DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Door Work, Bouncing, Bodyguarding
on: July 01, 2010, 12:23:45 PM
Ah, quite right.
Anyway, moving along with the subject of the verbalizations, one of the points that Peyton made was that most problems start with an "interview" wherein the true question was "Are you a victim?" Thus a good verbalization needs to answer this clearly in the negative AND put us in a good light with witnesses.
If we fail to verbalize, those in the vicinity may notice what is going on only AFTER the beginning of physicality. Should you win they may well testify that you were the aggressor. OTOH, good verbalizations draw their attention before things get going (which in and of itself tends to discourage many BGs from acting further) and establishes that you are the GG and that you sought to avoid the problem.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Russia, Germany, and Bushehr
on: July 01, 2010, 12:10:25 PM
Russia, Germany and the Bushehr Nuclear Facility Deadline
Reports circulated Tuesday that Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin issued complaints late Monday to members of the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) over Germany’s seizure of Russian cargo intended for the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran. There are few details about the cargo and its confiscation, and it is unclear when the seizure actually happened. Germany claims the shipment violated sanctions rules against transporting sensitive items to Iran.
The confiscation could be referring to an occurrence in January when Russian cargo, including computer and nuclear monitoring equipment, transiting Germany before heading to Iran was seized. This was followed by another related event in May when a handful of German businessmen connected to an unnamed Russian company working on the Bushehr nuclear facility were arrested in Germany by German authorities. On both occasions, German authorities claimed the offending actions violated sanctions rules against Iran.
Germany — the country that started the Bushehr project in 1975 — openly opposes further work and construction on the nuclear plant. Its opposition is in line with UNSC recommendations and the European Union’s directive against nuclear cooperation with Iran. As the political climate between the West and Iran worsened, Russia took up the Bushehr project in 1995 and has since used it as one of its main bargaining chips with the West on other critical issues.
“That Russia has not spun up the seizure beyond issuing informal complaints signals the fact that there could be something else afoot.”
Moscow and Berlin could have split over the issue of Iran after the German businessmen working for the Bushehr-related Russian company were arrested in May. Germany and Russia had been growing closer over the past few years in terms of politics, economics and security, so it was rare for Germany to oppose any Russian projects, especially one as prominent as the Bushehr plant. But there has been little fallout between the budding friends over either incident. The seizure and Churkin’s complaints to the Security Council on Monday have barely registered in either Russian or German media.
That Russia has not spun up the seizure beyond issuing informal complaints — there are many higher profile officials other than Churkin who could have condemned the act — signals the fact that there could be something else afoot. Moscow could possibly have arranged the whole event.
Such a scenario would be connected to a recent shift in Russia’s stance on Iran. Russia is currently in the process of implementing a comprehensive plan to modernize its economy and Moscow feels that foreign investment and technology — particularly from the West and the United States — are critical to the process. In return, Russia has pledged to be more cooperative with the West on key political issues, proving its intent by signing on to the latest batch of UNSC sanctions against Iran, after years of opposing them. After a recent trip to Washington, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev even suggested that Moscow could be on board for even more moves against Iran should the Islamic republic prove to be noncompliant.
In a bid to placate a worrying Iran, Moscow has continued to maintain that it has not completely abandoned support for Tehran. But a significant test for Russia’s commitment to either the West or Iran is on the horizon; Moscow currently faces an August deadline to complete the Bushehr nuclear facility. Russia is already nearly two years behind the initial deadline for completion. As it faces pressure from the West to disregard the August deadline, Russia’s reputation as a solid economic and political partner to Iran is on the line.
But Moscow may think that with a bit of maneuvering it could do both. By claiming the West confiscated the material and personnel needed to complete Bushehr by the deadline, Russia would be cleared of its responsibility to meet that deadline. At the same time, taking the confiscation issue to the UNSC shows that Russia is not completely abandoning Iran (though this low gesture is not likely to placate Tehran much). If Moscow’s plan involves maneuvering to once again extend the Bushehr deadline, it would mean a coordinated effort against Iran by Russia, Germany and possibly the United States.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Door Work, Bouncing, Bodyguarding
on: July 01, 2010, 11:45:24 AM
So, what do we do if he keeps coming forward?
This brings up the issue of verbalizations. Peyton Quinn influenced me here with his articulation of the concept "Prepare your witnesses". Peyton can be a very funny guy to have some beers with-- full of good stories, some of which made it into his book "A Bouncer's Guide to Barroom Brawling".
Personally (and whatever one says IS personal, and should feel good and natural TO YOU) I am not a big fan of "I do not want any problems." While it certainly meets the criterion of establishing with witnesses that one was seeking to avoid the fight, IMHO it sounds a bit weak-- which tends to invite problems. I like:
*Keep your distance!
*Leave me alone!
and variants thereof.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Gabe Suarez piece
on: July 01, 2010, 11:38:57 AM
Should You Act? - Get Involved Or Get Away?
Every so often we get a thread at Warrior Talk asking about what a CCW person should do if he sees a crime, or some apparent victimization. The implied question of course is the quest for justification of the desire to jump in with both feet to save the day. That inherent desire, while noble, may also be quite foolish and self-destructive.
I am not saying to default to doing nothing, merely that you should think it through before taking action that could adversely affect you for the rest of your life. Your decision will be based on three factors – location, companions, and information. Let’s discuss it.
Location. I have traveled in places that I refer to as Non-Permissive Environments. Those are areas where the legality of being armed may be questionable, yet where it is so dangerous that going unarmed would be stupid. In such places getting involved in anyone else’s problem is a bad decision no matter the situation.
In some places saving the day will get you a medal of valor, while in others, even if you saved everyone, the political environment would still cause you to be arrested and likely prosecuted. If you are in an environment like the latter, I suggest not getting involved in anything that does not directly endanger you or yours.
Look at it this way, will you trade your freedom, and finances to save strangers? That is what it boils down to. It is easy to be indignant at my suggestion from the safety of the internet in your living room, it is also quite easy to disagree when you carry the “Badge of America” card as an LEO with the full umbrella of protection your agency provides, but it is another matter altogether when you are sitting in the defendant’s chair, a civilian paying your own way, looking at a prison sentence because you decided to “do the right thing”.
If you don't have a gun its a moot point. If its legal for you to carry its also a moot point.
In a free area where you are legal to carry your pistol, again the choice is clear. Good guys can intervene in times of danger and victimization secure that if they act properly, they will probably be fine afterward. That is the reality of why places where gun laws are lax are far safer than places where gun laws are strict…because good guys are not afraid to be good guys.
Companions will also have an effect on your decisions. I spoke to an LA County Deputy once whose daughter was shot and killed by two armed robbers when he elected to intervene at the store they were robbing. Listen people…if you have your family with you, everyone else is on their own. Unless the bad guys have targeted you and them specifically, go on your way. Whatever is happening is none of your business. Certainly, call 911, but leave and keep them safe. Sorry to sound “cowardly” but anyone who says they will risk their family to save someone else’s money is a fool.
Whether you act or not also depends on how much information you have about what is going on. The information present and available to you may over ride the presence in an NPE, but rarely. The less Intel I have, the less likely I am to do anything but leave. The more Intel I have the better decision I can make. What you see may not give the total picture.
Active shooter problems are easy. When you see a man with an assault rifle shooting into the Toys R Us, you can venture a guess that that is the bad guy and that he is the one that needs to be shot. But those are not the ones that cause us problem are they.
Two guys fighting? None of my business.
Two guys beating up a third guy? Do you act now? Honestly, for me it depends on what they look like. If they are two gang-type thugs beating up an old man, the choice is pretty clear. I would have to intervene. But if two gang-type thugs are beating up a third gang-type thug, its none of my business. I may make a 911 call, but I don’t plan to stick around. Is the fight you see two cops beating up a gang-thug? Cool, but still nothing to do with you. How about two homeys beating up a cop? Now we are back to helping out the good guys. All different stories, eliciting different responses aren't they. Here are a few more.
One guy slapping a girl? None of my business. “Hey wait a minute!”, I can hear the chivalrous crowd yelling from across the nation. Chivalry demands the presence of a lady. Is the apparent victim a lady? Are you willing to risk your life for her? Think with your brain and not your sword. Just on the face of the description I do not have enough to get involved, sorry. Make the guy a gang-thug and the girl a typical soccer mom? Things just changed because of the Intel. Make the guy a gang-thug and the girl a meth-mouth whore? Sorry…not my fight. My Glock will stay in the holster and my phone will be used for 911 instead.
Its 2010 and your CCW stands for Cary (of) Concealed Weapons, not for Captain America. The only time I will get involved in someone else's fight is when I have enough info on what I am seeing to determine who is who and what is happening, I am alone or with other combatants, and then only if not doing something would shock my personal conscience.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dismantling of Russian Operation
on: July 01, 2010, 08:24:33 AM
The Dismantling of a Suspected Russian Intelligence Operation
July 1, 2010
By Fred Burton and Ben West
The U.S. Department of Justice announced June 28 that an FBI counterintelligence investigation had resulted in the arrest on June 27 of 10 individuals suspected of acting as undeclared agents of a foreign country, in this case, Russia. Eight of the individuals were also accused of money laundering. On June 28, five of the defendants appeared before a federal magistrate in U.S. District Court in Manhattan while three others went before a federal magistrate in Alexandria, Va., and two more went before a U.S. magistrate in Boston. An 11th person named in the criminal complaint was arrested in Cyprus on June 29, posted bail and is currently at large.
