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23851  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our man formerly in Iraq on: April 18, 2011, 10:14:33 AM
reports that his interpreter has been badly wounded in a blast but is expected to live.  Prayers for his speedy recovery.

Update: "Laith is out of surgery.  He has a pierced abdomen (two holes) lots of blood loss, lost most of his teeth, is very bruised and battered.  They say that he is going to be fine though.  More as I learn it."
23852  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: April 18, 2011, 03:34:53 AM
Balance Budget amendment would be a big mistake.  For the Dems its stalking horse for higher taxes and for the Reps a trap to become tax collectors for the welfare state.  THE ISSUE IS SPENDING AND ECONOMIC INTERVENTION/MANIPULATION OF THE ECONOMY.
23853  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fascinating piece. Why is it on this thread ??? on: April 18, 2011, 03:31:19 AM
Why is this piece on this thread?

23854  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: April 17, 2011, 12:42:53 AM
I am enjoying being a fly on the wall for this one smiley
23855  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: April 17, 2011, 12:36:59 AM
Would someone care to summarize that?
23856  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: April 17, 2011, 12:34:12 AM
Comments BD?
23857  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Seattle April 16-17 on: April 16, 2011, 02:46:29 AM
BTW, the times are 12:00-17:00
23858  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: April 15, 2011, 07:31:32 PM
Please continue to follow this for us GM!
23859  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: April 15, 2011, 01:21:44 AM
That AQ and the Taliban are not signatories is, IIRC, irrelevant.  We are.

IIRC there is language about irregulars in their own country fighting foreigners so the German spy case may not be on point.
23860  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: April 15, 2011, 01:18:34 AM
Interesting point about the ROTH, CL.

Concerning interest rates:  Not only is Bill Gross of Pimco (considered by most the alpha dog of bonds with over $1T (!!!) IIRC) 100% out of Treasuries, my understanding he is now SHORTING them!!!  shocked shocked shocked

BTW, for the record, I have long given up on the perfect market theory and now believe the market can be wrong longer than I can stay solvent.
23861  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Seattle April 16-17 on: April 15, 2011, 12:36:49 AM
23862  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: April 14, 2011, 10:17:20 PM
Truly and without any sarcasm whatsoever I say that that is quite fascinating-- and legally irrelevant.  Since the Civil War, things have changed quite a bit.  For example, we are now signatories to the Geneva Convention.
23863  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: April 14, 2011, 09:57:55 PM
No intention to be disingenuous here; I'm just saying that while it may momentarily feel good to say "If they have no rules, then we have no rules" IMHO this

a) is wrong
b) does not work as well as having something higher for which we fight, which informs how we fight.

If I may anticipate an argument GM may be tempted to make, this does not mean I am in accord with pussified legalistic claptrap.
23864  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Defecate or get off the pot on: April 14, 2011, 08:27:35 PM
See my comment at the end:

So Pakistan now demands that the United States withdraw hundreds of American intelligence operatives and special-ops trainers from its soil and stop the CIA drone strikes on al Qaeda, Taliban and affiliated terrorists. Maybe the Obama Administration can inform its friends in Islamabad that, when it comes to this particular fight, the U.S. will continue to pursue its enemies wherever they may be, with or without Pakistan's cooperation.

Relations between Washington and Islamabad historically have never been easy, and now they seem to have reached something of a watershed. The fault is not all one-sided. Congressional potentates have made a habit of criticizing Pakistan publicly even when it was cooperating with the U.S. and deploying thousands of troops to fight elements of the Taliban. And promised American aid has been haltingly disbursed.

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Protesters during a rally against Raymond Davis in Karachi in February.
.Then again, Pakistan's behavior hasn't exactly been exemplary. Pakistan's spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, has longstanding links to terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Haqqani network. The government and military have made no move against the Quetta Shura, the operational nerve center in Pakistan of Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

Islamabad's U.S. cooperation has also been double-edged. The government of President Asif Ali Zardari allowed the U.S. to increase the number of drone strikes. Yet it has made a point of complaining about them publicly, playing a particularly cheap form of politics to shore up its waning popularity with a domestic constituency smart enough to see through the hypocrisy.

The Pakistani army was also happy to cooperate with the U.S. when the targets of the strikes were members of the Pakistani Taliban who had their sights set on Islamabad. But the army has been less cooperative when the targets were the Afghan Taliban based in Pakistan or the ISI's terrorist partners.

Matters came to a head in January with Pakistan's arrest of CIA contractor Raymond Davis, after he had shot and killed two armed pursuers. Mr. Davis, who carried an official passport, ought to have been released immediately to U.S. custody under the terms of the Vienna Convention. Instead he was held for 47 days, questioned for 14, and released only after the U.S. government agreed to pay a multimillion-dollar indemnity to the families of the pursuers.

The failure to release Mr. Davis was an indication of how easily cowed Pakistan's civilian government has become in the face of an anti-American public. It also suggested a darker turn by Pakistan's military and the ISI, which were infuriated that Mr. Davis was investigating the activities of the Lashkar-e-Taiba now that it has expanded operations to include terrorism in Afghanistan. Pakistan has also complained bitterly about a drone strike in North Waziristan last month that it claims killed tribal leaders meeting with the Taliban.

A more charitable explanation is that Pakistan's military is angry the CIA is sharing less intelligence with the ISI. In this reading, the mass expulsion of U.S. security officials is really a demand for closer cooperation, even if it's a peculiar way of eliciting it. It's also possible that Pakistan army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is trying to burnish his own public image by way of an anti-American tantrum that will pass in time.

Still, if the CIA doesn't trust the ISI, that's because it has demonstrated repeatedly that it isn't trustworthy. The Pakistani army has yet to reconcile itself to the idea that Afghanistan should be something other than its strategic backyard, preferably under the control of clients such as the Taliban, and it harbors paranoid illusions that India will encroach on Afghanistan to encircle its old enemy.

Pakistan's civilian government has also done itself neither credit nor favor by failing to tell Pakistan's people the truth about drone strikes, which is that they strike with pinpoint accuracy and that claims of civilian casualties are massively inflated for the benefit of Taliban propaganda. The government could also add that insofar as those drones are taking out leaders of the Pakistan Taliban, they are safeguarding Pakistan's beleaguered democracy.

However Islamabad chooses to act, the U.S. has a vital national interest in pursuing Taliban and al Qaeda leaders in their Pakistani sanctuaries, both for the sake of the war in Afghanistan and the security of the American homeland. Pakistan can choose to cooperate in that fight and reap the benefits of an American alliance. Or it can oppose the U.S. and reap the consequences, including the loss of military aid, special-ops and drone incursions into their frontier areas, and in particular a more robust U.S. military alliance with India.

In the wake of 9/11, the Bush Administration famously sent Secretary of State Colin Powell to Islamabad to explain that the U.S. was going to act forcefully to protect itself, and that Pakistan had to choose whose side it was on. It's time to present Pakistan with the same choice again.


What is the point if we are leaving?
23865  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: One language mother of all others? on: April 14, 2011, 05:35:38 PM
The world's 6,000 or so modern languages may have all descended from a single ancestral tongue spoken by early African humans between 50,000 and 70,000 years ago, a new study suggests.

The finding, published Thursday in the journal Science, could help explain how the first spoken language emerged, spread and contributed to the evolutionary success of the human species.

Quentin Atkinson, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand and author of the study, found that the first migrating populations leaving Africa laid the groundwork for all the world's cultures by taking their single language with them—the mother of all mother tongues.

"It was the catalyst that spurred the human expansion that we all are a product of," Dr. Atkinson said.

About 50,000 years ago—the exact timeline is debated—there was a sudden and marked shift in how modern humans behaved. They began to create cave art and bone artifacts and developed far more sophisticated hunting tools. Many experts argue that this unusual spurt in creative activity was likely caused by a key innovation: complex language, which enabled abstract thought. The work done by Dr. Atkinson supports this notion.

His research is based on phonemes, distinct units of sound such as vowels, consonants and tones, and an idea borrowed from population genetics known as "the founder effect." That principle holds that when a very small number of individuals break off from a larger population, there is a gradual loss of genetic variation and complexity in the breakaway group.

Dr. Atkinson figured that if a similar founder effect could be discerned in phonemes, it would support the idea that modern verbal communication originated on that continent and only then expanded elsewhere.

In an analysis of 504 world languages, Dr. Atkinson found that, on average, dialects with the most phonemes are spoken in Africa, while those with the fewest phonemes are spoken in South America and on tropical islands in the Pacific.

The study also found that the pattern of phoneme usage globally mirrors the pattern of human genetic diversity, which also declined as modern humans set up colonies elsewhere. Today, areas such as sub-Saharan Africa that have hosted human life for millennia still use far more phonemes in their languages than more recently colonized regions do.

"It's a wonderful contribution and another piece of the mosaic" supporting the out-of-Africa hypothesis, said Ekkehard Wolff, professor emeritus of African Languages and Linguistics at the University of Leipzig in Germany, who read the paper.

Dr. Atkinson's findings are consistent with the prevailing view of the origin of modern humans, known as the "out of Africa" hypothesis. Bolstered by recent genetic evidence, it says that modern humans emerged in Africa alone, about 200,000 years ago. Then, about 50,000 to 70,000 years ago, a small number of them moved out and colonized the rest of the world, becoming the ancestors of all non-African populations on the planet.

