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23351  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Oy fg vey; Baraq finances car factory in Finland on: October 21, 2011, 11:15:03 AM
23352  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Maureen Dowd: Anne Frank the Mormon on: October 20, 2011, 05:10:23 PM
Maureen Dowd's unique take on Mormonism and Mitt Romney:

At an appearance at George Washington University here Saturday night, Bill Maher bounded into territory that the news media have been gingerly tiptoeing around.

Magic underwear. Baptizing dead people. Celestial marriages. Private planets. Racism. Polygamy.

“By any standard, Mormonism is more ridiculous than any other religion,” asserted the famously nonbelieving comic who skewered the “fairy tales” of several faiths in his documentary “Religulous.” “It’s a religion founded on the idea of polygamy. They call it The Principle. That sounds like The Prime Directive in ‘Star Trek.’ ”

He said he expects the Romney crowd — fighting back after Robert Jeffress, a Texas Baptist pastor supporting Rick Perry, labeled Mormonism a non-Christian “cult” — to once more “gloss over the differences between Christians and Mormons.”

Maher was not easy on the religion he was raised in either. He referred to the Roman Catholic Church as “an international child sex ring.”

But atheists, like Catholics and evangelical Christians, seem especially wary of Mormons, dubbed the “ultimate shape-shifters” by Maher.

In a Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll released on Tuesday, people were asked what single word came to mind for Republican candidates. For Herman Cain it was 9-9-9; for Rick Perry, Texas; and for Mitt Romney, Mormon. In the debate Tuesday night, Romney said it was repugnant that “we should choose people based on their religion.”

In The Times on Sunday, Sheryl Gay Stolberg chronicled Romney’s role as a bishop in Boston often giving imperious pastoral guidance on everything from divorce to abortion.

Stolberg reported that Romney, who would later run for Senate as a supporter of abortion rights against Teddy Kennedy and then flip to oppose those rights in Republican presidential primaries, showed up unannounced at a hospital in his role as bishop. He “sternly” warned a married mother of four, who was considering terminating a pregnancy because of a potentially dangerous blood clot, not to go forward.

Another famous nonbeliever, Christopher Hitchens, wrote in Slate on Monday about “the weird and sinister belief system of the LDS,” the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Aside from Joseph Smith, whom Hitchens calls “a fraud and conjurer well known to the authorities in upstate New York,” the writer also wonders about the Mormon practice of amassing archives of the dead and “praying them in” as a way to “retrospectively ‘baptize’ everybody as a convert.”

Hitchens noted that they “got hold of a list of those put to death by the Nazis’ Final Solution” and “began making these massacred Jews into honorary LDS members as well.” He called it “a crass attempt at mass identity theft from the deceased.”

The Mormons even baptized Anne Frank.

It took Ernest Michel, then chairman of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, three years to get Mormons to agree to stop proxy-baptizing Holocaust victims.

Mormons desisted in 1995 after Michel, as the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported, “discovered that his own mother, father, grandmother and best childhood friend, all from Mannheim, Germany, had been posthumously baptized.”

Michel told the news agency that “I was hurt that my parents, who were killed as Jews in Auschwitz, were being listed as members of the Mormon faith.”

Richard Bushman, a Mormon who is a professor emeritus of history at Columbia University, said that after “the Jewish dust-up,” Mormons “backed away” from “going to extravagant lengths to collect the names of every last person who ever lived and baptize them — even George Washington.” Now they will do it for Mormons who bring a relative or ancestor’s name into the temple, he said.

Bushman said that “Mormons believe that Christ is the divine son of God who atoned for our sins, but we don’t believe in the Trinity in the sense that there are three in one. We believe the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are three distinct persons.”

Kent Jackson, the associate dean of religion at Brigham Young University, says that while Mormons are Christians, “Mormonism is not part of the Christian family tree.”

It probably won’t comfort skeptical evangelicals and Catholics to know that Mormons think that while other Christians merely “have a portion of the truth, what God revealed to Joseph Smith is the fullness of the truth,” as Jackson says. “We have no qualms about saying evangelicals, Catholics and Protestants can go to heaven, including Pastor Jeffress. We just believe that the highest blessings of heaven come” to Mormons.

As for those planets that devout Mormon couples might get after death, Jackson says that’s a canard. But Bushman says it’s part of “Mormon lore,” and that it’s based on the belief that if humans can become like God, and God has the whole universe, then maybe Mormons will get to run a bit of that universe.

As for the special garment that Mitt wears, “we wouldn’t say ‘magic underwear,’ ” Bushman explains.

It is meant to denote “moral protection,” a sign that they are “a consecrated people like the priests of ancient Israel.”

And it’s not only a one-piece any more. “There’s a two-piece now,” he said.

Republicans are the ones who have made faith part of the presidential test. Now we’ll see if Mitt can pass it.

23353  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: Sept existing home sales on: October 20, 2011, 04:55:50 PM

Existing home sales fell 3.0% in September To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 10/20/2011
Existing home sales fell 3.0% in September to an annual rate of 4.91 million units, matching consensus expectations. Existing home sales are up 11.3% versus a year ago.
Sales in September were down in the Midwest, South, and West, but up in the Northeast. All of the decline in overall sales was due to single-family homes. Sales of condos/coops rose slightly.
The median price of an existing home fell to $165,400 in September (not seasonally adjusted), and is down 3.5% versus a year ago. Average prices are down 2.5% versus last year.
The months’ supply of existing homes (how long it would take to sell the entire inventory at the current sales rate) ticked up to 8.5 from 8.4 in August.  The rise in the months’ supply was all due to a slower pace of sales. Inventories of homes for sale fell slightly.
Implications:  Sales of existing homes came in right as the consensus expected, falling slightly after the large increase in August. Sales have seemed to stabilize around a 4.6 to 5.0 million annual rate.  The National Association of Realtors said that cancelled contracts to buy existing homes increased to 18% in September from a more typical 9% - 10% over the past year. This might have been related to hurricane storm damage but also shows that credit conditions remain tough despite low mortgage rates. No wonder all-cash transactions accounted for 30% of sales in September, versus a traditional share of 10%.  While a large portion of sales came from distressed properties (such as foreclosures and short sales), this is necessary for inventories to continue to be worked off and for the housing market to ultimately recover.  The inventory of existing homes is down 13% in the past year and homes available for sale this September were at the lowest level for any September since 2005. In other news this morning, the Philadelphia Fed index, a measure of manufacturing activity in that region, increased sharply to +8.7 in October from -17.5 in September. The consensus had expected -9.4.  We believe the index was beaten down in prior months because of negative sentiment, not an actual drop in activity.  Now, with fears of a recession starting to decline, the index is getting back to normal, reflecting industrial growth. Also this morning, new claims for unemployment insurance declined 6,000 last week to 403,000.  The four-week moving average is also 403,000, versus 440,000 in May.  Continuing claims for regular state benefits increased 25,000 to 3.72 million.
23354  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar & other currencies, & Gold/Silver on: October 20, 2011, 01:41:30 PM
I think what he means by "dual mission" refers to the Humphrey-Hawkins law which added maximizing employment to price stability as a mission for the Fed.

Tom, short of private money, what is the appropriate way for the Fed to determine money/interest rates etc?
23355  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What now? on: October 20, 2011, 12:54:23 PM
Analyst Kamran Bokhari gives an overview of the challenges facing Libya after the death of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.
Related Links
•   Gadhafi Coverage
•   Libya: Gadhafi’s Death in Perspective
•   Libya’s Gadhafi Reportedly Killed in Sirte
Ousted Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi was killed Oct. 20 when rebel forces took his hometown of Sirte. Col. Gadhafi’s death is largely symbolic because it does not change the ground reality that he had ceased to be the ruler of his country when his forces left Tripoli and the capital was taken over by rebel forces. Therefore the ground realities have not changed with Col. Gadhafi’s death because the NTC, the National Transitional Council, and its other rebel allies still need to demonstrate — and now more than ever before — that they can actually effectively run the country.
The one thing that held all the rebels together was the presence of Moammar Gadhafi, even though the rebels had taken the capital and the focus was to essentially put down any form of pro-Gadhafi resistance wherever it may be, especially in his hometown, Sirte. And now that has been accomplished, and therefore the next question is whether these rebel forces will continue to be able to hold their unity and not descend into a situation of chaos and civil war.
There are two main forces that are centered in the two major cities of the country. The National Transitional Council, which was effectively a Benghazi-based entity and then relocated to the capital once the capital fell to the rebels. But in the capital there is another entity called the Tripoli Military Council that is also distinguishing itself from the NTC. And then there are ethnic differences between Arabs and Berbers, there are ideological differences between Islamists and non-Islamists.
So we have a very complex landscape that will somehow need to come together. And therefore the biggest concern right now is how to disarm all the militias that have been active in fighting the Gadhafi regime and turn them into, or integrate them into, a new military force representing the new government, if and when the new republic is formed.
Gadhafi’s death therefore moves the country into the next phase and which is the most difficult stage of this entire conflict, especially now that the country is awash with hundreds of thousands of fighters armed to the teeth and the goal of securing the country and forming a new state remains elusive.
23356  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar & other currencies, & Gold/Silver on: October 20, 2011, 12:52:10 PM
I'm still waiting for any examples of deflations that weren't post bubble returns to the mean. smiley
23357  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Morris on 999 on: October 20, 2011, 12:27:28 PM
At the link below, Dick Morris succinctly explains why Herman's plan makes perfect sense, despite the attacks on it by the other candidates and the media.  Herman DOES need to do a better job of defending the plan in a debate format, however.  I have no doubt he is working on doing that as we speak:
23358  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: FMA Strategies for Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse Workshop w/ Guide Dog on: October 20, 2011, 12:25:42 PM
Of course there is the "Deadliest Warrior" episode of Zombies vs. Vampires too cheesy
23359  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: October 20, 2011, 12:22:43 PM
After the most recent debate IMO Perry is done for.  The smallness revealed, the inarticulateness, the cultural tone deafness (e.g. "niggerhead"-- Jon Stewart riffed wickedly on this and his calling Herman Cain "brother" last night), the lack of preparation on many issues, trying to get ahead by breaking down Romney, instead of Baraq, the apparently moderate IQ , , , , he's done for.

