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23901  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Orwellian cesspool thickens on: November 01, 2011, 10:54:06 PM
Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer Blames Second Amendment For ATF/DOJ Gun Walking Mistakes
Katie Pavlich

During a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing today on Capitol Hill, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, who is facing pressure surrounding his role in the Obama Justice Department’s Operation Fast and Furious, asked for more gun control and blamed law abiding gun shop owners for violence in Mexico.

Breuer declared that nearly 70 percent of guns found in Mexico come from the United States, a figure that has been disproven by the National Rifle Association,, PolitiFact and by Senator Charles Grassley’s office multiple times. Also during testimony, Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein pushed for more gun control and Breuer expressed his agreement with her statements that American gun laws are too “lax” and therefore result it more violent crime.

Feinstein asked Breuer if he thought a reporting measure for long gun rifles would be helpful to ATF. Breuer answered yes. Remember, the Department of Justice has already circumvented Congress by requiring the sale of multiple long gun rifles in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas be reported to the ATF. These new regulations were implemented in early July 2011:

The international expansion and increased violence of transnational criminal networks pose a significant threat to the United States. Federal, state and foreign law enforcement agencies have determined that certain types of semi-automatic rifles – greater than .22 caliber and with the ability to accept a detachable magazine – are highly sought after by dangerous drug trafficking organizations and frequently recovered at violent crime scenes near the Southwest Border. This new reporting measure -- tailored to focus only on multiple sales of these types of rifles to the same person within a five-day period -- will improve the ability of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to detect and disrupt the illegal weapons trafficking networks responsible for diverting firearms from lawful commerce to criminals and criminal organizations. These targeted information requests will occur in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas to help confront the problem of illegal gun trafficking into Mexico and along the Southwest Border. 

“The problem is, anybody can walk in [to a gun shop] and buy anything,” Feinstein said.

This comment by Feinstein was particularly disappointing considering during Operation Fast and Furious law abiding gun shop owners expressed deep discomfort with selling massive amounts of high powered weapons to known drug cartel straw purchasers, yet ATF officials told them to do so anyway, saying they would be “serving their country” by helping ATF in the operation.

Breuer said the number one tool he needs is to know when guns are purchased, essentially what can be interpreted as a national reporting measure. What Breuer and Feinstein are missing is this: The Obama Justice Department in partnership with ATF is the largest American supplier of weapons to Mexican drug cartels through Operation Fast and Furious; not law abiding gun shops. See Obama DOJ Gave Cartel Enough Guns to Arm a Marine Regiment.

Also, Breuer tried to claim that when Operation Fast and Furious came to light publically in Spring 2011 through media reports, ATF officials “made it clear” they don’t condone walking guns. Not true, in fact William Newell, ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Field Division at the time Operation Fast and Furious was implemented (he has since been promoted to a cushy position in Washington D.C.) and carried out, wouldn’t rule out the idea of conducting another program like Fast and Furious in the future when asked during Congressional testimony in July 2011.

As I wrote in July after a House Oversight Hearing about Fast and Furious:

Former ATF Special Agent in Charge William Newell would not condemn Operation Fast and Furious and allowing guns to walk into Mexico during testimony and questioning. In fact, Newell went so far as to say he was unaware of guns walking into Mexico, despite internal emails showing he did know. Newell admitted the agency made mistakes but would not admit the program was a bad idea and exposed that he was in communication with a member of the White House national security team. His testimony also conflicted with previous testimony given by Special Agent John Dodson of the Phoenix Field Division who said on June 15, “Allowing loads of weapons that we knew to be destined for criminals, this was the plan. It was so mandated.”

“At no time in our strategy was it to allow guns to be taken to Mexico,” Newell said, adding that at no time did his agency allow guns to walk.

“You’re entitled to your opinion, not your own facts,” Issa responded.

Yesterday Breuer came out publically to admit he had made a “mistake” by not telling Attorney General Eric Holder about gun walking that occurred under the Bush Administration through Operation Wide Receiver, saying essentially he should have sounded a warning about gun walking when it started to occur during Fast and Furious, but he remained silent. It is important to point out that under Wide Receiver, there was an effort to track 300 weapons in collaboration with the Mexican Government. Under Operation Fast and Furious, there was no effort to track 2,000 guns that were purposely walked in to Mexico and the Mexican Government was left in the dark about the operation. Today during testimony, Breuer said he, “Didn’t draw the connection,” between the tactics used in the two separate programs, which is hard to believe.

Breuer’s testimony and statements about “not making connections” between two separate but similar gunwalking programs and his claim he never told Attorney General Holder about his concerns or Fast and Furious at all, raise new questions.

Why is Breuer coming out with these revelations now? The House Oversight Committee Investigation into Fast and Furious has been going on for months, yet Breuer all the sudden regrets not sounding the alarm about the dangers of gunwalking when Operation Fast and Furious started in the Fall of 2009? While claiming he never told Attorney General Eric Holder about the program? Although Breuer claims he personally never told Holder about the tactics being used in Fast and Furious, five detailed memos about the lethal program dated July and August 2010 were addressed directly to Holder. Despite Breuer’s testimony, the question of “who authorized Fast and Furious,” remains unanswered.

"The American people—and especially the family of murdered Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry—deserve answers from the Justice Department about why they claim they didn’t know gunwalking was occurring in Operation Fast and Furious when the department’s fingerprints are all over it," Senator Grassley said during the hearing.

It looks like someone, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, is falling on a sword, and that sword happens to be Eric Holder’s.
23902  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / DOJ's Orwellian strategy on: November 01, 2011, 10:51:48 PM

A proposed revision to Freedom of Information Act rules would allow federal agencies to lie to citizens and reporters seeking certain records, telling them the records don’t exist.

The Justice Department has proposed the change as part of a large revision of FOIA rules for federal agencies. Specifically, the rule would direct government agencies who are denying a request under an established FOIA exemption to “respond to the request as if the excluded records did not exist,” rather than citing the relevant exemption.

The proposed rule has alarmed government transparency advocates across the political spectrum, who’ve called it “Orwellian” and say it will “twist” public access to government. 

Justice Dept. proposes lying, hiding existence of records under new FOIA rule

23903  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: November 01, 2011, 09:50:44 PM
The legend returns from the mists of elsewhere!  cool
23904  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Winter Camp 2012 on: November 01, 2011, 06:17:31 PM
That is part of the logic  grin

Pretty Kitty and I are working on the cost.  Also, we will be seeing if we can get a group discount rate at the Best Western Hotel (which is on the water btw) or some other decent place.

23905  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: November 01, 2011, 06:15:17 PM
Tactical Analyst Ben West discusses online activists Anonymous’ continued efforts against Mexican drug cartels and the cartels’ responses.
Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.
Related Links
•   Mexico’s Cartels Draw Online Activists’ Ire
•    Dispatch: Implications of a Mexican Drug Lord’s Capture
•   Mexican Drug War Update: The Polarization Continues
A member of the online activist group, Anonymous, released a video statement October 31 stating that it will continue to search for and publicize sensitive data about Mexican criminal organizations despite the physical threat of doing so.
Based upon past examples, the latest Anonymous campaign against Los Zetas could spill over into the real world, resulting in violence and deaths as Los Zetas target a new group.
Online media has been in conflict with Mexican criminal and drug organizations for some time now. Journalists are known to be targets of the cartels and plenty have been killed in the past.
Bloggers are also included in the online media campaign against the cartels, but they have typically not been targeted as much — likely because the information they post has not had as much of an impact on cartel operations as the journalists have.
However, that could be changing with the addition of Anonymous to the anti-cartel online media campaign in Mexico.
Throughout August and September of this year four people with connections to anti-cartel blog websites have been attacked.
• Two individuals killed and hung from a bridge in Nuevo Laredo with signs warning not to post on blogs.
• A girl found beheaded in Nuevo Laredo who had contributed to anti-cartel blogs in the past.
• Additionally, an Anonymous member claimed that a volunteer was abducted by Los Zetas while distributing pamphlets in Veracruz.
Anonymous has conducted successful Distributed Denial of Service Attacks on institutions such as Visa and MasterCard and has stolen sensitive information from HB Gary Federal in 2011 and subsequently publicized internal emails from that group. It brings together a group of individuals with a higher skill-set and sense of operational security than the less savvy anti-cartel bloggers already active in Mexico.
This higher skill-set means that Anonymous could contribute to the effectiveness of the online struggle against the cartels or at least bring more publicity to the issue. It’s important to remember that the U.S. has been engaging in its own electronic observation of the Mexican cartels for years. Anonymous likely won’t be able to turn up more information than the U.S. government already has, but they are able to publicize more information than the U.S. government can.
If Anonymous is able to increase the effectiveness of online operations seeking to expose cartel activities then that makes them and other anti-cartel bloggers in Mexico much higher profile targets than before.
Anonymous is not an organization. It’s important to remember, it is a loose association of individuals. It’s not the group itself then, but the individuals involved, who become targets of the cartels.
We have seen reports that Los Zetas are deploying their own teams of computer experts to track those individuals involved in the online anti-cartel campaign, which indicates that the criminal group is taking the campaign very seriously. Those individuals involved face the risk of abduction, injury and death — judging by how Los Zetas has dealt with threats in the past.
23906  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Chicago Nov 19-21 on: November 01, 2011, 03:21:35 PM
Nanny nanny boo boo to you too  cheesy

BTW, I think Surf Dog may be judging the main event or the co-main event.
23907  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: November 01, 2011, 01:58:42 PM
Quite right.