The origin of early languages is fuzzier. Truly ancient languages haven't left empirical evidence that scientists can study. And many linguists believe it is hard to say anything definitive about languages prior to 8,000 years ago, as their relationships would have become jumbled over the millennia.

But the latest Science paper "and our own observations suggest that it is possible to detect an arrow of time" underlying proto-human languages spoken more than 8,000 years ago, said Murray Gell-Mann of the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico, who read the Science paper and supports it. The "arrow of time" is based on the notion that it is possible to use data from modern languages to trace their origins back 10,000 years or even further.

Dr. Gell-Mann, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist with a keen interest in historical linguistics, is co-founder of a project known as Evolution of Human Languages. He concedes that his "arrow of time" view is a minority one.

Only humans have the biological capacity to communicate with a rich language based on symbols and rules, enabling us to pass on cultural ideas to future generations. Without language, culture as we know it wouldn't exist, so scientists are keen to pin down where it sprang from.

Dr. Atkinson's approach has its limits. Genes change slowly, over many generations, while the diversity of phonemes amid a population group can change rapidly as language evolves. While distance from Africa can explain as much as 85% of the genetic diversity of populations, a similar distance measurement can explain only 19% of the variation in phonemic diversity. Dr. Atkinson said the measure is still statistically significant.

Another theory of the origin of modern humans, known as the multiregional hypothesis, holds that earlier forms of humans originated in Africa and then slowly developed their anatomically modern form in every area of the Old World. This scenario implies that several variants of modern human language could have emerged somewhat independently in different locations, rather than solely in Africa.

Early migrants from Africa probably had to battle significant odds. A founder effect on a breakaway human population tends to reduce its size, genetic complexity and fitness. A similar effect could have limited "the size and cultural complexity of societies at the vanguard of the human expansion" out of Africa, the paper notes.

Write to Gautam Naik at

23866  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Palestinian Birth Certificate? on: April 14, 2011, 05:28:29 PM
23867  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / American Patriot Defined on: April 14, 2011, 11:51:05 AM
American Patriot Defined
This Patriots' Day, the 236th Anniversary of the Opening Salvo for American Liberty, The Spirit of Their Sacred Honor Endures
"Citizens by birth or choice of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations." --George Washington
A young reader in the Czech Republic contacted me recently with a question. (Yes, The Patriot Post's message of Liberty is global.)

She wrote, "We as a Czech family subscribe to The Patriot Post and read it with great interest. My homeland has been subject to the tyranny of Nationalist and Marxist Socialism. Could you please help me understand the difference between 'patriotism' and 'nationalism'? In Europe, anyone who puts his country first is called a nationalist and this pejorative term is equated with patriotism."

I responded, "Nationalism refers to a blind allegiance to the state, no matter what the nature of the state may be. American Patriotism refers to the steadfast devotion to the fundamental principles of our nation's Founding, individual Liberty as 'endowed by our Creator,' and the extension of that legacy to our posterity. American Patriotic devotion to Liberty will always be in contest with allegiance to the state or its sovereigns, especially when it manifests in some form of Socialism."

It is easy to understand how a Czech student might find it challenging to distinguish between patriotism and nationalism. Sadly most American students, heirs to the great legacy of Liberty bestowed upon them by generations of Patriots gone before, also can't articulate the difference.

In the early morning hours of the first Patriots' Day, April 19th, 1775, farmers and laborers, landowners and statesmen alike, pledged through action what Thomas Jefferson would later frame in words as "our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor." Thus began the great campaign to reject the predictable albeit tyrannical order of the state and to embrace the difficult toils of securing individual Liberty. It was this as-yet unwritten pledge by militiamen in the Battles of Lexington and Concord, which would delineate the distinction between Liberty and tyranny in Colonial America.

Why would the first generation of American Patriots forgo, in the inimitable words of Samuel Adams, "the tranquility of servitude" for "the animating contest of freedom"?

The answer to that question defined the spirit of American Patriotism at the dawn of the American Revolution, and to this day and for eternity, that spirit will serve as the first line of defense between Liberty and tyranny.

In the first months of the American Revolution, English author and lexicographer Samuel Johnson, a Tory loyalist, wrote that American Patriots' quest for liberty was nothing more than "the delirious dream of republican fanaticism" which would "put the axe to the roots of all government." Johnson concluded famously, "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."

Unlike King George's partisans, however, American Patriots were unwaveringly loyal to something much larger than a mere man or geo-political institution. They pledged their sacred honor in support of Essential Liberty as "endowed by our Creator" and enshrined in our Declaration of Independence and its subordinate guidance, our Constitution.

It is this resolute devotion to the natural rights of man, the higher order of Liberty as endowed by God not government, which defines the spirit of American Patriots, and has obliged the animated contest of freedom from Lexington Green to this day.

In all the generations since the Revolution, and loudly again in the present era, the essence of Johnson's denigration of patriotism has been repeated by all statists, who augment their disdain for Patriots with words like "fascist, nationalist and jingoist."

These statists, Democratic Socialists in the current vernacular, would have you believe that they are the "true patriots," and only they deserve to be the arbiters of Liberty. But caveat emptor: As George Washington implored in his Farewell Address, "Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism."

Liberty, as affirmed through natural law, is an abject affront to Socialists, who can claim dominion over others only if they supplant Rule of Law with their own rule. For such statists, the notion of serving a higher purpose than oneself is enigmatic; consequently, there is a raging ideological battle between Democratic Socialists and Patriots across our nation today.

Our steadfast support for Liberty and limited government is diametrically opposed to the Socialist manifesto of the Democrat Party, as reframed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933, and renewed by every Democrat president since.

Regardless of how statists choose to promote Democratic Socialism, like Nationalist Socialism, it is nothing more than Marxist Socialism repackaged. Ultimately, it likewise seeks a centrally planned economy directed by a single-party state that controls economic production through regulation and income redistribution.

Mustering in response to the current threat of tyranny, the Tea Party movement is the latest incarnation in the lineage of American Patriots serving a cause much greater than our own self-interest. It is a direct ideological descendant of the Sons of Liberty who, in 1773, boarded three East India Company ships and threw 342 chests of tea into Boston Harbor, the first Tea Party.

According to the Democratic Socialists of Barack Obama's ilk, the Tea Party rank and file are an "angry mob" who are "waving their little tea bags" while they "bitterly cling to guns and religion." Indeed, the spirit of American Patriots is anathema to these statists.

In fact, today's Patriots are much like those of previous generations.

We are mothers, fathers and other family members nurturing the next generation of young Patriots. We are farmers, craftsmen, tradesmen and industrial producers. We are small business owners, service providers and professionals in medicine and law. We are employees and employers. We are in ministry at home and missionaries abroad. We are students and professors at colleges and universities, often standing alone for what is good and right.

We are Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and public servants standing in harm's way at home and around the world, who are loyal, first and foremost, to our revered oath to "support and defend" our Constitution.

We are consumers and taxpayers. We are voters.

We are not defined by race, creed, ethnicity, religion, wealth, education or political affiliation, but by our devotion to our Creator, and the Liberty He entrusted to us, one and all.

We are Patriot sons and daughters from all walks of life, heirs to the blessings of Liberty bequeathed to us at great personal cost by our Patriot forebears, confirmed in the opinion that it is our duty to God and Country to extend that blessing to our posterity, and avowed upon our sacred honor to that end. We are vigilant, strong, prepared and faithful.

23868  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, & the US Dollar on: April 14, 2011, 11:25:58 AM
Can't say that I blame them.

The damage being done by our profoundly irrresponsible leadership is incalculable.
23869  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / If I leave I ain't comin' back! on: April 14, 2011, 11:23:57 AM

BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraqi leaders should not expect US forces to return to help in a crisis once they leave at the end of the year, a senior American military official said on Wednesday.
The remarks came just days after US Defence Secretary Robert Gates ended a visit to Iraq during which he urged the country's leaders to assess if they wanted any US troops to remain beyond 2011.
All American forces must leave Iraq by the end of the year under a bilateral security pact.
"If we left -- and this is the health warning we would give to anybody -- be careful about assuming that we will come running back to put out the fire if we don't have an agreement," the official said on condition of anonymity.
"It's hard to do that," he told reporters at Al-Faw Palace in the US military's Camp Victory base on Baghdad's outskirts.
23870  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: April 14, 2011, 10:39:08 AM
1)  Murder laws and enforcement seem to have a significant effect on the net amount of murder.   I'm not seeing that the same can be said of the WOD.

2) Concerening your example of Mexican decriminalization, part of the libertarian argument is that criminalization, which remains the case here in the US, creates extreme profits and thus extreme criminal behavior.  Thus the argument is that the evil behaviors we see in Mexico are fomented by the illegal mega profits here in the US. 

3) In my case, I tend to organize my thinking to distinguish drugs that tend to transcend free will (e.g. heroin, meth, etc) and those that don't (e.g. pot)

4) I think BBG's point that GM tends to avoid cost/benefit analysis has merit

5) I think GM has moved my heart with some of his entries about the costs to the children of drug users
23871  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: April 14, 2011, 10:18:29 AM
THEY may not deserve any better, but it serves us to stay who we are, yes?
23872  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: No pay gap on: April 13, 2011, 05:24:13 PM
Tuesday is Equal Pay Day—so dubbed by the National Committee for Pay Equity, which represents feminist groups including the National Organization for Women, Feminist Majority, the National Council of Women's Organizations and others. The day falls on April 12 because, according to feminist logic, women have to work that far into a calendar year before they earn what men already earned the year before.