Memo to GOP Contenders: Cut the Crap!
"If we move in mass, be it ever so circuitously, we shall attain our object; but if we break into squads, everyone pursuing the path he thinks most direct, we become an easy conquest to those who can now barely hold us in check." --Thomas Jefferson, 1811
With the most recent GOP presidential primary "debate" just concluded, it's clear that the frontrunner is none other than ... you guessed it, Barack Hussein Obama. The incessant bickering bullpucky and petty assaults among most of the GOP wannabes is undoubtedly a source of great glee for the Obama campaign. That infighting, and the fact that Obama's adoring Leftmedia sycophants are promoting the GOP candidates they believe Obama can most readily defeat, largely account for the GOP candidate poll standings -- and are keeping Obama in the lead.
The intraparty rancor among the GOP candidates, both on and off the debate stage, is the direct result of archaic advice from the old-school network of Beltway political and media consultants relying upon their worn-out primary playbooks. Apparently they all missed the "Tea Party" message of the midterm elections beyond the Beltway, which heralded a new breed of conservatives and a new House majority.
Of course, it will take more than one election cycle to purge all the establishment Republicans from the House and Senate -- those who still exercise considerable control over Congress. I'm concerned, however, that the Republic may not have enough election cycles remaining to restore Liberty, especially if the Republican presidential hopefuls don't clean up their act. On their current self-destructive course, they'll readily hand re-election to Obama.
Does the Leftmedia influence GOP candidate polling?
In 1966, Ronald Reagan adopted for primary candidates what his California Republican chairman labeled "The Eleventh Commandment": "Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican." Two years earlier, an outstanding conservative, Barry Goldwater, had lost his presidential bid to liberal Democrat Lyndon Johnson only after Goldwater was attacked by East Coast establishment Republicrats like Nelson Rockefeller, who labeled him an "extremist" and declared him unfit for the presidency.
Recall that Reagan delivered the defining speech of the modern conservative movement in support of Barry Goldwater in '64, on ground laid by conservatives Russell Kirk and William F. Buckley. Had Goldwater won that campaign, the American political landscape would look very different today. Absent would be Johnson's "Great Society" government programs, which were the model for Obama's advanced breed of Democrat Socialists.
In subsequent campaigns, including his two presidential elections, Ronald Reagan abided by that 11th Commandment, unless defending himself, and he set an outstanding course for American renewal. But most of the current crop of GOP contenders is too busy hacking at each other to take a lesson from history. Of course, it took an individual of Reagan's character and stature to rise above pettiness and egomaniacal ambition that now besieges the GOP field.
Who is the most knowledgeable candidate?
Prior to these recent debates, I sent (via emissaries) this simple message to each Republican contender: "As publisher of the most widely read conservative grassroots publication on the Internet, here is some advice from outside the Beltway. If you want to win the 2012 presidential primary, STOP attacking your Republican opponents and START talking about what you will do as president to restore constitutional integrity, free enterprise, national defense, family values and America's standing around the world. This is a different election cycle from those in past decades, and the old formulas for debates should be discarded. I beg you to abide by Reagan's 11th commandment and stop attacking your opponent's record and focus on your own ... on what you can and will do as president. American Patriots want to learn about you, not about how effectively your campaign handlers can prepare you to attack other Republicans. The political paradigm has changed, and if your media and PR consultants do not comprehend that change, the result might well be the re-election of Barack Hussein Obama."
One of the candidates responded accordingly. Though already written off as unelectable by the media, in my opinion he would eviscerate Obama in "mano y mano" debate.
I won't mention him by name, because there isn't a GOP contestant whom I consider the "ideal candidate," and I don't want it to be inferred that I believe any of the current candidates fit that bill. (I believe Ronald Reagan was the most outstanding conservative president of the past century, but I certainly don't think he was flawless -- and neither did he.)
Those of us who have observed presidential campaigns for decades know that there is no "perfect candidate" in the current lineup, one who will be capable of, in the words of my colleague Cal Thomas, "delivering us from our collective economic, social and foreign policy 'sins' and bring redemption to a nation from the consequences of too many wrong-headed choices." Thomas adds, "Perhaps a Republican president with a 60-vote, veto-proof Senate majority and an expanded House majority might be able to revolutionize government, but only if squishy Republicans in both bodies went along, which seems problematic, especially on big issues."
However, if GOP contenders don't stop attacking each other, none of them will even have the chance to correct the course of our nation.
Who is the most trustworthy candidate?
Fortunately, two of the GOP candidates have clearly upheld Reagan's 11th commandment in each of the debates, and every other contender should heed their example.
During the Reagan Presidential Foundation debate, one of the two chastised moderator John Harris for his bald-faced attempt to stir intraparty arguments: "Well, I'm frankly not interested in your effort to get Republicans fighting each other. ... I for one, and I hope all of my friends up here, am going to repudiate every effort of the news media to get Republicans to fight each other to protect Barack Obama who deserves to be defeated. And all of us are committed as a team, whoever the nominee is, we are all for defeating Barack Obama."
In the most recent debate, he chastised CNN pretty boy Anderson Cooper: "Maximizing bickering is probably not the road to the White House. And the technique you've used maximizes going back and forth over and over again."
Unfortunately, the rest of the candidates seem unwilling to rise above the pettiness.
Who is the candidate most capable of defeating Obama?
Beyond the bickering, none of the candidates has given more than peripheral attention to the most pressing issue of the current era -- the restoration of constitutional integrity -- though I know a couple of them certainly place that task above all others. Perhaps their handlers have convinced them that the American people are just too dullard to participate in a more substantive national debate about constitutional authority and the First Principles of Liberty. However, in reality most of today's Beltway politicos couldn't begin to articulate the distinction between Rule of Law and rule of men, and the implications for Liberty, and thus are not prepared to integrate that into their campaign template.
That notwithstanding, there is a growing legion of conservatives who are, first and foremost, concerned about the abject violation of the limits that our Constitution places upon the central government. These constitutional conservatives, who were largely responsible for seating a House majority in 2010, are poised to increase that majority, and seat a Senate majority, in 2012.
Fact is, almost twice as many Americans self-identify as "conservative" than as "liberal," but apparently that stat hasn't made it across the Potomac, where establishment Republicans still exercise the greatest influence.
Perhaps all the GOP candidates will rise above the rancor in the next debate. For the record, I would remind them of the words of the wisest of all men: "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand."
In the meantime, conservatives must reject the Leftmedia pollaganda promoting the media choice for the GOP ticket.
(Visit The Patriot Post's campaign resource page, where we've compiled all the 2012 presidential candidate links as well as debate transcripts and videos.)
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Libertas aut Mortis!
Mark Alexander
Publisher, The Patriot Post
23360  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Reflections on the Iranian Assassination Plot on: October 20, 2011, 11:20:06 AM
Reflections on the Iranian Assassination Plot
October 20, 2011


