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23801  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Clusterfcuk on: October 20, 2008, 03:35:29 PM
Ummm, , , who is Rachel Maddow?
23802  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: October 20, 2008, 01:03:02 PM
I'm not clear here.  Are you saying that transcript is of Brokaw?
23803  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: October 20, 2008, 12:59:18 PM
"There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the
people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than
by violent and sudden usurpations."

-- James Madison (speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention,
16 June 1788)

Reference: Bartlett's Quotations (352)
23804  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Prager: Two Americas on: October 20, 2008, 12:43:07 PM
There Are Two Irreconcilable Americas
By Dennis Prager
It is time to confront the unhappy fact about our country: There are now two Americas. Not a rich one and a poor one; economic status plays little role in this division.

There is a red one and a blue one.

For most of my life I have believed, in what I now regard as wishful thinking, that the right and left wings have essentially the same vision for America, that it's only about ways to get there in which the two sides differ. Right and left share the same ends, I thought.

That is not the case. For the most part, right and left differ in their visions of America and that is why they differ on policies.

Right and the left do not want the same America.

The left wants America to look as much like Western European countries as possible. The left wants Europe's quasi-pacifism, cradle-to-grave socialism, egalitarianism and secularism in America. The right wants none of those values to dominate America.

The left wants America not only to have a secular government, but to have a secular society. The left feels that if people want to be religious, they should do so at home and in their houses of prayer, but never try to inject their religious values into society. The right wants America to continue to be what it has always been -- a Judeo-Christian society with a largely secular government (that is not indifferent to religion). These opposing visions explain, for example, their opposite views concerning nondenominational prayer in school.

The left prefers to identify as citizens of the world. The left fears nationalism in general (this has been true for the European left since World War I), and since the 1960s, the American left has come to fear American nationalism in particular. On the other side, the right identifies first as citizens of America.

The left therefore regards the notion of American exceptionalism as chauvinism; the United Nations and world opinion are regarded as better arbiters of what is good than is America. The right has a low opinion of the U.N.'s moral compass and of world opinion, both of which it sees as having a much poorer record of stopping genocide and other evils than America has.

The left is ambivalent about and often hostile to overt displays of American patriotism. That is why, for example, one is far more likely to find American flags displayed in Orange County, Calif., on national holidays than in liberal neighborhoods in West Los Angeles, Manhattan or San Francisco.

The left subscribes to the French Revolution, whose guiding principles were “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity." The right subscribes to the American formula, “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." The French/European notion of equality is not mentioned. The right rejects the French Revolution and does not hold Western Europe as a model. The left does. That alone makes right and left irreconcilable.

The left envisions an egalitarian society. The right does not. The left values equality above other values because it yearns for an America in which all people have similar amounts of material possessions. This is what propels the left to advocate laws that would force employers to pay women the same wages they pay men not only for the same job but for “comparable” jobs (as if that is objectively ascertainable). The right values equality in opportunity and strongly believes that all people are created equal, but the right values liberty, a man-woman based family and other values above equality.

The left wants a world -- and therefore an America -- devoid of nuclear weapons. The right wants America to have the best nuclear weapons. The right trusts American might more than universal disarmament.

The left wants to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples for the first time in history. The right wants gays to have equal rights, but to keep marriage defined as man-woman. This, too, constitutes an irreconcilable divide.

For these and other reasons, calls for a unity among Americans that transcends left and right are either naive or disingenuous. America will be united only when one of them prevails over the other. The left knows this. Most on the right do not.

COPYRIGHT 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
23805  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Clusterfcuk on: October 20, 2008, 12:32:54 PM
“Under an Obama administration, it is not far-fetched to see the day when liberal federal judges decide that religious organizations must lose their tax exemptions should they refuse to employ homosexuals or others they regard as engaging in deviant behavior. Court challenges against those who believe homosexual behavior is sinful seem to be occurring with greater frequency... The aim of the gay rights lobby is to destroy all remnants of biblical values and societal norms. Gay rights advocates will take their agenda to federal courts as soon as sufficient numbers of liberal judges are there to give them what they want. Watch them vote in overwhelming numbers for Barack Obama. He is their future. This election is, among other things, about the future of the majority and whether we want this country to be shaped by the courts, or by ‘we the people’.” —Cal Thomas
23806  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ Carbon Ultimatum on: October 20, 2008, 12:26:16 PM
Liberals pretend that only President Bush is preventing the U.S. from adopting some global warming "solution." But occasionally their mask slips. As Barack Obama's energy adviser has now made clear, the would-be President intends to blackmail -- or rather, greenmail -- Congress into falling in line with his climate agenda.

 
APJason Grumet is currently executive director of an outfit called the National Commission on Energy Policy and one of Mr. Obama's key policy aides. In an interview last week with Bloomberg, Mr. Grumet said that come January the Environmental Protection Agency "would initiate those rulemakings" that classify carbon as a dangerous pollutant under current clean air laws. That move would impose new regulation and taxes across the entire economy, something that is usually the purview of Congress. Mr. Grumet warned that "in the absence of Congressional action" 18 months after Mr. Obama's inauguration, the EPA would move ahead with its own unilateral carbon crackdown anyway.

Well, well. For years, Democrats -- including Senator Obama -- have been howling about the "politicization" of the EPA, which has nominally been part of the Bush Administration. The complaint has been that the White House blocked EPA bureaucrats from making the so-called "endangerment finding" on carbon. Now it turns out that a President Obama would himself wield such a finding as a political bludgeon. He plans to issue an ultimatum to Congress: Either impose new taxes and limits on carbon that he finds amenable, or the EPA carbon police will be let loose to ravage the countryside.

The EPA hasn't made a secret of how it would like to centrally plan the U.S. economy under the 1970 Clean Air Act. In a blueprint released in July, the agency didn't exactly say it'd collectivize the farms -- but pretty close, down to the "grass clippings." The EPA would monitor and regulate the carbon emissions of "lawn and garden equipment" as well as everything with an engine, like cars, planes and boats. Eco-bureaucrats envision thousands of other emissions limits on all types of energy. Coal-fired power and other fossil fuels would be ruled out of existence, while all other prices would rise as the huge economic costs of the new regime were passed down the energy chain to consumers.

These costs would far exceed the burden of a straight carbon tax or cap-and-trade system enacted by Congress, because the Clean Air Act was never written to apply to carbon and other greenhouse gases. It's like trying to do brain surgery with a butter knife. Mr. Obama wants to move ahead anyway because he knows that the costs of any carbon program will be high. He knows, too, that Congress -- even with strongly Democratic majorities -- might still balk at supporting tax increases on their constituents, even if it is done in the name of global warming.

Climate-change politics don't break cleanly along partisan lines. The burden of a carbon clampdown will fall disproportionately on some states over others, especially the 25 interior states that get more than 50% of their electricity from coal. Rustbelt manufacturing states like Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania will get hit hard too. Once President Bush leaves office, the coastal Democrats pushing hardest for a climate change program might find their colleagues splitting off, especially after they vote for a huge tax increase on incomes.

Thus Messrs. Obama and Grumet want to invoke a political deus ex machina driven by a faulty interpretation of the Clean Air Act to force Congress's hand. Mr. Obama and Democrats can then tell Americans that Congress must act to tax and regulate carbon to save the country from even worse bureaucratic consequences. It's Mr. Obama's version of Jack Benny's old "your money or your life" routine, but without the punch line.

The strategy is most notable for what it says about the climate-change lobby and its new standard bearer. Supposedly global warming is the transcendent challenge of the age, but Mr. Obama evidently doesn't believe he'll be able to convince his own party to do something about it without a bureaucratic ultimatum. Mr. Grumet justified it this way: "The U.S. has to move quickly domestically . . . We cannot have a meaningful impact in the international discussion until we develop a meaningful domestic consensus."

Normally a democracy reaches consensus through political debate and persuasion, but apparently for Mr. Obama that option is merely a nuisance. It's another example of "change" you'll be given no choice but to believe in.

Please add your comments to the Opinion Journal
23807  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: October 20, 2008, 12:10:25 PM
Has General Powell Heard of 'The Surge'?

NBC's Tom Brokaw certainly landed the big news that former Secretary of State Colin Powell was supporting Barack Obama. But in nearly half an our of airtime on "Meet the Press," Mr. Brokaw didn't bother to ask Gen. Powell about the success of the surge in Iraq or Mr. Obama's vote against General David Petraeus's winning strategy.

Newsbusters.com, a watchdog site run by the Media Research Center, notes that Mr. Powell, at one point, did suggest Iraqis are "going to make the political decisions, their security forces are going to take over, and they're going to have to create an environment of reconciliation where all the people can come together and make Iraq a much, much better place."

As Newsbusters observes, "This would have been an ideal moment for Brokaw to ask Powell if it was the surge that put America in a position to draw down troops . . . and what it says about Obama's military and foreign policy acumen that he opposed this strategy?" Instead, Mr. Brokaw suddenly changed the subject and veered into a question about William Ayers, the Obama associate and former Weather Underground member whom John McCain has criticized. Oh, how we miss Tim Russert, the late host of "Meet the Press," who would never have let go of a subject until he had drained the last ounce of news value from it.

-- John Fund

Bad Blood

Colin Powell attributed his endorsement of Barack Obama on "Meet the Press" yesterday not just to the unreadiness of Sarah Palin to serve as president but also to John McCain's reaction to the financial crisis, the general rightward tilt of the GOP and comments anonymous senior Republican officials privately made in recent months about Mr. Obama's faith.

In fact, Mr. Powell's estrangement from the GOP predates the McCain campaign and goes back to his speech on Feb. 5, 2003 making the case in the United Nations for war against Iraq.

The best reporting on this turning point was done by Karen DeYoung, an associate editor at the Washington Post. In a lengthy article published two years ago, she recounted how at one point Dick Cheney poked Mr. Powell in the chest and told him: "You've got high poll ratings; you can afford to lose a few points."

The rest is history: In the months after the invasion, when no stockpiled WMD were found in Iraq, Mr. Powell grew disenchanted with the White House and offered at least two dissenting public statements about WMD that drew a rebuke (including calls from Condoleezza Rice asking him how he was going to clean up the mess his comments created). When a special prosecutor was appointed to look into who leaked the name of CIA agent Valeria Plame, Mr. Powell never stepped forward with the leaker's name, even though he knew all along it was his own deputy Richard Armitage. Instead, Mr. Powell allowed the special prosecutor to spend months questioning White House staffers and journalists, eventually leading to the indictment of Cheney aide Lewis Libby for obstruction and perjury.

Shortly after Mr. Bush won re-election in 2004, Mr. Powell resigned and has spent much of the past year making noises about endorsing Mr. Obama, including praising the speech the Democratic presidential candidate gave on race in Philadelphia and defending his intention of holding presidential level talks with Iran. When asked about Mr. Powell's endorsement, John McCain yesterday said it "doesn't come as a surprise." Given the history, what's surprising is that it took Mr. Powell so long to leave the GOP.

-- Brendan Miniter

Quote of the Day

"We have never had a presidential race, since 1944, where the contest was not the most important news in the four weeks before the election. (In 1944, the war overshadowed the election much to the frustration of the Republican candidate Thomas E. Dewey). The candidates seem unable to get a word in edgewise as the financial news dominates. People follow the Dow Jones more than the Gallup, Rasmussen or Zogby polls. If the presidential race remains an afterthought, crowded out by the financial news, Obama will waltz into the White House by a comfortable margin. But if the stock market stops its gyrations for a while and no new household name/corporation or bank goes broke, the negatives against Obama will compel attention at last. And then the race may close swiftly and dramatically" -- former Clinton consultant Dick Morris, writing in The Hill newspaper.

Extraordinary Joe

I caught up with the most famous man in America these days, Joe Wurzelbacher, aka Joe the Plumber, when we appeared together on the new Fox TV show Huckabee. Joe has a shiny bald head and a burly, chiseled body. Though resolute in his beliefs and always polite, he seemed a bit overwhelmed by the attention he's received in the past week. He also gave me a first-hand account of his encounter with Barack Obama and his reaction to the vicious left-wing attack machine that has been turned on him over the past week.

"I just thought his tax plan would really hurt small businesses," he told me, explaining why he spoke up when the Democratic nominee came canvassing down his street outside of Toledo, Ohio. "It seemed contrary to the American dream to me. Why tax success?" Joe said he hoped to build a business as a plumbing contractor, and those taxes "would really hit that kind of small business." "It's not just the taxes," he added. "The health care plan that Obama has will also add to employer costs."

He's right on the mark there. The Obama pay-or-play health care plan imposes new costs on small and medium-sized businesses that don't pay health care for their employees. "A lot of these employers just can't afford it," he says.

I asked him why he had not joined the plumbers union, which seems to have caused heartache among his liberal critics. "I don't have anything against the unions," he says. "I just didn't see the purpose of paying the dues. Never wanted to." No wonder the left is out to get him. He also brushes off the criticism altogether of his unpaid $1200 tax bill. "That's all beside the point. I just raised a question about how the Obama plan would affect people like me. This election is about America and what our country will look like."

As for the attacks mounted in the New York Times and elsewhere on his character, "To be honest, I never saw this coming," he tells me with a pained expression. "It's not fair to my family."

Mr. Wurzelbacher was accompanied by his father, also a blue-collar worker, and his 12-year-old son in his visit to Fox News -- seemingly a tight-knit Midwestern family feeling the same tough times that many Americans from states like Ohio are confronting. On talk radio shows this past week, we have learned there are thousands of people like Joe the Plumber, all raising the same questions. These are voters Democrats say they stand behind and whose economic interests they protect -- as long as they don't question the left's vision of America. If John McCain pulls off an upset, he will have Joe Wurzelbacher and others like him to thank.

-- Stephen Moore

Joe, Take Two

I also crossed paths with Joe the Plumber over the weekend and found him to be a common-sense, down-to-earth guy who knows a lot more than just pipes.

Asked about his exchange with Barack Obama on the candidate's tax plan, he said Mr. Obama was a smooth talker but not a good listener. He seemed mistakenly to think Joe was already making a lot of money, not merely that he hoped someday to own a business that would make over $250,000 a year. "I don't make nearly that much now, but I hope to in the business I buy someday," Mr. Wurzelbacher told me.

Mr. Obama also muffed details of his own tax plan, confusing a small business's revenue and net income, and the tax rate that would apply under his proposals. He also seemed hazy about the Flat Tax, put forward by Steve Forbes and Dick Armey a decade ago, confusing it with proposals for a national sales tax and saying the rate would have to go to 40%. "I was talking about one thing, and he was answering me about something else," Mr. Wurzelbacher recalls.

The Heartland Institute, a free-market think tank in Chicago, points out that a flat tax would let Americans see exactly how much government costs in one easy, transparent and accountable tax. Mr. Obama's reforms, in contrast, would only add to the thousands of loopholes, exemptions and complications of the current 67,000 page tax code. "A candidate for president should at least know the difference between a flat tax and a national sales tax," Heartland concludes. "But both a flat tax and a national sales tax are head and shoulders over the convoluted tax system we have now."

-- John Fund





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23808  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: October 20, 2008, 11:50:54 AM
I agree that Powell's endorsement is very helpful for strenghtening the perception of one of BO's weak links.

Here's this from the PD WSJ:

Colin Powell attributed his endorsement of Barack Obama on "Meet the Press" yesterday not just to the unreadiness of Sarah Palin to serve as president but also to John McCain's reaction to the financial crisis, the general rightward tilt of the GOP and comments anonymous senior Republican officials privately made in recent months about Mr. Obama's faith.

In fact, Mr. Powell's estrangement from the GOP predates the McCain campaign and goes back to his speech on Feb. 5, 2003 making the case in the United Nations for war against Iraq.

The best reporting on this turning point was done by Karen DeYoung, an associate editor at the Washington Post. In a lengthy article published two years ago, she recounted how at one point Dick Cheney poked Mr. Powell in the chest and told him: "You've got high poll ratings; you can afford to lose a few points."

The rest is history: In the months after the invasion, when no stockpiled WMD were found in Iraq, Mr. Powell grew disenchanted with the White House and offered at least two dissenting public statements about WMD that drew a rebuke (including calls from Condoleezza Rice asking him how he was going to clean up the mess his comments created). When a special prosecutor was appointed to look into who leaked the name of CIA agent Valeria Plame, Mr. Powell never stepped forward with the leaker's name, even though he knew all along it was his own deputy Richard Armitage. Instead, Mr. Powell allowed the special prosecutor to spend months questioning White House staffers and journalists, eventually leading to the indictment of Cheney aide Lewis Libby for obstruction and perjury.

Shortly after Mr. Bush won re-election in 2004, Mr. Powell resigned and has spent much of the past year making noises about endorsing Mr. Obama, including praising the speech the Democratic presidential candidate gave on race in Philadelphia and defending his intention of holding presidential level talks with Iran. When asked about Mr. Powell's endorsement, John McCain yesterday said it "doesn't come as a surprise." Given the history, what's surprising is that it took Mr. Powell so long to leave the GOP.

-- Brendan Miniter
23809  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Class at Inosanto Academy on: October 20, 2008, 11:42:05 AM
We had a fine time this past Saturday, going deep into Kali Tudo:

a) Arfful Dodger
b) Zirconia
c) The Rico
d) Anti- Plumb
23810  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / stratfor on: October 20, 2008, 11:34:21 AM
Mexico: Commercial Paper and a Tortured Budget
Stratfor Today » October 18, 2008 | 1555 GMT

ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images
Mexico’s 50-peso notesSummary
The security situation in Mexico has been dire for some time. Now the global financial crisis threatens to push the country into uncharted territory as the government struggles to prop up the economy while fighting a war against some of the wealthiest and most organized criminals in the world.

Analysis
The Mexican government issued $3.9 billion in guarantees for Mexican commercial paper Oct. 17, Reuters reported. The move follows failed attempts by the Mexican cement company Cemex and Mexican units of American automakers to issue some $76 million in bonds. These developments are a sign of troubled times as Mexico feels the effects of the global financial crisis. The Mexican government had already injected $8.3 billion into the markets to prop up the peso. Putting all this money forward will strain an already-tortured government budget that is dependent on a failing oil industry and must support a critical war against drug cartels.