The number of arrested suspects in this case makes this counterintelligence investigation one of the biggest in U.S. history. According to the criminal complaint, the FBI had been investigating some of these people for as long as 10 years, recording conversations in their homes, intercepting radio and electronic messages and conducting surveillance on them in and out of the United States. The case suggests that the classic tactics of intelligence gathering and counterintelligence are still being used by Russia and the United States.
Cast of Characters
(click here to enlarge image)
The following are the 11 individuals detained in the investigation, along with summaries of their alleged activities listed in the criminal complaint:
Claimed to originally be from Canada.
Acted as an intermediary between the Russian mission to the United Nations in New York and suspects Richard Murphy, Cynthia Murphy, Michael Zottoli and Patricia Mills.
Traveled to and from Canada.
Met with Richard Murphy at least four times between February 2001 and April 2005 at a restaurant in New York.
Was first surveilled in 2001 in meetings with other suspects.
Left the United States on June 17 and was detained in Cyprus on June 29, but appears to have skipped bail.
Richard and Cynthia Murphy
Claimed to be married and to be U.S. citizens.
First surveilled by the FBI in 2001 during meetings with Mestos.
Also met with the third secretary in the Russian mission to the United Nations.
Communicated electronically with Moscow.
Richard Murphy’s safe-deposit box was searched in 2006 and agents found a birth certificate claiming he was born in Philadelphia; city officials claim there is no such birth certificate on record.
Engaged in electronic communications with Moscow.
Traveled to Moscow via Italy in February 2010.
Donald Heathfield and Tracey Foley
Claimed to be married and to be natives of Canada who are naturalized U.S. citizens.
FBI searched a safe-deposit box listed under their names in January 2001.
FBI discovered that Donald Heathfield’s identity had been taken from a deceased child by the same name in Canada and found old photos of Foley taken with Soviet film.
Engaged in electronic communications with Moscow.
Tracey Foley traveled to Moscow via Paris in March 2010.
Michael Zottoli and Patricia Mills
Claimed to be married and to be a U.S. citizen (Zottoli) and a Canadian citizen (Mills).
First surveilled in June 2004 during a meeting with Richard Murphy.
Engaged in electronic communications with Moscow.
Juan Lazaro and Vicky Pelaez
Claimed to be married and to be a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Peru (Pelaez) and a Peruvian citizen born in Uruguay (Lazaro).
First surveilled at a meeting in a public park in an unidentified South American country in January 2000.
Evidence against Vicky Pelaez was the first gathered on the 11 suspected operatives.
Lazaro appeared to communicate with a diplomat at the Russian Embassy in an unidentified South American country.
Engaged in electronic communications with Moscow.
First surveillance mentioned was in Manhattan in January 2010.
Communicated with a declared diplomat in the Russian mission to the United Nations on Wednesdays.
Knowingly accepted a fraudulent passport from an undercover FBI agent whom she believed to be a Russian diplomatic officer June 26, but turned it in to the police the next day shortly before her arrest.
First surveillance mentioned in the criminal complaint was in June 2010 in Washington.
Revealed to an undercover officer that he had received training and instruction from “the center” (a common term for the Moscow headquarters of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR).
Accepted a payment of $5,000 and followed orders given by an undercover FBI agent posing as a Russian diplomatic officer to deliver the money to a drop site in Washington.
According to the FBI, some of the alleged “undeclared agents” moved to the United States in the 1990s, while others (such as Anna Chapman) did not arrive until 2009. The FBI says nine of the suspects were provided with fake identities and even fake childhood photos and cover stories (part of what would be called a “legend”) in order to establish themselves in the United State under “deep cover.” Chapman and Semenko used their own Russian identities (Chapman is divorced and may have taken her surname from her former husband). The true nationalities of the other suspects are unknown, but several passages in the criminal complaint indicate that most of them were originally from Russia. The Russian SVR allegedly provided the suspects with bank accounts, homes, cars and regular payments in order to facilitate “long-term service” inside the United States, where, according to the criminal complaint, the individuals were supposed to “search [for] and develop ties in policymaking circles” in the United States.
The FBI criminal complaint provides evidence that two of the deep-cover couples (Heathfield/Foley and Lazaro/Palaez) and the two short-term cover agents (Semenko and Chapman) were operating without knowledge of each other or in connection with the other two couples and Metsos, who did interact. This suggests that they would not have formed one network, as is being reported, but perhaps discrete networks. The criminal complaint provides evidence indicating that most of the operatives were being run out of the SVR residence at the U.N. mission.
It is unclear exactly how successful the 11 accused individuals were in finding and developing those ties in policymaking circles. The criminal complaint accuses the individuals of sending everything from information on the gold market from a financier in New York (a contact that Moscow apparently found helpful, since it reportedly encouraged further contact with the source) to seeking out potential college graduates headed for jobs at the CIA. The criminal complaint outlines one recorded conversation in which Lazaro told Pelaez that his handlers were not pleased with his reports because he wasn’t attributing them properly. Pelaez then advised Lazaro to “put down any politician” (to whom the information could be attributed) in order to appease the handlers, indicating that the alleged operatives did not always practice scrupulous tradecraft in their work. Improperly identifying sources in the field ultimately diminishes the value of the information, since it cannot be adequately assessed without knowing where it came from. If these kinds of shortcuts were normally taken by Pelaez, Lazaro and others, then it would reduce their value to the SVR and the harm that they may have done to the United States. The suspects were allegedly instructed by their handlers in the United States and Russia to not pursue high-level government jobs, since their legends were not strong enough to withstand a significant background investigation. But they allegedly were encouraged to make contact with high-level government officials, in order to have a finger on the pulse of policymaking in Washington.
The criminal complaint alleges that the suspects used traditional tradecraft of the clandestine services to communicate with each other and send reports to their handlers. The suspects allegedly transmitted messages to Moscow containing their reports encrypted in “radiograms” (short-burst radio transmissions that appear as Morse code) or written in invisible ink, and met in third countries for payments and briefings. They are also said to have used “brush passes” (the quick and discreet exchange of materials between one person and another) and “flash meets” (seemingly innocuous, brief encounters) to transfer information, equipment and money. The criminal complaint also gives examples of operatives using coded phrases with each other and with their operators to confirm each other’s identities.
In addition to the traditional tradecraft described in the criminal complaint, there are also new operational twists. The suspects allegedly used e-mail to set up electronic dead drops to transmit encrypted intelligence reports to Moscow, and several operatives were said to have used steganography (embedding information in seemingly innocuous images) to encrypt messages. Chapman and Semenko allegedly employed private wireless networks hosted by a laptop programmed to communicate only with a specific laptop. The FBI claims to have identified networks (and may have intercepted the messages transmitted) that had been temporarily set up when a suspect was in proximity to a known Russian diplomat. These electronic meetings occurred frequently, according to the FBI, and allowed operatives and their operators to communicate covertly without actually being seen together.
Operations are said to have been run largely out of Russia’s U.N. mission in New York, meaning that when face-to-face meetings were required, declared diplomats from the U.N. mission could do the job. According to the criminal complaint, Russian diplomats handed off cash to Christopher Metsos on at least two occasions, and he allegedly distributed it to various other operatives (which provided the grounds for the charge of money laundering). The actual information gathered from the field appears to have gone directly to Russia, according to the complaint.
It is important to note that the accused individuals were not charged with espionage; the charge of acting as an undeclared agent of a foreign state is less serious. The criminal complaint never alleges that any of the 11 individuals received or transmitted classified information. This doesn’t mean that the suspects weren’t committing espionage. (Investigators will certainly learn more about their activities during interrogation and trial preparation.) According to the criminal complaint, their original guidance from Moscow was to establish deep cover. This means that they would have been tasked with positioning themselves over time in order gain access to valuable information (it is important to point out that “valuable” is not synonymous with “classified”) through their established occupations or social lives. This allows agents to gain access to what they want without running unnecessary security risks.
Any intelligence operation must balance operational security with the need to gather intelligence. Too much security and the operative is unable to do anything; but if intelligence gathering is too aggressive, the handlers risk losing an intelligence asset. If these people were operating in deep cover, the SVR probably invested quite a bit of time and money training and cultivating them, likely well before they arrived in the United States. According to information in the criminal complaint, the suspects were actively meeting with potential sources, sending reports back to Moscow and interacting with declared Russian diplomats in the United States, all the while running the risk of being caught. But they also took security measures, according to the complaint. There is no evidence that they attempted to reach out to people who would have fallen outside their natural professional and social circles, which could have raised suspicions. In many ways, these individuals appear to have acted more like recruiters, seeking out people with access to valuable information, rather than agents trying to gain access to that information themselves. However, all we know now is based on what was released in the criminal complaint. An investigation that lasted this long surely has an abundance of evidence (much of it likely classified) that wasn’t included in the complaint.