By Scott Stewart
On Oct. 11, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that two men had been charged in New York with taking part in a plot directed by the Iranian Quds Force to kill Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States, Adel al-Jubeir, on U.S. soil.
Manssor Arbabsiar and Gholam Shakuri face numerous charges, including conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction (explosives), conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism transcending national borders and conspiracy to murder a foreign official. Arbabsiar, who was arrested Sept. 29 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, is a U.S. citizen with both Iranian and U.S. passports. Shakuri, who remains at large, allegedly is a senior officer in Iran’s Quds Force, a special unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) believed to promote military and terrorist activities abroad.
Between May and July, Arbabsiar, who lives in the United States, allegedly traveled several times to Mexico, where he met with a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) confidential informant who was posing as an associate of the Mexican Los Zetas cartel. The criminal complaint charges that Arbabsiar attempted to hire the DEA source and his purported accomplices to kill the ambassador. Arbabsiar’s Iranian contacts allegedly wired two separate payments totaling $100,000 in August into an FBI-controlled bank account in the United States, with Shakuri’s approval, as a down payment to the DEA source for the killing (the agreed-upon total price was $1.5 million).
Much has been written about the Arbabsiar case, both by those who believe the U.S. government’s case is valid and by those who doubt the facts laid out in the criminal complaint. However, as we have watched this case unfold, along with the media coverage surrounding it, it has occurred to us that there are two aspects of the case that we think merit more discussion. The first is that, as history has shown, it is not unusual for Iran to employ unconventional assassins in plots inside the United States. Second, while the DEA informant was reportedly posing as a member of Los Zetas, we do not believe the case proves any sort of increase in the terrorist threat emanating from the United States’ southern border.
Unconventional Assassins
One argument that has appeared in media coverage and has cast doubt on the validity of the U.S. government’s case is the alleged use by the Quds Force of Arbabsiar, an unemployed used car salesman, as its interlocutor. The criminal complaint states that Arbabsiar was recruited by his cousin, Abdul Reza Shahlai, a senior Quds Force commander, in spring 2011 and then handled by Shakuri, who is Shahlai’s deputy. The complaint also alleges that, initially, Arbabsiar was tasked with finding someone to kidnap al-Jubeir, but at some unspecified point the objective of the plot turned from kidnapping to murder. After his arrest, Arbabsiar told the agents who interviewed him that he was chosen for the mission because of his business interests and contacts in the United States and Mexico and that he told his cousin that he knew individuals involved in the narcotics trade. Shahlai then allegedly tasked Arbabsiar to attempt to hire some of his narco contacts for the kidnapping mission since Shahlai believed that people involved in the narcotics trade would be willing to undertake illegal activities, such as kidnapping, for money.
It is important to recognize that Arbabsiar was not just a random used car salesman selected for this mission. He is purportedly the cousin of a senior Quds Force officer and was in Iran talking to his cousin when he was recruited. According to some interviews appearing in the media, Arbabsiar had decided to leave the United States and return permanently to Iran, but, as a naturalized U.S. citizen, he could have been seen as useful by the Quds Force for his ability to freely travel to the United States. Arbabsiar also was likely enticed by the money he could make working for the Quds Force — money that could have been useful in helping him re-establish himself in Iran. If he was motivated by money rather than ideology, it could explain why he flipped so easily after being arrested by U.S. authorities.
Now, while the Iranian government has shown the ability to conduct sophisticated operations in countries within its sphere of influence, such as Lebanon and Iraq, the use of suboptimal agents to orchestrate an assassination plot in the United States is not entirely without precedent.
For example, there appear to be some very interesting parallels between the Arbabsiar case and two other alleged Iranian plots to assassinate dissidents in Los Angeles and London. The details of these cases were exposed in the prosecution and conviction of Mohammad Reza Sadeghnia in California and in U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks pertaining to the Sadeghnia case.
Sadeghnia, who was arrested in Los Angeles in July 2009, is a naturalized U.S. citizen of Iranian descent who at one point ran a painting business in Michigan. Sadeghnia was apparently recruited by the Iranian government and allegedly carried out preoperational surveillance on Jamshid Sharmahd, who made radio broadcasts for the Iranian opposition group Tondar from his residence in Glendora, Calif., and Ali Reza Nourizadeh, who worked for Voice of America in London.
Sadeghnia’s clumsy surveillance activities were a testament to his lack of tradecraft and were noticed by his targets. But even though he was fairly inept, a number of other factors seem to support claims that he was working as an agent for the Iranian government. These include his guilty plea, his international travel, and the facts that he conducted surveillance on two high-profile Iranian dissidents on two continents, was convicted of soliciting someone to murder one of them and then returned to Tehran while on supervised release.
Sadeghnia’s profile as an unemployed housepainter from Iran who lived in the United States for many years is similar to that of Arbabsiar, a failed used car salesman. Sadeghnia pleaded guilty of planning to use a third man (also an Iranian-American) to run over and murder Sharmahd with a used van Sadeghnia had purchased. Like the alleged Arbabsiar plot, the Sadeghnia case displayed a lack of sophisticated assassination methodology in an Iranian-linked plot inside the United States.
This does raise the question of why Iran chose to use another unsophisticated assassination operation after the Sadeghnia failure. On the other hand, the Iranians experienced no meaningful repercussions from that plot or much negative press.
For Iranian operatives to be so obvious while operating inside the United States is not a new thing, as illustrated by the case of David Belfield, also known as Dawud Salahuddin, who was hired by the Iranian government to assassinate high-profile Iranian dissident Ali Akbar Tabatabaei in July 1980. Salahuddin is an African-American convert to Islam who worked as a security guard at an Iranian diplomatic office in Washington. He was paid $5,000 to shoot Tabatabaei and then fled the United States for Iran, where he still resides. In a plot reminiscent of the movie Three Days of the Condor, Salahuddin, who had stolen a U.S. Postal Service jeep, walked up to Tabatabaei’s front door dressed in a mail carrier’s uniform and shot the Iranian diplomat as he answered the door. It was a simple plot in which the Iranian hand was readily visible.
There also have been numerous assassinations and failed assassination attempts directed against Iranian dissidents in Europe and elsewhere that were conducted in a rudimentary fashion by operatives easily linked to Iran. Such cases include the 1991 assassination of Shapour Bakhtiar in Paris, the 1989 murder of Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou in Vienna and the 1992 killing of three Iranian-Kurdish opposition leaders at the Mykonos restaurant in Berlin.
All that said, there was a lengthy break between the Iranian assassinations in the West in the 1980s and 1990s and the Sadeghnia and Arbabsiar cases. We do not know for certain what could have motivated Iran to resume such operations, but the Iranians have been locked in a sustained covert intelligence war with the United States and its allies for several years now. It is possible these attacks are seen as an Iranian escalation in that war, or as retaliation for the assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists in Iran, which the Iranians claim were conducted by the United States and Israel.
South of the Border
One other result of the Arbabsiar case is that it has re-energized the long-held U.S. fears of foreign entities using the porous U.S.-Mexico border to conduct terrorist attacks inside the United States and of Mexican cartels partnering with foreign entities to carry out such attacks.
But there are reasons this case does not substantiate such fears. First, it is important to remember that the purported Iranian operative in this case who traveled to the United States, Arbabsiar, is a naturalized U.S. citizen. He is not an Iranian who illegally crossed the border from Mexico. Arbabsiar used his U.S. passport to travel between the United States and Mexico.
Second, while Arbabsiar, and purportedly Shahlai, believed that the Los Zetas cartel would undertake kidnapping or assassination in the United States in exchange for money, that assumption may be flawed. Certainly, while Mexican cartels do indeed kidnap and murder people inside the United States (often for financial gain), they also have a long history of being very careful about the types of operations they conduct inside the United States. This is because the cartels do not want to incur the full wrath of the U.S. government. Shooting a drug dealer in Laredo who loses a load of dope is one thing; going after the Saudi ambassador in Washington is quite another. While the payoff for this operation seems substantial ($1.5 million), there is no way that a Mexican cartel would jeopardize its billion-dollar enterprise for such a small one-time payment and for an act that offered no other apparent business benefit to the cartel. While Mexican cartels can be quite violent, their violence is calculated for the most part, and they tend to refrain from activities that could jeopardize their long-term business plans.
One potential danger in terms of U.S. mainland security is that the Arbabsiar case might focus too much additional attention on the U.S.-Mexico border and that this attention could cause resources to be diverted from the northern border and other points of entry, such as airports and seaports. While it is relatively easy to illegally enter the United States over the southern border, and the United States has no idea who many of the illegal immigrants really are, that does not mean that resources should be taken from elsewhere.
As STRATFOR has noted before, many terrorist plots have originated in Canada — far more than have had any sort of nexus to Mexico. These include plots involving Ghazi Ibrahim Abu Mezer, a Palestinian who was convicted of planning a suicide bombing of the New York subway system in 1997; Ahmed Ressam, who was arrested when he tried to enter the United States with explosives in 1999; and the so-called Toronto 18 cell, which was arrested in 2006 and later convicted of planning a string of attacks in Canada and the United States.
Moreover, most terrorist operatives who have traveled to the United States intending to participate in terrorist attacks have flown directly into the country from overseas. Such operatives include the 19 men involved in the 9/11 attacks, the foreigners involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the follow-on New York landmarks bomb plot, as well as failed New York subway bomber Najibulah Zazi and would-be Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad. Even failed shoe bomber Richard Reid and would-be underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to fly directly into the United States.
While there is concern over security on the southern U.S. border, past plots involving foreign terrorist operatives traveling to the United States have either involved direct travel to the United States or travel from Canada. There is simply no empirical evidence to support the idea that the Mexican border is more likely to be used by terrorist operatives than other points of entry.
23361  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mata Zetas on: October 20, 2011, 10:48:23 AM,0,6947989.story
23362  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libya and on: October 20, 2011, 10:44:31 AM
Fotos of what definitely appears to be the anus's body on FOX.   Looks like a confirmed kill to me.
23363  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar & other currencies, & Gold/Silver on: October 20, 2011, 10:42:22 AM

Tom is a serious, well-informed advocate of the Austrian school.  We are fortunate to have him drop in.

23364  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Effect of weapon selection on jury outcomes on: October 20, 2011, 08:37:48 AM

Effect of weapon selection on jury outcomes

23365  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ron Paul agrees with our GM! on: October 20, 2011, 08:14:12 AM

To know what is wrong with the Federal Reserve, one must first understand the nature of money. Money is like any other good in our economy that emerges from the market to satisfy the needs and wants of consumers. Its particular usefulness is that it helps facilitate indirect exchange, making it easier for us to buy and sell goods because there is a common way of measuring their value. Money is not a government phenomenon, and it need not and should not be managed by government. When central banks like the Fed manage money they are engaging in price fixing, which leads not to prosperity but to disaster.

The Federal Reserve has caused every single boom and bust that has occurred in this country since the bank's creation in 1913. It pumps new money into the financial system to lower interest rates and spur the economy. Adding new money increases the supply of money, making the price of money over time—the interest rate—lower than the market would make it. These lower interest rates affect the allocation of resources, causing capital to be malinvested throughout the economy. So certain projects and ventures that appear profitable when funded at artificially low interest rates are not in fact the best use of those resources.

Eventually, the economic boom created by the Fed's actions is found to be unsustainable, and the bust ensues as this malinvested capital manifests itself in a surplus of capital goods, inventory overhangs, etc. Until these misdirected resources are put to a more productive use—the uses the free market actually desires—the economy stagnates.

Enlarge Image

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke
.The great contribution of the Austrian school of economics to economic theory was in its description of this business cycle: the process of booms and busts, and their origins in monetary intervention by the government in cooperation with the banking system. Yet policy makers at the Federal Reserve still fail to understand the causes of our most recent financial crisis. So they find themselves unable to come up with an adequate solution.

In many respects the governors of the Federal Reserve System and the members of the Federal Open Market Committee are like all other high-ranking powerful officials. Because they make decisions that profoundly affect the workings of the economy and because they have hundreds of bright economists working for them doing research and collecting data, they buy into the pretense of knowledge—the illusion that because they have all these resources at their fingertips they therefore have the ability to guide the economy as they see fit.

Nothing could be further from the truth. No attitude could be more destructive. What the Austrian economists Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich von Hayek victoriously asserted in the socialist calculation debate of the 1920s and 1930s—the notion that the marketplace, where people freely decide what they need and want to pay for, is the only effective way to allocate resources—may be obvious to many ordinary Americans. But it has not influenced government leaders today, who do not seem to see the importance of prices to the functioning of a market economy.

The manner of thinking of the Federal Reserve now is no different than that of the former Soviet Union, which employed hundreds of thousands of people to perform research and provide calculations in an attempt to mimic the price system of the West's (relatively) free markets. Despite the obvious lesson to be drawn from the Soviet collapse, the U.S. still has not fully absorbed it.

The Fed fails to grasp that an interest rate is a price—the price of time—and that attempting to manipulate that price is as destructive as any other government price control. It fails to see that the price of housing was artificially inflated through the Fed's monetary pumping during the early 2000s, and that the only way to restore soundness to the housing sector is to allow prices to return to sustainable market levels. Instead, the Fed's actions have had one aim—to keep prices elevated at bubble levels—thus ensuring that bad debt remains on the books and failing firms remain in business, albatrosses around the market's neck.

The Fed's quantitative easing programs increased the national debt by trillions of dollars. The debt is now so large that if the central bank begins to move away from its zero interest-rate policy, the rise in interest rates will result in the U.S. government having to pay hundreds of billions of dollars in additional interest on the national debt each year. Thus there is significant political pressure being placed on the Fed to keep interest rates low. The Fed has painted itself so far into a corner now that even if it wanted to raise interest rates, as a practical matter it might not be able to do so. But it will do something, we know, because the pressure to "just do something" often outweighs all other considerations.

What exactly the Fed will do is anyone's guess, and it is no surprise that markets continue to founder as anticipation mounts. If the Fed would stop intervening and distorting the market, and would allow the functioning of a truly free market that deals with profit and loss, our economy could recover. The continued existence of an organization that can create trillions of dollars out of thin air to purchase financial assets and prop up a fundamentally insolvent banking system is a black mark on an economy that professes to be free.

Mr. Paul, a congressman from Texas, is seeking the Republican presidential nomination.

