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23351  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post Chronicle on: June 29, 2011, 11:18:17 AM
Chronicle · June 29, 2011

The Foundation
"Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness." --George Washington

Editorial Exegesis

Rather than drill, Obama plays games with the Strategic Petroleum Reserve"President Barack Obama has chosen a curious moment to release 30 million barrels of oil from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The president initially justified the release as protection against disruptions in supply caused by the conflict in Libya. Later, the administration changed the explanation, saying Obama hopes to stabilize gasoline prices going into the summer vacation driving season. Libya is an important source of oil. But the fighting there has not had a major impact on supplies. And oil prices have fallen back in recent weeks from their yearly highs. ... As we've said when previous presidents considered using the reserve to influence short-term prices, that's not what the stockpile is there for. The reserve is designed to shield the American economy from dramatic disruptions in the oil supply. Such a major cutoff hasn't happened. Using the reserve to manipulate market prices is a futile enterprise. ... The president's decision to release oil reserves, coming at a time when his approval rating is sinking, opens him to criticism that his re-election campaign is driving his economic and energy decisions. He can claim credit for future declines in gasoline prices that may have occurred naturally. If the priority of the administration is now to keep gasoline cheap, it should also drop its opposition to increased domestic oil production, which would have a larger impact on long-term oil prices than would tapping into the reserve. Likewise, that goal should also inform its current considerations of sharply higher fuel economy standards for the automotive fleet. ... In any case, the release of the oil reserves in response to fluctuations in the market is not sound policy." --The Detroit News


Upright
"On economic growth, real GDP has risen 0.8% over the 13 quarters since the recession began, compared to an average increase of 9.9% in past recoveries. From the beginning of the recession to April 2011, real personal income has grown just .9% compared to 9.4% for the same period in previous post 1960 recessions. The standard response from Obama apologists is that recession of 2008 and 2009 was different because, as former Clinton administration economist Robert Shapiro puts it, 'this was a financial crisis, and these take longer to recover from.' In fact, in most cases, the deeper the recession, the stronger the recovery to make up for lost ground." --columnist Stephen Moore

"Right now America is nothing more than Greece with better PR. And note I said right now, because at the rate we're going, we're well on our way to making that country look like amateurs by comparison." --columnist Arnold Ahlert

"The salient feature of America in the Age of Obama is a failed government class institutionally committed to living beyond its means, and a citizenry too many of whom are content to string along." --columnist Mark Steyn

"A recent poll showed that nearly half the American public believes that the government should redistribute wealth. That so many people are so willing to blithely put such an enormous and dangerous arbitrary power in the hands of politicians -- risking their own freedom, in hopes of getting what someone else has -- is a painful sign of how far many citizens and voters fall short of what is needed to preserve a democratic republic." --economist Thomas Sowell

23352  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington: Farewell Address 1796 on: June 29, 2011, 10:00:32 AM


"The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position." --George Washington, Farewell Address, 1796
23353  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Scott Adams: Betting on the Bad Guys on: June 29, 2011, 09:58:34 AM
Betting on the Bad Guys
Cartoonist Scott Adams's personal road to riches: Put your money on the companies you hate the most
By SCOTT ADAMS

When I heard that BP was destroying a big portion of Earth, with no serious discussion of cutting their dividend, I had two thoughts: 1) I hate them, and 2) This would be an excellent time to buy their stock. And so I did. Although I should have waited a week.

People ask me how it feels to take the side of moral bankruptcy. Answer: Pretty good! Thanks for asking. How's it feel to be a disgruntled victim?

I have a theory that you should invest in the companies that you hate the most. The usual reason for hating a company is that the company is so powerful it can make you balance your wallet on your nose while you beg for their product. Oil companies such as BP don't actually make you beg for oil, but I think we all realize that they could. It's implied in the price of gas.


Scott AdamsI hate BP, but I admire them too, in the same way I respect the work ethic of serial killers. I remember the day I learned that BP was using a submarine…with a web cam…a mile under the sea…to feed live video of their disaster to the world. My mind screamed "STOP TRYING TO MAKE ME LOVE YOU! MUST…THINK…OF DEAD BIRDS TO MAINTAIN ANGER!" The geeky side of me has a bit of a crush on them, but I still hate them for turning Florida into a dip stick.

Apparently BP has its own navy, a small air force, and enough money to build floating cities on the sea, most of which are still upright. If there's oil on the moon, BP will be the first to send a hose into space and suck on the moon until it's the size of a grapefruit. As an investor, that's the side I want to be on, with BP, not the loser moon.

I'd like to see a movie in which James Bond tries to defeat BP, but in the end they run Bond through a machine that turns him into "junk shot" debris to seal a leaky well. I'm just saying you don't always have to root for Bond. Be flexible.

Perhaps you think it's absurd to invest in companies just because you hate them. But let's compare my method to all of the other ways you could decide where to invest.

Technical Analysis
Technical analysis involves studying graphs of stock movement over time as a way to predict future moves. It's a widely used method on Wall Street, and it has exactly the same scientific validity as pretending you are a witch and forecasting market moves from chicken droppings.

Investing in Well-Managed Companies
When companies make money, we assume they are well-managed. That perception is reinforced by the CEOs of those companies who are happy to tell you all the clever things they did to make it happen. The problem with relying on this source of information is that CEOs are highly skilled in a special form of lying called leadership. Leadership involves convincing employees and investors that the CEO has something called a vision, a type of optimistic hallucination that can come true only in an environment in which the CEO is massively overcompensated and the employees have learned to be less selfish.

Track Record
Perhaps you can safely invest in companies that have a long track record of being profitable. That sounds safe and reasonable, right? The problem is that every investment expert knows two truths about investing: 1) Past performance is no indication of future performance. 2) You need to consider a company's track record.

Right, yes, those are opposites. And it's pretty much all that anyone knows about investing. An investment professional can argue for any sort of investment decision by selectively ignoring either point 1 or 2. And for that you will pay the investment professional 1% to 2% of your portfolio value annually, no matter the performance.

Invest in Companies You Love
Instead of investing in companies you hate, as I have suggested, perhaps you could invest in companies you love. I once hired professional money managers at Wells Fargo to do essentially that for me. As part of their service they promised to listen to the dopey-happy hallucinations of professional liars (CEOs) and be gullible on my behalf. The pros at Wells Fargo bought for my portfolio Enron, WorldCom, and a number of other much-loved companies that soon went out of business. For that, I hate Wells Fargo. But I sure wish I had bought stock in Wells Fargo at the time I hated them the most, because Wells Fargo itself performed great. See how this works?

Do Your Own Research
I didn't let Wells Fargo manage my entire portfolio, thanks to my native distrust of all humanity. For the other half of my portfolio I did my own research. (Imagine a field of red flags, all wildly waving. I didn't notice them.) My favorite investment was in a company I absolutely loved. I loved their business model. I loved their mission. I loved how they planned to make our daily lives easier. They were simply adorable as they struggled to change an entrenched industry. Their leaders reported that the company had finally turned cash positive in one key area, thus validating their business model, and proving that the future was rosy. I doubled down. The company was Webvan, may it rest in peace.

(This would be a good time to remind you not to make investment decisions based on the wisdom of cartoonists.)

But What About Warren Buffett?
The argument goes that if Warren Buffett can buy quality companies at reasonable prices, hold them for the long term and become a billionaire, then so can you. Do you know who would be the first person to tell you that you aren't smart enough or well-informed enough to pull that off? His name is Warren Buffett. OK, he's probably too nice to say that, but I'm pretty sure he's thinking it. However, he might tell you that he makes his money by knowing things that other people don't know, and buying things that other people can't buy, such as entire companies.

People Love Berkshire Hathaway And That Has Done Great
I'm not saying that the companies you love are automatically bad investments. I'm saying that investing in companies you love is riskier than investing in companies you hate.

Second, take a look at Berkshire Hathaway's holdings. It's a rogue's gallery of junk food purveyors, banks, insurance companies and yes, Goldman Sachs and Moody's. The second largest holding of Berkshire Hathaway is…wait for it…Wells Fargo.

(Disclosure: I own stock in Berkshire Hathaway for the very reasons I'm describing. And my first job out of college was at Crocker National Bank, later swallowed by Wells Fargo.)

Let's talk about morality. Can you justify owning stock in companies that are treating the Earth like a prison pillow with a crayon face? Of course you can, but it takes some mental gymnastics. I'm here to help.

If you buy stock in a despicable company, it means some of the previous owners of that company sold it to you. If the stock then rises more than the market average, you successfully screwed the previous owners of the hated company. That's exactly like justice, only better because you made a profit. Then you can sell your stocks for a gain and donate all of your earnings to good causes, such as education for your own kids.

Having absorbed all of the wisdom I have presented here so far, you are naturally wondering if I have any additional investment tips. Yes, and I will put my tips in the form of a true story. Recently I bought something called an iPhone. It drops calls so often that I no longer use it for audio conversations. It's too frustrating. And unlike my old BlackBerry days, I don't send e-mail on the iPhone because the on-screen keyboard is, as far as I can tell, an elaborate practical joke. I am, however, willing to respond to incoming text messages a long as they are in the form of yes-no questions and my answer are in the affirmative. In those cases I can simply type "k," the shorthand for OK, and I have trained my friends and family to accept L, J, O, or comma as meaning the same thing.

The other day I was in the Apple Store, asking how to repair a defective Apple laptop, and decided, irrationally, that I needed to have Apple's new iPad. The smiling Apple employee said she would be willing to put me on a list so I could wait an indefinite amount of time to maybe someday have one. I instinctively put my wallet on my nose and started barking like a seal, thinking it might reduce the wait time, but they're so used to seeing that maneuver that it didn't help.

My point is that I hate Apple. I hate that I irrationally crave their products, I hate their emotional control over my entire family, I hate the time I waste trying to make iTunes work, I hate how they manipulate my desires, I hate their closed systems, I hate Steve Jobs's black turtlenecks, and I hate that they call their store employees Geniuses which, as far as I can tell, is actually true. My point is that I wish I had bought stock in Apple five years ago when I first started hating them. But I hate them more every day, which is a positive sign for investing, so I'll probably buy some shares.

Again, I remind you to ignore me.

23354  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH on Harold Koh's testimony; Stratfor on: June 29, 2011, 09:50:18 AM
I note that, as I have said here before, Harold Koh is IMHO an enemy of American sovereignty and is well positioned at the State Dept to do major damage-- but that is not the point here-- here he stands for an imperial presidency:
=======
WASHINGTON — A resolution authorizing American intervention in Libya was approved on Tuesday by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, hours after members skeptically grilled the administration’s legal adviser over his assertion that airstrikes and other military measures did not amount to hostilities.

Enlarge This Image
 
Philip Scott Andrews/The New York Times
Harold H. Koh, a legal adviser to the State Department, testified on Tuesday.
Libyan Base Falls to a Rebel Ambush in the West (June 29, 2011)


The resolution, approved 14 to 5, would allow President Obama to continue for one year the involvement of United States military forces in the NATO-led operation in Libya; it now heads to the full Senate. A similar measure failed in the House last week, underscoring that even in a divided government, the Senate remains a more interventionist body while the House is increasingly dubious about foreign ventures and their cost.

For weeks, tensions have escalated between members of Congress and the Obama administration over the president’s decision not to seek Congressional authorization for the mission in Libya. The Vietnam-era War Powers Resolution stipulates that presidents must terminate unauthorized deployments into what the law calls hostilities 60 days after notifying Congress that they have begun.

In testimony before the committee Tuesday, Harold H. Koh, the legal adviser to the State Department, insisted that the resolution did not apply to Libya, a position that the administration has expressed repeatedly.

“From the outset, we noted that the situation in Libya does not constitute a war,” Mr. Koh said. He cited four factors — ground troops and significant non-air forces have not been involved, the lack of American casualties or a significant threat of them, a limited risk of escalation, and the limited use of military means — as the central points of logic in the administration’s decision to essentially ignore Congress beyond providing largely perfunctory information.

That logic was rejected by many members of the committee.

Senator Jim Webb of Virginia, a Democrat, said, “When you have an operation that goes on for months, costs billions of dollars, where the United States is providing two-thirds of the troops, even under the NATO fig leaf, where they’re dropping bombs that are killing people, where you’re paying your troops offshore combat pay and there are areas of prospective escalation — something I’ve been trying to get a clear answer from with this administration for several weeks now, and that is the possibility of a ground presence in some form or another, once the Qaddafi regime expires — I would say that’s hostilities.”

A Republican senator, Bob Corker of Tennessee, went further, accusing the administration of “sticking a stick in the eye of Congress” and saying it had done “a great disservice to our country.”

Mr. Koh did concede that the administration could have handled the situation differently. “If we had to roll the tape back, I’m sure there are many places where some would have urged — and I would have been among them — coming up with, coming up earlier for more briefings and to lay out these legal positions,” he said. Officials from the Department of Defense and Department of Justice declined to provide witnesses for the hearing.

The resolution that the committee voted on was sponsored by Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who is chairman of the committee, and Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona. In arguing for its passage, Mr. Kerry pressed his colleagues to look beyond the issue of how the White House had conferred with Congress and to support the mission, which he said was largely aimed at saving Libyan civilians from massacre. “The rationale for being there is compelling,” he said.

Several amendments attached to the resolution were also adopted, including one offered by Senator Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, the ranking Republican on the committee, which explicitly prohibits the use of ground forces in Libya.

Other approved amendments included provisions stating that any war reconstruction costs in Libya should be borne by that government and the Arab League nations, which requested American assistance in the region, and another that would reopen an inquiry into the Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. The Libyan government took responsibility for the bombing in 2003 as part of a broader settlement in which Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi agreed to give up his nuclear and chemical weapons programs.

Another amendment offered by Mr. Lugar, which failed, would have further restricted the United States’ role in Libya, essentially ending airstrikes and the use of drones.

In the end, he voted against the entire resolution, as did Senators Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Mike Lee of Utah, James Risch of Idaho and Mr. Corker.

Mr. DeMint said in an interview after the vote that he based his decision on the cost of the American operations in Libya, which are expected to reach $1 billion this fiscal year, and the lack of the administration’s earlier involvement with Congress.

===================================


Summary
As the intervention in Libya continues, the International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. This may embolden NATO to continue using airstrikes in an attempt to assassinate Gadhafi quickly, especially as domestic considerations could cause coalition partners to begin to lose their will to carry out the mission. Should this short-term push fail, however, the inevitable track will be one that leads to a negotiated settlement, first dealing with Gadhafi’s inner circle and, failing that, eventually with the Libyan leader himself.

Analysis
As the Libyan intervention exceeds 100 days, there is still no end in sight. A military stalemate persists in the east, while rebels from Misurata are struggling to push much farther west than Zlitan, and Nafusa Mountain guerrillas face a difficult task in advancing toward the coast. Moreover, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi on June 27, rendering his prospects for exile all the more unlikely.

The warrant, however, provides added impetus to NATO’s current strategy of using airpower to try to assassinate the Libyan leader as a means of accomplishing the mission: regime change. The three countries currently leading the Libyan intervention — the United States, the United Kingdom and France — are also increasing their efforts to induce people close to Gadhafi to betray him. But the longer the operation continues, the higher the chance that the West will begin to grow weary of another drawn-out war, at which point NATO will find it increasingly difficult to effect regime change. At some point, reaching a negotiated settlement will become the best of a number of unattractive options. Negotiations have already begun in an unofficial capacity, but the fact that no country involved wants to deal with a side that includes the Libyan leader will only prolong the process.


The Coalition: Weary of War?

NATO jets continue to bomb targets across Libya. In doing so, however, the coalition has run into the inevitable problem of civilian casualties. This has yet to make any demonstrable impact on public opinion of the war in countries leading the campaign, which remains consistently in favor of regime change in Libya, though against an escalation that includes the use of ground troops. For example, a poll published June 20 regarding Western countries’ opinion of regime change in Libya showed a consistently high level of approval. The longer the conflict continues, however, the higher the chance for public opinion to turn against the war.

Notably, the country whose public is most opposed is Italy, which also happens to be the first NATO country on the verge of withdrawing from the operation. Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini first intimated this June 22. In response to multiple reports of civilian casualties due to NATO airstrikes, he called for an immediate halt to the campaign so that humanitarian aid could be deployed. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi reaffirmed the shift in the Italian position away from the airstrikes June 24, when he told an EU summit that Italy was “pushing for political mediation which will deliver a final solution.”

Rome’s true motivation has more to do with domestic political pressures placed upon the Berlusconi government by its main coalition partner, Lega Nord, over the cost of the intervention rather than the fear of civilian casualties. But the reason for Italy’s objections is less important than their potential consequence: The coalition of NATO countries that have signed up to participate in Operation Unified Protector is in danger of fracturing, albeit slowly, and the Italian exit could represent the first crack.

