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23401  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizen-Police interactions on: May 15, 2011, 10:42:17 AM
No surprise that GM would see this as he does  grin

As best as I can tell with the facts here (domestic dispute, only husband spoke up that all was alright) a good case can be made for legal entry, so the court's apparent holding seems unnecessary and perhaps overbroad.

Readily granted, the exercise of this right presents profound risks and serious problems in the real world.

That said, on the whole, there have gotten to be a rather extraordinary amount of people's home being forcefully entered by the police in our society, often by no-knock warrants, SWAT teams and so forth.  There were and are good reasons for the Common Law being as it has been for 900 years.  The theoretical remedy proferred seems , , , theoretical indeed and rather contrary to the spirit of a free people.

Perhaps we can begin the conversation by asking if there is a right to self-defense when being assaulted by a policeman?  GM?
23402  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DBMA's Snake Range on: May 15, 2011, 10:32:09 AM

Snake Range
written by Marc “Crafty Dog” Denny
(Copyright Dog Brothers Inc.  If you wish to share, please direct people here and do not post elsewhere)

As Juan Matus has pointed out, seeing what is not there as well as what is powerful--in life as well as in stickfighting. I often see doubt or the “BS alert” expression in people’s faces when they hear that Snake Range, the first range of DBMA, is defined as “before contact is made”. To most people, if no hitting is going on, then nothing of importance is going on. Yet the idea of Snake Range is that what is done in the absence of hitting in order to define the moment of impact (and its continuation) is one of the most important parts of fighting.

So what are the elements of the Snake in DBMA? First there is “the skill of moving your stick to protect your hand, hide your intent, create your opening, and mask your initiation.” Second, there is the analysis of your opponent’s psychological type. Third, and closely related, there is the analysis of his strucure which we call “The Theory of Chambers”. Fourth, there is a specific theory of footwork. Fifth, there is using this range to AVOID contact, which includes both ST. FOOM (an acronym for “stay the fornicate off of me”) and the specific footwork theory for avoiding engagement. And sixth, there is the theory of the skirmish (multiple versus one, and many versus many where numbers may or may not be equal)

The first element we will leave for another day. For now we will note that Top Dog’s distinctive circling of the stick we call “the clock” and that a fighter seaoned in the Attacking Block Drills will be able to use a Upward 8 in a similar manner.

Lets turn to psychological types and games that one should recognize in Snake Range. Here, in no particular order, are some examples:

a) "Mongo" (after the Alex Karras character in Mel Brooks's "Blazing Saddles":  Mongo looks to smash anything and every thing that comes at him.

b) The Stalker: he lumbers after you, often with step and slide footwork.

c) The Evader: evades and looks to counter hit

d) The Blocking Counter Hitter: he presses forward and looks to counter hit after blocking your strike.

e) The Posturer:  he doesn’t really want to fight. Typically Posturers strut and posture just out of reach in the hopes you will overextend yourself due to impatience.

f) The Salesman:  uses the stick deceptively hoping to trick you into exposing yourself.

g) Three Card Monte:  a variation of the salesman done with double stick. It mixes the chambers of each stick (e.g. holds one high and one low) and tries to hit you with the one at which you’re not looking.

h) The Speed Merchant: not much power, but he scores and moves.

i) The Troglodyte: doesn’t care much if you hit him, he’s going to hit you.

j) The Linebacker: comes after you like a linebacker blitzing a quarterback. He wants to crash and take it to the ground.

There’s more of course and these types can be combined. For example, a swatter can be a stalker or he can be a retreater.


The Theory of Chambers is the analysis of the physical structure of the man in front of you. From where does he throw? Some examples:

a) From above the forehand shoulder is “the Caveman”.

b) Does he finish this swing with his elbow in centerline? Then he is “elbow fulcrum”.

c) A “backander” prefers to throw from the backhand side.

d) A “slapper” has bad form and tends to swing horizontally.

e) “Off-lead” is a righty with the left foot forward or vice versa.

f) Low Chamber is a low forehand position. This sometimes is in an off-lead.

g) Siniwali Caveman is with the caveman strike in the rear, and the front stick is a jabbing/shielding position (a.k.a. “paw and pow”).

h) Double Caveman is with each stick above its respective shoulder.

i) False lead is left shoulder and right foot forward, right stick in right hand or vice versa.

These are but some examples. For each of these structures you want to know what are the strengths and weaknesses and have solutions.

In addition to the snakey stick, there is also “the snaky foot”, which of course is an oxymoron because snakes don’t have feet?but never mind that. There is a specific theory of footwork for this distance which we will leave for another day.

And in the street you may not want to engage and may want to keep the jackal(s) away. ST. FOOM is moving your feet and swinging your stick so as to create a bubble around yourself into which no one wants to step.

And the Skirmish is all the skills you need for multipe situations. This is more tactics and strategy than particular technique. Technical competence is already assumed, thus it is usually covered later in the training. If you can’t fight one, you may not be ready to think about fighting more than one.

All of these are elements of Snake Range in Dog Brothers Martial Arts.


Guro Crafty
23403  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Indiana: No right to resist illegal police entry on: May 15, 2011, 09:16:33 AM
Court: No right to resist illegal cop entry into home
Story Discussion By Dan Carden, (317) 637-9078 | Posted: Friday, May 13, 2011 3:56 pm | (239) Comments

PDF: Supreme Court ruling in Barnes v. State

INDIANAPOLIS | Overturning a common law dating back to the English Magna Carta of 1215, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Hoosiers have no right to resist unlawful police entry into their homes.

In a 3-2 decision, Justice Steven David writing for the court said if a police officer wants to enter a home for any reason or no reason at all, a homeowner cannot do anything to block the officer's entry.

"We believe ... a right to resist an unlawful police entry into a home is against public policy and is incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence," David said. "We also find that allowing resistance unnecessarily escalates the level of violence and therefore the risk of injuries to all parties involved without preventing the arrest."

David said a person arrested following an unlawful entry by police still can be released on bail and has plenty of opportunities to protest the illegal entry through the court system.

The court's decision stems from a Vanderburgh County case in which police were called to investigate a husband and wife arguing outside their apartment.

When the couple went back inside their apartment, the husband told police they were not needed and blocked the doorway so they could not enter. When an officer entered anyway, the husband shoved the officer against a wall. A second officer then used a stun gun on the husband and arrested him.

Professor Ivan Bodensteiner, of Valparaiso University School of Law, said the court's decision is consistent with the idea of preventing violence.

"It's not surprising that they would say there's no right to beat the hell out of the officer," Bodensteiner said. "(The court is saying) we would rather opt on the side of saying if the police act wrongfully in entering your house your remedy is under law, to bring a civil action against the officer."

Justice Robert Rucker, a Gary native, and Justice Brent Dickson, a Hobart native, dissented from the ruling, saying the court's decision runs afoul of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

"In my view the majority sweeps with far too broad a brush by essentially telling Indiana citizens that government agents may now enter their homes illegally -- that is, without the necessity of a warrant, consent or exigent circumstances," Rucker said. "I disagree."

Rucker and Dickson suggested if the court had limited its permission for police entry to domestic violence situations they would have supported the ruling.

But Dickson said, "The wholesale abrogation of the historic right of a person to reasonably resist unlawful police entry into his dwelling is unwarranted and unnecessarily broad."

This is the second major Indiana Supreme Court ruling this week involving police entry into a home.

On Tuesday, the court said police serving a warrant may enter a home without knocking if officers decide circumstances justify it. Prior to that ruling, police serving a warrant would have to obtain a judge's permission to enter without knocking.

Copyright 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

23404  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Nuclear Power on: May 15, 2011, 09:02:16 AM
"Let's keep this , , , discussion alive beyond the crisis."

23405  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: May 15, 2011, 09:01:03 AM
Mundell, with very good reason, was the darling of the editorial page of the WSJ in its mighty heyday in the 1980s and '90s and was a huge influence on Jude Wanniski in writing his seminal book "The Way the World Works".

That said,

a) He's saying fed policies have strengthened the dollar?!?
b) Now that we are more than 1/3 the way through the year, how is his prediction of growth rate doing?
23406  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Nullification by the States on: May 15, 2011, 08:56:17 AM

Nullification: What You'll Never Learn in School

Mises Daily: Friday, October 29, 2010 by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.

Having just finished a course on the New Deal for the Mises Academy, I'm now offering one on state nullification, the subject of my most recent book. I thought my New Deal course covered issues and sources left out of the typical classroom, but in that respect this course has that one beat.

Nullification is the Jeffersonian idea that the states of the American Union must judge the constitutionality of the acts of their agent, the federal government, since no impartial arbiter between them exists. When the federal government exercises a particularly dangerous power not delegated to it, the states must refuse to allow its enforcement within their borders.

I can hear people saying that such a response doesn't go nearly far enough. No argument there. The trouble with nullification is not that it is too "extreme," as the enforcers of opinion would say, but that it is too timid. But it gets people thinking in terms of resistance, which has to be a good thing, and it defies the unexamined premise of the entire political spectrum, according to which society must be organized with a single, irresistible power center issuing infallible commands from the top.

That's at least a pretty good start.

The course, Nullification: A Jeffersonian Bulwark Against Tyranny, will cover the basics, to be sure, and after the first week everyone will be well-grounded in the relevant issues. But then I want to dig into the primary sources. I want to examine the long-forgotten debates on this subject in detail. In particular, we'll study the exchanges between Daniel Webster and Robert Hayne, Andrew Jackson and Littleton Waller Tazewell, and Joseph Story and Abel Upshur.

Hardly anyone, including graduate students in American history, has actually read these texts as opposed to just knowing of their existence — and if my own experience at Columbia University is any indication, even that is more than some grad students know.