23366  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / More on the flaws of democracy-- Madison, Federalist 10, 1787 on: October 20, 2011, 07:51:49 AM
"[D]emocracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths." --James Madison, Federalist No. 10, 1787
23367  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar & other currencies, & Gold/Silver on: October 20, 2011, 07:41:29 AM
"If we didn't try so hard to stave off corrections maybe the expectation of continued falling prices wouldn't set in for so long and so deeply.  How does someone buy a house today if they know the price will be lower tomorrow?  They don't.  Consistently falling prices are a bad thing.  Back to you."

I'm not sure if it is your intention but as best as I can tell, you make a telling argument against the theory of fighting deflation.   If I understand correctly you are saying the feared dynamic of postponing purchases is actually lengthened by slowing the process down with "anti-deflationary" efforts-- is this your point?

Simultaneously the flood of money creates inflationary bubbles anew in other sectors e.g. food and other commodities.

So, as best as I can tell my doubts about fighting deflation are sound.

23368  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: October 20, 2011, 07:33:17 AM
Quite a bit of thread drift here! cheesy
23369  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / VDH: Reality on: October 20, 2011, 07:29:45 AM

Last week, protests broke out again in Europe, from Rome to London. The monthlong Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in New York have spread. The current unrest follows this summer's riots in London and flash mob incidents in U.S. cities. In 2009 and 2010, Tea Parties turned out hundreds of thousands in protests against the Obama administration's policies and eventually gave him the largest midterm rebuke since 1938.

All of these protests, of course, are vastly different -- or are they really?

Ostensibly, the Wall Street protests rail against a small elite who makes a lot of money lending, investing and speculating -- although the protestors don't seem to worry much about the mega-salaries of actors, professional athletes or sympathetic multimillionaires like Al Gore, George Soros or John Kerry. American flash mobbers and London hoods thought it was OK to take things that were not theirs, since they have less than others. The Tea Partiers were simply tired of paying more taxes for big-government programs that they thought only made things worse.

In the current left and right anger -- somewhat analogous to the upheavals of 1848 or the 1930s -- the common denominator is frustration that Western upward mobility of some 60 years seems to be coming to an end. In response, millions want someone or something to be held accountable -- whether Wall Street insiders, or wasteful and corrupt governments, or the affluent who have more than others.

Unfortunately, political leaders -- unwilling to risk their careers by irking the people -- have offered few explanations for the root causes of all the various unrest. Instead, they assure us that Social Security is solvent, or that pensions and wages can remain sacrosanct, or that billionaires and millionaires are alone culpable. Sometimes they exploit race and class divisions in lieu of explaining 21st-century realities.

So here goes an explanation for the multifaceted unrest. For the last six decades, constant technological breakthroughs and growing government subsidies have given a billion and a half Westerners lifestyles undreamed of over the last 2,500 years. In 1930, no one imagined that a few pills could cure life-threatening strep throat. In 1960, no one planned on retiring at 55. In 1980, no one dreamed that millions could have instant access to civilization's collective knowledge in a few seconds through a free Google search.

Yet, the better life got in the West for ever more people, the more apprehensive they became, as their appetites for even more grew even faster. Remember, none of these worldwide protests are over the denial of food, shelter, clean water or basic medicine.

None of these protestors discuss the effects of 2 billion Chinese, Indian, Korean and Japanese workers entering and mastering the globalized capitalist system, and making things more cheaply and sometimes better than their Western counterparts.

None of these protestors ever stop to ponder the costs -- and ultimately the effect on their own lifestyles -- of skyrocketing energy costs. Since 1970 there has been a historic, multitrillion-dollar transfer of capital from the West to the Middle East, South America, Africa and Russia through the importation of high-cost oil and gas.

None seem to grasp the significance that, meanwhile, hundreds of millions of Westerners are living longer and better, retiring earlier, and demanding ever more expensive government pensions and health care.

Something had to give.

And now it has. Federal and state budgets are near bankrupt. Countries like Greece and Italy face insolvency. The U.S. government resorts to printing money to service or expand entitlements. Near-zero interest rates, declining home prices, and huge losses in mutual funds and retirement accounts have crippled the middle classes.

Bigger government, marvelous new inventions and creative new investment strategies are not going to restore the once-taken-for-granted good life. Until "green" means competitive renewable energy rather than a con for crony capitalists, we are going to have to create and save capital by producing more of our own gas and oil, and relying more on nuclear power and coal.

Westerners will have to work a bit longer and more efficiently, with a bit less redistributive government support. And they must confess that venture capitalists, hedge funds and big deficit-spending governments are no substitute for producing themselves the real stuff of life that millions now take for granted -- whether gas, food, cars or consumer goods.

Otherwise, a smaller, older and whinier West will just keep blaming others as their good life slips away. So it's past time to stop borrowing to import energy and most of the things we use but have given up producing -- and get back to competing in the real world.
23370  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dick Morris on Perry on: October 20, 2011, 06:27:55 AM

Published on on October 19, 2011

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The most effective move in electoral politics is to rebut an opponent's charges and show how they are misrepresentations and falsehoods.  Media guru Tony Schwartz once said "everyone likes a fighter, but nobody likes a dirty fighter."  Negatives have their place in every campaign.  But when one of them is an obvious stretch and reach, twisting facts beyond recognition to mislead voters, it can backfire massively, all the more so if it concerns a candidate's personal life.  When a negative blows up in the face of the candidate who threw it, voters learn instantly about his character.  They don't have to rummage through musty, dusty old voting records to see what he is about, they saw his below-the-belt hit with their own eyes and draw the appropriate conclusions about what manner of man he is.
That's how it was in the recent CNN debate from Nevada when Rick Perry accused Mitt Romney of hiring illegal immigrants at his Massachusetts home.  Posturing and preening, Perry denounced Romney's "hypocrisy" in attacking his immigration record while hiring illegals himself.  You could have heard the gasps around the country as Perry laid out his negative.
Everyone understood that it was the illegal immigration issue which had laid Perry low, deflating his post-announcement boom, dropping him from first place to fourth or fifth in most polls.  Now, in a stroke, Perry was seeking to embarrass the candidate who had the greatest hand in pushing him down - Romney - by painting him with the illegal immigration brush.
Unruffled, Romney, at first, laughed off the charge saying "I have never hired an illegal immigrant in my life," and went on to talk about the underlying issue of of illegal aliens, repeating his charges that Perry's instate tuition scholarships for their children was a "magnet" to attract them.  OK, but everybody watching the debate wanted more about what Romney really did.  We all wondered if there was any truth to Perry's charge and were not satisfied with Romney's laughing disclaimer.
Then Perry, sensing weakness, honed in on the charge pushing it again.  This time, Romney delivered a crushing rebuttal.  The illegal immigrants had been gardeners hired by the landscaping company he used to mow his lawn.  When he found out they were hiring illegals, he ordered them to replace them with legal workers "I'm running for public office, I can't be hiring illegal immigrants," he says he explained.  Then, when the company was found to be continuing to hire illegals, Romney fired the company and hired one more in compliance with the law.  Case closed.
But Perry wasn't finished.  He hammered Romney again with the charge, even though we now all accepted Mitt's version of what had happened.  Rather than rebut or correct any errors in Romney's portrayal of the events, he just repeated the charge as if Romney had not answered it.  To make matters worse, he tried to out-shout Romney, horning in on his time.  Verbally, it was the same kind of move Al Gore made in the debates of 2000 when he menacingly moved over to Bush's lectern to horn in on his space.  Or Rick Lazio tried that same year when he walked over to Hillary's podium in their Senate race to hand her a letter.  A debate no no.
The result is that Perry now is being seen as a bully, a smear artist, a con man, and a dirty fighter.  Nixon at his worst.  He has amplified and compounded the damage he suffered over the illegal immigration issue with this McCarthyite personal attack.
In a larger sense, Perry is like the concert performer who can't get it together to do well in a studio.  On stage, surrounded by an adoring public and an energized audience, he beams.  He gets his energy from his surroundings.  But in a studio or a debate room, amid only competitors and journalists, he can't get any mojo.  He doesn't get energy from confrontation and can't make his points stick.
If you can't debate, you can't win the election against Obama and you shouldn't be nominated. Now, after four tries, Perry still can't win a debate.  It's time to move on.
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23371  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar & other currencies, & Gold/Silver on: October 19, 2011, 08:03:16 PM
The usual suspects here are curious about my dalliance with economic heresy.  As they begin to question me, I seek to pin down the definition of "deflation".  As such my question is not really a question-- it is a request that they define what the word "deflation" will mean in this conversation.  If it results only after a bubble bursts, that is one thing-- and arguably it is but a return to the mean. OTOH, if there are other situations that constitute a deflation, then I am asking them to describe and define them. 

What I am not doing is asking for random guesses.  cheesy
23372  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Man faked into fatherhood fights getting fuct on: October 19, 2011, 07:48:08 PM
Despite the Legislature’s clear directive that child support agencies not pursue mistaken child support actions, the County is asking that we do so.  We will not sully our hands by participating in an unjust, and factually unfounded, result.  We say no to the County, and we reverse.”–County of Los Angeles v. Navarro, (2004)
In a stunning victory, duped dad Pedro Soto and his attorney Richard A. Lowe, Esq. have prevailed against the Orange County Department of Child Support Services in a paternity fraud case emblematic of the numerous outrageous injustices faced by men and fathers in family court. In this case, Soto has paid over $75,000 in child support for a child DNA tests have established is not his, and who has been living with both of his biological parents for many years.
Pedro Soto got into this painful situation simply because he did the right thing--in 1998, when his then-girlfriend Maricela Guerrero told Soto that he was the biological father of her infant son Aaron, Soto signed a paternity declaration and began paying child support. His reward for stepping up and doing what he thought was right has been 13 years of deception, pain, and financial exploitation, all of which have harmed him, his wife, and his children.
Action Alert--Your Participation Needed!

