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23301  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post on: September 05, 2011, 10:30:40 AM

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Brief · September 5, 2011

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


Labor Day? Hardly."President Obama enter[ed] this Labor Day weekend with a serious problem on his hands. For all intents and purposes, the economy appears to be stuck in neutral, with news out [Friday] that the U.S. economy created a grand total of zero jobs in August. This followed two months of near zero growth. Not surprisingly then, the unemployment rate in August remained at 9.1 percent, virtually unchanged since April. In fact, it was completely unchanged, and for the first time since 1945, no new jobs were created -- Zero. America now has the weakest labor market in a generation, and the American people know it. ... [W]hile the U.S. economy is creating no net new jobs, President Obama is offering no new ideas to fix the problem. In a speech to a joint session of Congress [on] Thursday, the President is expected to rehash the same expensive, ineffective policies he has tried since his presidency began. And it's an economic philosophy that America has come to know all too well. The President hopes that through the sheer force of spending taxpayer dollars, he can turn the economy around. It isn't working -- and neither are nearly 14 million Americans. ... The two-and-a-half-year Keynesian experiment of flooding the economy with taxpayer dollars has failed, yet the President and his union allies continue to peddle the myth that the only way to save the economy is to spend more." --Heritage Foundation's Mike Brownfield

Where are the jobs?
For the Record
"Will Barack Obama become the first president in the post-World War II era during whose term real gross domestic product never grew in any quarter at an annual rate greater than 4 percent? With less than optimistic recent forecasts from the Federal Reserve System's Federal Open Market Committee and the Congressional Budget Office, it now seems like a very real possibility. Having been inaugurated in January 2009, Obama has served as president in 10 quarters. ... In three of the quarters of 2008, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, real GDP grew at a negative annualized rate, dropping as low as -8.9 percent in the fourth quarter of that year. At the beginning of Obama's term, real GDP remained negative in the first two quarters, hitting -6.7 percent in the first quarter of 2009 and -0.7 percent in the second quarter. But two full years have passed since then. During that time, real GDP peaked in the first quarter of 2010, hitting an annualized rate of 3.9 percent. Since that modest peak a year and a half ago, the economy has been on a generally downward trend, with growth of real GDP hitting a dismal 0.4 percent in the first quarter of this year and a nearly as dismal 1 percent in the second quarter. Now both the FOMC and the CBO are indicating they do not expect vigorous economic growth to resume any time soon." --columnist Terence Jeffrey

Opinion in Brief
"The biggest star in the Obama firmament of green-jobs companies has just imploded. Solyndra, a California-based firm that produced solar panels, declared bankruptcy [last] week, putting more than a thousand additional workers on the unemployment line. The Solyndra story tells you all you need to know about President Obama's ability to 'create' jobs -- green or otherwise. ... The company received over half a billion dollars in federal loan guarantees for the project. But U.S. taxpayers will likely never see a dime repaid now that the company has gone into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. ... Solyndra is one of three major solar companies to declare bankruptcy this summer alone. No matter how many speeches the president gives, he can't turn an economically unsustainable enterprise into a profitable one, even if he siphons from the U.S. treasury to do so. ... If Solyndra's technology, which rested on a new design for solar panels, was as promising as the Obama administration seemed to think, investors willing to risk their own money should have been plentiful. Where were Warren Buffet and the president's other billionaire supporters? ... What doesn't work is commandeering other people's money in a crapshoot where there are more losers than winners." --columnist Linda Chavez

"I want the people of America to be able to work less for the government and more for themselves. I want them to have the rewards of their own industry. This is the chief meaning of freedom. Until we can reestablish a condition under which the earnings of the people can be kept by the people, we are bound to suffer a very severe and distinct curtailment of our liberty." --President Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933)

Essential Liberty
"America seems to be facing a pivotal moment: Do we move ahead by advancing or by receding -- by reaffirming the values that made us exceptional or by letting go of those values, so that a creeping mediocrity begins to spare us the burdens of greatness? As a president, Barack Obama has been a force for mediocrity. He has banked more on the hopeless interventions of government than on the exceptionalism of the people. His greatest weakness as a president is a limp confidence in his countrymen. He is afraid to ask difficult things of them. Like me, he is black, and it was the government that in part saved us from the ignorances of the people. So the concept of the exceptionalism -- the genius for freedom -- of the American people may still be a stretch for him. But in fact he was elected to make that stretch. It should be held against him that he has failed to do so." --Hoover Institution's Shelby Steele

The Gipper
"Only when the human spirit is allowed to invent and create, only when individuals are given a personal stake in deciding economic policies and benefiting from their success -- only then can societies remain economically alive, dynamic, prosperous, progressive and free." --Ronald Reagan

Re: The Left
"On Tuesday, the Justice Department announced it was shuffling Kenneth Melson, acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, out of his job. The disclosure comes amid continued GOP investigations into the administration's fatally botched straw gun purchase racket at the border and spreading outrage over legal obstructionism and whistleblower retaliation by DOJ brass. ... Internal documents earlier showed that Melson was intimately involved in overseeing the program and screened undercover videos of thousands of straw purchases of AK-47s and other high-powered rifles -- many of which ended up in the hands of Mexican drug cartel thugs, including those who murdered Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry last December. Fast and Furious weapons have been tied to at least a dozen violent crimes in America and untold bloody havoc in Mexico. ... Melson has been kicked back to DOJ's main office in a flabbergasting new slot as 'senior adviser on forensic science in the department's Office of Legal Policy.' ... DOJ is run by Eric Holder, the Beltway swamp creature who won bipartisan approval for his nomination -- even after putting political interests ahead of security interests at the Clinton Justice Department in both the Marc Rich pardon scandal and the Puerto Rican FALN terrorist debacle. Remember: Holder won over the Senate by arguing that his poor judgment made him more qualified for the job. Screw up, move up, cover up: It's the Holder way, the Obama way, the Washington way. And innocent Americans pay." --columnist Michelle Malkin

Political Futures
"Regardless of the public image they may convey, Barack Obama and his wife never fail to take full advantage of a lifestyle that would be the envy of any modern-day monarch while the bulk of the American populace struggles to afford life's necessities. He is but another in a long line of those who promote socialism and proclaim to be 'of the people' with only the interests of the citizens at heart -- as they duplicitously pursue a personal agenda. ... [Obama's] sense of entitlement stems not only from a deep-seated belief in socialist theory and an overweening sense of superiority, but also as a man obsessed with his skin color and payback for his perception of Western colonialism (as detailed in his autobiography Dreams from My Father). ... He is much too busy enjoying the trappings of royalty, despite his oft-declared disdain for that class, to be bothered about the dismal future of the United States." --columnist Steve McCann

Faith & Family
"The New York Times' executive editor, Bill Keller, in a piece in The New York Times Magazine, argues that presidential candidates should be asked tough questions about their faith. Keller wants to know whether a candidate will place 'fealty to the Bible, the Book of Mormon ... or some other authority higher than the Constitution and laws of this country' and 'whether a president respects serious science and verifiable history.' He wants to make sure 'religious doctrine' does not become 'an excuse to exclude my fellow citizens from the rights and protections our country promises.' ... [K]eller's concern isn't with the religious beliefs of all candidates, only Christians, and not all Christians, just those who take the Bible seriously. ... The reality is that throughout our history, the halls of American government have teemed with Bible-believing Christians, and they've never pushed for theocracy. Ironically, it is leftists who are far likelier to use the power of government to selectively suppress political and religious liberties." --columnist David Limbaugh



"[T]he Left considers itself the undisputed champion of 'science,' but there are scads of issues where they take un-scientific points of view. Sure they can cite dissident scientists -- just as conservatives can -- on this or that issue. But everyone knows that when the science directly threatens the Left's pieties, it's the science that must bend -- or break. During the Larry Summers fiasco at Harvard, comments delivered in the classic spirit of open inquiry and debate cost Summers his job. Actual scientists got the vapors because he violated the principles not of science but of liberalism. During the Gulf oil spill, the Obama administration dishonestly claimed that its independent experts supported a drilling moratorium. They emphatically did not. The president who campaigned on basing his policies on 'sound science' ignored his own hand picked experts. ... His support for wind and solar energy ... isn't based on science but on faith. And that faith has failed him dramatically. The idea that conservatives are anti-science is self-evident and self-pleasing liberal hogwash. I see no reason why conservatives should even argue the issue on their terms when it's so clearly offered in bad faith in the first place." --columnist Jonah Goldberg

