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23651  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / On Rand Paul on: May 24, 2010, 07:19:00 AM
second post of the day, from the POTH op-ed page

The Principles of Rand Paul
By ROSS DOUTHAT
Published: May 23, 2010
 
No ideology survives the collision with real-world politics perfectly intact. General principles have to bend to accommodate the complexities of history, and justice is sometimes better served by compromise than by zealous intellectual consistency.

This was all that Rand Paul needed to admit, after his victory in Kentucky’s Republican Senate primary, when NPR and Rachel Maddow asked about his views of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. “As a principled critic of federal power,” he could have said, “I oppose efforts to impose Washington’s will on states and private institutions. As a student of the history of segregation and slavery, however, I would have made an exception for the Civil Rights Act.”
But Paul just couldn’t help himself. He had to play Hamlet, to hem and haw about the distinction between public and private discrimination, to insist on his sympathy for the civil rights movement while conspicuously avoiding saying that he would have voted for the bill that outlawed segregation.

By the weekend (and under duress), he finally said it. But the tap-dancing route he took to get there was offensive, tone deaf and politically crazy.

It was also sadly typical of the political persuasion that Rand Paul represents.

This persuasion shouldn’t be confused with the Tea Party movement, whose inchoate antideficit enthusiasms Paul rode to victory last Tuesday. Nor is it just libertarianism in general, a label that gets slapped on everyone from Idaho milita members to Silicon Valley utopians to pro-choice Republicans in Greenwich.

Paul is a libertarian, certainly, but more importantly he’s a particular kind of a libertarian. He’s culturally conservative (opposing both abortion and illegal immigration), radically noninterventionist (he’s against the Iraq war and the United Nations), and so stringently constitutionalist that he views nearly everything today’s federal government does as a violation of the founding fathers’ vision.

This worldview goes by many names, including “paleoconservatism,” “the old right” and “paleolibertarianism.” But its adherents — Paul and his father, Ron, included — view themselves as America’s only true conservatives, arguing that the modern conservative movement has sold out to both big government and the military-industrial complex.

Instead of celebrating the usual Republican pantheon, paleoconservatives identify with the “beautiful losers” of American history, to borrow a phrase from the paleocon journalist Sam Francis — the anti-imperialists who opposed the Spanish-American War, the libertarians who stood athwart the New Deal yelling “stop,” the Midwestern Republicans who objected to the growth of the national security state after World War II. And they offer an ideological synthesis that’s well outside either political party’s mainstream — antiwar and antiabortion, against the Patriot Act but in favor of a border fence, and skeptical of the drug war and the welfare state alike.

In an age of lockstep partisanship, there’s a lot to admire about this unusual constellation of ideas, and its sweeping critique of American politics as usual. There’s a reason that both Rand and Ron Paul have inspired so much visceral enthusiasm, especially among younger voters, while attracting an eclectic cross-section of supporters — hipsters and N.R.A. members, civil libertarians and Christian conservatives, and stranger bedfellows still.

The problem is that paleoconservatives are self-marginalizing, and self-destructive.

Like many groups that find themselves in intellectually uncharted territory, they have trouble distinguishing between ideas that deserve a wider hearing and ideas that are crankish or worse. (Hence Ron Paul’s obsession with the gold standard and his son’s weakness for conspiracy theories.)

Like many outside-the-box thinkers, they’re good at applying their principles more consistently than your average partisan, but lousy at knowing when to stop. (Hence the tendency to see civil rights legislation as just another unjustified expansion of federal power.)

And like many self-conscious iconoclasts, they tend to drift in ever-more extreme directions, reveling in political incorrectness even as they leave common sense and common decency behind.

It isn’t surprising that two of the most interesting “paleo” writers of the last few decades, Francis and Joseph Sobran, ended their careers way out on the racist or anti-Semitic fringe. It isn’t a coincidence that the most successful “paleo” presidential candidate, Pat Buchanan, opposes not only America’s interventions in Iraq, but the West’s involvement in World War II as well. It isn’t surprising that Ron Paul kept company in the 1990s with acolytes who attached his name to bigoted pamphleteering.

And it shouldn’t come as a shock that his son found himself publicly undone, in what should have been his moment of triumph, because he was too proud to acknowledge the limits of ideology, and to admit that a principle can be pushed too far.
23652  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What could go wrong with this? on: May 24, 2010, 07:12:45 AM


A POTH Editorial

Few Americans know what a “medical loss ratio” is, but a fierce struggle over how to calculate it under the new health care reform law will determine how much insurers must spend on patient care and how much they can retain for administration and profits. This is but one of many battles that will emerge as federal and state regulators develop regulations to implement reform.

The new law requires health insurers, starting in 2011, to spend at least 80 to 85 percent of the premiums they collect on medical services or activities that improve the quality of care. (That percentage is the medical loss ratio.) The remainder can be allocated to profits or administrative activities that do not directly benefit patients, such as marketing, overhead and salaries.

The law leaves plenty of room for finagling over what can be counted as a quality improvement activity. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners, which is helping the administration develop standards, is being lobbied by insurers to adopt a broad definition and by consumer advocates to keep it narrow.

Some insurers are clearly overreaching. They argue that much of the cost of setting up networks of providers should count as quality improvement, because they check the credentials and disciplinary records of doctors. They want to include programs to root out fraud or overbilling because they probably weed out some bad doctors as well. And they would include the cost of programs, including precertification, that judge whether care is covered and appropriate. All these look like activities whose primary purpose is to reduce costs for the insurer with quality at best a secondary issue.

Senator Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the commerce committee, says his staff has found that insurers are already reclassifying many administrative costs as medical expenses to create the appearance of a higher medical loss ratio. He is rightly urging a rigorous standard.

Sensible boundaries can surely be drawn. Health information technology that improves patient care by preventing drug interactions should clearly count, but technology that primarily streamlines business operations should not. Programs that help manage and coordinate the care given chronically ill patients should count, but programs that review whether doctor-recommended services are covered should not.

Regulators will have to find an approach that prevents insurers from gaming the system while encouraging them to spend money on meaningful measures to improve quality — a major goal of the reform law.
23653  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Reps ask "Why us?" on: May 24, 2010, 07:02:10 AM
It's POTH, so caveat lector:

Republicans See Big Chance, but Are Worried, Too
By JEFF ZELENY and CARL HULSE
Published: May 23, 2010

 
WASHINGTON — Republicans remain confident of making big gains in the fall elections, but as the midterm campaign begins in earnest, they face a series of challenges that could keep the party from fully capitalizing on an electorate clamoring for change in Washington.

There are growing concerns among Republicans about the party’s get-out-the-vote operation and whether it can translate their advantage over Democrats in grass-roots enthusiasm into turnout on Election Day. They are also still trying to get a fix on how to run against President Obama, who, polls suggest, remains relatively well-liked by voters, even as support for his agenda has waned.
Republicans are working to find a balance between simply running against Democrats and promoting a specific alternative agenda. And they are struggling with how to integrate the passions of the Tea Party movement — with its anti-government ideology, anti-incumbent bent and often-rough political edges — into the Republican Party apparatus.

This week, House Republicans are beginning a program they call “America Speaking Out.” Their message is that lawmakers will be listening to their supporters over the summer, not simply dictating an agenda. In the fall, Republican leaders said, they plan to turn the ideas into specific policy proposals for the next Congress.

A series of events last week prompted a re-examination among Republicans of where the party stands less than six months before the midterm elections. In Pennsylvania, a Republican House candidate, Tim Burns, lost a special election by 8 points in a swing district of the sort the party needs to capture to have a shot of regaining the majority. And in a Republican primary for a Senate seat from Kentucky, Rand Paul, a leading emblem of the Tea Party, won a commanding victory.

“Democrats still need to be really worried,” said Joe Gaylord, a Republican strategist who helped guide the party’s sweeping Congressional victories in 1994. “But there has to be a message that we are for something, and that if you elect Republicans, there will be some change.”

For much of the first 16 months of the Obama administration, Republicans have unified around an opposition to the president’s agenda, trying to stop nearly every proposal. But that allowed Democrats to brand their rivals as obstructionists who were unwilling to compromise, setting off second-guessing among Republicans about whether they needed to do more. As the fall election comes into sharper view, the party faces the burden of introducing plans that appeal to its base without alienating independent voters.

Republicans continue to have much in their favor, and over all appear to be in a stronger position than Democrats. They continue to benefit from a widespread sense among voters that government has gotten too expansive, with Mr. Obama’s health care bill as Exhibit A. The economic recovery remains tepid, with unemployment still high.

Republicans raised more money than Democrats last month, a reflection of the optimism about the potential for gains in November among the party’s contributors. And the party did pick up a House seat in Hawaii on Saturday in a special election in a district that is heavily Democratic — two rival Democrats split their party’s vote — but Democrats expressed confidence they would win the seat back in November.

While Democrats also face challenges motivating their base this year, the Democratic margin of victory in the House race in Pennsylvania suggests that the party may enjoy organizational capabilities that Republicans do not.

Representative Pete Sessions of Texas, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, has said that anything short of taking back the House would be a failure. And since the setback in Pennsylvania last week, there has been decided concern in Republican circles that perhaps they were too optimistic.

“You’ve got a country that is in a surly mood and is skeptical of incumbents generally,” said Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota. “But some people have put the expectations so high, even if Republicans do reasonably well this fall, it could look like we haven’t done as well as we should have.”

The defeat in Pennsylvania not only helped alter the perception of the battle for control of Congress, but also prompted a review of how effective Mr. Sessions’s committee has been executing its on-the-ground campaign efforts.

“There is going to be a holistic assessment of what went wrong in the race and what we can learn from it,” said Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the No. 2 Republican. “We have to face the fact that these are going to be very tough races.”

Thomas M. Reynolds, the former New York congressman who headed the Republican campaign operation in 2004 and 2006, said the party needed to better balance local issues with appeals that take into account the national climate.

“We still have an angry electorate that both Democrats and Republicans face,” Mr. Reynolds said, “and our candidates need to talk about what matters at home and what they are going to do about it from an unpopular Washington.”

In the House, Republicans must capture 40 additional seats to win control from Democrats. In the Senate, strategists on both sides believe the prospects of Republicans winning 10 seats to take control remain slim.

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

Page 2 of 2)



“The one thing that hasn’t changed is, the Republican Party brand is still pretty weak,” said Phil Musser, a Republican strategist. “We need an overhaul, and there is a big opportunity to rebrand around a few unifying themes besides just opposition to Obama.”

As many primary elections give way to the fall campaign, Republicans face a host of broader, thematic questions.
Should the party, for example, seek to nationalize the election? Should it direct candidates to demonize Mr. Obama or Speaker Nancy Pelosi the way Democrats demonized former President George W. Bush in 2006, or the way some Tea Party leaders are demonizing Mr. Obama? Will the legislative achievements of Democrats in recent months — the health care measure and presumably a financial regulation bill — permit Democrats to argue that Washington can get something done, or will the substance of the legislation provide a target for those who argue against the expansion of government?

Some Republicans say they cannot win races by focusing on Democratic leaders, an approach that failed for Republicans in the Pennsylvania race as it did for them nationally in 2008. “It didn’t work then and it isn’t working now,” said Representative Mike Simpson, Republican of Idaho.

Rob Jesmer, the executive director of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, said he thought that given Mr. Obama’s popularity, it was critical for Senate candidates to run against the Democratic agenda, rather than just Mr. Obama himself.

At the same time, there is also increasing pressure on Republicans to come up with some sort of governing agenda to offer Americans an idea of what they would do should they win control of Congress, echoing what Republicans did in 1994 through the “Contract With America.”

But some party officials are wary of such an approach, saying it would allow Democrats to turn attention away from attacks on their own stewardship of Congress. A compromise was reached through the “America Speaking Out” tour, which is set to begin Tuesday.

“It’s a remarkable situation, given where things were a year ago, where Republicans clearly have an opportunity to do really well,” said David Winston, a Republican pollster who concentrates on Congressional races. “The door is open in terms of potential. But we have to answer the question, Why us?”
23654  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Jindal threatens action on: May 24, 2010, 06:57:00 AM
I feel sick in my stomach at the ever growing disaster. 

Is BP doing all that it can? 

Should the Feds be doing more? 

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/24/us/24spill.html?th=&adxnnl=1&emc=th&adxnnlx=1274699030-xUgRIJqS2vUkLe/OSeIVlA

23655  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / 7/31-8/1 Guro Crafty at Range 37 in Fayetteville, NC on: May 24, 2010, 06:22:44 AM
Details soon.
23656  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: May 24, 2010, 05:48:45 AM
Thank you GM.

@All:

I submit the proposition that there is a Consitutional right of self-defense and that it is found in our 9th Amendment.
23657  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Kali - Silat - Muay Thai on: May 24, 2010, 05:42:43 AM
Recently I had an opportunity to begin training in the Piper knife system of South Africa.  Very interesting and quite distinct in many regards!  I post here in this thread because of the apparent silat influence in the system.  Apparently one of the major strands of influence comes from Indonesian fishermen (who used their knives cutting fish quite a lot).  That said, the movement of the system is quite , , , African.

