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23151  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives/the American Creed on: October 19, 2009, 11:32:43 AM
"Elected Republicans have had no real, observable tie to limited government for as long as any voter can remember, and no one is out front right now making a persuasive case for common sense conservatism."

Exactly why I don't take them seriously.
23152  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Sistan Balochistan on: October 19, 2009, 11:19:53 AM
Two blasts in Sistan-Balochistan province killed several prominent members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, as well as dozens of others Oct. 18, and Iran has accused Western powers of aiding the rebel group that has claimed responsibility. While there is currently no evidence of outside involvement in the attacks, a number of parties may view the rebel group as a useful proxy against Tehran, and the attacks have the potential to hamper U.S.-Iranian negotiations on Tehran’s nuclear program.

Two coordinated bombings occurred in Iran’s southeastern Sistan-Balochistan province the morning of Oct. 18, killing and injuring dozens of people, including high-level commanders of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

The first attack was an alleged suicide bombing that targeted a meeting of Sunni and Shiite tribal leaders in Pishin district, close to the Iranian border with Pakistan. Several provincial IRGC commanders were in attendance. When the meeting was about to adjourn, the suicide bomber reportedly detonated his vest. Provincial IRGC commanders Brig. Gen. Nour-Ali Shoushtari, the IRGC’s lieutenant commander of ground forces, and Brig. Gen. Rajab-Ali Mohammadzadeh were among those killed in the attack.

The second bombing went off close to the same time in the same Pishin region along the border. A convoy of IRGC commanders was targeted with a suspected roadside improvised explosive device when the convoy was turning at an intersection between the towns of Sarbaz and Chabahar. The commanders of Sistan-Balochistan province, the Iranshahr Corps, the Sarbaz Corps and the Amiralmomenin Brigade were killed in the blast.

Sistan-Balochistan is a resource-poor, mostly lawless region of Iran that borders Pakistan and Afghanistan. Sunni Baloch tribesmen make up the dominant ethnic group in the province, and are consistently at odds with the Shiite-controlled government in Tehran. Many of these tribesmen make their living off smuggling, drug trafficking and banditry in the lawless border region, making this a particularly troublesome spot for Iran’s security apparatus. Of most concern for Tehran is a Baloch rebel group by the name of Jundallah led by a young man named Abdolmalek Rigi.

According to Iranian state television, Jundallah has claimed responsibility for the attack on the tribal gathering. The group has also claimed responsibility for a series of other bombings, kidnappings and attacks targeting the Iranian security apparatus over the past several years, including a December 2006 kidnapping of seven Iranian soldiers, a February 2007 car bombing that killed 11 IRGC members near Zahedan and more recently, a May suicide bombing at a Shiite mosque in Zahedan that killed 25 people. In light of the deteriorating security situation in the province, the Iranian government boosted the IRGC presence in the area in an attempt to clamp down on the low-level insurgency. However, the increased IRGC presence so far appears to have only provided Jundallah with a larger target set.

The Iranians have long accused U.S. and British intelligence of providing military and financial support to Jundallah from positions across the border in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Considering that only about half of Iran’s population is Persian, foreign support to ethnic minorities like the Baloch in the southeast, the Kurds in the northwest and the Ahvazi Arabs in the oil-rich southwest are all obvious levers for foreign intelligence agencies to prod the Iranian regime.

While the United States does not mind applying pressure on Tehran from time to time, the Oct. 18 bombings come at a particularly critical time in U.S.-Iranian negotiations. On Oct. 19, representatives from Iran, the International Atomic Energy Agency, France, Russia and the United States are to meet in Vienna to follow up the Oct. 1 negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program. The aim of the meeting is to reach a compromise among all parties in which Iran would receive the 20 percent enriched uranium it desires for a research reactor in Tehran.

The United States, not wanting to throw these talks off course, has been quick to deny a hand in the latest attacks. In response to Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani’s claim that the bombings were “the result of the U.S. actions,” U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said such allegations were “completely false” and said that the United States condemns the act of terrorism and mourns the loss of innocent lives.

The United States badly wants the negotiations with Iran to achieve enough tangible results to calm Israeli fears over Iran’s nuclear ambitions and thus stave off a military confrontation in the Persian Gulf. Though it remains unclear whether Jundallah was acting alone in carrying out these attacks, it is not a far stretch to assume that the group has received foreign backing in recent years that has allowed it to significantly escalate its militant campaign against the regime. At the same time, the United States is likely to be more cautious in this delicate stage of negotiations with Tehran. The last thing Washington wants is to give Tehran another excuse to walk away from these talks and Israel an excuse to demand more aggressive action against Iran.

There are, however, a number of third parties that could have an interest in derailing this latest U.S.-Iranian attempt at negotiations. Such parties include groups like al Qaeda and the Taliban, which are trying to divert U.S. attention away from themselves in neighboring Pakistan and Afghanistan, Russia, which is engaged in its own complex negotiating game with Washington, and even perhaps Israel, which does not have much faith in the current diplomatic process and would like to push the United States into taking a harder line against Iran. The possibilities are vast, but there is no evidence as of yet to suggest that any one of these players had a role in orchestrating the latest attacks. Still, the Baloch insurgency in Iran provides an opportunity for a number of foreign players to stir the pot according to their interests.

Iran has so far pointed the blame at the United States for the attacks, but has not given any indication yet that it is pulling out of the negotiations. The Iranians are on alert for U.S.-Israeli military maneuvers in the region and thus have an interest in handling these talks cautiously. After all, as long as Iran can appear diplomatically engaged, the better chances it will have in staving off a military crisis.
23153  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: October 19, 2009, 11:09:50 AM
The Foundation

"The construction applied ... to those parts of the Constitution of the United States which delegate Congress a power ... ought not to be construed as themselves to give unlimited powers, nor a part to be so taken as to destroy the whole residue of that instrument." --Thomas Jefferson

Health care at the DMV? Now serving number 33,573,901Government

"The most revelatory passage in the so-called 'plain English' version of the health care bill that the Senate Finance Committee approved on Tuesday (without ever drafting the actual legislative language) says that in the future Americans will be offered the convenience of getting their health insurance at the Department of Motor Vehicles. This is no joke. If this bill becomes law, it will be the duty of the U.S. secretary of health and human services or the state governments overseeing federally mandated health-insurance exchanges to ensure that you can get your health insurance at the DMV. You will also be able to get it at Social Security offices, hospitals, schools and 'other offices' the government will name later. Page 19 of the committee's 'plain English' text says: 'The Secretary and/or states would do the following: ... Enable customers to enroll in health care plans in local hospitals, schools, Departments of Motor Vehicles, local Social Security offices, and other offices designated by the state.' This is the bill's most revelatory passage because it sublimely symbolizes the bill's true aim: a government takeover of the health care system. You do not get food at the DMV. You do not even get auto insurance at the DMV. But under what The Associated Press inaptly calls the Finance Committee's 'middle-of-the-road health care plan,' you will get health insurance at the DMV." --columnist Terence Jeffrey

Opinion in Brief
"The magic number du jour is the number of Americans without health insurance. Apparently getting more people insured is another 'good thing' -- which is to say, it is something whose costs are not to be weighed against the benefits, or whose costs are to be finessed aside with optimistic projections or a claim that these costs can be covered by eliminating 'waste, fraud and abuse.' In real life, people weigh one thing against another. But in politics one declares one thing to be imperative, so the issue then becomes how we do it. In real life, all sorts of desirable things are not done, either because of other desirable things that would have to be sacrificed to do it or because of the dangers incurred in achieving the desired objective are worse than the problem we want to solve. Almost never are the dangers of having uninsured people weighed against the dangers of having government bureaucrats over-ruling doctors and deciding whether money would be better spent saving the life of an elderly person or paying for an abortion for some teenager. The crowning irony is that the problems caused by insurance companies refusing to pay for certain medications or treatment are to be solved by giving government bureaucrats that same power, along with the power to prevent patients from using their own money to pay for those same medications or treatments. More than two centuries ago, Edmund Burke said, 'Nothing is good but in proportion' -- that is, when weighed as a trade-off. But a prudent weighing of trade-offs does not produce the political melodrama of pursuing a 'good thing' measured by some magic number." --economist Thomas Sowell

"Under Barack Obama, the United States has not been the friend of democrats around the world. America has responded weakly to the democratic movement in Iran, ended the funding of the largest pro-Iranian human rights groups in America, pressured democratic Israel, made overtures to Hugo Chavez while denying American ally and pro-democratic Colombia a free trade agreement, abandoned Honduran anti-Chavez democrats, and has obsequiously deferred to Vladimir Putin. ... The Oslo committee's view is, tragically, true. Thanks to Barack Obama, America is for the first time is aligning its values with those of 'the majority of the world's population.' If you think the world's population has had better values than America, that it has made societies that are more open, free, and tolerant than American society, and that it has fought for others' liberty more than America has, you should be delighted." --columnist Dennis Prager

The Gipper
"You and I are told we must choose between a left or right, but I suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down. Up to man's age-old dream -- the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order -- or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. Regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would sacrifice freedom for security have embarked on this downward path. Plutarch warned, 'The real destroyer of the liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations and benefits.' The Founding Fathers knew a government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they knew when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. So we have come to a time for choosing." --Ronald Reagan

"I am sympathetic to the story told by Joseph Rocha, who claims in a Washington Post opinion column that he was discharged from the Navy because he is gay, though he says he never told anyone. Rocha says his male colleagues concluded he was gay when he wouldn't laugh at their dirty jokes about women or visit prostitutes with them. Gay service members have a point when they claim a double standard exists for heterosexuals and homosexuals regarding sexual behavior. ... But we are beginning in the wrong place. The place to start is whether citizens of this country, through their elected representatives and the military leaders named by them, have a right to determine what type of service members best serve the interests, safety and security of the United States. I contend we do. The military should not be a test lab. Pressure is building to put female sailors on submarines, along with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people presumably. That many heterosexuals find homosexual behavior immoral and not conducive to unit cohesion is of no concern to the social wrecking crew. What gay activists apparently don't care about is the effect reshaping the military in their image would have on our ability to fight and defend the country, which, after all, is the purpose of a military. ... The gays in the military and gay marriage issues are part of a broader attempt by liberals to restructure society. Social activists despise biblical morality (which heterosexuals could use a little more of, too), traditional values that have been proven to work when tried and numerous other cultural mores. This is not an opinion. It is also not a secret." --columnist Cal Thomas

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Political Futures
"Here's the joke. As boom- and bust-prone as high finance always has been and remains, the greatest systemic risk to our economy is not Wall Street. It's the growing federal debt (and weakening dollar) being enacted by those Washington politicians -- the ones who want to protect us from Wall Street. ... [T]he same Congress and president who want to stop the banks from taking too much risk cannot stop themselves from ever more deficits. Indeed, so intoxicated -- nay, hypnotized! -- by debt is the current government that it is not even proposing to try to cut back. Last week saw, at the same time: 1) the world shuddering about the debt-driven weakening dollar ('The biggest story in the world economy is the continuing fall of the U.S. dollar, or at least it is everywhere outside of Washington, D.C., the place most responsible for its declining value.' -- The Wall Street Journal) and 2) Washington cheering Sen. Max Baucus' health bill's spending levels ('Health Care Bill Gets Green Light in Cost Analysis' -- The New York Times). That's right. The federal government is giving the 'green light' for the country to drive to the poorhouse -- and drive there, I would argue, by way of the lunatic asylum. Are they nuts?" --columnist Tony Blankley

For the Record
"'What happened to global warming?' read the headline -- on BBC News on Oct. 9, no less. Consider it a cataclysmic event: Mainstream news organizations have begun reporting on scientific research that suggests that global warming may not be caused by man and may not be as dire and eminent as alarmists suggest. Indeed, as the BBC's climate correspondent Paul Hudson reported, the warmest year recorded globally 'was not in 2008 or 2007, but 1998.' It's true, he continued, 'For the last 11 years, we have not observed any increase in global temperatures.' ... Western Washington University geologist Don J. Easterbrook presented research last year that suggests that the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) caused warmer temperatures in the 1980s and 1990s. With Pacific sea surface temperatures cooling, Easterbrook expects 30 years of global cooling. EPA analyst Alan Carlin -- an MIT-trained economist with a degree in physics -- referred to 'solar variability' and Easterbrook's work in a document that warned that politics had prompted the EPA and other countries to pay 'too little attention to the science of global warming' as partisans ignored the lack of global warming over the last 10 years. At first, the EPA buried the paper, then it permitted Carlin to post it on his personal Web site. ... Over the years, global warming alarmists have sought to stifle debate by arguing that there was no debate. They bullied dissenters and ex-communicated non-believers from their panels. ... For a long time, that approach worked. But after 11 years without record temperatures that had the seas spilling over the Statue of Liberty's toes, they are going to have to change tactics. They're going to have to rely on real data, not failed models, scare stories and the Big Lie that everyone who counts agrees with them." --columnist Debra Saunders
23154  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Reagan on: October 19, 2009, 10:55:39 AM
"You and I are told we must choose between a left or right, but I suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down. Up to man's age-old dream -- the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order -- or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. Regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would sacrifice freedom for security have embarked on this downward path. Plutarch warned, 'The real destroyer of the liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations and benefits.' The Founding Fathers knew a government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they knew when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. So we have come to a time for choosing." --Ronald Reagan
23155  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives/the American Creed on: October 19, 2009, 10:41:53 AM
Well, I for one no longer take the Republican Party seriously.
23156  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 19, 2009, 10:40:00 AM

The White House escalated its offensive against Fox News on Sunday by urging other news organizations to stop "following Fox" and instead join the administration's attempt to marginalize the channel.

White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel told CNN that President Obama does not want "the CNNs and the others in the world [to] basically be led in following Fox."

Obama senior adviser David Axelrod went further by calling on media outlets to join the administration in declaring that Fox is "not a news organization."

"Other news organizations like yours ought not to treat them that way," Axelrod counseled ABC's George Stephanopoulos. "We're not going to treat them that way."

By urging other news outlets to side with the administration, Obama aides officials dramatically upped the ante in the war of words that began earlier this month, when White House communications director Anita Dunn branded Fox "opinion journalism masquerading as news."

On Sunday, Fox's Chris Wallace retorted: "We wanted to ask Dunn about her criticism, but, as they've done every week since August, the White House refused to make any administration officials available to 'FOX News Sunday' to talk about this or anything else."

The White House stopped providing guests to 'Fox News Sunday' after Wallace fact-checked controversial assertions made by Tammy Duckworth, assistant secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, in August. Dunn said fact-checking an administration official was "something I've never seen a Sunday show do."

"She criticized 'FOX News Sunday' last week for fact-checking -- fact-checking -- an administration official," Wallace said Sunday. "They didn't say that our fact-checking was wrong. They just said that we had dared to fact-check."

