Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pax Americana in Iraq
on: October 06, 2010, 07:05:37 PM
By FOUAD AJAMI
The chronicles now assign Iraq a distinction all its own. It holds the world record for the longest period of time spent without a government in the aftermath of a contested election. Seven months on, the Baghdad political bazaar is still open. (Consolation to the Iraqis: Holland had held the distinction of longest without a government.)
This is a far cry from the ways of the Arab autocracies and despotisms in Iraq's neighborhood. The pharaonic state in Egypt would have dispensed overnight with the formation of a cabinet. In the monarchies next door to Iraq, the palace makes ministers and sends them packing. There is mayhem in Iraq to be sure, but there are the growing pains of a new democracy as well. Those who see this frustrating interlude in Iraq as evidence of the waste and the futility of the American project in Iraq give voice to a traditional hostility to the idea of democracy taking root in a distant, non-Western setting.
Incumbency appears to have paid dividends in Iraq as it does in many political contests. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is now all but sure to form and lead the new government. Dogged and taciturn, he hunkered down, cut political bargains, and promised greater patronage in the days ahead—all to cobble together a broad coalition.
The elections last March yielded no clear winner. Four big slates divided and claimed the electorate. There was the Sunni vote, and it went to a Shiite standard-bearer, former prime minister and CIA favorite Ayad Allawi—91 seats in a parliament of 325 members. There was the slate of Prime Minister Maliki, overwhelmingly Shiite, which claimed 89 seats. Another broad Shiite coalition, the National Alliance, came third, with 70 parliamentary seats. The Kurds got roughly their share of the population, a total of 57 seats. All four blocks were far from united movements. They were ramshackle structures, riven by personal ambitions, made up of splinter groups, in quest of what could be had and gotten in a free-for-all scramble.
"Politics has no heart," said the radical firebrand, Muqtada al-Sadr, from his Iranian exile, in response to a follower puzzled by his decision to cease his veto of Mr. Maliki and back his coalition. "Be informed," Mr. Sadr continued, "politics is giving and taking."
For Mr. Sadr this is a remarkable transformation. His hatred of Mr. Maliki ran deep. It was Mr. Maliki who in early 2008 launched a decisive military campaign against Mr. Sadr's Shiite militia, the Mahdi Army. Mr. Maliki had made this decision alone, as the American military command had been dubious about his chances of success. Having won the war for Baghdad against the Sunnis, the Mahdi Army had grown brazen, it had become an instrument of outright pillage and mayhem. The Shiites themselves had grown weary of it, and Mr. Maliki would show its brigades and petty warlords no mercy.
By then Mr. Sadr had quit Iraq for his Iranian exile. He was afraid for his safety, afraid of the Americans, afraid of potential assassins. Above all, there was the sword of Damocles hanging over his head: an arrest warrant for the brutal murder in the spring of 2003 of a scion of one of the most illustrious Shiite clerical families, Abdul Majid al-Khoei.
For Mr. Sadr, his Iranian exile is a gilded cage—no one takes seriously his claim that he is there for religious studies. He chose Iran because no other place was safe for him, and he was largely able to hold his movement together by remote control. On his coattails 40 members made it to the new parliament.
Has Mr. Sadr bent to the will of Iran by backing Mr. Maliki? Conceivably so. Much of the recent commentary takes that as evidence of Iran's power in the making of a new government. But there is a simpler explanation. A political man with 12% of the parliamentary seats wanted access to state treasure and resources, opportunities for patronage and government employment for his brigades. Baghdad is not Chicago, but it has shades of it as the struggle for the oil bounty plays out.
So we can now see the broad outlines of a post-American order in Iraq. The withdrawal of the Americans is already "baked into the cake," a senior Iraqi politician recently told me. This is "the East," and in the East people have an unerring instinct for the intentions and the staying power of strangers. Iraqis needn't rush to the pages of Bob Woodward's "Obama's Wars" to know of the disinterest of the president in the affairs of Iraq. There's little doubt that he'll carry out his promise to withdraw U.S. troops by Dec. 31, 2011. But it would make a great difference to Iraqis were he to signal that Washington has a strategic doctrine for the region, and for Iraq's place in it, that goes beyond that date.
The Iraqis have a fetish about their sovereignty, but they also understand their dependence. They will need American help, cover for their air space, protection for their oil commerce in the sea lanes of the Persian Gulf. This Iraqi government will remain, for the foreseeable future, a Shiite-led government anxious about the intentions of the Sunni Arab states; about the Turks now pushing deeper into Iraq's affairs, armed with Neo-Ottomanist ideas about Turkey as a patron of the Sunnis of Iraq. And there will always play upon Iraqis—Shiites in particular—a healthy fear of Iran and a desire to keep the Persian power at bay. There will be plenty of room for America in Iraq even after our soldiers have packed up their gear and left.
The question posed in the phase to come will be about the willingness of Pax Americana to craft a workable order in the Persian Gulf, and to make room for this new Iraq. It is a peculiarity of the American presence in the Arab- Islamic world, as contrasted to our work in East Asia, that we have always harbored deep reservations about democracy's viability there and have cast our lot with the autocracies. For a fleeting moment, George W. Bush broke with that history. But that older history, the resigned acceptance of autocracies, is the order of the day in Washington again.
It isn't perfect, this Iraqi polity midwifed by American power. But were we to acknowledge and accept that Iraqis and Americans have prevailed in that difficult land, in the face of such forbidding odds, we and the Iraqis shall be better for it. We have not labored in vain.
Mr. Ajami is a professor at The Johns Hopkins School of Advance International Studies and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters
on: October 06, 2010, 06:00:25 PM
Thank you for the data.
1) Per chance do you have the population growth rates, the number entering the labor force each year, the number of jobs created at the current rate of growth, etc?
2) I get the point about the comparative murder rates, but
a) is the data accurate? Often Mexican data is even less acurrate than ours. How many people do we have in the US
and how many murders? Same question for Mexico? Is the Mexican number being used consistent with the
numbers being quoted for the narco wars?
b) Apart from that I submit the proposition that a murder of a government official, police chief, DA, policeman, their
family members, etc. is a far more socially destructive phenomenon than the sort of murders we have here in the
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics
on: October 06, 2010, 05:50:32 PM
Something I do from time to time is take a look at the read/post ratio i.e. how many reads on there for every post? 30-50 is very common, but some threads seem to generate more than that; there are a few that have over 100 reads per post.
Although I sometimes wonder who our lurkers are
I ALWAYS appreciate each and every one of us who comes to play and by so doing make this the forum that it is.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Stretching
on: October 06, 2010, 05:45:50 PM
Good idea to summarize!
To complicate things, I would like to add the following variables into the mix:
1) soft static stretching i.e. simply loosening into a position e.g. laying on back with legs against wall and weight of legs works on release of abductors.
2) active static stretching: increase of range of motion is developed by strengthening peak contraction of complementary muscles. This can be done either by
a) the complementary muscle working at the same time as the muscle being stretched/released or
b) PNF ([proprio neuro facillitation or something like that) wherein the complementary muscle is actively worked
isometrically (often with the assistance of a training partner) in the range of motion in question, thus
triggering a stretch/release of the muscle in question
3) ballistic stretching: e.g. swinging the legs
Where do these fit in Baltic Dog's summary?
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Laffer: Gates and Washington State tax rates
on: October 06, 2010, 10:53:28 AM
By ARTHUR LAFFER
Framed on a wall in my office is a personal letter to me from Bill Gates the elder. "I am a fan of progressive taxation," he wrote. "I would say our country has prospered from using such a system—even at 70% rates to say nothing of 90%."
It's one thing to believe in bad policy. It's quite another to push it on others. But Mr. Gates Sr.—an accomplished lawyer, now retired—and his illustrious son are now trying to have their way with the people of the state of Washington.
Mr. Gates Sr. has personally contributed $500,000 to promote a statewide proposition on Washington's November ballot that would impose a brand new 5% tax on individuals earning over $200,000 per year and couples earning over $400,000 per year. An additional 4% surcharge would be levied on individuals and couples earning more than $500,000 and $1 million, respectively.
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Bill Gates Sr.
.Along with creating a new income tax on high-income earners, Initiative 1098 would also reduce property, business and occupation taxes. But raising the income tax is the real issue. Doing so would put the state's economy at risk.
To imagine what such a large soak-the-rich income tax would do to Washington, we need only examine how states with the highest income-tax rates perform relative to their zero-income tax counterparts. Comparing the nine states with the highest tax rates on earned income to the nine states with no income tax shows how high tax rates weaken economic performance.
In the past decade, the nine states with the highest personal income tax rates have seen gross state product increase by 59.8%, personal income grow by 51%, and population increase by 6.1%. The nine states with no personal income tax have seen gross state product increase by 86.3%, personal income grow by 64.1%, and population increase by 15.5%.
It's striking how the high-tax states have underperformed relative to those with no income tax. Especially noteworthy is how well Washington has performed compared to states with no income tax.
If Washington passes Initiative 1098, it will go from being one of the fastest-growing states in the country to one of the slowest-growing. And passage of I-1098 will only be the beginning. Just look at Ohio, Michigan and California to see that once a state adopts an income tax, there is no end to the number of reasons that such a tax could be extended, expanded and increased.
Over the past 50 years, 11 states have introduced state income taxes exactly as Messrs. Gates and their allies are proposing—and the consequences have been devastating.
. ..The 11 states where income taxes were adopted over the past 50 years are: Connecticut (1991), New Jersey (1976), Ohio (1971), Rhode Island (1971), Pennsylvania (1971), Maine (1969), Illinois (1969), Nebraska (1967), Michigan (1967), Indiana (1963) and West Virginia (1961).
Each and every state that introduced an income tax saw its share of total U.S. output decline. Some of the states, like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio, have become fiscal basket cases. As the nearby chart shows, even West Virginia, which was poor to begin with, got relatively poorer after adopting a state income tax.
Washington's I-1098 proposes a state income tax with a maximum rate higher than any of those initially adopted by the other 11 states. In one fell swoop, Washington would move from being one of the lowest-tax states in the nation to being one of the top nine highest. It's economic suicide.
The states that have high income tax rates or have adopted a state income tax over the past 50 years haven't even gotten the money they hoped for. They haven't avoided budget crises, nor have they provided better lives for the poor. The ongoing financial travails of California, New Jersey, Ohio, Michigan and New York are cases in point.
Over the past decade, the nine states with the highest tax rates have experienced tax revenue growth of 74%—a full 22% less than the states with no income tax. Washington state has done better than the average of the nine no-tax states. Why on earth would it want to introduce a state income tax when it means less money for state coffers?
What's true for those states with the highest tax rates is doubly true for the 11 states that have instituted state income taxes over the past half-century. They too have lost huge sums of tax revenue.
A final thought for those who want to punish the rich for their success: As the nearby chart shows, those states with the highest tax rates, and those states that have introduced state income taxes, have seen standards of living (personal income per capita) substantially underperform compared to their no-tax counterparts.
If Mr. Gates Sr. and his son feel so strongly about taxing the rich, they should simply give the state a chunk of their own money and be done with it. Leave the rest of Washington's taxpayers alone.
Mr. Laffer is the chairman of Laffer Associates and co-author of "Return to Prosperity: How America Can Regain Its Economic Superpower Status" (Threshold, 2010).
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Logistical need for Pakistan
on: October 06, 2010, 10:33:56 AM
Washington's Logistical Need for Pakistan
Tankers carrying fuel and trucks hauling vehicles and supplies bound for Afghanistan were regularly attacked over the weekend and Monday in Pakistan as militants took advantage of logjams of trucks caused by the closing of the Torkham border crossing at the Khyber Pass. The pass was closed in protest Sept. 30 after the deaths of three paramilitary Frontier Corps troops by International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) attack helicopters in what the Pakistanis considered to be the fourth cross-border incursion in less than a week’s time. The southern crossing at Chaman remains open.
The Frontier Corps deaths simply served as the culminating offense in a long series of increasing American brazenness and disregard of Pakistani sovereignty (the offending forces were almost certainly American, and in any event, the aggressive cross-border operational agenda is being pushed by Washington, largely in pursuit of Haqqani militants). There is no shortage of outraged Pakistani militant groups seeking to hit back, and their targets — dozens of tankers laden with gasoline and parked in close proximity — require little operational expertise or technical complexity to strike. Indeed, few of the attacks have evinced much sophistication.
Even on a good day, the line of supply from the port of Karachi to Torkham has never been particularly secure, and as such, the ISAF holds stockpiles in Afghanistan to make temporary disruptions manageable. Thus, the key issue is not about short-term losses; it is whether the closure of Torkham is indeed temporary. So far, this appears to be the case: The Pakistani ambassador to the United States on Sunday insisted that the border would reopen soon, and a STRATFOR source in Pakistan has reiterated this claim. However, this is not the usual spat between Washington and Islamabad.
“It is unlikely that the United States and ISAF could support nearly 150,000 troops in Afghanistan and sustain combat operations at the current tempo — or, it is worth noting, easily withdraw its forces in the years ahead — without Pakistani acquiescence allowing the transit of supplies.”
CIA unmanned aerial vehicle strikes in Pakistan in September totaled as many as the previous four months combined and were roughly double the previous one-month high at the beginning of the year. Other forms of fire support, close air support and cross-border incursions also appear to be on the rise as the U.S. struggles to put meaningful pressure on the Taliban to force a negotiated settlement that will facilitate the beginnings of an American exit from the country. Pakistan, angered at these blatant operational escalations, has exercised one of its key levers against its ally: reminding Washington of its reliance on Pakistani territory (and Pakistani refineries) to wage the war in Afghanistan.
War requires logistics — even the Taliban has logistical vulnerabilities. But sustained, multidivisional expeditionary warfare conducted with modern, combined arms is unspeakably resource intensive. The withdrawal of American vehicles, equipment and materiel from Iraq in 2010 has been characterized as more massive and complex than the “Red Ball Express” that sustained the Allied offensive in Europe in World War II — and this for a country with flat, unimpeded access to Kuwaiti ports. It is unlikely that the United States and ISAF could support nearly 150,000 troops in Afghanistan and sustain combat operations at the current tempo — or, it is worth noting, easily withdraw its forces in the years ahead — without Pakistani acquiescence allowing the transit of supplies. In recent years, alternate northern routes have been opened and expanded. But these have served to complement, not replace, the Pakistani routes, which are by far the shortest, most direct and most established.
Ultimately, as we have noted, the United States is demanding and needs contradictory things from Pakistan. But of all the things the Americans want from the Pakistanis — intelligence sharing, permission for (or at least tolerance of) cross-border operations, Pakistani operations to complement those efforts or replace them where possible — Islamabad’s acquiescence on the unimpeded flow of supplies is a need dictated by the logistical realities of war.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters
on: October 06, 2010, 10:12:28 AM
Well, I certainly don't investigate fraud for a living, but my general impression is that the Mexican equivalent of the SEC is not a real powerhouse bureaucracy. Anyway, I certainly don't insist on the point-- it was simply something that popped into my head.