Fathers and Families condemns the despicable conduct of OCDCSS in fighting to preserve a paternity judgment it knows to be false. We want to add your name to our letter to OCDCSS (copied to California DCSS)–to read the letter and add your name, please click here.
Also, victories cost money. As you’ll read below, F & F’s efforts to preserve the crucial Navarro decision led directly to the Soto victory, and opened the door to many others. Please give to support our vital work by going to
The Soto Case: Background

Talented Los Angeles family law attorney Richard A. Lowe, Esq., who represented Soto, and Pepperdine law student Sarah dela Cruz McKendricks, who helped Lowe.
In 1998, Soto, deceived by his then-girlfriend Maricela Guerrero into believing that her newborn son Aaron was Soto’s, stepped up and did what he thought was right by signing a paternity declaration.
Talented Los Angeles family law attorney Richard A. Lowe, Esq., with the valuable assistance of Pepperdine law student Sarah dela Cruz McKendricks, represented Soto. He explains:
Petitioner made his child support payments and had regular visitations with Aaron without the slightest suspicion that he may not be Aaron’s biological father…Petitioner’s visitations with Aaron continued on a regular basis with Aaron spending alternate weekends with Petitioner and his family in their home…[in] 2008 Aaron [said]….he had a “real” dad, Francisco Serrano, and knew that Petitioner was only his “step” dad…[DNA labs] concluded that Pedro Soto is not the biological father of Aaron Soto…[and that] Francisco Serrano was Aaron’s father.
Since Aaron is living with and being supported by his biological father, Francisco Serrano, it is clear that Petitioner’s child support payments is really pocket money for Maricela Guerrero and not the “child support” that the courts have ordered…by lying about the real father of Aaron, Ms. Guerrero...can fleece her innocent former boyfriend and have the County aid her in enforcing this unfair scheme…
As Petitioner states in his Declaration, Aaron will always be welcomed in his home, however, he does not wish to continue the falsehood that he is Aaron’s biological father.  Clearly it is in the best interest of the child that his biological…father be established.
Soto’s Attempt to Get Equitable Relief
In Soto’s motion to set aside his paternity judgment, Lowe wrote:
Soto’s Attorney Richard A. Lowe Thanks Fathers and Families:
“You helped preserve the Navarro decision, and that was all we had to hang our hats on in this case.”
[T]he Department concedes that Francisco Serrano, not Petitioner [Pedro Soto], is the real father of Aaron Soto, but insists that due to the passage of time the injustice of Petitioner paying child support for a child that is living with, and being supported by his real father, should be extended at least another five years until Aaron reaches eighteen and finishes high school.  The sheer injustice of the situation does not seem to bother the Department one bit.
Lowe conceded that the law is against Soto but argued "[T]his court still possesses the authority to right this wrong under its equitable powers." Read the documents in the Soto case here.
The 2004 Navarro Case
Lowe cited County of Los Angeles v. Navarro (2004) as case law in urging the Court to exercise its equitable powers to right a clear injustice in a paternity case.  In Navarro, the trial court denied a motion to vacate a judgment entered against Manuel Navarro establishing him as the father of two boys and ordering him to pay child support for them. Navarro had been erroneously “defaulted into fatherhood” of children he did not know.
The County opposed the motion, arguing that relief should not be granted because the statute of limitation had run.
Support Fathers and Families’ Paternity Fraud Bills:
F & F’s SB 375 & SB 377 will end outrageous injustices such as those experienced by Soto and tens of thousands of others–to learn more, click here.
The trial court denied the motion. Navarro’s resolute and gifted attorney, Linda Ferrer, Esq., appealed, and the Court of Appeal reversed the denial and granted Navarro’s request that the judgment against him be set aside. The Navarro Court explained:
A profound mistake occurred here when appellant was charged with being the boys’ father…Instead of remedying its mistake, the County retreats behind the procedural redoubt offered by the passage of time since it took appellant’s default.

It is this State’s policy that when a mistake occurs in a child support action the County must correct it, not exploit it…Thousands of individuals each year are mistakenly identified as being liable for child support actions.  As a result of that action, the ability to earn a living is severely impaired, assets are seized, and family relationships are often destroyed.  It is the moral, legal, and ethical obligation of all enforcement agencies to take prompt action to recognize those cases…and correct any injustice to that person.

Despite the Legislature’s clear directive that child support agencies not pursue mistaken child support actions, the County is asking that we do so.  We will not sully our hands by participating in an unjust, and factually unfounded, result.  We say no to the County, and we reverse.

The Long, Hard Struggle to Defend Victims of Paternity Fraud
Senator Rod Wright (D-Los Angeles), a longtime family court reform advocate, was the sponsor of the Child Support Enforcement Fairness Act of 2000, and the Navarro court cited this law as the basis for its decision.
Fathers and Families’ legislative representative Michael Robinson has successfully worked for many years to bring equity and fairness to child support and paternity fraud cases, and many of Robinson’s actions directly impacted the Soto case.
After Navarro, the Los Angeles County Department of Child Support Services asked the California Supreme Court to depublish the case, which would prevent other paternity fraud victims from using Navarro to liberate themselves. Robinson sought and submitted amicus letters against depublication from numerous California legislators and prominent attorneys, including: former Assemblywoman Nicole M. Parra; former Assemblyman Raymond Haynes; former Senator Dick Ackerman; former Senator Roy Ashburn; Senator Rod Wright; prominent family law appellate specialist Jeff Doeringer; Roger Dale Juntunen, J.D., M.B.A.; and others, as well as the Los Angeles County Public Defenders Office and the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. To read their amicus letters, click here (large file: 37 MB).
Navarro’s attorney, Linda Ferrer, praised Robinson’s “extraordinary” work in this letter.
Continuing the Fight: F & F’s SB 375 & SB 377
Fathers and Families’ SB 375 & SB 377 will end outrageous injustices such as those experienced by Soto and tens of thousands of men who have been unable to get out of fraudulent paternity judgments. These bills will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee early next year. To learn more, click here. Also, see our column Bill would give ‘duped dads’ some fairness under the law (Los Angeles Daily News, 6/2/11).
If you are a victim of paternity fraud, whether in California or in another state, we want to know your story–please click here.
23373  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar & other currencies, & Gold/Silver on: October 19, 2011, 07:42:36 PM
Forgive me DF, but are you guessing or have you thought about this aspect of economic theory?
23374  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: October 19, 2011, 07:40:27 PM
Well, the date shows this was written 13 years before the Declaration of Independence.  I take it as a early statement of the American Creed why we are a republic and not a democracy.
23375  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar & other currencies, & Gold/Silver on: October 19, 2011, 07:33:24 PM
What would be the cause of "systemic deflation" be if it weren't the bursting of a bubble?
23376  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / President Biden on: October 19, 2011, 07:25:34 PM
This is rather pathetic from a security perspective.  If they could steal the entire truck unhindered, then they could just as easily have planted explosives in the President's lecterns.
Do you really want to count on a dog sweep (highly probable) as your only layer of security between the President and an item he might be standing right next to?  I see this as no better than leaving a protectee's vehicle unsecured at night.
Obama’s speech equipment stolen in Virginia: report
By David Nakamura
Washington Post October 19, 2011
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Opportunistic thieves, opposition party operatives or just fans of President Obama really eager to know what he has to say?
A Henrico, Va., television station, WWBT-NBC12, is reporting that a truck carrying $200,000 worth of equipment — including several lecterns with the presidential seal, teleprompters and portable audio equipment — for Obama’s appearance in Chesterfield on Wednesday was stolen outside a Marriott hotel.
23377  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: October 19, 2011, 06:52:10 PM
"I am liberal, at least compared to the average forum participant, and I think that defending the borders is of paramount importance." 

That may be, but given how hard-core right most of us are that could be a true statement of someone who is center or even right of center. cheesy

As I previously bantered with you in a sidebar, I consider you a Democrat back from when mainstream Democrats were patriotic, reasonable, and rational people i.e. NOT a liberal  evil cheesy
23378  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar & other currencies, & Gold/Silver on: October 19, 2011, 06:44:29 PM
Lets define our terms here.  Question:  Is the bursting of a bubble a deflation?
23379  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: Housing Starts are up on: October 19, 2011, 11:48:33 AM
BTW, and unrelated to what follows, foreclosures in CA are way up.

Data Watch
Housing starts surged 15.0% in September to 658,000 units at an annual rate To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 10/19/2011
Housing starts surged 15.0% in September to 658,000 units at an annual rate, coming in well above the consensus expected pace of 590,000.  Starts are up 10.2% versus a year ago.
The gain in September was mostly due to multi-family starts, which are extremely volatile from month to month and which were up 51.3%. Single-family starts rose 1.7%. Multi-family starts are up 55.3% from a year ago while single-family starts are down 4.9%.
Starts rose in all regions of the country with the West seeing the biggest gains up 18.1%.
New building permits fell 5.0% in September to a 594,000 annual rate, coming in below the consensus expected pace of 610,000. Compared to a year ago, permits for multi-unit homes are up 11.3% while permits for single-family units are up 3.5%.
Implications:  Home building soared 15% in September, bouncing back after the unusually harsh weather we saw in August, coming in at the highest level since April 2010.  However, most of the increase was due to a 51.3% spike in multi-family units, which are volatile from month to month. The general trend in multi-family units should continue to go higher given the movement away from owner-occupancy and toward rental occupancy. To help show this, 5 or more unit completions were up 43.4% in September. Another positive from today’s report was that although single-family homes under construction hit a new record low, total homes under construction increased for the second time in three months. This is only the second time homes under construction have increased since 2006! What this shows is that the bottoming process is happening and home building should trend higher over the next couple of years. After a large rise in building permits last month, permits fell 5% in September, but remain up 5.7% from a year ago.   Based on population growth and “scrappage” rates, home building must increase substantially over the next several years to avoid eventually running into shortages.
23380  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: October 19, 2011, 11:43:43 AM