According to authorities, the suspected operatives were under heavy surveillance by U.S. counterintelligence agents for 10 years. Working out of Boston, New York and Washington, the FBI employed its Special Surveillance Group to track suspects in person; place video and audio recorders in their homes and at meeting places to record communications; search their homes and safe-deposit boxes; intercept e-mail and electronic communications; and deploy undercover agents to entrap the suspects.
Counterintelligence operations don’t just materialize out of thin air. There has to be a tip or a clue that puts investigators on the trail of a suspected undeclared foreign agent. As suggested by interviews with the suspects’ neighbors, none of them displayed unusual behavior that would have tipped the neighbors off. All apparently had deep (but not airtight) legends going back decades that allayed suspicion. The criminal complaint did not suggest how the U.S. government came to suspect these people of reporting back to the SVR in Russia, although we did notice that the beginning of the investigation coincides with the time that a high-level SVR agent stationed at Russia’s U.N. mission in New York began passing information to the FBI. Sergei Tretyakov (who told his story in the book by Pete Earley called “Comrade J,” an abbreviation of his SVR codename, “Comrade Jean”), passed information to the FBI from the U.N. mission from 1997 to 2000, just before he defected to the United States in October 2000. According to the criminal complaint, seven of the 11 suspects were connected to Russia’s U.N. mission, though evidence of those links did not begin to emerge until 2004 (and some as late as 2010). The timing of Tretyakov’s cooperation with the U.S. government and the timing of the beginning of this investigation resulting in the arrest of the 11 suspects this week suggests that Tretyakov may have been the original source who tipped off the U.S. government. So far, the evidence is circumstantial — the timing and the location match up — but Tretyakov, as the SVR operative at Russia’s U.N. mission, certainly would have been in a position to know about operations involving most of the people arrested June 27.
Nothing in the complaint indicates why, after more than 10 years of investigation, the FBI decided to arrest the 11 suspects June 27. It is not unusual for investigations to be drawn out for years, since much information on tradecraft and intent can be obtained by watching foreign intelligence agencies operate without knowing they are being watched. Extended surveillance can also reveal additional contacts and build a stronger case. As long as the suspects aren’t posing an immediate risk to national security (and judging by the criminal complaint, these 11 suspects were not), there is little reason for the authorities to show their hand and conclude a fruitful counterintelligence operation.
It has been suggested that some of the suspects were a flight risk, so agents arrested all of them in order to prevent them from escaping the United States. Metsos left the United States on June 17 and was arrested in Cyprus on June 29, however, his whereabouts are currently unknown, as he has not reported back to Cypriot authorities after posting bail. A number of the suspects left and came back to the United States numerous times, and investigators appear not to have been concerned about these past comings and goings. It isn’t clear why they would have been concerned about someone leaving at this point.
The timing of the arrests so soon after U.S. President Barack Obama’s June 25 meeting with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev also raises questions about political motivations. Medvedev was in Washington to talk with Obama in an attempt to improve relations between the two countries on the day the FBI officially filed the criminal complaint. The revelation of a network of undeclared foreign agents operating in the United States would ordinarily have a negative effect on relations between the United States and the foreign country in question. In this case, though, officials from both countries made public statements saying they hoped the arrests would not damage ties, and neither side appears to be trying to leverage the incident. Indeed, if there were political motivations behind the timing of the arrests, they remain a mystery.
Whatever the motivations, now that the FBI has these suspects in custody it will be able to interrogate them and probably gather even more information on the operation. The charges for now don’t include espionage, but the FBI could very well be withholding this charge in order to provide an incentive for the suspects to plea bargain. We expect considerably more information on this unprecedented case to come out in the following weeks and months, revealing much about Russian clandestine operations and their targets in the United States.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Time to shut down the Fed?
on: June 30, 2010, 12:34:18 PM
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard Economics Last updated: June 29th, 2010http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/ambroseevans-pritchard/100006729/time-to-shut-down-the-us-federal-reserve/
Like a mad aunt, the Fed is slowly losing its marbles.
Kartik Athreya, senior economist for the Richmond Fed, has written a paper condemning economic bloggers as chronically stupid and a threat to public order. Matters of economic policy should be reserved to a priesthood with the correct post-doctoral credentials, which would of course have excluded David Hume, Adam Smith, and arguably John Maynard Keynes (a mathematics graduate, with a tripos foray in moral sciences).
“Writers who have not taken a year of PhD coursework in a decent economics department (and passed their PhD qualifying exams), cannot meaningfully advance the discussion on economic policy.”
Don’t you just love that throw-away line “decent”? Dr Athreya hails from the University of Iowa.
“The response of the untrained to the crisis has been startling. The real issue is that there is an extremely low likelihood that the speculations of the untrained, on a topic almost pathologically riddled by dynamic considerations and feedback effects, will offer anything new. Moreover, there is a substantial likelihood that it will instead offer something incoherent or misleading.”
You couldn’t make it up, could you?
“Economics is hard. Really hard. You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mind-boggingly hard it is. I mean you may think doing the Sunday Times crossword is difficult, but that’s just peanuts to economics. And because it is so hard, people shouldn’t blithely go shooting their mouths off about it, and pretending like it’s so easy. In fact, we would all be better off if we just ignored these clowns.”
I hold my hand up Dr Athreya and plead guilty. I am grateful to Bruce Krasting’s blog for bringing this stinging rebuke to my attention.
However, Dr Athreya’s assertions cannot be allowed to pass. The current generation of economists have led the world into a catastrophic cul de sac. And if they think we are safely on the road to recovery, they still fail to understand what they did.
Central banks were the ultimate authors of the credit crisis since it is they who set the price of credit too low, throwing the whole incentive structure of the capitalist system out of kilter, and more or less forcing banks to chase yield and engage in destructive behaviour. They ran ever-lower real interests with each cycle, allowed asset bubbles to run unchecked (Ben Bernanke was the cheerleader of that particular folly), blamed Anglo-Saxon over-consumption on excess Asian savings (half true, but still the silliest cop-out of all time), and believed in the neanderthal doctrine of “inflation targeting”. Have they all forgotten Keynes’s cautionary words on the “tyranny of the general price level” in the early 1930s? Yes they have. They allowed the M3 money supply to surge at double-digit rates (16pc in the US and 11pc in euroland), and are now allowing it to collapse (minus 5.5pc in the US over the last year). Have they all forgotten the Friedman-Schwartz lessons on the quantity theory of money? Yes, they have. Have they forgotten Irving Fisher’s “Debt Deflation causes of Great Depressions”? Yes, most of them have. And of course, they completely failed to see the 2007-2009 crisis coming, or to respond to it fast enough when it occurred.
The Fed has since made a hash of quantitative easing, largely due to Bernanke’s ideological infatuation with “creditism”. QE has been large enough to horrify everybody (especially the Chinese) by its sheer size – lifting the balance sheet to $2.4 trillion – but it has been carried out in such a way that it does not gain full traction. This is the worst of both worlds. So much geo-political capital wasted to such modest and distorting effect.
The error was for the Fed to buy the bonds from the banking system (and we all hate the banks, don’t we) rather than going straight to the non-bank private sector. How about purchasing a herd of Texas Longhorn cattle? That would do it. The inevitable result of this is a collapse of money velocity as banks allow their useless reserves to swell.
And now the Fed tells us all to shut up. Fie to you sir.
The 20th Century was a horrible litany of absurd experiments and atrocities committed by intellectuals, or by elite groupings that claimed a higher knowledge. Simple folk usually have enough common sense to avoid the worst errors. Sometimes they need to take very stern action to stop intellectuals leading us to ruin.
The root error of the modern academy is to pretend (and perhaps believe, which is even less forgiveable), that economics is a science and answers to Newtonian laws.
In any case, Newton was wrong. He neglected the fourth dimension of time, as Einstein called it, and that is exactly what the new classical school of economics has done by failing to take into account the intertemporal effects of debt – now 360pc of GDP across the OECD bloc, if properly counted.
There has been a cosy self-delusion that rising debt is largely benign because it is merely money that society owes to itself. This is a bad error of judgement, one that the intuitive man in the street can see through immediately.
Debt draws forward prosperity, which leads to powerful overhang effects that are not properly incorporated into Fed models. That is the key reason why Ben Bernanke’s Fed was caught flat-footed when the crisis hit, and kept misjudging it until the events started to spin out of control.
Economics should never be treated as a science. Its claims are not falsifiable, which is why economists can disagree so violently among themselves: a rarer spectacle in science, where disputes are usually resolved one way or another by hard data.
It is a branch of anthropology and psychology, a moral discipline if you like. Anybody who loses sight of this is a public nuisance, starting with Dr Athreya.
