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23301  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: October 12, 2011, 01:46:39 PM
GM:

Forgive me, but that is quite incomplete.  Before '79 we were more than a little involved in its internal affairs and we acatively supported Saddam in his war with Iran, a war which cost some million plus lives.
23302  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iran's planned hit on US soil on: October 12, 2011, 01:43:38 PM
Lets discuss Iran's planned hit on US soil.  Some initial questions:

a) What consequences for Saudi strategy?  Rapprochement with Baraq?  Go for its own nuke program?

b) What should US do?

c) Krauthammer made what I thought was a powerful point.  Should Iran have succeeded in a hit on our soil, then once it achieves going nuke, there is an implication that they can sneak a nuke onto US soil.
23303  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Iran's planned killing of Saudi ambassador on: October 12, 2011, 01:36:51 PM
One month to the day after the 10th anniversary of 9/11 comes a sobering moment in the history of the U.S. war on terror: The Department of Justice has charged that "factions of the Iranian government" plotted to assassinate Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States by blowing him up inside a Washington, D.C., restaurant.

Had it succeeded, this would have constituted an act of terror by the Islamic Republic of Iran on U.S. soil, and arguably an act of war. To those, notably an emerging isolationist wing in the Republican party, who've argued lately that the U.S. should pull its efforts back from a waning international terrorist threat to focus on domestic concerns, this event is a wake-up call.

Related Video
 Matt Kaminski on Iranian plots to bomb the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington D.C.
..One of the two central figures in the alleged plot, Manssor Arbabsiar—described as a 56-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen with Iranian and U.S. passports—was arrested September 29 at JFK Airport in New York. At a July 17 planning meeting in Mexico, an undercover U.S. agent suggested to Arbabsiar that the assassination would cause mass casualties. Arbabsiar replied: "They [the Iranians] want that guy done; if the hundred go with him, f**k 'em."

The announcement was made yesterday in Washington by Attorney General Eric Holder, FBI Director Robert Mueller, an assistant attorney general for national security and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. In short, this is not a group of American guys gone off the rails in New Jersey.

The second figure named in the alleged plot, and Arbabsiar's Iranian contact, was identified as Gholam Shakuri, a member of Iran's Qods force and still at large. Qods is described in the Justice charge sheet as "a special operations unit of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps that is said to sponsor and promote terrorist activities abroad."

Justice also makes clear that this effort in Iran extended beyond these two men, referring several times to their "Iran-based co-conspirators." After Arbabsiar's arrest, he was directed to phone Shakuri in Iran, who said on October 5, last Wednesday: "[j]ust do it quickly; it's late . . ."

Enlarge Image

CloseZuma Press
 
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder at a news conference on the details of a bomb plot targeting the Saudi ambassador to the United States.
.This appalling news needs to be placed in the broader context of Iran's behavior. One of the charges brought by the U.S. against the two men is "conspiracy to commit an act of international terrorism transcending national boundaries." That aptly describes what seems to occupy much of the Iranian government's waking hours.

This June, the International Atomic Energy Agency made public its recent reporting on Iran's nuclear program. Listed in the report's suspected activities were "producing uranium metal . . . into components relevant to a nuclear device" and "missile re-entry vehicle redesign activities for a new payload assessed as being nuclear in nature."

The good news in yesterday's announcement, and in earlier successes, is that U.S. law-enforcement and intelligence appear to have taken the lessons of 9/11 to heart. They got serious about terror and are able to thwart potential disasters such as this, though we wonder how many others are in train.

Less reassuring is the lapsed seriousness by the West's political leadership about Iran's threat. The U.S. and its allies have imposed sanction regimes on Iran, but they have allowed legalistic definitions to free Iranian officials with ties to its nuclearization program to flout travel bans and such.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrives annually to rant from a podium at the United Nations on the East River. Iran is about much more than these antic rants, and its resources are vastly greater than al Qaeda's. It sees itself as at war with the U.S., Europe, Israel and now obviously Saudi Arabia. As obvious, it sees itself as immune to effective retaliation against its repeated, or planned, offensives. It's past time for U.S. policy toward Iran to reflect the reality of what it is dealing with.

23304  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Track record of Green Subsidies on: October 12, 2011, 01:33:47 PM
By VAUHINI VARA
While Solyndra LLC's flameout has fueled criticism of federal initiatives to encourage alternative power sources, the solar-panel maker is hardly the only disappointment among U.S.-backed energy programs.

That's evident in California, which was awarded $4.6 billion by the Energy Department as part of the 2009 Recovery Act—far more than any other state—to fund programs in energy efficiency and other areas.

A program to install insulation and other energy-saving improvements in homes that received $185.8 million has been hobbled by delays, and a plan to remodel buildings to be more energy-efficient, which received $113 million, has struggled to persuade enough home and building owners to upgrade, according to California officials.

Meanwhile, $15 million went to train workers in skills such as solar-panel installation, but 62% of that program's alumni remain jobless, according to the state Employment Development Department. Solyndra, which declared bankruptcy in August and is now embroiled in a criminal investigation over whether it defrauded the federal government, got $535 million, nearly 12% of California's total under the energy program.

What all of these programs have in common is that they tried to scale up very quickly in the midst of regulatory uncertainty and a sluggish economic recovery that hurt demand for energy-efficient products, said Mark Muro, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Such factors "definitely negatively affected" some of California's clean-energy programs, said Panama Bartholomy, a deputy director at the California Clean Energy Commission.

California's experience isn't unusual, and some states have fared worse. The Energy Department found in August and September that the building-weatherization programs it helped fund in Missouri and Tennessee had quality problems and other issues that it said "could pose health and safety risks to residents, hinder production, and increase program costs."

Enlarge Image

Close.Jen Stutsman, a spokeswoman for the Energy Department, said the 2009 Recovery Act "helped to create tens of thousands of clean-energy jobs in California and across the country."

Other investments in California appear to be more successful. BrightSource Energy Inc., which received a $1.6 billion loan guarantee, says it remains on track to build a project expected to nearly double the amount of solar-thermal energy in the U.S. and create 1,400 jobs. An $18.8 million EnergySmart Jobs program, which trains people to install electricity-saving features in grocery stores while giving rebates to those stores for their investment, has resulted in 2,070 upgrades. Jerry McLaughlin, vice president of operations at Spencer's Fresh Markets, a small California grocery chain, said an energy monitor installed under the program in one store's freezers should save $500 to $900 a month.

The Energy Department handed out $35.2 billion from the Recovery Act for energy efficiency and other initiatives. At the time, clean energy was seen as a potentially powerful industry for job creation.

But the industry has yet to provide the boost many had hoped for. Nationwide, jobs related to energy efficiency rose to 2.7 million people last year, up 27% from 2003, compared with overall job growth of 33%, according to the Brookings Institution. The figures exclude jobs lost because of establishments closing.

In California, the weatherization program ran into challenges because of a federal government delay in issuing prevailing-wage rates for the workers involved and inexperience of those administering the program. In July, state auditor Elaine Howle wrote that the program "faces challenges" in weatherizing enough homes by a deadline next year.

Rachel Arrezola, a spokeswoman for California's Department of Community Services, said the program is on track to use all but $18 million to $22 million of the total $185.8 million in funds. As of Sept. 30, California had weatherized nearly 37,000 homes and expects to reach its target of 43,150 homes before the program ends.

Meanwhile, the program to remodel houses and commercial buildings to use energy more efficiently was hurt after the Federal Housing Finance Agency warned in 2010 of "significant safety and soundness concerns" over a financing method the program planned to use, said the California Energy Commission. While the program had hoped to upgrade 15,000 buildings, only 6,342 are finished or in progress.

The sluggishness of the overall economy and slow adoptions of energy upgrades also have hurt training program for clean-energy workers, which combined recovery funds with state money to train 4,719 people in skills such as building energy-efficient houses since January 2010. Of the 2,931 who exited the program as of mid-September, only 1,104 found work, according to the state Employment Development Department.

Among those who remain unemployed is Jim Criscione. The 61-year-old, who lives near San Francisco, worked in construction for decades before he was let go in late 2009. In January, he signed up for free classes to learn skills such as installing solar panels.

But after Mr. Criscione finished his classes and applied for work, he struck out repeatedly. With unemployment benefits set to expire, he wonders if his time was wasted. "I'm down to almost anything to make a living," he said.

23305  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / On the Constitution on: October 12, 2011, 12:24:00 PM
"[T]he present Constitution is the standard to which we are to cling. Under its banners, bona fide must we combat our political foes -- rejecting all changes but through the channel itself provides for amendments." --Alexander Hamilton, letter to James Bayard, 1802

"A constitution founded on these principles introduces knowledge among the people, and inspires them with a conscious dignity becoming freemen; a general emulation takes place, which causes good humor, sociability, good manners, and good morals to be general. That elevation of sentiment inspired by such a government, makes the common people brave and enterprising. That ambition which is inspired by it makes them sober, industrious, and frugal." --John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776

"In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution." --Thomas Jefferson, fair copy of the drafts of the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798

"If it be asked, What is the most sacred duty and the greatest source of our security in a Republic? The answer would be, An inviolable respect for the Constitution and Laws -- the first growing out of the last. ... A sacred respect for the constitutional law is the vital principle, the sustaining energy of a free government." --Alexander Hamilton, Essay in the American Daily Advertiser, 1794
23306  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: October 12, 2011, 12:18:34 PM
I was driving back from Lodi last night and missed the debate.  How did it go?  Anyone have a URL of the whole thing?
23307  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: October 12, 2011, 12:16:56 PM
IMHO many of us of the American Creed are missing a real opportunity to take leadership on a vast inchoate and correct sense that many on Wall Street and in banking acted very badly (e.g. packaging bad mortgages and shovelling them out the door, knowing that the FMs would be there as a back-up.).  Our system is intended for a virtuous people and many have acted very unvirtuously in all of this.

The point we need to make to these people is that in a large sense they are right, there WERE bailouts, and bonuses for the nefarious.  The next point we need to make is that this happened PRECISELY because the government was involved (artificial interest rates, guaranteed mortgages, etc) and that this involvement is the essence of liberal fascism.
23308  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Trade Issues / Freedom to Trade on: October 12, 2011, 12:04:10 PM
I agree with the benefits of free trade.   Free trade also includes capital flows, and China's currency is strongly controlled.  Its exchange rate policies are exceeding mercantilist and deeply unfair to many Americans productive efforts.

Immelt is not someone whose words carry much weight with me.  Amongst the various reason is that IIRC he has been quite a scumbag with regard to trading with Iran.  Is that we he means by free trade?  Certainly not directly responsive to the question presented here, but still a point that gets on my nerves with regard to him.
23309  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Egypt on: October 12, 2011, 11:56:24 AM
Egypt: Verifying Facts in a Crisis Event
The violence at the Maspero building in Egypt on Sunday was what STRATFOR refers to internally as a crisis event. Whenever a crisis event breaks out, the first task for any STRATFOR analyst is to rapidly wade through a sea of confusing media reports in an effort to separate fact from fiction. This is a difficult task given the nature of initial media reports — written under pressure, often with limited information — that are often the first source of information in such a situation. As the hours pass, the actuality of the event sometimes becomes more clear and sometimes, less so. In the case of the Maspero protest, it is hard to determine which one was the case.
STRATFOR gets its information from a variety of places. Human intelligence from sources on the ground in locations all over the world is a prime resource. But so is open-source intelligence, or published material. There is a multitude of readily available outlets for open-source intelligence, including online newspapers, 24-hour cable news channels and social media services. Translation services of foreign language media — once the domain of government intelligence agencies — are now also largely open to the public. The quantity of raw information provided by open-source intelligence is substantial, but the quality is not always superior to what can be gained from human intelligence.
“The key is to find the actual source of the information rather than relying on what someone else reports about a report.”
In this instance, a STRATFOR analyst was in Cairo at the time of the protest; in fact, STRATFOR was alerted to the event by this analyst. Open-source reports were checked against the analyst’s direct knowledge of events. The analyst’s observations and interactions with multiple sources were key factors in shaping our coverage of the violence.
A debate is under way in Egypt regarding the conduct of its state media outlets on Sunday. This controversy underlines the obvious problems with relying on state media reports to discover what has actually happened in a crisis event. Immediately after violence erupted at Maspero, some state TV channels explicitly blamed Coptic demonstrators for the reports of gunfire directed at the Egyptian troops who were providing security at the building. The reports of three dead Egyptian soldiers also originated from state media. Some state TV anchors then exhorted Egyptian citizens to take to the streets and protect the army from the Copts, further inflaming the situation.
This behavior generated criticism that state media was seeking to instigate sectarian strife between Egyptians, which would then be used to justify a security crackdown by the military. Egyptians who want the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to relinquish power immediately to a civilian government have expressed their views primarily through social media, especially Twitter. These media platforms are tailor-made for short dispatches from street protests and are suited to those with access to the technology they require. These views have been subsequently transmitted by privately owned Egyptian media, as well as mainstream media outlets based in other countries.
The most explosive claim to come out of the Sunday protests is that people in the crowd (whether Copts or not) used firearms against Egyptian soldiers, killing three of them. These claims have brought  post-Mubarak Egypt into a new phase; such violence against the military has been taboo up until this point. The Egyptian government, unlike state media, did not directly blame the Copts. Nor did the SCAF. Official statements issued by both entities on Sunday and Monday sought to soothe sectarian tensions and emphasized that the identities of the alleged shooters remained unknown. These comments have not calmed the anti-SCAF camp, however. Many of these people do not believe any Egyptian soldiers were even killed, citing as evidence the fact that their identities have not yet been released. Others claim that the alleged shooters were saboteurs who infiltrated the crowds to paint the Copts in a negative light or to generate an SCAF crackdown necessitated by the need to prevent sectarian tensions from rising any higher.
Just as state media can be an untrustworthy source at times, so can claims spread on social media by the anti-SCAF segment of Egyptian society. Take, for example, a report posted on Twitter on Monday, which claimed that state-owned Nile TV had retracted its claim that soldiers had been killed during the Maspero protest. All that appeared on Twitter were the words, “Nile TV has announced that there were no soldiers killed in Maspero yesterday, and blamed the announcer being distraught.” There was no link provided to the original broadcast, no transcript and no context, but within minutes it had gone viral.
Clearly this would have been an extremely significant development, and only after closer inspection did STRATFOR clear up what had actually happened. A journalist not affiliated with Nile TV was in the studio and stated on-air that there was no evidence of Coptic involvement in the soldiers’ deaths. He also criticized state media for the way it reported on the Maspero violence. The Nile TV anchor refuted this criticism and the station maintained it had done nothing wrong in its coverage. There was no retraction; state media stood by its story.
This case clearly reflects the flaws of Twitter and the lightning speed of information in the age of social media. Stories spread almost without delay, which is helpful when one needs to gain immediate knowledge about events happening on the other side of the globe. Unfortunately, some of those stories are either misrepresentations of actual events or deliberate disinformation that winds up going viral. The key is to find the actual source of the information rather than relying on what someone else reports about a report. To avoid spreading disinformation, STRATFOR always attempts to confirm from the original source.
There is no perfect source of information. Reality is hard to discern, and it is always subject to debate. The only way to find it is to look around every corner.
23310  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: October 12, 2011, 11:51:00 AM
In general, I sense that we are WAY behind the curve viz the Chinese and cyber war.  They have determined that our reliance on such things is an Achilles heel for us and have focused their considerable talents on this.
23311  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: October 12, 2011, 11:47:09 AM
IIRC he was delivering the groin shots.
23312  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Beat The Crap Out Of Cancer 2 on: October 12, 2011, 11:05:51 AM
Good work Growling Dog!
23313  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / D.F. becoming part of battleground on: October 12, 2011, 10:57:49 AM
In this week’s Above the Tearline, we are going to examine two recent brutal events in Mexico which could mean that the cartels are taking the fight to Mexico City.
We’ve been following cartel violence for quite some time at STRATFOR and it’s very easy to become numb to the levels of brutality that we see. From body dumps in Veracruz, to firefights across from Roma, Texas, with incursions into the United States.
However, there have been two recent events in Mexico City that give us cause to re-evaluate what could be occurring here and they are the murder of the two female journalists that were found naked, bound and gagged and their bodies dumped in a park in Mexico City. And most recently two severed heads were found on Oct. 3 in close proximity to the Mexican military office Sedena in Mexico City. These two recent brutal events are unusual in that it happened in Mexico City, which has historically been spared the levels of violence we have seen elsewhere throughout Mexico. The signal resonates with the murder of the journalists, which is a very powerful example to others who may be writing about cartel activity inside of Mexico, and now with the severed heads being found in close proximity to the Mexican military office, this is also a very powerful signal to the Mexican military from the cartels that anybody is accessible in Mexico.
In doing assessments of countries or monitoring the scope of violence that could be occurring, you’re consistently looking for tripwires that are crossed or anomalies which are outside the norm, and those are incidents such as what we have seen unfold here.
The Above the Tearline with this video is the tactical shift that could be taking place here with the cartels striking inside the Mexican capital, specifically targeting journalists and the Mexican military. The symbolism resonates, and it also clearly shows that the cartels are very capable of reaching out and targeting whoever they want throughout the country, even in the capital city of Mexico.