The various commissars who have taken it upon themselves to ensure that no one strays from officially approved opinion — or to appropriately scold anyone who in fact does so — have become apoplectic at the return of nullification. I confess to taking mischievous delight in this. They are accustomed to setting the terms of debate. They are not used to seeing people promote ideas of their own.

And the commissars have not read these sources, either. But you will. You will know the arguments of both sides inside and out.

You will also enjoy the discussions that ensue at the end of each lecture. You can sign off whenever you like, of course, but during the course I just completed on the New Deal I stayed around for an hour and a half to two extra hours answering questions and directing discussion, and then shooting the breeze about anything people wanted to discuss. We had a great time. As always, the lectures are available for viewing, along with a full transcript of the chat box, for people who cannot watch them live.

I understand the impatience that many of us feel regarding nullification, particularly the complaints that

the Constitution per se isn't what matters anyway; what matters is freedom; and
the states are no angels, either.
These criticisms are by no means misplaced. But nullification remains a useful quiver in the liberty arsenal all the same. As I've said, it gets people thinking in healthy ways. And it can be employed for good purposes, as when the Principles of '98 (as the ideas culminating in nullification came to be known) were cited on behalf of free speech and free trade, and against unconstitutional searches and seizures, military conscription, and fugitive-slave laws. In our own day, Janet Napolitano said the reason the Real ID Act failed was that the states refused to cooperate in its enforcement.

And the states are indeed rotten, too — which is why we may as well put them to some good use by pursuing nullification. Liberty is more likely to have room to flourish in a world of many competing jurisdictions rather than under a single, irresistible jurisdiction.

In short, this course will introduce you to a chapter of American history that has fallen down the memory hole but which is much too interesting and valuable to leave down there. In the process of pulling it out, you'll acquire a much deeper understanding of American history.

I hope you'll join me.

Here is the Mises Institute's Jeffrey Tucker interviewing me on the subject: [see this link for the video interview]

23407  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: May 15, 2011, 08:52:49 AM
Also, something that caught my attention recently about Cain was some footage of President Clinton (not the current one, the one from the 90s) doing some "meet with and answer questions of real live citizens sort of thing" and there was Cain, questioning him about Hillary Care which was then a heated issue. (1993?)  Cain was , , , drum roll please , , , abely , , , rim shot , , , questioning the President with some follow up questions that were pointed without being disrespectful. 
23408  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Grandchildren of Nazis delve into past on: May 15, 2011, 08:48:18 AM
Very good conversation going on this thread and I hope to contribute to it in the next few days.  In the meantime here is this interesting article:

German grandchildren of Nazis delve into past

Saturday, May 14, 2011

(05-14) 12:23 PDT BERLIN, Germany (AP) --

Rainer Hoess was 12 years old when he found out his grandfather was one of the worst mass murderers in history.

The gardener at his boarding school, an Auschwitz survivor, beat him black and blue after hearing he was the grandson of Rudolf Hoess, commandant of the death camp synonymous with the Holocaust.

"He beat me, because he projected on me all the horror he went through," Rainer Hoess said, with a shrug and a helpless smile. "Once a Hoess, always a Hoess. Whether you're the grandfather or the grandson — guilty is guilty."

Germans have for decades confronted the Nazi era head-on, paying billions in compensation, meticulously teaching Third Reich history in school, and building memorials to victims. The conviction Thursday in Munich of retired Ohio autoworker John Demjanjuk on charges he was a guard at the Sobibor Nazi death camp drives home how the Holocaust is still very much at the forefront of the German psyche.

But most Germans have skirted their own possible family involvement in Nazi atrocities. Now, more than 65 years after the end of Hitler's regime, an increasing number of Germans are trying to pierce the family secrets.

Some, like Hoess, have launched an obsessive solitary search. Others seek help from seminars and workshops that have sprung up across Germany to provide research guidance and psychological support.

"From the outside, the third generation has had it all — prosperity, access to education, peace and stability," said Sabine Bode, who has written books on how the Holocaust weighs on German families today. "Yet they grew up with a lot of unspoken secrets, felt the silent burdens in their families that were often paired with a lack of emotional warmth and vague anxieties."

Like others, Hoess had to overcome fierce resistance within his own family, who preferred that he "not poke around in the past." Undeterred, he spent lonely hours at archives and on the Internet researching his grandfather.

Rudolf Hoess was in charge of Auschwitz from May 1940 to November 1943. He came back to Auschwitz for a short stint in 1944, to oversee the murder of some 400,000 Hungarian Jews in the camp's gas chambers within less than two months.

The commandant lived in a luxurious mansion at Auschwitz with his wife and five children — among them Hans-Rudolf, the father of Rainer. Only 150 meters (yards) away the crematories' chimneys were blowing out the ashes of the dead day and night.

After the war, Hoess went into hiding on a farm in northern Germany; he was eventually captured and hanged in 1947, in front of his former home on the grounds of Auschwitz.

"When I investigate and read about my grandfather's crimes, it tears me apart every single time," Hoess said during a recent interview at his home in a little Black Forest village.

As a young man, he said, he tried twice to kill himself. He has suffered three heart attacks in recent years as well as asthma, which he says gets worse when he digs into his family's Nazi past.

Today, Hoess says, he no longer feels guilty, but the burden of the past weighs on him at all times.

"My grandfather was a mass murderer — something that I can only be ashamed and sad about," said the 45-year-old chef and father of two boys and two girls. "However, I do not want to close my eyes and pretend nothing ever happened, like the rest of my family still does ... I want to stop the curse that's been haunting my family ever since, for the sake of myself and that of my own children."

Hoess is no longer in contact with his father, brother, aunts and cousins, who all call him a traitor. Strangers often look at him with distrust when he tells them about his grandfather — "as if I could have inherited his evil."

Despite such reactions, descendants of Nazis — from high-ranking officials to lowly foot soldiers — are increasingly trying to find out what their families did between 1933 to 1945.

"The Nazis — the first generation — were too ashamed to talk about the crimes they committed and covered everything up. The second generation often had trouble personally confronting their Nazi parents. So now it is up to the grandchildren to lift the curses off their families," said Bode.

It was only during her university years — reading books about the Holocaust — that Ursula Boger found out her grandfather was the most dreaded torturer at Auschwitz.

"I felt numb for days after I read about what he did," recalled Boger, a shy, soft-spoken woman who lives near Freiburg in southwestern Germany. "For many years I was ashamed to tell anybody about him, but then I realized that my own silence was eating me up from inside."

Her grandfather, Wilhelm Boger, invented the so-called Boger swing at Auschwitz — an iron bar that hung on chains from the ceiling. Boger would force naked inmates to bend over the bar and beat their genitals until they fainted or died.

Boger, 41, said it took her several years of therapy and group seminars to begin to come to terms with the fact her grandfather was a monster.

"I felt guilty, even though I hadn't committed a crime myself, felt like I had to do only good things at all times to make up for his evil," she said.

Like Hoess, Boger never personally met her grandfather, who died in prison in 1977. After her father died five years ago, she found old letters from her grandfather begging to see his grandchildren in prison — something that never happened.

"It all just doesn't go together," Boger said. "He is the man who killed a little boy with an apple who came in on a transport to Auschwitz, by smashing his head against a wall until he was dead, and then picked up and ate that apple.

"At the same time, he put a picture of myself as a little girl over his bed in prison. How am I supposed to come to terms with this?"

Tanja Hetzer, a therapist in Berlin, helps clients dealing with issues related to their family's Nazi past. While there are no studies or statistics, she said, many cases indicate that descendants of families who have never dealt with their Nazi family history suffer more from depression, burnout and addiction, in particular alcoholism.

In one prominent case, Bettina Goering, the grandniece of Hermann Goering, one of the country's leading Nazis and the head of the Luftwaffe air force, said in an Israeli TV documentary that she decided to be sterilized at age 30 "because I was afraid to bear another such monster."

Some grandchildren of Nazis find a measure of catharsis in confronting the past.

Alexandra Senfft is the granddaughter of Hanns Elard Ludin, Hitler's Slovakia envoy who was involved in the deportation of almost 70,000 Jews. After Ludin was hanged in 1947, his widow raised the children in the belief their father was "a good Nazi."

In her book, "The Pain of Silence," Senfft describes how a web of lies burdened her family over decades, especially her mother, who was 14 years old when her beloved father was hanged.

"It was unbearable at times to work on this book, it brought up fears and pain, but at the same time I got a lot out of writing it all down," Senfft, a lively 49-year-old, explained during an interview at a Berlin coffee shop.

"If I had continued to remain oblivious and silent about my grandfather's crimes, I would have become complicit myself, perhaps without even being aware of it."

Senfft said she also wrote the book so her children could be free of guilt and shame, and that confronting family pasts is essential for the health of German society as a whole so that history does not repeat itself.

These days Rainer Hoess lectures schoolchildren about the Nazi era and anti-Semitism. A few months ago, he visited Auschwitz for the first time and met a group of Israeli students.

That day was "probably the most difficult and intense day in my life," Hoess said, but it was also liberating because he realized that the third generation of Jews after the Holocaust did not hold him responsible. One Israeli girl even gave him a little shell with a blue Star of David painted on it, which he now wears around his neck on a black leather necklace at all times.

Hoess was embroiled in controversy in 2009 when Israeli media reported he tried to sell some of his grandfather's possessions to Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust Memorial. But email correspondence seen by the AP backs up Hoess' assertion that he would have been just as willing to donate the items. Hoess eventually donated everything he owned from his grandfather — including a trunk, letters and a cigar cutter — to the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich.

Hoess acknowledges that his grandfather will probably never stop haunting him. After his visit to Auschwitz, he met Jozef Paczynski, a Polish camp survivor and the former barber of Commandant Hoess.