23302  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GB's Declaration of Rights and Responsibilities (and the coming of GBTV) on: September 05, 2011, 10:26:46 AM
It truly has been an incredible summer.  We’ve been working non-stop ever since we left cable news in June and we are exactly one week away from showing you the result of our efforts – my new two hour daily show on debuts next Monday at 5 pm ET!
I’d like to thank those of you who have already joined me on GBTV as we start this journey.  Those of you who have watched us build GBTV over the summer and came with us (either in person or through GBTV) to Israel for the Restoring Courage events have seen the beginning of some incredible things.
At the final Restoring Courage event, I kicked off a new direction for my company as I unveiled our plan to take our message global. Next Monday on 9/12, we bring the message of individual rights & responsibilities back to the 5 pm ET time slot.
I ask that you review the Declaration of Rights & Responsibilities below – print them, carry them with you, memorize them, and join us one week from today on for the debut of my new show.
Declaration of Rights & Responsibilities

Thus, we the people do hereby declare not only our rights, but do now establish this bill of responsibilities.
1. Because I have the right to choose, I recognize that I am accountable to God and have the responsibility to keep the 10 commandments in my own life.
2. Because I have the right to worship as I choose, I have the responsibility to honor the right of others to worship as they see fit.
3. Because I have freedom of speech, I have the responsibility to defend the speech of others, even if I strongly disagree with what they’re saying.
4. Because I have the right to pursue happiness, I have the responsibility to show humility and express gratitude for all the blessings I enjoy and the rights I’ve been given.
5. Because I have the right to honest and good government I will seek out honest and just representatives when possible. If I cannot find one then I accept the responsibility to take that place.
6. Because I have the God given right to liberty, I have the personal responsibility to have the courage to defend others to be secure in their persons, lives and property.
7. Because I have the right to equal justice, I will stand for those who are wrongly accused or unjustly blamed.
8. Because I have the right to knowledge, I will be accountable for myself and my children’s education…to live our lives in such a way that insures the continuation of truth.
9. Because I have the right to pursue my dreams and keep the fruits of my labor, I have the responsibility to feed, protect and shelter my family, the less fortunate, the fatherless, the old and infirm.
10. Because I have a right to the truth, I will not bear false witness nor will I stand idly by as others do.
Unconditionally, while maintaining my responsibility to compassionately yet fiercely stand against those things that decay the natural rights of all men. And for the support of this declaration, and with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence we mutually pledge to each other our lives, fortunes and sacred honor.
This is the beginning of a global movement. Don’t just witness it, be a part of it. Join me on
Laus Deo,
23303  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Friedberg: China's challenge at sea on: September 05, 2011, 10:22:58 AM
AMERICA’S fiscal woes are placing the country on a path of growing strategic risk in Asia.

With Democrats eager to protect social spending and Republicans anxious to avoid tax hikes, and both saying the national debt must be brought under control, we can expect sustained efforts to slash the defense budget. Over the next 10 years, cuts in planned spending could total half a trillion dollars. Even as the Pentagon saves money by pulling back from Afghanistan and Iraq, there will be fewer dollars with which to buy weapons or develop new ones.

Unfortunately, those constraints are being imposed just as America faces a growing strategic challenge. Fueled by economic growth of nearly 10 percent a year, China has been engaged for nearly two decades in a rapid and wide-ranging military buildup. China is secretive about its intentions, and American strategists have had to focus on other concerns since 9/11. Still, the dimensions, direction and likely implications of China’s buildup have become increasingly clear.

When the cold war ended, the Pacific Ocean became, in effect, an American lake. With its air and naval forces operating through bases in friendly countries like Japan and South Korea, the United States could defend and reassure its allies, deter potential aggressors and insure safe passage for commercial shipping throughout the Western Pacific and into the Indian Ocean. Its forces could operate everywhere with impunity.

But that has begun to change. In the mid-1990s, China started to put into place the pieces of what Pentagon planners refer to as an “anti-access capability.” In other words, rather than trying to match American power plane for plane and ship for ship, Beijing has sought more cost-effective ways to neutralize it. It has been building large numbers of relatively inexpensive but highly accurate non-nuclear ballistic missiles, as well as sea- and air-launched cruise missiles. Those weapons could destroy or disable the handful of ports and airfields from which American air and naval forces operate in the Western Pacific and sink warships whose weapons could reach the area from hundreds of miles out to sea, including American aircraft carriers.

The Chinese military has also been testing techniques for disabling American satellites and cybernetworks, and it is adding to its small arsenal of long-range nuclear missiles that can reach the United States.

Although a direct confrontation seems unlikely, China appears to seek the option of dealing a knockout blow to America’s forward forces, leaving Washington with difficult choices about how to respond.

Those preparations do not mean that China wants war with the United States. To the contrary, they seem intended mostly to overawe its neighbors while dissuading Washington from coming to their aid if there is ever a clash. Uncertain of whether they can rely on American support, and unable to match China’s power on their own, other countries may decide they must accommodate China’s wishes.

In the words of the ancient military theorist Sun Tzu, China is acquiring the means to “win without fighting” — to establish itself as Asia’s dominant power by eroding the credibility of America’s security guarantees, hollowing out its alliances and eventually easing it out of the region.

If the United States and its Asian friends look to their own defenses and coordinate their efforts, there is no reason they cannot maintain a favorable balance of power, even as China’s strength grows. But if they fail to respond to China’s buildup, there is a danger that Beijing could miscalculate, throw its weight around and increase the risk of confrontation and even armed conflict. Indeed, China’s recent behavior in disputes over resources and maritime boundaries with Japan and the smaller states that ring the South China Sea suggest that this already may be starting to happen.

This is a problem that cannot simply be smoothed away by dialogue. China’s military policies are not the product of a misunderstanding; they are part of a deliberate strategy that other nations must now find ways to meet. Strength deters aggression; weakness tempts it. Beijing will denounce such moves as provocative, but it is China’s actions that currently threaten to upset the stability of Asia.

Many of China’s neighbors are more willing than they were in the past to ignore Beijing’s complaints, increase their own defense spending and work more closely with one another and the United States.

They are unlikely, however, to do those things unless they are convinced that America remains committed. Washington does not have to shoulder the entire burden of preserving the Asian power balance, but it must lead.

The Pentagon needs to put a top priority on finding ways to counter China’s burgeoning anti-access capabilities, thereby reducing the likelihood that they will ever be used. This will cost money. To justify the necessary spending in an era of austerity, our leaders will have to be clearer in explaining the nation’s interests and commitments in Asia and blunter in describing the challenge posed by China’s relentless military buildup.

Aaron L. Friedberg, a professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton, is the author of “A Contest for Supremacy: China, America and the Struggle for Mastery in Asia.”

23304  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Book review: Counterstrike by Schmidt and Shanker on: September 05, 2011, 10:16:57 AM
Although not a perfect fit, I post this here because much of the book is about Homeland Security
23305  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Post Office facing default on: September 05, 2011, 10:08:57 AM
23306  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson, 1795 on: September 05, 2011, 10:06:07 AM
"In our private pursuits it is a great advantage that every honest employment is deemed honorable. I am myself a nail-maker." --Thomas Jefferson, Jean Nicolas DÈmeunier, 1795
23307  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: European matters on: September 05, 2011, 09:10:41 AM
In that case the number is far too low!  cheesy
23308  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The congnitive dissonance of the left on: September 05, 2011, 09:10:01 AM
Well, maybe it should be done as it used to be done-- by parents, communities, churches, and so forth.
23309  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / China offered arms to Kadaffy on: September 05, 2011, 09:06:29 AM
When the Lockerbie bomber was released this forum questioned the move vigorously.  It appears now that the truth was far worse than even we imagined.