"Let's fact-check Anita Dunn, because last Sunday she said that Fox ignores Republican scandals, and she specifically mentioned the scandal involving Nevada senator John Ensign," Wallace added. "A number of Fox News shows have run stories about Senator Ensign. Anita Dunn's facts were just plain wrong."

Fox News senior vice president Michael Clemente said: "Surprisingly, the White House continues to declare war on a news organization instead of focusing on the critical issues that Americans are concerned about like jobs, health care and two wars. The door remains open and we welcome a discussion about the facts behind the issues."

Observers on both sides of the political aisle questioned the White House's decision to continue waging war on a news organization, saying the move carried significant political risks.

Democratic strategist Donna Brazile said on CNN: "I don't always agree with the White House. And on this one here I would disagree."

David Gergen, who has worked for Democratic and Republican presidents, said: "I totally agree with Donna Brazile." Gergen added that White House officials have "gotten themselves into a fight they don't necessarily want to be in. I don't think it's in their best interest."

"The faster they can get this behind them, the more they can treat Fox like one other organization, the easier they can get back to governing, and then put some people out on Fox," Gergen said on CNN. "I mean, for goodness sakes -- you know, you engage in the debate.

What Americans want is a robust competition of ideas, and they ought to be willing to go out there and mix it up with some strong conservatives on Fox, just as there are strong conservatives on CNN like Bill Bennett."

Bennett expressed outrage that Dunn told an audience of high school students this year that Mao Tse-tung, the founder of communist China, was one of "my favorite political philosophers."

"Having the spokesman do this, attack Fox, who says that Mao Zedong is one of the most influential figures in her life, was not…a small thing; it's a big thing," Bennett said on CNN. "When she stands up, in a speech to high school kids, says she's deeply influenced by Mao Zedong, that -- I mean, that is crazy."

Fox News contributor Karl Rove, who was the top political strategist to former President George W. Bush, said: "This is an administration that's getting very arrogant and slippery in its dealings with people. And if you dare to oppose them, they're going to come hard at you and they're going to cut your legs off."

"This is a White House engaging in its own version of the media enemies list. And it's unhelpful for the country and undignified for the president of the United States to so do," Rove added. "That is over- the-top language. We heard that before from Richard Nixon."

Media columnist David Carr of the New York Times warned that the White House war on Fox "may present a genuine problem for Mr. Obama, who took great pains during the campaign to depict himself as being above the fray of over-heated partisan squabbling."

"While there is undoubtedly a visceral thrill in finally setting out after your antagonists, the history of administrations that have successfully taken on the media and won is shorter than this sentence," Carr wrote over the weekend. "So far, the only winner in this latest dispute seems to be Fox News. Ratings are up 20 percent this year."

He added: "The administration, by deploying official resources against a troublesome media organization, seems to have brought a knife to a gunfight."
23157  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BO plans to submit US sovereignty to UN on: October 19, 2009, 10:25:16 AM
BO plans to submit US sovereignty to UN
23158  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: October 19, 2009, 09:21:31 AM
Grateful for my son's lacrosse workout yesterday-- he's really starting to move forward.  Happy dad!
23159  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Escape from the Memory Hole! on: October 18, 2009, 08:26:27 PM

The White House released this list of attempts by President Bush to reform
Freddie Mae and Freddie Mac since he took office in 2001.
Unfortunately, Congress did not act on the president's warnings:

** 2001

April: The Administration's FY02 budget declares that the size of Fannie Mae
and Freddie Mac is "a potential problem," because "financial trouble of a
large GSE could cause strong repercussions in financial markets, affecting
Federally insured entities and economic activity."

** 2002

May: The President calls for the disclosure and corporate governance
principles contained in his 10-point plan for corporate responsibility to
apply to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (OMB Prompt Letter to OFHEO, 5/29/02)

** 2003

January: Freddie Mac announces it has to restate financial results for the
previous three years.

February: The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO)
releases a report explaining that "although investors perceive an implicit
Federal guarantee of [GSE] obligations," "the government has provided no
explicit legal backing for them." As a consequence, unexpected problems at a
GSE could immediately spread into financial sectors beyond the housing
market. ("Systemic Risk: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Role of OFHEO,"
OFHEO Report, 2/4/03)

September: Fannie Mae discloses SEC investigation and acknowledges OFHEO's
review found earnings manipulations.

September: Treasury Secretary John Snow testifies before the House Financial
Services Committee to recommend that Congress enact "legislation to create a
new Federal agency to regulate and supervise the financial activities of our
housing-related government sponsored enterprises" and set prudent and
appropriate minimum capital adequacy requirements.

October: Fannie Mae discloses $1.2 billion accounting error.

November: Council of the Economic Advisers (CEA) Chairman Greg Mankiw
explains that any "legislation to reform GSE regulation should empower the
new regulator with sufficient strength and credibility to reduce systemic
risk." To reduce the potential for systemic instability, the regulator would
have "broad authority to set both risk-based and minimum capital standards"
and "receivership powers necessary to wind down the affairs of a troubled
GSE." (N. Gregory Mankiw, Remarks At The Conference Of State Bank
Supervisors State Banking Summit And Leadership, 11/6/03)

** 2004

February: The President's FY05 Budget again highlights the risk posed by the
explosive growth of the GSEs and their low levels of required capital, and
called for creation of a new, world-class regulator: "The Administration has
determined that the safety and soundness regulators of the housing GSEs lack
sufficient power and stature to meet their responsibilities, and
therefore?should be replaced with a new strengthened regulator." (2005
Budget Analytic Perspectives, pg. 83)

February: CEA Chairman Mankiw cautions Congress to "not take [the financial
market's] strength for granted." Again, the call from the Administration was
to reduce this risk by "ensuring that the housing GSEs are overseen by an
effective regulator." (N. Gregory Mankiw, Op-Ed, "Keeping Fannie And
Freddie's House In Order," Financial Times, 2/24/04)

June: Deputy Secretary of Treasury Samuel Bodman spotlights the risk posed
by the GSEs and called for reform, saying "We do not have a world-class
system of supervision of the housing government sponsored enterprises
(GSEs), even though the importance of the housing financial system that the
GSEs serve demands the best in supervision to ensure the long-term vitality
of that system. Therefore, the Administration has called for a new, first
class, regulatory supervisor for the three housing GSEs: Fannie Mae, Freddie
Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banking System." (Samuel Bodman, House
Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Testimony,

** 2005

April: Treasury Secretary John Snow repeats his call for GSE reform, saying
"Events that have transpired since I testified before this Committee in 2003
reinforce concerns over the systemic risks posed by the GSEs and further
highlight the need for real GSE reform to ensure that our housing finance
system remains a strong and vibrant source of funding for expanding
homeownership opportunities in America? Half-measures will only exacerbate
the risks to our financial system." (Secretary John W. Snow, "Testimony
Before The U.S. House Financial Services Committee," 4/13/05)

** 2007

July: Two Bear Stearns hedge funds invested in mortgage securities collapse.

August: President Bush emphatically calls on Congress to pass a reform
package for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, saying "first things first when it
comes to those two institutions. Congress needs to get them reformed, get
them streamlined, get them focused, and then I will consider other options."
(President George W. Bush, Press Conference, The White House, 8/9/07)

September: RealtyTrac announces foreclosure filings up 243,000 in August ­
up 115 percent from the year before.

September: Single-family existing home sales decreases 7.5 percent from the
previous month ­ the lowest level in nine years. Median sale price of
existing homes fell six percent from the year before.

December: President Bush again warns Congress of the need to pass
legislation reforming GSEs, saying "These institutions provide liquidity in
the mortgage market that benefits millions of homeowners, and it is vital
they operate safely and operate soundly. So I've called on Congress to pass
legislation that strengthens independent regulation of the GSEs ­ and
ensures they focus on their important housing mission. The GSE reform bill
passed by the House earlier this year is a good start. But the Senate has
not acted. And the United States Senate needs to pass this legislation
soon." (President George W. Bush, Discusses Housing, The White House,

** 2008

January: Bank of America announces it will buy Countrywide.

January: Citigroup announces mortgage portfolio lost $18.1 billion in value.

February: Assistant Secretary David Nason reiterates the urgency of reforms,
says "A new regulatory structure for the housing GSEs is essential if these
entities are to continue to perform their public mission successfully."
(David Nason, Testimony On Reforming GSE Regulation, Senate Committee On
Banking, Housing And Urban Affairs, 2/7/08)

March: Bear Stearns announces it will sell itself to JPMorgan Chase.

March: President Bush calls on Congress to take action and "move forward
with reforms on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They need to continue to
modernize the FHA, as well as allow State housing agencies to issue tax-free
bonds to homeowners to refinance their mortgages." (President George W.
Bush, Remarks To The Economic Club Of New York, New York, NY, 3/14/08)

April: President Bush urges Congress to pass the much needed legislation and
"modernize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. [There are] constructive things
Congress can do that will encourage the housing market to correct quickly by
? helping people stay in their homes." (President George W. Bush, Meeting
With Cabinet, the White House, 4/14/08)

May: President Bush issues several pleas to Congress to pass legislation
reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac before the situation deteriorates

"Americans are concerned about making their mortgage payments and keeping
their homes. Yet Congress has failed to pass legislation I have repeatedly
requested to modernize the Federal Housing Administration that will help
more families stay in their homes, reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to
ensure they focus on their housing mission, and allow State housing agencies
to issue tax-free bonds to refinance sub-prime loans." (President George W.
Bush, Radio Address, 5/3/08)

"[T]he government ought to be helping creditworthy people stay in their
homes. And one way we can do that ­ and Congress is making progress on this
­ is the reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That reform will come with a
strong, independent regulator." (President George W. Bush, Meeting With The
Secretary Of The Treasury, the White House, 5/19/08)

"Congress needs to pass legislation to modernize the Federal Housing
Administration, reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to ensure they focus on
their housing mission, and allow State housing agencies to issue tax-free
bonds to refinance subprime loans." (President George W. Bush, Radio
Address, 5/31/08)

June: As foreclosure rates continued to rise in the first quarter, the
President once again asks Congress to take the necessary measures to address
this challenge, saying "we need to pass legislation to reform Fannie Mae and
Freddie Mac." (President George W. Bush, Remarks At Swearing In Ceremony For
Secretary Of Housing And Urban Development, Washington, D.C., 6/6/08)

July: Congress heeds the President's call for action and passes reform of
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as it becomes clear that the institutions are
In 2005-- Senator John McCain partnered with three other Senate Republicans
to reform the government¹s involvement in lending.
Democrats blocked this reform, too.
23160  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on: October 18, 2009, 05:13:05 PM

Yesterday we received an email from a loyal reader who nonetheless seems to disagree with everything we write--a type of reader for whom we have a special, if slightly perverse, affection. Our correspondent included a quote that he attributed to Aristotle:

If we believe men have any personal rights at all, then they must have an absolute moral right to such a measure of good health as society can provide.
Could an ancient philosopher, a man who lived and died many centuries before the advent of either socialism or modern medicine, really have been in favor of socialized medicine? We were skeptical, to say the least, and decided to do a bit of Web sleuthing.

We punched the quote into Google, and up popped a series of references, mostly from left-liberal outfits like and Bill Moyers Journal. This heightened our suspicion that the quote is a "progressive" urban legend, but it didn't prove it.

James Taranto on the supposed Aristotle quote.
.Then we tried searching Google Books, figuring that if this appeared anywhere in Aristotle's works, it would turn up there. The only reference to the quote was from Thurston Clarke's 2008 book, "The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days That Inspired America." Clarke reports that RFK, during his 1968 presidential campaign, attributed the quote to Aristotle in a speech at the "University of Indiana Medical School" (presumably he means the Indiana University School of Medicine).

Of course, Aristotle wrote in ancient Greek, not modern English, so it's possible that Kennedy was using his own translation. But a March 2008 paper by Edmund D. Pellegrino, a professor of medicine and philosophy at Georgetown University, suggests that in fact RFK was using a fabricated quote. Here is what Pellegrino, with the assistance of the staff at the National Reference Center for Bioethics Literature, found:

In attempts to establish the provenance of the text in question we have conducted an extensive search for its source and original wording. We have not been able to locate it. Our initial curiosity was aroused by several things, including that rights language did not seem to have the Aristotelian context, and health care, as such, was not included in Aristotle's works. We searched Nicomachean Ethics and Eudemian Ethics, and the Magna Moralia without successfully locating the quote. Nor could we find it in other of works of Aristotle: On Length and Shortness of Life, De Anima, Economics or the Fragments. "Rights" language certainly would stick out in Aristotle's virtue-based ethics.
Curiously, the earliest reference to the purported quote that Pellegrino was able to find was from an article published in 1979, more than a decade after RFK's death, whose author claimed to have translated it himself from a Latin edition of the Nicomachean Ethics. We haven't been able to find a transcript of the RFK speech, or any contemporaneous account of his quoting Aristotle in it.

Maybe he was quoting Aristotle Onassis.

'Futile' Vassals
Whatever Aristotle might or might not have said, the flip side of establishing a "right" to medical care is that it also entails empowering the government to define the limits of that right. An Associated Press story offers a chilling hint of the potential implications:

A surprising number of frail, elderly Americans in nursing homes are suffering from futile care at the end of their lives, two new federally funded studies reveal.
One found that putting nursing home residents with failing kidneys on dialysis didn't improve their quality of life and may even push them into further decline. The other showed many with advanced dementia will die within six months and perhaps should have hospice care instead of aggressive treatment.
Medical experts say the new research emphasizes the need for doctors, caregivers and families to consider making the feeble elderly who are near death comfortable rather than treating them as if a cure were possible--more like the palliative care given to terminally ill cancer patients.
We have no basis on which to quarrel with the findings of the study, and certainly it is true that some treatments are futile and circumstances exist in which palliative care is the least bad of all available options. But when government becomes the decision-maker, you end up with stories like the one we noted Wednesday, in which a British hospital manager tried to persuade a woman to make her grandmother "comfortable" (read dead) when, as it turned out, the old lady's breathing difficulties were easily treatable.

In that same item Wednesday, we called attention to a speech Robert Reich, President Clinton's labor secretary, gave, in which he set forth what he described--approvingly--as the "truth" about so-called health-care reform: that it amounts to telling old people, "We're going to let you die," forcing young people to pay more for insurance, and suppressing medical innovation.