Separately I would offer that GM's post of McCardle on 10/7 is worth rereading.
23908  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Why aren't men born circumcized? on: November 01, 2011, 01:32:50 PM
second post

Why Aren’t Men Born Circumcised?   Cheshvan 4, 5772 • November 1, 2011
By Tzvi Freeman
Print this Page


You keep touting mitzvahs as things G d wants us to do. But if that were true, why didn’t He create the universe that way in the first place? If He doesn’t want us eating pork, why did He make it edible? If he wants men circumcised, why aren’t they born that way? Why are we messing around with the way He made things—and claiming that we’re doing His will?


Funny thing, I get that circumcision question a lot—but no one ever asks about ear-piercing, shaving or hair removal. Seems it’s an oldie, because Rabbi Judah the Prince, the famous redactor of the Mishnah, also had it posed to him by some Roman philosopher.1 In typical Jewish fashion, he responded that the same question could be asked of haircuts—why not let it grow? Or of grain growing in the field—why don’t bread loaves grow instead? Similarly, I could ask why G d makes earthquakes and then require that we go and pull the people out. Why make illness and then require that we develop medicines? And if we were supposed to wear clothes, I suppose He would make us furry, right?

Rabbi Judah’s answer was that everything G d made in His world requires some sort of fixing. That’s how the creation story in Genesis sums it up: “. . . all His work that G d created to do.” To do, the sages say, means to fix.

The question remains, why? If He wants it fixed, why not fix it Himself? Or better, don’t make it broken to begin with.

The answer takes more than one fascinating form:

1. To make us partners
Providing us mitzvahs to do is the ultimate act of generosity. If He had made a perfect world and beamed us down to enjoy it, He would effectively be rendering us parasites. By leaving some things incomplete and instructing us to fill them in, He promotes us to a full partnership in His creative work. And what aspect of His creative work? That which fulfills its true inner purpose, His innermost desire.

2. To render us real
Taking that a little further: Imagine a world conjured out of G d’s imagination, instantly behaving exactly the way He wished it should behave. What is there that is real or significant about this creation? What makes it any more than a whimsical fantasy?

Imagine you just made Pinocchio. Imagine you wanted Pinocchio to be your little boy. But imagine that Pinocchio has no free will, and even if he did, had everything laid out for him with no options in which to express that free will. Pinocchio is not your little boy, he’s just a nicely carved hunk of wood with suspenders.

By turning to us, the conscious characters within that creation, and saying, “Please do this . . . ,” G d provides us free will, along with the areas in which to express that free will. Mitzvahs, then, are the elements that render us real, to become “a significant other.” Or, in Torah language, kadosh—which we translate as holy.

Not only we, but also all the objects and activities that are implicated in the mitzvah, are rendered significant and kadosh.
Which, by the way, solves an enigma in the life story of the patriarch Abraham. At one hundred years of age, Abraham underwent circumcision. But didn’t he know earlier that circumcision was a desirable act for spiritual hikers, like himself, trying to get close to G d? The question is especially acute according to the Talmud’s statement that Abraham fulfilled the entire Torah although it was not yet given.2 So why did he leave out this not-such-a-detail mitzvah until he had to be told?

Our answer, however, solves the puzzle. If Abraham had performed the circumcision before being commanded, he would be doing it just like any other created being doing something nice. Once G d declares that it is now His official will that Abraham and his household be circumcised, the act of circumcision becomes a mitzvah, rendering the body of the circumcised significant and kadosh. Since circumcision, unlike other mitzvot, is a one-time-only opportunity, Abraham waited for G d’s command before opting in.

3. That’s just the way innermost desires work

Plunging yet deeper for the intrepid intellect, this is an inherent distinction between secondary and primary desires. Feeling intrepid? Hang in there.

Let’s start with a parallel from the human being. We also have intrinsic, primary desires rumbling beneath the surface of our consciousness—for example, the desire for territory, for love, for confirmation of our existence—whatever they are and however you wish to express them. These desires surface in the form of secondary desires: to earn money, to look good, to compete—all the mad races of human beings upon this planet.

Now take a look at how these two sorts of desires manifest. The secondary desires jump out immediately and spontaneously. The inner, primary desires, on the other hand, unfold gradually, sometimes after many years—in some cases, never achieving fruition. We run through our entire lives rarely, if ever, understanding why we do all the things we do.
Why is it this way, that inner desires do not manifest spontaneously, but unfold? Rabbi Shalom DovBer of Lubavitch explained: If a desire has any outward expression, it is already not the real you. As soon as you can know of it and feel it and act upon it, it is already a movement away from the innermost core.

Ironically, by this paradigm, the deepest expressions of the divine will are those acts which He did not expressly tell us to do, but which Jewish communities derived through study and celebration of His Torah. Examples are the rabbinical enactments and safeguards, customs and embellishments known as hiddur mitzvah. We, as a community, decided to send gifts of food to one another on Purim, to eat fruits on Tu B’Shvat, to dance with the Torah on the day we conclude the cycle of its readings. These are the most exquisite expression of desire closest to the core—that which cannot be commanded or told, sometimes not even alluded to in a nuance of the text, but sensed only by those who are immersed with their entire souls in His Torah with love.

It seems more than slightly absurd to apply human psychology to the One who came up with their design to begin with. In truth, the idea applies to Him in its most absolute sense. We are but the cheap imitation, created this way, “in His image,” so that we can come to some understanding of His workings with this world by more deeply examining ourselves.
You see, our innermost desires are innate: since we are human beings, we desire territory, love, etc. Our desires are really needs. The Creator has no needs; He is entirely free in every respect to choose whatever He wishes to desire. Once He has so chosen, however, then certain needs spring into place. Since those needs are conceived by necessity, they are born into existence by necessity. But since the inner desires are chosen by His free will, they are manifest in our world through our free will.

Let’s take an example: G d decides to desire that the seventh day will be a day of rest, so that Creator and created can commune in a state of un-movement. That’s an inner desire—nothing preceded it, demanding that it must be so. But once that desire is in place, there is now a need for a world that is created in six days, so that on the seventh, G d will rest, and His created beings will rest along with Him.

The second desire appeared spontaneously, and therefore is manifest in the same way: G d never asks the creation to create itself in six days, or forbids it to be created in five or seven or any other way. He dictates and so it occurs. The primary desire, however, that we should rest together, appears as a mitzvah: Just as G d chose it of His free will, so the human being must choose of his free will to observe the Shabbat.

Another example: G d chose of His free will that there will be conscious beings inside His creation that will declare His oneness every morning and night—a.k.a. “Shema Yisrael.” Accordingly, there must be morning and there must be night. That implies us creatures living upon a planet where darkness and light alternate, which in turn is fulfilled by a simple relationship between the movements of our planet and that of a fiery globe beyond us. Again, the patterns of nature are set in firmware, while the underlying desire that gave rise to those patterns is left as a user event.

And one more: G d chose to desire that physical beings make a covenant with Him through their physical bodies—and by implication there must be physicality, bodies, and a certain place on the body for circumcision. That which exists by implication becomes the natural order, occurring spontaneously within our natural world. The innermost desire is left up to us to choose, and to carry out.

Along with our choice to rescue survivors, heal the sick, and wherever we can, otherwise fix the world.


Genesis Rabbah 11:6
Talmud, Yoma 28b; Leviticus Rabbah 2:9. See How Did the Torah Exist Before It Happened?

23909  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Murder rates in Central America on: November 01, 2011, 12:42:00 PM

Region - Small Arms Survey: Central America is the most violent region in the world

The Small Arms Survey declared during a presentation on 27 October 2011 at the United Nations in Geneva that Central America is the most violent region in the world. The study, conducted from 2004-2009, showed that there are 29 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, and Central Americans are more likely to die a violent death than those countries at war. El Salvador showed the highest murder rate with 62 per 100,000 inhabitants, while Honduras and Guatemala showed 49 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.
23910  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Unleashing the Soul in your Child on: November 01, 2011, 12:31:32 PM
Unleashing the Soul in Your Child   Cheshvan 4, 5772 • November 1, 2011
By Rochel Pritsker

I was speaking with a ten-year-old about her birthday and why it is important. From her perspective, the best part of a birthday was getting older and enjoying cake and presents. I smiled. I have heard this answer many times before, from most children, whether they are preschoolers or preteens. I told her that what makes her birthday important is that it is a reminder of the day she was created by G d with a special and unique mission. No one else has her mission. She holds the one piece of the puzzle that no one else can fill, to help bring a good, positive change to the world. Like all of us, she was created because she was needed.

The young girl shook her head and replied simply, “That’s not true. The world can continue with or without me, it wouldn’t make any difference. It doesn’t need me for anything.” I told her she is partially right—the world could continue without her, but it could never benefit from what she in particular has to offer, in what she was created to accomplish in life.

The young girl replied simply, “The world can continue with or without me"

It is obvious that much of our society is achievement-driven, as opposed to purpose-driven. This is the reason why grownups often love to ask children, “So what do you want to be when you grow up?” And sometimes, if the child happens to give a response that doesn’t meet the adult’s expectations, the child is talked out of it: “Why not become a governor instead? Or a scientist? You can become a great doctor—you know, you can be anything that you want to be!”