"Somehow, subconsciously, I was hoping that maybe he would tell me one positive story about my grandfather, something that shows that he wasn't all evil after all, that there was some goodness in him," Hoess confided.

Paczynski asked Hoess to get up and walk across the room — then told him: "You look exactly like your grandfather."
23409  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: May 15, 2011, 12:34:36 AM
Tax increases now, spending cuts many years from now.  Charlie Brown as the kicker and Lucy as the football holder , , ,
23410  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: May 15, 2011, 12:32:49 AM
Up from the memory hole-- BO's Senate win was against lst minute stand-in and carpetbagger to Illinois, Alan Keyes.

At the moment I am delighted to see Cain in there aggressively speaking Tea Party themes effectively and aggressively.  It is very much to the good; amongst other things it will make it harder for the Dems to racebait the eventual Republican nominee I think.  Cain might make a good VP candidate , , ,
23411  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: May 14-15: "Dog Brothers Tribal Gathering of the Pack" on: May 15, 2011, 12:23:59 AM
11:00 tomorrow (Sunday) at the same location.

Tennessee Dog is in  cool
23412  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: May 14-15: "Dog Brothers Tribal Gathering of the Pack" on: May 14, 2011, 05:59:40 PM
Great day today DBs cool

Dinner at Akbar's at 19:30 (free standing building in a parking lot at the NW corner of Aviation Bl and Prospect Ave).

23413  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: May 14, 2011, 11:06:46 AM
I don't understand how the end of QE2 can not mean the beginning of strong increases in interest rates.
23414  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: May 14, 2011, 11:04:46 AM
Actually, although I have no idea as to his motivations, IMHO it is a principled distinction he is making here;.  Those wanting to discuss this point further, please take it to the Race thread on the SCH forum.
23415  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Case Study: The will to live, the will to win on: May 14, 2011, 09:18:36 AM
23416  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: May 14-15: "Dog Brothers Tribal Gathering of the Pack" on: May 14, 2011, 08:33:13 AM
See you next time Dog Howie.

@all:  My cell phone number is 310-738-1044.  This is my mobile number and the number to use to reach me starting at 09:30.  Before then, please continue to use 310-543-7521.

Those of you not going directly to the location, please meet at the park by 09:45 so that we can caravan to the location at 10:00.
23417  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Malpass: QE2 a Y2K? on: May 14, 2011, 08:26:02 AM
I don't really see how the end of QE2 can't be a big deal, but David Malpass does:

Concerns about the end of QE2 have put downward pressure on equities and bond yields. We think this will ease.
We expect the consensus outlook to improve as it did in the face of Y2K.  Like the June 30 end of QE2, Y2K crash warnings had a date certain, January 1, 2000, to worry about, causing months of hand-wringing due to the uncertainty.  Equities ended up rallying over 15% in the final three months of 1999 and went higher in following months.  We expect a substantial flow from bonds to equities in coming months as the growth outlook improves, inflation rises and the uncertainty over the end of QE2 is finally resolved. 
The $16 billion 30-year bond auction had the weakest number of bids per bond since November.  We think this signals a decline in risk aversion and a weakening of the bond squeeze that has dominated bond yields in recent weeks (see Bond Squeeze Nearly Over on May 3.)  Short-term interest rates and Treasury bond yields were being squeezed down by what we think were temporary factors, giving a false impression of market-based pessimism and risk aversion and a disconnect between falling bond yields and rising equities.  Several factors caused what we think was an artificial month-long decline in bond yields from April 11 through May 6 including the April risk that the $14.3 trillion debt limit might have suspended Treasury issuance while the Fed was still buying heavily – but due to strong April tax receipts and technical factors, Treasury now has headroom to continue regular deficit funding into August, lifting the squeeze (see a list of the temporary squeeze factors in the attachment).
The April low point in the consensus outlook had a long list of concerns beyond QE2 and falling bond yields.  These included the oil price spike, the ECB’s rate hike on April 7, Japan’s severe crisis, China’s aggressive monetary tightenings, the first quarter weather-related letdown in U.S. GDP and the deterioration in peripheral European debt markets. While each of this is a negative, we don’t think they will derail the global expansion, leaving room for an improvement in the outlook (see Tall Wall of Worry; Good Second Half Outlook on April 15.)
We note several positive developments: 
Retail stocks are rising. Consumer credit has increased six months in a row (through March) after 20 months of shrinkage.  We disagree with the view that consumer debt will constrain consumption – the key variable in consumption is the employment climate which is gradually improving.  Today’s retail sales data was a bit weaker-than consensus, but there were upward revisions to previous months and the net result is consistent with our expectation of over 3% real growth in the second quarter.  Retail sales are up 7.6% yoy.  Excluding autos, gas and building materials (which is an input for GDP), sales are up 5.5% yoy.
April tax receipts were strong.  This suggests economic strength.  More importantly, it helped Treasury delay the debt limit problem beyond the Fed’s final QE2 bond purchases in June.  We think the timing change for the debt limit increase broke the bond squeeze and will reduce the sensitivity of financial markets to the debt limit increase.
April payroll data was strong, consistent with today’s sizeable upward revisions in February and March retail sales data.
Bearish sentiment and continuing confusion about QE2 provides upside – for example, some analysts are asserting that M2 growth will drop when QE2 ends because that Fed will stop increasing excess reserves (yet excess reserves aren’t part of M2).
We expect the U.S. to continue very loose monetary and fiscal policy – meaning a near-zero Fed funds rate and over $3.7 trillion per year in federal spending.  We look for a moderate 3%-3.5% U.S. growth rate in coming quarters -- that’s disappointing given the severity of the recession and won’t create the surge in small-business jobs needed to pull the unemployment rate quickly below 8% but is fast enough to dispel the QE2 concerns and QE3 predictions. 
David Malpass
David Malpass is President of Encima Global and He also served in the Reagan Treasury Dept, the Bush (41) State Dept and was Chief Economist at Bear Stearns.
23418  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: A Tectonic Shift in Central Europe on: May 14, 2011, 08:21:30 AM
A Tectonic Shift in Central Europe

At a Thursday meeting, the defense ministers of the Visegrad Group (V4) — a loose regional grouping of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia — decided to create a battle group. The decision is significant but expected. It’s significant because it shows that the V4 states are willing to upgrade their loose alliance to the security and military level. It’s expected because STRATFOR has long forecast that they would be forced to take security matters into their own hands by NATO’s lack of focus on the singular issue that concerns them: Russian resurgence in the post-Soviet sphere.

Europe’s two major political and security institutions are the European Union and NATO, both born in the aftermath of World War II, which devastated Europe. They then evolved in the shadow of a looming confrontation with the Soviet Union, which threatened to revisit such devastation. Approximating national interests to form a common security strategy was not perfect during the Cold War, but it was simple, especially with Soviet armored divisions poised for a strike at Western Europe via the North European Plain and the Fulda Gap.

“Poland could therefore be pivotal in any divergence of the blocs from the European core and hamper Moscow’s national security designs.”
The Cold War and the memory of World War II acted as bookends holding European states on the metaphorical bookshelf. Once the two eroded in the 1990s, the books did not immediately come tumbling down. Instead, the drive to expand NATO and the European Union became an end to itself, giving both organizations a raison-d’etre in the 1990s. Inertia drove the entities.

But a number of factors since the mid-2000s has shaken this unity, primarily the emergence of an independent-minded Germany and the resurgence of Russia as a regional power. While Russia does not pose the same threat it did during the Cold War, Central Europeans continue to see Moscow as a security threat and would prefer for NATO to treat Russia accordingly. Germany sees Russia as a business opportunity and an exporter of cheap and clean energy. The two views collided most recently during discussions for NATO’s New Strategic Concept, producing a largely incomprehensible mission statement for the alliance. There are other tremors. The United States, the guarantor of European security structures, has spent the last 10 years obsessed with the Middle East and has been unable to prevent the divergence of interests on the European continent.

NATO has unsurprisingly become incapable of approximating national security interests toward a common mean, while the European Union has failed — spectacularly so in Libya — to create a coherent foreign policy. Instead, European countries are diverging into regionally focused groupings. The two most prominent of these are the Nordic states, which are cooperating closely with the Baltic states, and the V4. The blocs’ security concerns regarding Russian intentions are rooted in separate geographies. The Nordic and Baltic states’ focus is in the Baltic Sea region, while the V4 is concerned with Moscow’s strength in the traditional border states of Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova. The two regional blocs remind us of primordial continental plates splitting off from Pangea. Europe’s tectonic plates, held together for 60 years by geopolitical conditions, have begun to diverge.

Poland is key. It shares a Baltic Sea coast with Nordic neighbors to the north, of which it perceives Sweden as a strategic partner. But its historical roots are in the northern slopes of the Carpathians, a geographical feature it shares with the other V4 members. It also happens to be the United States’ most committed Central European ally as well as the region’s most populous country and most dynamic economy. Poland could therefore be pivotal in any divergence of the blocs from the European core and hamper Moscow’s national security designs.

23419  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: May 14-15: "Dog Brothers Tribal Gathering of the Pack" on: May 14, 2011, 12:06:04 AM
Why do dogs lick their balls?
Because they can.

How do you give a dog medicine?
Put it on his balls.

When does a dog give you a kiss?
Right after he has taken his medicine.
23420  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tea Party, Glen Beck and related matters on: May 14, 2011, 12:04:22 AM

I watched BG's show tonight; live audience of college students focused on representing Founding Father ideas in the hostile environment of universities of today.  Looks like GB will be doing a lot of work in this area.  Good call for him.