91626

23314  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: October 11, 2011, 12:29:56 AM
http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2011/10/07/

et seq.
23315  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 11, 2011, 12:29:08 AM
http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2011/10/08/
23316  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: October 11, 2011, 12:06:25 AM
The Patriot Post
Brief -- Monday, October 10, 2011
=================================
On the Web: http://patriotpost.us/edition/2011/10/10/brief/
Printer Friendly: http://patriotpost.us/edition/2011/10/10/brief/print
PDF Version: http://pdf.patriotpost.us.s3.amazonaws.com/2011-10-10-brief.pdf

-------------

The Foundation

"To cherish and stimulate the activity of the human mind, by multiplying the objects
of enterprise, is not among the least considerable of the expedients, by which the
wealth of a nation may be promoted." --Alexander Hamilton

-------------

Government

"One of my favorite economics essays from which I've drawn bottomless inspiration is
Leonard Read's 'I, Pencil.' ... Read traces the family tree of the pencil from the
Oregon loggers who harvest its cedar wood, to the California millworkers who cut the
wood into thin slats, to Mississippi refinery workers, to the Dutch East Indies
farmers who produce an oil used to make erasers. ... Read illuminates: 'There is a
fact still more astounding: The absence of a master mind, of anyone dictating or
forcibly directing these countless actions which bring me into being. No trace of
such a person can be found. Instead, we find the Invisible Hand at work.' ...
Appreciating this voluntary configuration of human energies, Read argued, is key to
possessing 'an absolutely essential ingredient for freedom: a faith in free people.
Freedom is impossible without this faith.' Indeed. Without that faith, we are
susceptible to the force of class-warfare mobs and the arrogance of
command-and-control bureaucrats in Washington who believe the role of private
American entrepreneurs, producers and wealth generators is to 'grow the economy' and
who 'think at some point you have made enough money.' The progressives who want to
bring down 'Wall Street' will snipe that [Apple co-founder Steve] Jobs was one of
'theirs,' not 'ours.' He belonged to no one. He was transcendently committed to
excellence and beauty and innovation. And yes, he made gobs of money pursuing it all
while benefiting hundreds of millions of people around the world whom he never met,
but who shed a deep river of tears upon learning of his death [last] week. From 'I,
Pencil' to iPhone, such is the profound, everlasting miracle of iCapitalism -- a
triumph of individualism over collectivism, freedom over force and markets over
master planning. To borrow an old Apple slogan: It just works." --columnist Michelle
Malkin
(http://patriotpost.us/opinion/michelle-malkin/2011/10/07/the-miracle-of-icapitalism/
)

-------------

For the Record

"From [his Thursday news] conference we are reminded that Obama believes that: Only
'big and bold' intervention by the government can get an economy moving.... Anyone
who disagrees with or opposes him is engaging in partisan politics rather than
acting in good faith, on principle and in the best interests of the country. ... It
doesn't matter that he famously breached his promise that unemployment would not
exceed 8 percent if Congress passed his stimulus bill or that studies show that only
7 percent of the stimulus money went toward infrastructure despite his commitments
to the contrary. ... His good intentions also exempt him from accountability on the
Solyndra scandal, because his ideology inclines him toward a blind faith in the
existence of cataclysmic man-made global warming, which in turn requires him to
mandate government subsidization of 'green technologies.' ... He has complete
confidence in Eric Holder, so he doesn't need to worry about the facts on 'Fast and
Furious,' either.... Thursday, he told us yet again that our economic mess was
created by George W. Bush, the Japanese tsunami, the two wars, the Republicans'
gamesmanship over the debt ceiling, and Europe's financial instability. ... Our
chief executive either is a mastermind at Machiavellian manipulation or has deep
psychological and emotional problems. I've never seen an adult in an important
leadership position -- especially not the president of the United States -- show
such frightening immaturity and self-absorption." --columnist David Limbaugh
(http://patriotpost.us/opinion/david-limbaugh/2011/10/07/obamas-behavior-is-getting-worse/
)

-------------

Essential Liberty

"Freedom frightens some people. They say if no one is in charge there would be
chaos. That is intuitive, but think about a skating rink. Before rinks were
invented, if you proposed an amusement in which people strap blades to their feet
and skate around on ice at whatever speeds they wish, you'd have been called crazy.
There's got to be speed limits, stoplights, turn signals. But we know that people
navigate rinks safely on their own. They create their own order, with only minimal
rules. Society would work the same way -- and does to a large extent even today.
'Great part of that order which reigns among mankind is not the effect of
government,' Thomas Paine, the soul of the American Revolution, wrote. 'It has its
origin in the principles of society and the natural constitution of man. ... Common
interest (has) a greater influence than the laws of government.'" --columnist John
Stossel
(http://patriotpost.us/opinion/john-stossel/2011/10/05/government-makes-us-poor/ )

-------------

Opinion in Brief

"Dan Rather opened a CBS Evening News broadcast in 1991 declaring, 'one in eight
American children is going hungry tonight.' Newsweek, the Associated Press and the
Boston Globe repeated this statistic, and many others joined the media chorus, with
or without that unsubstantiated statistic. When the Centers for Disease Control and
the Department of Agriculture examined people from a variety of income levels,
however, they found no evidence of malnutrition among those in the lowest income
brackets. Nor was there any significant difference in the intake of vitamins,
minerals and other nutrients from one income level to another. That should have been
the end of that hysteria. But the same 'hunger in America' theme reappeared years
later, when Senator John Edwards was running for Vice President. And others have
resurrected that same claim, right up to the present day. ... We have now reached
the point where the great majority of the people living below the official poverty
level have such things as air-conditioning, microwave ovens, either videocassette
recorders or DVD players, and own either a car or a truck. Why are such people
called 'poor'? Because they meet the arbitrary criteria established by Washington
bureaucrats. ... Those who believe in an expansive, nanny state government need a
large number of people in 'poverty' to justify their programs. They also need a
large number of people dependent on government to provide the votes needed to keep
the big nanny state going." --economist Thomas Sowell
(http://patriotpost.us/opinion/thomas-sowell/2011/10/05/the-hunger-hoax/ )

-------------

The Gipper

"The economic welfare of all our people must ultimately stem not from government
programs, but from the wealth created by a vigorous private sector." --Ronald Reagan
(http://reagan2020.us/ )

-------------

Re: The Left

"I agree with the Obama administration's decision to kill the American-born al-Qaeda
recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki. What I can't fathom is why the administration agrees with
me. ... The Constitution empowers the president to put down insurrection, and what
was Awlaki if not an insurrectionist? ... But here's where I am confused. According
to Attorney General Eric Holder, the administration is committed to treating
captured terrorists as criminals, entitled to all of the rights and privileges of a
civilian criminal trial. It seems the Defense Department disagrees, given that some
lesser-known prisoners are allegedly kept on ships -- call them floating Gitmos --
without trials. Meanwhile, President Obama keeps ordering that the more famous
terrorists be killed on sight. That's fine with me. But as far as I can tell, he's
never disagreed with Holder's view about the need for civilian trials for terrorists
we don't kill, like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. ... If captured alive, terrorists pose
political problems for Obama. Where do we put them? How do we interrogate them? And,
most pressingly, how do we try them? I don't think those are tough questions. But
Obama does. So he prefers to kill these people outright, avoiding the questions
altogether." --columnist Jonah Goldberg
(http://patriotpost.us/opinion/jonah-goldberg/2011/10/05/obamas-terrorist-dilemma/ )

-------------

Political Futures

"In this election cycle, the battle isn't between the old media and the new media
anymore. It is between the Tea Party and the GOP establishment. ... But the
establishment GOP sees the Tea Party as a threat, for two reasons. First, they think
that the Tea Party is more interested in principle than victory. ... Second, the
establishment GOP is not aligned with the philosophy of the Tea Party. They like the
philosophy of a Democrat-lite: more efficient, effective government, but not
necessarily a smaller one. ... When conservatism is politically inconvenient, it
sometimes wins (see Reagan) and it sometimes loses (see Goldwater). But when
conservatism embraces the politics of convenience, it always loses." --columnist Ben
Shapiro
(http://patriotpost.us/opinion/ben-shapiro/2011/10/05/the-tea-party-vs-the-establishment/
)

-------------

Faith & Family

"Why is it so hard to become a better person? I have -- unfortunately -- come up
with 13 reasons. 1. Most people don't particularly want to be good. ... 2. Confusion
exists about what goodness is. ... 3. Goodness is not about intentions. ... 4. We
don't learn how to be good. ... 5. We think too highly of ourselves. ... 6. We think
we will be taken advantage of. ... 7. There are few personal models. ... 8. We don't
believe that there are rewards for being good. ... 9. We have to battle our nature.
... 10. 'I'm a victim.' ... 11. Few people were raised to be good people. ... 12. In
our formative years, the least impressive are rewarded. ... 13. We have
psychological blocks. ... The sad irony is that while goodness is the thing that
everyone wants most from everyone else, few people want it most for themselves."
--radio talk-show host Dennis Prager
(http://patriotpost.us/opinion/dennis-prager/2011/10/04/thirteen-obstacles-to-becoming-a-better-person/
)

-------------

Culture

"All the numbers that are supposed to document the rise of the modern university may
only disguise its decline. And obscure the deterioration of liberal education under
the care of those who are supposed to be its stewards. Increasingly, college
students are expected to know more and more about less and less -- everything about
their specialty, not that much about the arts and sciences that compose the core of
education, and of civilization. In his preface to 'Culture and Anarchy,' Matthew
Arnold said the purpose of education was to pass on 'the best which has been thought
and said.' That choice -- between culture and anarchy -- is still before us. Look
about at an educational system in which pop culture steadily replaces the real
thing, and various new capital-S Studies (Black, Gender, Women's, Ethnic, Gay,
Trans-Gender, pick your favorite) supplant traditional disciplines. When the best of
what has been thought and said is demoted to just another elective, you have to
wonder if anarchy isn't getting the upper hand." --columnist Paul Greenberg
(http://patriotpost.us/opinion/paul-greenberg/2011/10/05/letter-to-a-businessman/ )

-------------
23317  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 3 Soldiers killed on: October 11, 2011, 12:02:36 AM
STRATFOR
---------------------------
October 10, 2011


VIDEO: DISPATCH: A NEW PHASE IN POST-MUBARAK EGYPT

Analyst Bayless Parsley examines the reported death of three Egyptian soldiers
during the Oct. 9 riots and discusses how the deaths mark a new phase in
post-Mubarak Egypt.

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology.
Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

The official death toll from yesterday's protest in Cairo has risen to 24, with 272
reported injured. Of the 24 reported killed outside of Egypt's state TV and radio
building, three were allegedly Egyptian soldiers. This would be the first time that
protesters outside of the Sinai have used firearms against the Egyptian military and
marks a new phase in post-Mubarak Egypt.

Oct. 9 was the most violent day in Egypt since the fall of Mubarak and many
Egyptians are now calling it "Black Sunday." What began as a Coptic protest march
from northern Cairo to the state TV building known as Maspero, devolved into a melee
that led to the deaths of over 20 people. Multiple military vehicles were set on
fire, military issue armored personnel carriers were driven through crowds of people
at high speeds and at some point someone from within the crowd fired upon a group of
soldiers who were providing security outside of Maspero. This would be the first
time that any protester in Egypt has used a firearm against an Egyptian soldier
since the demonstrations began in January, and if true, marks a dramatic shift in
tactics.

The protest was organized by a handful of Coptic activist groups who have organized
demonstrations outside of Maspero in the past. Shortly after the violence broke out,
state media blamed the Copts explicitly. Some of these guys even exhorted people to
go out on the streets and protect the army from the Copts. In a country that has
seen sectarian tensions between Copts and certain portions of the majority Muslim
population, it came as no surprise that within a short time, mobs of Muslim men
began to arrive at Maspero carrying torches and sticks. STRATFOR sources on the
ground in Cairo reported witnessing Copts being beaten by civilians expressing
solidarity with the military. While this was happening, anti-military crowds were
converging at nearby Tahrir Square, protesting against the violence used by the
soldiers at Maspero. The two groups later clashed in the square, though no deaths
were reported.

The violence on Sunday was an extremely polarizing event in Egypt. Until now,
violence against the military has been taboo, while the military has avoided using
this much force against the demonstrators as well. The deaths have brought to the
forefront a growing chasm in Egypt between two overarching camps: those who espouse
unity with military and those who openly advocate for the end of military rule. The
government and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces itself have both issued
official statements wishing to calm people's emotions and blame a foreign hand for
instigating the violence. Neither have openly blamed Coptic demonstrators as state
media did in the immediate aftermath of the violence breaking out on Sunday, but
this will not convince either side to moderate their positions in the near future.
As the sectarian issue grows in stature, so too will the chasm between the two
camps, divided over what the role of the military should be, as security conditions
deteriorate in Egypt. The questions now are whether the military will use what
happened on Oct. 9 to justify an increased crackdown on dissidents and how the
events will affect the image of the military in the eyes of Egyptians who normally
stay away from politics.
More Videos - http://www.stratfor.com/theme/video_dispatch

23318  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: October 10, 2011, 10:31:54 AM
There is also the matter of Baraq's mysterious comment at an anti-gun event to someone that "I can't tell you about it, but we are working on something under the radar."
23319  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fire Hydrant: Howls from Crafty Dog, Rules of the Road, etc on: October 06, 2011, 07:00:17 PM
On road for next six days.  Minimal presence here. 

Carry on!

TAC!
23320  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: October 06, 2011, 06:59:55 PM
On road for next six days.  Minimal presence here. 

Carry on!