The United Kingdom’s discourse on Libya is emblematic of a deep-rooted debate over the proper level of funding its military should receive. Recent budget cuts to the armed forces have exacerbated the United Kingdom’s inability to spread its forces across multiple theaters, and the military is using the conflict in Libya — and more specifically, the argument that its forces are overstretched — as a political tool to justify its public criticism of the budget cuts. Several leading military officials have made public statements to this effect over the past three weeks, and Prime Minister David Cameron has been quick to quash any rumors that these statements reveal a faltering will to continue the mission. However, Defense Secretary Liam Fox on June 27 admitted that the United Kingdom may have to re-prioritize some of its armed forces to see the Libyan operation through. This indicates that the complaints from the military have substance.

In the United States, Congress rather than the military is showing its resistance to the operation in Libya. The U.S. House of Representatives made its stance known June 24 by voting down a bill that would have given U.S President Barack Obama authority to wage war in the North African country. Despite the fact that the House — paradoxically, perhaps — voted down a separate proposal on the same day to restrict funding for the operation, the fact that there is widespread opposition to the Libya intervention within both the Republican and Democratic parties sent a clear message: The indefinite deployment of U.S. troops will cost Obama political capital at home.

Another factor the White House may be contemplating concerns the June 23 U.S. announcement regarding the release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and other International Energy Agency countries, which both cited the loss of oil output from Libya as the primary factor in their decision to pre-empt an anticipated price increase in the summer. Washington, as well as the other countries involved, thus has an interest in ending the conflict soon, but only in a way that would allow oil production to resume as soon as possible. (An anonymous British diplomat leaked to the media June 24 details of a British Foreign Office assessment that claimed that eastern Libyan oil infrastructure had not been that badly damaged and that it would take three to four weeks for oil exports to resume after Gadhafi’s fall. It is unclear whether this is true or whether it is simply intended to serve as an incentive for countries to keep pushing through until the end.)

France has the least domestic opposition toward regime change in Libya, and it is one of the leaders of the air campaign as well.  France was the first country to recognize the Benghazi-based National Transitional Council, and Paris would likely be the last country to abandon the mission that has become, among other things, a point of personal pride for President Nicolas Sarkozy. Sarkozy wants to avoid being perceived as weak ahead of the 2012 presidential election, especially as the race is beginning to heat up. One of the main Socialist presidential nominee candidates, Martine Aubry, is set to announce her candidacy June 28, and the Socialists may decide to put the Libya intervention — and the way it is being conducted — at the forefront of their anti-Sarkozy campaign.


A Failing Trust in the Rebels

The once-touted option of arming the rebel opposition to fight the Libyan army on the ground has lost traction in NATO. The monthslong stalemate in the east shows no signs of changing, while Misurata remains an island of rebellion in the western coastal region — though some of the rebel fighters from the city have been trying to push westward toward Tripoli despite currently being blocked outside of the city of Zlitan. Nafusa Mountain guerrillas, meanwhile, are making slight progress in terms of advancing northward, with some fighters having descended from the mountains to battle Libyan forces, but their chances of ever taking the capital are slim.

The real problem continues to lie in the uncertainty that surrounds the rebel council, which is officially recognized by a handful of countries as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people — it is recognized by even more countries in the West and by Russia and China as the de facto government of eastern Libya. All of the countries that have begun to develop ties with the council realize they will need to maintain good relations with Benghazi if they want to conduct business in Libya in the future, namely in the oil sector. Yet the West has been hesitant to fully arm the rebels or deliver on the hundreds of millions of dollars of aid that has been promised them in various international conferences since April. This suggests a general lack of trust for the council that prevents full-scale Western support, a distrust perhaps stemming from prior connections many of its leaders held with the Gadhafi regime, the potential existence of jihadist elements within the council, or the disbelief that any one faction truly speaks for all of Libya’s rebels.

NATO thus has few good options. The most attractive option, from NATO’s perspective, is to fulfill the mission as quickly as possible, while there is still resolve in the West. This means it will either convince regime insiders to push Gadhafi out, or increase its attempts to assassinate Gadhafi from the air, dealing with the resulting power vacuum later. Whether this strategy will work is unknown. But the longer it takes, the higher the chance that a coterie of NATO countries will eventually be forced to fully support a negotiated settlement to end the conflict.

The council is opposed to any outcome that does not include Gadhafi’s ouster. For months, it was even opposed to any solution that did not involve Gadhafi’s being forced to leave the country. But as cracks within the NATO countries participating in the bombing began to emerge, the rebels’ negotiating position began to weaken because their leverage with countries such as Qatar does not provide them much help in a military conflict with Gadhafi. This has led to a slight easing of the council’s position. During a June 24 interview in French media, a rebel spokesman said the council would be satisfied with Gadhafi’s retiring to a “Libyan oasis under international control,” provided he and his family are barred from participating in any future government. The spokesman also said the council would be willing to discuss the formation of an interim government with “any technocrat or Libyan official who does not have any blood on their hands.”


The Beginning of Negotiations

It is under these circumstances that official negotiations will likely begin. Such a path will not immediately lead to talks between the rebels and Gadhafi himself, however. The first attempt will be to separate Gadhafi’s inner circle from the regime, offering those without “blood on their hands” a share of power in the new Libya in exchange for betraying their leader. (Deciding who does and does not fall in this category will most likely be subject to negotiation, not based upon a true examination of the personal records of various regime officials.) Best positioned to lead any future negotiations will be the Russians (via the African Union), who have deep-rooted relations with both the West and Gadhafi and who have balanced their support of Tripoli and Benghazi to ensure a future presence throughout Libya.

The rebel spokesman who broached the topic of negotiations said negotiations have, in fact, already begun through intermediaries in countries such as France and South Africa. No country, however, wants to negotiate with Gadhafi himself unless all other options have been exhausted. If NATO jets are unable to kill the Libyan leader, then the alliance will attempt to undermine him from within.

The problem with this approach is embodied in the ICC warrants. Though Gadhafi, his son Seif al-Islam and his long-time intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sannousi have been the only specific targets of this round of ICC warrants, no one connected to the regime will enjoy a guarantee of continued immunity from prosecution. This makes it difficult, though not impossible, to incentivize a deal for them, especially when the rebel military threat is low, and the NATO countries participating in the operations in Libya — which are hesitant to deploy ground troops — have yet to show that their attempts at assassinating Gadhafi will prove successful.



Read more: NATO's Diminishing Options in Libya | STRATFOR
23355  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Allen West: First Principles on: June 29, 2011, 09:34:55 AM


Haven't had a chance to watch this yet-- it is 35 minutes long-- but it is Allen West, so it promises to be lively wink

http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/p18753.xml
23356  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Shapiro: Treating children as adults on: June 29, 2011, 09:31:55 AM


This week, the Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, ruled that the state of California could not bar the sale of violent video games to minors. The majority opinion, written by quasi-originalist Justice Antonin Scalia, argued that the First Amendment requires that government not mandate that minors be controlled by their parents. Purer originalist Judge Clarence Thomas took the opposite view. "Although much has changed in this country since the Revolution," he wrote, "the notion that parents have authority over their children and that the law can support that authority persists today."

This is the debate that defines our time. The treatment of minors as tiny adults is a dangerous move that threatens the foundations of our society. Civilized societies have always recognized that parents must control their children until the kids reach maturity -- that's how we've historically passed along morals and information. If we left children to their own devices, there is little doubt that they would engage in every selfish pursuit they could -- kids aren't the naturally altruistic folks non-parents seem to think they are -- and hurt themselves in the process. They wouldn't go to school, they wouldn't go to church, and they certainly wouldn't embrace their parents' value systems.

But today's left, and many on the libertarian right, have embraced the concept of children making their own decisions. Paternalism has become a dirty word, even though parents are supposed to be paternal. New generations should not have to rediscover old truths -- reinventing the wheel takes time, effort and pain. They should be able to inherit the received wisdom of the past, glean from it, and then make their own decisions.

Historically, this has meant that parents control what their children see and hear. To a point, the more control parents have had, the better. There is a reason that unwed motherhood is the leading indicator of many of our most pressing social problems: Without a father in the home, children often run out of control and grow into irresponsible adults. Government should do its utmost to maintain enough respect for the family unit to allow adults to raise their children.

Now, however, we've moved into a brave new world in which children are thought to be adults who are far away. The left has pushed for lowered age of consent; they've pushed for children to be able to attain abortions without parental permission; they've pushed for heightened sex education, so children can make "informed" decisions without the input of their guardians.

This is not only scientifically inaccurate, but it's also morally incoherent. Children are children because they are not fully developed human beings. Science tells us that adolescents are biologically driven to embrace risky and stupid behavior. The part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex, which actually controls for risky behavior, isn't fully developed until children are fully grown. Leave children and adolescents to their own devices, and they will not make good decisions -- they will attack any boundaries and cross any lines.

What is government's role in all of this? Justice Scalia believes that government should not put more power in the hands of parents -- government should essentially be neutral between children and those who raise them. Justice Thomas believes that government should create a system wherein parents get the last word. In today's world, more than ever, it is important that children not be treated with libertarian casualness requiring parents to be all-knowing and all-seeing. Instead, government should place control firmly in the hands of parents, requiring children to go to their parents for advice and guidance.

Freedom and responsibility for actions go hand in hand; only adults can be held responsible for their actions and the actions of their children. Therefore, only adults should have the freedom to choose on behalf of their children. Any other moral system is a fundamental rejection of the superstructure of civilization in favor of a moral chimera.
23357  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Shedlock: China Bubble? on: June 29, 2011, 09:25:45 AM
Lost in the worry over Greek debt defaults, China Daily reports on a default story of more significance. Please consider Local governments run up huge debts, risk defaulting

Local governments had an overall debt of 10.7 trillion yuan ($1.65 trillion) by the end of 2010, said China's top auditor on Monday in a report to the National People's Congress.

He warned that some were at risk of defaulting on payments.

It was the first time the world's second-largest economy publicly announced the size of its local governments' debts. The scale amounts to more than one-quarter of its GDP in 2010, which stood at 39.8 trillion yuan.

Concerns are rising that the problem of local government debt could destabilize the financial system of the country if it is not managed properly, especially after the central government's tightening of the housing market, which could affect local fiscal revenue that is highly dependent on land sales and make debt repayment more difficult.

In addition, China's ambitious plan to construct 36 million affordable homes during the coming five years, including 10 million in 2011 and 10 million in 2012, added to worries about increasing capital tension and rising non-performing loans in commercial banks.

About 79 percent of the local government loans were made by banks across the country, according to the NAO.

Lu Zhengwei, chief economist at the Industrial Bank, said the figures released were moderate compared with previous estimates, and risks lying in these loans are quite limited.

"Overdue loans take up only a small proportion of the total lending and local governments didn't pay them in a timely way mainly because deadlines were too concentrated, not because of deteriorated ability to repay."
$1.65 Trillion is a mountain of cash even to the US. How much of that is at risk is the question, but even 10% would be significant.

Moreover, it is certain that what cannot be paid back, won't be paid back. As in the US, once assets backing loans crash, so will willingness and ability to pay back the loans. Thus, efforts by some to downplay the odds should fall on deaf ears.

Speculation in China is as least as rampant as it was in the US. For example, please consider Ponzi Financing Involving Copper Trade Gone Wild In China.

Also consider Wave of Violent Protests, Rioting, Bombings Hits China; Expect More Riots When China's Credit Bubble Pops, Exposing Mountains of Fraud

Finally, please consider World's Biggest Property Bubble: China's Ghost Cities Revisited; 64 Million Vacant Properties

As long as credit bubbles expand, no one heeds warnings like that issued by China's top auditor. Then when the bubble bursts, everyone cries they were not warned, they were taken advantage of, and they deserve a bailout.

One thing's for certain, when China's credit bubble pops, it will rock the world.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com
========================
Also see http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2011/03/worlds-biggest-property-bubble-chinas.html
23358  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hotair.com Obama lied while our men die on: June 29, 2011, 09:13:41 AM
Uh oh: White House caught lying about Petraeus’s withdrawal recommendations?
Share280 posted at 9:16 pm on June 28, 2011 by Allahpundit
printer-friendly Terrific catch by Stephen Hayes from this afternoon’s Afghanistan testimony by Lt. Gen. John Allen. I can’t help but wonder: Why would the White House lie and claim that Obama’s withdrawal plan was within the range of options presented to him by Petraeus? I thought the next 18 months were going to be all about Obama going with his gut. Wingin’ it, if you will.
His gut told him that he needs to get reelected, and the easiest way to do that was to yank as many troops as possible out of the country no matter what it might mean for the war. That was the only “range of options” that mattered.
So he winged it.
In response to questioning from Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Allen testified that Obama’s decision on the pace and size of Afghanistan withdrawals was “a more aggressive option than that which was presented.”
Graham pressed him. “My question is: Was that a option?”
Allen: “It was not.”
Allen’s claim, which came under oath, contradicts the line the White House had been providing reporters over the past week—that Obama simply chose one option among several presented by General David Petraeus. In a conference call last Wednesday, June 22, a reporter asked senior Obama administration officials about those options. “Did General Petraeus specifically endorse this plan, or was it one of the options that General Petraeus gave to the president?”
The senior administration official twice claimed that the Obama decision was within the range of options the military presented to Obama.
Follow the link up top for a full transcript of what that senior administration official said last week. Are Hayes and I missing some nuance in the quotes? It’s one thing if the White House wants to squander the surge in the name of winning next year, but at least own it. Don’t use Petraeus as the fig leaf for a terrible, electorally motivated war “strategy.” Good lord.
23359  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Older Warrior on: June 29, 2011, 09:06:52 AM
MPJ?
23360  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Older Warrior on: June 29, 2011, 12:33:07 AM
Here is some of my philosophy in no particular order:

a) Never argue with your joints; they always win.

b) The key to most things is alignment.

c) Where a muscle is tight, in that range of motion to complementary muscle is weak.  To maximize elasticity, it is as important to work complete contraction as it is to stretch.

d)  In my rather strongly held self-taught opinion (remember "Only you are responsible for you, so protect yourself at all times.") most lower back pain (e.g. L4 pinching a nerve) is the result of short, tight hip flexors (psoas, ilio, and quads) and weak hip extensors (hamstring, glute, and in a certain sense quadratus lumborum).  This leads the pelvis to tilt forward, which raises the pelvic crest towards the ribs which tends to compress the lumbar region of the spine e.g. L4.  If you restore range of motion to the hip flexors and extensors, this should lessen, perhaps dramatically, the compression on the lumbar portion of the spine, perhaps with near miraculous results.

No suing no one for no reason for nothing no how no way.  Consult a proper expert in these things.  Feel free to show him/her this post.
===========

I've been focusing on strength work the last couple of months.  I tend to organize my work in this regard by the joint in question e.g. the muscles that move the humerus i.e. the shoulder joint.



Defined thusly, many movements which are considered back movements (e.g. pulldowns) are part of the workout.



This week I stumbled on a pairing which I liked a lot.   Certainly under this concept it is obvious to pair overhead presses (I prefer dumbbells to bar) with pull down motions.  What I did differently this time was to apply a concept I learned from Chris Gizzi for activating/aligning the scapula.



Instead of doing a seated regular press I set the backrest of the seat bench at a slight angle from perpendicular and faced so that my front was resting on the backrest and did my set of dumbbell presses with a distinctly light weight.  Each set I increased the intensity not by increasing the weight, but by lowering the back rest a click or two towards horizontal.  Very subtle!  Very effective!
23361  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / I wonder if there was a pat down, or if one was not necessary , , , on: June 28, 2011, 09:31:13 PM


Why Was a Man in Panties and a Bra Allowed to Fly?
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Dennis Prager
On June 9, a man boarded a US Airways flight from Fort Lauderdale to Phoenix, dressed in women's panties, a bra and thigh-high stockings.

No US Airways employee at the Fort Lauderdale airport asked him to cover himself. Nor did any flight attendant ask him to do so. And obviously, no one demanded that he get off the plane.

US Airways spokeswoman Valerie Wunder was asked how the airline allowed a nearly naked cross-dresser to board a plane and sit next to other passengers who, one assumes, did not appreciate being seated next to an exhibitionist.

As reported by the San Francisco Examiner, she "said employees had been correct not to ask the man to cover himself. 'We don't have a dress code policy. Obviously, if their private parts are exposed, that's not appropriate. ... So if they're not exposing their private parts, they're allowed to fly.'"

The decline of American civilization since the 1960s has been so fast and so dramatic that it takes one's breath away.

That a woman speaking on behalf of a major airline can say with a straight face that her airline allows anyone dressed or undressed to fly on its airplanes so long as they do not expose their genitals perfectly encapsulates this decline.

The only question is: How did we get here?

For one thing, the concept of decency is dying. I suspect that if an adult were to say to a group of randomly chosen American college students that this man indecently exposed himself and should not have been allowed to fly, that adult would be a) not understood -- what does "indecent" mean? -- and/or b) roundly condemned for intolerance and bigotry.

