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23801  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on: November 16, 2011, 03:10:06 PM
Back in May when Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign was imploding, his spokesman Rick Tyler released a statement blasting the "sheep" in the conservative media for unloading "their entire clip, firing without taking aim their distortions and falsehoods."

Mr. Gingrich at the time was under attack for dismissing fellow Republican Paul Ryan's Medicare premium-support plan on "Meet the Press" as radical "right-wing social engineering."

(Shame on this reporter.  This accusation, which I bought into at the time, has been shown to be disingenuous-- read the question to which he was responding when he made this comment and all will be clear.)

 Mr. Tyler went on to forecast that "out of the billowing smoke and dust of tweets and trivia emerged Gingrich, once again ready to lead."

It's true that three new polls show Mr. Gingrich has re-emerged from the political rubble, but it's not clear whether he's ready to lead.

A Public Policy Polling survey places the former House speaker in front with 28%. Herman Cain and Mitt Romney trail him at 25% and 18%, respectively. Since June Mr. Gingrich's favorability rating has flipped from 36-49 to 68-23, a 58-point improvement in his spread. A CNN/Opinion Research poll also shows Mr. Gingrich in second-place with 22%, which puts him in a statistical tie with Mr. Romney. Mr. Cain trails both at 14%. But perhaps the best news for the former congressman is a new Polling Company survey that has him deadlocked with Mr. Cain in Iowa.

Mr. Gingrich has staked his campaign on winning Iowa, which would give him momentum going into South Carolina, Nevada, and Florida. He even sold himself to the ethanol lobby, vigorously promoting industry subsidies. The Center for Public Integrity reported earlier this year that Mr. Gingrich had performed consulting work for an ethanol firm at a charge of $312,500.

Now that Mr. Gingrich is rising in the polls, these issues are likely to come back to haunt him. We're also likely to learn more about his marital problems, ethics violations and lucrative work as a consultant for Freddie Mac. Mr. Gingrich has hitherto gotten a pass on these issues because of his irrelevancy. Now that he's getting more traction, he should prepare for heavier fire.

23802  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: November 16, 2011, 03:05:25 PM
Subscribe to The Patriot Post — It's Right and It's FREE: click here.
Chronicle • November 16, 2011
The Foundation
"If it be asked, What is the most sacred duty and the greatest source of our security in a Republic? The answer would be, An inviolable respect for the Constitution and Laws -- the first growing out of the last." --Alexander Hamilton
Editorial Exegesis
"The 'constitutionality' of the Obama health care law, Harvard Law School's Laurence Tribe wrote in the New York Times earlier this year, 'is open and shut,' adding that the challenge against it is 'a political objection in legal garb.' In announcing [Monday] that it will consider the law's constitutionality, the Supreme Court said it would give an historic five-and-a-half hours to oral arguments. Perhaps by his Cambridge standard, Mr. Tribe thinks the nine Justices are a little slow. We prefer to think this shows the Court recognizes the seriousness of the constitutional issues involved. It makes those who cavalierly dismissed the very idea of a challenge two years ago look, well, constitutionally challenged. ... It's true that without the mandate the law is unlikely to work, but the law is such a Rube Goldberg contraption that it won't work with the mandate. We'd like to see the entire law overturned, but the mandate deserves its own constitutional judgment. It shouldn't be found constitutional merely because Justice's lawyers say its excision would ruin the entire law. Congress can't drop unconstitutional provisions into laws hoping that the Court will bless them simply because not doing so would invalidate the larger law. ... The Court itself deserves credit for deciding to take this case this year, even though it probably means issuing a decision in an election year. The law is already speeding the ruin of U.S. health care, increasing costs and reducing competition. It is easily the most unpopular major reform in decades and the most unpopular entitlement expansion ever. ... These are issues involving the nation's core understanding of the citizenry's relationship to its government. Voters should have the chance to include the Court's verdict on the law when they go to the polls in 2012." --The Wall Street Journal
Essential Liberty
"The justices reportedly expect to make a decision by June. Whenever it comes, they'd better get it right. The case's main focus is the law's individual mandate, a provision that requires every American adult who doesn't have health care insurance to buy coverage. If a majority of justices decide that such a demand is constitutional, this nation will suffer through a fundamental transformation that rises to the level of the 'change' candidate Barack Obama promised -- or threatened -- if he were elected president. An America in which Washington can require the citizenry to do its bidding in all things is no longer a free republic -- though some might argue that freedom and our republican style of government have been crumbling for decades. If Washington can force Americans to buy health care insurance, then Washington can do whatever it wants. Old limits will be gone. A soft tyranny will replace the liberties guaranteed by the Constitution. It's impossible to overstate the magnitude of this case." --Investor's Business Daily
How do you think the Court will rule?
"The individual mandate is the poster child of this Administration and the liberals in Congress overstepping their authority to inject the government into the lives of its citizens. ... If the Supreme Court strikes down the individual mandate, as it should, it should also strike down the rest of the law in its entirety. But the second step (the 'severability' issue) is a closer question. The Court might get the first part right (striking down the individual mandate) but get the severability question wrong and not strike down the rest of the law. So, until the day the law is fully repealed, the job is not done." --Heritage Foundation's Nina Owcharenko
"A couple of months ago, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Beth Brinkmann was standing before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, defending the federal law requiring Americans to buy government-approved health insurance, when Judge Laurence Silberman asked her about broccoli. Specifically, he wanted to know whether a law requiring Americans to buy broccoli would exceed the federal government's authority to regulate interstate commerce. 'No,' Brinkmann said. 'It depends,' she added. ... Imagine the fun that Congress could have coming up with mandates aimed at coercing healthier lifestyles once it has a constitutional blessing as well as a fiscal justification. ... If you value your freedom to spend your money as you choose, you should hope the Supreme Court rejects the Obama administration's open-ended view of the Commerce Clause -- no matter how you feel about broccoli." --columnist Jacob Sullum
"President Franklin D. Roosevelt was re-elected for an unprecedented third term after two terms in which unemployment was in double digits for eight consecutive years. We may lament the number of people who are unemployed or who are on food stamps today. But those who give the Obama administration credit for coming to their rescue when they didn't have a job are likely to greatly outnumber those who blame the administration for their not having a job in the first place. ... There has probably never been a time in the history of this country when we more urgently needed to get a president out of the White House, before he ruined the country. But will the conservative Republican candidates let that guide them?" --economist Thomas Sowell
"President Obama was wrong to say at the Asia-Pacific economic summit that America has gotten 'lazy' in the past few decades at attracting foreign investment. What he should have said, in the light of his administration's handling of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, is that America has become quite adept at blocking foreign investment. ... TransCanada wants to invest $7 billion in building a pipeline across the United States to carry oil from Alberta to the Gulf Coast. If we were merely lazy, we'd have accepted the project and the thousands of associated construction jobs long ago. That would be the path of least resistance, not to mention common sense." --National Review editor Rich Lowry
"We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force." --novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand (1905-1982)
23803  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / These numbers sound pretty good , , , on: November 16, 2011, 03:01:15 PM
Industrial production rose 0.7% in October To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 11/16/2011
Industrial production rose 0.7% in October; easily beating the consensus expected gain of 0.4%. Including revisions to prior months, production increased 0.5%. Output is up 4.0% in the past year.
Manufacturing, which excludes mining/utilities, was up 0.4% in October. Auto production spiked up 3.1%. Non-auto manufacturing increased 0.3%. Auto production is up 8.9% versus a year ago and non-auto manufacturing has risen 3.9%.
The production of high-tech equipment rose 0.1% in October and is up 7.0% versus a year ago.
Overall capacity utilization rose to 77.8% in October from 77.3% in September. Manufacturing capacity use increased to 75.4% in October from 75.1% in September.
Implications:  Industrial production soared in October, easily beating consensus expectations and showing no sign of recession. Mining activity increased 2.3%, the most in three years. However, manufacturing was strong too, up 0.4% in October and 0.3% if a booming auto sector is excluded. From a year ago, manufacturing is up 4.5%, 3.9% excluding autos. Auto production is up at a 17.3% annual rate over the past six months, a rebound from the supply-chain disruptions that came from Japan earlier this year. It’s still an open question what temporary impact recent massive flooding in Thailand will have on auto production in November. The production of business equipment has been particularly strong in recent months, up 10.2% from a year ago and up at a 12.7% annual rate in the past six months. The outlook for continued growth in business investment looks good. Corporate profits are at a record high and so is cash on the balance sheets of non-financial companies. Meanwhile, capacity utilization looks set to be at the long-term average of 80% by the end of 2012, which will give firms more of an incentive to build out capacity. 
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) declined 0.1% in October To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 11/16/2011
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) declined 0.1% in October. The consensus expected no change. The CPI is up 3.5% versus a year ago.
“Cash” inflation (which excludes the government’s estimate of what homeowners would charge themselves for rent) slipped 0.2% in October, but is up 4.1% in the past year.
The decline in the CPI was due to a 2.0% drop in energy prices. Food prices were up 0.1% and the “core” CPI, which excludes food and energy, was up 0.1%, matching consensus expectations. Core prices are up 2.1% versus last year.
Real average hourly earnings – the cash earnings of all employees, adjusted for inflation – increased 0.3% in October but are down 1.6% in the past year. Real weekly earnings are down 1.7% in the past year.
Implications: Like producer prices, consumer prices also took a breather in October, with the CPI down 0.1%. However, the slight dip in consumer prices is going to be temporary and the Federal Reserve should not assume it has more room to execute another round of quantitative easing. The reason the overall CPI fell in October was that energy prices dropped 2%. But now, with oil pushing $100 per barrel again, we already know energy prices will likely be up in November. Meanwhile, despite the decline in overall prices in October, the CPI is still up 3.5% from a year ago. “Cash” inflation, which excludes the government’s estimate of what homeowners would pay themselves in rent, is up 4.1% in the past year.  In our opinion, this is a more accurate measure of the inflation actually being felt by consumers.  “Core” prices, which exclude food and energy (what the Fed seems to focus on) are up 2.1% in the past year, held down by owners’ equivalent rent (up just 1.6% in the past 12 months), which makes up one-third of the core. But, because of the shift from home ownership to rental occupancy, rents are now accelerating (see chart to right). As a result, core inflation is likely to accelerate in the year ahead. The best news in today’s report was that “real” (inflation-adjusted) earnings per hour were up 0.3% in October. Although these earnings are down 1.6% from a year ago, consumers have been able to increase their spending by slowing the pace at which they’re paying down debt. This makes sense with consumers’ financial obligations now at the smallest share of income since the early 1990s.   
23804  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dick Morris: Newt can win on: November 16, 2011, 02:06:18 PM

As the debates accumulate, it becomes more and more evident that Newt Gingrich’s intellect, experience, articulateness and depth of knowledge elevate him to the top of the GOP field. Anyone should be happy to pay admission to watch him duel with President Obama in debate! He’s not as charismatic as Herman Cain or as smooth as Mitt Romney, but boy, does he have a brain!