But can a child truly become anything he wants? To be raised with that mindset neglects one main fact—he already is someone. And that someone is not dependent on a “thing” to become. Rather, he is brought to life with a soul that has a unique mission. And what is that mission? To effectively utilize what G d brings his way, while revealing the truth of good in every situation; and what will come his way will be unique to him, and him alone.

For this reason, it is false to tell a child that he can become anything he wants to be. The truth is that a child can become the best he can be—not anything or anyone else other than whom he is meant to be.

Imagine the kind of freedom and joy a child lives with when the focus is not on climbing a ladder that takes him on pursuits that belong to someone else, but instead this ladder takes him to his own great heights—the best he has to offer to the world. And he doesn’t need to wait until he is a grownup to believe that he has purpose—he is needed today.

I remember when my son first switched from homeschooling to a traditional school setting. It was the first time my son was in a classroom of children, with a teacher who wasn’t me. Understandably, he felt nervous and unsure about starting this new experience. But throughout his first week at school, I noticed a few of the kids in the higher grades high-fiving my son every day as I picked him up from school. I could see on my son’s face how he felt accepted and included. Those kids lived up to the purpose that existed for them at that particular moment—making a new child feel welcomed. That moment belonged to them, and they didn’t waste it, they claimed it.

Can a child truly become anything he wants?

Learning to unleash your child’s soul means responding to him with the intent that your role as a parent is to guide his soul every day, and uncover his purpose for fulfilling good things in the world. When you interact with your child with this mindset, you start to see him not through your own eyes, but through G d’s eyes. Your response is no longer about you—who you are, your fears, your past failures, your dreams and hopes. Your response is about him, who he is, and all the good he has to offer.

A young child can, and should, be told that he has a soul; that he was created in this world not to simply exist for the sake of achievement, but to live for the sake of his unique, G d-given purpose. This is the secret to lasting motivation and living with passion. And this is where true self-worth is created, knowing that you have something significant to contribute. When we realize that our child can answer a need in this world, we then behave in a way that inspires his soul to shine, to make the difference it was intended to make.

I remember one Shabbat morning we were late to synagogue. I left the house in a rush, with my two boys trailing behind me. My five-year-old son, who is happy-go-lucky and appreciates simplicity, sensed my negative mood and tried to lighten things up several times. Finally, he said, “I know! Why don’t we play ‘I Spy’?!” It’s a game he loves, and one that we usually play every Shabbat morning on our thirty-minute walk to synagogue. This time, I didn’t even turn around to look at him. I quickened my pace and replied, “No, we’re late! We can’t play that game now! Hurry up!”

As soon as I said the words, I felt guilty. Sure, maybe my son needed to understand that sometimes we do need to hurry. But at that moment, this lesson would save me only ten additional minutes. Whereas it would shut him out of thirty minutes of feeling Shabbat in a positive light, while also keeping him from the opportunity to contribute what he could offer to Shabbat.

It is not the adult who constantly waits for the child. It is the child who waits for the adult

I turned around to him. The sun was beaming on him. He looked disappointed. He was no longer skipping as he usually does. So I came up to him and whispered in his ear, “I am ready to be nice. I would love to play ‘I Spy’ with you! You have such a way of making our Shabbat so happy!” He beamed when he heard my words, and instantly he came alive again. He was no longer separated from Shabbat, but an important part of it.

As adults, it seems that we are endlessly waiting for our child to listen, to behave, to get things done. But if we are completely honest, it is not the adult who constantly waits for the child. It is the child who waits for the adult—waits to be understood, waits to be discovered, waits for proper limits to be set, and waits until he is seen and guided towards what he has to offer to life—shining the light of his soul upon the world.
23911  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / T. Paine: on: November 01, 2011, 10:42:38 AM
"Everything that is right or reasonable pleads for separation. The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries; tis time to part." --Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776
23912  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Bang for the buck? on: November 01, 2011, 10:38:41 AM
For hard-working American families struggling to make ends meet, the student protesters at Occupy Wall Street must seem like cast members of a reality show designed to make them look shallow and self-indulgent. The irony is that these students and recent grads have a point about their college debt. It's just not the point they are making.

Here, for example, is a typical entry on the blog "We Are the 99 Percent." A woman is holding up a handwritten note that reads: "I am a college graduate. I am also unemployed. I was lead [sic] to believe that college would insure me a job. I now have $40,000 worth of student debt."

 John Kline on the National Labor Relations Board's strike against Boeing and the increase in the student loan default rate.
.The headlines tell us that, as a nation, we now owe more in college loans than we do on our credit cards. Notwithstanding the stock horror stories about the kid who leaves campus owing hundreds of thousands, however, the average college debt load is about the price of a new Toyota Prius—$28,100 for those with a degree from a four-year private school, $22,000 for those from public schools.

Even so, these figures don't touch the most important question: Are students getting fair value in return?

Anne Neal has been trying to help families answer that question for years. As president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, she believes students should leave college with a broad base of knowledge that will allow them "to compete successfully in our globalized economy and to make sense of the modern world." By that ACTA means universities should require a core curriculum with substantive courses in composition, literature, American history, economics, math, science and foreign language.

"The fundamental problem here is not debt but a broken educational system that no longer insists on excellence," Ms. Neal says. "College tuitions have risen more than 440% over the last 25 years—and for what? The students who say that college has not prepared them for the real world are largely right."

At, students can click onto ACTA's recent survey of more than 1,000 American four-year institutions—and find out how their colleges and universities rate. Two findings jump out. First, the more costly the college, the less likely it will require a demanding core curriculum. Second, public institutions generally do better here than private ones—and historically black colleges such as Morehouse and service academies such as West Point amount to what ACTA calls "hidden gems."

Enlarge Image

CloseGetty Images/Stock Illustration Source
 .Alas, much of the debate over the value of a college degree breaks down one of two ways. Either people pit the liberal arts against the sciences—"Is it a vital interest of the state to have more anthropologists?" asks Florida Gov. Rick Scott—or they plump for degrees that are thought to be more practical (e.g., business). Both are probably mistakes.

If the young people now entering our work force are going to change jobs as often as we think, the key to getting ahead will not be having one particular skill but having the ability to learn new skills. In this regard, the problem is not so much the liberal arts as the fluff that too often passes for it. In other words, though Gov. Scott is right to demand better measures of what Florida citizens are getting for their tax dollars, he'd probably be better off focusing on excellence and transparency than on suggesting specific courses of study.

As for the "practical" majors, New York University's Richard Arum and the University of Virginia's Josipa Roksa tell us they might not be as useful as once thought. In a recent work called "Academically Adrift," these authors tracked the progress of more than 2,300 undergraduates at two dozen U.S. universities. They found that more than a third of seniors leave campus having shown no improvement in critical thinking, analytical reasoning, or written communications over four years. Worse, the majors and programs often thought most practical—education, business and communications—prove to be the least productive.

So yes, the student protesters with their iPads and iPhones may come across badly to other Americans. Yes too, even those who leave school thousands of dollars in debt will—on average—find their degrees a good investment, given the healthy lifetime earnings premium that a bachelor's degree still commands.

Still, when it comes to what our colleges and universities are charging them for their degrees, they have a point. Too many have paid much and been taught little. They've been ripped off—but not by the banks or the fat cats or any of the other stock villains so unwelcome these days in Zuccotti Park.

"If these students and grads understood the real issues with their college debt," says Ms. Neal, "they would change their focus from Occupy Wall Street to Occupy the Ivory Tower
23913  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Stephens on: November 01, 2011, 10:35:07 AM

This is not an Islamic Revolution."

So opined Olivier Roy, arguably Europe's foremost authority on political Islam, in an essay published days after Hosni Mubarak was forced from power in February. "Look at those involved in the uprisings, and it is clear that we are dealing with a post-Islamist generation," he wrote. "This is not to say that the demonstrators are secular; but they are operating in a secular political space, and they do not see in Islam an ideology capable of creating a better world."

Mr. Roy wasn't alone in the sangfroid department. "I am not in the least bit worried about the Muslim Brotherhoods in Jordan or Egypt hijacking the future," confided New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, with the caveat that their secular opponents would need some time to organize. Added his colleague Nicholas Kristof in a dispatch from Cairo: "I agree that the Muslim Brotherhood would not be a good ruler of Egypt, but that point of view also seems to be shared by most Egyptians."

What reassurance. Nine months on, the Islamist Nahda party has swept to victory in Tunisia, the one Arab state in which secularist values were said to be irreversibly fixed. Libya's new interim leader, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, came to office promising "the Islamic religion as the core of our new government"; as a first order of business, he promises to revoke the Gadhafi regime's ban on polygamy since "the law is contrary to Shariah and must be stopped." Later this month, Islamist candidates—some of them Muslim Brothers, others even more religiously extreme—will likely sweep Egypt's parliamentary elections.

It doesn't stop there. Hezbollah has effectively ruled Lebanon since it forced the collapse of a pro-Western government in January. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's Islamist prime minister, cruised to a third term in parliamentary elections in June. Hamas, winner in the last vote held by the Palestinian Authority in 2006, would almost certainly win again if Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas dared put his government to an electoral test.