23310  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Cyberwar and American Freedom on: September 05, 2011, 08:59:14 AM

I suspect this thread is going to grow in importance as time goes by , , ,
23311  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: European matters on: September 05, 2011, 08:56:37 AM
38% seems like a really high number , , , 
23312  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: September 05, 2011, 08:50:50 AM
Amen on the Tea Party, but this:

"We need to get their attention somehow and if by making sure they don't get into office and sending copies of the checks I send to Obama to the RNC with a note telling them why and enough people do it then we might win the Party back. There is no viable third Party and if we are not willing to fight to get control of the Republican Party then all is lost and the Libs know it."

seems a temper tantrum to me.  Increasing the vote for Baraq seems a really counter-productive way to me to increase the ideological clarity of the Rep Party.  Again, the message received will be that the TP is too fg radical.  The Libertarian Party may not be "viable", but there is little doubt what a vote for it, what a check to it, means.
23313  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: September 04, 2011, 10:12:29 PM
Though we agree on most things, I am not persuaded in the slightest by your reasoning on this point at all.

23314  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Sugar Ray Leonard on BL on: September 04, 2011, 10:04:19 PM
23315  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Gene LeBelle on Bruce Lee on: September 04, 2011, 10:03:09 PM
23316  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Joe Rogan on SS on: September 04, 2011, 10:00:29 PM
23317  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Bas Rutten on SS on: September 04, 2011, 09:50:22 PM
23318  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Steven Seagal on: September 04, 2011, 09:42:36 PM
SS a puppy killer?
23319  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: September 04, 2011, 09:16:22 PM
A fair point, but my point remains.  If you vote for Baraq you send the message to the sluts that run for office that the fascist-socialist excrement is what wins.  By all means vote for third party, but don't vote for fascism-socialism
23320  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Extreme Sheepherding on: September 04, 2011, 01:30:52 PM

23321  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Marriage and Family on: September 04, 2011, 01:21:54 PM
Well, I'd like to see this thread go back to the subject matter of "Marriage and Family"  cheesy
23322  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pravda on the Beach: Outside the Muslim Bubble on: September 04, 2011, 01:20:24 PM
Well, its the Left Angeles Times, so caveat lector:,0,2495732.story
23323  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: September 04, 2011, 01:08:18 PM
Agreed-- especially if you take the apostrophe out of "Visa's" and make the "V" lower case  cheesy
23324  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 911 on: September 04, 2011, 01:07:00 PM
JDN:  That belongs on the Homeland Security thread.  This thread is for matters and thoughts pertaining directly to 911.  Thank you.
23325  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WaPo: JSOC on: September 04, 2011, 01:05:54 PM
Top Secret America’: A look at the military’s Joint Special Operations Command
By Dana Priest and William M. Arkin, Published: September 2
The CIA’s armed drones and paramilitary forces have killed dozens of al-Qaeda leaders and thousands of its foot soldiers. But there is another mysterious organization that has killed even more of America’s enemies in the decade since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

CIA operatives have imprisoned and interrogated nearly 100 suspected terrorists in their former secret prisons around the world, but troops from this other secret organization have imprisoned and interrogated 10 times as many, holding them in jails that it alone controls in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Since 9/11, this secretive group of men (and a few women) has grown tenfold while sustaining a level of obscurity that not even the CIA has managed. “We’re the dark matter. We’re the force that orders the universe but can’t be seen,” a strapping Navy SEAL, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said in describing his unit.

The SEALs are just part of the U.S. military’s Joint Special Operations Command, known by the acronym JSOC, which has grown from a rarely used hostage rescue team into America’s secret army. When members of this elite force killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May, JSOC leaders celebrated not just the success of the mission but also how few people knew their command, based in Fayetteville, N.C., even existed.

This article, adapted from a chapter of the newly released “Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State,” by Washington Post reporters Dana Priest and William M. Arkin, chronicles JSOC’s spectacular rise, much of which has not been publicly disclosed before. Two presidents and three secretaries of defense routinely have asked JSOC to mount intelligence-gathering missions and lethal raids, mostly in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in countries with which the United States was not at war, including Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, the Philippines, Nigeria and Syria.

“The CIA doesn’t have the size or the authority to do some of the things we can do,” said one JSOC operator.

The president has given JSOC the rare authority to select individuals for its kill list — and then to kill, rather than capture, them. Critics charge that this individual man-hunting mission amounts to assassination, a practice prohibited by U.S. law. JSOC’s list is not usually coordinated with the CIA, which maintains a similar but shorter roster of names.

Created in 1980 but reinvented in recent years, JSOC has grown from 1,800 troops prior to 9/11 to as many as 25,000, a number that fluctuates according to its mission. It has its own intelligence division, its own drones and reconnaissance planes, even its own dedicated satellites. It also has its own cyberwarriors, who, on Sept. 11, 2008, shut down every jihadist Web site they knew.

Obscurity has been one of the unit’s hallmarks. When JSOC officers are working in civilian government agencies or U.S. embassies abroad, which they do often, they dispense with uniforms, unlike their other military comrades. In combat, they wear no name or rank identifiers. They have hidden behind various nicknames: the Secret Army of Northern Virginia, Task Force Green, Task Force 11, Task Force 121. JSOC leaders almost never speak in public. They have no unclassified Web site.

Despite the secrecy, JSOC is not permitted to carry out covert action as the CIA can. Covert action, in which the U.S. role is to be kept hidden, requires a presidential finding and congressional notification. Many national security officials, however, say JSOC’s operations are so similar to the CIA’s that they amount to covert action. The unit takes its orders directly from the president or the secretary of defense and is managed and overseen by a military-only chain of command.

Under President George W. Bush, JSOC’s operations were rarely briefed to Congress in advance — and usually not afterward — because government lawyers considered them to be “traditional military activities” not requiring such notification. President Obama has taken the same legal view, but he has insisted that JSOC’s sensitive missions be briefed to select congressional leaders.

Lethal force

JSOC’s first overseas mission in 1980, Operation Eagle Claw, was an attempted rescue of diplomats held hostage by Iranian students at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. It ended in a helicopter collision in the desert and the death of eight team members. The unit’s extreme secrecy also made conventional military commanders distrustful and, as a consequence, it was rarely used during conflicts.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, smarting from the CIA’s ability to move first into Afghanistan and frustrated by the Army’s slowness, pumped new life into the organization. JSOC’s core includes the Army’s Delta Force, the Navy’s SEAL Team 6, the Air Force’s 24th Special Tactics Squadron, and the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment and 75th Ranger Regiment.

The lethality of JSOC was demonstrated in the December 2001 mountain battle at Tora Bora. Although bin Laden and many of his followers eventually escaped across the border into Pakistan, an Army history said that on the nights of Dec. 13 and 14, JSOC killed so many enemy forces that “dead bodies of al-Qaeda fighters were carted off the field the next day” by the truckload.

It also made mistakes. On July 1, 2002, in what the Rand Corp. labeled “the single most serious errant attack of the entire war,” a JSOC reconnaissance team hunting Taliban came under attack and an AC-130 gunship fired upon six sites in the village of Kakarak. The estimates of civilian deaths ranged from 48 to hundreds. The “wedding party incident,” as it became known because a wedding party was among the targets accidentally hit, convinced many Afghans that U.S. forces disregarded the lives of civilians.

Nevertheless, on Sept. 16, 2003, Rumsfeld signed an executive order cementing JSOC as the center of the counterterrorism universe. It listed 15 countries and the activities permitted under various scenarios, and it gave the preapprovals required to carry them out.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, lethal action against al-Qaeda was granted without additional approval. In the other countries — among them Algeria, Iran, Malaysia, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Somalia and Syria — JSOC forces needed the tacit approval from the country involved or at least a sign-off from higher up on the American chain of command. In the Philippines, for example, JSOC could undertake psychological operations to confuse or trap al-Qaeda operatives, but it needed approval from the White House for lethal action. To attack targets in Somalia required approval from at least the secretary of defense, while attacks in Pakistan and Syria needed presidential sign-off.

In the fall of 2003, JSOC got a new commander who would turn the organization into arguably the most effective weapon in the U.S. counterterrorism arsenal. From his perch as vice director of operations on the Joint Staff, Brig. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal had come to believe there was an aversion to decision making at the top of government. No one wanted to be wrong, so they asked more questions or added more layers to the process. The new emphasis on interagency cooperation also meant meetings were bigger and longer. Any one of a multitude of agencies could stifle action until it was too late.