TAC!
23321  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Strat: A shifting battleground- 1 on: October 06, 2011, 05:02:39 PM
•   Europe: A Shifting Battleground, Part 1
There are two important events coming up in Central Europe this weekend: the first being a summit of the Visegrad Four countries and the second is general elections in Poland. These two events give STRATFOR the opportunity to examine the importance of the region in the current context and looking forward as well.
The first event is the Visegrad summit which will take place in Hungary from Oct. 7 to the 8. The presidents of the four Visegrad states, which include Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, will all be in attendance at the summit, which will mark the twentieth anniversary of the grouping. The summit will also mark the achievements of the bloc, which is most notably the introduction of all four Visgrad countries into the European Union and into NATO in the 2000s.
But more importantly the summit will be an opportunity to gauge where the bloc is headed in the future. There’s no shortage of problems in Europe right now, ranging from the eurozone debt crisis to growing pressures and divisions on NATO. It will thus be key to see whether the four Visegrad countries can show the same level of cooperation in addressing the issues that these two blocs face, as they did in joining them.
The second important event of this coming weekend will be the Polish general elections, which will take place on Oct. 9. These elections are, at this point, closely contested between the ruling Civic Platform Party of Prime Minister Donald Tusk and the opposition PiS party. But regardless of who wins the elections, there are deeper geopolitical issues that are facing Poland right now that any government would need to handle. While Poland has shown nascent signs of emerging as a leader of Central Europe, Warsaw is still trying to find its place within wider Europe.
It’s often left out discussions with major European countries like Germany and France, specifically over important issues like the eurozone debt crisis. The prevailing question in Poland is how the country can become a member of the group of established Western European countries, while also maintaining a leadership role in Central and Eastern Europe via initiatives like the Visegrad Four and the Eastern Partnership Program, which is a Polish led initiative to bring six former Soviet countries closer to the EU.
This question has become even more important for Poland as a resurgent Russia has been strengthening its relationship with key Western European countries, which is a concerning development for Warsaw. Therefore, no matter what declarations are made at the Visegrad summit and no matter which party gets more of votes in the Polish general elections, both events are subject to deeper geopolitical forces that will continue to shape the region regardless of policies or personalities.
23322  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: October 06, 2011, 05:00:42 PM
I'm thinking of a Rep candidate with a Latino crowd, especially a Mex-American one pointing out just who it was that vilely held Mexican lives of lesser account than his political agenda.
23323  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / An attack idea on: October 06, 2011, 01:43:09 PM
Might it serve the Republican efforts with the Latino vote to point out that Baraq, Holder, et al were perfectly willing to be accessories to the killing of Mexican citizens, innocent and otherwise, by sending thousands of guns to Mexico in order to increase US gun control laws?


23324  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Reallity mugs Susan Rice on: October 06, 2011, 01:14:08 PM
To watch a liberal get mugged by reality, do an Internet search for the video of Susan Rice at Tuesday night's Security Council debate on Syria. America's envoy to the United Nations slammed the Russian and Chinese vetoes of a "vastly watered down" resolution that criticized the Assad regime's brutal repression of its own people. Ms. Rice pronounced herself "outraged" at the U.N.'s inaction.

Soon after, on Twitter, @AmbassadorRice vented her views in five messages. "This is a sad day," she wrote. "Most especially for the people of #Syria, but also for the UN Security Council." A few seconds later, she offered a follow-on: "We will not rest until the Council rises to meet its responsibilities."

Good luck with that, Madam Ambassador. Unlike Moammar Gadhafi—a dictator who made so many enemies in the Arab world and beyond that he couldn't count on Moscow or Beijing's U.N. support—Syria's Bashar Assad is a murderer in good authoritarian standing. His security forces have killed at least 2,700 civilians and put thousands more in torture prisons. But this didn't keep the Sino-Russian duo from coming to his aid—the first time they have cast their vetoes together since 2008, when they blocked a resolution condemning Robert Mugabe's human-rights record.

Meanwhile, beyond the confines of Turtle Bay, real steps are being taken against Damascus. The U.S. and the European Union have already adopted sanctions targeting Syria's oil exports, along with the assets of the regime's top officials. Turkey broke its ties with Damascus, and Ankara this week announced military maneuvers along its Syrian border.

So why, except for reasons of masochism or moral abdication, does the Obama Administration insist on obtaining a symbolic and toothless U.N. resolution? In the seven months since the Syrian uprising started, the Security Council hasn't even mustered the votes to issue a press statement. As for the proposed resolution, it did no more than condemn Syria's human-rights violation and encourage an open political process. It included no sanctions. It didn't even contain the threat of sanctions.

The Syrian people will make their own history, with or without the U.N.'s moral imprimatur. An opposition council on the Libyan model recently formed in Istanbul. With each defection of a military conscript or senior officer, the Assad regime grows weaker. Maybe once the lesson delivered at the U.N. this week sinks in, the Obama Administration might take further steps to oust Mr. Assad. Leading from the front would be out of character for this Administration, but so was Ms. Rice's disgust this week with the U.N.

23325  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pork banned in OH prisons on: October 06, 2011, 09:38:21 AM
http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2011/10/ohio-officials-cave-to-islmic-demands-of-muslim-honor-killer-on-death-row.html
23326  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Shedlock: Keynsian Deflation on: October 06, 2011, 08:33:46 AM


A reader from Germany has questions regarding the role of credit in my deflation thesis. Josef writes:

Hello Mish

I am trying to understand your reasoning in the discussion about inflation vs. deflation.  One of the things I don't understand is the role of "credit". You write that "the market value of credit is collapsing at an amazing rate".  But isn't "credit" the same as "debt"?  When the market value of debt falls, then I wouldn't I need less "real estate" to get rid of my debt? Please, can you spend a minute to clarify this contradiction.
---------------
No Contradiction

Hello Josef,

An accepted offer for credit is a loan, resulting in debt for the borrower, and an asset (the loan) on the balance sheet of the lender (typically a bank or finance company). So yes debt = credit extended (plus agreed upon interest).

When the value of assets (loans) drop significantly, banks become capital impaired and cannot lend. This is happening now even though banks are hiding losses by not marking assets to market prices.

We have heard absurd statements from the Central bank of France that there are no toxic assets on French bank balance sheets. The market price of Greek debt says otherwise.

Plunge in Mark-to-Market Prices of Bank Assets

We can infer marked-to market plunges in value of bank assets by the enormous drops in financial stocks this year. We know the value of debt on the balance sheets of banks has collapsed, even if banks deny it.

Inability to pay back debt also shows up in credit default swaps, sovereign debt ratings, and soaring bond yields of Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Italy vs. Germany.

These credit actions show a demand for safe hiding places such as US and German government bonds and cash. We can see that in record low US treasury yields and German government bond yields.

Debt Not Marked-to-Market

The second question is where your error is "wouldn't I need less real estate to get rid of my debt?"

The debt remains until it is written off. In the US, people still owe more on their houses than they can pay back. The money is owed but will not be paid back. The same applied to may types of loans including auto loans, credit card debt, home equity lines, etc.

Enormous Foreclosure Backlog

US Banks have the value of their assets (mortgage loans, commercial real estate loans, consumer credit loans), at prices that do not reflect likelihood of default and thus that debt is not marked-to-market.

Writedowns are deflation in action, and they are coming.

In many instances, people walk away from mortgage debt. In those cases banks eventually foreclose. The key word is "eventually" as the list of pending foreclosures is measured in decades at the current rate.

Please see First Time Foreclosure Starts Near 3-Year Lows, However Bad News Overwhelms; Foreclosure Pipeline in NY is 693 months and 621 Months in NJ for details.

US Writedowns Coming on REOs

When homeowners walk away or go bankrupt, generally they are relieved of debt. However the problem for banks does not go away.

After foreclosure, banks have a different asset on the books. It is no longer a loan, but rather REO (Real Estate Owned).

What do you think those houses on the balance sheets of banks are worth vs. the value banks hypothesize they are worth?

Once again, this capital impairment shows up in banks inability and unwillingness to lend. When banks don't lend, businesses don't expand, and when businesses don't expand unemployment stays high.

This deflationary cycle feeds on itself until home prices fall to the point where there is genuine demand for them and banks are recapitalized.

European Writedowns

The biggest debt problem in Europe is in regards to loans made by French and German banks to Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Italy.

The ECB, EU, and IMF compounded the problem by throwing more money at Greece, on terms and timelines Greece cannot possibly pay back.

Europe has other huge structural issues regarding productivity in Spain and Greece vs. Germany, and in currency union that cannot possibly work given the lack of a fiscal union.

Poor Policies by IMF, EU, ECB, Fed

EU, IMF, ECB, and Fed policies in the US and Europe were designed to hide losses on real estate loans, to hide losses on sovereign debt loans to Greece, Spain, Portugal etc, and to prevent losses to banks and bondholders.

Barry Ritholtz had an excellent column on that yesterday called Banking’s Self Inflicted Wounds.

Policies of governments and central banks that bail out private banks are wrong because they place more burden on already over-extended and deep in debt taxpayers who are not equipped to take on more debt.

The deflationary backdrop will persist until debt is written off, consumer deleveraging peaks, home prices fall to affordable values, and global structural imbalances fixed. The situation is not encouraging because of five critical problems.

Five Critical Problems


Keynesian clowns everywhere refuse to accept the fact that debt is the problem and one cannot possibly spend one's way out of debt crisis.
Europe has structural problems related to the currency union, productivity, union work rules, pensions, retirement, and country-specific fiscal problems.
The US has structural problems related to prevailing wages, collective bargaining of public unions, corporate tax policies, etc.
Stimulus and bailouts are bad enough in and of themselves, but stimulus and bailouts without fixing structural problems is insanity.
Politicians on both continents refuse to address structural issues

Process is Important, Not the Term

It's important to not get hung up on the term "deflation" but rather to understand the process I am describing, the implications of that process, and why the policy actions taken have not worked (and cannot possibly work), all called well in advance.

For more on the process of deflation (regardless of what one wants to call it), please see Bizarro World Inflation; About that 2011 Hyperinflation Call ...

Yes Virginia, U.S. Back in Deflation; Inflation Scare Ends; Hyperinflationists Wrong Twice Over

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
23327  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Belgium going down on: October 06, 2011, 08:24:24 AM
second post

The Franco-Belgian bank Dexia started collapsing Oct. 4, ushering the latest chapter of the nearly 2-year-old European financial crisis. Considering that Dexia is on the list of the top 50 global financial institutions, it is worth examining what happens during a bank bailout and shutdown process and applying that to the Dexia situation.
In minor cases, a cash infusion from a government is usually sufficient to hold the bank over until such time that normal economic growth can help the bank regenerate its finances. Growth has been middling in Belgium since 2008, and Dexia simply hasn’t been able to get out from under the problems caused by its non-performing assets.
In moderate cases, governments come in and take a percentage share of ownership of the bank, putting their own representatives on the bank’s board and forcibly restructuring it. This has already been done for Dexia, too. In the aftermath of that 2008 bailout, Dexia became majority-owned by various governments in France and Belgium.
But the restructuring procedures have not followed what we would consider to be a standard course. Normally, there are major changes at the top and policies are adjusted all throughout to make sure that the sort of indiscretions that led to the bank problems in the first place don’t happen again. Dexia, however, is not a normal consumer or business bank. Instead, much of its business comes from supplying credit to various parts of the Belgian state apparatus.
So when these entities took greater control of Dexia back in 2008, instead of encouraging Dexia to engage in more lending to private enterprise, which might actually regenerate its loan book, they instead encouraged Dexia to invest more in their dead issuances, allowing them to run larger deficits than they would’ve been able to otherwise. Somewhat ironically, the last bailout actually only reinforced the bad policies that had gotten Dexia into trouble the first place.
The final option is some sort of dissolution —typically the bank is broken up into pieces. The good pieces typically find eager buyers who are willing to pay more or less market value. The bad pieces, however, have to be bundled into some sort of bad bank where ultimately they are sold off piecemeal at pennies on the dollar. This is really the only option that is left for Dexia. But there are several problems even with this strategy.
First, any good asset sales right now in the current environment are not going to be bringing what we would consider full market value. Europe is basically in a mild recession at present — it could get a lot worse because of the financial crisis — and European banks have so far proven unwilling to lend much money to each other, much less go out and grab assets from a failed bank and one of Europe’s most debt-heavy states. Which means that the losses that the state is going to absorb when this is all resolved are going to be much higher than they would normally be.
Second, Belgium doesn’t have the money to absorb the losses of the bad bank right now anyway. Belgium already has a national debt of 100 percent of GDP and is having problems raising capital under normal circumstances — much less the sort of large infusion that would be required for a bailout of Dexia. Additionally, under normal circumstances, Belgium would turn to Dexia for financing — that’s obviously not an option anymore, which means, at least in the initial stages, the financial burden is going to be carried by France and France alone — something which will cost Belgium more in the long run.
Third, considering that Dexia is leveraged by a factor of 60-1 (for comparison, Lehman Brothers was only 30-1) and because it’s already 35-percent owned by the state, this is a bank that is going to be suffering far greater losses than normal because it’s extraordinarily damaged.
Dexia has over 500 billion euros in assets and 20 billion of those are government debts of Portugal, Italy and Greece. So let’s assume for the moment that the bailout only costs the Belgian government about 30 billion euros — which we see as fairly conservative. That alone would be sufficient to increase Belgium’s national debt load to 110 percent of GDP, putting them within easy reach of where Italy is right now.
Fourth, Dexia is a leading source of financing for the Belgian government – it’s not there anymore. Belgium is going to have to find another way to raise money on international markets — not just to cover the bailout but to cover its normal activities. That’s becoming increasingly difficult for states that have high debt and low government competency, and Belgium is certainly in that list. It’s now been over 480 days since Belgium has had a government, and last month its prime minister decided that he was going to quit. Added together, Belgium is being pushed very very close to needing a state bailout of its own.
23328  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Assessing the Awlaki hit on: October 06, 2011, 08:21:36 AM