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When secular politics fail, Islamism is the last big idea standing.
.Why have Islamists been the main beneficiaries of Muslim democracy? None of the usual explanations really suffices. Islamists are said to be the unintended beneficiaries of the repression they endured under autocratic secular regimes. True up to a point. But why then have their secular opponents in places like Egypt been steadily losing ground since the Mubarak regime fell by the wayside? Alternatively, we are told that secular values never had the chance to sink deep roots in Muslim-majority countries. Also true up to a point. But how then Tunisia or Turkey—to say nothing of the Palestinians, who until the early 1990s were often described as the most secularized Arab society?

Closer to the mark is Mideast scholar Bernard Lewis, who noted in an April interview with the Journal that "freedom" is fairly novel as a political concept in the Arab world. "In the Muslim tradition," Mr. Lewis noted, "justice is the standard" of good government—and the very thing the ancien regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya so flagrantly traduced. Little wonder, then, that Mr. Erdogan's AK party stands for "Justice and Development," the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's new party is "Freedom and Justice" and, further afield, the leading Islamist party in Indonesia calls itself "Prosperous Justice."

Still, the Islamists' claim to "justice" goes only so far to account for their electoral successes. There is also the comprehensive failure of the Muslim world's secular movements to provide a better form of politics.

The national-socialist brew imported from Europe in the 1940s by Michel Aflaq became the Baathist tyrannies of present-day Syria and Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Pan-Arabism's appeal faded well before the death of its principal champion, Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Socialism failed Algeria; Gadhafi's "Third Universal Theory" failed Libya. French-style laïcité descended into kleptocracy in Tunisia and quasi-military control in Turkey. Periodic attempts at market liberalization yielded dividends in places like Bahrain and Dubai but were never joined by political liberalization and were often shot through with cronyism.

That sour history leaves Islamism as the last big idea standing—and standing at a moment when tens of millions of young Muslims find themselves undereducated, semi- or unemployed, and uniquely receptive to a world view with deep historic roots and heroic ambitions.

What does its future hold?

Optimists say it need not be a reprise of Iran; that it could look more like Turkey; that the term "moderate Islamist" isn't an oxymoron, at least in a relative sense. Then again, Turkey's domestic and foreign policies inspire little confidence that moderate Islamism will be anything other than moderately repressive and moderately radical. As for Iran, signs of its own long-awaited turn toward moderation are as fleeting as the Yeti's footsteps in drifting snow.

The good news is that after 31 years most Iranians have grown sick of Islam always being the answer, and the collapse of the regime awaits only the next ripe opportunity. The bad news is that a similar time-frame may be in store for the rest of the Muslim world, until it too becomes disenchanted with Islamist promises. Get ready for a long winter.

23914  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: November 01, 2011, 10:19:58 AM
May I suggest reframing from the rather crude metric of "how much regulation" to one that analyzes the basis for the regulation?

For example, regulation that is based upon prevention of fraud (e.g. the box should have in it what it says it has in it in the amount claimed) and the proper allocation of the costs of externalities (costs should be born by the buyer and seller to the transaction-- thus pollution is a proper reason for regulation) is one thing.

Regulation that seeks to redistribute wealth or give bureaucrats nanny powers are another thing.
23915  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: American History on: November 01, 2011, 10:11:37 AM

If I read it correctly and remember correctly, it was the Russians asserting that about the Turkish based missiles-- not knowing that they were to be taken out anyway (no opinion on whether that assertion is true btw).

As for the CIA breaking that MAP understanding , , , well , , , that would not be the first time it broke an agreement, would it?  cheesy

Anyway, I probably should have posted the piece with an accompanying comment by me that I was simply offering a different perspective than the story line with which I was already familiar.
23916  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A reverse chronology on: November 01, 2011, 12:40:58 AM
This past week, top government leaders continued to spin the deadly 2009 gunwalking Fast and Furious operation as some low-level rogue operation. In addition, there were inside-the-Beltway rumors, letters sent between key players, and demands for Holder's resignation.

The heroic online journalists at sites like Sipsey Street Irregulars, PajamasMedia, and Townhall have worked for months uncovering facts leading to the foul murders of federal agents and Mexican citizens. During the week leading up to Halloween, certain signs appeared suggesting that their diligent work is beginning to yield some interesting fruit.

Working backwards Memento-style, here are the highlights in what may turn out to be a watershed week in the high-stakes scandal known as Fast and Furious.

Friday, October 28 2:24PM
Katie Pavlich reports from that Attorney General Holder will testify before the House Judiciary Committee on December 8.
Holder better get his lies, the lies of President Obama and the lies of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in order before promising to tell the truth, and nothing but the truth about this deadly program. His testimony is sure to be "consistent and truthful" with his efforts to cover-up Fast and Furious since the beginning of the House Oversight Committee investigation.

Will he take the fifth?

Friday October 28
Representative Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, penned a letter to Chairman Issa suggesting that Kenneth Melson, the former head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, appear before the members to "help the Committee and the American people better understand what mistakes were made in Operation Fast and Furious, how these tactics originated, who did and did not authorize them, and what steps are being taken to ensure that they are not used again."

The tone of Cummings' letter should have interested parties a bit perplexed. The congressman sounds a lot more subdued and respectful towards Congressman Issa. Two weeks ago, an angry Cummings disparaged the chairman's investigation into Fast and Furious as a "deep-sea fishing expedition" and "political stunt." What's up, Mr. Cummings?

Thursday, October 27
Big media shill Jonathan Alter pens a comically dead serious editorial for entitled "Obama Miracle Is White House Free of Scandal."
President Barack Obama goes into the 2012 with a weak economy that may doom his reelection. But he has one asset that hasn't received much attention: He's honest.
Although it's possible that the Solyndra LLC story will become a classic feeding frenzy, don't bet on it. Providing $535 million in loan guarantees to a solar-panel maker that goes bankrupt was dumb, but so far not criminal or even unethical on the part of the administration
Every time Representative Darrell Issa, the Republican from California who leads a House investigative committee, calls the Obama administration "corrupt" without offering any evidence, he hurts his cause. It's much harder to make a story register as a bona fide scandal when the political motivation is so obvious.

How terrified are these people? Alter mentions Solyndra, a scandal covered by the mainstream media, but only alludes to Fast and Furious via Congressman Issa. This kind of over-the-top damage control must mean that F and F is sending shudders through the halls of power.

Thursday, October 27
Blogger Anthony Martin at reveals that there's a rumor swirling around D.C. that former Deputy Attorney General David Ogden, who abruptly resigned in December 2009, has turned over a stack of documents to Congressman Darrel Issa's Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Issa's office won't confirm or deny according to Martin.

One thing is for sure: by his own admission, Ogden was in on the ground floor of whatever the higher-ups were planning in secret meetings back in 2009. On March 24, 2009, Ogden spoke at a Department of Justice briefing and announced, "The President has directed us to take action to fight these cartels and Attorney General Holder and I are taking several new aggressive steps as part of the Administration's comprehensive plan."

If Ogden handed over documents that truly "vindicate ATF whistleblowers" and "confirm the guilt of the perpetrators of the scheme within the DOJ," then Issa needs to play it close to the vest. If this turns out to be just cover-up "disinformation," could Ogden be the administration's designated fall guy?

Thursday October 27
Appearing before the House Foreign Affair Committee, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Representative Connie Mack (R-Fla) that the State Department had not issued a license or waiver to "allow for the transfer of thousands of weapons across the US.-Mexico border." Clinton stated that "there is no record of any request for coordination. We have no record of any kind of notice or heads up."

Asked when she first heard about Fast and Furious, Mrs. Clinton stated, "[F]rom the press." When interviewed by a reporter from CNN Español in March 2011, President Obama gave a similar response, saying he first heard about the gun-trafficking program "in the news."

Wednesday, October 26
If anyone thought the internet would make old-fashioned letter-writing obsolete, think again. Hard-copy correspondence is making its way to major players allegedly involved in Fast and Furious. Representative Joe Walsh (R-Ill) joined the fray and wrote a no-holds-barred letter to Attorney General Eric Holder telling him "to resign immediately and issue an apology to the American people he has failed to serve." But the best part centered on Walsh's reference to the current "anti-gun administration."
This not only raises serious questions about your ability to serve as the head of the Justice Department, but also begs the question of why an anti-gun Administration would knowingly force licensed firearms dealers to sell guns to violent criminals. I raise this because Operation Fast and Furious - if the facts of this case had not come to light - would have been used by this Administration as another false argument to attack law-abiding American gun owners.

Representative Joe Walsh became the fourth congressman to demand Holder's resignation.

Wednesday, October 26
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano got a grilling during a House Judiciary hearing from Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Representative Trent Gowdy (R-SC), and Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) (see video).
The "testy" stone-faced secretary showed little empathy for the murdered agents despite her defensive remarks.
I think we all should be outraged at the death of Agent Terry and I think the first thing is to recognize who actually killed him and that our No. 1 priority was to make sure the shooters were found - some had gone back into Mexico - and that the FBI was in charge of that investigation.

Napolitano then called Operation Fast and Furious "troublesome" and denied any involvement, conveniently passing the buck to the Department of Justice. She spoke in the customary cover-up language, advising committee members not to "rush to judgment" and promising that "there will be lessons learned from this."

Tuesday, October 25
Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Ca), chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Senator Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Attorney General Holder, head of the Department of Justice, demanding answers on the murder of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata on February 15, 2011. Zapata was shot to death while driving on a highway near the northern city of San Luis Potosi. A fellow agent was wounded in the deadly attack.