Do you happen to have handy any general data on the Mexican economy as a whole?
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / McClintock on the Propositions
on: October 06, 2010, 10:09:43 AM
McClintock, now a congressman, was a very good state legislator. I look to him to help me assess the sometimes bewildering array of initiatives-- many of which are quite deceptive.
Though I most certainly will be voting for the Marijuana initiatve (#19) on the rest I will be following his recommendations:
McClintock on the Propositions
Prop 19: When Worlds Collide. NO. If this simply allowed people to cultivate and smoke marijuana themselves and left the rest of us alone, it would be worth considering. But it goes much further and provides that "no person shall be discriminated against or denied any right or privilege" for pot use, inviting a lawsuit every time an employer tries to require a drug test, for example. If you want to smoke pot in your own world, I don't care. But don't bring it into mine.
Prop 20: Congressional Redistricting. YES. This finishes the work we began in 2008 to get redistricting decisions away from self-interested state legislators and into the hands of a bi-partisan commission. The original reform omitted Congressional districts – this simply adds them.
Prop 21: Highway Robbery. NO. Right now, state park users pay a nominal fee that helps pay for upkeep, assuring that those who use our state parks help pay for them. This measure ends the day-user fee and shifts the cost to the rest of us by imposing an $18 per car tax increase whether we use the parks or not. Stealing money from highway travelers used to be called "highway robbery." Now it's called "Proposition 21."
Prop 22: Hands Off Our Money. YES. This takes a giant leap toward restoring local government independence and protecting our transportation taxes by prohibiting state raids on local and transportation funds. Local governments are hardly paragons of virtue, but local tax revenues should remain local.
Prop 23: Liberation from the Environmental Left. YES. In 2006, Sacramento's rocket-scientists enacted AB 32, imposing draconian restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions (yes, that's the stuff you exhale). They promised to save the planet from "global warming" and open a cornucopia of new jobs. Since then, California's unemployment rate has shot far beyond the national unemployment rate and the earth has continued to warm and cool as it has for billions of years. Prop 23 merely holds the Environmental Left to its promise: it suspends AB 32 until unemployment stabilizes at or below its pre-AB 32 level.
Prop 24: Because Taxes Just Aren't High Enough. NO. This is a predictable entry by the public employee unions to impose an additional $1.7 billion tax on businesses. The problem, of course, is that businesses don't pay business taxes – we do. Business taxes can only be paid in three ways: by us as consumers (through higher prices), by us as employees (through lower wages) and by us as investors (through lower earnings on our 401(k)'s).
Prop 25: Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire. NO. This changes the 2/3 vote requirement for the state budget to a simple majority – a reform I have long supported. Experience has shown that the current 2/3 vote requirement for the budget does not restrain spending and it utterly blurs accountability. But such a reform MUST repair the 2/3 vote requirement for all tax increases and restore constitutional spending and borrowing limits. Without these provisions, Prop. 25 would be a disaster for taxpayers and a recipe for bankruptcy.
Prop 26: Calling a Tax a Tax. YES. Under the infamous Sinclair Paint decision, virtually any tax may be increased by majority vote as long as it is called a "fee," gutting the 2/3 vote requirement in the state constitution to raise taxes. Prop. 26 rescinds Sinclair Paint, restores the Constitution, and calls a tax a tax.
Prop 27: OMG. NO. Want to go back to the days when politicians drew their own district lines, literally choosing their own voters? This will get us there.
McClintock for Congress PO Box 1198 Rocklin, CA 95677www.helptom.com
Paid for by McClintock for Congress
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / part 2
on: October 06, 2010, 08:56:14 AM
We have in the past often mentioned that an increase in the money supply – also known as inflation – percolates through the economy over time and unevenly, and that a rise in the general level of prices is merely one of its eventual effects, and not necessarily the most important or most damaging one. We actually know of no-one off the cuff who ever asserted that an 'increase in the monetary base would lead to an equal proportionate rise in the price level in a fairly short time' as Krugman asserts.
Krugman then criticizes the view of economic historian Niall Fergusson, a vocal and well-known critic of deficit spending, as well as the remarks of Allan Meltzer and Arthur Laffer, all of whom predicted that higher interest rates and a considerable rise in prices would eventually result from too loose monetary policy and large deficit spending:
“You can see the classical theory of interest and the soaring-rate prediction clearly in Niall Ferguson’s remarks:
'After all, $1.75 trillion is an awful lot of freshly minted treasuries to land on the bond market at a time of recession, and I still don’t quite know who is going to buy them … I predict, in the weeks and months ahead, a very painful tug-of-war between our monetary policy and our fiscal policy as the markets realize just what a vast quantity of bonds are going to have to be absorbed by the financial system this year. That will tend to drive the price of the bonds down, and drive up interest rates', and, of course, in many WSJ op-eds, in analyses from Morgan Stanley, and so on. Meanwhile, you can see the high-inflation prediction in pieces by Meltzer and Laffer — with the latter helpfully titled, “Get Ready for Inflation and Higher Interest Rates”.
Note here that Meltzer explicitly closes his remarks by noting that there is a big difference between the near term effects and the long range effects of monetary policy – in other words, the fact that the easily discernible effects of soaring interest rates and rising prices have not yet arrived is not necessarily proof that they never will. Of course in Keynes' world, 'we're all dead in the long run' anyway. Unfortunately the current bust shows that the long run has a nasty habit of catching up with us now and then.
Krugman takes a position akin to that of a stock market trader who buys the Nasdaq at 5,000 points in the year 2000, while declaring 'it hasn't crashed yet – and that means it never will.'
“While the other side was making these predictions, people like me were saying that classical economics was all wrong in a liquidity trap. Government borrowing did not confront a fixed supply of funds: we were in a paradox of thrift world, where desired savings (at full employment) exceeded desired investment, and hence savings would expand to meet the demand, and interest rates need not rise. As for inflation, increases in the monetary base would have no effect in a liquidity trap; deflation, not inflation, was the risk.”
To this it must be noted that Krugman regards 'inflation' as a synonym for 'rising prices' – this is to say he semantically confuses cause and effect. This misuse of terms is nowadays so widespread that even dictionaries provide 'rising prices' as the definition of inflation.
There is of course no 'paradox of thrift' (thrift, i.e. saving, can not ever be 'paradoxical' given that it is the sine qua nonprecondition for genuine economic growth and wealth creation) and the concept of the 'liquidity trap' is equally misguided. It is true that the demand for cash balances has been rising and that the household savings rate has increased, but this is not a negative event, it is a necessary precondition for healing the boom-distorted economy. In fact, a rise in the demand for money has no bearing on real consumption and investment, it merely has an effect on money prices.
Deflation meanwhile is not a risk, it would actually be a desirable outcome. At the very least it would stop further malinvestment in its tracks as no new bubble activities could be started if a genuine deflation of the money supply were to occur, i.e. if deposit liabilities previously created from thin air were to vanish due to a net repayment of credit to the fractionally reserved banking system.
Krugman neglects to consider that the problem is not the bust but the preceding boom – it was during the boom when malinvestment and consumption of capital occurred on a grand scale, whereas the bust is the economy's attempt to heal itself from these distortions.
“So, how has it turned out? The 10-year bond rate is about 2.5 percent, lower than it was when Ferguson made that prediction. Inflation keeps falling. The attacks on Keynesianism now come down to “but unemployment has stayed high!” which proves nothing — especially because if you took a Keynesian view seriously, it suggested even given what we knew in early 2009 that the stimulus was much too small to restore full employment.”
When pointing to the fact that interest rates on US government debt have not risen in spite of soaring deficit spending and inflation , Krugman neglects the often asymmetric nature of such events. Greek bond yields were barely different from German bond yields until they weren't anymore and it happened very quickly and 'unexpectedly', as the market reassessed the prospects of the Greek state's ability to ever pay back its debts. Now don't get us wrong – we were bullish on US government bonds as well , mainly because we expected that the market would not doubt the US government's solvency for some time and because we thought that in view of private sector defaults and deleveraging, more and more funds would be directed toward this perceived 'safest debtor'.
This will eventually change if the government's profligacy is not stopped. As to deflation, none has occurred as of yet: money TMS has increased by about 27% since the onset of the crisis in August 2008, which is a huge amount of inflation in a very short time. That this has happened in spite of private sector deleveraging is testament to the effectiveness of the government's inflationary efforts so far.
The claim that 'the stimulus was too small' is a typical Keynesian excuse, always invoked when the Keynesian deficit spending recipe fails. Consider here for a moment that under the Obama administration, the US budget deficit has so far been the highest ever in peace time, whether measured in monetary terms or relative to economic output. How much more would have been enough?
Robert Murphy has recently noted that Krugman's case for deficit spending not only fails theoretically, but clearly also failsempirically.
“And of course, today's Keynesians point to our current economy as "proof" of how good massive deficits are. Why, thisshould have been the Second Great Depression, but thanks to Obama's willingness to spend — in contrast to Herbert Hoover — we are only suffering through the Great Recession. Phew! Do you notice the pattern? The anti-Keynesians point to actual success stories as evidence of the potency of their policies. The Keynesians, in contrast, point to awful economies and claim that they'd be even worse were it not for the Keynesian "medicine."”
Krugman closes by saying:
“The point is that recent events have actually amounted to a fairly clear test of Keynesian versus classical economics — and Keynesian economics won, hands down.”
Krugman mentions quite a few Chicago School proponents in his article at first. These he later conflates with 'classical' economists. His main bone of contention with the Chicago School seems to be that it is not enamored with monetary inflation and casts doubt on the efficacy of deficit spending. The Austrians are in the same boat with regards to these things, but curiously remain unmentioned – presumably due to their refusal to employ 'models'.
While Krugman concentrates on the alleged predictive powers of Keynesianism – which were so sorely absent when it would have really mattered – Keynesian economics is certainly at the root of our predicament and continues to be practiced regardless of a still growing and quite large body of damning empirical evidence against it (leaving aside its theoretical flaws for the moment).
In that sense it has surely 'won', as its acceptance as a viable body of ideas to 'guide economic policy' curiously continues in spite of its evident failure. Its precepts to combat recession haveinter alia been tried in spades and in vain in Japan for over two decades, with the well-known outcome of seemingly never-ending economic stagnation (Krugman would argue that they 'didn't spend enough').
This is the kind of victory that reminds one fatally of Pyrrhus of Epirus, who commented on his battlefield successes against the Romans: “If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined."
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Krugman analyzed
on: October 06, 2010, 08:54:58 AM
Krugman and the ‘Other Half’
October 5th, 2010 | Author: Pater Tenebrarum
Paul Krugman – one of the few 'didn't see the bust coming' economists who actually admitted to the complete failure of mainstream economists to make any correct predictions when it would actually have been important to make them – recently ruminated from his perch at the NYT about what he calls the 'other half' – meaning all economists who are not immediately identifiable as members of the Keynesian creed.
You probably won't be surprised to learn that he once again fails to even mention the Austrians, as though they didn't exist. Krugman has along history of simply ignoring Austrian critiques of his writings, which has raised considerable suspicion that he avoids them for lack of cogent arguments.
Not least thanks to the internet, subjectivist economics has luckily been rescued from obscurity, after having been almost successfully buried by decades of propaganda. Propaganda spouted in the main by intellectuals in the service of statism, of which Krugman is one of the more prominent nowadays.
Keynes, whose theories Krugman finds so convincing, wrote what governments wanted to hear: namely that the free market could not be trusted and required constant intervention by the state to function 'properly'. Keynes' major work on economics – the 'General Theory' – is in the main a collection of self-contradictory mumbo-jumbo that has been expertly picked apart by Austrians, most effectively by Henry Hazlitt in 'The Failure of the New Economics', where Keynes' work is refuted almost line by line.
Keynes is in essence an apologist for inflationism, and nothing of what he wrote was really new – it was a warmed-over brew of 'underconsumption' and pro-inflationism theories previously propounded by a plethora of other writers. These theories didn't magically become more correct when restated by Keynes.
Our current predicament – an economic bust so severe that one must look back to the pre- World War 2 period to find something comparable – is in the main the end result of governments hewing to Keynesian economics and variants thereof for many decades.
The compatibility of the Keynesian system with statism has been confirmed by the man himself, who wrote in the preface to the German edition of the 'General Theory':
“The theory of aggregated production, which is the point of the following book, nevertheless can be much easier adapted to the conditions of a totalitarian state [eines totalen Staates] than the theory of production and distribution of a given production put forth under conditions of free competition and a large degree of laissez-faire.”
At the time Keynes probably deemed totalitarianism sufficientlyde rigeur in Germany that he could afford to tell the truth.
Krugman's blog entry begins with:
“Ezra Klein has written in, asking for a post laying out the difference between the more or less Keynesian model Brad DeLong and I work with and the models others have been using – and how their predictions differ.”
Given that the Austrians who actually do have a consistent record of correct predictions aren't even mentioned – who cares?
“It’s a good request, although the truth is that the other side in this debate doesn’t necessarily agree on a single model, or evenuse models at all.”
Anyone who doesn't 'use models' in the social science of economics is denounced by Krugman in his back-link as 'thinking in slogans' – as opposed to those who by 'thinking in models' allegedly hew to the scientific method. The main problem with this is that all these models are a waste of time and effort. They can make no correct predictions and are not even accuratedescriptions of economic phenomena. As Murray Rothbard notes in the preface to 'Theory and History' by Ludwig von Mises:
“Is the fact of human purposive action "verifiable?" Is it "empirical?" Yes, but certainly not in the precise, or quantitative way that the imitators of physics are used to. The empiricism is broad and qualitative, stemming from the essence of human experience; it has nothing to do with statistics or historical events. Furthermore, it is dependent on the fact that we are all human beings and can therefore use this knowledge to apply it to others of the same species. Still less is the axiom of purposive action "falsifiable." It is so evident, once mentioned and considered, that it clearly forms the very marrow of our experience in the world.
It is just as well that economic theory does not need "testing," for it is impossible to test it in any way by checking its propositions against homogeneous bits of uniform events. For there are no such events. The use of statistics and quantitative data may try to mask this fact, but their seeming precision is only grounded on historical events that are not homogeneous in any sense. Each historical event is a complex, unique resultant of many causal factors. Since it is unique, it cannot be used for a positivistic test, and since it is unique it cannot be combined with other events in the form of statistical correlations and achieve any meaningful result. In analyzing the business cycle, for example, it is not legitimate to treat each cycle as strictly homogeneous to every other, and therefore to add, multiply, manipulate, and correlate data.”
In short, there is really no use for mathematical models in economics. Meanwhile, Krugman's charge that anyone eschewing the use of models is 'thinking in slogans' is pure polemic. The Austrian method is deductive, logical and coherent. Keynes' followers have constructed 'models' based on his writings, but his writings are neither logical nor coherent (if you don't believe us, read his tome and contrast it with , say, 'Human Action' and its clarity of prose and inescapable logic).