By Scott Stewart
U.S.-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, an ideologue and spokesman for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al Qaeda’s franchise in Yemen, was killed in a Sept. 30 airstrike directed against a motorcade near the town of Khashef in Yemen’s al-Jawf province. The strike, which occurred at 9:55 a.m. local time, reportedly was conducted by a U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and may have also involved fixed-wing naval aircraft. Three other men were killed in the strike, one of whom was Samir Khan, the creator and editor of AQAP’s English-language magazine  Inspire.
Al-Awlaki has been targeted before; in fact, he had been declared dead on at least two occasions. The first time followed a December 2009 airstrike in Shabwa province, and the second followed a May 5 airstrike, also in Shabwa. In light of confirmation from the U.S. and Yemeni governments and from statements made by al-Awlaki’s family members, it appears that he is indeed dead this time. We anticipate that AQAP soon will issue an official statement confirming the deaths of al-Awlaki and Khan.
As STRATFOR noted Sept. 30, the deaths of both al-Awlaki and Khan can be expected to greatly hamper AQAP’s efforts to radicalize and equip English-speaking Muslims. The group may have other native English speakers, but individuals who possess the charisma and background of al-Awlaki or the graphics and editorial skills of Khan are difficult to come by in Yemen. The al Qaeda franchise’s English-language outreach is certain to face a significant setback.
This deaths of al-Awlaki and Khan and the impact their deaths will have on AQAP’s outreach efforts provide an opportunity to consider the importance of individuals — and their personal skill sets — to militant organizations, especially organizations seeking to conduct transnational media and ideological operations.
Bridging the Gap Between Militant Ideology and Operations
When considering militant groups with transnational objectives and reach such as AQAP, we need to recognize that there are several components necessary for such groups to conduct successful operations, including finances, logistics, planning, training and intelligence. But at a higher level, there is also the distinction between those elements of the group that are dedicated to operations on the physical battlefield and those who are focused on operations on the ideological battlefield. While physical operations are important for obvious reasons, the ideological component is also critically important because it allows a group to recruit new members, maintain the ideological commitment of those already in the group and help shape public perception through propaganda. Because of this, the ideological component is especially important for the long-term viability and continuity of a group or movement.
Groups such as the al Qaeda core and AQAP appreciate the importance of the ideological struggle. Published three days before the airstrike against Khan and al-Awlaki, the seventh edition of Inspire contains an article written by Khan titled “The Media Conflict,” wherein he quotes AQAP leader Nasir al-Wahayshi (aka Abu Basir) as stating, “media work is half of the jihad.”
The role of the media in propagating militant ideology has been revolutionized by the Internet, which allows small groups in remote corners of the globe to produce and broadcast material that is almost instantly available to people all around the world. Indeed, jihadists have succeeded in radicalizing and recruiting people from disparate countries. Products such as Inspire or the video and audio recordings of militant leaders such as al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri are a giant leap forward from the way militants communicated 25 years ago, when groups like November 17 would send communiques to the newspapers and Hezbollah would release videos via major television networks of Western hostages they had kidnapped.
Interestingly, militant groups quickly recognized the significance of this media democratization and were early adopters of the Internet. By the mid-1990s, white supremacists in the United States had established Stormfront.com, and in 1996, jihadists inaugurated azzam.com, a professional-looking website that allowed them to provide inspiration, news and instruction to adherents to their ideology and to potential recruits. Azzam.com eventually became an important mechanism through which funds for jihadist groups could be raised and willing volunteers could find ways to link up with jihadist groups in places like Afghanistan, Chechnya and Bosnia.
Thus, the Internet began to serve as a bridge that connected the ideological battlefield with the physical battlefield. When we look back at AQAP’s media activities, we can see that they, too, were intended to bridge this gap. For example, the group’s Arabic language magazine Sada al-Malahim (meaning “Echo of Battle”) regularly contained not only articles intended to propagate and defend the jihadist ideology but also articles designed to give practical and tactical guidance. And when al-Wahayshi in October 2009 began advocating that jihadists in the West practice a leaderless-resistance style of operations rather than traveling to places like Yemen or Pakistan for training, they promoted that tactical shift via Sada al-Malahim.
Khan’s and Al-Awlaki’s Significance for Inspire
In July 2010, AQAP launched the first edition of Inspire magazine. Khan, a longtime publisher of jihadist material, was chosen to spearhead the Inspire project for AQAP. (Khan was born in Saudi Arabia to Pakistani parents but raised in the United States.) Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Khan began to publish an English-language pro-jihadist blog and eventually established jihadist websites and an Internet magazine called Jihad Recollections. It was the artistic similarities between Jihad Recollections and Inspire that helped identify Khan as the editor of Inspire. Khan left his parents’ home in Charlotte, N.C., in 2009 to move to Yemen after he learned the FBI was investigating him for his connections to jihadist groups.
Inspire was established intentionally to help further al-Wahayshi’s vision of jihadists adopting the leaderless resistance model. Its stated purpose was to radicalize and recruit young, English-speaking Muslims and then inspire and equip them to conduct attacks in the West.
Khan was only 16 years old when he began his jihadist propaganda activities in 2002, and he essentially grew up on the ideological battlefield. By the time he immigrated to Yemen in 2009, he was an experienced cyber-jihadist. In addition to his advanced computer security skills, Khan also energized the Inspire magazine project, and his youth, colloquial American English competency, graphic design flair and knowledge of American pop culture gave Inspire magazine an edgy quality that appealed to young, English-speaking Muslims.
Notably, Khan did not produce most of the written content for Inspire. In fact, he relied heavily on the speeches of al Qaeda figures such as al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden, the books of Abu Musab al-Suri and interviews with AQAP figures such as al-Wahayshi and al-Awlaki. However, it was the way in which Khan packaged these materials that made them so appealing. Certainly, there may have been others working with Khan to produce Inspire, and other people undoubtedly can continue to translate portions of al Qaeda speeches or interview AQAP leaders, but Khan was the driving creative force behind the project. His death thus likely will have a substantial impact on the content and feel of Inspire — if the magazine continues at all.
AQAP’s Arabic-language propaganda efforts suffered a blow in December 2010 when Nayf bin Mohammed al-Qahtani, the founder and editor of Sada al-Malahim and the founder of Malahim media, was killed in a battle with Yemeni security forces. Sada al-Malahim had been publishing an edition roughly every two months since its inception in January 2008. However, since the release of its 16th edition in February 2011, possibly an edition al-Qahtani had worked on, the promised 17th edition has yet to be published. It is possible Inspire will meet the same fate.
However, Khan was not the only American-born jihadist living in Yemen who possessed unique talents that were useful to AQAP’s outreach efforts to English-speaking Muslims. Al-Awlaki had been the imam of congregations in Denver, San Diego and Falls Church, Va., but left the United States in 2002 after being investigated for his ties to two of the 9/11 hijackers and links to a number of other jihadist figures and plots. Al-Awlaki initially moved to the United Kingdom, where he continued to preach, but as authorities began to clamp down on radical preachers in what has been termed “Londonistan,” al-Awlaki moved to Yemen, his ancestral homeland, in 2004.
During his years in the United States and the United Kingdom, al-Awlaki had become a high-profile imam known for his intellect, charisma and ability to appeal to young, English-speaking Muslims. His sermons became very popular, and audio recordings of those sermons were widely distributed on the Internet via his personal website as well as several other Islamic websites. (Thousands of these videos have been posted to YouTube and have received tens of thousands of hits.) Despite his being under investigation by the U.S. government, in 2002 al Awlaki was asked to lead a prayer service at the U.S. Capitol and to speak at the Pentagon on the topic of radical Islam. These engagements reflected al-Awlaki’s popularity and added to the mystique that surrounded him. He was seen as a bit of a celebrity in the English-speaking Muslim world, and his presence in Yemen undoubtedly played a big factor in al-Wahayshi’s decision to expand AQAP’s outreach to al-Awlaki’s audience.
Through his work on the ideological battlefield, Al-Awlaki was able to draw men to the physical battlefield. These men could be sent on on suicide missions, such as would-be Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, or encouraged to conduct simple attacks where they live, as in the case of Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan.
It is important to remember that al-Awlaki was not AQAP’s primary theological authority. The group’s mufti, Suleiman al-Rubaish, a Saudi cleric with a degree in Islamic law, fought with al-Wahayshi and bin Laden at Tora Bora in 2001 before being captured and spending five years in captivity at Guantanamo Bay. After being returned to Saudi Arabia in 2006, al-Rubaish completed the Saudi rehabilitation program and then promptly fled the country to Yemen after his release. Moreover, AQAP’s Shariah Council, of which al-Awlaki was a member, is chaired by a Yemeni cleric named Adel bin Abdullah al-Abab.
Al-Rubaish maintains serious credibility among jihadists because of his friendship with bin Laden, his survival at Tora Bora and his time served in Guantanamo, and al-Abab is a respected Yemeni cleric. However, neither of the men possesses the native-English language ability of al-Awlaki. They also lack the ability to culturally relate to and motivate Muslims in the West in the same way that al-Awlaki did — and continues to do, via his messages that live on in cyberspace. Because of this, al-Awlaki will not be easily replaced.
AQAP’s Operational Ability Intact
This brings us to the ideas of leadership and succession in militant groups. Some have argued that arresting or killing key members of militant networks does not impact such groups, but experience seems to indicate that in many cases the removal of key personnel does indeed make a difference, especially in the near term and if pressure is maintained on the organization. This dynamic has been reflected by the ongoing post-9/11 campaign against the al Qaeda core and their inability to conduct their oft threatened, and purportedly more deadly, follow-on attacks to 9/11. It has also been demonstrated by the operations mounted against regional jihadist franchise groups in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. The removal of key personnel such as Saudi leader Abdel Aziz al-Muqrin and Indonesian jihadists Hambali and Noordin Top have had substantial impacts on those regional franchises.
Of course, while AQAP’s English-speaking outreach will be severely crippled following Khan’s and al-Awlaki’s deaths, the core of its physical battlefield operational leadership remains intact. Al-Wahayshi is a competent and savvy leader. His military commander, Qasim al-Raymi, is an aggressive, ruthless and fierce fighter, and his principal bomb maker, Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri is creative and imaginative in designing his innovative explosive devices. There were rumors circulating that al-Asiri had been killed in the airstrike directed against al-Awlaki, but they proved to be unfounded. If al-Asiri had been killed, the airstrike would have impacted both the ideological and operational abilities of the group.
The recent increase of U.S. airstrikes, including the one that killed al-Awlaki and Khan, will serve to keep AQAP’s leaders focused on survival, as will the conventional warfare in which the group is currently engaging as it fights for control over areas of Yemen. However, the AQAP leadership undoubtedly still desires to attack the United States and the West — perhaps even more so now to avenge their fallen comrades. If they are given the time and space to plot and plan, the AQAP leadership will continue their efforts to attack the United States. They certainly retain the capability to do so, despite the loss of two ideological leaders.
23329  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / IMF=US paying 1/6th on: October 06, 2011, 08:15:17 AM
Stratfor:

The European Counterbalance
The director of the European Department of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Antonio Borges, startled observers Wednesday when he suggested the IMF could expand its assistance to Europe by taking the unorthodox step of directly intervening in their sovereign debt markets. Borges then backtracked on these statements mere hours later, saying that the IMF is not actually contemplating such a strategy and that pursuing it would require a discussion among IMF member states.

The causes behind this jarring series of events currently are unclear, but a number of possibilities exist. Borges could have simply let details from an internal brainstorming session slip out and then been called back into line, or his suggestion could be a sign of an internal struggle in the IMF over the best course of action to redress the deteriorating situation in Europe. It is even possible that the statement was intended to float the idea of bond market intervention to the IMF’s global audience to gauge reactions and steer the dialogue in that direction.
“There is a massive amount of inertia built up in the European experiment, an enormous amount of attachment to costs already paid — the flip side of which is an abiding fear of dissolution.”
Another possibility is that, viewing the mounting concern over the crisis, the IMF has decided to brandish its $396 billion lending capacity, perhaps in an effort to convince investors to rethink any bets against Europe. Public officials regularly employ rhetoric as a tool to impact financial markets; it costs a lot less than dipping into tax money and is often effective in the short run. On Tuesday, for example, EU economy minister Olli Rehn hinted at a “coordinated” and “concerted” bank recapitalization effort, which triggered a surge of buying in equities and other asset markets. Rehn’s words, like Borges’, are only words, and the markets will soon forget them.
It will take much more than words to fix Europe. STRATFOR has put the cost of shoring up Europe in the medium term in the realm of 2 trillion euros. Despite the fact that the cost to the globe of a European financial collapse would vastly outstrip this amount, interested parties from the IMF to the Chinese and even the Europeans themselves have not been able to materially abate the crisis. The reason is simple. All solutions to date have attempted to shuttle funds from healthier balance sheets onto the balance sheets of bankrupt lenders and countries on the verge of default. Cobbling together enough hard capital to tamp down this crisis will almost certainly prove impossible.
Aside from the sheer magnitude of the fundraising challenge, this poses a special kind of problem in Europe, where the incompatible sentiments of nationalism and European unity have checked the distribution of financial losses, as exemplified by the current legal spat between the lenders of Austria and the government and homeowners of Hungary. There is very little political room and virtually no financial ability for countries to take losses voluntarily.
However, there is one counterbalancing force in Europe that has not been discussed as much as the forces that threaten to break it. There is a massive amount of inertia built up in the European experiment, an enormous amount of attachment to costs already paid — the flip side of which is an abiding fear of dissolution. It is the fear that without economic integration, devastating warfare on the continent could again become conceivable. For some, it is the fear that a resurgent Russia may once again pose a threat. It is also the very real fear that dissolution would lead to economic irrelevance in a world where dynamic economies along the Pacific Rim increasingly call the shots.
It is this fear and inertia that could force Europe’s political and financial adjustment in the not-too-distant future. Europe has not yet faced an event on the scale of 9/11 or the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy. It has not been violently confronted by the prospect of collapse. The same states that now bicker over cobbling together capital measuring in the tens of billions of euros would, in the face of such an event, suddenly find themselves in agreement on a much larger, more streamlined “bailout” package linked to central bank credit.
Averting financial collapse would not address the core differences of the various European states; underlying tensions would remain. And since there is every reason to think the bigger price tags involved would be accompanied by a proportionate loss of national sovereignty, the seeds of Europe’s next set of problems would be sown.
23330  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post on: October 06, 2011, 08:09:41 AM
The Foundation
"The natural cure for an ill-administration, in a popular or representative constitution, is a change of men." --Alexander Hamilton
Government & Politics
Chicago-Style Government

The Era of Obama was supposed to be a time of Hope and Change, transparent and accountable government, and bipartisan song-singing -- indeed, as Obama himself put it, "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal." Reality has been wholly different. A recession that, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, ended in June 2009 but has given way to crippling economic stagnation, with no end in sight. Promised transparency quickly gave way to unaccountable czars and closed-door dealings, and bipartisanship was cast aside for the Democrat partisan ramrodding of hard-left legislation through the chambers of Congress. We don't pretend to speak for the planet, but nothing much seems healed.
Amid that bleak picture, there are (at least) three administration scandals that continue to simmer, despite the fact that the Leftmedia and Obama Re-Election Outlets (but we repeat ourselves) have given them scant attention. First is the story of Solyndra's bankruptcy following a $535 million federal loan guarantee from the Obama Department of Energy (part of the 2009 "stimulus"). The hastily issued loan to the California-based solar cell producer was greater than the amount given to 35 states to complete their respective lists of "shovel-ready" infrastructure jobs. When even that wasn't enough, Solyndra sought another $469 million. "Green energy" sure does seem to require an awful lot of green.
Solyndra went bankrupt when its unworkable business model collapsed. Yet, consistent with leftist cronyism, certain creditors who happened to be Democrat donors were placed in front of the taxpayers in the line of recovery -- much as unions were placed in the front of the line for the GM and Chrysler bailouts. Lost in the cover-up are the 1,100 workers abruptly laid off in August who will have a tough time finding jobs, as California is already reeling from high unemployment and is hardly a climate conducive to economic recovery.
Former employees are beginning to tell all, too. "After we got the loan guarantee, they were just spending money left and right," said former Solyndra engineer Lindsey Eastburn. "Because we were doing well, nobody cared. Because of that infusion of money, it made people sloppy." No wonder Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison and CFO W.G. Stover Jr. have announced that they will invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when they testify before Congress today.
Second is the administration's widening venture socialism scandal involving wireless network company LightSquared, which is financed by billionaire Democrat donor Philip Falcone. Military, civilian and government experts are objecting to LightSquared's potential to interfere with the military's GPS network. Air Force Commander Gen. William Shelton blew the whistle last week, claiming that the White House pressured him to modify testimony before Congress to make it more favorable toward LightSquared. He didn't.
LightSquared executives insist that their proposed system's wavelength won't interfere with the adjacent wavelengths used by the military's GPS on the available broadcast spectrum. Despite industry-wide protests, however, LightSquared received fast-track approval for an FCC waiver granting them the right to construct a 4G wireless network for far less capital than the billions the government would extract from its competitors. To address the industry's concerns about GPS interference, LightSquared proposed that everyone else pay to retrofit their GPS devices instead of revising its network to avoid broadband spillover.
Prior to its current incarnation, LightSquared was known as Skyterra, and its ownership included major Obama backers going back to 2004. Obama sold his Skyterra stock in 2005. Along with so much in the president's background, the Leftmedia seem content to characterize such connections as coincidental.
Finally, and most serious, is the continuing cover-up of Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast and Furious. As our readers well know, this project of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has resulted in more than 2,000 American weapons illegally crossing into Mexico, not only under the nose of the ATF, but with its consent, fueling the raging drug war south of the border. Reports this week indicate that a third gun linked to Fast and Furious was recovered at the scene of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry's murder in December. Furthermore, according to Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee investigating this scandal, Fast and Furious guns were used in at least 200 murders in Mexico -- and that's a conservative estimate. The administration is in full rear-covering mode, and the Leftmedia have, predictably, remained virtually silent.
Is it too much to ask that the media start doing their jobs? It's high time the Chicago thugs in the White House are held accountable for their actions.
What can be done about the thugs in Washington?
Obama's Novel Debt Plan: Raise Taxes
On Monday, Barack Obama put forward his plan for the congressional debt-reduction super committee to consider. Not surprisingly, it's heavy on tax increases and light on actual debt reduction. To read the full story, don't miss Mark Alexander's essay, Taking Down Socialist 'Tax Fairness' Rhetoric.