Anyway, the system is very interesting and I will be continuing training in it.

More as this story develops , , ,
23658  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: May 24, 2010, 05:36:24 AM
Watching this week's TUF I had a moment of really not liking Dana White.  It came when the fighterwith the injured knee had to decide whether to continue a nd this risk catastrophic injury to his knee or withdraw. DW asked the fighter if he was "quitting" and in that moment I had a visceral sense of him being the current incarnation of a scumbag boxing promoter.
23659  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Our clueless CiC on: May 24, 2010, 12:20:59 AM
WEST POINT, N.Y. — President Obama previewed a new national security strategy rooted in diplomatic engagement and international alliances on Saturday as he essentially repudiated his predecessor’s emphasis on unilateral American power and the right to wage pre-emptive war.


President Obama and West Point Superintendent Lt. Gen. Franklin L. Hagenbeck stood for the national anthem before Mr. Obama addressed graduates of the United States Military Academy on Saturday. More Photos »


Eight years after President George W. Bush came to the United States Military Academy to set a new security doctrine after the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Obama used the same setting to offer a revised vision vowing no retreat against enemies while seeking “national renewal and global leadership.”

“Yes, we are clear-eyed about the shortfalls of our international system,” the president told graduating cadets. “But America has not succeeded by stepping out of the currents of cooperation. We have succeeded by steering those currents in the direction of liberty and justice, so nations thrive by meeting their responsibilities and face consequences when they don’t.”

Mr. Obama said the United States would “be steadfast in strengthening those old alliances that have served us so well,” while also trying to “build new partnerships and shape stronger international standards and institutions.” He added: “This engagement is not an end in itself. The international order we seek is one that can resolve the challenges of our times.”

The president’s address was aimed not just at 1,000 young men and women in gray and white uniforms in Michie Stadium who could soon face the perils of Afghanistan or Iraq as Army lieutenants, but also at an international audience that in some quarters grew alienated during the Bush era.

While the president never mentioned his predecessor’s name, the contrast between Mr. Bush’s address in 2002 and Mr. Obama’s in 2010 underscored the ways a wartime America has changed — and the ways it has not. This was the ninth West Point class to graduate since hijackers smashed planes into New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Most of those commissioned on Saturday were 12 at the time.

When Mr. Bush addressed their predecessors, he had toppled the Taliban government in Afghanistan and was turning attention to Iraq. “If we wait for threats to fully materialize,” he said then, “we will have waited too long.” As Mr. Obama took the stage on a mild, overcast day, the American war in Iraq was winding down, but Afghanistan had flared out of control and terrorists were making a fresh effort to strike inside the United States.

“This war has changed over the last nine years, but it’s no less important than it was in those days after 9/11,” Mr. Obama said. Recalling his decision announced here six months ago to send 30,000 reinforcements to Afghanistan, Mr. Obama said difficult days were ahead, but added, “I have no doubt that together with our Afghan and international partners, we will succeed in Afghanistan.”

Mr. Obama all but declared victory in Iraq, praising the military, but not Mr. Bush, for turning it around. “A lesser Army might have seen its spirit broken,” he said. “But the American military is more resilient than that.”

At home, Mr. Obama attributed the failure of efforts to blow up an airplane over Detroit and a car packed with explosives in Times Square to the intense American pursuit of radical groups abroad. “These failed attacks show that pressure on networks like Al Qaeda is forcing them to rely on terrorists with less time and space to train,” he said.

And he defended his revised counterterrorism policies that critics say have weakened America’s defenses. “We should not discard our freedoms because extremists try to exploit them,” he said. “We cannot succumb to division because others try to drive us apart.”

The speech offered a glimpse of his first official national security strategy, to be released this week, including four principles: to build strength abroad by building strength at home through education, clean energy and innovation; to promote “the renewed engagement of our diplomats” and support international development; to rebuild alliances; and to promote human rights and democracy abroad.

But even as he tried to distinguish his strategy from Mr. Bush’s, Mr. Obama faced the same daunting realization and expressed it with a line Mr. Bush used repeatedly: “This is a different kind of war,” he said. “There will be no simple moment of surrender to mark the journey’s end, no armistice or banner headline.”
23660  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Europe fcuked? on: May 24, 2010, 12:19:09 AM
Europeans Fear Crisis Threatens Liberal Benefits
By STEVEN ERLANGER
Published: May 22, 2010

 
PARIS — Across Western Europe, the “lifestyle superpower,” the assumptions and gains of a lifetime are suddenly in doubt. The deficit crisis that threatens the euro has also undermined the sustainability of the European standard of social welfare, built by left-leaning governments since the end of World War II.

Payback Time
Articles in this series are examining the consequences of, and efforts to deal with, growing public and private debts.  Europeans have boasted about their social model, with its generous vacations and early retirements, its national health care systems and extensive welfare benefits, contrasting it with the comparative harshness of American capitalism.

Europeans have benefited from low military spending, protected by NATO and the American nuclear umbrella. They have also translated higher taxes into a cradle-to-grave safety net. “The Europe that protects” is a slogan of the European Union.

But all over Europe governments with big budgets, falling tax revenues and aging populations are experiencing rising deficits, with more bad news ahead.

With low growth, low birthrates and longer life expectancies, Europe can no longer afford its comfortable lifestyle, at least not without a period of austerity and significant changes. The countries are trying to reassure investors by cutting salaries, raising legal retirement ages, increasing work hours and reducing health benefits and pensions.

“We’re now in rescue mode,” said Carl Bildt, Sweden’s foreign minister. “But we need to transition to the reform mode very soon. The ‘reform deficit’ is the real problem,” he said, pointing to the need for structural change.

The reaction so far to government efforts to cut spending has been pessimism and anger, with an understanding that the current system is unsustainable.

In Athens, Aris Iordanidis, 25, an economics graduate working in a bookstore, resents paying high taxes to finance Greece’s bloated state sector and its employees. “They sit there for years drinking coffee and chatting on the telephone and then retire at 50 with nice fat pensions,” he said. “As for us, the way things are going we’ll have to work until we’re 70.”

In Rome, Aldo Cimaglia is 52 and teaches photography, and he is deeply pessimistic about his pension. “It’s going to go belly-up because no one will be around to fill the pension coffers,” he said. “It’s not just me; this country has no future.”

Changes have now become urgent. Europe’s population is aging quickly as birthrates decline. Unemployment has risen as traditional industries have shifted to Asia. And the region lacks competitiveness in world markets.

According to the European Commission, by 2050 the percentage of Europeans older than 65 will nearly double. In the 1950s there were seven workers for every retiree in advanced economies. By 2050, the ratio in the European Union will drop to 1.3 to 1.

“The easy days are over for countries like Greece, Portugal and Spain, but for us, too,” said Laurent Cohen-Tanugi, a French lawyer who did a study of Europe in the global economy for the French government. “A lot of Europeans would not like the issue cast in these terms, but that is the storm we’re facing. We can no longer afford the old social model, and there is a real need for structural reform.”

In Paris, Malka Braniste, 88, lives on the pension of her deceased husband. “I’m worried for the next generations,” she said at lunch with her daughter-in-law, Dominique Alcan, 49. “People who don’t put money aside won’t get anything.”

Ms. Alcan expects to have to work longer as a traveling saleswoman. “But I’m afraid I’ll never reach the same level of comfort,” she said. “I won’t be able to do my job at 63; being a saleswoman requires a lot of energy.”

Gustave Brun d’Arre, 18, is still in high school. “The only thing we’re told is that we will have to pay for the others,” he said, sipping a beer at a cafe. The waiter interrupted, discussing plans to alter the French pension system. “It will be a mess,” the waiter said. “We’ll have to work harder and longer in our jobs.”

Figures show the severity of the problem. Gross public social expenditures in the European Union increased from 16 percent of gross domestic product in 1980 to 21 percent in 2005, compared with 15.9 percent in the United States. In France, the figure now is 31 percent, the highest in Europe, with state pensions making up more than 44 percent of the total and health care, 30 percent.

The challenge is particularly daunting in France, which has done less to reduce the state’s obligations than some of its neighbors. In Sweden and Switzerland, 7 of 10 people work past 50. In France, only half do. The legal retirement age in France is 60, while Germany recently raised it to 67 for those born after 1963.

With the retirement of the baby boomers, the number of pensioners will rise 47 percent in France between now and 2050, while the number under 60 will remain stagnant. The French call it “du baby boom au papy boom,” and the costs, if unchanged, are unsustainable. The French state pension system today is running a deficit of 11 billion euros, or about $13.8 billion; by 2050, it will be 103 billion euros, or $129.5 billion, about 2.6 percent of projected economic output.

===========

(Page 2 of 2)



President Nicolas Sarkozy has vowed to pass major pension reform this year. There have been two contentious overhauls, in 2003 and 2008; the government, afraid to lower pensions, wants to increase taxes on high salaries and increase the years of work.

Payback Time


But the unions are unhappy, and the Socialist Party opposes raising the retirement age. Polls show that while most French see a pension overhaul as necessary, up to 60 percent say working past 60 is not the answer.

Jean-François Copé, the parliamentary leader for Mr. Sarkozy’s center-right party, says that change is painful, but necessary. “The point is to preserve our model and keep it,” he said. “We need to get rid of bad habits. The Germans did it, and we can do the same.”

More broadly, many across Europe say the Continent will have to adapt to fiscal and demographic change, because social peace depends on it. “Europe won’t work without that,” said Joschka Fischer, the former German foreign minister, referring to the state’s protective role. “In Europe we have nationalism and racism in a politicized manner, and those parties would have exploited grievances if not for our welfare state,” he said. “It’s a matter of national security, of our democracy.”

France will ultimately have to follow Sweden and Germany in raising the pension age, he argues. “This will have to be harmonized, Europeanized, or it won’t work — you can’t have a pension at 67 here and 55 in Greece,” Mr. Fischer said.

The problems are even more acute in the “new democracies” of the euro zone — Greece, Portugal and Spain — that embraced European democratic ideals and that Europe embraced for political reasons in the postwar era, perhaps before their economies were ready. They have built lavish state systems on the back of the euro, but now must change.

Under threat of default, Greece has frozen pensions for three years and drafted a bill to raise the legal retirement age to 65. Greece froze public-sector pay and trimmed benefits for state employees, including a bonus two months of salary. Portugal has cut 5 percent from the salaries of senior public employees and politicians and increased taxes, while canceling big projects; Spain is cutting civil service salaries by 5 percent and freezing pay in 2011 while also chopping public projects.

But all three need to do more to bolster their competitiveness and growth, mostly by changing deeply inflexible employment rules, which can make it prohibitively expensive to hire or fire staff members, keeping unemployment high.

Jean-Claude Meunier is 68, a retired French Navy official and headhunter, who plays bridge to “train my memory and avoid Alzheimer’s.” His main worry is pension. “For years, our political leaders acted with very little courage,” he said. “Pensions represent the failure of the leaders and the failure of the system.”

In Athens, Mr. Iordanidis, the graduate who makes 800 euros a month in a bookstore, said he saw one possible upside. “It could be a chance to overhaul the whole rancid system,” he said, “and create a state that actually works.”
23661  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Magna Carta on: May 23, 2010, 11:51:00 PM
GM: 

I would be very interested in learning more about exactly that.  If you would be so kind as to post on the American Creed: Constitutional thread on the SCH forum I would greatly appreciate it.
23662  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gun= Civilization on: May 23, 2010, 08:35:02 PM
 

"The Gun Is Civilization"

As the Supreme Court hears arguments for and against the Chicago, IL Gun Ban, I offer you another stellar example of a letter (written by a Marine) that places the proper perspective on what a gun means to a civilized society.

Read this eloquent and profound letter and pay close attention to the last paragraph of the letter...

The Gun is Civilization by Maj. L. Caudill USMC (Ret)

Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force.  If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that's it.

In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some.

When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or employment of force.

The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gang banger, and a single guy on equal footing with a carload of drunk guys with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.

There are plenty of people who consider the gun as the source of bad force equations. These are the people who think that we'd be more civilized if all guns were removed from society, because a firearm makes it easier for a [armed] mugger to do his job. That, of course, is only true if the mugger's potential victims are mostly disarmed either by choice or by legislative fiat--it has no validity when most of a mugger's potential marks are armed.

People who argue for the banning of arms ask for automatic rule by the young, the strong, and the many, and that's the exact opposite of a civilized society. A mugger, even an armed one, can only make a successful living in a society where the state has granted him a force monopoly.

Then there's the argument that the gun makes confrontations lethal that otherwise would only result in injury. This argument is fallacious in several ways. Without guns involved, confrontations are won by the physically superior party inflicting overwhelming injury on the loser. People who think that fists, bats, sticks, or stones don't constitute lethal force watch too much TV, where people take beatings and come out of it with a bloody lip at worst. The fact that the gun makes lethal force easier works solely in favor of the weaker defender, not the stronger attacker. If both are armed, the field is level.