“Still, I think it is possible to describe the general views of the other guys — and to see how off their predictions have been.”
They haven't been better or worse than his own, depending on what time frame and specific topic one considers.
“So: first of all, the other side in this debate generally adheres, more or less, to something like what Keynes called the “classical theory” of employment, in which employment and output are basically determined by the supply side. Casey Mulligan has been most explicit here, coming up with increasingly, um, creative stories about how what we're seeing is a choice by workers to work less; but the whole Kocherlakota structural unemployment thing is similar in its implications.”
Now, from what little we know, Mulligan (a Chicago University economics professor) got some things right and some not. In fact, he immediately shot back by listing his correct predictionson his blog. Of course he also once denied that there was actually a housing bubble , which is patently absurd. As to Kocherlakota, for once we agreed with a Fed bureaucrat when he mentioned that the unemployment problem can not be solved by easing monetary policy further because after the bust there isinter alia a mismatch between the skills many of the unemployed workers possess and the skills the market demands. One of the reasons for high unemployment after a boom inevitably gives way to a bust is that the economy's production structure must adjust to the economic reality the bust reveals – and so must workers.
A case in point is that after so much capital has been malinvested in the housing sector due to businessmen erring about the future demand for homes on account of artificially low interest rates, there is now far less demand for construction workers than there used to be. Those who lost their employment in this sector need to do something else and that requires different skills. It takes time to learn what they are and to acquire them. Mind, this is not the only reason for high unemployment during the bust phase, but it is a noteworthy factor.
“Oh, and the Cochrane-Fama thing about how a dollar of government spending necessarily displaces a dollar of private spending is basically a classical view, although there doesn’t seem to be a model behind it, just a misunderstanding of what accounting identities mean.”
No model behind it! The horror! Fama is of course most famous for the 'efficient market hypothesis' – which essentially denies that Warren Buffett or any other successful trader or investor can possibly even exist. However, the fact that the government possesses no resources of its own suggests ipso facto that the money it spends must be taken from the private sector (whether by taxation, borrowing or inflation). This means that every dollar employed in government spending/consumption is definitely missing from the private sector.
Furthermore, Ricardian equivalence (yes, a 'classical view') suggests that there is no difference between spending financed by higher taxation or spending by borrowing, since economic actors know enough to expect higher taxes later if government spending is financed by borrowing and will adjust their behavior accordingly. Funny enough, Casey Mulligan has published a paperthat shows that the 'Keynesian multiplier' of government spending is an illusion( we haven't read it, but in essence he seems to be beating them with their own model). This is by the way not the first mainstream study coming to this conclusion – Robert Barro of Harvard has been saying the same – he rightly dubs the government's stimulus policies 'voodoo economics'.
Krugman reveals one of the problems of his approach when he refers to the 'accounting identities' so beloved by the 'modelers'. If purposeful human action could be reduced to accounting identities it would really be easy. However, these tautologies are meaningless in real life. To quote Patrick Barron: C+I+G = Baloney.
“Once you have a more or less classical view of unemployment, you naturally have the classical theory of the interest rate, in which it’s all about supply and demand for funds, and something like a quantity theory of money, in which increases in the monetary base lead, in a fairly short time, to equal proportional rises in the price level. This led to the prediction that large fiscal deficits would lead to soaring interest rates, and that the large rise in the monetary base due to Fed expansion would lead to high inflation.”
According to Ludwig von Mises the natural, or originary interest rate is really nothing but an expression of time preference. It is a price ratio between the value of a present versus the value of a future good. The market interest rate meanwhile – to quote Hans-Hermann Hoppe (in 'The Misesian Case Against Keynes') is
“[…] the aggregate sum of all individual time-preference rates, reflecting, so to speak, the social rate of time preference and equilibrating social savings (i.e., the supply of present goods offered for exchange against future goods) and social investment (i.e., the demand for present goods capable of yielding future returns).”
As Hoppe further notes in explicating Mises' theory of interest (which is contrary to the Keynesian view of the interest rate as a purely monetary phenomenon):
“While interest (time preference) thus has a direct praxeological relationship to employment and social income, it has nothing whatsoever to do with money. To be sure, a money economy also includes a monetary expression for the social rate of time preference. Yet this does not change the fact that interest and money are systematically independent and unrelated and that interest is essentially a "real," not a monetary phenomenon.”
With regards to the 'quantity theory of money' we hold with Hayek's bon-mot that 'one of the greatest misfortunes would be if people ceased to believe in the quantity theory of money – except if they were to take it literally'. In the video below Hayek criticizes Milton Friedman as an 'apostle of macro-economics' who is in 'one respect still a Keynesian' and notes his disagreement with Friedman's contention that there is a demonstrable and measurable direct relationship between the general price level and the total quantity of money.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: RIP IN PEACE CHRISTOPHER RICKETTS
on: October 05, 2010, 08:16:41 PM
I was fortunate enough to have GM Ricketts work with me for a few minutes at a seminar. The training was at media and corto range and something I did was different that the response that he taught but when he saw the reason for what I had been taught he was very JKD about it all-- what I am trying to say is that he was mentally fluid.
PG Edgar spoke very well of him.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor 10/4/10
on: October 05, 2010, 01:33:55 PM
Mexico Security Memo: Oct. 4, 2010
October 4, 2010 | 2056 GMT
20 Tourists Kidnapped in Acapulco
A group of armed men traveling in four cars reportedly kidnapped 20 Mexican
tourists in the Costa Azul neighborhood of Acapulco, Guerrero state, only
600 meters (about 650 yards) from the popular tourist spot of Costera Miguel
Aleman, at around 4:30 p.m. local time Oct. 1. The victims were from a group
of 22 tourists traveling in four vehicles from Morelia, Michoacan state.
They had stopped near Cristobal Colon and Fernando de Magallanes streets
while two individuals from the group sought lodging. The group consisted of
mechanics, masons, painters and their families, but all were reportedly
linked to the sale of scrap iron. While the two individuals sought a hotel,
some 30 armed men in six SUVs took the remaining 20 tourists captive.
The two remaining tourists did not contact Acapulco law enforcement
authorities until the following morning. They said they saw the kidnappers,
who were armed with assault rifles, line the victims against a wall before
forcing them into the SUVs and departing the scene. Authorities have
reportedly searched the tourists’ four vehicles for clues regarding who
carried out the kidnapping. The federal attorney general’s office has since
opened two separate cases in Michoacan and Guerrero states and solicited the
help of the federal police, naval and army intelligence branches in the
region to help find the 20 kidnapped tourists.
Acapulco has been the most violent of Mexico’s major tourist destinations
for several years now. Multiple drug trafficking organizations have laid
claim to the territory or have significant operations in the city and the
surrounding region. The port of Acapulco is not traditionally a major
commercial shipping hub, but a tremendous amount of boat traffic travels in
and out of Acapulco Bay and the surrounding waters and lagoons, making it an
ideal location for shipments of cocaine and other narcotics. La Familia
Michoacana (LFM), the Sinaloa Federation, and the Beltran Leyva Organization
(BLO) and its factions have all fought for control of the city, but violence
previously had been limited to people connected to organized criminal
Though Mexican authorities have yet to name suspects in the case, the show
of force and the manner in which these 20 tourists were taken bears the
hallmarks of an organized crime group. Large organized crime groups tend to
carry out kidnapping for ransom when they need quick cash to sustain
operations. Recently, elements of the BLO operating in the city have
experienced major setbacks in terms of leadership and operational
capability, suggesting it might have played a role. That the group of
tourists hailed from Morelia, Michoacan — the home base of LFM, BLO’s main
rival in Acapulco — may also have played a role in this incident.
Monterrey Grenade Attacks
A string of grenade attacks in the Monterrey metropolitan area late the week
of Sept. 27 capped a week of similar attacks in other hot spots along the
South Texas-Mexico border. Early in the week, a group of armed men threw a
fragmentation grenade at the facade of the Public Security Secretariat
building in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state, late Sept 27. Later, two people
were injured when a group of armed men threw a grenade outside city hall in
Matamoros, Tamaulipas state, the afternoon of Sept. 29. Then, the Monterrey
area saw three incidents in which fragmentation hand grenades detonated near
security infrastructure or diplomatic facilities the evening of Oct. 1. The
first occurred near a prison facility, the second near a federal
courthouse — injuring a guard outside the facility — and the third near the
U.S. Consulate. The following night, a group of armed men in two trucks
reportedly threw a hand grenade into a group of people walking outside the
Guadalupe (part of the Monterrey metro area) city hall at around 11:15 p.m.
Oct. 2. The blast, which hit a popular town square, injured between 15 and
20 people, several of whom were children.
The grenade attacks all occurred in territory disputed by Los Zetas and the
Gulf cartel and its allies in the New Federation. Mexican authorities have
not specified who they think carried out the attacks. Los Zetas were
implicated in a similar grenade attack during the annual El Grito
celebration in Morelia, Michoacan state, in 2008. Eight people were killed
and more than 100 were injured in that incident. While nothing suggests Los
Zetas carried out this attack, a recent Mexican naval operation in Matamoros
and Reynosa netted nearly 30 members of the Gulf cartel, a large arms cache
and several hundred thousand dollars and pesos. This would be motivation
enough for the Gulf cartel to lash out against government targets, but the
Gulf cartel has not been known to target civilians indiscriminately.
Regardless of who is responsible, these incidents continue to underscore the
increasing level of insecurity in the Monterrey metro area and in
northeastern Mexico in general. As this insecurity persists, we can expect
to see criminal groups further exploit the civilian population for
territorial and financial gains, especially if both groups continue to
experience operational losses.
Click to view map
a.. Unidentified gunmen attacked the Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state,
Public Security Secretariat office with a grenade. No injuries were reported
and the building was only slightly damaged.
b.. One soldier and four suspected cartel gunmen were killed during a
firefight in the municipality of Coahuayana, Michoacan state.
c.. Unidentified gunmen kidnapped a university student from the parking
lot of the Valle de Atemajac University in Guadalajara, Jalisco state.
a.. Federal police announced the arrest of suspected La Linea cell leader
Jose Ivan Contreras Lumbreras in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state. Contreras
is believed to have participated in a July 15 car bomb attack.
b.. Three people were injured in a firefight between members of two labor
unions in Boxite, Mexico state. The two unions were competing for contracts
in road construction.
c.. Unidentified gunmen in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco state, killed a father and
son during an ambush on their vehicle.
a.. Two people were injured in a grenade attack on the city hall in
Matamoros, Tamaulipas state.
b.. Three unidentified people in a vehicle were killed in a firefight with
soldiers in Gomez Palacio, Durango state. One of the vehicle’s occupants was
arrested after attempting to flee.
c.. Four suspected cartel gunmen were killed in a firefight with soldiers
in Cerralvo, Nuevo Leon state. Soldiers freed four people in a separate
operation against suspected kidnappers in Cerralvo.
a.. One person was killed during a firefight between unidentified people
in a bar in Chilpancingo, Guerrero state.
b.. Authorities announced the arrests of six suspected LFM members
believed involved in carjackings in Salamanca, Guanajuato state. The
suspects allegedly belonged to an LFM cell that operated in the
municipalities of Yuriria, Moroleon and Uriangato.
c.. Four policemen were kidnapped from a bar in Netzahualcoyotl, Mexico
state, and later shot and dumped into a nearby river. One of the victims
a.. Soldiers in Matamoros, Tamaulipas state, killed two suspected cartel
gunmen and seized 4,000 rounds of ammunition and 20 kilograms (about 44
pounds) of cocaine.
b.. Police at the Mexico City International Airport arrested a man who had
swallowed 81 capsules of cocaine. The suspect was initially screened for
nervous behavior during a document inspection.
c.. U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents discovered a suspected
smuggling tunnel in Nogales, Arizona. The tunnel extended approximately 15
meters into the U.S. side of the border.
a.. The Mexico City attorney general’s office announced the arrests of two
people allegedly responsible for the murder of the Mexico Roma patriarch on
Sept. 27. Both suspects are members of the national Roma community.
b.. Fourteen suspected members of criminal groups were killed in a
firefight in the municipality of Otaez, Durango state.
c.. The body of an unidentified man was found in the Quinta Velarde
neighborhood of Guadalajara, Jalisco state. The body had a message attached
to its stomach with a knife. The message attributed the crime to a group
called “La Limpieza,” which means “The Cleaning.”
d.. Twelve people were injured in a grenade attack near city hall in
Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon state.
a.. Two people were killed and four others were injured in a firefight in
Nextipac, Jalisco state. Several intoxicated state investigative agents were
reportedly involved in the shooting.
b.. Soldiers arrested eight suspected members of Los Zetas in Guadalupe,
Nuevo Leon state. The suspects were arrested after a military patrol chased
three vehicles attempting to flee in the Tamaulipas neighborhood.
DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Dennis Prager
on: October 05, 2010, 01:18:53 PM
Traducido del ingles por un programa software:
Una Carta de un republicano a hispanos
El martes, el 05 de octubre de 2010
Le escribo como un norteamericano preocupado y simpático que es un republicano. Mis sentimientos no representan a cada norteamericano -- que sería imposible. Pero creo que el siguiente representa a la mayoría de LOS norteamericanos.
Primero, un mensaje a ésos de usted aquí ilegalmente:
Puede ser sorprendido muy oír esto, pero en su posición, millones de norteamericanos, inclusive mí, habrían hecho lo que usted hizo.
Si viví en un país pobre con un corrompe en gran parte el gobierno, un país en el que tuve pequeño o ninguna perspectiva de esperanza para una vida mejorada para mí o para mis niños, y yo no podría entrar en legalmente el mundo más libre, la mayoría de los países opulentos, el país con las la mayoría de las oportunidades para personas de cualquier y cada fondo, yo haría lo que yo podría hacer para entrar en ese país Ilegalmente.
México y muchos otros países Centrales y sudamericanos están lugares en gran parte desesperados para la mayor parte de sus personas. América les ofrece esperanza a todos dispuesto a trabajar duramente. ¿Quién no podría comprender por qué ningún individuo, permitió sólo un padre ni madre de una familia, trataría de entrar en Estados Unidos -- legalmente preferiblemente, ilegalmente si necesario?
Ahora que lo he hecho vacía que millones de nosotros comprenden lo que le motiva y no le condena moralmente para entrar América ilegalmente, yo tengo que pedir que tratar de comprender lo que nos motiva.
Ningún país en el mundo puede permitir inmigración ilimitada. Si América abrió sus fronteras a todo los que desean vivir aquí, cientos de millones de personas vendrían aquí. Eso hace, por supuesto, significa el fin de Estados Unidos económicamente y culturalmente.