Ever since the campaign started, Newt has always gotten in his own way. Now he has graciously stepped aside and let his creativity and intellect shine through.

Earlier in the debates, he bit the questioners’ heads off in a pique of surly crankiness. No longer. Now he just answers the questions as they come, often hitting them out of the ballpark. His perspective and insights are penetrating and his condescension has vanished (or at least is sublimated).

Unfortunately, he does owe some of his current surge to the unsubstantiated and vague charges against Cain. While Republicans generally dismiss these charges, they worry that they will hurt him in November should he win the nomination. Herman will recover. His positive solutions for our economy will lift him back into the top tier of contention. Michele Bachmann might also come back, lifted by a tide of opposition to any tax increases embedded in the deficit-reduction supercommittee’s recommendations.

But any recovery by Cain or Bachmann will not bump Newt from the top tier. The likely result of the debate process is to bequeath to Iowa three or four contending candidates and leave it to them to sort out.

If Newt is the candidate, will his personal baggage drag him down? It will hurt, no doubt about that. His marriages will be dissected by the media, and his family will be deluged with questions and well-laid traps.

His ratings will decline as the inevitable baptism of fire begins. As with Cain, he will experience a few bad weeks. But, as with Cain, his positive strengths will carry him through the fire and he will come out the other end.

But once Newt survives the process, he will be inoculated against the charges. He will have immunity against the issue.

And here is the core of Obama’s problem. All of the Republican candidates will be so thoroughly vetted — and purified — by the brutal process they are going through that they will be immune to his charges against them in the fall.

John Kerry never went through that process. His quick knockout of Howard Dean and the tepid challenge mounted by John Edwards did nothing to vet his claims of hero status in Vietnam.

Obama, on the other hand, survived the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers charges in the primary. When the general election came, they were old hat and had no electoral punch. Similarly, Bill Clinton got the nomination only after he had survived Gennifer Flowers and the accusations of draft-dodging. In November, those charges were spent bullets.

That’s the good news for Republicans. The nominating process has been so combative and the media scrutiny so searing that the candidates have been pre-screened. The FBI screening process is nowhere near as intense as the negative-research capacities of the media and political opponents.

If nominated, Romney will have survived the accusations of flip-flopping, Cain will have overcome the sexual harassment charges and Newt’s marital history will be yesterday’s news. And then we can get on with the business of winning the election.

And win it we will. Obama cannot survive his 60 percent disapproval rating on his handling of the economy (the highest ever recorded by CBS during his administration). Under his leadership, Gallup reports an almost 10-point edge for the Republican Party on handling the economy. Against a generic opponent, Obama draws only 43 percent of the vote. With the personal negatives on the Republican candidates aired and used up during the primaries, there will be nothing for Obama to hide behind.

23805  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 16, 2011, 02:02:29 PM
SUPER busy-- Would someone be kind enough to give the URL for the debates that took place while I was out of town?

23806  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Death of SdG Blake on: November 16, 2011, 01:19:01 PM
I was in Mexico this past weekend.  While this piece is sound, Stratfor is not yet up to speed on various variables.  No time for a thorough post-- sorry.  As a teaser I will add that the post of Secretaria de Gobernacion (roughly Sec'y of Internal Affairs) is THE second most powerful post in a country where the Executive is THE dominant player and that usually the post leads to becoming the next president.  In the past 5 years this post has had 4 occupants, two of whom have died in air crashes.  Oddly the aircraft that fly officials about have no black boxes and the helo in question had no instruments for zero visibility conditions-- yet the route in question (between Cueravaca and the DF) takes one through the near 10,000 foot mountains FREQUENTLY has fog/low clouds etc.  On the flight in question, route was changed precisely in order to go through less of a cloud/fog bank.  Also interesting is that the locals at the site of the crash (common people in an area of contested land ownership) did NOT hear the sound of a helicopter-- i.e. was the motor not functioning at the moment of impact?

Question:  So why was Blake planning on returning to Baja California as Governor?  When he left BC, he was rumored to be involved with the narcos there and oddly enough upon his departure the anticipated turf wars did not develop; instead reasonable understandings were reached.

Vice President of Intelligence Fred Burton uses the recent helicopter crash involving Mexican officials to discuss the best practices that should be used to investigate air disasters.
Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.
Related Links
•    Above the Tearline: Reconstructing Air France Flight 447 Wreckage
In light of the helicopter crash that killed Mexican Interior Minister Mora, we thought it would be a good time to revisit how air crashes should be investigated. Having done quite a few investigations of air disasters, it is important for the lead investigator to focus on four primary areas.
The first is mechanical and electrical. Number two is weather. Three, pilot error. Four, man-made or foul play (for example, sabotage or terrorism).
With the helicopter going down in Mexico carrying the Mexican Interior Minister, it is easy to jump to conclusions and suspect foul play. There have also been two previous ministers’ deaths in aviation disasters, adding to the conspiracy hype. However, the investigator needs to keep an open mind and proceed methodically through the investigation.
Behind the scenes, the team should be looking for a range of different factors to include: 1) evidence of prior threats against any of the passengers; 2) intelligence from sources to indicate foul play; 3) the overall mechanical condition of the aircraft, with an eye towards the engines and the hydraulics; 4) the number of flight hours; 5) geography and route of travel; 6) maintenance records; 7) fuel tests; Cool pilot suitability; 9) security of the aircraft before the crash; 10) radio transmissions between the aircraft and tower; 11) phone or message text records of passengers during the flight; 12) eyewitness accounts; 13) weather conditions such as fog or hail and 14) GPS tracking data.
A critical factor in any air crash is autopsies of the victims, to check for smoke inhalation in the lungs to rule in or out onboard fires or explosions and gunshot wounds to the pilots.
What is Above the Tearline about this video?
It has been my experience that the facts will speak for themselves, if the investigators are allowed access to all of the data and the crime scene. Internal politics may come into play in this case due to the politics of the Mexican military aircraft carrying the Interior Minister, complicated by the fact that due to rampant corruption, trust in the Mexican government by the public is in short supply.
We have seen source reports indicating fuel contamination as a possible cause of the crash. The helo (helicopter) was also allegedly scheduled to transport President Calderon later in the day. If true, these facts could point towards a man-made cause.
However, we have also seen a report that poor maintenance has plagued Mexican aircraft this year by at least one credible law enforcement source.
Regardless, the investigators should be able to get to the bottom of the crash if allowed to do their jobs. It is a positive step that the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) has been called upon to assist. They will have more credibility, so their participation will be important.
23807  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 16, 2011, 11:56:58 AM
My sympathies for Newt are of long standing record around here, yet I should mention Brit Hume's comments the other night on the Bret Baier Report:  Now that Newt is number 1 or 2, there are things that are going to get scrutiny that haven't e.g. his ethics troubles while Speaker of the House, his demise as Speaker, etc. 
23808  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: November 16, 2011, 10:23:29 AM
Another perceptive reader of our forum!

GM:  Please double post that in the Military Science thread too.  Thank you.
23809  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Michael Yon in Afghanistan on: November 16, 2011, 10:17:06 AM
I have been remiss is posting MY's missives.  Anyone who would lbe willing to take up the mission?
23810  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud, SEIU/ACORN et al, corruption etc. on: November 16, 2011, 10:14:53 AM
Regarding the last two posts:   cry cry cry
23811  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / How to fire a public employee? on: November 16, 2011, 10:12:11 AM
re-posting this here,0,7958658.story
23812  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, deficit, and budget process on: November 16, 2011, 10:10:03 AM
Seems to me that the larger point about it being insanely difficult to fire state employees for cause has considerable merit.
23813  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Looks like Kagan will not recuse on: November 16, 2011, 09:56:06 AM
23814  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: November 16, 2011, 12:40:54 AM
WOW  cry cry cry

though probably better in US-China thread , , ,
23815  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: November 16, 2011, 12:39:20 AM

My respect for your response-- it shows search for Truth and this is to what we aspire around here.
23816  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Newt Gingrich on: November 16, 2011, 12:36:14 AM
PS:  The look of utter smugness on the questioner's face before Newt answers him says quite a bit.
23817  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 3 Alternatives to the Super Committee on: November 16, 2011, 12:29:59 AM

Super Committee Disaster and Three Alternatives for America
by Newt Gingrich
As the deadline for the so-called "Super Committee" to put forward a deficit reduction plan approaches, officials in Washington are arguing over whether the government or the American people will have to bear the pain.
What they do not realize is that the United States is actually caught between three possible futures:

1. Fantasy and collapse (the Greek model)
2. Pain and Austerity (the Washington establishment model)
3. Innovation and Growth (the Hamilton-Lincoln-Reagan-Thatcher-Gingrich model).