The letter "raises red flags about the nature of the ATF investigation" into Zapata's killing. The opening paragraphs cites a March 1, 2011 ATF press release denying knowledge of Otilio Osorio's purchase of the weapon on September 17, 2010 used to kill Zapata in February 2011.
According to ATF documents, however, the agency had reason to believe as early as September 17, 2010, that Otilio's brother, and co-habitant Ranfari Osorio, and their next-door neighbor Kelvin Morrison were straw purchasers. Yet the ATF apparently made no effort to contact Ranfari Osorio or Kelvin Morrison and inquire about how their weapons came to be trafficked to Mexico within 2 weeks of their purchase.

The ATF did not submit a Report of Investigation (ROI) on a November 9, 2010 transfer of firearms among the Osorio brothers, Morrison, and a Dallas ATF confidential informant until February 25, "the same day ATF received the report tracing the Zapata murder weapon back to the purchase by Otilio Osorio."

The letter implicates Operation Fast and Furious as a game of Russian roulette with other people's lives.
At the heart of the Operation Fast and Furious debacle stands the memory of the victims and their families' search for the truth. It's becoming clearer and clearer each day this investigation may end at the White House. AG Holder has already perjured himself in front of a congressional hearing, and what the mainstream media once termed a "botched sting operation" is turning into a mass murder tragedy threatening to upend our rule of law.
23917  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: October 31, 2011, 08:24:20 PM
You are right, you are cheesy

There ARE plenty of people who make the points that the article does.  You simply focus on the admittedly numerous others.
23918  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Whose gun is it? on: October 31, 2011, 06:17:52 PM

23919  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A different take on Tunisian elections on: October 31, 2011, 05:50:02 PM

Media Whitewash Ghannouchi's Radical Islamist Views
IPT News
October 31, 2011
A recurring media theme in recent days is that Rachid al-Ghannouchi and his Ennahda Party, which won last week's Tunisian elections, are "moderate" Islamists despite considerable evidence to the contrary.

A few notable voices in the conservative blogosphere like Martin Kramer, Melanie Phillips and Raymond Ibrahim pointed out problems with this argument, including Ghannouchi's endorsement of jihad in Gaza, stating that "Gaza, like Hanoi in the '60s and Cuba and Algeria, is the model of freedom today." Ghannouchi has expressed support for suicide bombings and welcomes the destruction of Israel, which he predicts could "disappear" by 2027.

"There is no such thing as 'moderate Islamism,'" Phillips wrote. "It's as absurd as saying there were moderate and extreme Stalinists, or moderate and extreme Nazis, or moderate and extreme proponents of the Spanish Inquisition. You cannot have moderate fanatics."

That message apparently hasn't reached some U.S. media and political elites. Before and after Tunisia's election, news outlets provided a steady stream of stories portraying the group as moderate and committed to democracy.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed (which he republished on his Senate website) declaring that "Ennahda has been giving encouraging answers about its rejection of extremism and its respect for the democratic process, individual liberties, women's rights and the rule of law."

The headline of a front-page New York Times story referred to Ennahda as "moderate." The Times quoted Ghannouchi (the founder of the party) saying that Ennahda "is not a religious party" but one whose members "merely draw their values from Islam." The Times added that the group's win at the polls in Tunisia "was sure to embolden those who favor a more liberal approach, including some within Egypt's mainstream Muslim Brotherhood."

Another Times story began: "For more than three decades, Rachid al-Ghannouchi has preached that pluralism, democracy and secular Islam are harmonious."

These and other media accounts gloss over or neglect to mention Ghannouchi's many radical statements – particularly his calls for Israel's destruction.

The Arab Spring "will achieve positive results on the path to the Palestinian cause and threaten the extinction of Israel," he said in a May interview with the Al Arab Qatari website. "The liberation of Palestine from Israeli occupation represents the biggest challenge facing the Umma [Muslim people] and the Umma cannot have existence in light of the Israeli occupation."
In the same interview, Ghannouchi said: "I give you the good news that the Arab region will get rid of the bacillus of Israel. Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the leader of Hamas, said that Israel will disappear by the year 2027. I say that this date may be too far away, and Israel may disappear before this."

This is consistent with Ennahda's platform, which declares that the group "struggles to achieve the following goals … To struggle for the liberation of Palestine and consider it as a central mission and a duty required by the need to challenge the Zionist colonial attack which planted in the heart of the homeland an alien entity which constitutes a (sic) obstacle to unity and reflects the image of the conflict between our civilization and its enemies."

In September, the organization stated that it "supports the struggle of peoples seeking liberation and justice and encourages world peace and aims to promote cooperation and collaboration and unity especially among Arab and Islamic countries and considers the Palestinian struggle for liberation to be a central cause and stands against normalization."
In June 2001, Ghannouchi appeared in an al-Jazeerah panel discussion in which he blessed the mothers of Palestinian suicide bombers:

"I would like to send my blessings to the mothers of those youth, those men who succeeded in creating a new balance of power…I bless the mothers who planted in the blessed land of Palestine the amazing seeds of these youths, who tought the international system and the Israel (sic) arrogance, supported by the US, an important lesson. The Palestinian woman, mother of the Shahids (martyrs), is a martyr herself, and she has created a new model of woman."

These inconvenient quotes have thus far been notably absent from media coverage of Ghannouchi and the Tunisian elections.

The Washington Post editorialized that Ennahda has forsworn violence and accepted "the rules of democracy and human rights." If "its success is accepted by secular Tunisians and Western democracies, its moderate model should get a boost in Egypt and Libya," the paper added.

The Post also ran an op-ed by John Esposito, a prominent apologist for radical Islam, who described Ennahda as advocating a national unity government based on "the desire to address common political, economic and social concerns." It "speaks of a government "that is inclusive of all parties, secular or Islamist, accepting equality of citizenship, civil society and women's rights," Esposito wrote.

The European media provided a similar picture. The British Daily Mail newspaper reported that Ennahda "believes that democracy is the best system to maintain people's rights."It quoted the party as "support[ing] Tunisia's liberal laws promoting women's equality – making it much more progressive than other Islamic movements in the Middle East."

The German newspaper Die Welt wrote that Ennahda's ascencion shouldn't trouble Westerners very much: "Success in founding a new state, even with a Sharia-oriented party in the lead, as long as it accepts the principles of plurality and human rights, will be an enormous step forward."

According to the German financial daily Handelsblatt: "We should get used to the fact that democracy in many Arab countries will create strong Islamist parties. There are worse things. For too long, fear of Islamists has led the U.S. and Europe to support terrible despots like Tunisia's…Ben Ali and Egypt's Hosni Mubarak."

People who toppled dictators through peaceful uprising deserve credit and a chance to show they can govern responsibly. But the United States and its allies should not see the changes through rose-colored glasses. Hardcore Islamists like Ghannouchi pose a host of new challenges and potential problems. It would help if the news media paid attention to those rather than invoking judgments about moderation in hopes they turn out to be true.
23920  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Chinese continue to move as we continue to do nothing on: October 31, 2011, 05:39:29 PM
Our dominance in outer space WAS a vital piece of our military superiority.  Baraq is throwing it away.  This is one of his most serious errors.
23921  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: October 31, 2011, 05:24:16 PM
Note that it is Congressional action which legally requires this.
23922  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Controversial gunship owner interview on: October 31, 2011, 05:23:19 PM
PC has already expressed himself very well on this, but FWIW here is Glenn Beck with the instructor in question:
23923  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-Russia on: October 31, 2011, 02:20:40 PM
Interesting.  Please post on the Intel thread as well.
23924  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: October 31, 2011, 02:18:04 PM
So, what do you make of the Rolling Stone piece I posted?
23925  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: CA's Green Tax on: October 31, 2011, 02:15:58 PM
second post of the day:

It may be time for California to formally apply for membership in the European Union. Its taxing, borrowing and regulatory policies are already more in line with the southern tier of Euroland than with other U.S. states, and the Golden State has taken another lurch in the Euro-direction by becoming the first jurisdiction in the nation to adopt a full-scale cap-and-trade tax to combat global warming. The new taxes and regulations will require a nearly 30% reduction in carbon emissions from power plants, manufacturers, cars and trucks by 2020.

This green tax was signed into law in 2006 by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger when the state's economy was flying high. California was going to be the green role model for other states. Now no one believes that fantasy. Ten states in the Northeast entered a regional cap and trade compact to limit greenhouse gases in 2008, but that market is now dying if not dormant and states (recently New Jersey) are dropping out.

In 2006 it also seemed plausible that the federal government would establish national carbon caps. But in 2010 the Democratic Senate killed cap and trade, and there is no chance anytime soon this tax will be implemented in Washington.

So California will go it alone on cap and trade, and the economic fallout won't be pretty. Nearly every independent analysis agrees that water, electricity, construction and gas prices inside the state will rise. The only debate is about how much.

A 2009 study by the California Small Business Roundtable estimated costs of $3,857 per household by the end of the decade. Gasoline prices, already near the highest in the nation, could rise by another 4% to 6%. An analysis by the state's own Legislative Analyst's Office found that the higher costs of doing business would mean "leakage of jobs," with the California economy "likely adversely affected in the near term by implementing climate change policies that are not adopted elsewhere."