Si es de México, sabe que el tratamiento de México de inmigrantes ilegales del sur de su frontera es mucho más duro que mi país es de inmigrantes ilegales. Todo toma es sentido común de comprender que nosotros simplemente no podemos proporcionar para cuidar de todos ustedes en nuestro médico, educativo, penal y otras instituciones. Por mucho que pueda pagar en ventas tasa, la mayoría de los inmigrantes ilegales son un carga financiero y social en esos estados a que más ellos mueven.
Sí, muchos de ustedes es también una bendición. Muchos de ustedes cuida de nuestros niños y nuestras casas. Otros de usted preparan nuestro alimento y hacen otro trabajo que es esencial a nuestra sociedad. Sabemos eso. Como individuos, la mayor parte de usted es personas trabajadoras, responsables y decentes.
Pero ninguno de que contesta la pregunta: ¿Cuántas personas pueden este país permite en ello?
El momento usted tiene que contestar que esa pregunta es el momento que usted se da cuenta de que las preocupaciones de norteamericanos acerca de inmigración ilegal no tienen nada que ver con "racismo" o cualquier sentimiento de negativo hacia hispanos.
Los que le dicen que es el racismo o la xenofobia está acerca de sus norteamericanos prójimos para razones políticas o ideológicas. Sabe de sus interacciones diarias con norteamericanos que la inmensa mayoría de nosotros le trata con la dignidad que cada ser prójimo de humano merece. Sus vidas diarias son la refutación más elocuente de las cargas del racismo y el fanatismo. La carga es una mentira terrible. Por favor no lo crea. Sabe que no es verdad.
Demócratas actuarán como a sus defensores diciéndole que oposición a su presencia aquí está carrera-basado. No hay verdad a eso. Como usted probablemente sabe en los corazones, ha venido al lugar menos racista en la tierra. La inmensa mayoría de nosotros no podría cuidar menos si su nombre es Gonzalez ni Jones. Por eso las oportunidades son 50-50 que el niño de inmigrantes hispanos acabará por casarse un no-hispano norteamericano.
Una más cosa: Muchos de ustedes desea de volver a sus patrias. Esto es entendible, como muchos de ustedes no vino a aquí llegar a ser norteamericano pero para ganar el dinero que permitiría usted proporcionar para volver en casa y dirigir una mejor vida allí. Pero tan entendible como eso está en un nivel individual, debe comprender que eso teniendo millones de personas entre nosotros que no se siente bono a nuestro país y que no quiere llegar a ser uno de nosotros es un problema grave. Usted se sentiría el mismo acerca de personas que vino a sus países para ganar dinero y utilizar su país médico, social, educativo y otros servicios pagaron por por las personas de su país.
Es también un problema moral. Hay personas innumerables alrededor del mundo que desea venir a América para llegar a ser norteamericanos, no ganar sólo dinero aquí. Muchos de ustedes toma sus lugares. Eso no es justo a ellos ni a América.
Así, la verdad es, de hecho, sencillo: Si fue un norteamericano, querría parar inmigración ilegal, y si la mayor parte de nosotros fuimos usted, nosotros haríamos lo que usted hizo para entrar en América. Ninguno de nosotros es malo. Tiene interés en su familia. Tenemos interés en nuestro país.
Ahora, una nota a los que está aquí legalmente y a los que son ciudadanos norteamericanos.
Primero, mientras muchos de ustedes se compadece de manera comprensible con el apuro de latinoamericanos prójimos que están aquí ilegalmente, debe comprender sin duda que América no puede proporcionar inmigración ilegal ilimitada. Esto puede crear bien una tensión entre su mente y el corazón, y entre su herencia étnica y su lealtad a América.
Si hace, sus norteamericanos prójimos preguntan que es indicado por su mente (y nosotros, creemos, la conciencia) y por su preocupación para América. Si cualquiera sabe cuán dando la bienvenida extraordinariamente América ha estado a latinoamericanos -- de México a Cuba a Sudamérica -- es usted. Para su consideración así como América, por favor no sucumbe a la política de trato injusto que son utilizados para conseguir cínicamente y únicamente su apoyo para el demócrata Partido.
Por último, y más importante, votando para candidatos demócratas de Partido, vota para un tipo del gobierno más similar los la mayoría de LOS latinoamericanos huyeron. Tome el ejemplo mexicano. El Partido demócrata es, en la mayoría de las maneras importantes, una versión norteamericana del PRI. Durante 70 años, el PRI gobernó México y trajo su economía a sus rodillas a causa del gasto público vasto, el aplastar de iniciativa individual, una burocracia hinchada, deuda insostenible y el desvalorizar subsiguiente del peso mexicano.
¿Por qué, para la consideración de Dios, querría usted ver que replicó en América? La muy razón América ha sido tan próspera y tan libre -- el muy le razona o sus antepasados, como casi los antepasados de cada otro norteamericano, vinieron aquí -- es que América ha tenido el gobierno más limitado y por lo tanto más libertad que cualquier otro país en el mundo. El Partido republicano representa todo que usted o sus padres vino a América para -- y por qué usted dejó México y otros países: oportunidad individual y responsabilidad individual. Es también el partido que representa sus valores sociales.
Es verdad, el Partido demócrata apela a sus emociones. Pero un voto para el Partido demócrata es un voto de hacer América como el México del PRI. Y un voto para el Partido demócrata es un voto de deshacer el gran logro norteamericano de unir a los niños de inmigrantes de todo el mundo como norteamericanos.
A Letter from a Republican to Hispanics
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
I am writing to you as a concerned and sympathetic American who is a Republican. My sentiments do not represent every American -- that would be impossible. But I believe the following represent most Americans.
First, a message to those of you here illegally:
You may be very surprised to hear this, but in your position, millions of Americans, including me, would have done what you did.
If I lived in a poor country with a largely corrupt government, a country in which I had little or no prospect of hope for an improved life for me or my children, and I could not legally get into the world's freest, most affluent country, the country with the most opportunities for people of any and every background, I would do whatever I could do to get into that country illegally.
Mexico and many other Central and South American countries are largely hopeless places for most of their people. America offers hope to everyone willing to work hard. Who could not understand why any individual, let alone a father or mother of a family, would try to get into the United States -- legally preferably, illegally if necessary?
Now that I have made it clear that millions of us understand what motivates you and do not morally condemn you for entering America illegally, I have to ask you to try to understand what motivates us.
No country in the world can allow unlimited immigration. If America opened its borders to all those who wish to live here, hundreds of millions of people would come here. That would, of course, mean the end of the United States economically and culturally.
If you are from Mexico, you know that Mexico's treatment of illegal immigrants from south of its border is far harsher than my country's is of illegal immigrants. All it takes is common sense to understand that we simply cannot afford to take care of all of you in our medical, educational, penal and other institutions. However much you may pay in sales tax, most illegal immigrants are a financial and social burden in those states to which most them move.
Yes, many of you are also a blessing. Many of you take care of our children and our homes. Others of you prepare our food and do other work that is essential to our society. We know that. As individuals, the great majority of you are hardworking, responsible, decent people.
But none of that answers the question: How many people can this country allow into it?
The moment you have to answer that question is the moment you realize that Americans' worries about illegal immigration have nothing to do with "racism" or any negative feeling toward Hispanics.
Those who tell you it is racism or xenophobia are lying about their fellow Americans for political or ideological reasons. You know from your daily interactions with Americans that the vast majority of us treat you with the dignity that every fellow human being deserves. Your daily lives are the most eloquent refutation of the charges of racism and bigotry. The charge is a terrible lie. Please don't believe it. You know it is not true.
Democrats will act as your defenders by telling you that opposition to your presence here is race-based. There is no truth to that. As you probably know in your hearts, you have come to the least racist place on earth. The vast majority of us could not care less if your name is Gonzalez or Jones. That's why the chances are 50-50 that the child of Hispanic immigrants will end up marrying a non-Hispanic American.
One more thing: Many of you desire to return to your homelands. This is understandable, as many of you did not come here in order to become American but in order to earn the money that would allow you to afford to return home and lead a better life there. But as understandable as that is on an individual level, you must understand that that having millions of people in our midst who feel no bond to our country and who do not want to become one of us is a serious problem. You would feel the same about people who came to your countries to make money and use your country's medical, social, educational and other services paid for by the people of your country.
It is also a moral problem. There are countless people around the world who wish to come to America in order to become Americans, not just to earn money here. Many of you are taking their places. That is not fair to them or to America.
So, the truth is, in fact, simple: If you were an American, you would want to stop illegal immigration, and if most of us were you, we would do what you did to get into America. Neither of us is bad. You care about your family. We care about our country.
Now, a note to those of you who are here legally and to those of you who are American citizens.
First, while many of you understandably sympathize with the plight of fellow Latinos who are here illegally, you surely must understand that America cannot afford unlimited illegal immigration. This may well create a tension between your mind and your heart, and between your ethnic heritage and your allegiance to America.
If it does, your fellow Americans ask that you be guided by your mind (and we, believe, conscience) and by your concern for America. If anyone knows how extraordinarily welcoming America has been to Latinos -- from Mexico to Cuba to South America -- it is you. For your sake as well as America's, please do not succumb to the politics of victimization that are used solely and cynically to get your support for the Democrat Party.
Finally, and most important, by voting for Democratic Party candidates, you are voting for a type of government more like the ones most Latinos fled. Take the Mexican example. The Democratic Party is, in most important ways, an American version of the PRI. For 70 years, the PRI governed Mexico and brought its economy to its knees because of vast government spending, the squashing of individual initiative, a bloated bureaucracy, unsustainable debt and the subsequent devaluing of the Mexican peso.
Why, for God's sake, would you want to see that replicated in America? The very reason America has been so prosperous and so free -- the very reasons you or your ancestors, like almost every other American's ancestors, came here -- is that America has had more limited government and therefore more liberty than any other country in the world. The Republican Party represents all that you or your parents came to America for -- and why you left Mexico and other countries: individual opportunity and individual responsibility. It is also the party that represents your social values.
Admittedly, the Democratic Party appeals to your emotions. But a vote for the Democratic Party is a vote to make America like the Mexico of the PRI. And a vote for the Democratic Party is a vote to undo the great American achievement of uniting the children of immigrants from all over the world as Americans.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / POTH editorial
on: October 05, 2010, 11:16:58 AM
In a landmark 1967 case, the Supreme Court ruled that evidence from a wiretap on a phone booth was obtained unconstitutionally. Despite the public nature of a phone booth, the tap violated the defendant’s privacy under the Fourth Amendment. “Wherever a man may be,” the court explained, “he is entitled to know that he will remain free from unreasonable searches and seizures.”
Fast forward to today, when courts are wrestling with the question of whether new technology requires them to think differently about what is a reasonable expectation of privacy.
In August, three judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (two conservatives, one liberal) ruled unanimously — and correctly — that police violated the Constitution when they hid a GPS device on a person’s car and tracked his every move without a valid warrant. That person, Antoine Jones, was convicted of conspiracy to distribute crack and cocaine based on the tracking of his Jeep for four weeks.
The way to define what was reasonable for Mr. Jones to regard as private, the court said, is by focusing on what was unreasonable for law enforcement to consider public. “The whole of one’s movements over the course of a month is not constructively exposed to the public,” Judge Douglas Ginsburg said, adding that it “reveals an intimate picture of the subject’s life that he expects no one to have — short perhaps of his spouse.”
Last week, the Justice Department asked the whole court to rehear the case. The government relies heavily on one precedent. In 1983, the Supreme Court said it was legal for police to use a beeper without a warrant to track a suspect on public roads. The argument was dubious: The suspect’s movements were visible and anyone could have gleaned what the police did without the beeper’s help, so he had no reasonable expectation of privacy.
The government now contends that replacing the beeper with a GPS makes no difference because surveillance of Mr. Jones was on public roads as well. Two other appeals courts in the past three years have accepted that argument. In one, the opinion was written by Richard Posner, among the most respected federal judges.
He got it wrong. Judge Ginsburg got it right: “The difference is not one of degree but of kind.” He also said that, in the Supreme Court case, the justices “distinguished between the limited information discovered by use of the beeper — movements during a discrete journey — and more comprehensive or sustained monitoring.” The justices left for another day whether 24/7 surveillance should be regulated by another legal principle.
That day is here. Digital technology raises questions about differences between cyberspace and the physical world, which most search-and-seizure laws deal with. In showing why a powerful advance in technology calls for significantly greater protection of privacy, the three-judge panel provided an important example of how the law can respond to new circumstances.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics
on: October 04, 2010, 01:14:16 PM
In particular I like the point that the US is not a closed economy.
I would also like to draw attention to the issue of velocity. Let us start with the basic tautological equation
Money times Velocity equals Price time Quantity.
With the bursting of the bubble, the desire to pay off debt has led to a dramatic decline in velocity. As long as this is the case, the dramatic increase in Money is offset.
It seems to me that at some point however, just as the bubble in housing had a rather sudden and ferocious reversal, we may well see a similar reversal from a high propensity to save (which makes sense in a low inflation environment with overtones of deflation) to a high propensity to spend before the money is worth less i.e. an increase in Velocity.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wilders-2
on: October 03, 2010, 07:33:51 PM
There is one more striking parallel, but this is not a characteristic of the three political ideologies, but one of the West. It is the apparent inability of the West to see the danger. The prerequisite to understanding political danger, is a willingness to see the truth, even if it is unpleasant. Unfortunately, modern Western politicians seem to have lost this capacity. Our inability leads us to reject the logical and historical conclusions to be drawn from the facts, though we could, and should know better. What is wrong with modern Western man that we make the same mistake over and over again?
There is no better place to ponder this question than here in Berlin, the former capital of the evil empire of Nazi Germany and a city which was held captive by the so-called German "Democratic" Republic for over forty years.
When the citizens of Eastern Europe rejected Communism in 1989, they were inspired by dissidents such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Václav Havel, Vladimir Bukovsky, and others, who told them that people have a right, but also an obligation, to "live within the truth." Freedom requires eternal vigilance; so it is with truth. Solzhenitsyn added, however, that "truth is seldom sweet; it is almost invariably bitter." Let us face the bitter truth: We have lost our capacity to see the danger and understand the truth because we no longer value freedom.
Politicians from almost all establishment politicians today are facilitating Islamization. They are cheering for every new Islamic school, Islamic bank, Islamic court. They regard Islam as being equal to our own culture. Islam or freedom? It does not really matter to them. But it does matter to us. The entire establisment elite - universities, churches, trade unions, the media, politicians - are putting our hard-earned liberties at risk. They talk about equality, but amazingly fail to see how in Islam women have fewer rights than men and infidels have fewer rights than adherents of Islam.
Are we about to repeat the fatal mistake of the Weimar Republic? Are we succumbing to Islam because our commitment to freedom is already dead? No, it will not happen. We are not like Frau Merkel. We do not accept Islamization as inevitable. We have to keep freedom alive. And, to the extent that we have already lost it, we must reclaim it in our democratic elections. That is why we need political parties that defend freedom. To support such parties I have established the International Freedom Alliance.
