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23401  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison 1835 on his fellow Founding Fathers on: June 02, 2011, 08:18:33 AM
"Whatever may be the judgement pronounced on the competency of the architects of the Constitution, or whatever may be the destiny of the edifice prepared by them, I feel it a duty to express my profound and solemn conviction ... that there never was an assembly of men, charged with a great and arduous trust, who were more pure in their motives, or more exclusively or anxiously devoted to the object committed to them." --James Madison, 1835
23402  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: June 01, 2011, 11:01:29 PM
You mean Stewart is wrong and that is Weiner's penis? cheesy cheesy cheesy
23403  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GM's brain may explode with this one :-) on: June 01, 2011, 08:53:43 PM


http://www.leap.cc/#
23404  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Officer Jared Reston on: June 01, 2011, 05:58:29 PM

http://www.policeone.com/policeonetv/videos/3592582-will-to-win-jared-reston/
23405  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Blame it on Ailes LOL on: June 01, 2011, 05:25:48 PM
http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-may-31-2011/indecision-2012---driving-miss-crazy
23406  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism, socialism: on: June 01, 2011, 10:57:09 AM
Good conversation going here.  My apologies for the brevity of what follows, but there are many demands on my time right now.

I reject separating Marx from what his followers have done with considerable consistency.  The pattern of the extraordinarily murderous nature of Leninism, Stalinism, the Soviet Empire, Maoism, the Kymer Rouge, North Korea, etc  is no accident.  It ineluctably flows from the nature of concept such as "dictatorhip of the proletariat" and "the vanguard" and so forth.  The nature of Marxist logic becomes a feedback loop that repeatedly leads to mass evil.  How many did Lenin murder?  Stalin?  the rest of the Soviet Empire? Mao? the Kymer Rouge? etc etc etc  And let us not forget the evils of a lives lived with freedom suppressed.

Rachel's post today on "The Power of Word" thread opens with "He is a self-made man who worships his creator." This captures quite a bit IMHO.



23407  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cain promo clip on: June 01, 2011, 10:41:34 AM


http://www.youtube.com/thehermancain#p/u/0/MOFB-2yJzCY
23408  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / New firearms training methodology on: June 01, 2011, 10:32:34 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfD67xGszZc&feature=player_embedded

 cool

23409  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / New CMH on: June 01, 2011, 10:27:58 AM
Moving BigDog's post to here

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43231604/?gt1=43001
23410  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The words speak for themselves on: June 01, 2011, 10:14:03 AM

The words speak for themselves:

George W. Bush speech after the capture of Saddam Hussein:

The success of yesterday's mission is a tribute to our men and women now serving in Iraq . The operation was based on the superb work of intelligence analysts who found the dictator's footprints in a vast country. The operation was carried out with skill and precision by a brave fighting force.  Our servicemen and women and our coalition allies have faced many dangers in the hunt for members of the fallen regime, and in their effort to bring hope and freedom to the Iraqi people. Their work continues, and so do the risks. Today, on behalf of the nation, I thank the members of our Armed Forces and I congratulate them.

Barack Obama speech after the killing of bin Laden:

And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network. Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan . And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice. Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad , Pakistan ..

 
Obama used the words I, me, or my over a dozen times in his entire speech.  George Bush used them twice to say "I thank" and "I congratulate".
23411  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Wilson, 1791 Parents' duties to children on: June 01, 2011, 10:07:59 AM
Thank you for that CCP.

"It is the duty of parents to maintain their children decently, and according to their circumstances; to protect them according to the dictates of prudence; and to educate them according to the suggestions of a judicious and zealous regard for their usefulness, their respectability and happiness." --James Wilson, Lectures on Law, 1791
23412  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / SCOTUS: Kentucky vs. King on: June 01, 2011, 09:58:23 AM


Haven't read this yet, but it seems likely to be quite relevant to our discussion here:

1. Supreme Court decides Kentucky v. King -- warrantless entry case.
 
AELE, joined by the IACP and NSA, urged the Court to adopt an objective reasonableness standard for warrantless entries into premises predicated on exigent circumstances. The brief stressed that officers need clear guidance and a uniform rule for training and operational purposes -- and for their safety when confronting dangerous offenders. Read the AELE brief at http://www.aele.org/ky-king.pdf
 
The Court, in an 8-1 holding, overturned the Kentucky Supreme Court. See http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/09-1272.pdf

Note: This case is a huge win for police officers.
 
23413  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Left-Islamist alliance of convenience on: May 31, 2011, 04:47:37 PM
GB posts this as evidence of a hypothesis of his.  Makes sense to me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdI0A1KLKmM&feature=player_embedded
23414  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Yemen on: May 31, 2011, 04:03:12 PM


The security situation in Yemen is no doubt deteriorating, but the opposition forces still do not have the strength to dislodge pro-Saleh forces in the capital, and that’s precisely why we’re seeing a political gridlock in Yemen continue. The Saudis are meanwhile trying to prevent civil war in their southern neighbor but because all forces to this conflict are falling back on tribal law to fight their way out of the gridlock, this is a crisis that is bound to intensify in the coming days.

Over the weekend, opposition forces, particularly coming from tribesman loyal to the influential al-Ahmar family made a number of claims to the media that large-scale defections took place within Yemen’s most elite military unit, the Republican Guard. It appears that many of those claims were widely exaggerated and that Saleh still has pretty strong military control in the capital itself.

Next door, Saudi Arabia’s obviously very frustrated with the situation. They are trying to prevent civil war in the country. They’re also largely embarrassed by the failure of the GCC mediation. What’s becoming clear now in this situation is that all sides to the conflict are falling back on “urf,” or tribal code, in trying to fight their way out of the crisis. The problem is that tribal code is not as strong as it used to be for a number of reasons. As a result you have a situation where neither side fully buys into either the political negotiations or the tribal negotiations. So the opposition hasn’t bought into the political mediation led by the GCC and the Saleh family has not bought into guarantees on paper for their immunity when tribal code actually calls for their debts. And this is really the fundamental tension we see between the modern Yemeni state and its tribal tradition, which is in effect prolonging the crisis.

Meanwhile, while the vast majority of Saleh’s forces are focusing their energies on holding down the capital, the writ of the state is rapidly disintegrating in the rest of the country. For example, in the southern coastal city of Zinjibar, we’ve seen Islamist militant activity on the rise in recent days as a hodgepodge of like-minded Islamist militants have come together in trying to overrun checkpoints, attack military targets and essentially try to assert their control over the city itself. The opposition continues to claim that this is all a charade by Saleh, using the al Qaeda card to convince outsiders of the consequences, specifically the counterterrorism consequences, of forcing him out of power.

At this point in the crisis, that argument doesn’t really hold. Most of the casualties are coming from the military and rising Islamist militant activity in the country right now could be used on the other side of the argument to say that the longer Saleh stays, the greater the risk of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula expanding its sphere of influence in the country. The propaganda on all sides of this conflict are cutting into reality, and that reality is that while Saleh is struggling to maintain control of the capital, an array of rebel forces in the rest of the country are facing the opportunity of a lifetime in trying to expand their territorial control ultimately at the expense of the state.

23415  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / name change on: May 31, 2011, 03:57:14 PM
At his requeset Hugh "C-Irish Dog" Sargent  is now Hugh "C - Teufel Hunden" Sargent.
23416  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Rush 1806 on: May 31, 2011, 08:00:35 AM


"[T]he only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments." --Benjamin Rush, On the Mode of Education Proper in a Republic, 1806
23417  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Economic growth in question on: May 31, 2011, 07:05:33 AM


By SARA MURRAY And JON HILSENRATH
The world's largest economy may be facing a growth problem.

After a disappointing first quarter, economists largely predicted the U.S. recovery would ramp back up as short-term disruptions such as higher gas prices, bad weather and supply problems in Japan subsided.

But there's little indication that's happening. Manufacturing is cooling, the housing market is struggling and consumers are keeping a close eye on spending, meaning the U.S. economy might be on a slower path to full health than expected.

"It's very hard to generate a rapid recovery when rapid recoveries are historically driven by housing and the consumer," said Nigel Gault, an economist at IHS Global Insight. He expects an annualized, inflation-adjusted growth rate of less than 3% in coming quarters—better than the first-quarter's 1.8% rate, but too slow to make a meaningful dent in unemployment.

A growing number of forecasters are downgrading their second-quarter growth predictions. JPMorgan Chase & Co. economists revised down their estimate to a 2.5% rate from 3%, while Bank of America Merrill Lynch economists cut theirs to 2% from 2.8%. Deutsche Bank cut its forecast to 3.2% from 3.7%.

Companies are similarly cautious. Applied Materials Inc., the largest maker of machines used in producing computer chips, said it expected growth in its semiconductor and solar markets to slow following one of its best quarters ever. Hewlett-Packard Co. cut its fiscal-year outlook amid weak computer sales and negative effects from the disaster in Japan. Clorox Co. offered a more guarded outlook for its household goods business as executives noted that higher prices may hurt sales.

The dimming outlook raises a deeper question about the economy's health: Has it emerged from the financial turmoil of 2008 and 2009 with a chronic growth problem?

Some economists think it has. "We keep expecting the economy to perform along norms that are very difficult to achieve when you have this much private debt and public debt," said Carmen Reinhart, an economist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. She thinks the Federal Reserve's forecasts have been too optimistic, and the U.S. could be in for a protracted period of subpar growth and high unemployment.

View Full Image
.In their April forecast, Fed officials projected the economy would grow between 3.1% and 3.3% in 2011 and between 3.5% and 4.2% in 2012. That's more optimistic than private forecasters, who on average project growth of 2.9% in 2011 and 3.1% in 2012, according to Blue Chip Economics, which surveys forecasters monthly.

Even after temporary headwinds subside, the economy could face challenges as the Fed scales back its stimulus efforts, state and local governments trim spending to balance their budgets and Congress looks to cut federal spending next year.

To be sure, some corners of the economy are showing strength. Job growth has been relatively robust in recent months and expansion in emerging markets is helping to buoy export demand. But it will take strong, sustained job gains to inspire households to spend freely, economists say.

Judy Sheppers, 70, of Aiken, S.C. has no doubt the economy is improving. She recently found a job at a real estate company after being laid off in 2008 and is now able to splurge on lunches and dinners out. But she's holding back on more substantial spending. "I'd love to travel," said Ms. Sheppers, but with a tight budget, she and a few friends are planning road trips to nearby beaches. "I do the driving, they pay for the gas."

Meanwhile, with home prices falling and sales depressed, both builders and buyers are on edge.

After starting off the year on a high note, Victor DePhillips' optimism is waning. The chief executive of Signature Building Systems, which manufactures modular homes in Moosic, Pa., and employs about 165 workers, says he has seen orders slow in the past month or so.

While things aren't nearly as bleak as they were during the depths of the downturn, qualified buyers seem to be holding back, possibly because they think prices still have further to fall. "It's a little scary," Mr. DePhillips said. "I don't know what to attribute it to."

Since the recession officially ended in mid-2009, the economy's annualized growth rate has averaged 2.8%. That's no better than its performance after the much-milder 2001 recession, and far worse than the 7.1% growth rate after the similarly deep 1982 recession.

"There are pretty big costs to not really generating a sizeable recovery," said Joseph Lupton, an economist at JP Morgan Chase & Co. Most notably: high unemployment. Some 5.8 million people have been out of work for more than six months, and prolonged slow economic growth makes it less likely that they will rejoin the labor force.

Slow growth could become a central focus in the weeks ahead. Fed officials revised down their 2011 growth forecast in April. With new forecasts due June 22, they might be forced to do so again. If growth disappoints, that could mean less inflation pressure, reducing the likelihood the Fed would raise interest rates anytime soon.

Write to Sara Murray at sara.murray@wsj.com and Jon Hilsenrath at jon.hilsenrath@wsj.com

23418  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Friedman on Israel's borders on: May 31, 2011, 06:57:20 AM
Not sure that I agree with all of this , , ,

===========

By George Friedman

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said May 30 that  Israel could not prevent the United Nations from recognizing a Palestinian state, in the sense of adopting a resolution on the subject. Two weeks ago, U.S. President Barack Obama, in a speech, called on Israel to return to some variation of its pre-1967 borders. The practical significance of these and other diplomatic evolutions in relation to Israel is questionable. Historically, U.N. declarations have had variable meanings, depending on the willingness of great powers to enforce them. Obama’s speech on Israel, and his subsequent statements, created enough ambiguity to make exactly what he was saying unclear. Nevertheless, it is clear that the diplomatic atmosphere on Israel is shifting.

There are many questions concerning this shift, ranging from the competing moral and historical claims of the Israelis and Palestinians to the internal politics of each side to whether the Palestinians would be satisfied with a return to the pre-1967 borders. All of these must be addressed, but this analysis is confined to a single issue: whether a return to the 1967 borders would increase the danger to Israel’s national security. Later analyses will focus on Palestinian national security issues and those of others.


Early Borders

It is important to begin by understanding that the pre-1967 borders are actually the borders established by the armistice agreements of 1949. The 1948 U.N. resolution creating the state of Israel created a much smaller Israel. The Arab rejection of what was called “partition” resulted in a war that created the borders that placed the West Bank (named after the west bank of the Jordan River) in Jordanian hands, along with substantial parts of Jerusalem, and placed Gaza in the hands of the Egyptians.



(click here to enlarge image)
The 1949 borders substantially improved Israel’s position by widening the corridors between the areas granted to Israel under the partition, giving it control of part of Jerusalem and, perhaps most important, control over the Negev. The latter provided Israel with room for maneuver in the event of an Egyptian attack — and Egypt was always Israel’s main adversary. At the same time, the 1949 borders did not eliminate a major strategic threat. The Israel-Jordan border placed Jordanian forces on three sides of Israeli Jerusalem, and threatened the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem corridor. Much of the Israeli heartland, the Tel Aviv-Haifa-Jerusalem triangle, was within Jordanian artillery range, and a Jordanian attack toward the Mediterranean would have to be stopped cold at the border, since there was no room to retreat, regroup and counterattack.