We weren't the only one to notice this Reich speech, and Reich has posted a response on his blog to the commentary that has ensued:

Lou Dobbs, Sean Hannity, Rush, and the right-wing blogosphere seem interested in a talk I gave in September, 2007 to students in a political science class here at Berkeley, in which I played the role of a presidential candidate so politically incorrect and tone-deaf as to pummel every sacred cow in sight--including the notion that our society could afford and would continue forever to pay whatever amount of money was required to keep everyone alive forever. The whole point of the mock exercise was to show that presidential candidates can't state what everyone knows to be the truth because they'll be taken apart by the Right or the Left. I slew many other sacred cows in that mock exercise, some of which are held dearly by the Left. Nonetheless, two years later the Right has exhumed the lecture and taken my words completely out of context purportedly to show that Obama and the Democrats plan death panels.
If their desperation weren't so pathetic it would be funny. After all, they have proven the whole point of my lecture. UC Berkeley maintains an archive of webcasts and my speech is available there verbatim, should you wish to listen to it in its entirety.
This is bizarre. We don't know exactly what Dobbs, Hannity and Rush Limbaugh said, but we were in complete agreement with "the whole point" of Reich's lecture, at least as it applies to President Obama and other politicians currently pushing "health-care reform": that they are not telling the truth about their intentions. Reich almost certainly gave a far more accurate description of how ObamaCare would work in practice than Obama has ever given.
23161  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Dollar; Monetary Policy on: October 17, 2009, 08:19:02 PM
Doug et al:

No criticism for having posted that, but that has got to be one of the most specious and stupid pieces I have read in quite some time. cheesy

23162  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / More on the BC Canada case on: October 17, 2009, 06:10:12 PM
A more thorough article on the BC Canada case:

Parents cannot waive a child's right to sue for injuries: B.C. court
October 16, 2009 4:02 PM

METRO VANCOUVER -- A parent cannot sign away a child's right to sue
for injuries caused by negligence, a judge has ruled in what is
believed to be a precedent-setting decision.

Victor Wong of Richmond, now a 20-year-old University of B.C. student,
sued Lok's Martial Arts Centre and owner Michael Lok.

Wong claimed he suffered injuries because of the negligence of the
defendants, including Ramin Asgare Nik, who violently threw Wong to
the ground in the course of a sparring match at a Hapkido school owned
and operated by Lok's.

Wong alleged the defendants were negligent "in failing to take
preventative measures to ensure that injuries did not occur in the
course of sparring matches by taking such measures as screening
participants, instructing participants, requiring suitable protective
gear or carefully supervising matches."

Lok and the martial arts centre went to court to have the lawsuit
dismissed, arguing that Wong's mother, Yen To, signed a release,
agreeing not to make legal claims for injuries when Wong first began
taking lessons in 2001, when he was 12.

The document, titled "Conditions of membership and release," said: "It
is expressly agreed that all exercises and treatments, and use of all
facilities shall be undertaken by the student's sole risk...YOU ARE

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Peter Willcock concluded that while the
Infants Act was intended by the legislature to establish the sole
means of creating contractual obligations that bind minors, "the act
does not permit a parent or guardian to bind an infant to an agreement
waiving the infant's right to bring an action in damages in tort."

The judge dismissed the defendant's application to strike the lawsuit,
but has not ruled on whether the defendants were negligent. That
matter now is set to proceed to trial on Nov. 23.

"It appears to be precedent-setting in B.C.," Wong's lawyer, Bonnie
Lepin, said Friday of the ruling. "It may well be the first [ruling of
its kind] in Canada."

She said the ruling will not affect parents signing waivers for their
children involved in sports or skiing who have accidental injuries.

The ruling, she added, only means a parent cannot sign away a child's
right to sue for injuries caused by negligence.

Lepin said her client suffered a fracture of his right arm, which
required surgery and left the young man partially disabled. His right
arm now becomes fatigued and cramped because of the injury, she said.

"He gets more time to write exams," Lepin explained about the UBC

The full judgment is available online at:
23163  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: October 17, 2009, 09:24:05 AM
Unleash the Isrealis?

As a practical matter, Iran is a long reach for them.  There are rumors that the Sauds have cleared use of their airspace, and there are rumors of the capabilities of Israeli subs.    The Iranian program is spread out and dug in.  Will the Israelis be able to access and destroy it?  To ensure success, do nukes become part of the equation?  Have not the Iranians built in populaution centers?
23164  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!) on: October 17, 2009, 06:55:31 AM
Professors have a professional interest in—indeed a professional duty to uphold—liberty of thought and discussion. But in recent years, precisely where they should be most engaged and outspoken they have been apathetic and inarticulate.

Consider Yale. On Oct. 1, the university hosted Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard. His drawing of Muhammad with a bomb in his turban became the best known of 12 cartoons published by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September 2005. That led to deadly protests throughout the Muslim world. On the same day, at an unrelated event, Yale hosted Brandeis Prof. Jytte Klausen. Her new book, "The Cartoons that Shook the World," was subject in August to a last minute prepublication decision by Yale President Richard Levin and Yale University Press to remove not only the 12 cartoons but also all representations of Muhammad, including respected works of art.

The Westergaard appearance inspired protests. Muslim students condemned Yale's invitation to the cartoonist as religiously and racially insensitive, compared him to Holocaust deniers and white supremacists, and declared his art and utterances hate speech rather than free speech.

Students will be students. It is to be hoped that those who opposed Mr. Westergaard's invitation will learn at Yale that the aim of liberal education is not to guard their sensitivities but to teach them to listen to diverse opinions and fortify them to respond with better arguments to those with whom they disagree.

Mr. Westergaard's appearance did prompt a small faculty-led panel discussion on Oct. 7. It dealt mainly with Muslim reaction to the cartoons, though Prof. Seyla Benhabib said that in Ms. Klausen's position she would have withdrawn the book. But generally the faculty has been unmoved by Yale's censorship of Ms. Klausen's book, which suggests that lessons in the fundamentals of liberty of thought and discussion may be lacking on campus.

To be sure, Yale's censorship—the right word because Yale suppressed content on moral and political grounds—raised difficult questions. Can't rights, including freedom of speech and press, be limited to accommodate other rights and goods? What if reprinting the cartoons and other depictions gave thugs and extremists a new opportunity to inflame passions and unleash violence? Can't the consequences of the cartoons' original publication be understood without reproducing them? Weren't the cartoons really akin, as Yale Senior Lecturer Charles Hill pointed out in a letter to the Yale Alumni magazine, to the depictions of Jews as grotesque monsters that successive American administrations have sought to persuade Arab newspapers to cease publishing? And isn't it true, as Mr. Hill also observed, that Yale's obligation to defend free speech does not oblige it to subsidize gratuitously offensive or intellectually worthless speech?

These are good questions—to which there are good answers.

Rights are subject to limits, but a right as fundamental to the university and the nation as freedom of speech and press should only be limited in cases of imminent danger and not in deference to speculation about possible violence at an indeterminate future date. One can't properly evaluate Ms. Klausen's contention that the cartoons were cynically manipulated without assessing with one's own eyes whether the images passed beyond mockery and ridicule to the direct incitement of violence.

Even if the cartoons exhibited a kinship to anti-Semitic caricatures, it would cut in favor of publication: a scholar would be derelict in his duties if he published a work on anti-Semitic images without including examples. And finally, if Yale chooses to publish a rigorous analysis of the Danish cartoon controversy, which affected the national interest and roiled world affairs, then the university does incur a scholarly obligation to include all the relevant information and evidence including the cartoons at the center, regardless of whether they are in themselves gratuitously offensive and intellectually worthless.

The wonder is that Yale's censorship has excited so little debate at Yale. The American Association of University Professors condemned Yale for caving in to terrorists' "anticipated demands." And a group of distinguished alumni formed the Yale Committee for a Free Press and published a letter protesting Yale's "surrender to potential unknown billigerents" and calling on the university to correct its error by reprinting Ms. Klausen's book with the cartoons and other images intact. But the Yale faculty has mostly yawned. Even the famously activist Yale Law School has, according to its director of public affairs, sponsored no programs on censorship and the university.

Alas, there is good reason to suppose that in its complacency about threats to freedom on campus the Yale faculty is typical of faculties at our leading universities. In 2006, even as the police had barely begun their investigation, Duke University President Richard Brodhead lent the prestige of his office to faculty members' prosecution and conviction in the court of public opinion of three members of the Duke lacrosse team falsely accused of gang raping an African-American exotic dancer. It turned out they were being pursued by a rogue prosecutor. To be sure, it was only a vocal minority at Duke who led the public rush to judgment. But the vast majority of the faculty stood idly by, never rising to defend the presumption of innocence and the requirements of fair process. Perhaps Duke faculty members did not realize or perhaps they did not care that these formal and fundamental protections against the abuse of power belong among the conditions essential to the lively exchange of ideas at the heart of liberal education.

Similarly, in 2005, Harvard President Lawrence Summers sparked a faculty revolt that ultimately led to his ouster by floating at a closed-door, off-the-record meeting the hypothesis—which he gave reasons for rejecting only a few breaths after posing it—that women were poorly represented among natural science faculties because significantly fewer women than men are born with the extraordinary theoretical intelligence necessary to succeed at the highest scientific levels. Before he was forced to resign, Mr. Summers did his part to set back the cause of unfettered intellectual inquiry by taking the side of his accusers and apologizing repeatedly for having dared to expose an unpopular idea to rational analysis. Apart from a few honorable exceptions, the Harvard faculty could not find a principle worth defending in the controversy over Mr. Summer's remarks.

As the controversies at Yale, Duke and Harvard captured national attention, professors from other universities haven't had much to say in defense of liberty of thought and discussion either. This silence represents a collective failure of America's professors of colossal proportions. What could be a clearer sign of our professors' loss of understanding of the requirements of liberal education than their failure to defend liberty of thought and discussion where it touches them most directly?

Mr. Berkowitz is a fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.
23165  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: October 17, 2009, 06:37:17 AM
The US has no sanctions card without the Russians and the Chinese and we have neither of them in favor of sanctions-- so of course the Iranians continue to do what has worked for several years now (which most certainly includes the Bush era)

What are we to do?
23166  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: October 17, 2009, 06:34:36 AM
 Friday, October 16, 2009   STRATFOR.COM  Diary Archives 

Pakistan and the Kerry-Lugar Bill: Aid, or an Affront to an Alliance?

THURSDAY WAS A PARTICULARLY ROUGH DAY for Pakistan. Suspected Taliban militants carried out a spate of armed assaults and suicide attacks against three security facilities in Lahore, killing 38 people. The violence followed 11 other attacks that occurred in the past week. And with the military gearing up for an offensive against Taliban strongholds in South Waziristan, more attacks designed to demonstrate the militants’ resolve are likely in store.

Also on Thursday, U.S. President Barack Obama signed the Kerry-Lugar bill — legislation that triples the amount of U.S. aid to Pakistan to $7.5 billion over five years. This might seem like a silver lining in the cloud of Pakistan’s terrorism woes. After all, the United States is signaling a deepened commitment to its front-line ally in the war against terrorism, during its most desperate hour, isn’t it?

Not exactly.

“In the eyes of the military — the indisputable power-broker of the Pakistani state — the mere inclusion of these provisions, even if they are non-binding, is a direct affront to the U.S.-Pakistani alliance. An alliance that is already very troubled.”
While that might be the popular viewpoint in Washington, any reaction in Islamabad to mention of the Kerry-Lugar bill likely would have a stream of colorful expletives attached. For many in Islamabad, the aid package represents a deep betrayal because it includes what the Pakistanis call “highly intrusive” provisions — clauses that make the flow of funds contingent upon the U.S. secretary of state’s ability to certify that Pakistan is combating militant groups on its soil and that the Pakistani government wields “effective civilian control over the military.”

In the eyes of the military — the indisputable power broker of the Pakistani state — the mere inclusion of these provisions, even if they are non-binding, is a direct affront to the U.S.-Pakistani alliance. It is an alliance that is already very troubled.

Since Pakistan’s violent inception in 1947, it was clear that the state had gotten the short end of the stick when it was carved out of British-controlled India. Pakistan’s borders deprived it of any significant strategic depth, while its rival India had significantly advantages in size, military prowess, population and wealth. This is a reality that Pakistan cannot escape. Therefore, it is a strategic imperative for Pakistan to acquire an outside power patron, preferably a superpower like the United States.

For decades, Pakistan has been willing to help the United States: It has offered to host U.S. bases along the Baloch coast, facilitated a U.S. rapprochement with China at the height of the Cold War, took the lead in operationalizing the U.S. proxy war in Afghanistan against the Soviets, and it is now on the front line in the war against terrorism. Yet time and again Pakistan has been disappointed.

Islamabad essentially expected the United States to repay it with security guarantees, as well as military and economic assistance that would allow Pakistan to level the playing field with India.

But Washington could never really fulfill Islamabad’s expectations. An alliance with Pakistan offers short-term utility from time to time, but the United States recognizes India as the heavyweight on the Asian subcontinent. India’s location in the Indian Ocean basin provides a strategic advantage, allowing it to hedge against Russia and China and to form a bulwark against radical Islam. Moreover, it can help to either secure or threaten critical sea-lanes running from the Persian Gulf to Asia. As an added bonus to the United States, India is also the world’s largest democracy. Circumstances may not always have permitted a deeper U.S.-Indian strategic partnership, but geopolitical times have changed. No longer bound by Cold War alliances, India and the United States see an opening to work on common interests. Ironically, Pakistan (and its Islamist militancy issues) is now one such common interest.

The idea of a deepening U.S.-Indian strategic partnership is enough to shake Pakistan to its core. In the past, when Islamabad saw that the United States wasn’t prepared to guarantee Pakistan’s territorial integrity, it developed nuclear weapons, but also came up with a back-up insurance policy to use against its rivals: irregular warfare through the development of militant proxies. Pakistan’s irregular warfare doctrine eventually spiraled out of control, and the side effects of that policy now form the glue in its current alliance with the United States in the battle against terrorism. But as the Kerry-Lugar bill symbolizes, an alliance with the United States rarely comes without strings attached. This is especially true as the debate intensifies in Washington over whether the United States should reduce its commitments in battling jihadists and refocus attention on other priorities in the world.

A familiar sense of betrayal is creeping back into Islamabad. Only this time, the irregular warfare policy is broken and militants that Pakistan once nurtured are threatening to shatter its political coherence. Meanwhile, India and the United States are finding a lot more common ground.

23167  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: October 16, 2009, 06:45:03 PM
An oldie but goodie
23168  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: El Fire Hydrant: (Noticias) on: October 16, 2009, 05:33:48 PM
Guau a todos:

Yo estaba esperando que el primero Vido-clip llegara a nuestro webmaster para que el lo postari'a (del "splanglish" to post= postear) en su hilo aqui para anunciar lo siguiente aqui, pero parece que el clip este tardando en el correo.

Quiero anunciar que Mauricio sea el "Sargento" de este foro (osea el moderator).

La Aventura continua,
Guro Crafty
23169  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post on: October 16, 2009, 12:01:38 PM
From the Left: The War on Fox News
The Obama administration is clearly not content to have a majority of American news media in its back pocket. It wants total obedience and has now openly declared war on Fox News Channel, which White House Communications Director Anita Dunn recently accused of being "a wing of the Republican Party." She added that from here forward, "We're going to treat [Fox News] the way we would treat an opponent. ... We don't need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave."