The gun is the only weapon that's as lethal in the hands of an octogenarian as it is in the hands of a weight lifter. It simply wouldn't work as well as a force equalizer if it wasn't both lethal and easily employable.

When I carry a gun, I don't do so because I am looking for a fight, but because I'm looking to be left alone. The gun at my side means that I cannot be forced, only persuaded. I don't carry it because I'm afraid, but because it enables me to be unafraid. It doesn't limit the actions of those who would interact with me through reason, only the actions of those who would do so by force. It removes force from the equation... and that's why carrying a gun is a civilized act.

By Maj. L. Caudill USMC (Ret)

So the greatest civilization is one where all citizens are equally armed and can only be persuaded, never forced.
 
23663  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: May 23, 2010, 08:15:04 PM
Amen.

One of the things I hope this forum offers is precisely that it is a place where we get our facts and conceptual act together so that we CAN turn things around.
23664  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Barack Arnold Obama on: May 22, 2010, 11:16:31 PM
Obama: Nation not Defined by Our Borders
by Roger Hedgecock


This surreal regime just gets weirder and weirder.

Yes, the President of the United States attacked the state of Arizona for passing a state law which mirrors a federal law that, since 1940, requires legal residents of the U.S. to carry proof of legal residency and show it when asked by law enforcement officers.

Following this attack, the President refused to call on reporters from U.S. news organizations apparently fearing the question, "Have you read the Arizona law?"—a question which had already revealed that neither Atty. Gen. Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, nor State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley had read the Arizona law before denouncing it as "discriminatory" and "unconstitutional"

The President made his remarks as part of a joint appearance with Mexican President Calderon, the only person on the planet more hypocritical than Obama.

Calderon blistered the Arizona law at that joint appearance at the White House and the next day before Congress, earning him a standing ovation from the Democrats while Republicans kept their seats. It appeared that when Democrats hear the words "illegal immigrants", they really hear "undocumented Democrats."

Nowhere in the lapdog media was Calderon called on his hypocrisy. The immigration laws of the Republic of Mexico provide for incarceration and deportation without trial, interpreters, lawyers, due process, etc. for anyone illegally in Mexico. No illegal immigrant in Mexico may receive government assistance of any kind and their children may not attend Mexican schools.

In fact, the laws of Mexico allow the army and all law enforcement agencies to enforce their draconian immigration laws, including the authority to demand "papers" from anyone who looks like a non-Mexican.

Mexico forbids legal non-citizen residents from holding office or voting in Mexican elections. A voter I.D. with picture and thumbprint must be produced before any Mexican citizen can vote. No non-Mexican can become a Mexican citizen.

The President should have pointed that out to Calderon. In fact, the President should have complimented the Mexican president on the way his country has preserved it's sovereignty and proposed the ultimate compliment—"reforming" American immigration law by adopting Mexican immigration law.

An American President did speak about immigration 103 years ago and his words ring true today:

"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith, becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American... There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language ... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."—Theodore Roosevelt, 1907

Our current President, at the White House joint appearance with Calderon declared "in the 21st century we are not defined by our borders."

Taking the President's cue, the hate America chorus started agitating for a boycott of all things Arizona. City councils in Democrat dominated (and economically failing) cities passed resolutions forbidding city employees from traveling on city business to Arizona and urged all their citizens to do the same.

Apparently, the boycott of visitors from San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego has caused a sharp drop of visiting malcontents and agitators in Arizona. Arizona businesses report an uptick of wholesome, family visitors to their state following a nationwide grass roots-led "buycott" of all things Arizona.

The backlash against San Diego was particularly painful. The San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau reports angry letters from Arizona families who love to vacation in the hot summer months in beautiful San Diego vowing to take their vacations elsewhere.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer started doing TV ads assailing the President's attack on Arizona when it became apparent that Arizonans were not going to be bullied. The most recent poll puts Arizona voters 71% in favor of their state illegal immigration crackdown and Governor Brewer up 25% over her nearest rival in the August primary.

Even "Amnesty" John McCain, running for his political life against challenger border-control advocate J.D. Hayworth, put up his own TV ad vowing to "build the danged fence."

Even the Department of Homeland Security last week had to acknowledge the open border was a national security threat. In an alert issued to law enforcement in Texas, the feds warned of Somali terrorists, some aided by the Cuban Embassy in Kenya, crossing through Mexico into the U.S.

This follows at least two busts of smuggling rings specializing in getting Somali terrorists into the U.S. In one such case, the federal prosecutor indicated that "hundreds" of trained terrorists had made it into the U.S. and could not be located.

Ranchers in the area where rancher Rob Krentz was assassinated by the Mexican drug cartels constantly report finding prayer rugs and Korans left in the desert by illegals crossing their ranches.

If, "in the 21st Century, we are not defined by our borders," we will be defined as a country under attack from within as the war comes home and Americans die at the bloody hands of jihadis who found our weak underbelly—our open border with Mexico.
23665  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela on: May 22, 2010, 10:37:10 PM
I can see why , , ,
23666  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: May 22, 2010, 07:58:17 PM
 shocked shocked shocked tongue

The gathering clusterfcuk , , ,
23667  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela on: May 22, 2010, 07:50:57 PM
Well, THAT was cheery , , ,

I remember reading , , , Barrington Moore I think it was in my last year at Penn and he wrote of revolutions due to rising expectations and revolutations due to falling expectations.  When the food and the money run out , , ,
23668  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WU prof loses job for being unPC on: May 22, 2010, 03:09:45 PM
http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/education/story/A37EC23F3494702D862577290006CBFD?OpenDocument


Anti-gay view costs WU prof job on oil spill
By Tim Barker
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Thursday, May. 20 2010
Just a week after being asked to join an elite team of scientists working on
the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a controversial Washington University professor
has been dismissed from the group.

Physics professor Jonathan Katz's tenure on the team was cut short after Obama
administration officials — under pressure from gay rights groups — decided his
polarizing opinions and writings could get in the way. Katz has not been shy
about expressing his thoughts about a range of topics, including a defense of
homophobia.

His writings — which have appeared on his university website — apparently
escaped the attention of administration officials charged with putting together
the team that also included scientists from Lawrence Berkeley Labs and the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

On Wednesday, a spokeswoman for Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu
confirmed Katz had been removed.

"Dr. Chu has spoken with dozens of scientists and engineers as part of his work
to help find solutions to stop the oil spill," the spokeswoman said in a
written statement. "Some of Professor Katz's controversial writings have become
a distraction from the critical work of addressing the oil spill. Professor
Katz will no longer be involved in the Department's efforts."

Coincidentally, Chu is scheduled to speak at Washington University's
commencement Friday morning.

Katz, whose academic credentials have not been questioned, has long been known
for his controversial views. They attracted attention as early as 2005, when
several students complained about things he had written on his university
website.

Some of the criticism has centered on Katz's views questioning whether global
warming is really a threat and challenging the value of the diversity movement.
But his stance on homosexuality has brought a firestorm of complaints from
liberal and gay rights groups.

In his 1999 essay, "In Defense of Homophobia," Katz explained why some people —
for both religious and health reasons — support the belief that homosexual
behavior is wrong. He ended the essay, "I am a homophobe, and proud."

Katz could not be reached for comment Wednesday. But late Tuesday, he spoke
with Bloomberg News by phone, confirming the reason for his removal.

"I don't self-censor myself," said Katz, 59. "There's no doubt there are things
on my Web page that've been there for many years that are fairly controversial."

The university issued a statement reiterating its support for academic freedom
for students, staff and faculty.

"The views and opinions expressed by Professor Jonathan Katz on his personal
Web page are his personal statements and do not represent the opinion of
Washington University. Professor Katz clearly states this important distinction
on his page, and he has the right to express opinion in this context and under
these conditions."

Katz's removal has drawn praise from several fronts, including gay rights
organizations who say there's no room for such divisive views.

"These kinds of statements are not acceptable, and they do have repercussions
in today's society," said A.J. Bockelman, executive director of PROMO, a
Missouri gay rights advocacy group.

The move, however, has drawn criticism from some conservatives.

Kerry Messer, of the Missouri Family Network, said the ousting of Katz suggests
that President Barack Obama and his administration place politics ahead of
mobilizing the best scientific experts to address the Gulf oil spill. He said
Katz's qualifications should be based on scientific credentials, not unrelated
personal views.

"This is inexcusable," Messer said, adding that Katz's "lack of political
correctness in one area should not discredit his expertise in another."
23669  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: May 22, 2010, 02:51:52 PM
Well, that about nails it.

Dear President Obama:
 
I'm planning to move my family and extended family into Mexico for  my health, and I would like to ask you to assist  me.
 
 We're planning to simply walk across the  border from the U.S. into Mexico , and we'll need your help to make a few  arrangements.
 
 We plan to skip all the legal stuff  like visas, passports, immigration quotas and  laws.
 
 I'm sure they handle those things the same  way you do here. So, would you mind telling your buddy, President Calderon,  that I'm on my way over?
 
 Please let him know that  I will be expecting the following:
 
 1. Free medical  care for my entire family.
 
 2. English-speaking  government bureaucrats for all services I might need, whether I use them or  not.
 
 3. Please print all Mexican government forms  in English.
 
 4. I want my grandkids to be taught  Spanish by English-speaking (bi-lingual)  teachers.
 
 5. Tell their schools they need to  include classes on American culture and  history.
 
 6. I want my grandkids to see the  American flag on one of the flag poles at their  school.
 
 7. Please plan to feed my grandkids at  school for both breakfast and lunch.
 
 8. I will  need a local Mexican driver's license so I can get easy access to government  services.
 
 9. I do plan to get a car and drive in   Mexico , but, I don't plan to purchase car insurance, and I probably won't  make any special effort to learn local traffic  laws.
 
 10. In case one of the Mexican police  officers does not get the memo from their president to leave me alone,  please be sure that every patrol car has at least one English-speaking  officer.
 
 11. I plan to fly the U.S. flag from my  house top, put U S. flag decals on my car, and have a gigantic celebration  on July 4th. I do not want any complaints or negative comments from the  locals.
 
 12. I would also like to have a nice job  without paying any taxes, or have any labor or tax laws enforced on any  business I may start.
 
 13. Please have the  president tell all the Mexican people to be extremely nice and never say  critical things about me or my family, or about the strain we might place on  their economy.
 
 14. I want to receive free food  stamps.
 
 15. Naturally, I'll expect free rent  subsidies.
 
 16. I'll need Income tax credits so  although I don't pay Mexican Taxes, I'll receive money from the  government.
 
 17. Please arrange it so that the  Mexican Gov't pays $4,500 to help me buy a new  car.
 
 18.. Oh yes, I almost forgot, please enroll  me free into the Mexican Social Security program so that I'll get a monthly  income in retirement.
 
 I know this is an easy  request because you already do all these things for all his people who walk  over to the U.S. from Mexico . I am sure that President Calderon won't mind  returning the favor if you ask him nicely.
 
 Thank you so much for your kind help.
    You da’MAN!!!
23670  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, & the US Dollar on: May 22, 2010, 09:38:53 AM
WOW!  That could cover nearly , , , ummm , , , something like two months of our deficit this year!   rolleyes
23671  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Survivalism; Armageddon; Zombies on: May 22, 2010, 09:36:50 AM
S.:

You and others interested in Survivalism in the Home may wish to check out and post at this thread:

http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1188.0
23672  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Survivalism; Armageddon; Zombies on: May 21, 2010, 09:18:08 PM
Shadowdancer:

Good to see you here my friend.

Would you be so kind as to flesh that out for us?
23673  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: May 21, 2010, 09:16:36 PM
This is VERY bad politics for us.
23674  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Immigration cartoons and Federal clowns on: May 21, 2010, 08:59:09 PM
http://patriotupdate.com/exclusives/read/113/More-Immigration-Cartoons-in-Circulation

and Federal clowns



http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/05/21/official-says-feds-process-illegals-referred-arizona/

Updated May 21, 2010

Top Official Says Feds May Not Process Illegals Referred From Arizona
FOXNews.com



View Slideshow

AP

A top Department of Homeland Security official reportedly said his agency will not necessarily process illegal immigrants referred to them by Arizona authorities.

John Morton, assistant secretary of homeland security for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, made the comment during a meeting on Wednesday with the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune, the newspaper reports.

"I don't think the Arizona law, or laws like it, are the solution," Morton told the newspaper.

The best way to reduce illegal immigration is through a comprehensive federal approach, he said, and not a patchwork of state laws.

The law, which criminalizes being in the state illegally and requires authorities to check suspects for immigration status, is not "good government," Morton said.

In response to Morton's comments, DHS officials said President Obama has ordered the Department of Justice to examine the civil rights and other implications of the law.

"That review will inform the government's actions going forward," DHS spokesman Matt Chandler told Fox News on Friday.

Meanwhile, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said ICE is not obligated to process illegal immigrants referred to them by Arizona authorities.

"ICE has the legal discretion to accept or not to accept persons delivered to it by non-federal personnel," Napolitano said. "It also has the discretion to deport or not to deport persons delivered to it by any government agents, even its own."