President Obama is wandering around the country promising billions in his bid for reelection. He is spending our children's and grandchildren's money like a teenager with his first credit card.
Such policies are clearly unsustainable. If we continue to pile up $2 trillion a year in debt, we will crush the economy under massive interest payments. We only need to witness what is happening in Greece and Italy to glimpse where that model leads.
The Washington establishment’s reaction to the runaway spending is a policy of austerity and pain.
Democrats would cause austerity and pain on the individual by raising taxes, thereby shrinking family and business purchasing power.  
Republicans would cause austerity and pain to government by cutting spending and thereby shrinking the services and income transfers government provides.
Clearly, shrinking government is preferable to overtaxing the American people but we must remember that there is a third alternative to pain. It is the path of innovation and growth. Historically, this has always been the American solution.
Alexander Hamilton was an early advocate of an economic growth model. His first report on manufactures paints the picture of a growing, industrializing America.

Abraham Lincoln spoke for those who wanted transcontinental railroads and other examples of modern innovation and growth.
Both President Reagan and Prime Minister Thatcher believed that a better future could be achieved through innovation and growth.
The key to today's budget problems is to recognize that there is a world that works (largely but not entirely in the private sector) and there is a world that fails (bureaucracies in both the public and private sectors). With even a little creativity, we should be able to maximize the world that works and eliminate the world that fails.
For instance, if we applied modern private-sector management systems to government they would save up to $500 billion a year. That is three times the goal of the Super Committee. To see the incredible savings such systems can offer take a look at the examples Strong America Now already provides.
If we applied the American Express, Visa, Mastercard, and IBM models of fraud suppression to Medicaid and Medicare to stop paying crooks who are committing fraud, we would save $70 to $120 billion a year. (For a detailed plan to stop Medicare and Medicaid fraud, see the book Stop Paying the Crooks published by the Center for Health Transformation.)
Block-granting Medicaid and returning it to the states, as Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan advocates, we would save $700 billion over the next ten years. That is almost half the goal of the Super Committee.
With just these few examples we have already come up with most of the savings the Super Committee is trying to achieve, with no pain involved.
Adding a training requirement to unemployment compensation would strengthen America’s human capital. Many would probably leave the program if they actually had to do something to earn the money.
History has shown us that innovation, reform, and growth will be better than the pain and austerity being discussed in Washington today on both sides of the aisle.
Your Friend,
PS I acknowledge Newt has had some really off key moments along the way, but I'm not sure I'd take that opinion piece's author at his word on his descriptions of them-- and I have no time or energy at the moment to look into it further,.
23818  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: November 16, 2011, 12:27:34 AM
Well, no internet connection while I was there (so a plethora of threads upon which I need to catch up) but I am back safe and sound.
23819  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Chicago Nov 19-21 on: November 16, 2011, 12:23:09 AM
BTW folks, do note that there is a limited group organized for Monday (max of 15 I think).  There are still a few slots open.  Contact Carlos for details.
23820  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DBMAA: Dog Brothers Martial Arts Association on: November 15, 2011, 09:34:00 PM
This thread is for teasers and other matters related to provoking interest in the DBMA Association.

Kicking things off by mentioning that I am now looking at the ruff edit of our what will be our next Vid-Lessonofrom Night Owl of Damain Halforty, a South African LEO whose work forcused on the very active and violent world of South African carjacking.  He is also the author of a book on the subject. The vid-lesson is from Damian's section at the DBMAA Summer Camp.
23821  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: November 15, 2011, 09:18:46 PM
Acabo de regresar del DF.  Parece que se murio' en un accidente de helicopetero la Secretaria de Gobernacion Blake.  Hace tres anos en maneras semajantes se murio' OTRO Secretaria de Gobernacion.  Dado que fueron despedidos dos otros SdeG, en 5 anos, han habido 4! 

Mucho mas por reportar, pero ahora estoy cansado.
23822  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Mexico City Nov 12-13 on: November 15, 2011, 07:03:45 PM
Home!  More tomorrow.
23823  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Place nicely children while I'm gone on: November 11, 2011, 01:06:55 PM
Off to Mexico City until Tuesday.  I should have internet access while I am there.
23824  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Salt Lake City January 21-22 on: November 11, 2011, 11:44:28 AM
Sometimes that email of Jared's is a problem.  Also try
23825  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 11, 2011, 11:37:48 AM
Disagree completely. 

The MSM needs "product"!

Should Newt become the Rep. candidate and he simply went wherever Baraq went and issued his challenge, it would become impossible to ignore.
23826  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor on Iran and related matters on: November 11, 2011, 08:03:01 AM
In the wake of the latest IAEA report on Iran, STRATFOR CEO George Friedman and special guest Robert Kaplan discuss potential threats to world oil supplies from the Persian Gulf, and U.S. President Barack Obama’s limited options.
Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.
Related Links
•   Iran’s Nuclear Program and its Nuclear Option
Colin: Few will be surprised by the latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency on Iran. Its finding that the Tehran regime has computer models that can only be used to develop a nuclear weapon has triggered a new wave of speculation on the prospects of an Israeli strike. But there may be other more pressing concerns as U.S. forces leave Iraq.
Welcome to Agenda with George Friedman, and joining also this week is a special guest — the writer and defense expert Robert Kaplan.
The obvious question as we move to a point where Israeli bombers can fly in clear skies over Iraq, or soon will be able to be, is this “high noon” for Iran?
Robert: Not necessarily, because just the fact that they are moving closer to developing a weapons capacity for their nuclear material does not mean that they can miniaturize, put it on a warhead and send it somewhere. It could be a long way from that. Of course it is a much more acute threat for Israel than it is for the United States. You also have to consider the possibility that so what if Iran has three or four nuclear weapons with no air defense system, relative to what the Americans can do. But what does that mean? Isn’t the 100 nuclear weapons in Pakistan a much greater threat? Or would the Saudis respond by parking Pakistani nuclear weapons in Saudi Arabia, thereby fusing the South Asian and the greater Middle East crisis into one? There are a lot of questions out there and they will continue to play out. But this is nothing particularly new at this point.
Colin: So George, there’s all this talk of an Israeli strike, and we’ve heard it before, is it just rhetoric?
George: We are at a critical point. The critical point is not about nuclear weapons. The critical point is that the U.S. is completing its withdrawal from Iraq. We’ve seen recently the arrests of Sunnis in Iraq by the Maliki government and the Iranians are increasing their power. The balance of power is shifting in the region. The United States and Israel both want the Iranians to pull back and as has happened several times before, they increased the drumbeat of the threat of nuclear weapons in order to create a psychological situation where the Iranians would reconsider their position. The problem that you have here is that the Israelis really don’t have the ability to carry out the kind of strikes we are talking about. They certainly have nuclear weapons if they want to use nuclear weapons on some of the facilities near Tehran. The more interesting question is do they have the ability to carry out the multiday attacks on multiple sites with a relatively small air force? The answer is they may be but they cannot deal with something else. What if the Iranians respond by putting mines in the Straits of Hormuz?
Colin: And this is critical, isn’t it, because 40 percent of the world’s sea-bound oil goes through the Straits. The Iranians have the longest coastline along the Straits of Hormuz and along the whole Persian Gulf.
Robert: The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps navy, which is separate from the Iranian navy, is developing a very impressive asymmetric warfare capability of suicide boats that can ram into everything from merchant tankers to destroyers. Keep in mind in this “hot house” media environment where the world is all together, simply pinprick attacks on destroyers of other nations will garner incredible media news. It will seem to be an attack on an American Navy that has been inviolate since World War II in fact.
George: This is really crucial, that the psychological effect is substantial. But the effect on markets in this case is substantial. If the perception was that the Iranians have the ability to mine the Straits or some other way threaten these extremely expensive tankers that are up to a billion dollars including their cargo, which has to be insured, could really be threatened. The price of oil would rise dramatically and stock markets would tumble in a situation where Europe is in a major crisis and the financial system of the world is shaky. If we suddenly wound up with $200, $300 or $400 for a barrel of oil, the global landscape could be reshaped forever.
Robert: Keep in mind that personalities enter into this a bit. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has been seen for years and even decades in fact seen as a very flawed personality in and of himself, regardless of whether you agree or disagree with his viewpoints. As we enter into a presidential election season in the United States where even someone like President Obama would be forced not to criticize Israel publicly, the Israelis thinking cynically — and all governments think cynically — would say this is a window of opportunity for us to bomb Iran, with fewer American domestic repercussions.
George: That may be but it’s very important that there is one domestic American repercussion. If the oil is cut off, the effect on the United States would be enormous and Israel will be blamed for a massive recession or depression.
Robert: But as I was saying, Netanyahu has the kind of personality where he would risk that.
Colin: This will be a catastrophe given the situation that could evolve in the Persian Gulf. What kind of advice is Obama’s defense department giving him? Given that he is a man of great caution, I think what would you expect him to be doing?
George: I think it is very clear what they are saying to him — bluff. He is going out very publicly, which you don’t do if you are planning a major attack, and very publicly bluffing.
Robert: The U.S. Defense Department does not have the appetite for war with Iran. Remember, all Iranians, not just the regime, supports Iran being a nuclear power. Ten years from now we might have closer relations with Tehran than we have with Riyadh. The last thing we want to do is alienate even the Iranians who are sympathetic to us. Iran is a crucial country. It fronts not just the oil-rich Persian Gulf but also the oil-rich Caspian Sea. No other country does that. It has a window onto Central Asia, which no other country in the Middle East has. So it’s enormously important. We are playing for high long-term stakes with Iran, which may be a future ally of the United States.
George: We have to also recognize that with their increased power in Iraq, with the probability that the al Assad regime in Syria — Iranian allies — can survive, and with Hezbollah in Lebanon, we are looking at a situation where Iranian influences could stretch from the Afghan border to the Mediterranean. This is an enormously dangerous situation and it’s not really about nuclear weapons.
Robert: Afghanistan to the Mediterranean approximates the ancient Persian empire of antiquity. Remember, Persia — Iran — as a linguistic cultural force extends from Alawite Syria eastward right up to the Indus River in Pakistan.
Colin: George and Robert, we need to leave it there. Thank you very much. That is George Friedman and special guest Robert Kaplan ending Agenda for this week.
23827  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson 1821 on dangers of power concentrating in Washington on: November 11, 2011, 06:28:32 AM
"[W]hen all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to Charles Hammond, 1821
23828  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dick Morris on the accusations of Cain on: November 11, 2011, 04:25:13 AM
Dick Morris was Bill Clinton's pollster, so his opinion may carry particular weight on this subject  cheesy