In years past, feminist leaders marked the occasion by rallying outside the U.S. Capitol to decry the pernicious wage gap and call for government action to address systematic discrimination against women. This year will be relatively quiet. Perhaps feminists feel awkward protesting a liberal-dominated government—or perhaps they know that the recent economic downturn has exposed as ridiculous their claims that our economy is ruled by a sexist patriarchy.

The unemployment rate is consistently higher among men than among women. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 9.3% of men over the age of 16 are currently out of work. The figure for women is 8.3%. Unemployment fell for both sexes over the past year, but labor force participation (the percentage of working age people employed) also dropped. The participation rate fell more among men (to 70.4% today from 71.4% in March 2010) than women (to 58.3% from 58.8%). That means much of the improvement in unemployment numbers comes from discouraged workers—particularly male ones—giving up their job searches entirely.

Men have been hit harder by this recession because they tend to work in fields like construction, manufacturing and trucking, which are disproportionately affected by bad economic conditions. Women cluster in more insulated occupations, such as teaching, health care and service industries.

Yet if you can accept that the job choices of men and women lead to different unemployment rates, then you shouldn't be surprised by other differences—like differences in average pay.

Feminist hand-wringing about the wage gap relies on the assumption that the differences in average earnings stem from discrimination. Thus the mantra that women make only 77% of what men earn for equal work. But even a cursory review of the data proves this assumption false.

The Department of Labor's Time Use survey shows that full-time working women spend an average of 8.01 hours per day on the job, compared to 8.75 hours for full-time working men. One would expect that someone who works 9% more would also earn more. This one fact alone accounts for more than a third of the wage gap.

Choice of occupation also plays an important role in earnings. While feminists suggest that women are coerced into lower-paying job sectors, most women know that something else is often at work. Women gravitate toward jobs with fewer risks, more comfortable conditions, regular hours, more personal fulfillment and greater flexibility. Simply put, many women—not all, but enough to have a big impact on the statistics—are willing to trade higher pay for other desirable job characteristics.

Men, by contrast, often take on jobs that involve physical labor, outdoor work, overnight shifts and dangerous conditions (which is also why men suffer the overwhelming majority of injuries and deaths at the workplace). They put up with these unpleasant factors so that they can earn more.

Recent studies have shown that the wage gap shrinks—or even reverses—when relevant factors are taken into account and comparisons are made between men and women in similar circumstances. In a 2010 study of single, childless urban workers between the ages of 22 and 30, the research firm Reach Advisors found that women earned an average of 8% more than their male counterparts. Given that women are outpacing men in educational attainment, and that our economy is increasingly geared toward knowledge-based jobs, it makes sense that women's earnings are going up compared to men's.

Should we celebrate the closing of the wage gap? Certainly it's good news that women are increasingly productive workers, but women whose husbands and sons are out of work or under-employed are likely to have a different perspective. After all, many American women wish they could work less, and that they weren't the primary earners for their families.

Few Americans see the economy as a battle between the sexes. They want opportunity to abound so that men and women can find satisfying work situations that meet their unique needs. That—not a day dedicated to manufactured feminist grievances—would be something to celebrate.

Ms. Lukas is executive director of the Independent Women's Forum.

23873  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Ryan's budget on: April 13, 2011, 05:18:36 PM

One point of a document as subversive as Paul Ryan's 2012 budget is to provoke debate, and has it ever. But amid the thoughtful musings about starving orphans and grandma in a snowbank, could his critics at least get their facts right?

Let's unpack the distortions.

• Deficits and debt. Perhaps the most bizarre complaint is that Mr. Ryan's blueprint would worsen the U.S. fiscal imbalance compared to current law. So the House Budget Chairman has proposed supposedly hideous cuts to popular entitlements at great political risk for . . . the fun of it?

Federal deficits have increased 259% over the last three years and the Ryan budget starts to repair the damage. It would bring next year's deficit below $1 trillion, down from estimates of roughly $1.6 trillion for 2011. The false claim that Mr. Ryan would increase deficits and debt seems to be based on a Congressional Budget Office baseline that assumes $4 trillion in new taxes will land after 2012 with the expiration of all the Bush-era tax rates, that the Alternative Minimum Tax will apply to the middle class, and that Medicare physician payments will fall 20% next year.

No one thinks that baseline is at all realistic, least of all President Obama, so the right comparison is with Mr. Obama's 2012 budget. Mr. Ryan proposes smaller deficits for the next 10 years, falling to 1.6% of GDP in 2021 versus 4.9% for the White House. According to CBO, debt held by the public falls to 67.5% of the economy a decade from now from about 69% today, while it rises to 87.4% in Mr. Obama's version.

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Bloomberg News
Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan during a news conference on the House Republican budget.
.• Tax cuts for "the rich." The Ryan budget outline by design does not provide many tax specifics, aside from an instruction to the Ways and Means Committee to propose a reform plan that would swap lower rates for fewer loopholes and special exclusions. This overhaul is not even a net tax cut—the instructions are to design a reform that is revenue neutral. It would hold tax receipts to their post-World War II average of between 18% to 19% as a share of the economy.

The liberal claim that this means a tax cut for the wealthy is based entirely on the fact that marginal tax rates would decline, even though the loopholes primarily benefit higher-income taxpayers. At any rate, Mr. Obama's own deficit commission also favored lowering the rates and broadening the base for a more efficient and competitive tax code.

• Medicare "cuts." The Mediscare machinery is grinding into gear, and the same people who say Mr. Ryan is imposing too much pain on seniors by requiring them to pay a larger portion of their health costs also claim that he's a coward for exempting everyone in or near retirement. In other words, the soup is terrible and the portions are too small.

Mr. Ryan's plan, known as premium support, would gradually bring down health costs and spending, but it's a "cut" only in the sense of slowing the rate of growth. The premium support subsidy—for seniors to choose from a list of regulated private health plans—would start at $15,000 a year and increase annually. It is also means-tested to provide more help for lower-income seniors.

• Real health-care reform. The best way to think about Mr. Ryan's plan is that it offers the true health-care reform that Mr. Obama promised but which vanished in the political drive to put 30 million more Americans on the government rolls. Economists from the center-left to center-right have been recommending premium support for decades, and it was first proposed by Stanford's Alain Enthoven in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1978.

Some version has since been endorsed by everyone from President Clinton's 1999 Medicare commission, chaired by Democrat John Breaux, to Bob Dole and Tom Daschle in 2009. Another iteration was floated this week by a group of Nobel laureates including Ned Phelps, Vernon Smith and George Akerlof.

The core economic distortion in the current health market is that consumers rarely have the incentive to seek the best value for their money. By capping the Medicare subsidy, seniors would pay for the marginal costs of their care, promoting competitive insurance. That would in turn incrementally change how doctors and hospitals provide care, encouraging competition in price and quality.

• Health-care inflation. Aha, retort the critics, Mr. Ryan would only increase Medicare premium support based on the rate of overall inflation, while health costs are growing far faster. This is true, and we can debate whether the annual increase should be indexed to GDP growth or something else.

But the key point is that premium support would reduce health costs over time by changing the incentives of the health market. MIT economist Amy Finkelstein's research suggests that Medicare's 1965 creation led to market-wide changes that explain about half of the increase in real per capita health spending between 1950 and 1990. Mr. Ryan's plan would be as consequential in reverse.

These attacks amount to false fronts for the real objection, which is over the role of government. Mr. Ryan's critics understand very well that he wants to substitute markets for bureaucratic central planning. What he would dismantle isn't Medicare, but its system of one-size-fits-all coverage and price controls. The liberal answer to runaway costs, passed as part of ObamaCare, is the Independent Payment Advisory Board that will decide how much the government will pay for what treatments and was deliberately shielded from Congressional supervision.

Medicare "as we know it" will change because it must. The only issue is how. Mr. Ryan is offering Americans a reform rooted in consumer choice and private competition, rather than political control and bureaucratic rationing. This is why he is under such ferocious liberal assault.

23874  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / KPCC Los Angeles on: April 13, 2011, 04:45:10 PM

Sorry for their over crediting me as starting the group, of course Top Dog and Salty Dog were there too.
23875  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: April 13, 2011, 04:12:09 PM
I had occasion to be in a California Board of Equalization office today (this is CA's IRS).  Lots of purple on the walls and some purple SEIU shirts to be seen.  Naturally I was wearing my "Nobama: Keep the change!" t-shirt  wink

I must say that I was pleasantly shocked at being taken quickly, and treated with considerable humanity by the bureaucrat in question.  She definitely let me slide on something that could have been a big inconvenience, and trusted me to phone in to her information that I did not have with me.

With business concluded, she politely queried about my shirt.  I commented that BO IMHO was a nice man but was bankrupting us.  She answered that he came in at a tough time, when anyone taking office would not have looked good.  I allowed that that had merit and we continued the conversation.  Naturally, I beat her up with simple facts, which I made sure to do in a nice and respectful way.  It was a nice conversation and ended well, in a positive spirit.  I had the impression that I had given her some things to think about.
23876  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Mini Gathering in New Braunfels, TX - May 7th on: April 13, 2011, 03:50:17 PM

You have email.
23877  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Secy Clinton on: April 13, 2011, 12:34:00 PM
WASHINGTON—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressed Arab leaders on Tuesday to accelerate economic and political reforms to meet the growing demands of their publics, but refrained from calling for rulers in Yemen, Bahrain and Syria to step down.