23421  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: May 14, 2011, 12:01:18 AM
GM, that's the sort of thing I was looking for; thank you.
23422  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / TUF on: May 13, 2011, 09:00:24 PM
Any comments on TUF?
23423  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: May 13, 2011, 08:55:19 PM
I was aware of the anti-Semitic stuff.  Got any convenient URLs on it and/or the race-tinged stuff?
23424  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Aurora Borealis on: May 13, 2011, 08:48:45 PM

Time-lapse video captures aurora borealis (2 minutes):

Timelapse Video of San Francisco-to-Paris Flight Captures Aurora Borealis
On a flight from SF to Paris, this guy set up his digital SLR camera on a tripod, attached a timelapse controller, and got spectacular footage of the aurora borealis...
23425  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ron Paul on: May 13, 2011, 07:43:29 PM
I confess to considerable sympathy for RP's willingness to get seriously radical with regard to the size and reach of our government in our lives, to abolish the Fed and restore responsible monetary policy, and for his respect for our Constitution.

OTOH sometimes he is just a fg nut,

I heard tonight on the Bret Baier report that he would not have approved the raid that killed OBL without prior approval from Pakistan.
23426  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: May 14-15: "Dog Brothers Tribal Gathering of the Pack" on: May 13, 2011, 05:09:38 PM
Pretty Kitty and I just came back from our favorite Chinese Massage place.  Only $20 per hour!!! -- and they are really good!!!  They soak your feet in hot tea while they start working on your head and then go from there. afro

They are open from 10:00-22:00 2219 Artesia Bl in Redondo Beach CA 90278  310-793-2308.   Just the thing for the night before fighting, between two days of fighting, and after two days of fighting , , , grin
23427  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Training Camp August 12-14 on: May 13, 2011, 05:05:09 PM
People seem to be responding well to the idea of a goodly portion of the time being spent on how to really hit people with sticks grin a.k.a. Dog Brothers Real Contact Stickfighting the DBMA way.

Right now I am focused on the DB Tribal, so further developments on this will have to wait until next week.
23428  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: May 13, 2011, 04:59:46 PM
GF is an unusually insightful guy IMHO but in this one he seems to let himself be guided by the assumption that Afg. is the issue , , ,
23429  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tea Party, Glen Beck and related matters on: May 13, 2011, 04:58:35 PM
So with a quickie blast of his mighty Google Fu, GM has huffed and puffed and blown down JDN and MMcC's glass house. rolleyes  I'm shocked, absolutely shocked. rolleyes
23430  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: May 13, 2011, 04:51:41 PM
Colin: With Taliban in Pakistan claiming responsibility for an attack that killed 80 people in a paramilitary academy in the country’s northwest frontier, the Pakistan question looms large in Washington. But despite the rhetoric from both the United States and Islamabad, it is likely to be business as usual.

Colin: Welcome to Agenda with George Friedman.

George: Well first let’s frame the basic picture. The Pakistanis need the United States to counterbalance India. The United States needs Pakistan to find some sort of solution in Afghanistan. This is not a relationship made of love it is a relationship made of interests. The United States, if it did not have the cooperation of Pakistan, would simply not be able to wage the war. First the supply line from Karachi to the Khyber Pass would be closed. We could find an alternative working with Russia perhaps, but that would cause a problem. There is another alternative on the Caspian but that won’t solve the entire problem. If Pakistan were to turn on us, our position in Afghanistan would become difficult. Plus whatever limited help the Pakistanis are giving the United States in dealing with Taliban strongholds in Pakistan itself would disappear.

First much of the wild talk about punishing Pakistan and so on fails to take into account the American position in Afghanistan. And secondly it fails to take into account that Pakistan is a country of 180 million people, not a country that you can easily punish. At the same time, the Pakistanis badly need the United States to balance India because the Pakistanis by themselves would be no match for the Indians, would be threatened and overwhelmed, and therefore they can’t simply reject American relations. For the past 10 years since 9/11, there’s been terrific tension between the two countries. The United States has wanted the Pakistanis to do things in support of the United States that the Pakistanis felt would lead to a possible breakdown in Pakistan because of civil tension between the various factions. A fine line has been walked. With the capture of Osama bin Laden and the assertion that the Pakistanis harbored him or didn’t effectively act against him, there is the temptation, particularly on the part of the Americans, to break with the Pakistanis. The problem is that’s not an option for the Americans so long as they remain in Afghanistan. They need whatever level of cooperation the Pakistanis are going to give and that’s really where it stands in the midst of all of the hubbub and charges and senators demanding investigations and cutoffs of aid. We simply need the supply lines. We need what ever support the Pakistanis are prepared to give or we’re going to have to think about how to leave Afghanistan.

Colin: Is it your view as some suggest that the recent events in the United States can now leave Afghanistan earlier?

George: Well it depends very much on how the United States positions the death of Osama bin Laden. If it makes the claim that with this death of Osama bin Laden the threat of terrorism emanating from Afghanistan has diminished to the point that mission has been accomplished, then it can make the claim that it has to leave. And the problem there is of course that the threat of terrorism isn’t so much emanating from Afghanistan; it’s emanating from Pakistan. The U.S. presence in Afghanistan is only minimally affecting the struggle against terrorism. Certainly if the United States left, al Qaeda would move back into Afghanistan but by definition al Qaeda is going to be operating where ever the United States isn’t. This is a guerrilla war on a global level. In that sense guerrillas constantly decline combat where the conventional force is overwhelming and move to areas where the conventional force is weak. On a global level where ever the United States isn’t, is where al Qaeda is going to be. The United States can’t be in Pakistan. The ability to overwhelm Pakistan, it is an enormous country in terms of population - it is just beyond reach of the number of troops in Americans have - and therefore the argument that Osama bin Laden’s death changes something dramatically is probably dubious but as a political claim may be persuasive and may allow the administration to begin to consider withdrawal with a claim of some sort of victory.

Colin: George we’ve seen a visit by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Afghanistan. Is that relevant to all this or is it a sideshow?

George: It’s not a sideshow but it’s not really relevant because in the end, India is geopolitically not in the position to insert large numbers of troops in Afghanistan and therefore can’t support the Karzai government. The map simply makes it almost impossible for the Indians to do that and so the Indians are fishing in muddy waters. They’re trying to shore up Karzai’s spirits. They’re trying to signal the Pakistanis. But again, all of this diplomatic signaling back and forth ignores geopolitical reality. The Indians cannot insert and support a significant military force in Afghanistan. They’re not an alternative to the United States. Their commitment to Afghanistan really doesn’t make that much of a difference. Sometimes diplomatic gestures mean something and sometimes they simply don’t. In this particular case I think the Indians would like it to be able to mean something but it doesn’t.

Colin: George thanks very much indeed. George Friedman there, ending Agenda. I’m Colin Chapman. Thanks for your time today.

23431  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CNN host also advises the President on: May 13, 2011, 04:49:20 PM
Any conflict of interest there?  Nah , , ,  otherwise the Pravdas would be all over it-- but they are not so there mustn't be , , , rolleyes
23432  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Spengler: Excrement approaching fan , , , on: May 13, 2011, 04:31:27 PM
Another entry today for Egypt.  This one seems rather significant , , ,

 The hunger to come in Egypt
By Spengler

Egypt is running out of food, and, more gradually, running out of money with which to buy it. The most populous country in the Arab world shows all the symptoms of national bankruptcy - the kind that produced hyperinflation in several Latin American countries during the 1970s and 1980s - with a deadly difference: Egypt imports half its wheat, and the collapse of its external credit means starvation.

The civil violence we have seen over the past few days foreshadows far worse to come.

The Arab uprisings began against a background of food insecurity, as rising demand from Asia priced the Arab poor out of the grain   
market (Food and failed Arab states, Asia Times Online February 2, 2011). The chaotic political response, though, threatens to disrupt food supplies in the relative near term. Street violence will become the norm rather than the exception in Egyptian politics. All the discussion about Egypt's future political model and its prospective relations with Israel will be overshadowed by the country's inability to feed itself.

Egypt's political problems - violence against Coptic Christians, the resurgence of Islamism, and saber-rattling at Israel, for example - are not symptoms of economic failure. They have a life of their own. But even Islamists have to eat, and whatever political scenarios that the radical wing of Egyptian politic might envision will be aborted by hunger.

The Ministry of Solidarity and Social Justice is already forming "revolutionary committees" to mete out street justice to bakeries, propane dealers and street vendors who "charge more than the price prescribed by law", the Federation of Egyptian Radio and Television reported on May 3.

According to the ministry, "Thugs are in control of bread and butane prices" and "people's committees" are required to stop them. Posters on Egyptian news sites report sharp increases in bread prices, far in excess of the 11.5% inflation reported for April by the country's central bank. And increases in the price of bottled propane have made the cost of the most widely used cooking fuel prohibitive.

The collapse of Egypt's credit standing, meanwhile, has shut down trade financing for food imports, according to the chairman of the country's Food Industry Holding Company, Dr Ahmed al-Rakaibi, chairman of the Holding Company for Food Industries. Rakaibi warned of "an acute shortage in the production of food commodities manufactured locally, as well as a decline in imports of many goods, especially poultry, meats and oils". According to the country's statistics agency, only a month's supply of rice is on hand, and four months' supply of wheat.

The country's foreign exchange reserves have fallen by US$13 billion, or roughly a third during the first three months of the year, Reuters reported on May 5. The country lost $6 billion of official and $7 billion of unofficial reserves, and had only $24.5 billion on hand at the end of April. Capital flight probably explains most of the rapid decline. Egypt's currency has declined by only about 6% since January, despite substantial capital flight, due to market intervention by the central bank, but the rapid drawdown of reserves is unsustainable.

At this rate Egypt will be broke by September.

Egypt imported $55 billion worth of goods in 2009, but exported only $29 billion of goods. With the jump in food and energy prices, the same volume of imports would cost considerably more. Egypt closed the 2009 trade gap with about $15 billion in tourist revenues, and about $8 billion of remittances from Egyptian workers abroad. But tourism today is running at a fraction of last year's levels, and remittances are down by around half due to expulsion of Egyptian workers from Libya. Even without capital flight, Egypt is short perhaps $25 billion a year.