McChrystal believed he had “to slip out of the grip” of Washington’s suffocating bureaucracy, he told associates. He moved his headquarters to Balad Air Base, 45 miles northeast of Baghdad, and worked inside an old concrete airplane hangar with three connecting command centers: one to fight al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq, one for the fight against Shiite extremists in the country and a third for himself, so he could oversee all operations.

He coaxed the other intelligence agencies to help him out — the CIA presence grew to 100, the FBI and National Security Agency to a combined 80. He won their loyalty by exposing the guts of his operation to everyone involved. “The more people you shared your problem with, the better you’d do in solving it,” he would say.

McChrystal installed a simple, PC-based common desktop and portal where troops could post documents, conduct chats, tap into the intelligence available on any target — pictures, biometrics, transcripts, intelligence reports — and follow the message traffic of commanders in the midst of operations.

Then he gave access to it to JSOC’s bureaucratic rivals: the CIA, NSA, FBI and others. He also began salting every national security agency in Washington with his top commandos. In all, he deployed 75 officers to Washington agencies and 100 more around the world. They rotated every four months so none would become disconnected from combat.

Some thought of the liaisons as spies for an organization that was already too important. But those suspicions did little to derail JSOC or McChrystal.

Stories spread that he ate just one meal and ran 10 miles every day. He looked the part, with his taut face, intense eyes and thin physique. A sign inside the wire at Balad said it all: “17 5 2.” Seventeen hours for work, five hours for sleep, two hours for eating and exercise.

McChrystal’s legendary work ethic mixed well with his Scotch Irish exuberance and common-man demeanor. He viewed beer calls with subordinates as an important bonding exercise. He made people call him by his first name. He seemed almost naively trusting. (This trait would become McChrystal’s undoing in 2010, after he was promoted to commander of forces in Afghanistan. He and members of his inner circle made what were seen as inappropriate comments about their civilian leaders in the presence of a Rolling Stone reporter. McChrystal offered to resign, and Obama quickly accepted.)

Harnessing technology

The Iraqi insurgency’s reliance on modern technology also gave tech-savvy JSOC and its partners, particularly the National Security Agency, an advantage. The NSA learned to locate all electronic signals in Iraq. “We just had a field day,” said a senior JSOC commander, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe secret operations.

One innovation was called the Electronic Divining Rod, a sensor worn by commandos that could detect the location of a particular cellphone. The beeping grew louder as a soldier with the device got closer to the person carrying a targeted phone.

Killing the enemy was the easy part, JSOC commanders said; finding him was the hard part. But thanks to Roy Apseloff, director of the National Media Exploitation Center, the U.S. government’s agency for analyzing documents captured by the military and intelligence community, JSOC’s intelligence collection improved dramatically. Apseloff offered to lend McChrystal his small staff, based in Fairfax, to examine items captured in raids. Apseloff’s team downloaded the contents of thumb drives, cellphones and locked or damaged computers to extract names, phone numbers, messages and images. Then they processed and stored that data, linking it to other information that might help analysts find not just one more bad guy but an entire network of them.

The major challenge was how to find the gems in the trash quickly enough to be useful. The key was more bandwidth, the electronic pipeline that carried such information as e-mail and telephone calls around the world. Luckily for the military and JSOC, the attacks of 2001 coincided with an unrelated development: the dot-com bust. It created a glut in commercial satellite capacity, and the military bought up much of it.

Within a year after McChrystal’s arrival, JSOC had linked 65 stations around the world to enable viewers to participate in the twice-daily, 45-minute video teleconferences that he held. By 2006, JSOC had increased its bandwidth capability by 100 times in three years, according to senior leaders.

The other challenge JSOC faced was a human one: Ill-trained interrogators had little information about individual detainees and didn’t know what questions to ask or how to effectively ask them. Worse, some members of the JSOC’s Task Force 121 were beating prisoners.

Even before the Army’s Abu Ghraib prison photos began circulating in 2004, a confidential report warned that some JSOC interrogators were assaulting prisoners and hiding them in secret facilities. JSOC troops also detained mothers, wives and daughters when the men in a house they were looking for were not at home. The report warned these detentions and other massive sweep operations were counterproductive to winning Iraqi support.

An investigation of JSOC detention facilities in Iraq during a four-month period in 2004 found that interrogators gave some prisoners only bread and water, in one case for 17 days. Other prisoners were locked up in cells so cramped they could not stand up or lie down while their captors played loud music to disrupt sleep. Still others were stripped, drenched with cold water and then interrogated in air-conditioned rooms or outside in the cold.

Eventually, 34 JSOC task force soldiers were disciplined in five cases over a one-year period beginning in 2003.

McChrystal ordered his intelligence chief, Michael Flynn, to professionalize the interrogation system. By the summer of 2005, JSOC’s interrogation booths at Balad sat around the corner from the large warren of rooms where specialists mined thumb drives, computers, cellphones, documents to use during interrogations. Paper maps were torn down from the walls and replaced with flat-panel screens and sophisticated computerized maps. Detainees willing to cooperate were taught how to use a mouse to fly around their virtual neighborhoods to help identify potential targets.

JSOC had to use the rules laid out in the Army Field Manual to interrogate detainees. But its interrogators were — and still are — permitted to keep them segregated from other prisoners and to hold them, with the proper approvals from superiors and in some case from Defense Department lawyers, for up to 90 days before they have to be transferred into the regular military prison population.

The new interrogation system also included an FBI and judicial team that collected evidence needed for trial by the Iraqi Central Criminal Court in Baghdad. From early 2005 to early 2007, the teams sent more than 2,000 individuals to trial, said senior military officials.

Body counts

Al-Qaeda used the U.S. invasion of Iraq as a call to arms to terrorists and recruits throughout the Middle East who flooded in from Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Saudi Arabia — as many as 200 of them a month at the high point. By the end of 2005, a shocking picture emerged: Iraq was rife with semiautonomous al-Qaeda networks.

Al-Qaeda had divided Iraq into sections and put a provincial commander in charge of each. These commanders further divided their territory into districts and put someone in charge of each of those, too, according to military officials. There were city leaders within those areas and cells within each city. There were leaders for foreign fighters, for finance and for communications, too.

By the spring of 2006, using the expanded bandwidth and constant surveillance by unmanned aircraft, JSOC executed a series of raids, known as Operation Arcadia, in which it collected and analyzed 662 hours of full-motion video shot over 17 days. The raid netted 92 compact discs and barrels full of documents, leading to another round of raids at 14 locations. Those hits yielded hard drives, thumb drives and a basement stacked with 704 compact discs, including copies of a sophisticated al-Qaeda marketing campaign. Operation Arcadia led, on June 7, 2006, to the death of the al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, when JSOC directed an airstrike that killed him.

JSOC’s lethality was evident in its body counts: In 2008, in Afghanistan alone, JSOC commandos struck 550 targets and killed roughly a thousand people, officials said. In 2009, they executed 464 operations and killed 400 to 500 enemy forces. As Iraq descended into chaos in the summer of 2005, JSOC conducted 300 raids a month. More than 50 percent of JSOC Army Delta Force commandos now have Purple Hearts.

The most intense Iraqi raids reminded McChrystal of Lawrence of Arabia’s description of “rings of sorrow,” the emotional toll casualties take on small groups of warriors. Greatly influenced by T.E. Lawrence’s life story, McChrystal thought of his JSOC troops as modern-day tribal forces: dependent upon one another for kinship and survival.

If killing were all that winning wars was about, the book on JSOC would be written. But no war in modern times is ever won simply by killing enough of the enemy. Even in an era of precision weaponry, accidents happen that create huge political setbacks.

Every JSOC raid that also wounded or killed civilians, or destroyed a home or someone’s livelihood, became a source of grievance so deep that the counterproductive effects, still unfolding, are difficult to calculate. JSOC’s success in targeting the right homes, businesses and individuals was only ever about 50 percent, according to two senior commanders. They considered this rate a good one.

“Sometimes our actions were counterproductive,” McChrystal said in an interview. “We would say, ‘We need to go in and kill this guy,’ but just the effects of our kinetic action did something negative and they [the conventional army forces that occupied much of the country] were left to clean up the mess.”