To judge this man as acting indecently, not to mention to bar him from flying, is to engage in violating the only values a generation of Americans has been taught: not to judge, not to discriminate, to welcome diversity and to fully accept those who are different, especially in the sexual arena.

That is why I think it is very difficult to have a dialogue on this matter. For those who believe in public "decency," the matter is as clear as a bell -- this was profoundly indecent -- and for those who do not believe in such a concept, the matter is equally clear -- "decency" is an anachronism.

One caller to my radio talk show simply could not see what was so bad about what the man did and that US Airways allowed him to fly. I asked my caller if he thought an airline should ban naked passengers. While he acknowledged that public nudity is against the law, he saw no reason that it should be so. Basically, I suspect that in my caller's view, my opposition to this man being allowed to fly constituted a "hang up."

So the god of tolerance is one reason for the death of the concept of "public decency."

Another is the age of secularism in which we live. In a more religious America, the human being was regarded as created in God's image, a being that ideally aspires to a level of holiness. As secularism proceeds with the increasing force of an avalanche, however, man is increasingly regarded as just another animal.

One way in which higher civilizations have demonstrated the human-animal difference has been the wearing of clothing. Animals are naked in public; humans are clothed. But secularism eats away at such religious ideals. Thus religion-based concepts such as holiness and decency die out. You can see it in the widespread acceptance of public cursing as well as in public exhibitionism, among many other manifestations.

I don't know if US Airways is alone among airlines in allowing anyone to fly as long as their genitals are covered. But it seems to me that if restaurants can post dress codes and announce that they reserve the right to refuse service to anyone, an airline -- in which people, unlike in restaurants, are forced to sit two inches from strangers -- should be able to do so.

In the meantime, this is the Brave New World that mindless tolerance, diversity and lawsuits on their behalf have wrought.

23362  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bachman, Gov. Terry on: June 28, 2011, 12:32:47 PM
I've already expressed concern about her lack of executive experience (hence my dalliance with the idea of Cain as her VP candidate) but to have such a high turnover rate of chief of staffs in such a short amount of time with one of them writing a stab-in-the-back hit piece like this certainly does not sound good.

I saw Texas Gov. Terry (Perry?) on Glenn Beck yesterday.  Very impressive!  Excellent articulation of states's overeignty and the concept of federalism.  I will be watching for more on him.

23363  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: June 28, 2011, 11:40:08 AM
El Chango’s Arrest

The leader of a faction of La Familia Michoacana (LFM) — the faction that continues to use the LFM name — was arrested June 21 without incident in  Aguascalientes state in central Mexico. At the time of his arrest, Jose de Jesus “El Chango” Mendez Vargas and his branch of the LFM were under heavy pressure from the other LFM faction, known as the Knights Templar (KT) and led by Servando “La Tuta” Gomez Martinez, as well as from Mexican authorities and the Sinaloa Federation.

Mendez Vargas’ arrest clearly is a  short-term blow to his faction of LFM, but it is too early to tell if it will result in the end of the group. More important, it is unclear what effect it will have on the battle for control of the drug flow through Michoacan state.

Mendez Vargas’ faction of the LFM is the weaker of the two currently fighting for control of the LFM territory and business. In fact, STRATFOR sources and media reports indicate that Mendez Vargas’ faction was losing the battle against the Knights Templar. Mendez Vargas’ forces had experienced some significant losses in the weeks prior to his arrest, and banners posted by the Knights Templar alleged that Mendez Vargas was so desperate that he had even reached out to his former enemies in Los Zetas for assistance.

Presently, it appears that the Knights Templar has placed itself in a position to assume control of the LFM empire. The Knights Templar is a local organization with local support, and many of its members have a long history of close ties to the community. However, after being weakened by the fight with Mendez Vargas’ faction, it is not altogether clear if the Knights Templar will have the strength to fend off a renewed push by its enemies in the Sinaloa Federation. It is also possible that the remnants of Mendez Vargas’ organization will become even more closely aligned with Los Zetas, which will allow the Zetas to expand their presence in Michoacan by working through locals. All this means that the capture of Mendez Vargas may have removed one cartel leader, but it will likely do little to quell the violence in the state.


Troops in Tamaulipas

Around 2,800 Mexican soldiers deployed during the week of June 19 to 22 cities in Tamaulipas state along the U.S.-Mexico border. The objective of the deployment is to put the military in charge of security operations in the state while stamping out corruption in local police forces. After relieving all officers of duty, the military will conduct interviews and drug tests on new officers to determine who will receive further training and continue in law enforcement. Many of the officers who are not rehired likely will begin working for the cartels.

The military has taken control in Reynosa, Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros and San Fernando, border towns that saw violence increase just last week, along with the state capital of Victoria. An audacious raid in Matamoros by Los Zetas on June 17 looked to be an indication that the violence was only going to get worse in Tamaulipas. In this context it is not surprising that the Tamaulipas state government felt the need to ask the federal government for help.

The government position is that the presence of the military in Tamaulipas will lead to a decrease in violence. However, statistics on murders in Juarez, Chihuahua state, where the military took control in early March 2009, are evidence that military deployments do not necessarily correlate with a reduction in violence. In 2008, prior to the deployment, there were 1,600 murders in Juarez attributed to organized crime, according to Spanish newspaper Diario Universal. In 2009, the number went up to 2,650. The attorney general’s office in the state’s northern zone reported 3,200 murders in 2010, and as of June 15 there were already 1,500 murders on record for 2011.

The military cannot be everywhere at once, and it would take far more than 2,800 soldiers to secure the entire state of Tamaulipas. Cartels know the military presence will not last forever, so while there occasionally can be direct conflicts, more often the cartels will hunker down and wait for the military to leave or simply strike where the military has no presence.

Also, the Mexican military cannot risk being in a location too long because it faces the same corruptive forces that continually destroy the police departments. The longer the military comes in contact with those forces, the harder it is to guarantee soldiers are not being corrupted. The value of the military is that it has long been kept separate from the drug war and therefore has not been the focus of the cartels’ corruption efforts. This is already changing, and authorities must be careful with using the military to fight the war.

Another issue is that populations tend to tire of the presence of soldiers, who lack the police skills and training necessary to manage a civilian population. An extended deployment increases the chances of an incident that could upset the locals, and at the very least it is a hindrance to civilians’ daily lives.

The arrival of the military in Tamaulipas state is not a guarantee of security and tranquility. Los Zetas and the Gulf cartel are currently locked in a brutal battle for control of the northeast. The way they fight their battle may be altered a bit due to the presence of the military, but we believe that based on the experience of past military deployments in places such as Juarez, the violence between the two groups will continue despite the deployment.



(click here to view interactive map)

June 20

A journalist, his wife and son were found murdered in their house in Veracruz, Veracruz state. The journalist, the second murdered in the state this month, wrote about crime and politics for the newspaper Notiver.
Five bodies were found throughout Michoacan state with a narcomanta on each claiming responsibility on behalf of the Knights Templar.
The police chief in Morelia, Michoacan state, was detained for possession of drugs and weapons for military use only.
More than three tons of methamphetamine and precursor chemicals were found in an industrial area of El Marques, Queretaro state.

June 21

A cache of weapons and military tactical gear, including camouflage uniforms, were found in Coneto de Comonfort, Durango state.
The burned bodies of three traffic cops were found on the street in Guadalupe, Chihuahua state.
Eight suspected members of the Knights Templar were detained in Piedras de Lumbre, Michoacan state. Among the detained were the group’s leaders in Tuxpan and Zitacuaro, Michoacan state.

June 22

A man’s body was found in Jesus Maria, Aguascalientes state, with a narcomanta alluding to the detention of Mendez Vargas, the LFM head who was detained by police the previous day.
A group of marines was ambushed by unknown gunmen in Panuco, Zacatecas state, leaving one marine dead.
The police chief in Praxedis G. Guerrero, Chihuahua state, and her family were attacked and held at knifepoint during a robbery in the state of Chihuahua.
The municipal police chief of Ciudad Isla, Veracruz state, Ricardo Reyes Alvarez, was attacked by gunmen. The police chief was killed and three others were injured in the attack.
Three individuals working for the criminal organization led by Edgar “La Barbie” Valdez Villarreal were detained in Tlaltizapan, Morelos state. The suspects were arrested with two kilograms (more than four pounds) of marijuana, one kilogram of cocaine and firearms.

June 23

A group of suspected extortionists opened fire on an escort vehicle in the convoy of Julian Leyzaola Perez, the municipal security chief in Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Leon state. One attacker was injured in the ensuing firefight.
Seven individuals suspected of belonging to a gang of kidnappers operating in Pachuca and Mineral de la Reforma were detained in Hidalgo state. The individuals are responsible for at least two kidnappings and one murder.
Seventy-eight Central American migrants were detained at a railway station in Irolo, Hidalgo state. Among the migrants were Hondurans, Salvadoreans, and Guatemalans.

June 24

Ninety-one police officers were arrested in Tlaxcala, Tlaxcala state, on charges of robbery and collusion among public officials.
Four Salvadorans were arrested in San Salvador, El Salvador, in connection to the August 2010 massacre in San Fernando, Tamaulipas state, that left 72 immigrants dead. The Salvadorans were responsible for transferring undocumented migrants to Mexico.
Approximately 60 undocumented migrants were kidnapped by armed men in Veracruz. The migrants were on a freight train headed from Oaxaca to Veracruz when the train was stopped by three vehicles parked in its path.
Eleven graves containing human remains were found in Nuevo Leon by the Mexican army.
The Mexican government announced the deployment of around 2,800 Mexican troops to Tamaulipas to take charge of public safety and counter corruption within the police force.

June 25

Mexican Federal Police captured alleged Los Zetas leader Albert Gonzalez Pena, aka “El Tigre,” in Xalapa, Veracruz state. He was responsible for moving drugs farther into northern and central Mexico and was also linked to various other criminal activities in Veracruz state.
Nine women from the Institutional Revolutionary Party were assaulted and received death threats allegedly due to political affiliations in Pachuca, Hidalgo state. The attackers are allegedly working for the campaign of a rival candidate.
Seven bodies were found in the municipalities of Ixtapaluca and Valle de Chalco, Mexico state. A message from LFM was left with them.

85540
23364  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: June 28, 2011, 11:39:34 AM
El Chango’s Arrest

The leader of a faction of La Familia Michoacana (LFM) — the faction that continues to use the LFM name — was arrested June 21 without incident in  Aguascalientes state in central Mexico. At the time of his arrest, Jose de Jesus “El Chango” Mendez Vargas and his branch of the LFM were under heavy pressure from the other LFM faction, known as the Knights Templar (KT) and led by Servando “La Tuta” Gomez Martinez, as well as from Mexican authorities and the Sinaloa Federation.

Mendez Vargas’ arrest clearly is a  short-term blow to his faction of LFM, but it is too early to tell if it will result in the end of the group. More important, it is unclear what effect it will have on the battle for control of the drug flow through Michoacan state.

Mendez Vargas’ faction of the LFM is the weaker of the two currently fighting for control of the LFM territory and business. In fact, STRATFOR sources and media reports indicate that Mendez Vargas’ faction was losing the battle against the Knights Templar. Mendez Vargas’ forces had experienced some significant losses in the weeks prior to his arrest, and banners posted by the Knights Templar alleged that Mendez Vargas was so desperate that he had even reached out to his former enemies in Los Zetas for assistance.

Presently, it appears that the Knights Templar has placed itself in a position to assume control of the LFM empire. The Knights Templar is a local organization with local support, and many of its members have a long history of close ties to the community. However, after being weakened by the fight with Mendez Vargas’ faction, it is not altogether clear if the Knights Templar will have the strength to fend off a renewed push by its enemies in the Sinaloa Federation. It is also possible that the remnants of Mendez Vargas’ organization will become even more closely aligned with Los Zetas, which will allow the Zetas to expand their presence in Michoacan by working through locals. All this means that the capture of Mendez Vargas may have removed one cartel leader, but it will likely do little to quell the violence in the state.


Troops in Tamaulipas

Around 2,800 Mexican soldiers deployed during the week of June 19 to 22 cities in Tamaulipas state along the U.S.-Mexico border. The objective of the deployment is to put the military in charge of security operations in the state while stamping out corruption in local police forces. After relieving all officers of duty, the military will conduct interviews and drug tests on new officers to determine who will receive further training and continue in law enforcement. Many of the officers who are not rehired likely will begin working for the cartels.

The military has taken control in Reynosa, Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros and San Fernando, border towns that saw violence increase just last week, along with the state capital of Victoria. An audacious raid in Matamoros by Los Zetas on June 17 looked to be an indication that the violence was only going to get worse in Tamaulipas. In this context it is not surprising that the Tamaulipas state government felt the need to ask the federal government for help.

The government position is that the presence of the military in Tamaulipas will lead to a decrease in violence. However, statistics on murders in Juarez, Chihuahua state, where the military took control in early March 2009, are evidence that military deployments do not necessarily correlate with a reduction in violence. In 2008, prior to the deployment, there were 1,600 murders in Juarez attributed to organized crime, according to Spanish newspaper Diario Universal. In 2009, the number went up to 2,650. The attorney general’s office in the state’s northern zone reported 3,200 murders in 2010, and as of June 15 there were already 1,500 murders on record for 2011.

The military cannot be everywhere at once, and it would take far more than 2,800 soldiers to secure the entire state of Tamaulipas. Cartels know the military presence will not last forever, so while there occasionally can be direct conflicts, more often the cartels will hunker down and wait for the military to leave or simply strike where the military has no presence.

Also, the Mexican military cannot risk being in a location too long because it faces the same corruptive forces that continually destroy the police departments. The longer the military comes in contact with those forces, the harder it is to guarantee soldiers are not being corrupted. The value of the military is that it has long been kept separate from the drug war and therefore has not been the focus of the cartels’ corruption efforts. This is already changing, and authorities must be careful with using the military to fight the war.

Another issue is that populations tend to tire of the presence of soldiers, who lack the police skills and training necessary to manage a civilian population. An extended deployment increases the chances of an incident that could upset the locals, and at the very least it is a hindrance to civilians’ daily lives.

The arrival of the military in Tamaulipas state is not a guarantee of security and tranquility. Los Zetas and the Gulf cartel are currently locked in a brutal battle for control of the northeast. The way they fight their battle may be altered a bit due to the presence of the military, but we believe that based on the experience of past military deployments in places such as Juarez, the violence between the two groups will continue despite the deployment.



(click here to view interactive map)

June 20

A journalist, his wife and son were found murdered in their house in Veracruz, Veracruz state. The journalist, the second murdered in the state this month, wrote about crime and politics for the newspaper Notiver.
Five bodies were found throughout Michoacan state with a narcomanta on each claiming responsibility on behalf of the Knights Templar.
The police chief in Morelia, Michoacan state, was detained for possession of drugs and weapons for military use only.
More than three tons of methamphetamine and precursor chemicals were found in an industrial area of El Marques, Queretaro state.

June 21

A cache of weapons and military tactical gear, including camouflage uniforms, were found in Coneto de Comonfort, Durango state.
The burned bodies of three traffic cops were found on the street in Guadalupe, Chihuahua state.
Eight suspected members of the Knights Templar were detained in Piedras de Lumbre, Michoacan state. Among the detained were the group’s leaders in Tuxpan and Zitacuaro, Michoacan state.

June 22

A man’s body was found in Jesus Maria, Aguascalientes state, with a narcomanta alluding to the detention of Mendez Vargas, the LFM head who was detained by police the previous day.
A group of marines was ambushed by unknown gunmen in Panuco, Zacatecas state, leaving one marine dead.
The police chief in Praxedis G. Guerrero, Chihuahua state, and her family were attacked and held at knifepoint during a robbery in the state of Chihuahua.
The municipal police chief of Ciudad Isla, Veracruz state, Ricardo Reyes Alvarez, was attacked by gunmen. The police chief was killed and three others were injured in the attack.
Three individuals working for the criminal organization led by Edgar “La Barbie” Valdez Villarreal were detained in Tlaltizapan, Morelos state. The suspects were arrested with two kilograms (more than four pounds) of marijuana, one kilogram of cocaine and firearms.

June 23

A group of suspected extortionists opened fire on an escort vehicle in the convoy of Julian Leyzaola Perez, the municipal security chief in Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Leon state. One attacker was injured in the ensuing firefight.
Seven individuals suspected of belonging to a gang of kidnappers operating in Pachuca and Mineral de la Reforma were detained in Hidalgo state. The individuals are responsible for at least two kidnappings and one murder.
Seventy-eight Central American migrants were detained at a railway station in Irolo, Hidalgo state. Among the migrants were Hondurans, Salvadoreans, and Guatemalans.