For Israel, the main danger did not come from Jordan attacking by itself. Jordanian forces were limited, and tensions with Egypt and Syria created a de facto alliance between Israel and Jordan. In addition, the Jordanian Hashemite regime lived in deep tension with the Palestinians, since the former were British transplants from the Arabian Peninsula, and the Palestinians saw them as well as the Israelis as interlopers. Thus the danger on the map was mitigated both by politics and by the limited force the Jordanians could bring to bear.

Nevertheless, politics shift, and the 1949 borders posed a strategic problem for Israel. If Egypt, Jordan and Syria were to launch a simultaneous attack (possibly joined by other forces along the Jordan River line) all along Israel’s frontiers, the ability of Israel to defeat the attackers was questionable. The attacks would have to be coordinated — as the 1948 attacks were not — but simultaneous pressure along all frontiers would leave the Israelis with insufficient forces to hold and therefore no framework for a counterattack. From 1948 to 1967, this was Israel’s existential challenge, mitigated by the disharmony among the Arabs and the fact that any attack would be detected in the deployment phase.

Israel’s strategy in this situation had to be the pre-emptive strike. Unable to absorb a coordinated blow, the Israelis had to strike first to disorganize their enemies and to engage them sequentially and in detail. The 1967 war represented Israeli strategy in its first generation. First, it could not allow the enemy to commence hostilities. Whatever the political cost of being labeled the aggressor, Israel had to strike first. Second, it could not be assumed that the political intentions of each neighbor at any one time would determine their behavior. In the event Israel was collapsing, for example, Jordan’s calculations of its own interests would shift, and it would move from being a covert ally to Israel to a nation both repositioning itself in the Arab world and taking advantage of geographical opportunities. Third, the center of gravity of the Arab threat was always Egypt, the neighbor able to field the largest army. Any pre-emptive war would have to begin with Egypt and then move to other neighbors. Fourth, in order to control the sequence and outcome of the war, Israel would have to maintain superior organization and technology at all levels. Finally, and most important, the Israelis would have to move for rapid war termination. They could not afford a war of attrition against forces of superior size. An extended war could drain Israeli combat capability at an astonishing rate. Therefore the pre-emptive strike had to be decisive.

The 1949 borders actually gave Israel a strategic advantage. The Arabs were fighting on external lines. This means their forces could not easily shift between Egypt and Syria, for example, making it difficult to exploit emergent weaknesses along the fronts. The Israelis, on the other hand, fought from interior lines, and in relatively compact terrain. They could carry out a centrifugal offense, beginning with Egypt, shifting to Jordan and finishing with Syria, moving forces from one front to another in a matter of days. Put differently, the Arabs were inherently uncoordinated, unable to support each other. The pre-1967 borders allowed the Israelis to be superbly coordinated, choosing the timing and intensity of combat to suit their capabilities. Israel lacked strategic depth, but it made up for it with compact space and interior lines. If it could choose the time, place and tempo of engagements, it could defeat numerically superior forces. The Arabs could not do this.

Israel needed two things in order to exploit this advantage. The first was outstanding intelligence to detect signs of coordination and the massing of forces. Detecting the former sign was a matter of political intelligence, the latter a matter of tactical military intelligence. But the political intelligence would have to manifest itself in military deployments, and given the geography of the 1949 borders, massing forces secretly was impossible. If enemy forces could mass undetected it would be a disaster for Israel. Thus the center of gravity of Israeli war-making was its intelligence capabilities.

The second essential requirement was an alliance with a great power. Israel’s strategy was based on superior technology and organization — air power, armor and so on. The true weakness of Israel’s strategic power since the country’s creation had been that its national security requirements outstripped its industrial and financial base. It could not domestically develop and produce all of the weapons it needed to fight a war. Israel depended first on the Soviets, then until 1967 on France. It was not until after the 1967 war that the United States provided any significant aid to Israel. However, under the strategy of the pre-1967 borders, continual access to weapons — and in a crisis, rapid access to more weapons — was essential, so Israel had to have a powerful ally. Not having one, coupled with an intelligence failure, would be disastrous.


After 1967

The 1967 war allowed Israel to occupy the Sinai, all of Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. It placed Egyptian forces on the west bank of the Suez, far from Israel, and pushed the Jordanians out of artillery range of the Israeli heartland. It pushed Syria out of artillery range as well. This created the strategic depth Israel required, yet it set the stage for the most serious military crisis in Israeli history, beginning with a failure in its central capability — intelligence.



(click here to enlarge image)
The intelligence failure occurred in 1973, when Syria and Egypt managed to partially coordinate an assault on Israel without Israeli intelligence being able to interpret the intelligence it was receiving. Israel was saved above all by rapid rearmament by the United States, particularly in such staples of war as artillery shells. It was also aided by greater strategic depth. The Egyptian attack was stopped far from Israel proper in the western Sinai. The Syrians fought in the Golan Heights rather than in the Galilee.

Here is the heart of the pre-1967 border issue. Strategic depth meant that the Syrians and Egyptians spent their main offensive force outside of Israel proper. This bought Israel space and time. It allowed Israel to move back to its main sequential strategy. After halting the two attacks, the Israelis proceeded to defeat the Syrians in the Golan then the Egyptians in the Sinai. However, the ability to mount the two attacks — and particularly the Sinai attack — required massive American resupply of everything from aircraft to munitions. It is not clear that without this resupply the Israelis could have mounted the offensive in the Sinai, or avoided an extended war of attrition on unfavorable terms. Of course, the intelligence failure opened the door to Israel’s other vulnerability — its dependency on foreign powers for resupply. Indeed, perhaps Israel’s greatest miscalculation was the amount of artillery shells it would need to fight the war; the amount required vastly outstripped expectations. Such a seemingly minor thing created a massive dependency on the United States, allowing the United States to shape the conclusion of the war to its own ends so that Israel’s military victory ultimately evolved into a political retreat in the Sinai.

It is impossible to argue that Israel, fighting on its 1949 borders, was less successful than when it fought on its post-1967 borders. What happened was that in expanding the scope of the battlefield, opportunities for intelligence failures multiplied, the rate of consumption of supplies increased and dependence grew on foreign powers with different political interests. The war Israel fought from the 1949 borders was more efficiently waged than the one it fought from the post-1967 borders. The 1973 war allowed for a larger battlefield and greater room for error (errors always occur on the battlefield), but because of intelligence surprises and supply miscalculations it also linked Israel’s national survival to the willingness of a foreign government to quickly resupply its military.

The example of 1973 casts some doubt around the argument that the 1948 borders were excessively vulnerable. There are arguments on both sides of the issue, but it is not a clear-cut position. However, we need to consider Israel’s borders not only in terms of conventional war but also in terms of unconventional war — both uprisings and the use of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) weapons.

There are those who argue that there will be no more peer-to-peer conflicts. We doubt that intensely. However, there is certainly a great deal of asymmetric warfare in the world, and for Israel it comes in the form of intifadas, rocket attacks and guerrilla combat against Hezbollah in Lebanon. The post-1967 borders do not do much about these forms of warfare. Indeed, it can be argued that some of this conflict happens because of the post-1967 borders.

A shift to the 1949 borders would not increase the risk of an intifada but would make it moot. It would not eliminate conflict with Hezbollah. A shift to the 1949 line would eliminate some threats but not others. From the standpoint of asymmetric warfare, a shift in borders could increase the threat from Palestinian rockets to the Israeli heartland. If a Palestinian state were created, there would be the very real possibility of Palestinian rocket fire unless there was a significant shift in Hamas’ view of Israel or Fatah increased its power in the West Bank and was in a position to defeat Hamas and other rejectionist movements. This would be the heart of the Palestinian threat if there were a return to the borders established after the initial war.

The shape of Israel’s borders doesn’t really have an effect on the threat posed by CBRN weapons. While some chemical artillery rockets could be fired from closer borders, the geography leaves Israel inherently vulnerable to this threat, regardless of where the precise boundary is drawn, and they can already be fired from Lebanon or Gaza. The main threat discussed, a CBRN warhead fitted to an Iranian medium-range ballistic missile launched from a thousand miles away, has little to do with precisely where a line in the Levant is drawn.

When we look at conventional warfare, I would argue that the main issue Israel has is not its borders but its dependence on outside powers for its national security. Any country that creates a national security policy based on the willingness of another country to come to its assistance has a fundamental flaw that will, at some point, be mortal. The precise borders should be those that a) can be defended and b) do not create barriers to aid when that aid is most needed. In 1973, U.S. President Richard Nixon withheld resupply for some days, pressing Israel to the edge. U.S. interests were not those of Israel’s. This is the mortal danger to Israel — a national security requirement that outstrips its ability to underwrite it.

Israel’s borders will not protect it against Iranian missiles, and rockets from Gaza are painful but do not threaten Israel’s existence. In case the artillery rocket threat expands beyond this point, Israel must retain the ability to reoccupy and re-engage, but given the threat of asymmetric war, perpetual occupation would seem to place Israel at a perpetual disadvantage. Clearly, the rocket threat from Hamas represents the best argument for strategic depth.



(click here to enlarge image)
The best argument for returning to the pre-1967 borders is that Israel was more capable of fighting well on these borders. The war of independence, the 1956 war and the 1967 war all went far better than any of the wars that came after. Most important, if Israel is incapable of generating a national defense industry that can provide all the necessary munitions and equipment without having to depend on its allies, then it has no choice but to consider what its allies want. With the pre-1967 borders there is a greater chance of maintaining critical alliances. More to the point, the pre-1967 borders require a smaller industrial base because they do not require troops for occupation and they improve Israel’s ability to conduct conventional operations in a time of crisis.

There is a strong case to be made for not returning to the 1949 lines, but it is difficult to make that case from a military point of view. Strategic depth is merely one element of a rational strategy. Given that Israel’s military security depends on its relations with third parties, the shape of its borders and diplomatic reality are, as always, at the heart of Israeli military strategy.

In warfare, the greatest enemy of victory is wishful thinking. The assumption that Israel will always have an outside power prepared to rush munitions to the battlefield or help create costly defense systems like Iron Dome is simply wishful thinking. There is no reason to believe this will always be the case. Therefore, since this is the heart of Israeli strategy, the strategy rests on wishful thinking. The question of borders must be viewed in the context of synchronizing Israeli national security policy with Israeli national means.

There is an argument prevalent among Israelis and their supporters that the Arabs will never make a lasting peace with Israel. From this flows the assumption that the safest course is to continue to hold all territory. My argument assumes the worst case, which is not only that the Palestinians will not agree to a genuine peace but also that the United States cannot be counted on indefinitely. All military planning must begin with the worst case.

However, I draw a different conclusion from these facts than the Israelis do. If the worst-case scenario is the basis for planning, then Israel must reduce its risk and restructure its geography along the more favorable lines that existed between 1949 and 1967, when Israel was unambiguously victorious in its wars, rather than the borders and policies after 1967, when Israel has been less successful. The idea that the largest possible territory provides the greatest possible security is not supportable in military history. As Frederick the Great once said, he who defends everything defends nothing.

23419  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: IAEA figures out Iran going nuke on: May 31, 2011, 06:43:17 AM
The International Atomic Energy Agency last week presented a report to its board that laid out new information on what it calls “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear program, clarifying the central issue in the long clash between Tehran and the West over nuclear technology.

The nine-page report raised questions about whether Iran has sought to investigate seven different kinds of technology ranging from atomic triggers and detonators to uranium fuel. Together, the technologies could make a type of atom bomb known as an implosion device, which is what senior staff members of the I.A.E.A. have warned that Iran is able to build.

Weapons based on implosion are considered advanced models compared with the bomb that the United States dropped on Hiroshima. In these devices, the detonation of a sphere of conventional explosives creates a blast wave that compresses a central ball of bomb fuel into a supercritical mass, starting the chain reaction that ends in a nuclear explosion.

Implosion designs, compact and efficient by nature, are considered necessary for making nuclear warheads small and powerful enough to fit atop a missile.

Iran has dismissed charges that it is pursuing such technologies as lies based on fabricated documents or real ones taken out of context. It insists that its atomic program is meant exclusively for such peaceful objectives as producing medical isotopes and electric power. The result has been a tense standoff.

Last week’s report said the director general of the I.A.E.A., Yukiya Amano, recently wrote to Iranian officials to reiterate the agency’s concerns about the arms evidence and request “prompt access” to a wide range of Iranian facilities and individuals.

The report said Mr. Amano “urges Iran to respond positively” in order to establish “the exclusively peaceful nature” of its program.

Official doubts about Tehran’s ambitions emerged publicly in 2002 and have resulted in four rounds of United Nations sanctions. To date, the penalties have failed to stop Iran from enriching uranium, which can fuel both reactors and atom bombs.

In 2009, senior staff members of the I.A.E.A. concluded in a confidential analysis that “Iran has sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable implosion nuclear device” based on highly enriched uranium.

The new report includes some of the technical evidence behind that charge. It describes the sources of the information as “many member states” as well as its own efforts. Nuclear experts assume that much intelligence comes from Israel, the United States and Western Europe, though the I.A.E.A. in total has 151 member states.

The report cites concerns about undisclosed nuclear activities “past or current,” implying that the agency believes the Iranian arms program may still be moving ahead despite reports of its onetime suspension.

The seven categories of technology all bear on what can be interpreted as warhead design: how to turn uranium into bomb fuel, make conventional explosives that can trigger a nuclear blast, generate neutrons to spur a chain reaction and design nose cones for missiles.

Two diplomats familiar with the evidence, both of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity under the usual protocol, emphasized that no single one of the technologies stood out as indicating bomb work. Some, they conceded, have peaceful uses.

But the totality of the evidence, they said, suggested that Iran has worked hard on multiple fronts to advance the design of nuclear arms.