Mrs. Clinton's comments illustrate the selective approach the Obama administration continues to employ in responding to the political uprisings that have surged across the Middle East and North Africa since January.

The secretary of state has aggressively called for the resignations of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and Egypt's Hosni Mubarak in recent months, but suggested to Tuesday's gathering of Arab and American policy makers that other Arab rulers might still play a role in their countries' futures if they embrace political and economic liberalization.

"We know that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't make sense in such a diverse region at such a fluid time," Mrs. Clinton told the U.S.-Islamic World Forum. "Going forward, the United States will be guided by careful consideration of all the circumstances on the ground and by our consistent values and interests."

The calls for democratic change in Bahrain and Yemen have placed Washington in a diplomatic bind, as both countries' leaders have provided significant cooperation in combating terrorism and the regional influence of Iran.

Bahrain hosts the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, which patrols the oil-rich Persian Gulf. And Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has allowed the U.S. to conduct airstrikes inside his country against suspected al Qaeda members.

Still, Bahrain and Yemen have both launched bloody crackdowns on their political oppositions in recent weeks. The relatively subdued U.S. response has drawn criticism from human-rights activists who accuse Washington of employing a double standard in the region.

Mrs. Clinton said the U.S. would continue to press the governments in Manama and San'a to liberalize, but also said they could be part of the solution.

"The United States has a decades-long friendship with Bahrain that we expect to continue long into the future," Mrs. Clinton said. "We have made clear that security alone cannot resolve the challenges facing Bahrain."

The Obama administration also has been restrained in calling for leadership change in Syria, despite President Bashar al-Assad's significant role in challenging U.S. interests in the Mideast. Mr. Assad is Iran's closest Arab ally and directly arms and funds militant groups Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian territories.

In recent weeks, Syrian security forces have killed hundreds of anti-Assad protesters, according to human-rights groups. But Mrs. Clinton was careful in her speech Tuesday not to suggest that Washington is seeking Mr. Assad's ouster. Privately, U.S. officials have voiced concerns that the Syrian leader's fall could lead to sectarian strife.

"President Assad and the Syrian government must respect the universal rights of the Syrian people, who are rightly demanding the basic freedoms that they have been denied," she said.

Mrs. Clinton praised the revolutions that have toppled the decades-old dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt. But sShe stressed that both countries must continue with political and economic changes to ensure their political transitions breed democratic governments that meet the needs of their young, rapidly growing populations. She specifically cited the need for the emerging systems to embrace free markets, combat extremism and promote the rights of women and religious minorities.

"The United States will work with people and leaders across the region to create more open, dynamic and diverse economies," Mrs. Clinton said.

Washington's top diplomat said the Obama administration will increasingly provide financial and technical assistance to help Mideast countries transition to democracy. She said a fund has already been created, with $150 million already committed to assisting Egypt. The U.S.'s Overseas Private Investment Corp. has also committed $2 billion to support private-sector investments in the region, Mrs. Clinton said.

23878  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: April 13, 2011, 12:29:09 PM
Grateful for my Pretty Kitty!
23879  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Government on: April 13, 2011, 12:21:21 PM
Well, that sounds rather scary  shocked
23880  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Government on: April 13, 2011, 10:16:27 AM

So to what sources do we look to define the "Executive Power"?
23881  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Uneasy Relationship on: April 13, 2011, 10:14:28 AM
Pakistan's Uneasy Relationship with the United States

Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha visited Washington on Monday and met with CIA Director Leon Panetta. The trip gave Islamabad a chance to express its anger over the Raymond Davis affair. The CIA contractor’s shooting on the streets of Lahore of two Pakistani citizens – followed by his lengthy detention and subsequent release – has generated waves of criticism amid the Pakistani populace, and has plunged the ISI-CIA relationship into a state of tension that surpasses the normal uneasiness that has always plagued the alliance between Washington and Islamabad.

“The Pakistani concern is that the U.S. will simply rush through a settlement in Afghanistan and exit the country without creating a sustainable post-war political arrangement. This would leave Pakistan to pick up the pieces.”
Pasha’s central demand in the meeting with his American counterpart was reportedly that the United States hand over more responsibility for operations currently carried out by the CIA over Pakistani soil. This primarily means unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) strikes, immensely unpopular with the average Pakistani, but quietly seen as necessary by the political and military establishment, which has an interest in degrading the capability of the Pakistani Taliban. UAV strikes are most politically damaging for Islamabad when the joystick is in the hands of a foreigner; the thinking goes that handing over the controls to a Pakistani at home would greatly reduce popular objections to the bombing missions in northwest Pakistan. Tactically speaking, Pakistan would encounter problems of capability if it ever actually put its own people to the task of running the UAV missions, but this point is rendered moot by the fact that Washington would almost certainly never allow the ISI – seen as a hostile intelligence agency – to have access to some of America’s most secret technology. The same day as Pasha’s visit, the media reported that Pakistan had also demanded Washington dramatically reduce the number of CIA operatives and Clandestine Special Operations Forces working inside of Pakistan. Pakistani army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani reportedly wants 335 such personnel to leave the country, in addition to CIA “contractors” like Davis.

These demands reflect the general Pakistani complaint that it is not seen as an equal by the U.S. government. Islamabad has cooperated with Washington for almost a decade in its war in Afghanistan, though that cooperation is not always forthcoming and helpful in the eyes of the United States. Despite being on the receiving end of billions of dollars of U.S. military aid, Pakistan asserts that the myopic focus on security since 2001 has prevented it from developing its own economy. Washington would counter that without security aid, Pakistan would not have developed to the extent that it has, not to mention issues of corruption and how that has hindered the Pakistani economy. Whatever the reality may be, this encapsulates the Pakistani view toward its relationship with Washington. Indeed, an interview given by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on April 10 focused extensively on Americans’ lack of empathy regarding the help Pakistan is asked to provide Washington on the Afghan front. In addition to pointing to the existence of large amounts of natural gas that are not being developed for export because the issue falls low on the list of priorities created by the Afghan War, Zardari likened the impact of the Afghan War on Pakistan’s border region to the intractability of the Mexican drug war on the borderlands of Texas, saying many U.S. politicians do not understand the impact American foreign policy has in the AfPak region. He also specifically called out members of the U.S. Congress for suffering from “deadline-itis,” a term he coined to describe the compulsion to push ahead with the self-imposed deadline to withdraw from Afghanistan regardless of the realities on the ground.

The United States knows that Pakistan is a critical ally in the Afghan War due to the intelligence it can provide on the various strands of Taliban operating in the country, but it simply does not trust the Pakistanis enough to hand over UAV technology or control over UAV strikes to Islamabad. With time running out before the start of its scheduled withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Pakistani concern is that Washington will simply rush through a settlement in Afghanistan and exit the country without creating a sustainable post-war political arrangement. This would leave Pakistan to pick up the pieces.

Zardari is expected to visit the United States next month and will likely bring up the issue during the trip. He will remind U.S. President Barack Obama of Islamabad’s view that it is in the United States’ interests to utilize Pakistan’s knowledge of Afghan politics in order to come to a real settlement in Afghanistan. Forming a makeshift solution through securing large cities and leaving the countryside in a state of disorder will only plant the seeds for an eventual resurgence of Taliban in the country, which would lead to bigger problems down the line for Pakistan. Gen. David Petraeus has noted publicly that the United States doesn’t have the intelligence capabilities to succeed in Afghanistan on its own, meaning that it needs Islamabad’s help.

The Pakistanis see an opportunity in the current geopolitical environment to garner concessions from Washington that it would otherwise not be able to demand. Washington is distracted by myriad crises in the Arab world at the moment and AfPak is no longer the main course on its plate, as was the case for some time in the earlier days of the Obama presidency. Obama, who billed Afghanistan as the “good war” during his 2008 campaign, would very much like to point to some sort of success there when running again in 2012. For this, he would need Pakistan’s help. The United States is being driven by short-term needs to preclude any sort of serious concessions being made to Islamabad, however. This weakens the Pakistani state just when Washington needs a strong one to help wield its influence in preventing Afghanistan from reverting back to its pre-Sept. 11 days. This is where Pakistan’s leverage lies. However, the question of just how strong it is remains unanswered.

23882  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Rebels hijack Daffy's phone network on: April 13, 2011, 08:40:56 AM
MARGARET COKER in Abu Dhabi and CHARLES LEVINSON in Benghazi, Libya
A team led by a Libyan-American telecom executive has helped rebels hijack Col. Moammar Gadhafi's cellphone network and re-establish their own communications.

The new network, first plotted on an airplane napkin and assembled with the help of oil-rich Arab nations, is giving more than two million Libyans their first connections to each other and the outside world after Col. Gadhafi cut off their telephone and Internet service about a month ago.

That March cutoff had rebels waving flags to communicate on the battlefield. The new cellphone network, opened on April 2, has become the opposition's main tool for communicating from the front lines in the east and up the chain of command to rebel brass hundreds of miles away.

While cellphones haven't given rebel fighters the military strength to decisively drive Col. Gadhafi from power, the network has enabled rebel leaders to more easily make the calls needed to rally international backing, source weapons and strategize with their envoys abroad.