As you know, I am standing trial in the Netherlands. On Monday, I have to go to court again and I will have to spend most of the coming month there. I have been brought to court because of my opinions on Islam and because I have voiced these opinions in speeches, articles and in my documentary film Fitna. I live under constant police protection because Islamic extremists want to assassinate me, and I am in court because the Dutch establishment - most of them non-Muslims - wants to silence me.
I have been dragged to court because in my country freedom can no longer be fully enjoyed. Unlike America, we do not have a First Amendment which guarantees people the freedom to express their opinions and foster public debate by doing so. Unlike America, in Europe the national state, and increasingly the European Union, prescribes how citizens - including democratically elected politicians such as myself - should think and what we are allowed to say.
One of the things we are no longer allowed to say is that our culture is superior to certain other cultures. This is seen as a discriminatory statement - a statement of hatred even. We are indoctrinated on a daily basis, in the schools and through the media, with the message that all cultures are equal and that, if one culture is worse than all the rest, it is our own. We are inundated with feelings of guilt and shame about our own identity and what we stand for. We are exhorted to respect everyone and everything, except ourselves. That is the message of the Left and the politically-correct ruling establishment. They want us to feel so ashamed about our own identity that we refuse to fight for it.
The detrimental obsession of our cultural and political elites with Western guilt reinforces the view which Islam has of us. The Koran says that non-Muslims are kuffar (the plural of kafir), which literally means "rejecters" or "ingrates." Hence, infidels are "guilty." Islam teaches that in our natural state we have all been born as believers. Islam teaches that if we are not believers today this is by our own or by our forefathers' fault. Subsequently, we are always kafir - guilty - because either we or our fathers are apostates. And, hence, according to some, we deserve subjugation.
Our contemporary leftist intellectuals are blind to the dangers of Islam.
Former Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky argues that after the fall of communism, the West failed to expose those who had collaborated with the Communists by advocating policies of détente, improved relations, relaxation of international tension, peaceful coexistence. He points out that the Cold War was "a war we never won. We never even fought it. ... Most of the time the West engaged in a policy of appeasement toward the Soviet bloc - and appeasers don't win wars."
Islam is the Communism of today. But, because of our failure to come clean with Communism, we are unable to deal with it, trapped as we are in the old Communist habit of deceit and double-speak that used to haunt the countries in the East and that now haunts all of us. Because of this failure, the same leftist people who turned a blind eye to Communism then, turn a blind eye to Islam today. They are using exactly the same arguments in favor of détente, improved relations, and appeasement as before. They argue that our enemy is as peace-loving as we are, that if we meet him half-way he will do the same, that he only asks respect and that if we respect him he will respect us. We even hear a repetition of the old moral equivalence mantra. They used to say that Western "imperialism" was as bad as Soviet imperialism; they are now saying that Western "imperialism" is as bad as Islamic terrorism.
In my speech near Ground Zero in New York on September 11, I emphasized that we must stop the "Blame the West, Blame America"-game which Islamic spokesmen are playing with us. And we must stop playing this game ourselves. I have the same message for you. It is an insult to tell us that we are guilty and deserve what is happening to us. We do not deserve becoming strangers in our own land. We should not accept such insults. First of all, Western civilization is the freest and most prosperous on earth, which is why so many immigrants are moving here, instead of Westerners moving there. And secondly, there is no such thing as collective guilt. Free individuals are free moral agents who are responsible for their own deeds only.
I am very happy to be here in Berlin today to give this message which is extremely important, especially in Germany. Whatever happened in your country in the past, the present generation is not responsible for it. Whatever happened in the past, it is no excuse for punishing the Germans today. But it is also no excuse for you to refuse to fight for your own identity. Your only responsibility is to avoid the mistakes of the past. It is your duty to stand with those threatened by the ideology of Islam, such as the State of Israel and your Jewish compatriots. The Weimar Republic refused to fight for freedom and was overrun by a totalitarian ideology, with catastrophic consequences for Germany, the rest of Europe and the world. Do not fail to fight for your freedom today.
I am happy to be in your midst today because it seems that twenty years after German reunification, a new generation no longer feels guilty for being German. The current and very intense debate about Thilo Sarrazin's recent book is an indication of the fact that Germany is coming to terms with itself.
I have not yet read Dr. Sarrazin's book myself, but I understand that while the ruling politically-correct establishment is almost unanimously critical of his thesis and he lost his job, a large majority of Germans acknowledges that Dr. Sarrazin is addressing important and pressing issues. "Germany is abolishing itself," warns Sarrazin, and he calls on the Germans to halt this process. The enormous impact of his book indicates that many Germans feel the same way. The people of Germany do not want Germany to be abolished, despite all the political indoctrination they have been subjected to. Germany is no longer ashamed to assert its national pride.
In these difficult times, where our national identity is under threat, we must stop feeling guilty about who we are. We are not "kafir," we are not guilty. Like other peoples, Germans have the right to remain who they are. Germans must not become French, nor Dutch, nor Americans, nor Turks. They should remain Germans. When the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan visited your country in 2008, he told the Turks living here that they had to remain Turks. He literally said that "assimilation is a crime against humanity." Erdogan would have been right if he had been addressing the Turks in Turkey. However, Germany is the land of the Germans. Hence, the Germans have a right to demand that those who come to live in Germany assimilate; they have the right - no they have a duty to their children - to demand that newcomers respect the German identity of the German nation and Germany's right to preserve its identity.
We must realize that Islam expands in two ways. Since it is not a religion, conversion is only a marginal phenomenon. Historically, Islam expanded either by military conquest or by using the weapon of hijra, immigration. Muhammad conquered Medina through immigration. Hijra is also what we are experiencing today. The Islamization of Europe continues all the time. But the West has no strategy for dealing with the Islamic ideology, because our elites say that we must adapt to them rather than the other way round.
There is a lesson which we can learn in this regard from America, the freest nation on earth. Americans are proud of their nation, its achievements and its flag. We, too, should be proud of our nation. The United States has always been a nation of immigrants. U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt was very clear about the duty of immigrants. Here is what he said: "We should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else ... But this is predicated upon the man's becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American. ... There can be no divided allegiance here. ... We have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."
It is not up to me to define what Germany's national identity consists of. That is entirely up to you. I do know, however, that German culture, like that of neighboring countries, such as my own, is rooted in judeo-christian and humanist values. Every responsible politician has a political obligation to preserve these values against ideologies which threaten them. A Germany full of mosques and veiled women is no longer the Germany of Goethe, Schiller and Heine, Bach and Mendelssohn. It will be a loss to us all. It is important that you cherish and preserve your roots as a nation. Otherwise you will not be able to safeguard your identity; you will be abolished as a people, and you will lose your freedom. And the rest of Europe will lose its freedom with you.
My friends, when Ronald Reagan came to a divided Berlin 23 years ago he uttered the historic words „Mister Gorbachev, tear down this wall." President Reagan was not an appeaser, but a man who spoke the truth because he loved freedom. Today, we, too, must tear down a wall. It is not a wall of concrete, but of denial and ignorance about the real nature of Islam. The International Freedom Alliance aims to coordinate and stimulate these efforts.
Because we speak the truth, voters have given my party, the Partij voor de Vrijheid, and other parties, such as the Dansk Folkeparti and the Schweizerische Volkspartei, the power to influence the political decision process, whether that be in opposition or in government or by supporting a minority government - as we want to do in the Netherlands. President Reagan showed that by speaking the truth one can change the course of history. He showed that there is no need to despair. Never! Just do your duty. Be not afraid. Speak the truth. Defend Freedom. Together we can preserve freedom, together we must preserve freedom, and together, my friends, we will be able to preserve freedom.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Geert Wilders in Berlin
on: October 03, 2010, 07:33:16 PM
Geert Wilders: Speech in Berlin yesterday
from Jihad Watch by Robert
Geert Wilders Speech in Berlin
October 2, 2010
I am very happy to be here in Berlin today. As you know, the invitation which my friend René Stadtkewitz extended to me, has cost him his membership of the CDU group in the Berlin Parliament. René, however, did not give in to the pressure. He did not betray his convictions. His dismissal prompted René to start a new political party. I wish him all the best. As you may have heard, the past weeks were extremely busy for me. Earlier this week we succeeded in forging a minority government of the Liberals and the Christian-Democrats which will be supported by my party. This is an historic event for the Netherlands. I am very proud of having helped to achieve this. At this very moment the Christian-Democrat Party conference is deciding whether or not to approves this coalition. If they do, we will be able to rebuild our country, preserve our national identity and offer our children a better future.
Despite my busy schedule at home, however, I insisted on coming to Berlin, because Germany, too, needs a political movement to defend German identity and to oppose the Islamization of Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel says that the Islamization of Germany is inevitable. She conveys the message that citizens have to be prepared for more changes as a result of immigration. She wants the Germans to adapt to this situation. The Christian-Democrat leader said: "More than before mosques will be an integral part of our cities."
My friends, we should not accept the unacceptable as inevitable without trying to turn the tide. It is our duty as politicians to preserve our nations for our children. I hope that René's movement will be as successful as my own Partij voor de Vrijheid, as Oskar Freysinger's Schweizerische Volkspartei in Switzerland, as Pia Kjaersgaard's Dansk Folkeparti in Denmark, and similar movements elsewhere.
My good friend Pia recently spoke in Sweden at the invitation of the Sverigedemokraterna. She said: "I have not come to mingle in Swedish domestic politics because that is for the Swedish people to be concerned with. No, I have come because in spite of certain differences the Swedish debate in many ways reminds me of the Danish debate 10-15 years ago. And I have come to Sweden because it is also a concern to Denmark. We cannot sit with our hands in our lap and be silent witnesses to the political development in Sweden."
The same applies for me as a Dutchman with respect to Germany. I am here because Germany matters to the Netherlands and the rest of the world, and because we cannot establish an International Freedom Alliance without a strong German partner.
Dear friends, tomorrow is the Day of German Unity. Tomorrow exactly twenty years ago, your great nation was reunified after the collapse of the totalitarian Communist ideology. The Day of German Unity is an important day for the whole of Europe. Germany is the largest democracy in Europe. Germany is Europe's economic powerhouse. The wellbeing and prosperity of Germany is a benefit to all of us, because the wellbeing and prosperity of Germany is a prerequisite for the wellbeing and prosperity of Europe.
Today I am here, however, to warn you for looming disunity. Germany's national identity, its democracy and economic prosperity, is being threatened by the political ideology of Islam. In 1848, Karl Marx began his Communist Manifesto with the famous words: "A specter is haunting Europe - the specter of communism." Today, another specter is haunting Europe. It is the specter of Islam. This danger, too, is political. Islam is not merely a religion, as many people seem to think: Islam is mainly a political ideology.
This insight is not new.
I quote from the bestselling book and BBC television series The Triumph of the West which the renowned Oxford historian J.M. Roberts wrote in 1985: "Although we carelessly speak of Islam as a 'religion'; that word carries many overtones of the special history of western Europe. The Muslim is primarily a member of a community, the follower of a certain way, an adherent to a system of law, rather than someone holding particular theological views." The Flemish Professor Urbain Vermeulen, the former president of the European Union of Arabists and Islamicists, too, points out that "Islam is primarily a legal system, a law," rather than a religion.
The American political scientist Mark Alexander writes that "One of our greatest mistakes is to think of Islam as just another one of the world's great religions. We shouldn't. Islam is politics or it is nothing at all, but, of course, it is politics with a spiritual dimension, ... which will stop at nothing until the West is no more, until the West has ... been well and truly Islamized."
These are not just statements by opponents of Islam. Islamic scholars say the same thing. There cannot be any doubt about the nature of Islam to those who have read the Koran, the Sira and the Hadith. Abul Ala Maududi, the influential 20th century Pakistani Islamic thinker, wrote - I quote, emphasizing that these are not my words but those of a leading Islamic scholar - "Islam is not merely a religious creed [but] a revolutionary ideology and jihad refers to that revolutionary struggle ... to destroy all states and governments anywhere on the face of the earth, which are opposed to the ideology and program of Islam."
Ali Sina, an Iranian Islamic apostate who lives in Canada, points out that there is one golden rule that lies at the heart of every religion - that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. In Islam, this rule only applies to fellow believers, but not to Infidels. Ali Sina says "The reason I am against Islam is not because it is a religion, but because it is a political ideology of imperialism and domination in the guise of religion. Because Islam does not follow the Golden Rule, it attracts violent people."
A dispassionate study of the beginnings of Islamic history reveals clearly that Muhammad's objective was first to conquer his own people, the Arabs, and to unify them under his rule, and then to conquer and rule the world. That was the original cause; it was obviously political and was backed by military force. "I was ordered to fight all men until they say 'There is no god but Allah,'" Muhammad said in his final address. He did so in accordance with the Koranic command in sura 8:39: "Fight them until there is no more dissension and the religion is entirely Allah's."
According to the mythology, Muhammad founded Islam in Mecca after the Angel Gabriel visited him for the first time in the year 610. The first twelve years of Islam, when Islam was religious rather than political, were not a success. In 622, Muhammad emigrated to Yathrib, a predominantly Jewish oasis, with his small band of 150 followers. There he established the first mosque in history, took over political power, gave Yathrib the name of Medina, which means the "City of the Prophet," and began his career as a military and a political leader who conquered all of Arabia. Tellingly, the Islamic calendar starts with the hijra, the migration to Medina - the moment when Islam became a political movement.
After Muhammad's death, based upon his words and deeds, Islam developed Sharia, an elaborate legal system which justified the repressive governance of the world by divine right - including rules for jihad and for the absolute control of believers and non-believers. Sharia is the law of Saudi Arabia and Iran, among other Islamic states. It is also central to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which in article 24 of its Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, proclaims that "all rights and freedoms are subject to the Islamic Sharia." The OIC is not a religious institution; it is a political body. It constitutes the largest voting block in the United Nations and writes reports on so-called "Islamophobia" in Western Countries which accuse us of human rights violations. To speak in biblical terms: They look for a speck in our eye, but deny the beam in their own.
Under Sharia law people in the conquered territories have no legal rights, not even the right to life and to own property, unless they convert to Islam.
Before I continue, and in order to avoid any misunderstandings, I want to emphasize that I am talking about Islam, not about Muslims. I always make a clear distinction between the people and the ideology, between Muslims and Islam. There are many moderate Muslims, but the political ideology of Islam is not moderate and has global ambitions. It aims to impose Islamic law or Sharia upon the whole world. The way to achieve this is through jihad. The good news is that millions of Muslims around the world - including many in Germany and the Netherlands - do not follow the directives of Sharia, let alone engage in jihad. The bad news, however, is that those who do are prepared to use all available means to achieve their ideological, revolutionary goal.