“It’s the whole variety of information,” one of the diplomats said. “You have to look at the whole thing.”

23420  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: May 31, 2011, 06:40:09 AM
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23421  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / POTH: Water Depletion on: May 31, 2011, 06:34:29 AM


Ann Johansson for The New York Times
MONITOR Jay S. Famiglietti of the University of California Center for Hydrologic Modeling found that from October 2003 to March 2010, aquifers under the state's Central Valley were drawn down by 25 million acre-feet.

 

They found problems in places as disparate as North Africa, northern India, northeastern China and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley in California, heartland of that state’s $30 billion agricultural industry.

Jay S. Famiglietti, director of the University of California’s Center for Hydrologic Modeling here, said the center’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, known as Grace, relies on the interplay of two nine-year-old twin satellites that monitor each other while orbiting the Earth, thereby producing some of the most precise data ever on the planet’s gravitational variations. The results are redefining the field of hydrology, which itself has grown more critical as climate change and population growth draw down the world’s fresh water supplies.

Grace sees “all of the change in ice, all of the change in snow and water storage, all of the surface water, all of the soil moisture, all of the groundwater,” Dr. Famiglietti explained.

Yet even as the data signal looming shortages, policy makers have been relatively wary of embracing the findings. California water managers, for example, have been somewhat skeptical of a recent finding by Dr. Famiglietti that from October 2003 to March 2010, aquifers under the state’s Central Valley were drawn down by 25 million acre-feet — almost enough to fill Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir.

Greg Zlotnick, a board member of the Association of California Water Agencies, said that the managers feared that the data could be marshaled to someone else’s advantage in California’s tug of war over scarce water supplies.

“There’s a lot of paranoia about policy wonks saying, ‘We’ve got to regulate the heck out of you,’ ” he said.

There are other sensitivities in arid regions around the world where groundwater basins are often shared by unfriendly neighbors — India and Pakistan, Tunisia and Libya or Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian territories — that are prone to suspecting one another of excessive use of this shared resource.

Water politics was hardly on Dr. Famiglietti’s mind when he first heard about Grace. In 1992, applying for a job at the University of Texas, he was interviewed by Clark R. Wilson, a geophysicist there who described a planned experiment to measure variations in Earth’s gravitational field.

“I walked into his office and he pulled out a piece of paper saying: I’m trying to figure out how distribution of water makes the Earth wobble,” said Dr. Famiglietti. “This was 1992. I was blown away. I instantly fell in love with the guy. I said, ‘This is unbelievable, this is amazing, it opens up this whole area.’ ”

Back then the Grace experiment was still waiting in a queue of NASA projects. But he and Matt Rodell, a Ph.D. candidate under his supervision, threw themselves into investigating whether Grace would work, a so-called “proof of concept” exercise which turned out to show that Grace data were reliable and could support groundwater studies.

“It was a wide-open field we came into,” said Dr. Rodell, now a researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “We were like kids in a candy store. There was so much to be done.”

When Grace was conceived by a group of scientists led by Byron D. Tapley, the director of the Center for Space Research at the University of Texas, it was the darling of geodesists, who study variations in the Earth’s size, shape and rotational axis. Climate scientists also were keenly interested in using it to study melting of ice sheets, but hydrologists paid scant attention at first.

But, Dr. Wilson recalled, “Jay jumped on the problem.”

Ten years later, the two satellites were launched from the Russian space facility at Plesetsk on the back of a used intercontinental ballistic missile in a collaboration between NASA and the German Aerospace Center and began streaming the gravity data back to Earth.

Acquiring the data for general research purposes would have been impossible before the end of the cold war because maps indicating the normal wiggles in Earth’s gravitational field were used for targeting long-range missiles and were therefore classified.

For decades, groundwater measurements in the United States had been made from points on the Earth’s surface — by taking real-time soundings at 1,383 of the United States Geological Survey’s observation wells and daily readings at 5,908 others. Those readings are supplemented by measuring water levels in hundreds of thousands of other wells, trenches and excavations.

The two satellites, each the size of a small car, travel in polar orbits about 135 miles apart. Each bombards the other with microwaves calibrating the distance between them down to intervals of less than the width of a human hair.

If the mass below the path of the leading satellite increases — because, say, the lower Mississippi basin is waterlogged — that satellite speeds up, and the distance between the two grows. Then the mass tugs on both, and the distance shortens. It increases again as the forward satellite moves out of range while the trailing satellite is held back.

===========

The measurements of the distance between the craft translate to a measurement of surface mass in any given region. The data is beautifully simple, Dr. Famiglietti said. From one moment to the next, “it gives you just one number,” he said. “It’s like getting on a scale.”

Separating groundwater from other kinds of moisture affecting gravity requires a little calculation and the inclusion of information on precipitation and surface runoff obtained from surface studies or computer models.
Grace data, like the information in a corresponding visual image, has its limits. Gravitational data gets sparser as the area examined gets smaller, and in areas smaller than 75,000 square miles it gets more difficult to reach conclusions about groundwater supplies. Most aquifers are far smaller than that — California’s 22,000-square-mile Central Valley overlies several different groundwater basins, for example.

Dr. Famiglietti was able to calculate the overall drawdown of groundwater and to indicate that the problem was most severe in the southern region around the city of Tulare, for example, but the data was far too sparse to make statements about, say, the Kings River Water Conservation District, which measures about 1,875 square miles.

Grace “gives a large picture,” said Felix Landerer, a hydrologist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, whereas a water manager has a couple of wells to monitor in a given district. “It’s difficult and not intuitive and not straightforward to bring these things together.”

In other areas of the world, like northern India, the novelty of the gravitational measurements — and perhaps the story they tell — has led to pushback, scientists say.

“It is odd, if you’re a hydrologist, especially a traditional hydrologist, to imagine a satellite up in the air that determines groundwater” supply levels, said John Wahr, a geophysicist at the University of Colorado.

Like Dr. Famiglietti and Dr. Rodell, Dr. Wahr and his colleague Sean Swenson faced opposition for a study on aquifer depletion in northern India. As Dr. Swenson explained, “When in a place like India you say, ‘We’re doing something that is unsustainable and needs to change,’ well, people resist change. Change is expensive.”

While Dr. Famiglietti says he wants no part of water politics, he acknowledged that this might be hard to avoid, given that his role is to make sure the best data about groundwater is available, harvesting and disseminating all of the information he can about the Earth’s water supply as aquifers dry up and shortages loom.

“Look, water has been a resource that has been plentiful,” he said. “But now we’ve got climate change, we’ve got population growth, we’ve got widespread groundwater contamination, we’ve got satellites showing us we are depleting some of this stuff.

“I think we’ve taken it for granted, and we are probably not able to do that any more.”
23422  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Religion of Peace vs. Christians on: May 31, 2011, 06:29:24 AM


CAIRO — The headline screamed from a venerable liberal newspaper: Coptic Christians had abducted a young Muslim and tattooed her with a cross. “Copts kidnap Raghada!”

“They tied me up with ropes, beat me with shoes, shaved my hair,” Raghada Salem Abdel Fattah, 19, declared, “and forced me to read Christian psalms!”
Like many similar stories proliferating here since the revolution, Ms. Abdel Fattah’s kidnapping could not be confirmed. But for members of Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority, the sensational headline — from a respected publisher, no less — served to validate their fear that the Egyptian revolution had made their country less tolerant and more dangerous for religious minorities. The Arab Spring initially appeared to open a welcoming door to the dwindling number of Christian Arabs who, after years of feeling marginalized, eagerly joined the call for democracy and rule of law. But now many Christians here say they fear that the fall of the police state has allowed long-simmering tensions to explode, potentially threatening the character of Egypt, and the region.

“Will Christians have equal rights and full citizenship or not?” asked Sarkis Naoum, a Christian commentator in Beirut, Lebanon. A surge of sectarian violence in Cairo — 24 dead, more than 200 wounded and three churches in flames since President Hosni Mubarak’s downfall — has turned Christian-Muslim tensions into one of the gravest threats to the revolution’s stability. But it is also a pivotal test of Egypt’s tolerance, pluralism and the rule of law. The revolution has empowered the majority but also opened new questions about the protection of minority rights like freedom of religion or expression as Islamist groups step forward to lay out their agendas and test their political might.

Around the region, Christians are also closely watching events in Syria, where as in Egypt Christians and other minorities received the protection of a secular dictator, Bashar al-Assad, now facing his own popular uprising.

“The Copts are the crucial test case,” said Heba Morayef, a researcher with Human Rights Watch here, adding that facing off against “societal pressures” may in some ways be ever harder than criticizing a dictator. “It is the next big battle.”

But so far, there is little encouragement in the debate over how to address the sectarian strife. Instead of searching for common ground, all sides are pointing fingers of blame while almost no one is addressing the underlying reasons for the strife, including a legal framework that treats Muslims and Christians differently.

Christians, who make up about 10 percent of the 80 million Egyptians, say the revolution has plunged them into uncharted territory. Suppressed or marginalized for six decades here, Islamists entering politics have rushed to defend an article of the Egyptian Constitution that declares Egypt a Muslim country that derives its laws from Islam. Christians and liberals say privately they abhor the provision, which was first added as a populist gesture by President Anwar el-Sadat. But the article is so popular among Muslims — and the meaning so vague — that even many liberals and Christians entering politics are reluctant to speak out against it, asking at most for slight modifications.

“Our position is that it should stay, but a clause should be added so that in personal issues non-Muslims are subject to the rules of their own religion,” said Naguib Sawiris, a secular-minded Christian tycoon who has started his own liberal party.

He would prefer to remove religion from the laws entirely the way Western separation of church and state does, he said, but that idea could not prevail in Egypt. “Islam doesn’t separate them,” he said.

The most common sparks for sectarian violence, however, come from Egyptian laws dating from the end of the colonial era. One imposes stricter regulations on building churches than on mosques. Christians often look to get around the restrictions by constructing “community centers” with altars and steeples — sometimes provoking Muslim accusations of deceit and Christian charges of discrimination.

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

(Page 2 of 2)



The other statute is one the church supports, although not all its parishioners agree: it enforces the Coptic Church’s near-total ban on divorce, even while Egyptian laws on Muslim divorce have grown increasingly liberal.

Often, Christians who want to divorce convert to Islam — and try, after the divorce, to convert back. The law has spawned many rumors of sectarian “kidnappings” to abet or prevent such a conversion for some Coptic women. The rumors ignite most outbreaks of Muslim-Christian violence, including at least three riots since the revolution, and many other controversies. In Ms. Abdel Fattah’s case, the Cairo police said the account was fabricated, while Ms. Abdel Fattah’s mother said her daughter was too traumatized to speak to reporters.
But despite widespread recognition of the law’s role as a catalyst of sectarian violence, the idea that civic law should enforce religious morals is so deeply embedded here that almost no one is proposing to alter the rule.

“It is explosive,” said Hossam Bahgat, founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, one of the few groups that advocate changing the law to at least allow the choice of a civil, nonreligious marriage.

When Copts held a weeklong sit-in to demand equal legal treatment, many who attended nonetheless insisted on the preservation of separate, binding laws on Christian marriages. “So no one will be able to get around the religion,” said Yusef George, a 30-year-old businessman. A spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest Islamist group, said it, too, supported the rule.

Some blame their own church for depending too much on Mr. Mubarak. In a pattern common to Syria, Iraq and elsewhere, Coptic leaders cultivated the patronage of Egypt’s secular dictator, with Coptic Pope Shenouda III trading political support for favors and protection. As in Iraq, with the leader deposed, the Christians felt exposed.

“Coptic rights were reserved to be discussed between Mubarak and the pope,” said Mona Makram Ebeid, a Coptic scholar and former lawmaker who suspended her membership in the liberal Wafd party because its newspaper published the headline about Ms. Abdel Fattah, “and the Copts were left out of it completely.”

Church leaders, in turn, blame Islamic fundamentalists they say the revolution has emboldened. “They don’t want any Copts present in Egypt,” said Father Armia Adly, a spokesman for the church.

The Muslim Brotherhood, meanwhile, has named a Christian as deputy leader of its new political party. “We are calling for a civil state,” said Essam el-Erian, a prominent leader of the Brotherhood, adding that the group hoped to promote laws derived from the elements of Islamic law common to other great religions, like “freedom of worship and faith, equality between people, and human rights and human dignity.”

Still, many liberals argue the sectarian conflicts prove Egypt should establish a permanent “bill of rights” to protect religious and personal freedoms before holding elections that could give power to an Islamist majority. It would “remove the sense of angst that exists today in Egypt,” said a spokeswoman for Mohamed ElBaradei, a liberal presidential contender.
23423  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Take 2: Is the WSJ making any sense here? on: May 30, 2011, 09:19:45 PM
Lets try that again  embarassed

Yemen's political crisis is taking a turn toward conflict and perhaps widespread civil war. Armed clashes between supporters of the embattled president and a rival tribal leader have spread across the country after the collapse of an agreement to end the stalemate and hold free elections. And on the weekend military helicopters attacked the southern city of Zinjibar that was seized by Islamists.

The U.S. and neighboring Arabian peninsula states have tried to coax President Ali Abdullah Saleh to resign for several months. The deal negotiated by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) was flawed but worth a try. Its demise last week makes it both harder and more urgent to stop Yemen from unraveling.

In power for 32 years, President Saleh has promised several times to step down within a month and turn power over to his vice president, with elections to follow 60 days later. But he backed out of the GCC agreement each time, most dramatically last week when he refused to sign it at a public ceremony. Mr. Saleh may be holding out for a better deal for immunity from prosecution for him and his family, having watched Hosni Mubarak and his sons land in an Egyptian prison.

Yemen is split along tribal and sectarian lines, and some of Mr. Saleh's generals have broken with him after a violent crackdown on protestors on March 15. So has the leader of the Hashid tribe, to which the president belongs. But there is no obvious successor to Mr. Saleh. If he does step aside, a fair bet would be that some combination of the military, student and other opposition leaders and Islamists would take over.

