parent organization and hold the lucrative Tijuana port of entry into the United States and its surroundings for itself. Despite the increase in organized criminal activity in the region over the past few months, this move has led to a more predictable security environment in the greater Baja California region — a drastic change from only a year ago.

Throughout the 1990s, Tijuana was controlled by the AFO, but a string of arrests and deaths of senior leaders of the groups — namely the Arellano Felix brothers, who made up the core leadership of the AFO beginning in the late 1990s and into the early 2000s — left the group’s operational capability severely diminished. Internal fighting between the faction loyal to the Arellano Felix brothers’ successor, Fernando “El Ingeniero” Sanchez Arellano, and those loyal to the group’s top enforcer, Teodoro “El Teo” Garcia Simental, led to a further degradation of the organization in the beginning of 2008. This conflict sparked incredible levels of violence in the region, until the Garcia Simental faction was dismantled by the Mexican Federal Police in January 2010. Out of desperation, Garcia Simental attempted to win back power by reaching out to the Sinaloa Federation for backing against Sanchez Arellano, knowing that the Sinaloa Federation had been trying to move into the lucrative Tijuana region for several years.

The strategy failed and the Garcia Simental faction was marginalized by Mexican security forces, but this left the AFO under Sanchez Arellano extremely weak, with only a few remaining cells still operating in the region. In the latter half of 2010, the Sinaloa Federation used the opening Garcia Simental had given it to solidify control over parts of western Baja California state, namely the Tecate and Mexicali regions, putting Sinaloa in prime position to seize Tijuana. The AFO knew it could not withstand another lengthy battle to retain control of its home territory against a much larger force with vast resources, and a deal was struck between the two organizations. The deal allows both organizations to operate independently and includes a nonaggression pact, securing for the Sinaloa Federation its long-awaited access to the lucrative port of entry into the United States.

As the Sinaloa Federation prepared to send its assets into the region in early 2010, it implemented a business plan for Tijuana that differed from its previous approach. Rather than have a traditional plaza boss who heads several cells and coordinates shipments of illicit goods across the border, the Sinaloa Federation sent numerous autonomous cells to work in the same area under the direction of Sinaloa No. 2 Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada Garcia. This information was finally made public by the Tijuana publication Zeta Tijuana (no association with the criminal organization Los Zetas) after it was able to obtain information from the interrogation of an aspiring Sinaloa cell leader in Tijuana, Jesus “El Tomate” Israel de La Cruz, who was arrested Jan. 4.

According to Israel de La Cruz, this new business structure with multiple autonomous cells working together was adopted after the Beltran Leyva brothers, who formed an important faction within Sinaloa, became too powerful and split from the Sinaloa Federation in 2008. A similar instance occurred with the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes organization in Juarez. This strategy is intended to prevent one cell leader from becoming too powerful, and therefore to keep them dependent on the parent organization, the Sinaloa Federation.

While this approach has generally stabilized the Tijuana region compared to the situation from 2008 to 2010, there is still some dissonance among the cells. A record 134-ton marijuana seizure in October 2010 resulted from a dispute between cell leaders over who was to smuggle which portion into the United States. Somehow, word of the massive shipment made its way to the Mexican military and law enforcement, resulting in the multimillion dollar seizure. After an enforcement sweep left numerous associates dead, business was back to normal.

Undoubtedly, there will be brief flare-ups of violence anywhere organized criminal activity is present — it simply comes with the territory of any illicit business — and there will be spikes in violence again in Tijuana. These two factors — Sinaloa’s decentralized approach, which prevents new rivals from springing up from within a cartel, and the agreement in place in Tijuana between the Sinaloa Federation and the AFO — have led to a more predictable operating environment not only for the cartels, but for the people and businesses of Tijuana, and have given the organizations operating in the area a set of rules to play by. That being said, historically, these types of agreements have been fleeting in nature, as they are often only followed as long as they are convenient to all parties involved. The question is not if the agreement will stay in place but how long it will prevail.

23149  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / SHOT Show on: January 17, 2011, 12:03:47 PM
Leaving for SHOT Show later today, will return Wednesday night.
23150  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / WSJ on: January 17, 2011, 12:03:06 PM
Since 1990, New York has experienced the largest and longest sustained drop in street crime of any big city in the developed world. In less than a generation, many major felonies have fallen 80 percent or more. New York did this by rejecting everything that the criminology and social-work professions counseled about crime. Police Chief William Bratton announced in 1994 that the police, not some big-government welfare program, would lower crime by 10 percent in just one year. He not only met his goal, he bested it—by ruthlessly holding precinct commanders accountable for the safety of their beats, by the rigorous analysis of crime data, and by empowering street cops to intervene in suspicious behavior before a crime actually happened.

Just as the liberal philosophy of exempting the poor from bourgeois standards of behavior set up a vicious cycle of fatherlessness, crime, and dependency, the conservative philosophy of universal standards set up a virtuous cycle of urban renovation. With crime in free fall across New York in the 1990s, the tourism and hospitality industries boomed, triggering demand for the low-skilled welfare mothers whom welfare reform was nudging into the workplace. Businesses moved back into formerly violence-plagued areas, creating more jobs. Neighborhoods were transformed.

To take just one example, contemplate for a moment a small miracle that occurs around 11 o'clock each night at the 96th Street subway stop on the Lexington Avenue line: residents pour out of the subway and disappear into the darkness, heading unconcernedly home. For years, such a routine at such an hour would have been fraught with anxiety. . . .

The national crime drop of 41 percent since 1991 is also the longest and largest national decline in modern history, one wholly unforeseen by criminologists. It was made possible by the increased incarceration rate, which achieved its maximum effect in the 1990s, and by the spread of New York–style data-driven policing. Most significant is that the national crime rate has fallen in each of the last three years, putting the final nail in the coffin of the liberal conceit that a bad economy drives otherwise law-abiding individuals into crime.

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