June 24

Ninety-one police officers were arrested in Tlaxcala, Tlaxcala state, on charges of robbery and collusion among public officials.
Four Salvadorans were arrested in San Salvador, El Salvador, in connection to the August 2010 massacre in San Fernando, Tamaulipas state, that left 72 immigrants dead. The Salvadorans were responsible for transferring undocumented migrants to Mexico.
Approximately 60 undocumented migrants were kidnapped by armed men in Veracruz. The migrants were on a freight train headed from Oaxaca to Veracruz when the train was stopped by three vehicles parked in its path.
Eleven graves containing human remains were found in Nuevo Leon by the Mexican army.
The Mexican government announced the deployment of around 2,800 Mexican troops to Tamaulipas to take charge of public safety and counter corruption within the police force.

June 25

Mexican Federal Police captured alleged Los Zetas leader Albert Gonzalez Pena, aka “El Tigre,” in Xalapa, Veracruz state. He was responsible for moving drugs farther into northern and central Mexico and was also linked to various other criminal activities in Veracruz state.
Nine women from the Institutional Revolutionary Party were assaulted and received death threats allegedly due to political affiliations in Pachuca, Hidalgo state. The attackers are allegedly working for the campaign of a rival candidate.
Seven bodies were found in the municipalities of Ixtapaluca and Valle de Chalco, Mexico state. A message from LFM was left with them.
23365  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: The Divided States of Europe on: June 28, 2011, 10:40:37 AM
The Divided States of Europe
June 28, 2011


By Marko Papic

Europe continues to be engulfed by economic crisis.  The global focus returns to Athens on June 28 as Greek parliamentarians debate austerity measures imposed on them by eurozone partners. If the Greeks vote down these measures, Athens will not receive its second bailout, which could create an even worse crisis in Europe and the world.

It is important to understand that the crisis is not fundamentally about Greece or even about the indebtedness of the entire currency bloc. After all, Greece represents only 2.5 percent of the eurozone’s gross domestic product (GDP), and the bloc’s fiscal numbers are not that bad when looked at in the aggregate. Its overall deficit and debt figures are in a better shape than those of the United States — the U.S. budget deficit stood at 10.6 percent of GDP in 2010, compared to 6.4 percent for the European Union — yet the focus continues to be on Europe.

That is because the real crisis is the more fundamental question of how the European continent is to be ruled in the 21st century. Europe has emerged from its subservience during the Cold War, when it was the geopolitical chessboard for the Soviet Union and the United States. It won its independence by default as the superpowers retreated: Russia withdrawing to its Soviet sphere of influence and the United States switching its focus to the Middle East after 9/11. Since the 1990s, Europe has dabbled with institutional reform but has left the fundamental question of political integration off the table, even as it integrated economically. This is ultimately the source of the current sovereign debt crisis, the lack of political oversight over economic integration gone wrong.

The eurozone’s economic crisis brought this question of Europe’s political fate into focus, but it is a recurring issue. Roughly every 100 years, Europe confronts this dilemma. The Continent suffers from overpopulation — of nations, not people. Europe has the largest concentration of independent nation-states per square foot than any other continent. While Africa is larger and has more countries, no continent has as many rich and relatively powerful countries as Europe does. This is because, geographically, the Continent is riddled with features that prevent the formation of a single political entity. Mountain ranges, peninsulas and islands limit the ability of large powers to dominate or conquer the smaller ones. No single river forms a unifying river valley that can dominate the rest of the Continent. The Danube comes close, but it drains into the practically landlocked Black Sea, the only exit from which is another practically landlocked sea, the Mediterranean. This limits Europe’s ability to produce an independent entity capable of global power projection.

However, Europe does have plenty of rivers, convenient transportation routes and well-sheltered harbors. This allows for capital generation at a number of points on the Continent, such as Vienna, Paris, London, Frankfurt, Rotterdam, Milan, Turin and Hamburg. Thus, while large armies have trouble physically pushing through the Continent and subverting various nations under one rule, ideas, capital, goods and services do not. This makes Europe rich (the Continent has at least the equivalent GDP of the United States, and it could be larger depending how one calculates it).

What makes Europe rich, however, also makes it fragmented. The current political and security architectures of Europe — the EU and NATO — were encouraged by the United States in order to unify the Continent so that it could present a somewhat united front against the Soviet Union. They did not grow organically out of the Continent. This is a problem because Moscow is no longer a threat for all European countries, Germany and France see Russia as a business partner and European states are facing their first true challenge to Continental governance, with fragmentation and suspicion returning in full force. Closer unification and the creation of some sort of United States of Europe seems like the obvious solution to the problems posed by the eurozone sovereign debt crisis — although the eurozone’s problems are many and not easily solved just by integration, and Europe’s geography and history favor fragmentation.


Confederation of Europe

The European Union is a confederation of states that outsources day-to-day management of many policy spheres to a bureaucratic arm (the European Commission) and monetary policy to the European Central Bank. The important policy issues, such as defense, foreign policy and taxation, remain the sole prerogatives of the states. The states still meet in various formats to deal with these problems. Solutions to the Greek, Irish and Portuguese fiscal problems are agreed upon by all eurozone states on an ad hoc basis, as is participation in the Libyan military campaign within the context of the European Union. Every important decision requires that the states meet and reach a mutually acceptable solution, often producing non-optimal outcomes that are products of compromise.

The best analogy for the contemporary European Union is found not in European history but in American history. This is the period between the successful Revolutionary War in 1783 and the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1788. Within that five-year period, the United States was governed by a set of laws drawn up in the Articles of the Confederation. The country had no executive, no government, no real army and no foreign policy. States retained their own armies and many had minor coastal navies. They conducted foreign and trade policy independent of the wishes of the Continental Congress, a supranational body that had less power than even the European Parliament of today (this despite Article VI of the Articles of Confederation, which stipulated that states would not be able to conduct independent foreign policy without the consent of Congress). Congress was supposed to raise funds from the states to fund such things as a Continental Army, pay benefits to the veterans of the Revolutionary War and pay back loans that European powers gave Americans during the war against the British. States, however, refused to give Congress money, and there was nothing anybody could do about it. Congress was forced to print money, causing the Confederation’s currency to become worthless.

With such a loose confederation set-up, the costs of the Revolutionary War were ultimately unbearable for the fledgling nation. The reality of the international system, which pitted the new nation against aggressive European powers looking to subvert America’s independence, soon engulfed the ideals of states’ independence and limited government. Social, economic and security burdens proved too great for individual states to contain and a powerless Congress to address.

Nothing brought this reality home more than a rebellion in Western Massachusetts led by Daniel Shays in 1787. Shays’ Rebellion was, at its heart, an economic crisis. Burdened by European lenders calling for repayment of America’s war debt, the states’ economies collapsed and with them the livelihoods of many rural farmers, many of whom were veterans of the Revolutionary War who had been promised benefits. Austerity measures — often in the form of land confiscation — were imposed on the rural poor to pay off the European creditors. Shays’ Rebellion was put down without the help of the Continental Congress essentially by a local Massachusetts militia acting without any real federal oversight. The rebellion was defeated, but America’s impotence was apparent for all to see, both foreign and domestic.

An economic crisis, domestic insecurity and constant fear of a British counterattack — Britain had not demobilized forts it held on the U.S. side of the Great Lakes — impressed upon the independent-minded states that a “more perfect union” was necessary. Thus the United States of America, as we know it today, was formed. States gave up their rights to conduct foreign policy, to set trade policies independent of each other and to withhold funds from the federal government. The United States set up an executive branch with powers to wage war and conduct foreign policy, as well as a legislature that could no longer be ignored. In 1794, the government’s response to the so-called Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania showed the strength of the federal arrangement, in stark contrast to the Continental Congress’ handling of Shays’ Rebellion. Washington dispatched an army of more than 10,000 men to suppress a few hundred distillers refusing to pay a new whiskey tax to fund the national debt, thereby sending a clear message of the new government’s overwhelming fiscal, political and military power.

When examining the evolution of the American Confederation into the United States of America, one can find many parallels with the European Union, among others a weak center, independent states, economic crisis and over-indebtedness. The most substantial difference between the United States in the late 18th century and Europe in the 21st century is the level of external threat. In 1787, Shays’ Rebellion impressed upon many Americans — particularly George Washington, who was irked by the crisis — just how weak the country was. If a band of farmers could threaten one of the strongest states in the union, what would the British forces still garrisoned on American soil and in Quebec to the north be able to do? States could independently muddle through the economic crisis, but they could not prevent a British counterattack or protect their merchant fleet against Barbary pirates. America could not survive another such mishap and such a wanton display of military and political impotence.

To America’s advantage, the states all shared similar geography as well as similar culture and language. Although they had different economic policies and interests, all of them ultimately depended upon seaborne Atlantic trade. The threat that such trade would be choked off by a superior naval force — or even by North African pirates — was a clear and present danger. The threat of British counterattack from the north may not have been an existential threat to the southern states, but they realized that if New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania were lost, the South might preserve some nominal independence but would quickly revert to de facto colonial status.

In Europe, there is no such clarity of what constitutes a threat. Even though there is a general sense — at least among the governing elites — that Europeans share economic interests, it is very clear that their security interests are not complementary. There is no agreed-upon perception of an external threat. For Central European states that only recently became European Union and NATO members, Russia still poses a threat. They have asked NATO (and even the European Union) to refocus on the European continent and for the alliance to reassure them of its commitment to their security. In return, they have seen France selling advanced helicopter carriers to Russia and Germany building an advanced military training center in Russia.


The Regionalization of Europe

The eurozone crisis — which is engulfing EU member states using the euro but is symbolically important for the entire European Union — is therefore a crisis of trust. Do the current political and security arrangements in Europe — the European Union and NATO — capture the right mix of nation-state interests? Do the member states of those organizations truly feel that they share the same fundamental fate? Are they willing, as the American colonies were at the end of the 18th century, to give up their independence in order to create a common front against political, economic and security concerns? And if the answer to these questions is no, then what are the alternative arrangements that do capture complementary nation-state interests?

On the security front, we already have our answer: the regionalization of European security organizations. NATO has ceased to effectively respond to the national security interests of European states. Germany and France have pursued an accommodationist attitude toward Russia, to the chagrin of the Baltic States and Central Europe. As a response, these Central European states have begun to arrange alternatives. The four Central European states that make up the regional Visegrad Group — Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary — have used the forum as the mold in which to create a Central European battle group. Baltic States, threatened by Russia’s general resurgence, have looked to expand military and security cooperation with the Nordic countries, with Lithuania set to join the Nordic Battlegroup, of which Estonia is already a member. France and the United Kingdom have decided to enhance cooperation with  an expansive military agreement at the end of 2010, and London has also expressed an interest in becoming close to the developing Baltic-Nordic cooperative military ventures.

Regionalization is currently most evident in security matters, but it is only a matter of time before it begins to manifest itself in political and economic matters as well. For example, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been forthcoming about wanting Poland and the Czech Republic to speed up their efforts to enter the eurozone. Recently, both indicated that they had cooled on the idea of eurozone entry. The decision, of course, has a lot to do with the euro being in a state of crisis, but we cannot underestimate the underlying sense in Warsaw that Berlin is not committed to Poland’s security. Central Europeans may not currently be in the eurozone (save for Estonia, Slovenia and Slovakia), but the future of the eurozone is intertwined in its appeal to the rest of Europe as both an economic and political bloc. All EU member states are contractually obligated to enter the eurozone (save for Denmark and the United Kingdom, which negotiated opt-outs). From Germany’s perspective, membership of the Czech Republic and Poland is more important than that of peripheral Europe. Germany’s trade with Poland and the Czech Republic alone is greater than its trade with Spain, Greece, Ireland and Portugal combined.



(click here to enlarge image)
The security regionalization of Europe is not a good sign for the future of the eurozone. A monetary union cannot be grafted onto security disunion, especially if the solution to the eurozone crisis becomes more integration. Warsaw is not going to give Berlin veto power over its budget spending if the two are not in agreement over what constitutes a security threat. This argument may seem simple, and it is cogent precisely because it is. Taxation is one of the most basic forms of state sovereignty, and one does not share it with countries that do not share one’s political, economic and security fate.

This goes for any country, not just Poland. If the solution to the eurozone crisis is greater integration, then the interests of the integrating states have to be closely aligned on more than just economic matters. The U.S. example from the late 18th century is particularly instructive, as one could make a cogent argument that American states had more divergent economic interests than European states do today, and yet their security concerns brought them together. In fact, the moment the external threat diminished in the mid-19th century due to Europe’s exhaustion from the Napoleonic Wars, American unity was shaken by the Civil War. America’s economic and cultural bifurcation, which existed even during the Revolutionary War, erupted in conflagration the moment the external threat was removed.

The bottom line is that Europeans have to agree on more than just a 3 percent budget-deficit threshold as the foundation for closer integration. Control over budgets goes to the very heart of sovereignty, and European nations will not give up that control unless they know their security and political interests will be taken seriously by their neighbors.


Europe’s Spheres of Influence

We therefore see Europe evolving into a set of regionalized groupings. These organizations may have different ideas about security and economic matters, one country may even belong to more than one grouping, but for the most part membership will largely be based on location on the Continent. This will not happen overnight. Germany, France and other core economies have a vested interest in preserving the eurozone in its current form for the short-term — perhaps as long as another decade — since the economic contagion from Greece is an existential concern for the moment. In the long-term, however, regional organizations of like-minded blocs is the path that seems to be evolving in Europe, especially if Germany decides that its relationship with core eurozone countries and Central Europe is more important than its relationship with the periphery.



(click here to enlarge image)
We can separate the blocs into four main fledgling groupings, which are not mutually exclusive, as a sort of model to depict the evolving relationships among countries in Europe:

The German sphere of influence (Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia, Switzerland, Slovenia, Slovakia and Finland): These core eurozone economies are not disadvantaged by Germany’s competitiveness, or they depend on German trade for economic benefit, and they are not inherently threatened by Germany’s evolving relationship with Russia. Due to its isolation from the rest of Europe and proximity to Russia, Finland is not thrilled about Russia’s resurgence, but occasionally it prefers Germany’s careful accommodative approach to the aggressive approach of neighboring Sweden or Poland. Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are the most concerned about the Russia-Germany relationship, but not to the extent that Poland and the Baltic states are, and they may decide to remain in the German sphere of influence for economic reasons.


The Nordic regional bloc (Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia): These mostly non-eurozone states generally see Russia’s resurgence in a negative light. The Baltic states are seen as part of the Nordic sphere of influence (especially Sweden’s), which leads toward problems with Russia. Germany is an important trade partner, but it is also seen as overbearing and as a competitor. Finland straddles this group and the German sphere of influence, depending on the issue.


Visegrad-plus (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria). At the moment, the Visegrad Four belong to different spheres of influence. The Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary do not feel as exposed to Russia’s resurgence as Poland or Romania do. But they also are not completely satisfied with Germany’s attitude toward Russia. Poland is not strong enough to lead this group economically the way Sweden dominates the Nordic bloc. Other than security cooperation, the Visegrad countries have little to offer each other at the moment. Poland intends to change that by lobbying for more funding for new EU member states in the next six months of its EU presidency. That still does not constitute economic leadership.


Mediterranean Europe (Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus and Malta): These are Europe’s peripheral states. Their security concerns are unique due to their exposure to illegal immigration via routes through Turkey and North Africa. Geographically, these countries are isolated from the main trade routes and lack the capital-generating centers of northern Europe, save for Italy’s Po River Valley (which in many ways does not belong to this group but could be thought of as a separate entity that could be seen as part of the German sphere of influence). These economies therefore face similar problems of over-indebtedness and lack of competitiveness. The question is, who would lead?
And then there are France and the United Kingdom. These countries do not really belong to any bloc. This is London’s traditional posture with regard to continental Europe, although it has recently begun to establish a relationship with the Nordic-Baltic group. France, meanwhile, could be considered part of the German sphere of influence. Paris is attempting to hold onto its leadership role in the eurozone and is revamping its labor-market rules and social benefits to sustain its connection to the German-dominated currency bloc, a painful process. However, France traditionally is also a Mediterranean country and has considered Central European alliances in order to surround Germany. It also recently entered into a new bilateral military relationship with the United Kingdom, in part as a hedge against its close relationship with Germany. If France decides to exit its partnership with Germany, it could quickly gain control of its normal sphere of influence in the Mediterranean, probably with enthusiastic backing from a host of other powers such as the United States and the United Kingdom. In fact, its discussion of a Mediterranean Union was a political hedge, an insurance policy, for exactly such a future.


The Price of Regional Hegemony

The alternative to the regionalization of Europe is clear German leadership that underwrites — economically and politically — greater European integration. If Berlin can overcome the anti-euro populism that is feeding on bailout fatigue in the eurozone core, it could continue to support the periphery and prove its commitment to the eurozone and the European Union. Germany is also trying to show Central Europe that its relationship with Russia is a net positive by using its negotiations with Moscow over Moldova as an example of German political clout.