This uncertainty isn't reassuring. The best that the U.S., Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states can probably do is to help resolve the political deadlock and ensure that whatever follows Mr. Saleh doesn't see the country break up and turn into an even bigger terrorist haven. American leverage over Mr. Saleh is limited. Threats to cut $300 million in yearly U.S. aid—a fraction of the $2 billion the country gets from Saudi Arabia—or censure him at the United Nations may limit our influence and hence our ability to shape the outcome.

View Full Image

AFP/Getty Images
 
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh
.The biggest winner in a Yemen civil war would be al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which formed in 2009 from the merger of Yemeni and Saudi branches. Its spiritual leader, the American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, uses the Internet to recruit supporters. The group has tried to attack the U.S. homeland twice since December 2009.

Mr. Saleh has at times worked closely with the U.S., and in 2002 a CIA Hellfire missile strike took out the previous al Qaeda leader in Yemen. But the Saleh government is also an unreliable ally, often cultivating or turning a blind eye to Islamist militancy. After antigovernment demonstrations started in the wake of the Arab Spring, Mr. Saleh redeployed as many as half the elite counterterrorism units to protect the regime.

Places like Yemen, Afghanistan and Somalia were once backwaters for American policy makers, but 9/11 changed that and probably for a long time. We have no choice except to engage closely on security with whoever takes charge in Yemen and help them tackle their al Qaeda problem.

If chaos or the Islamists prevail, the alternative would be to test the wisdom, or more likely the shortcomings, of Vice President Joe Biden's preferred "over the horizon" strategy for dealing with terrorist sanctuaries: Use missiles and special forces deployed into hostile terrain from a distance and based on limited intelligence.

23424  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / WSJ: Mexican Paradox on: May 30, 2011, 06:53:28 PM
Last week, gun battles between warring drug cartels in the central Mexican state of Michoacán lasted three days, brought down a police helicopter, caused a small flood of refugees, and took an as-yet undetermined toll in lives.

It's almost a surprise the story made the news at all. "The conflict was slow to get out because local media in states like Michoacán have largely stopped covering the carnage on orders from drug gangs," reported The Journal's David Luhnow and José de Córdoba on Friday. More than 20 reporters have been killed in Mexico since the drug wars began in earnest in 2006. Last year, Mexico tied Iraq, and was second only to Pakistan, in journalist fatalities.

Then there is the numbing regularity with which news of drug-related atrocities dominates the international media's coverage of Mexico. The decapitation of 27 Guatemalan farm hands by the Zetas gang two weeks ago. The 146 corpses discovered in April in mass graves in the state of Durango. The hanging in March of five victims from bridges in the resort town of Mazatlan. The apparently deliberate killing in February of U.S. immigration officer Jaime Zapata (and the shooting of his partner) on a highway north of Mexico City.

And on, and on, and on.

Yet a funny thing happened on the way to Mexico becoming another failed state. To wit, the "failed state" boomed.

In 2010, a year when there were more than 15,000 drug-related killings (up by nearly 60% from the year before), the economy grew by 5.5%—the fastest rate in a decade. The Mexican peso appreciated against the dollar. Inflation was essentially flat. Foreign reserves rose to $113 billion. Twenty-two million tourists visited the country. Trade with the U.S. reached an all-time high of nearly $400 billion. In Ciudad Juárez, where 3,000 people were killed last year, the maquiladora industries added some 20,000 jobs. The percentage of the population living below the poverty line declined to 47.4% in 2008 (the last year for which the World Bank has data) from 63.7% a decade earlier. Literacy rates surpassed 90%. Life expectancy continues to rise to near-First World levels.

In the U.S., sociologists are puzzling over the paradox of falling crime rates in an era of high unemployment and economic uncertainty. The Mexican paradox appears to be the reverse.

Then again, what most people consider a paradox is simply the crash of reality against our own unexamined clichés and preconceptions.

Consider the idea that crime in Mexico is out of control. The homicide rate in Mexico (about 12 per 100,000 in 2009) was more than twice that of the U.S. (five per 100,000) but well below Brazil's rate of 20.5 in 2008, to say nothing of the U.S. Virgin Islands, where it's about 50. In Mexico City, home to some 20 million people, the murder rate actually fell over the last decade. In 2009, it was about one quarter of the rate in Washington, D.C.

So how shall we define "out of control"? And what shall we make of the fact that the vast majority of the victims of Mexico's drug wars are themselves members of drug gangs? "They constitute a portion of population, that is worse than useless in any community," said Abraham Lincoln about the gamblers of Vicksburg in 1838. "And their death, if no pernicious example is set by it, is never a matter of reasonable regret with anyone." Something similar might be said of the drug cartels in their current orgy of mutual annihilation.

Then there's the idea that Mexico would have been better off had it never picked a fight with the cartels. I grew up in that Mexico, in which a corrupt and authoritarian government made its peace with—and took its cut from—the cartels.

That Mexico, built on conspiracies of silence and fear, could not survive the country's transition to democracy. It's no surprise that, even now, in the fifth year of his presidency and after 34,612 deaths, Felipe Calderón has an approval rating of 54%. Mexicans have no shortage of misgivings about his methods, but not many are proposing a viable alternative to taking the cartels head on. And by "viable," that means something other than the fantasy of expecting Ron Paul to win the presidency and end the war on drugs. Not that libertarians will ever stop proposing that utopia as their sole idea in what otherwise amounts to a feckless counsel of despair.

Last week I asked former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe whether Mexico can defeat the narcos. "Colombia is a typical case demonstrating that we can win," he answered—with the statistics to prove his case. He stressed that the key to winning was what he called a "permanent pedagogy" to convince people that the war on the cartels is "a necessary fight, not a partisan cause."

Mr. Uribe rescued Colombia from a plight far worse than what Mexico confronts today. But the central challenge is the same: how to establish a rule of law that has the legitimacy of consent and the courage of its convictions. Doing just that was Mr. Uribe's achievement, and it remains Mr. Calderón's challenge. Not much of a paradox here. Mexico's current prosperity is the bet that its market-friendly policies won't soon be betrayed by a government that can be cowed or seduced by criminals.

23425  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The Mexican Paradox on: May 30, 2011, 06:49:42 PM
Last week, gun battles between warring drug cartels in the central Mexican state of Michoacán lasted three days, brought down a police helicopter, caused a small flood of refugees, and took an as-yet undetermined toll in lives.

It's almost a surprise the story made the news at all. "The conflict was slow to get out because local media in states like Michoacán have largely stopped covering the carnage on orders from drug gangs," reported The Journal's David Luhnow and José de Córdoba on Friday. More than 20 reporters have been killed in Mexico since the drug wars began in earnest in 2006. Last year, Mexico tied Iraq, and was second only to Pakistan, in journalist fatalities.

Then there is the numbing regularity with which news of drug-related atrocities dominates the international media's coverage of Mexico. The decapitation of 27 Guatemalan farm hands by the Zetas gang two weeks ago. The 146 corpses discovered in April in mass graves in the state of Durango. The hanging in March of five victims from bridges in the resort town of Mazatlan. The apparently deliberate killing in February of U.S. immigration officer Jaime Zapata (and the shooting of his partner) on a highway north of Mexico City.

And on, and on, and on.

Yet a funny thing happened on the way to Mexico becoming another failed state. To wit, the "failed state" boomed.

In 2010, a year when there were more than 15,000 drug-related killings (up by nearly 60% from the year before), the economy grew by 5.5%—the fastest rate in a decade. The Mexican peso appreciated against the dollar. Inflation was essentially flat. Foreign reserves rose to $113 billion. Twenty-two million tourists visited the country. Trade with the U.S. reached an all-time high of nearly $400 billion. In Ciudad Juárez, where 3,000 people were killed last year, the maquiladora industries added some 20,000 jobs. The percentage of the population living below the poverty line declined to 47.4% in 2008 (the last year for which the World Bank has data) from 63.7% a decade earlier. Literacy rates surpassed 90%. Life expectancy continues to rise to near-First World levels.

In the U.S., sociologists are puzzling over the paradox of falling crime rates in an era of high unemployment and economic uncertainty. The Mexican paradox appears to be the reverse.

Then again, what most people consider a paradox is simply the crash of reality against our own unexamined clichés and preconceptions.

View Full Image

Bloomberg News
 
Felipe Calderón, president of Mexico
.Consider the idea that crime in Mexico is out of control. The homicide rate in Mexico (about 12 per 100,000 in 2009) was more than twice that of the U.S. (five per 100,000) but well below Brazil's rate of 20.5 in 2008, to say nothing of the U.S. Virgin Islands, where it's about 50. In Mexico City, home to some 20 million people, the murder rate actually fell over the last decade. In 2009, it was about one quarter of the rate in Washington, D.C.

So how shall we define "out of control"? And what shall we make of the fact that the vast majority of the victims of Mexico's drug wars are themselves members of drug gangs? "They constitute a portion of population, that is worse than useless in any community," said Abraham Lincoln about the gamblers of Vicksburg in 1838. "And their death, if no pernicious example is set by it, is never a matter of reasonable regret with anyone." Something similar might be said of the drug cartels in their current orgy of mutual annihilation.

Then there's the idea that Mexico would have been better off had it never picked a fight with the cartels. I grew up in that Mexico, in which a corrupt and authoritarian government made its peace with—and took its cut from—the cartels.

That Mexico, built on conspiracies of silence and fear, could not survive the country's transition to democracy. It's no surprise that, even now, in the fifth year of his presidency and after 34,612 deaths, Felipe Calderón has an approval rating of 54%. Mexicans have no shortage of misgivings about his methods, but not many are proposing a viable alternative to taking the cartels head on. And by "viable," that means something other than the fantasy of expecting Ron Paul to win the presidency and end the war on drugs. Not that libertarians will ever stop proposing that utopia as their sole idea in what otherwise amounts to a feckless counsel of despair.

Last week I asked former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe whether Mexico can defeat the narcos. "Colombia is a typical case demonstrating that we can win," he answered—with the statistics to prove his case. He stressed that the key to winning was what he called a "permanent pedagogy" to convince people that the war on the cartels is "a necessary fight, not a partisan cause."

Mr. Uribe rescued Colombia from a plight far worse than what Mexico confronts today. But the central challenge is the same: how to establish a rule of law that has the legitimacy of consent and the courage of its convictions. Doing just that was Mr. Uribe's achievement, and it remains Mr. Calderón's challenge. Not much of a paradox here. Mexico's current prosperity is the bet that its market-friendly policies won't soon be betrayed by a government that can be cowed or seduced by criminals.

23426  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Iranian disconnect on: May 30, 2011, 06:44:56 PM



CHRISTOPHER RHOADS and FARNAZ FASSIHI
 
Andres Gonzalez for The Wall Street Journal
 
An Iranian engineer who helped design and run the country's Internet filters says he subtly undermined some censorship until fleeing into exile

Iran is taking steps toward an aggressive new form of censorship: a so-called national Internet that could, in effect, disconnect Iranian cyberspace from the rest of the world.

The leadership in Iran sees the project as a way to end the fight for control of the Internet, according to observers of Iranian policy inside and outside the country. Iran, already among the most sophisticated nations in online censoring, also promotes its national Internet as a cost-saving measure for consumers and as a way to uphold Islamic moral codes.

In February, as pro-democracy protests spread rapidly across the Middle East and North Africa, Reza Bagheri Asl, director of the telecommunication ministry's research institute, told an Iranian news agency that soon 60% of the nation's homes and businesses would be on the new, internal network. Within two years it would extend to the entire country, he said.

 .The unusual initiative appears part of a broader effort to confront what the regime now considers a major threat: an online invasion of Western ideas, culture and influence, primarily originating from the U.S. In recent speeches, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other top officials have called this emerging conflict the "soft war."

On Friday, new reports emerged in the local press that Iran also intends to roll out its own computer operating system in coming months to replace Microsoft Corp.'s Windows. The development, which couldn't be independently confirmed, was attributed to Reza Taghipour, Iran's communication minister.

Iran's national Internet will be "a genuinely halal network, aimed at Muslims on an ethical and moral level," Ali Aghamohammadi, Iran's head of economic affairs, said recently according to a state-run news service. Halal means compliant with Islamic law.

Mr. Aghamohammadi said the new network would at first operate in parallel to the normal Internet—banks, government ministries and large companies would continue to have access to the regular Internet. Eventually, he said, the national network could replace the global Internet in Iran, as well as in other Muslim countries.

A spokesman for Iran's mission to the United Nations declined to comment further, saying the matter is a "technical question about the scientific progress of the country."

There are many obstacles. Even for a country isolated economically from the West by sanctions, the Internet is an important business tool. Limiting access could hinder investment from Russia, China and other trading partners. There's also the matter of having the expertise and resources for creating Iranian equivalents of popular search engines and websites, like Google.

Few think that Iran could completely cut its links to the wider Internet. But it could move toward a dual-Internet structure used in a few other countries with repressive regimes.


.Myanmar said last October that public Internet connections would run through a separate system controlled and monitored by a new government company, accessing theoretically just Myanmar content. It's introducing alternatives to popular websites including an email service, called Ymail, as a replacement for Google Inc.'s Gmail.

Cuba, too, has what amounts to two Internets—one that connects to the outside world for tourists and government officials, and the other a closed and monitored network, with limited access, for public use. North Korea is taking its first tentative steps into cyberspace with a similar dual network, though with far fewer people on a much more rudimentary system.

Iran has a developed Internet culture, and blogs play a prominent role—even President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has one.

Though estimates vary, about 11 of every 100 Iranians are online, according to the International Telecommunication Union, among the highest percentages among comparable countries in the region. Because of this, during the protests following 2009's controversial presidential election, the world was able to follow events on the ground nearly live, through video and images circulated on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere.