Source: Yahoo

Egyptian Stock Market Index (EGX 30)

Source: Bloomberg

Price controls and currency depreciation have made it more profitable for wholesalers - including some employees of state companies - to export rice and cooking oil illegally. According to the daily al-Ahram, hoarding of rice by wholesalers has pushed up the price of the grain by 35% this year, while 200 containers per day are sold to Turkey and Syria.

"What is happening," the newspaper claims, is that that traders are storing basic items such as rice and barley, hoarded in barns and in large quantities, and are reluctant to send it to the rice mills in order to raise the price of this strategic commodity". The al-Ahram report, headlined, "Conspiracy to Monopolize Rice," demands physical inspection of containers leaving Egyptian ports.
The rest of the story is predictable. Once the government relies on young men with guns to police its merchants, hoarding will only get worse. The Egyptian revolution has cracked down on the commercial elite that ran the country's economy for the past 60 years, and the elite will find ways to transfer as much of its wealth to safety as it can. The normal chain of distribution will break down and "revolutionary committees" will take control of increasingly scarce supplies. Farmers won't get fuel and fertilizer, and domestic supplies will fail.

The Egyptian government will go to the International Monetary Fund and other aid agencies for loans - the government reportedly will ask for $7 billion to tide things over - and foreign money at best will buy a few months' respite. The currency will collapse; the government will print IOUs to tide things over; and the Egyptian street will reject the IOUs as the country reverts to barter.

It will look like the Latin American banana republics, but without the bananas. That is not meant in jest: few people actually starved to death in the Latin inflations. Egypt, which imports half its wheat and a great deal of the rest of its food, will actually starve.

Revolutions don't only kill their children. They kill a great many ordinary people. The 1921 famine after the Russian civil war killed an estimated five million people, and casualties on the same scale are quite possible in Egypt as well. Half of Egyptians live on $2 a day, and that $2 is about to collapse along with the national currency, and the result will be a catastrophe of, well, biblical proportions.

Spengler is channeled by David P Goldman. Comment on this article in Spengler's Expat Bar forum.

(Copyright 2011 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)
23433  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury on CPI: Inflation is here on: May 13, 2011, 11:14:42 AM
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 0.4% in April To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 5/13/2011

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 0.4% in April, matching consensus expectations. The CPI is up 3.2% versus a year ago.

“Cash” inflation (which excludes the government’s estimate of what homeowners would charge themselves for rent) was up 0.5% in April and is up 3.8% in the past year.
About half of the increase in the CPI in April was due to energy, which rose 2.2%.  Food prices were up 0.4%.  Excluding food and energy, the “core” CPI increased 0.2%, matching consensus expectations. Core prices are up 1.3% versus last year.
Real average hourly earnings – the cash earnings of all employees, adjusted for inflation – fell 0.3% in April and are down 1.2% in the past year. Real weekly earnings are down 0.6% in the past year.
Implications:  The price inflation that has been evident at the producer level for some time has clearly made its way to the consumer. The CPI is up 3.2% in the past year and is accelerating. In the past six months, the CPI is up at a 5.1% annual rate and an even stronger 6.2% rate in the past three months. We like to follow “cash inflation,” which is everything in the CPI (including food and energy) but without owners’ equivalent rent (the government’s estimate of what homeowners would pay if they rented their own homes). Cash inflation increased 0.5% in April and is up at a 7.8% annual rate in the past three months. While these increases have been led by energy, which is up at a 42.8% annual rate in the past three months, the “core” CPI (which excludes food and energy) is also accelerating. Core prices are up only 1.3% versus a year ago, but up at a 2.1% annual rate in the past three months. Rising inflation is a concern now, but we fully expect the Federal Reserve to continue to justify keeping short-term interest rates near zero – through around the middle of next year – by saying that it’s “transitory.”
23434  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / It seems that there will not be an EMT this time. on: May 13, 2011, 11:13:00 AM
Woof All:

In recent years we have rather consistently had an EMT at the Gatherings, notably our own Kaju Dog.   Due to personal matters beyond his control he will not be able to make it.  Our possible back-up, Frankfurter has unexpectedly been hit with work committments and he too will not be able to make it.

Bottom line: no EMT. 

To the best of my knowledge, the nearest hospital is "Little Company of Mary" on Torrance Ave/BL in Torrance.  This is a very good hospital.  You should take a moment to find where it is and have directions so that if you are injured someone can take you there.  My guess is about 12-15 minutes driving time. Also, there is an "Urgent Care" on Pacific Coast Highway in Redondo Beach called "Ocean Medical".  My guess is about 8 minutes driving time.

As always, only you are responsible for you, so protect yourself at all times.
23435  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Where oh where , , , on: May 13, 2011, 11:05:19 AM
If you are not familiar with where we used to hold the Gatherings, please go to and enter my old address

505 4th St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.

Please try to arrive by 09:45 so we can leave for the actual location at 10:00.
23436  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Egypt on: May 13, 2011, 10:23:20 AM
23437  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tea Party, Glen Beck and related matters on: May 13, 2011, 10:22:35 AM
Well, not having heard/seen GB's comments in context or otherwise, or seen Meghan McCain in the dress in question, I see no particular reason to take a side here-- though I do note that GB can be pretty hard (in a humorous way) on his own appearance so her comments about him in this regard are , , , hard for me to follow. 

Bottom line, whatever.  I watch the show most days and I know what I see and hear and I read and hear how others describe what I see and hear.
23438  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / POTH: Disaster Plan problems found on: May 13, 2011, 08:40:58 AM
Disaster Plan Problems Found at U.S. Nuclear Plants
Published: May 12, 2011
ROCKVILLE, Md. — Despite repeated assurances that American nuclear plants are better equipped to deal with natural disasters than their counterparts in Japan, regulators said Thursday that recent inspections had found serious problems with some emergency equipment that would have made it unusable in an accident.

N.R.C. employees said the agency had insufficiently weighed two factors found in the crisis at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant.

In addition, the staff of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission acknowledged that the agency’s current regulations and disaster plans did not give enough consideration to two factors that had greatly contributed to the continuing Fukushima Daiichi crisis in Japan: simultaneous problems at more than one reactor and a natural disaster that disrupts roads, electricity and other infrastructure surrounding a plant.

The briefing was part of a review requested by the commissioners to evaluate the vulnerability of American reactors to severe natural disasters like the ones that hit the Japanese plant in March.

Marty Virgilio, the deputy executive director of the agency, told the five commissioners that inspectors checked a sample of equipment at all 104 reactors and found problems at less than a third of them. The problems included pumps that would not start or, if they did, did not put out the required amount of water; equipment that was supposed to be set aside for emergencies but was being used in other parts of the plants; emergency equipment that would be needed in case of flood stored in places that could be flooded; and insufficient diesel on hand to run backup systems.

Many of the emergency systems were put in place after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Officials said the problems that had been found were addressed immediately but not everything had been inspected. Mr. Virgilio said he expected to have a fuller picture soon.

He said an entire category of new procedures, called “severe accident mitigation guidelines,” had been adopted voluntarily by the nuclear industry and thus was not subject to commission rules.

R. William Borchardt, the commission’s chief staff official, said some of the preparations for severe accidents “don’t have the same kind of regulatory pedigree” as the equipment in the original plant design.

The two-hour briefing given to the five-member commission was an early assessment, 30 days into a 90-day review being conducted by an N.R.C. task force.

Charlie Miller, the staff member leading the effort, said the staff was considering “enhancements” to its disaster plans and procedures. But as laid out by the staff, some of the changes under consideration could be far-reaching.

For example, the N.R.C. now looks at how well a plant’s design can handle a problem at just one reactor, even if there is more than one reactor at the site.

“You have to take a step back and consider what would happen if you had multiple units affected by some ‘beyond design basis’ events,” Mr. Miller said.

Another problem, staff members acknowledged, is that they have never paid much attention to the issues posed by handling an emergency when there is widespread damage to surrounding roads, power systems and communications links. In the past, the commission has explicitly rejected the notion that it should consider such combined events when reviewing a plant’s safety preparations.

Simultaneous with the commission’s meeting, Representative Edward J. Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, released a report arguing that a variety of other shortcomings existed at nuclear plants, including the frequent failure of emergency diesel generators, which are essential to plant safety if the power grid goes down. He also criticized the commission for not requiring plants to have a backup power source for spent fuel pools while the reactor is shut for maintenance or refueling.

The Fukushima accident has cast new attention on spent fuel pools; the reason the United States government recommended that Americans stay 50 miles from the plant was damage to the spent fuel pool of Fukushima’s Unit 4, a reactor that was shut down before the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Mr. Markey pointed out that in the last eight years, the commission had received 69 reports of inoperable diesel generators at 33 plants, with six of those generators out for more than a month. The diesels provide power for water pumps that allow removal of “decay heat,” the heat that fuel generates even after a reactor shuts down. The Fukushima plants shut down successfully but decay heat wrecked their cores.

The N.R.C. said it was aware of the reports. But on Wednesday, attention was called to that problem by the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations, an industry group formed after the Three Mile Island accident in 1979 to provide peer-to-peer safety reviews. That group said one of the few safety measures that was getting worse was the reliability of diesel generators.

Mr. Markey also complained that the commission had allowed some plant operators to remove equipment that eliminates hydrogen produced by overheating fuel. In addition, there is no requirement for equipment to remove hydrogen in the rooms where spent fuel is stored; the building surrounding Fukushima Unit 4 was destroyed by the explosion of hydrogen that came from the spent fuel pool.