To make that possible, engineeers hived off part of the Libyana cellphone network—owned and operated by the Tripoli-based Libyan General Telecommunications Authority, which is run by Col. Gadhafi's eldest son—and rewired it to run independently of the regime's control. Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim, asked about the rebel cellphone network, said he hadn't heard of it.

A Libyan rebel stood guard Tuesday on a checkpoint between Brega and Ajdabiya. Rebels now can use cellphones to communicate between the front lines and opposition leaders.

.Ousama Abushagur, a 31-year-old Libyan telecom executive raised in Huntsville, Ala., masterminded the operation from his home in Abu Dhabi. Mr. Abushagur and two childhood friends working as corporate managers in Dubai and Doha started fund-raising on Feb. 17 to support the political protests that were emerging in Libya. By Feb. 23, when fighting had erupted, his team delivered the first of multiple humanitarian aid convoys to eastern Libya.

But while in Libya, they found their cellphones and Thuraya satellite phones jammed or out of commission, making planning and logistics challenging.

Security was also an issue. Col. Gadhafi had built his telecommunications infrastructure to fan out from Tripoli—routing all calls through the capital and giving him and his intelligence agents full control over phones and Internet.

On March 6, during a flight back to the United Arab Emirates after organizing a naval convoy to the embattled city of Misrata, Mr. Abushagur says he drew up a diagram on the back of a napkin for a plan to infiltrate Libyana, pirate the signal and carve out a network free of Tripoli's control.

What followed was a race against time to solve the technical, engineering and legal challenges before the nascent rebel-led governing authority was crushed under the weight of Col. Gadhafi's better-equipped forces. After a week of victories in which the rebels swept westward from Benghazi toward Col. Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte, the rebel advance stalled and reversed on March 17, when the United Nations approved a no-fly zone and government forces kicked off a fierce counterattack.

In a sign of deepening ties between Arab governments and the Benghazi-based administration, the U.A.E. and Qatar provided diplomatic support and helped buy the several million dollars of telecommunications equipment needed in Benghazi, according to members of the Libyan transitional authority and people familiar with the situation.

Meanwhile, rebel military commanders were using flags to signal with their troops, a throw-back that proved disastrous to their attempts at holding their front lines.

"We went to fight with flags: Yellow meant retreat, green meant advance," said Gen. Ahmed al-Ghatrani, a rebel commander in Benghazi. "Gadhafi forced us back to the stone age."

Renewed signal jamming also meant that rebel leaders and residents in Benghazi had little warning of the government forces' offensive across east Libya and the March 19 attempted invasion of Benghazi, which sparked panicked civilian evacuations of the city.

.Mr. Abushagur watched the government advances with alarm. His secret cellphone operation had also run into steep problems.

The Chinese company Huawei Technologies Ltd., one of the original contractors for Libyana's cellular network backbone, refused to sell equipment for the rebel project, causing Mr. Abushagur and his engineer buddies to scramble to find a hybrid technical solution to match other companies' hardware with the existing Libyan network. Huawei declined to comment on its customers or work in Libya. The Libyan expats in the project asked that their corporate affiliations be kept confidential so that their political activities don't interfere with their work responsibilities. Without Huawei, the backing from the Persian Gulf nations became essential—otherwise it is unlikely that international telecom vendors would have sold the sophisticated machinery to an unrecognized rebel government or individual businessmen, according to people familiar with the situation.

"The Emirates government and [its telecommunications company] Etisalat helped us by providing the equipment we needed to operate Libyana at full capacity," said Faisal al-Safi, a Benghazi official who oversees transportation and communications issues.

U.A.E. and Qatari officials didn't respond to requests for comment. Emirates Telecommunications Corp., known as Etisalat, declined to comment.

By March 21, most of the main pieces of equipment had arrived in the U.A.E. and Mr. Abushagur was ready to ship them to Benghazi with three Libyan telecom engineers, four Western engineers and a team of bodyguards.

 After 42 years under Moammar Gadhafi's rule, it's hard to imagine what Libya could look like without the dictator in power. WSJ's Neil Hickey reports from Washington on the cloudy outlook for the north African nation.
.But Col. Gadhafi's forces were still threatening to overrun the rebel capital and trying to bomb its airport. Mr. Abushagur diverted the team and their equipment to an Egyptian air base on the Libyan border. Customs bureaucracy cost them a week, though Egypt's eventual approval was another show of Arab support for rebels. Egypt's governing military council couldn't be reached for comment.

Once in Libya, the team paired with Libyana engineers and executives based in Benghazi. Together, they fused the new equipment into the existing cellphone network, creating an independent data and routing system free from Tripoli's command.

The team also captured the Tripoli-based database of phone numbers, giving them information necessary to patch existing Libyana customers and phone numbers into their new system—which they dubbed "Free Libyana." The last piece of the puzzle was securing a satellite feed through which the Free Libyana calls could be routed—a solution provided by Etisalat, according to Benghazi officials.

On April 2, Mr. Abushagur placed a test call on the system to his wife back in Abu Dhabi. "She's the one who told me to go for it in the first place," he said.

International calling from Libya is still limited to the few individuals and officials in eastern Libya who most need it. Incoming calls have to be paid for by prepaid calling cards, except for Jordan, Egypt and Qatar.

Domestic calling works throughout eastern Libya up until the Ajdabiya, the last rebel-held town in the east. An added bonus of the new network: It is free for domestic calls, at least until Free Libyana gets a billing system up and running.

—Loretta Chao, Shireen El-Gazzar and Sam Dagher contributed to this article.
23883  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Jefferson 1808 on: April 13, 2011, 08:24:15 AM

"The same prudence which in private life would forbid our paying our own money for unexplained projects, forbids it in the dispensation of the public moneys." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to Shelton Gilliam, 1808

23884  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Government on: April 13, 2011, 08:21:22 AM
I very much agree with the point made about Congress failing to exert its powers.  Perhaps I am a simpleton, but I do not get why the House Republicans simply do not pass the budget they want and refuse to pass anything else.  Spending bills must originate in the House, yes?  Wouldn't this leave Obama and the Dems in the position of having to "shut down" the govt. or shut up?

As usual BD raises an interesting point about Article II.  Would you flesh this out for us a bit please BD?
23885  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 10 Reasons to Support Herman Cain on: April 13, 2011, 08:15:03 AM
Top Ten Reasons to Support Herman Cain for President
By C. Edmund Wright
Even those conservatives who will not vote for Herman Cain to win the Republican nomination should hope that he does run -- and that his candidacy lasts a long time during the nomination process, perhaps even succeeding.

Not the least of reasons is that a Cain candidacy would be a hoot.  And I do not mean that in a derisive or condescending way at all.  I mean that it would be the kind of doggone honest and refreshing campaign the country needs.  It would be the opposite of the stale McCain run.  Cain does not speak Washington drivel, and he's not afraid to take a strong position.  Dare I say it?  He'll call a spade a spade, and he'll reach across the aisle only to smack someone down.  He will admit what McCain would not: that we do have a lot to fear from an Obama presidency.

Herman Cain is peerless among the long list of potential candidates -- and his impact on the field and the direction of the party will be in the direction of free enterprise, less government, and speaking with boldness -- you know, pretty much the opposite of what the GOP has done since Newt's Congress lost steam in the mid- to late '90s. 

To codify, here are the top reasons to support Cain based on my observation of the man over a period of years:

10. The "race card": A Cain candidacy not only takes the race card off the table -- it might in fact put it in the Republicans' camp.  Frankly, Cain is "blacker" than Obama in every way imaginable.  He does not have a white parent.  He has a slight black dialect and does not "turn it off" to impress Harry Reid or Joe Biden, nor does he "amp it up" to impress Jeremiah Wright.   

As Obama's presidency has shown, America did not need a black president.  What America needs is to just get over the race thing, period.  Cain is over it, and I bet he would flat-out tell Obama to get over it, too.

9. Been there, done that: Cain brings a lot of "been there, done that" to the office, and that is in stark contrast not only to Obama, but to almost anyone else running.  Cain is not shy about making fun of politicians' lack of understanding of the reality of the free-enterprise system, and certainly no group embodies that ignorance more than Obama and his administration.  Making a payroll; dealing with employees, the IRS, the INS, insurance companies; dealing with rents, lawsuits, unemployment commissions, etc. -- Cain has been there, done that.  Obama has not.

8. Not forgettable: One Herman Cain soundbite is worth ten from, what's his name?  Oh, yeah, Pawlenty.  Cain's boldness and confidence and accent and voice will cut through the noise out there, and this makes his candidacy dangerous even if he faces some financial handicaps versus other folks running.  He is a talk radio host now by trade and knows how to hold folks' attention.

7. Will break every rule set for him by "strategists": This one might be my favorite.  Cain has never counted on political strategists to get him where he is now, and this alone separates him from all other candidates.  Lord help the first "strategist" from the RNC who advises Cain to "tone it down" or "soften his position."

6. Will really get under the skin of the Washingtonian class: A Cain candidacy would drive David Brooks to apoplexy.  Charles Krauthammer -- doing his best to run off legions of his longtime fans -- would no doubt find some Palinesque reasons to object to Cain.  And those are the conservative ruling-class folks.  Imagine what the liberals will say about this non-Ivy league, non-elected Southern black guy running for president.  I can't wait to hear it.