Morton, according to a biography posted on ICE's website, began his federal service in 1994 and has held numerous positions at the Department of Justice, including as a trial attorney and special assistant to the general counsel in the former Immigration and Naturalization Service and as counsel to the deputy attorney general.

Border apprehensions in Arizona, where roughly 500,000 illegal immigrants are estimated to be living, are up 6 percent since October, according to federal statistics. Roughly 6.5 million residents live in Arizona.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-AL, said it appeared the Obama administration is "nullifying existing law" and suggested Morton may not be the right person for his post if he fails to enforce federal immigration law.

"If he feels he cannot enforce the law, he shouldn't have the job," Sessions told Fox News. "That makes him, in my view, not fulfilling the responsibilities of his office."

Sessions said the U.S. government has "systematically failed" to enforce federal immigration law and claimed Morton's statement is an indication that federal officials do not plan on working with Arizona authorities regarding its controversial law.

"They're telegraphing to every ICE agency in America that they really don't intend on cooperating with Arizona," Sessions said. "The federal government should step up and do it. It's their responsibility."

 
23675  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF on: May 21, 2010, 04:18:23 AM
It took me a moment  embarassed but I finally got it  cheesy
23676  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: May 21, 2010, 04:17:06 AM
Grateful for some very intriguing training this evening , , ,
23677  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: May 20, 2010, 07:58:19 PM
If I am being honest, I should say that conceptually I find the point sound.   The politics and emotions of it are quite horrible of course.
23678  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rand Paul on: May 20, 2010, 07:27:04 PM
I gather Rand Paul has ignited a bit of a firestorm for stating he is against the anti-discrimination laws being applied to private businesses.
23679  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Conditioning on: May 20, 2010, 11:17:05 AM
 huh
23680  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Naturalized citizen sent money to AQ on: May 20, 2010, 02:46:40 AM
Kansas City Man Admits to Funding Al Qaeda
Khalid Ouazzani, a Moroccan-Born U.S. Citizen and Auto Parts Dealer, Pleads Guilty in Federal Court

(AP)  A Kansas City used car and auto parts dealer admitted Wednesday in federal court to sending money to al Qaeda, prosecutors said.

Khalid Ouazzani, 32, a Moroccan-born naturalized U.S. citizen, pleaded guilty to several terrorism-related charges, telling a judge that he sent $23,500 to the terrorist organization through a bank in the United Arab Emirates between August and November 2007, prosecutors said. He also admitted that in June 2008, he swore to an unnamed coconspirator an oath of allegiance to al Qaeda, prosecutors said.

Court records said Ouazzani "used various techniques to disguise their communications about their plans and assistance to support" al Qaeda.

Ouazzani also pleaded guilty to money laundering and bank fraud in a scheme to steal more than $174,000 from a bank using false and fraudulent financial information, prosecutors said.

Ouazzani has "acknowledged the wrongfulness of his acts," his attorneys said in a statement.

"He deeply regrets what he has done, and is taking steps to atone, to the extent he can, for his crimes. He will continue to do so," the statement read. His lawyers declined to comment further about the case and their client.

Ouazzani faces up to 65 years in prison without parole, prosecutors said. No sentencing date has been set.
23681  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What raprochement would look like? on: May 20, 2010, 02:38:57 AM
What a U.S.-Iran Entente Would Look Like
AT STRATFOR WE TRY TO KEEP TRACK OF minute details related to global events. At the same time though, we do not allow ourselves to get bogged down in the proverbial weeds or trees. Instead we focus on the forest as a whole and what the forest will look like over a temporal horizon.

So, while everyone else Tuesday was obsessing over the latest U.S. plans for a fresh round of sanctions against Iran, we were trying to understand what the world would look like if the United States and Iran brought three decades of hostility to an end. Most people would deem the exercise as ludicrous given Tuesday’s events. But STRATFOR has long been saying that with no viable military options to attempt to curb Iranian behavior, and an inability to put together an effective sanctions regime, Washington has only one choice, and that is to negotiate with Tehran on the issues that matter most to both countries.

We are not just talking about the nuclear issue, but rather the key problem of the balance of power between a post-American Iraq and the entire Persian Gulf region. The agreement signed in Tehran by the leaders of Iran, Turkey and Brazil is the first public evidence that the two sides could agree to disagree in roughly the same way the United States and China did in the early 1970s.

While both Washington and Tehran have a lot to gain from a detente, an end to their hostile relationship — which at the moment is far from assured — would have immense implications for a number of players in the region and around the world. This is a subject that has been intensely discussed among our analysts who cover the various regions of the world. Rather than craft a flowing narrative on their ruminations, STRATFOR presents them here in raw form.

An Iran with normalized relations with the United States is a challenge for both Washington and Tehran. The former more so than the latter because it is about the United States according recognition upon a state not because it has accepted to align itself with U.S. foreign policy for the region, but because there are no other viable options for dealing with Tehran. The United States can live with Iran driving its own agenda because of geography, but geography becomes the very reason why many U.S. allies are worried about an internationally rehabilitated Tehran. These include the Arab states, particularly those on the southern shores of the Persian Gulf, and Israel. Iran already has the largest military force in the region — which will only grow more powerful once Tehran is no longer encumbered by sanctions. It will, however, be some time before Iran is able to meaningfully project or sustain conventional military force, though it already exercises considerable influence via regional proxies. Even now, despite all the restrictions, it is still able to finance its regional ambitions — a situation that would only improve once foreign investments pour into the Iranian energy sector.

“While both Washington and Tehran have a lot to gain from a detente, an end to their hostile relationship would have immense implications for a number of players in the region and around the world.”
For the Persian Gulf Arab states, Iran’s return to the global energy market is as much a threat as its military power. Israel is already dealing with the rise of hostile Arab non-state actors, an emergent Turkey and an Egypt in transition, so from its point of view a rehabilitated Iran only makes matters worse for Israel’s national security. To a lesser degree, the Turks and the Pakistanis are concerned about Iran returning to the comity of nations. Ankara wants to be the regional hegemon and does not want competition from anyone — certainly not its historic rival. The Pakistanis do not wish to see competition in Afghanistan, nor do they want their relationship with the United States affected.

The United States has been hobbled by the memories of the 1979 hostage crisis for a generation now, while the importance of oil to the global system makes security in the Persian Gulf an unavoidable commitment for American forces. During the Cold War, when the United States did not have to worry about Gulf security or Iranian ambition, the United States was emotionally, militarily and diplomatically free to encircle the Soviets, parlay with the Chinese, induce the Europeans to cooperate, dominate South America and use Israel to keep the Middle East in check. We are in a radically different world now. But once the United States lets go of the expensive and unwieldy security and emotional baggage caused by Iran, Washington’s ability to reshape the international system should not be underestimated. And that says nothing of what an Iran with a free hand would do to its backyard.

The trajectory of this hypothesized rapprochement coincides with the trajectory of increasing U.S. military capacity. Though U.S. ground combat forces remain heavily committed now, this will change in the years to come. This trajectory is already taking shape, but a U.S.-Iranian entente would accelerate the process. A United States with a battle-hardened military accustomed to a high deployment tempo without the commitments that defined the first decade of the 21st century will have immense capability to deploy multiple brigades to places like Poland, the Baltic states or Georgia. Its naval deployments will be able to spend less time in the Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf and more time loitering in places like the South China Sea. These capabilities will certainly create friction with states like Russia and China. The United States is on this trajectory with or without Iran, but with a U.S.-Iranian rapprochement, it is possible on a more rapid timetable and to a greater degree.

An Iranian-U.S. rapprochement would be a relief to Europe. The Europeans are exhausted by having to keep up with U.S.-Middle Eastern problems, and while the Iranian imbroglio has not forced the Europeans to commit any troops, they are worried that it may in the future. Europeans, especially the French and the Germans, would welcome a Tehran-Washington reconciliation from an economic perspective as well. Both want to use Iran as a market for high-tech products, and France has its sights set on the South Pars natural gas field in the Gulf. Iranian natural gas reserves, estimated to be the second largest in the world, would potentially fill the Nabucco pipeline and give Europe an alternative to Russian energy exports.

Russia has no interest in seeing the United States and Iran come to terms with each other. Iran may be a historic rival to Russia, but it’s a rivalry the Russians have been able to manipulate rather effectively in dealing with the United States. Building Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant and threatening to sell S300 strategic air defense systems to Iran are Russia’s way of capturing Washington’s attention in a region that has consumed U.S. power since the turn of the century. Moscow may be willing to give small concessions over Iran to the United States, but its overall interest is to keep Washington’s focus on Tehran. The more distracted the United States is, the more room Russia has to entrench itself in the former Soviet space and keep Europe under its thumb. If the United States manages to work out an understanding with Tehran and rely more heavily on an ally like Turkey to tend to issues in the Islamic world, then it can turn to the pressing geopolitical issue of how to undermine Russian leverage in Eurasia.

East Asia’s major powers would, in general, favor a U.S. rapprochement with Iran. Japan, China and South Korea, the world’s second, third and 13th biggest economies respectively are all major importers of oil and natural gas. If the United States were to lend its support to Iran as a preeminent power in the Middle East, it would not only open up Iran’s energy sector for greater opportunities in investment and production, but also relieve the Asian states of some of their anxiety about instability in the region as a whole, especially in the vulnerable Persian Gulf choke point through which their oil supplies are shipped. Moreover, these states would leap at new opportunities for their major industrial giants to get involved in construction, energy, finance and manufacturing in Iran, which would all be facilitated by American approval. A U.S.-Iranian entente would pose a problem only to China. Not only would it bring yet another of China’s major energy suppliers into the U.S. orbit and strengthen U.S. influence over the entire Middle East, it would also shrink China’s advantage as a non-U.S. aligned state when it comes to working with non-U.S. aligned Iran. Nevertheless, the economic possibilities of China working with Iran without provoking American aggression would likely outweigh the concerns over U.S.-Iranian vulnerabilities. That is unless an Iranian-facilitated withdrawal from Washington’s wars resulted in the United States putting more pressure on China.
23682  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wattenburg on: May 20, 2010, 02:32:37 AM
This piece is a point-counter-point with the Buchanan piece of my previous post:

Ben Wattenberg: Immigration Is Good
year: 2002

Many leading thinkers tell us we are now in a culture clash that will determine the course of history, that today's war is for Western civilization itself. There is a demographic dimension to this "clash of civilizations." While certain of today's demographic signals bode well for America, some look very bad. If we are to assess America's future prospects, we must start by asking, "Who are we?" "Who will we be?" and "How will we relate to the rest of the world?" The answers all involve immigration. 

As data from the 2000 census trickled out, one item hit the headline jackpot. By the year 2050, we were told, America would be "majority non-white." The census count showed more Hispanics in America than had been expected, making them "America's largest minority." When blacks, Asians, and Native Americans are added to the Hispanic total, the "non-white" population emerges as a large minority, on the way to becoming a small majority around the middle of this century.

The first thing worth noting is that these rigid racial definitions are absurd. The whole concept of race as a biological category is becoming ever-more dubious in America. Consider:

Under the Clinton administration's census rules, any American who checks both the black and white boxes on the form inquiring about "race" is counted as black, even if his heritage is, say, one eighth black and seven eighths white. In effect, this enshrines the infamous segregationist view that one drop of black blood makes a person black.

Although most Americans of Hispanic heritage declare themselves "white," they are often inferentially counted as non-white, as in the erroneous New York Times headline which recently declared: "Census Confirms Whites Now a Minority" in California.

If those of Hispanic descent, hailing originally from about 40 nations, are counted as a minority, why aren't those of Eastern European descent, coming from about 10 nations, also counted as a minority? (In which case the Eastern European "minority" would be larger than the Hispanic minority.)

But within this jumble of numbers there lies a central truth: America is becoming a universal nation, with significant representation of nearly all human hues, creeds, ethnicities, and national ancestries. Continued moderate immigration will make us an even more universal nation as time goes on. And this process may well play a serious role in determining the outcome of the contest of civilizations taking place across the globe.

And current immigration rates are moderate, even though America admitted more legal immigrants from 1991 to 2000 than in any previous decade?between 10 and 11 million. The highest previous decade was 1901-1910, when 8.8 million people arrived. In addition, each decade now, several million illegal immigrants enter the U.S., thanks partly to ease of transportation.

Critics like Pat Buchanan say that absorbing all those immigrants will "swamp" the American culture and bring Third World chaos inside our borders. I disagree. Keep in mind: Those 8.8 million immigrants who arrived in the U.S. between 1901 and 1910 increased the total American population by 1 percent per year. (Our numbers grew from 76 million to 92 million during that decade.) In our most recent decade, on the other hand, the 10 million legal immigrants represented annual growth of only 0.36 percent (as the U.S.  went from 249 million to 281 million).

Overall, nearly 15 percent of Americans were foreign-born in 1910. In 1999, our foreign-born were about 10 percent of our total. (In 1970, the foreign-born portion of our population was down to about 5 percent. Most of the rebound resulted from a more liberal immigration law enacted in 1965.) Or look at the "foreign stock" data. These figures combine Americans born in foreign lands and their offspring, even if those children have only one foreign-born parent. Today, America's "foreign stock" amounts to 21 percent of the population and heading up. But in 1910, the comparable figure was 34 percent?one third of the entire country?and the heavens did not collapse.