"It might not be possible to cut off Iran and put it in a box," said Fred Petrossian, who fled Iran in the 1990s and is now online editor of Radio Farda, which is Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Iranian news service. "But it's what they're working on."

The discovery last year of the sophisticated "Stuxnet" computer worm that apparently disrupted Iran's nuclear program has added urgency to the Internet initiative, Iran watchers say. Iran believes the Stuxnet attack was orchestrated by Israel and the U.S.

"The regime no longer fears a physical attack from the West," said Mahmood Enayat, director of the Iran media program at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School of Communications. "It still thinks the West wants to take over Iran, but through the Internet."

The U.S. State Department's funding of tools to circumvent Internet censorship, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent speeches advocating Internet freedom, have reinforced Iran's perceptions, these people said.

Iran got connected to the Internet in the early 1990s, making it the first Muslim nation in the Middle East online, and the second in the region behind Israel. Young, educated and largely centered in cities, Iranians embraced the new technology.

Authorities first encouraged Internet use, seeing it as a way to spread Islamic and revolutionary ideology and to support science and technology research. Hundreds of private Internet service providers emerged. Nearly all of them connected through Data Communications Iran, or DCI, the Internet arm of the state telecommunications monopoly.

The mood changed in the late 1990s, when Islamic hardliners pushed back against the more open policies of then-president Mohammad Khatami. The subsequent shuttering of dozens of so-called reformist newspapers had the unintended effect of triggering the explosion of the Iranian blogosphere. Journalists who had lost their jobs went online. Readers followed.

Authorities struck back. In 2003, officials announced plans to block more than 15,000 websites, according to a report by the OpenNet Initiative, a collaboration of several Western universities. The regime began arresting bloggers.

Iran tried to shore up its cyber defenses in other ways, including upgrading its filtering system, for the first time using only Iranian technology. Until around 2007, the country had relied on filtering gear from U.S. companies, obtained through third countries and sometimes involving pirated versions, including Secure Computing Corp.'s SmartFilter, as well as products from Juniper Networks Inc. and Fortinet Inc., according to Iranian engineers familiar with with the filtering.

Such products are designed primarily to combat malware and viruses, but can be used to block other things, such as websites. Iranian officials several years ago designed their own filtering system—based on what they learned from the illegally obtained U.S. products—so they could service and upgrade it on their own, according to the Iranian engineers.

A Fortinet spokesman said he was unaware of any company products in Iran, adding that the company doesn't sell to embargoed countries, nor do its resellers. McAfee Inc., which owns Secure Computing, said no contract or support was provided to Iran. Intel Corp. recently bought McAfee, which added that it can now disable its technology obtained by embargoed countries. A Juniper spokesman said the company has a "strict policy of compliance with U.S. export law," and hasn't sold products to Iran.

The notion of an Iran-only Internet emerged in 2005 when Mr. Ahmadinejad became president. Officials experimented with pilot programs using a closed network serving more than 3,000 Iranian public schools as well as 400 local offices of the education ministry.

The government in 2008 allocated $1 billion to continue building the needed infrastructure. "The national Internet will not limit access for users," Abdolmajid Riazi, then-deputy director of communication technology in the ministry of telecommunications, said of the project that year. "It will instead empower Iran and protect its society from cultural invasion and threats."

Iran's government has also argued that an Iranian Internet would be cheaper for users. Replacing international data traffic with domestic traffic could cut down on hefty international telecom costs.

The widespread violence following Iran's deeply divisive presidential election in June 2009 exposed the limits of Iran's Internet control—strengthening the case for replacing the normal Internet with a closed, domestic version. In one of the most dramatic moments of the crisis, video showing the apparent shooting death of a female student, Neda Agha-Soltan, circulated globally and nearly in real time.

More Censorship Inc.
U.S. Products Help Block Mideast Web (03/28/2011)
.Some of the holes in Iran's Internet security blanket were punched by sympathetic people working within it. According to one former engineer at DCI, the government Internet company, during the 2009 protests he would block some prohibited websites only partially—letting traffic through to the outside world.

Since the 2009 protests, the government has ratcheted up its online repression. "Countering the soft war is the main priority for us today," Mr. Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, said November 2009 in a speech to members of the Basij, a pro-government paramilitary volunteer group. "In a soft war the enemy tries to make use of advanced and cultural and communication tools to spread lies and rumors."

The Revolutionary Guard, a powerful branch of the Iranian security forces, has taken the lead in the virtual fight. In late 2009, the Guard acquired a majority stake of the state telecom monopoly that owns DCI. That put all of Iran's communications networks under Revolutionary Guard control.

The Guard has created a "Cyber Army" as part of an effort to train more than 250,000 computer hackers. It recently took credit for attacks on Western sites including Voice of America, the U.S. government-funded international broadcasting service. And at the telecom ministry, work has begun on a national search engine called "Ya Hagh," or "Oh, Justice," as a possible alternative to popular search engines like Google and Yahoo.

Write to Christopher Rhoads at christopher.rhoads@wsj.com and Farnaz Fassihi at



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23427  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Does the WSJ really make any sense here? on: May 30, 2011, 06:39:27 PM


Even Left Coasters are beginning to grumble about the Obama Administration's ideological imperative for high-speed rail that defies all common sense.

A couple of weeks ago California's Legislative Analyst's Office issued a withering report calling the state's 500-mile high-speed rail project between Anaheim and San Francisco a fiscal crackup ready to happen. (See "California's Next Train Wreck," May 18.)

The federal Department of Transportation has offered $3 billion of stimulus funds with the catch that the state has to begin construction by 2012 and build the first segment in the Central Valley. A stand-alone segment running through a sparsely populated area couldn't operate without a huge taxpayer subsidy, but a voter-approved ballot measure explicitly prohibits any such subsidies.

At the urging of the state watchdog, the rail authority asked the feds for more flexibility about where and when to start building. Last week the Department of Transportation told them to dream on. In a letter responding to the request for more flexibility, Under Secretary for Policy Roy Kienitz ordered the authority to charge full speed ahead since "once major construction is underway and approvals to complete other sections of the line have been obtained, the private sector will have compelling reasons to invest in further construction." Private sector seems to be the Obama Administration's code for government.

Even some of the state's Democrats are protesting the Administration's mulishness. Democratic state senator Alan Lowenthal told the Los Angeles Times that "there is nothing in the letter saying the federal government would commit $17 billion to $19 billion for the project . . . If it had, we would build the Central Valley segment right now. But the state needs to be financially and fiscally responsible."

Which is why the legislature needs to kill the train now. Once this boondoggle gets out of the station, the state will be writing checks for decades.

23428  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Off the rails on: May 30, 2011, 06:36:36 PM
Even Left Coasters are beginning to grumble about the Obama Administration's ideological imperative for high-speed rail that defies all common sense.

A couple of weeks ago California's Legislative Analyst's Office issued a withering report calling the state's 500-mile high-speed rail project between Anaheim and San Francisco a fiscal crackup ready to happen. (See "California's Next Train Wreck," May 18.)

The federal Department of Transportation has offered $3 billion of stimulus funds with the catch that the state has to begin construction by 2012 and build the first segment in the Central Valley. A stand-alone segment running through a sparsely populated area couldn't operate without a huge taxpayer subsidy, but a voter-approved ballot measure explicitly prohibits any such subsidies.

At the urging of the state watchdog, the rail authority asked the feds for more flexibility about where and when to start building. Last week the Department of Transportation told them to dream on. In a letter responding to the request for more flexibility, Under Secretary for Policy Roy Kienitz ordered the authority to charge full speed ahead since "once major construction is underway and approvals to complete other sections of the line have been obtained, the private sector will have compelling reasons to invest in further construction." Private sector seems to be the Obama Administration's code for government.

Even some of the state's Democrats are protesting the Administration's mulishness. Democratic state senator Alan Lowenthal told the Los Angeles Times that "there is nothing in the letter saying the federal government would commit $17 billion to $19 billion for the project . . . If it had, we would build the Central Valley segment right now. But the state needs to be financially and fiscally responsible."

Which is why the legislature needs to kill the train now. Once this boondoggle gets out of the station, the state will be writing checks for decades.

23429  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Gerecht & Dubowitz: Iranian oil-free zone on: May 30, 2011, 06:33:45 PM


By REUEL MARC GERECHT AND MARK DUBOWITZ
If we buy oil from despotic states, are we somehow complicit in their crimes? Even after the Arab Spring has highlighted tyranny in the Middle East, Americans and Europeans still generally remove oil and natural gas from their moral calculations.

But what if we could do a lot of good by sanctioning Iranian oil? Is it possible, moreover, for Europeans to continue to buy Iranian crude but give the Iranian regime less money? And could China and India, major oil customers of Tehran who couldn't care less about the regime's behavior, purchase as much crude as they want and still hurt the mullahs' ability to translate oil wealth into nefarious actions?

The answer to all three questions is "yes." All buyers need is more incentive to shop ruthlessly whenever they buy from Tehran. Washington could provide it by declaring the United States an Iranian-oil-free zone. Any company that exports an oil-based product to America—gasoline, plastics, petrochemicals, synthetic fibers—would have to certify that no Iranian oil was involved in its manufacture.

In 2010, the U.S. imported approximately 5% of its finished (fully-refined) and unfinished daily gasoline consumption from Europe. Since Iranian oil is now freely blended into European stocks, the U.S. is certainly consuming Iranian crude. And Iran's petrochemical exports to China amount to roughly $2 billion, so imagine how much of that comes to the U.S. via Chinese-manufactured plastics.

Making the U.S. an Iranian-oil-free zone would make it a hassle to trade in and use Iranian crude, which would strongly encourage any importer to demand a discount from Tehran. The pressure on Iran to lower its price everywhere could become acute.

VThe U.S. is Europe's largest export market for gasoline, so Washington could give foreign refineries a six-month grace period to adjust their supplies, making it unlikely there would be any increase in the price of gasoline exported to the U.S. No refinery in Europe is dependent on Iranian crude: Even in a tight market, alternative oil supplies could quickly replace Iranian supplies for those refineries that prefer to avoid Iranian oil.

Even for countries that might try to cheat the system, like Venezuela, the incentive would be strong to take advantage of this American sanction and force a lower Iranian price. Moving oil from Iran to Venezuela isn't free—ideological fraternity would probably come at a price.

It's difficult to assess exactly, but it's reasonable to posit that aggressive oil traders would force Tehran to discount its oil by at least 10%. Currently, gasoline traders willing to defy U.S. sanctions on refined petroleum demand premiums of about 30% for the sale of petrol to the Islamic Republic.

Given the state of the Iranian economy—oil production is declining, investments in natural-gas production and distribution are lagging, state subsidies are still exploding, and unemployment and inflation are both rising—a small reduction in oil revenue could have a cascading effect.

It would be easy for European Union countries to adapt to a U.S. Iranian-oil free zone. Under current practices, all foreign oil coming into the EU is so designated by origin for customs purposes. When petroleum is in port, it is tagged as a "T1" (non-EU) good. The discharge of this oil is managed by a handful of highly reputable survey companies that must certify how much oil was unloaded, whether any was lost in shipment, and who now owns the crude. The oil is then processed, refined, and distilled, becoming "T2" (EU) petroleum.


Because of the nature of the refining business, refiners know exactly whose oil is entering into the system and what its properties are (heavy or light, sweet or sour) owing to the desired final product (gasoline, diesel, heating oil, petrochemicals, etc). Iranian crude could be clearly marked as it enters a refinery, placing the legal onus on the refinery and the end-user to certify that Iranian oil has not entered a stream that becomes, for example, Shell gasoline destined for the American market.

In India and China, where legal checks are poorer, it will be more demanding to monitor imports and exports. Still, American pressure could force certification. The objective wouldn't be to create a leak-proof system globally, but a mechanism that would encourage oil traders to demand discounts from Tehran.

On the American side, Congress can easily close a legal loophole that allows for the importation of refined petroleum and other petroleum-based products made from Iranian oil. (The direct importation of Iranian crude has long been illegal.) European refineries might at first bridle at the hassle of separating Iranian petroleum from everyone else's, but they would soon comply given the importance of the American market. Oil traders everywhere would realize their new advantage over Tehran.

Sanctions are too often ineffective because they run counter to our pecuniary motivations, but an Iranian-oil-free zone wouldn't be. It would bring cheaper Iranian oil to those who want it, and it would punish the Iranian regime—perhaps more so than any existing sanctions effort—for its transgressions. That's a win-win for everyone.

Mr. Gerecht, a former CIA officer, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the author of "The Wave: Man, God and the Ballot Box in the Middle East" (Hoover, 2011). Mr. Dubowitz is executive director of the foundation and heads its Iran Energy Project.

23430  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Helprin on: May 30, 2011, 05:45:32 PM
By MARK HELPRIN
Largely out of touch with the tragedies of war, America sends often principled and self-sacrificing volunteers to suffer and die in our behalf. We call them heroes and salve our consciences in a froth of words. Or, among those of us who will fight only if the Taliban come to Beverly Hills, and probably not even then, congratulate ourselves for being intelligent enough not to volunteer. Then we go about our business, either satisfied that we are appropriately patriotic or assuming that as we face only imagined dangers we need not lose sleep over the unfortunates who pursue them, often unto death, leaving behind broken and grieving families who suffer a pain that never goes away.

On Memorial Day, we pause at the graves of lost soldiers and make speeches that sometimes open to view the heartbreak and love that are their last traces. But this is not enough, because they do not hear, and because those who will have followed in the years to come will not hear. Love is not enough, rationalization not enough, commemoration a thin and insufficient offering. The only just memorial to those who went forth and died for us, and who therefore question us eternally, cannot be of stone or steel or time set aside for speeches and picnics.

We should offer instead a memorial, never ending, of probity and preparation, shared sacrifice, continuing resolve, and the clarity the nation once had in regard to how, where, when, and when not to go to war. This is the least we can do both for America and for the troops we dispatch into worlds of sorrow and death. Once, it came naturally, but no longer, and it must be restored.