The most vulnerable aspect of the Mexican economy is its exposure to the declining U.S. market — particularly in Mexico’s export sector. Over 80 percent of Mexico’s exports go to the United States, and the emerging U.S. recession is sure to throw this trade relationship into chaos.

Mexico is also heavily linked to the U.S. economy through remittances. Mexicans working in the United States send approximately $24.3 billion per year back home — or about 3 percent of the gross domestic product. Declines in reported remittance rates have already been reported throughout Central American states, which rely heavily on these wealth transfers. As the U.S. economy shrinks, and competition for low-wage positions increases, illegal immigrants will be pushed out of the job market, and remittances to Mexico will decline even further.

Finally, Mexico is highly exposed to the financial crisis because of the shrinking pool of global credit and the growing number of nervous investors. On the one hand, this has caused a rapid devaluation of the Mexican peso as investors rapidly pull capital from third-world markets and dump it into safer markets (i.e., the U.S. dollar). On the other hand, we have seen the results of a rapidly shrinking pool of international credit as wealth has disappeared, banks have stopped lending and investors have panicked.

This has manifested itself in Cemex’s inability to issue corporate paper, which has been a serious cause for concern in Mexican business circles. Mexico’s banks are particularly vulnerable to shrinking global capital. About 80 percent of its banking sector is controlled by foreign entities, which means that 80 percent of domestic credit is subject to the whims of the international credit pool. Any serious threat to such a large portion of the banking sector could cause a collapse of the banking system.

But the economic situation is not the only threat to Mexico’s stability. Mexico is deeply embroiled in a war against violent drug cartels that control substantial portions of the country. The death toll in 2008 alone has risen to over 3,100 and appears likely to hit 4,000 by the end of the year. And the war is not free. The government’s ability to respond effectively to an economic crisis while funding a massive military and law enforcement effort is low — and the scarcity of funds could loosen public support for the cartel war as people look to solve their basic economic needs.

Moreover, a downturn in the economy will only exacerbate the security situation in Mexico. As jobs in the United States become scarce, many of the illegal Mexican migrant laborers there will be left jobless. Many will return to Mexico, where employment opportunities are no better. There is already some anecdotal evidence that reverse illegal migration into Mexico has become much more noticeable. The return to Mexico of thousands of unemployed young workers will flood the Mexican labor market.

There is no question that increased poverty and unemployment will contribute to a worsening security situation in Mexico. Ordinary criminal activities such as theft will likely increase, which could boost organized crime. Options in the legitimate economy will be few, but the underground economy — in drugs or other inelastic commodities — could flourish during a downturn. Indeed, a declining economy will make the cartels the only game in town, and rising unemployment will provide them with an excellent recruiting opportunity.
23811  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Evolutionary biology/psychology on: October 19, 2008, 08:47:18 PM
That's deep  shocked
23812  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: October 19, 2008, 04:18:15 PM
"The rich who keep getting richer *is a huge problem*.  And yes they *certainly do* hold all the cards."

My understanding is that the data clearly show that IN AMERICA the children of the rich tend to p*ss it away and that the grandchildren of the rich or great grandchildren have to start all over. 
23813  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Stock Market on: October 19, 2008, 12:49:46 PM
Someone whose opinions I respect highly writes me:

I do think TIPS are the ideal asset for anyone who is risk-averse. 
They are fully guaranteed by the US government. They pay a real 
interest rate of about 3% on top of whatever the rate of consumer 
price inflation is. Any time you can lock in a guaranteed real return 
of 3% you would be wise to take it. On a risk-adjusted basis, TIPS are 
today probably the most attractive asset class in the world.

Let's say you buy $10K worth of 10-yr TIPS. They currently have a 3% 
real yield. The face value of the bonds will rise by a rate that is 
equal to the rise in the consumer price index. If the CPI averages 3% 
a year for 10 years, you will have bonds with a face value of $13,440 
at maturity. Plus, each year you will receive a coupon payment equal 
to 3% of the inflation-adjusted face value of the bonds.

So, if inflation is 3% a year, the return on your investment will be 
(1.03) * (1.03) - 1, or 6.1% per year. If inflation is 4% per year, 
your annual return will be (1.04) * (1.03) - 1, or 7.1% per year.

One caveat: if you hold TIPS in a taxable account the inflation 
accretion of the face value is treated as OID, so that can result in 
negative cash flow.

If an individual buys TIPS on the secondary market, the bid/ask spread 
can be huge, typically 2.5%. Better to buy them at auction, but you 
have to plan ahead to do that. Or buy them via a mutual fund. The best 
one I know is the iShares Lehman Inflation Protected fund (symbol: 
TIP).
23814  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Road to Hell, as usual, paved with good intenions on: October 19, 2008, 11:10:18 AM
And this is what government meddling can look like:
=================================
NY Times

Building Flawed American Dreams
 

DavID STREITFELD and GRETCHEN MORGENSON
Published: October 18, 2008

SAN ANTONIO — A grandson of Mexican immigrants and a former mayor of this town, Henry G. Cisneros has spent years trying to make the dream of homeownership come true for low-income families. As the Clinton administration’s top housing official in the mid-1990s, Mr. Cisneros loosened mortgage restrictions so first-time buyers could qualify for loans they could never get before.

Then, capitalizing on a housing expansion he helped unleash, he joined the boards of a major builder, KB Home, and the largest mortgage lender in the nation, Countrywide Financial — two companies that rode the housing boom, drawing criticism along the way for abusive business practices. 

And Mr. Cisneros became a developer himself. The Lago Vista development here in his hometown once stood as a testament to his life’s work. Joining with KB, he built 428 homes for low-income buyers in what was a neglected, industrial neighborhood. He often made the trip from downtown to ask residents if they were happy.

“People bought here because of Cisneros,” says Celia Morales, a Lago Vista resident. “There was a feeling of, ‘He’s got our back.’ ”

But Mr. Cisneros rarely comes around anymore. Lago Vista, like many communities born in the housing boom, is now under stress. Scores of homes have been foreclosed, including one in five over the last six years on the community’s longest street, Sunbend Falls, according to property records.

While Mr. Cisneros says he remains proud of his work, he has misgivings over what his passion has wrought. He insists that the worst problems developed only after “bad actors” hijacked his good intentions but acknowledges that “people came to homeownership who should not have been homeowners.”

They were lured by “unscrupulous participants — bankers, brokers, secondary market people,” he says. “The country is paying for that, and families are hurt because we as a society did not draw a line.”  (What a weasel!)

The causes of the housing implosion are many: lax regulation, financial innovation gone awry, excessive debt, raw greed. The players are also varied: bankers, borrowers, developers, politicians and bureaucrats. Mr. Cisneros, 61, had a foot in a number of those worlds. Despite his qualms, he encouraged the unprepared to buy homes — part of a broad national trend with dire economic consequences.

He reflects often on his role in the debacle, he says, which has changed homeownership from something that secured a place in the middle class to something that is ejecting people from it. “I’ve been waiting for someone to put all the blame at my doorstep,” he says lightly, but with a bit of worry, too.  (Hmmm, why would that be?  angry )

The Paydays During the Boom

After a sex scandal destroyed his promising political career and he left Washington, he eventually reinvented himself as a well-regarded advocate and builder of urban, working-class homes. He has financed the construction of more than 7,000 houses.

For the three years he was a director at KB Home, Mr. Cisneros received at least $70,000 in pay and more than $100,000 worth of stock. He also received $1.14 million in directors’ fees and stock grants during the six years he was a director at Countrywide. He made more than $5 million from Countrywide stock options, money he says he plowed into his company.

He says his development work provides an annual income of “several hundred thousand” dollars. All told, his paydays are modest relative to the windfalls some executives netted in the boom. Indeed, Mr. Cisneros says his mistake was not the greed that afflicted many of his counterparts in banking and housing; it was unwavering belief.

It was, he argues, impossible to know in the beginning that the federal push to increase homeownership would end so badly. Once the housing boom got going, he suggests, laws and regulations barely had a chance.  (You fcuking moron!!!  It was inevitable!  It is precisely what happens when the government intervenes, and intervenes massively in the market!)

“You think you have a finely tuned instrument that you can use to say: ‘Stop! We’re at 69 percent homeownership. We should not go further. There are people who should remain renters,’ ” he says. “But you really are just given a sledgehammer and an ax. They are blunt tools.”

From people dizzily drawing home equity loans out of increasingly valuable houses to banks racking up huge fees, few wanted the party to end.

“I’m not sure you can regulate when we’re talking about an entire nation of 300 million people and this behavior becomes viral,” Mr. Cisneros says.   (Well, duh!  THIS IS PRECISELY WHY YOU SHOLD NOT START!)

Homeownership has deep roots in the American soul. But until recently getting a mortgage was a challenge for low-income families. Many of these families were minorities, which naturally made the subject of special interest to Mr. Cisneros, who, in 1993, became the first Hispanic head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

He had President Clinton’s ear, an easy charisma and a determination to increase a homeownership rate that had been stagnant for nearly three decades.  Thus was born the National Homeownership Strategy, which promoted ownership as patriotic and an easy win for all. “We were trying to be creative,” Mr. Cisneros recalls.

==========

(Page 2 of 4)

Under Mr. Cisneros, there were small and big changes at HUD, an agency that greased the mortgage wheel for first-time buyers by insuring billions of dollars in loans. Families no longer had to prove they had five years of stable income; three years sufficed.

And in another change championed by the mortgage industry, lenders were allowed to hire their own appraisers rather than rely on a government-selected panel. This saved borrowers money but opened the door for inflated appraisals. (A later HUD inquiry uncovered appraisal fraud that imperiled the federal mortgage insurance fund.)   (I'm shocked! Absolutely shocked!)

“Henry did everything he could for home builders while he was at HUD,” says Janet Ahmad, president of Homeowners for Better Building, an advocacy group in San Antonio, who has known Mr. Cisneros since he was a city councilor. “That laid the groundwork for where we are now.”

Mr. Cisneros, who says he has no recollection that appraisal rules were relaxed when he ran HUD, disputes that notion. “I look back at HUD and feel my hands were clean,” he says.

Lenders applauded two more changes HUD made on Mr. Cisneros’s watch: they no longer had to interview most government-insured borrowers face to face or maintain physical branch offices. The industry changed, too. Lenders sprang up to serve those whose poor credit history made them ineligible for lower-interest “prime” loans. Countrywide, which Angelo R. Mozilo co-founded in 1969, set up a subprime unit in 1996.

Mr. Cisneros met Mr. Mozilo while he was HUD secretary, when Countrywide signed a government pledge to use “proactive creative efforts” to extend homeownership to minorities and low-income Americans. He met Bruce E. Karatz, the chief executive of KB Home, when both were helping Los Angeles rebuild after the Northridge earthquake in 1994.

There were real gains during the Clinton years, as homeownership rose to 67.4 percent in 2000 from 64 percent in 1994. Hispanics and African-Americans were the biggest beneficiaries. But as the boom later gathered steam, and as the Bush administration continued the Clinton administration’s push to amplify homeownership, some of those gains turned out to be built on sand. 

Mr. Cisneros left government in 1997 after revelations that he had lied to federal investigators about payments to a former mistress. In the following years, HUD continued to draw attention in the news media and among consumer advocates for an overly lenient posture toward the housing industry.

In 2000, Mr. Cisneros returned to San Antonio, where he formed American CityVista, a developer, in partnership with KB, and became a KB director. KB’s board also included James A. Johnson, a prominent Democrat and the former chief executive of Fannie Mae, the mortgage giant now being run by the government. Mr. Johnson did not return a phone call seeking comment.

It made for a cozy network. Fannie bought or backed many mortgages received by home buyers in the KB Home/American CityVista partnership. And Fannie’s biggest mortgage client was Countrywide, whose board Mr. Cisneros had joined in 2001.

Because American CityVista was privately held, Mr. Cisneros’s earnings are not disclosed. He held a 65 percent stake, and KB had the rest. In 2002, KB paid $1.24 million to American CityVista for “services rendered.”

‘A Little Too Ambitious’

One of American CityVista’s first projects, unveiled in late 2000, was Lago Vista — Spanish for “Lake View.” The location was unusual: San Antonio’s proud and insular South Side, a Hispanic area home to secondhand car dealers, light industry and pawnshops.  Mr. Cisneros and KB pledged to transform an overgrown patch of land into a showcase. Homes were initially priced from $70,000 to about $95,000, and Mr. Cisneros promised that Lago Vista would be ringed with jogging paths and maple trees.

The paths were never built, and few trees provide shade from the Texas sun. The adjoining “lake” — at one point a run-off pit for an asphalt plant — is fenced off, a hazard to neighborhood children. The houses are gaily painted in pink, blue, yellow or tan, and most owners keep their yards green and tidy.

KB considers Lago Vista a “model community,” a spokeswoman said.

To get things rolling in Lago Vista, traditional bars to homeownership were lowered to the ground. Fannie Mae, CityVista and KB promoted a program allowing police officers, firefighters, teachers and others to get loans with nothing down and no closing costs.

KB marketed its developments in videos. In one from 2003, Mr. Karatz declared: “One of the greatest misconceptions today is people who sit back and think, ‘I can’t afford to buy.’ ” Mr. Cisneros appeared — identified as a former HUD director — saying the time was ripe to buy a home. Many agreed.

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

(Page 3 of 4)



Victor Ramirez and Lorraine Pulido-Ramirez bought a house in Lago Vista in 2002. “This was our first home. I had nothing to compare it to,” Mr. Ramirez says. “I was a student making $17,000 a year, my wife was between jobs. In retrospect, how in hell did we qualify?”

The majority of buyers in Lago Vista “were duped into believing it was easier than it was,” Mr. Ramirez says. “The attitude was, ‘Sign here, sign here, don’t read the fine print.’ ” He added that some fault lay with buyers: “We were definitely willing victims.” (The Ramirez family veered close to foreclosure, but the couple now have good jobs and can make their payments.)

KB and Mr. Cisneros eventually built more than a dozen developments, primarily in Texas. But the shine slowly came off Lago Vista.

“It started off fabulously,” Mr. Karatz recalled. Then sales slowed considerably. “It was probably, looking back, a little too ambitious to think that there would be sufficient local demand.”

And then the foreclosures started. “A lot of people got approved for big amounts,” says Patricia Flores, another Lago Vista homeowner. “They bit off more than they could chew.” Families split up under the strain of mortgage payments. One residence had so much marital turmoil that neighbors nicknamed it “The House of Broken Love.”

Some homes were taken over and sold at a loss by HUD, which had insured them. KB was also a mortgage lender, a business many home builders pursued because it was so profitable. At times, it was also problematic.

Officials at HUD uncovered problems with KB’s lending. In 2005, about two years after Mr. Cisneros left the KB board, the agency filed an administrative action against KB for approving loans based on overstated or improperly documented borrower income, and for charging excessive fees. Because HUD does not specify where improprieties take place, it is not clear if this occurred at Lago Vista.

KB Home paid $3.2 million to settle the HUD action without admitting liability or fault, one of the largest settlements collected by the agency’s mortgagee review board. Shortly afterward, KB sold its lending unit to Countrywide. Then they set up a joint venture: KB installed Countrywide sales representatives in its developments.

By 2007, almost three-quarters of the loans to KB buyers were made by the joint venture. In Lago Vista, residents secured loans from a spectrum of federal agencies and lenders.

During years of heady growth, and then during a deep financial slide, Countrywide became a lightning rod for criticism about excesses and abuses leading to the housing bust — which Countrywide routinely brushed off.

Mr. Cisneros says he was never aware of improprieties at KB or Countrywide, and worked with them because he was impressed by Mr. Karatz and Mr. Mozilo. Mr. Mozilo could not be reached for comment.

Still, Countrywide expanded subprime lending aggressively while Mr. Cisneros served on its board. In September 2004, according to documents provided by a former employee, lending audits in six of Countrywide’s largest regions showed about one in eight loans was “severely unsatisfactory” because of shoddy underwriting.

HUD required such audits and lenders were expected to address problems. Mr. Cisneros was a member of the Countrywide committee that oversaw compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. But he says he did not recall seeing or receiving the reports.

Nor, he says, was there ever a board vote about the wisdom of subprime lending.

“The irresistible temptation to engage in subprime was Countrywide’s fatal error,” he says. “I fault myself for not having seen it and, since it was not something I could change, having left.”

Mr. Cisneros left Countrywide’s board last year. At the time, he expressed “enormous confidence in the leadership.” In 2003, Mr. Cisneros ended his partnership with KB because, he says, he felt constrained working with just one builder. He formed a new company with the same mission, CityView, that has raised $725 million.

Mr. Karatz has a different recollection of why the partnership ended.

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Page 4 of 4)



“It didn’t become an important part of KB’s business,” he says. “It was profitable but I don’t think as profitable in those initial years as Henry’s group wanted it to be.”



Troubles in Lago Vista

Today in Lago Vista, many are just trying to get by. Residents say crime has risen, and with association dues unpaid, they cannot hire security. Salvador Gutierrez, a truck driver, woke up recently to see four men stealing the tires off his pickup. Seventeen houses are for sale, but there are few buyers.

Hugo Martinez, who got a pair of Countrywide loans to buy a two-bedroom house with no down payment, recently lost his job with a car dealership. He has a lower-paying job as a mechanic and can’t refinance or sell his house.

“They make it easy when you buy,” Mr. Martinez says. “But after a while, the interest rate goes up. KB Home says they cannot help us at all.”

Five years ago, Carlo Lee and Patricia Reyes bought their first home, a three-bedroom house in Lago  Vista. After Mrs. Reyes became ill last year and lost her job, they fell behind on their payments. Last month, Mr. Reyes was laid off from one of his jobs, assembling cabinets. He still works part time at a hospital, but unless the couple come up with missed payments and fees, they will lose their home.