As for the Fed, I venture to say that a common jury of 12 American men and women placed on the Federal Open Market Committee would have done a better job of setting monetary policy over the last 20 years than Doctors Bernanke and Greenspan.
Actually, Greenspan never got a Phd. His honourary doctorate was awarded later for political reasons. (He had been a Nixon speech-writer). But never mind.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Door Work, Bouncing, Bodyguarding
on: June 30, 2010, 12:23:00 PM
Actually SG's pichost clip makes it easier for me to see more and now that I do I better see why Jonobos posted this clip and hereby upgrade my opinion of the performance involved.
The weight on the heels and right hand dow as Problem Child approaches remain as serious defects, but there are some things I do like:
Using StillJames's comments as a frame of reference:
"When he avoids the punch, he wastes a tick bringing his left foot back in front while punching with his right hand. While some people can hit hard from there, the way he's doing it is turning his hip away from the direction he's trying to project power."
Security Guy awaits in a left lead and takes a step back as PC approaches. If he had kept his left hip and shoulder forward we could have said he was in a Kali Fence
I have no problem with his stepping in with the left foot as he throws the right hand-- indeed it is a primary option while throwing the right from the KF.
"And when he starts on the shove, knee, push sequence, he wastes time again having to get his left knee loaded by reversing his feet yet again. , , , Oh, and while he is using his right to fight, his other hand keeps a death grip on that loose white shirt the man is wearing. Notice that the doorman's punch seems to have more of a damaging effect than the knee. The knee moves the man backwards but does not appear to do any actual damage."
I see this differently. I see the left hand's hold as doing a fine job of keeping PC turned and the footwork as driving nicely on what we call the T-Bone line. Note PC's line of approach and that the angle SG's drive puts PC into the car. I see the knee simply as a smoothly integrated part of this drive.
Putting aside the weight on heels and the right hand down (which invites the intiation by the left hook) I'd give this a B or even a B+.
SG, would you please post this on the DBMAA forum too?
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Indian friend recommends part 2
on: June 29, 2010, 09:01:54 PM
AMERICAN OPERATIONS in South Asia, however, are threatening to upset this fragile balance between Islam and nationalism in the Pakistani military. The army's members can hardly avoid sharing the broader population's bitter hostility to U.S. policy. To judge by retired and serving officers, this includes the genuine conviction that either the Bush administration or Israel was responsible for 9/11. Inevitably therefore, there was deep opposition throughout the army after 2001 to American pressure to crack down on the Afghan Taliban and their Pakistani sympathizers. "We are being ordered to launch a Pakistani civil war for the sake of America," an officer told me in 2002. "Why on earth should we? Why should we commit suicide for you?"
Between 2004 and 2007, there were a number of instances of mass desertion and refusal to serve in units deployed to fight militants, though mostly in the Pashtun-recruited Frontier Corps rather than in the regular army. These failures were caused above all by the feeling that these forces were compelled to turn against their own. We must realize in these morally and psychologically testing circumstances, anything that helps maintain Pakistani military discipline cannot be altogether bad-given the immense scale of the stakes concerned, and the consequences if that discipline were to fail.
For in 2007-2008, the battle was beginning to cause serious problems of morale. The most dangerous single thing I heard during my visits to Pakistan in those years was that soldiers' families in villages in the NWFP and the Potwar region of the Punjab were finding it increasingly difficult to find high-status brides for their sons serving in the military because of the growing popular feeling that "the army is the slave of the Americans" and "the soldiers are killing fellow Muslims on America's orders."
By late 2009, the sheer number of soldiers killed by the Pakistani Taliban and their allies, and still more importantly, the increasingly murderous and indiscriminate Pakistani Taliban attacks on civilians, seem to have produced a change of mood in the areas of military recruitment. Nonetheless, if the Pakistani Taliban are increasingly unpopular, that does not make the United States any more well liked; and if Washington ever put Pakistani soldiers in a position where they felt that honor and patriotism required them to fight America, many would be willing to do so.
And we have seen this willingness before. In August and September 2008, U.S. forces entered Pakistan's tribal areas on two occasions in order to raid suspected Taliban and al-Qaeda bases. During the second incursion, Pakistani soldiers fired in the air to turn the Americans back. On September 19, 2008, General Kayani flew to meet U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, and, in the words of a senior Pakistani general, "gave him the toughest possible warning about what would happen if this were repeated."
Pakistani officers from captain to lieutenant general have told me that the entry of U.S. ground forces into Pakistan in pursuit of the Taliban and al-Qaeda is an incredibly dangerous scenario, as it would put both Pakistan-U.S. relations and the unity of the army at risk. As one retired general explained, drone attacks on Pakistani territory, though humiliating for the ordinary officers and soldiers, are not the critical issue. What would create a military overthrow takes more:
U.S. ground forces inside Pakistan are a different matter, because the soldiers can do something about them. They can fight. And if they don't fight, they will feel utterly humiliated, before their wives, mothers, children. It would be a matter of honor, which as you know is a tremendous thing in our society. These men have sworn an oath to defend Pakistani soil. So they would fight. And if the generals told them not to fight, many of them would mutiny, starting with the Frontier Corps.
At this point, not just Islamist radicals, but every malcontent in the country would join the mutineers, and the disintegration of Pakistan would become imminent.
THERE IS a further complication. Of course, the Pakistani military has played a part in encouraging Islamist insurgents. The army maintains links with military and jihadi groups focused on fighting India (its perennial obsession). Contrary to what many believe, the military's support of these actors has not been based on ideology. The bulk of the high command (including General Musharraf, who is by no conceivable stretch of the imagination an Islamist) has used these groups in a purely instrumental way against New Delhi with Pakistani Muslim nationalism as the driver. But this doesn't mean balancing these relationships with U.S. demands will be easy.
Since 2002, the military has acted to rein in these groups, while at the same time keeping some of them (notably Lashkar-e-Taiba, responsible for the 2008 terrorist attacks against Mumbai) on the shelf for possible future use against India should hostilities between the two countries resume. Undoubtedly, however, some lower-level officers of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), responsible for "handling" these groups, have developed close affinities for them and have contributed to their recent operations. The ISI's long association with the militants, first in Afghanistan and then in Kashmir, had led some ISI officers to have a close personal identification with the forces that they were supposed to be controlling.
The high command, moreover, is genuinely concerned that if it attacks some of these groups, it will drive them into joining the Pakistani Taliban-as has already occurred with sections of the Jaish-e-Muhammad, suspected in the attempts to assassinate Musharraf in December 2003 (apparently with low-level help from within the armed forces).
This leads to a whole set of interlocking questions: How far does the Pakistani high command continue to back certain militant groups? How far does the command of the ISI follow a strategy independent from that of the military? And how far have individual ISI officers escaped from the control of their superiors and supported and planned terrorist actions on their own? And this leads to the even-more-vital question of how far the Pakistani military is penetrated by Islamist extremist elements, and whether there is any possibility of these groups carrying out a successful military coup from below.
Since this whole field is obviously kept very secret by the institutions concerned (including Military Intelligence, which monitors the political and ideological allegiances of officers), there are no definitive answers. What follows is informed guesswork based on numerous discussions with experts and off-the-record talks with Pakistani officers, including retired members of the ISI.
Concerning the ISI, the consensus of my informants is as follows: There is considerable resentment of the organization in the rest of the military due to its perceived arrogance and suspected corruption. However, when it comes to overall strategy, the ISI follows the line of the high command. It is, after all, always headed by a senior regular general, not a professional intelligence officer, and a majority of its officers are also seconded regulars. General Kayani was director of the ISI from 2004-2007 and ordered a limited crackdown on jihadi groups that the ISI had previously supported. As to the military's attitude toward the Afghan Taliban, the army and the ISI are as one, and the evidence is unequivocal: both groups continue to give them shelter, and there is deep unwillingness to take serious action against them on America's behalf, both because it is feared that this would increase the potential for a Pashtun insurgency in Pakistan and because they are seen as the only assets Pakistan possesses in Afghanistan. The conviction in the Pakistani security establishment is that the West will quit Kabul, leaving civil war behind, and that India will then throw its weight behind the non-Pashtun forces of the former Northern Alliance in order to encircle Pakistan strategically.
This attitude changes, however, when it comes to the Pakistani Taliban and their allies. The military as a whole and the ISI are now committed to the struggle against them, and by the end of 2009, the ISI had lost more than seventy of its officers in this fight-some ten times the number of CIA officers killed since 9/11, just as Pakistani military casualties fighting the Pakistani Taliban have greatly exceeded those of the United States in Afghanistan. Equally, however, in 2007-2008 there were a great many stories of ISI officers intervening to rescue individual Taliban commanders from arrest by the police or the army-too many, and too circumstantial, for these all to have been invented.
It seems clear, therefore, that whether because some ISI officers felt a personal commitment to these men, or because the institution as a whole still regarded them as potentially useful, actions were taking place that were against overall military policy-let alone that of the Pakistani government. As well, some of these Islamist insurgents had at least indirect links to al-Qaeda. This does not mean that the ISI knows where Osama bin Laden (if he is indeed still alive), Ayman al-Zawahri and other al-Qaeda leaders are hiding. But it does suggest that they could probably do a good deal more to find out.