We can take in more immigrants, if we want to. Should we? 

Return to the idea that immigrants could swamp American culture. If that is true, we clearly should not increase our intake. But what if, instead of swamping us, immigration helps us become a stronger nation and a swamper of others in the global competition of civilizations?

Immigration is now what keeps America growing. According to the U.N., the typical American woman today bears an average of 1.93 children over the course of her childbearing years. That is mildly below the 2.1 "replacement" rate required to keep a population stable over time, absent immigration. The "medium variant" of the most recent Census Bureau projections posits that the U.S. population will grow from 281 million in 2000 to 397 million in 2050 with expected immigration, but only to 328 million should we choose a path of zero immigration. That is a difference of a population growth of 47 million versus 116 million. (The 47 million rise is due mostly to demographic momentum from previous higher birthrates.) If we have zero immigration with today's low birthrates indefinitely, the American population would eventually begin to shrink, albeit slowly.

Is more population good for America? When it comes to potential global power and influence, numbers can matter a great deal. Taxpayers, many of them, pay for a fleet of aircraft carriers. And on the economic side it is better to have a customer boom than a customer bust. (It may well be that Japan's stagnant demography is one cause of its decade-long slump.) The environmental case could be debated all day long, but remember that an immigrant does not add to the global population?he merely moves from one spot on the planet to another.

But will the current crop of immigrants acculturate? Immigrants to America always have. Some critics, like Mr. Buchanan, claim that this time, it's different. Mexicans seem to draw his particular ire, probably because they are currently our largest single source of immigration.

Yet only about a fifth (22 percent) of legal immigrants to America currently come from Mexico. Adding illegal immigrants might boost the figure to 30 percent, but the proportion of Mexican immigrants will almost surely shrink over time. Mexican fertility has diminished from 6.5 children per woman 30 years ago to 2.5 children now, and continues to fall. If high immigration continues under such circumstances, Mexico will run out of Mexicans.

California hosts a wide variety of immigrant groups in addition to Mexicans. And the children and grandchildren of Koreans, Chinese, Khmer, Russian Jews, Iranians, and Thai (to name a few) will speak English, not Spanish. Even among Mexican-Americans, many second- and third-generation offspring speak no Spanish at all, often to the dismay of their elders (a familiar American story).

Michael Barone's book The New Americans theorizes that Mexican immigrants are following roughly the same course of earlier Italian and Irish immigrants. Noel Ignatiev's book How the Irish Became White notes that it took a hundred years until Irish-Americans (who were routinely characterized as drunken "gorillas") reached full income parity with the rest of America.

California recently repealed its bilingual education programs. Nearly half of Latino voters supported the proposition, even though it was demonized by opponents as being anti-Hispanic. Latina mothers reportedly tell their children, with no intent to disparage the Spanish language, that "Spanish is the language of busboys"?stressing that in America you have to speak English to get ahead. 

The huge immigration wave at the dawn of the twentieth century undeniably brought tumult to America. Many early social scientists promoted theories of what is now called "scientific racism," which "proved" that persons from Northwest Europe were biologically superior. The new immigrants?Jews, Poles, and Italians?were considered racially apart and far down the totem pole of human character and intelligence. Blacks and Asians were hardly worth measuring. The immigration wave sparked a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan, peaking in the early 1920s. At that time, the biggest KKK state was not in the South; it was Indiana, where Catholics, Jews, and immigrants, as well as blacks, were targets.

Francis Walker, superintendent of the U.S. Bureau of the Census in the late 1890s, and later president of MIT, wrote in 1896 that "The entrance of such vast masses of peasantry degraded below our utmost conceptions is a matter which no intelligent patriot can look upon without the gravest apprehension and alarm. They are beaten men from beaten races. They have none of the ideas and aptitudes such as belong to those who were descended from the tribes that met under the oak trees of old Germany to make laws and choose chiefs." (Sorry, Francis, but Germany did not have a good twentieth century.)

Fast-forward to the present. By high margins, Americans now tell pollsters it was a very good thing that Poles, Italians, and Jews emigrated to America. Once again, it's the newcomers who are viewed with suspicion. This time, it's the Mexicans, Filipinos, and people from the Caribbean who make Americans nervous. But such views change over time. The newer immigrant groups are typically more popular now than they were even a decade ago.

Look at the high rates of intermarriage. Most Americans have long since lost their qualms about marriage between people of different European ethnicities. That is spreading across new boundaries. In 1990, 64 percent of Asian Americans married outside their heritage, as did 37 percent of Hispanics. Black-white intermarriage is much lower, but it climbed from 3 percent in 1980 to 9 percent in 1998. (One reason to do away with the race question on the census is that within a few decades we won't be able to know who's what.) 

Can the West, led by America, prevail in a world full of sometimes unfriendly neighbors? Substantial numbers of people are necessary (though not sufficient) for a country, or a civilization, to be globally influential. Will America and its Western allies have enough people to keep their ideas and principles alive?

On the surface, it doesn't look good. In 1986, I wrote a book called The Birth Dearth. My thesis was that birth rates in developed parts of the world?Europe, North America, Australia, and Japan, nations where liberal Western values are rooted?had sunk so low that there was danger ahead. At that time, women in those modern countries were bearing a lifetime average of 1.83 children, the lowest rate ever absent war, famine, economic depression, or epidemic illness. It was, in fact, 15 percent below the long-term population replacement level.

Those trendlines have now plummeted even further. Today, the fertility rate in the modern countries averages 1.5 children per woman, 28 percent below the replacement level. The European rate, astonishingly, is 1.34 children per woman?radically below replacement level. The Japanese rate is similar. The United States is the exceptional country in the current demographic scene.

As a whole, the nations of the Western world will soon be less populous, and a substantially smaller fraction of the world population. Demographer Samuel Preston estimates that even if European fertility rates jump back to replacement level immediately (which won't happen) the continent would still lose 100 million people by 2060. Should the rate not level off fairly soon, the ramifications are incalculable, or, as the Italian demographer Antonio Golini likes to mutter at demograph-ic meetings, "unsustainable?unsustainable." (Shockingly, the current Italian fertility rate is 1.2 children per woman, and it has been at or below 1.5 for 20 years?a full generation.)

The modern countries of the world, the bearers of Western civilization, made up one third of the global population in 1950, and one fifth in 2000, and are projected to represent one eighth by 2050. If we end up in a world with nine competing civilizations, as

Samuel Huntington maintains, this will make it that much harder for Western values to prevail in the cultural and political arenas.

The good news is that fertility rates have also plunged in the less developed countries?from 6 children in 1970 to 2.9 today. By the middle to end of this century, there should be a rough global convergence of fertility rates and population growth. 

Since September 11, immigration has gotten bad press in America. The terrorist villains, indeed, were foreigners. Not only in the U.S. but in many other nations as well, governments are suddenly cracking down on illegal entry. This is understandable for the moment. But an enduring turn away from legal immigration would be foolhardy for America and its allies.

If America doesn't continue to take in immigrants, it won't continue to grow in the long run. If the Europeans and Japanese don't start to accept more immigrants they will evaporate. Who will empty the bedpans in Italy's retirement homes? The only major pool of immigrants available to Western countries hails from the less developed world, i.e. non-white, and non-Western countries.

The West as a whole is in a deep demographic ditch. Accordingly, Western countries should try to make it easier for couples who want to have children. In America, the advent of tax credits for children (which went from zero to $1,000 per child per year over the last decade) is a small step in the direction of fertility reflation. Some European nations are enacting similar pro-natal policies. Bur their fertility rates are so low, and their economies so constrained, that any such actions can only be of limited help.

That leaves immigration. I suggest America should make immigration safer (by more carefully investigating new entrants), but not cut it back. It may even be wise to make a small increase in our current immigration rate. America needs to keep growing, and we can fruitfully use both high- and low-skill immigrants. Pluralism works here, as it does in Canada and Australia.

Can pluralism work in Europe? I don't know, and neither do the Europeans. They hate the idea, but they will depopulate if they don't embrace pluralism, via immigration. Perhaps our example can help Europeans see that pluralism might work in the admittedly more complex European context. Japan is probably a hopeless case; perhaps the Japanese should just change the name of their country to Dwindle.

Our non-pluralist Western allies will likely diminish in population, relative power, and influence during this century. They will become much grayer. Nevertheless, by 2050 there will still be 750 million of them left, so the U.S. needs to keep the Western alliance strong. For all our bickering, let us not forget that the European story in the second half of the twentieth century was a wonderful one; Western Europeans stopped killing each other. Now they are joining hands politically. The next big prize may be Russia. If the Russians choose our path, we will see what Tocqueville saw: that America and Russia are natural allies.

We must enlist other allies as well. America and India, for instance, are logical partners?pluralist, large, English-speaking, and democratic. We must tell our story. And our immigrants, who come to our land by choice, are our best salesmen. We should extend our radio services to the Islamic world, as we have to the unliberated nations of Asia through Radio Free Asia. The people at the microphones will be U.S. immigrants.

We can lose the contest of civilizations if the developing countries don't evolve toward Western values. One of the best forms of "public diplomacy" is immigration. New immigrants send money home, bypassing corrupt governments?the best kind of foreign aid there is. They go back home to visit and tell their families and friends in the motherland that American modernism, while not perfect, ain't half-bad. Some return home permanently, but they bring with them Western expectations of open government, economic efficiency, and personal liberty. They know that Westernism need not be restricted to the West, and they often have an influence on local politics when they return to their home countries.

Still, because of Europe and Japan, the demographic slide of Western civilization will continue. And so, America must be prepared to go it alone. If we keep admitting immigrants at our current levels there will be almost 400 million Americans by 2050. That can keep us strong enough to defend and perhaps extend our views and values. And the civilization we will be advancing may not just be Western, but even more universal: American.
23683  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pat Buchanan on: May 19, 2010, 08:15:16 PM
If his attitudes towards Jews are any indicator, PB can be a bit of a bigot so read the following interesting piece from 2002 with care:

a Cause of the Clash of Civilizations . . .Or a Solution to it?
Patrick Buchanan vs. Ben Wattenberg

Patrick Buchanan: Shields up!   

 In 1821, a newly independent Mexico invited Americans to settle in its northern province of Texas?on two conditions: Americans must embrace Roman Catholicism, and they must swear allegiance to Mexico. Thousands took up the offer. But, in 1835, after the tyrannical General Santa Anna seized power, the Texans, fed up with loyalty oaths and fake conversions, and outnumbering Mexicans in Texas ten to one, rebelled and kicked the tiny Mexican garrison back across the Rio Grande.

Santa Anna led an army north to recapture his lost province. At a mission called the Alamo, he massacred the first rebels who resisted. Then he executed the 400 Texans who surrendered at Goliad. But at San Jacinto, Santa Anna blundered straight into an ambush. His army was butchered, he was captured. The Texans demanded his execution for the Alamo massacre, but Texas army commander Sam Houston had another idea. He made the dictator an offer: his life for Texas. Santa Anna signed. And on his last day in office, Andrew Jackson recognized the independence of the Lone Star Republic.

Eight years later, the U.S. annexed the Texas republic. An enraged Mexico disputed the American claim to all land north of the Rio Grande, so President James Polk sent troops to the north bank of the river. When Mexican soldiers crossed and fired on a U.S. patrol, Congress declared war. By 1848, soldiers with names like Grant, Lee, and McClellan were in the city of Montezuma. A humiliated Mexico was forced to cede all of Texas, the Southwest, and California. The U.S. gave Mexico $15 million to ease the anguish of amputation.

Mexicans seethed with hatred and resentment, and in 1910 the troubles began anew. After a revolution that was anti-church and anti-American, U.S. sailors were roughed up and arrested in Tampico. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson ordered the occupation of Vera Cruz by U.S. Marines. As Wilson explained to the British ambassador, "I am going to teach the South Americans to elect good men." When the bandit Pancho Villa led a murderous raid into New Mexico in 1916, Wilson sent General Pershing and 10,000 troops to do the tutoring.

Despite FDR's Good Neighbor Policy, President Cardenas nationalized U.S. oil companies in 1938- an event honored in Mexico to this day. Pemex was born, a state cartel that would collude with OPEC in 1999 to hike up oil prices to $35 a barrel. American consumers, whose tax dollars had supported a $50 billion bailout of a bankrupt Mexico in 1994, got gouged. 

The point of this history? Mexico has an historic grievance against the United States that is felt deeply by her people. This is one factor producing deep differences in attitudes toward America between today's immigrants from places like Mexico and the old immigrants from Ireland, Italy, and Eastern Europe. With fully one-fifth of all people of Mexican ancestry now residing in the United States, and up to 1 million more crossing the border every year, we need to understand these differences.