Consider the source, though. Dunn is also on the record saying that one of her "favorite political philosophers" was Mao Tse Tung, who was responsible for more than 70 million deaths in Communist China.

Obamanauts are furious with Fox for being the only major broadcast news outlet that has not toed the party line. Apparently, the administration thinks the way "legitimate news organizations behave" is to out-and-out lie about the opposition, like CBS News with its "fake but accurate" hatchet job on President George W. Bush just prior to the 2004 election, and like the outrageously phony quotes attributed to Rush Limbaugh in recent days (more on that later).

Fox, on the other hand, has recently exposed the corruption of ACORN and the extreme leftism of former Green Jobs Czar Van Jones, but this doesn't make it anti-Obama. Rather, it makes Fox pro-information, as the ACORN exposé and Van Jones's public insults about Republicans were real and noteworthy events, though most of the media chose not to report them.

The White House attack on Fox News goes beyond the simple cowardice of the Obama administration. Not only are they afraid to field tough questions from an aggressive news organization but government appointees in high places like Mark Lloyd, the FCC's Associate General Counsel and Chief Diversity Officer, are calling for ways to address the "structural imbalance" of talk radio and, presumably, the manner in which FNC does business. For his part, Lloyd is on record as being enamored of Hugo Chavez's "democratic revolution" and his takeover of the Venezuelan media. All aboard for the "Fairness Doctrine."
23170  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post on: October 16, 2009, 11:58:43 AM
"Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm." --James Madison

Baucus and Pelosi work on their health care potionGovernment & Politics
Double, Double, Toil and Trouble

The headlines triumphantly announced Tuesday that the Senate Finance Committee had passed its version of the health care takeover bill with the help of Republican-In-Name-Only Olympia Snowe of Maine. But as the Heritage Foundation's Brian Darling writes, there is no bill. In fact, Darling says, "The Senate is using a non-transparent and rare -- if not unique -- process to pass Obamacare."

Though Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) gathered Democrats and Republicans to craft a bill, they couldn't do it, even after weeks of meetings. So, Darling continues, "Baucus then scheduled a markup of an outline of his version of health care reform. Many call it a 'Vapor Bill,' because it's only a description of legislation. No member of the Committee has seen actual legislation, just a 262-page description. That Vapor Bill never will be voted on in the Senate, so many detractors are calling this a 'make believe markup.' It's to fool people into thinking the Senate is actually crafting a bill."

Not only that, but Darling adds, "I have called around Capitol Hill to find out who has a copy of the bill and none of my high-level contacts know." Now that's transparency.

Meanwhile, based on what language is actually accessible, the PricewaterhouseCoopers accounting firm performed an analysis commissioned by America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), a group representing the industry. Warning that the Baucus bill will saddle everyone who has insurance (including the Democrats' beloved middle class) with a load of new taxes in various forms, the report highlights an excise tax on employer-provided high-value health plans, Medicare payment cuts that would result in cost-shifting to the private market, and new taxes on the health industry that will inevitably be passed on to consumers.

According to Investor's Business Daily, "The study estimates that the average family-coverage cost of about $12,300 [per year] could reach $17,200 in 2013 if these provisions were implemented, $21,300 in 2016 and $25,900 in 2019. Meanwhile, average single coverage -- $4,600 today -- could reach nearly $10,000 in 2019." No wonder Democrats are afraid to discuss the details of this witch's brew.

Still, AHIP is no stalwart defender of the Constitution and Rule of Law. As The Wall Street Journal writes, "The irony is that AHIP is now arguing for a more left-wing bill, claiming the Baucus plan isn't 'universal' enough." Obviously, insurance companies are looking out for their own best interests. It's too bad they don't understand that those interests are best served by the free market.

The BIG Lie
"[The AHIP report is a] hatchet job ... bought and paid for by the same health insurance companies that have been gouging too many consumers for too long as they stand in the way of reform yet again." --Sen. Max "The Gouger" Baucus, who predicts that all Democrats and possibly more than one Republican will support his bill

This Week's 'Braying Jenny' Award
"When you think of the campaign that's been launched against the public option by the insurance industry -- because they can't take the competition. Anyone who had any doubts about the need for such an option need only look at the health insurance industry this week." --House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)

Pelosi is reduced to taunting and threatening anyone opposed to her schemes, saying that it only further makes the case for a government-run "public option" for health insurance. But how could any industry compete with the federal government's ability to run at a deficit forever? She went on to mock the "discredited" AHIP report. No one has actually discredited the report, mind you, Pelosi only says it's been discredited.

Hope 'n' Change: About That Free Lunch
Creative accounting allows Washington to get away with a lot, and the current health care debacle is no exception. Recent analyses of House and Senate proposals by the Congressional Budget Office rely upon static scoring (i.e., not factoring in behavioral changes caused by the legislation,) fantastically optimistic projections and simple omissions of unfavorable facts that trumpet deficit-neutral bills having no basis in reality. The libertarian Cato Institute, for example, took a close look at the CBO's numbers and discovered a variety of unsupportable claims.

For starters, the 10-year projection that measures out the trillion-dollar House bill in itself is misleading. Most of the bill's major provisions don't kick in until 2014, making for a 6-year projection in which costs ramp up slowly. After the first three years of the program, around the time of the 2012 election, costs would accumulate to about $100 billion, relative chump change that will allow Obama's re-election campaign the opportunity to pledge that health care has been a cost-saving success. But four years beyond that, long after the current president passes the threshold of electoral accountability (assuming he wins, perish the thought), costs catch a fever. Cato estimates a $2.4 trillion tab (even Sen. Harry Reid admits as much), double what the House bill and the CBO project. And what happens after 2019 is a true horror story.

The Baucus bill, all the rage on Capitol Hill these days, is another fraud of epic proportions. It claims to have no impact on the deficit by assuming, in part, that growth rate cuts in Medicare's physician payments will help offset its $829 billion price tag. All well and good, but Congress never makes those cuts because no one wants to be on record as cutting an entitlement for one of America's most powerful voting blocs. Just by taking these cuts out of the equation, the bill automatically goes $200 billion into the red. Additionally, there is no reckoning of the built-in costs that will hit consumers, including penalties for high-price insurance plans, penalties for not having insurance and the general rise in cost of various health care procedures over the span of several years.

Obama and his Democrat lackeys have either bullied or beguiled the CBO, once a reliably non-partisan entity, into fabricating analyses concluding that Congress has produced sweeping legislation that does not negatively affect the deficit. If ever the phrase "voodoo economics" applied, it's now.

This Week's 'Alpha Jackass' Award
"I will actually give you a speech made up entirely -- almost at the spur of the moment, of what a candidate for president would say if that candidate did not care about becoming president. In other words, this is what the truth is, and a candidate will never say, but what candidates should say if we were in a kind of democracy where citizens were honored in terms of their practice of citizenship, and they were educated in terms of what the issues were, and they could separate myth from reality in terms of what candidates would tell them:

'Thank you so much for coming this afternoon. I'm so glad to see you, and I would like to be president. Let me tell you a few things on health care. Look, we have the only health care system in the world that is designed to avoid sick people. [laughter] That's true, and what I'm going to do is I am going to try to reorganize it to be more amenable to treating sick people. But that means you -- particularly you young people, particularly you young, healthy people -- you're going to have to pay more. [applause] Thank you.'

'And by the way, we are going to have to -- if you're very old, we're not going to give you all that technology and all those drugs for the last couple of years of your life to keep you maybe going for another couple of months. It's too expensive, so we're going to let you die.' [applause]

'Also, I'm going to use the bargaining leverage of the federal government in terms of Medicare, Medicaid -- we already have a lot of bargaining leverage -- to force drug companies and insurance companies and medical suppliers to reduce their costs. But that means less innovation, and that means less new products and less new drugs on the market, which means you are probably not going to live that much longer than your parents. [applause] Thank you.'" --Robert Reich, President Clinton's labor secretary, in a speech at Berkeley in 2007. Democrats, death panels and dying early -- it's all in there, folks.
23171  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Nyet, not yet? on: October 16, 2009, 11:47:20 AM
This from Statfor:  Who'd a thunk it?


Poland: Patriot Missiles From the U.S.
Stratfor Today » October 16, 2009 | 1450 GMT

A fire unit of a U.S. Patriot missile batteryPolish Deputy Defense Minister Stanislaw Komorowski said Oct. 16 that the United States will deploy a Patriot air defense battery to Poland and that the discussions with Washington about hosting part of a U.S. ballistic missile defense (BMD) system are ongoing. Komorowski made his remarks after talks with U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Alexander Vershbow. Although there is still no official U.S. response to the Polish announcement, the revelation tracks closely with STRATFOR’s forecast that the U.S. cancellation of the Bush-era BMD program in Poland and the Czech Republic does not constitute a serious break with Washington’s intention to maintain Poland as its key ally in Europe.

It is not yet clear what this deployment might actually entail. On one end of the spectrum is a long-term deployment of a Patriot battery. On the other end is a short joint exercise where a U.S. Patriot unit is in Poland only briefly — and perhaps with inert rather than live missiles. The former is a major step for Washington; the latter is merely a signal to Moscow. In any event, nothing irreversible has been done.

But the bottom line is that the potential of U.S. Patriot missiles in Poland will not please Russia, which is why the United States is floating the idea. Russia opposed the original BMD in Poland not because the system would have posed a direct threat, but because it symbolized increasing U.S. presence in a key Central European state near Russia. In a way, the Patriot missiles in Poland are an even greater threat to Russian interests in the region because they are actually operational and will constitute not only a high-tech operational defense for Poland, but also a deepening symbiotic relationship between Warsaw and Washington.

The United States had hoped that with its initial move to scrap BMD in Central Europe, Russia would reciprocate by toning down its support of Iran. Instead, Moscow stated it would continue its military-technical cooperation.

Washington has since made it clear to Moscow that it has the ability to play in Russia’s backyard. The announcement on Oct. 7 that U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will visit Poland, Czech Republic and Romania from Oct. 20-24 was the opening salvo of the latest U.S. offensive. This was followed by Vershbow’s statement on Oct. 9 that the United States would consider adding Ukraine to its BMD network and that it would look to expand its military cooperation with Georgia and Ukraine.

The latest announcement from Poland suggests that the United States will use Vershbow — a former ambassador to Russia who is well versed on former Soviet Union matters and an important player in the U.S. defense establishment — as a prime tool to keep Russia on its toes in the ongoing confrontation over Iran. The Patriots in Poland, along with support of Ukraine and Georgia militarily, are U.S. proof to Russia that Washington has plenty of options to threaten Russia in its periphery.
23172  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Chairman Mao in the house on: October 16, 2009, 07:37:36 AM
23173  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: October 16, 2009, 06:56:13 AM
I suppose I could put this in the Book Review thread, but I put it here:

It says something about the precarious state of the global economy that the world's most important economic relationship—between the U.S. and China—has been described by a leading economist as one of "codependency," akin, he has suggested, to that of a drug dealer and an addict.

According to this scenario, China (the dealer) exports low-priced goods to America (the addict), which can't stop consuming them. To keep the cycle going, China uses the dollars it accrues from its exports to buy billions of dollars in U.S. Treasurys. (As of September 2008, China became the largest holder of U.S. debt.) The infusion of foreign money helps to keep U.S. interest rates low, which in turn encourages more consumption. The arrangement worked for a while, but then (the scenario goes) the U.S. overdosed and suffered a breakdown. Now China is wondering about the wisdom of being a supplier. "We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S.," said China's premier, Wen Jiabao, earlier this year. "Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried."

The relationship sounds rather dysfunctional, when put that way. But is it? In "Superfusion," Zachary Karabell notes certain tensions, but his focus is really on how the two economies became so intertwined and on why it is important to strengthen the bonds between them. Mr. Karabell rightly identifies this as "the crucial issue for the 21st century."

China and America are two of the world's three largest economies (alongside Japan). They traded $410 billion worth of goods in 2007, up from just $5 billion in 1980. Together they can sometimes account for more than half of the world's economic growth in a given year. An economic slowdown in either country can affect the entire global economy.

Yet the relationship—something each country should manage with extra care—is fraught with conflicts and misunderstandings and is threatened by domestic pressures. Mr. Karabell is critical of what he sees as the U.S. determination to "contest the rise of China every step of the way." He insightfully shows how fears of China's growing economic might are used as a battering ram against companies like Walmart—China's low labor costs are held to blame for the success of big-box stores, with their low-price goods. And of course China is a perfect villain for any lobbyist or politician who is eager to protect a U.S. manufacturer by curtailing trade.

In the past 18 months, however, the terms of the relationship have shifted dramatically. While the U.S. economy has been in recession, and the U.S. financial sector on the brink of collapse, China has managed to keep its own economy relatively stable. Its growth rate, though lower than usual, still came in at a robust 8% in the second quarter of 2009. And China's banking sector has experienced little of the turmoil of America's.

View Full Image
By Zachary Karabell
Simon & Schuster, 340 pages, $26
.So who is now the senior partner, so to speak? For years China has been on the receiving end of lectures from U.S. officials—its undervalued currency, inefficient banking system and high saving rate are perennial scolding points. But China is now the one doing the lecturing. Last year, the chairman of the country's banking regulatory commission asked in a speech: "Does money-making or doing business justify the regulators in ignoring their duty for prudential supervision and their job of preventing misbehavior?" Senior Chinese officials have also been chatting up the idea of displacing the dollar as the world's reserve currency. And China has been on a buying spree. Its acquisitions of foreign companies, or investments in them, totaled $56 billion last year. As recently as 2002, the annual total was just $140 million.

Alas, these developments get short shrift in "Superfusion." Instead, there are chapters rehashing how U.S. companies like Kentucky Fried Chicken, Avon and Federal Express made their inroads into China. There is an odd chapter on the shortcomings of Chinese data collection that only briefly touches on the U.S.-China relationship. Mr. Karabell gives China's banking sector a careful analysis, but he treats many other topics superficially. In a discussion of last year's U.S. market turmoil, he simply speculates about what was said in conversations between the U.S. Treasury secretary and China's premier. Most of the book's material seems to be drawn from secondary sources.

Still, the question at the heart of "Superfusion" is a pressing one: What will happen next? Mr. Karabell says that the U.S. must turn its thinking away from the military and security challenges of the 20th century and focus more on the economic challenges of the 21st. If it does so, one key "metric"—for the U.S. and the rest of the world—will be China's growth rate. Can it be sustained?