However, for Islamist terrorists who wish to carry out attacks against India, ISI help is not necessary (though it has certainly occurred in the past). The discontent of sections of India's Muslim minority (increased by ghastly incidents like the massacres of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002, and encouraged by the Hindu nationalist state government) gives ample possibilities for recruitment; the sheer size of India, coupled with the incompetence of the Indian security forces, give ample targets of opportunity; and the desire to provoke an Indian attack on Pakistan gives ample motive. But whether or not the ISI is involved in future attacks, India will certainly blame Pakistan for them.
This creates the real possibility of a range of harsh Indian responses, stretching from economic pressure through blockade to outright war. Such a war would in the short term unite Pakistanis and greatly increase the morale of the army. The long-term consequences for Pakistan's economic development would, however, be quite disastrous. And if the United States were perceived to back India in such a war, anti-American feelings and extremist recruitment in Pakistan would soar to new heights. All of this gives the United States every reason to push the Pakistani military to suppress some extremist groups and keep others on a very tight rein. But Washington also needs to press New Delhi to seek reconciliation with Islamabad over Kashmir, and to refrain from actions which will create even more fear of India in the Pakistani military.
IN THE end, Washington must walk a very fine line if it wants to keep the military united and at least onboard enough in the fight against extremists. If it pushes the army too far by moving ground troops into Pakistan proper, the consequences will be devastating. The military-and therefore the state of Pakistan-will be no longer.
Anatol Lieven, a senior editor at The National Interest, is a professor in the War Studies Department of King's College London and a senior fellow of the New America Foundation in Washington, DC. He is author of America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism (Oxford University Press, 2004). His next book,Pakistan: A Hard Country, is to be published in 2011.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / An Indian friend recommends this article
on: June 29, 2010, 09:01:00 PM
Down the Orwellian memory hole, eh? How perfect.
Changing subjects, here's this piece which comes recommended by an Indian friend who has sent many good things my way over the years. Note the congruity with what I suggested the other day-- though my suggestion (Pashtunistan) sought the fragmentation/dissolution of Pakistan, here the other side of the coin is that if our current strategy is really applied, Pakistan's current incarnation will not survive.
All Kayani's Men
written by: Anatol Lieven, 02-Jun-10
VOLTAIRE REMARKED of Frederick the Great's Prussia that "where .some states have an army, the Prussian Army has a state!" The same can easily be said of Pakistan. The destruction of the army would mean the destruction of the country. Yet this is something that the Pakistani Taliban and their allies can never achieve. Only the United States is capable of such a feat; if Washington ever takes actions that persuade ordinary Pakistani soldiers that their only honorable course is to fight America, even against the orders of their generals and against dreadful odds, the armed forces would crumble.
There is an understanding in Washington that while short-term calculations demand some kind of success in Afghanistan, in the longer run, Pakistan, with its vastly greater size, huge army, nuclear weapons and large diaspora, is a much more important country, and a much greater threat should it in fact succumb to its inner demons. The collapse of Pakistan would so vastly increase the power of Islamist extremism as to constitute a strategic defeat in the "war on terror."
The Pakistani military is crucial to preventing such a disaster because it is the only state institution that works as it is officially meant to. This means, however, that it also repeatedly does something that it is not meant to-namely, overthrow what in Pakistan is called "democracy" and seize control of the government. The military has therefore been seen as extremely bad for Pakistan's progress, at least if that progress is to be defined in standard Western terms.
Yet, it has also always been true that without a strong military, Pakistan would probably have long since disintegrated. That is truer than ever today, as the country faces the powerful insurgency of the Pakistani Taliban and their allies. That threat makes the unity and discipline of the army of paramount importance to Pakistan and the world-all the more so because the deep dislike of U.S. strategy among the vast majority of Pakistanis has made even the limited alliance between the Pakistani military and the United States extremely unpopular in general society and among many soldiers. Those soldiers' superiors fully understand the importance of this alliance to Pakistan and the disastrous consequences for the country if it were to collapse.
The Pakistani army is a highly disciplined and professional institution, and the soldiers will continue to obey their generals' orders. Given their basic feelings, however, it would be unwise to push the infantrymen too far. One way of doing this would be to further extend the U.S. drone campaign by expanding it from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) to Baluchistan. Much more disastrous would be any resumption of U.S. ground raids into Pakistani territory, such as occurred briefly in the summer of 2008.
TO UNDERSTAND this somewhat-counterintuitive (at least to Western audiences) prescription, a close look inside the military is necessary. In essence, the armed forces' success as an institution and its power over the country come from its immunity to kinship interests and the corruption they bring with them; but the military has only been able to achieve this immunity by turning into a sort of giant kinship group itself, extracting patronage from the state and distributing it to its members.
During my journeys to Pakistan over the years, I have observed how the Pakistani military, even more than most armed forces, sees itself as a breed apart, and devotes great effort to inculcating new recruits with the feeling that they belong to a military family different from (and vastly superior to) civilian society. The mainly middle-class composition of the officer corps increases contempt for the "feudal" political class. The army sees itself as both morally superior to this group and far more modern, progressive and better educated.
Pakistani politics is dominated by wealth and inherited status, whereas the officer corps has become increasingly egalitarian and provides opportunities for social mobility that the Pakistani economy cannot. As such, a position in the officer corps is immensely prized by the sons of shopkeepers and big farmers across Punjab and the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). This allows the military to pick the very best recruits and increases their sense of belonging to an elite. In the last years of British rule, circa 1947, and the first years of Pakistan, most officers were recruited from the landed gentry and upper-middle classes. These are still represented by figures like former-Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Jehangir Karamat, who, perhaps most tellingly, is the former president of the Pakistan Polo Association; but a much more typical figure is the current COAS, General Ashfaq Kayani, the son of an NCO. This social change partly reflects the withdrawal of the upper-middle classes to more comfortable professions, but also the immense increase in the quantity of officers required in the military as a result of its vast expansion since independence.
A number of officers and members of military families have told me something to the effect that "the officers' mess is the most democratic institution in Pakistan because its members are superior and junior during the day, but in the evening are comrades. That is something we have inherited from the British."
This may seem like a ludicrous statement, until one remembers that in Pakistan, saying that something is the most spiritually democratic institution isn't saying very much at all. Pakistani society is permeated by a culture of deference to superiors.
Islamabad's dynastically ruled "democratic" political parties exemplify this subservience in the face of inheritance and wealth; while in the army, as an officer told me:
You rise on merit-well, mostly-not by inheritance, and you salute the military rank and not the sardar [tribal chieftain and great landowner] or pir [hereditary religious figure] who has inherited his position from his father, or the businessman's money. These days, many of the generals are the sons of clerks and shopkeepers, or if they are from military families, they are the sons of havildars [NCOs]. It doesn't matter. The point is that they are generals.
Meanwhile, the political parties continue to be dominated by "feudal" landowners and wealthy urban bosses, many of them not just corrupt but barely educated. This increases the sense of superiority in the officer corps has toward the politicians-something I have heard from many officers (and which was very marked in General Pervez Musharraf's personal contempt for the late Benazir Bhutto and her husband, the current president).
This same disdain for the country's civilian political leadership is widely present in Pakistani society as a whole, and has become dominant at regular intervals, leading to mass popular support for military coups. Indeed, it is sadly true that whatever the feelings of the population later, when each military coup initially occurred, it was popular with most Pakistanis-including the media-and was subsequently legitimized by the judiciary.
It is possible that developments since 2001 have changed this pattern, above all because of the new importance of the independent judiciary and media, and the way that the military's role in both government and the unpopular war with the Pakistani Taliban has tarnished its image with many Pakistanis. However, it is not yet clear that such a sea change has definitively taken place. Whether or not it eventually does depends in large part on how Pakistani civilian governments perform in the future.
By the summer of 2009-only a year after the resignation of then-President Musharraf, who had seized power from the civilian government of Nawaz Sharif in 1999-many Pakistanis of my acquaintance, especially in the business classes, were once again calling for the military to step in and oust the civilian administration of President Asif Ali Zardari; not necessarily to take over themselves, but to purge the most corrupt politicians and create a government of national unity (or, at the very least, a caretaker administration of technocrats).
AS THE military has become more egalitarian, the less-secular have filled its ranks. This social change in the officer corps over the decades has caused many in the West to fear that the army is becoming "Islamized," leading to the danger that the institution as a whole might support Islamist revolution, particularly as the civilian government falters. More dangerously, there might be a mutiny by Islamist junior officers against the high command. These dangers do exist, but in my view, the absolutely key point is that only a direct attack on Pakistan by the United States could bring them to fruition.