News From the Swamp: Spending and Jobs
Late Thursday night, the House barely passed a short-term continuing resolution to authorize spending for FY2012. The vote was 219-203. Earlier in the week, Republican leaders were dealt a defeat by conservative members of their own caucus when a similar CR failed with 48 Tea Party conservatives opposed. Those 48 wanted to stick with the House's April spending deal, while the leadership was putting forward the August bipartisan agreement. Some two dozen Republicans were brought back into the fold with an amendment that included $100 million in cuts to the Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program, the Department of Energy program responsible for the Solyndra debacle.
In the Senate, Barack Obama's much touted jobs bill is lacking the support it needs to pass -- among Democrats. Reports are that Democrats Mark Begich (AK), Jim Webb (VA), Mary Landrieu (LA) and Barbara Mikulski (MD) outright oppose the bill, with some others not entirely decided yet. Administration officials met with several Democrats on the Hill this week to try to persuade them, but even if all Democrats are on board, the president's bill is in trouble.
Quote of the Week
"We're home alone. There's no adult in charge." --Larry Summers, former director of Obama's White House National Economic Council, as quoted in Confidence Men, Ron Suskind's newly released book about the Obama economic team
From the 'Non Compos Mentis' File
A number of federal agencies and departments are proudly making an effort to cut costs in these trying economic times by taking stock of their stationery and office equipment and buying in bulk. The plan adopted by the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, Justice and Treasury is expected to save $600 million over four years. Wow. We hate to criticize cost savings, but this amount won't even register on the chart compared to the government's multi-trillion-dollar debt. Sure, buying in bulk makes sense, but the trouble with government is that it took them so long to figure out basic business economics. Perhaps the whole thing is merely an offset for the new Washington Post report that, "In the past five years, the Office of Personnel Management has made more than $601 million in benefits payments to deceased federal annuitants."
New & Notable Legislation
The Senate Appropriations Committee has added a measure to the 2012 appropriations package that would provide for taxpayer-funded abortions in the District of Columbia. The House version maintains the abortion ban that has been in place since April, so now all eyes are on what deal may be hammered out. The National Right to Life Committee estimates that removing the Dornan Amendment, which prevents congressionally appropriated funds for abortion, would mean an additional 1,000 abortions a year in DC alone paid by taxpayers. The ban was originally in place from 1996-2009, but Barack Obama lifted it when he took office. Republicans reinstated it earlier this year after winning the House, but once again it's up for debate.

Hope 'n' Change: Finding Out What's in It
Add CLASS (Community Living Assistance Services and Support) to the growing list of Obama administration scandals. CLASS was ostensibly designed to be the long-term care component of ObamaCare. Its real purpose was to allow the administration to claim that the health care reform package was "deficit neutral." CLASS would collect premiums upwards of $75 billion during a 10-year period beginning in 2012, but those premiums would not go back to the citizens who paid them. Instead, they would be funneled into other parts of ObamaCare that are short on cash. When the bill for CLASS comes due in 2021, taxpayers will take a big hit to keep the "deficit neutral" ObamaCare afloat -- unless, of course, 2012 provides opportunity for repeal.
CLASS recently folded up shop, but a public airing of several internal emails regarding the program reveals that the White House knew all along that it was unsustainable, and that they had no way to fix it. A congressional investigation led by Sen. John Thune (R-SD) notes that, within the Department of Health and Human Services, "the program was repeatedly referred to as 'a recipe for disaster' with 'terminal problems.'" The only viable solution to fix CLASS would be for Congress to repeal it immediately. It doesn't work, it never worked, and it never will work.
From the Left: Staying in Touch With the Little Guy
Remember the flap about Nancy Reagan's red dress? Well, in hard-times America, the current First Lady showed up at a DNC fundraiser (the one for millionaires at $35,000 a plate) wearing jewelry including a Lotus cuff priced at $15,000 with 2.9 carats of diamonds, her Gothic cuff at $15,350 with 2.17 carats in diamonds, and the Quatrefoil bracelet at $11,800 with 1.73 carats in diamonds. Total value -- $42,150.
Let them eat cake. No coverage in the Leftmedia for our modern-day Marie Antoinette.
National Security
Palestinian Statehood Takes Center Stage
The muddled mess that is the Middle East continued to churn this week, threatening to splatter the rest of the world, via the United Nations, with its toxic ooze. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is pushing the UN Security Council to grant Palestinian statehood during the current General Assembly meeting. On Wednesday, however, Barack Obama tried to head off Abbas by giving yet another of his platitudinous speeches and declaring the painfully obvious: "Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations. If it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now." Interestingly, it was this same Obama who, at last year's UN meeting, breezily said that he wanted a sovereign Palestinian state established by this year's UN meeting. So in the span of one year, a completely inept Obama managed to stab both the Israelis and the Palestinians in the back.
The Palestinians won't get their state just yet, as the U.S., even under Obama, cannot allow it. (That doesn't mean he doesn't support the idea.) However, reports are that the Security Council needs only two more votes for statehood from countries such as Bosnia (the Muslim country we created in the Clinton years), Gabon and Nigeria, which would force the U.S. to veto it. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has introduced legislation to defund the UN if it votes to recognize a Palestinian state.
Ultimately, what the Palestinians want out of a UN vote isn't so much a state as much as another weapon in their arsenal to ultimately destroy Israel. "We are going to complain that as Palestinians we have been under occupation for 63 years," Abbas said this week. In other words, that "occupation," began with the creation of Israel in 1948, and it won't end until Israel is destroyed. So goes the Middle East "peace process."
What do you make of the Palestinians' efforts?
It Would Be a Comedy of Errors If It Weren't So Serious
This week, the Obama administration proved yet again that Hope 'n' Change is no substitute for wisdom and experience. After dragging out discussions for almost two full years on whether to provide new F-16 fighter-bombers to Taiwan, the White House decided instead to upgrade Taiwan's existing F-16s without providing new aircraft. In typical fashion, Obama managed to anger both Taiwan and China. Our largest foreign creditor is angry over any U.S. upgrades to Taiwan's military, while Taiwan is rightly angry that the United States caved in to communist pressure and stiffed a democratic ally. China was going to complain no matter what -- why not get our money's worth and provide new F-16s to a friendly democracy?
Meanwhile, in another transparently cynical move to placate the president's leftist base, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the administration remains committed to closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The January 2010 deadline for doing so flew by without fanfare, so now they promise to close it by Election Day 2012. Holder at least had the courtesy to provide the obvious motivation -- the election. Obama's base has been increasingly disenchanted with his performance lately, and he obviously wants some highly visible leftist dream to come true just in time for the election. Congress will have a great deal to say about Guantanamo's final disposition, but for the White House even to float this idea -- and so explicitly tie it to the next election -- is dangerously amateurish.
Department of Military Correctness: Orientation Genie Out of the Closet
At the stroke of midnight Tuesday, the Pentagon laid out the welcome mat for homosexual members of the military and for those in civilian life to join. After an 18-year "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" interregnum during which homosexuals were allowed in the military as long as they stayed "in the closet," the long-standing ban on their serving openly in the United States military formally came to a close. Obviously this came as a relief to service members such as "J.D. Smith," who in real life is Air Force First Lieutenant Josh Seefried. He adopted the pseudonym last year when he founded OutServe, a heretofore underground network of homosexual service members that has grown to 4,300 members. It's estimated that there are around 65,000 such members of the military, a presumption likely drilled into the 2.3 million active-duty and reserve members around the world who sat through an hour-long sensitivity course on accepting homosexuals within their ranks earlier this year.
Critics saw the change as an attempt to "reshape social attitudes" and warned that the number of military personnel may drop further than the 14,346 members discharged over the years by running afoul of the old DADT rules. Those who had been so discharged will be eligible to rejoin but won't have any specific preference over others who want to re-enter the service, the Pentagon announced.
It isn't clear whether benefits given to the spouses and families of married service members will eventually be extended to same-sex partners. A proposal to allow Navy chaplains to conduct "marriage" ceremonies in states where civil unions are allowed was scrapped after lawmakers objected.



   
Business & Economy
Income Redistribution: Bonuses for GM Workers, the Shaft for Taxpayers
Last week General Motors and its UAW workforce reached a tentative four-year labor agreement, which is likely to be ratified overwhelmingly by the rank and file. As usual, the devil is in the details. Despite the fact that the automaker is still on the hook for billions of dollars to the federal government, which remains the owner of about one-quarter of GM's stock, the agreement includes a provision that UAW workers will receive a $5,000 "signing bonus" in lieu of a cost-of-living increase this year and maintain their health care and pensions. Newly hired workers will get a significant raise from their current $14 per hour to perhaps $17 per hour over the life of the contract. All workers will have "improved" profit sharing. In addition, the automaker will reopen the former Saturn assembly line in Spring Hill, Tennessee, which was idled in 2009.
Undoubtedly union leaders are thrilled about these concessions from the company, but they also knew whom to thank. As UAW Bob King noted, "None of this would have been possible without the efforts of President Obama, who invested federal funds to help turn the company around, protect the auto supplier base, and keep good-paying jobs in America." Unfortunately, those efforts have cost taxpayers roughly $15 billion that is yet to be repaid.

Regulatory Commissars: Don't Create Jobs
With all the talk of saving and creating jobs, we find it disturbing that someone has been punished for doing just that. Peter Schiff, president and CEO of EuroPacific Capital, committed the unpardonable offense of hiring more brokers than regulations allow. "In my own business, securities regulations have prohibited me from hiring brokers for more than three years," Schiff testified before Congress. "I was even fined $15,000 expressly for hiring too many brokers in 2008. In the process I incurred more than $500,000 in legal bills to mitigate a more severe regulatory outcome as a result of hiring too many workers. I have also been prohibited from opening up additional offices. I had a major expansion plan that would have resulted in my creating hundreds of additional jobs. Regulations have forced me to put those jobs on hold."
Furthermore, says Schiff, "[T]he added cost of security regulations [has] forced me to create an offshore brokerage firm to handle foreign accounts that are now too expensive to handle from the United States. Revenue and jobs that would have been created in the U.S. are now being created abroad instead." As National Review's Andrew McCarthy quipped, "He's in finance. I guess he should have tried solar panels."
In related news, the EPA's overzealous regulators will soon cost another 500 workers their jobs. Texas energy company Luminant will be forced to stop generating energy at two of its power plants and shutter three lignite mines, thanks to requirements within the EPA's recently mandated Cross-State Air Pollution Rule in 2012. In a statement, the company said that while it is "launching a significant investment program to reduce emissions across our facilities" it couldn't otherwise comply with the "unrealistic deadline" without eliminating the 500 jobs. Also, it has taken the step of suing the EPA to overturn the edicts.
   
Culture & Policy
Around the Nation: Ground Zero Mosque 'Opens'
In August 2010, we noted the controversy over the building of an Islamic cultural center (a.k.a. mosque) two blocks from Ground Zero. It was sometimes called The Cordoba Initiative, which was a thinly veiled religious reference to the long-ago Muslim conquest of the Christian city of Cordoba, Spain. Most commonly, however, the project is known by the more palatable -- and secular -- Park51.
On Wednesday, the project launched its first public exhibit featuring the work of New York City photographer Danny Goldfield. For the past seven years, Goldfield has been working on a collection of photographs of children from every country in the world who are living in New York City. The exhibit is a sorry attempt to soften the blow of the timing of the mosque's opening. Who could be opposed to children? Not only is it less than two weeks since the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, but it also comes during a week of tense meetings between Barack Obama and Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
Last year, in the midst of the heated debate, Obama felt it was his duty to impart his wisdom on the subject. What he said, of course, completely missed the point. Everyone knows that Park51 is legally viable, but that knowledge does little to assuage the hurt and rage of the thousands of people directly affected by 9/11, let alone the millions of Americans who were forever changed by that day. Against their protests, construction continued, but apparently the message didn't go completely ignored, considering the whitewash that is taking place now. "Looking forward to welcoming you to the NY Children's opening," Park51 tweeted, "We have a surprise guest to cut the ribbon. Make sure you're there!"
On Sept. 27, PBS will air the documentary "The Man Behind the Mosque" profiling developer Sharif El-Gamel. Last January, Park51 booted Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam best known for his statements that America brought the terrorists attacks upon itself. Despite the feel-good PR, this mosque is nothing more than a thumb in the eye from the very extremists who want to punish the "Great Satan."
Village Academic Curriculum: No Such Thing as a Free Lunch
Reading, writing, 'rithmetic and recipes? Since the launch of the federal school lunch program in 1946, the government has required schools to provide low-cost or free lunches to qualifying students. Now, under the new child nutrition law signed by Barack Obama late last year, the feds are mandating that schools make these meals more nutritious. In other words, not only are Washington bureaucrats subsidizing school lunches, they're also packing them. And that's not all. For the first time, the government is now inserting itself into the pricing process, and, as happens when Washington steps in, costs are going up. As The New York Times notes, under the law "school districts are required to start bringing their prices in line with what it costs to prepare the meals, eventually charging an average of $2.46 for the lunches they serve." Although the law says that price increases should be capped at 10 cents per year, some school districts have raised prices by as much as a quarter.
Districts across the country are preparing for backlash against the price hikes, but it's Washington bureaucrats who really should be taken to task for assuming "food service" is found anywhere in the Constitution. They say it's bad having two cooks in the kitchen. It's downright scary, though, when one of them is Barack Obama.
In related news, the administration will soon detail plans to revamp No Child Left Behind through waivers, not through Congress. Specifically, the White House wants to waive the requirement that students be proficient in math and reading by 2014 or risk sanctions.
   
Faith and Family: City Orders Halt to Home Bible Study
The city of San Juan Capistrano, California, was founded as a mission in the late 1700s. Now, more than 200 years later, a couple in that city is facing fines for holding weekly Bible studies in their home. CBS Los Angeles reports, "Homeowners Chuck and Stephanie Fromm ... were fined $300 earlier this month for holding what city officials called 'a regular gathering of more than three people.'" They could face another $500 fine for every additional gathering. According to Section 9-3.301 of the city code, "religious, fraternal, or service organizations (non-profit)" cannot meet in residential areas without obtaining a conditional use permit. We question, however, whether the city would have enforced this ordinance against a similarly sized "fraternal" gathering.
The Fromms appealed the fine to the city but were denied, and now the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) is taking the ruling to the California Superior Court. PJI President Brad Dacus noted, "An informal gathering in a home cannot be treated with suspicion by the government, or worse than any other gathering of friends, just because it is religious. We cannot allow this to happen in America, and we will fight as long and as hard as it takes to restore this group's religious freedom." If the court has any understanding of our nation's foundation of religious liberty, it will agree.
Share your thoughts on this banned Bible study
Catholic Archbishop Writes in Support of Marriage
Catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York sent a letter to Barack Obama this week to seek an end to the administration's campaign against traditional marriage and religious liberty. Dolan specifically sited the Obama Justice Department, which claims that supporters of the Defense of Marriage Act, signed by Bill Clinton, are motivated by "prejudice and bias." Such language presents a threat to religious liberty. "The institution of marriage is built on this truth," Dolan wrote, "no other relationships provide for the common good what marriage between husband and wife provides. The law should reflect this reality." Dolan further warned, "The Administration's failure to change course on this matter will ... precipitate a national conflict between Church and State of enormous proportions and to the detriment of both institutions." When has "conflict ... to the detriment" of anything stopped Obama before?
And Last...

Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) was censured by the House (333-79) just nine months ago for several ethics violations, including tax evasion. Yet Thursday, Rangel hosted a ceremony to unveil his official portrait in the Longworth House Office Building. The list of speakers at the ceremony included Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), as well as New York Democrat senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer. After getting an "OK" from the FEC, Rangel paid for the $65,000 portrait using campaign cash.
Truly, this is beyond words. These people really do live in a parallel universe -- one in which, as Pelosi once put it, they "drain the swamp" apparently by hanging portraits of swamp creatures. What next? Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize? Oh, wait...
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Nate Jackson for The Patriot Post Editorial Team
23331  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Two from Jefferson on General Welfare clause, others on: October 06, 2011, 07:58:05 AM
"If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions." --James Madison, letter to Edmund Pendleton, 1792

"It would reduce the whole instrument to a single phrase, that of instituting a Congress with power to do whatever would be for the good of the United States; and as they would be the sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a power to do whatever evil they please. Certainly no such universal power was meant to be given them. [The Constitution] was intended to lace them up straightly within the enumerated powers and those without which, as means, these powers could not be carried into effect." --Thomas Jefferson, Opinion on a National Bank, 1791

"Citizens by birth or choice of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations." --George Washington, Farewell Address, 1796

"[E]ven our Commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand: neither seeking nor granting exclusive favours or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of Commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing with Powers so disposed; in order to give trade a stable course." --George Washington, Farewell Address, 1796

"War is not the best engine for us to resort to; nature has given us one in our commerce, which if properly managed, will be a better instrument for obliging the interested nations of Europe to treat us with justice." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Pickney, 1797

"It is very imprudent to deprive America of any of her privileges. If her commerce and friendship are of any importance to you, they are to be had on no other terms than leaving her in the full enjoyment of her rights." --Benjamin Franklin, Political Observations

"If the present Congress errs in too much talking, how can it be otherwise in a body to which the people send 150 lawyers, whose trade it is to question everything, yield nothing, & talk by the hour? That 150 lawyers should do business together ought not to be expected." --Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, 1821

"On every unauthoritative exercise of power by the legislature must the people rise in rebellion or their silence be construed into a surrender of that power to them? If so, how many rebellions should we have had already?" --Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, Query 12, 1782
23332  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cain interview with Glenn Beck on: October 05, 2011, 11:25:58 PM


http://www.glennbeck.com/2011/10/05/glenn-interviews-2012-candidate-herman-cain/
23333  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rumbo on Al Jazeera on: October 05, 2011, 06:36:20 PM


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiTaAh0W5Is&feature=player_embedded

Very weak by Rumbo IMHO.

There WERE in house objections to the sufficiency of Rumbo's troop numbers-- General Shikaleli (sp?) who was Ch. of Joint Chief of Staff and it is more than a little disingenuous of Rumbo to say otherwise.
23334  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues and LE in action on: October 05, 2011, 10:38:42 AM
This sort of exchange is NOT what we aspire to on this forum  angry
23335  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / IBD: Prosecute Holder! on: October 05, 2011, 10:31:29 AM

"Somewhere, Scooter Libby must be scratching his head. He was indicted and convicted simply because his recall of when a meeting occurred differed from others. He didn't lie about a gun-running operation that led to the deaths of two American agents and at least 200 Mexicans. But Attorney General Eric Holder did, according to memos obtained by CBS News and Fox News. They show Holder lied to Congress on May 2, 2011, when he was asked about when he knew about the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' Fast and Furious gun-running operation. He told House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa he was 'not sure of the exact date, but I probably learned about Fast and Furious over the last few weeks.' Holder learned of the operation as early as July 2010 in a memo from the director of the National Drug Intelligence Center informing him of an operation run by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force out of the Phoenix ATF office, under which 'straw purchasers are responsible for the purchase of 1,500 firearms that were then supplied to Mexican drug cartels.' ... Holder, quite simply, has lied to Congress, although the defense now being offered is he didn't understand Issa's question, doesn't read all the memos sent to him or was otherwise out of the loop. It is perhaps the first time incompetence has been offered as a defense to possible charges of criminality. ... As Issa told radio talk show host Laura Ingraham last month: 'We have a paper trail of so many people knowing that the only way the attorney general didn't know is he made sure he didn't want to know. ... But if you don't want to know something of this sort, then you shouldn't have the job he has.' We'd go a step further. Baseball star Roger Clemens was equally vehement when he told a House committee in 2008: 'Let me be clear. I have never taken steroids or HGH.' Clemens was indicted for lying to Congress. The same should go for Eric Holder." --Investor's Business Daily
23336  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Newt: Baraq gets one right on: October 05, 2011, 10:19:33 AM
Obama gets one right
by Newt Gingrich
The ACLU is aghast. Liberal bloggers are proclaiming the end of the Bill of Rights. Even some on the right have joined in the hand-wringing.
The source of their angst? News last Friday that one of Al Qaeda's most senior leaders, Anwar al-Awlaki, was killed in a U.S. drone attack on his convoy in the Yemeni desert.
Awlaki was, as the President described him, "the leader of external operations for Al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula." Nigel Inkster, Former Deputy Head of MI-6, called him the “ideologue of Al Qaeda.” Planning new ways to kill masses of American civilians was part of his job description, and by all indications he embraced the task eagerly. Awlaki was a senior recruiter of suicide bombers, and was linked to terror plots dating back to 9/11, when he apparently served as a "spiritual advisor" to several of the hijackers. He advised Nadal Malik Hasan, who is charged as the Fort Hood Shooter. He helped train Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the stymied Christmas Day underwear bomber. And he inspired the Times Square car bomber, too. The guy was our enemy.
But since the administration successfully tracked and eliminated one of the world's most dangerous terrorists, the ACLU and others are criticizing the President because Awlaki remained an American citizen. They claim the administration denied Awlaki "due process of law" by not trying him in an American court.


Never mind the fact that such a trial was not an option, with Awlaki roaming free in Yemen, helping to sow chaos there and spreading terror in the U.S. and Europe. (As Andrew McCarthy recently pointed out, "the authorization to assassinate Awlaki did not mean the administration would have him killed if it encountered him coming off a plane in Chicago.") Apparently having heard little about Yemen these days, the ACLU asserts that he was "far from any battlefield" there, and says he was "executed…without judicial process."
On this issue, the president's critics are dangerously mistaken. Congress gave the president the authority to use “all necessary and appropriate force” force against Al Qaeda in 2001. Anyone engaged in war against the United States, whether an American citizen or not, is subject to the use of force by the U.S.  As John Yoo put it this week, "American citizens who join the enemy do not enjoy a roving legal force-field that immunizes them from military reprisal."
President Obama was entirely within his rights to take action against a top-ranking member of a group that has declared war on the U.S., and who was actively seeking to launch new attacks against this country.
President Obama's legal advisors unanimously agreed.
In addition to eliminating an important figure in the Al Qaeda leadership, Awlaki's killing might be good news in one other regard. I hope it represents a concession by the Obama administration that the view the Left has championed for years—that terrorism is just a "law enforcement" issue—is fundamentally wrong.
This is a war. Now at least one of the administration's legal opinions admits that fact.
In our documentary America at Risk: The War With No Name, Callista and I discussed the refusal of the Left to speak honestly about the enemy we are at war with. Our number one example in that movie was Major Hasan, the Fort Hood Shooter inspired by Alwaki. The section on Alwaki below shows exactly why we must consider this a war:
 
 
The ACLU and others accusing the President are in complete denial about the nature of the threat we face. American citizenship cannot be used as protection with which to wage war against America.
President Obama can wear this charge, at least, as a real "badge of honor."
Your Friend,
 
Newt
23337  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: October 05, 2011, 08:57:24 AM
My guess is that there will be tremendous capital flight to here-- which may have some short term positive effects  , , , or not.  I know nothing!  cheesy
23338  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wanna make some money? on: October 05, 2011, 08:55:20 AM
In this Above the Tearline we’re going to discuss the State Department’s Rewards for Justice program and the Libyan bomber of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
The Rewards for Justice program is a very effective counterterrorism tool used to pay for information that leads to the capture of international terrorists, but more importantly helps prevent terrorist attacks from occurring. In 1988 after the bombing of Pan Am 103, the Rewards for Justice program announced a reward offer for those responsible for the bombing of the aircraft. There was a Libyan intelligence officer by the name of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi that was identified as being responsible for the bombing of Pan Am 103. Al-Megrahi was subsequently arrested and served many years in a Scottish prison.
However, a deal was cut between the U.K. authorities and the Scottish authorities to allow al-Megrahi to return to Libya because he was allegedly suffering from cancer. Al-Megrahi is living in Libya and appears to not be protected by the Libyan government anymore since the collapse of the Gadhafi regime. He has recently given very high-profile international interviews where he’s professed that he is innocent of some of the charges surrounding the Pan Am 103 bombing. There is no doubt based on my first-hand knowledge of his involvement in the bombing of Pan Am 103 that he was clearly engaged in the act of terrorism.
The Above the Tearline aspect with this video is the politics of counterterrorism investigations — how backroom deals with governments can allow a terrorist to just go free. In this case, al-Megrahi is very vulnerable, he’s unprotected, and it’s my understanding that he is covered under the broad brush of the Rewards for Justice program, and yet his picture is not specifically displayed on their website. There’s no doubt some politics involved with him not being there. Having said that, I think that money is a powerful motivator and that if al-Megrahi is wanted by the U.S. government, that enterprising individuals might take the opportunity to pick him up and claim their reward.
23339  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: October 05, 2011, 08:44:32 AM
The situation in Europe is having great effect on the markets here.  I suggest taking a look at my two most recent posts in the Europe thread.
23340  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / You ain't seen nothing yet! Europe entering danger zone on: October 05, 2011, 08:43:19 AM
Europe Entering the Danger Zone
The  European financial crisis is consuming all available attention in Europe and quite a bit beyond Europe as well. Its causes are many, but can be summed up as a massive overcrediting of states, banks and corporations that now must be dealt with. STRATFOR has outlined the path we see the Europeans following in order to find a way out of the crisis. Key to this effort is the eurozone bailout mechanism — the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) — which upon full ratification will have the legal powers to address many of Europe’s financial woes. The only real obstacle remaining to the expansion of the EFSF’s powers is the approval of Slovakia, and after another drama-filled week we expect Bratislava to give its assent.
It was widely believed that after Slovakia approved the EFSF reforms, things in Europe would quiet down somewhat. Though the EFSF would still not be large enough to handle the full scope of problems, the facility’s upgrading would have bought the Europeans some time to figure out how to expand the EFSF to a larger, more capable force.
However, two developments on Tuesday raise the possibility — even likelihood — that Europe’s financial woes are about to worsen severely.
The first development is a decision by Moody’s Investor Service credit ratings agency to downgrade Italian government debt by three notches to A2 with a negative outlook. The cost to Italy of borrowing from international markets is about to go up dramatically. It’s hard to recall another time a state that wasn’t on the final verge of default or receivership faced a triple downgrade.
” Two developments on Tuesday raise the possibility — even likelihood — that Europe’s financial woes are about to worsen severely.”
Not that Italy isn’t deserving. The foibles of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi long ago degenerated from entertaining to debilitating. He’s gutted his government and coalition of competent individuals for fear they may seek to displace him. The only remaining technocrat in the government’s upper echelons, Economy and Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti, is now regularly used as Berlusconi’s scapegoat for the government’s meek efforts at budgetary control. The southern two-thirds of Italy has always been a massive drain on state coffers, and at 120 percent of gross domestic product, the state debt is the highest in the eurozone outside of Greece.
The second development is the sudden deterioration of Dexia, a major Franco-Belgian bank, which has cast the other side of the European debt crisis into stark relief. The overcrediting of Europe was not limited to governments. Between the sudden cheapening and glut of credit in the 2000s and a massive consumption boom, most of Europe’s banks are massively overextended and undercapitalized. Imagine the U.S. subprime disaster, but not limited to any particular region or subsector. That’s the scale of the problem Europe’s banking sector faces. After weeks of formal denials out of governments and the EU Commission, European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services Michel Barnier finally broke with the party line today describing the  rapidly worsening status of Europe’s banks as “a fact of life.”
But even among European banks, Dexia stands out as one of the worst. Dexia holds roughly 520 billion euros in assets but has only 8.8 billion euros in equity, making for a leverage ratio of approximately 60:1. A healthy ratio would be 10:1. For comparison, when the American firm Lehman Brothers went bust in 2008 its ratio was 31:1. This isn’t only a bank that has failed, it has now failed twice. It crashed the first time back in 2008, when a 6.4 billion-euro bailout allowed it to linger on to the present day (what’s left of that 6.4 billion euro is included in the 8.8 billion figure of available equity). As a consequence of that bailout, Dexia became majority state-owned (23.3 percent by various French government interests, and 30.5 percent Belgian government interests).
Belgian and French authorities now appear set to break Dexia apart, loading its bad assets into a separate facility which will likely leech off of taxpayer money until they can be formally disposed off. The problem is that there isn’t much Belgian taxpayer money to be brought to bear. After all, Dexia has long served as a primary supplier of capital to Belgium’s national and regional governments. Very conservatively, Dexia is going to be absorbing 10 billion euros in government resources, and that’s assuming there are no problems with the 20 billion euros in Greek, Portuguese and Italian government bonds that the bank holds.
Belgium, like Italy, is getting deeper in debt and finding it increasingly difficult to tap international capital markets — particularly in the sort of big chunks that would be required to wind down Dexia. And while Italy’s governing leadership can be charitably described as eccentric, Belgium’s is quitting: the country has been without a government for 480 days and in September, acting Prime Minister Yves Leterme announced he’d soon be leaving his job.
The Europeans now face three challenges. First, while the EFSF is nearly ready to enter into reinvigorated force, it is not nearly large enough to handle an Italian bailout. That would require — at minimum — 700 billion euros.
Second, while the new and improved EFSF is designed to handle bank bailouts as well, and it probably can handle Dexia, the bank is the proverbial canary in a coal mine. There are many more banks like Dexia, some several times as large, and bailing them out will cost vastly more than the EFSF’s functional ceiling of 440 billion euros would cover.
Third, as the Dexia-Belgium crossover vividly underscores, Europe’s sovereign debt and banking crises are formally interlinked: a broke government cannot recapitalize damaged banks while damaged banks cannot help finance a broke government. Should one side stumble, the result is a near-immediate cascade of failures on the other. And all of this assumes that Greece, which has heretofore served as the crisis’ epicenter, doesn’t throw any more unexpected problems Europe’s way.
23341  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Dollar, Yuan, trade war? on: October 04, 2011, 11:42:20 PM
A different POV from the WSJ:

The world has done surprisingly well since the Great Recession began at not making things worse with trade protectionism. But that may soon change thanks to the U.S. Senate, which is expected to vote as early as this week on the most dangerous trade legislation in many years, the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act. This is when an American President would normally step in and defend the U.S. and world economies, but Barack Obama is bobbing and weaving for his own narrow political ends. This is risky business.

Senators Chuck Schumer and Lindsey Graham have pushed since 2005 to impose punitive tariffs on China if the value of the yuan doesn't rise faster. The legislation is now coming to the floor because Senate Democrats want protectionist political cover against unions in return for voting on the free-trade pacts with Colombia, Panama and Korea that President Obama finally sent to Congress yesterday. But what is cynical posturing in Washington may look more threatening to the rest of the world, and once trade wars start they can be hard to stop.

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CloseAssociated Press
 
The senators speak during a news conference on Sept. 22, to discuss unfair currency manipulation.
.Unlike America's last great trade blunder, the Tariff Act of 1930 (aka Smoot-Hawley), the China bill wouldn't raise tariffs across the board, but would instead allow companies to seek countervailing duties by treating a "misaligned" currency as a subsidy. This would nonetheless open the floodgates to applications from American companies, and the resulting tariffs would violate World Trade Organization rules. China would undoubtedly retaliate, meaning companies and consumers in both countries would lose.