“Everyone isn’t happy here in Lago Vista,” Mr. Reyes says. “Everyone has a lot of problems.”

Countrywide was bought recently at a fire-sale price by Bank of America. Mr. Cisneros describes Mr. Mozilo as “sick with stress — the final chapter of his life is the infamy that’s been brought on him, or that he brought on himself.”

Mr. Karatz was forced out of KB two years ago amid a compensation scandal. Last month, without admitting or denying the allegations, he settled government charges that he illegally backdated stock options worth $6 million.

For his part, Mr. Cisneros says he is proud of Lago Vista. “It is inaccurate to say that we put people into homes that they couldn’t afford,” he says. “No one was forcing people into homes.”

He also remains bullish on home building, despite the current carnage.

“We’re not selling cigarettes,” he says. “We’re not drawing people into casino gambling. We’re building the homes they’re going to raise their families in.”
23815  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: October 19, 2008, 10:56:11 AM
What I infer from it is that precisely because the problem was caused by too much money and meddling the the Govt. in the market, it can't be fixed by too much money and meddling in the market for all the reasons that the Govt. shouldn't have been trying to manipulate the market (printing money, negative interest rates, the FMs, the CRA, Mark to Market Ruies, etc) to begin with.

In short, a clusterfcuk cometh.   

Japan tried saving banks with bad loans with negative rates and they had (have?) a recession that has lasted a really, really long time.  Are we about to be in the same boat?  With His Glibness at the helm, the chances of following all the worst possible policies (taxes, printing money, the govt changing the terms of mortgage contracts, etc etc) become scarily possible.
23816  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China vs. Islam on: October 19, 2008, 10:46:20 AM
Here's one for you GM. Its the NY Times, so caveat lector:

KHOTAN, China — The grand mosque that draws thousands of Muslims each week in this oasis town has all the usual trappings of piety: dusty wool carpets on which to kneel in prayer, a row of turbans and skullcaps for men without headwear, a wall niche facing the holy city of Mecca in the Arabian desert.

But large signs posted by the front door list edicts that are more Communist Party decrees than Koranic doctrines. The imam’s sermon at Friday Prayer must run no longer than a half-hour, the rules say. Prayer in public areas outside the mosque is forbidden. Residents of Khotan are not allowed to worship at mosques outside of town.  One rule on the wall says that government workers and nonreligious people may not be “forced” to attend services at the mosque — a generous wording of a law that prohibits government workers and Communist Party members from going at all.

“Of course this makes people angry,” said a teacher in the mosque courtyard, who would give only a partial name, Muhammad, for fear of government retribution. “Excitable people think the government is wrong in what it does. They say that government officials who are Muslims should also be allowed to pray.”

To be a practicing Muslim in the vast autonomous region of northwestern China called Xinjiang is to live under an intricate series of laws and regulations intended to control the spread and practice of Islam, the predominant religion among the Uighurs, a Turkic people uneasy with Chinese rule.  The edicts touch on every facet of a Muslim’s way of life. Official versions of the Koran are the only legal ones. Imams may not teach the Koran in private, and studying Arabic is allowed only at special government schools.

Two of Islam’s five pillars — the sacred fasting month of Ramadan and the pilgrimage to Mecca called the hajj — are also carefully controlled. Students and government workers are compelled to eat during Ramadan, and the passports of Uighurs have been confiscated across Xinjiang to force them to join government-run hajj tours rather than travel illegally to Mecca on their own.

Government workers are not permitted to practice Islam, which means the slightest sign of devotion, a head scarf on a woman, for example, could lead to a firing.

The Chinese government, which is officially atheist, recognizes five religions — Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Taoism and Buddhism — and tightly regulates their administration and practice. Its oversight in Xinjiang, though, is especially vigilant because it worries about separatist activity in the region.

Some officials contend that insurgent groups in Xinjiang pose one of the biggest security threats to China, and the government says the “three forces” of separatism, terrorism and religious extremism threaten to destabilize the region. But outside scholars of Xinjiang and terrorism experts argue that heavy-handed tactics like the restrictions on Islam will only radicalize more Uighurs.

Many of the rules have been on the books for years, but some local governments in Xinjiang have publicly highlighted them in the past seven weeks by posting the laws on Web sites or hanging banners in towns.

Those moves coincided with Ramadan, which ran from September to early October, and came on the heels of a series of attacks in August that left at least 22 security officers and one civilian dead, according to official reports. The deadliest attack was a murky ambush in Kashgar that witnesses said involved men in police uniforms fighting each other.

The attacks were the biggest wave of violence in Xinjiang since the 1990s. In recent months, Wang Lequan, the long-serving party secretary of Xinjiang, and Nuer Baikeli, the chairman of the region, have given hard-line speeches indicating that a crackdown will soon begin.

Mr. Wang said the government was engaged in a “life or death” struggle in Xinjiang. Mr. Baikeli signaled that government control of religious activities would tighten, asserting that “the religious issue has been the barometer of stability in Xinjiang.”

Anti-China forces in the West and separatist forces are trying to carry out “illegal religious activities and agitate religious fever,” he said, and “the field of religion has become an increasingly important battlefield against enemies.”

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(Page 2 of 2)

Uighurs are the largest ethnic group in Xinjiang, accounting for 46 percent of the population of 19 million. Many say Han Chinese, the country’s dominant ethnic group, discriminate against them based on the most obvious differences between the groups: language and religion.

Times Topics: UighursThe Uighurs began adopting Sunni Islam in the 10th century, although patterns of belief vary widely, and the religion has enjoyed a surge of popularity after the harshest decades of Communist rule. According to government statistics, there are 24,000 mosques and 29,000 religious leaders in Xinjiang. Muslim piety is especially strong in old Silk Road towns in the south like Kashgar, Yarkand and Khotan.

Many Han Chinese see Islam as the root of social problems in Xinjiang.

“The Uighurs are lazy,” said a man who runs a construction business in Kashgar and would give only his last name, Zhao, because of the political delicacy of the topic. “It’s because of their religion,” he said. “They spend so much time praying. What are they praying for?”

The government restrictions are posted inside mosques and elsewhere across Xinjiang. In particular, officials take great pains to publicize the law prohibiting Muslims from arranging their own trips for the hajj. Signs painted on mud-brick walls in the winding alleyways of old Kashgar warn against making illegal pilgrimages. A red banner hanging on a large mosque in the Uighur area of Urumqi, the regional capital, says, “Implement the policy of organized and planned pilgrimage; individual pilgrimage is forbidden.”

As dozens of worshipers streamed into the mosque for prayer on a recent evening, one Uighur man pointed to the sign and shook his head. “We didn’t write that,” he said in broken Chinese. “They wrote that.”  He turned his finger to a white neon sign above the building that simply said “mosque” in Arabic script. “We wrote that,” he said.

Like other Uighurs interviewed for this article, he agreed to speak on the condition that his name not be used for fear of retribution by the authorities.

The government gives various reasons for controlling the hajj. Officials say that the Saudi Arabian government is concerned about crowded conditions in Mecca that have led to fatal tramplings, and that Muslims who leave China on their own sometimes spend too much money on the pilgrimage.  Critics say the government is trying to restrict the movements of Uighurs and prevent them from coming into contact with other Muslims, fearing that such exchanges could build a pan-Islamic identity in Xinjiang.

About two years ago, the government began confiscating the passports of Uighurs across the region, angering many people here. Now virtually no Uighurs have passports, though they can apply for them for short trips. The new restriction has made life especially difficult for businessmen who travel to neighboring countries.

To get a passport to go on an official hajj tour or a business trip, applicants must leave a deposit of nearly $6,000.

One man in Kashgar said the imam at his mosque, who like all official imams is paid by the government, had recently been urging congregants to go to Mecca only with legal tours.

That is not easy for many Uighurs. The cost of an official trip is the equivalent of $3,700, and hefty bribes usually raise the price. Once a person files an application, the authorities do a background check into the family. If the applicant has children, the children must be old enough to be financially self-sufficient, and the applicant is required to show that he or she has substantial savings in the bank. Officials say these conditions ensure that a hajj trip will not leave the family impoverished.

Rules posted last year on the Xinjiang government’s Web site say the applicant must be 50 to 70 years old, “love the country and obey the law.”

The number of applicants far outnumbers the slots available each year, and the wait is at least a year. But the government has been raising the cap. Xinhua, the state news agency, reported that from 2006 to 2007, more than 3,100 Muslims from Xinjiang went on the official hajj, up from 2,000 the previous year.

One young Uighur man in Kashgar said his parents were pushing their children to get married soon so they could prove the children were financially independent, thus allowing them to qualify to go on the hajj. “Their greatest wish is to go to Mecca once,” the man, who wished to be identified only as Abdullah, said over dinner.

But the family has to weigh another factor: the father, now retired, was once a government employee and a Communist Party member, so he might very well lose his pension if he went on the hajj, Abdullah said. 

The rules on fasting during Ramadan are just as strict. Several local governments began posting the regulations on their Web sites last month. They vary by town and county but include requiring restaurants to stay open during daylight hours and mandating that women not wear veils and men shave their beards.

Enforcement can be haphazard. In Kashgar, many Uighur restaurants remained closed during the fasting hours. “The religion is too strong in Kashgar,” said one man. “There are rules, but people don’t follow them.”

One rule that officials in some towns seem especially intent on enforcing is the ban on students’ fasting. Supporters of this policy say students need to eat to study properly.  The local university in Kashgar adheres to the policy. Starting last year, it tried to force students to eat during the day by prohibiting them from leaving campus in the evening to join their families in breaking the daily fast. Residents of Kashgar say the university locked the gates and put glass shards along the top of a campus wall.

After a few weeks, the school built a higher wall.

23817  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: October 19, 2008, 12:40:39 AM
I too found the article genuinely insightful.
23818  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Survey on bare knuckle punching on: October 19, 2008, 12:39:05 AM
Woof C-Kaju:

Well, I will be glad to share here the results when they come out, but we certainly do not have to wait for that to have our own discussion here.

TAC,
CD
23819  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Anna Schwatz nails it on: October 18, 2008, 08:42:53 PM
 Bernanke Is Fighting the Last War
'Everything works much better when wrong decisions are punished and good decisions make you rich.'
By BRIAN M. CARNEY
 
WSJ
New York

On Aug. 9, 2007, central banks around the world first intervened to stanch what has become a massive credit crunch.

Since then, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury have taken a series of increasingly drastic emergency actions to get lending flowing again. The central bank has lent out hundreds of billions of dollars, accepted collateral that in the past it would never have touched, and opened direct lending to institutions that have never had that privilege. The Treasury has deployed billions more. And yet, "Nothing," Anna Schwartz says, "seems to have quieted the fears of either the investors in the securities markets or the lenders and would-be borrowers in the credit market."

 Randy JonesThe credit markets remain frozen, the stock market continues to get hammered, and deep recession now seems a certainty -- if not a reality already.

Most people now living have never seen a credit crunch like the one we are currently enduring. Ms. Schwartz, 92 years old, is one of the exceptions. She's not only old enough to remember the period from 1929 to 1933, she may know more about monetary history and banking than anyone alive. She co-authored, with Milton Friedman, "A Monetary History of the United States" (1963). It's the definitive account of how misguided monetary policy turned the stock-market crash of 1929 into the Great Depression.

Since 1941, Ms. Schwartz has reported for work at the National Bureau of Economic Research in New York, where we met Thursday morning for an interview. She is currently using a wheelchair after a recent fall and laments her "many infirmities," but those are all physical; her mind is as sharp as ever. She speaks with passion and just a hint of resignation about the current financial situation. And looking at how the authorities have handled it so far, she doesn't like what she sees.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has called the 888-page "Monetary History" "the leading and most persuasive explanation of the worst economic disaster in American history." Ms. Schwartz thinks that our central bankers and our Treasury Department are getting it wrong again.

To understand why, one first has to understand the nature of the current "credit market disturbance," as Ms. Schwartz delicately calls it. We now hear almost every day that banks will not lend to each other, or will do so only at punitive interest rates. Credit spreads -- the difference between what it costs the government to borrow and what private-sector borrowers must pay -- are at historic highs.

This is not due to a lack of money available to lend, Ms. Schwartz says, but to a lack of faith in the ability of borrowers to repay their debts. "The Fed," she argues, "has gone about as if the problem is a shortage of liquidity. That is not the basic problem. The basic problem for the markets is that [uncertainty] that the balance sheets of financial firms are credible."

So even though the Fed has flooded the credit markets with cash, spreads haven't budged because banks don't know who is still solvent and who is not. This uncertainty, says Ms. Schwartz, is "the basic problem in the credit market. Lending freezes up when lenders are uncertain that would-be borrowers have the resources to repay them. So to assume that the whole problem is inadequate liquidity bypasses the real issue."

In the 1930s, as Ms. Schwartz and Mr. Friedman argued in "A Monetary History," the country and the Federal Reserve were faced with a liquidity crisis in the banking sector. As banks failed, depositors became alarmed that they'd lose their money if their bank, too, failed. So bank runs began, and these became self-reinforcing: "If the borrowers hadn't withdrawn cash, they [the banks] would have been in good shape. But the Fed just sat by and did nothing, so bank after bank failed. And that only motivated depositors to withdraw funds from banks that were not in distress," deepening the crisis and causing still more failures.

But "that's not what's going on in the market now," Ms. Schwartz says. Today, the banks have a problem on the asset side of their ledgers -- "all these exotic securities that the market does not know how to value."

"Why are they 'toxic'?" Ms. Schwartz asks. "They're toxic because you cannot sell them, you don't know what they're worth, your balance sheet is not credible and the whole market freezes up. We don't know whom to lend to because we don't know who is sound. So if you could get rid of them, that would be an improvement." The only way to "get rid of them" is to sell them, which is why Ms. Schwartz thought that Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson's original proposal to buy these assets from the banks was "a step in the right direction."

The problem with that idea was, and is, how to price "toxic" assets that nobody wants. And lurking beneath that problem is another, stickier problem: If they are priced at current market levels, selling them would be a recipe for instant insolvency at many institutions. The fears that are locking up the credit markets would be realized, and a number of banks would probably fail.

Ms. Schwartz won't say so, but this is the dirty little secret that led Secretary Paulson to shift from buying bank assets to recapitalizing them directly, as the Treasury did this week. But in doing so, he's shifted from trying to save the banking system to trying to save banks. These are not, Ms. Schwartz argues, the same thing. In fact, by keeping otherwise insolvent banks afloat, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury have actually prolonged the crisis. "They should not be recapitalizing firms that should be shut down."

Rather, "firms that made wrong decisions should fail," she says bluntly. "You shouldn't rescue them. And once that's established as a principle, I think the market recognizes that it makes sense. Everything works much better when wrong decisions are punished and good decisions make you rich." The trouble is, "that's not the way the world has been going in recent years."

Instead, we've been hearing for most of the past year about "systemic risk" -- the notion that allowing one firm to fail will cause a cascade that will take down otherwise healthy companies in its wake.

Ms. Schwartz doesn't buy it. "It's very easy when you're a market participant," she notes with a smile, "to claim that you shouldn't shut down a firm that's in really bad straits because everybody else who has lent to it will be injured. Well, if they lent to a firm that they knew was pretty rocky, that's their responsibility. And if they have to be denied repayment of their loans, well, they wished it on themselves. The [government] doesn't have to save them, just as it didn't save the stockholders and the employees of Bear Stearns. Why should they be worried about the creditors? Creditors are no more worthy of being rescued than ordinary people, who are really innocent of what's been going on."

It takes real guts to let a large, powerful institution go down. But the alternative -- the current credit freeze -- is worse, Ms. Schwartz argues.

"I think if you have some principles and know what you're doing, the market responds. They see that you have some structure to your actions, that it isn't just ad hoc -- you'll do this today but you'll do something different tomorrow. And the market respects people in supervisory positions who seem to be on top of what's going on. So I think if you're tough about firms that have invested unwisely, the market won't blame you. They'll say, 'Well, yeah, it's your fault. You did this. Nobody else told you to do it. Why should we be saving you at this point if you're stuck with assets you can't sell and liabilities you can't pay off?'" But when the authorities finally got around to letting Lehman Brothers fail, it had saved so many others already that the markets didn't know how to react. Instead of looking principled, the authorities looked erratic and inconstant.

How did we get into this mess in the first place? As in the 1920s, the current "disturbance" started with a "mania." But manias always have a cause. "If you investigate individually the manias that the market has so dubbed over the years, in every case, it was expansive monetary policy that generated the boom in an asset.

"The particular asset varied from one boom to another. But the basic underlying propagator was too-easy monetary policy and too-low interest rates that induced ordinary people to say, well, it's so cheap to acquire whatever is the object of desire in an asset boom, and go ahead and acquire that object. And then of course if monetary policy tightens, the boom collapses."

The house-price boom began with the very low interest rates in the early years of this decade under former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan.

"Now, Alan Greenspan has issued an epilogue to his memoir, 'Time of Turbulence,' and it's about what's going on in the credit market," Ms. Schwartz says. "And he says, 'Well, it's true that monetary policy was expansive. But there was nothing that a central bank could do in those circumstances. The market would have been very much displeased, if the Fed had tightened and crushed the boom. They would have felt that it wasn't just the boom in the assets that was being terminated.'" In other words, Mr. Greenspan "absolves himself. There was no way you could really terminate the boom because you'd be doing collateral damage to areas of the economy that you don't really want to damage."

Ms Schwartz adds, gently, "I don't think that that's an adequate kind of response to those who argue that absent accommodative monetary policy, you would not have had this asset-price boom." Policies based on such thinking only lead to a more damaging bust when the mania ends, as they all do. "In general, it's easier for a central bank to be accommodative, to be loose, to be promoting conditions that make everybody feel that things are going well."

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, of all people, should understand this, Ms. Schwartz says. In 2002, Mr. Bernanke, then a Federal Reserve Board governor, said in a speech in honor of Mr. Friedman's 90th birthday, "I would like to say to Milton and Anna: Regarding the Great Depression. You're right, we did it. We're very sorry. But thanks to you, we won't do it again."