First, and despite the times, is the demonstrable fact that throttling defense in the name of economy is economical neither in the long nor the short run. Not if you count the cost of avoidable wars undeterred. Not if you count the cost of major world realignments that lead to overt challenges and adventures. Not if you count the cost—in money, division, demoralization, decline, death, and grief—of lost wars. Is there any doubt that a relatively minor expenditure of money and courage could have kept Germany in its place and prevented the incalculable cost of World War II?

A public that otherwise professes deep loyalty to its troops is in the name of economy stripping down their equipment and resources, making it more likely that they will fight future battles against forces both gratuitously undeterred and against which they may not prevail. This is short sighted, tragic, hardly a memorial, and in fact an irony, in that other than in redeploying a portion of our wealth from luxury to security, military spending has always been a spur to the economy, as history demonstrates and every member of Congress with military facilities or manufactures in his district knows.

Nonetheless, the greatest economy—of lives, money, strategy—is found in neither the diminution nor the accretion of forces but in the wisdom and precision of their deployment and the adoption of feasible goals. It is neither possible nor desirable to build nations while simultaneously trying to conquer them with inadequate force. (Unlike Iraq and Afghanistan, the oft-mentioned counter examples of Germany and Japan had been decisively defeated and were heirs to different traditions of governance.)

And what opponents of the United States could not be delighted that the current administration, in the name of unrealizable ideals, has made a project of destabilizing the whole world by abandoning friendly countries and allies because it is too delicate and self-concerned to tolerate that they are at times unsavory? President Obama would undoubtedly praise this in FDR, but apparently to him the co-operative states and allies he has undermined are neither as warm nor as fuzzy as Stalin.

When in defense of our essential interests we do go to war, not only must we carefully determine war aims—and thus dictate to the enemy the time, place, and nature of battle rather than chasing him into the briar patch of his choosing—but we must accomplish them massively, overwhelmingly, decisively, and, if necessary, ruthlessly. For anything other than minor operations this requires the consent of Congress, a declaration of war, and the clear statement and unflinching prosecution of our objectives. Rapid shocks cost less in lives, ours and theirs, than wars that drag inconclusively for a decade. We must make our enemies understand at the deepest level of apprehension that if we are attacked we will be quick and they will be dead.

We can construct a genuine memorial to the patriot graves in Arlington and thousands of other cemeteries only if we abandon the many illusory and destructive assumptions with which the weakness of the present will burden the future.

We will fail to assure the national security if we assume that we will not be drawn into two wars at once; if we do not provide a surplus of material power; if we believe that "conventional" war is a thing of the past; if in the name of false economy we do not apply our full technological potential to our arsenals; if we imagine that technological advance will carry the day in the absence of strategic clarity and the proven principles of warfare; if we make the armed forces a laboratory for the hobby horses of progressivism; and if our political leaders, very few of whom have studied much less known war, commit our troops promiscuously, in service to tangential ideology, with scatterbrained objectives, and without what Winston Churchill called the "continual stress of soul" necessary for proper decision.

Only the dead have seen the end of war, which will not be eradicated but must be suppressed, managed, and minimized. This cannot be accomplished in the absence of resolution, vigilance, and sacrifice. These are the only fitting memorials to the long ranks of the dead, and what we owe to those who in the absence of our care and devotion are sure to join them.

Mr. Helprin, a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, is the author of, among
23431  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: May 30, 2011, 05:44:20 PM
Uhhh , , , what is a "Four Loko"?
23432  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / 9/11 Registered so far on: May 30, 2011, 05:34:30 PM
Hugh "C - Teufel Hunden" (formerly known as (C-Irish Dog) Sargent

Larry Brown
23433  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Known Internet Explorer Bug When Posting on: May 30, 2011, 05:29:33 PM
Taking this off of "sticky" status , , ,
23434  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Gates on: May 30, 2011, 01:59:33 PM
Robert Gates, who steps down next month after four-plus years at the Pentagon, is making his retirement lap a tutorial on America's defense spending and security needs. His message is welcome, especially on Memorial Day, and even if he couldn't always heed it in his time as Secretary of Defense.

In a series of farewell speeches, Mr. Gates has warned against cuts to weapon programs and troop levels that would make America vulnerable in "a complex and unpredictable security environment," as he said Sunday at Notre Dame. On Tuesday at the American Enterprise Institute, Mr. Gates noted that the U.S. went on "a procurement holiday" in the 1990s, when the Clinton Administration decided to cash in the Cold War peace dividend. The past decade showed that history (and war) didn't end in 1989.

"It is vitally important to protect the military modernization accounts," he said, and push ahead with new capabilities, from an air refueling tanker fleet to ballistic missile submarines.

***
America's role as a global leader depends on its ability to project power. In historical terms, the U.S. spends relatively little on defense today, even after the post-9/11 buildup. This year's $530 billion budget accounts for 3.5% of GDP, 4.5% when the costs of the Afghan and Iraq wars are included. The U.S. spent, on average, 7.5% of GDP on defense throughout the Cold War, and 6.2% at the height of the Reagan buildup in 1986.

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Associated Press
 
In a series of farewell speeches, Mr. Gates has warned against cuts to weapon programs and troop levels.
.But on coming into office, the Obama Administration put the Pentagon on a fiscal diet—even as it foisted new European-sized entitlements on America, starting with $2.6 trillion for ObamaCare. The White House proposed a $553 billion defense budget for 2012, $13 billion below what it projected last year. Through 2016, the Pentagon will see virtually zero growth in spending and will have to whittle down the Army and Marine Corps by 47,000 troops. The White House originally wanted deeper savings of up to $150 billion.

Mr. Gates deserves credit for fighting off the worst White House instincts, but his biggest defeat was not getting a share of the stimulus. Instead he has cut or killed some $350 billion worth of weapon programs. He told his four service chiefs last August to find $100 billion in savings. The White House pocketed that and asked for another $78 billion. Last year, Mr. Gates said that the Pentagon needs 2%-3% real budget growth merely to sustain what it's doing now, but it could make do with 1%. The White House gave him 0%.

In the Gates term, resources were focused on the demands of today's wars over hypothetical conflicts of tomorrow. This approach made sense at the start of his tenure in 2007, when the U.S. was in a hard fight in Iraq. Yet this has distracted from budgeting to address the rise of China and perhaps of regional powers like a nuclear Iran that will shape the security future. The decision to stop producing the F-22 fighter and to kill several promising missile defense programs may come back to haunt the U.S.

Mr. Gates knows well that America won't balance its budget by squeezing the Pentagon. "If you cut the defense budget by 10%, which would be catastrophic in terms of force structure, that's $55 billion out of a $1.4 trillion deficit," he told the Journal's CEO Council conference last November. "We are not the problem."

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...So what is? Mr. Gates acknowledged it only in passing this week, but the reality is that the entitlement state is crowding out national defense. Over two decades ago, liberal historian Paul Kennedy claimed that "imperial overstretch" had brought first the Romans, then the British and now Americans down to size. He was wrong then, but what's really happening now is "entitlement overstretch," to quote military analyst Andrew Krepinevich.

The American entitlement state was born with the New Deal, got fat with the Great Society of the 1960s and hit another growth spurt in the first two years of the Obama era. The big three entitlements—Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, plus other retirement and disability expenses—accounted for 4.9% of GDP by 1970, eclipsed defense spending in 1976 and stood at 9.8% as of last year. Under current projections, entitlements will eat up 10.8% of GDP by 2020, while defense spending goes down to 2.7%. On current trends, those entitlements will consume all tax revenues by 2052, estimates Mackenzie Eaglen of the Heritage Foundation.

Europe went down this yellow brick road decades ago and today spends just 1.7% of GDP on defense. The Europeans get a free security ride from America, but who will the U.S. turn to for protection—China?

As Reagan knew, America's global power begins at home, with a strong economy able to generate wealth. The push for defense cuts reflects the reality of a weak recovery and a national debt that has doubled in the last two years. But the Obama Administration made a conscious decision to squeeze defense while pouring money on everything else.

***
"More perhaps than any other Secretary of Defense, I have been a strong advocate of soft power—of the critical importance of diplomacy and development as fundamental components of our foreign policy and national security," Mr. Gates said at Notre Dame. "But make no mistake, the ultimate guarantee against the success of aggressors, dictators and terrorists in the 21st century, as in the 20th, is hard power—the size, strength and global reach of the United States military."

That's a crucial message for Republican deficit hawks, and especially for a Commander in Chief who inherited the capability to capture Osama bin Laden half way around the world but is on track to leave America militarily weaker than he found it.

23435  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Miraculous cure! on: May 30, 2011, 01:41:20 PM
By BARI WEISS
In March 2008, David Mamet was outed in the Village Voice. The Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright had a comedy about an American president running on Broadway, and—perhaps to help with ticket sales—decided to write an article about the election season. The headline was subtle: "Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal.'"

"They mistitled it," he insists. Mr. Mamet had given the piece the far more staid title, "Political Civility." But the Voice's headline was truth in advertising. "I took the liberal view for many decades, but I believe I have changed my mind," Mr. Mamet wrote, referring to his prior self as, yes, a "brain-dead liberal."

The article was the most popular ever published on the Voice's website. But was the acclaimed Mr. Mamet really a conservative?

For a few years, he played it coy. In a 2008 interview with New York Magazine, he sloughed off a question about who he was voting for: "I'm not the guy to ask about politics. I'm a gag writer." In 2010, he told PBS's Charlie Rose he'd only offer his opinion about President Obama off-camera.  But spend five minutes with Mr. Mamet and you realize that coy can only last so long. "Being a rather pugnacious sort of fellow I thought, as Albert Finney says in 'Two for the Road': 'As I said to the duchess, 'If you want to be a duchess, be a duchess. If you want to make love, it's hats off.'"

Hats off, indeed. Now Mr. Mamet has written a book-length, raucous coming-out party: "The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture." (If only the Voice editors had been around to supply a snappier title.)

Hear him take on the left's sacred cows. Diversity is a "commodity." College is nothing more than "Socialist Camp." Liberalism is like roulette addiction. Toyota's Prius, he tells me, is an "anti-chick magnet" and "ugly as a dogcatcher's butt." Hollywood liberals—his former crowd—once embraced Communism "because they hadn't invented Pilates yet." Oh, and good radio isn't NPR ("National Palestinian Radio") but Dennis Prager, Michael Medved and Hugh Hewitt.

The book is blunt, at times funny, and often over the top. When I meet the apostate in a loft in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, he's wrapping up a production meeting. "Bye, bye, Bette!" he calls to the actress walking toward the elevator. That'd be Bette Midler. Al Pacino gets a bear hug. The two are starring in an upcoming HBO film about Phil Spector's murder trial. Mr. Mamet is directing and he looks the part in a scarf, black beret and round yellow-framed glasses. Looking out the window at NYU film school, where he used to teach, I ask him to tell me his conversion story.

He starts, naturally, with the most famous political convert in modern American history: Whittaker Chambers, whose 1952 book, "Witness," documented his turn from Communism. "I read it. It was miraculous. Extraordinary hero-journey of this fellow that had to examine everything he believed in at the great, great cost—which is a cost I'm not subject to—of abandoning his life, his sustenance, his friends, his associations, and his past. And I said, 'Oh my God. . . . Perhaps it might be incumbent upon me to see if I could get my thought and my actions into line too."

There were other books. Most were given to him by his rabbi in L.A., Mordecai Finley. Mr. Mamet rattles off the works that affected him most: "White Guilt" by Shelby Steele, "Ethnic America" by Thomas Sowell, "The Instincts of the Herd in Peace and War" by Wilfred Trotter, "The Road to Serfdom" by Friedrich Hayek, "Capitalism and Freedom" by Milton Friedman, and "On Liberty" by John Stuart Mill.

Before he moved to California, Mr. Mamet had never met a self-described conservative or read one's writings. He'd never heard of Messrs. Sowell or Steele. "No one on the left has," he tells me. "I realized I lived in this bubble."

When it popped, it was rough. "I did what I thought was, if not a legitimate, then at least a usual, thing—I took it out on those around me," Mr. Mamet says wryly. It took "a long, long, long time and a lot of difficult thinking first to analyze, then change, some of my ideas."

Then comes one of Mr. Mamet's many Hollywood fables. "It's like Orson Welles," he begins.

"It's his first day on the set of Citizen Kane, and he's never directed a movie, he's the greatest stage director of his time. Gregg Toland is his cinematographer, and Toland's the greatest cinematographer of his day. And Orson says, 'Ok, this next shot we're gonna put the camera over here. And Gregg says, 'You can't put the camera there, Orson.' So Orson says, 'Well why not? The director can put it wherever.' Gregg says, 'No. Because you're crossing the line.' So Orson says, 'What does it mean crossing the line? So Gregg explains to him that there's a line of action." (Mr. Mamet attempts to demonstrate the principle to me by indicating the line of sight between our noses.)

"Orson says, 'I don't understand.'" (Neither did I.) "So Gregg explains it again. And Orson says, 'I still don't understand'—'cause sometimes it can get very, very complicated. So Orson says, 'Stop! Stop filming! I have to go home.' He went home and he stayed up all night with sheets of paper and a ruler and he came back next day and said: 'Now I understand, now we can go on.'"

And so it was with Mr. Mamet and politics. He couldn't move on, so to speak, before he understood "what the nature of government is, just sufficient so that I as a citizen can actually vote without being a member of a herd." Same for taxes: "I pay them, so I think I should be responsible for what actually happens to them." As for the history of the country itself, he wanted to understand "the vision of the Founding Fathers. . . . How does holding to it keep people safe and prosperous?"

Reading and reflecting got him to some basics. Real diversity is intellectual. Whatever its flaws, America is the greatest country in the history of the world. The free market always solves problems better than government. It's the job of the state to be just, not to render social justice. And, most sobering, Mr. Mamet writes in "The Secret Knowledge," there are no perfect solutions to inequality, only trade-offs.