If other countries follow suit, there would be knock-on effects throughout the global economy. As the erstwhile leader of the world's trading system as well as one of its main beneficiaries, the U.S. bears a special responsibility to avoid this outcome.

One reason we are so close to this ledge is that Washington has not led on global and regional liberalization. Free trade is like a bicycle, which needs to be pedaled forward or it tips over. When a President is AWOL on trade as Mr. Obama has been, U.S. politicians succumb to populist temptations. Instead of concentrating on domestic reforms to restore growth, Congressmen tell Americans that their lost prosperity was taken by China rather than by poor policy decisions. So now the U.S. will punish the biggest developing nation, and one of America's main goods suppliers, for its economic success.

The last six years are proof that revaluing the yuan is not the key to reducing China's large and persistent trade surplus with the world. The yuan has appreciated by almost 30% since the middle of 2005, when Mr. Schumer was pushing for a 25% revaluation. But the Chinese surplus has mostly grown and occasionally shrunk during this period in response to other forces.

This is a repeat of the 1980s, when Congress was bashing Japan for keeping the yen low and running large surpluses. As the yen rose from 360 to the dollar to 80 over 25 years, the surplus persisted and continues today, though it has shrunk in relative terms since the bursting of Japan's bubble.

The U.S. can do more to help Beijing avoid Japan's bubble and bust by urging it to reform the financial system that has favored exports. There are already signs that China's state-directed credit explosion of 2009 is leading to an increase in nonperforming bank loans, as well as state firms and local governments in need of bailouts. Wages are also rising, making some Chinese exports less competitive.

Related Video
 Mary O'Grady on the status of the South Korea, Panama, and Colombia free trade agreements.
..As China comes under economic and political strain, it's worth remembering that a major benefit of free trade is its stabilizing effect on rising powers like China. In 1930, Smoot-Hawley and the retaliation it spurred contributed to a collapse of world trade and deepened the global depression. So too did a series of competitive currency devaluations, another tool of trade war. The global economic collapse gave Japan and Germany a push toward fascism. Once trade with the developed world was closed off, ambitious Japanese officers took the initiative to expand the empire to secure markets and raw materials.

Trade brinksmanship is always dangerous, but especially when the world economic recovery is beset by so many other problems. Yet the U.S. political system is now slouching toward protectionism less by design than by a general abdication of leadership.

Democrats want to appease labor to hold the Senate next year. The White House wants to appease Senate Democrats and labor, so it has failed to speak against the tariff bill. White House spokesman Jay Carney says only that it is "reviewing" the legislation and that "we share the goal."

Senate Republicans aren't about to stand in the way, especially when their Presidential front-runner, the supposedly business savvy Mitt Romney, is also calling for unilateral trade duties against China to give his candidacy a populist edge. John Boehner's House Republicans may be the last obstacle to such a destructive bill passing.

***
In "The World in Depression, 1929-1939," the economic historian Charles Kindleberger wrote that one great contributor to depression was the failure of leadership, especially by the U.S. and Britain. Neither of the two leading economies were willing to maintain an open market for the world's goods in a period of distress.

"When every country turned to protect its national private interest, the world public interest went down the drain, and with it the private interests of all," Kindleberger wrote. Where's a U.S. President when you really need him?

23342  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: October 04, 2011, 11:37:30 PM
That is the pink elephant in the room most are afraid to say out loud.  If true, tis truly heinious what they have done.   Lets continue this on the Gun thread.
23343  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: October 04, 2011, 08:21:54 PM
The Obama health-care plan passed 18 months ago, and its cynicism still manages to astonish. Witness the spectacle surrounding one of its flagship new entitlements, which is eliciting some remarkable concessions from its drafters.

The Health and Human Services Department recently shut down a government insurance program for long-term care, known by the acronym Class. HHS also released a statement claiming that reports that HHS is shutting down Class are "not accurate." All HHS did was suspend Class policy planning, told Senate Democrats to zero out Class funding for 2012, reassigned Class's career staffers to other projects and pink-slipped the program's chief actuary. Other than that, it's full-speed ahead.

HHS is denying what everyone knows to be true because everyone also knows that the Class entitlement was not merely created to crowd out private insurance for home health aides and the like. Class was added to the bill because it was among the budget gimmicks that Democrats needed to create the illusion that trillions of dollars of new spending would somehow reduce the deficit.

Benefits in the Class program, which was supposed to start up next year, are rigged by an unusual five-year vesting period. So the people who sign up begin paying premiums immediately—money that Democrats planned to spend immediately on other things, as if the back-loaded payments to Class beneficiaries would never come due. The $86 billion or so that would have built up between 2012 and 2021 with the five-year lead is supposed to help finance the rest of ObamaCare. The Class program would go broke sometime in the next decade, but that would be somebody else's problem.

 
Corbis
 .Opponents warned about this during the reform debate, and people on HHS's lower rungs were telling their political superiors the same thing as early as mid-2009, according to emails that a joint House-Senate Republican investigation uncovered.

In one 2009 note, chief Medicare actuary Richard Foster—a martyr to fiscal honesty in the health-care debate—wrote that "Thirty-six years of actuarial experience lead me to believe that this program would collapse in short order and require significant Federal subsidies to continue." He suggested that Class would end in an "insurance death spiral" because the coverage would only be attractive to sicker people who will need costly services. It could only be solvent if 230 million Americans enrolled, which is more than the current U.S. workforce.

An HHS Office of Health Reform official, Meena Seshamani, rejected Mr. Foster's critique because "per CBO it is actuarially sound." But of course CBO only scores what is presented to it, no matter how unrealistic. Despite this false reassurance, later even one HHS political appointee took up Mr. Foster's alarms, writing that Class "seems like a recipe for disaster to me."

In February of this year, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius finally admitted the obvious, testifying at a Congressional hearing that, gee whiz, Class is "totally unsustainable" as written. By then Class had become a political target of vulnerable Senate Democrats looking to shore up their fiscal bona fides, despite voting for it when they voted for ObamaCare.

Bowing to this political need, Mrs. Sebelius has repeatedly promised to use her administrative discretion to massage Class's finances until it is solvent. But given that the office doing that work has now been disbanded, this evidently proved impossible, as the critics claimed all along.

***
All of this would seem to make repealing Class an easy vote for Congress, but, this being Washington, it isn't. Since the CBO says Class's front-loaded collections cut the deficit to the tune of that $86 billion, HHS has to pretend that the program is still alive to preserve these phantom savings.

Some Republicans are also nervous about repealing Class because, under CBO's perverse scoring, they'll be adding $86 billion to the deficit. Others would prefer not to repeal any of ObamaCare until they repeal all of it, on grounds that some of it might survive if the worst parts go first.

So an unaffordable entitlement that will be a perpetual drain on taxpayers may continue to exist because of a make-believe budget gimmick that everyone now admits is bogus. Congress can't reduce real future liabilities because it would mean reducing fake current savings.

This is literally insane. It's rare to get a political opening to dismantle any entitlement, much less one as large as Class. House Republicans ought to vote to repeal it as soon as possible as an act of fiscal hygiene, forcing Senate Democrats to vote on it and President Obama to confront (even if he won't acknowledge) the fraud he signed into law.

23344  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Contempt on: October 04, 2011, 08:18:10 PM


Nixon was tricky. Ford was clumsy. Carter was dour. Reagan was sunny. Bush 41 was prudent. Clinton felt your pain. Bush 43 was stubborn. And Barack Obama is . . .

Early in America's acquaintance with the man who would become the 44th president, the word that typically sprang from media lips to describe him was "cool."

Cool as a matter of fashion sense—"Who does he think he is, George Clooney?" burbled the blogger Wonkette in April 2008. Cool as a matter of political temperament—"Maybe after eight years of George W. Bush stubbornness, on the heels of eight years of Clinton emotiveness, we need to send out for ice," approved USA Today's Ruben Navarrette that October. Cool as a matter of upbringing—Indonesia, apparently, is "where Barack learned to be cool," according to a family friend quoted in a biography of his mother.

The Obama cool made for a reassuring contrast with his campaign's warm-and-fuzzy appeals to hope, change and being the ones we've been waiting for. But as the American writer Minna Antrim observed long ago, "between flattery and admiration there often flows a river of contempt." When it comes to Mr. Obama, boy does it ever.

We caught flashes of the contempt during the campaign. There were those small-town Midwesterners who, as he put it at a San Francisco fund-raiser, "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who are not like them." There were those racist Republicans who, as he put it at a Jacksonville fund-raiser, would campaign against him by asking, "Did I mention he's black?" There was the "you're likable enough, Hillary," line during a New Hampshire debate. But these were unscripted digressions and could be written off as such.

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CloseBloomberg
 .Only after Mr. Obama came to office did it start to become clear that contempt would be both a style and method of his governance. Take the "mess we have inherited" line, which became the administration's ring tone for its first two years.

"I have never seen anything like the mess we have inherited," said the late Richard Holbrooke—a man with memories of what Nixon inherited in Vietnam from Johnson—about Afghanistan in February 2009. "We are cleaning up something that is—quite simply—a mess," said the president the following month about Guantanamo. "Let's face it, we inherited a mess," said Valerie Jarrett about the economy in March 2010.

For presidential candidates to rail against incumbents from an opposing party is normal; for a president to rail for years against a predecessor of any party is crass—and something to which neither Reagan nor Lincoln, each of them inheritors of much bigger messes, stooped.

Then again, the contempt Mr. Obama felt for the Bush administration was merely of a piece with the broader ambit of his disdain. Examples? Here's a quick list:

The gratuitous return of the Churchill bust to Britain. The slam of the Boston police officer who arrested Henry Louis Gates. The high-profile rebuke of the members of the Supreme Court at his 2010 State of the Union speech. The diplomatic snubs, petty as well as serious, of Gordon Brown, Benjamin Netanyahu and Nicolas Sarkozy. The verbal assaults on Wall Street "fat cats" who "caused the problem" of "10% unemployment." The never-ending baiting of millionaires and billionaires and jet owners and everyone else who, as Black Entertainment Television's Robert Johnson memorably put it on Sunday, "tried rich and tried poor and like rich better."

Now we come to the last few days, in which Mr. Obama first admonished the Congressional Black Caucus to "stop complainin', stop grumblin', stop cryin'," and later told a Florida TV station that America was losing its competitive edge because it "had gotten a little soft." The first comment earned a rebuke from none other than Rep. Maxine Waters, while the second elicited instant comparisons to Jimmy Carter's "malaise" speech. They tell us something about the president's political IQ. They tell us more about his world view.

What is it that Mr. Obama doesn't like about the United States—a country that sent him hurtling like an American Idol contestant from the obscurity of an Illinois Senate seat to the presidency in a mere four years?

I suspect it's the same thing that so many run-of-the-mill liberals dislike: Americans typically believe that happiness is an individual pursuit; we bridle at other people setting limits on what's "enough"; we enjoy wealth and want to keep as much of it as we can; we don't like trading in our own freedom for someone else's idea of virtue, much less a fabricated concept of the collective good.

When a good history of anti-Americanism is someday written, it will note that it's mainly a story of disenchantment—of the obdurate and sometimes vulgar reality of the country falling short of the lover's ideal. Listening to Mr. Obama, especially now as the country turns against him, one senses in him a similar disenchantment: America is lovable exactly in proportion to the love it gives him in return.

Hence his increasingly ill-concealed expressions of contempt. Hence the increasingly widespread counter-contempt.

23345  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Al Shabaad claims bombing credit on: October 04, 2011, 08:15:24 PM
stratfor

In the Somali capital of Mogadishu today a suicide vehicle borne improvised explosive device, or VBIED, detonated in Mogadishu killing upwards of 100 bystanders. The Somali jihadist group al Shabaab claimed responsibility for that VBIED.
The VBIED in Mogadishu detonated inside a government compound and the bystanders that became casualties of that attack were waiting in line to apply for university scholarships abroad. Now, that al Shabaab claimed responsibility for this attack is interesting. In August al Shabaab had to withdraw its forces from Mogadishu and the loose alliance that comprised al Shabaab withdrew to their respective home areas or strongholds.
Now in the case of the transnationalist faction of al Shabaab led by a couple of individuals — on the one hand there’s al-Afghani; on the other hand there’s Godane Abu Zubayr — they pulled their insurgent forces back to the southern city of Kismayo, but a withdraw of insurgent forces from Mogadishu does not mean the defeat of al Shabaab or does not mean that al Shabaab cannot carry out attacks in Mogadishu.
Mogadishu is a very large and spread out city — its resident population is estimated at 2 million — and it’s a very chaotic city under little control of the security forces present there. There are about 9,000 African Union peacekeepers and a few thousand Somali government soldiers in Mogadishu, but these approximately 12,000 forces cannot effectively patrol, let alone secure, Mogadishu.
Now al Shabaab. Within this loose alliance, there are elements that are fighting for nationalist agenda aims, fighting for turf in Somalia, fighting for political recognition or political patronage. There are other internationalist elements of al Shabaab — the Godane faction, the al-Afghani faction — that want to create in Somalia an extension of the broader al Qaeda area of operation. And these jihadist elements of al Shabaab interact and cooperate with al Qaeda elements found elsewhere.
The al Shabaab transnationalist faction still has the full capability of using small unit tactics to carry out terrorist operations in Mogadishu, and they have stated this full intent to do so, espousing jihadist rhetoric despite the pullback from Mogadishu, that they will continue their fight against the Somali government. And so we should expect full well that this faction of al Shabaab will continue terrorist tactics in Mogadishu and elsewhere in southern Somalia to demonstrate their livelihood and their intent to remain a vanguard Somali jihadist group.
23346  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The heat is on heh heh heh on: October 04, 2011, 02:56:52 PM
Third post of day

EXCLUSIVE: House Republicans are calling for a special counsel to determine whether Attorney General Eric Holder perjured himself during his testimony to the House Judiciary Committee on Operation Fast and Furious, Fox News has learned.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, was sending a letter to President Obama on Tuesday arguing that Holder cannot investigate himself, and requesting the president instruct the Department of Justice to appoint a special counsel.
The question is whether Holder committed perjury during a Judiciary Committee hearing on May 3. At the time, Holder indicated he was not familiar with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives program known as Fast and Furious until about April 2011.

"I'm not sure of the exact date, but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks," Holder testified.
However, a newly discovered memo dated July 2010 shows Michael Walther, director of the National Drug Intelligence Center, told Holder that straw buyers in the Fast and Furious operation "are responsible for the purchase of 1,500 firearms that were then supplied to the Mexican drug trafficking cartels."
Other documents also indicate that Holder began receiving weekly briefings on the program from the National Drug Intelligence Center "beginning, at the latest, on July 5, 2010," Smith wrote.

"These updates mentioned, not only the name of the operation, but also specific details about guns being trafficked to Mexico," Smith wrote in the letter to Obama.

"Allegations that senior Justice Department officials may have intentionally misled members of Congress are extremely troubling and must be addressed by an independent and objective special counsel. I urge you to appoint a special counsel who will investigate these allegations as soon as possible," Smith wrote.
In response to the release of the memos, a Justice Department official said that the attorney general "has consistently said he became aware of the questionable tactics in early 2011 when ATF agents first raised them publicly, and then promptly asked the (inspector general) to investigate the matter."
The official added that in March 2011, Holder testified to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee of that development, and regularly receives hundreds of pages, none of which contained information on potential problems with Fast and Furious.