I learned something important from my polling in the Lewinsky scandal.  While the political world and the media were focused on the narrow question of who was right, Clinton or Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr, most voters opted for a third choice:  "We don't care.  We don't want to hear more about this.  This is no way to run a government or choose a president."  Some resented the public discussion of oral sex, noting that their children were watching.  They didn't want to hear it.
So it is with the accusations against Herman Cain.  We are mired in the worst economic condition in eighty years and will not tolerate more talk about who invited whom up to their room and for what.  We don't care.  We don't want to know.  We want you to go away and let us choose a president based on the serious and grave issues we are trying to consider.  We think the media is a distraction and we want it to stop its drumbeat coverage.  Pro-Cain or anti-Cain is irrelevant.  We want the issue to go away!
This third dimension of public reaction was evident when the CNBC reporters in last night's debate tried to ask Cain about the accusations.  The crowd would have none of it. When the reporters tried to couch the questions as relating to managerial ability or the character required of a CEO, they still hooted down the question.  In that moment, I realized that Cain would survive for the same reason Clinton made it - we have more important things to worry about.
The media does not admit of this third dimension.  Its mavens and executives give themselves the job of deciding what is news.  They present the news.  We render our verdict on it.  That's how its supposed to work.  But when the news media goes crazy covering something we don't care about, we make our voices heard.  And that's what the audience did last night.
In the meantime, Cain was his usual charismatic, brilliant debater articulating his 9-9-9 proposal better than he ever has and demonstrating its centrality to solving our economic problems.  The contrast between the statesmanship and breadth of his remedy and the tawdriness of the charges and counter-charges was evident.
In case the media didn't get the message, it is this:  WE DON'T WANT TO HEAR, READ, OR SEE MORE ABOUT THIS STUPID STORY -- GO AWAY!
23829  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 10, 2011, 05:15:28 PM
Concerning Baraq trying to duck Newt's Lincoln-Douglas challenge-- check out his strategy in the final couple of minutes of this 10 minute clip-- which after a minute or two of speech intro pleasantries, is quite strong.  Baraq wouldn't have a choice!

Newt will destroy Obama in such a context.  It is an absolutely brilliant strategy! 

I rather like the sound of President Gingrich! (the idea of Cain vs. Biden for the VP debates appeals to me too)

23830  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: November 10, 2011, 05:04:54 PM
You are welcome CW.

I see I should add one more key point.  The lower the tax rates, the less sense it makes to invest in tax shelters.

For example, during the 70% pre-Reagan era, it made sense for Hillary Clinton to play "commodity straddles".  These were an entirely different concept where the trader bought a futures contract (usually on margin) on each side of the fence.

"Why bother then?" you may ask "The winning trade cancels out the losing trade."  The answer is that, for example, you take the loss in December, but the gain in January.  Thus for example a loss in 12/77 neutralizes taxes paid in 4/78, (four months later) but the gain taken in 1/78 is not paid until 15 months later-- in 4/79.  The value of this is the time value of having the money to play with for the extra 11 months (15-4=11). 

Even better is when you cheat, as Hillary did, you have the largest employer in the state of Arkansas, Tyson Foods, advising you on grains futures in 30 day or less contracts (which have virtually no reporting requirements) in the brokerage house used by Tyson Foods while your husband is running for Governor where the brokerage firm in question asigns winning and losing trades at the end of the day!  Doing this, you can turn $2k into $97K in a few months!   Awesome!    A $95K payoff to the governor that is completely laundered!  Isn't this great?!?

But I digress , , ,

Returning to the original point, when tax rates go down, so too does the logic of tax shelters and high bracket earners begin to allow their income to be exposed to taxes.   Whereas investing at a 70% rate only means 30% out of pocket, at a 30% rate it means the reverse—70% out of pocket.

And so it was with the Reagan tax RATE cuts.   

Remember the squalling I spoke about?  When, as always, it was to be found – for the increase in the concentration of wealth that the data showed!

And the Adventure continues , , ,
23831  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DBMA Tribal Gathering: May 19-20 on: November 10, 2011, 04:28:56 PM
May 19-20 is the probable date for this year's Tribal Gathering.
23832  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: November 10, 2011, 04:24:51 PM

AFO Lieutenant Arrested

Mexican authorities arrested a senior member of the Arellano Felix Organization (AFO) on Nov. 5 in Tijuana, Baja California state. According to a statement from the Mexican Defense Ministry, Juan Francisco “La Rueda” Sillas Rocha, the AFO’s top enforcer, who is believed to have reported directly to current AFO leader Fernando Sanchez Arellano, was arrested after shooting and wounding two rival cartel members near Insurgentes Boulevard. An army spokesman said Sillas was captured after police and soldiers cordoned off the area immediately following the attack.

In 2007, the Sinaloa Federation encroached on the AFO’s long-held territory in Baja California, prompting an all-out turf war between the groups. AFO leader Luis Fernando “El Ingeniero” Sanchez Arellano, a nephew of the cartel’s founders, allegedly ordered Sillas to regain Tijuana from rival Teodoro “El Teo” Garcia Simental, who had defected from the AFO and joined ranks with Sinaloa. As a result, Tijuana was extremely violent from 2007 to 2009, with decapitations, hangings and daylight shootouts becoming common occurrences. The violence subsided after Garcia was arrested and after Sinaloa absorbed AFO’s territory, relegating Sanchez Arellano’s organization, which was severely damaged by the war and unable to resist, to a reluctant vassal that paid Sinaloa for the right to exist.

Sillas’ arrest furthers the trend of cartel dynamics in the area. Any push from the AFO to regain territory lost to Sinaloa likely would have been conducted by Sillas. Though the AFO has not been eliminated completely, the arrest of Sillas means that the AFO’s chances of countering Sinaloa and regaining power in Tijuana are diminishing. Likewise, as the AFO’s power continues to wane, the Sinaloa Federation’s grip on territory along Mexico’s Pacific coast only strengthens.

Mayor Killed in Michoacan

While distributing campaign material for Michoacan state gubernatorial candidate Luisa Mario Calderon Hinojosa, Ricardo Guzman, the mayor of La Piedad, Michoacan state, was shot and killed Nov. 3 by an unidentified gunman in a black SUV bearing Jalisco state plates. According to reports, Guzman died as he was being transported to a hospital by ambulance.

With the presence of multiple drug cartels, including Los Zetas, the Knights Templar, remnants of La Familia Michoacana and the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion, Michoacan public officials on all levels are vulnerable to competing cartel pressure. Candidates from all three major Mexican political parties reportedly have been threatened during the recent campaign season in Michoacan, and six municipal police chiefs have been killed in the state in 2011 alone.

Mayors and other local officials are particularly susceptible to cartel pressure. Unlike governors or presidents — but like cartels — mayors must operate in their local environments (state and federal officials are by no means insulated from cartel machinations, but they are further removed from the warlike environments found in some of these locations). If such officials are perceived to favor a cartel, they will be attacked by a rival cartel. If they refuse to work for a specific cartel, that organization will attack them in retribution. If they have no support from any cartel, they are vulnerable to attack by all.

For mayors and other local officials, consorting with criminal groups often is a matter of necessity, and since they generally have security inferior to that of presidents and governors, they often fall victim to attacks or pressure. In fact, 25 mayors have been killed throughout Mexico since 2006. The timing of this incident, however, is notable, as are those involved.

The candidate for whom Guzman was campaigning is the sister of current Mexican President Felipe Calderon. Like her brother, she is a member of the National Action Party (PAN), as was Guzman, who, according to Calderon Hinojosa’s campaign manager, had received threats prior to the shooting. The campaign manager did not give any specifics as to why or by whom the threats were made, and at present there is no hard evidence to suggest the killing was a targeted political assassination. The possibility cannot be ruled out, however. Neither can it be ruled out that Guzman was attacked to send Calderon Hinojosa or her brother a message.

There is another line of investigation into the murder. According to media reports, Guzman is rumored to have issued permits that would grant casinos authorization to operate in La Piedad. Authorities are looking into this theory, as it suggests an element of corruption in Guzman. But even though casinos and organized crime often are intimately linked, any concrete connection tying Guzman to organized crime remains unconfirmed. Of course, the attack could be personal and completely unrelated to his position as mayor.

Whatever the precise motive behind Guzman’s killing, the timing of the attack serves as a reminder that politicians are not immune to cartel operations; in fact, they are often the targets of such operations. Politicians can guarantee key access and cover for cartels looking to operate in a number of arenas, including money laundering and entering legitimate businesses. They also are limited to serving only one term, so they are somewhat expendable. The gubernatorial elections in Michoacan are the final elections in Mexico before the presidential election takes place in 2012. In light of the Nov. 3 attack, STRATFOR will be watching the lead-up to the presidential election carefully for signs of cartel influence.

(click here to view interactive map)

Nov. 1

The bodies of two men shot multiple times were discovered in an SUV in Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon state. Their hands were bound.
Mexican authorities raided a Gulf cartel safe-house in Temixco, Morelos state. An unidentified number of Gulf cartel lookouts were arrested in the raid.
Mexican authorities arrested 21 municipal police officers in the cities of Pesqueria, Linares and Mina, Nuevo Leon state, for their connections with criminal organizations.