In 1954, in his essay Communism and Islam, Professor Bernard Lewis spoke of "the totalitarianism, of the Islamic political tradition." Professor Lewis said that "The traditional Islamic division of the world into the House of Islam and the House of War, ... has obvious parallels in the Communist view of world affairs. ... The aggressive fanaticism of the believer is the same."
The American political scientist Mark Alexander states that the nature of Islam differs very little - and only in detail rather than style - from despicable and totalitarian political ideologies such as National-Socialism and Communism. He lists the following characteristics for these three ideologies.
* They use political purges to "cleanse" society of what they considere undesirable;
* They tolerate only a single political party. Where Islam allows more parties, it insists that all parties be Islamic ones;
* They coerce the people along the road that it must follow;
* They obliterate the liberal distinction between areas of private judgment and of public control;
* They turn the educational system into an apparatus for the purpose of universal indoctrination;
* They lay down rules for art, for literature, for science and for religion;
* They subdue people who are given second class status;
* They induce a frame of mind akin to fanaticism. Adjustment takes place by struggle and dominance;
* They are abusive to their opponents and regard any concession on their own part as a temporary expedient and on a rival's part as a sign of weakness;
* They regard politics as an expression of power;
* They are anti-Semitic.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / OK folks, answer this one by Krugman
on: October 03, 2010, 07:22:30 PM
Paul Krugman details how and why that is.
October 2, 2010, 9:33 AM
How The Other Half Thinks
Ezra Klein has written in, asking for a post laying out the difference between the more or less Keynesian model Brad DeLong and I work with and the models others have been using – and how their predictions differ. It’s a good request, although the truth is that the other side in this debate doesn’t necessarily agree on a single model, or even use models at all. Still, I think it is possible to describe the general views of the other guys — and to see how off their predictions have been.
So: first of all, the other side in this debate generally adheres, more or less, to something like what Keynes called the “classical theory” of employment, in which employment and output are basically determined by the supply side. Casey Mulligan has been most explicit here, coming up with increasingly, um, creative stories about how what we’re seeing is a choice by workers to work less; but the whole Kocherlakota structural unemployment thing is similar in its implications.
Oh, and the Cochrane-Fama thing about how a dollar of government spending necessarily displaces a dollar of private spending is basically a classical view, although there doesn’t seem to be a model behind it, just a misunderstanding of what accounting identities mean.
Once you have a more or less classical view of unemployment, you naturally have the classical theory of the interest rate, in which it’s all about supply and demand for funds, and something like a quantity theory of money, in which increases in the monetary base lead, in a fairly short time, to equal proportional rises in the price level. This led to the prediction that large fiscal deficits would lead to soaring interest rates, and that the large rise in the monetary base due to Fed expansion would lead to high inflation.
You can see the classical theory of interest and the soaring-rate prediction clearly in Niall Ferguson’s remarks:
After all, $1.75 trillion is an awful lot of freshly minted treasuries to land on the bond market at a time of recession, and I still don’t quite know who is going to buy them … I predict, in the weeks and months ahead, a very painful tug-of-war between our monetary policy and our fiscal policy as the markets realize just what a vast quantity of bonds are going to have to be absorbed by the financial system this year. That will tend to drive the price of the bonds down, and drive up interest rates
and, of course, in many WSJ op-eds, in analyses from Morgan Stanley, and so on.
Meanwhile, you can see the high-inflation prediction in pieces by Meltzer andLaffer — with the latter helpfully titled, “Get Ready for Inflation and Higher Interest Rates”.
While the other side was making these predictions, people like me were saying that classical economics was all wrong in a liquidity trap. Government borrowing did not confront a fixed supply of funds: we were in a paradox of thrift world, where desired savings (at full employment) exceeded desired investment, and hence savings would expand to meet the demand, and interest rates need not rise. As for inflation, increases in the monetary base would have no effect in a liquidity trap; deflation, not inflation, was the risk.
So, how has it turned out? The 10-year bond rate is about 2.5 percent, lower than it was when Ferguson made that prediction. Inflation keeps falling. The attacks on Keynesianism now come down to “but unemployment has stayed high!” which proves nothing — especially because if you took a Keynesian view seriously, it suggested even given what we knew in early 2009 that the stimulus was much too small to restore full employment.
The point is that recent events have actually amounted to a fairly clear test of Keynesian versus classical economics — and Keynesian economics won, hands down.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Yes, another Stuxnet article
on: October 03, 2010, 01:42:24 AM
October 1, 2010, 11:25 AM
There's a new cyber-weapon on the block. And it's a doozy. Stuxnet, a malicious software, or malware, program was apparently first discovered in June.
Although it has appeared in India, Pakistan and Indonesia, Iran's industrial complexes - including its nuclear installations - are its main victims.
Stuxnet operates as a computer worm. It is inserted into a computer system through a USB port rather than over the Internet, and is therefore capable of infiltrating networks that are not connected to the Internet.
Hamid Alipour, deputy head of Iran's Information Technology Company, told reporters Monday that the malware operated undetected in the country's computer systems for about a year.
After it enters a network, this super-intelligent program figures out what it has penetrated and then decides whether or not to attack. The sorts of computer systems it enters are those that control critical infrastructures like power plants, refineries and other industrial targets.
Ralph Langner, a German computer security researcher who was among the first people to study Stuxnet, told various media outlets that after Stuxnet recognizes its specific target, it does something no other malware program has ever done. It takes control of the facility's SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition system) and through it, is able to destroy the facility.
No other malware program has ever managed to move from cyberspace to the real world. And this is what makes Stuxnet so revolutionary. It is not a tool of industrial espionage. It is a weapon of war.
From what researchers have exposed so far, Stuxnet was designed to control computer systems produced by the German engineering giant Siemens. Over the past generation, Siemens engineering tools, including its industrial software, have been the backbone of Iran's industrial and military infrastructure. Siemens computer software products are widely used in Iranian electricity plants, communication systems and military bases, and in the country's Russian-built nuclear power plant at Bushehr.
The Iranian government has acknowledged a breach of the computer system at Bushehr. The plant was set to begin operating next month, but Iranian officials announced the opening would be pushed back several months due to the damage wrought by Stuxnet. On Monday, Channel 2 reported that Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment facility was also infected by Stuxnet.
On Tuesday, Alipour acknowledged that Stuxnet's discovery has not mitigated its destructive power.
As he put it, "We had anticipated that we could root out the virus within one to two months. But the virus is not stable and since we started the cleanup process, three new versions of it have been spreading."
While so far no one has either taken responsibility for Stuxnet or been exposed as its developer, experts who have studied the program agree that its sophistication is so vast that it is highly unlikely a group of privately financed hackers developed it. Only a nation-state would have the financial, manpower and other resources necessary to develop and deploy Stuxnet, the experts argue.
Iran has pointed an accusatory finger at the US, Israel and India. So far, most analysts are pointing their fingers at Israel. Israeli officials, like their US counterparts, are remaining silent on the subject.
While news of a debilitating attack on Iran's nuclear installations is a cause for celebration, at this point, we simply do not know enough about what has happened and what is continuing to happen at Iran's nuclear installations to make any reasoned evaluation about Stuxnet's success or failure. Indeed, The New York Times has argued that since Stuxnet worms were found in Siemens software in India, Pakistan and Indonesia as well as Iran, reporting, "The most striking aspect of the fast-spreading malicious computer program... may not have been how sophisticated it was, but rather how sloppy its creators were in letting a specifically aimed attack scatter randomly around the globe."
ALL THAT we know for certain is that Stuxnet is a weapon and it is currently being used to wage a battle. We don't know if Israel is involved in the battle or not. And if Israel is a side in the battle, we don't know if we're winning or not.
But still, even in our ignorance about the details of this battle, we still know enough to draw a number of lessons from what is happening.
Stuxnet's first lesson is that it is essential to be a leader rather than a follower in technology development. The first to deploy new technologies on a battlefield has an enormous advantage over his rivals. Indeed, that advantage may be enough to win a war.
But from the first lesson, a second immediately follows. A monopoly in a new weapon system is always fleeting. The US nuclear monopoly at the end of World War II allowed it to defeat Imperial Japan and bring the war to an end in allied victory.
Once the US exposed its nuclear arsenal, however, the Soviet Union's race to acquire nuclear weapons of its own began. Just four years after the US used its nuclear weapons, it found itself in a nuclear arms race with the Soviets. America's possession of nuclear weapons did not shield it from the threat of their destructive power.
The risks of proliferation are the flipside to the advantage of deploying new technology. Warning of the new risks presented by Stuxnet, Melissa Hathaway, a former US national cybersecurity coordinator, told the Times, "Proliferation is a real problem, and no country is prepared to deal with it. All of these [computer security] guys are scared to death. We have about 90 days to fix this [new vulnerability] before some hacker begins using it."
Then there is the asymmetry of vulnerability to cyberweapons. A cyberweapon like Stuxnet threatens nation-states much more than it threatens a non-state actor that could deploy it in the future. For instance, a cyber-attack of the level of Stuxnet against the likes of Hizbullah or al-Qaida by a state like Israel or the US would cause these groups far less damage than a Hizbullah or al-Qaida cyber-attack of the quality of Stuxnet launched against a developed country like Israel or the US.
In short, like every other major new weapons system introduced since the slingshot, Stuxnet creates new strengths as well as new vulnerabilities for the states that may wield it.
As to the battle raging today in Iran's nuclear facilities, even if the most optimistic scenario is true, and Stuxnet has crippled Iran's nuclear installations, we must recognize that while a critical battle was won, the war is far from over.
A war ends when one side permanently breaks its enemy's ability and will to fight it. This has clearly not happened in Iran.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made it manifestly clear during his visit to the US last week that he is intensifying, not moderating, his offensive stance towards the US, Israel and the rest of the free world. Indeed, as IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Benny Ganz noted last week, "Iran is involved up to its neck in every terrorist activity in the Middle East."
So even in the rosiest scenario, Israel or some other government has just neutralized one threat - albeit an enormous threat - among a panoply of threats that Iran poses. And we can be absolutely certain that Iran will take whatever steps are necessary to develop new ways to threaten Israel and its other foes as quickly as possible.
What this tells us is that if Stuxnet is an Israeli weapon, while a great achievement, it is not a revolutionary weapon. While the tendency to believe that we have found a silver bullet is great, the fact is that fielding a weapon like Stuxnet does not fundamentally change Israel's strategic position. And consequently, it should have no impact on Israel's strategic doctrine.
In all likelihood, assuming that Stuxnet has significantly debilitated Iran's nuclear installations, this achievement will be a one-off. Just as the Arabs learned the lessons of their defeat in 1967 and implemented those lessons to great effect in the war in 1973, so the Iranians - and the rest of Israel's enemies - will learn the lessons of Stuxnet.
SO IF we assume that Stuxnet is an Israeli weapon, what does it show us about Israel's position vis-à-vis its enemies? What Stuxnet shows is that Israel has managed to maintain its technological advantage over its enemies. And this is a great relief. Israel has survived since 1948 despite our enemies' unmitigated desire to destroy us because we have continuously adapted our tactical advantages to stay one step ahead of them. It is this adaptive capability that has allowed Israel to win a series of one-off battles that have allowed it to survive.
But again, none of these one-off battles were strategic game-changers. None of them have fundamentally changed the strategic realities of the region. This is the case because they have neither impacted our enemies' strategic aspiration to destroy us, nor have they mitigated Israel's strategic vulnerabilities. It is the unchanging nature of these vulnerabilities since the dawn of modern Zionism that gives hope to our foes that they may one day win and should therefore keep fighting.
Israel has two basic strategic vulnerabilities.
The first is Israel's geographic minuteness, which attracts invaders. The second vulnerability is Israel's political weakness both at home and abroad, which make it impossible to fight long wars.
Attentive to these vulnerabilities, David Ben- Gurion asserted that Israel's military doctrine is the twofold goal to fight wars on our enemies' territory and to end them as swiftly and as decisively as possible. This doctrine remains the only realistic option today, even if Stuxnet is in our arsenal.
It is important to point this plain truth out today as the excitement builds about Stuxnet, because Israel's leaders have a history of mistaking tactical innovation and advantage with strategic transformation. It was our leaders' failure to properly recognize what happened in 1967 for the momentary tactical advantage it was that led us to near disaster in 1973.
Since 1993, our leaders have consistently mistaken their adoption of the West's land-forpeace paradigm as a strategic response to Israel's political vulnerability. The fact that the international assault on Israel's right to exist has only escalated since Israel embraced the landfor- peace paradigm is proof that our leaders were wrong. Adopting the political narrative of our enemies did not increase Israel's political fortunes in Europe, the US or the UN.
So, too, our leaders have mistaken Israel's air superiority for a strategic answer to its geographical vulnerability. The missile campaigns the Palestinians and Lebanese have waged against the home front in the aftermath of Israel's withdrawals from Gaza and south Lebanon show clearly that air supremacy does not make up for geographic vulnerability. It certainly does not support a view that strategic depth is less important than it once was.
We may never know if Stuxnet was successful or if Stuxnet is Israeli. But what we do know is that we cannot afford to learn the wrong lessons from its achievements.http://www.carolineglick.com/e/2010/10/the-lessons-of-stuxnet.php
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / How to recognize and fight a terrorist on a plane
on: October 02, 2010, 03:16:23 PM
How to Recognize and Fight a Terrorist on a Plane
by Randy Plante (more by this author)
Posted 01/05/2010 ET
Updated 01/05/2010 ET
The attempted bombing of Delta/Northwest 253 on Christmas Day was not the first from the Islamic terrorists nor will it be the last. Since I am a pilot, I have had people ask what can a passenger do onboard an airplane to help thwart a terrorist attack. Having personal experience with a few events myself, as well as reading articles and hearing stories from other crewmembers, I can give you some information which might assist you in dealing with a suspicious passenger or situation.
The first thing to realize is that there are a few different scenarios which the terrorists could be using on your particular flight. (Also realize that it could happen on any flight, not just one originating from a non U.S. location.) Options include testing TSA and law enforcement personnel, testing passengers and crewmembers, observation, dry run/practice, and actual execution of an attack. Of course it is hard to differentiate which scenario is playing out until after your flight lands, but it might assist you in recognizing the threat and knowing how serious your reaction should be if you know all of the options. In most of these instances, their job is to also scare you. Terrorists create terror. If you stop flying, they win. So be pro-active. Maybe something you do will cause them to call off the attack.
As a passenger you must be observant and vigilant. Most often someone notices some unusual activity or behavior. It doesn’t have to be just a person either. Suspicious bags, luggage, packages, notes, pillows, and electronic devices have been found on planes. One of the biggest advantages you have is the ability to profile. TSA refuses to do the obvious thanks to political correctness. Everyone knows who is committing these attacks -- Muslim, Middle-Eastern men between 18 and 40. Maybe al Qaeda is trying to recruit others than don’t fit this profile but it sure fits the mold right now.