"This was [his] claim to be worthy of running the Fed," she says. He was "familiar with history. He knew what had been done." But perhaps this is actually Mr. Bernanke's biggest problem. Today's crisis isn't a replay of the problem in the 1930s, but our central bankers have responded by using the tools they should have used then. They are fighting the last war. The result, she argues, has been failure. "I don't see that they've achieved what they should have been trying to achieve. So my verdict on this present Fed leadership is that they have not really done their job."

Mr. Carney is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board..
23820  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 18, 2008, 01:44:11 PM
Indeed!

And what the f#%^! is this media drivel that McCain should have vetted a private citizen-- in front of his own home yet!-- challenging His Glibness with a focused question that got His Glibness to reveal his heart on a fundamental issue?!?  THAT is what matters here!!!
23821  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Reproductive issues on: October 18, 2008, 01:40:38 PM
"I see the difference  between a fetus and a  baby  a difference in essence not a difference in location.   A seedling is not a tree.  A miscarriage hellish as it is---is not the same as the death of  a child."

Or we can say that a seedling is a small tree.  My personal opinion agrees that there is a difference between losing the fetus at 1-3 months and losing the baby at 7-8 months.  My intended point in this thread has mostly been about how tedious I find the self-righteousness of some of the abortion groups.

"If you value potential human life the same as  human life why not also protect the egg and the sperm.
   How do you see the  difference between fertilized egg  and a unfertilized  egg ?   Both are potential human life and with neither are you guaranteed a baby."

No, without a sperm fertiling the egg it is not a human life.

"I have no problem outlawing late term abortions as long as there is  an exception  in all cases for the mother's health. I want decisions about my health to be  between my doctor and I not congress my doctor and I.    Would you be willing to let congress decide what medical procedures you need to save your live?    How would you feel if you couldn't  have a life-saving procedures because someone's  religious views didn't allow it?"

Perhaps I am ignorant of the sort of case where it can be, but I am unaware of how a late term pregancy can endanger the mother.  Why not just have a ceasarian?  Starting from this premise, I tend to see "the mother's health" as a euphemism for killing a late term baby i.e. viable outside the mother's womb.

"You argue that Roe Vs Wade will not make abortion illegal everywhere but it will make it illegal in some states?  Why should my rights vary by location?"

Its called democracy in our federalist republic.

"Economic issues affect abortion rates.  What about a woman who is raped should she have to pay for it then?"

I would support this.

"You don't want to pay blood money to protect the unborn"

What do you mean by "blood money to protect the unborn"?

"but you are willing to accept the fact that if abortion is illegal woman will die having illegal abortions."

Democracy is a messy thing.  Actually I suspect very few states would have an absolute ban.  Whatever the result, it would be the result of we the people, instead of a bunch of lawyers appointed as judges.

"There are ways to reduce abortion rates without making it illegal. Kathleen Sebelius  has  reduced abortion rates 8.5% in Kansas  with social programs." 

Not familiar with it. 

"In an internal memo, Sanford's lawyers performed an analysis of the proposed measure's impact on the hospital's abortion services. Then -- muahaha -- the memo was leaked. It concludes that the ban's exception for the health of the mother "imposes a standard that is not clearly defined." The memo continues: "For those instances where a pregnant woman faces uncertain but potentially very serious health risks, Initiated Measure 11 will require a physician to choose between possibly committing a felony or subjecting a pregnant woman to a higher degree of medical risk than what would otherwise be clinically desirable."

Well, given my previous doubts about the sincerity of the ""mother's health exception" it does not surprise me that those wanting this exception cannot define it clearly.

"Note to the ban's supporters: You might want to adjust the sheep's clothing; your fur is showing."

Well, duh.  If someone believes that killing a late term fetus/baby is murder (try telling someone whose had a baby born a 7 months and lived that it is not!) I find it supremely arrogant of the pro-fetuscide forces to use the force of law to require them to kill it.  Try being less violent about these things-- and yes, the force of law is a form of violence!

Re Palin:  Although I do not agree with her 100%, I find her morally consistent and respect her-- and her sincerity is quite proven.  I infer (please tell me if I am wrong) that you think this segment from Couric shows her in a bad light, whereas I find it quite the contrary.  She has a principled, morally consistent and coherent point of view and, unlike a goodly percentage of her opposition seems to be rather humble about using violence to impose it upon others.


Concerning the clip, I certainly would support an early term abortion by this girl-- but again, Palin's position as VP or Prez would simply be a matter of tending to nominate SCOTUS justices that would revert the decision to the States.  Do you really think there is much risk of people voting against this girl being unable to undo the terrible wrong that was done to her?  C'mon!  Bottom line, the passion here is not directed against a real issue and in a real sense this girl is being used.
 
23822  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: October 18, 2008, 12:32:26 AM
Yo! Woof!  Attention Mr. Spock!

Some of the people who worry me most in the government have neither badges or guns.

More to the point, methinks you are missing the point Kiss
23823  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Something big is brewing on: October 17, 2008, 04:47:01 PM
A somewhat more polished version with some additional footage is now up at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74usTPZg1n0

@Porn Star Dog:

Are you in Thailand or the US?  There's been some developments about which I need to tell you.
23824  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: October 17, 2008, 04:20:20 PM
Woof GM:

I'm noticing the shellacking Joe the Plumber is taking as a result of his having successfully taken on His Glibness.    Like many, many people he didn't have the T's crossed and the I's dotted in his personal life and now look at the price he is paying for speaking Truth to Power. 

I submit that with the vast, uncountable, and often undecipherable laws and regulations of our Feds, State, and local government that a lot of people a lot of people are filing a "note to self-- don't speak up".  If it weren't so easy to look Joe the Plumber up, , ,

TAC,
Marc
23825  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: ACORN on: October 17, 2008, 03:11:13 PM
Arl:

That is very interesting. IIRC it was Miami that had had its mayoralty election overturned.  Coincidentally enough, Gore's team was headed, coincidentally enough, by Mayor Daley of Chicago ('nuff said) who IIRC came into Miami to see what he could do to help-- or something like that.

I would love to hear about how punch ballots can be manipulated.

Here's this-- I wonder if it was an inside job wink tongue
===========

BOSTON (WBZ) ― Police are investigating a burglary at the Boston offices of the community activist group ACORN.

Boston police told WBZ Friday that three Dell laptop computers were stolen from the group's Dorchester office around 10:15 p.m. Wednesday.  According to police, the alarm had also been ripped from the wall and wires had been damaged.  The police report says two downstairs offices also were ransacked, two vending machines were damaged and change stolen from them.

A representative from the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now said he did not know if the break-in was politically motivated, but called the timing "suspicious."

The FBI is investigating whether ACORN helped foster voter registration fraud in several states before the presidential election.

ACORN denies any fraud.

(© 2008 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
23826  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Survey on bare knuckle punching on: October 17, 2008, 03:00:08 PM
An internet friend is taking a survey:

http://www.questionpro.com/akira/TakeSurvey?id=985984
23827  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Something big is brewing on: October 17, 2008, 01:41:11 PM
Ron "Night Owl" Gabriel!!!  NO has been with us for several years now, and does our DVDs, our promo clips, and is directing our documentary (working title "Tao of the Dog")   Please note that this is a ROUGH edit-- he almost didn't want to show it to me because it was so ruff.
23828  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: October 17, 2008, 01:04:15 PM
A point which I have been trying to make with GM on our SCE!  Come join me on the thread!

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

Acorn Crackup

As news that the FBI is launching an investigation of its voter registration activities hit yesterday, the left-wing housing lobby Acorn received another blow. The group's dirty laundry will be aired at a board meeting today in New Orleans as its national board debates the merits of a lawsuit filed against Acorn by two of its own board members.

Karen Inman and Marcel Reid are the Acorn directors demanding that audits and other financial records of Acorn be turned over to them so they can complete an internal management review. They claim the records will show the organization is rife with financial irregularities created during the 38-year leadership of Wade Rathke, its founder.

Mr. Rathke left Acorn earlier this year after it was revealed his brother Dale had embezzled some $1 million from the group and that Mr. Rathke had concealed that scandal from his own board for eight years.

But Ms. Inman says the lawsuit is about far more than gaining access to financial records. She held a news conference yesterday and expressed concern that Wade Rathke continues to run Acorn from behind the scenes even though Acorn's board voted over the summer to sever all ties with him.

The internal divisions inside Acorn have led several organizers to form a dissident group called Speaking Truth To Power. The dissidents called on Barack Obama this week to support their efforts at reforming the organization. Mr. Obama has gone to great lengths to distance himself from the roles he played as a top trainer and attorney for Acorn during the 1990s.

-- John Fund

McCain's Missed Opportunity: Exposing Obama's Welfarism

This week's Washington Post/ABC News poll contains a disturbing finding for Sen. John McCain. As the Post's own report puts it: "[Barack] Obama's pitch to the middle class on taxes is beginning to sink in; nearly as many [voters] said they think their taxes would go up under a McCain administration as under an Obama presidency, and more see their burdens easing with the Democrat in the White House."

When Republicans aren't even winning the tax question, you know it's probably going to be a bad year for the GOP.

At Wednesday night's debate, Mr. McCain went hard after Sen. Obama's plan to raise tax rates on the wealthy and on businesses, and may have done himself some good. A CBS News post-debate poll found 64% of viewers thought Mr. Obama would raise their taxes versus 50% who thought Mr. McCain would. What Mr. McCain failed to do, however, was rebut Mr. Obama's claim he would cut taxes for "95% of working families," the core of his pitch to the middle class.

As the Wall Street Journal and others have pointed out, this claim depends on including "refundable" tax credits -- i.e., tax money taken from some voters and given to others. When Mr. Obama talks about "sharing the wealth," he means it in the old-fashioned redistributionist sense -- but he calls it "tax cuts." Sufficing to burst this pretense would have been a simple question: "Mr. Obama, what rate would you cut working-class families' taxes to?" Mr. Obama would have had to explain he was really talking about sending income-leveling checks to large numbers of households -- something most voters would better understand as "welfare."

Mr. McCain turned in a solid debate performance but missed an opportunity to dismantle Mr. Obama's biggest selling point to voters on taxes.

-- Blake Dvorak, RealClearPolitics.com

Ms. Information

Why are Democrats trying to cover up their sweetheart relationships with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? And why does the media allow it?

This past week I appeared on Bill Maher's HBO show Real Time with Representative Maxine Waters of California. Ms. Waters fibbed on the air about her connections to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

It all began when Mr. Maher tried to the lay blame for the credit meltdown on inadequate regulation of Wall Street. I pointed out that among the biggest failures this year were Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and that Democrats had protected them against tougher regulation. I said to Ms. Waters: "You said [the system for regulating the mortgage giants] wasn't broke five years ago at a Congressional hearing, and you took $15,000 of campaign contributions from Fannie and Freddie."

Responded Ms. Waters: "That is a lie and I challenge you to find $15,000 that I took from Fannie PAC."

Naturally, on hearing such a categorical insistence from Ms. Waters that my facts were wrong, I double-checked the numbers on the Center for Responsive Politics' OpenSecrets.org Web site. CRP had listed all the political contributions from the Fannie Mae Pac after the federal bailout of Fannie and Freddie late in the summer. Sure enough, the report confirms that Maxine Waters was recipient of $15,000 in Fannie Mae Pac dollars since 1989. Altogether, some 354 current members of Congress had received a total of $4.8 million from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

This has become a pattern of congressional Democrats, who deny their incestuous relationship with Fannie and Freddie, even when it means strangling the truth on national TV. Ms. Waters said to me during and after the show that she had wanted to regulate Fannie. But here's what she said in a 2004 congressional hearing: "Through nearly a dozen hearings, we were frankly trying to fix something that wasn't broke. Mr. Chairman, we do not have a crisis at Freddie Mac, and particularly at Fannie Mae, under the outstanding leadership of Franklin Raines."

Imagine the number of times network news would be playing the clip of a Republican congresswoman caught lying on national TV. Ms. Waters no doubt felt her allies in most of the major media outlets would protect her. And the real scandal here is that, regrettably, she was right.

-- Stephen Moore

Quote of the Day

"If you talk to most of the scientists who are ardent about the issue, they have a political or ideological worldview that says mankind needs to stop putting CO2 into the atmosphere. It's a religious belief and it's widespread in the scientific community. . . . This wouldn't be important if it weren't for the policy implications. The direction we're going on policy is going to kill millions of people for no good reason. As it is environmentalists have already killed millions of people for no good reason, with the DDT ban" -- climate scientist Roy Spencer, a team leader on NASA's precipitation-monitoring Aqua satellite, in an interview on the San Francisco Chronicle's Web site.

Will the Real John McCain Please Stand Up?

John McCain often comes across as stodgy and stiff. Well, last night, at the nonpartisan Alfred E. Smith Memorial Dinner in New York, the senator brought down the house with his hilarious remarks on the election so far. With pitch-perfect delivery and impeccable timing, who knew that a white-tie affair would actually loosen him up?

On his penchant to overhaul his campaign staff, Mr. McCain self-mockingly announced that, once again, he's replaced his entire team of senior advisors, this time by one man: Joe the Plumber. Joe's concerned about getting hit by an Obama tax increase, Mr. McCain continued, because he recently signed "a very lucrative contract with a wealthy couple to handle the work on all seven of their houses " -- a shot at the McCains and their controversial housing assets.

On his relationship with Barack Obama, who was seated nearby, Mr. McCain revealed that while he likes to call his "friend and colleague . . . 'That One,'" Mr. Obama "even has a pet name for me: George Bush."

And in recognizing his underdog status, he lamented that "his friend " Chris Matthews of MSNBC was not a McCain supporter. "We've talked about it, and I've told him: 'Maverick I can do, but Messiah is above my paygrade.'"

Still, Mr. McCain said there was much cause for hope: "Even in this room full of proud Manhattan Democrats, I can't shake that feeling that some people here are pulling for me. I'm delighted to see you here tonight, Hillary!"

Like many other McCain speeches, this one was given from behind a podium and read from notes. Yet the crowd clearly loved him, as you could tell by the extended applause. If only every stop along the campaign trail was an Al Smith memorial dinner.

23829  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: ACORN on: October 17, 2008, 01:00:48 PM
I'll need to read the Supreme's decision-- it may rest more on precedural issues, or federalism issues-- certainly the AP report cited here doesn't even attempt to address more than win/lose.

ACORN has been on my radar screen a LONG time for massive, systemic registration/fraud.

Here's this from PD WSJ

Acorn Crackup

As news that the FBI is launching an investigation of its voter registration activities hit yesterday, the left-wing housing lobby Acorn received another blow. The group's dirty laundry will be aired at a board meeting today in New Orleans as its national board debates the merits of a lawsuit filed against Acorn by two of its own board members.

Karen Inman and Marcel Reid are the Acorn directors demanding that audits and other financial records of Acorn be turned over to them so they can complete an internal management review. They claim the records will show the organization is rife with financial irregularities created during the 38-year leadership of Wade Rathke, its founder.

Mr. Rathke left Acorn earlier this year after it was revealed his brother Dale had embezzled some $1 million from the group and that Mr. Rathke had concealed that scandal from his own board for eight years.

But Ms. Inman says the lawsuit is about far more than gaining access to financial records. She held a news conference yesterday and expressed concern that Wade Rathke continues to run Acorn from behind the scenes even though Acorn's board voted over the summer to sever all ties with him.

The internal divisions inside Acorn have led several organizers to form a dissident group called Speaking Truth To Power. The dissidents called on Barack Obama this week to support their efforts at reforming the organization. Mr. Obama has gone to great lengths to distance himself from the roles he played as a top trainer and attorney for Acorn during the 1990s.

-- John Fund

23830  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Civil Affairs Team 745 on: October 17, 2008, 10:26:53 AM
Partriot Post

Profiles of valor: Civil Affairs Team 745
United States Army Sgt. 1st Class Drew Kimmey, Capt. Stephen Ward and Staff Sgt. Carlo Alcazar, members of Civil Affairs Team 745, were recently recognized for their daring rescue of a Special Forces team leader during an Afghanistan mission last November. CA Team 745 was stationed at Firebase Cobra in Oruzgan, Afghanistan, alongside special operations detachments from the 3rd Special Forces Group, as well as personnel from the Afghan National Army and National Police. The teams left to provide humanitarian aid to a nearby village, only to discover that the village had already been evacuated. Ward noted that “the buildings had locks and barricaded doors, which was a clear indication that the village wasn’t abandoned, but had been turned into a defendable position.” Indeed, 300 Taliban fighters soon engaged the teams in a firefight.

After an hour of fighting, two Army disabled vehicles were pulled to the rear of the fight, leaving the ground forces commander in front of coalition lines, pinned down in a vulnerable building. Ward, Alcazar and Kimmey used their vehicle to get to the commander for a rescue but crashed into an enemy position, rendering their vehicle immobile. Ward and Alcazar were momentarily knocked unconscious in the crash. When they recovered, Alcazar began reloading ammunition belts so that Kimmey, the gunner, could continue pounding enemy fighters. Ward directed the effort to reach the ground commander under Kimmey’s cover fire. The unit remained under “continual, accurate and effective” enemy fire but managed to rescue the commander nonetheless. Once out of the building, team 745 stripped their vehicle to prevent the enemy from obtaining anything and ran beside a Special Forces vehicle for cover, there being no room for them on the truck.

For their bravery and heroic acts that day, Sgt. Kimmey, Capt. Ward and Staff Sgt. Alcazar were each awarded the Bronze Star with Combat “V” for valor.
23831  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post 2 on: October 17, 2008, 10:24:22 AM
Part Two


BUSINESS & ECONOMY
Big Brother turns banker
“The government’s role will be limited and temporary... These measures are not intended to take over the free market but to preserve it.” So promised President Bush, the day after Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson outlined plans to “invest” $250 billion to bail out the U.S. banking system. This measure, part of the recently enacted $700-billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TRAP, er, TARP), is ostensibly designed to encourage banks to resume lending to each other and to customers. In reality, however, the bailout legislation will reward poor banking practices as an unintended consequence of government attempts to supervene natural economic laws. Rather than replaying this tired song, shouldn’t we instead hold accountable those most responsible for creating the subprime bubble by making them bear the economic brunt of its bursting?