Nov. 2

Gunmen attacked Mexican soldiers as they raided a safe-house in Xochitepec, Morelos state. One gunman was killed and three others were arrested.
Federal police rescued at least eight kidnapping victims from a safe-house in Reynosa, Tamaulipas state.
Two criminal groups engaged in a firefight in Matamoros, Tamaulipas state. Gunmen used public and private transit vehicles to block several roads in the city.
Mexican military forces seized four residences in Xochitepec, Morelos state, used by a criminal organization. During the operation, authorities seized weapons, chemical precursors and surveillance equipment used to monitor pedestrians entering and exiting an adjacent airport.
Unidentified gunmen shot and killed a Federal Ministerial Police commander in Saltillo, Coahuila state.
Unidentified gunmen shot and killed Ricardo Guzman Romero, the mayor of La Piedad, Michoacan state.

Nov. 3

Mexican military forces engaged in a firefight with unidentified gunmen while on patrol in Tantoyuca, Veracruz state. One of the gunmen was arrested, though the rest escaped.
Federal police arrested Hector Russel “El Toro” Rodriguez Baez, a leader of La Familia Michoacana, in Chalco, Mexico state.

Nov. 4

Mexican military forces engaged in a firefight with gunmen while on patrol in Mocorito, Sinaloa state. All of the gunmen escaped.
Unidentified gunmen executed 15 individuals in various areas of Culiacan, Sinaloa state.

Nov. 6

Mexican authorities announced the arrest of Victor Manuel “El Gordo” Rivera Galeana in Mexico state. Rivera was a founder and leader of La Barredora, a criminal organization operating in Acapulco, Guerrero state.
A narcomanta signed by La Familia Michoacana was left with a dead body in Chalco, Mexico state.
Armed men executed a man at a bar in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state. All gunmen escaped before the police arrived.
Mexican authorities seized 2,913.4 kilograms (6,422.9 pounds) of marijuana stored in a warehouse in Miguel Aleman, Tamaulipas state.
Gunmen entered the offices of El Buen Tono news agency in Cordoba, Veracruz state, destroying computers and other equipment before setting an office on fire.

Nov. 7

Mexican authorities announced the arrest of Juan Francisco “La Rueda” Sillas Rocha, a lieutenant of Arellano Felix Organization leader Luis Fernando Sanchez Arellano. Sillas was arrested over the previous weekend in Tijuana, Baja California state.
Mexican authorities discovered two bodies in Mexico City with a narcomanta signed by La Mano con Ojos and The New Administration organization.

Read more: Mexico Security Memo: AFO Continuing To Lose Power in Tijuana | STRATFOR
23833  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / China prepares for US re-engagement on: November 10, 2011, 04:14:36 PM

China has been carefully monitoring the U.S. strategy for re-engagement in the Asia-Pacific region and understands the challenges its own regional strategies now face. The possibility of a new power balance will test both China’s ability to achieve its long-term goals and its relations with countries on its periphery.

U.S. President Barack Obama is set to visit Australia and Indonesia later in November after months of diplomatic efforts aimed at improving perceptions of the U.S. commitment to the Asia-Pacific region, largely to counter growing Chinese power. This is coming as maritime security issues have begun to dominate regional affairs, with China taking a particularly aggressive stance in the South China Sea. Part of the U.S. re-engagement includes the intent to reshape the East Asia Summit (EAS) into a U.S.-led regional security institution. This year’s EAS, set for Nov. 18-19 in Bali, will thus serve as a gauge for Washington to demonstrate its commitment to Asia-Pacific maritime security affairs.

Beijing, which has been carefully developing its strategy for Southeast Asia over the past two decades, understands the challenges posed to it by the United States’ re-entry into the region, particularly to its South China Sea plans. The possibility of a new power balance will test both China’s ability to achieve its long-term goals and its relations with countries on its periphery.

China’s rapidly expanding economic influence in past years has enabled it to improve relations with neighboring states and gradually take a leading role in Southeast Asia, turning it into a testing ground for its strategy of soft-power diplomacy in an important sphere of influence. Beijing’s strategy largely has been based on economic cooperation, such as Chinese investment and aid to individual countries and increased trade through bilateral arrangements and regional mechanisms. One example of this is the free trade area that went into effect between China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the most extensive set of trade and investment agreements between the two. As Southeast Asia is one of the few regions that generally marks trade surpluses with China, Beijing has attempted to convince ASEAN countries that they will benefit from China’s economic growth with its economic clout. China has been making progress with a charm offensive in the region, building political and security influence that has been facilitated by high-level military visits and arms sales, a longstanding policy of noninterference in other countries’ internal affairs, and, notably, a decadelong period of relative neglect by the United States.

Beijing has used this leverage to gain an advantage in the South China Sea. It has raised its profile in regional security facilities, such as the EAS and ASEAN Defense Ministers Meetings, and cultivated relations with mainland ASEAN countries, such as Laos and Cambodia, to prevent maritime disputes from gaining prominence in these regional organizations. It also has begun bilateral negotiations over maritime issues such as energy exploration, shunning third-party involvement and dealing with individual countries to prevent them from adopting a unified stance.

However, China’s increasingly aggressive moves to stake its maritime claim have shifted Asian perceptions, leading to growing tensions between China and other claimant countries such as Vietnam and the Philippines. The rapid modernization of the Chinese military and the expansion of its blue-water strategy — especially its aggressive moves in the South China Sea since the beginning of 2011 — also have caused disquiet among China’s Southeast Asian neighbors. These countries have both begun to cooperate regionally to counter Beijing’s dominance in the South China Sea and call for outside powers, particularly the United States, to do the same.

With Washington’s renewed interest in the region, Beijing sees considerable uncertainty in its maritime and Southeast Asia strategies. In particular, China expects the upcoming EAS to officially institutionalize a multilateral mechanism to address South China Sea issues — running directly counter to its attempts to deal with these issues bilaterally. However, direct confrontation between China and the United States would come at the expense of both China’s domestic situation and regional stability. Moreover, the United States’ physical distance from the region, as well as heavy U.S.-Chinese economic and political interactions in other areas, means that both sides have more reasons to cooperate than they do to press their agendas for the South China Sea.

Meanwhile, Beijing has seen the need to adopt proactive diplomatic efforts, such as enhancing traditional economic ties with ASEAN countries and indicating that it would be open to leading regional discussion forums for negotiating South China Sea issues. Such gestures may be appealing to Southeast Asian claimant countries; no matter how far the United States goes to re-engage in the region, these countries’ economic futures will be inextricably linked to China. China has proposed a set of principles that would govern future EAS discussions, called the Declaration of the East Asia Summit on the Principles of Mutually Beneficial Relations. In it, China calls for an integrated East Asian community and enhanced Chinese-ASEAN interdependence through economic ties.

At the same time, as the United States’ Asia-Pacific strategy becomes clearer, it provides an opportunity for Beijing to clarify its role in regional strategic affairs, and particularly to remedy the increasing disunity between its economic strategy and security strategy. As part of this, the United States’ stated intention of leading the EAS means China likely will try to support ASEAN as the premier regional bloc, something that ASEAN countries likely will be interested in as they try to avoid being hostages for either side in the increasing U.S.-Chinese competition.

It remains to be seen whether the U.S. plan for Asia-Pacific re-engagement will shift the balance of power in the region. Nonetheless, China will need to take a much more active stance to maintain its position.

23834  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Newt Gingrich on: November 10, 2011, 03:48:26 PM
A friend writes me his thoughts on Newt:

To me there are two issues with Newt and firearms.

The first is that he has no issue or problem banning what he thought to be military or assualt rifles.  He seems to fall into the Elmer Fudd class on guns , if it is for hunting it is fine but if it is for anything else it isn't fine.  If he doesn't understand the 2nd I don't see any reason to think he understands the other amendments or the Constitution itself. 

He stated in an interview around 2004 that he voted against the '94 ban because there were a few firearms on the ban list he didn't consider assualt rifles.  He seemed to have no problem banning firearms as long as they were not hunting rifles.

2nd issue is that the '94 ban was dead and had no chance of passing into law until Newt came up with the  "10 year sunset clause" which added enough support that the ban passed by one vote.   Newt voted against the ban but was responsible for it being passed as much as anyone was.

I also liked Newt when hearing his ideas and considered him an intelligent person but after reading up on him I just can't see myself voting for anyone who doesn't understand the 2nd Amendment.