Some things to look for: groups or pairs of men, a passenger talking to themselves, speaking Arabic, watching crewmembers (this is different than looking), staring at the cockpit door, long stays or multiple trips to the lavatory, reading a book but not turning any pages, nervousness, being unusual by trying to fit in, taking pictures/videos, not making eye contact. When you are at the boarding area and on the plane if you notice a suspicious passenger, look for others. How many? If it is one or two then they could be planning on bombing the aircraft or just making observations of crew procedures. 6 or more? Then this cell’s objective would be hijacking the plane by brute force. Also remember that there are sleepers that try to blend in with the other passengers and could be very hard to notice. A website reports a well-dressed man in custody that was also a passenger on Delta Flight 253. After an incident, your entire plane might be delayed for security and they will treat everyone as suspects. Also expect the government and airline to try to cover up parts or all of an event.
A recent example of a possible test occurred on Nov 17 with an Airtran flight from Atlanta to Houston. Eleven Muslim men got on the plane and caused a big disturbance and ended with passengers assisting the flight attendants in the commotion. TSA was called, they took the men off, talked to them, and put them back on. The crewmembers walked off the plane refusing to fly it, and then passengers walked off as well. The terrorists tested the TSA and passengers but probably also threatened lawsuits to the government and Airtran. This could be setting up a later mission with hopes the TSA and airline would be afraid to take them off the plane. Just like the Delta flight, the final layer of security, the crewmembers and passengers, are the ones who might have prevented an attack, nothing the government did was successful.
The best time to do something is prior to boarding and before the aircraft pushes back from the gate while the door is still open. This is when you have some control in the situation and easier for the captain to get involved. Before you board you can talk to a TSA employee or gate agent and explain your concerns. The gate agents are usually very busy and might give you the brush off. Talk to other passengers. While on the plane you will have to find a flight attendant, which could prove difficult because at times the boarding process can be quite chaotic. If one flight attendant seems to ignore you then talk to the other one. Maybe ask to see the captain. Write a note. If you are really scared, grab your bags, say you are sick, and get off the plane. Some crewmembers can be just as ignorant about the serious nature of the threat as our government officials. One time after a flight years ago a flight attendant asked me what the captain did about the suspicious passenger. She had called the cockpit inflight to report the behavior to the captain (since retired) and he neglected to tell me anything and did nothing.
While seated look for able-bodied men, military personnel, or deadheading crew to assist you. Maybe you notice a suspicious passenger but do not feel it warrants a visit with TSA/Flight Attendant or it happens inflight . Volunteer yourself or change seats on your own to sit next to or right behind any suspicious passengers. A recent crew moved a soldier to sit next to a nervous Middle-Eastern passenger before pushback. Once while I was deadheading in coach during a flight, the captain told the flight attendant to move me next to a suspicious passenger.
Once airborne there are limited options. Talking to the flight attendants and moving seats is basically all you can do. A divert takes time and would be a major emergency. On the flight I diverted for security issues we had an F-16 on our tail, ready to shoot us down if we didn’t immediately land.
If an actual attack occurs, then all bets are off. Take Action! DO NOT wait for crewmember instruction! This is a life or death situation. The terrorists will be hoping for the element of surprise. You will probably die anyways if the terrorists are successful so you might as well die giving them a fight. If it is a hijacking, block the aisles and do not let them get to the cockpit. For a bombing, jump on the passenger and separate him from the ignition source. For a suspicious package, box, etc. there is a place on the plane to move it to, but do not move it until necessary and with guidance from the crew.
The airlines are doing their best just to stay in business with the recession, bad weather, tough competition, and low fares. The employees are very frustrated with pay cuts, long hours, full planes, grumpy customers and poor morale. The commercial aviation system wasn’t designed to fight terrorists. And don’t necessarily blame the TSA and law enforcement agencies. They have some really hard working personnel trying to protect us. It is the policies implemented by people working in the U.S. government that is the problem, and amazing enough, it is the federal government that is required by law to defend us by the U.S. constitution. So what do they do? President Obama decides to take legal action against CIA employees for using special interrogation techniques to obtain information from terrorists to keep us safe. It was an obvious emotional, liberal, political decision. This will only make it much more difficult for the intelligence agencies to do their jobs and recruit/retain top talent, as well as lowering morale.
Another government employee, the DHS Secretary herself, said after the 12/25 attempted bombing, “the system worked” when it was obvious to the world that it did not. The news media gave President Bush an amazing amount of grief for not connecting the dots with 9/11. Regarding the underwear bomber on Flight 253; his father warned the government, was on a watch list, paid cash for his ticket, no passport, no luggage. A third grader could have connected these dots. The Republicans had to undo the laws and policies enacted by the Clinton Administration that impeded communication between intelligence and law enforcement agencies while President Bush implemented new ones to protect us after September 11. Now Democrats are acting like it is September 10 again.
Government by definition is a bureaucratic monopoly. It is managed by politicians and career bureaucrats. Slow, inefficient, unaccountable. Lots of finger pointing, blame games, commissions, hearings, conferences, meetings, and reports, but do you know anybody that got fired after 9/11, Fort Hood, or any other government blunder? Deja vous with this security lapse? It feels like we are on a team that wants to lose. And I don’t like being on a team that likes losing and neither does millions of people across the United States.
Unfortunately, until the Obama administration, Congress, and our government officials get serious with national security and the war on terrorism, then what we will lose is more of our freedoms and the lives of more American citizens.
Randy Plante is a former Air Force Captain and F-111 pilot. He flew a C-130 with the Air National Guard and served two tours in the Bosnian War. Currently Mr. Plante is a Captain with 19 years at a major airline.
Picture these guys shaved and in a suit, and ready to die as a part of killing you. Are you ready?http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfQ1ps6QXog
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2010 Elections; 2012 Presidential
on: October 02, 2010, 02:41:23 PM
I have not really heard him discuss economics, so I will keep an ear open for that.
That said, my intended point is a bit more amorphous than that.
Following Carl Jung's analysis, people have one of four dominant functions: Thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition. I suspect most of us here have thinking as their dominant modality, yet thinkers are about only 10% of the population. A good politician must be able to communicate in the language(s) which most voters understand e.g. emotion. Reagan was great at this. So was candidate Obama. Alan Keyes (inter alia, BO's last minute opponent for US Senate from Illinois) is brilliant, yet he is virtually 100% thinker and as such is utterly tone deaf to human emotion and therefore a poor candidate. I suspect a similar dynamic with Bolton, though to a far lesser degree than Keyes.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH struggles to understand/slam Tea Party
on: October 02, 2010, 02:19:39 PM
By KATE ZERNIKE
Published: October 1, 2010
The Tea Party is a thoroughly modern movement, organizing on Twitter and Facebook to become the most dynamic force of the midterm elections.
The books Glenn Beck cites during his speaking engagements usually draw the interest and curiosity of his supporters.
But when it comes to ideology, it has reached back to dusty bookshelves for long-dormant ideas.
It has resurrected once-obscure texts by dead writers — in some cases elevating them to best-seller status — to form a kind of Tea Party canon. Recommended by Tea Party icons like Ron Paul and Glenn Beck, the texts are being quoted everywhere from protest signs to Republican Party platforms.
Pamphlets in the Tea Party bid for a Second American Revolution, the works include Frédéric Bastiat’s “The Law,” published in 1850, which proclaimed that taxing people to pay for schools or roads was government-sanctioned theft, and Friedrich Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom” (1944), which argued that a government that intervened in the economy would inevitably intervene in every aspect of its citizens’ lives.
The relative newcomer is “The 5000 Year Leap,” self-published in 1981 by an anti-communist crusader shunned by his fellow Mormons for his more controversial positions, including a hearty defense of the John Birch Society. It asserts that the Founding Fathers had not intended separation of church and state, and would have considered taxes to provide for the welfare of others “a sin.”
If their arguments can be out there (like getting rid of the 17th Amendment, which established the direct election of senators by popular vote) or out of date (Bastiat warned that if government taxed wine and tobacco, “beggars and vagabonds will demand the right to vote”), the works have provided intellectual ballast for a segment of the electorate angry or frustrated about the economy and the growing reach of government.
They have convinced their readers that economists, the Founding Fathers, and indeed, God, are on their side when they accuse President Obama and the Democrats of being “socialists.” And they have established a counternarrative to what Tea Party supporters denounce as the “progressive” interpretation of economics and history in mainstream texts.
All told, the canon argues for a vision of the country where government’s role is to protect private property — against taxes as much as against thieves. Where religion plays a bigger role in public life. Where any public safety net is unconstitutional. And where the way back to prosperity is for markets to be left free from regulation.
As the Tea Party has exerted increasing force over American politics, the influence of the books has shown up in many ways.
Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, alluded to “The Road to Serfdom” in introducing his economic “Roadmap for America’s Future,” which many other Republicans have embraced. Ron Johnson, who entered politics through a Tea Party meeting and is now the Republican nominee for Senate in Wisconsin, asserted that the $20 billion escrow fund that the Obama administration forced BP to set up to pay damages from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill circumvented “the rule of law,” Hayek’s term for the unwritten code that prohibits the government from interfering with the pursuit of “personal ends and desires.”
Justin Amash, the 30-year-old Republican state legislator running for the House seat once held by Gerald Ford in Michigan, frequently posts links to essays by Hayek and Bastiat on his Facebook page, his chief vehicle for communicating with voters. “There is no single economist or philosopher I admire more than F. A. Hayek,” he wrote in May. “I have his portrait on the wall of my legislative office and the Justin Amash for Congress office.”
In Maine, Tea Party activists jammed the state Republican convention last spring to reject the party platform, replacing it with one that urged “a return to the principles of Austrian economics,” as espoused by Hayek, and the belief that “freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion.” The new platform also embraced the idea that “it is immoral to steal the property earned by one individual and give it to another who has no claim or right to its benefits” — a line ripped from Bastiat’s jeremiad against taxation and welfare.
The Tea Party canon includes other works, some of them unlikely. Organizers have promoted “Rules for Radicals,” by Saul D. Alinsky, as a primer on community organizing tactics, and “The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations,” by Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom, an argument for the strength of movements built around ideas rather than leaders.
But the ideological works tend to draw heavily on the classics of Austrian economics (Hayek, Bastiat and Ludwig von Mises) and on works arguing for a new perspective on the Constitution and the Founding Fathers. (“The 5000 Year Leap,” “The Real George Washington” and “The Real Thomas Jefferson.”)
Doug Bramley, a postal worker and Tea Party activist in Maine, picked up “The Road to Serfdom” after Mr. Beck mentioned it on air in June. (Next up for Mr. Bramley, another classic of libertarian thought: “I’ve got to read ‘Atlas Shrugged,’ ” he said.) He found Hayek “dense reading,” but he loved “The 5000 Year Leap.”
“You don’t read it,” Mr. Bramley said, “you study it.”
Across the country, many Tea Party groups are doing just that, often taking a chapter to discuss at each meeting.
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The book was published in 1981 by W. Cleon Skousen, a former Salt Lake City police chief who had a best seller in “The Naked Communist” in the 1960s, and died in 2006 at the age of 92. “The 5000 Year Leap” hit the top of the Amazon rankings in 2009 after Mr. Beck put it on his list for the 9/12 groups, his brand of Tea Party.
“The 5000 Year Leap,” published in 1981, asserts that the Founding Fathers had not intended separation of church and state.
It spins the Constitution in a way most legal scholars would not recognize — even those who embrace an “originalist” interpretation.
It argues that the Founding Fathers were guided by 28 “principles of liberty,” above all, a belief that government should be based on “Natural Law,” or “a code of right reason from the Creator himself.” The founders, Skousen wrote, believed in the equal protection of rights, but not the equal distribution of things — an argument that many Tea Party activists now make against the health care overhaul passed in March.
“One of the worst sins of government, according to the Founders, was the exercise of coercive taxing powers to take property from one group and give it to another,” he wrote.
“Leap” argues that when Jefferson spoke of a “wall of separation between church and state,” he was referring only to the federal government, and was in fact “anxious” for the state governments to promote religion. In Skousen’s interpretation, public schools should be used for religious study, and should encourage Bible reading.
It is from this book that many Tea Party supporters and candidates have argued for repeal of the 17th Amendment. Prior to the amendment, state legislators elected United States senators. “Since that time,” Skousen wrote, “there has been no veto power which the states could exercise against the Congress in those cases where a federal statute was deemed in violation of states’ rights.”
Neither Hayek nor Bastiat were writing with the United States in mind. But their arguments, too, have become fodder for a movement that believes that government intervention is the wrong solution to the country’s economic woes — and is, in fact, the problem, resulting in runaway national debt.
Hayek, who won the Nobel Prize in economic sciences in 1974, argued that when a government begins any kind of central economic planning, it must decide which needs are more and less important, and therefore ends up controlling every aspect of its citizens lives.
Bastiat called taxation “legal plunder,” allowing the government to take something from one person and use it for the benefit of someone else, “doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.” In his view, protective tariffs, subsidies, progressive taxation, public schools, a minimum wage, and public assistance programs were of a piece. “All of these plans as a whole,” he wrote, “constitute socialism.”
The works are more suited to protest than to policy making, as Bastiat himself recognized. “If you wish to be strong, begin by rooting out every particle of socialism that may have crept into your legislation,” he urged. “This will be no light task.”
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Federalizing the police
on: October 02, 2010, 02:12:49 PM
SANTIAGO, Mexico — The Mexican government is preparing a plan to radically alter the nation’s police forces, hoping not only to instill a trust the public has never had in them but also to choke off a critical source of manpower for organized crime.
The proposal, which the president’s aides say is expected in the coming weeks, would all but do away with the nation’s 2,200 local police departments and place their duties under a “unified command.” It comes at a critical moment for President Felipe Calderón, who faces mounting pressure from the United States and within Mexico to demonstrate progress in defeating the drug cartels.
He has already hurled the military into the fight, using soldiers to buttress the federal police and battle the drug traffickers, but violence continues to soar and corruption among the nation’s police forces remains a constant, fundamental scourge.
Police departments around the country, filled with underpaid, undertrained officers, are heavily infiltrated by criminal organizations or under the thumb of mayors, often simply escorting local officials rather than patrolling the community, according to a report by Mexico’s Senate last month.
Mr. Calderón’s new plan would eliminate what are now wide variations in police training, equipment, operations and recruitment in favor of a single national standard, helping the government field a more professional, cohesive force to work alongside its soldiers and agents fighting the drug war.
The approach has its pitfalls, though. State authorities, which would now control the local police forces in coordination with the federal police, are hardly immune to corruption themselves, and municipal officials are suspicious of surrendering autonomy. It is also unclear how dishonest officers will be weeded out of the new chain of command.
But the government is running out of options, and the public’s worries have only intensified with a recent rash of assassinations.
Here in this pastel-splashed colonial town, it was a shock to most residents when the popular mayor was bundled into a sport utility vehicle in August and found dead days later. It was less of a surprise that several local police officers were accused of the murder.