At the heart of this debacle is a fundamental disconnect between views of the role of government. One the one hand is the view that government is a guarantor, not a provider, of rights, and that people should have the same opportunity to succeed—or fail. On the other is the view that government is a grantor of “rights” —privileges, really—and that those privileges should be granted to “even out” unfair disparities existing between haves and have-nots. TARP is shaping up to be a tool of the latter view, unfortunately.

Adding a socialist tint to this measure, Paulson explained that participation in this “investment” program is mandatory. That’s right: the nation’s nine largest banks must accept the government’s largess, independent of financial standing. This gives rise to the maxim, “One person soils his pants, and now everyone’s gotta wear diapers.” Given that since before the beginning of the subprime meltdown free market principles have been compassionately, conservatively thrown under the bus, this maneuver should come as no surprise. Still, those charged with torchbearer duties should display a much firmer grasp of principles informing the Party of Reagan than to promulgate such positions. Worse still, the terms “limited” and “temporary” are wholly unrecognizable in the government’s lexicon. If these measures are indeed “not intended to take over the market,” why, then, is the U.S. government establishing a very significant ownership stake in our banking system? According to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s Wall Street Journal op-ed piece, the reason is to “restore more normal market functioning.” Well, okay then!

But wait a minute: isn’t government intervention in “normal market functioning” what got us into this mess in the first place? So are we now willing to believe that even more intervention into complex financial markets by individuals and entities with demonstrably bad track records of managing the governmental levers on America’s economic engine will yield better results? Certainly, government’s role in setting the stage for this crisis—from removing the wall between residential mortgage and equity markets, to mandating mark-to-market accounting, to poor oversight and bad practices of government sponsored entities (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—cannot be overstated.

Maybe there’s a lesson here. The Great Depression wasn’t “great” because of evil bankers, stockbrokers or investors. What made the worst economic meltdown in U.S. history so bad was pervasive, prolonged government meddling in economic markets, accompanied by shockingly poor governmental monetary policy. As one of the foremost scholars on the financial aspects of the Great Depression, Bernanke ought to know this well. So rather than championing “help” from one of the most obviously culpable players in the Great Depression, perhaps Bernanke would be better served by taking a page from studies with which—ideally, at least—he’s already familiar.

For a comprehensive look at the current economic crisis, don’t miss Mark Alexander’s essays: Economics 101: Crisis of Confidence (a comprehensive but quick reading analysis of the current financial crisis), Bailout v. Workout—The continuing crisis (an update on the crisis), and Drive-by Observations on the continuing crisis (a supplement of current opinion on the continuing crisis, updated regularly).

Income Redistribution: ‘Spread the wealth’
Joe Wurzelbacher, now simply known as “Joe the Plumber,” has been thrust into the spotlight as “everyman” representing the people who want to live the American Dream—all because he questioned Barack Obama about his tax plan at a rally this week. He didn’t believe that Obama was truthful when he stated in the second presidential debate, “Only a few percent of small businesses make more than $250,000 a year. So the vast majority of small businesses would get a tax cut under my plan.” But Obama reassured him, “It’s not that I want to punish your success. I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they’ve got a chance for success too. I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.” That’s known around our humble shop as “trickle up poverty.”

In fact, most people who taste success the hard way, through entrepreneurship, would indeed be hit with extra expenses by Obama’s government—and not just in higher taxes, but also by being forced to provide health insurance to employees. Further, the definition of “small business” varies by type: according to the Small Business Administration a “small business” can have up to $33 million in receipts, easily exceeding the $250,000 threshold.

One of Barack’s promises, that 95 percent of taxpayers are promised a tax cut, is a grand piece of misinformation that would make Josef Stalin proud. Forty percent of Americans already pay no income tax whatsoever and thus would simply be the beneficiaries of increased income redistribution. It’s yet another chance for Democrats to ensnare people into government dependence. And the $250,000 figure is only for couples. Individuals would have to make only $200,000 to be slapped with higher taxes. Finally, lest we forget, Obama has promised to “roll back the Bush tax cuts.” Translation: higher taxes for everyone, rich and poor alike.

As for Joe, his fame has earned him the scrutiny of the Leftmedia for daring to question their messiah. The New York Times carried a front-page hit piece about him today. So it’s official: The Times has now spent more time investigating the plumber from Toledo than they have the senator from Illinois.

 

From the ‘Non Compos Mentis’ File
The rigors of campaigning are taking their toll on Joe Biden. Talking about the economy this week, the Delaware Democrat said, “Look, John [McCain]’s last-minute economic plan does nothing to tackle the number-one job facing the middle class, and it happens to be, as Barack says, a three-letter word: jobs. J-O-B-S, jobs.” At least he didn’t say anything totally ridiculous like claiming to campaign in all 57 states.

As the old saying goes, there are three kinds of people in the world—those who can count, and those who can’t.

Nobel Prize devalued again
Whatever shred of dignity remained attached to the Nobel Prize following Yasser Arafat’s win in 1994, Jimmy Carter’s win in 2002 and Al Gore’s win in 2007 further eroded with Paul Krugman’s receipt of this year’s Nobel Prize in economics. Krugman, a Princeton University Professor, New York Times columnist and former Enron adviser, purportedly won for his trade theories—which advocate subsidizing some industries to maintain international competition. This used to be known as mercantilism. But the timing of the Nobel committee’s decision, just three weeks before the election, and the fact that over the past several years Krugman has become far better known for his scathing criticisms of the Bush administration than for his economic activity, more than suggest political motivations are at play.

In fact, Krugman the pundit is so far removed from Krugman the economist that investment officer and National Review Online contributing editor Donald Luskin noted that this is the first year the Prize has ever been awarded posthumously.

Although it’s remotely possible that Krugman—a self-proclaimed “unabashed defender of the welfare state” who has said that his “economic theories have no doubt been influenced by my relationship with my cats” —deserved the prize, it’s more likely the committee was continuing its pattern of selecting winners based not on merit but on degree of anti-Bush sentiment. Either that, or someone on the committee really likes cats.

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CULTURE
Judicial Benchmarks: CT court redefines marriage
As California voters prepare to weigh in on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court of Connecticut took a cue from the California Supreme Court and extended the right of marriage to same-sex couples. The 4-3 ruling is little more than typical liberal legislating from the bench.

Like California, Connecticut had already enacted a civil-union statute that bestowed upon same-sex couples all of the same legal rights that marriage provides. Illustrating their keen sense of the obvious, the majority’s opinion stated in part, “It is abundantly clear that preserving the institution of marriage as a union between a man and a woman is the overriding reason why same-sex couples have been barred from marrying in this state.” Unfortunately, however, that bit of sanity had no bearing on their eventual decision. “Interpreting our state constitutional provisions in accordance with firmly established equal protection principles leads inevitably to the conclusion that gay persons are entitled to marry the otherwise qualified same sex partner of their choice,” Justice Richard Palmer wrote in the majority opinion. “To decide otherwise would require us to apply one set of constitutional principles to gay persons and another to all others.”

Justice Peter Zarella, in the minority opinion, wrote, “The ancient definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman has its basis in biology, not bigotry.” He added that if that is to be changed, it should be “a decision for the legislature or the people of the state and not this court.” What a concept.

 

Village Academic Curriculum: Chicago schools
The Chicago Board of Education is set to vote next week on whether to approve a “School of Social Justice Pride Campus” to provide a “safe haven” for homosexual, transgender and bisexual students. “It is not going to be a ‘gay high school,’ but... it is meant to target kids who feel they have been victims of bullying for their sexual orientation or perceived orientation,” said an executive officer with the school system. Officials cite studies showing that students harassed because of sexual orientation do not perform as well in school as their heterosexual peers and have higher dropout rates. Since those studies were conducted by groups that advocate homosexual rights and their allies in the Chicago School district itself, we’re sure they are completely balanced.

In addition to providing counseling, the Pride Campus’s curriculum would include history and literature topics on sexual identity. In other words, the school board is promoting the homosexual agenda by normalizing such behavior through segregation and indoctrination. The students “won’t be told forthrightly about the risks of homosexual behavior... They’ll be confirmed in their confusion, and they won’t get the other side,” said Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality.

As noted in Mark Alexander’s essay, [“Gender Identity, The Homosexual Agenda and the Christian Response,”] children who are raised in homes without fathers are at a much greater risk for sexually deviant behaviors, and that “currently, only one in three children—and only one in five inner-city children—is in a home with a mother and father.” Could it be that the families of Chicago students would fall into that category? While we view homosexuality as a moral issue, the liberal agenda will continue to whittle it down to a biological destiny, one which special schools will help nurture and taxpayers will fund.

Regulatory Commissars: Car seats
Never mind mortgage and banking regulations. Since the 1970s, government has all but taken over one industry, regulating it to the hilt—and beyond. Whereas merely 38 years ago, the car seat industry enjoyed relative government-free obscurity, in 1971, the feds assumed the role of Super Nanny and issued the first standard for child safety seats. It’s been a bumpy ride ever since.

Today, every state as well as the District of Columbia has some type of law requiring car seat use, and it doesn’t end there. In Maine, children over 40 pounds must travel in a booster seat until they are 80 pounds or eight years old, whichever comes last. In Massachusetts, kids out of boosters must ride seat-belted in the back seat until they are 12, and parents violating these laws may garner fines of up to $500.

Still, there’s more. Deeming parents unqualified to install their own car seats, governments encourage professional installation at an inspection center, such as a police or fire station—and if your seat has reached its expiration date, an inspector may refuse to install it.

There’s no doubt car seats are important safety devices, but this mountain of mandates leads us to wonder, who’s getting a boost from car seat manufacturers?



And last...
At last, God can rest easy. He is no longer the target of a lawsuit in Nebraska where state senator Ernie Chambers filed his case in September of last year. Chambers, a Democrat and self-identified agnostic, was suing God for a permanent injunction preventing the Almighty from wreaking havoc and causing harm through such “acts of God” as tornados and earthquakes. The court’s Judge Marlon Polk tossed out the case, with prejudice, however, declaring the suit could not go forward because Chambers could produce no proof that he had served the Deity with papers informing of the lawsuit. Chambers took issue with the ruling, saying, “The court itself acknowledges the existence of God. A consequence of that acknowledgment is a recognition of God’s omniscience.” Therefore, Chambers said, “Since God knows everything, God has notice of this lawsuit.” We won’t argue with that, though Judge Polk was not persuaded. Perhaps he took the command “judge not” a little too literally.

Veritas vos Liberabit—Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus, et Fidelis! Mark Alexander, Publisher, for The Patriot’s editors and staff. (Please pray for our Patriot Armed Forces standing in harm’s way around the world, and for their families—especially families of those fallen Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, who granted their lives in defense of American liberty.)

23832  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post on: October 17, 2008, 10:23:04 AM
On cross-examination
“Reviewing the polls printed in The New York Times and The Washington Post in the last month of every presidential election since 1976, I found the polls were never wrong in a friendly way to Republicans. When the polls were wrong, which was often, they overestimated support for the Democrat, usually by about 6 to 10 points.” —Ann Coulter

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GOVERNMENT & POLITICS
Campaign watch: Debate number three
Apparently, John McCain doesn’t think this campaign is over—he came out swinging in Wednesday night’s debate. McCain hit Obama hard on his alliances with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers and the voter registration front ACORN (more on that below). Obama did his best to shrug off the charges, but we think they are beginning to stick. Issues of character are indeed important, contrary to Obama’s wish to focus on “the issues.”

On the issues, McCain pounded Obama on taxes, citing “Joe the Plumber” (more on that below, as well) and pointing out that Obama is lying about just how many Americans will see their taxes go up under an Obama administration with a Democrat-controlled Congress. Obama responded with more class warfare. “[W]e both want to cut taxes, the difference is who we want to cut taxes for,” he said. In other words, Barack Obama decides who makes too much.

One of the highlights of the night was McCain’s retort to Obama regarding comparisons to President George W. Bush: “I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago.”

Of course, the topper was an inadvertent slip by McCain. During one exchange, he referred to Obama as “Senator Government.” McCain noted, “This really gets down to the fundamental difference in our philosophies. If you notice that in all of this proposal, Senator government wants—Senator Obama wants government to do the job.” We’d say that pretty much sums it up. Obama’s solutions always seem to grow the size of government.

It remains to be seen where this debate puts the poll numbers, but one thing we have noticed is that when Obama’s poll numbers go up, the market goes down, and vice versa. Maybe there’s something to that.

 

Inside ACORN
The Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN) is an organization that is tailor-made for Barack Obama. It is community based, it is ultra-liberal, and it will do and say just about anything to achieve its political ends. ACORN has drawn questions regarding its operating practices since its inception in 1970, but now the 350,000-member (their number) organization has been caught up in a nationwide scandal for its illegal voter registration practices.

In recent weeks there have been myriad charges filed against the organization from all around the country. In Las Vegas, ACORN offices were raided after complaints over thousands of fraudulent registration applications were submitted by ACORN workers and volunteers. The Michigan Secretary of State is on record noting that ACORN submitted “a sizeable number of duplicate and fraudulent applications.” Other states that are taking action against ACORN include New Mexico, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Missouri and Indiana—not coincidentally, these are all battleground states. Furthermore, the FBI has opened an investigation into the group.

The scope of the fraud clearly shows that it is a systematic campaign. And it is no GOP witch-hunt as the knee-jerk leftist reaction fired off by the media suggested in recent days. A look at just who is filing the complaints and pressing the charges readily demonstrates that the outrage is nonpartisan. These crimes are endemic to the organization as a whole and undermine our republic. The ACORN organization must be held accountable from top to bottom.

ACORN often hires urban poor and recently released felons to register voters. In some cases, they don’t even pay minimum wage—yet another example of the grand hypocrisy of the “mother” organization, but that’s another can of worms. Only so many Democrats can be registered in any given area, and when that limit is reached, ACORN’s minions sign up dead people, the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive line and Mickey Mouse. Homeless people are next, and since they stay in various places, they can vote once for each non-home. Given the level of recidivism among felons, we can only assume that ACORN’s felonious fellows do not experience a guilty conscience for committing such a “chump” crime.

Millions of us “simple-minded” citizens wonder how an organization that flouts our sacred right to vote and shamelessly works to undermine our institutions can continue executing costly programs and “getting out the vote.” Who pays for it all? Answer: We do. Liberal politicians like Barack Obama and his Demo colleagues benefit directly from ACORN’s antics, so, of course, they’re going to ensure their public funding. And now Obama—who has trained ACORN staffers, served as the organization’s lawyer, and recently contributed an eye-popping $832,000 to its coffers—wants to disavow their ties. As Bob Dole once asked, “Where’s the outrage?”

This week’s ‘Alpha Jackass’ award
“There is no question that western Pennsylvania is a racist area.” —Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), who, when not slandering our brave Marines, apparently enjoys slandering his own constituents

From the Left: Who wrote Obama’s memoir?
Suspension of disbelief is defined as “the willingness of a person to accept as true the premises of a work of fiction, even if... fantastic or impossible.” When it comes to Barack Obama, the American people have been asked to suspend disbelief regarding a number of things, including: Obama’s desire to bring people together despite his relationship with “Reverend” Jeremiah Wright, who preaches divisiveness and hatred; and Obama’s patriotism, despite his association with Weatherman terrorist William Ayers. According to writer Jack Cashill, Obama’s authorship of his much-celebrated memoir, Dreams From My Father, may be simply another fiction.

Cashill points out Obama’s lack of published works before contracting to write Dreams in 1990 at age 28. He did publish a few items: two poems in a college magazine (which Obama himself admitted were “very bad”), and a piece in the Harvard Law Review, referred to by Politco researchers as a “fairly standard example of the genre.”

Also telling is Obama’s inability to finish the Dreams manuscript on time, despite being given a year and a large advance to do so. Then, suddenly, the finished work appeared, and it demonstrated a level of literary skill that Obama had never before displayed.

Cashill proceeds to explore the possibility that Bill Ayers wrote Dreams. In doing so, he offers several technical comparisons in writing style and viewpoints to Ayers’ own memoir, Fugitive Days, right down to their shared penchants for untruths, changed names and faulty timelines. But Ayers is just a guy in Obama’s neighborhood. Right. Suspension of disbelief works for a movie, for two hours; it won’t work for this country for four years.

What the Palin probe really found
An Alaska state legislative investigator found in its final report of the so-called trooper scandal that Gov. Sarah Palin abused her power in trying to get State Trooper Michael Wooten fired. Democrat state senator and ardent Obama supporter Hollis French oversaw the investigation and insisted it be finished and released before Election Day. Predictably, the Leftmedia and the anti-Palin attack dogs (but we repeat ourselves) jumped on the abuse-of-power finding, but they do not wish to follow the facts of the story to its logical conclusion. Let’s take a look at what happened.

Wooten had a record of violent behavior, drinking alcohol on the job, illegal hunting, using a Taser on his 10-year-old stepson and threatening to kill a member of the Palin family. These were all valid reasons to seek Wooten’s removal from the force, and Palin apparently told Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan to fire him. Monegan refused and was in turn fired by Palin.

The report also recognizes that it was within Palin’s right as governor to fire Monegan, but the supposed problem that was raised by the report was that Monegan’s removal came in part because he would not fire Wooten, who was Palin’s sister’s ex-husband. The related history that Wooten shared with the Palin family is immaterial, or at least it would be in a non-election year. Look at the facts specifically. Wooten was a lousy officer and had no business keeping his job with the kind of behavior he displayed on numerous occasions. Monegan is responsible for the officers under his command; if he cannot, or for some reason will not, discipline them or remove them when necessary, then he is not doing his job and he should be removed. Where exactly does the abuse of power charge come from here? This report contains no recommendations for further action, so it holds little real value except as a campaign weapon for the Democrats.