Chronicle • October 19, 2011
The Foundation
"[A] wise and frugal government ... shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government." --Thomas Jefferson
Editorial Exegesis
"A majority of Americans disapprove of what President Obama has done in office. He promised hope and change but delivered disappointment and stagnation. The unemployment rate is stuck at 9.1 percent. The poverty rate is at 15.1 percent, tied for the worst performance since the Census started tracking numbers in 1959. White House policies of class warfare and redistribution are impoverishing America, and the public is starting to feel worked over. ... During the recession, the average duration of unemployment increased from 16.6 weeks in December 2007 to a shade over 24 weeks by June 2009. That figure is now 40.5 weeks, the longest it has been in more than six decades. The longer a person is unemployed, the harder it is for him to find a job, as job skills erode and potential employers question whether it might be more prudent to hire someone else without big gaps in their work history. Mr. Obama's solution involves having the federal government declare the long-term unemployed a legally protected class. His American Jobs Act would subject businesses to frivolous lawsuits if they decide against hiring someone who has been jobless for an extended time. Doing so would serve as one more disincentive for companies to hire or hold interviews for open positions, making it even harder for the jobless to find work. ... Ultimately, Americans will not find their pocketbooks thickening so long as Uncle Sam strangles entrepreneurs with regulatory red tape. Companies need to have certainty that they will be able to keep the proceeds of their investments in the future before they will start hiring again and pay their employees more." --The Washington Times
Will the job market improve any time soon?
"Whenever the substance of the Occupy Wall Street movement troubles Democratic politicians their response is to hide behind platitudes about free speech. 'It's about their right to express themselves!' Well, no it's not. Free speech is important, but it's really not the issue. It certainly wasn't even much of a concern when it was the Tea Party expressing itself -- which it managed to do without inviting mass arrests. Back then, leading Democrats considered dissent racist or un-American. Now they celebrate free speech so they can hide from dealing with the issues at hand honestly. Democratic politicians think that this gives them cover. It doesn't. It just shows that they're afraid to disagree with the protesters either because they agree with them or because they know the protests are popular among their own supporters. Either way, it's proof that the much ballyhooed wall between mainstream radicalism and mainstream liberalism is more like a speed bump." --columnist Jonah Goldberg
"The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced in a fundraising letter that it is seeking 100,000 signatures on a petition declaring 'I stand with the Occupy Wall Street protests.' And David Plouffe, the president's senior campaign advisor, sounded upbeat for the first time in a while. 'We intend to make it one of the central elements of the campaign next year,' he told the Washington Post. 'One of the main elements of the contrast will be that the president passed Wall Street reform and our opponent and the other party want to repeal it.' ... OWS is America's version of the Greek throngs in the streets -- screaming for more bailouts and subsidies when the well has run dry. It's a depressing image of self-delusion and national suicide. But far from the '99 percent,' OWS represents only a sliver of the electorate -- and the president's embrace of them only confirms his marginality in American politics." --columnist Mona Charen
"Obama entered office unorganized and unstructured. Nothing in his background suggested that he knew anything about management, organization, or leadership. Nor did anyone see the need for bringing in talent with these skills. As a result, the Hollywood mannequin was almost immediately exposed as nothing but flair, hype, and hot air. The public had bought a product that did not perform. Marketing can do many things, but it cannot sell a product that people have tried and rejected. ... Obama's reelection problem can be expressed in one simple sentence: 'Now, too many people know him.'" --columnist Monty Pelerin
"Beware of those who would use violence, too often it is violence they want and neither truth nor freedom." --American author Louis Lamour (1908-1988)
"People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid." --Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)
The Demo-gogues
They are not the same: "In some ways, [Occupy Wall Street protests are] not that different from some of the protests that we saw coming from the Tea Party. Both on the left and the right, I think people feel separated from their government. They feel that their institutions aren't looking out for them." --Barack Obama
Echo chamber ... from a Republican: "I think that if you look at the Occupy Wall Street folks and the Tea Party folks, they come from the same perspective. They just have different solutions. What they're saying is, 'government is not working for me anymore.'" --New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
Dumb Republicans: "Maybe [Republicans] just couldn't understand the whole [American Jobs Act] thing all at once. So we're going to break it up into bite-size pieces so they can take a thoughtful approach to this legislation." --Barack Obama
Shameless and crass: "The other thing I've hear from my friends who oppose this -- this whole jobs bill -- [is] that this is just temporary. Well let me tell you, it's not temporary when that 911 call comes in and a woman's being raped, if a cop shows up in time to prevent the rape. It's not temporary to that woman. It's not temporary to the guy whose store is being held up and there's a gun pointed at his head, if a cop shows up and he's not killed. ... I wish these guys who thought it was temporary, I wish they had some notion of what it was like to be on the other side of a gun, or [to have] a 200-pound man standing over you, telling you to submit." --Joe Biden
Bailouts galore: "On several occasions now, we've seen, quite frankly, the Congress is in rebellion, determined, as Abraham Lincoln said, to wreck or ruin at all costs. I believe, quite frankly, in the direct hiring of 15 million unemployed Americans at $40,000 a head, some more than $40,000, some less than $40,000 -- that's a $600 billion stimulus. It could be a five-year program. For another $104 billion, we bailout all of the states. ... For another $100 billion, we bailout all of the cities." --Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL)
Questioning patriotism: "[Republicans] are not patriots, people who love this country want to see jobs created. ... They're not concerned about the economic well being of the country as a whole." --Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA)
Questioning every other motive: "Republicans think if the economy improves it might help President Obama. So they root for the economy to fail, and oppose every effort to improve it." --Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)
Are you rooting for Obama to fail, or the economy to fail?

Non Compos Mentis: "The other thing [the Occupy Wall Street movement] needs, and I don't want this to come out the wrong way -- not needs, but what will happen -- if we think back to the late 60s, what is the most stirring image of all the rebellion that happened? What do we remember? Kent State. Now, I'm not saying someone has to get killed. ... I'm not saying a death. I'm just saying we are a visual society." --MSNBC's Donny Deutsch
An albatross for Obama: "Well, [the Occupy Wall Street protest] certainly is going to dovetail nicely into a big message that the president's selling, which is that the wealthy should pay more. He's also sort of picked up that banner of going after Wall Street and the banks, talking about unfairness that a lot of protesters that are complaining about. Unfairness in the economy and the tax code, in the ways of Wall Street with bank fees. ... I think the president's in a mode right now where he'd like to get out in front of this parade and really harness some of this energy." --NBC's David Gregory
Good question: "I want to ask you about the thinking within the White House. Yesterday at a press conference one of my colleagues asked the president to respond to something Mitt Romney said. The president said, 'I didn't realize you were a spokesman for Mitt Romney.' Is the president feeling under siege from events right now?" --CNBC's John Harwood to Obama's Chief of Staff Bill Daley
Bizarre: "Herman Cain is pandering to white Republicans out there who don't like black folks." --MSNBC's Ed Schultz
Newspulper Headlines:
Two Presidents in One!: "Obama Won't Negotiate With Republicans on Jobs" --USA Today website ++ "Obama Says He Is Prepared to Work With Republicans on Jobs" --Bloomberg
Questions Nobody Is Asking: "Would You Get a Tattoo for a Discounted Sandwich?" --Globe and Mail website (Toronto)
He's Lost Middle America: "Obama Loses Hulk Hogan's Support"
Too Bad Ted Kennedy Drove an Oldsmobile: "Chinese Keep Saab Afloat" --Deutsche-Welle website
We Blame George W. Bush: "Anita Perry Blames Obama for Son Quitting His Job" --Yahoo! News
Bottom Story of the Day: "Al Gore Backs Occupy Wall Street Protests"
(Thanks to The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto)
Village Idiots
Class warfare: "Here's the Republicans' problem. Everybody knows they're not for the middle class. They're mad at the president because the economy is in bad shape even though they don't blame him, they're still mad because they have to be mad at somebody. The president positioned himself now as a champion in the middle class, a champion of ordinary working Americans. That really is 99 percent." --former DNC chairman Howard Dean
Wrong analysis: "Whereas much of the Tea Party's programmatic ire seems directed at the very idea of government -- and instead trumpets the virtue of self-reliance and the inexorable righteousness of the free market -- Occupy Wall Street more sharply decries the collusion of corporate and political elites in Washington. ... To the outside observer, that may seem foolishly utopian -- and impracticable on a larger scale -- but it's a sign of the deep political commitment of many of the protesters gathering under Occupy Wall Street's banner. They want to fix government, not escape from it." --TIME magazine's Ishaan Tharoor
Resumé embellishment: "He said he was going to end the war in Iraq. In a few months, we will have all our troops home from Iraq. He said he was going to up the ante and go after al-Qa'ida in a serious way in Afghanistan. Osama bin laden is gone. The leadership of al-Qa'ida is on the run. So when you say he wasn't prepared, maybe you should go ask Osama bin Laden if he thought he was prepared." --Obama's senior adviser David Axelrod

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Short Cuts
"After years of being exposed to the American media in all its forms, I've concluded that conservatives resent being lied to nearly as much as liberals hate being told the truth." --columnist Burt Prelutsky
"Maybe the smartest thing the protesters, and perhaps of lot of other Americans, could do would be to pressure businesses to stop making a college degree the ultimate criterion for getting a job. If one considers where the so-called 'best and brightest' among us have taken this country in the last few years, one could make a compelling argument that a college degree is the most over-rated product on the planet." --columnist Arnold Ahlert
"Occupy Wall Street protesters entered their third week of New York park sit-ins this week following a march down Broadway. Interviews with the protesters make two things very crystal-clear. They don't know what they want and they want it now." --comedian Argus Hamilton
"Warren Buffett's company reportedly owes the IRS a billion dollars in back taxes. When he said he wasn't paying enough taxes, he wasn't kidding." --comedian Jay Leno
Publisher's Note: For anyone attending Game 1 of the World Series tonight in St. Louis -- given that Michelle Obama and Jill Biden will be there -- here's an idea for a sign: "Forget the first pitch, throw out Obama!"
23381  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: My Silat in Indonesia Adventures on: October 19, 2011, 10:29:03 AM
Great post; looking forward to hearing more of your adventures.

Take care of that strep!
23382  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Adams on Lust for Power 1763 on: October 19, 2011, 10:25:36 AM
"[D]emocracy will soon degenerate into an anarchy, such an anarchy that every man will do what is right in his own eyes and no man's life or property or reputation or liberty will be secure, and every one of these will soon mould itself into a system of subordination of all the moral virtues and intellectual abilities, all the powers of wealth, beauty, wit and science, to the wanton pleasures, the capricious will, and the execrable cruelty of one or a very few." --John Adams, An Essay on Man's Lust for Power, 1763
23383  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Adams on Man's Lust for Power 1763 on: October 19, 2011, 10:24:49 AM
"[D]emocracy will soon degenerate into an anarchy, such an anarchy that every man will do what is right in his own eyes and no man's life or property or reputation or liberty will be secure, and every one of these will soon mould itself into a system of subordination of all the moral virtues and intellectual abilities, all the powers of wealth, beauty, wit and science, to the wanton pleasures, the capricious will, and the execrable cruelty of one or a very few." --John Adams, An Essay on Man's Lust for Power, 1763
23384  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Death by regulation on: October 19, 2011, 10:21:37 AM
Death by Bureaucracy
by Newt Gingrich
Earlier this month, a panel appointed by the Department of Health and Human Services made a recommendation so detached from the good of individual patients it could only have come from government bureaucrats. They recommended eliminating screening for the most common cancer among males nationwide.
The United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) is composed of 16 government-selected experts whose recommendations often influence the reimbursement policies of Medicare and private insurers. The range of members’ backgrounds is narrow considering the group is charged with advising the federal government and other healthcare providers on specific medical procedures: almost all are academics or administrators rather than practicing physicians. The panel includes experts in pediatrics and newborn care, in mental health and geriatrics, but not a single urologist who actually takes care of prostate cancer patients.
Despite lacking any specialist who deals with the issue, the panel issued a recommendation this month to stop using the only available test to screen for prostate cancer. PSA tests, which measure levels in the blood of a marker known to be elevated in men with prostate cancer, are the sole method of screening other than digital examination by a doctor, which cannot detect the most common form and usually identifies those cancers it can much later, when they are less curable.
Without the PSA testing, many men will have no way to know they have the disease until it has developed into a much more dangerous problem. In some cases, it will be a too late by the time they discover it.
What is the basis for the panel’s recommendation to discontinue screening that can save lives?
It has nothing to do with the merits of the test. Instead, these government-appointed experts advised against screening because they disagree with what some doctors and patients choose to do with the information once they have it.
Prostate cancer is a complicated issue, and elevated PSA is not always a sign that a man should enter treatment. In some cases, men can live with benevolent cancers and remain healthy for years. In many other cases, it is simply unclear even from biopsies whether the cancers are benevolent or lethal, as both kinds register on test results.