That depends. With a meager welfare state, Chinese consumers save and save. The consumption rate is only about 35% of gross domestic product—down from 49% in 1990—and the lowest of any major world economy (the U.S. rate is 70%). At some point China will have to consume more, if only to be less dependent on exports for its prosperity. Other changes are needed, too. A 2007 property-rights law may stimulate the economy, assuming that it is enforced, but China still needs to undo an array of obstacles that face foreign investors and domestic entrepreneurs. In the World Bank's most recent study on the ease of doing business in 183 countries, China scored only 89th—and 151st in the category of "launching a business."

But there is reason for optimism. On a visit to London earlier this year, Wen Jiabao, China's premier, claimed to have brought a copy of Adam Smith's "Theory of Moral Sentiments"—not quite "The Wealth of Nations" but still better than Mao's "Little Red Book."

Mr. Rees is the president of Geonomica, a speech-writing and consulting firm in McLean, Va., and has worked for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
23174  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton #71, 1788 on: October 16, 2009, 06:14:24 AM
"The republican principle demands that the deliberate sense of the community should govern the conduct of those to whom they intrust the management of their affairs; but it does not require an unqualified complaisance to every sudden breeze of passion or to every transient impulse which the people may receive from the arts of men, who flatter their prejudices to betray their interests." --Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 71, 1788
23175  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Israel's secret war on Hezbollah on: October 16, 2009, 06:04:20 AM
On Monday, a secret Hezbollah munitions bunker in South Lebanon blew up under mysterious circumstances, injuring a senior official in the organization. This is the second such incident in recent months. The first occurred on July 14, when an explosion destroyed a major Hezbollah munitions dump in the South Lebanese village of Hirbet Salim. Hezbollah immediately pointed fingers at the Mossad. Whether or not Israel was to blame, the explosion caused Hezbollah considerable discomfort by proving that it was in flagrant violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, which forbids stockpiling weapons south of the Litani River.

The U.N. issued a strongly worded rebuke and sent representatives to investigate. But their efforts were thwarted by Hezbollah fighters, who, with the assistance of Lebanese troops, prevented the foreigners from examining the site. This caused further embarrassment to Lebanon, as it exposed the army's lack of neutrality and the active aid that it extends to Hezbollah.

The episode also led to heightened tensions on the Israel-Lebanon border. The specter of renewed fighting between Israel and Hezbollah looms as large today as it has at any time since the end of the Lebanon war in August 2006. Yet senior military officers in Israel's Northern Command are confident that the embarrassing outcome of the last round will not be repeated.

"By all means, let the Hezbollah try," one officer told me two weeks ago when I asked if he was concerned about the possibility of warfare. "The welcome party that we are preparing for them is one that they will remember for a very long time." That sentiment is shared by many of his colleagues.

The recent explosions have highlighted the weakened geopolitical status of Hezbollah, a diminishment which no one could have foreseen at the end of the last war. In 2006, on both sides of the border—and elsewhere in the Middle East—Hezbollah was seen as having triumphed. Not only was it able to withstand the vastly superior invading Israeli force, but it also inflicted heavy military casualties and brought civilian life in northern Israel to a standstill with its rockets. At the end of the war, a commission of inquiry was set up in Israel to investigate the military and political failure. A number of senior army officers resigned, and Israel's deterrence power was seen as having sustained a severe blow.

If the 2006 war underlined the military might of Hezbollah—a repeat, in a sense, of Hezbollah's success in driving out the Israeli occupying forces from South Lebanon in May 2000—it also forced Israel to include Hezbollah in any assessment of possible responses to an Israeli attack against Iranian nuclear installations.

As part of its combat doctrine, which eschews reliance on reinforcements and resupply, Hezbollah has stockpiled its weapons throughout Lebanon, but particularly near the Israeli border. According to current Israeli intelligence estimates, Hezbollah has an arsenal of 40,000 rockets, including Iranian-made Zelzal, Fajr-3, Fajr-5, and 122 mm rockets (some of which have cluster warheads) and Syrian-made 302 mm rockets. Some of its rockets can reach greater Tel Aviv. Hezbollah also has a number of highly advanced weapons systems, including antiaircraft missiles, that constitute a threat to Israeli combat aircraft.

But all is not rosy for Hezbollah. After the war, considerable dissatisfaction with the organization was voiced inside Lebanon. Many blamed its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, for Israel's retaliatory bombardments that caused widespread damage. Nasrallah stated that had he known Israel would respond as forcefully as it did, he would have thought twice before ordering the abduction of the two Israeli soldiers—the act that sparked the conflict.

Harsh criticism of Hezbollah also came from an unexpected source: Tehran. The Iranian strategy calls for Hezbollah to play two roles. One is to instigate minor border provocations. The other is to launch, on Tehran's command, a full-scale retaliatory attack should Israel target Iran's nuclear facilities. The 2006 war met neither criterion, and, as the Iranians complained, merely served to reveal the extent of Hezbollah's military capabilities.

Then, in February 2008, Imad Mughniyeh, the organization's military commander and Nasrallah's close associate, was killed in a car bomb in Damascus. The assassination of the man who topped the FBI's most-wanted list prior to Osama bin Laden was a severe blow to morale, as well as to Hezbollah's strategic capabilities. Nasrallah was convinced that the Mossad was responsible, and vowed to take revenge "outside of the Israel-Lebanon arena."

The Shin Bet, Israel's internal security agency, which is also responsible for protecting the country's legations abroad, has been on high alert ever since. But as of today, Hezbollah has not exacted its revenge. This fact was a topic of discussions at a high-level secret forum of Israel's intelligence services that took place from late July to early September.

Israeli officials raised four possible reasons for Hezbollah's failure to act, all of which reflect its current weakness.

First, no replacement has been found for Mughniyeh, whose strategic brilliance, originality and powers of execution are sorely missed by Hezbollah.

Second, Israel's intelligence coverage of Iran and Hezbollah is far superior today to what it was in the past. Planned attacks, including one targeting the Israeli Embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan, have all been foiled. The Israeli security services have warned Israeli businessmen abroad of possible abduction attempts by Hezbollah. They also shared information with Egyptian authorities that led to the arrest of members of a Hezbollah network who intended to kill Israeli tourists in Sinai. The arrest of these operatives resulted in sharp public exchanges between Egypt, Hezbollah and its Iranian masters, when Nasrallah admitted that these, in fact, were his men.

Third, Nasrallah cannot afford to be viewed domestically as the cause of yet another retaliation against Lebanon. Any act of revenge that he contemplates needs to be carefully calibrated. On the one hand, it needs to hurt the enemy and be spectacular enough to stoke Hezbollah pride. On the other hand, it cannot be so murderous as to cause Israel to respond with force. To complicate matters further, Israel has made it clear that because Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese government, despite the fact that the party that it backed lost in the recent election, any Hezbollah action against Israel would be viewed as an action taken by the Lebanese government. Thus Israel would regard Lebanese infrastructure as a legitimate target for a military response.

Finally, there are the Iranians. Their primary focus is on proceeding with their nuclear program without unnecessary distractions. Tehran's main concern is that a terror attack that can be linked to Iran would result in the arrest of its agents overseas, who are currently procuring equipment for its uranium-enrichment centrifuges.

Tehran has avoided direct involvement in foreign terrorism ever since 1996, when a group of Iranians were convicted in Germany of murdering political opponents of the Iranian regime. And unlike in the past (as, for instance, in the case of the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires in retaliation for the assassination of Nasrallah's predecessor), it is now reluctant to place intelligence resources at Hezbollah's disposal. This is a serious blow to Hezbollah, which is not yet able to function as a full-fledged independent operational organization internationally.

Hezbollah is also clearly aware of the severe blow in terms of power and prestige that the Iranian mullahs suffered as a result of the massive protests following June's presidential election. Automatic support from Tehran is no longer a certainty. For now, at least, the Iranian hardliners have troubles of their own.

In short, despite the fact that Hezbollah today is substantially stronger in purely military terms than it was three years ago, its political stature and its autonomy have been significantly reduced. It is clear that Nasrallah is cautious and he will weigh his options very carefully before embarking on any course of action that might lead to all-out war with Israel. There are some experts in Israel who believe that even Hezbollah's retaliatory role in the Iranian game plan is currently in question.

Whether or not this is the case, all of this is being considered in Jerusalem as part of Israel's calculations about whether to strike Iran's nuclear facilities.

Mr. Bergman, a correspondent for the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, is the author of the "The Secret War With Iran" (Free Press, 2008).
23176  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: October 16, 2009, 05:55:44 AM
Grateful that my children have the day off from school today and that I get to spend it with them.  Grateful to see my good friend and djembe teacher today too.
23177  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on: October 16, 2009, 05:44:41 AM
Barney Frank, Predatory Lender
Almost two-thirds of all bad mortgages in our financial system were bought by government agencies or required by government regulations.

Recent reports that the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will suffer default rates of more than 20% on the 2007 and 2008 loans it guaranteed has raised questions once again about the government's role in the financial crisis and its efforts to achieve social purposes by distorting the financial system.

The FHA's function is to guarantee mortgages of low-income borrowers (the mortgages are then sold through securitizations by Ginnie Mae) and thus to take reasonable credit risks in the interests of making mortgage credit available to the nation's low-income citizens. Accordingly, the larger than normal losses that will result from the 2007 and 2008 cohort could be justified by Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, as "policy"—an effort to ease the housing downturn through the application of government credit. The FHA, he argued, is buying more weak mortgages in order to help put a floor under the housing market. Eventually, the taxpayers will have to judge whether this policy was justified.

Far more interesting than the FHA's prospective losses on its 2007 and 2008 book are the agency's losses on its 2005 and 2006 guarantees, when the housing bubble was inflating at its fastest rate and there was no need for government support. FHA-backed loans during those years also have delinquency rates between 20% and 30%. These adverse results—not the result of a "policy" effort to shore up markets—pose a significant challenge to those who are trying to absolve the U.S. government of responsibility for the financial crisis.

When the crisis first arose, the left's explanation was that it was caused by corporate greed, primarily on Wall Street, and by deregulation of the financial system during the Bush administration. The implicit charge was that the financial system was flawed and required broader regulation to keep it out of trouble. As it became clear that there was no financial deregulation during the Bush administration and that the financial crisis was caused by the meltdown of almost 25 million subprime and other nonprime mortgages—almost half of all U.S. mortgages—the narrative changed. The new villains were the unregulated mortgage brokers who allegedly earned enormous fees through a new form of "predatory" lending—by putting unsuspecting home buyers into subprime mortgages when they could have afforded prime mortgages. This idea underlies the Obama administration's proposal for a Consumer Financial Protection Agency. The link to the financial crisis—recently emphasized by President Obama—is that these mortgages would not have been made if regulators had been watching those fly-by-night mortgage brokers.

There was always a problem with this theory. Mortgage brokers had to be able to sell their mortgages to someone. They could only produce what those above them in the distribution chain wanted to buy. In other words, they could only respond to demand, not create it themselves. Who wanted these dicey loans? The data shows that the principal buyers were insured banks, government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the FHA—all government agencies or private companies forced to comply with government mandates about mortgage lending. When Fannie and Freddie were finally taken over by the government in 2008, more than 10 million subprime and other weak loans were either on their books or were in mortgage-backed securities they had guaranteed. An additional 4.5 million were guaranteed by the FHA and sold through Ginnie Mae before 2008, and a further 2.5 million loans were made under the rubric of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), which required insured banks to provide mortgage credit to home buyers who were at or below 80% of median income. Thus, almost two-thirds of all the bad mortgages in our financial system, many of which are now defaulting at unprecedented rates, were bought by government agencies or required by government regulations.

The role of the FHA is particularly difficult to fit into the narrative that the left has been selling. While it might be argued that Fannie and Freddie and insured banks were profit-seekers because they were shareholder-owned, what can explain the fact that the FHA—a government agency—was guaranteeing the same bad mortgages that the unregulated mortgage brokers were supposedly creating through predatory lending?

The answer, of course, is that it was government policy for these poor quality loans to be made. Since the early 1990s, the government has been attempting to expand home ownership in full disregard of the prudent lending principles that had previously governed the U.S. mortgage market. Now the motives of the GSEs fall into place. Fannie and Freddie were subject to "affordable housing" regulations, issued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which required them to buy mortgages made to home buyers who were at or below the median income. This quota began at 30% of all purchases in the early 1990s, and was gradually ratcheted up until it called for 55% of all mortgage purchases to be "affordable" in 2007, including 25% that had to be made to low-income home buyers.

It was not easy to find candidates for traditional mortgages—loans to people with good credit records or the resources for a substantial downpayment—among home buyers who qualified under HUD's guidelines. To meet their affordable housing requirements, therefore, Fannie and Freddie reduced their lending standards and reached into the FHA's turf. The FHA, although it lost market share, continued to guarantee what it could, adding to the demand that the unregulated mortgage brokers filled. If they were engaged in predatory lending, it was ultimately driven by the government's own requirements. The mortgages that resulted are now problem loans for the GSEs, the FHA and the big banks that were required to make them in order to burnish their CRA credentials.

The significance of the FHA's troubles is that this agency had no profit motive. Yet it dipped into the same pool of subprime and other nontraditional mortgages that the GSEs and Wall Street were fishing in. The left cannot have it both ways, blaming the private sector for subprime lending while absolving the government policies that created the demand for subprime loans. If the financial crisis was caused by subprime mortgages and predatory lending, the government's own policies made it happen.

Mr. Walllison is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
23178  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russia reshpaing nuclear doctrine on: October 16, 2009, 04:09:50 AM
Russia's Message on Reshaping Its Nuclear Doctrine
RUSSIA IS EXPANDING THE SCOPE OF ITS NUCLEAR DOCTRINE to include pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons, Russian Presidential Security Council Chief Nikolai Patrushev said in an interview published Wednesday by Moscow daily Izvestia. The former director of the Federal Security Service (the successor agency to the KGB) emphasized that nuclear weapons might be used in a preventive manner to repel conventional aggression in regional and even local wars. He was talking about the pre-emptive use of tactical nuclear weapons — which is, incidentally, an option the United States retains.

Russia considers its nuclear arsenal to be the pillar of its defensive military capabilities, and tactical nuclear weapons increasingly have taken a central role in its defensive scenarios since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“It is unlikely that the Russians would employ nuclear weapons in any given scenario, but whatever they say publicly has next to no bearing on what they actually would do in an unknowable, future situation.”
The potentially frightful speed of a modern nuclear exchange means there is little time for deliberation: To whatever extent possible, national command authorities seek to explore, understand and balance ahead of time the complexities and options of any given scenario. These scenarios are among the most closely guarded state secrets in the world. When and how they are updated is not generally a matter for public consumption.

And in any event, the fundamental reality remains: A nation’s senior leadership retains exclusive control over the use of nuclear weapons. Such a decision would be taken in a time of crisis, under a specific set of ultimately unknowable circumstances. Paper scenarios might inform that decision, but at the end of the day, the leader is not bound by them any more than he is bound by his country’s public nuclear doctrine.