Eleven mayors have been killed this year. Just this week, the mayor of Tancitaro was found dead from a blow with a stone . The previous mayor and several town officials had already resigned after threats from drug traffickers and complaints that the police were ineffective; the state and federal authorities took over enforcement because the 60-member police force was believed to be enmeshed in crime.
Several mayors here in northeastern Mexico now spend the night in the United States out of concern that the local police cannot protect them, state officials confirmed.
Until now, Mr. Calderón’s main approach has been to draw on the military and the federal police, but the strategy has come under withering criticism for its human rights record. The State Department withheld funds from Mexico under an antidrug initiative for the first time this year partly because of abuses.
The military has been accused of unlawful killings, torture, seizures and indiscriminate fire that has killed innocents.
“We are still waiting for justice,” said Juan Carlos Arredondo, the uncle of one of two students killed in Monterrey by soldiers, who claimed they were criminals and, according to a report by the National Human Rights Commission, manipulated the crime scene to make it look that way.
Last week, Human Rights Watch sent a scathing letter to Mr. Calderón, accusing him of sitting silent in face of evidence that military abuses “have grown significantly with each year of your presidency.”
Mr. Calderón’s aides remain confident that their strategy is making progress and are counting on the police reform to help make the kind of turnover that the president has been promising.
Despite talk in Washington about increasing the role of the United States military here — small teams have advised the Mexican military for several years — Mr. Calderón’s chief security spokesman, Alejandro Poiré, ruled that out.
“This a matter in which we need to rebuild our own institutions,” he said, after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the fight against traffickers here was taking on the characteristics of an “insurgency,” angering Mexican officials. President Obama contradicted her the next day.
Since Mr. Calderón took office, the federal police have expanded to more than 30,000 officers from about 6,000, and have often swooped in with the military to take over policing from local officers deemed corrupt or under the control of drug gangs.
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The government’s new plan would place local police departments under the command of governors, preserving the closely guarded autonomy of the states and allowing the authorities to more easily move people to trouble spots.
Mr. Calderón announced in June that he would propose constitutional changes for the measure this year and recently held “public dialogues” to help build support. He has proposed spending $2.4 billion next year to carry it out, which might allow for higher salaries and help steer officers away from corruption.
“That is one of the deficits of the last 20 or 30 years of Mexico’s political development, that we didn’t build the police institutions to prevent crime,” Mr. Poiré said.
Officials in Monterrey, a city of two million, recently reported that its police force stood at 350 officers, half what it was a year ago because of dismissals and resignations.
While the new approach would make law enforcement more accountable to state leaders, analysts note that state forces — and even the federal police, where nearly a tenth of the force has been dismissed this year for suspected corruption and other problems — do not have great records themselves.
“The problem is the state governments are not exactly clean,” said John Ackerman, editor of the Mexican Law Review. “It can hardly be worse than the municipal level, but the state has problems too.”
Here in Santiago, the police force has dwindled to about 20 from 160 a year ago, with state and federal police filling the gap, according to the mayor, Bladimiro Montalvo. Residents like Gonzalo Almaguer, a 62-year-old retiree, say they hardly go out anymore, especially at night. “This was a peaceful town but now you don’t know who to trust; it is like the rest of the country,” said Mr. Almaguer, one of the few people in the central plaza last week.
Mayor Montalvo said he worried most about the 50 percent drop in tourism because of the swelling violence around his town, including shootings and kidnappings in nearby Monterrey that prompted the State Department to pull children of its workers out of the country.
“I don’t think so,” he said when asked if he worried for his safety. “Something can happen, but if you are orderly and respectful that is something they will respect,” he said of criminal organizations. He then dashed off, driven away in a sport utility vehicle by two bodyguards.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty
on: October 02, 2010, 03:27:18 AM
BELLEVUE, Wash., Sept. 16 –
BELLEVUE, Wash., Sept. 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The appointment of anti-gun rights former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels as an alternate representative to the United Nations has removed any doubt about the Obama administration's intentions regarding global gun control initiatives, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms said today.
Nickels, a founding member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns and the author of Seattle's failed attempt to override Washington's state firearms preemption statute, was sworn in Wednesday to "help represent the United States in the UN assembly," according to the Seattle Times.
"Putting an extremist gun banner in any position to represent this country at the United Nations amounts to renting a billboard for advertising against the Second Amendment," said CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb. "While he was Seattle's mayor, Greg Nickels supported every anti-gun scheme put forth by Washington CeaseFire, the Northwest's most active gun prohibition lobby.
"Nickels is a gun ban proponent," he continued, "so his appointment as an alternate to the UN is a clear signal of Barack Obama's intention to rubber stamp the UN's global gun ban agenda. We had to sue Nickels while he was still Seattle's mayor to overturn his illegal city parks gun ban. Now he gets to push his anti-gun philosophy on a world scale. It hardly seems a coincidence that Nickels has been appointed by the Obama administration at a time when the UN is considering treaties and initiatives that pose a serious threat to the Second Amendment."
Nickels was turned out of office in 2009, which was something of a feat in a liberal enclave like Seattle, Gottlieb recalled. His defeat in the primary demonstrated the degree of alienation voters felt from a politician who once epitomized the Seattle liberal establishment.
"By naming Greg Nickels as an alternate representative at the UN," Gottlieb stated, "President Obama has essentially told America's 85 million gun owners that their firearm civil rights are in jeopardy. Nickels cannot be counted on to defend the Second Amendment because he would like to see it erased from the Constitution."
With more than 650,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (www.ccrkba.org
) is one of the nation's premier gun rights organizations. As a non-profit organization, the Citizens Committee is dedicated to preserving firearms freedoms through active lobbying of elected officials and facilitating grass-roots organization of gun rights activists in local communities throughout the United States.
SOURCE Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB on PPV TV
on: October 01, 2010, 10:33:32 PM
Actually, no. Not only would be quite impractical for us to keep track of that, but based on the last 22 years there is more than sufficient track record of how we treat people in our use of the footage for people to decide.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ
on: October 01, 2010, 07:06:00 PM
The tweets started arriving in August, and they did not mince words. One of the first accused the South Korean government of being "a prostitute of the United States." The Twitter account, under the name "uriminzok," or "our nation," seemed to be part of a sprawling North Korean digital operation that included a Facebook account (registered as a man interested in "meeting other men," but solely for "networking purposes") and a series of YouTube videos meant to celebrate the might of the North Korean military.
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.A spokesman for the North Korean government quickly denied any involvement with the Facebook and Twitter accounts, but he acknowledged that they were the work of government supporters living in China and Japan. The owner of the Facebook page (which the Palo Alto, Calif., company eventually deleted, citing violation of its terms of service) told a South Korean news agency that it was run by a Pyongyang-based publishing outlet affiliated with the government. Apparently, even the notoriously isolated rulers of North Korea know how to practice what the U.S. State Department calls "21st-century statecraft."
While authoritarian governments continue to censor the Web and crack down on bloggers—a few days ago, Iran sentenced the controversial blogger Hossein Derakhshan to 19½ years in prison for "insulting sanctities," among other charges—they are also increasingly using the Internet for their own propaganda. Officials are pouring resources into social media and hitting the blogs to disseminate pro-government views and undermine their critics. And they're succeeding: The decentralized nature of online conversations often makes it easier to manipulate public opinion, both domestically and globally. Regimes that once relied on centralized systems of media control can now deliver ideological messages more subtly, with the help of little-known intermediaries like anonymous commenters on websites.
Chinese authorities have established a formidable online propaganda operation, much of it geared to internal needs. Not only do they train and pay bloggers to try to steer dissenting online discussions in a more favorable direction, they also send text messages with inspirational Maoist quotes, promote computer games in which players fight corrupt officials, and design patriotic ring tones. (On National Day in 2009, millions of customers of state-controlled China Mobile woke up to discover that their ring tones had been replaced with a nationalistic tune sung by the actor Jackie Chan.)
The Kremlin is not far behind. It relies on the services of several high-profile bloggers who promote the government's talking points, helping the Kremlin to reach the hip digital audiences who avoid its masterful propaganda on TV. But the authorities haven't given up on television altogether. Some of the Kremlin's Internet cardinals even get to co-host their own shows during prime time. Russian authorities are also embracing new platforms. In early 2010 the Duma announced a proposal to give tax breaks to firms that feature patriotic themes in their computer games.
The North Korean case is unusual, of course. Ordinary citizens have no access to the Web, so the tweeting is presumably meant to tease South Koreans, who aren't allowed to visit North Korean websites without permission from their own government. In August, Seoul quickly blocked access to the North Korean tweets, probably to the great delight of the North Korean authorities, who seem to relish any opportunity to highlight the South's undemocratic regulations.
Tweets From the Top
@uriminzok: South Korea is 'a prostitute of the United States' (North Korea, regime supporters)
@chavezcandanga: 'The squalid ones said they won. Well, let them keep winning like this!' (Hugo Chávez)
@KremlinRussia_E: 'My congratulations to @BarackObama on his birthday' (Dmitry Medvedev)
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.North Korea's Internet presence has traditionally been limited to a handful of official sites, but the situation is slowly beginning to change. Earlier this year, South Korean authorities accused the North of penetrating South Korean blogs and forums to spread rumors that the sinking of the Cheonan warship in March 2010—one of the thorniest issues in recent relations between the two countries—was orchestrated by Seoul in order to blame the disaster on Pyongyang.
This doesn't mean that there are hordes of North Korean government officials who spend their days surfing indie rock blogs. Such latitude might undermine the morale of government bureaucrats: Once they got on Facebook, they might start learning about capitalism by playing FarmVille. Such operations are probably executed much as they would be by any other government, by outsourcing them to the private sector or, at minimum, encouraging those who sympathize with the government
North Korea aside, most authoritarian governments have already accepted the growth of the Internet culture as inevitable; they have little choice but to find ways to shape it in accord with their own narratives—or risk having their narratives shaped by others. Once they realize that censorship doesn't work in an environment where new blogs can be set up in a matter of seconds, they turn to propaganda. Instead of blocking the views that they don't like, they seek to marginalize them, often by undermining the credibility of critics. Accusing them of being Western stooges often does the trick.
For all the supposed omnipotence of China's censorship apparatus, even Chinese leaders acknowledge that online spin can be more effective at diffusing online tensions. Wu Hao, a local official who's become the godfather of China's Internet propaganda, said last year that "public opinion on the Internet must be solved with the means of the Internet." It's for this reason that the government has nurtured a digital army of online commentators—known as the 50-Cent Party for the scant pay they receive for each comment—who eagerly perform damage control on the Chinese Internet.
Fifty-centers are only rarely used to promote some genuinely new party position, but rather as a means of containing the online reaction to sensitive political issues, predominantly by seeding doubt. The governments of Azerbaijan and Nigeria have experimented with similar schemes. For all their supposed fear of the Twitter Revolution, the Iranian clerics in Qom have been running blogging workshops—mostly targeting religious women—since 2006. Their goal is to influence online discourse about highly sensitive issues like the role of women in Iranian society.
There is also a more pragmatic reason for authoritarian governments to go online: Many of their opponents are already active in this space. Countless Facebook groups in support of Gamal Mubarak—who may soon succeed his father at the helm of Egypt—sprouted up after many young Egyptians took to the site to vent their criticisms and publicize antigovernment protests. (The junior Mr. Mubarak claims no relationship to his online boosters.)
Something similar is happening in Venezuela, where Hugo Chávez, after seeing the opposition use Twitter to mobilize campaigns against him, jumped on the bandwagon, gaining nearly 900,000 followers in five months. Using the name Chavezcandanga (in Spanish, candanga means "the devil," but Venezuelans also use the term to describe someone naughty and wild), Mr. Chávez has been avidly tweeting his way through the recent parliamentary election campaign. His Twitter response to the results of last weekend's election: "The squalid ones said they won. Well, let them keep winning like this!" Given his designs for a transcontinental revolution, Mr. Chávez may also see Twitter as a way to mobilize supporters in other Spanish-speaking countries, who don't always have the privilege of watching "Aló Presidente," his Sunday TV show.
In many of these propaganda fights, the quality of one's arguments often matters far less than their quantity. Victory often comes down to who can construct the most impressive online persona by adding new friends and writing witty tweets. Incumbents, who have state resources at their disposal, usually enjoy a significant advantage. A few months into his Twitter adventure, Mr. Chávez announced a plan to allocate 200 staffers and state funds to boost his Twitter presence.
As the public sphere has grown decentralized and media based in the West have lost their dominance in setting the global agenda, it has become easier for governments—as well as for corporations, fringe movements and anyone else with an ax to grind—to promote their agendas. Bribing 100 bloggers is often much easier than bribing the editorial board of one newspaper.
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.In doing this, of course, anxious authoritarians are simply following wider market trends. Helping clients to establish effective control online has already become a lucrative industry. Australia's uSocial offers to place a story of your choice on the front page of popular social news sites like Digg.com, as well as to sell you new Facebook friends (1,000 for just $197) or new Twitter followers (1,000 for just $87). Although most Internet companies frown on such abuse of their services, they cannot root them out completely—and, as existing brands try to master the digital space, the demand is poised to grow.
Or consider Megaphone, a desktop tool designed by a group of Israeli activists and released during the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon. Megaphone identifies any new online polls about Israel and immediately prompts its users to visit the poll's website and cast their votes. It also tracks favorable articles about Israel in the international press, urging users to push such stories to the "most emailed" lists on websites by sending them to all their friends. Moscow and Beijing would presumably love to have a Megaphone-like tool the next time that the international press accuses them of starting yet another war in the Caucasus or suppressing the rights of Tibetans.
Can supporters of democracy in the West stop or at least thwart the growth of authoritarian influence on the Internet? Maybe. Should they try? That is a much harder question to answer. Western governments could fight this insidious new form of state propaganda by creating, for example, some kind of website for rating the authenticity of Russian or Chinese online commentators. Alternatively, all comments from one IP address might be aggregated under a unique online profile, thus exposing the operatives working from the offices of the government's propaganda department.
But in most cases, such Western interventions would also erode online anonymity and put dissidents' lives on the line. The best that Western governments can do is to educate—in person or remotely—those running important political websites about how to build communities, keep their content visible despite all the spin and avoid being overwhelmed by pro-government intruders.
In the meantime, as long as it helps to embarrass its enemies in the South, a tweeting North Korea is also a stronger North Korea. American officials, still giddy with enthusiasm for digital statecraft, have been a little too quick to welcome North Korea's entry into the world of social media. "The Hermit Kingdom will not change overnight, but technology once introduced can't be shut down. Just ask Iran," tweeted the U.S. State Department's Philip Crowley in August. Maybe—but technology, once introduced, can also be co-opted to serve ends very different from free expression. Just ask the Kremlin or China's 50-centers.
—Evgeny Morozov is a visiting scholar at Stanford University, a fellow at the New America Foundation and the author of "The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom," due out in January.
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