In 2008, Bush also briefly sent JSOC into Pakistan. To soothe the worries of U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson about the mounting civilian deaths from JSOC raids in other countries, commandos brought her a Predator console so she could witness a raid in real time. Because of public outcry in Pakistan, U.S. officials canceled the mission after only three raids. The CIA has continued to conduct drone strikes there.

Targeting bureaucracy

The Defense Department has given JSOC a bigger role in nonmilitary assignments as well, including tracing the flow of money from international banks to finance terrorist networks. It also has become deeply involved in “psychological operations,” which it renamed “military information operations” to sound less intimidating. JSOC routinely sends small teams in civilian clothes to U.S. embassies to help with what it calls media and messaging campaigns.

When Obama came into office, he cottoned to the organization immediately. (It didn’t hurt that his CIA director, Leon E. Panetta, has a son who, as a naval reservist, had deployed with JSOC.) Soon Obama was using JSOC even more than his predecessor. In 2010, for example, he secretly directed JSOC troops to Yemen to kill the leaders of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

The Arab Spring forced the White House to delay some JSOC missions. In the meantime, the organization is busy with its new 30,000-square-foot office building turned command center. Unlike previous offices, it is not in some obscure part of the world. It sits across the highway from the Pentagon in pristine suburban splendor, just a five-minute drive from McChrystal’s civilian office and the former general’s favorite beer-call restaurants.

As its name implies, the focus of Joint Special Operations Task Force-National Capital Region is not the next terrorist network but another of its lifelong enemies: the Washington bureaucracy. Some 50 battle-hardened JSOC warriors and a handful of other federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies work there.

Mexico is at the top of its wish list. So far the Mexican government, whose constitution limits contact with the U.S. military, is relying on the other federal agencies — the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security, the Drug Enforcement Administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement — for intelligence collection and other help.

But JSOC’s National Capital task force is not just sitting idly by, waiting to be useful to its southern neighbors. It is creating targeting packages for U.S. domestic agencies that have sought its help, including the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, the second-largest federal law enforcement agency and the latest to make a big play for a larger U.S. counterterrorism role.

From the book “Top Secret America.” Copyright 2011 by Dana Priest and William M. Arkin. Reprinted by permission of Little, Brown and Co., New York, N.Y. All rights reserved.
23326  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: September 04, 2011, 10:39:54 AM

To quote my 1992 Congressional campaign slogan as a Libertarian candidate, "If you continue to vote for the lesser of two evils, you will continue to get the evil of two lessers" so I get what you are saying , , , in part.    Where I think you go off course though is in saying that you would vote for Obama.   On the whole, politicians are whores who go where the votes are.  To vote for the anti-American liberal fascist crap of His Glibness is to feed the system a profoundly wrong signal.  If you can't bring yourself to vote for a particular Republican, then at least vote for a third party candidate whose positions on the whole you do respect.

Concerning Bachman and Perry:  I like Michele a lot.  The utter lack of executive experience is a real problem though and it is why Perry is sucking up her oxygen.  Not only is it quite sound, but I think Perry's Tenth Amendment strategy has the potential to be rather , , , crafty; it allows him to finesse contentious issues that in some states could be a problem for a conservative Republican candidate e.g. leave gay marriage to the states (though I gather he has waffled on this a bit.)
23327  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fall Dog Brothers Open Gathering of the Pack 9/18/11 on: September 04, 2011, 10:13:52 AM
Good catch of my glitch  embarassed  Thank you for posting the complete version.
23328  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Marriage and Family on: September 04, 2011, 12:28:54 AM

A fascinating piece on RP and the Nazis, but one with de minimis connection with this thread.  May I ask you to post it either in the Presidential 2012 thread or the Anti-semitism thread please?

Thank you,
23329  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: September 04, 2011, 12:23:29 AM
"Buraq must have been stoned out of his gourd in some undergrad cultural anthopology 101 course and developed this delusional behavior thinking somehow it demonstrated his cultural sensitivity."

Inuitively to me this seems pretty close to the mark.

"The mayor of Tampa at that time was Pam Iorio, a daughter of an Italian immigrant father. That makes sense, we all know how the Italians are big on ceremonial bowing."

She looks Asian in the picture with Obowma, but not in the headshot provided by GM.

All in all, WEIRD-- and , , , out of character for what we want in a President of the United States of America.  cry angry angry
23330  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: September 03, 2011, 09:33:18 PM
I think we are getting on a tangent here gentlemen.  Let's return to the merits please.   My point with the multiple bowing clips is that they seem to reveal something about Obama himself. JDN, For the sake of argument, lets put aside the bows to the Chinese leader, the emperor of Japan, and the King of Saudi Arabia-- why on earth would he bow to the mayor of Tampa?!? As one of the clips clearly shows, he greeted several people normally, then, when he got to the Asian woman, he bowed.  Does this not seem weird too you?
23331  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: September 03, 2011, 09:19:47 PM
We also need to remember that, as reported here, F&F is but one operation and that there were others of similar characteristics.
23332  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 911 on: September 03, 2011, 05:11:21 PM

Critic’s Notebook
Amid the Memorials, Ambiguity and Ambivalence
Published: September 2, 2011
Has any attack in history ever been commemorated the way this one is about to be? What might we have anticipated, that morning of Sept. 11, as we watched the demonically choreographed assault unfold? What could we have imagined when New York City was covered in the ashes of the twin towers and their dead, or when a section of the Pentagon — the seemingly invulnerable core of the world’s most powerful military — was reduced to rubble? Or when we finally understood that but for the doomed bravery of several heroes, the destruction of the Capitol or the White House was assured?

Enlarge This Image

InterRelations Collaborative
“9/11 Peace Story Quilt,” at the Met Museum.

Enlarge This Image

Marcus Yam/The New York Times
Seen from ground zero, the twin beams of the “Tribute in Light,” which conveyed the absence of the World Trade Center during last year's Sept. 11 anniversary.

Would we have conjured up anything like the “9/11 Peace Story Quilt,” now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with children’s drawings and words emphasizing the need for multicultural sensitivity? Or a book paying tribute to “Dog Heroes of September 11th”? Would we have predicted that the performance artist Karen Finley would impersonate Liza Minnelli at the West Bank Cafe for the occasion, supposedly to champion her spunky spirit (though Ms. Finley will probably be far more mischievous)? Or that a Film Forum festival would pay tribute to the N.Y.P.D. with 19 movies, some unflattering (like “Serpico”)?

The cultural commemorations scheduled for this anniversary will also include compositions that have been associated with death (Brahms’s “Requiem”) and the overcoming of death (Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony), as well as a “Concert of Peace” that will offer music from the cultures out of which the attackers arose.

And while the hours of television broadcasts will include documentaries and interviews with first responders, families of victims, political leaders and the players of the New York Mets, they will also encompass “The Suze Orman Show,” focusing on the money and investment lessons of Sept. 11; a show about messages received from the dead of Sept. 11; and a chronicle of Paul McCartney’s experiences on Sept. 11. There are plays about the rescuers, the rescued and the witnesses; symposiums about American political malfeasance; analyses of the ethics of the attack and the response.

The sheer quantity of cultural events is overwhelming; so is their scattered miscellany, a potpourri of sentiment and argument, memorialization and self-criticism, reflection and political polemic. It seems as if every cultural institution, television network and book publisher feels duty-bound to produce some sort of Sept. 11 commemoration. Is there a precedent for this almost compulsive variety show about an attack on a nation’s people?

No examples suggest themselves. And in the United States, the attack on Pearl Harbor — the only incident remotely comparable — doesn’t seem to have inspired anything similar, even though that surprise assault initiated one of the most traumatic and transformative decades in this nation’s history. Did anybody think to have children make a “peace quilt” after that attack, as a war raged?

Of course Sept. 11 is something different. Most of us didn’t think we had such enemies or were subject to such an assault (though the accumulated evidence was clear enough). And reactions to Sept. 11 still depend on the extent to which we are thought to be in anything like a war, or precisely what the nature of its battles are. But the crossing of an American version of the Maginot Line undermined our implicit sense of the geographic exceptionalism of the United States, whose mainland has not been subjected to the bombardment or devastation known by nearly every other major nation of the modern world.