Another Democrat family man
Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-FL) won Florida’s 16th congressional seat in 2006 after Republican Mark Foley was booted for sending lewd emails to teenage male pages in Congress. Foley became a national scandal and the butt of more than a few jokes on late-night talk shows. His disgraceful behavior, coming to light as it did just weeks before the 2006 mid-term elections, undoubtedly exacerbated Republican losses that year. Mahoney, his successor, was presumably going to restore honor to the seat, but we now learn that Mahoney is embroiled in a sex scandal of his own. He agreed to pay $121,000 to a former mistress who worked on his staff, was fired, and threatened to sue for wrongful termination. Additionally, as an incentive to keep her from spilling the beans to his wife and his constituents, he promised her a $50,000 per year job with Fletcher Rowley Chao Riddle, the agency that handled his campaign advertising. The CEO of the firm, Bill Fletcher, categorically denied any knowledge of the quid pro quo.

Furthermore, Mahoney was apparently engaged in more than one affair. His mistress wanted to end the relationship upon finding this out, but Mahoney threatened and fired her. “You work at my pleasure,” he said in a recorded phone conversation. “If you do the job that I think you should do, you get to keep your job. Whenever I don’t feel like you’re doing your job, then you lose your job.” Just in case the message wasn’t clear, he added, “And guess what? The only person that matters is, guess who? Me.”

The issue for Democrats now is what to do with Mahoney. They are in a quite similar position that Republicans faced with Foley. It is too close to the election to get a replacement on the ballot, so the Demos could run someone else under Mahoney’s name. However, Mahoney plans to stick it out. And Republican candidate Tom Rooney gains daily.

NATIONAL SECURITY
Warfront with Jihadistan: Afghanistan update
After “losing” the Iraq War because American troops are winning, the Left and its MSM handmaidens are now turning their attention to Afghanistan, chanting the all-too-familiar “we’re losing, and it’s time to get out” mantra. With a resurgent Taliban and al-Qa’ida, they claim the Afghan situation is hopeless. Fortunately, facts on the ground speak otherwise. On Sunday in Kabul, just 12 hours after coalition troops killed dozens of Taliban fighters, General David McKiernan, American commander in Afghanistan, told a news conference that there were “too many” recent reports asserting that the Coalition and their Afghan allies were losing the war, and he urged doubters to believe that the war against the Taliban could and would be won.

While there has been an upturn in enemy attacks in Afghanistan, leading to increased allied casualties and some erosion of support among the populace, the reasons for, and results of, the enemy attacks are anything but bad for the Coalition. One reason for the increase in attacks is that jihadis are giving up Iraq and moving to Afghanistan, clearly a sign that Iraq is being won. And although the number of Afghan attacks has increased, so has the death rate for the jihadis, as each attack has, for the most part, been disastrous for them.

The New York Times reports that the insurgents “have shown that they are capable of massing hundreds of fighters,” but those masses are typically cut to pieces by Coalition forces, with thousands being killed in the last year. As Canadian Brigadier General Richard Blanchette said about the recent attacks, “If the insurgents planned a spectacular attack prior to the winter, this was a spectacular failure.” Best to heed the words of Governor Sarah Palin from the VP debate: This is no time to “raise the white flag” of surrender.

Profiles of valor: Civil Affairs Team 745
United States Army Sgt. 1st Class Drew Kimmey, Capt. Stephen Ward and Staff Sgt. Carlo Alcazar, members of Civil Affairs Team 745, were recently recognized for their daring rescue of a Special Forces team leader during an Afghanistan mission last November. CA Team 745 was stationed at Firebase Cobra in Oruzgan, Afghanistan, alongside special operations detachments from the 3rd Special Forces Group, as well as personnel from the Afghan National Army and National Police. The teams left to provide humanitarian aid to a nearby village, only to discover that the village had already been evacuated. Ward noted that “the buildings had locks and barricaded doors, which was a clear indication that the village wasn’t abandoned, but had been turned into a defendable position.” Indeed, 300 Taliban fighters soon engaged the teams in a firefight.

After an hour of fighting, two Army disabled vehicles were pulled to the rear of the fight, leaving the ground forces commander in front of coalition lines, pinned down in a vulnerable building. Ward, Alcazar and Kimmey used their vehicle to get to the commander for a rescue but crashed into an enemy position, rendering their vehicle immobile. Ward and Alcazar were momentarily knocked unconscious in the crash. When they recovered, Alcazar began reloading ammunition belts so that Kimmey, the gunner, could continue pounding enemy fighters. Ward directed the effort to reach the ground commander under Kimmey’s cover fire. The unit remained under “continual, accurate and effective” enemy fire but managed to rescue the commander nonetheless. Once out of the building, team 745 stripped their vehicle to prevent the enemy from obtaining anything and ran beside a Special Forces vehicle for cover, there being no room for them on the truck.

For their bravery and heroic acts that day, Sgt. Kimmey, Capt. Ward and Staff Sgt. Alcazar were each awarded the Bronze Star with Combat “V” for valor.

Another agreement with North Korea
The Bush administration’s decision to ink an agreement with North Korea over its nuclear program last week has no redeeming value—except that doing nothing might possibly have been worse. In exchange for Pyongyang’s promise, yet again, to allow inspectors into its nuclear facilities, the State Department will remove North Korea from its list of terrorist sponsors. Neither Jimmy Carter nor Charlie Brown could be reached for comment on what seems about the hundredth time North Korea has yanked away the football after giving its solemn word to play by the rules. The agreement also angered Japan, the United States’ most trustworthy and vital ally in the Pacific Rim, as it trampled Tokyo’s demand that Pyongyang account for kidnapped Japanese.

The single upside to the America’s appeasement is that the next president might enjoy an Inauguration Day free from North Korean threats. But the crisis will be delayed only for a time. The “oral agreements” that constitute the latest deal seem tailor made for Pyonyang to go back on—probably the only thing the corrupt regime can ever be trusted to do. Additionally, there is widespread belief that Kim Jong-Il may have suffered a debilitating stroke, or may even be dead, as he has not been seen publicly for months. A succession struggle among his cronies will do nothing to stabilize this already lunatic regime, adding to the possibility of a diplomatic crisis going kinetic. If this deal delays such infighting beyond the transition phase as the new administration settles into office, we are willing to make lemonade out of lemons and accept it as a necessary evil. But it is evil all the same, and no amount of State Department lipstick will change that fact.

23833  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post on: October 17, 2008, 10:17:51 AM
Inside ACORN
The Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN) is an organization that is tailor-made for Barack Obama. It is community based, it is ultra-liberal, and it will do and say just about anything to achieve its political ends. ACORN has drawn questions regarding its operating practices since its inception in 1970, but now the 350,000-member (their number) organization has been caught up in a nationwide scandal for its illegal voter registration practices.

In recent weeks there have been myriad charges filed against the organization from all around the country. In Las Vegas, ACORN offices were raided after complaints over thousands of fraudulent registration applications were submitted by ACORN workers and volunteers. The Michigan Secretary of State is on record noting that ACORN submitted “a sizeable number of duplicate and fraudulent applications.” Other states that are taking action against ACORN include New Mexico, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Missouri and Indiana—not coincidentally, these are all battleground states. Furthermore, the FBI has opened an investigation into the group.

The scope of the fraud clearly shows that it is a systematic campaign. And it is no GOP witch-hunt as the knee-jerk leftist reaction fired off by the media suggested in recent days. A look at just who is filing the complaints and pressing the charges readily demonstrates that the outrage is nonpartisan. These crimes are endemic to the organization as a whole and undermine our republic. The ACORN organization must be held accountable from top to bottom.

ACORN often hires urban poor and recently released felons to register voters. In some cases, they don’t even pay minimum wage—yet another example of the grand hypocrisy of the “mother” organization, but that’s another can of worms. Only so many Democrats can be registered in any given area, and when that limit is reached, ACORN’s minions sign up dead people, the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive line and Mickey Mouse. Homeless people are next, and since they stay in various places, they can vote once for each non-home. Given the level of recidivism among felons, we can only assume that ACORN’s felonious fellows do not experience a guilty conscience for committing such a “chump” crime.

Millions of us “simple-minded” citizens wonder how an organization that flouts our sacred right to vote and shamelessly works to undermine our institutions can continue executing costly programs and “getting out the vote.” Who pays for it all? Answer: We do. Liberal politicians like Barack Obama and his Demo colleagues benefit directly from ACORN’s antics, so, of course, they’re going to ensure their public funding. And now Obama—who has trained ACORN staffers, served as the organization’s lawyer, and recently contributed an eye-popping $832,000 to its coffers—wants to disavow their ties. As Bob Dole once asked, “Where’s the outrage?”
23834  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Something big is brewing on: October 17, 2008, 08:48:43 AM
Woof All:

We are working on something big.  Here is a very rough cut of a promo clip for the suits. 

TAC!
CD
=========================================


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4x0hZpV8GU
23835  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: October 17, 2008, 07:27:17 AM
WSJ:

A Liberal Supermajority
Get ready for 'change' we haven't seen since 1965, or 1933.Article
 
If the current polls hold, Barack Obama will win the White House on November 4 and Democrats will consolidate their Congressional majorities, probably with a filibuster-proof Senate or very close to it. Without the ability to filibuster, the Senate would become like the House, able to pass whatever the majority wants.

Though we doubt most Americans realize it, this would be one of the most profound political and ideological shifts in U.S. history. Liberals would dominate the entire government in a way they haven't since 1965, or 1933. In other words, the election would mark the restoration of the activist government that fell out of public favor in the 1970s. If the U.S. really is entering a period of unchecked left-wing ascendancy, Americans at least ought to understand what they will be getting, especially with the media cheering it all on.

 The nearby table shows the major bills that passed the House this year or last before being stopped by the Senate minority. Keep in mind that the most important power of the filibuster is to shape legislation, not merely to block it. The threat of 41 committed Senators can cause the House to modify its desires even before legislation comes to a vote. Without that restraining power, all of the following have very good chances of becoming law in 2009 or 2010.

- Medicare for all. When HillaryCare cratered in 1994, the Democrats concluded they had overreached, so they carved up the old agenda into smaller incremental steps, such as Schip for children. A strongly Democratic Congress is now likely to lay the final flagstones on the path to government-run health insurance from cradle to grave.

Mr. Obama wants to build a public insurance program, modeled after Medicare and open to everyone of any income. According to the Lewin Group, the gold standard of health policy analysis, the Obama plan would shift between 32 million and 52 million from private coverage to the huge new entitlement. Like Medicare or the Canadian system, this would never be repealed.

The commitments would start slow, so as not to cause immediate alarm. But as U.S. health-care spending flowed into the default government options, taxes would have to rise or services would be rationed, or both. Single payer is the inevitable next step, as Mr. Obama has already said is his ultimate ideal.

- The business climate. "We have some harsh decisions to make," Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned recently, speaking about retribution for the financial panic. Look for a replay of the Pecora hearings of the 1930s, with Henry Waxman, John Conyers and Ed Markey sponsoring ritual hangings to further their agenda to control more of the private economy. The financial industry will get an overhaul in any case, but telecom, biotech and drug makers, among many others, can expect to be investigated and face new, more onerous rules. See the "Issues and Legislation" tab on Mr. Waxman's Web site for a not-so-brief target list.

The danger is that Democrats could cause the economic downturn to last longer than it otherwise will by enacting regulatory overkill like Sarbanes-Oxley. Something more punitive is likely as well, for instance a windfall profits tax on oil, and maybe other industries.

- Union supremacy. One program certain to be given right of way is "card check." Unions have been in decline for decades, now claiming only 7.4% of the private-sector work force, so Big Labor wants to trash the secret-ballot elections that have been in place since the 1930s. The "Employee Free Choice Act" would convert workplaces into union shops merely by gathering signatures from a majority of employees, which means organizers could strongarm those who opposed such a petition.

The bill also imposes a compulsory arbitration regime that results in an automatic two-year union "contract" after 130 days of failed negotiation. The point is to force businesses to recognize a union whether the workers support it or not. This would be the biggest pro-union shift in the balance of labor-management power since the Wagner Act of 1935.

- Taxes. Taxes will rise substantially, the only question being how high. Mr. Obama would raise the top income, dividend and capital-gains rates for "the rich," substantially increasing the cost of new investment in the U.S. More radically, he wants to lift or eliminate the cap on income subject to payroll taxes that fund Medicare and Social Security. This would convert what was meant to be a pension insurance program into an overt income redistribution program. It would also impose a probably unrepealable increase in marginal tax rates, and a permanent shift upward in the federal tax share of GDP.

- The green revolution. A tax-and-regulation scheme in the name of climate change is a top left-wing priority. Cap and trade would hand Congress trillions of dollars in new spending from the auction of carbon credits, which it would use to pick winners and losers in the energy business and across the economy. Huge chunks of GDP and millions of jobs would be at the mercy of Congress and a vast new global-warming bureaucracy. Without the GOP votes to help stage a filibuster, Senators from carbon-intensive states would have less ability to temper coastal liberals who answer to the green elites.

- Free speech and voting rights. A liberal supermajority would move quickly to impose procedural advantages that could cement Democratic rule for years to come. One early effort would be national, election-day voter registration. This is a long-time goal of Acorn and others on the "community organizer" left and would make it far easier to stack the voter rolls. The District of Columbia would also get votes in Congress -- Democratic, naturally.

Felons may also get the right to vote nationwide, while the Fairness Doctrine is likely to be reimposed either by Congress or the Obama FCC. A major goal of the supermajority left would be to shut down talk radio and other voices of political opposition.

- Special-interest potpourri. Look for the watering down of No Child Left Behind testing standards, as a favor to the National Education Association. The tort bar's ship would also come in, including limits on arbitration to settle disputes and watering down the 1995 law limiting strike suits. New causes of legal action would be sprinkled throughout most legislation. The anti-antiterror lobby would be rewarded with the end of Guantanamo and military commissions, which probably means trying terrorists in civilian courts. Google and MoveOn.org would get "net neutrality" rules, subjecting the Internet to intrusive regulation for the first time.

 

It's always possible that events -- such as a recession -- would temper some of these ambitions. Republicans also feared the worst in 1993 when Democrats ran the entire government, but it didn't turn out that way. On the other hand, Bob Dole then had 43 GOP Senators to support a filibuster, and the entire Democratic Party has since moved sharply to the left. Mr. Obama's agenda is far more liberal than Bill Clinton's was in 1992, and the Southern Democrats who killed Al Gore's BTU tax and modified liberal ambitions are long gone.

In both 1933 and 1965, liberal majorities imposed vast expansions of government that have never been repealed, and the current financial panic may give today's left another pretext to return to those heydays of welfare-state liberalism. Americans voting for "change" should know they may get far more than they ever imagined.

Please add your comments to the Opinion Journal
23836  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton: Proximity on: October 17, 2008, 07:08:04 AM
"There are certain social principles in human nature, from
which we may draw the most solid conclusions with respect to the
conduct of individuals and of communities. We love our families
more than our neighbors; we love our neighbors more than our
countrymen in general. The human affections, like solar heat,
lose their intensity as they depart from the centre... On these
principles, the attachment of the individual will be first and
for ever secured by the State governments. They will be a mutual
protection and support."

-- Alexander Hamilton (speech at the New York Ratifying Convention,
June 1788)

Reference: The Works of Alexander Hamilton, Henry Cabot Lodge,
ed., II, 70.
23837  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Reproductive issues on: October 17, 2008, 06:34:26 AM
Concerning Jewish law's position on the right to care of the newly born aborted baby, I am glad Rachel that you recognize that this is the right thing to do.  Bright person that you are I invite you to take the next step in your thinking and deal with the idea that the right to life does not depend upon one's geographic location.  Inside the mother you can be killed, and outside the mother you can't.  I suppose it has the advantage of being a simple bright line test, but surely you can understand that there is a reasonable point of view that finds it utterly unpersuasive.

Thought experiment: Charles Manson's crew cut open Sharon Tate's belly and killed her 8 month old baby.  If I understand your logic correctly, if they killed the baby while it was still inside her sliced upon womb, it was not murder, but if they killed it after removing it, then it was murder. 

Does this not follow from what you say?

Turning to the piece posted:

I had understood how he said health to mean that he thought the claims in these cases were often a facetious claim to justify a late term abortion.

The self-righteous thought process of the piece is in some respects a tedious repetition of one half of a circle of reasoning we have all heard before-- what makes it tedious is that it does not acknowledge the thought process of the other side-- if what is alive and growing in the woman's stomach is a human baby, she doesn't get to kill it-- either privately or publicly.

And the disingenuity of this typical point makes me want to barf:

" Do many women who would prefer to not have an abortion need to be provided with the tools and resources they need to feel as though they can carry a pregnancy to term? Yes, absolutely, I’ve said as much and it’s the Democratic platform that is supporting such policies."

What "need to be provided with , , , resources" reduces to for me is "Pay for my baby or I get to kill it".  NO, YOU PAY FOR IT, THAT's HOW THINGS WORK IN A FREE SOCIETY.  If you didn't want it, you should have been more careful about who and how you let someone between your legs.

Also left out, as is typical in these pieces, is any recognition that the repeal of Roe v. Wade would not mean the repeal of abortion.  It would mean the return of shaping policies in this regard to where it belongs -- to the democratic branches of the States.

In this arena, the great probability is that the legislatures and governors, who are elected after all, will reflect the will of the people, which as best as I can tell is that some form of early term abortion be OK, especially in the case of rape, incest, and defective babies.