Indeed, the manner in which a war is fought depends on any number of things — who struck first, who has the initiative, one’s strengths and weaknesses as well as the enemy’s, and so forth. But the first thing that goes out the window is the official, public statement about what that doctrine is or should be.

It is still unlikely that the Russians would employ nuclear weapons in any given scenario, but whatever they say publicly has next to no bearing on what they actually would do in an unknowable, future situation.

In other words, Patrushev’s interview was not an announcement to the Russian military that it is going to fight differently; such an announcement would come through different channels. Rather, Patrushev was telling the world that the Russian military is going to fight differently — whether that is the case or not. What is significant is not the public shift in nuclear doctrine, but the political decision to publicize it, and the timing of that decision.

It was no accident that the interview was published while U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was visiting Moscow. Patrushev was speaking to the West, and to the United States. He was attempting to shape Western thinking with three implicit points:

Russia is prepared to think in terms of the Cold War — with all the unpleasantness that could entail for the United States.
Russia has tactical nuclear weapons and a doctrine for using them — pre-emptively, if necessary.
Nuclear weapons are potentially on the table if fundamental Russian national interests are attacked, or even if Russia is threatened.
23179  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 15, 2009, 08:17:05 PM
Secretary Halfbright seriously bobbled this (which was widely reported in the Arab world btw) by accepting the number.  IIRC Reason Magazine did an analysis that showed the actual number was far less-- about 125,000.   This is still an outrageous number of people to die so that the French, the UN et al could make their skim off the UN embargo.

One point to draw from this little trip down the memory hole is that the UN embargo had a VERY heavy human cost.
23180  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton, Federalist #9, 1787 on: October 15, 2009, 03:09:40 PM
"The regular distribution of power into distinct departments; the introduction of legislative balances and checks; the institution of courts composed of judges holding their offices during good behavior; the representation of the people in the legislature by deputies of their own election... They are means, and powerful means, by which the excellences of republican government may be retained and its imperfections lessened or avoided." --Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 9, 1787
23181  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: October 15, 2009, 03:05:06 PM
Eh GM, the clusterfcuk continues , , ,

Here's this:

GOP Lawmakers Accuse CAIR of Planting Spies on Capitol Hill

GOP Lawmakers Accuse Muslim Advocacy Group CAIR of Planting Spies on Capitol Hill

Four congressmen are asking for an investigation into the Council on American Islamic Relations after discovering an internal memo noting the group's strategy.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Four House Republicans on Wednesday accused the nation's largest Muslim advocacy group of trying to "infiltrate" Capitol Hill by placing interns in the offices of lawmakers who handle national security issues.

The four lawmakers, members of the anti-terror caucus, asked for an investigation into the Council on American Islamic Relations after discovering an internal memo noting the group's strategy. They also highlighted a new book by Paul Sperry titled "Muslim Mafia," scheduled for release on Thursday, which claims the group has been actively infiltrating Congress.

Reps. Sue Myrick of North Carolina, Trent Franks of Arizona, Paul Broun of Georgia and John Shadegg of Arizona asked the Internal Revenue Service to determine whether CAIR deserves its nonprofit status. They also are asking their colleagues to review a summary of findings that led the Justice Department to name CAIR as a co-conspirator in a terrorism case.

The internal memo, provided to, stated that CAIR would "focus on influencing congressmen responsible for policy that directly impacts the American Muslim community."

The memo cited three House committees -- Homeland Security, Intelligence and the Judiciary -- as panels on which lawmakers preside over policy affecting American Muslims.

"We will develop national initiatives such as a lobby day and placing Muslim interns in Congressional offices," the memo read.

Earlier this year the FBI severed its once-close ties with CAIR as evidence mounted of the group's links to a support network for Hamas, which the U.S. has designated a terrorist organization.

"It's frightening to think that an organization with clear-cut ties to terrorism could have a hand in influencing policy -- especially national security policy -- within our government," Myrick said. "The investigations that we're asking for are simple, and I'm hopeful that they will bring to light any and all information regarding the goals of CAIR."

Franks called on CAIR to renounce its ties to terrorist groups and state publicly that it does not support Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood.
"I take the charges levied against CAIR and laid out in this book very seriously because they affect our national security," Franks said in a statement. "This Congress must be deliberate in taking a strong stance against those groups and organizations that align themselves with terrorists."

"We live in a post-9/11 world where the coincidence of nuclear proliferation and Islamic terrorism pose a very dangerous combination and real threat to America's national security," he said. "That is why it is critical, in light of the well supported documents and information, that the U.S. Congress take this issue seriously."

CAIR decried the call as a "racist" and "insidious" attack on Muslims and mocked the allegations.

"If it wasn't so insidious, it would be laughable," CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper told "What are their charges? CAIR seeks political participation of Muslims. I'm shocked."

Hooper said the evidence proves only that the group is trying, like every other minority group, to engage Muslims in the political process.
"Why is it evil when Muslims seek political participation?" he asked.
In the book "Muslim Mafia," a six-month sting appears to link CAIR to an organized crime network made up of more than 100 other Muslim front groups that make up the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. The book claims the group is bent on destroying Western civilization.

Hooper said Sperry's efforts only proved the group's good intentions.
"The guy spied on us for months, stole documents -- and the most they came up with is CAIR seeks to work with policymakers on Capitol Hill?" Hooper said.

"I see it as a stamp of approval."

Quoted from
23182  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Robert Reich said it first. There will be death panels. on: October 15, 2009, 02:27:40 PM
 Meanwhile, if you're not part of a special interest but just a regular American who hopes one day to grow old (because it beats the alternative), has a timely reminder that proponents of "health-care reform" don't necessarily sympathize with that aspiration. NewsBusters links to another Morgen Richmond YouTube clip, this one of a speech that Robert Reich, who served as President Clinton's labor secretary, delivered on the subject in 2007:

I will actually give you a speech made up entirely--almost at the spur of the moment, of what a candidate for president would say if that candidate did not care about becoming president. In other words, this is what the truth is, and a candidate will never say, but what candidates should say if we were in a kind of democracy where citizens were honored in terms of their practice of citizenship, and they were educated in terms of what the issues were, and they could separate myth from reality in terms of what candidates would tell them:

"Thank you so much for coming this afternoon. I'm so glad to see you, and I would like to be president. Let me tell you a few things on health care. Look, we have the only health-care system in the world that is designed to avoid sick people. [laughter] That's true, and what I'm going to do is I am going to try to reorganize it to be more amenable to treating sick people. But that means you--particularly you young people, particularly you young, healthy people--you're going to have to pay more. [applause] Thank you.
"And by the way, we are going to have to--if you're very old, we're not going to give you all that technology and all those drugs for the last couple of years of your life to keep you maybe going for another couple of months. It's too expensive, so we're going to let you die. [applause]
"Also, I'm going to use the bargaining leverage of the federal government in terms of Medicare, Medicaid--we already have a lot of bargaining leverage--to force drug companies and insurance companies and medical suppliers to reduce their costs. But that means less innovation, and that means less new products and less new drugs on the market, which means you are probably not going to live that much longer than your parents. [applause] Thank you."
As noted in our transcription, Reich's Berkeley, Calif., audience applauded the idea of taxing the young, killing the old, and stifling lifesaving innovations. One suspects that these ideas would not be greeted as warmly in most other American locales, which is why elected politicians who are actually trying to sell such ideas cloak them in euphemisms about "universal care," "reform," "cost cutting" and so forth.

Liz Hunt of London's Daily Telegraph reports on an even more chilling euphemism used in a country that long ago instituted "health-care reform":

"Mrs ------- has breathing difficulties," the night manager told her. "She needs oxygen. Shall we call an ambulance?"
"What do you mean?" my friend responded. "What's the matter with her?"
"She needs to go to hospital. Do you want that? Or would you prefer that we make her comfortable?"
"Make her comfortable." Here's what that meant:

Befuddled by sleep, she didn't immediately grasp what was being asked of her. Her grandmother is immobilised by a calcified knee joint, which is why she is in the home. She's a little deaf and frail, but otherwise perky. She reads a newspaper every day (without glasses), and is a fan of the darling of daytime television, David Dickinson. Why wouldn't she get medical treatment if she needed it?
Then, the chilling implication of the phone call filtered through--she was being asked whether her grandmother should be allowed to die.
"Call an ambulance now," my friend demanded.
The person at the other end persisted. "Are you sure that's what you want? For her to go to hospital."
"Yes, absolutely. Get her to hospital."
Three hours later, her grandmother was sitting up in A&E [the accident-and-emergency ward], smiling. She had a mild chest infection, was extremely dehydrated, but was responding to oxygen treatment.
As Hunt notes, "Withdrawal of fluids (and drugs) is one of the steps on the controversial palliative care programme known as the Liverpool Care Pathway, which has been adopted by 900 hospitals, hospices and care homes in England."

Former Enron adviser Paul Krugman disagrees: "In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We've all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false." But is it possible that Reich is right and Krugman is wrong?
23183  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Craig Becker of NLRB on: October 15, 2009, 11:02:15 AM
One of Big Labor's priorities in Washington is to place allies in key government jobs where they can overturn existing labor policy without battles in Congress. This is a very good reason for the Senate to hold a hearing on the nomination of Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Mr. Becker is associate general counsel at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which is most recently in the news for its close ties to Acorn, the disgraced housing shakedown operation. President Obama nominated Mr. Becker in April to the five-member NLRB, which has the critical job of supervising union elections, investigating labor practices, and interpreting the National Labor Relations Act. In a 1993 Minnesota Law Review article, written when he was a UCLA professor, Mr. Becker argued for rewriting current union-election rules in favor of labor. And he suggested the NLRB could do this by regulatory fiat, without a vote of Congress.

Yet now that he could soon have the power to act on this conviction, Mr. Becker won't tell Congress if this is what he still believes. In written responses to questions from Republican Orrin Hatch, Mr. Becker promised only to "maintain an open mind about whether [his] suggestions should be implemented in any manner." That sounds like his mind is made up but he won't admit it lest it hurt his confirmation.

Mr. Becker also won't give a clear answer about his role in preparing several pro-labor executive orders issued by President Obama shortly after inauguration. Mr. Becker's name was found in at least one of the documents, suggesting that he had written it.

When asked by Sen. Hatch if he was "involved or responsible in any way" for these executive orders, Mr. Becker responded: "I was not responsible for [the specific executive orders] except as described below. As a member of the Presidential Transition Team, I was asked to provide advice and information concerning a possible executive order of the sort described. I was involved in researching, analyzing, preliminary drafting, and consulting with other members of the Transition team." In other words, Mr. Becker was the main author but would rather not say so explicitly.

Why not? Well, perhaps because Mr. Becker seems to have been on the SEIU payroll at the time he did his "drafting." Many people take leaves of absence from their private jobs when serving on a transition team, but Mr. Becker says he was on "vacation." And his "vacation" seems to have been sporadic. "My work on the Transition Team was not full time or continuous . . . When I was not on vacation in order to work on the Transition Team, I continued to perform my regular work for both SEIU and the AFL-CIO." The White House has made a public show of banning paid lobbyists from certain Administration jobs, but it let a paid union operative draft government documents benefiting unions.

There's more. One of the many accusations leveled against former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is that he accepted money from the SEIU in return for taking actions giving collective bargaining rights to Illinois home health-care workers. While Mr. Becker denies any knowledge of, or role in, contributions to the former Governor, he does admit that he provided "advice and counsel to SEIU relating to proposed executive orders and proposed legislation giving homecare workers a right to organize and engage in collective bargaining under state law."

Mr. Becker says he "worked with and provided advice" to SEIU Local 880 in Chicago, a beneficiary of the newly unionized health workers, and one of two SEIU locals currently in the national spotlight for its deep ties with Acorn. Mr. Becker denies working for Acorn or its affiliates, but as recently as April Acorn co-founder Wade Rathke praised Mr. Becker by name, noting "For my money, Craig's signal contribution has been his work in crafting and executing the legal strategies and protections which have allowed the effective organization of informal workers, and by this I mean home health-care workers."

The NLRB has both GOP and Democratic members, and nominees are typically packaged together to avoid hearings. In this case, the GOP nominee is Brian Hayes, an aide to Senator Mike Enzi (R., Wyo.), who is eager to see Mr. Hayes confirmed with Mr. Becker and another Democrat, Mark Pearce. But Mr. Becker would sit with the majority, with the ability to dictate labor policy, and the stakes are too high to let him pass without more Senate and public scrutiny.
23184  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: October 15, 2009, 10:40:12 AM
Alexander's Essay – October 15, 2009

Our Constitution is on Life Support
"Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise." --Benjamin Franklin
That wise old sage, Ben Franklin, was prescient back in 1748, when he issued his simple Rx for success. Unfortunately, the wealth and wisdom of generations of Americans have been progressively supplanted by our central government's exercise of unconstitutional authority.

In regard to wealth, I refer most directly to our government's colossal spending and debt accumulation, and unlawful taxation.

As to wisdom, well, there's not much of that emerging from government-run school systems.

Having already depleted the wealth and wisdom of our great nation, the Obama juggernaut is determined to do likewise to health, that third prong of Franklin's trident. If successful, then we may rightly fear it as a deathblow to the greatest experiment in human history.

Where is Doctor Franklin when we really need him?

Simpletons across the United States and, indeed, the world, are beguiled by the Democrat health scare cacophony. While so much has been said, so too has so little. And, as we approach the seemingly inevitable passage of some such diabolical legislation, almost to a citizen everyone is screaming, "Stop the world, I want to get off!" Indeed, only elitist Democrats are charging full-steam ahead, constituents be damned.

Intentionally lost in all this noise is the Leftist tactic of drowning its opposition in waves of excessive and ever-changing health care minutia. With the devil being so well hidden in the details, this ensures that we remain distracted while Rule of Law is further usurped by the rule of man.

As Patriots, we are summoned to slice through this diversionary blather. And, to obtain proper analysis of this overarching objective, we must seek guidance from our founding documents, the Constitution of the United States of America and its superordinate document, the Declaration of Independence.

In a search of the Constitution, we find that the words "health," "medicine" or "medical" are mentioned -- drum roll please -- not even once: not within the original text, nor within 220 years of amendments. (A search of the Articles of Confederation yields similar results.)

To some, this exclusion indicates that the Founding Fathers were unconcerned about the health of their countrymen. But, supporters of this argument expose their condescension, and it is here mentioned to disabuse them of their disdain. For our Founding Fathers sacrificed so greatly for the birth of our nation -- in both blood and treasure -- that to posit such indifference does a great and grotesque disservice to their honor and their memory.