Central Europeans, however, are already putting Germany’s leadership and commitment to the test. Poland assumes the EU presidency July 1 and has made the union’s commitment to increase funding for new EU member states, as well as EU defense cooperation, its main initiatives. Both policies are a test for Germany and an offer for it to reverse the ongoing security regionalization. If Berlin says no to new money for the newer EU member states — at stake is the union’s cohesion-policy funding, which in the 2007-2013 budget period totaled 177 billion euros — and no to EU-wide security/defense arrangements, then Warsaw, Prague and other Central European capitals have their answer. The question is whether Germany is serious about being a leader of Europe and paying the price to be the hegemon of a united Europe, which would not only mean funding bailouts but also standing up to Russia. If it places its relationship with Russia over its alliance with Central Europe, then it will be difficult for Central Europeans to follow Berlin. This will mean that the regionalization of Europe’s security architecture — via the Visegrad Group and Nordic-Baltic battle groups — makes sense. It will also mean that Central Europeans will have to find new ways to draw the United States into the region for security.

Common security perception is about states understanding that they share the same fate. American states understood this at the end of the 18th century, which is why they gave up their independence, setting the United States on the path toward superpower status. Europeans — at least at present — do not see their situation (or the world) in the same light. Bailouts are enacted not because Greeks share the same fate as Germans but because German bankers share the same fate as German taxpayers. This is a sign that integration has progressed to a point where economic fate is shared, but this is an inadequate baseline on which to build a common political union.

Bailing out Greece is seen as an affront to the German taxpayer, even though that same German taxpayer has benefited disproportionally from the eurozone’s creation. The German government understands the benefits of preserving the eurozone — which is why it continues bailing out the peripheral countries — but there has been no national debate in Germany to explain this logic to the populace. Germany is still waiting to have an open conversation with itself about its role and its future, and especially what price it is willing to pay for regional hegemony and remaining relevant in a world fast becoming dominated by powers capable of harnessing the resources of entire continents.

Without a coherent understanding in Europe that its states all share the same fate, the Greek crisis has little chance of being Europe’s Shays’ Rebellion, triggering deeper unification. Instead of a United States of Europe, its fate will be ongoing regionalization.

23366  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / J. Adams 1787 on the nature of the Senate on: June 28, 2011, 10:33:22 AM


"The rich, the well-born, and the able, acquire and influence among the people that will soon be too much for simple honesty and plain sense, in a house of representatives. The most illustrious of them must, therefore, be separated from the mass, and placed by themselves in a senate; this is, to all honest and useful intents, an ostracism." --John Adams, A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, vol 1 , 1787


23367  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Harder to own gold starting July 15? on: June 28, 2011, 10:28:27 AM
Not sure of the reliability of this source/advertisement, and not really understanding of what is going on here , , , but it smells of the government trying to make gold ownership more difficult.

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http://www.goldworth.com/townhall.html
23368  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Bond vs. US (individual standing to assert the 10th) on: June 28, 2011, 10:20:10 AM
By DAVID B. RIVKIN JR. AND LEE A. CASEY
The Supreme Court's most important ruling this year may have been its unanimous decision in Bond v. United States, which held that individual citizens can challenge federal statutes when they encroach on authority the Constitution reserves to the states. The decision, authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, has far-reaching implications—especially for the government's efforts to defend ObamaCare.

The facts of the case were curious, to say the least. Defendant Carol Bond, having discovered that her close friend was pregnant by her husband, sprinkled caustic substances on a mailbox, car-door handle and door knobs. The substances worked: The hated paramour suffered minor burns.

Instead of being held liable under one of the more common federal criminal laws, Ms. Bond was subjected to federal prosecution under a statute designed to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention. In defense, she argued that the law exceeded Congress's power because its violation required no link to interstate commerce or any other specific federal interest. The government argued that because the state (Pennsylvania) was not party to the suit, Ms. Bond could not defend herself by attacking that law on federalism grounds. The government prevailed in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Supreme Court disagreed. With an unusual unanimity, the court held squarely that individual citizens have every right to challenge federal laws on the ground that they exceed the limited and enumerated powers vested in Congress by the Constitution. The court stated without equivocation that "y denying any one government complete jurisdiction over all the concerns of public life, federalism protects the liberty of the individual from arbitrary power. When the government acts in excess of its lawful powers, that liberty is at stake."

"Fidelity to principles of federalism," Justice Kennedy further noted, "is not for the States alone to vindicate."

For Supreme Court watchers, Bond is a profound reaffirmation of the centrality of the state-federal "dual sovereignty" system. That's why the decision is bad news for those who defend ObamaCare—the most extravagant challenge to that dual system in our history.

View Full Image

Images.com/Corbis
 .In enacting the ObamaCare law, Congress seized for itself the very type of power—the ability to regulate individual conduct regardless of any significant connection to interstate commerce or another legitimate federal regulatory interest—that the Constitution reserves solely to the states. In defending the law in court, the Obama administration has persistently sought to narrow the Constitution's federalism principles and to trivialize the Supreme Court's recent decisions supporting those principles.

What Bond makes clear is that those principles and cases are meant to be read broadly to achieve their original purpose: securing "the freedom of the individual" by allowing the states to respond "to the initiative of those who seek a voice in shaping the destiny of their own times without having to rely solely upon the political processes that control a remote central power."

Justice Kennedy's opinion posits a vision of federalism in which "[t]he principles of limited national powers and state sovereignty are intertwined." The decision makes it particularly clear that "impermissible interference with state sovereignty is not within the enumerated powers of the National Government." It adds, "an action that exceeds the National Government's enumerated powers undermines the sovereign interests of States."

The long and short of this critical ruling is that, as the various legal challenges to ObamaCare make their way through the courts of appeal, all nine justices have emphatically reaffirmed the importance of the Constitution's federal architecture and the very real limitations that structure imposes on Congress. Stay tuned as those challenges reach the Supreme Court—as early as next term.

Messrs. Rivkin and Casey filed an amicus brief on behalf of six states in the Bond case, and they represent 26 states challenging ObamaCare's constitutionality. They served in the Justice Department under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

23369  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Former Chief of Staff: Bachman not ready on: June 28, 2011, 10:04:42 AM
WSJ

By Patrick O'Connor
A former aide welcomed Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann to the White House race on Tuesday with a scathing op-ed in the Des Moines Register.


Associated Press
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R., Minn.)Ron Carey, one of the six chiefs of staff Ms. Bachmann has had since coming to Congress less than five years ago, penned an article with the headline “Bachmann is so not ready for the presidency, but (former Minnesota Gov. Tim) Pawlenty has the judgment and skills.”

“Having seen the two of them, up close and over a long period of time, it is clear to me that while Tim Pawlenty possesses the judgment, demeanor and the readiness to serve as president, Michele Bachmann decidedly does not,” Mr. Carey wrote.

Mr. Carey, who helped elect Ms. Bachmann to Congress in 2006 and 2008, called her campaign and congressional offices “wildly out of control.” Unopened campaign donations littered her office and thousands of her constituents’ emails and letters went unanswered, he wrote.

“If she is unable, or unwilling, to handle the basic duties of a campaign or congressional office, how could she possibly manage the magnitude of the presidency?” Mr. Carey asks in the op-ed.

“I know Michele Bachmann very well,” Mr. Carey concludes his op-ed. “She is a faithful conservative with great oratory skills, but without any leadership experience or real results from her years in office. She is not prepared to assume the White House in 2013.”

The Bachmann campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the article, but the congresswoman said Tuesday during an interview on NBC’s “Today” show that she expects a barrage of negative stories.

“There will be a media onslaught of attack, but that’s nothing new,” she said, responding to a question about whether she would receive scrutiny similar to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin during her run as John McCain’s vice presidential pick. “That is something that goes with the territory. It doesn’t matter who the candidate is, whether they’re male or female, there’s simply attacks that will come.”

23370  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The Coming Debacle on: June 28, 2011, 03:00:52 AM


What does it mean that the U.S. will now be withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan on an accelerated and defined timetable in order to focus, as President Obama said last week, on "nation building here at home"?

It emboldens the Taliban, which thanks to Mr. Obama's surge and David Petraeus's generalship had all but been ousted from its traditional strongholds in Kandahar and Helmand provinces. "My soul, and the soul of thousands of Taliban who have been blown up, are happy," Taliban field commander Jamal Khan told the Daily Beast of his reaction to Mr. Obama's speech. "I had more than 50 encounters with U.S. forces and their technology. But the biggest difference in ending this war was not technology but the more powerful Islamic ideology and religion."

It increases the risk to U.S. forces in Afghanistan, where the fatality count was finally starting to come down after peaking in 2010. Fewer troops means that U.S. commanders will have to make an invidious choice between clearing territory of enemies and holding and building it for friends. "Whether it is Nangarhar or Ghazni, Kandahar or Herat, the place where we decide to 'surge' with remaining forces will leave a window open—and the Taliban will crawl in," says a U.S. military official with experience in Afghanistan. "Any commander who has experienced a withdrawal under pressure knows that it is perhaps the most difficult operation you can conduct and certainly the most dangerous; it gives the attacker a feeling of superiority and demoralizes the withdrawing force."

It strengthens already potent anti-American forces in Pakistan and weakens the hand of moderates. Skeptics of the U.S. within Pakistan's government, particularly the army, will mark the U.S. withdrawal as further evidence that Washington is a congenitally unreliable ally. Opponents of the U.S. outside of the government will capitalize politically on the perception of American weakness. Drone strikes, which outgoing CIA director Leon Panetta has called "the only game in town in terms of confronting or trying to disrupt the al Qaeda leadership," will likely come to an end. Islamabad will also find new reasons to patch up its differences with erstwhile allies in the Taliban and other terrorist groups as a way of keeping its options open.

It strengthens the hand of Iran, which, as the Journal's Jay Solomon reported yesterday, "is moving to cement ties with the leaders of three key American allies—Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq—highlighting Tehran's efforts to take a greater role in the region as the U.S. military pulls out." As a demonstration of those ties, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi paid a visit to Kabul last week to sign a bilateral security agreement. "We believe that expansion of joint defense and security cooperation with Iran is in favor of our interests," said his Afghan counterpart Abdulrahim Wardak.

It further weakens NATO, whose future is already in doubt given its inability to oust Moammar Gadhafi from Tripoli. In the last decade it became the fashion to say of the alliance that it was either "out of area"—meaning Europe—or "out of business." Leaving and losing Afghanistan spells the latter.

It gives Hamid Karzai opportunity and motive to reinvent himself as an anti-American leader. The Afghan president is already well on his way to forging a close political alliance with insurgent leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who is believed to have given Osama bin Laden safe passage out of Afghanistan in 2001 and is wanted by the U.S. on a $25 million bounty. Mr. Karzai is said to be furious that the Obama administration made no effort to get a strategic forces agreement that would have left a residual U.S. force after 2014. "I think the reality of their complete withdrawal has struck home," Afghan Human Rights Commissioner Nader Nadery tells the Associated Press. "Now he sees they may go and they don't want a [military] presence here . . . and perhaps now he is thinking, 'Who will protect me?'"

It accelerates Afghanistan's barely suppressed, and invariably violent, centrifugal forces. There are already reports that the old Northern Alliance, which held out against the Taliban in the 1990s and took Kabul in 2001, may be reconstituting itself as a fighting force in anticipation of a hostile government in Kabul. This is a formula for civil, and perhaps regional, war; it is not clear what kind of "partnership" the U.S. could hope to build, as Mr. Obama promised to do, with whatever emerges from its ashes.

Finally, it signals that the United States, like Britain before it, is a waning power. In his speech last week, Mr. Obama waxed eloquent on the point that "what sets America apart is not solely our power—it is the principles upon which our union was founded." Very true. But a nation that abandons to the Taliban those it was once committed to protect shows that it lacks power and principle alike.

At the end of "Charlie Wilson's War," the film quotes the late congressman saying: "These things happened. They were glorious and they changed the world. . . . And then we f—ed up the endgame." To watch President Obama's Afghan policy unfold is to understand exactly what Wilson meant.

23371  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela on: June 28, 2011, 02:43:03 AM
The Perils of Succession in Venezuela

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called a number of his closest advisers Monday from Cuba, where he is reportedly recovering from emergency surgery. Chavez was visiting Cuba on June 10 when a sudden pain in his abdomen reportedly required his immediate hospitalization and surgery. STRATFOR sources close to the Cuban medical team say Chavez has prostate cancer. Chavez has refused to delegate power even temporarily during his absence, an indication of how little he trusts his closest advisers and allies in the government. Although Chavez seems likely to hold onto power in Caracas despite the current complications, the crisis in the country raises important questions about the future of the Venezuelan state, whose government and power structure have been built around a single, iconic figure.

“It remains plausible that a political transition would allow Venezuela the space to reconsider and potentially realign both its political and economic positions— whether the presidency goes to a Chavez loyalist or a representative of a new faction of power brokers.”
A regional precedent for the current predicament can be found among Chavez’s ideological brethren. Former Cuban President Fidel Castro suffered a medical complication in 2008 and was forced to step down, abdicating power to his slightly younger brother, Raul Castro. Fidel ruled Cuba for nearly 50 years and was the linchpin of the country’s governing strategy. In 2008, Fidel stepped into the background, allowing Raul to pioneer changes to the economy that have begun to bring Cuba closer to finding compromise with its neighbor, the United States.

Castro had the option to step down because he trusts his brother. It is not clear to whom Chavez can turn in the event he finds himself incapacitated. Although his brother Adan Chavez appears to be positioning to take over, Chavez has so thoroughly split power among all possible successors that any would-be ruler will have to fight to maintain control.

Nevertheless, Castro’s example shows us that even the most iconic leader must eventually hand over authority.

We do not know whether Chavez will have to make this choice now. It remains plausible that a political transition would allow Venezuela the space to reconsider and potentially realign both its political and economic positions— whether the presidency goes to a Chavez loyalist or a representative of a new faction of power brokers.

Venezuela must deal with a handful of fixed economic realities. Oil remains at the center of everything, from growth and investment to politics. With all capital concentrated in the oil sector, development without a redistributive model is very difficult. Venezuela’s efforts to develop agricultural self-sufficiency struggle against a mountainous geography and a tropical climate. A high reliance on imports for basic foodstuffs means that inflation will always be a present danger.

Some economic and political characteristics of the Chavez administration could undergo serious changes following a power transition. Since the failed 2002 coup, in which he perceived U.S. involvement, Chavez has been working hard to diversify fuel exports away from the United States and toward partners like China and Europe as a way of reducing his vulnerability to the U.S. market. However, not only is the United States the largest oil consumer in the world, it is also geographically close to Venezuela. Diverting oil exports to other markets — let alone markets on the other side of the planet — costs the Venezuelan oil industry. With oil at over $100 per barrel, there is room to maneuver, but when every dollar gained through oil exports is needed to satisfy populist demands at home, the opportunity costs of walking away from Venezuela’s largest natural market become apparent..

This practice and other economic policies have left the Venezuelan economy in a fragile state. Oil production is declining, the electricity sector is failing, inflation is perennially high, and the government’s debts are climbing higher. This month may not be the moment for change in Venezuela, but Chavez’s sickness highlights the vulnerabilities of a country that relies so heavily on the dictates of a single leader. Ironically, the system of dividing power among competing factions guarantees Chavez’s unchallenged control while he is healthy. However, it makes it exceedingly difficult for him to delegate power to a trusted second in this hour of need.

23372  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: June 27, 2011, 10:49:39 PM
I've commented here more than once about China's weird demographic profile, its cooked bookkeeping, and its rape of its environment and that of the planet.  Doug's post seems sound to me.
23373  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / SEAL (?!?) with pipe goes ape in Vegas on: June 27, 2011, 04:57:49 PM


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=db7XUYFR1N4
23374  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / TSA searches 95 year old granny for a diaper bomb? on: June 27, 2011, 03:55:12 PM
From Glenn Beck's newsletter today:

The TSA is defending a recent controversial screening in which a 95-year-old with cancer was forced to take off her diaper for a pat down. You'd think a 95-year-old in a wheelchair wouldn't pose much of a risk, but the TSA said their team responded to the diaper 'security alarm' in a 'professional' manner according to proper procedure.
23375  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Technology vs Law (aggregator issues) on: June 27, 2011, 01:01:27 PM
GM, I would love to see that posted in the Police-Civilian interaction thread on the Martial Arts Forum.
================


For the past century, the imperial power of the law seemed unstoppable, as legislation and litigation reached into every area of life. But now the law has met its match. Technology raises issues so quickly and unpredictably that judges are reduced to King Canutes, trying to stop the flow of ocean tides with their bare hands.