Now even unions are catching on to the damage. The Los Angeles Times reports that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) gave final approval to the new scheme two weeks ago after listening to "scathing comments from union workers fearful of losing their jobs." Hard-hat union members from the steel, concrete and oil and gas industries were among the opponents. Charles McIntyre, president of an association of the glass workers union and companies, told the CARB hearing that "these manufacturers are spending millions of dollars every year to meet different requirements and different standards. Well, this is starting to cost us a lot of jobs."

The Western States Petroleum Association calculates the new law could cost its members up to $540 million in higher costs in the first two years alone. When a spokesman from Conoco Phillips told the CARB hearing about its higher costs, Mary Nichols, the CARB chairman, responded that a company with $14 billion in profits shouldn't complain but rather "should do something about the problem of global warming." Sounds like a candidate to be President Obama's next jobs czar.

Ms. Nichols also said that "our society is going to have to use less gasoline"—a remark that reveals the elites-know-best impulse that animates much of the anticarbon energy movement.

The tragedy is that this economic harm is being inflicted for nothing but environmental symbolism. A single state's policies can't possibly alter the planet's temperature given the huge carbon footprint elsewhere, as even the CARB has acknowledged.

Notwithstanding their bouts of carbon imperialism (see below), even some Europeans are having cap-and-trade second thoughts. "There is a trade-off between climate-change policies and competitiveness," concludes a recent EU commission report. "Europe cannot act alone in an effort to achieve global decarbonization."

But evidently high-minded California—with 2.1 million people already out of work and with the nation's second highest jobless rate at 11.9%—will. The job cost will be paid not in the tony salons of Hollywood but in the working class neighborhoods of Torrance and Fresno.

23926  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: US cuts UNESCO funding! on: October 31, 2011, 02:08:28 PM

WASHINGTON—The Obama administration is cutting off funding for the United Nations cultural agency because it approved a Palestinian bid for full membership, a move that could cost the agency a fifth of its budget.

The U.S. and other opponents of the vote had warned that granting the Palestinian request for membership at Unesco could harm renewed Mideast peace efforts.  State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Monday's vote triggered a long-standing congressional restriction on funding to U.N. bodies that recognize Palestine as a state before an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is reached.  Ms. Nuland said Unesco's decision was "regrettable, premature and undermines our shared goal to a comprehensive, just and lasting peace" between Israelis and Palestinians.  She said the U.S. would refrain from making a $60 million payment it planned to make in November, but the U.S. would maintain membership in the body.

The Palestinians want full membership in the U.N., but Israel opposes the bid. The U.S. says it would veto a vote in the Security Council  Palestine became a full member of the United Nations's cultural agency on Monday amid huge cheers after delegates approved the membership in a vote of 107-14 with 52 abstentions. Eighty-one votes were needed for approval in a hall with 173 Unesco member delegations present.

"Long Live Palestine!" shouted one delegate, in French, at the unusually tense and dramatic meeting of Unesco's General Conference.

Lawmakers in the U.S., which provides about 22% of funding for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, had threatened to halt some of the funding if Palestinian membership was approved.

The U.N. agency protects historic heritage sites and works to improve world literacy and cultural understanding, but it also has come under criticism in the past as a forum for anti-Israel sentiment. The U.S. pulled out of Unesco under President Ronald Reagan but rejoined under President George W. Bush.

Monday's vote is a symbolic breakthrough but it alone won't make Palestine into a state. The issue of borders of an eventual Palestinian state, security troubles and other disputes that have thwarted Middle East peace for decades remain unresolved.

Palestinian officials are seeking full membership in the U.N., but that effort is still under examination and the U.S. has said it will veto it unless there is a peace deal with Israel. Given that, the Palestinians separately sought membership at Paris-based Unesco and other U.N. bodies.  Monday's vote is definitive. The membership formally takes effect when Palestine signs Unesco's founding charter.  The U.S. ambassador to Unesco, David Killion, said after Monday's vote that it would "complicate" U.S. efforts to support the agency. The U.S. voted against the measure.

Israel's ambassador to Unesco, Nimrod Barkan, called the vote a tragedy.

"Unesco deals in science, not science fiction.  They forced on Unesco a political subject out of its competence.  They've forced a drastic cut in contributions to the organization," he said.

Existing U.S. law can bar Washington from funding any U.N. body that accepts members that don't have the "internationally recognized attributes of statehood." That requirement is generally interpreted to mean U.N. membership.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton last week called Unesco's deliberation "inexplicable," saying discussion of Palestinian membership in international organizations couldn't replace negotiations with Israel as a fast-track toward Palestinian independence.

Ghasan Khatib, spokesman for the Palestinian government in the West Bank urged the U.S. to keep Unesco funding.

He called it "a vote of confidence from the international community."

"We look at this vote as especially important because part of our battle with the Israeli occupation is about the occupation attempts to erase the Palestinian history or Judaizing it. The Unesco vote will help us to maintain the Palestinian traditional heritage, " he said
23927  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson to Adams 1821: on: October 31, 2011, 01:47:25 PM

"[T]he flames kindled on the 4 of July 1776, have spread over too much of the globe to be extinguished by the feeble engines of despotism; on the contrary, they will consume these engines and all who work them." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, 1821
23928  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: What is going right? on: October 31, 2011, 01:17:28 PM

Monday Morning Outlook
What's Going Right? To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 10/31/2011
Everyone knows housing is still weak. And, everyone knows jobs are growing, but not fast enough to seriously lower the unemployment rate, which stands at 9.1%.
Everyone also knows real GDP has expanded for nine consecutive quarters, at an average annual rate of 2.5%. No one is satisfied with this; but it is a recovery, not a recession.
So, how can real GDP grow when housing and employment are so weak? Something must be going right…somewhere.
Well, it turns out that the strongest part of the economy has been business investment.   Equipment and software investment (Cap-Ex) has grown five times faster than GDP – 12.9% at an annual rate over the past nine quarters.
The strongest category has been transportation and related equipment (trains, planes, trucks, etc.), up 43.3% at an annual rate over nine quarters. Computers and peripheral equipment (including servers, printers, routers, etc.) are also up 26.2% at an annual rate in the past 2 ¼ years. All of this data is adjusted for inflation, and what it shows is, contrary to popular belief, businesses are spending and investing. Moreover, businesses investment is a bigger share of the economy than housing.
Consumer spending is up, too, despite weak confidence data. After adjustment for inflation, consumer spending is up 2.2% at an annual rate over the past nine quarters. In a shocker, real furniture and household durable equipment spending (refrigerators, washing machines, etc.) increased by 5.0% in the past year and now stands just 0.3% below its all-time high from late 2007. Despite weak housing, and worries about credit, household durable spending has rebounded to pre-crisis levels.
Last we looked, the only help government is giving businesses is a more rapid depreciation schedule – which is a tax incentive for investment. Yet, trillions are being spent trying to stimulate housing and employment. In other words, what government is trying to boost by spending is going wrong, but where it uses tax cuts things are looking up and going right. If government could find the courage to have faith in markets and not itself, more things would be going right.
That said…it seems clear that the economy is finding enough strength in business investment and consumption to offset the pain caused by housing and employment. We expect the scales to remain tipped toward growth in the quarters ahead and look for 3% real GDP growth in 2012.
This growth could accelerate if government spending and regulation were reduced in a significant way. Housing already looks to have found a bottom. Imagine what happens when it finally turns up? Buck up, not everything is going wrong. In fact, there are many things going right in the US economy.
23929  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: October 31, 2011, 12:21:54 PM
I would begin by emphasizing how much of what they say agrees with us!!!  The first step of communication is to establish what is held in common.  Then let them see how serious, indeed how radical to the ruling fascist structures (both corporate and liberal) much of what we propose is.   Share with them the understanding of how the Constitution is a bulwark against the ruling fascist structures-- and put the cold hard evidence of liberal fascism's collusion with, indeed creation of what that which they protest-- and how they are disserved by association with the Left in its various manifestations.
23930  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Myths of the Cuban Missile Crisis on: October 31, 2011, 11:56:11 AM
23931  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: SEMINARIO DBMA CON GURO CRAFTY EN MÉXCO D.F. 12-13 NOV 11 on: October 31, 2011, 11:44:28 AM
La Aventura continua!
23932  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Activists vs. Cartels on: October 31, 2011, 11:43:45 AM
The online activist collective Anonymous released a video Oct. 6 in which a masked spokesman denounces Mexico’s criminal cartels, demands that a member of Anonymous kidnapped by Los Zetas be released and threatens to release information about individuals cooperating with Mexico’s cartels. If Anonymous carries out its threat, it will almost certainly lead to the deaths of individuals named as cartel associates, whether or not the information released is accurate. Furthermore, as Mexican cartels have targeted online journalists and bloggers in the past, hackers could well be targeted for reprisal attacks.

Anonymous, an online collective of activists including hackers, lashed out at Mexican cartels in a video released online Oct. 6. In the video, a masked individual claiming to speak on behalf of Anonymous denounces Mexico’s cartels and demands that Los Zetas release a member of Anonymous kidnapped during a street-level protest named Operation Paperstorm in Veracruz state. The spokesman also threatens to release revealing information about journalists, police, politicians and taxi drivers colluding with the cartels.

Simply disseminating information on cartel members will not significantly impede overall cartel operations, but if Anonymous carries out its threat, it will affect cartel associates and others the that cartels could target for retaliatory attacks.