Had a bomb fallen on the twin towers, though, even that would have been less traumatic. This was something unforeseen, expertly planned, a jarring demonstration of vulnerability. So otherworldly did it seem when those planes were flown into their targets that their collapse came like a thunderclap of judgment. And that is how many immediately took it. “Why do they hate us?” was asked again and again.

And like theologians after the catastrophic 18th-century Lisbon earthquake, who saw the wages of sin in the disaster, many intellectuals didn’t wait long to assert that this blowback was payback. This is why this attack is often mischaracterized as tragedy, a drama that unfolds out of the flaws or failings of its victim.

That impulse of self-blame still runs through many cultural commemorations. Indeed, because little during the past decade was an unmitigated triumph, the impulse has even grown stronger. A poll from the Pew Charitable Trust this week shows that while in September 2001, 33 percent of those asked thought United States wrongdoing might have motivated the attacks, now 43 percent hold that belief. Many of the Sept. 11 books now being published are sentimental recollections of loved ones; another hefty segment is about criticism of American policy before and after Sept. 11.

This means that memorialization, rather than simply recalling the dead, or strengthening the resolve to pursue an enemy, becomes an opportunity to push these arguments further. Disaster becomes ambiguously commemorated. Any victory is also ambiguously celebrated because it is seen as scarred by sin (though surely no victory is ever unmarred). The delays in the reconstruction at ground zero are as much a result of these tensions as anything else.

You can see the same conflicts in the White House “talking points” for Sept. 11 commemorations that The New York Times reported on this week. The memos don’t suggest any cheering for successes of the last decade; there is even a hesitation to attract much attention, as if the White House were feeling ambivalent about the whole business, haunted perhaps by guilt. The memos also minimize any suggestion that military force had something to do with Al Qaeda’s suffering severe setbacks.

Moreover, they stress that commemorations here and abroad should “emphasize the positive.” The implication is made that at one time “fear” was the response to Sept. 11; now “resilience” is. And resilience implies a kind of firm passivity. This is strange, because anyone who has spent time undressing in snaking airport lines before undergoing the kinds of screenings once associated with convicted felons knows full well that this has little to do with resilience.

The memos almost treat Sept. 11 as if it weren’t Sept. 11. It is certainly not about Islamist extremism or the jihadist proclamations by its aspirants. It isn’t even really about us. We are told: “We honor all victims of terrorism, in every nation of the world. We honor and celebrate the resilience of individuals, families and communities on every continent, whether in New York or Nairobi, Bali or Belfast, Mumbai or Manila, or Lahore or London.” (Is it just an accident of alliteration that crucial cities torn by terror have been omitted, because that would have required acknowledging that Jerusalem or Tel Aviv faces something similar?)

Indeed, so anxious is the White House to filter out any historical aspects of Sept. 11 that it proclaims this anniversary “the third official National Day of Service and Remembrance.” It should be used to encourage “service projects” and a “spirit of unity.” Through such demonstrations, the memos affirm, our communities can withstand “whatever dangers may come — be they terrorist attacks or natural disasters.”

If that is the sense the national leadership finds in that day, why should we expect much more from cultural commemorations than miscellany, euphemism, self-effacement and self-blame?

But what might such commemorations look like if approached with more clarity? Some aspects would stay very much the same: this week’s miscellany, after all, is partly a reflection of the world that has provoked our enemies. For the Sept. 11 attacks were not just inspired by Islamist extremism. There are similarities in the motivations behind diverse acts of recent terror, including those of Timothy J. McVeigh, the bomber of the federal office building in Oklahoma City, and Theodore J. Kaczynski, the Unabomber. They all involved a disgust with modernity in the West and tried, in different ways, to destroy its culture and institutions. Democratic culture might seem innocuous to us, but it assaults fundamentalisms with its variety, unpredictability, contradiction, dissipation and possibility.

As many commemoration plans suggest, though, democratic culture also finds it difficult to conceive of this kind of enmity, overlooking, like the White House memos, the fact that Islamist extremism is one of the most powerful and dangerous manifestations of such passions. And that strain is not diminishing. The Pew survey found that 21 percent of all Muslim Americans now believe there is either a fair amount or a great deal of support for extremism in their own communities.

So a Sept. 11 commemoration might well be a celebration of democratic culture’s enduring presence. It might include the wide range of what we see before us: Noam Chomsky’s fulminations (“Ten Years of Terror” at the Guggenheim Museum) and an interview with former President George W. Bush (“The 9/11 Interview,” on National Geographic television); multicultural bridge-making; and lines in the sand. But is it impossible to imagine that in the midst of concerts and quilts for peace, communications with the spirit world and varied forms of political and psychological exorcisms, there might also be a recognition of what was at stake that day, and what, to a great extent, still is?

23333  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / President Obowma on: September 03, 2011, 05:08:58 PM
As is well documented here, I had and have a rather low opinion of McCain.   That said, concerning "War Hero" IMHO it is something that shows character and character is more important than IQ.

For example, here are some indications of something quite distinctive about Baraq's character:

To the King of Saudi Arabia:
To the Emperor of Japan with comparisons of how leaders of other countries handle introduction:

To Chinese leader  and a second occasion with the Chinese Leader
To the Mayor of Tampa FL: this one contains clear shot as a still photo   and one in context leaving now doubt of the bow
23334  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Night Owl's idea on: September 03, 2011, 04:37:56 PM

Woof All:

Night Owl has commented to me that with the large number of fighters now at the Gatherings the day can get rather long and the audience really starts thinning out.  Given the increase of knife play during the stickfights (either hidden knives being brought into play, or full on stick & knife fights) his idea is that knife will not be lost, but that the tempo of things will be picked up.

Putting this up for discussion.

Crafty Dog
23335  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Marriage and Family on: September 03, 2011, 03:16:26 PM
Woof Oh Snarky One cheesy

I voted for him when he ran for President back in the 1980s and I would suspect that it would have been possible for an Ohioan to have voted for him in a Presidential Primary.

23336  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: September 03, 2011, 01:57:36 PM
PC:  You surprise me man  shocked shocked shocked

GM, JDN:  While I'm willing to not place much importance on screw-ups on the campaign trail (it is a humanly exhausting experience) I do find credibility in the notion that affirmative action in conjunction with progressive "teamwork" explains more than a little of Baraq's resume and I think it a fair point to note just how much of it we don't really know.   More to the point, apart from my profound differences on the merits of the issues, I'm not seeing that much proof of intelligence in his performance as President, unless one subscribes, as I confess I am sometimes tempted to do, to the idea of him as some sort of agent of malevolent forces.

Concerning Columbia, I am no longer particularly proud of that.  On the whole I find the institution riddled with offensive levels of anti-Americanism.
23337  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The New Race for the Arctic: on: September 03, 2011, 01:47:00 PM
BTW, see the post that opens this thread.
23338  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Survivalist issues on: September 03, 2011, 12:45:15 PM
Not sure I follow here.  Aren't these people as disconnected from the matrix as can be?
23339  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / LA County's war on those living off the grid in Antelope Valley on: September 03, 2011, 11:10:39 AM
23340  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Good point. on: September 03, 2011, 11:09:58 AM
Once stated, the point is an obvious one, but I must confess one of which I had not thought.  Thank you.
23341  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Emergency Tips and Emergency Medicine on: September 02, 2011, 09:46:45 PM
Good point.  Would you please post that on the Survival thread on the SCH forum too please?
23342  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Citizen-Police interactions and bestiality on: September 02, 2011, 09:44:09 PM
23343  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: September 02, 2011, 09:28:44 PM
Grateful for a cagey BB showing me tonight a slick move from a control position that I use a lot in DLO.
23344  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: September 02, 2011, 09:25:55 PM
And in the debates Baraq would whip out his ass-kissing letters to Baraq, , ,
23345  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-China (and South China Sea-- Vietnam, Philippines, etc) on: September 02, 2011, 03:17:51 PM
This is but one step towards making the South China Sea their lake, setting up the day they back us off from supporting Taiwan, restricting the movements of our Navy and much more.
23346  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ likes Huntsman's economic plan on: September 02, 2011, 03:14:35 PM

Republican Presidential candidate and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman is lagging in the polls, but the economic agenda he rolled out this week may start getting him more attention. And deservedly so.