Commission officials said they were reviewing their previous decision to permit very heavy loading of the spent fuel pools. Thinning them out would reduce the amount of heat production that had to be dealt with in case of a severe accident, they said.
23439  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Syria on: May 13, 2011, 08:18:48 AM
Second post of the morning

Hearty salutations and reassurances from Damascus. After killing more than 600 (and counting) and arresting and injuring thousands more in a seven week crackdown, the Syrian regime wants you to know that it thinks it has the upper hand over protestors. And Bashar Assad appreciates the support and understanding in these trying times from so many in the Arab world, Europe and the U.S.

That's the word this week from Syrian President Bashar Assad's adviser Bouthaina Shaaban, who called in the New York Times man in Beirut for a security update. It's all under control now, she said, and the world can relax. "I hope we are witnessing the end of the story. I think now we've passed the most dangerous moment."

The regime's confidence is playing out in towns like Homs, where reports filtering out via Facebook and smuggled phones tell of indiscriminate artillery shelling of entire civilian neighborhoods. Mass arrests are common and intensified this week. Human rights groups estimate that more than 10,000 people have been detained.

A correspondent for the Times of London, Martin Fletcher, who snuck into Syria on a tourist visa last week, reported that he found "scores of young men" held at secret detention centers in Homs. "It was quite obvious that . . . the regime had been arresting almost every young man of fighting age that they could find on the streets of Homs."

A French journalist spent 23 days inside Assad's jail and tells a harrowing story about his ordeal. He was beaten in the first few days, but "the psychological torture was hearing the screams of all the other detainees," said Khaled Sid Mohand, who reported for Le Monde daily and France Culture radio from Syria before his arrest. "Any time they would take a detainee from his cell you would hear him scream like hell. Sometimes for 15 minutes, sometimes as long as an hour."

And the world's reaction? The U.N. Security Council couldn't muster the courage to put out a press release. Iran, Russia, China, India and the Arab states all have President Assad's back. Six weeks into the crackdown, the U.S. did impose financial sanctions on three top Syrian officials, the intelligence agency and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The European Union followed by freezing the assets and putting a travel ban on 13 officials.

Statements have also been issued. "There may be some who think that this is a sign of strength but treating one's own people in this way is in fact a sign of remarkable weakness," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday in Greenland.

But neither the U.S. nor the EU put President Assad on the sanctions list or travel ban. President Obama didn't call for him to step down or even pull the U.S. Ambassador from Damascus. In an interview with the Atlantic website published Wednesday, Mrs. Clinton elaborated on the U.S. approach to the Syrian dictator: "What we have tried to do with him is to give him an alternative vision of himself and Syria's future."

In other words, America thinks Bashar Assad may still reform, cut ties with Iran, seek peace with Israel and therefore deserves to be treated like a potential friend of the U.S.—notwithstanding the brutality of the last two months.

Damascus certainly appreciates the forbearance, and it looks forward to normal relations once all this unpleasantness passes. The comments by U.S. officials were "not too bad," Ms. Shaaban told the Times. "Once security is back, everything can be arranged. We're not going to live in this crisis forever."

23440  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on Romney and Romneycare on: May 13, 2011, 08:15:51 AM
F. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote that "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function." If we may judge by his health-care speech at the University of Michigan yesterday, Mitt Romney is a very smart man.

The likely Republican Presidential candidate fulfilled the White House's fondest wishes, defending the mandate-subsidize-overregulate program he enacted as Massachusetts Governor in 2006 even as he denounced President Obama's national reprise. He then proposed his own U.S. reform that is sensible and might do so some actual good, but which also runs against the other two plans. These are unbridgeable policy and philosophical differences, though Mr. Romney is nonetheless trying to leap over them like Evel Knievel heading for the Snake River Canyon.

.Mr. Romney says that Massachusetts was "a state solution to a state problem" and that the other laboratories of democracy should also be allowed to run their own experiments free of ObamaCare's controls. But if Massachusetts is the triumph that Mr. Romney claimed yesterday, well, what's the problem with Washington exporting the same successful model? If an individual mandate to purchase health insurance was indispensable in the Bay State, as Mr. Romney argued, why isn't it necessary in every other state too?

The former Governor outlined a national approach like the one he ran on in 2008. Its core virtue is that it would equalize the tax treatment of health insurance, ending the destructive federal bias for employer-provided insurance over the individual market and encouraging a consumer market for competitive insurance and more efficient medicine. Health economists across the political spectrum have recognized this distortion for decades.

Mr. Romney also tried to draw a contrast between his new campaign plan and Mr. Obama's reform, saying, for instance, that it would create no new health-care bureaucracies. He neglected to mention that his state plan did precisely that. Mr. Romney's political appointees converted the architecture of the "connector" that was supposed to support individual and small-business insurance choice into a regulatory body dedicated to stamping it out.

The political tragedy is that Mr. Romney could have emerged as one of ObamaCare's most potent critics had he made different choices two years ago amid one of the country's most consequential debates in generations. He might have said that as Governor he made a good-faith effort to resolve some of health care's long-running dysfunctions, but that it hadn't worked out and that's why state experiments are valuable.

Mr. Romney also sold his plan using the same theories and language as Mr. Obama, and he might have rebutted the President from experience and evidence. Instead, he has lashed himself to the contradiction of attacking Mr. Obama's plan while claiming his own is different.

Many people have tried to talk Mr. Romney down from this daredevil campaign act, but Mr. Romney privately says he doesn't want to reinforce the rap he had in 2008 that he had reinvented himself too often. As a political matter, however, we think it's better to change positions than to try to defend the intellectually indefensible.

Mr. Romney is not taking our advice, as his nearby letter shows. He even said yesterday that he would do it all over again in Massachusetts, which means he is in for a year in which Republicans attack him on policy while Democrats defend him on policy but attack him as a hypocrite. Who knows what GOP voters will make of all this, but we won't be surprised if Mr. Romney's campaign suffers as many broken bones (433) as Knievel.

23441  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Crime Wave on: May 13, 2011, 08:12:44 AM
Coptic Christians, left, and Muslims threw stones at each other during clashes in Cairo last weekend.
Sidebar comment:  My readings elsewhere leave me with the thought that the apparent neutrality here on Muslim-Coptic fighting is an example of Pravda on the Hudson's politics getting in the way of the Truth.

Published: May 12, 2011
CAIRO — The neighbors watched helplessly from behind locked gates as an exchange of gunfire rang out at the police station. Then about 80 prisoners burst through the station’s doors — some clad only in underwear, many brandishing guns, machetes, even a fire extinguisher — as the police fled.

“The police are afraid,” said Mohamed Ismail, 30, a witness. “I am afraid to leave my neighborhood.”
Three months after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, a crime wave in Egypt has emerged as a threat to its promised transition to democracy. Businessmen, politicians and human rights activists say they fear that the mounting disorder — from sectarian strife to soccer riots — is hampering a desperately needed economic recovery or, worse, inviting a new authoritarian crackdown.

At least five attempted jailbreaks have been reported in Cairo in the past two weeks, at least three of them successful. Other attempts take place “every day,” a senior Interior Ministry official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk publicly.

Newspapers brim with other episodes: the Muslim-Christian riot that raged last weekend with the police on the scene, leaving 12 dead and two churches in flames; a kidnapping for ransom of a grandniece of President Anwar el-Sadat; soccer fans who crashed a field and mauled an opposing team as the police disappeared; a mob attack in an upscale suburb, Maadi, that hospitalized a traffic police officer; and the abduction of another officer by Bedouin tribes in the Sinai.

“Things are actually going from bad to worse,” said Mohamed ElBaradei, the former international atomic energy official, now a presidential candidate. “Where have the police and military gone?”

The answer, in part, is the revolution’s legacy. Public fury at police abuses helped set off the protests, which destroyed many police stations. Now police officers who knew only swagger and brute force are demoralized.

In an effort to restore confidence after the sectarian riot last weekend, the military council governing the country until elections scheduled for September announced that 190 people involved would be sent to military court, alarming a coalition of human rights advocates.

After an emergency cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf reiterated a pledge he made before the riots: The government backed the police in using all legal procedures, “including the use of force,” to defend themselves, their police stations, or places of worship.

It was an extraordinary statement for a prime minister, in part because the police were already expected to do just that. “This may be the first time a government ever had to say that it was fully supporting its police,” said Bahey el-din Hassan, director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies. “It is an indication of the seriousness of the problem.”

Many Egyptians, including at least one former police officer, contend that the police learned only one way to fight crime: brutality and torture.

Now police officers see their former leader, Interior Minister Habib el-Adly, serving a 12-year prison term for corruption and facing another trial for charges of unlawful killing. Scores of officers are in jail for their role in repressing the protests.

“They treated people like pests, so imagine when these pests now rise up, challenge them and humiliate them,” said Mahmoud Qutri, a former police officer who wrote a book criticizing the force. “They feel broken.”

Mr. Hassan, who has spent his career criticizing the police, said he sympathized. Police officers who defended their stations from protesters are in jail, while those who went home to bed are not facing any trial, he said.

“So the police are asking, ‘What is expected of us?’ It is a very logical question, and the problem is they don’t have an answer,” he said, blaming higher authorities.

Shopkeepers say the police used to demand goods for just half the price. Now, said Mr. Ismail, the witness to the police station jailbreak, the officers who visit his cellphone shop murmur “please” and pay full price. “The tables have turned,” he said.

The change in public attitudes is equally stunning, said Hisham A. Fahmy, chief executive of the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt. “It’s: ‘Talk to me properly! I am a citizen!’ ”

The spike in crime is a remarkable contrast to life in the Mubarak police state, when violent street crime was a relative rarity and few feared to walk alone at night. “Now it is like New York,” said Mr. Fahmy, adding that his group, which advocates for international companies, had been urging military leaders to respond more vigorously.