To others, this exclusion indicates that health care was mercifully omitted since medical care of the 1700s was so "primitive" that the cure often caused more harm than the ailment. They further argue that, given the foresight of modern medicine, our Founders would have surely incorporated universal health care within the Constitution. But, supporters of this argument expose their arrogance, and it is here mentioned to disabuse them of their haughtiness. For the medicine of our Founding Fathers was actually advanced in its day, just as the U.S. medicine of today is advanced, and just as tomorrow it will be thought primitive. This, of course, assumes that we successfully restore Rule of Law.

Alas, we discern seemingly little counsel from the Constitution.

And, as we turn to the Declaration, a search for the words "health," "medicine" or "medical" once more yields exactly zero results. Furthermore, the itemized grievances therein make nary a hint concerning health, even considering the "primitive" conditions discussed above.

Alack, we also discern seemingly little counsel from the Declaration.

However, neither do the Constitution nor the Declaration counsel us with direct verbiage concerning agriculture, textiles, construction and the whole raft of goods and services upon which those everyday necessities of food, clothing and shelter are stationed.

But, the Declaration does aver that all men are created equal, not of outcome but of opportunity; that they are endowed with the right to Life, not a guaranteed good life, not a guaranteed healthy life, but life with all of its miraculous potential; that they are endowed with a right to Liberty, the fusion of freedom and personal responsibility; and that they are endowed with a right to the pursuit of Happiness, the eclectic amalgamation of hopes and dreams and desires and necessities as defined by each individual -- not by faceless, nameless bureaucrats.

Furthermore, the Constitution's Preamble declares that its purpose is to establish Justice, the even-handed application of law to all citizens; to insure domestic Tranquility, the exclusion of class warfare; to promote (not provide) the general Welfare; and to secure the blessings of Liberty, there again, the fusion of freedom with personal responsibility.

So, our founding documents do guide us to proper health care legislation: for it is that which encompasses equality and liberty for consumers and providers alike; that which promotes life above death panels; that which encourages the medical hopes and dreams as defined by each individual; that which constrains, not magnifies, class warfare; and that which secures "the blessings of Liberty, to ourselves and our Posterity."

Anything more than this is an affront to constitutional order and Rule of Law. As Thomas Jefferson so keenly observed: "Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread." And, it takes little thought, or even imagination, to extend his estimation to the current health care debate.

The bottom line is that Article 1, Section 8 of our Constitution, which addresses powers of the legislature, never endowed Congress with authority to regulate or collect taxes for banking, mortgage or automaker bailouts. Neither does it present authority for them to subsidize production or service sectors such as health care. Indeed, James Madison wrote, "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents..."

Sadly, not one Democrat bill addresses "health care" so much as it seeks omnipotent centralized government power and control, the currency of the Left. However, the proposals certainly betray the Left's condescension and contempt for Rule of Law, along with their frontal assault upon our Essential Liberty.

Patriot Readers, the U.S. Constitution is on life support. To prevent it from flat-lining, we must exude high dudgeon, we must slice through the Left's onslaught of minutia, and we must surgically endeavor with our every thought and deed to restore a healthy Rule of Law.

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!

Mark Alexander
Publisher, PatriotPost.US, with J. Adams Clymer
23185  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Video-Clips de DBMA en espanol on: October 15, 2009, 01:51:20 AM
Guau a todos:

Muy pronto (manana?) estare'mos ofreciendo aqui clips de DBMA en espanol.

La Aventura continua,
Guro Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny

Video Clip
23186  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYT: Expired Visas not tracked on: October 14, 2009, 08:04:48 AM

U.S. Can’t Trace Foreign Visitors on Expired Visas

Published: October 11, 2009
DALLAS — Eight years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and despite repeated mandates from Congress, the United States still has no reliable system for verifying that foreign visitors have left the country.

Hosam Maher Husein Smadi entered the United States legally, but then overstayed his visa. In Italy, Tex., Mr. Smadi was able to work at a restaurant.
New concern was focused on that security loophole last week, when Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, a 19-year-old Jordanian who had overstayed his tourist visa, was accused in court of plotting to blow up a Dallas skyscraper.

Last year alone, 2.9 million foreign visitors on temporary visas like Mr. Smadi’s checked in to the country but never officially checked out, immigration officials said. While officials say they have no way to confirm it, they suspect that several hundred thousand of them overstayed their visas.

Over all, the officials said, about 40 percent of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States came on legal visas and overstayed.

Mr. Smadi’s case has brought renewed calls from both parties in Congress for Department of Homeland Security officials to complete a universal electronic exit monitoring system.

Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, the senior Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said the Smadi case “points to a real need for an entry and exit system if we are serious about reducing illegal immigration.”

Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York and chairman of the Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on immigration, said he would try to steer money from the economic stimulus program to build an exit monitoring system.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, immigration authorities, with more than $1 billion from Congress, have greatly improved and expanded their systems to monitor foreigners when they arrive. But despite several Congressional authorizations, there are no biometric inspections or a systematic follow-up to confirm that foreign visitors have departed.

Homeland security officials caution that universal exit monitoring is a daunting and costly goal, mainly because of the nation’s long and busy land borders, with more than one million crossings every day. The wrong exit plan, they said, could clog trade, disrupt border cities and overwhelm immigration agencies with information they could not effectively use.

Since 2004, homeland security officials have put systems in place to check all foreigners as they arrive, whether by air, sea or land. Customs officers now take fingerprints and digital photographs of visitors from most countries, instantly comparing them against law enforcement watch list databases. (Canadians and Mexicans with special border-crossing cards are exempt from those checks.)

But homeland security officials said that a series of pilot programs since 2004 had failed to yield an exit monitoring system that would work for the whole nation. They have not yet found technology to support speedy exit inspections at land borders. And airlines balked at an effort last year by the Bush administration to make them responsible for taking fingerprints and photographs of departing foreigners.

The current system relies on departing foreigners to turn in a paper stub when they leave.

Last year, official figures show, 39 million foreign travelers were admitted on temporary visas like Mr. Smadi’s. Based on the paper stubs, homeland security officials said, they confirmed the departure of 92.5 percent of them. Most of the remaining visitors did depart, officials said, but failed to check out because they did not know how to do so. But more than 200,000 of them are believed to have overstayed intentionally.

Immigration authorities have put in place a separate system for keeping track of foreigners who, unlike Mr. Smadi, come on student visas. That system has proved effective at confirming that the students have stayed in school and do not overstay their visas, officials said.

Immigration analysts said that given the difficulties of enforcing the United States’ vast borders, it remains primarily up to law enforcement officials to thwart terrorism suspects who do not have records that would draw scrutiny before they enter the United States.

“You can’t ask the immigration system to do everything,” said Doris Meissner, a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, a research center in Washington, and a former commissioner of the immigration service. “This is an example of how changes in law enforcement priorities and techniques since Sept. 11 actually got to where they should be.”


Page 2 of 2)

Mr. Smadi, like many tourists who overstay visas, was able to fade easily into society and encountered few barriers to starting a life here, according to court documents and people who know him. He enrolled in high school, obtained a California identification card, landed jobs in two states and rented a string of apartments and houses. He bought at least two used cars, and even procured a handgun and ammunition.

Mr. Smadi rented an apartment even though his visa expired.

Mr. Smadi’s arrest on Sept. 24 for the attempted bombing was not his first encounter with American law enforcement. Two weeks earlier, a sheriff’s deputy in Ellis County, Tex., pulled him over for a broken tail light just north of the town of Italy, then arrested him for driving without a license or insurance.
When the deputy checked his identity, Mr. Smadi’s name showed up on a watch list by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which was already investigating him. But the background check turned up no immigration record. The deputy called the F.B.I. and was told there was no outstanding arrest warrant for Mr. Smadi. So on the evening of Sept. 11, Mr. Smadi paid a $550 fine and walked out of the county jail.

“There was nothing to indicate to us that this person was currently in the States illegally,” said Chief Deputy Dennis Brearley.

Mr. Smadi had come to the United States from Jordan in early 2007 on a six-month tourist visa, immigration officials say.

For a few weeks he stayed in San Jose, Calif., with Hana Elrabodi, a retired Jordanian businessman who knew his family, according to Mr. Elrabodi’s wife, Temina. Though Mr. Smadi was not authorized to work, he found a job at a local restaurant. In late March, Mr. Smadi obtained a California identification card using Mr. Elrabodi’s address.

In October 2007, Mr. Smadi moved into an apartment in Santa Clara with his younger brother, Hussein Smadi, and another man he identified as his cousin, according to the manager of the apartment complex, Joe Redzovic. Mr. Smadi took another job, in a falafel restaurant, and in the winter he briefly enrolled in the Santa Clara High School.

After a fire gutted his Santa Clara apartment, Mr. Smadi moved to Dallas. Though his visa had expired by April 2008, he landed a job working behind the counter at Texas Best Smokehouse in Italy, Tex., about 45 miles from Dallas. He rented a bungalow nearby, using his California identification and passing a criminal background check, said his former landlord, David South.

Three months later, Mr. Smadi married one of his co-workers, Rosalinda Duron. They separated in the fall of 2008 after only three months, Ms. Duron said.

Investigators have found no evidence that Mr. Smadi, during his first year in the United States, openly espoused Islamic fundamentalism. Neither have they found any evidence that he received terrorist training abroad or came to the United States intending to commit a terrorist act, said Mark White, a spokesman for the F.B.I. in Dallas.

But by the spring of 2008, he caught the attention of the F.B.I. by posting incendiary remarks about wanting to kill Americans on Jihadist Web sites. Over the summer, he met with agents posing as members of Al Qaeda and planned to bomb the Fountain Place office building in downtown Dallas, according to an indictment unsealed on Thursday.

His arrest on terrorism charges came after he parked a truck that he had been told was carrying explosives in the building’s underground garage, according to court documents.

When the F.B.I. later searched his residence, they found a Beretta 9 millimeter pistol and a box of ammunition, along with his passport and the expired visa, the court documents show.
23187  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on: October 14, 2009, 06:29:53 AM
The $1.7 trillion mortgage securitization market is still a mess, despite (or in part because of) the Federal Reserve's $700 billion splurge into the market. But another reason may be Treasury's decision to undermine private mortgage-backed securities (MBS) contracts.

BlackRock Inc. Chairman Laurence Fink went so far recently as to call this "one of the biggest issues facing American capitalism." He's worried that to protect banks from billions of dollars more in writedowns on bad second liens (a.k.a., home-equity loans), Treasury is trashing private contracts. "There is modification going on protecting our banks, protecting their balance sheets" and "I'm just very worried about it." Until that issue is cleared up, he says, we won't "get a vibrant securitization market back."

One reason the MBS market blossomed in the first place is because investors who bought a mortgage security believed that first mortgages were senior to second liens. In the event of a foreclosure, second liens would be extinguished first and holders of the first mortgage would get what was left because that's what the contract said.

This changed in April when Treasury announced that instead of foreclosing on delinquent borrowers and wiping out second liens, mortgage servicers (mainly the biggest banks) would be given incentives to modify both loans, thereby spreading the losses. In mid-August, Treasury announced the details of its "Second Lien Modification Program," or 2MP, calling it "a comprehensive solution to help borrowers achieve greater affordability by lowering payments on both first lien and second lien mortgage loans."

Treasury says it is merely trying to help borrowers stay in their homes. But there's little evidence that modifications are stabilizing the market. Treasury's recent release of second-quarter mortgage loan data showed that redefault rates are stubbornly high, even though most new modifications now provide for lower monthly payments of interest and principal.

Nearly 30% of loans modified in the first quarter of this year are now 60 or more days delinquent, up from less than 23% in the first quarter of 2008 and about the same percentage as in the second quarter of 2008. "The percentage of loans that were 60 or more days delinquent or in the process of foreclosure was high and rose steadily in the months subsequent to modification for all quarterly vintages," the report said.

Treasury's other political goal, as Mr. Fink points out, is to help the banks avoid more losses. U.S. financial institutions hold almost $1.1 trillion in second liens, also known as home equity loans or "helocs." Some 42% of all helocs are held by four banks—Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, Citibank and Wells Fargo. Since in a traditional mortgage foreclosure the second loan is usually wiped out, these big four banks have an exposure in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

Mortgage-finance consultant Edward Pinto points out that these same lenders have about $800 billion of first mortgage loans on their books, representing 8% of the total outstanding first mortgage loans in the U.S. But they also act as the servicers on almost 60% of total first mortgages, which means they handle negotiations on loan modifications. Thus when a home owner asks one of the big four banks to redo a loan, the banker may have a greater interest in saving the home-equity loan than in protecting the creditors of the first mortgage.

A vibrant MBS market depends on the sanctity of U.S. contracts. If the world's investors see that the Treasury is willing to reward banks at their expense, there will be fewer such investors in U.S. securities. There will also be less capital for housing. Treasury needs to revisit its foreclosure rules to protect the U.S. reputation of honoring contracts, and the faster the better.
23188  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Money, the Fed, Banking, Monetary Policy, Dollar & other currencies, Gold/Silver on: October 14, 2009, 06:22:43 AM
My doggy nose tells me it is time for the US dollar to have its own thread:

This from today's WSJ

Unprecedented spending, unending fiscal deficits, unconscionable accumulations of government debt: These are the trends that are shaping America's financial future. And since loose monetary policy and a weak U.S. dollar are part of the mix, apparently, it's no wonder people around the world are searching for an alternative form of money in which to calculate and preserve their own wealth.

It may be too soon to dismiss the dollar as an utterly debauched currency. It still is the most used for international transactions and constitutes over 60% of other countries' official foreign-exchange reserves. But the reputation of our nation's money is being severely compromised.

Funny how words normally used to address issues of morality come to the fore when judging the qualities of the dollar. Perhaps it's because the U.S. has long represented the virtues of democratic capitalism. To be "sound as a dollar" is to be deemed trustworthy, dependable, and in good working condition.

It used to mean all that, anyway. But as the dollar is increasingly perceived as the default mechanism for out-of-control government spending, its role as a reliable standard of value is destined to fade. Who wants to accumulate assets denominated in a shrinking unit of account? Excess government spending leads to inflation, and inflation plays dollar savers for patsies—both at home and abroad.

A return to sound financial principles in Washington, D.C., would signal that America still believes it can restore the integrity of the dollar and provide leadership for the global economy. But for all the talk from the Obama administration about the need to exert fiscal discipline—the president's 10-year federal budget is subtitled "A New Era of Responsibility: Renewing America's Promise"—the projected budget numbers anticipate a permanent pattern of deficit spending and vastly higher levels of outstanding federal debt.

Even with the optimistic economic assumptions implicit in the Obama administration's budget, it's a mathematical impossibility to reduce debt if you continue to spend more than you take in. Mr. Obama promises to lower the deficit from its current 9.9% of gross domestic product to an average 4.8% of GDP for the years 2010-2014, and an average 4% of GDP for the years 2015-2019. All of this presupposes no unforeseen expenditures such as a second "stimulus" package or additional costs related to health-care reform. But even if the deficit shrinks as a percentage of GDP, it's still a deficit. It adds to the amount of our nation's outstanding indebtedness, which reflects the cumulative total of annual budget deficits.