5. Will not get in way of the 2010 Congress' momentum: This might be the most important reason to support a Cain candidacy.  He has gained momentum as part of the Tea Party movement that was the defining factor in the 2010 congressional elections.  A Cain candidacy would be in lockstep with what the country told Congress it wanted in November 2010.  It will be an extension of the 2010 campaign, and that's preferable to a presidential election that will distract from the 2010 results.

4. Never held office before: While Cain's opponents -- on both sides of the aisle -- are licking their chops over this one, they should rethink this.  Mr. Cain already has a lethal (can we still say that?) response to this one: "Everyone in Washington has held public office before.  How's that working out for you?"  Case closed.

3. Ann Coulter's second-favorite pick: So Ann's first choice is Chris Christie, and Cain comes in second.  With some 25 names floating around out there, being number 2 on anyone's list is pretty good at this point in the game.  Besides, I predict that Cain will overtake Christie on Ann's list.  Cain is more conservative and even less afraid to speak his mind.  While I love Christie's boldness on the issues where he is conservative, he will wobble off to the Jersey left a bit on some issues.  Cain will not. 

2. Will not be cowed by the new speech police: The attempt by the left to silence conservatives in light of the Tucson shootings will not be the last.  And you can bet that when they do, some on the right will recoil and fall prey, regardless of how mindless the attempts are.  If you have followed Herman Cain, you know that this will not be an issue for him.

And the number one reason to support a Cain candidacy?  It opens the door to a ticket of Cain and Haley Barbour in some order.  OK, maybe this is not earthshaking, but imagine the "racist Republican Party" putting forth a national ticket including a drawlin' Mississippi good ol' boy and a black businessman who still speaks a smidgen of Ebonics.

This would be the hope and change America thought they were getting in 2008.  This would be ticket not so much of "racial healing" as it would be the ticket of "just get over the race thing."  Because liberalism is joined at the hip with the race pimp industry, a liberal African-American cannot by definition do for the country what a black conservative can.  A black liberal winning reinforces counterproductive stereotypes.  A conservative black winning crushes them.  Period.

Yes, I know that reasons number one and ten seem a lot alike.  They are.  We have just about destroyed our country trying to put this issue to bed, and the result is that tensions are higher than they were before Obama was elected.  Which we predicted.

A Cain presidency would actually go a long way towards solving this.  And besides, Mr. Cain has some great ideas for getting government out of our way and letting America be America again.  And we all need that.
91 Comments on "Top Ten Reasons to Support Herman Cain for President"
23886  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Palo Venezolano on: April 12, 2011, 10:42:42 PM
23887  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: April 12, 2011, 08:09:12 PM
That was quite lucid.
23888  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Israel's Iron Dome on: April 12, 2011, 07:48:12 PM
Dispatch: Israel's Iron Dome
April 12, 2011 | 1923 GMT
Click on image below to watch video:

Military analyst Nathan Hughes examines Israel’s new defense against rockets fired from Gaza and its political significance for both the Israelis and Palestinians.

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

Iron Dome is a new evolving dynamic in the struggle between Hamas, other Palestinian militant factions and Israel in the Gaza Strip. Iron Dome is intended to intercept and shoot down Palestinian rockets — larger, longer-range rockets, from the Qassam to the larger Grad and Fajr threats. Though it is only a preliminary, essentially preoperational deployment, it is already taking on both current and future potential significance.

Currently, two Iron Dome batteries are deployed near larger population centers in southern Israel. But as currently conceived, it would take over 20 batteries to defend against rockets fired from the Gaza Strip alone. Offensive rockets tend to be inherently cheaper than more sophisticated defensive interceptors to protect against them. And this is certainly the case in Gaza, where on the lower end of the spectrum Qassam rockets that are essentially homemade in garages can cost as little as several hundred dollars to assemble, while the new interceptors used with Iron Dome are thought to cost as much as $50,000 apiece. This sort of dynamic allows for cheaper rockets fired in mass to overwhelm the limited magazines of defensive batteries, though this is not traditionally how Hamas or Hezbollah have deployed their artillery rockets, and there’s not a whole lot of sign yet that Hamas is adjusting its tactics accordingly.

The precise details of Iron Dome’s recent performance and its engagement parameters are unlikely to be discussed in the public domain in too much detail. But the bottom line is that any weapon system, when it’s first deployed on the battlefield, is confronted almost invariably with operational realities and unforeseen circumstances for which it wasn’t originally designed. So while you’re unlikely to see perfect or even near-perfect performance out of a weapon system, these are exactly the experiences that allow engineers to further refine and improve the weapon system as its deployed more fully. In the meantime, Israel certainly has an incentive to talk up the effectiveness and performance of the limited Iron Dome batteries that are currently deployed, while Hamas at the same time has the opposite incentive — to reject its performance, and as we’ve already seen out of Hamas, to sort of mock the price disparity between the rockets that Hamas fires and what Israel is spending to attempt to defend against them.

Ultimately, Hamas continues to fear ongoing isolation behind an Israeli blockade supported by an Egyptian regime in Cairo. The prospect of that continued isolation combined with an even moderately effective system to defend against Hamas’ larger, longer-range rockets, which remain its most effective way to continue to hit back at the Israelis, has got to be a matter of concern for Hamas, even if the prospect for more full fielding of the system is still years down the road.

23889  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: April 12, 2011, 10:35:16 AM
What role the absence of economic opportunity?  And why is it absent?
23890  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: The Arab Risings, Israel, & Hamas on: April 12, 2011, 10:34:05 AM
The Arab Risings, Israel and Hamas
April 12, 2011

By George Friedman

There was one striking thing missing from the events in the Middle East in past months: Israel. While certainly mentioned and condemned, none of the demonstrations centered on the issue of Israel. Israel was a side issue for the demonstrators, with the focus being on replacing unpopular rulers.

This is odd. Since even before the creation of the state of Israel, anti-Zionism has been a driving force among the Arab public, perhaps more than it has been with Arab governments. While a few have been willing to develop open diplomatic relations with Israel, many more have maintained informal relations: Numerous Arab governments have been willing to maintain covert relations with Israel, with extensive cooperation on intelligence and related matters. They have been unwilling to incur the displeasure of the Arab masses through open cooperation, however.

That makes it all the more strange that the Arab opposition movements — from Libya to Bahrain — have not made overt and covert cooperation with Israel a central issue, if for no other reason than to mobilize the Arab masses. Let me emphasize that Israel was frequently an issue, but not the central one. If we go far back to the rise of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser and his revolution for Pan-Arabism and socialism, his issues against King Farouk were tightly bound with anti-Zionism. Similarly, radical Islamists have always made Israel a central issue, yet it wasn’t there in this round of unrest. This was particularly surprising with regimes like Egypt’s, which had formal relations with Israel.

It is not clear why Israel was not a rallying point. One possible explanation is that the demonstrations in the Islamic world were focused on unpopular leaders and regimes, and the question of local governance was at their heart. That is possible, but particularly as the demonstrations faltered, invoking Israel would have seemed logical as a way to legitimize their cause. Another explanation might have rested in the reason that most of these risings failed, at least to this point, to achieve fundamental change. They were not mass movements involving all classes of society, but to a great extent the young and the better educated. This class was more sophisticated about the world and understood the need for American and European support in the long run; they understood that including Israel in their mix of grievances was likely to reduce Western pressure on the risings’ targets. We know of several leaders of the Egyptian rising, for example, who were close to Hamas yet deliberately chose to downplay their relations. They clearly were intensely anti-Israeli but didn’t want to make this a crucial issue. In the case of Egypt, they didn’t want to alienate the military or the West. They were sophisticated enough to take the matter step by step.

Hamas’ Opportunity

A second thing was missing from the unrest: There was no rising, no intifada, in the Palestinian territories. Given the general unrest sweeping the region, it would seem logical that the Palestinian public would have pressed both the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and Hamas to organize massive demonstrations against Israel. This didn’t happen.

This clearly didn’t displease the PNA, which had no appetite for underwriting another intifada that would have led to massive Israeli responses and disruption of the West Bank’s economy. For Hamas in Gaza, however, it was a different case. Hamas was trapped by the Israeli-Egyptian blockade. This blockade limited its ability to access weapons, as well as basic supplies needed to build a minimally functioning economy. It also limited Hamas’ ability to build a strong movement in the West Bank that would challenge Fatah’s leadership of the PNA there.

Hamas has been isolated and trapped in Gaza. The uprising in Egypt represented a tremendous opportunity for Hamas, as it promised to create a new reality in Gaza. If the demonstrators had succeeded not only in overthrowing Hosni Mubarak but also in forcing true regime change — or at least forcing the military to change its policy toward Hamas — the door could have opened for Hamas to have increased dramatically its power and its room to maneuver. Hamas knew that it had supporters among a segment of the demonstrators and that the demonstrators wanted a reversal of Egyptian policy on Israel and Gaza. They were content to wait, however, particularly as the PNA was not prepared to launch an intifada in the West Bank and because one confined to Gaza would have had little effect. So they waited.

For Hamas, a shift in Egyptian policy was the opening that would allow them to become militarily and politically more effective. It didn’t happen. The events of the past few months have shown that while the military wanted Mubarak out, it was not prepared to break with Israel or shift its Gaza policy. Most important, the events thus far have shown that the demonstrators were in no position to force the Egyptian military to do anything it didn’t want to do. Beyond forcing Mubarak out and perhaps having him put on trial, the basic policies of his regime remained in place.