The heart of the plan lowers all tax rates on individuals and businesses. Mr. Huntsman would create three personal income tax rates—8%, 14% and 23%—and pay for this in a "revenue-neutral" way by eliminating "all deductions and credits." This tracks with the proposals of the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson commission and others for a flatter, more efficient tax system.

That means economically inefficient tax carve outs for mortgage interest, municipal bonds, child credits and green energy subsidies would at last be closed. The double tax on capital gains and dividends would be expunged as would the Alternative Minimum Tax. The corporate tax rate falls to 25% from 35%, and American businesses would be taxed on a territorial system to encourage firms to return capital parked in overseas operations.

Mr. Huntsman would repeal two of President Obama's most economically debilitating creations, ObamaCare and the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law. Mr. Huntsman has it right when he says, "Dodd-Frank perpetuates 'too big to fail' by codifying a regime that incentivizes firms to become too big to fail." He'd also repeal a Bush-era regulatory mistake, the Sarbanes-Oxley accounting rules, which have added millions of dollars of costs to businesses with little positive effect.

Mr. Huntsman says he'd also bring to heel the hyper-regulators at the Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration and the National Labor Relations Board, all of which are suppressing job-creation. The Huntsman energy policy promises to block impediments to producing oil in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska (see editorial above), while encouraging the safe deployment of fracking for natural gas in the states. Mr. Huntsman dabbled with green energy subsidies as Governor when those were the political fashion, but perhaps he's learned watching the failures of the last two years.

Mr. Huntsman's proposal is as impressive as any to date in the GOP Presidential field, and certainly better than what we've seen from the front-runners. Perhaps Mr. Huntsman should be asked to give the Republican response to the President's jobs speech next week. The two views of what makes an economy grow could not be more different.

23347  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Hezbollah prepares for Assad's fall on: September 02, 2011, 01:18:12 PM

Continuing unrest in Syria is driving Hezbollah to prepare for a worst-case scenario in which it loses a key patron in Damascus and is left to fend for itself against a host of Lebanese factions that share an interest in undermining Hezbollah’s — and by extension, Iran’s — influence in the Levant.

Related Links
Making Sense of the Syrian Crisis

The inability of Syria’s al Assad regime to contain unrest across the country is naturally of great concern to Hezbollah and its patrons in Iran. The geopolitical reality of this region dictates that any consolidated regime in Syria will also be the preeminent power in Lebanon. Should Syria’s majority Sunni community succeed in splitting the Alawite-Baathist regime, it is highly unlikely that a re-emerging Sunni elite would be friendly to Iranian and Hezbollah interests. On the contrary, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and others would have an opportunity to severely undercut Iran’s foothold in the Levant and dial back Hezbollah’s political and military influence in Lebanon.

This is not to say that the al Assad regime has reached the brink of collapse, or even that Syria’s Sunnis have the tools, backing and unity they need to fill a power vacuum in Damascus without first undergoing a protracted struggle with Syria’s minority factions (including Alawites, mainstream Shia, Ismailis, Christians and Druze who would much rather see Damascus in the hands of a minority government than under Sunni control). But the more vulnerable the al Assad government appears, the more likely Lebanon is to bear the brunt of the sectarian spillover from this conflict.

The Basics of Levantine Conflict
Whereas Syria’s current conflict can be described broadly as a struggle between the country’s majority Sunni population and a group of minorities, the sectarian landscape in Lebanon is far more complex. On one side of the political divide, there is the Shiite group Hezbollah, which is backed by Syria and Iran and allied politically with select Shiite, Christian and Druze forces. Collectively, this group is known as the March 8 coalition. On the other side is the Sunni-majority March 14 coalition, which is backed by the West and the key Sunni states in the region (most notably Saudi Arabia) and is also allied with select Christian and Druze forces. Hezbollah forcibly collapsed the Lebanese government in January, and since June the Iran- and Syria-backed Hezbollah-led coalition has maintained a high degree of influence in the Lebanese Cabinet led by Prime Minister Nijab Miqati (a Sunni who is known to have deep business links with the al Assad regime).

(click here to enlarge image)
However, Lebanese politics is anything but static. The Saudi-backed Lebanese Sunni community sees an opportunity to tilt the power balance now that Hezbollah’s Syrian patrons are absorbed with a domestic crisis. In the middle of the broader Shiite-Sunni divide in Lebanon, the country’s Maronite Christian and minority Druze factions can be expected to shift between these two poles as they try to assess which direction the political winds are blowing.

Lebanon cannot escape either the volatility of sectarian politics or the shadow of its Syrian neighbor. So long as the government in Syria is secure enough to devote attention beyond its borders, Lebanon will be saturated with Syrian influence in everything from its banking sector to its militant factions to the highest echelons of the government. This also means that whenever Lebanon reverts to its arguably more natural state of factional infighting, Syria is the best positioned to intervene and restore order, relying on Lebanese fissures to consolidate its own authority in the country.

The picture changes dramatically, however, if Syria becomes embroiled in its own sectarian struggle and is thus unable to play a dominant role in Lebanon. In that case, Lebanon’s factions would be left to defend their interests on their own, and this is exactly the scenario that Hezbollah appears to be preparing for.

Hezbollah Prepares for the Worst
Because of what is at stake for Iran should the al Assad regime collapse, Hezbollah has been instructed by its patrons in Tehran to do what it can to assist the Syrian regime. STRATFOR has received indications that Hezbollah has deployed hundreds of fighters in the past several months to assist Syrian security forces — who are also being aided by Iran’s growing Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) presence in the country — in cracking down on anti-government protesters. As signs of Hezbollah’s assistance to an increasingly repressive Syrian regime grew more visible in the region, Hezbollah suffered considerable damage to its political image.

A STRATFOR source close to the organization claims that a split is emerging within Hezbollah over the group’s Syria dilemma. Older Hezbollah members apparently want Hezbollah to take a more prominent political role in Lebanon so the group can operate more autonomously and thus try to insulate itself from its external patrons, while the younger members are adamantly calling on the leadership to stand by Syrian President Bashar al Assad. The source added that many Hezbollah youth, who are heavily influenced by Iran’s IRGC, believe the Syrian president will survive because they also believe Iran will not abandon him. Many within the older Hezbollah generation, however, appear to be more skeptical of al Assad’s long-term chances for political survival.

While waiting for the situation in Syria to crystallize, the Hezbollah leadership has chosen to make a short-term tactical change in its operations. The group’s greatest concern at this point is that Lebanon’s Sunni, Maronite Christian and Druze communities, with Saudi and possibly Western and Turkish backing, could work together in trying to confront Hezbollah militarily should they feel confident that Syria and its proxies will be too distracted to intervene decisively. Weapons flows in Lebanon are already abundant, but as the situation in Syria has worsened, there have been increasing signs of Lebanese Sunnis, Maronite Christians and Druze bolstering their arsenals in preparation for a possible military confrontation. Hezbollah appears to be most closely watching the actions of Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, as Hezbollah believes his Christian militia is most likely to lead an armed conflict in Lebanon against Hezbollah.

It is impossible to tell at this point which side would be more interested in provoking such a confrontation. Just as forces looking to weaken Hezbollah could attempt to trigger a conflict, Syria is also interested in instigating sectarian clashes in Lebanon to distract from its domestic crisis (the urgency for Syria to do so will increase the more Syria feels that NATO countries will have more resources to expend as the military campaign in Libya winds down). Toward this end, Syrian intelligence chief Ali Mamluk recently summoned Jamil al-Sayyid, former Lebanese director of public security (and a Shiite) to Damascus, and instructed him to revive his intelligence apparatus and prepare himself for action against Syria’s adversaries in Lebanon. According to a source, al-Sayyid has been given the task of targeting leaders in the anti-Syrian March 14 coalition and instigating Sunni-Shiite armed conflict. The source claims Mamluk issued similar instructions to Mustafa Hamdan (a Sunni), another former officer who was jailed with al-Sayyid. Hamdan currently commands the al Murabitun movement, which has a small presence in Beirut, Tripoli and Sidon, and allegedly has orders to challenge Saad al-Hariri’s Future Movement in Sunni areas.