Westerners must realize that commitment to the army, and to martial unity and discipline, is drilled into every officer and soldier from the first hour of their joining the military. Together with the material rewards of loyal service, it constitutes a very powerful obstacle to any thought of a coup from below, which would by definition split the army and very likely destroy it altogether. Every military coup in Pakistan has therefore been carried out by the chief of army staff, backed by a consensus of the corps commanders and the rest of the high command. Islamist conspiracies by junior officers against their superiors (of which there have been two over the past generation) have been penetrated and smashed by Military Intelligence.
It is obviously true that as the officer corps becomes lower-middle class, so its members become less Westernized and more religious-after all, the vast majority of Pakistan's population is conservative Muslim. However, it is made up of many different kinds of orthodox Muslim, and this is also true of the officer corps.
In the 1980s, then-President of Pakistan and Chief of Army Staff General Zia ul-Haq did undertake measures to make the army more Islamic, and subsequently, a good many officers who wanted a promotion adopted an Islamic facade. Zia also encouraged Islamic preaching within the army, notably by the Tablighi Jamaat, a nonviolent, nonpartisan but fundamentalist group dedicated to Islamic proselytizing and charity work. But, as the career of the notoriously secular General Musharraf indicates, this did not lead to known secular generals being blocked from promotion; and in the 1990s, especially under Musharraf, most of Zia's measures were rolled back. In recent years, preaching by the Tablighi has been strongly discouraged, not so much because of political fears (the Tablighi is determinedly apolitical) as because of instinctive opposition to any groups that might encourage factions among officers and loyalties to anything other than the army.
Of course, the Pakistani military has always gone into battle with the cry of Allahu Akbar (God is Great)-just as the imperial-era German army inscribed Gott mit Uns(God with Us) on its helmets and standards; but according to Colonel Abdul Qayyum, a retired, moderate-Islamist officer:
You shouldn't use bits of Islam to raise military discipline, morale and so on. I'm sorry to say that this is the way it has always been used in the Pakistani army. It is our equivalent of rum-the generals use it to get their men to launch suicidal attacks. But there is no such thing as a powerful jihadi group within the army. Of course, there are many devoutly Muslim officers and jawans [enlisted troops], but at heart the vast majority of the army are nationalists, and take whatever is useful from Islam to serve what they see as Pakistan's interests. The Pakistani army has been a nationalist army with an Islamic look.
On the whole, by far the most important aspect of a Pakistani officer's identity is that he (or sometimes she) is an officer. The Pakistani military is a profoundly shaping influence as far as its members are concerned. This can be seen, among other places, in the social origins and personal habits of its chiefs of staff and Pakistan's military rulers over the years. It would be hard to find a more different set of men than generals Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan, Zia ul-Haq, Pervez Musharraf, Mirza Aslam Beg, Jehangir Karamat and Ashfaq Kayani in terms of their social origins, personal characters and attitudes toward religion; some were rich others poor, some secular others religious and some conspiratorial others loyal. Yet all have been first and foremost military men.
This means in turn that their ideology is largely one of nationalism. The military is tied to Pakistan, not to the universal Muslim ummah of the radical Islamists' dreams; tied not only by sentiment and ideology but also by the reality of what supports the army. If it is true, as so many officers have told me, that "no army, no Pakistan," it is equally true that "no Pakistan, no army."
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Tolmin, Slovenia 6/26-27
on: June 29, 2010, 09:42:46 AM
110 people in attendance for three days of good times. The afternoon of the last day we went white water rafting on the cleanest, most blue river I have seen.
Thanks to Borut and Tina for an outstanding time.
A LONG day yesterday getting home. Wonderful to be with my family again.
Now I rest.
The Adventure continues!
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread
on: June 29, 2010, 08:58:19 AM
Well, on general principles I think it a good thing that the UFC have competition.
As for Lesnar vs. Carwin, this is one to which I am really looking forward. I root for Carwin, to me Lesnar seems a bully.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Karzai & Haqqani sitting under a tree
on: June 27, 2010, 06:07:16 PM
While the US is looking all over the map for Haqqani, they forgot to look
under the bed...
Karzai Holds Talks With Haqqani -
June 27, 2010
Al Jazeera reported June 27 that Afghan President Hamid Karzai met with
Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan and a
member of the Haqqani network. The unnamed sources told Al Jazeera the
meeting took place during the week of June 20, and that Haqqani was
accompanied by Pakistani military chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani and
Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha. Karzai’s
office has denied the meeting took place, and a Pakistani army spokesman
said he had no knowledge of such a meeting.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH's Frank Rich
on: June 27, 2010, 05:36:00 PM
THE moment he pulled the trigger, there was near-universal agreement that President Obama had done the inevitable thing, the right thing and, best of all, the bold thing. But before we get carried away with relief and elation, let’s not forget what we saw in the tense 36 hours that fell between late Monday night, when word spread of Rolling Stone’s blockbuster article, and high noon Wednesday, when Obama MacArthured his general. That frenzied interlude revealed much about the state of Washington, the Afghanistan war and the Obama presidency — little of it cheering and none of it resolved by the ingenious replacement of Gen. Stanley McChrystal with Gen. David Petraeus, the only militarily and politically bullet-proof alternative.
What we saw was this: 1) Much of the Beltway establishment was blindsided by Michael Hastings’s scoop, an impressive feat of journalism by a Washington outsider who seemed to know more about what was going on in Washington than most insiders did; 2) Obama’s failure to fire McChrystal months ago for both his arrogance and incompetence was a grievous mistake that illuminates a wider management shortfall at the White House; 3) The present strategy has produced no progress in this nearly nine-year-old war, even as the monthly coalition body count has just reached a new high.
If we and the president don’t absorb these revelations and learn from them, the salutary effects of the drama’s denouement, however triumphant for Obama in the short run, will be for naught.
There were few laughs in the 36 hours of tumult, but Jon Stewart captured them with a montage of cable-news talking heads expressing repeated shock that an interloper from a rock ’n’ roll magazine could gain access to the war command and induce it to speak with self-immolating candor. Politico theorized that Hastings had pulled off his impertinent coup because he was a freelance journalist rather than a beat reporter, and so could risk “burning bridges by publishing many of McChrystal’s remarks.”
That sentence was edited out of the article — in a routine updating, said Politico — after the blogger Andrew Sullivan highlighted it as a devastating indictment of a Washington media elite too cozy with and protective of its sources to report the unvarnished news. In any event, Politico had the big picture right. It’s the Hastings-esque outsiders with no fear of burning bridges who have often uncovered the epochal stories missed by those with high-level access. Woodward and Bernstein were young local reporters, nowhere near the White House beat, when they cracked Watergate. Seymour Hersh was a freelancer when he broke My Lai. It was uncelebrated reporters in Knight Ridder’s Washington bureau, not journalistic stars courted by Scooter and Wolfowitz, who mined low-level agency hands to challenge the “slam-dunk” W.M.D. intelligence in the run-up to Iraq.
Symbolically enough, Hastings was reporting his McChrystal story abroad just as Beltway media heavies and their most bold-faced subjects were dressing up for the annual White House correspondents’ dinner. Rolling Stone has never bought a table or thrown an afterparty for that bacchanal, and it has not even had a Washington bureau since the mid-1970s. Yet the magazine has not only chronicled the McChrystal implosion — and relentlessly tracked the administration’s connections to the “vampire squid” of Goldman Sachs — but has also exposed the shoddy management of the Obama Interior Department. As it happens, the issue of Rolling Stone with the Hastings story also contains a second installment of Tim Dickinson’s devastating dissection of the Ken Salazar cohort, this time detailing how its lax regulation could soon lead to an even uglier repeat of the Gulf of Mexico fiasco when BP and Shell commence offshore drilling in the Arctic Ocean.
The Interior Department follies will end promptly only if Obama has learned the lessons of the attenuated McChrystal debacle. Lesson No. 1 should be to revisit some of his initial hiring decisions. The general’s significant role in the Pentagon’s politically motivated cover-up of Pat Tillman’s friendly-fire death in 2004 should have been disqualifying from the start. The official investigation into that scandal — finding that McChrystal peddled “inaccurate and misleading assertions” — was unambiguous and damning.
Once made the top commander in Afghanistan, the general was kept on long past his expiration date. He should have been cashiered after he took his first public shot at Joe Biden during a London speaking appearance last October. That’s when McChrystal said he would not support the vice president’s more limited war strategy, should the president choose it over his own. According to Jonathan Alter in his book “The Promise,” McChrystal’s London remarks also disclosed information from a C.I.A. report that the general “had no authority to declassify.” These weren’t his only offenses. McChrystal had gone on a showboating personal publicity tour that culminated with “60 Minutes” — even as his own histrionic Afghanistan recommendation somehow leaked to Bob Woodward, disrupting Obama’s war deliberations. The president was livid, Alter writes, but McChrystal was spared because of a White House consensus that he was naïve, not “out of control.”
We now know, thanks to Hastings, that the general was out of control and the White House was naïve. The price has been huge. The McChrystal cadre’s utter distaste for its civilian colleagues on the war team was an ipso facto death sentence for the general’s signature counterinsurgency strategy. You can’t engage in nation building without civilian partnership. As Rachel Maddow said last week of McChrystal, “the guy who was promoting and leading the counterinsurgency strategy has shown by his actions that even he doesn’t believe in it.”