As ususal, what the liberal left fails to appreciate is how much the intensity of the opposition is triggered by the arrogance of liberal fascism in avoiding the democractic process in these issues (see e.g. using the courts to impose gay marriage) by using the courts to impose what they want instead of honestly doing the political work of the democratic process.
23838  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: October 16, 2008, 07:11:34 PM
Shades of Dan Quayle  rolleyes
23839  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Interview w Anderson Silva on: October 16, 2008, 02:51:06 PM
Interview w Anderson Silva

http://www.sherdog.com/videos/recent/Silva-My-Time-is-Already-Over-1795
23840  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: October 16, 2008, 12:54:32 PM
No biggie, but if you want, do an Advanced Search for "Islam" and see what threads pop up-- maybe one of them will suit your purposes better than this one here.
23841  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: October 16, 2008, 11:37:56 AM
A Voice from the Grassy Knoll

Joe Biden's home town of Scranton, Pa. got a bit of a black eye on Tuesday when the local paper reported someone at a GOP rally featuring Sarah Palin had yelled "Kill him" when Barack Obama's name was mentioned. But it turns out neither the Secret Service or anyone in the crowd can substantiate the story.

The Scranton Times-Tribune reported on Tuesday that when congressional candidate Chris Hackett mentioned Mr. Obama's name, a man in the audience shouted "Kill him." But the Scranton News-Leader reports on its Web site today that Secret Service agent Bill Slavoski said that neither he nor any of 20 law enforcement agents present heard anything like that.

"I was baffled," he said, noting that an investigation by his team couldn't turn up even one person who had heard the threat.

The Times-Tribune reporter who reported the incident stands by his story but referred all media questions to his editor. "The facts reported are true and that's really all there is," said reporter David Singleton. Perhaps the Times-Tribune's motto could be: "We report. You decide if we're making it up."

-- John Fund

Thank Goodness His Name Is Joe

In the 2000 presidential election, "soccer moms" got inordinate media attention as a key voting group. In 2004, the voting bloc du jour was "security Moms" influenced by 9/11. This year hasn't yet seen the emergence of a similar overstudied group. Instead we have "Joe the Plumber," the undisputed winner of last night's presidential debate -- he was mentioned more than a dozen times by the two candidates.

Joe Wurzelbacher is a blue-collar Everyman who confronted Barack Obama about his plans to raise taxes on those earning over $250,000 a year when the Democratic candidate toured his neighborhood near Toledo last Sunday. Mr. Obama famously defended his tax program by saying he believed it was best to "share the wealth." Last night, Joe's resistance to higher taxes became a central dispute between John McCain and Barack Obama.

Mr. Wurzelbacher is taking his new fame in stride. He made the rounds of network talk shows without any stage fright or a major faux pas. He told CBS's Katie Couric that he was suspicious of Mr. Obama's pledge not to raise taxes on the middle class. "So he's going to [raise taxes] for people who make $250,000 a year. When's he going to decide that $100,000 is too much, you know? I mean, you're on a slippery slope here."

On ABC's "Nightline," he added that Mr. Obama's tax plan "infuriates me." Indeed, the Ohio plumber is an opponent of progressive taxation in general. "Bill Gates, I don't care who you are. If you worked for it, if it was your idea, and you implemented it, it's not right for someone to decide you made too much."

While he's not talking about whom he's voting for, Mr. Obama seems unlikely to get Joe's vote. The Illinois Senator may regret stepping into his neighborhood last Sunday, because it sounds like he's going to be hounded by Joe the Plumber from now till Election Day.

-- John Fund

Vote Early, Vote Often?

A lot of ink has recently been spilled on the subject of how John McCain can turn his campaign around in the three weeks between now and Election Day. Less noticed is that the election has started already, and Barack Obama, so far, is running away with it.

Survey USA has put out data on early voting in New Mexico, Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia and Iowa -- all important states for Mr. McCain. Even where Mr. McCain still leads among "likely voters," the polling results show Mr. Obama leading by as much as 34% (in Iowa and North Carolina) among "early voters." Even Georgia, where Mr. McCain holds an 11-point overall lead in Survey USA's polling, Mr. Obama is ahead by 6% among early voters.

This reflects, in part, a conscious strategy by the Obama campaign to get supporters to vote early wherever possible. As the election-tracking Web site FiveThirtyEight.com points out, George W. Bush won the early-voting race in 2000 and 2004. If nothing else, Mr. Obama's headstart among early voters suggests that the Democrat-Republican enthusiasm gap is already being felt at the ballot box. Worse, though these probably aren't voters Mr. McCain could have persuaded anyway, the huge gaps may bode ill for the GOP if they testify to a general superiority of Mr. Obama's ability to get out his vote.

-- Brian M. Carney

Bizarre-Oh-Canada

In less time than John McCain has been the Republican nominee, Canada has completed yet another national election campaign, its third in four years. In the short span of 37 days, Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper won his second consecutive minority government with 143 seats, up from 127, inching toward a coveted 155-seat majority. Meanwhile, the opposition Liberal Party once again is in tatters.

Little short of scathing has been the Canadian press on the failures of Stéphane Dion, leader of the Liberals. Jeffrey Simpson of the Globe and Mail pronounces Mr. Dion "finished" and blames him for leaving his party "weakened financially, beaten politically, and split intellectually."

Battered by corruption scandals, the Liberals are stuck with just 76 seats in Parliament, down from 95, the party's lowest level of popular support ever. Mr. Dion's own trademark green streak -- he was formerly the Minister of the Environment and has a dog named Kyoto -- suggests his defeat may signal a turning away of Canadian voters from the agenda of the global warming activists. His so-called "Green Shift" carbon-tax platform was clearly rejected for Mr. Harper's pro-business, pro-defense, tax-cutting stance.

What's next for the Liberals? Two potential leaders -- hawkish Michael Ignatieff and socialist former Ontario Premier Bob Rae -- are once again circling each other. Either man would likely march the party even farther away from the center, guaranteeing a protracted period of soul searching. That would likely bolster Mr. Harper's ability to proceed with a conservative agenda, while the rest of the West seems to be careening to the left.

-- Adrian Ho

Have We Seen Our Last Lehman?

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson let slip in an interview with CNBC's Larry Kudlow last night that a "foreign regulator" had blocked a rescue deal for Lehman Brothers, whose bankruptcy now appears to have been the triggering event of a global collapse of confidence in lending markets.

Mr. Paulson was certainly referring to Britain's Financial Services Authority, widely rumored to have shot down a proposed Barclays rescue of Lehman (much as JP Morgan had rescued Bear Stearns). The FSA no doubt had good reason for not wanting a bank under its purview to be stuck with Lehman's questionable balance sheet. Nonetheless, the decision now seems penny-wise, pound-foolish in light of the $64 billion in British taxpayer money that subsequently had to be injected into British banks (assuming, of course, an injection wasn't going to be necessary anyway).

The episode also illustrates why Tuesday's global bailout may not be the magic bullet many hope. Commentators universally overlooked it, but Mr. Paulson acknowledged a practical limit to the safety net when he vowed the government's historic steps would serve to "avoid, where possible, the failure of any systemically important institution."

That "where possible" you could drive a truck through. It means our year-and-a-half of living dangerously, with banks distrusting each other in wholesale transactions, may not be over.

Mr. Paulson and Fed Chief Ben Bernanke, in separate comments yesterday, both waved off Lehman recriminations, saying at the time they lacked legal authority to prevent the firm's bankruptcy. TARP presumably has now given them that authority -- but not necessarily the ammunition. Even $200 billion in government capital injected in banks so far could end up being a drop in the bucket if more big writedowns are coming. Likewise, blanket guarantees to bank creditors could rapidly become non-credible if a couple very large banks go down -- that is, short of the Federal Reserve simply printing money to make good on the guarantees, which may yet be the solution.

23842  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: October 16, 2008, 10:34:30 AM
Woof All:

Those of us in the Hermosa Clan will remember Dog Tim Nelson, a.k.a. "The Hobbit".    Dog Tim lives an unusually close to nature life-- even when he was here in LA he was an , , , "urban camper" whose only transportation was his bicycle-- which he rode barefoot.  In LA this is quite a trick.  To come train in the backyard group or at the Inosanto Academy, he would bicycle all the way from his , , , campsite somewhere around Koreatown, train, go to the Dune with us and smoke us on the Dune, then bicycle home.  Dog Tim had the most amazing feet-- kind of like you would imagine a Cro-magnon man to have, hence his nickname "the Hobbit".

Tim's life took him elsewhere, but the guys continue to ask me from time to time if I have heard from him.  I just got an email with him and take the liberty of sharing it here with the Tribe.

TAC,
CD
====================

Hi Marc:

This Tim Nelson, the pony tailed big footed bearded guy of several years back who trained with you.

Well, just dropping a line; I am living in southern Oregon in the mountains with other people, living under tarps or tipis, baby on the way, girlfriend has a 5 yearold, live with other parents and mothers, we freerange goats in the forest, milk them and pack them. Moving more and more towards a nomadic life foraging and hunting and 'pastoraling'.

I was recently at a barter fair and was watching a 4 year old playing with a stick with an older man and the boys movement looked so natural and perfect to my eye, perfect in slow 4 year old form. and I wondered if you got some of your simple but profound ideas of movement from children that were naturals.

Health is good, bout with lyme, a doosy, rockin now. That's a whole world with info, trapping, hunting, tracking, are my main areas of passion other than the thousand things that go into parenthood, woods life, community life, spouse, they put bread/meat on the table and satisfy a similiar need the fighting may have, I pretty much wrestle who I can, and sport knife spar anyone I can too. using the video clips of the knife stuff I played with a large framed friend with an unusual fast and slow twitch muscle combo with hi coordination and I found it very neat stuff.

Well thats enuf, I bet you get lotsa emails, I wish you the best,
Tim
23843  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: BO's 95% Illusion on: October 16, 2008, 10:13:30 AM
Obama's 95% Illusion
It depends on what the meaning of 'tax cut' is.Article
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One of Barack Obama's most potent campaign claims is that he'll cut taxes for no less than 95% of "working families." He's even promising to cut taxes enough that the government's tax share of GDP will be no more than 18.2% -- which is lower than it is today.

 
APIt's a clever pitch, because it lets him pose as a middle-class tax cutter while disguising that he's also proposing one of the largest tax increases ever on the other 5%. But how does he conjure this miracle, especially since more than a third of all Americans already pay no income taxes at all? There are several sleights of hand, but the most creative is to redefine the meaning of "tax cut."

For the Obama Democrats, a tax cut is no longer letting you keep more of what you earn. In their lexicon, a tax cut includes tens of billions of dollars in government handouts that are disguised by the phrase "tax credit." Mr. Obama is proposing to create or expand no fewer than seven such credits for individuals:

 - A $500 tax credit ($1,000 a couple) to "make work pay" that phases out at income of $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 per couple.

- A $4,000 tax credit for college tuition.

- A 10% mortgage interest tax credit (on top of the existing mortgage interest deduction and other housing subsidies).

- A "savings" tax credit of 50% up to $1,000.

- An expansion of the earned-income tax credit that would allow single workers to receive as much as $555 a year, up from $175 now, and give these workers up to $1,110 if they are paying child support.

- A child care credit of 50% up to $6,000 of expenses a year.

- A "clean car" tax credit of up to $7,000 on the purchase of certain vehicles.

Here's the political catch. All but the clean car credit would be "refundable," which is Washington-speak for the fact that you can receive these checks even if you have no income-tax liability. In other words, they are an income transfer -- a federal check -- from taxpayers to nontaxpayers. Once upon a time we called this "welfare," or in George McGovern's 1972 campaign a "Demogrant." Mr. Obama's genius is to call it a tax cut.

The Tax Foundation estimates that under the Obama plan 63 million Americans, or 44% of all tax filers, would have no income tax liability and most of those would get a check from the IRS each year. The Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis estimates that by 2011, under the Obama plan, an additional 10 million filers would pay zero taxes while cashing checks from the IRS.

The total annual expenditures on refundable "tax credits" would rise over the next 10 years by $647 billion to $1.054 trillion, according to the Tax Policy Center. This means that the tax-credit welfare state would soon cost four times actual cash welfare. By redefining such income payments as "tax credits," the Obama campaign also redefines them away as a tax share of GDP. Presto, the federal tax burden looks much smaller than it really is.

The political left defends "refundability" on grounds that these payments help to offset the payroll tax. And that was at least plausible when the only major refundable credit was the earned-income tax credit. Taken together, however, these tax credit payments would exceed payroll levies for most low-income workers.

It is also true that John McCain proposes a refundable tax credit -- his $5,000 to help individuals buy health insurance. We've written before that we prefer a tax deduction for individual health care, rather than a credit. But the big difference with Mr. Obama is that Mr. McCain's proposal replaces the tax subsidy for employer-sponsored health insurance that individuals don't now receive if they buy on their own. It merely changes the nature of the tax subsidy; it doesn't create a new one.

There's another catch: Because Mr. Obama's tax credits are phased out as incomes rise, they impose a huge "marginal" tax rate increase on low-income workers. The marginal tax rate refers to the rate on the next dollar of income earned. As the nearby chart illustrates, the marginal rate for millions of low- and middle-income workers would spike as they earn more income.

Some families with an income of $40,000 could lose up to 40 cents in vanishing credits for every additional dollar earned from working overtime or taking a new job. As public policy, this is contradictory. The tax credits are sold in the name of "making work pay," but in practice they can be a disincentive to working harder, especially if you're a lower-income couple getting raises of $1,000 or $2,000 a year. One mystery -- among many -- of the McCain campaign is why it has allowed Mr. Obama's 95% illusion to go unanswered.

Please add your comments to the Opinion Journal forum.
23844  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on: October 16, 2008, 09:01:10 AM
It's been a while since German military officers attended rallies that feature threats to Jews. Last month Berlin's defense attaché in Tehran resumed that tradition at Iran's annual military parade.

The German envoy had the privilege of hearing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad promise to "break the hands" of invaders amid banners that read "Israel should be eradicated from the universe" and shouts of "Down with Israel" and "We will crush America under our feet."

Iran's parades are notorious for their "Death to Israel and America" slogans, which is why the European Union shuns these hate-filled spectacles. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was "very annoyed" about the attaché's faux pas, according to a report in Der Spiegel, and summoned Herbert Honsowitz, the ambassador to the Islamic Republic, to Berlin. Mr. Honsowitz, who is known for pushing trade between the two nations, has since returned to his post and is expected to serve out his term.

This episode illustrates the fundamental problem with Germany's attitude toward Iran: the disconnect between what Berlin says is its official policy goal -- stopping the mullahs' quest for nuclear arms -- and what Berlin actually does. Germany remains Iran's key Western trading partner. The German-Iranian Chamber of Industry and Trade counts about 2,000 members, including such big names as Siemens and BASF. In the first seven months of this year, Germany's Federal Office of Economics and Export Control approved 1,926 business deals with Iran -- an increase of 63% over last year. During that same period, German exports to Iran rose 14.1%.

For the record, French exports went up 21% during the first six months of the year, but they are still worth less than half of Germany's €2.2 billion of exports. Britain's exports to Tehran, only a fraction of Germany's trade with Iran, fell 20%. And while France and the U.K. are both pushing for tougher EU sanctions against Iran, Germany is reluctant to join their cause.

Given this reality, it's not surprising that Berlin's ambassador in Tehran apparently thought nothing of sending a military envoy to Iran's "Down with Israel" rally. He simply put Germany's mouth where its money already is.

23845  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Somali influx on: October 16, 2008, 08:49:11 AM
This could have gone in the Immigration thread as well.  As with most things from the NYT, caveat lector:

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — Like many workers at the meatpacking plant here, Raul A. Garcia, a Mexican-American, has watched with some discomfort as hundreds of Somali immigrants have moved to town in the past couple of years, many of them to fill jobs once held by Latino workers taken away in immigration raids.


Immigrant vs. Immigrant
This is the fourth article in a series that explores efforts by government and others to compel illegal immigrants to leave the United States.


Mr. Garcia has been particularly troubled by the Somalis’ demand that they be allowed special breaks for prayers that are obligatory for devout Muslims. The breaks, he said, would inconvenience everyone else.

“The Latino is very humble,” said Mr. Garcia, 73, who has worked at the plant, owned by JBS U.S.A. Inc., since 1994. “But they are arrogant,” he said of the Somali workers. “They act like the United States owes them.”

Mr. Garcia was among more than 1,000 Latino and other workers who protested a decision last month by the plant’s management to cut their work day — and their pay — by 15 minutes to give scores of Somali workers time for evening prayers.

After several days of strikes and disruptions, the plant’s management abandoned the plan.

But the dispute peeled back a layer of civility in this southern Nebraska city of 47,000, revealing slow-burning racial and ethnic tensions that have been an unexpected aftermath of the enforcement raids at workplaces by federal immigration authorities.

Grand Island is among a half dozen or so cities where discord has arisen with the arrival of Somali workers, many of whom were recruited by employers from elsewhere in the United States after immigration raids sharply reduced their Latino work forces.

The Somalis are by and large in this country legally as political refugees and therefore are not singled out by immigration authorities.

In some of these places, including Grand Island, this newest wave of immigrant workers has had the effect of unifying the other ethnic populations against the Somalis and has also diverted some of the longstanding hostility toward Latino immigrants among some native-born residents.

“Every wave of immigrants has had to struggle to get assimilated,” said Margaret Hornady, the mayor of Grand Island and a longtime resident of Nebraska. “Right now, it’s so volatile.”

The federal immigration crackdown has hit meat- and poultry-packing plants particularly hard, with more than 2,000 immigrant workers in at least nine places detained since 2006 in major raids, most on immigration violations.

Struggling to fill the grueling low-wage jobs that attract few American workers, the plants have placed advertisements in immigrant newspapers and circulated fliers in immigrant neighborhoods.

Some companies, like Swift & Company, which owned the plant in Grand Island until being bought up by the Brazilian conglomerate JBS last year, have made a particular pitch for Somalis because of their legal status. Tens of thousands of Somali refugees fleeing civil war have settled in the United States since the 1990s, with the largest concentration in Minnesota.

But the companies are learning that in trying to solve one problem they have created another.

Early last month, about 220 Somali Muslims walked off the job at a JBS meatpacking plant in Greeley, Colo., saying the company had prevented them from observing their prayer schedule. (More than 100 of the workers were later fired.)