It's a wonder he didn't explicitly adopt this tragic view of reality earlier on. The play "Glengarry Glen Ross," for example, for which Mr. Mamet won the 1984 Pulitzer Prize, is about a group of desperate men competing with each other in a Chicago real estate office. At stake: a Cadillac for the top seller. Second place: a set of steak knives. Third prize: you're fired.

Needless to say, no one ends up getting the Caddie. "That's the essence of drama," Mr. Mamet says. "Anyone can write: And then we realized that Lithuanians are people too and we're all happier now. Who cares?" Tragedy is devastating, he says, precisely because it's about "people trying to do the best they can and ending up destroying each other.

"So it wasn't a great shift to adopt the tragic view, and it's much healthier," he says. "Rather than saying, as the liberals do, 'Everything's always wrong, there's nothing that's not wrong, there's something bad bad bad—there's a bad thing in the world and it's probably called the Jews,'" he says sardonically. "And if it's not called the Jews for the moment, it's their fiendish slave second-hand smoke. Or transfats. Or global warming. Or the Y2K. Or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. And something must be done!'"

It's the last part—the temptation to believe that everything can be fixed—that Mr. Mamet thinks is the fatal error. "That's such a f— bore," he says. "I mean, have you ever tried to get a pipe fixed in your bathroom on a Saturday? It's not going to happen. It's gonna happen wrong, and the guy's gonna be late because his dog got run over, and he's going to fix the wrong pipe, and when he takes it apart he's gonna say, 'Oops, the whole plumbing system's gonna have to go and dah dah dah and etc. etc. etc. And your daughter's Bat Mitzvah's gonna be ruined. It's interesting—it's the tragic view of life."

As Mr. Mamet quotes his son, Noah, in "The Secret Knowledge," "it's the difference between the Heavenly Dream and the God-Awful Reality."

On the left, Mr. Mamet is accused of having ulterior motives for his political shift. The New Republic's Jonathan Chait writes that the story is a familiar, Zionist one: "An increasingly religious Jew with strong loyalty to Israel, he became aware of a tension between the illiberal nationalism of his right-wing views on the Middle East and the liberalism of his views on everything else, and resolved the tension by abandoning the latter." Mr. Mamet calls this a "crock of s—."

The Slate website has run with the "Rich Person Discovers He Is a Republican" narrative. And then there's the jiu-jitsu theory offered by a film blogger: "Mamet's escalating interest in martial arts—traditionally the domain of right-wing nutjobs like Chuck Norris—has pointed toward this new stance for some time." Obviously.

None of these responses comes as a surprise. And, being a contrarian and a dramatist, Mr. Mamet doubtless relishes the attention for his heresy. What will be more interesting is to see how critics respond to his two new plays.

The first, playing now in Manhattan, is called "The Linguistics Class." Only 10 minutes long, it's part of a festival of 25 short plays at the Atlantic Theater Company, running alongside works by Ethan Coen and Sam Shepard. It's a coming home for Mr. Mamet: He founded the company with his friend, the actor William H. Macey, 25 years ago.

The play is about a teacher and a student who don't see eye to eye, and Mr. Mamet assures me "it has nothing to do with Noam Chomsky."

"The Anarchist," on the other hand, sounds like it will be red meat for conservatives. The two-woman show, which opens this fall in London, is about a prisoner, a former member of a Weather Underground-type group, and her parole officer. The play's themes have been developing since Sept. 11, 2001.

Mr. Mamet was in Toronto that day for a film festival. "I read an article, I think it was in that day's Toronto Star, that had been a reprint from the Chicago Tribune," he says. It was an interview with Bill Ayers and his wife Bernardine Dorne, two former leaders of the Weather Underground. "They were talking about the bombings in the '60s. And the guy says to Bill Ayers: 'Are you regretful?' And he said: 'No, no, no.' . . . And I read it, and I thought, this is appalling and immoral," recalls Mr. Mamet.

"Then I got on a plane. And while I was on the plane they blew up New York City. The combination of the two things just started me thinking what have we—meaning my generation—done?" Mr. Mamet knows these characters intimately. They went to school with him at Goddard College in Vermont, or they passed through. "Some of the people I knew actually were involved in blowing up the building on 11th Street [in Manhattan by members of the Weather Underground in 1970]. . . . And I thought: how does this happen?"


Is it a coincidence that this play is arriving at the same time as Mr. Mamet's public conservatism? Does he worry that critics will see it as polemical? "I don't know," he contends, insistent that his job as a writer is not to worry about politics but to entertain and surprise his audience. "The question is can you put the asses in the seats and can you keep the asses in the seats. That's not me, that's Aristotle. I've forgotten the Greek for it."

Ms. Weiss is an assistant editorial features editor at the Journal. A review of Mr. Mamet's book, "The Secret Knowledge," can be found on page C13 in today's Review section.

23436  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ross Douthat on: May 30, 2011, 01:32:08 PM


The Arizona immigration law was controversial from the beginning. Critics said it was ripe for abuse, implicitly discriminatory and probably unconstitutional as well. Business groups and liberal activists joined forces to oppose it.  But now that it’s been implemented, it might just be a model for nationwide reform.

No, I’m not talking about the Arizona law that empowers local police to check the immigration status of anyone they detain, which generated a wave of boycotts and a surfeit of Gestapo analogies last spring. I mean the 2007 Arizona law requiring businesses to confirm their employees’ legal status with the federal E-Verify database, which was upheld last week in a 5-to-3 decision by the United States Supreme Court.

The E-Verify law was never as polarizing as last year’s police-powers legislation, but it still attracted plenty of opposition. Arizona business interests called it unfair and draconian. (An employer’s business license is suspended for the first offense and revoked for the second.) Civil liberties groups argued that the E-Verify database’s error rate is unacceptably high, and that the law creates a presumptive bias against hiring Hispanics.

If these arguments sound familiar, it’s because similar critiques are always leveled against any attempt to actually enforce America’s immigration laws. From the border to the workplace, immigration enforcement is invariably depicted as terribly harsh, hopelessly expensive and probably racist into the bargain.

Not to mention counterproductive: advocates for “comprehensive” reform, the holy grail of liberal Democrats and moderate Republicans alike, have long implied that it’s essentially impossible to prevent illegal immigrants from finding their way to eager employers. Instead, they argue, we have no choice but to ratify the status quo — i.e., mass low-skilled immigration from Mexico and Central America — by creating a vast new guest-worker program and offering citizenship to illegal immigrants already here.

So far, though, Arizona’s E-Verify law seems to be providing a strong counterpoint to this counsel of despair. According to a recent study from the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California, the legislation reduced Arizona’s population of working-age illegal immigrants by about 17 percent, or roughly 92,000 people, in just a single year. (This effect was entirely distinct from the Great Recession’s broader impact on immigration, the study argues.) And the swift attrition was mainly achieved through voluntary compliance: the number of employers prosecuted under the law can be counted on one hand.

These results suggest that maybe — just maybe — America’s immigration rate isn’t determined by forces beyond any lawmaker’s control. Maybe public policy can make a difference after all. Maybe we could have an immigration system that looked as if it were designed on purpose, not embraced in a fit of absence of mind.

At least in the short term, there’s no good reason for such a system to include any kind of amnesty. This was a dubious idea even during the last decade’s economic boom. It would be folly (and a political nonstarter) in this economic climate, which has left Americans without high school diplomas (who tend to lose out from low-skilled immigration) facing a 15 percent unemployment rate.

But eschewing amnesty doesn’t require shutting down immigration. Quite the opposite: With increased enforcement (to date, only a few states have Arizona-style E-Verify laws on the books, though the Obama White House seems to be stepping up prosecutions of employers), the United States could welcome as many immigrants as we do today. But instead of shrugging as low-skilled workers jump the border to compete with the struggling American working class, our immigration policy should focus on recruiting well-educated migrants, opening the door to greater legal immigration from Asia, Africa and Europe.

As it happens, a system along these lines exists right now — in Canada. A recent report from the Manhattan Institute found that the United States still assimilates immigrants more successfully than many Western European countries. But culturally and economically, we lag well behind our northern neighbor when it comes to integrating new arrivals.

In part, this is because Canada fast-tracks immigrants to citizenship. But it’s also because Canada does more to recruit highly educated émigrés than the United States — and the Dominion’s more international, geographically diverse immigrant population probably discourages balkanization and self-segregation. (No single country or region dominates Canada’s immigration numbers to the extent that Mexico and the rest of Latin America dominate immigration to the United States.)

The result is a system that welcomes newcomers but serves the national interest as well. America isn’t close to that sweet spot at the moment, but it’s what we should be aiming for. By learning from Arizona, and becoming more like Canada, we might finally have an immigration policy worthy of the U.S.A.

23437  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Good news, POTH is upset on: May 30, 2011, 01:28:42 PM
Inching Closer to States’ RightsPublished: May 29, 2011


 Chief Justice John Roberts is one vote short of moving the Supreme Court to a position so conservative on states’ rights that it would be to the right of the Tea Party’s idea of limited government. That chilling possibility was evident in the court’s recent ruling in the case of Virginia v. Stewart.

The principle at stake dates back to a 1908 case, Ex parte Young, in which the Supreme Court held that federal courts have a paramount role in stopping a state from violating federal law. Despite the 11th Amendment’s protection of a state from being sued in federal court, all state officials must comply with federal law, which the Constitution calls “the supreme Law of the Land.”

States’ rights has been a politically charged concept for even longer. It was a basis for secession and then for years of Southern defiance on segregation. Now it is used as an excuse for rejecting national immigration policy.

Ex parte Young, however, has long stood above legal politics, recognized by conservatives and liberals as defining an essential rule. Indeed, last month the court relied on it in ruling that a federal court could stop a Virginia agency from violating federal statutes requiring it to provide records of mentally ill or disabled patients who had died or been injured while in its care. It was noteworthy that the opinion was by Justice Antonin Scalia.

But there was a dissent by Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. joined by Justice Samuel Alito Jr. and an opinion concurring with the majority by Justice Anthony Kennedy joined by Justice Clarence Thomas. To these four justices, there is no longer an inviolable principle that federal courts can stop state officials from violating federal law.

The Roberts view is this: By letting one Virginia agency sue another to stop it from violating federal law, the majority has permitted “precisely what sovereign immunity is supposed to guard against” — the indignity of a federal judge deciding “an internal state dispute.”

The Kennedy view: While the court is right to let the lawsuit go forward, the interest served by doing so must be balanced against “the dignity and respect afforded a state” that is protected by sovereign immunity.

To understand why these opinions are threatening, it’s necessary to set them in a larger context. The Rehnquist court made states’ rights a central concern, especially sovereign immunity. Its vision was resolute, with a series of 5-to-4 votes won by conservatives limiting the power of Congress to subject states to state lawsuits and federal administrative proceedings as well as federal suits.

Yet Chief Justice William Rehnquist didn’t waiver from the view that it is not a breach of sovereign immunity to allow a suit against a state official alleged to be violating federal law, because if he is violating it, he is not acting with the state’s sovereign authority.

The April ruling was the first dealing with the topic by the Roberts court. Justice Kennedy has proposed the same unwarranted balancing before. But it is disquieting news that Chief Justice Roberts seems to endorse it, as if there were a state sovereign interest to balance where Supreme Courts for a century have seen none. That puts Justice Roberts and Justice Alito notably to the right of the Rehnquist court. If the chief justice gets a fifth vote, there will be no apparent check, like the federal law’s supremacy, against gutting Ex parte Young.

23438  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Utah gold and silver coins on: May 30, 2011, 01:25:32 PM
FARR WEST, Utah — Most people who amass the pure gold and silver coins produced by the United States Mint do so for collections or investments, not to buy Slurpees at 7-Eleven.

“You’d be a fool,” Tom Jurkowsky, a spokesman for the Mint, said of the Slurpee idea, “but you could do it.”

After all, while the one-ounce American Eagle coin produced by the Mint says “One Dollar,” it is actually worth more like $38 based on the current price of silver. (An ounce of gold is worth more than $1,500.)

Now, however, Utah has passed a law intended to encourage residents to use gold or silver coins made by the Mint as cash, but with their value based on the weight of the precious metals in them, not the face value — if, that is, they can find a merchant willing to accept the coins on that basis.

The legislation, called the Legal Tender Act of 2011, was inspired in part by Tea Party supporters, some of whom believe that the dollar should be backed by gold or silver and that Obama administration policies could cause a currency collapse. The law is the first of its kind in the United States. Several other states, including Minnesota, Idaho and Georgia, have considered similar laws.

Mr. Jurkowsky said the new law “is of no real consequence,” and is purely symbolic, but supporters say it is more than political pocket change. They say that it is just a beginning, that one day soon Utah might mint its own coins, that retailers could have scales for weighing precious metals and that a state defense force could be formed to guard warehouses where the new money would be made and stored.

“This is an incremental step in the right direction,” said Lowell Nelson, the interim coordinator for the Campaign for Liberty in Utah, a libertarian group rooted in Ron Paul’s presidential campaign. “If the federal government isn’t going to do it, then we here in Utah ought to be able to establish a monetary system that would survive a crash if and when that happens.”

Utah has a strong conservative streak, but there are other reasons why it was first to pass such a law.

For many of its supporters, the new law represents an extension of the notion of preparedness that is nurtured by Utah’s powerful founding institution, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Many of the law’s supporters believe policies like stimulus spending, the bank bailout and national health care will soon bankrupt the government, sending inflation soaring. Owning gold and silver, they say, will help protect people.

“It’s kind of written into our theology that we’re supposed to be prepared for any eventuality,” said Mr. Nelson, who was involved in early meetings with state lawmakers about the law.