"The weekly reports (100 + pages) are provided to the office of the AG and (deputy attorney general) each week from approximately 24 offices and components. These are routine reports that provide general overviews and status updates on issues, policies, cases and investigations from offices and components across the country. None of these reports referenced the controversial tactics of that allowed guns to cross the border," the official said.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., "of all people, should be familiar with the difference between knowing about an investigation and being aware of questionable tactics employed in that investigation since documents provided to his committee show he was given a briefing that included the fast and furious operation in 2010 – a year before the controversy emerged," the official continued.

Issa told Fox News on Tuesday morning that Holder saying he didn't understand the question rather than he didn't know of the program is not a successful defense to perjury.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, added that months before Holder testified -- on Jan. 31 -- he came to Grassley's office, where Grassley gave him a letter detailing the investigation of Fast and Furious.

"If he read my letter, he knew on January 31," Grassley told Fox News. "He probably actually knew about it way back in the middle of last year or earlier.
Grassley said since he's not a lawyer he's not going to make a judgment on whether Holder committed perjury.

"But I can tell you this. They're doing everything they can, in a fast and furious way, to cover up all the evidence or stonewalling us. But here's the issue, if he didn't perjure himself and didn't know about it, the best way that they can help us, Congressman Issa and me, is to just issue all the documents that we ask for and those documents will prove one way or the other right or wrong."

FILE: Attorney General Eric Holder testifies on Capitol Hill May 3 before a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing.



http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011...r-on-fast-and/
23347  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Yuan on: October 04, 2011, 02:52:41 PM
Also see entries in today's China-US thread:

WSJ

Section: General News - A renewed dispute is looming between Beijing and Washington about the competitive advantages in global trade that China enjoys thanks to its government's rigid control and valuation of its currency, the yuan, also known as the Renminbi [RMB].

In Washington, the U.S. Senate is threatening to legislate trade sanctions against China because of the issue.

By fixing its exchange rate for the yuan below the market value, Beijing keeps its exports cheaper for foreign consumers, providing Chinese manufacturers with a considerable competitive advantage in global trade.

The Economic Policy Institute in the United States reported last week that, since 2001, China's use of exchange rate controls has contributed to the loss of nearly 3 million American jobs.

Sense of entitlement

Arthur Kroeber is managing director of GK Dragonomics. He argues that China sees its undervalued currency and trade surplus as a right - and a key part of its national economic development.

There is no other demonstrated way to become a rich and powerful country other than, at your early stage, to promote exports. One of the tools to promote exports is to run an undervalued exchange rate," said Kroeber. "The Chinese take the view that, 'Everyone else who has gotten rich has used the same technique... we want to get rich; we have the same rights as everyone else.'

Because Beijing's economy depends heavily on exports, Janet de Silva, the dean of the Ivey Business School in Hong Kong, said it is difficult to predict how Beijing might liberalize currency.

If China were to move to full convertibility, the RMB would appreciate greatly, perhaps as much as 20 percent against the U.S. dollar, making Chinese exports less viable, said de Silva.

To level the playing field between U.S. and Chinese manufacturers, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said this week that work will soon begin on a bipartisan bill that would make it easier for China to be labeled a currency manipulator and for trade sanctions to be imposed on Chinese goods.

Pros, cons of trade sanctions

Although many U.S. business groups oppose such legislation for fear of sparking a full-blown trade war with China, Diana Choyleva, of Lombard Street Research, understands the rationale for the bill.

Unfortunately, in the short-term, the U.S. faces a sharp downturn. So, in an election year... protectionist voices are on the rise again. You can imagine; the easiest entity to blame would be the foreigner. And, in this case the U.S. would be right, said Choyleva.

China disagrees that its exchange rate is contributing to American economic woes.

During the recent International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings, Chinese officials have been keen to point out that the yuan has in fact been gradually appreciating for some time, and this week reached its highest rate since 2005.

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei rejected that the exchange rate was affecting the trade balance between China and the United States. He said China hopes the United States will refrain from politicizing the exchange rate and trade issues.

China's aversion to liberalized yuan

Chinese officials have been reluctant to liberalize the yuan because it likely would reduce the competitiveness of Chinese exports and fuel job losses, which could lead to social unrest.

But keeping the yuan under tight government control also carries costs. It means China's currency is not internationally traded, so many global businesses continue to price goods and contracts in dollars.

Analyst Kroeber said Chinese concerns about the stability of the dollar are becoming a catalyst for Beijing to try to internationalize the use of the yuan.

He said that the goal of the Chinese leadership, 10 or 20 years from now, is to create an internationally accessible bond market large enough to make the Chinese yuan a reserve currency like the dollar.

What they've been trying to do is increase the use of renminbi for settling and invoicing trade. If you have concerns about the currency in which your trade is denominated, traditionally U.S. dollars, using your own currency is a good solution to that, said Kroeber.

Strategic use of 'dim sum' bonds

China still restricts foreign investors from broad participation in its economy, but is using Hong Kong as a gateway for investment through programs such as dim sum bonds. These are yuan-denominated debts sold in Hong Kong since 2009 and named after a tasty appetizer much loved in China.

Dim sum bonds are attractive to global brands, such as Tesco and BP, as well as Chinese companies interested in raising and investing money through bonds that have lower repayment rates than those denominated in U.S. currency.

Professor de Silva said foreign and domestic investors in the debt tolerate yields as low as 1.7 percent in the belief they will make more gains as the yuan continues to appreciate.

If we look over the past year, RMB appreciation to the U.S. dollar is around six percent. And, the forecast over the next five years is about four percent per year. So if you take the 1.7 percent yield, plus that four percent yield, it starts to look quite attractive, said de Silva.

Although investors may be banking that the yuan will rise in value, there are still serious doubts about whether a truly liberalized yuan will become a reality anytime soon. As the yuan develops into a more globalized and mature medium of exchange and store of value, Chinese leaders indicate that currency policy will continue on their terms, and not those of China's trading partners. - VOA

23348  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Holder and the Marc Rich pardon on: October 04, 2011, 02:45:58 PM
A little trip down memory lane  evil

http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/obamas-new-advisor-stained-by-clinton-pardon-scandal/?singlepage=true
23349  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues and LE in action on: October 04, 2011, 02:27:38 PM
"As an example, were these complaintants isolated female drivers stopped by the accused officer at night, or were they girlfriends of known gang members who were searched as part of an arrest of those gang members? (Often female gang associates are used to carry weapons, knowing they are less likely to be frisked by male officers) Knowing that would be important. Criminal groups will often complaint-bomb effective officers to take them out of service. Was that what happened here? There is not enough information in the article to make an informed judgement."

"You are a powerful and effective advocate who can relentlessly back up what he says with specifics-- a VERY rare quality"  grin 

I would offer that you remember that you have invested A LOT of living and a lot of time developing your thinking about these issues-- a lot more than most people.  Be gentle with them as you enlighten them/me  cheesy
23350  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Yuan on: October 04, 2011, 01:25:55 PM
Economics continues as not so strong link in Stratfor diagnostic chain

Rhetoric and Reality in U.S.-China Currency Tensions
The U.S. Senate voted Monday to advance a bill pressuring China to stop undervaluing its currency. This paves the way for the bill, titled the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act of 2011, to receive a final vote as soon as this week. A STRATFOR source said the bill may pass the Senate but likely will fail in the House of Representatives, despite the currency issue having some bipartisan support. This includes the support of a few Republican presidential candidates who, though normally against trade regulations, are tying China’s rising economic power to domestic unemployment and U.S. President Barack Obama’s handling of the economy.
“The U.S. domestic situation may be conducive to using the China issue for political gain.”
China always makes a good target for American officials seeking to demonstrate their worth in the political and foreign policy arenas or as a distraction from domestic economic issues that are not easy to resolve. As the U.S. electoral cycle gets into gear, the currency bill may serve as a gauge of potential interest in raising China’s economy as a campaign issue. The bill itself is not entirely new. Lawmakers have been accusing China of undervaluing the yuan and engaging in unfair trade practices for years, but these accusations often serve more as sounding boards for the campaigners or as ways to negotiate within Congress for other issues of interest. The current bill brings a few new elements to the table, but it still amounts to little more than a domestic political message linked to Obama’s jobs plan, rather than a serious attempt to change Chinese trade practices.
Beijing has embarked on a relatively steady appreciation of the yuan since shifting to a managed peg in 2010. This is still insufficient for many observers, but Chinese authorities have domestic reasons for wanting to avoid any rapid shift in the yuan’s value. The Obama administration is mostly satisfied with this slower pace of appreciation and has refrained from using levers available to pressure China for any more rapid adjustments.
However, the U.S. domestic situation may be conducive to using the China issue for political gain. When there is a tough economic problem at home that cannot be resolved easily or quickly, it is often politically expedient to blame a foreign power of unfair practices. The rhetoric alone can often serve as a rallying point for political support.
Whether the bill is a serious attempt to curtail trade or just a source of renewed rhetoric, China must still respond based on the potential implications rather than the likelihood of passage or action. This creates another minor bump in the already bumpy road of U.S.-Chinese relations. As China’s power increases, and its economy pushes Chinese interests farther from home, it is increasingly in competition with Washington. This is not aggressiveness per se, but the natural result of a large and emerging power moving into the sphere of an existing power. But the more China reaches, the more insecure it feels. This makes Beijing particularly sensitive to any perceived encirclement campaign or economic pressure by Washington.
Meanwhile, perhaps not coincidentally, as China’s economic influence expands, the United States is pursuing a policy of economic and political re-engagement in the Asia-Pacific region. Two elements of this re-engagement are the U.S. participation in the East Asia Summit, in which the United States will be participating for the first time as a full member, and the U.S.-initiated Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade zone designed to increase U.S. competitiveness in the Asia-Pacific region and tap into Asia’s continuing economic growth. These fit U.S. interests even in the absence of an expanding China, but from Beijing’s perspective, they are clearly aimed at containing and rolling back Chinese political and economic gains.
What concerns China most, however, is Washington’s growing commitment in disputes regarding the South China Sea, which is increasingly becoming the core security issue for the entire region. Obama will be touring Asia in November and will deliver a speech at the East Asia Summit. The speech could have an impact similar to that of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2010 at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum, which changed the regional dynamic regarding maritime disputes when Clinton said it was in the United States’ “national interest” to ensure freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. Ultimately, Washington will want the summit to go beyond its normal energy- and economy-centered focus and address regional security issues, giving the United States a forum to counterbalance Beijing’s influence in that arena.
China is an easy target for U.S. politicians in rhetoric but far less so in the reality of regional competition. What bears watching is whether China reads moves such as the currency bill as rhetorical, and thus issues a measured response, or whether Beijing attaches more significance to the move and counters disproportionately. Beijing clearly wants a good domestic environment to pave the way for its own leadership transition in 2012. Depending upon domestic issues in China, particularly an economic slowdown and social stability concerns, Beijing could determine it beneficial to ratchet up tensions with the United States.
=======================
WSJ

SHANGHAI—China's angry response to a U.S. Senate vote to move ahead with a bill to punish Beijing for keeping the value of its currency low reflects domestic pressures on the leadership to act tough, but is unlikely to result in any precipitous action, analysts and economists say.

China's reaction Tuesday to the 79-19 vote was swift and coordinated.

Money's Worth
U.S. Senate Moves to Punish China on Yuan
China Real Time: How to Value a Currency
.Journal Community
..The People's Bank of China cautioned in a statement that passage of the bill won't resolve U.S. domestic economic difficulties but could instead "seriously affect" China's continuing exchange-rate reform and even lead to a trade war. It said that with inflation factored in, the yuan has appreciated "greatly" and is close to a balanced level.

China's Foreign Ministry said the bill violates rules of the World Trade Organization, while the Ministry of Commerce described it as "unfair" and in violation of international practice.

Economists say they don't expect the angry words will translate into policy shifts or retaliation, at least not while the fate of the bill is up in the air. Even though the vote advanced in the Democrat-controlled Senate, it faces an uncertain future in the Republican-controlled House.

"I don't think China will make any big move in response," said UBS economist Wang Tao, adding she believes there is only a small chance the bill will become law.

"China won't yield to the pressure from the U.S. or change its gradual approach to yuan exchange-rate reform," Ms. Wang said.

The Senate bill seeks to impose tariffs on exports from countries with undervalued currencies. Supporters of the bill complain that China's yuan is undervalued, making its products cheaper on world markets. They say a higher yuan would boost U.S. exports and create thousands of American jobs. Opponents say the measure would accomplish little besides infuriating China, and that the U.S.-Chinese relationship faces far bigger issues.

Senior Chinese officials have become increasingly forceful in their approach to the U.S. since the global recession, with many convinced that China is now in the ascendant and the U.S. is in permanent decline. Some feel China has the upper hand as the largest holder of U.S. debt—and the only major economy still growing rapidly.

Chinese leaders say the U.S. is to blame for plunging the world into crisis as a result of economic mismanagement, and resent moves that America has taken to boost its recovery, including buying bonds to hold down interest rates —so-called quantitative easing—which they argue is debasing the U.S. dollar and pumping up inflation in China and other emerging economies.

Pressure on the Chinese leadership also is coming from a nationalistic public outraged by continued U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and a more forceful U.S. diplomatic engagement with Southeast Asia, where several countries are in territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea.

Still, balanced against Chinese assertiveness is a strong desire by China's leaders to avoid upsetting the relationship with the U.S. ahead of 2012, when there will be presidential elections in America and a leadership transition in China. They need external stability to focus on delicate transition politics.

Chinese leaders also recognize that in a globalized economy, their own fate is closely linked to that of the U.S., and a trade war would likely be as damaging to China as the U.S.—perhaps even more so given China's greater reliance on exports.

But under the surface of harsh response to the Senate vote, Beijing left the door open for reconciliation, reiterating its long-standing pledge to continue exchange-rate reforms. That is likely a sign of lingering hopes that the Republican-controlled U.S. House will vote down the currency bill.

Indeed, both the Foreign Ministry and central bank also repeated Tuesday Beijing's standard rhetoric that China will continue to increase the yuan's flexibility over time.

There are indications Beijing has been trying to keep the yuan's appreciation intact despite mounting global economic uncertainties caused by the debt woes in Europe and slowing growth in the U.S. In the face of heavy yuan selling last week, triggered by risk aversion and concerns that the Chinese economy will have a hard landing, the central bank kept supporting the yuan's value by setting the currency higher through a daily reference exchange rate.

At 6.3859 yuan to the dollar ahead of China's week-long National Day holiday, the yuan was down 0.1% against the U.S. currency in September, but up 6.9% since June 2010, when China ended its currency's two-year peg to the dollar.

The Senate's vote appeared to have little notable impact on the yuan in the less restricted offshore Hong Kong market, where the currency mostly tracked its regional peers and remained more or less steady versus the dollar on Tuesday.

The Senate vote puts the White House in a delicate position. Like previous administrations, the Obama White House is wary of antagonizing Chinese leaders, whose cooperation it needs not just on economic issues but also on an array of national security matters. But criticizing China remains popular with the public, and many Democrats, including those from big industrial states, say China's currency policy is unfair to U.S. workers.

"They use the rules of free trade when it benefits them, and spurn the rules of free trade when it benefits them," said Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.), a major sponsor of the bill. "For years and years and years, Americans have grimaced, shrugged their shoulders, but never done anything effective" to stop these policies.

Opponents of the bill say that instead of potentially sparking a trade war, the U.S. should face its own problems, such as the burgeoning federal budget deficit. "It's like we know what we've got to do but we won't do it," said Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.). "It's like we've got to find a bogeyman."

Because House leaders are reluctant to bring up the bill, its future is uncertain. The House overwhelmingly passed a similar bill in September 2010, when Democrats controlled the chamber, but GOP leaders argue today that the new bill could have unintended consequences.

—Stefanie Qi and Andrew Browne contributed to this article.

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