Understandably, many men faced with this information want to do everything possible to make sure they do not have a lethal cancer, and many doctors, as well, recommend curative therapy even when they are not certain the cancer is lethal. There are definitely patients, especially older men, who undergo treatment for prostate cancer they could have lived with if it had gone undetected.
If prostate cancer is over-treated, the sensible response for the USPSTF would have been to call on the National Institute of Health and the National Cancer Institute to help develop a better and more accurate test, and to advise doctors and patients to consider more conservative approaches when the test suggests the presence of prostate cancer.
Instead, the task force’s answer is simply to deny doctors and patients the chance to consider early treatment by recommending they not screen for prostate cancer in the first place.

That is not a reasoned response to the problem. It is a bureaucratic response to the problem, and people will almost certainly die because of it.
This points to the difference between the bureaucratic approach to healthcare, which leads to rationing, and an approach to empower individuals and their doctors to make the best decisions for them.
Bureaucrats cannot comprehend the complicated details of all the individuals for whom they try to make decisions and so they issue one-size-fits-all pronouncements for large classes of people. In this case, when the bureaucratic approach identifies a class that is being over-treated, it calls for the elimination of screening to warn of the disease. That way fewer people will have the information they need in order to be faced with choices involving some options the bureaucrats consider undesirable. Physicians can’t over-treat a prostate cancer they have not detected.
Of course, it is ridiculous to have a handful of government bureaucrats with no expertise in the matter issuing recommendations that influence federal, state, and private health systems in crafting policies. Doctors and patients are in the best position to determine whether individuals should be screened for prostate cancer and to judge the best course of action afterward.
No one should want the government interfering in these very personal medical decisions. Lethal bureaucracy is a disease we can’t afford—and one that is entirely preventable with the right policies.
Your Friend,
23385  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / San Antonio bomb scare on: October 19, 2011, 10:18:48 AM
23386  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: October 19, 2011, 09:30:49 AM
A VERY lively night in last night's debate.

Analysis? Comments?

A few random observations from me to kick things off:

A) These debates are a very good thing.  ALL the candidates are getting better and better.

B) It wasn't until the commentary at the end of the debate had begun that I realized that Huntsman wasn't there  evil

C) Rick Santorum:  Caught my attention for his articulateness on the War with Islamic Fascism back when he lost his Senate seat in PA.  Indeed, I think I posted here on this forum his final speech in the Senate.  When he first entered the race I rolled my eyes though.   That said, he has been a worthy contributor to the conversation of the debates.

D) I love Herman Cain, but was very disappointed last night with his response to the question on negotiating with terrorists (he could see himself releasing Guantanamo prisoners for a hostage's return  angry ).   Other than that though, he continues to impress.  999 was under some serious pressure last night, but he stayed calm and focused, even with direct personal pressure by Romney.  Romney's attack was unsound, though for many he may have gotten away with it.  Several candidates made a point of showing respect for Herman though and what he has brought to the conversation.

E) Perry had some moments where he did decently, but definitely got spanked and put in his place in the alpha male battle between Romney and him when Perry kept interrupting Romney astutely put the spotlight on it.  Boo/hiss to moderator Anderson Cooper for allowing Perry's interruptions to get out of hand-- but maybe that served
AC's purposes.   VERY weak, and VERY poor judgment for Perry to try dinging Mitt with the "his gardener hired illegals" thing- Mitt swatted it away and left Perry looking small and petty.

F) Good night for Newt.  His comment towards the end about seven three hour debates head to head (a la Lincoln-Douglas) may have been a bit heady for the masses, but it certainly did underline for me that IMHO Newt would be very, very formidable in such a format against Baraq.  I confess I gave anaother $25 to Newt this morning to encourage him to stay in the race. I like the way he changes the conversation in the debates when he speaks.

G) Bachman had a moment where she was really connecting with the women in the audinece when talking about foreclosures, even though when the dust cleared she promised no goodies (and good for her!).  Still, she hasn't a prayer.

H) Romney keeps getting stronger and stronger.   He is becoming a much better candidate due to the experience of these debates.

I)  I like that one more often hears ""What X just siad is a good point" or similar positive things.  I think Newt's reminders tabout how any of them are better than Baraq has helped steer things in a better direction and away from the Pawlenty-Bachman dynamic that stained the both of them.
23387  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: October 19, 2011, 09:29:48 AM
I have been posting in English on the Spanish language forum thread for Mexico without posting here as well for a while so those interested in this subject may wish to take a look there too, e.g. the report by two US generals.

While the deportations are a good thing (I saw yesterday that ONE THOUSAND of the 400,000 had some sort of homicide conviction?!?) that is not the only metric:  As noted there, the narco cartels are establishing quasi-military presence in the counties on the US side of the border so that they have safe havens when pressed by the Mexican military.  Corruption is further spreading its tentacles into Border Patrol and local authorities.   
23388  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: October 19, 2011, 09:24:07 AM
I'm shocked, absolutely shocked.

BTW I was quite disappointed last night in Cain's response to a question on the question presented here.
23389  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Solway: The Weakness of the West on: October 19, 2011, 12:22:55 AM
TTT because I think it worthy of consideration , , , and commentary.
23390  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: October 19, 2011, 12:20:27 AM
The Russian approach has quite a few problems of its own.  It is not clear to me that theirs is a road we wish to travel.  I think it would more than suffice here were we to simply patrol the border properly, and deport those who don't belong here AND improve the efficiency, rationality, and coherence of legal admission to the country.
23391  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar & other currencies, & Gold/Silver on: October 18, 2011, 06:04:10 PM
I have come to doubt the "deflation is bad" hypothesis.
23392  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sea Route in Russian Arctic on: October 18, 2011, 05:58:12 PM
23393  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / MA looks to fix prices for Romney Care on: October 18, 2011, 05:51:54 PM
23394  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / This is worse than the Kitty Genovese case on: October 18, 2011, 04:19:21 PM

Very disturbing:!
23395  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Newt new clip on: October 18, 2011, 03:47:56 PM
23396  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A surprisingly wooly-headed analysis from Stratfor on: October 18, 2011, 03:28:17 PM
I have a high regard for Stratfor, but I've seen better from Newspeak than this one:

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.
Related Links
•   Gilad Shalit Returns to Israel
•   Israeli-Arab Crisis Approaching
•   From the Mediterranean to the Hindu Kush: Rethinking the Region
Israel and Hamas began operationalizing the deal that was struck last week, according to which an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, would be released in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. The process is still under way but it is a significant one, considering that this is the first substantive negotiated settlement between Hamas and Israel and there are implications that that stem from it.
The release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for over a thousand Palestinian prisoners has set a precedent, a precedent by which Hamas and Israel have demonstrated that they can negotiate and reach a settlement. What this means is, or at least paves the way for, is that future negotiations can take place between the Palestinian Islamist movement and the Jewish state. This allows Hamas to be able to demonstrate that it is a pragmatic player that can engage in substantive negotiations and behave as a rational international political actor. That said, Hamas does run into problems because it needs to balance this newly emerging perception of a rational political actor with that of a resistance movement, one that does not recognize Israel, rejects the right of Israel to exist and continues on the path of armed struggle against the Jewish state.
Hamas isn’t the only political actor that will have implications from this deal. Its rival Fatah is now in a more difficult position because Hamas, from the point of view of the Palestinian people, seemingly has demonstrated that its approach to negotiations, coupled with armed resistance, is one that can actually pay off. So Fatah is under pressure to demonstrate that it is not negotiating from a position of relative weakness and its approach to negotiations and to dealing with the Palestinian issue through international channels is actually the right way to move forward.
And certainly Israel has its own challenges moving forward after the Gilad Shalit deal. On one hand Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has demonstrated that it can take a pragmatic approach to the Palestinian issue and therefore it can relieve some of the international pressure that it has been under in recent months. But at the same time having positioned itself as a centrist force the Netanyahu government, headed by the Likud Party, is now having to deal with potential backlash for more right-wing forces, both nationalist and religious, who are not entirely pleased with the notion that one Israeli soldier can be secured in exchange for over a thousand Palestinian prisoners who have committed acts of terrorism against Israeli citizens.
On the international front the Netanyahu government has definitely made some gains, but at the same time it could run into some complications when it comes to Egypt, because Egypt is the one that brokered the final settlement. And Israel is very concerned that Egypt’s military rulers do not run into any problems when it comes to popular sentiment, especially as it applies to the Palestinian issue. And therefore Cairo’s military rulers can be expected to use that Israeli dependency on them to their advantage on the domestic political front, which may not necessarily jibe with Israeli interests.
The Israeli-Hamas deal is an extraordinary event that comes at an extraordinary time, when there is no shortage of issues raging in the region. But one thing is clear — that it has set a precedent that can unfold in many ways, and we will just have to wait and see whether this leads to further negotiations or more conflict or a mix of both.
23397  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Texas students made to recite Mexican pledge of allegiance on: October 18, 2011, 01:11:56 PM
23398  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The cognitive dissonance of Harold Koh on: October 18, 2011, 12:41:33 PM

We forget it now, but there was a day, not so very long ago, when members of our most prestigious law schools and law firms feared that the government's war on terror posed a graver threat to America than did al Qaeda.