This fundamental contradiction helps explain some of the war’s failures under McChrystal’s aborted command, including the inability to hold Marja (pop. 60,000), which he had vowed to secure in pure counterinsurgency fashion by rolling out a civilian “government in a box” after troops cleared it of the Taliban. Such is the general’s contempt for leadership outside his orbit that it extends even to our allies. The Hastings article opens with McChrystal mocking the French at a time when every ally’s every troop is a precious, dwindling commodity in Afghanistan.
In the 36 hours between the Rolling Stone bombshell and McChrystal’s firing, some perennial war cheerleaders in the Beltway establishment, including the editorial page of The Washington Post and Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution, did rally to the general’s defense and implored Obama to keep him in place. George Stephanopoulos, reflecting a certain strain of received Beltway wisdom, warned on ABC that the president risked looking “thin-skinned and petulant” if he fired McChrystal.
But none of the general’s defenders had an argument for him or the war beyond staying the course, poor as the results have been. What McChrystal’s supporters most seemed to admire was his uniquely strong relationship with Hamid Karzai, our Afghanistan puppet. As if to prove the point, Karzai was the most visible lobbyist for McChrystal’s survival last week. He was matched by his corrupt half-brother, the reported opium kingpin Ahmed Wali Karzai, who chimed in to publicly declare McChrystal “honest.” Was Rod Blagojevich unavailable as a character witness?
You have to wonder whether McChrystal’s defenders in Washington even read Hastings’s article past its inflammatory opening anecdotes. If so, they would have discovered that the day before the Marja offensive, the general’s good pal Hamid Karzai kept him waiting for hours so he could finish a nap before signing off on the biggest military operation of the year. Poor McChrystal was reduced to begging another official to wake the sleeping president so he could get on with the show.
The war, supported by a steadily declining minority of Americans, has no chance of regaining public favor unless President Obama can explain why American blood and treasure should be at the mercy of this napping Afghan president. Karzai stole an election, can’t provide a government in or out of a box, and has in recent months threatened to defect to the Taliban and accused American forces of staging rocket attacks on his national peace conference. Until last week, Obama’s only real ally in making his case was public apathy. Next to unemployment and the oil spill, Karzai and Afghanistan were but ticks on our body politic, even as the casualty toll passed 1,000. As a senior McChrystal adviser presciently told Hastings, “If Americans pulled back and started paying attention to this war, it would become even less popular.”
To appreciate how shielded Americans have been from Afghanistan, revisit Rahm Emanuel’s appearance last Sunday morning on “This Week,” just before the McChrystal firestorm erupted. Trying to put a positive spin on the war, the president’s chief of staff said that the Afghans were at long last meeting their army and police quotas. Technically that’s true; the numbers are up. But in that same day’s Washington Post, a correspondent in Kandahar reported that the Afghan forces there are poorly equipped, corrupt, directionless and infiltrated by Taliban sympathizers and spies. Kandahar (pop. 1 million) is supposed to be the site of the next major American offensive.
The gaping discrepancy between Emanuel’s upbeat assessment and the reality on the ground went unremarked because absolutely no one was paying attention. Everyone is now. That, at least, gives us reason to hope that the president’s first bold move to extricate America from the graveyard of empires won’t be his last.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Repair
on: June 27, 2010, 02:38:37 AM
If you see what needs to be repaired and how to repair it,
then you have found a piece of the world that G-d has left for you to complete.
But if you only see what is wrong and how ugly it is,
then it is you yourself that needs repair.
A Daily Dose of Wisdom from the Rebbe
-words and condensation by Tzvi Freeman
Tammuz 15, 5770 * June 27, 2010
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 6 year old terrorist
on: June 27, 2010, 02:17:54 AM
Ohio 6-Year-Old Turns Up on Terror Watch List
Updated: 15 hours 59 minutes ago
Print Text Size
(June 26) – The father of a 6-year-old Ohio girl who turned up on the U.S. government's terror watch list says the worst thing his daughter has ever done is probably been mean to her sister.
But Santhosh Thomas, a doctor from Westlake, Ohio, says he's sure that's not enough to land his 6-year-old Alyssa on the no-fly list of suspected terrorists. "She may have threatened her sister, but I don't think that constitutes Homeland Security triggers," he told CNN.
An airline ticket agent informed the family of their predicament when they embarked on recent trip from Cleveland to Minneapolis. "They said, 'Well, she's on the list.' We're like, okay, what's the story? What do we have to do to get off the list? This isn't exactly the list we want to be on," Thomas said.
The Thomases were allowed to fly that day, but authorities told them to contact the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to clear up the matter. Now they've received a letter from the government addressed to 6-year-old Alyssa, telling her that nothing in her file will be changed.
Federal authorities have acknowledged that such a no-fly list exists, but as a matter of national security, they won't comment on whose names are on it nor why. "The watch lists are an important layer of security to prevent individuals with known or suspected ties to terrorism from flying," an unnamed spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration told Fox News.
"She's been flying since she was two-months old, so that has not been an issue," Alyssa's dad said. "In fact, we had traveled to Mexico in February and there were no issues at that time."
That's likely because of a recent change by the Transportation Security Administration, which used to check only international passengers' names against the no-fly list, but since earlier this month has been checking domestic passengers as well.
The Thomases told CNN they plan on appealing Alyssa's status to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security again, and will be sure to leave plenty of extra time for check-in the next time they fly.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cannibis cultivation
on: June 26, 2010, 03:10:39 PM
IMHO far and away the stupidest part of the WOD is the criminalization of marijuana.
U.S. Forest Service land is increasingly fertile ground for pot plants grown by Mexican cartels
Media references to Mexican drug cartels are invariably followed by some variation of the phrase "spill over into this country." Those five words are key to the flak currently being sent up by the federal government—most recently by Janet Napolitano, former Arizona governor and now head of the Department of Homeland Security.
She wants you to believe the feds have a plan to respond should Mexican cartel violence "spill over into this country."
Spill over? It's already here, in our border communities, as well as in the 230 cities across the nation where the cartels are active. The wave of home invasions in Tucson and the kidnappings in Phoenix aren't the result of Tupperware parties gone bad.
Even our public lands are being hit, especially in the Tonto National Forest around Payson, 90 miles northeast of Phoenix.
Between 2006 and 2008, the Gila County Narcotics Task Force took down 43 pot farms, eradicating 82,904 marijuana plants, says Task Force commander Johnny Sanchez. All but a handful were on Tonto land.
All of the farms larger than 1,000 plants were apparently operated by Mexican drug organizations. The workers are usually Mexican nationals brought across the border for that purpose. They might arrive at a grow site in April and live there until harvest in October.
These men are considered "high-value assets," according to a Forest Service criminal investigator who asked for anonymity. They're generally from rural, marijuana-growing areas in Mexico, such as Michoacán, which means they're experienced in the drug trade and capable of surviving outdoors.
But at harvest time, the cartel acquires additional workers, sometimes by kidnapping them off the streets of Phoenix and hauling them to Payson to work off smuggling debts. Others are brought across the border on the promise that they'll be set up with some unnamed job. They're driven out to the forest and—only then—told of their new "employment." The forest investigator says these "farm workers" are often armed. Gunfire has erupted in the Tonto at least twice.
In September 2005, bear hunters approached a pot farm along Deer Creek, in the Mazatzal Wilderness, and were fired upon by cartel guards. The hunters returned fire and retreated to notify police.
The following year, a Forest Service tactical team raided a site in the same area and took fire from a guard carrying a semiautomatic rifle. Two men were arrested, and one escaped. The rifleman, a Mexican national who was shot in the abdomen, was eventually sentenced to 18 years in prison.
The investigator worries about possible encounters in which ordinary Americans trying to enjoy the outdoors could accidentally walk into trouble.
"If you're a hiker or a hunter carrying a gun, and you stumble into one of these areas, and they mistake you for somebody else, shooting can easily erupt," says the investigator. "I wish I could tell you it's not dangerous, but I can't."
In 2007, officers found a grow site a mile and a half from a Boy Scout camp 12 miles north of Payson. A Scout leader out hiking spotted the marijuana and notified police.
Cartel workers live in camps consisting of canvas tarps for shelter or branch lean-tos set against a canyon wall. They eat rice and beans cooked on camping stoves and get resupplied by men who march in with backpacks full of provisions.
The farms, usually at ravine bottoms or on hillsides, are irrigated by gravity-fed piping systems connected to natural springs or waterfalls as much as 5 miles away.
"These areas are so remote, it kicks our butts to get into them, and they usually hear us coming," says Sanchez, adding that guards sometimes rig access trails with trip wire strung with spoons or cans that rattle when disturbed.