1. The number of people pouring in from Mexico is larger than any wave from any country ever before. In the 1990s alone, the number of people of Mexican heritage living in the U.S. grew by 50 percent to at least 21 million. The Founding Fathers wanted immigrants to spread out among the population to ensure assimilation, but Mexican Americans are highly concentrated in the Southwest.

2. Mexicans are not only from another culture, but of another race. History has taught that different races are far more difficult to assimilate than different cultures. The 60 million Americans who claim German ancestry are fully assimilated, while millions from Africa and Asia are still not full participants in American society.

3. Millions of Mexicans broke the law to get into the United States, and they break the law every day they remain here. Each year, 1.6 million illegal aliens are apprehended, almost all of them at our bleeding southern border.

4. Unlike the immigrants of old, who bade farewell to their native lands forever, millions of Mexicans have no desire to learn English or become U.S. citizens. America is not their home; they are here to earn money. They remain proud Mexicans. Rather than assimilate, they create their own radio and TV stations, newspapers, films, and magazines. They are becoming a nation within a nation.

5. These waves of Mexican immigrants are also arriving in a different America than did the old immigrants. A belief in racial rights and ethnic entitlements has taken root among America's minorities and liberal elites. Today, ethnic enclaves are encouraged and ethnic chauvinism is rife in the barrios. Anyone quoting Calvin Coolidge's declaration that "America must remain American" today would be charged with a hate crime. 

Harvard professor Samuel P. Huntington, author of The Clash of Civilizations, calls migration "the central issue of our time." He has warned in the pages of this magazine: 

If 1 million Mexican soldiers crossed the border, Americans would treat it as a major threat to their national security.... The invasion of over 1 million Mexican civilians...would be a comparable threat to American societal security, and Americans should react against it with vigor. 
Mexican immigration is a challenge to our cultural integrity, our national identity, and potentially to our future as a country. Yet, American leaders are far from reacting "with vigor," even though a Zogby poll found that 72 percent of Americans want less immigration, and a Rasmussen poll in July 2000 found that 89 percent support English as America's official language. The people want action. The elites disagree?and do nothing. Despite our braggadocio about being "the world's only remaining superpower," the U.S. lacks the fortitude to defend its borders and to demand, without apology, that immigrants assimilate to its society.
Perhaps our mutual love of the dollar can bridge the cultural chasm, and we shall all live happily in what Ben Wattenberg calls the First Universal Nation. But Uncle Sam is taking a hellish risk in importing a huge diaspora of tens of millions of people from a nation vastly different from our own. It is not a decision we can ever undo. Our children will live with the consequences. "If assimilation fails," Huntington recognizes, "the United States will become a cleft country with all the potentials for internal strife and disunion that entails." Is that a risk worth taking?

A North American Union of Canada, Mexico, and the United States has been proposed by Mexican President Fox, with a complete opening of borders to the goods and peoples of the three countries. The Wall Street Journal is enraptured. But Mexico's per capita GDP of $5,000 is only a fraction of America's?the largest income gap on earth between two adjoining countries. Half of all Mexicans live in poverty, and 18 million people exist on less than $2 a day, while the U.S. minimum wage is headed for $50 a day. Throw open the border, and millions could flood into the United States within months. Is America nothing more than an economic system?

Our old image is of Mexicans as amiable Catholics with traditional values. There are millions of hard-working, family-oriented Americans of Mexican heritage, who have been quick to answer the call to arms in several of America's wars. And, yes, history has shown that any man or woman, from any country on the planet, can be a good American.

But today's demographic sea change, especially in California, where a fourth of the residents are foreign-born and almost a third are Latino, has spawned a new ethnic chauvinism. When the U.S. soccer team played Mexico in  Los Angeles a few years ago, the "Star-Spangled Banner" was jeered, an American flag was torn down, and the U.S. team and its few fans were showered with beer bottles and garbage.

In the New Mexico legislature in 2001, a resolution was introduced to rename the state "Nuevo Mexico," the name it carried before it became a part of the American Union. When the bill was defeated, sponsor Representative Miguel Garcia suggested to reporters that "covert racism" may have been the cause.

A spirit of separatism, nationalism, and irredentism has come alive in the barrio. Charles Truxillo, a professor of Chicano Studies at the University of New Mexico, says a new "Aztlan," with Los Angeles as its capital, is inevitable. Jose Angel Gutierrez, a political science professor at the University of Texas at Arlington and director of the UTA Mexican-American Study Center, told a university crowd: "We have an aging white America. They are not making babies. They are dying. The explosion is in our population. They are shitting in their pants in fear! I love it."

More authoritative voices are sounding the same notes. The Mexican consul general Jos? Pescador Osuna remarked in 1998, "Even though I am saying this part serious, part joking, I think we are practicing La Reconquista in California." California legislator Art Torres called Proposition 187, to cut off welfare to illegal aliens, "the last gasp of white America."

"California is going to be a Mexican State. We are going to control all the institutions. If people don't like it, they should leave," exults Mario Obledo, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, and recipient of the Medal of Freedom from President Clinton. Former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo told Mexican-Americans in Dallas: "You are Mexicans, Mexicans who live north of the border." 

Why should nationalistic and patriotic Mexicans not dream of a reconquista?  The Latino student organization known by its Spanish acronym MEChA states, "We declare the independence of our mestizo nation. We are a bronze people with a bronze culture. Before the world, before all of North America?we are a nation." MEChA demands U.S. "restitution" for "past economic slavery, political exploitation, ethnic and cultural psychological destruction and denial of civil and human rights."

MEChA, which claims 4,000 campus chapters across the country, is unabashedly racist and anti-American. Its slogan?Por la Raza todo. Fuera de La Raza nada.?translates as "For our race, everything. For those outside our race, nothing." Yet it now exerts real power in many places. The former chair of its UCLA chapter, Antonio Villaraigosa, came within a whisker of being elected mayor of Los Angeles in 2001.

That Villaraigosa could go through an entire campaign for control of America's second-largest city without having to explain his association with a Chicano version of the white-supremacist Aryan Nation proves that America's major media are morally intimidated by any minority that boasts past victimhood credentials, real or imagined. 

Meanwhile, the invasion rolls on. America's once-sleepy 2,000-mile border with Mexico is now the scene of daily confrontations. Even the Mexican army shows its contempt for U.S. law. The State Department reported 55 military incursions in the five years before an incident in 2000 when truckloads of Mexican soldiers barreled through a barbed-wire fence, fired shots, and pursued two mounted officers and a U.S. Border Patrol vehicle. U.S. Border Patrol agents believe that some Mexican army units collaborate with their country's drug cartels.

America has become a spillway for an exploding population that Mexico is unable to employ. Mexico's population is growing by 10 million every decade. Mexican senator Adolfo Zinser conceded that Mexico's "economic policy is dependent on unlimited emigration to the United States." The Yanqui-baiting academic and "onetime Communist supporter" Jorge Caste?ada warned in The Atlantic Monthly six years ago that any American effort to cut back immigration "will make social peace in?Mexico untenable.... Some Americans dislike immigration, but there is very little they can do about it." With Se?or Caste?ada now President Fox's foreign minister and Senator Zinser his national security adviser, these opinions carry weight.

The Mexican government openly supports illegal entry of its citizens into the United States. An Office for Mexicans Abroad helps Mexicans evade U.S. border guards in the deserts of Arizona and California by providing them with "survival kits" of water, dry meat, Granola, Tylenol, anti-diarrhea pills, bandages, and condoms. The kits are distributed in Mexico's poorest towns, along with information on where illegal aliens can get free social services in California. Mexico is aiding and abetting an invasion of the United States, and the U.S. responds with intimidated silence and moral paralysis.

With California the preferred destination for this immigration flood, sociologist William Frey has documented an out-migration of African Americans and Anglo Americans from the Golden State in search of cities and towns like the ones in which they grew up. Other Californians are moving into gated communities. A country that cannot control its borders isn't really a country, Ronald Reagan warned some two decades ago.

Concerns about a radical change in America's ethnic composition have been called un-American. But they are as American as Benjamin Franklin, who once asked, "Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them?" Franklin would never find out if his fears were justified, because German immigration was halted during the Revolutionary War.

Theodore Roosevelt likewise warned that "The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities."

Immigration is a subject worthy of national debate, yet it has been deemed taboo by the forces of political correctness. Like the Mississippi, with its endless flow of life-giving water, immigration has enriched America throughout history. But when the Mississippi floods its banks, the devastation can be enormous. What will become of our country if the levees do not hold? 

Harvard economist George Borjas has found no net economic benefit from mass migration from the Third World. In his study, the added costs of schooling, health care, welfare, prisons, plus the added pressure on land, water, and power resources, exceeded the taxes that immigrants pay. The National Bureau of Economic Research put the cost of immigration at $80 billion in 1995. What are the benefits, then, that justify the risk of the balkanization of America?

Today there are 28.4 million foreign-born persons living in the United States. Half are from Latin America and the Caribbean, one fourth from Asia. The rest are from Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. One in every five New Yorkers and Floridians is foreign-born, as is one of every four Californians. As the United States allots most of its immigrant visas to relatives of new arrivals, it is difficult for Europeans to be admitted to the U.S., while entire villages from El Salvador have settled here easily.

? A third of the legal immigrants who come to the United States have not finished high school. Some 22 percent do not even have a ninth-grade education, compared to less than 5 percent of our native-born.

 ? Of the immigrants who have arrived since 1980, 60 percent still do not earn $20,000 a year.

? Immigrant use of food stamps, Supplemental Security Income, and school lunch programs runs from 50 percent to 100 percent higher than use by the native born.

? By 1991, foreign nationals accounted for 24 percent of all arrests in Los Angeles and 36 percent of all arrests in Miami.

 ? In 1980, federal and state prisons housed 9,000 criminal aliens. By 1995, this number had soared to 59,000, a figure that does not include aliens who became citizens, or the criminals sent over from Cuba by Fidel Castro in the Mariel boat lift.

Mass emigration from poor Third World countries is good for business, especially businesses that employ large numbers of workers at low wages. But what is good for corporate America is not necessarily good for Middle America. When it comes to open borders, the corporate interest and the national interest do not coincide; they collide. Mass immigration raises more critical issues than jobs or wages?immigration is ultimately about America herself. Is the U.S. government, by deporting scarcely 1 percent of illegal aliens a year, failing in its Constitutional duty to protect the rights of American citizens? 

Most of the people who leave their homelands to come to America, whether from Mexico or Mauritania, are good, decent people. They seek the same freedom and opportunities our ancestors sought.

But today's record number of immigrants arriving from cultures that have little in common with our own raises a question: What is a nation? Some define a nation as one people of common ancestry, language, literature, history, heritage, heroes, traditions, customs, mores, and faith who have lived together over time in the same land under the same rulers. Among those who pressed this definition were Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, who laid down these conditions on immigrants: "They must cast off the European skin, never to resume it. They must look forward to their posterity rather than backward to their ancestors." Woodrow Wilson, speaking to newly naturalized Americans in 1915 in Philadelphia, declared: "A man who thinks of himself as belonging to a particular national group in America has yet to become an American."

But Americans no longer agree on values, history, or heroes. What one half of America sees as a glorious past, the other views as shameful and wicked. Columbus, Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, and Lee?all of them heroes of the old America?are under attack. Equality and freedom, those most American of words, today hold different meanings for different Americans.

Nor is a shared belief in democracy sufficient to hold a people together. Half the nation did not even bother to vote in the Presidential election of 2000. Millions cannot name their congressman, senator, or the justices of the Supreme Court. They do not care. We live in the same country, we are governed by the same leaders. But are we one nation and one people?

It is hard to believe that over one million immigrants every year, from every country on earth, a third of them entering illegally, will reforge the bonds of our disuniting nation. John Stuart Mill cautioned that unified public opinion is "necessary to the working of representative government." We are about to find out if he was right.
23684  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud (ACORN et al), corruption etc. on: May 19, 2010, 08:07:43 PM
Excellent follow up on this BBG.  Thank you.
23685  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Conditioning on: May 19, 2010, 06:18:20 PM
6.67 miles today with 45 pounds at Bluff Cove.
23686  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: May 19, 2010, 04:17:44 PM
Although this article is thoughtful and well-informed, I think the better point is to throw out these laws altogether as violations of the First Amendment.
================

Editor's note: The following article is co-authored by former Federal Election Commissioners Joan Aikens, Lee Ann Elliott, Thomas Josefiak, David Mason, Bradley Smith, Hans A. von Spakovsky, Michael Toner and Darryl R. Wold:


As former commissioners on the Federal Election Commission with almost 75 years of combined experience, we believe that the bill proposed on April 30 by Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Chris Van Hollen to "blunt" the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC is unnecessary, partially duplicative of existing law, and severely burdensome to the right to engage in political speech and advocacy.

Moreover, the Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections Act, or Disclose Act, abandons the longstanding policy of treating unions and businesses equally, suggesting partisan motives that undermine respect for campaign finance laws.

At least one of us served on the FEC at all times from its inception in 1975 through August 2008. We are well aware of the practical difficulties involved in enforcing the overly complex Federal Election Campaign Act and the problems posed by additional laws that curtail the ability of Americans to participate in the political process.