Those were the dark days before Barack Obama moved into the Oval Office. Whether the issue was the detention of terrorists, the interrogation of terrorists, or the idea that we were even at war with terrorists, one man—John Yoo, formerly of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel—was held singularly culpable. No one expressed these concerns more vehemently than a former professor of Mr. Yoo's, Harold Koh, then dean of the Yale Law School.

What exercised Mr. Koh wasn't merely that Mr. Yoo's office had sanctioned waterboarding; it was the theory of executive authority behind his war advice. This theory Mr. Koh opposed with vigor, deporting himself in the manner of an Old Testament prophet.

Before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2005, Mr. Koh spelled out where he believed Mr. Yoo's logic was taking us. Mr. Yoo, he said, "grossly over-reads the inherent power of the president under the commander-in-chief power in Article II of the Constitution." He went on to say that "if the president has the sole constitutional authority to sanction torture, and Congress has no power to interfere, it is unclear why the president should not also have unfettered authority to license genocide or other violations of fundamental human rights."

Mr. Koh added that "If a client asks a lawyer how to break the law and escape liability, the lawyer's ethical duty is to say no."

That was then. This is now.

Enlarge Image

CloseAssociated Press
The former Yale Law dean who hounded the Bush administration over its interrogation policies is now in the business of justifying drone strikes.
.Now Mr. Koh is a legal adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Now the same Mr. Koh who assailed Mr. Yoo for his broad view of presidential authority has offered up his own justifications for an expansive executive power. These include the argument that we're not really engaged in hostilities when we fire at Libya because the Libyans aren't firing back.

Folks are noticing. An op-ed this summer in the New York Times says it is as if Mr. Koh "has torn off his team jersey, mid-game, and put on the other's side's." A headline at the Volokh Conspiracy blog put it this way: "Is Harold Koh the Left's John Yoo?"

This is unfair . . . to Mr. Yoo. Whether or not one agrees with him, Mr. Yoo has been consistent in his views—before he served, while he served, and after he served. In sharp contrast, the old Harold Koh would have eviscerated the Harold Koh who now offers ludicrous redefinitions of "war" and "hostilities" so he can get the policy conclusion he wants.

Of course Mr. Koh has plenty of company in the U.S. Department of Rank Opportunism. There's Vice President Joe Biden, who once declared he would have Mr. Bush impeached if he attacked Iran without congressional approval. There's Attorney General Eric Holder, who attacked detention without trial at Guantanamo but defends it at Bagram. Nor do we hear much from the Yale Law clinic that, during Dean Koh's tenure, harassed Mr. Yoo with a lawsuit that is still making its way through the federal courts.

While we're at it, how about the great moral question? During President Bush's administration, three known terrorists were waterboarded, provoking much breast-beating. Today President Obama's drone strikes kill many untargeted people; even with the best of precautions, these must include at least some innocent people.

Surely killing people is worse than waterboarding them. That's especially true if they are guilty of no more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even for the guilty, where are our suddenly silent ethicists on the uncomfortable question: Are we going for the kill precisely to avoid the legal thicket that Mr. Koh helped create with regard to detention and interrogation?

For trying to define what was and what was not permitted under relevant domestic and international laws, Mr. Yoo's writings were labeled the "torture memos." In a March 2010 speech to the American Society of International Law, Mr. Koh did the same with the drone strikes. Should this be remembered as the "execution speech"?

As it happens, drone strikes and other Obama war decisions can be legally and morally justified. The problem, however, is that they are hard to justify based on the principles Mr. Koh so loudly advanced before he joined the Obama administration. The legal contortions Mr. Koh introduces in his defenses today as much as admit that.

It is eminently possible that a war might look one way from Yale and another way from Foggy Bottom. A public servant facing that reality has two honorable choices. If he found himself embracing authority he had once denounced others for defending, he would apologize to them. If he still believed his original positions, he would resign.

An honest man might at least acknowledge the contradiction.

23399  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Most spending ever on: October 18, 2011, 12:35:12 PM

Maybe it's a sign of the tumultuous times, but the federal government recently wrapped up its biggest spending year, and its second biggest annual budget deficit, and almost nobody noticed. Is it rude to mention this?

 .The Congressional Budget Office recently finished tallying the revenue and spending figures for fiscal 2011, which ended September 30, and no wonder no one in Washington is crowing. The political class might have its political pretense blown. This is said to be a new age of fiscal austerity, yet the government had its best year ever, spending a cool $3.6 trillion. That beat the $3.52 trillion posted in 2009, when the feds famously began their attempt to spend America back to prosperity.

What happened to all of those horrifying spending cuts? Good question. CBO says that overall outlays rose 4.2% from 2010 (1.8% adjusted for timing shifts), when spending fell slightly from 2009. Defense spending rose only 1.2% on a calendar-adjusted basis, and Medicaid only 0.9%, but Medicare spending rose 3.9% and interest payments by 16.7%.

The bigger point: Government austerity is a myth.

In somewhat better news, federal receipts grew by 6.5% in fiscal 2011, including a 21.6% gain in individual income tax revenues. The overall revenue gain would have been even larger without the cost of the temporary payroll tax cut, which contributed to a 5.3% decline in social insurance revenues but didn't reduce the jobless rate.

Enlarge Image

Close...The nearby table shows the budget trend over the last five years, and it underscores the dramatic negative turn since the Obama Presidency began. The budget deficit increased slightly in fiscal 2011 from a year earlier, to $1.298 trillion. That was down slightly as a share of GDP to 8.6%, but as CBO deadpans, this was still "greater than in any other year since 1945."

Mull over that one. The Obama years have racked up the three largest deficits, both in absolute amounts and as a share of GDP, since Hitler still terrorized Europe. Some increase in deficits was inevitable given the recession, but to have deficits of nearly $1.3 trillion two years into a purported economic recovery simply hasn't happened in modern U.S. history. Yet President Obama fiercely resisted even the token spending cuts for fiscal 2011 pressed by House Republicans earlier this year.

The table also shows how close the federal budget was to balance as recently as fiscal 2007, with a deficit as low as $161 billion, or 1.2% of GDP. Those are the numbers to point to the next time someone says that the Bush tax rates are the main cause of our current fiscal woes.

Under those same tax rates in 2007, the government raised $2.57 trillion in revenue but it spent only $2.73 trillion. Four years later, the government raised $265 billion less thanks to the tepid recovery, but it spent nearly $900 billion more thanks to the never-ending Washington stimulus.

The lesson for Congress's super committee contemplating fiscal reform is that faster economic growth and spending restraint are the keys to reducing deficits. Higher taxes will hurt growth and feed a Washington spending appetite that is as voracious as ever, despite the claims of political sacrifice.

23400  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Haqqaani factor on: October 18, 2011, 12:27:30 PM

The Haqqani Factor in a Post-Withdrawal Settlement
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Oct. 12 that the United States would be willing to include the  Haqqani network in a peace deal defining Afghanistan’s political arrangement following the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country. Clinton made the statement in an interview with Reuters, marking the first explicit official acknowledgement that the United States is open to the Haqqanis’ becoming party to an eventual settlement.

The Haqqani network is one of the most powerful militant factions in the country (and one the United States had previously described as “irreconcilable,”) and cannot be ignored in any deal if the agreement is to last. The announcement by Clinton, therefore, acknowledges what STRATFOR already believed to be a reality. However, the timing of the announcement is important, as it comes amid an intensified coalition offensive against the militant group. The United States and its allies are attempting to erode the Haqqani network’s eventual negotiating position in peace talks by taking out some of the organization’s significant leaders. Though this has increased violence in the short term, it may limit the militant group’s ability to extract concessions from the coalition and the Afghan government during negotiations.

In early July, as he was preparing to leave his post as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus announced the war effort would be moving farther east, and on July 31, then-U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen emphasized the need to crack down on the Haqqani network by preventing the flow of militants from Pakistan through Khost province and into Kabul. The U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) appears to have since moved to do both.

In the last several weeks, U.S. and allied forces have captured or killed a number of Haqqani operatives that Washington claims were high-ranking members of the organization. Haji Mali Khan, one of the highest ranking members of the group and the uncle of Haqqani network leader Sirajuddin Haqqani, was captured Sept. 27 in Jani Khel, Paktia province, along with his bodyguard and deputy. One week after his capture, a militant known only by the name Dilawar, who served as a principal subordinate to Khan, was killed in an airstrike in Musa Khel, Khost province. On Oct. 13, NATO claimed to have killed four militants, including Jan Baz Zadran aka Jalil Khan, a logistical and financial coordinator as well as a top aide to Sirajuddin Haqqani, in an unmanned aerial vehicle strike outside Miran Shah. And on Oct. 14, a strike on a car near Miran Shah resulted in the deaths of four militants connected to the Haqqani network — including one Egyptian who allegedly played a key role in financing the group.

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The aggressive campaign against Haqqani leadership coincides with the Oct. 16 shift of hundreds of U.S. troops, helicopters and heavy arms to the area in eastern Khost province, bordering Pakistan’s North Waziristan province, where the Haqqani network is based and where Petraeus earlier suggested the war effort would increase its focus. U.S. and Afghan troops have enforced a curfew in the border area and cut off some cross-border movement, according to reports, but NATO otherwise has not made clear the aims of this deployment or its expected duration. It may however be connected to the recent increase in pressure on the Haqqani network.

Clinton’s statement on the willingness to include the Haqqanis in a peace settlement must be viewed in the context of these recent claimed gains by NATO against the Haqqani network. Senior Pakistani military officers as recently as Aug. 18 said they could bring the Haqqanis to the negotiating table, though Sirajuddin Haqqani said Sept. 17 that his group would only participate if the Taliban also agreed to talks. Discussions between the United States and the Taliban are well known to be taking place, so Clinton’s comments could indicate that the U.S. government no longer views the Haqqani network as irreconcilable.

Given the Haqqani network’s influence, the group’s eventual involvement is necessary to reach a practicable power-sharing agreement. The offensive against the group is intended to grind away at its capabilities and reduce the threat it can pose — and thus its leverage in negotiations if and when the Haqqani network begins participating.

The United States is currently trying to address its interest to include in peace negotiations a group it recognizes will play a role in post-withdrawal Afghanistan, while avoiding the appearance of easing up on an entity it holds responsible for several attacks on U.S. and coalition forces. If the killed and captured Haqqani militants were as operationally significant as purported, the tactic may have the intended effect of not only giving the United States an edge in negotiations, but creating a possible leadership vacuum in the Haqqani network — a goal that ISAF forces have pursued from the start.

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