Anonymous is not an organized, monolithic group; rather, it is a collection of activists whose organizers work under the name Anonymous. Hackers have conducted several online activities using the name Anonymous, as they have had to develop code for conducting cyberattacks. The collective of hackers takes on several different causes and carries out attacks involving participation by experienced hackers and unskilled members alike. Not everyone involved in Anonymous participates in every action, and some actions are more popular than others.

The Anonymous spokesman in the video does not specify how many individuals support the threat against the cartels or how the group acquired the information it threatens to release. It would not take a group of hackers to obtain the kind of information the spokesman claims Anonymous could release; much of this kind of information could be acquired via rumors circulating through Mexico. In fact, the Anonymous spokesman does not mention anything about using hacking activities to acquire confidential information about the cartels.

However, there are many examples of hackers acting under the name Anonymous acquiring personal and sensitive information about their targets. Recently, hackers shut down child pornography website Lolita City and reportedly posted more than 1,500 usernames and activities of the website’s users. On Oct. 21, Anonymous hackers stole sensitive information — including Social Security numbers — from a series of police-affiliated targets including the International Association of Chiefs of Police website and the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association email portal and revealed more than 1,000 usernames and passwords of Boston police officers. Although cartels’ activities are focused on the streets of the cities they control, even cartels use the Internet for communication and some business transactions. Any cartel activities occurring online could be potential vulnerabilities if individuals involved in the new Anonymous threat can identify them; though the threat from Anonymous does not necessarily mean that hackers are now targeting cartels, given the history of activities carried out in Anonymous’ name, it is certainly possible.

If Anonymous carries out its threat, members would use online media outlets to publish revealing information about the cartels and their associates. Anonymous members frequently focus on these media, which allow them to post revealing information while concealing their own identities. Any information released to the public would not pose a direct threat in itself; it would be up to others to determine the information’s validity and whether to take action. For example, if Anonymous claims that a politician is colluding with criminal cartels, the politician could be threatened by whatever actions the Mexican government decides to take or by members of rival cartels.

Loss of life will be a certain consequence if Anonymous releases the identities of individuals cooperating with cartels. Whether voluntarily or not, cooperating with criminal cartels in Mexico comes with the danger of retribution from rival cartels. Taxi drivers, typically victims of extortion or otherwise forced to act as lookouts or scouts, are particularly vulnerable. In areas such as Acapulco, Guerrero state, reports of murdered taxi drivers occur weekly. The validity of the information Anonymous has threatened to reveal is uncertain, as it might not have been vetted. This could pose an indiscriminate danger to individuals mentioned in whatever Anonymous decides to release.

The online media frequently used to organize Anonymous-labeled activities are far removed from the violent world of Mexican criminal cartels. This distance — along with the likely physical distance of many Anonymous members from Mexico — could limit the activists’ understanding of cartel activities. Anonymous activists may act with confidence stemming from perceived anonymity when sitting in front of a computer, but this could blind them to any possible retribution.  Cartels have targeted bloggers and online journalists in previous attacks, and even hackers in Mexico are not beyond the cartels’ reach. Cartels reportedly have turned to the information technology community in the past, coercing computer science majors in Mexico into working for them. Any Anonymous activists inside Mexico who are targeting or perceived as targeting the Mexican cartels will be just as vulnerable as online journalists and bloggers as the cartels seek to make them examples of what happens when someone exposes or publicizes damaging information about cartel activity.

Anonymous activists can threaten to reveal information about cartels or launch cyberattacks. But even if the cartels cannot track down the individuals directing cyberattacks or releasing information, the cartels will continue to commit acts of violence meant to warn the online community about such activities.

23933  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / This could get pretty wild on: October 31, 2011, 11:42:05 AM

The online activist collective Anonymous released a video Oct. 6 in which a masked spokesman denounces Mexico’s criminal cartels, demands that a member of Anonymous kidnapped by Los Zetas be released and threatens to release information about individuals cooperating with Mexico’s cartels. If Anonymous carries out its threat, it will almost certainly lead to the deaths of individuals named as cartel associates, whether or not the information released is accurate. Furthermore, as Mexican cartels have targeted online journalists and bloggers in the past, hackers could well be targeted for reprisal attacks.

Anonymous, an online collective of activists including hackers, lashed out at Mexican cartels in a video released online Oct. 6. In the video, a masked individual claiming to speak on behalf of Anonymous denounces Mexico’s cartels and demands that Los Zetas release a member of Anonymous kidnapped during a street-level protest named Operation Paperstorm in Veracruz state. The spokesman also threatens to release revealing information about journalists, police, politicians and taxi drivers colluding with the cartels.

Simply disseminating information on cartel members will not significantly impede overall cartel operations, but if Anonymous carries out its threat, it will affect cartel associates and others the that cartels could target for retaliatory attacks.

Anonymous is not an organized, monolithic group; rather, it is a collection of activists whose organizers work under the name Anonymous. Hackers have conducted several online activities using the name Anonymous, as they have had to develop code for conducting cyberattacks. The collective of hackers takes on several different causes and carries out attacks involving participation by experienced hackers and unskilled members alike. Not everyone involved in Anonymous participates in every action, and some actions are more popular than others.

The Anonymous spokesman in the video does not specify how many individuals support the threat against the cartels or how the group acquired the information it threatens to release. It would not take a group of hackers to obtain the kind of information the spokesman claims Anonymous could release; much of this kind of information could be acquired via rumors circulating through Mexico. In fact, the Anonymous spokesman does not mention anything about using hacking activities to acquire confidential information about the cartels.

However, there are many examples of hackers acting under the name Anonymous acquiring personal and sensitive information about their targets. Recently, hackers shut down child pornography website Lolita City and reportedly posted more than 1,500 usernames and activities of the website’s users. On Oct. 21, Anonymous hackers stole sensitive information — including Social Security numbers — from a series of police-affiliated targets including the International Association of Chiefs of Police website and the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association email portal and revealed more than 1,000 usernames and passwords of Boston police officers. Although cartels’ activities are focused on the streets of the cities they control, even cartels use the Internet for communication and some business transactions. Any cartel activities occurring online could be potential vulnerabilities if individuals involved in the new Anonymous threat can identify them; though the threat from Anonymous does not necessarily mean that hackers are now targeting cartels, given the history of activities carried out in Anonymous’ name, it is certainly possible.

If Anonymous carries out its threat, members would use online media outlets to publish revealing information about the cartels and their associates. Anonymous members frequently focus on these media, which allow them to post revealing information while concealing their own identities. Any information released to the public would not pose a direct threat in itself; it would be up to others to determine the information’s validity and whether to take action. For example, if Anonymous claims that a politician is colluding with criminal cartels, the politician could be threatened by whatever actions the Mexican government decides to take or by members of rival cartels.

Loss of life will be a certain consequence if Anonymous releases the identities of individuals cooperating with cartels. Whether voluntarily or not, cooperating with criminal cartels in Mexico comes with the danger of retribution from rival cartels. Taxi drivers, typically victims of extortion or otherwise forced to act as lookouts or scouts, are particularly vulnerable. In areas such as Acapulco, Guerrero state, reports of murdered taxi drivers occur weekly. The validity of the information Anonymous has threatened to reveal is uncertain, as it might not have been vetted. This could pose an indiscriminate danger to individuals mentioned in whatever Anonymous decides to release.

The online media frequently used to organize Anonymous-labeled activities are far removed from the violent world of Mexican criminal cartels. This distance — along with the likely physical distance of many Anonymous members from Mexico — could limit the activists’ understanding of cartel activities. Anonymous activists may act with confidence stemming from perceived anonymity when sitting in front of a computer, but this could blind them to any possible retribution.  Cartels have targeted bloggers and online journalists in previous attacks, and even hackers in Mexico are not beyond the cartels’ reach. Cartels reportedly have turned to the information technology community in the past, coercing computer science majors in Mexico into working for them. Any Anonymous activists inside Mexico who are targeting or perceived as targeting the Mexican cartels will be just as vulnerable as online journalists and bloggers as the cartels seek to make them examples of what happens when someone exposes or publicizes damaging information about cartel activity.

Anonymous activists can threaten to reveal information about cartels or launch cyberattacks. But even if the cartels cannot track down the individuals directing cyberattacks or releasing information, the cartels will continue to commit acts of violence meant to warn the online community about such activities.

23934  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Medicine shortages on: October 31, 2011, 11:32:05 AM

WASHINGTON — President Obama will issue an executive order on Monday that the administration hopes will help resolve a growing number of critical shortages of vital medicines used to treat life-threatening illnesses, among them several forms of cancer and bacterial infections.

U.S. Scrambling to Ease Shortage of Vital Medicine (August 20, 2011)
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The order offers drug manufacturers and wholesalers both a helping hand and a gloved fist in efforts to prevent or resolve shortages that have worsened greatly in recent years, endangering thousands of lives.

It instructs the F.D.A. to do three things: broaden reporting of potential shortages of certain prescription drugs; speed reviews of applications to begin or alter production of these drugs; and provide more information to the Justice Department about possible instances of collusion or price gouging.

Such efforts are included in proposed legislation that has been pending in Congress since February despite bipartisan support for its provisions.

The order, the first since 1985 by a president to affect the functions of the Food and Drug Administration, is part of a series of recent executive orders involving such disparate issues as mortgage relief and jobs for veterans. They are intended to show that the president, plagued by low approval ratings, is working to resolve the nation’s problems despite a Congress largely paralyzed by partisan disagreements.