By the end of 2019, according to the administration's budget numbers, our federal debt will reach $23.3 trillion—as compared to $11.9 trillion today. To put it in perspective: U.S. federal debt was equal to 61.4% of GDP in 1999; it grew to 70.2% of GDP in 2008 (under the Bush administration); it will climb to an estimated 90.4% this year and touch the 100% mark in 2011, after which the projected federal debt will continue to equal or exceed our nation's entire annual economic output through 2019.

The U.S. is thus slated to enter the ranks of those countries—Zimbabwe, Japan, Lebanon, Singapore, Jamaica, Italy—with the highest government debt-to-GDP ratio (which measures the debt burden against a nation's capacity to generate sufficient wealth to repay its creditors). In 2008, the U.S. ranked 23rd on the list—crossing the 100% threshold vaults our nation into seventh place.

If you were a foreign government, would you want to increase your holdings of Treasury securities knowing the U.S. government has no plans to balance its budget during the next decade, let alone achieve a surplus?

In the European Union, countries wishing to adopt the euro must first limit government debt to 60% of GDP. It's the reference criterion for demonstrating "soundness and sustainability of public finances." Politicians find it all too tempting to print money—something the Europeans have understood since the days of the Weimar Republic—and excessive government borrowing poses a threat to monetary stability.

Valuable lessons can also be drawn from Japan's unsuccessful experiment with quantitative easing in the aftermath of its ruptured 1980s bubble economy. The Bank of Japan's desperate efforts to fight deflation through a zero-interest rate policy aimed at bailing out zombie companies, along with massive budget deficit spending, only contributed to a lost decade of stagnant growth. Japan's government debt-to-GDP ratio escalated to more than 170% now from 65% in 1990. Over the same period, the yen's use as an international reserve currency—it clings to fourth place behind the dollar, euro and pound sterling—declined from comprising 10.2% of official foreign-exchange reserves to 3.3% today.

The U.S. has long served as the world's "indispensable nation" and the dollar's primary role in the global economy has likewise seemed to testify to American exceptionalism. But the passivity in Washington toward our dismal fiscal future, and its inevitable toll on U.S. economic influence, suggests that American global leadership is no longer a priority and that America's money cannot be trusted.

If money is a moral contract between government and its citizens, we are being violated. The rest of the world, meanwhile, simply wants to avoid being duped. That is why China and Russia—large holders of dollars—are angling to invent some new kind of global currency for denominating reserve assets. It's why oil-producing Gulf States are fretting over whether to continue pricing energy exports in depreciated dollars. It's why central banks around the world are dumping dollars in favor of alternative currencies, even as reduced global demand exacerbates the dollar's decline. Until the U.S. sends convincing signals that it believes in a strong dollar—mere rhetorical assertions ring hollow—the world has little reason to hold dollar-denominated securities.

Sadly, due to our fiscal quagmire, the Federal Reserve may be forced to raise interest rates as a sop to attract foreign capital even if it hurts our domestic economy. Unfortunately, that's the price of having already succumbed to symbiotic fiscal and monetary policy. If we could forge a genuine commitment to private-sector economic growth by reducing taxes, and at the same time significantly cut future spending, it might be possible to turn things around. Under President Reagan in the 1980s, Fed Chairman Paul Volcker slashed inflation and strengthened the dollar by dramatically tightening credit. Though it was a painful process, the economy ultimately boomed.

Whether the U.S. can once more summon the resolve to address its problems is an open question. But the world's growing dollar disdain conveys a message: Issuing more promissory notes is not the way to renew America's promise.

Ms. Shelton, an economist, is author of "Money Meltdown: Restoring Order to the Global Currency System" (Free Press, 1994).
23189  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 90 arrested after clashes on: October 14, 2009, 06:04:05 AM

Pravda on the Hudson
September 6, 2009

British Police Arrest 90 After Birmingham Clashes

Filed at 7:18 a.m. ET

LONDON (AP) -- Authorities arrested 90 people after racially charged violence erupted between a group protesting Islamic extremism and counter-demonstrators in the central English city of Birmingham, police said Sunday.

The clashes erupted Saturday when a rally by the English Defense League ran into counter-demonstrators including anti-fascists and youths of South Asian descent, West Midlands Police said.

About 200 people were involved in the clashes in downtown Birmingham, police said.

Television footage showed masked or hooded youths throwing projectiles and running from riot police through the diverse city's downtown area.

Police said the 90 people detained -- all males aged 16 to 39 -- were arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and violent disorder.

It was not immediately clear how many were protesters and how many were counter-demonstrators.

Clashes also erupted last month at a similar demonstration in Birmingham, a diverse city of about 1 million where nearly a third of the population is nonwhite.

The English Defense League blames counter-demonstrators for inciting violence at its rallies. It has planned protest marches in other cities, including one next month in Manchester.
23190  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Kali Tudo (tm): The Running Dog Game on: October 14, 2009, 05:53:11 AM
The guys on the DBMA Assn have been asking me to put together a camp this winter:  Perhaps the camp should be dedicated to Kali Tudo (tm) , , ,
23191  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison, 1790 on: October 14, 2009, 05:50:46 AM
"A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect and promises the cure for which we are seeking." --James Madison, letter to William Hunter, 1790
23192  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DLO 3 on: October 14, 2009, 12:44:59 AM
We are not quite at that point yet.

Night Owl needs to do the promo clip, and my wife needs to get the box cover done-- then it will be time for pre-orders.
23193  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: October 14, 2009, 12:20:51 AM
An Independent Israeli Foreign Policy?
ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER EHUD BARAK was set to travel to Poland and the Czech Republic on the evening of Oct. 12 for meetings with the Polish and Czech prime ministers and defense ministers, as well as with other high-level officials. Barak was scheduled to attend events on human rights and the Holocaust, but his trip comes at a time of enormous international tension over Iran — an issue deeply interwoven with U.S.-Russian relations involving Central Europe. An Israeli media report stated that Barak would discuss “Iran’s nuclear program as well as military industries” with his Polish and Czech counterparts.

The United States has begun negotiations with Iran over its compliance with international nuclear laws. For the U.S. position to have any bite, Washington has held up the threat of severe sanctions against Iran. But the American position is compromised by Russia’s ability to blast a hole through the prospective sanctions regime. The United States therefore must make promises to Russia that it will back away from the former Soviet sphere of influence, or face Russian intransigence in dealing with Tehran. So far, the United States has not offered much for the Russians to sink their teeth into (backing down on ballistic missile defense in Poland and the Czech Republic was not enough — and regardless, the Russians question U.S. sincerity). Discussions with Iran are under way, yet without a resolution to the U.S.-Russian situation there can be no enforcement against Iran.

This leaves Israel in a highly uncomfortable position, at a time when its patience is already running thin.

“Yet the fact that Israel has depended so heavily upon the United States in the past sixty years does not mean it is without leverage of its own.”
To understand this, we look to Israel’s geopolitics. The Israeli core is situated on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean, in the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River and Jordanian desert to the east, the Sinai and Negev deserts to the south, and the hilly areas of Galilee in the north. Throughout history, this area has been relatively advantageous to defend — assuming Israel is internally unified. Attackers from the west, south or east would need to stretch their forces across the sea or inhospitable deserts.

Historically, Israel has faced only two serious threats. The first is Syria, to the northeast, which in times of strength potentially can penetrate Israeli territory north of the Sea of Galilee. But the Israelis are generally well prepared to defeat today’s Syrians alone.

The second threat is the graver of the two. This is when a great foreign empire from farther away attempts to grab Israel’s advantageous coastal strip, whether through Syria or by harnessing the resources to overcome Israel’s natural buffers. The Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans and Ottomans at various points in history staked a claim to this land, forcing the Israelis to accommodate them or bear their yoke.

Under the reign of the Persian Empire, the Israelites were able to arrive at a compromise that left them subordinate but intact. This is their preferred stance during eras in which they cannot enjoy their ideal isolation. Similarly, in its modern incarnation since 1948, Israel has rendered itself inoffensive to American interests. It recognized the United States as the global hegemon and, during the Cold War, the guarantor of Israel’s security against another potential invading empire, the Soviet Union, which had proxies in Syria (as mentioned, Israel’s most threatening neighbors) and Iraq (the modern version of ancient Israel’s Babylonian conquerors).

Yet the fact that Israel has depended so heavily upon the United States in the past sixty years does not mean it is without leverage of its own. Israeli leaders long have entertained the possibility that the country could develop a more self-determining foreign policy — with Israel acting as a power in its own right. This would be necessary in the event that the United States abandons Israel to the winds — which is deemed possible should American interests shift. In the post-Cold War period, the United States has remained close to the Israelis because of U.S. interests in the Middle East, especially since the Sept. 11 attacks. But both the Americans and the Israelis can at least conceive of a time when their paths begin to diverge, necessitating contingency plans for Israel.

This is why the timing of Barak’s trip to Central Europe is important. By visiting Poland and the Czech Republic to discuss “military industries” — perhaps arms deals — the Israelis have taken Moscow by surprise, and the Kremlin will not be happy. Israel acting boldly in a region outside its own is an anomaly. There are two possible explanations.

First, the move might have been coordinated along with the United States, in order to stick it to the Russians at a time when they are threatening to destroy a united international front against Iran. The Russians long have seen U.S. and Israeli meddling in their periphery as one and the same, and the United States is needling the Russians in similar ways at present (for instance, with plans for Vice President Joe Biden to visit Warsaw, Prague and Bucharest later this month).

The other possibility is that the Israelis have acted alone, directly reminding the Russians that they have leverage in Central Europe — such as the ability to provide intelligence or military assistance to the Poles or the Czechs. This could be a way of directly warning the Russians to back away from supporting Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions.

If this was the case — and the Americans were not consulted about Barak’s visit — it follows that Israel has begun to view America as an unreliable ally. The current U.S. administration has irked the Israelis by letting deadline after deadline on Iran slip by. And the Israelis are not willing to tolerate a reincarnation of the Persian Empire, or a Persian proxy of a revived Russian Empire, armed with a nuclear-tipped missiles. Therefore, Monday’s move might be Israel’s first step in developing a foreign policy for itself — in a world where the Israelis believe they must act alone to distract and encumber great powers beyond its region.

After all, such powers traditionally have posed the greatest strategic threat to Israel.
23194  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 14, 2009, 12:20:09 AM
That was DEVASTATING cheesy
23195  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DLO 3 on: October 13, 2009, 07:08:32 PM
We finished today.  Night Owl should have the finished master for me next week, as well as the promo clip, and will send suitable fotos to Pretty Kitty for her to prepare the box cover.
23196  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA DVD: "The Bolo Game" on: October 13, 2009, 07:08:18 PM
We finished today.  Night Owl should have the finished master for me next week, as well as the promo clip, and will send suitable fotos to Pretty Kitty for her to prepare the box cover.
23197  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Legal issues in MA instruction on: October 13, 2009, 09:29:46 AM
Judicial acitivism/imperialism?  No! It can't be!
23198  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: October 12, 2009, 07:28:33 PM
Robert D. Kaplan writing in the Atlantic:

Even if Obama does end up making the correct decision on Afghanistan strategy (by which I mean adding troops, since counterinsurgency is manpower-intensive), the public agony over his deliberations may already have done incalculable damage. The Afghan people have survived three decades of war by hedging their bets. Now, watching a young and inexperienced American president appear to waiver on his commitment to their country, they are deciding, at the level of both the individual and the mass, whether to make their peace with the Taliban—even as the Taliban itself can only take solace and encouragement from Obama's public agonizing. Meanwhile, fundamentalist elements of the Pakistani military, opposed to the recent crackdown against local Taliban, are also taking heart from developments in Washington. . . .This is how coups and revolutions get started, by the middle ranks sensing weakness in foreign support for their superiors.

Obama's wobbliness also has a corrosive effect on the Indians and the Iranians. India desperately needs a relatively secular Afghan regime in place to bolster Hindu India's geopolitical position against radical Islamdom, and while the country enjoyed an excellent relationship with Bush, Obama's dithering is making it nervous. And Iran, in observing Washington's indecision, can only feel more secure in its creeping economic annexation of western Afghanistan.
23199  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: October 12, 2009, 04:59:54 PM
That's rather subtle.  I like it.
23200  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Support our troops on: October 12, 2009, 04:58:50 PM
A friend of mine wrote me today:


I had a wonderful experience Sat night.  Got to the hotel about 1030 after an evening on the riverfront in Wilmington. 
At the lobby entrance there was a squad (about 15 men) of what was obviously marines (LaJune just up the road a piece).
I approached and asked if they were on leave. “Yes sir we got back fro Iraq last night”. I thanked them for their service and bid them a good evening.

As we checked in I started thinking. Hell I didn’t have the college soccer thing until noon Sunday and the wife, while she thought I was totally crazy, did not mind if I bought the lads a couple of libations.  So back down to the lobby I go and floated the idea to the young Marines. “No sir you don’t have to do that”. After a bit of conversation they relented so we all pile in the cabs and down to the riverfront we go.

They pick the Rhinoceros Club that has an outdoor patio. We go to the bar for a beer. “Thank you sir this is really nice of you.”  I stood back and watched from a distance. There were a group of 20 year old girls shaking and slapping each others butt… ah the men were REAL into that.  One of the girls asked me, in a NC version of a Valley girl affected accent, “Who ARE you?  You look like a cop from my home town”. One of the men asked me, in what I took as a real compliment, was I a Marine. Ya’ll know in that branch of the service, once a Marine always a Marine. I thanked him but the answer was the same as the young lady got, “I am just a guy who appreciates the service to the country.”

As they drained  beer I signaled them over for another. More thank you sir. Time went by and the men would linger at the bar for more thanks and small talk. Always the subject was of their choice. Home, family, training, officers, Afghan casualties, EOD and motor T danger, girlfriends, wives kids, motor T as room clearers, the poor bastards in the turret after an IED detonation, Afghan history, snipers, Navy customs and so forth  and so on.


To make a long story short for the next three hours none of those fellas had an empty hand or a dry mouth.  To a man each thanked me and expressed that this had never happened to them and they were often not treated well in Jacksonville. That surprised me. One of the old timers (a 26 year old) in his sixth year in the Marines said he had had a meal bought in an airport once.


Owing to my advanced age, the penalty paid for over indulgence in seniors and the hour being well beyond the witching it was time for me to take leave. Their genuine appreciation and gratitude of my simple gesture of respect was heartwarming. Undoubtedly some of the best money I have ever spent. If you have never done this I would highly recommend it.


Those men deploy to Afghanistan in January…

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