If my information isn't correct please set me straight on Newt.  I do consider him one of the more intelligent and capable candidates but the gun issue will keep me from voting for him if what I have read is correct.
23835  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rules being rewritten on: November 10, 2011, 03:44:31 PM
Crisis Rewriting the Rules in Europe
Events in Europe over the past 72 hours have been nothing short of extraordinary.
“If someone is going to be able to get ahead of the crisis, it is going to be the Germans — but they are working with a tool kit that isn’t even half full.”
The International Monetary Fund, rather than asking the Russians and their $500 billion in currency reserves to help, has advised Moscow to protect itself from fallout from the European financial crisis. European government officials are no longer chastised by their peers when they publicly raise the need to eject Greece from the eurozone. European Commission officials are directly telling the Greeks and Italians what their governments should and should not look like. And in the United Kingdom there are requests that mainland Europeans finally choose someone to be in charge of everything.
If someone is going to be able to get ahead of the crisis, it is going to be the Germans — but they are working with a tool kit that isn’t even half full. They don’t want the European Central Bank (ECB) to continually support damaged states by directly purchasing sovereign debt — Berlin sees that as rewarding bad behavior. Germany’s citizens don’t support continued transfers of wealth to Southern European states. Berlin cannot force these states to implement austerity, since EU treaties guarantee their member states’ fiscal autonomy. Germany cannot even use public pressure to nudge Southern European governments to do what they think is the right thing: The public image of Germany as a bully is now so prevalent in Southern Europe that German statements often generate the opposite of their intent.
Efforts to enhance what tools there are have actually weakened existing options. During a late-October summit, eurozone leaders tried to expand the reach of Europe’s bailout fund, the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF). The EFSF could originally access 440 billion euros of state guarantees, which the Facility uses to raise cash on private markets, funneling the money raised to states under bailout regimens. Four-hundred forty billion euros might sound like a lot. Indeed, this sum is sufficient to fund the existing bailouts of Greece, Ireland and Portugal, with enough left over to make an honest effort to support Spain. Still, no one thinks the sum is sufficient to support a bailout of Italy. The October summits thus shifted the EFSF structure to guarantee returns on only 15-30 percent of investments (the details have not yet been finalized).
Instead of attracting more funds, this has disrupted external and private interest in the EFSF to the degree that the Facility — even using full guarantees — was barely able to raise 2 billion euros this week to fund its pre-existing commitments. Far from having the capacity to bail out Italy or even Spain, the EFSF right now is unlikely to be able to handle the smaller bailouts that have already been agreed to.
Yet those  larger states are still in danger, most notably Italy. Rome has 1.9 trillion euros in outstanding government debt, about 120 percent of Gross Domestic Product — proportionally twice that of Spain’s. An Italian funding shortfall, absent a much enlarged EFSF, will lead almost immediately to an Italian default. The aftereffects make it impossible to see the eurozone surviving.
Germany’s plan
Yet as the European financial crisis deepens and spreads, we are seeing the rough outlines of a German plan that uses what tools are available. States that will not agree to austerity in good times are proving somewhat more pliable as they move closer to financial catastrophe. Germany has made considerable efforts to alter both Greece and Italy in recent days.
The Germans are nudging both the Greeks and the Italians toward forming national unity governments. If successfully installed, the German hope is that these governments will be able to achieve four things.
•   Full implementation of EU-mandated austerity programs. The hope is that technocratic governments can force through policies that would be political suicide for a normal, elected government.
•   Constitutional amendments that would lock the states into somehow balancing their budgets. Germany needs these states to generate budget surpluses so they can whittle down their debt loads and mitigate their exposure to financial markets.
•   Approval of treaty changes that will allow European institutions far more intrusive access to national procedures; the goal of which is to allow the direct rewriting of budget procedures so that these states can never again engage in what the Germans see as fiscal irresponsibility.
•   Finally, Germans hope all of these things can be achieved without triggering elections. Berlin fears that any election now would be perceived in both Greece and Italy as a referendum on Europe in general, or specifically on German-inspired austerity measures, and that public rejection of Europe or austerity would bring down the entire European edifice.
That’s the plan, but there are several problems.
First, these governments must be successfully formed. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi refuses to say on what date he will step aside. In Greece the main political parties, while eager to find someone to take the political heat for imposing austerity programs, have so far been unable to find a temporary prime minister willing to thereby end their political career.
Second, the parliament of even a technocratic government is not excused from the requirement of voting on austerity, treaty and constitutional revision packages. National unity governments sound nice, but the broad scope of changes the Germans are demanding mean that politics will not be held completely at bay.
Third, the citizens must not rebel. Europe is in an agitated state; strikes and unrest are the orders of the day. Governments — even national unity governments — seen as caving to the Germans are going to be challenged by citizens who do not wish to submit to the rules of a foreign state. The appeal for Germany of technocratic governments is that for a time they can ignore the people’s voice. Yet this approach could radicalize the populace, making it feel powerless and disenfranchised from a political process it already sees as being dominated by disconnected elites.
Fourth, changes agreed to by an interim government will not necessarily be honored by subsequent, more politically charged governments. European officials are attempting to force Greek parties to sign documents committing them to never challenge the austerity programs. So far, such efforts have been firmly rebuffed.
Finally, all of this has to happen without the markets bolting and thereby triggering immediate funding crises. This is perhaps the most dangerous catch. Germany needs these states to feel the financial heat, but too much pressure could result in financial destruction.
In the past 24 hours, Greece has struggled with the first, third and fourth problems; Italy with the first and fifth. At the time of this writing, Italian debt is trading at about 7.3 percent, nearly a full percent higher than it was a day earlier and more than the Serbian or even Namibian equivalent — and only aggressive ECB intervention this afternoon prevented a financial catastrophe.
It’s a delicate dance: Applying sufficient pressure to induce sharp changes, while the ECB provides a financial drip feed. The margin for error is very slim.
23836  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sorry Charlie , , , on: November 10, 2011, 02:21:08 PM
Shortly after the death of John Paul II, French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo led with a caricature of the Pope stumbling through an empty, Heaven-free afterlife. "Hello, is anyone there?" read his speech-bubble against the darkness. There was not.

Welcome to the world of "Charlie," neither as subtle as Private Eye nor as hip as the Onion, and more scatalogical than National Lampoon ever was. If Charlie can be said to hold anything sacred, it is that nothing is sacred.

In 2001, Charlie marked 9/11 with a pornographic cartoon. A crucified and wisecracking Christ has made countless appearances over the years, as have gold-bedecked rabbis, and titans of nations and industry in various states of compromise. When Princess Diana died, the magazine offered a crack about her nose.

Charlie is also a serial depicter of the Muslim prophet Muhammad. This is the leading theory for the motive behind a firebomb attack that destroyed the paper's Paris offices last week. Charlie had been on the verge of printing a special "Shariah Weekly" edition. The cover featured Muhammad as "guest editor," assuring readers "100 lashes if you don't die laughing!" French authorities have yet to name suspects for the arson.

Separately, Turkish Muslims claimed responsibility for hacking Charlie's website last week; it stayed down for days. In a particularly cantankerous but prescient editorial in 2001, Charlie explained that it did not (then) have a Web presence because the Internet was too infested with "defectives, maniacs, fanatics, megalomaniacs, paranoiacs, Nazis, informers, who have found a means of globally diffusing their delusions, their hatreds or their obsessions." Now they're after Charlie and have also threatened the website of the daily Liberation, which has taken in the now-homeless Charlie operation.

The response in France to last week's attacks has been powerful and all but unanimous: Six months before presidential elections, politicos from every quarter of the French establishment are rushing to defend Charlie, including some who, at one time or another, have threatened the magazine with defamation suits. "All the world, all Frenchmen, must feel solidarity with this newspaper that, with its very existence and way of being, expresses the liberty of the press," said Interior Minister Claude Guéant. On Sunday hundreds of pro-Charlie demonstrators gathered outside Paris City Hall to declare their "right to blaspheme."

That's a right that arguably had its birth in the France of Voltaire, who once said the Christian faith is "without a doubt the most ridiculous, the most absurd, and the most bloody to ever infect the world." It's also a right that, in the last quarter of the 20th century, was generally taken for granted in the West.

But the right to blaspheme is under frontal assault. Writing about the attack on Charlie's offices, Bruce Crumley, Paris bureau chief for Time magazine, did nothing to hide his contempt—not for the attackers, but for the magazine itself.

"Not only are such Islamophobic antics futile and childish," he wrote, "but they also openly beg for the very violent responses from extremists their authors claim to proudly defy in the name of common good." James Kitfield, National Journal's security correspondent, told NPR listeners that he wished the "irresponsible" people who "do this get condemned by society for constantly provoking crises that we don't need right now." Such reactions cause one to wonder whether the deeper threat to free speech comes not from its avowed enemies but from its supposed practitioners.

The good news is that Charlie is taking all of this in stride. Its first cover since the attacks depicts a Muslim man French-kissing one of Charlie's male cartoonists. Above the pair, the headline offers the rallying cry of our liberal world: "Love is Stronger Than Hate."

Miss Jolis is an editorial page writer for The Wall Street Journal Europe.

23837  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 10, 2011, 02:03:11 PM

Methinks you miss quite a few real distinctions, but frankly after reading what has been posted here you are unpersuaded, I find I am little interested in parsing it out.
23838  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Romney on Iranian nukes on: November 10, 2011, 01:54:55 PM
The International Atomic Energy Agency's latest report this week makes clear what I and others have been warning about for too long: Iran is making rapid headway toward its goal of obtaining nuclear weapons.

Successive American presidents, including Barack Obama, have declared such an outcome to be unacceptable. But under the Obama administration, rhetoric and policy have been sharply at odds, and we're hurtling toward a major crisis involving nuclear weapons in one of the most politically volatile and economically significant regions of the world.

Things did not have to be this way. To understand how best to proceed from here, we need to review the administration's extraordinary record of failure.

As a candidate for the presidency in 2007, Barack Obama put forward "engagement" with Tehran as a way to solve the nuclear problem, declaring he would meet with Iran's leaders "without preconditions." Whether this approach was rooted in naïveté or in realistic expectations can be debated; I believe it was the former. But whatever calculation lay behind the proposed diplomatic opening, it was predictably rebuffed by the Iranian regime.

After that repudiation, a serious U.S. strategy to block Iran's nuclear ambitions became an urgent necessity. But that is precisely what the administration never provided. Instead, we've been offered a case study in botched diplomacy and its potentially horrific costs.

In his "reset" of relations with Russia, President Obama caved in to Moscow's demands by reneging on a missile-defense agreement with Eastern European allies and agreeing to a New Start Treaty to reduce strategic nuclear weapons while getting virtually nothing in return. If there ever was a possibility of gaining the Kremlin's support for tougher action against Tehran, that unilateral giveaway was the moment. President Obama foreclosed it.

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 .Another key juncture came with the emergence of Iran's Green Revolution after the stolen election of 2009. Here—more than a year before the eruption of the Arab Spring—was a spontaneous popular revolt against a regime that has been destabilizing the region, supporting terrorism around the world, killing American soldiers in Iraq, and attacking the U.S. for three decades. Yet President Obama, evidently fearful of jeopardizing any further hope of engagement, proclaimed his intention not to "meddle" as the ayatollahs unleashed a wave of terror against their own society. A proper American policy might or might not have altered the outcome; we will never know. But thanks to this shameful abdication of moral authority, any hope of toppling a vicious regime was lost, perhaps for generations.

In 2010, the administration did finally impose another round of sanctions, which President Obama hailed as a strike "at the heart" of Iran's ability to fund its nuclear programs. But here again we can see a gulf between words and deeds. As the IAEA report makes plain, the heart that we supposedly struck is still pumping just fine. Sanctions clearly failed in their purpose. Iran is on the threshold of becoming a nuclear power.