Consider two similar cases based on rapid changes in technology occurring a century apart. Both dealt with "hot news," a legal doctrine that determines who owns news for how long. Long dormant, the issue has heated up as services such as Google and aggregators such as Huffington Post drew large audiences through summaries of original reporting by news organizations.

These cases were hard calls for judges in 1918 and again in the case decided last week. Here are the facts in the earlier case, International News Service v. Associated Press:

The International News Service was founded by William Randolph Hearst as an alternative to the Associated Press. Like his newspapers, INS opposed America's entry into World War I. British military censors tired of its exaggerated reporting (one headline read, "Zeppelins Set London Ablaze!") and banned Hearst's newswire from using the undersea cable that linked to telegraphs in the U.S. that delivered reports to newspapers.

Hearst's newswire responded by copying AP stories, sometimes obtained by bribing AP employees, and sending the reports to its member newspapers as its own. "The distribution of news matter throughout the country is principally from east to west," Supreme Court Justice Mahlon Pitney observed, "and, since in speed the telegraph and telephone easily outstrip the rotation of the earth, it is a simple matter for defendant to take complainant's news from bulletins or early editions of complainant's members in the eastern cities and, at the mere cost of telegraphic transmission, cause it to be published in western papers issued at least as early as those served by complainant."

The news itself, as opposed to the words in which it is written, is not subject to copyright. But the court found that INS had misappropriated a "quasi-property right" by "endeavoring to reap where it has not sown, and by disposing of it to newspapers that are competitors of complainant's members . . . appropriating to itself the harvest."

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Getty Images/Imagezoo
 .Last week's case, Barclays Capital v. Theflyonthewall.com, turned out differently. The website uses the Internet to redistribute information the way Hearst's newswire used the telegraph. The plaintiffs in the case, which include Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley, invest in research about companies and markets and then share their market-moving trading recommendations with their biggest trading customers. They make the recommendations public only later, after funding the research through trading commissions.

Theflyonthewall.com undermined this system by reporting these recommendations quickly after their distribution to big investors; it's hard to keep secrets these days. A trial judge had sided with the banks and ordered the site to wait until 30 minutes after the opening of the stock exchange to republish the banks' buy-sell-hold recommendations, giving the banks' customers time to trade.

But the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that the website could continue its work. Unlike in the Hearst newswire case, Theflyonthewall.com is not free riding when it collects and distributes news about banks' research. "The firms are making the news," Judge Robert Sack wrote. "Fly, despite the firms' understandable desire to protect their business model, is breaking it."

Judge Sack knows the news industry well after representing Dow Jones and other media companies when he was in private practice. He is philosophical about the power of judges to stem the tide of technology, even when there's unfairness. "The adoption of new technology that injures or destroys present business models is commonplace," he writes.

There can't be laws against using technology to spread news. Justice Louis Brandeis wrote as much in his 1918 dissent in International News Service. "With the increasing complexity of society, the public interest tends to become omnipresent, and the problems presented by new demands for justice cease to be simple. Then the creation or recognition by courts of a new private right may work serious injury to the general public unless the boundaries of the right are definitely established and widely guarded."

But just because the law can't control how news spreads does not make technology a pure good. Google and Twitter filed a brief in Theflyonthewall, warning: "Hot news becomes cold in a nanosecond in the modern world." They don't want restriction on their business practices. But as in the cases of the not-so-innocent Hearst newswire and Theflyonthewall.com, Internet aggregators profit from the work of others as they undermine their business models.

Judges are right to stand aside to let the tide of technology flow freely. It's only through more innovation, unfettered by new legal constraints, that technology will deliver new ways to fund original reporting, whether by journalists or equity analysts.

23376  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Important Wesbury piece on: June 27, 2011, 12:42:35 PM


No, The US Is Not Greece To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 6/27/2011


Two-hundred and thirty-five July 4th’s ago, the United States became reality. While there have been plenty of stumbles along the way, other than during the Civil War, doubts about its continued existence have been few and far between. Lately, however, government spending and debt levels have created a mainstream fear that the US is possibly on its last legs – destined to become a future version of Greece.

We don’t agree and, no, we are not sticking our heads in the sand. Our problems are clear.  The budget deficit will be about 8.5% of GDP in 2011, down slightly from 9% in 2010 and 10% in 2009. These deficits are impossible to sustain over the longer run.
 
Meanwhile, the total public debt of the US is now $14.3 trillion and future promised, but as yet unfunded, Social Security and Medicare benefits amount to about $60 trillion in present value terms. Combined, this $75 trillion is roughly five times annual GDP. With numbers like these, how could we not think serious, economy-threatening problems are on the way?
 
Well, for one thing, the very obvious problems in Greece (and other countries and the states) and the fact that politicians can’t hide from the Internet are forcing the issue. Second, the political landscape in the US has changed – perhaps because of point one. Third, the solutions are relatively simple in reality, even though very complicated politically.
 
Part of the solution is higher revenues, and this will happen even if tax rates are not increased. In the past 12 months, revenues have climbed by about $220 billion over the previous 12 months – or, about 0.5% of GDP. We expect revenues to continue this trend, rising from their current level of 14.5% of GDP back to about 18.5% of GDP (a 4% move).
 
Meanwhile, current debt-limit negotiations are likely to cut federal discretionary (non-entitlement, non-interest) spending. In the 1990s, discretionary spending fell from about 9% of GDP to 6%. So let’s say, we go from 9% today to 7.5%, which could be a “low hurdle” given the eventual reduction in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Combining this 1.5% of GDP cut with the 4% rise in revenues (total of 5.5%), could bring the annual deficit down to 3% of GDP.
 
Of course, that still leaves the long-term entitlement problem. But even there we can see the outlines of solutions looming in the distance. For Medicare and Medicaid, which are much bigger problems than Social Security, we think ultimately the forces of smaller government win. We do not know whether it will be in 2012, 2016, or 2020. But one of those elections is likely to result in a Republican in the White House with control of both the US Senate and House. And at that point, they can enact major reforms along the lines of some recent proposals to turn Medicare into premium support and turn Medicaid into block grants to the states.
 
Parliamentary rules will allow the GOP to enact these changes with only a simple majority in the Senate (with no chance for a Democratic filibuster). And to reverse these reforms, because it would make future budget deficits larger, Democrats would need 60 votes in the Senate!
 
On Social Security, any change requires 60 votes in the Senate. This means tax hikes (to fill the gap) are as much in play as benefit cuts and this is why it will likely be put off for many years into the future. In the meantime, news stories suggest even AARP is now willing to consider some reductions in benefits. In other words, fiscal reality is beginning to bite.
 
In the end, the road to fiscal redemption is a long one and we’ll be on it for many years. But we think the ultimate destination will be smaller government and more manageable deficits than most investors realize.
23377  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: To die or not to die? on: June 27, 2011, 12:36:21 PM
As Venezuela's Hugo Chávez convalesces in a Havana hospital, his condition is shrouded in secrecy. The party line is that he had emergency surgery on June 10 for a pelvic abscess. But he has not been seen in public for more than two weeks and speculation is rampant that he is battling something more serious.

His critics ought to be careful what they wish for. While conventional wisdom holds that the demise of Mr. Chávez would set Venezuela free, it may instead make the country more repressive. If there is any justice in the world, he will return to Venezuela to marinate in his own stew—the economic disaster he has created over the past 12 years. A serious illness that takes him out of play would leave Venezuela haunted by the ghost of chavismo much as Peronism has haunted Argentina for the past half-century.

Some Venezuelans think they smell a rat. With living standards steadily declining in their country and popular discontent rising, these skeptics say that Mr. Chávez is looking for a way to revive his image. A triumphant return to Caracas, after he was believed to be near death in Cuba, might do the trick. If his "resurrection" coincides with the July 5 celebration of the nation's bicentennial anniversary, for which a Soviet-style military extravaganza is planned, it would be even more spectacular.
 
For the half or more of the population that opposes the Venezuelan strongman, even the thought of such a comeback is unbearable. They detest his never-ending decrees and manipulation of the law. But what rankles most among those who oppose him are his theatrics, like seizing the airwaves several times a day to sing songs and deliver demagogic rants. A hero's return is likely to heighten this narcissistic behavior. It is also true that he has said he will not leave power even if he loses the election next year.

Still, it is worth considering the alternative outcome. Because Mr. Chávez has destroyed institutions in order to foster a cult of personality, his mortality implies sheer chaos—as well as opportunity for the violent and ambitious. The bloodbath for power would not be between democrats and chavistas. It would be between the many armed factions that he has nurtured. Once victorious the winner will try to inherit his power by insisting that the nation worship his memory. Since none of his likely successors shares his charisma, repression is likely to get worse.

Cuba will be ready to help. The Castro brothers have long provided the security and intelligence apparatus that Mr. Chávez uses to stifle dissent. In exchange, Mr. Chávez funnels at least $5 billion annually to the island regime. The survival of that symbiotic relationship would be a top priority for the Cuban military dictatorship.

That a recovered Mr. Chávez would organize a welcoming committee for himself there is no doubt, and he might even get a bump in the polls from it. But he will also have to take responsibility for a host of Bolivarian-made problems.

For starters, he will have to confront the heavily armed mob that has taken over the El Rodeo prison in the state of Miranda, and the families of nearly 2,000 inmates whose lives are at risk. These are his constituents and he has promised to make the prison system more just. But things have only gotten worse during his presidency.

The Americas in the News
Get the latest information in Spanish from The Wall Street Journal's Americas page.
.The nongovernmental organization, Venezuelan Prison Observatory (OVP), estimates that facilities built for 14,000 inmates now hold more than 49,000. It also says that almost 46% of those detained are in "judicial limbo" and do not know "the status of their case." According to the OVP, there was a 22% increase in prison deaths in the first quarter of this year over the same period last year. Since 1999 over 4,500 inmates have died.

El Rodeo is emblematic of a wider problem for Mr. Chávez: The most vulnerable Venezuelans are still waiting for him to deliver on his promises of a better life. Until now he has bribed them with subsidies and rhetoric. But near 30% inflation is destroying their income and his words are getting old.

The 30,000 families who lost their homes in the floods last fall were supposed to be a priority for his government. But they are still without shelter, and their protests are growing louder. Mr. Chávez has pledged to build 153,000 new homes this year, but in the first quarter only 1,600 were completed.

Add to this food shortages, electricity blackouts, capital flight and one of the worst crime rates in the hemisphere, and it's not surprising that the economic outlook is so bleak. Oil and drug trafficking have kept the military satisfied until now. But the patience of the masses will one day hit its limit. When it does, they ought to have the opportunity to direct their wrath at the architect of their misery.

23378  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our man fomerly in Iraq recommends on: June 27, 2011, 11:28:05 AM

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle-east/in-iraq-sunni-deaths-stir-sectarian-fears/2011/06/24/AGSJrTmH_story.html
23379  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: June 26, 2011, 12:45:34 PM
Amen!!!
23380  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: June 26, 2011, 11:51:57 AM
YA:

As always, fascinating stuff.  Much to think about there! 

Although apparently a relatively minor point in the larger context, this caught my attention as something likely to go unnoticed:

"As senior US officials have briefed New Delhi, the dependence on Pakistan for logistical routes has already come down thanks to Russia’s cooperation in expanding the Northern Distribution Network (NDN). This involves landing US supplies in Baltic Sea ports and then transporting them to Afghanistan through Russia and the Central Asian countries over a 3,200-mile railway. Even though the NDN is four times as expensive as the comparatively straightforward route through Pakistan, it already accounts for half of America’s logistical requirements in Afghanistan. Any reduction in the American presence will further decrease Pakistan’s leverage."

A lot of implications there for the leverage Russia will have in its dealings with the US , , ,

23381  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Not in a cheery mood , , , on: June 26, 2011, 10:13:35 AM

Geither:  Must have more taxes on the rich http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=H4bYNkXu5qs#at=14

And a friends response:

Today was a very sobering day for me.  I saw first hand the effects of these policies on the ground.

It was bad enough that the week began with one of my good friends telling me that his business was going under and he and his wife were going to file for bankruptcy.  They had operated a successful floor covering business for 13 years until 2007.  Then, the recession began eating away at their business.  They just decided to throw in the towel.  Since they had to personally guarantee their business line of credit, bankruptcy is the only option for them.

 

This morning I walked into my favorite local coffee shop – not a Starbucks or a national chain.  The owner called me aside and asked if I would know of anyone who would buy her shop.  She would be willing to work as an employee in her old shop for $10 per hour.  She had been operating break-even for the past 3 years.  Now, an unexpected family emergency has forced her to sell her business.  Less people are going out to buy coffee because they are unemployed or their budgets are being squeezed by stagnant incomes and rising costs.  She will not make it through the summer.  How do you tell a friend that without profits, her business is probably not worth more than the value of the inventory and the liquidation value of her equipment?  I knew that she knew that she was really asking me to buy her business and give her a little dignity for her 8 years of hard work and honest effort.  I am sure that she will appreciate the endless tax loss carry-forwards.

 

Both of my friends do not show up in the unemployment numbers.  They are self-employed business owners who are ineligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits.  They are honest, hardworking Americans who exemplify the American dream and who are collateral damage of the crony capitalism that permeates DC.

 

Geithner and his cohorts created and supported the policies that chose the big TBTF banks as the winners and that condemned my friends to ash heap of failed entrepreneurs.  It just isn’t the Japanese tsunami.  It just isn’t the Euro.  These are the consequences of decades of mismanagement and cronyism.

 

My friends are real people.  They are not just statistics on a BEA downloadable spreadsheet.  They are Americans in their 50’s and 60’s who are now condemned, if they are lucky, to be Wal-Mart greeters or Home Depot seasonal workers in the Christmas decoration aisles.  They should have failed earlier and then tried for one of the 60,000 McDonald’s jobs.

 

These people are not accurately represented in Scott’s statistics.  This nation has entered a second wave of the recession.  These stories are happening all over the country.  We are in a slow moving train wreck that appears to correct itself only to careen again off the tracks.  Thank you Hank Paulson.  Thank you Tim Geithner.  Thanks to all of the politicians and bureaucrats who destroyed these families.  Especially Ben Bernanke.  All the clueless eggheads that have destroyed the lives of real Americans.  No recovery will ever cause me to forget my friends who were destroyed because of these fools.

 ===========
SUNDAY, JUNE 26, 2011
The Social Cost of the Loss of Job Stability and Careers
As much as the rest of the world has chosen to look down on Japan in its post bubble era for its failure to clean up its banking mess and resultant stagnant economy, it has managed its relative decline in status with considerable aplomb. It still has the longest life expectancy in the world, universal health care, not bad unemployment (3% to 5%) and ranks well on other social indicators And now that the US is going down the Japan path, it might behoove us to take heed of their example.

One of the striking difference between the cultures is importance ascribed to job creation. The Japanese understand full well that the workplace for many people is a far more important community to them than where they live, and so in contrast to the US, generating and preserving employment is a high priority. For example, Japanese entrepreneurs are revered for generating jobs, while in the US, personal wealth is proof of success.

McKinsey had Yankelovich survey the attitudes of young people a decade ago, and even then, the results were pretty disturbing. Yankelovich projected that college graduates would average 11 jobs by the time they were 38 (!), yet found they were demanding of their employers, wanting frequent feedback (as in lots of attention) and quick advancement. But if you are not likely to be around for very long, no one is likely to want to invest in you all that much (McKinsey, which was competing for a narrow slice of supposed “top” talent and not offering Wall Street sized payopportunities, might have been more inclined to indulge this sort of thing than other employers).

But these rapid moves from job to job, and now a much weaker job market, are producing behaviors that old farts like me find troubling. One is rampant careerism. I’ve run into too many polished people under the age of 35 where the veneer is very thin. It isn’t hard to see the opportunism, the shameless currying of favor, and ruthless calculations of whom to help and whom to kick, including throwing former patrons under the bus when they are no longer useful (I can cite specific examples of the last behavior). The world has always had its Sammy Glicks, but now we seem to be setting out to create them on a mass basis.

The economic effects are also not pretty. A 30 year mortgage made sense when people would spend a decade or more with a single employer. And more frequent job changes means not only more total time unemployed over one’s working years, but also the very high odds of falling out of a highly or even moderately paid career path to a much lower one as the work place continues to be restructured.

A New York Times piece tonight describes the latest stage of this sorry devolution: “job jugglers” who hold down multiple part time jobs to make a living. This sort of thing used to happen only to lower income people, artists, or people who live in resort areas. The article makes clear that this is often a hand-to-mouth, high stress existence, although the interviewees put a brave face on it. And we aren’t necessarily talking having one income source in the days and another in the evenings: three of the individuals featured had four jobs. Even then, they barely cover their expenses.

Yet it could indeed be worse:

Still, Ms. [Mia] Branco, who graduated magna cum laude with a degree in musical theater from American University in 2009, says she feels lucky to be employed at all. “The majority of the jobs I have right now are because people were laid off and they didn’t want to hire back full-time employees,” she said. “My willingness to have a hodgepodge schedule makes me more
marketable.”