Over the last few weeks, it became apparent to many observers, including the Hamas leadership, that what they hoped for in Egypt was either not going to happen any time soon or perhaps not at all. At the same time, it was obvious that the movement in the Arab world had not yet died out. If Hamas could combine the historical animosity toward Israel in the Arab world with the current unrest, it might be able to effect changes in policy not only in Egypt but also in the rest of the Arab world, a region that, beyond rhetoric, had become increasingly indifferent to the Palestinian cause.

Gaza has become a symbol in the Arab world of Palestinian resistance and Israeli oppression. The last war in Gaza, Operation Cast Lead, has become used as a symbol in the Arab world and in Europe to generate anti-Israeli sentiment. Interestingly, Richard Goldstone, lead author of a report on the operation that severely criticized Israel, retracted many of his charges last week. One of the Palestinians’ major achievements was shaping public opinion in Europe over Cast Lead via the Goldstone Report. Its retraction was therefore a defeat for Hamas.

In the face of the decision by Arab demonstrators not to emphasize Israel, in the face of the apparent failure of the Egyptian rising to achieve definitive policy changes, and in the face of the reversal by Goldstone of many of his charges, Hamas clearly felt that it not only faced a lost opportunity, but it was likely to face a retreat in Western public opinion (albeit the latter was a secondary consideration).

The Advantage of Another Gaza Conflict for Hamas

Another Israeli assault on Gaza might generate forces that benefit Hamas. In Cast Lead, the Egyptian government was able to deflect calls to stop its blockade of Gaza and break relations with Israel. In 2011, it might not be as easy for them to resist in the event of another war. Moreover, with the uprising losing steam, a war in Gaza might re-energize Hamas, using what would be claimed as unilateral brutality by Israel to bring far larger crowds into the street and forcing a weakened Egyptian regime to make the kinds of concessions that would matter to Hamas.

Egypt is key for Hamas. Linked to an anti-Israel, pro-Hamas Cairo, the Gaza Strip returns to its old status as a bayonet pointed at Tel Aviv. Certainly, it would be a base for operations and a significant alternative to Fatah. But a war would benefit Hamas more broadly. For example, Turkey’s view of Gaza has changed significantly since the 2010 flotilla incident in which Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish civilians on a ship headed for Gaza. Turkey’s relationship with Israel could be further weakened, and with Egypt and Turkey both becoming hostile to Israel, Hamas’ position would improve. If Hamas could cause Hezbollah to join the war from the north then Israel would be placed in a challenging military position perhaps with the United States, afraid of a complete breakdown of its regional alliance system, forcing Israel to accept an unfavorable settlement.

Hamas had the same means for starting a war it had before Cast Lead and that Hezbollah had in 2006. It can still fire rockets at Israel. For the most part, these artillery rockets — homemade Qassams and mortars, do no harm. But some strike Israeli targets, and under any circumstances, the constant firing drives home the limits of Israeli intelligence to an uneasy Israeli public — Israel doesn’t know where the missiles are stored and can’t take them out. Add to this the rocket that landed 20 miles south of Tel Aviv and Israeli public perceptions of the murder of most of a Jewish family in the West Bank, including an infant, and it becomes clear that Hamas is creating the circumstances under which the Israelis have no choice but to attack Gaza.

Outside Intervention

After the first series of rocket attacks, two nations intervened. Turkey fairly publicly intervened via Syria, persuading Hamas to halt its attacks. Turkey understood the fragility of the Arab world and was not interested in the uprising receiving an additional boost from a war in Gaza. The Saudis also intervened. The Saudis provide the main funding for Hamas via Syria and were themselves trying to stabilize the situation from Yemen to Bahrain on its southern and eastern border; it did not want anything adding fuel to that fire. Hamas accordingly subsided.

Hamas then resumed its attack this weekend. We don’t know its reasoning, but we can infer it: Whatever Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Syria or anyone else wanted, this was Hamas’ historic opportunity. If Egypt returns to the status quo, Hamas returns to its trap. Whatever their friends or allies might say, missing this historic opportunity would be foolish for it. A war would hurt, but a defeat could be turned into a political victory.

It is not clear what the Israelis’ limit is. Clearly, they are trying to avoid an all-out assault on Gaza, limiting their response to a few airstrikes. The existence of Iron Dome, a new system to stop rockets, provides Israel some psychological comfort, but it is years from full deployment, and its effectiveness is still unknown. The rockets can be endured only so long before an attack. And the Goldstone reversal gives the Israelis a sense of vindication that gives them more room for maneuver.

Hamas appears to have plenty of rockets, and it will use them until Israel responds. Hamas will use the Israeli response to try to launch a broader Arab movement focused both on Israel and on regimes that openly or covertly collaborate with Israel. Hamas hopes above all to bring down the Egyptian regime with a newly energized movement. Israel above all does not want this to happen. It will resist responding to Hamas as long as it can, but given the political situation in Israel, its ability to do so is limited — and that is what Hamas is counting on.

For the United States and Europe, the merger of Islamists and democrats is an explosive combination. Apart, they do little. Together, they could genuinely destabilize the region and even further undermine the U.S. effort against jihadists. The United States and Europe want Israel to restrain itself but cannot restrain Hamas. Another war, therefore, is not out of the question — and in the end, the decision to launch one rests with Hamas.

23891  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: April 12, 2011, 10:23:51 AM
 cheesy cheesy cheesy
23892  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: April 12, 2011, 09:59:52 AM

We are launching efforts in California to pick up more Congressional Support.  Success and strength will achieved through growing our numbers.  Being strong in all 53 of our congressional districts will carry the day.  You are invited to join us on a Telephone Conference Call on Wednesday, April 13th, at 7:00 pm.  Dial-In Number:  (610) 214-0000

                               Access Code:  960846

This call will provide us with an opportunity to meet and greet, and discuss efforts we are making in the districts to promote Fair Tax.  We would of course like to discuss areas where we can help and support.  We look forward to hearing from you. 

Yours in the cause,
John Wesley Nobles
CA Volunteer State Director

Click here to visit the homepage for this group

If the text above does not appear as a clickable link, you can visit the web address:

23893  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: How to cut government spending on: April 11, 2011, 10:54:06 AM

God & Country, Strength & Honor
Freedom & Responsibility

23894  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor 2d quarter forecast on: April 11, 2011, 10:19:49 AM
In our 2011 annual forecast, we highlighted three predominant issues for the year: complications with Iran surrounding the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, the struggle of the Chinese leadership to maintain stability amid economic troubles, and a shift in Russian behavior to appear more conciliatory, or to match assertiveness with conciliation. While we see these trends remaining significant and in play, we did not anticipate the unrest that spread across North Africa to the Persian Gulf region.

In the first quarter of 2011, we saw what appeared to be a series of dominoes falling, triggered by social unrest in Tunisia. In some sense, there have been common threads to many of the uprisings: high youth unemployment, rising commodity prices, high levels of crony capitalism, illegitimate succession planning, overdrawn emergency laws, the lack of political and media freedoms and so on. But despite the surface similarities, each has also had its own unique and individual characteristics, and in the Persian Gulf region, a competition between regional powers is playing out.

When the Tunisian leadership began to fall, we were surprised at the speed with which similar unrest spread to Egypt. Once in Egypt, however, it quickly became apparent that what we were seeing was not simply a spontaneous uprising of democracy-minded youth (though there was certainly an element of that), but rather a move by the military to exploit the protests to remove Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, whose succession plans were causing rifts within the establishment and opening up opportunities for groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.

As we noted in our annual forecast; “While the various elements that make up the state will be busy trying to reach a consensus on how best to navigate the succession issue, several political and militant forces active in Egypt will be trying to take advantage of the historic opportunity the transition presents.” In this quarter, we see the military working to consolidate its control, balance the lingering elements of the pro-democracy movement, and keep the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist forces in check. Cairo is watching Israel very carefully in this respect, as Israeli military actions against the Palestinians or against southern Lebanon could force the Egyptian leadership to reassess the peace treaty with Israel, and give the Islamist forces in Egypt a political boost.

In Bahrain, we saw Iran seeking to take advantage of the general regional discontent to challenge Saudi interests. The Saudis intervened militarily, and for now appear to have things locked down in their smaller neighbor. Tehran is looking throughout the region to see which levers it is willing or capable of pulling to keep Saudi Arabia unbalanced while not going so far as to convince the United States it should keep a large force structure in Iraq. Countering Iran is Turkey, which has become more active in the region. The balancing between these two regional powers will be a major element shaping the second quarter and beyond.

We are entering a very dynamic quarter. The Persian Gulf region is the center of gravity, and the center of a rising regional power competition. A war in or with Israel is a major wild card that could destabilize the area further. Amid this, the United States continues to seek ways to disengage while not leaving the region significantly unbalanced. Off to the side is China, more intensely focused on domestic instability and facing rising economic pressures from high oil prices and inflation. Russia, perhaps, is in the best position this quarter, as Europe and Japan look for additional sources of energy, and Moscow can pack away some cash for later days.

Middle East
Table of Contents
Middle East
South Asia
East Asia
Former Soviet Union
Sub-Saharan Africa
Latin America

Regional Trend: Iran’s Confrontation with the Arab World

The instability in the Middle East carrying the most strategic weight is centered on the Persian Gulf, where Bahrain has become a proxy battleground between Iran and its Sunni Arab rivals. Iran appears to have used its influence and networks to encourage or exploit rising unrest in Bahrain as part of a covert destabilization campaign in eastern Arabia, relying on a Shiite uprising in Bahrain to attempt to produce a cascade of unrest that would spill into the Shiite-heavy areas of Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province. Saudi Arabia responded by sending military forces into its island neighbor.