As we noted in our amicus brief supporting Citizens United, the FEC now has regulations for 33 types of contributions and speech and 71 different types of speakers. Regardless of the abstract merit of the various arguments for and against limits on political contributions and spending, this very complexity raises serious concerns about whether the law can be enforced consistent with the First Amendment.

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Martin Kozlowski
 .Those regulatory burdens often fall hardest not on large-scale players in the political world but on spontaneous grass-roots movements, upstart, low-budget campaigns, and unwitting volunteers. Violating the law by engaging in forbidden political speech can land you in a federal prison, a very un-American notion. The Disclose Act exacerbates many of these problems and is a blatant attempt by its sponsors to do indirectly, through excessively onerous regulatory requirements, what the Supreme Court told Congress it cannot do directly—restrict political speech.

Perhaps the most striking thing about the Disclose Act is that, while the Supreme Court overturned limits on spending by both corporations and unions, Disclose seeks to reimpose them only on corporations. The FEC must constantly fight to overcome the perception that the law is merely a partisan tool of dominant political interests. Failure to maintain an evenhanded approach towards unions and corporations threatens public confidence in the integrity of the electoral system.

For example, while the Disclose Act prohibits any corporation with a federal contract of $50,000 or more from making independent expenditures or electioneering communications, no such prohibition applies to unions. This $50,000 trigger is so low it would exclude thousands of corporations from engaging in constitutionally protected political speech, the very core of the First Amendment. Yet public employee unions negotiate directly with the government for benefits many times the value of contracts that would trigger the corporate ban.

This prohibition is supposedly needed to address concerns that government contractors might use the political process to steer contracts their way; but unions have exactly the same conflict of interest. So do other recipients of federal funds, such as nonprofit organizations that receive federal grants and earmarks. Yet there is no ban on their independent political expenditures.

Disclose also bans expenditures on political advocacy by American corporations with 20% or more foreign ownership, but there is no such ban on unions—such as the Service Employees International Union, or the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers—that have large numbers of foreign members and foreign nationals as directors.

Existing law already prohibits foreign nationals, including corporations headquartered or incorporated outside of the U.S., from participating in any U.S. election. Thus Disclose does not ban foreign speech but speech by American citizen shareholders of U.S. companies that have some element of foreign ownership, even when those foreigners have no control over the decisions made by the Americans who run the company.

For example, companies such as Verizon Wireless, a Delaware corporation headquartered in New Jersey with 83,000 U.S. employees and 91 million U.S. customers, would be silenced because of the British Vodafone's minority ownership in the corporation. But competing telecommunications companies could spend money to influence elections or issues being debated in Congress.

The new disclosure requirements are unnecessary, duplicating information already available to the public or providing information of low value at a significant cost in reduced clarity for grass-roots political speech. In many 30-second ads, Disclose would require no fewer than six statements as to who is paying for the ad (the current law already requires one such statement). These disclaimers would take up as much as half of every ad.


The Disclose Act also creates new disclosure requirements for nonprofit advocacy groups that speak out. These groups already have to disclose their sponsorship, but Disclose requires them to go further and provide the government with a membership list. This infringes on the First Amendment rights of private associations recognized by the Supreme Court in NAACP v. Alabama. Groups can avoid this only by creating a new type of political action committee called a "campaign related activities account."

The result of these overly complex and unnecessary provisions is to force nonprofits to choose between two options that have each been found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court: Either disclose their members to the government or restrict their political spending to the campaign related activities account. This runs contrary to the explicit holding in Citizens United that corporations (and unions) may engage in political speech using their general treasuries.

These requirements will be especially burdensome to small businesses and grass-roots organizations, which typically lack the resources for compliance. So the end effect of all of this "enhanced disclosure" will be to ensure that only large corporations, unions and advocacy groups can make political expenditures—the exact opposite of what the sponsors claim to desire.

While the Disclose Act does include an exemption for major media corporations, it does not include websites or the Internet, which means the government can regulate (and potentially censor) political dialogue on the Web. Additionally, the law would require any business or organization making political expenditures to create and maintain an extensive, highly sophisticated website with advanced search features to track its political activities.

As a result, small businesses, grass-roots organizations, and union locals that maintain only basic websites would be discouraged from making any expenditures for political advocacy, because doing so would require them to spend thousands of dollars to upgrade their websites and purchase software to report information that is already readily available to the public from the FEC. Large companies and unions could probably meet this requirement, so once again the bill benefits large, institutional players over small businesses and grass-roots organizations.

The Disclose Act's abandonment of the historical matching treatment of unions and corporations will cause a substantial portion of the public to doubt the law's fairness and impartiality. It makes election law even more complex, more incomprehensible to ordinary voters, and more open to subjective enforcement by those seeking partisan gain.
23687  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The First Amendment on: May 19, 2010, 04:16:08 PM
The subject matter of this thread will now be handled in the "Issues in the American Creed" thread on the SCH forum.
23688  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: May 19, 2010, 04:14:15 PM
Freki:

That is a very nice article and very practical for citing.  Good find!
23689  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / BJ Penn with Guro Dan Inosanto on: May 18, 2010, 03:27:10 PM


http://www.bjpenn.com/video/video/show?id=2022293%3AVideo%3A1417146
23690  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Zo! on: May 18, 2010, 01:43:44 PM


http://www.pjtv.com/v/3555
23691  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hospital visitation denied? on: May 18, 2010, 01:36:30 PM


http://www.mercatornet.com/sheila_liaugminas/view/7237/
23692  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, & the US Dollar on: May 18, 2010, 11:52:44 AM
Said with love, but I think you have been distracted by matters that are essentially irrelevant.  Fed announcements about interest rate policy and all the rest of it ultimately are not the point.

The point is this:  We are living beyond our means.  Government spending is out of control, and it is already in the entitlement pipeline that it will be more out of control.    If we cut it back, then all will be well.  If we don't, it won't.

23693  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: May 18, 2010, 11:47:43 AM
@GM:  Well, back in my hippy dippy days in the 60s the numbers were far, far smaller AND I was , , , dippy.  Stil,l I did notice that Nixon's anti-pot campaign against Mexico had the effect of jump-starting the cocaine trade which now poisons everything in Mexico.  Shrewd, real shrewd  rolleyes   In the 70s, I discovered that my anti-authorian nature was more at home on the right than the left (my micro and macro econ courses at U. Penn played a big role here) and I began seriousl travel and study in Mexico and about Mexico at Penn.  My studies at Penn educated me inter alia about the demographics of the Mexican population growth rate and the political-economics of its economy.  In the 1980's I regarded Reagan's amnesty as a reasonable compromise that would solve the growing problem.  In the 1990s I saw that the Feds did not keep the promise of the Reagan compromise to defend the border in return for amnesty.  So, now, in this millenium I apply the saying "Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice shame on me."

I like Mexico.  I like Mexicans.  Mexico was my focus country when I majored in International Relations at U. of PA.  I speak Spanish, rather well I might add, when I go to Mexico.  I only get into Mexico when they let me do so and as required by Mexican law I carry my tourist visa with me when I am there.  When I spent the summer after my first year of law school working for the largest law firm in Mexico (I had spent a semester at a Mexican law school between getting my BA at U Penn and entering Columbia law school here in the US) I had to comply with Mexican law in order to do so.

@all:

JDN's post plants the question fairly, and I think GM answers it well.   PC nails the disingenuous nature of the POTH piece.
23694  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues on: May 18, 2010, 11:21:24 AM
CCP:

The irony there is extraordinary.
===========
All:

We'll need to see the actual agreement before passing judgment I suppose, but ultimately, as we have noted here all along, sanctions are more a tactic to keep Israel from acting than a genuine strategy for stopping Iran from going nuclear.  Still, if there is anything of this sanctions agreement, it will be interesting to see how, given its editorial which I posted earlier this morning, the WSJ reacts.

Marc
----------------

Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Tue, May 18, 2010 -- 10:39 AM ET
-----

Clinton Says U.S., China and Russia Have Deal on New Iran Sanctions

The Obama administration announced Tuesday morning that it
has struck a deal with other major powers, including Russia
and China, to impose new sanctions on Iran, a sharp
repudiation of the deal Tehran offered just a day before to
ship its nuclear fuel out of the country.

"We have reached agreement on a strong draft with the
cooperation of both Russia and China," Secretary of State
Hillary Rodham Clinton told a Senate committee. "We plan to
circulate that draft resolution to the entire Security
Council today. And let me say, Mr. Chairman, I think this
announcement is as convincing an answer to the efforts
undertaken in Tehran over the last few days as any we could
provide."

The announcement came just a day after Iran said it would
ship roughly half of its nuclear fuel to Turkey in a bid to
assuage concerns about its program.

Read More:
http://www.nytimes.com?emc=na
23695  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: May 18, 2010, 08:44:53 AM
y SCOTT GOTTLIEB
President Obama guaranteed Americans that after health reform became law they could keep their insurance plans and their doctors. It's clear that this promise cannot be kept. Insurers and physicians are already reshaping their businesses as a result of Mr. Obama's plan.

The health-reform law caps how much insurers can spend on expenses and take for profits. Starting next year, health plans will have a regulated "floor" on their medical-loss ratios, which is the amount of revenue they spend on medical claims. Insurers can only spend 20% of their premiums on running their plans if they offer policies directly to consumers or to small employers. The spending cap is 15% for policies sold to large employers.  This regulation is going to have its biggest impact on insurance sold directly to consumers—what's referred to as the "individual market." These policies cost more to market. They also have higher medical costs, owing partly to selection by less healthy consumers. Finally, individual policies have high start-up costs. If insurers cannot spend more of their revenue getting plans on track, fewer new policies will be offered.

This will hit Wellpoint, one of the biggest players in the individual market, particularly hard. The insurance company already has a strained relationship with the White House: Earlier this month Mr. Obama accused Wellpoint of systemically denying coverage to breast cancer patients, though the facts don't bear that out.

Restrictions on how insurers can spend money are compounded by simultaneous constraints on how they can manage their costs. Beginning in 2014, a new federal agency will standardize insurance benefits, placing minimum actuarial values on medical policies. There are also mandates forcing insurers to cover a lot of expensive primary-care services in full. At the same time, insurers are being blocked from raising premiums—for now by political jawboning, but the threat of legislative restrictions looms.

One of the few remaining ways to manage expenses is to reduce the actual cost of the products. In health care, this means pushing providers to accept lower fees and reduce their use of costly services like radiology or other diagnostic testing.

To implement this strategy, companies need to be able to exert more control over doctors. So insurers are trying to buy up medical clinics and doctor practices. Where they can't own providers outright, they'll maintain smaller "networks" of physicians that they will contract with so they can manage doctors more closely. That means even fewer choices for beneficiaries. Insurers hope that owning providers will enable health policies to offset the cost of the new regulations.

Doctors, meanwhile, are selling their practices to local hospitals. In 2005, doctors owned more than two-thirds of all medical practices. By next year, more than 60% of physicians will be salaried employees. About a third of those will be working for hospitals, according to the American Medical Association. A review of the open job searches held by one of the country's largest physician-recruiting firms shows that nearly 50% are for jobs in hospitals, up from about 25% five years ago.

Last month, a hospital I'm affiliated with outside of Manhattan sent a note to its physicians announcing a new subsidiary it's forming to buy up local medical practices. Nearby physicians are lining up to sell—and not just primary-care doctors, but highly paid specialists like orthopedic surgeons and neurologists. Similar developments are unfolding nationwide.

Consolidated practices and salaried doctors will leave fewer options for patients and longer waiting times for routine appointments. Like the insurers, physicians are responding to the economic burdens of the president's plan in one of the few ways they're permitted to.

For physicians, the strains include higher operating costs. The Obama health plan puts expensive new mandates on doctors, such as a requirement to purchase IT systems and keep more records. Overhead costs already consume more than 60% of the revenue generated by an average medical practice, according to a 2007 survey by the Medical Group Management Association. At the same time, reimbursement under Medicare is falling. Some specialists, such as radiologists and cardiologists, will see their Medicare payments fall by more than 10% next year. Then there's the fact that medical malpractice premiums have risen by 10%-20% annually for specialists like surgeons, particularly in states that haven't passed liability reform.

The bottom line: Defensive business arrangements designed to blunt ObamaCare's economic impacts will mean less patient choice.

Dr. Gottlieb, a former official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a practicing internist. He's partner to a firm that invests in health-care companies.
23696  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: on: May 18, 2010, 08:40:09 AM
What a fiasco. That's the first word that comes to mind watching Mahmoud Ahmadinejad raise his arms yesterday with the leaders of Turkey and Brazil to celebrate a new atomic pact that instantly made irrelevant 16 months of President Obama's "diplomacy." The deal is a political coup for Tehran and possibly delivers the coup de grace to the West's half-hearted efforts to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb.

Full credit for this debacle goes to the Obama Administration and its hapless diplomatic strategy. Last October, nine months into its engagement with Tehran, the White House concocted a plan to transfer some of Iran's uranium stock abroad for enrichment. If the West couldn't stop Iran's program, the thinking was that maybe this scheme would delay it. The Iranians played coy, then refused to accept the offer.