The rising threat of armed civil conflict in Lebanon has led Hezbollah to turn its focus inward. According to a source close to Hezbollah, the group has shifted the bulk of its operations from the South Litani conflict area with Israel northward to the Shiite-concentrated Bekaa Valley, where Hezbollah is busy developing an extensive communications network in the northern and central parts of the area. Hezbollah appears to be setting up its defense line in the Upper Matn and Kisirwan mountain peaks to protect the central and northern Bekaa against a ground attack from the Christian heartland to the west. Hezbollah is hoping to complete much of this construction by the end of October.

Hezbollah and its Lebanese pro-Syrian allies are also attempting to build up their defense in the predominantly Sunni Akkar area in northern Lebanon, where Sunni-Shiite tensions are on the rise following a deadly shootout at a Ramadan iftar dinner Aug. 17. The dinner, organized by the pro-Syrian head of the Muslim Clerics Association in Akkar Sheikh Abduslam al Harrash, was interrupted when unknown assailants opened fire and killed an attending member of the Alawite Islamic Council. Lebanese army forces then killed Sunni lawmaker Khalid al Daher’s driver. Al Daher responded by condemning the Lebanese military and accusing soldiers of operating as armed gangsters under the influence of Syria and Hezbollah. It is highly possible that the episode in al Ayyat was part of a Syrian covert strategy to instigate sectarian conflict.

The growing stress on the Syrian regime is, for a number of reasons, raising the threat of civil war in Lebanon. The range of political, religious, ideological and business interests that intersect in Lebanon make for an explosive mix when an exogenous factor — like the weakening of the Syrian regime — is introduced. Outside stakeholders like Iran will be doing everything they can to  sustain a foothold in the region while Saudi Arabia and Turkey will be looking for a strategic opportunity to bring the Levant back under Sunni authority. Caught in this broader struggle are the Lebanese themselves, whose preparations for a worst-case scenario are ironically driving the country closer to a crisis.

Read more: How a Syrian Crisis Will Affect Lebanon | STRATFOR
23348  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: China seeks leverage over Philippines on: September 02, 2011, 01:14:57 PM

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III is leading a delegation of businessmen on a state visit to China from Aug. 30 to Sept. 3. Manila appeared to have toned down its criticisms of Beijing ahead of the visit, hoping to secure more Chinese investment in the country. But China has warned the Philippines that its cooperation in the current context has a cost, namely a bigger hand in the Philippine mining sector and more restraint from Manila in the South China Sea.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III began his first-ever state visit to China on Aug. 30, a long-delayed trip that will conclude Sept. 3. Relations between the countries have been tense since March because of their ongoing dispute over the South China Sea, and have been compounded by the fact that the visit comes a week after the one-year anniversary of the hostage crisis in Manila that killed eight people, mostly tourists from Hong Kong, not to mention that Aquino openly refused to apologize a week before his visit for the botched rescue by Philippine security forces during that incident.

However, prior to the visit, Manila appeared to tone down its public criticism of China’s assertiveness and incursions into the disputed sea, instead relying on conciliatory rhetoric in a bid to garner Chinese investment. The Philippines traditionally has played China and the United States off one another, reaping the benefits of economic cooperation with Beijing while protecting itself with security guarantees from Washington. Beijing recognizes this — and that the recent accommodative rhetoric from Manila is hollow — and will try to use Aquino’s request for investment to extract concessions and restrain the Philippines’ behavior in the South China Sea.

Manila’s Need for Investment

With the Philippine economy signaling slower growth, Aquino is in a tough spot. More than a year into his presidency, he is far from fulfilling a number of campaign promises and is facing a declining popularity rating. As a result, the Philippines is increasingly in need of external investment, and Aquino is looking to Beijing to provide it.

China has become the Philippines’ third-largest trade partner. But Chinese investment in the Philippines was only around $100 million in 2010, a tiny portion of the $59 billion of total overseas investment in the country that year and even lower than China’s investment there five years ago. In other words, there is a great deal of room for Chinese investment to grow in the investment-strapped country.

A delegation of 300 businessmen is accompanying Aquino on the five-day trip to China. According to reports, Aquino wants to double bilateral trade (from about $28 billion to $60 billion) with China by 2016. Meanwhile, he is seeking up to $7 billion worth of deals from China, promising that the investment-hungry country is “open for business.” In particular, Aquino is campaigning for Chinese investment in the automobile industry; shipbuilding, railway and agriculture projects; and his government’s public-private partnership program, the centerpiece of the Aquino administration’s push to restructure the economy and generate employment opportunities.

The Philippine Balancing Act

China’s rapid economic growth and expanding influence in the region, in conjunction with reduced investment and aid from Japan, has drawn more and more Southeast Asian countries into China’s economic sphere. Beijing has leveraged this economic influence to gain political influence and to help address diplomatic disputes.

However, unlike other countries in the region, the Philippines enjoys a security alliance with the United States, which provides Manila with alternative options to counterbalance China’s growing influence and maximize its own interests. In fact, Manila has proved capable of balancing the two powers, gaining U.S. defense guarantees while reaping the benefits of economic cooperation with China. However, with the U.S. re-engagement policy, competing interests in the South China Sea and other regional matters, Manila needs to walk a more careful line to balance the two powers and continue to secure the respective benefits of cooperation with each.

China’s Demands

Beijing has responded coldly to Manila’s latest overtures. The Global Times, a state-run Chinese newspaper, clearly suggested in a recent editorial that Beijing would not easily fulfill Manila’s request for investment, especially following the latest tension over the South China Sea during which Beijing saw the Philippines as using U.S. backing to its advantage. The editorial went on to say Beijing would not put its own interests at risk and encourage Manila’s game between China and the United States by granting easy access to investment. It also said China should use its economic leverage over the Philippines to address bilateral disputes and shape Manila’s behavior. Simply put, China has warned the Philippines that its cooperation in the current context will come with a price, namely a bigger hand in the Philippine mining sector and more influence in the South China Sea.

Beijing has long been interested in engaging the  Philippines’ rich resource and energy sectors. In fact, shortly before Aquino’s visit, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Liu Jianchao called on Manila to liberalize its economic policies in order to facilitate Chinese investments, particularly in mining. But resistance within the Philippines has hampered China’s efforts.

China’s interest in the Philippine mining sector stems from its need to meet its growing energy and resource demand over the long term, but for the Philippines, mining is a politically controversial issue. The Philippine Mining Act of 1995 essentially allows 100 percent foreign ownership for large-scale mining and limited equity for smaller operations. Attempts to open mining to foreign investors has been impeded, however, by opponents ranging from Catholic bishops, indigenous groups, environmentalists and the leftist political group known as the New People’s Army. Aquino has been under pressure to revoke the government’s mining policy, so acceding to China’s demand for more access to the Philippine mining sector will be difficult for him to do.

Meanwhile, Beijing may also pressure Manila to exercise more restraint in the South China Sea, emphasizing China’s preferred approach of bilateral dialogue and joint exploration projects. Still, the latest disagreement over potential joint exploration efforts shows that both sides are unlikely to abandon their positions. The Philippines will not make concessions on its territorial integrity, and thus it continues military purchases and calls for more assistance from Washington despite its moderated rhetoric. Indeed, just before Aquino’s visit, Manila made a show of its recently acquired patrol ship from the United States, the refurbished 115-meter (377-foot) BRP Gregorio del Pilar, and indicated that more purchases would be made.

Despite reduced tensions during the Philippine president’s visit, Beijing’s and Manila’s competing interests in the South China Sea continue to inhibit closer relations. Beijing expects concessions from Manila, particularly in the South China Sea, in return for investment. However, China also understands not to push the pro-U.S. administration in Manila too far, which would likely bring more attention from Washington to the disputed South China Sea region.

Read more: China Seeks Increased Leverage over the Philippines | STRATFOR
23349  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 21 minutes w George Gilder on: September 02, 2011, 01:11:27 PM
23350  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: September 02, 2011, 01:10:10 PM
Agreed, but I continue to post them because:

a) he is a good economist with a very good track record
b) we here tend strongly to the bear camp and we need to hear the bull case
c) contraryianism is often a good way to bet-- "buy when the streets are running red" etc.

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