Recent events have brought White House fecklessness to another low. When Iran was discovered plotting to kill Saudi Arabia's ambassador by setting off a bomb in downtown Washington, the administration responded with nothing more than tough talk and an indictment against two low-level Iranian operatives, as if this were merely a common criminal offense rather than an act of international aggression. Demonstrating further irresolution, the administration then floated the idea of sanctioning Iran's central bank, only to quietly withdraw that proposal.

Barack Obama has shredded his own credibility on Iran, conveyed an image of American weakness, and increased the prospect of a cascade of nuclear proliferation in the unstable Middle East.

The United States needs a very different policy.

Si vis pacem, para bellum. That is a Latin phrase, but the ayatollahs will have no trouble understanding its meaning from a Romney administration: If you want peace, prepare for war.

I want peace. And if I am president, I will begin by imposing a new round of far tougher economic sanctions on Iran. I will do this together with the world if we can, unilaterally if we must. I will speak out forcefully on behalf of Iranian dissidents. I will back up American diplomacy with a very real and very credible military option. I will restore the regular presence of aircraft carrier groups in the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf region simultaneously. I will increase military assistance to Israel and coordination with all of our allies in the region. These actions will send an unequivocal signal to Iran that the United States, acting in concert with allies, will never permit Iran to obtain nuclear weapons.

Only when the ayatollahs no longer have doubts about America's resolve will they abandon their nuclear ambitions.

Mr. Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, is seeking the Republican presidential nomination.

23839  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Dems say $500 in tax increases not enough on: November 10, 2011, 01:21:46 PM
Pessimism is growing about the Congressional super committee on deficit reduction, so we were eager to listen yesterday when Pat Toomey called with the latest lowdown. Most notably, the Pennsylvania Senator explained why he and his five fellow Republicans have decided to put new tax revenues on the table.

 Steve Moore on the prospects of real reform from the Congressional supercommittee.
.The rap from Democrats has been that Republicans refuse to touch revenues, preferring only to cut spending. But Mr. Toomey explained that this week the GOP Six offered to raise revenues by $500 billion over 10 years as part of a tax reform that would lock in lower tax rates in return for giving up deductions. Democrats have rejected it, which is puzzling since it would achieve so many of their stated goals.

The GOP offer would raise about $250 billion over 10 years by using some variation of economist Martin Feldstein's proposal that no combination of deductions could exceed, say, 2% of a taxpayer's adjusted gross income. (See Mr. Feldstein's Journal op-ed, "The Tax Reform Evidence From 1986," Oct. 24.) That's a big revenue hit, especially for earners in the top tax brackets who benefit more from tax breaks. Grover Norquist of tax-pledge fame would probably not be pleased.

In return for these cuts in deductions, Mr. Toomey says the top individual tax rate would fall to 28% from 35%, with the other tax-rate brackets falling by similar proportions. The current top rates for capital gains and dividends (15%) and the estate tax (35%) would remain unchanged. The GOP negotiators agreed to the Democrat request that these tax changes be statically scored—which assumes no revenue gains from economic growth—yet they would still yield $250 billion in additional revenue over a decade even with the lower tax rates.

"It's a bitter pill to accept new statically scored revenue," says Mr. Toomey, "but I think it's justified to prevent the tax increase that's coming" in 2013. Given the history of revenue gains after marginal-rate tax cuts, the tax windfall for the Treasury would likely far exceed $250 billion over a decade.

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 .Another $40 billion or so in new revenue would come from changing the formula for adjusting tax brackets for inflation. And $200 billion more would come from a variety of asset and spectrum sales, user fees, tax compliance and other things—all scored on a static basis by the Joint Tax Committee. Mr. Toomey says the Members have also made progress on a corporate tax reform that would cut the rate to 25% in return for eliminating deductions, though any agreement would probably have to be done in two stages to work out the details.

As for spending cuts, Democrats would only have to agree to $750 billion over 10 years. About $180 billion of that would come from changing the inflation calculation for benefits, so the other reductions would hardly be extreme. Keep in mind that any changes in ObamaCare (with its 3.8-percentage point payroll tax increase) and major reform of Medicare and Medicaid were long ago ruled out by Democrats.

Despite the modest spending cuts, the deal Mr. Toomey describes would be a big political win for all concerned. It would give the economy a major lift by taking the tax increase now scheduled for 2013 off the table, and it would show that Congress can at least make some progress toward controlling federal spending. With a ratio of $1.50 in spending cuts to $1 in tax increases, the offer is far better for Democrats than the $3 to $1 ratio that President Obama's own Simpson-Bowles deficit commission recommended.

Mr. Toomey says Democrats nonetheless rejected this offer on Tuesday night, a fact that leaves him "enormously frustrated." He says Democrats are insisting on at least $1 trillion in new revenues while refusing to allow any reduction in tax rates or to stop the tax increase that will hit in 2013. The freshman Republican now fears the talks will end with a whimper of small revenue and spending measures that will do little to help the economy or the federal fisc.

We report all this because it's news and because it illustrates the real political obstacles to more sensible economic policy in Washington. In media mythology, the only barrier to a budget deal is conservative opposition to raising taxes. But even when Republicans put $500 billion in statically scored new revenues on the table, at the risk of upsetting their political base, Democrats declare that tax reform without higher tax rates is impossible. So who are the real "ideologues" here?

Democrats must believe they can blame Republicans if the super committee fails, riding their campaign against "millionaires and billionaires" back to complete power in Washington. It's a reckless bet, but the American public may have to call it.

23840  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Mexico City Nov 12-13 on: November 10, 2011, 01:03:54 PM
Leaving tomorrow!

!La Aventura continua!
23841  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Chicago Nov 19-21 on: November 10, 2011, 01:02:26 PM
23842  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PJ Media on Holder's testimony on: November 10, 2011, 12:52:11 PM

Testifying before an intensely partisan Senate Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder only deepened suspicions about the Department of Justice’s possible criminal involvement in a gunwalking operation known as Operation Fast and Furious. The scheme saw the federal government provide more than 2,000 firearms to Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel.
Holder presented the improbable case that he was not responsible for — or even aware of — the plot:
I have ultimate responsibility for that which happens in the Department, but I cannot be expected to know the details for every operation that is ongoing in the Justice Department on a day-to-day basis. I did not know about Fast and Furious as is indicated in the chart that you have up there until I guess, well, until it became public.

Operation Fast and Furious was run primarily by the DOJ, but involved Obama administration officials spread across four Cabinet-level departments, and included direct links to the White House’s National Security Council.
Attorney General Holder’s claim that he was ignorant of one of the most deadly political scandals in U.S. history, which was run out of his department with key input and the understanding of his top lieutenants, is simply not credible.
Holder used his opening statement to shift the blame to the American gun dealers — whom his Department forced to supply weapons to the cartels — and Congress:
“Unfortunately, earlier this year the House of Representatives actually voted to keep law enforcement in the dark when individuals purchase multiple semi-automatic rifles and shotguns in Southwest border gun shops,” Holder’s written testimony declares. “Providing law enforcement with the tools to detect and disrupt illegal gun trafficking is entirely consistent with the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens and it is critical to addressing the public safety crisis on the Southwest border.”

It took considerable gall for Holder to make that allegation against Congress: the long-gun reporting requirement he mentioned was suggested by the Department of Justice to combat a problem that they had created with Operation Fast and Furious.
The hearing was full of jaw-dropping moments. For the first time, Holder conceded the obvious fact: Justice was responsible for firearms being “walked” to Mexican drug lords:
“I want to be clear: any instance of so-called ‘gun-walking’ is simply unacceptable,” Holder said in his opening statement before the Senate Judiciary committee. “Regrettably, this tactic was used as part of Fast and Furious, which was launched to combat gun trafficking and violence on our Southwest border. This operation was flawed in concept, as well as in execution. And, unfortunately, we will feel its effects for years to come as guns that were lost during this operation continue to show up at crime scenes both here and in Mexico.”

The concession came after months of the Department’s top officials claiming that just the opposite was true, until the compiled evidence was insurmountable.
Holder also claimed he did not commit perjury in May, when he claimed under oath that he had first heard about gunwalking just weeks before the hearing. Yet a series of five memos addressed to the attorney general were received ten months before, as was a detailed public statement from President Obama and letter from Senator Charles Grassley dated nine months before his testimony.
The attorney general also claimed that he had other “regrets” involving operation Fast and Furious, including a February letter from the Justice Department that blatantly lied and claimed there was never any gunwalking in the operation. Holder also voiced regret that Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was gunned down — though in the testimony’s most shocking moment, he posited that it was not fair to claim Operation Fast and Furious was responsible for Terry’s death. He made this statement despite the fact that the current official story from the DOJ claims the only two weapons recovered from the murder scene were traced to the operation.
As contentious as the hearing became between Holder and several of the minority Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Senate’s majority Democrats were almost seditiously uninterested in finding out anything about the plot.
Senators Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) dishonestly claimed that the plot was an extension of the Bush-era Operation Wide Receiver. It most decidedly was not, and Holder himself refuted that connection.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Feinstein argued that the plot — in which the government forced firearms dealers to give weapons to criminals — justified more gun-control laws.
And in a surreal moment, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) decided the occasion was a wonderful time to discuss the bullying of gay schoolchildren.
Attorney General Eric Holder will not apologize for the deaths of the U.S. federal agents gunned down as a result of the crimes his Department ramrodded, nor will he or his employer, President Barack Obama, accept responsibility or even demand accountability. They incredibly still insist that they don’t know who came up with the operation or know who approved it, even as documentation points directly to men and women in their employment.
Operation Fast and Furious is beyond impeachable. It was a “felony stupid” plot at best, and at worst a treasonous attempt to amplify violent crime in order to subvert the Constitution.
Playing dumb won’t cut it. Relying on an employee/crony to conduct an investigation while leaking information to those she is investigating won’t cut it. Our government is responsible for arming criminals with thousands of weapons, causing hundreds of deaths.
Either Operation Fast and Furious is investigated by an independent counsel, or there is no rule of law in America.
23843  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 10, 2011, 11:49:22 AM
My own informal polling survey (i.e. my wife) reacted as follows

Perry's gaffe "OMG!  What a dumbass!"