But the “marketable” benefits are only short term.

A national study by the Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies found that young women who worked primarily in part-time jobs did not make higher wages in their 30s than in their 20s…The reason is that part-time jobs generally provide fewer training opportunities and often don’t put workers on a track for advancement.

And many of these jobs are clearly stopgaps:

More college graduates are working in second jobs that don’t require college degrees, part of a phenomenon called “mal-employment.” In short, many baby-sitters, sales clerks, telemarketers and bartenders are overqualified for their jobs.

Last year, 1.9 million college graduates were mal-employed and had multiple jobs, up 17 percent from 2007, according to federal data. Almost half of all college graduates have a job that doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree.

I see this in my own building. One of the new doormen, a clean cut, high energy fellow, is a college graduate who is going to work on his graduate degree at night. One who has been here about a year also went to college. That was unheard of until recently.

Even though the evidence is that these jugglers would do better financially and probably in terms of lifestyle if they got on a career path, some seemed to have been imprinted by their multi-job routine and seemed loath to give it up, even though they recognized that it is not conducive to having a family.

These part-time jobs may just be another feature of this recession, but the odds are that it will become yet another aspect of the “new normal”.


 

23382  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bachman moving up on: June 26, 2011, 01:02:37 AM


Bachmann Surging in the Polls Ahead of Campaign Kickoff

Published June 25, 2011

| FoxNews.com


Rep. Michele Bachmann has rolled out her presidential campaign with all the flare and flirtation of a seasoned boxing promoter.

First, she stole her opponents' thunder by using a debate stage earlier this month to announce she filed her 2012 papers. Then, she held off on formally announcing that bid for another two weeks -- the formal kickoff is set for Monday in Iowa. The evening before the announcement, Bachmann is planning an informal meet-and-greet in Waterloo. And the week following the announcement will be spent touring early primary states.

The candidate is no doubt making up for lost time, having given her opponents a wide opening to build their operations in key states by waiting so long to make the presidential plunge. But polling conducted since she revealed her intentions at the debate in mid-June suggest she's doing something right.

After weeks of struggling to break out of the single digits, Bachmann has surged in recent polls. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is still the solid GOP frontrunner, but Bachmann has started to separate herself from the rest of the pack.

A Rasmussen Reports poll taken right after Bachmann's debate performance showed her rising to 19 percent, in second place behind Romney at 33 percent. A subsequent poll in Florida taken June 16-19 by Public Policy Polling also showed Bachmann surging into a tie for second place with Sarah Palin -- who has not announced a presidential bid. Though the poll only questioned Republicans in one state, the results showed Bachmann's support climbing from 7 to 17 percent since March. If Palin were taken out of the mix, PPP found Bachmann picking up the bulk of her support and gliding even closer to Romney.

Meanwhile, an Associated Press-GfK poll released this week showed her favorability rating jumping from 41 percent to 54 percent among Republicans, though one third did not have an opinion of her.

"Given that we have been in this race less than two weeks, we are pleased with the growing momentum of the campaign," campaign spokeswoman Alice Stewart said in an email to FoxNews.com.

Stewart said that as Bachmann formally enters the race, voters will see her as "their voice for constitutional conservatism." The Tea Party favorite has surged into the spotlight in recent years by opposing government spending, as well as other popular conservative targets like the federal health care overhaul and environmental regulations.

But Bachmann, who will appear on "Fox News Sunday" ahead of her announcement, is just the latest X-factor in the race. Speculation continues to swirl around Texas Gov. Rick Perry, while Palin stays in the spotlight -- from a distance. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman is trying in earnest to build his moderate brand after announcing his bid Tuesday.

Some Iowa Republicans have suggested Bachmann missed out on her chance to build a formidable operation in the nation's leadoff caucus state, while others question whether the outspoken Minnesota conservative could ever be more than an also-ran nationally.

The Iowa Democratic Party, which has held counterprogramming events for other Republican candidates, does not plan on holding a news conference to counter Bachmann's announcement Monday. A spokesman for the party told Fox News that while party officials see Bachmann as a contender to win the caucuses, they do not feel she can win the GOP nomination.

But the congresswoman is making a big push to appeal to voters in Iowa despite the late entrance -- and the fact that House members rarely end up as presidential finalists. She's stressing her Iowa roots by holding her announcement in her hometown of Waterloo, and also is looking to return to Iowa after touring South Carolina and New Hampshire. Her social conservative streak is a plus in the leadoff state, and she's trying to develop the other parts of her portfolio.

Though Bachmann in May said the United States needs to "get out" of Afghanistan, she amended her position this past week after President Obama announced his troop withdrawal plan.

In a statement Thursday, she accused the president of "undercutting our security objectives in Afghanistan with ill-advised timelines and accelerated (troop) withdrawals."


Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/06/25/bachmann-surging-in-polls-ahead-campaign-kickoff/#ixzz1QLE3hCWg

23383  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar, & Gold/Silver on: June 25, 2011, 08:13:26 PM
Kudlow is a good economist and I think his point about QE3 has merit.

"If Bernanke keeps his balance sheet stable, applying what former Fed Governor Wayne Angell calls quantitative neutrality, it's quite possible that the greenback will rise and oil and commodity prices will slip."

Here I do not understand the point about keeping the balance sheet stable (worth noting is that Scott Grannis is far more sanguine than most of us here for just this sort of thing) but IMHO Kudlow misses the point about the boost to the dollar at present coming from the flight to stability due to the Greek/Euro situation/crisis.  In that the price of oil in dollars is to a great extent a function of the state of the dollars purchasing parity viz other currencies, of course this makes sense.  So I suppose it is possible the Baraq-Bernanke may get a bit lucky here and get away with a bit of stimulus without us seeming to pay a price for it.   Also to be remembered in taking meaning from the numbers is the low margin requirement/high market price volatility dynamic.
23384  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender, Gay, Lesbian on: June 25, 2011, 10:24:51 AM
 cry
23385  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Training Camp August 12-14 on: June 25, 2011, 08:26:22 AM


http://dogbrothers.com/store/product_info.php?cPath=22&products_id=160
23386  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / La Belleza de la Mujer on: June 24, 2011, 09:09:51 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFz4JfP3Z4E


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFz4JfP3Z4E
23387  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Uncle Tom's Cabin on: June 24, 2011, 08:45:09 PM


By FERGUS M. BORDEWICH
In April 1857, Samuel Green, a free black farmer and preacher living on Maryland's Eastern Shore, was taken from his home and sentenced to 10 years in prison for the felony of possessing a book that was, the law asserted, "calculated to create discontent among the colored population of this state." The book was called "Uncle Tom's Cabin: Or, Life Among the Lowly." The prosecution of Green was of course a travesty. But Maryland and the rest of the slave-holding South had reason to be scared.

"Uncle Tom's Cabin" was abolitionist propaganda, but it was also a brilliant novel that intertwined the stories of a host of memorable characters: the long-suffering slave Uncle Tom, the sadistic overseer Simon Legree, the defiant fugitive George Harris, the antic slave girl Topsy, the conscience-stricken slave owner Augustine St. Clare, and a teeming cast of abolitionists, Southerners and African-Americans. By presenting an array of emotive story lines—e.g., the bonding of Uncle Tom with St. Clare's saintly daughter Eva, Tom's fatal persecution at a Louisiana plantation, and the dramatic flight of the Harris family to freedom in the North—the author Harriet Beecher Stowe rendered American slavery as a soul-destroying system of grinding injustice and, for the first time in American literature, depicted slaves as complex, heroic and emotionally nuanced individuals.

The novel shocked Americans North and South not just with its heart-rending portrayal of slavery's cruelty but with its attention to such subversive themes as interracial sex, cross-racial friendship and black rage. "Wherever it goes, prejudice is disarmed, opposition is removed, and the hearts of all are touched with a new and strange feeling, to which they before were strangers," declared an editorialist in Washington's National Era newspaper.

In the first year after its release in 1852, "Uncle Tom's Cabin" sold 310,000 copies in the United States, triple the number of its nearest rivals; it sold one million copies in Britain alone. In "Mightier Than the Sword," a splendid and subtle history of the novel's effect on American culture, David S. Reynolds writes that "Uncle Tom's Cabin" "opened the way for a widespread acceptance in the North of antislavery arguments that had long been ignored or dismissed." It would also help to pave the way for the public's openness to Abraham Lincoln and to convert countless apathetic Yankees into men willing to fight for the emancipation of slaves.

View Full Image
.Mightier Than the Sword
By David S. Reynolds
(Norton, 351 pages, $27.95)
."Uncle Tom's Cabin" became a phenomenon like nothing Americans had seen before. The very term "Great American Novel" was coined, in 1868, by the Nation magazine, specifically to describe it. Literary luminaries such as Mark Twain, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Henry James showered it with praise. The radical Russian writer Nikolai Chernyshevsky drew upon the book for his own novel, "What Is to Be Done?," which in turn influenced many of his country's revolutionaries. ("Uncle Tom's Cabin," Mr. Reynolds notes, was Lenin's favorite childhood book.) Less significantly, the novel spawned a dizzying explosion of "Tomitudes," or spin-offs, including card games, cheap engravings, jigsaw puzzles, wall hangings, snuffboxes, fountain pens and eponymous products such as "Uncle Tom's Shrinkable Woolen Stockings."

Stowe's creation probably had its most lasting effect as a stage play, which was almost always performed by white actors in blackface. By 1912, it was estimated, Americans had seen at least 250,000 performances of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" by hundreds, if not thousands, of specialized theater companies. With its elevating Christian message of martyrdom and redemption, the play made theaters—previously the haunt of roughs, sports and prostitutes—so respectable, Mr. Reynolds says, that managers invented the afternoon matinee to cope with the demand.

Competing troupes added song-and-dance interludes and boxing matches—the actor playing Uncle Tom would sometimes step out of the play to go a few rounds in costume. Like the novel, the play was translated into scores of languages, including Yiddish, where it was accompanied by "Hebrew melodies" and readings from the Talmud instead of the Bible. Bizarrely, some shows doubled and even tripled the actors on stage playing the lead roles. "For playgoers of the era, the more Tom characters, the better," Mr. Reynolds writes. Both Mary Pickford and Spencer Tracy began their careers in "Tom" shows.

By the mid-20th century, Stowe's story had entered the broader culture in all sorts of forms, many utterly divorced from the gravity of the original. Skits and satires referring to "Uncle Tom's Cabin" were performed by the likes of Abbott and Costello and the Little Rascals. When the 1956 film "The King and I," set in Siam and starring Yul Brynner, incorporated the hilarious rendering of a ballet titled "Small House of Uncle Thomas," it was a typically incoherent destiny for a book that, as William Dean Howells once declared, had "move[d] the whole world more than any other."

Paradoxically, the phrase "Uncle Tom" is known today as an epithet for spineless collaboration with white oppression, the antithesis of the morally heroic character for whom Stowe named her novel. "At times," Mr. Reynolds writes, "it seemed that the epithet would tear apart the whole movement for black rights," as even black leaders as bold as W.E.B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X were accused of being Uncle Toms by their enemies. In "Mightier Than the Sword," Mr. Reynolds sets out to show the many and often contradictory ways in which one of the nation's most important works of literature has been understood and, alas, misunderstood. He has admirably succeeded.

Mr. Bordewich is the author of "Bound for Canaan: The Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America."

23388  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NLRB determines how Catholic is Catholic enough on: June 24, 2011, 03:18:25 PM
By PATRICK J. REILLY
It's not just Boeing that the National Labor Relations Board is picking on: For the second time this year, the NLRB has ruled against a Catholic college.

The Chicago office of the NLRB said that St. Xavier University had failed to demonstrate the "substantial religious character" necessary to qualify for exemption from federal labor law. As a result, adjunct professors in its employ will be allowed to organize, even though the school has argued that a faculty union would interfere with the school's autonomy as a religious institution by ceding "jurisdiction over important matters to a third party."

In January, the NLRB's New York office made the same determination about Manhattan College, a Christian Brothers institution, which has since appealed.

Both cases hinge on the Supreme Court's ruling in NLRB v. The Catholic Bishop of Chicago, et al. (1979), which found that the NLRB had violated the First Amendment's free exercise clause by requiring Catholic schools to comply with federal labor laws, thereby possibly interfering with religious decision-making. But that ruling didn't stop the NLRB from claiming authority over most Catholic colleges and universities by arguing that Catholic Bishop protects only "church-controlled" institutions that are "substantially religious," a phrase taken from Chief Justice Warren Burger's majority opinion in the case. Many of the nation's 224 Catholic colleges and universities are legally independent of the Catholic bishops or the religious orders that founded them.

So the NLRB has put itself in the position of judging schools' religious character, and it has concluded over the years that many Catholic institutions are inconsistent in their application of Catholic principles to teaching, course requirements, campus life and faculty hiring. It's a serious overreach by the government, though many Catholics would agree that colleges and universities often demonstrate inconsistent religious observation.

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 .The erosion of religious identity in Catholic higher education over the past 50 years has been marked by theological dissent, hostility toward the bishops, and increasingly liberal campus-life arrangements such as co-ed dorms and lax visitation rules. These issues fueled the 2009 confrontation at Notre Dame, for example, when pro-life Catholics objected to the school honoring President Barack Obama. This year the U.S. bishops are engaged in a review of Catholic educators' compliance with church rules for colleges and universities.

Colleges that have deliberately watered down their Catholic identity, in part to help themselves compete for government aid, now face church pressure to strengthen their religious identity. The choice for Catholic educators is increasingly clear: defend religious liberty and stand up for a strong Catholic identity—or give up the pretense.

Catholic educators are now awaiting the result of Manhattan College's appeal to the NLRB regulators in Washington. Their appeal relies heavily on an argument put forward in 1986 by future Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. Writing for half the members of an evenly divided D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Breyer argued that the NLRB had contravened the Catholic Bishop ruling by establishing a "substantial religious character" test to determine whether a college meets sectarian standards.

The D.C. Circuit has formally embraced Justice Breyer's reasoning twice over the past decade, instructing the NLRB to stop interfering with any college or university that "holds itself out to students, faculty and community as providing a religious educational environment." In ruling against St. Xavier University and Manhattan College, NLRB regional staff seem to have ignored that instruction.

Mr. Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, is author of "The NLRB's Assault on Religious Liberty," published by the society's Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education.

23389  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fall Dog Brothers Open Gathering of the Pack 9/18/11 on: June 24, 2011, 02:55:08 PM
Pete Juska of Chicago, IL: registered smiley
23390  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Geert Wilders on: June 24, 2011, 02:35:15 PM
By GEERT WILDERS
Yesterday was a beautiful day for freedom of speech in the Netherlands. An Amsterdam court acquitted me of all charges of hate speech after a legal ordeal that lasted almost two years. The Dutch people learned that political debate has not been stifled in their country. They learned they are still allowed to speak critically about Islam, and that resistance against Islamization is not a crime.

I was brought to trial despite being an elected politician and the leader of the third-largest party in the Dutch parliament. I was not prosecuted for anything I did, but for what I said. My view on Islam is that it is not so much a religion as a totalitarian political ideology with religious elements. While there are many moderate Muslims, Islam's political ideology is radical and has global ambitions. I expressed these views in newspaper interviews, op-ed articles, and in my 2008 documentary, "Fitna."

I was dragged to court by leftist and Islamic organizations that were bent not only on silencing me but on stifling public debate. My accusers claimed that I deliberately "insulted" and "incited discrimination and hatred" against Muslims. The Dutch penal code states in its articles 137c and 137d that anyone who either "publicly, verbally or in writing or image, deliberately expresses himself in any way that incites hatred against a group of people" or "in any way that insults a group of people because of their race, their religion or belief, their hetero- or homosexual inclination or their physical, psychological or mental handicap, will be punished."

I was dragged to court for statements that I made as a politician and which were meant to stimulate public debate in a country where public debate has stagnated for decades. Dutch political parties see themselves as guardians of a sterile status quo. I want our problems to be discussed. I believe that politicians have a public trust to further debates about important issues. I firmly believe that every public debate holds the prospect of enlightenment.

My views represent those of a growing number of Dutch voters, who have flocked to the Party for Freedom, or PVV. The PVV is the fastest-growing party in the country, expanding from one seat in the 150-seat House of Representatives in 2004, to nine seats in 2006 and 24 seats in 2010. My party's views, however, are so uncommon in the Netherlands that they are considered blasphemous by powerful elites who fear and resent discussion.

That's why I was taken to court, even though the public prosecutor saw no reason to prosecute me. "Freedom of expression fulfills an essential role in public debate in a democratic society," the prosecutors repeatedly said during my trial. "That comments are hurtful and offensive for a large number of Muslims does not mean that they are punishable."