So far, Arizona lawmen have not encountered booby traps, as has happened in California's national forests. About 57 percent of all marijuana grown on American public land originates there, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
In July 2007, John Walters, then head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, told the Washington Times: "America's public lands are under attack. Instead of being appreciated as national treasures, they are being exploited and destroyed by foreign drug-trafficking organizations and heavily armed Mexican marijuana cartels."
The Sequoia National Forest, in California's Sierra Nevada Mountains, 350 miles from the border, has been a dangerous battlefield in the drug war. In August 2008, Walters visited Sequoia and said law enforcement had eradicated 420,000 marijuana plants in that forest in the previous eight years.
The first pot farms at Sequoia were discovered in 1998. The first raids on cartel-run grow sites in Tonto occurred in 2002.
But they've been found on other Arizona public lands as well. The Forest Service investigator said the Coconino Forest, around Flagstaff, eradicated 4,200 plants in 2008.
No farms have been discovered in the Kaibab Forest above Grand Canyon. "But we had a dramatic increase in activity last year in Southern Utah," says the investigator. "If they're in Southern Utah, they're probably in Kaibab, too."
No farms have been discovered in Southern Arizona's Coronado Forest, either, due to the lack of water, says Keith Graves, former district ranger in Nogales, now border liaison between the forest and the federal Secure Border Initiative.
The Tonto gets hit hard because of its proximity to Phoenix, where drug organizations thrive. It also has good water sources; Highway 260, which cuts through the forest, makes for easy re-supply.
One advantage of growing marijuana in the United States is that it bypasses border security. But U.S.-grown pot also draws a heftier price because it's often a better grade. "And they're less likely to have to deal with competing smuggling organizations, so it's cheaper," says the forest service investigator.
But the farms take a big toll on the environment. Cartel workers cut down trees and brush, causing erosion, and divert streams to access water. They leave behind piles of trash, as well as human waste and even banned pesticides smuggled up from Mexico that can wash into streams after rains.
Task Force Commander Sanchez, who has worked narcotics enforcement for 20 years, expects the problem to eventually "spill over" onto the San Carlos and White Mountain Apache reservations, as well as other reservations well beyond the Tonto.
"I don't think this will slow down," he says. "We're not winning the war on drugs, I can tell you that."
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What's wrong with him?
on: June 26, 2010, 02:14:57 PM
June 11, 2010 A Shrink Asks: What's Wrong with Obama? *By* *Robin of
So what is the matter with Obama? Conservatives have been asking this
question for some time. I've written a number of articles
solve the mystery.
Even some liberals are starting to wonder. James Carville
Obama's blasé attitude after the catastrophic oil spill. The New York
Times' Maureen Dowd revamped Obama's "Yes We Can" motto into "Will We Ever?"
The liberal women of the TV show "The View" have expressed sympathy for
Michelle Obama's living with a man so out of
Peggy Noonan, hardly a vehement Obama foe, recently pronounced him
Obama's odd mannerisms intrigue a psychotherapist like me. He also presents
a serious diagnostic challenge.
For one, Obama's teleprompter and the men behind the Blackberry keep him
well-scripted. We know so little about the facts of his life.
But it's more than just a lack of information. Obama himself is a strange
bird. He doesn't fit easily into any diagnostic category.
Many people attribute Obama's oddness to his narcissism. True, Obama has a
gargantuan ego, and he is notoriously thin-skinned.
Yet a personality disorder like narcissism does not explain Obama's
strangeness: his giggling while being asked about the economy; his
continuing a shout-out rather than announcing the Ft. Hood shootings; or his
vacations, golfing, partying and fundraising during the calamitous oil
Take also Obama's declaring on the "Today Show" that he wants to know whose
ass to kick <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXBSotezfc4>. Consummate
narcissists would never stoop to this vulgar display of adolescent machismo.
Obama is flat when passion is needed; he's aggressive when savvy is
required. What's most worrisome is that Obama doesn't even realize that his
behavior is inappropriate.
So if it's not just simple narcissism, what is wrong with Obama? Since I've
never evaluated him, I can't say for sure. But I can hazard some educated
If I saw a client as disconnected as him, the first thing I would wonder: Is
something wrong with his brain? And I'd consider the following theoretical
--*Physical problems*: There are a multitude of physiological conditions
that can cause people to act strangely. For instance: head injuries,
endocrine disturbances, epilepsy, and toxic chemical exposure.
It makes me wonder: Did Obama ever have a head injury? His stepfather in
Indonesia was purportedly an alcoholic abuser. Was Obama subject to any
-- *Drugs and alcohol*: Damage to the brain from drugs and alcohol can also
cause significant cognitive impairments. Obama once said that there were 57
states -- and didn't correct himself. Memory problems can be caused by both
illicit and prescription drug use.
Obama admits to a history of drug use in his youth. Did his usage cause some
damage? Does Obama still use?
--*Asperger's Syndrome*: Also known as high-functioning autism,
deficits in social skills. A person with Asperger's can't read social cues.
Consequently, he can be insensitive and hurtful without even knowing it.
Could Obama have Asperger's? He might have some mild traits, but certainly
not the full-blown disorder. In contrast to Obama, those with Asperger's get
fixated on some behavior, like programming computers. Obama lacks this kind
of passion and zeal.
*--Mental Illnes*s: Obama's family tree is replete with the unbalanced. His
maternal great-grandmother committed suicide. His grandfather, Stanley
Dunham, was particularly unhinged: He was expelled from high school for
punching his principal; named his daughter Stanley because he wanted a boy;
and exposed young Barry to not just drunken trash talk, but unrestricted
visits with alleged pedophile Frank Marshall Davis (who might or might
Obama's biological father). Barack Sr. was an abusive, alcoholic
Since mental illness runs in the family, does Obama have any signs? Yes and
no. No, he is not a schizophrenic babbling about Martians. But there are red
flags for some other conditions.
While Obama doesn't appear to hallucinate, he seems to have delusions. His
believing he has a Messiah-like special gift smacks of grandiose delusions.
His externalizing all blame to conservatives, George W. Bush, or the
"racist" bogeyman hints at persecutory delusions.
Along with a delusional disorder, Obama may fit for a mild psychotic
disorder called schizotypal
It may explain some of Obama's oddness.
People with schizotypal disorder hold bizarre beliefs, are suspicious and
paranoid, and have inappropriate and constricted affect. They have few close
friends and are socially awkward. A schizotypal is someone like your strange
cousin Becky who is addicted to astrology, believes she is psychic, and is
the oddball at social gatherings.
Schizotypal Disorder does ring some bells vis-à-vis Obama. One way the
diagnosis doesn't fit, however, is that schizotypals are generally harmless,
odd ducks. Not so with Obama.
--*Trauma:* My gut tells me that Obama was seriously traumatized in
childhood. His mother disregarded his basic needs, dragged him all over the
place, and ultimately abandoned him.
But I think there may be something even more insidious in his family
background. While I can't prove it, the degree of Obama's disconnect reminds
me of my sexually abused clients.
With serious sexual abuse, the brain chemistry may change. The child
dissociates -- that is, disconnects from his being -- in order to cope. Many
adult survivors still dissociate, from occasional trances to the most
extreme cases of multiple personality disorder.
Apparently, young Barry was left in the care of Communist Frank Marshall
Davis, who admitted to molesting a 13-year-old girl. As a teenager, Obama
wrote a disturbing
"Pop," that evoked images of sexual abuse -- for instance, describing dual
amber stains on both his and "Pop's" shorts.
Would trauma explain Obama's disconnect? In many ways, yes. A damaged and
unattached child may develop a "false self." To compensate for the enormous
deficits in identity and attachment, the child invents his own personality.
For Obama, it may have been as a special, gifted person.
Let's return now to my original question: What is wrong with Obama? My guess
is a great deal. The answer is complex and likely includes some combination
of the above.
Along with the brain issues are personality disorders: narcissism, paranoia,
passive-aggressiveness. There's even the possibility of the most destructive
character defect of all, an antisocial
Untreated abuse can foster antisocial traits, especially among boys.
If my assessment is accurate, what does this mean?
It means that liberals need to wake up and spit out the Kool-Aid...and that
conservatives should put aside differences, band together, and elect as many
Republicans as possible.
Because Obama will not change. He will not learn from his mistakes. He will
not grow and mature from on-the-job experience. In fact, over time, Obama
will likely become a more ferocious version of who he is today.
Why? Because this is a damaged person. Obama's fate was sealed years ago
growing up in his strange and poisonous family. Later on, his empty vessel
was filled with the hateful bile of men like Rev. Wright and Bill Ayers.
Obama will not evolve; he will not rise to the occasion; he will not become
the man he was meant to be. This is for one reason and one reason alone:
He is not capable of it.
This article is not intended to offer any definitive diagnoses, but for
educational purposes only.
*A frequent AT contributor, Robin is a psychotherapist in Berkeley and a
recovering liberal. You can e-mail Robin at firstname.lastname@example.org
regrets that she may not be able to acknowledge your e-mail. *
*Page Printed from:http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/06/a_shrink_asks_whats_wrong_with.html
June 22, 2010 - 08:17:35 AM CDT