To Newt's 10 minute speech cited in the Newt thread a couple of days ago, her reaction was one focused, respectful interest.  She really liked the way Newt cited the way Lincoln followed Douglas around and spoke after him and promised to do the same with Baraq until Baraq agreed to Newt's proposal for 7 three-hour Lincoln-Douglas debates.

Most everyone who hears this idea knows that Newt alone has what it takes to take Baraq down in such a format. 
23844  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Don't tax you on: November 10, 2011, 11:40:33 AM

Thank you for your question.

I think it was Cong. Dirk Evertson or Cong Wilbur Mills (1960s?) who said "Don't tax you.  Don't tax me.  Tax that fellow behind the tree."

My knowledge in this area is given a boost by the fact that my step father made a goodly amount of money syndicating real estate tax shelters in the 1960s and 1970s.  His business model was destroyed by the Reagan tax rate cuts  of 1980-82.

The politician says to the poor ”Vote for me and I will tax the rich.”

To the rich he says “Don’t worry, it is all a charade.  Give me money and support and I will provide shelters and loopholes for you.”

To the special interests he says “Give me money and support and I will funnel rich people’s money into your hands.”

I will use the 90% rate from 1950s that you cite.  (President JFK proved the Laffer Curve before it had a name by increasing revenues by cutting the rate from 90 to 70%.  Reagan took it down from there.)

The numbers are greatly simplified so as to clarify the concepts involved.

The first thing to understand, is that at a 90% tax rate, the income earner keeps 10 cents.  

The next thing to understand is the concept of “non-cash expenses”-- for example, depreciation on a building.  It requires no outlay of money, but is considered a cost.   Thus under a 90% tax rate regime, a dollar of depreciation puts 90 cents of TAX FREE CASH into the hand of the taxpayer.   Reflect upon this.

With this in mind, lets run through a hypothetical.

Lets say normally a building is given by the tax code 20 years to depreciate.  Thus for a $10M building the depreciation (on a “straight line basis”)  is $500K per year.  If rents equal costs (mortgages, insurance, electricity, upkeep, employees, etc.) i.e. if the building is cash flow breakeven, for the 90% bracket taxpayer the building yields $450 per year because the building is counted as a “loss” of $500k..   (.90 X $500K=$450K).  With me so far?  If the taxpayer has bought the building with $1M (i.e. 10% down) he is out of pocket $100M (remember the IRS would have gotten $900k of the $1M) and he is getting to keep $450K tax free!  Minus the $100K investment, in the first year he has $350K.  In subsequent years, this goes up to $450 because he only had to make the down payment on the building one time.

Pretty bitchin’, yes?  Isn’t it great sockin’ it to the 1%?

Now Congress gets into the act and says “We need to create more housing for the poor!  Vote for us!  Give us money!”   Then they create ACCELERATED DEPRECIATION for projects that meet the specified criteria.  Naturally the criteria tend to be strongly influenced by who is donating money to them.

AD came in various forms such as “double declining balance”, “sum of the years” digits, etc.  Basically this means more depreciation in the early years, less depreciation in the later years.

For simplicity sake, let us assume that the early years yield double the depreciation of straight line depreciation (and this was roughly the case).   Thus in the first year, the “loss”  (remember, this is a non-cash loss) would be $1M and thus instead of $350K more, the taxpayer has $750K more cash in his pocket! ($350+$450=$750K).  However due to the depreciation formula this $750 goes down a bit each year.

So what happens next?

Why he sells his building to someone else and buys another building and starts all over again in the sweet spot of the accelerated depreciation curve!!!  The person who sold him the building does likewise!!!

But that’s not all!!!  If it makes sense for them to do so (and this will be a function of the capital gains rate in relation to the income tax rate) they get to defer the gain on the sale of the building through Section 1031 (reduction of basis in the new building by the amount of the deferred gain)!!!

Isn’t taxing the rich to pay their fair share fun?

But “Wait!” you say “We must stop this!”

Best to batten down the hatches for the squalls of how mean and cold-hearted you are for opposing public-private partnerships on behalf of the poor (for whom the housing in question was “built”.

Don’t tax you.  Don’t tax me.  Tax that fellow behind the tree.

23845  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Guro Crafty in New Braunfels, TX Feb 3-5 on: November 10, 2011, 08:44:22 AM
Guro Crafty in New Braunfels, TX Feb 3-5.

This will be a DBMA School Program seminar.  Guro Boo Dog will be there with me.

Contact: Dog Rick Laue, E-mail

Additional info to follow.
23846  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: November 10, 2011, 08:39:38 AM

Thank you very much for finding that thoughtful piece of analysis.  The only articles I saw about the oral arguments were very unsatisfying and so regretfully I did not post them.

This case is of tremendous importance (indeed, may I ask you to post it on the 4th Amendment/Privacy thread as well?) and I hope you will continue to be on the lookout for us.
23847  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson on fascism, 1821 on: November 10, 2011, 08:32:24 AM
"Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread." --Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, 1821
23848  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Vulnerabilities in Chinese model exposed by Europe's debt crisis on: November 10, 2011, 08:30:46 AM
Vice President of Strategic Analysis Rodger Baker explains how Europe’s debt crisis exposed the vulnerabilities inherent in the Chinese economic model.
Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.
Related Links
•   China Political Memo: Wenzhou Backs Away from the ‘Wenzhou Model’
The Chinese continue to watch the way in which the Europeans are trying to deal with their financial and political crisis right now. For China this is particularly important. Number one, Europe has become China’s largest export market and that has a major impact, of course, on the way in which the Chinese operate their economy. Number two is that a continued or an even deeper crisis in Europe could pull the entire global economy into recession.
Chinese exports to Europe and to much of the rest of the world saw a particularly sharp drop in 2009. This was something that the Chinese government had to rush to stabilize — they counteracted that dip in exports with a huge increase in domestic investment. The Chinese had hoped, during that time, that the Europeans would simply build themselves back up, pull themselves out of this particular crisis and that China would be able to continue with its fairly rapid expansion of exports to Europe to keep its economy chugging along as China headed towards its 2012 leadership transition.
Although Chinese exports to Europe picked up a little bit in 2010, the rate of growth that the Chinese had been seeing in the previous four or five years slowed down quite a bit. The problem for China is that as the pace of export growth slows, the pace of import growth doesn’t. The Chinese still need a very large amount of commodities. They’re importing these commodities, not only to feed their export market, but to feed all of this new domestic investment. And that means that while the Chinese may not be making as much selling, they are having to buy still a very high market prices to be able to develop internally.
The European crisis, and really the slowdown in the United States as well, has brought home to the Chinese something that they already knew but they had hoped to be postponing — and that is the need to fundamentally restructure their economy. The Chinese base their economy very similar on what we’ve seen in other Asian economies; it was an economy that needed continuous growth. Continuous growth in exports, more money, more money every year and that would allow the Chinese simply to borrow, to supply employment, to not have to worry about things like profits, but rather find some ways to funnel money down into the population.
If we look at the Chinese then we see that there’s maybe 300 million people who are part of the really economically active part of China. However, that leaves out more than a billion people from being part of this Chinese economic growth, this Chinese economic activity. Historically, it’s not from the coastal areas, it’s not from the wealthy areas that trouble comes in China. It’s from the rural areas, it’s from the people who are poor, it’s from the people who aren’t connected to this economic system.
One of the solutions the Chinese have tried to follow is urbanization: the idea that if they build it, people will come and if people move to the cities they will suddenly have jobs and in having jobs in the cities and living in a city, they’re going to become consumers. And certainly this is not for the entire billion of the population that’s not active, but maybe another hundred million, 200 million, 300 million. And that would help to better distribute wealth throughout China; it would also ease China off from their heavy dependence upon exports.
This boom in urbanization coincided with this government need to spend a lot more on domestic investment. It also fell right inside of what was already building as a speculative bubble in real estate investment. And that investment was coming not only from the coastal populations in China — the ones who are trying to find ways to save for the future and therefore invest in real estate — but also from businesses, from SOEs, who are buying real estate watching prices go up and then betting against that real estate, or investing or taking out loans against that real estate, to be able to continue to operate their businesses.
So we have a China that’s facing a real estate bubble in an attempt to build a new urbanized society, but the individuals who would be moving into that urbanized society can’t afford to move in because of the price rise in housing. The government is trying to find ways to slow down that rise in price, but if they move too quickly it can undermine the collateral for the loans from state-owned enterprises, it can pull away the nest egg from their middle class and that can cause a very rapid backlash against the central government.
For China then, what this European crisis has done is it has brought something that they’ve known for a long time right up into the front. They no longer have the ability, it seems, to simply keep pushing back economic change and perhaps even not the ability push back political change in the country because the European crisis has ended their ability to count on this continuous rise in exports.
23849  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / In a related vein , , , on: November 10, 2011, 08:15:29 AM
23850  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CNBC debate on: November 09, 2011, 11:29:42 PM
I thought tonight's debate was very good.  A few snap impressions:

a) Newt had set the tone with his praise of his fellow candidates.  Nary a snarky word was heard all night and several positive comments were made about other candidates. 
b) I thought Newt was the strongest one there by far.  The depth of his answers impresses.  His ability to handle "wife beater" questions smoothly is a vital skill and one in which he exceeds all the other candidates-- but Ron Paul comes close on economics.
c) Perry continues to show himself to be all hat and no cattle.  He makes Dubya Bush look positively eloquent, and his moment where he couldn't even remember all three of which departments he would eliminate will be causing much merriment around the net tomorrow.
d) ALL the candidates continue to improve.  The high number of debates has been a good experience for all of them and they are all better for it. 
e) the CNBN reporters thought themselves part of the debate, respresenting the Demcrat side.  Very funny moment when Newt looked at the cute reporter (forget her name) and said "That is humor posing as a question."  She tried calling him on it and his response nailed it.  You are in waaay over your head sugar!
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