But Mr. Obama doesn't take no for an answer from rogue regimes, and so he kept the offer on the table. As the U.S. finally seemed ready to go to the U.N. Security Council for more sanctions, the Iranians chose yesterday to accept the deal on their own limited terms while enlisting the Brazilians and Turks as enablers and political shields. "Diplomacy emerged victorious today," declared Brazil's President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, turning Mr. Obama's own most important foreign-policy principle against him.

The double embarrassment is that the U.S. had encouraged Lula's diplomacy as a step toward winning his support for U.N. sanctions. Brazil is currently one of the nonpermanent, rotating members of the Security Council, and the U.S. has wanted a unanimous U.N. vote. Instead, Lula used the opening to triangulate his own diplomatic solution. In her first game of high-stakes diplomatic poker, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is leaving the table dressed only in a barrel.

So instead of the U.S. and Europe backing Iran into a corner this spring, Mr. Ahmadinejad has backed Mr. Obama into one. America's discomfort is obvious. In its statement yesterday, the White House strained to "acknowledge the efforts" by Turkey and Brazil while noting "Iran's repeated failure to live up to its own commitments." The White House also sought to point out differences between yesterday's pact and the original October agreements on uranium transfers.

Good luck drawing those distinctions with the Chinese or Russians, who will now be less likely to agree even to weak sanctions. Having played so prominent a role in last October's talks with Iran, the U.S. can't easily disassociate itself from something broadly in line with that framework.

Under the terms unveiled yesterday, Iran said it would send 1,200 kilograms (2,646 lbs.) of low-enriched uranium to Turkey within a month, and no more than a year later get back 120 kilograms enriched from somewhere else abroad. This makes even less sense than the flawed October deal. In the intervening seven months, Iran has kicked its enrichment activities into higher gear. Its estimated total stock has gone to 2,300 kilograms from 1,500 kilograms last autumn, and its stated enrichment goal has gone to 20% from 3.5%.

If the West accepts this deal, Iran would be allowed to keep enriching uranium in contravention of previous U.N. resolutions. Removing 1,200 kilograms will leave Iran with still enough low-enriched stock to make a bomb, and once uranium is enriched up to 20% it is technically easier to get to bomb-capable enrichment levels.

Only last week, diplomats at the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran has increased the number of centrifuges it is using to enrich uranium. According to Western intelligence estimates, Iran continues to acquire key nuclear components, such as trigger mechanisms for bombs. Tehran says it wants to build additional uranium enrichment plants. The CIA recently reported that Iran tripled its stockpile of uranium last year and moved "toward self-sufficiency in the production of nuclear missiles." Yesterday's deal will have no impact on these illicit activities.

The deal will, however, make it nearly impossible to disrupt Iran's nuclear program short of military action. The U.N. is certainly a dead end. After 16 months of his extended hand and after downplaying support for Iran's democratic opposition, Mr. Obama now faces an Iran much closer to a bomb and less diplomatically isolated than when President Bush left office.

Israel will have to seriously consider its military options. Such a confrontation is far more likely thanks to the diplomatic double-cross of Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Brazil's Lula, and especially to a U.S. President whose diplomacy has succeeded mainly in persuading the world's rogues that he lacks the determination to stop their destructive ambitions.
23697  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Doomsayers Beware on: May 18, 2010, 08:06:55 AM
Doomsayers Beware, a Bright Future Beckons
By JOHN TIERNEY
Published: May 17, 2010
 
Long before “sustainable” became a buzzword, intellectuals wondered how long industrial society could survive. In “The Idea of Decline in Western History,” after surveying predictions from the mid-19th century until today, the historian Arthur Herman identifies two consistently dominant schools of thought.


The first school despairs because it foresees inevitable ruin. The second school is hopeful — but only because these intellectuals foresee ruin, too, and can hardly wait for the decadent modern world to be replaced by one more to their liking. Every now and then, someone comes along to note that society has failed to collapse and might go on prospering, but the notion is promptly dismissed in academia as happy talk from a simpleton. Predicting that the world will not end is also pretty good insurance against a prolonged stay on the best-seller list. Have you read Julian Simon’s “The State of Humanity”? Indur Goklany’s “The Improving State of the World”? Gregg Easterbrook’s “Sonic Boom”?

Good books all, and so is the newest addition to this slender canon, “The Rational Optimist,” by Matt Ridley. It does much more than debunk the doomsaying. Dr. Ridley provides a grand unified theory of history from the Stone Age to the better age awaiting us in 2100.

It’s an audacious task, but he has the intellectual breadth for it. A trained zoologist and former editor at The Economist, Dr. Ridley has established himself in previous books, like “The Origins of Virtue” and “Genome,” as the supreme synthesist of lessons from anthropology, psychology, molecular genetics, economics and game theory. This time he takes on all of human history, starting with our mysteriously successful debut. What made Homo sapiens so special? Dr. Ridley argues that it wasn’t our big brain, because Neanderthals had a big brain, too. Nor was it our willingness to help one another, because apes and other social animals also had an instinct for reciprocity.

“At some point,” Dr. Ridley writes, “after millions of years of indulging in reciprocal back-scratching of gradually increasing intensity, one species, and one alone, stumbled upon an entirely different trick. Adam gave Oz an object in exchange for a different object.”

The evidence for this trick is in perforated seashells from more than 80,000 years ago that ended up far from the nearest coast, an indication that inlanders were bartering to get ornamental seashells from coastal dwellers. Unlike the contemporary Neanderthals, who apparently relied just on local resources, those modern humans could shop for imports.

“The extraordinary promise of this event was that Adam potentially now had access to objects he did not know how to make or find; and so did Oz,” Dr. Ridley writes. People traded goods, services and, most important, knowledge, creating a collective intelligence: “Ten individuals could know between them ten things, while each understanding one.”

As they specialized and exchanged, humans learned how to domesticate crops and animals and sell food to passing merchants. Traders congregated in the first cities and built ships that spread goods and ideas around the world.

The Phoenician merchants who sailed the Mediterranean were denounced by Hebrew prophets like Isaiah and Greek intellectuals like Homer. But trading networks enabled the ancient Greeks to develop their alphabet, mathematics and science, and later fostered innovation in the trading hubs of the Roman Empire, India, China, Arabia, Renaissance Italy and other European capitals.

Rulers like to take credit for the advances during their reigns, and scientists like to see their theories as the source of technological progress. But Dr. Ridley argues that they’ve both got it backward: traders’ wealth builds empires, and entrepreneurial tinkerers are more likely to inspire scientists than vice versa. From Stone Age seashells to the steam engine to the personal computer, innovation has mostly been a bottom-up process.

“Forget wars, religions, famines and poems for the moment,” Dr. Ridley writes. “This is history’s greatest theme: the metastasis of exchange, specialization and the invention it has called forth, the ‘creation’ of time.”

You can appreciate the timesaving benefits through a measure devised by the economist William D. Nordhaus: how long it takes the average worker to pay for an hour of reading light. In ancient Babylon, it took more than 50 hours to pay for that light from a sesame-oil lamp. In 1800, it took more than six hours of work to pay for it from a tallow candle. Today, thanks to the countless specialists producing electricity and compact fluorescent bulbs, it takes less than a second. That technological progress, though, was sporadic. Innovation would flourish in one trading hub for a while but then stagnate, sometimes because of external predators — roving pirates, invading barbarians — but more often because of internal parasites, as Dr. Ridley writes:

“Empires bought stability at the price of creating a parasitic court; monotheistic religions bought social cohesion at the expense of a parasitic priestly class; nationalism bought power at the expense of a parasitic military; socialism bought equality at the price of a parasitic bureaucracy; capitalism bought efficiency at the price of parasitic financiers.”

Progress this century could be impeded by politics, wars, plagues or climate change, but Dr. Ridley argues that, as usual, the “apocaholics” are overstating the risks and underestimating innovative responses.

“The modern world is a history of ideas meeting, mixing, mating and mutating,” Dr. Ridley writes. “And the reason that economic growth has accelerated so in the past two centuries is down to the fact that ideas have been mixing more than ever before.”

Our progress is unsustainable, he argues, only if we stifle innovation and trade, the way China and other empires did in the past. Is that possible? Well, European countries are already banning technologies based on the precautionary principle requiring advance proof that they’re risk-free. Americans are turning more protectionist and advocating byzantine restrictions like carbon tariffs. Globalization is denounced by affluent Westerners preaching a return to self-sufficiency.

But with new hubs of innovation emerging elsewhere, and with ideas spreading faster than ever on the Internet, Dr. Ridley expects bottom-up innovators to prevail. His prediction for the rest of the century: “Prosperity spreads, technology progresses, poverty declines, disease retreats, fecundity falls, happiness increases, violence atrophies, freedom grows, knowledge flourishes, the environment improves and wilderness expands.”

If you’re not ready to trust an optimist, if you still fear a reckoning is at hand, you might consider the words of Thomas B. Macaulay, a British poet, historian and politician who criticized doomsayers of the mid-1800s.

“We cannot absolutely prove,” he wrote, “that those are in error who tell us that society has reached a turning point, that we have seen our best days. But so said all who came before us, and with just as much apparent reason.”
23698  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / NYT: A new clue to explain existence on: May 18, 2010, 07:58:30 AM
A New Clue to Explain Existence
By DENNIS OVERBYE
Published: May 17, 2010

Physicists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory are reporting that they have discovered a new clue that could help unravel one of the biggest mysteries of cosmology: why the universe is composed of matter and not its evil-twin opposite, antimatter. If confirmed, the finding portends fundamental discoveries at the new Large Hadron Collider outside Geneva, as well as a possible explanation for our own existence.


In a mathematically perfect universe, we would be less than dead; we would never have existed. According to the basic precepts of Einsteinian relativity and quantum mechanics, equal amounts of matter and antimatter should have been created in the Big Bang and then immediately annihilated each other in a blaze of lethal energy, leaving a big fat goose egg with which to make stars, galaxies and us. And yet we exist, and physicists (among others) would dearly like to know why.

Sifting data from collisions of protons and antiprotons at Fermilab’s Tevatron, which until last winter was the most powerful particle accelerator in the world, the team, known as the DZero collaboration, found that the fireballs produced pairs of the particles known as muons, which are sort of fat electrons, slightly more often than they produced pairs of anti-muons. So the miniature universe inside the accelerator went from being neutral to being about 1 percent more matter than antimatter.

“This result may provide an important input for explaining the matter dominance in our universe,” Guennadi Borissov, a co-leader of the study from Lancaster University, in England, said in a talk Friday at Fermilab, in Batavia, Ill. Over the weekend, word spread quickly among physicists. Maria Spiropulu of CERN and the California Institute of Technology called the results “very impressive and inexplicable.”

The results have now been posted on the Internet and submitted to the Physical Review.

It was Andrei Sakharov, the Russian dissident and physicist, who first provided a recipe for how matter could prevail over antimatter in the early universe. Among his conditions was that there be a slight difference in the properties of particles and antiparticles known technically as CP violation. In effect, when the charges and spins of particles are reversed, they should behave slightly differently. Over the years, physicists have discovered a few examples of CP violation in rare reactions between subatomic particles that tilt slightly in favor of matter over antimatter, but “not enough to explain our existence,” in the words of Gustaaf Brooijmans of Columbia, who is a member of the DZero team.

The new effect hinges on the behavior of particularly strange particles called neutral B-mesons, which are famous for not being able to make up their minds. They oscillate back and forth trillions of times a second between their regular state and their antimatter state. As it happens, the mesons, created in the proton-antiproton collisions, seem to go from their antimatter state to their matter state more rapidly than they go the other way around, leading to an eventual preponderance of matter over antimatter of about 1 percent, when they decay to muons.

Whether this is enough to explain our existence is a question that cannot be answered until the cause of the still-mysterious behavior of the B-mesons is directly observed, said Dr. Brooijmans, who called the situation “fairly encouraging.”

The observed preponderance is about 50 times what is predicted by the Standard Model, the suite of theories that has ruled particle physics for a generation, meaning that whatever is causing the B-meson to act this way is “new physics” that physicists have been yearning for almost as long.

Dr. Brooijmans said that the most likely explanations were some new particle not predicted by the Standard Model or some new kind of interaction between particles. Luckily, he said, “this is something we should be able to poke at with the Large Hadron Collider.”

Neal Weiner of New York University said, “If this holds up, the L.H.C. is going to be producing some fantastic results.”

Nevertheless, physicists will be holding their breath until the results are confirmed by other experiments.

Joe Lykken, a theorist at Fermilab, said, “So I would not say that this announcement is the equivalent of seeing the face of God, but it might turn out to be the toe of God.”
23699  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: States Rights on: May 18, 2010, 07:32:51 AM
Should I have said Miss USA instead of Miss America?
23700  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: May 18, 2010, 07:29:51 AM
I must say that I feel sick to my stomach at the environmental disaster that is unfolding in slow motion in the Gulf.

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