Wayne Scholle, the marketing director for Old Glory Mint, in Spanish Fork, Utah, showed off a commemorative silver coin the company made honoring the new law, one he said he hoped could be a model for a future state-minted coin. The front — or obverse — includes an image representing “the miracle of the gulls,” an important story in Mormon folklore in which seagulls are said to have suddenly appeared and eaten insects that were destroying the first crops Mormon settlers raised, a year after arriving in Utah in 1847.

“Their messaging is spot on with this,” Mr. Scholle said. “It’s preparedness. It’s protecting yourself.”

Old Glory is not the only company that hopes to benefit. Craig Franco, a coin dealer south of Salt Lake City, said he was finishing an arrangement with a bank to create a depository through which people will be able to spend their gold and silver indirectly, by using a Visa credit card that makes charges against the value of their holdings. Mr. Franco noted that state law, for now, left it to the private sector to figure out how conducting business with gold and silver should work.

“The regulation of the system?” Mr. Franco said. “There is no regulation of the system. We are working out the nuances of it.”

Mr. Franco is among several supporters who say the law’s most important feature may be that it eliminates state capital gains taxes on the sale of gold and silver, a move he thinks will prompt individuals and large scale investors outside the state to move their gold and silver to Utah. But federal capital gains taxes would still apply.

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“I would hope the federal government would simply concede: ‘O.K., you’re right, it’s money, so we can’t tax it,’ ” said Larry Hilton, a lawyer and insurance broker who first took the idea to lawmakers. “But that may not happen.”

Article 1, Section 10 of the Constitution says no state shall coin money, though Mr. Hilton and some others argue that a phrase used later, saying no state shall “make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts” can be read as a license for Utah’s new law and, perhaps, for a state’s right to mint its own coins.

A spokesman for the Mormon church would not comment on the Utah law, but said in a statement that the church’s teachings related to preparedness were “simply a matter of encouraging people to practice sound principles of provident living and to save for a rainy day.”

State Representative Brad Galvez, the freshman Republican who sponsored the bill at the request of party leadership, said he was “not trying to push back against the federal government” but simply to “create an alternative” to the dollar that lawmakers hoped might send a message to Washington about fiscal policy. He noted that the law does not require businesses to accept gold or silver, but only gives them a choice.

Much of the logic of the law is rooted in the belief that the dollar is at risk and that gold and silver, coined around the world for thousands of years, are enduring, stable investments. That, too, is in dispute.

“From an investment standpoint, I’ve always found that if something is heavily advertised on television, it’s not a good thing to do,” said Gary P. Brinson, a philanthropist who spent 40 years as an investment strategist. “Right now, it’s hard to find anywhere on television where you don’t see gold and silver being advertised.”

For all the excitement, so far, it is hard to find anyone who is using gold or silver to buy anything. But here in Farr West, about 40 miles north of Salt Lake City, there is at least some precedent for such transactions.

Decades ago, the rambling Smith and Edwards store, a kind of giant 7-Eleven from the Old West that sells everything from survival kits to sporting goods and copies of the Constitution, had a special sale, offering a very favorable rate if people made purchases with “junk silver” dollars and half dollars. In the 1980s, the store sold a man a $1,200 air compressor for a little less than 4 ounces of gold, recalled Bert Smith, one of the owners, who is now 91.

Mr. Smith said that he liked the new law, and that he was ready to accept silver and gold. But he does not expect to see much brought to his registers.

“I don’t suppose there’s going to be a big run on it,” Mr. Smith said, “because people are going to hang on to their gold and silver more than ever.”
23439  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Origins of Memorial Day on: May 30, 2011, 01:12:39 PM
MOST Americans know that Memorial Day is about honoring the nation’s war dead. It is also a holiday devoted to department store sales, half-marathons, picnics, baseball and auto racing. But where did it begin, who created it, and why?

At the end of the Civil War, Americans faced a formidable challenge: how to memorialize 625,000 dead soldiers, Northern and Southern. As Walt Whitman mused, it was “the dead, the dead, the dead — our dead — or South or North, ours all” that preoccupied the country. After all, if the same number of Americans per capita had died in Vietnam as died in the Civil War, four million names would be on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, instead of 58,000.
Officially, in the North, Memorial Day emerged in 1868 when the Grand Army of the Republic, the Union veterans’ organization, called on communities to conduct grave-decorating ceremonies. On May 30, funereal events attracted thousands of people at hundreds of cemeteries in countless towns, cities and mere crossroads. By the 1870s, one could not live in an American town, North or South, and be unaware of the spring ritual.

But the practice of decorating graves — which gave rise to an alternative name, Decoration Day — didn’t start with the 1868 events, nor was it an exclusively Northern practice. In 1866 the Ladies’ Memorial Association of Columbus, Ga., chose April 26, the anniversary of Gen. Joseph Johnston’s final surrender to Gen. William T. Sherman, to commemorate fallen Confederate soldiers. Later, both May 10, the anniversary of Gen. Stonewall Jackson’s death, and June 3, the birthday of Jefferson Davis, were designated Confederate Memorial Day in different states.

Memorial Days were initially occasions of sacred bereavement, and from the war’s end to the early 20th century they helped forge national reconciliation around soldierly sacrifice, regardless of cause. In North and South, orators and participants frequently called Memorial Day an “American All Saints Day,” likening it to the European Catholic tradition of whole towns marching to churchyards to honor dead loved ones.

But the ritual quickly became the tool of partisan memory as well, at least through the violent Reconstruction years. In the South, Memorial Day was a means of confronting the Confederacy’s defeat but without repudiating its cause. Some Southern orators stressed Christian notions of noble sacrifice. Others, however, used the ritual for Confederate vindication and renewed assertions of white supremacy. Blacks had a place in this Confederate narrative, but only as time-warped loyal slaves who were supposed to remain frozen in the past.

The Lost Cause tradition thrived in Confederate Memorial Day rhetoric; the Southern dead were honored as the true “patriots,” defenders of their homeland, sovereign rights, a natural racial order and a “cause” that had been overwhelmed by “numbers and resources” but never defeated on battlefields.

Yankee Memorial Day orations often righteously claimed the high ground of blood sacrifice to save the Union and destroy slavery. It was not uncommon for a speaker to honor the fallen of both sides, but still lay the war guilt on the “rebel dead.” Many a lonely widow or mother at these observances painfully endured expressions of joyous death on the altars of national survival.

Some events even stressed the Union dead as the source of a new egalitarian America, and a civic rather than a racial or ethnic definition of citizenship. In Wilmington, Del., in 1869, Memorial Day included a procession of Methodists, Baptists, Unitarians and Catholics; white Grand Army of the Republic posts in parade with a black post; and the “Mount Vernon Cornet Band (colored)” keeping step with the “Irish Nationalists with the harp and the sunburst flag of Erin.”

But for the earliest and most remarkable Memorial Day, we must return to where the war began. By the spring of 1865, after a long siege and prolonged bombardment, the beautiful port city of Charleston, S.C., lay in ruin and occupied by Union troops. Among the first soldiers to enter and march up Meeting Street singing liberation songs was the 21st United States Colored Infantry; their commander accepted the city’s official surrender.

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Whites had largely abandoned the city, but thousands of blacks, mostly former slaves, had remained, and they conducted a series of commemorations to declare their sense of the meaning of the war.

The largest of these events, forgotten until I had some extraordinary luck in an archive at Harvard, took place on May 1, 1865. During the final year of the war, the Confederates had converted the city’s Washington Race Course and Jockey Club into an outdoor prison. Union captives were kept in horrible conditions in the interior of the track; at least 257 died of disease and were hastily buried in a mass grave behind the grandstand.
After the Confederate evacuation of Charleston black workmen went to the site, reburied the Union dead properly, and built a high fence around the cemetery. They whitewashed the fence and built an archway over an entrance on which they inscribed the words, “Martyrs of the Race Course.”

The symbolic power of this Low Country planter aristocracy’s bastion was not lost on the freedpeople, who then, in cooperation with white missionaries and teachers, staged a parade of 10,000 on the track. A New York Tribune correspondent witnessed the event, describing “a procession of friends and mourners as South Carolina and the United States never saw before.”

The procession was led by 3,000 black schoolchildren carrying armloads of roses and singing the Union marching song “John Brown’s Body.” Several hundred black women followed with baskets of flowers, wreaths and crosses. Then came black men marching in cadence, followed by contingents of Union infantrymen. Within the cemetery enclosure a black children’s choir sang “We’ll Rally Around the Flag,” the “Star-Spangled Banner” and spirituals before a series of black ministers read from the Bible.

After the dedication the crowd dispersed into the infield and did what many of us do on Memorial Day: enjoyed picnics, listened to speeches and watched soldiers drill. Among the full brigade of Union infantrymen participating were the famous 54th Massachusetts and the 34th and 104th United States Colored Troops, who performed a special double-columned march around the gravesite.

The war was over, and Memorial Day had been founded by African-Americans in a ritual of remembrance and consecration. The war, they had boldly announced, had been about the triumph of their emancipation over a slaveholders’ republic. They were themselves the true patriots.

Despite the size and some newspaper coverage of the event, its memory was suppressed by white Charlestonians in favor of their own version of the day. From 1876 on, after white Democrats took back control of South Carolina politics and the Lost Cause defined public memory and race relations, the day’s racecourse origin vanished.

Indeed, 51 years later, the president of the Ladies’ Memorial Association of Charleston received an inquiry from a United Daughters of the Confederacy official in New Orleans asking if it was true that blacks had engaged in such a burial rite in 1865; the story had apparently migrated westward in community memory. Mrs. S. C. Beckwith, leader of the association, responded tersely, “I regret that I was unable to gather any official information in answer to this.”

Beckwith may or may not have known about the 1865 event; her own “official” story had become quite different and had no place for the former slaves’ march on their masters’ racecourse. In the struggle over memory and meaning in any society, some stories just get lost while others attain mainstream recognition.

AS we mark the Civil War’s sesquicentennial, we might reflect on Frederick Douglass’s words in an 1878 Memorial Day speech in New York City, in which he unwittingly gave voice to the forgotten Charleston marchers.

He said the war was not a struggle of mere “sectional character,” but a “war of ideas, a battle of principles.” It was “a war between the old and the new, slavery and freedom, barbarism and civilization ... and in dead earnest for something beyond the battlefield.” With or against Douglass, we still debate the “something” that the Civil War dead represent.

The old racetrack is gone, but an oval roadway survives on the site in Hampton Park, named for Wade Hampton, former Confederate general and the governor of South Carolina after the end of Reconstruction. The old gravesite of the Martyrs of the Race Course is gone too; they were reinterred in the 1880s at a national cemetery in Beaufort, S.C.

But the event is no longer forgotten. Last year I had the great honor of helping a coalition of Charlestonians, including the mayor, Joseph P. Riley, dedicate a marker to this first Memorial Day by a reflecting pool in Hampton Park.

By their labor, their words, their songs and their solemn parade on their former owners’ racecourse, black Charlestonians created for themselves, and for us, the Independence Day of a Second American Revolution.

«
David W. Blight, a professor of history and the director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale, is the author of the forthcoming “American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era.”
23440  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / City falls on: May 30, 2011, 01:06:33 PM
I gather that a city has fallen to Islamist forces , , ,
23441  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism, socialism: on: May 30, 2011, 12:21:07 PM
Woof AB:

Thank you for your responses.
  
Concerning your first response:

Before responding, I would like to remind you that we are Americans and as such are often quite ignorant of certain things taken for granted in educated Euro circles.  For example, you mention "Hegelian dialectic".   I have heard of this more than once, and would LOVE to be able to drop into conversation as you have here.  Would you
please help me out?  cheesy

More seriously now, as I read your response I am impressed with your rip-snorting condescension, (rather inconsistent with your mission "to open up the situation so that I can pave way for more appropriate questions" yes?) but as best as I can tell, you offer the youtube clip of that Slovenian professor as your substance.  That said, I found very
little in it beyond a rather superficial, glib, vacuous psuedo-wittiness e.g. unable to distinguish Bill Gates and Bernie Madoff or Hollywood movies and real life.   Perhaps a less fawning interviewer would have been of help? Perhaps the man has the substance to which you ascribe him; for example I would be more interested in hearing why he considers himself a marxist and a supporter of mass murderer Stalin?

Concerning your second response:

I share GM's response to your example of China's successes as being those of Marxism.  (IMHO the more accurate term would be "fascism", but that is not really the point)  Also I would most certainly add a) China's extraordinary rape of the environment and b) the many good reasons to wonder if it is in a huge bubble.

IMHO to serve your stated mission, the Fromm URL would have been a better place to start, particularly if you were to have deleted  "I doubt anyone will get halfway even into the first article, but at least my consciousness will be at rest, since there is no way of getting anything across here with writing your heart out."
 Despite the comment cheesy  I have started to read it anyway.

TAC!

23442  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Thomas Paine, Common Sense 1776 on: May 30, 2011, 09:37:38 AM


"Now is the seedtime of continental union, faith and honor. The least fracture now, will be like a name engraved with the point of a pin on the tender rind of a young oak; the wound would enlarge with the tree, and posterity read in it full grown characters." --Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776

23443  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: May 30, 2011, 09:32:55 AM

"Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by utter stupidity." --anon.
23444  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Rest in Peace on: May 30, 2011, 09:31:40 AM
"The wood is consumed, but the fire burns on."
23445  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism, socialism: on: May 29, 2011, 09:17:03 PM
Yep  grin
23446  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism, socialism: on: May 29, 2011, 08:43:48 PM
I haven't had a chance to watch the clip yet, but this is very, very funny:

"Marxism is the opiate of academics".
23447  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Allies anonymous on: May 29, 2011, 03:19:47 PM


http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2011/05/29/
23448  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: May 29, 2011, 03:16:27 PM


http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2011/05/22/
23449  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy, Big Brother (State and Corporate) & the 4th Amendment on: May 29, 2011, 03:13:44 PM

http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2011/05/16/
23450  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: May 29, 2011, 03:04:52 PM

http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2011/05/08/
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