Days later, a poultry company in Minnesota agreed to allow Muslim workers prayer breaks and the right to refuse handling pork products, settling a lawsuit filed by nine Somali workers.

In August, the management of a Tyson chicken plant in Shelbyville, Tenn., designated a Muslim holy day as a paid holiday, acceding to a demand by Somali workers. The plant had originally agreed to substitute the Muslim holy day for Labor Day, but reinstated Labor Day after a barrage of criticism from non-Muslims.

In some workplaces, newly arrived Somali Muslims have not protested their working conditions. That has been the case at Agriprocessors, a meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa. About 150 Somali Muslims have found jobs there, most of them recruited by a staffing company after the plant lost about half its work force in an immigration raid in May.

Jack Shandley, a senior vice president for JBS U.S.A., said in an e-mail message that “integrating persons of diverse backgrounds regularly presents new and different issues.”

“Religious accommodation is only one workplace diversity issue that has been addressed,” Mr. Shandley said.

Nationwide, employment discrimination complaints by Muslim workers have more than doubled in the past decade, to 607 in the 2007 fiscal year, from 285 in the 1998 fiscal year, according to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which has sent representatives to Grand Island to interview Somali workers.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids employers to discriminate based on religion and says that employers must “reasonably accommodate” religious practices. But the act offers some exceptions, including instances when adjustments would cause “undue hardship” on the company’s business interests.

=========

(Page 2 of 3)



The new tensions here extend well beyond the walls of the plant. Scratch beneath Grand Island’s surface and there is resentment, discomfort and mistrust everywhere, some residents say — between the white community and the various immigrant communities; between the older immigrant communities, like the Latinos, and the newer ones, namely the Somalis and the Sudanese, another refugee community that has grown here in recent years; and between the Somalis, who are largely Muslim, and the Sudanese, who are largely Christian.


In dozens of interviews here, white, Latino and other residents seemed mostly bewildered, if not downright suspicious, of the Somalis, very few of whom speak English.

“I kind of admire all the effort they make to follow that religion, but sometimes you have to adapt to the workplace,” said Fidencio Sandoval, a plant worker born in Mexico who has become an American citizen. “A new culture comes in with their demands and says, ‘This is what we want.’ This is kind of new for me.”

Ms. Hornady, the mayor, suggested somewhat apologetically that she had been having difficulty adjusting to the presence of Somalis. She said she found the sight of Somali women, many of whom wear Muslim headdresses, or hijabs, “startling.”

“I’m sorry, but after 9/11, it gives some of us a turn,” she said.

Not only do the hijabs suggest female subjugation, Ms. Hornady said, but the sight of Muslims in town made her think of Osama bin Laden and the attacks on the United States.

“I know that that’s horrible and that’s prejudice,” she said. “I’m working very hard on it.”

She added, “Aren’t a lot of thoughtful Americans struggling with this?”

For their part, the Somalis say they feel aggrieved and not particularly welcome.

“A lot of people look at you weird — they judge you,” said Abdisamad Jama, 22, a Somali who moved to Grand Island two years ago to work as an interpreter at the plant and now freelances. “Or sometimes they will say, ‘Go back to your country.’ ”

Founded in the mid-19th century by German immigrants, Grand Island gradually became more diverse in the mid- and late-20th century with the arrival of Latino workers, mainly Mexicans.

The Latinos came at first to work in the agricultural fields; later arrivals found employment in the meatpacking plant. Refugees from Laos and, in the past few years, Sudan followed, and many of them also found work in the plant, which is now the city’s largest employer, with about 2,700 workers.

In December 2006, in an event that would deeply affect the city and alter its uneasy balance of ethnicities, immigration authorities raided the plant and took away more than 200 illegal Latino workers. Another 200 or so workers quit soon afterward.

The raid was one of six sweeps by federal agents at plants owned by Swift, gutting the company of about 1,200 workers in one day and forcing the plants to slow their operations.

Many of the Somalis who eventually arrived to fill those jobs were practicing Muslims and their faith obliges them to pray at five fixed times every day. In Grand Island, the workers would grab prayer time whenever they could, during scheduled rest periods or on restroom breaks. But during the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims fast in daylight hours and break their fast in a ritualistic ceremony at sundown. A more formal accommodation of their needs was necessary, the Somali workers said.

Last year, the Somalis here demanded time off for the Ramadan ceremony. The company refused, saying it could not afford to let so many workers step away from the production line at one time. Dozens of Somalis quit, though they eventually returned to work.

The situation repeated itself last month. Dennis Sydow, the plant’s vice president and general manager, said a delegation of Somali workers approached him on Sept. 10 about allowing them to take their dinner break at 7:30 p.m., near sundown, rather than at the normal time of 8 to 8:30.

Mr. Sydow rejected the request, saying the production line would slow to a crawl and the Somalis’ co-workers would unfairly have to take up the slack.

The Somalis said their co-workers did not offer a lot of support. “Latinos were sometimes saying, ‘Don’t pray, don’t pray,’ ” said Abdifatah Warsame, 21.

=======

e 3 of 3)



After the Somalis went out on strike on Sept. 15, the plant’s management and the union brokered a deal the next day that would have shifted the dinner break to 7:45 p.m., close enough to sundown to satisfy the Somalis. Because of the plant’s complex scheduling rules, the new dinner break would have also required an earlier end to the shift, potentially cutting the work day by 15 minutes.

Word of the accord spread quickly throughout the non-Somali work force, though the reports were infected with false rumors of pay raises for the Somalis and more severe cuts in the work day for everyone.

In a counterprotest on Sept. 17, more than 1,000 Latino and Sudanese workers lined up alongside white workers in opposition to the concessions to the Somalis.

“We had complaints from the whites, Hispanics and Sudanese,” said Abdalla Omar, 26, one of the Somali strikers.

The union and the plant management backed down, reverting to the original dinner schedule. More than 70 Somalis, including Mr. Omar and Mr. Warsame, stormed out of the plant and did not return; they either quit or were fired.

Since then, Ramadan has ended and work has returned to normal at the plant, but most everyone — management, the union and the employees — says the root causes of the disturbances have not been fully addressed. A sizeable Somali contingent remains employed at the factory — Somali leaders say the number is about 100; the union puts the figure at more than 300, making similar disruptions possible next year.

“Right now, this is a real kindling box,” said Daniel O. Hoppes, president of the local chapter of the union, the United Food and Commercial Workers.

Xawa Ahmed, 48, a Somali, moved to Grand Island from Minnesota last month to help organize the Somali community. A big part of her work, Ms. Ahmed said, will be to help demystify the Somalis who remain.

“We’re trying to make people understand why we do these things, why we practice this religion, why we live in America,” she said. “There’s a lot of misunderstanding.”
23846  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Brain damage in boxing, kickboxing, football, etc: on: October 16, 2008, 08:34:10 AM
Hat tip to Dog Ryan for this intereseting article:

Fix A Glass Jaw??!!!

Amir Khan searching for remedy after refusing to take defeat on the chin

The Times, October 9, 2008

A boxer can do a hundred abdominal crunches, a thousand press-ups and dance with a skipping rope all day. He can learn the art of attack and defence. But one question, particularly pertinent to Amir Khan, continues to vex even the wisest boxing brains (and that is not an oxymoron) - can anything be done about a glass chin?

“If we knew the answer, that would be like solving the biggest mystery in the history of all boxing,” Emanuel Steward, one of the sport's premier trainers, once said. Angelo Dundee, who guided the great Muhammad Ali, sees no great mystery. “You can't train a chin,” he said, simply.

Yet that is what Khan, 21, will be attempting under the tutelage of Freddie Roach at his Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles when the young Briton heads west next week to rebuild his career.  The trainer is devising a series of exercises, based on martial arts techniques, to “deaden the nerves on the jaw”, or at least try to condition them so that one big blow does not again leave Khan resembling a puppet cut loose from its strings. “Is it sound? I'm not sure,” Roach said. “But we've learnt some Thai techniques working with Manny Pacquiao [the Filipino world lightweight champion]. He was suffering with blows to his body, so, using martial arts, he got us to hit him with a stick.
“I'm not saying we are going to be hitting Amir Khan with a stick, but there is a belief you can deaden the nerves using pressure, tension, wrestling exercises with the chin on the ground. We'll try and deaden, or toughen, those nerves on the tip of his jaw.”

Most of the time will be spent trying to alter Khan's style so that he is not hit so often and does not suffer the sort of knockout blow that cost him a surprise 54-second defeat by Breidis Prescott in Manchester last month. It was his third knockdown in 19 professional bouts.

But the gym work on Khan's suspect jaw does raise, again, the question of whether a boxer can physically alter his ability to withstand a heavy blow or whether, for better or worse, he is stuck with his chin. “Not every great boxer has a great chin,” Roach said. “It is like a big puncher. They can be improved, but you generally get what you are born with.”

That has not stopped Roach embracing those martial arts techniques, usually employed to toughen up shins and feet for kickboxing and similar disciplines. There have long been theories, their effectiveness unproven, about strengthening the jaw muscles or conditioning the neck.

According to Dr Barry Jordan, a neurologist who was once chief medical officer for the New York State Athletic Commission and has researched boxing's effects on the brain, there are several factors to consider when weighing up why some boxers collapse while others, from George Chuvalo to Antonio Margarito, seem capable of withstanding sledgehammer blows.

Jordan believes that anticipating the punch and possessing strong neck muscles assist a boxer. There is little doubt that Khan not only has a suspect chin but sticks it out, too. “I think he's made mistakes looking for the big knockout because then you put yourself in harm's way,” Roach said. “He started out knocking people down with one punch, but the higher you climb, you need to protect yourself.”

Yet Jordan believes that, while training can make a boxer better able to roll with the punches, the glass chin is a weakness that is handed out at birth. “We know that there is a gene that makes certain boxers liable to neurological impairment over the long term and, while no one has ever conducted detailed research on the effects of one punch, a good chin is about a fighter's genetic predisposition to tolerate punishment,” he said. “In layman's terms, the blow, the sudden acceleration and rotation of the head, causes a disconnection. The ability to withstand that may alter during the career of a boxer.”

But, as far as he can tell, a boxer's tolerance cannot be greatly affected in the gym. If Khan is stuck with this weakness, his best hope is to not get hit, which is why he is spending the next six weeks with Roach. “They say Willie Pep didn't have a great chin, so he changed his style,” Roach said. “And we are talking about one of the greatest boxers of all time. We will be talking to Amir about the way he stands, holds his hands, everything.”

Khan will spar with Pacquiao, the world champion who faces Oscar De La Hoya in December, which should help him to become accustomed to heavy punches and please those who believe that a glass jaw is a matter of heart as much as chin.

No amount of work, though, may solve the abiding mystery of the porcelain jaw. “After that sort of knockdown, some guys roll over and die,” Roach said. “Some get better. Amir seems pretty positive to me, but I really won't know - no one will - until he's back in the ring.”

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/more_sport/article4909290.ece
 
23847  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: October 16, 2008, 08:09:11 AM
Grateful to be back home with my family and to have a nice big long slow but intense workout at my favorite neighborhood gym to clean all the airplane seats out of my hips and waist.
23848  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: October 16, 2008, 08:07:13 AM
Oy.

There were oddslike that on a last minute (literally!) fill in fight like that one was?

With regard to the Sharmrocks:  I never thought that much of Ken-- I'm hard pressed to think of a single impressive fight.  Frank OTOH has a number of really good fights to his credit.  I thought he fought well in his recent loss to Cung Le.  Given the size differential and converse fighting rep differential and the well known dislike between the adopted brthers, I suppose they could market an audience for a fight, , ,
23849  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington: Immigration; Hamilton on: October 16, 2008, 07:55:26 AM
"[T]he policy or advantage of [immigration] taking place in
a body (I mean the settling of them in a body) may be much
questioned; for, by so doing, they retain the Language, habits
and principles (good or bad) which they bring with them. Whereas
by an intermixture with our people, they, or their descendants,
get assimilated to our customs, measures and laws: in a word,
soon become one people."

-- George Washington (letter to John Adams, 15 November 1794)

Reference: The Writings of George Washington from the Original
Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799, Fitzpatrick, Ed., vol. 34 (American
Memory Co
==============
"States, like individuals, who observe their engagements, are
respected and trusted: while the reverse is the fate of those
who pursue an opposite conduct."

-- Alexander Hamilton (Report on Public Credit, 9 January 1790)

Reference: The Reports of Alexander Hamilton, Cooke, ed. (3)
23850  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rove on: October 16, 2008, 12:12:10 AM
Well, running on Hillary's solution to the Wall Street meltdown of buying up the bad mortgages certainly wasn't a great way to start out the evening , , ,  tongue

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

Obama Hasn't Closed the Sale
Both candidates continue to tinker with their strategies.By KARL ROVEArticle
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In the campaign's final two weeks, voters will take a last serious look at both presidential candidates. The outcome of the race isn't cast in stone yet.

Barack Obama holds a 7.3% lead in the Real Clear Politics average of all polls, but the latest Gallup tracking poll reveals that there are nearly twice as many undecided voters this year than there were in the last presidential election. The Investor's Business Daily/TIPP poll (which was closest to the mark in predicting the 2004 outcome -- 0.4% off the actual result) now says this is a three-point race.

 
APThis week also brought a reminder that Sen. Obama hasn't closed the sale. The Washington Post/ABC poll found 45% of voters still don't think he's qualified to be president, about the same number who doubted his qualifications in March.

This is seven points more than George W. Bush's highest reading in 2000 and the worst since Michael Dukakis's 56% unqualified rating in 1988. It explains why Mr. Obama has ignored Democratic giddiness and done two things to keep victory from slipping away.

First, he is using his money to try to keep John McCain from gaining traction. The Obama campaign raised $67 million in September and may be on track to raise $100 million in October. Sen. McCain opted last month for roughly $85 million in public financing, giving him less than half of Mr. Obama's funds for the campaign's final two months. Even with robust Republican National Committee fund raising to augment his spending, Mr. McCain is at a severe financial disadvantage.

So Mr. Obama is spending $35 million on TV this week versus the McCain/RNC total of $17 million. Mr. Obama is outspending Mr. McCain on TV in Virginia by a ratio of 4 to 1, in Florida by 3 to 1, and in Missouri and Nevada by better than 2 to 1. The disparity is likely to grow in the campaign's final weeks.

Money alone, however, won't decide the contest. John Kerry and the Democrats outspent Mr. Bush and the GOP in 2004 by $121 million and still lost.

Mr. Obama's other strategy is to do all he can to look presidential, including buying very expensive half-hour slots to address the country next week. He wants to give a serious, Oval-Office type address. This is smart. People appreciate Mr. Obama's empathy on the economy, but as they take a long look at what he wants to do about it, they will be less impressed, especially if Mr. McCain draws sharp contrasts with clear policy proposals.

Mr. Obama is trying to make the case that his lack of experience or record should not disqualify him. But in doing so, he seems to recognize that the U.S. is still a center-right country. His TV ads promise tax cuts and his radio ads savage Mr. McCain's health-care plan as a tax increase. It's a startling campaign conversion for the most liberal member of the Senate. We'll know on Election Day if he is able to get away with it.

About Karl Rove
Karl Rove served as Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush from 2000–2007 and Deputy Chief of Staff from 2004–2007. At the White House he oversaw the Offices of Strategic Initiatives, Political Affairs, Public Liaison, and Intergovernmental Affairs and was Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, coordinating the White House policy making process.

Before Karl became known as "The Architect" of President Bush's 2000 and 2004 campaigns, he was president of Karl Rove + Company, an Austin-based public affairs firm that worked for Republican candidates, nonpartisan causes, and nonprofit groups. His clients included over 75 Republican U.S. Senate, Congressional and gubernatorial candidates in 24 states, as well as the Moderate Party of Sweden.

Karl writes a weekly op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, is a Newsweek columnist and is now writing a book to be published by Simon & Schuster. Email the author at Karl@Rove.com or visit him on the web at Rove.com.
Similarly, Mr. McCain appears to be making three important course corrections. First, he and Gov. Sarah Palin are sharpening their stump speeches so their sound bites come off well on TV. Gone are offhand remarks and awkward comments read from notes perched on a podium. In are teleprompters and carefully crafted arguments. Mr. McCain is also more at ease than before and has an ebullient, come-from-behind underdog optimism that will serve him well in the final weeks.

Second, Mr. McCain is shaping a story line that draws on well-founded concerns about Mr. Obama's lack of record or experience. Mr. McCain is also bowing to reality and devoting most of his time to the economy. His narrative is he's the conservative reformer who'll lead and work hard to get things done, while Mr. Obama is the tax-and-spend liberal who's unprepared to lead and unwilling to act.

Mr. McCain is hitting Mr. Obama for wanting to raise taxes in difficult economic times, especially on small business and for the purpose of redistributing income, and for having lavish spending plans at a time when the economy is faltering. He's criticizing Mr. Obama for lingering on the sidelines while Mr. McCain dove in to help pass a rescue plan, necessary no matter how distasteful. And he's attacking Mr. Obama for not joining the fight in 2005 when reformers like Mr. McCain tried to rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Mr. McCain's other adjustment is his schedule. His campaign understands the dire circumstances it faces and is narrowing his travels almost exclusively to Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Missouri, Colorado and Nevada. If he carries those states, while losing only Iowa and New Mexico from the GOP's 2004 total, Mr. McCain will carry 274 Electoral College votes and the White House. It's threading the needle, but it's come to that.

This task, while not impossible, will be difficult. By mid-September, the McCain camp was slightly ahead in the polls. Then came the financial crisis. The past month has taken an enormous toll on the McCain campaign.

Whether it can find the right formula in the next 19 days to dig out is a question. If Mr. McCain succeeds, he will have engineered the most impressive and improbable political comeback since Harry Truman in 1948. But having to reach back more than a half-century for inspiration is not the place campaign managers want to be now.

Mr. Rove is a former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.
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