Continued crackdowns and delays in political reforms will quietly fuel tensions between the United States and many of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states as Washington struggles between its need to complete the withdrawal from Iraq and to find a way to counterbalance Iran. The Iranians hope to exploit this dilemma by fomenting enough instability in the region to compel the United States and Saudi Arabia to come to Tehran for a settlement on Iranian terms or to fracture U.S.-Saudi ties, thereby drawing Washington into negotiations to end the unrest and thus obtain the opportunity to withdraw from Iraq. So far, that appears unlikely. Iran has successfully spread alarm throughout the GCC states, but it will face a much more difficult time in sustaining unrest in eastern Arabia in the face of intensifying GCC crackdowns.

Iran probably will have to resort to other arenas to exploit the Arab uprisings. In each of these arenas, Iran also will face considerable constraints. In Iraq, for example, Iran has a number of covert assets at its disposal to raise sectarian tensions, but in doing so, it risks upsetting the U.S. timetable for withdrawal and undermining the security of Iran’s western flank in the long term.

In the Levant, Iran could look to its militant proxy relationships with Hezbollah in Lebanon and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Palestinian territories to provoke Israel into a military confrontation on at least one front, and possibly on two. An Israeli military intervention in the Gaza Strip would put pressure on the military-led regime in Egypt as it attempts to constrain domestic Islamist political forces. Syria, which carries influence over the actions of the principal Palestinian militant factions, can be swayed by regional players like Turkey to keep this theater contained, but calm in the Levant is not assured for the second quarter given the broader regional dynamic.

In the Arabian Peninsula, Iran can look to the Yemeni-Saudi borderland, where it can fuel an already-active al-Houthi rebellion with the intent of inciting the Ismaili Muslim communities in Saudi Arabia’s southern provinces in hopes of sparking Shiite unrest in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province. This represents a much more roundabout method for trying to threaten the Saudi kingdom, but the current instability in Yemen affords Iran the opportunity to meddle amid the chaos.

Regional Trend: War in Libya, Fears in Egypt

Libya probably will remain in a protracted crisis through the next quarter. Though the Western leaders of the NATO-led military campaign have tied themselves to an unstated mission of regime change, an air campaign alone is unlikely to achieve that goal. Gadhafi’s support base, while under immense pressure, largely appears to be holding on in western Libya. The eastern rebels meanwhile remain an amateurish group that is not going to transform into a competent militant force within three months. The more the rebels attempt to advance westward across hundreds of miles of desert toward Tripoli, the easier Gadhafi’s forces can fall back to populated areas where NATO is increasingly unable to provide close air support for fear of inflicting civilian casualties. The geography and military realities in Libya promote a stalemate, and the historic split between western Tripolitania and eastern Cyrenaica will persist. The elimination of Gadhafi by hostile forces or by someone within his regime cannot be ruled out in this time frame, nor can a potential political accommodation involving one of Gadhafi’s sons or another tribal regime loyalist. Though neither scenario is likely to rapidly resolve the situation, a stalemate could allow some energy production and exports to resume in the east.

Coming out of its own political crisis, Egypt sees an opportunity in the Libya affair to project influence over the oil-rich eastern region and position itself as the Arab power broker for Western countries looking to earn a stake in a post-Gadhafi scenario. However, domestic constraints probably will inhibit Egyptian attempts to extend influence beyond its borders as Cairo continues its attempts to resuscitate the Egyptian economy and prepare for elections slated for September. Egypt also has a great deal to worry about in Gaza, where it fears that a flare-up between Palestinian militant factions and Israeli military forces could embolden the Egyptian opposition Muslim Brotherhood and place strains on the Egypt-Israel peace treaty.

Regional Trend: Syria Locking Down

The minority Alawite Syrian regime will resort to more forceful crackdowns in an attempt to quell spreading unrest. There is no guarantee that the regime’s traditional tactics will work, but Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s government appears more capable than many of its embattled neighbors in dealing with the current unrest. The crackdowns in Syria occurring against the backdrop of a stalemated Libyan military campaign will expose the growing contradictions in U.S. public diplomacy in the region, as the United States and Israel face an underlying imperative to maintain the al Assad regime in Syria which, while hostile, is weak and predictable enough to be preferable to an Islamist alternative. Both the GCC states and Iran will attempt to exploit Syria’s internal troubles in trying to sway the al Assad regime to their side in the broader Sunni-Shiite regional rivalry, but Syria will continue managing its foreign relations in a cautious manner, keeping itself open to offers but refusing commitment to any one side.

Regional Trend: Rising Turkey

The waves of unrest lapping at Turkey’s borders are accelerating Turkey’s regional rise. This quarter will be a busy one for Ankara, as the country prepares for June elections expected to see the ruling Justice and Development Party consolidate its political strength. Turkey will be forced to divide its attention between home and abroad as it tries to put out fires in its backyard. The crisis in Libya provides Turkey an opportunity to re-establish a foothold in North Africa, while in the Levant Turkey will be playing a major role in trying to manage the situation in Syria to avoid a spillover of Kurdish unrest into its own borders. Where Turkey is most needed, and where it actually holds significant influence, is in the heart of the Arab world: Iraq. Iran’s destabilization attempts in eastern Arabia and the United States’ overwhelming strategic need to end its military commitment to Iraq will put Turkey in high demand for both Washington and the GCC states as a counterbalance to a resurgent Iran.

Regional Trend: Yemen in Crisis

The gradual erosion of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime over the next quarter will plant the seeds for civil conflict. Both sides of the political divide in Yemen agree that Saleh will be making an early political exit, but there are a number of complications surrounding the transition negotiations that will extend the crisis. As tribal loyalties continue to fluctuate among the various political actors and pressures pile on the government, the writ of the Saleh regime will increasingly narrow to the capital of Sanaa, allowing rebellions elsewhere in the country to intensify.

Al-Houthi rebels of the Zaydi sect in the north are expanding their autonomy in Saada province bordering the Saudi kingdom, creating the potential for Saudi military intervention. An ongoing rebellion in the south as well as a resurgence of the Islamist old guard within the security apparatus opposing Saleh will meanwhile provide an opportunity for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to expand its areas of operation. Saleh’s eventual removal — a goal that has unified Yemen’s disparate opposition groups so far — will exacerbate these conditions, as each party falls back to their respective agendas. Saudi Arabia will be the main authority in Yemen trying to manage this crisis, with its priority being suppressing al-Houthi rebels in the north.

South Asia
Table of Contents
Middle East
South Asia
East Asia
Former Soviet Union
Sub-Saharan Africa
Latin America

Regional Trend: Intensifying Taliban Actions in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Our annual forecast remains on track for Afghanistan. With the spring thaw, operations by both sides will intensify, but decisive progress on either side is unlikely. The degree to which the Taliban is capable of mounting offensive operations and other intimidation and assassination efforts in this quarter and the next will offer an opportunity to assess the impact of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operations. It may also reveal the Taliban’s core strategy for the year ahead, namely, whether it intends to intensify the conflict or hunker down to encourage and wait out the ISAF withdrawal.

The Pakistani counterinsurgency effort has made some progress in the tribal areas, but the Pakistani Taliban have yet to really ramp-up operations. The tempo of operations that the Pakistani Taliban are able to mount and sustain this quarter and next will be telling in terms of the strength of the movement after Islamabad’s efforts to crack down.

The Raymond David case brought ongoing tensions between the United States and Pakistan over the U.S.-jihadist war to an all-time high in the past quarter. Though the issue of the CIA contractor killing two Pakistani nationals was resolved via a negotiated settlement, the several weeklong public drama has emboldened Islamabad, which the Pakistanis will build upon to try to shape American behavior. While a major falling out between the two countries is unlikely, the Raymond Davis incident as well as the increasing perception in the region that Washington’s position has been significantly weakened will allow Pakistan to assert itself in terms of the overall U.S. strategy for South Asia, and especially on Afghanistan.

Islamabad will be trying to leverage further gains by Afghan Taliban insurgents to move the United States toward a negotiated settlement and exit strategy that does not create problems for Pakistan. However, there is little sign of meaningful negotiation or political accommodation so far this year. While there have been efforts to reach out behind the scenes, neither side is likely ready to give enough ground for real discussions to begin.

23895  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Jefferson 1821 on: April 11, 2011, 08:16:56 AM
"The multiplication of public offices, increase of expense beyond income, growth and entailment of a public debt, are indications soliciting the employment of the pruning knife." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to Spencer Roane, 1821

23896  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Teeth in OR on: April 10, 2011, 11:45:04 PM
23897  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Movies on: April 10, 2011, 04:56:14 PM
Although I am sympathetic to much of the philosophy in the book, I found it a horrible read.   I can't even remember if I finished it. cheesy
23898  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / SAS officers busted on: April 10, 2011, 04:48:34 PM
23899  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: April 10, 2011, 12:36:23 PM
Dear Readers:  Please note there are four prior posts in this thread today.
23900  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Cyber Jihad on: April 10, 2011, 12:34:48 PM
Certainly not impossible, but also is it not possible that it builds connections and goodwill with the young-aspiring-to-civilization-ver-barbarism portion of the mideast?
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