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At a soccer match pitting a Cairo team against a Tunisian team, police officers ringed the field until a referee made a call against an Egyptian goalie. Then the officers seemed to vanish as a mob of fans assaulted the referee and the visiting team. Five players were injured, two of them hospitalized, and the referee fled.

“When the violence erupted, the police just disappeared,” said Mourad Teyeb, a Tunisian journalist who covered the game. The one policeman he found told him, “I don’t care, I don’t assume any responsibility,” Mr. Teyeb said, adding that he feared for his life and hid in the Egyptian team’s dressing room.
Some see a conspiracy. “I think it is deliberate,” said Dr. Shady al-Ghazaly Harb, an organizer of the Tahrir Square protests, contending that officials were pulling back to invite chaos and a crackdown. “I think there are bigger masterminds at work.”

Interior Ministry officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the security situation, said the destruction of police stations had contributed to the disorder. The remaining stations are overcrowded with prisoners from other facilities. Of the 80 escapees from the police station, 60 have been recaptured, an officer said.

Mansour el-Essawy, the new interior minister, has called the lawlessness an inevitable legacy of the revolution. Of the 24,000 prisoners who escaped during the revolution, 8,400 are still on the run, and 6,600 weapons stolen from government armories have not been recovered, he said in an interview with an Egyptian newspaper, Al Masry Al Youm.

After the revolution, he said, the police justifiably complained of working 16-hour shifts for low pay. Bribery customarily made up for the low wages, critics say. So the ministry cut back the officers’ hours, and as a result also cut the number on duty at any time. And the sudden loss of prestige made it harder to recruit. “People are not stepping forward to join the police,” he complained.
23442  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Laffer on: May 13, 2011, 08:05:22 AM
The Obama administration's National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint last month against Boeing to block production of the company's 787 Dreamliner at a new assembly plant in South Carolina—a "right to-work" state with a law against compulsory union membership. If the NLRB has its way, Dreamliner assembly will return to Washington, a union-shop state, along with more than 1,000 jobs.

The NLRB's action, which Boeing will challenge at a hearing next month, is a big deal. It's the first time a federal agency has intervened to tell an American company where it can and cannot operate a plant within the U.S. It lays the foundation of a regulatory wall with one express purpose: to prevent the direct competition of right-to-work states with union-shop states. Why, as South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley recently asked on these pages, should Washington have any more right to these jobs than South Carolina?

A recent New York Times editorial justified the NLRB decision by arguing that unions are suffering from "the flight of companies to 'Right-to-Work' states where workers cannot be required to join a union." That's for sure, and quite an admission. We've been observing that migration pattern for years, but liberals have denied it's actually happening—until now.

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David Klein
 .Every year we rank the states on their economic competitiveness in a report called "Rich States, Poor States" for the American Legislative Exchange Council. This ranking uses 15 fiscal, tax and regulatory variables to determine which states have policies that are most conducive to prosperity. Two of these 15 policies have consistently stood out as the most important in predicting where jobs will be created and incomes will rise. First, states with no income tax generally outperform high income tax states. Second, states that have right-to-work laws grow faster than states with forced unionism.

As of today there are 22 right-to-work states and 28 union-shop states. Over the past decade (2000-09) the right-to-work states grew faster in nearly every respect than their union-shop counterparts: 54.6% versus 41.1% in gross state product, 53.3% versus 40.6% in personal income, 11.9% versus 6.1% in population, and 4.1% versus -0.6% in payrolls.

For years, unions argued that right-to-work laws were bad for workers and for the states that passed them. But with the NLRB complaint, they've essentially thrown in the towel. If forced unionism is better for the economy of a state, why would the NLRB need to intervene to keep Boeing from leaving Washington? Why aren't businesses and workers moving operations to heavily unionized places like Michigan, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania and fleeing states like Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina and Texas?

In reality, the stampede of businesses from forced-union states like Washington has accelerated in recent years. A 2010 study in the Cato Journal by economist Richard Vedder of Ohio University found that between 2000 and 2008 4.8 million Americans moved from forced-union states to right-to-work states. That's one person every minute of every day.

Right-to-work states are also getting richer over time. Prof. Vedder found a 23% higher per capita income growth rate in right-to-work states than in forced-union states, which over the period 1977-2007 amounted to a $2,760 larger increase in per-person income in those states. That's a giant differential.

So now the unions concede that this migration is indeed happening, but they say that it is unhealthy and undesirable because workers in right-to-work states are paid less and get worse benefits than the workers in union states. Actually, when adjusting for the cost of living in each state and the fact that right-to-work states were poorer to begin with, a 2003 study in the Journal of Labor Research by University of Oklahoma economist Robert Reed found that wages rose faster in states that don't require union membership.

Employers that move away from forced-union states mainly do so not to scale back wages and salaries—although sometimes that happens—but to avoid having to deal with intrusive union rules, the threat of costly work stoppages, lawsuits, worker paychecks going to union fat cats, and so on.

Boeing officials have admitted that their decision to build the new Dreamliner plant in South Carolina was due in part to the fact that the company could not "afford a work stoppage every three years" as had happened in Washington state over that past decade. (By the way, this is the comment the NLRB complaint cites as proof of "retaliation" against union workers.)

Boeing is merely making a business decision based on economic reality. In fact, the company chose South Carolina for the new plant even though Washington has no income tax and South Carolina does. The two of us are often accused of arguing that income tax rates are the only factors that influence where businesses and capital relocate. Taxes certainly matter. But Boeing's move shows that taxes are not always the definitive factor in plant location decisions. In the case of Washington the advantage of its no income tax status is outweighed by its forced-union status. Lucky are the six states—Texas, Tennessee, South Dakota, Nevada, Florida and Wyoming—that are both right-to-work states and have no income tax.

While there are only six right-to-work states that also have a zero earned income tax rate and three zero earned income tax rate states that have forced- union shops, their performance differences over the past decade (2000-09) are revealing. Of the nine zero income tax rate states, those six that are also right-to-work have grown a lot faster than the three with forced-union shops: 64.9% versus 53.8% in gross state product, 59.0% versus 46.8% in personal income, 15.5% versus 10.3% in population and 8.2% versus 6.9% in payrolls.

The Boeing incident makes it clear that right-to-work states have a competitive advantage over forced-union states. So the question arises: Why doesn't every state adopt right-to-work laws? Four or five are trying to do so this year, and have faced ferocious opposition from the union movement.

But that shouldn't stop state legislators in forced-union states from doing what's in their workers' best interests. They need to decide whether they want to continue to see jobs and tax receipts exit their states, or whether they want to adopt laws that afford their workers the right to join a union or not. The only alternative is to build a regulatory Berlin Wall around their borders to keep their businesses from leaving.

Mr. Laffer is the chairman of Laffer Associates. Mr. Moore is senior economics writer for the Journal's editorial page. They are co-authors of "Return to Prosperity: How America Can Regain Its Economic Superpower Status" (Threshold, 2010).

23443  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington, First Inaugural Address 1789 on: May 13, 2011, 07:43:51 AM
"The foundations of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality, and the preeminence of free government be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its citizens, and command the respect of the world." --George Washington, First Inaugural Address, 1789
23444  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: GCC broadens on: May 13, 2011, 07:20:57 AM
The Broadening of the Gulf Cooperation Council

It is rare that events in small countries like Jordan and Morocco warrant a diary. This week, that happened. The leaders of both countries welcomed the decision by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) — a bloc of Persian Gulf Arab states — to allow Rabat and Amman’s accession into the Saudi-led GCC.

Since 1981, the GCC has been a forum for six Arab states — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman. Apart from the fact that they are all located on the Arabian Peninsula’s east coast hugging the Persian Gulf, these states share commonalities, such as being wealthy (mostly thanks to their petroleum reserves) and under the rule of hereditary monarchies.

Why would such an exclusive bloc of countries want to include others, such as Jordan and Morocco? After all, both are relatively poor countries and are not located in the Persian Gulf region. Jordan is on the crossroads of Mesopotamia and the Levant. Morocco is the farthest Arab outpost on the western end of North Africa where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic.

“The GCC seeks to expand its footprint in the Arab world at a time when the region is in unprecedented turmoil.”
The answer is in the timing. The GCC seeks to expand its footprint in the Arab world at a time when the region is in unprecedented turmoil, as regimes are forced to adjust to the demand for democracy. A wave of popular unrest has swept across the Arab world, threatening decades-old autocratic structures. Not only is this turmoil forcing domestic political change, it is also leaving the Arab countries vulnerable to an increasingly assertive Iran.

As a result, the Saudi kingdom and its smaller GCC allies have been working hard to contain uprisings in their immediate vicinity — in Bahrain and Yemen — in the hopes that they themselves will remain largely immune. Meanwhile, the GCC states continue to have internal differences, especially regarding Iran. The most visible example of these differences is illustrated by Qatar, which has long tried to emerge as a player in Arab geopolitics and acts unilaterally on many issues.

That said, the GCC’s move to finally open up membership to other countries in the Arab world underscores that the bloc and its main driver, Riyadh, want to assume leadership of the region. With the GCC trying to emerge onto the regional scene, it raises the question of what will happen to the Arab League, which, despite its dysfunctional status thus far, remains the main pan-Arab forum.

The GCC has always been a subset of the 22-member Arab League, which includes all Arab states. Yet, the Arab League has long been dominated by Egypt. For the longest time, both the Arab League and the GCC have been able to coexist given that they had separate domains. But as the GCC expands its scope, the Arab League question presents itself.

One reason for the GCC’s attempts at expansion is the evolutionary process under way in Egypt. In the post-Mubarak era of multiparty politics, Cairo’s behavior could become less predictable. At the very least, the country’s military-controlled provisional authorities have demonstrated that they want to see their country revive itself as a regional player, illustrated in moves toward greater engagement with Hamas and efforts to re-establish relations with Iran.