The Netherlands is one of the few countries in the world where a court can force the public prosecutor to prosecute someone. In January 2009, three judges of the Amsterdam Appeals Court ordered my prosecution in a politically motivated verdict that focused on the content of the case. They implied that I was guilty. The case was subsequently referred to the Amsterdam Court of First Instance.

The judges who acquitted me yesterday already had a peremptory ruling from the appeals court on their desk. They decided, however, to follow the arguments of the public prosecutor, who during the trial had once again reiterated his position and had asked for a full acquittal.

Though I am obviously relieved by yesterday's decision, my thoughts go to people such as Danish journalist Lars Hedegaard, Austrian human rights activist Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff and others who have recently been convicted for criticizing Islam. They have not been as fortunate. In far too many Western countries, it is still impossible to have a debate about the nature of Islam.

The biggest threat to our democracies is not political debate, nor is it public dissent. As the American judge Learned Hand once said in a speech: "That community is already in the process of dissolution . . . where faith in the eventual supremacy of reason has become so timid that we dare not enter our convictions in the open lists to win or lose." It has been a tenet in European and American thinking that men are only free when they respect each other's freedom. If the courts can no longer guarantee this, then surely a community is in the process of dissolution.

Legislation such as articles 137c and 137d of the Dutch Penal Code disgraces our democratic free societies. On the basis of such legislation, I was prevented from representing my million-and-a-half voters in parliament because I had to be in the courtroom for several days, sometimes up to three days per week, during the past year and a half. Such legislation should be abolished. It should be abolished in all Western countries where it exists—and replaced by First Amendment clauses.

Citizens should never allow themselves to be silenced. I have spoken, I speak and I shall continue to speak.

Mr. Wilders is a member of the Dutch Parliament and the leader of the Party for Freedom.

23391  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libya and on: June 24, 2011, 02:22:52 PM
Not really responsive GM.  I am well aware of the domestic/economic issues.  I speak to the role of foreign affairs.  If BO can say he killed OBL where Bush failed, brought us home, and killed Kaddaffy where Reagan and others failed, it helps him politically AND more importantly, leaves him in a position to keep damaging and sabotaging the US in the world.
23392  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libya and on: June 24, 2011, 01:40:46 PM
Those are both sensible pieces.

I would add a political point-- that if BO gets lucky and Kadaffy gets killed (and this is not a small possibility) A LOT of the Republican Party is going to look foolish and the Dems will crow about Baraq killing OBL and Kaddaffy.

As I have alluded to elsewhere, the Reps are skating on some very thin ice on foreign affairs-- which traditionally has been a strong suit.  It would be pretty amazing that Baraq could do all the blithering stupidities that he has done, only to be outdone by the Reps and thus come out smelling like a rose.
23393  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Noonan on: June 24, 2011, 01:35:48 PM
The GOP field is sorting itself out, which is to be expected. What's surprising is that so are Republican voters. The early rise of Mitt Romney, the second-place showing of Jon Huntsman (behind Ron Paul) at the recent Republican Leadership Conference, and a Gallup poll last week saying 50% of Republicans and independents who lean Republican favor the candidate with the best chance of beating President Obama, suggests GOP voters on the ground don't want to pick anyone the moderate Democrat down the block wouldn't support.

It's still early, but that makes it even more interesting. It's at this point in a presidential race that obstreperous and passionate movements and candidacies would normally be rising. It's later and with time that a certain soberness, a certain inherent moderation normally take hold. But Republicans at the moment seem prematurely settled, even as they watch, judge and figure out whom to support.

A quick read on a few in the field:

Mitt Romney really is the kind of candidate Republicans imagine centrists would like. He looks the part, sounds the part, has experience in the world and government. Four years ago he was new and controversial. Now he's next in line and kind of old shoe. But the question that dogged him in 2008 hasn't gone away: Does he have philosophical fire inside him, or only personal destiny fire? If the latter, would he do what needs doing as president? Ronald Reagan was mild and attractive as a person and candidate and never claimed to be a radical, but when he got into office at a crucial moment, he did some radical things that turned out to be the right things. He had philosophical fire, which is important.

 Peggy Noonan reports on Jon Huntsman's campaign kick-off.
.Michele Bachmann's got fire, a libertarian conservative who means it. She broke through in New Hampshire because she wasn't Cable Bachmann—skittery, combative—but Candidate Bachmann, sincere and accomplished. Does she have the weight and ballast to see it all the way through? Is she a serious person or just a dramatic one who rouses a portion of the base? Will America be drawn to her brand of conservatism?

Tim Pawlenty is earnest, nice, Midwestern. Interestingly, no one doubts his grounding in political thought, or his accomplishments, and yet he's coming across as weak. Does he want this thing? Is he the right size?

Newt Gingrich? That didn't work. Good thing voters found out early, not late.

Herman Cain always gets applause in GOP debates because everyone likes him. The media suspect the reason is that he's handy evidence Republicans aren't racist. But Republicans like him because they like him.

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One imagines him more as secretary of state, like Cordell Hull.
.A number of prominent conservatives are black, and they are admired because they all swam upstream, with no establishment to help them. They weren't born into it, they had to struggle through to it. And when they arrived they were often greeted awkwardly. They were like the old working-class ethnic Democrats who joined the Republican Party in the 1970s and '80s and were greeted by Mrs. Waffington Wafferthird IV: "Your name is Kowalski? We had a plumber named Kowalski at Little Compton, he did wonderful work!" Yeah. Well, glad the pipes work.

It's been a generation or two since the party was like that, and now old Mrs. Wafferthird is likely to introduce herself with theatricality and flair. "Darling, I'm the antique old stereotype we all spoof. I even spoof myself. Have a Ritz cracker." And we all feel protective of her because she's part of a dying wave, a great, three-centuries-long wave.

Anyway Republicans like Mr. Cain because he's plain-spoken and humorous, and he made some money in America. He's the American dream. But is he a president? No, he's a businessman. It's 2011 and he doesn't know his own opinion on Afghanistan.

***
And now Jon Huntsman. The former Utah governor and ambassador to China announced in New Jersey's Liberty State Park on Tuesday. I went to see a Huntsman crowd, to find out who they are and why they support him. But there was no Huntsman crowd, only a hunk of milling media. Interspersed among them were perhaps a hundred individuals who got themselves there to watch and show support. When asked why they were for him, they said words like "balance," "principles" and "expanding the umbrella."

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.Two weeks ago at a Reuters lunch in Manhattan, Mr. Huntsman appeared with Henry Kissinger to talk about the latter's new book, "On China." As Mr. Huntsman talked—when Mr. Kissinger couldn't remember a particular word in Chinese, Mr. Huntsman smoothly supplied it—two journalists at a table to the side came to the same conclusion at almost the same moment: This isn't a president, this is a secretary of state. Huntsman—well-tailored, willowy, gray-haired, cerebral-looking—comes alive when talking about Asia. You imagine him in striped pants and morning coat, like Cordell Hull. Yet he's from Utah, has seven kids, is Mormon, has lowered taxes and balanced budgets. His work in the Obama administration is supposed to be a negative with Republican voters, but it won't be: It's China, the big country now always in the back of the American mind. He speaks two Chinese dialects. That sounds useful.

What part of the GOP base would be Mr. Huntsman's natural constituency? Here political professionals scratch their heads.

Maybe he's going for moderate conservatives and Republicans who have Romney Reluctance, who just can't get to Mitt-land, or not yet. Maybe he's trying to take the vote of conservatives who think deep down Romney doesn't have a deep down. He's saying, "I'm like Romney but I have deep beliefs and a particular expertise: I won two terms as a governor, not one, and was a major ambassador. I'm cool, and my hair is just as presidential."

Mr. Huntsman's call, in his announcement speech, for more civility, was both appropriate and shrewd. Appropriate because there's nothing wrong with adding a bit of grace to the political moment. There's too much hate out there and too many people making a living peddling resentment. Shrewd because it pre-emptively forgives, or retroactively explains, his past friendliness to and support of Mr. Obama. He can flick off criticisms with sad shake of the head: "That's the kind of thing I was talking about when I asked for a higher tone."

His support for gay civil unions is supposedly controversial, but is it? It is a compromise position, and the tea party won't be made unhappy by it: Social issues are not their focus. Mitch Daniels was knocked for calling for a social issues truce some months ago, but only because he put a name on what is happening anyway. There is an informal truce on social issues in the GOP, but no one likes hearing potential leaders mention it, because then the other leaders have to take a side. But almost everyone in the party is focused now on economic issues, in part because a strong economy fosters everything else, including American compassion. Six months ago a profoundly pro-life U.S. senator who now speaks more on economic issues was asked how he explains the shift in emphasis to his pro-life allies. "I tell them unless we turn things around, no one's going to be able to have babies."

23394  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More on Hillary's aide as a MB mole on: June 24, 2011, 01:23:07 PM
This also could belong under Homeland (In)Security:

http://frontpagemag.com/2011/06/24/the-dark-muslim-brotherhood-world-of-huma-abedin/print/
23395  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: June 24, 2011, 01:11:28 PM
"**So, we must sell all the oil in the Bayou Choctaw Cavern 20 (7.5 million barrels) because it's structural integrity was damaged by previous drawdowns, and in addition, we are going to damage other caverns to sell another 22.5 million gallons of oil. Sounds like something a community organizer would come up with."

That 'bout gets it-- sorry JDN, but it looks like I remembered correctly smiley
23396  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar, & Gold/Silver on: June 24, 2011, 01:07:06 PM
Forgive me, but that sounds like the logic of Carter's malaise speech.

We need to undo the massive wave of new regulations known and unknown, we need to eliminate the massive spending by the Feds, we need to end monetizing the debt and to protect the value of the currency, we need to throw out the tax code and replace it with something simple and fair e.g. the FAIR tax, etc etc etc.
23397  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WEsbury on: June 24, 2011, 01:03:37 PM
Balancing out the Bear with some Bull from Wesbury cheesy  Seriously, he is a good economist and we need to keep an open mind. smiley
=================
Data Watch

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New orders for durable goods increased 1.9% in May To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 6/24/2011


 New orders for durable goods increased 1.9% in May (2.8% including upward revisions to April). The consensus expected a gain of 1.5%. Orders excluding transportation rose 0.6% in May (1.9% including upward revisions to April). The consensus expected 0.9%.  From a year ago, overall new orders are up 9.0%, while orders excluding transportation are up 7.2%

The overall increase in orders was led by civilian aircraft. Almost all other major categories of orders increased as well.
 
The government calculates business investment for GDP purposes by using shipments of non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft. That measure rose 1.4% in May and even if unchanged in June, will be up at a 7.2% annual rate in Q2 versus the Q1 average.
 
Unfilled orders rose 0.9% in May and are up 6.3% from last year.
 
Implications:  The economy is still alive and kicking, and today’s report on durable goods shows it. New orders for durable goods increased 1.9% in May, beating the expected increase of 1.5%, and were revised up for April as well. Most of the gain in May was due to civilian aircraft, which are very volatile from month to month. However, excluding the transportation sector, orders were still up 0.6% in May and up 1.9% including upward revisions for April. Moreover, the gains in May were widespread, with almost every major category of orders increasing. In other words, this is not just a Boeing story. Shipments of “core” capital goods (which exclude civilian aircraft and defense and which the government uses to calculate GDP) bounced back 1.4% in May. These shipments are up 7.7% versus a year ago and up at a much faster 14.9% annual rate in the past three months. Given record corporate profits and balance sheet cash, relatively low borrowing rates in the corporate sector, a recent rise in commercial and industrial lending, plus full expensing for tax purposes for 2011, we believe business investment will continue to increase substantially for at least the next couple of years.
 
23398  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Chinese military capabilities on: June 24, 2011, 11:49:52 AM


Colin: Tensions have been rising again in the South China Sea, this time between Vietnam and the Philippines and China over disputed potentially oil-rich territory. This weekend China’s vice minister for foreign affairs and the United States assistant secretary of Asia-Pacific meet in Hawaii with the Chinese side advising Americans to urge restraint. (!!!) The vice foreign minister was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying, “some countries are playing with fire and I hope the U.S. won’t would be burned by this,” well we will see.

Welcome to agenda and joining me this week for his latest assessment of the Chinese Military is Nathan Hughes, Stratfor’s director of military analysis. Nate, it’s a good time to be discussing this. China’s first aircraft carrier goes for trials next week. It will be another year until, of course, it is in service but what difference will it make?

Nate: Well, the Chinese fixed-wing carrier aviation program is still very preliminary, they have had the Varyag in their possession for over a decade now. It was originally bought from the Ukraine as surplus to be a casino, at least extensively in 1998. But it takes a long time to really develop all the capabilities necessary to really run an effective flight deck, and that’s something that the United States has been doing for 100 years now and China is sort of just getting started with it. While the aircraft carrier goes to sea, it’s not even clear with the first time when they will actually start landing aircraft on at it. At the moment we’ve got some imagery that suggests there is still considerable amount of construction equipment and detritus on the deck itself, and it may go to sea with some of that because this first sea trial is really about putting the engines through their paces and making sure the basic shipboard systems are functioning properly.

Colin: So these are just sea trials not weapons testing?

Nate: Right, the initial sea trials of a vessel is really about making sure that the engines work the way they are supposed to and this sort of thing, and especially when you start talking about the purpose of an aircraft carrier, to feel and be able to launch and recover fixed wing aircraft, that is really quite a ways down the road for the Chinese even after, probably well after, the commissioning of this ship next year.

Colin: Of course even with this addition, the Chinese Navy only forms a relatively small part of China’s military. Most of it is in the army, which has also has a bigger budget. How much of the PLA’s effort is taken up with dealing with China’s internal problems?

Nate: Well, this is really an important thing to remember about China is that the vast majority of its military and security apparatus is devoted to land combat and internal security missions. While the navy and air force have gotten a lot of press lately, this is only a small fraction of, in fact combined the Navy and Air Force number fewer than nearly the internal security forces under the Ministry of Defense. It is important to remember the size of China. While it’s the size of the United States, it has one billion extra people. Almost all of whom exist in a fairly low state of subsistence or less, many are disillusioned with the amount of financial rebalancing that has taken place. Many are in buffer areas and some are ethnic minorities, so there is a lot for China to manage internally even as it appears to be expending a lot of effort externally.

Colin: Can you put any kind of percentage on it?

Nate: The Chinese People’s liberation Army Navy and People’s Liberation Army Air Force together, number less than 600,000, while the People’s armed police and a number of other internal security entities: everything from border police to railroad police, number over 700,000. And this isn’t even counting the 1.6 million-man People’s Liberation Army.

Colin: What are the chances of these forces actually having to be deployed in the short-term?

Nate: Well China spent almost its entire modern existence working with a very low- tech conscripted People’s Army. The idea was simply to be able to maintain internal security and defend China’s borders in a fairly traditional, attritional warfare sort of sense. So the challenges before China in the modernization that has taken place since the 1980’s are very profound in terms of taking these new techniques, these new systems and these new weapons that they have been working on, integrating them into an effective war fighting system, and being able to deploy them further afield. China’s been spending a lot of focus lately on China’s deployment of only two warships and a replenishment vessel at a time to the counter piracy mission off the coast of Somalia. And while this is somewhat of a prestige thing, it’s also about learning the basics of sustaining naval vessels far afield; the basics of maintenance, replenishment, the metrics of logistics, these are things China is still very unfamiliar with and those working to learn the tricks of the trade the idea, the idea that they will be able to deploy large numbers of forces anywhere beyond China’s borders, I think is very, is still a very real question.

Colin: What is your assessment of the quality of the hardware that China has invested in?

Nate: Which I have been doing since the 1980’s, has been investing a considerable amount in the latest Russian hardware, in the 1990’s when things were pretty bad for Russia, China was the single biggest buyer of high-end late Soviet technology. They’ve combined that with an aggressive espionage effort, including cyber espionage efforts, to glean the latest technology from the United States and its allies. China’s domestic efforts to put this all together, to be able to build it itself and use it itself, are very extensive, but the challenge is that because China is still new at this, and it’s been growing so rapidly, it’s in a very uncertain place while some of the technology it’s fielding is certainly very impressive, its ability to integrate that into a war fighting concept, it’s lack of real practical or operational experience with it, leaves very real questions about its performance in a shooting war.

Colin: Nate, thank you very much. STRATFOR’s Director of Military Analysis Nathan Hughes ending agenda for this week. I’m Colin Chapman, goodbye for now.

23399  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson 1803 on: June 24, 2011, 06:47:19 AM
"Experience having long taught me the reasonableness of mutual sacrifices of opinion among those who are to act together for any common object, and the expediency of doing what good we can; when we cannot do all we would wish." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Randolph, 1803
23400  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / All dogs go to heaven on: June 24, 2011, 06:39:27 AM
http://tithenai.tumblr.com/post/3215186237/two-churches-located-across-the-street-from-each-other
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