Egypt is therefore unlikely to accept life under the growing influence of the GCC states. In other words, we may see another intra-Arab fault line emerge. While the Arabs struggle among themselves, Iran has been working on its regional security alliance, especially with Iraq in its orbit. Thus, the GCC effort to enhance its regional standing, in an effort to deal with a rising Iran, will run into a number of challenges, while also running the risk of self-dilution.

23445  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Here's the man who did the deed on: May 13, 2011, 12:23:29 AM
23446  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: May 12, 2011, 10:32:58 PM
It was the Jews from the bagel shop no doubt , , ,
23447  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Matanza de policia por cuchillo en Nicaragua on: May 12, 2011, 08:08:25 PM
23448  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: May 14-15: "Dog Brothers Tribal Gathering of the Pack" on: May 12, 2011, 03:30:00 PM
@Pappy- you have email.

@all:  If you are fighting, send me an email asking for the map.    Also happening will be meeting at the usual place and caravanning from there.

23449  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: Inflation really starting to roar on: May 12, 2011, 11:48:35 AM
The Producer Price Index (PPI) increased 0.8% in April To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 5/12/2011

The Producer Price Index (PPI) increased 0.8% in April, beating the consensus expected rise of 0.6%.  Producer prices are up 6.8% versus a year ago.

The April gain in the PPI was led by energy, which increased 2.5%. Food prices rose 0.3%. The “core” PPI, which excludes food and energy, increased 0.3%, higher than the consensus expected rise of 0.2%.
Consumer goods prices rose 0.9% in April and are up 8.7% versus last year.  Capital equipment prices were up 0.3% in April and are up 1.3% in the past year.
Core intermediate goods prices increased 1.1% in April and are up 5.6% versus a year ago.  Core crude prices rose 2.6% in April and are up 18.2% in the past twelve months.
Implications: Declining oil prices may temporarily tame producer price inflation in May, but, through April, inflation was roaring. Prices are up 6.8% in the past year and accelerating. In the past six months producer prices are up at an 11.5% annual rate; in the past three months they’re up at a 13.1% rate. Most of the gain in April was due to energy. But, while the Federal Reserve can still claim core inflation is low for consumers, core producer prices are accelerating, up 0.3% in April and up at a 3.2% annual rate in the past three months. Further up the production pipeline, core intermediate prices increased 1.1% in April and are up at a 13.1% annual pace in the past three months; core crude prices bounced back in April increasing 2.6%, and are up at a 10.5% rate in the past three months. Based on these inflation signals and the current state of the economy, the Fed’s monetary policy is way too loose, even if headline inflation takes a breather in May due to the drop in oil prices. In other news this morning, new claims for unemployment insurance fell 44,000 last week to 434,000.  This is very close to the four-week moving average of 437,000.  Continuing claims for regular state benefits increased 5,000 to 3.76 million.  Claims have been roiled of late by early auto shutdowns related to the disasters in Japan as well as a brutal tornado season in much of the Midwest and South.  We expect claims to generally decline over the next several weeks.
23450  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Alexander: Sunset or Sunrise on: May 12, 2011, 11:23:31 AM
Sunset or Sunrise on Liberty?
The Current Crisis and the Opportunity of a New Dawn for Liberty
"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman." --Thomas Payne

Sunrise on LibertyA few decades ago, one of the national service opportunities I pursued required a battery of examinations including a comprehensive personality profile. After three days of psychological tests, a career profiler compiled my assessment. In a later interview with said profiler, he looked at me and declared with candor, "You are crazy!"

That decree got no rise out of me. I have received that appraisal numerous times, but he did put a fresh perspective on it. He continued, "Not crazy in the pathological sense, but crazy in that you are one of very few people I have profiled who actually thrives in the midst of crisis and conflict." Apparently, most "normal people" try to avoid crisis and conflict. He labeled my folder, "Warrior."

In light of my penchant for what Sam Adams called "the animated contest for freedom," I offer the following opinion about the future of American Liberty.

On occasion I have been critical of Barack Hussein Obama, a phony "community organizer" con man, who, with the help of his Leftist puppeteers, masterfully duped 69 million Americans into giving him the most expensive public housing and benefits in the nation.

I am most critical of this charlatan's political endeavor to demolish free enterprise with a debt bomb, and from the economic rubble, resurrect a transformed USSA subject to tyrannical rule via Democratic Socialism.
Obama built his presidential campaign around the "change" theme: "This is our moment, this is our time to turn the page on the policies of the past, to offer a new direction. We are fundamentally transforming the United States of America."

His former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said infamously, "Never allow a crisis to go to waste," which was the basis for Obama's assertion, "this painful [economic] crisis provides us with an opportunity to transform our economy to improve the lives of ordinary people."

By no means will the full implementation of Democratic Socialism "improve the lives of ordinary people." As I have noted previously, Democratic Socialism, like Nationalist Socialism, is nothing more than Marxist Socialism repackaged. Likewise, it seeks a centrally planned economy directed by a single-party state that controls economic production by way of regulation and income redistribution.

The success of Democrat Socialism depends upon supplanting Essential Liberty -- the rights "endowed by our Creator" -- primarily by refuting such endowment.

Indeed, Obama's mission is transformation, and economic crisis is the horse he rode in on. It can also be the horse that he and his socialist cadre are chased out on.

Truth be told, I want to "fundamentally transform" what our nation has become after years of incremental encroachment upon Rule of Law by socialist predators, the most brazen offender in history being Obama. Indeed, I do not want the current economic "crisis to go to waste," and see it as a great opportunity to "change" our economy in such a way as to improve the lives of all Americans.

Of course, the opportunity I see in the current crisis is diametrically opposed to that which Obama and his Leftist cadres envision. I see a new dawn for Liberty on the horizon.

For all Patriots, steadfast in our devotion to Freedom, the sun is rising on one of two options to preserve the legacy of Liberty for this and future generations. The first and more desirable option is the transformational restoration of constitutional Rule of Law and the second is the transformational reformation of government, in fulfillment of Thomas Jefferson's contention, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

The current economic crisis, which had its beginnings in 2006 with the surprisingly ubiquitous collapse in real estate values and subsequent banking crisis, poses an ominous threat to Liberty. The Obama administration used the cover of this crisis to implement its so-called "stimulus plan," which primarily stimulated the growth of central government at an enormous cost.

The result was accelerated accumulation of crushing national debt, now approaching $15 trillion, which has placed our economy on a collision course with catastrophic collapse, short of bold intervention.

The economic indicators foretelling that collision abound.

The Commerce Department reports that the American economy grew at an annualized rate of 1.8 percent in the first quarter of 2011. (You might have missed that report amid all the political campaigning over OBL's demise.)

Home values fell three percent in the first quarter and it is estimated that more than 28 percent of homeowners now owe more than the value of their property.

Energy and commodity costs are highly volatile, in large measure due to abysmal domestic economic and energy policies plus weak foreign policy. One way to devalue outstanding debt is inflation, and there are plenty of indicators that inflation is underway.

Imports are up and exports are down. The International Monetary Fund estimates that China's economy will surpass ours by 2016.

Unemployment inched back up to 9 percent last month, but the "real" unemployment rate, those who have given up the search and part-time workers seeking full-time employment, is almost 16 percent.

More Americans are dependent upon government assistance payouts than ever before. More than 18 percent of total personal income was redistributed in the form of "government benefits." Almost one in seven households receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (food stamps).

The declining status of the U.S. dollar as the world's safest fiat currency is a metaphor for the decline of our standing as the world's beacon of liberty, the decline of "American exceptionalism."

Having a good recollection of the Carter administration, I invoke Yogi Berra's sentiment, "It is like déjà vu all over again."

Despite the considerable barriers these indicators pose to economic recovery, there is still time for a transformational restoration of constitutional Rule of Law and the consequential rescaling of our central government to comport with the limits placed upon it by our Constitution. But as noted above, that will require bold intervention, and it will require that a majority of the members of Congress honor and abide by their oath of office.

At present, there are outstanding plans on the table to put prosperity over poverty, including the Republican Study Committee Budget for FY 2012 and Heritage Foundation's comprehensive plan to restore prosperity.

House and Senate leaders are stepping out with bolder propositions to cut government spending. As a prerequisite to raising the national debt ceiling to avoid default, Speaker John Boehner has drawn the line, and may even hold it: "Without significant spending cuts and reforms to reduce our debt, there will be no debt limit increase, and the cuts should be greater than the accompanying increase in debt authority the president is given. We should be talking about cuts of trillions, not just billions."

Conservative Senate leaders are calling for a Balanced Budget Amendment as a condition to any agreement on increasing the national debt limit.

Of course, Obama, the consummate socialist, trotted out the class warfare card in response: "Their vision is less about reducing the deficit than it is about changing the basic social compact in America, [pitting] children with autism or Down's syndrome against every millionaire and billionaire in our society."

Then, in his fatuous display of faux bipartisan, Obama insisted the budget talks must "start by being honest about what's causing our deficit."

Apparently, Obama thinks the budget deficit is caused by a lack of government spending and regulation, as he is proposing a lot more of both.

So, given the current crisis and the long odds against the restoration of Rule of Law, would you concede that this portends a Sunset or Sunrise on Liberty?

Call me crazy -- that profiler certainly did -- but I clearly see a new dawn for Liberty, whether it be transformational restoration of constitutional Rule of Law or the transformational reformation of government. Count me in for either option.

I believe, as did my mentor, President Ronald Reagan: "America's best days are yet to come. Our proudest moments are yet to be. Our most glorious achievements are just ahead."

But I also know, as did he, that "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States when men were free."

That extinction will arrive only if we "shrink from the service of our country."

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!

Mark Alexander
Publisher, The Patriot Post

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