“The president’s action is a recognition of the fact that this is a serious problem, and we can and should do more to help solve it,” said an administration official who asked to remain anonymous to avoid upstaging the official announcement on Monday. “We can’t wait anymore.”

So far this year, at least 180 drugs that are crucial for treating childhood leukemia, breast and colon cancer, infections and other diseases have been declared in short supply — a record number. Prices for some have risen as much as eightyfold, and clinical trials for some experimental cures have been delayed because the studies must also offer older medicines that cannot be reliably provided.

Patients with entirely curable diseases have been forced to take medicines that may not be as effective, adding anxiety to an already terrible ordeal.

The president’s order is a modest effort that, while possibly helpful, is unlikely to resolve the problem soon or entirely. Administration officials characterized it as one step in a long and complicated effort. Indeed, Mr. Obama eschewed more ambitious proposals — like government drug stockpiling or manufacturing — that would have injected the government more directly into the nation’s drug market and cost more but that might have been more effective.

Still, Mr. Obama’s order and others he has issued recently reflect his belief in the power of government to improve people’s lives. By contrast, top Republican legislators and presidential candidates have almost uniformly argued that resolving the nation’s economic and other problems depends mostly on scaling back or ending government regulations to allow the free market to function more effectively. No regulatory agency touches people’s lives more thoroughly than the F.D.A., which regulates 25 cents of every dollar spent by consumers.

Along with Mr. Obama’s order, on Monday the administration will release two government reports that mostly blame a dysfunctional marketplace for drug shortages, directly contradicting assertions by some commentators that government rules are to blame. The analyses found that 74 percent of the medicines in short supply in 2010 were sterile injectibles, the kind of drugs delivered in hospitals or clinics to treat cancer or anesthetize patients before surgery.

The economic and technical hurdles to participating in this market have made it exceedingly inflexible, the analyses found. Just five large hospital buying groups purchase nearly 90 percent of the needed medicines, and only seven companies manufacture the vast majority of supply. In most cases, one company produces at least 90 percent of a drug’s supply, and crucial ingredients — many of them made in mammoth plants in India and China — are often difficult to find, verify and approve, so years are needed to create new capacity. While demand has grown steadily in recent years, supply capacity has remained largely unchanged.

With so much supply dependent on so few companies and facilities, safety problems that arise anywhere in the system can result in enormous disruptions. Nearly half of the shortages followed inspections that found serious quality problems, including injectibles that had glass shards, metal filings and bacterial and fungal contamination, the reports found.

Even the generic drug industry is calling for more regulation. The industry recently agreed to provide the F.D.A. with nearly $300 million annually to bolster inspections and speed drug applications. That amounts to about 1 percent of the industry’s revenues and about 5 percent of its profits in the United States, an extraordinary vote of confidence in the government’s ability to improve the situation.

This money and an industry campaign to build more capacity may eventually resolve much of the supply disruptions. In the meantime, Mr. Obama will promise Monday to strengthen the staff of the drug agency’s shortages team to deal with what are expected to be far more and detailed communications with manufacturers about events that could affect drug supplies, officials said.

The administration will also send letters to manufacturers reminding them of their legal responsibility to report pending supply disruptions of certain drugs and to encourage them to notify the drug agency of events that could possibly lead to disruptions even when not required to do so.

The rules needed to expand required notifications will take time to finalize, but the president’s order will speed that process, administration officials said. The president will also announce his support of legislation proposed in both the House and Senate to expand even further reporting requirements from manufacturers.

Mr. Obama’s order that the F.D.A. report to the Justice Department possible instances of price gouging or collusion is largely directed at the shadowy and fading world of small wholesalers that buy drugs from one set of users and in times of shortage sell them at huge markups to another. In one case, a leukemia drug that normally sold for $12 per vial was being sold for $990 per vial — 80 times higher. A survey found that small wholesalers typically increased prices by 650 percent during shortages.

23935  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Where that satellite really landed on: October 31, 2011, 11:16:52 AM
23936  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rolling Stone: WS is not winning, it is cheating on: October 31, 2011, 11:09:25 AM
Again, I repeat my point that we of the American Creed are missing opportunities here to woo and win a goodly percentage of these people.
23937  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A recent episode of GBTV on: October 31, 2011, 11:04:18 AM
23938  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: October 31, 2011, 11:00:56 AM
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Brief • October 31, 2011
The Foundation
"Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood." --John Adams
Opinion in Brief
Michelle's message is not an American one
"[Michelle Obama is] back on the campaign trail, and for some reason is returning to the same hardball politics. The other day, she thundered, 'Will we be a country that tells folks who've done everything right but are struggling to get by, "Tough luck, you're on your own"? Is that who we are?' Given that the federal budget has increased by $2 trillion in just a decade, entitlements are at record levels, and this administration is now running $1.5 trillion annual deficits, it is hard to imagine that any government has told anyone 'tough luck.' And it is even harder to suggest that nine months of a Republican-controlled House -- voted in as part of the largest midterm correction since 1938 -- has had much effect on the Obama employment agenda of nearly three years, the majority of which time Obama controlled both houses of Congress and borrowed nearly $5 trillion in sending unemployment over 9 percent. And when Ms. Obama charges, 'Will we be a country where opportunity is limited to just the few at the top? Who are we?' one wonders, why, then, in the past three years of hard times, did she insist on vacationing, in iconic fashion, at Vail, Martha's Vineyard, and Costa del Sol, the tony haunts of 'the few at the top'? In these rough times, surely a smaller staff, less travel, and budgetary economies would have enhanced her populist message of some at the top enjoying perks at the expense of others. In short, even if she does not revert to 2008 style and restart her lamentations about life in her country being unfair, I think it a mistake for any president to put the First Lady out, in highly partisan fashion, on the campaign trail to attack her husband's political rivals. And, I think, the public unease with it will soon prove the point." --historian Victor Davis Hanson

"Free market capitalism is unforgiving. Producers please customers, in a cost-minimizing fashion, and make a profit, or they face losses or go bankrupt. It's this market discipline that some businesses seek to avoid. That's why they descend upon Washington calling for crony capitalism -- government bailouts, subsidies and special privileges. They wish to reduce the power of consumers and stockholders, who hold little sympathy for blunders and will give them the ax on a moment's notice. Having Congress on their side means business can be less attentive to the will of consumers. Congress can keep them afloat with bailouts, as it did in the cases of General Motors and Chrysler, with the justification that such companies are 'too big to fail.' Nonsense! If General Motors and Chrysler had been allowed to go bankrupt, it wouldn't have meant that their productive assets, such as assembly lines and tools, would have gone poof and disappeared into thin air. Bankruptcy would have led to a change in ownership of those assets by someone who might have managed them better. The bailout enabled them to avoid the full consequences of their blunders. ... The Occupy Wall Street protesters are following the path predicted by the great philosopher-economist Frederic Bastiat, who said in 'The Law' that 'instead of rooting out the injustices found in society, they make these injustices general.' In other words, the protesters don't want to end crony capitalism, with its handouts and government favoritism; they want to participate in it." --economist Walter E. Williams

"This country wasn't built by men who sought handouts. In its brilliant youth, this country showed the rest of the world what greatness was possible to Man and what happiness is possible on Earth. Then it began apologizing for its greatness and began giving away its wealth, feeling guilty for having produced more than its neighbors. ... Examine your values and understand that you must choose one side or the other. Any compromise between good and evil only hurts the good and helps the evil." --novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand (1905-1982)

"The trouble with the [Occupy Wall Street] movement is that it's centered around two concepts, both of which are abject lies. First and foremost, it doesn't represent ninety-nine percent of anything, no mater how many time the protesters themselves, their enablers, or a corrupt mainstream media repeats the slogan. Second, there is nothing inherently virtuous about being poor or middle class, any more than there is anything inherently evil about being wealthy. ... And make no mistake: it is a virus that infects every ethnic group, both genders and, as you may have guessed, every income class. Until some kind of national integrity is restored, everything else comes down to dealing with the symptoms of the problem instead of the problem itself. How do you restore integrity? One self-aware person at a time coming to the realization that without it, you're nothing but the member of a mob, whether that mob resides in Zuccotti Park, a bank boardroom, or the Beltway in Washington, D.C. You want to camp out all winter and rail against the inequities of the world? Knock yourself out." --columnist Arnold Ahlert
Essential Liberty
"Conventional wisdom is that government must run the schools. But government monopolies don't do anything well. They fail because they have no real competition. Yet competition is what gives us better phones, movies, cars -- everything that's good. ... In 1955, [economist Milton Friedman] proposed school vouchers. His plan didn't call for separating school and state -- unfortunately -- but instead sought a second-best fix: Give a voucher to the family, and let it choose which school -- government-run or private -- their child will attend. Schools would compete for that voucher money. Today, it would be worth $13,000 per child. (That's what America spends per student today.) Competition would then improve all schools. ... Vouchers aren't a perfect solution, but they are better than leaving every student a prisoner of a government monopoly." --columnist John Stossel

The Gipper
"Those nations and states which have secured man's highest aspirations for freedom, opportunity, and justice have always been those willing to trust their people, confident that their skills and their talents are equal to any challenge." --Ronald Reagan

Re: The Left
"According to the Taranto Principle, first identified by distinguished Wall Street Journal writer James Taranto, the mainstream media concocts false truths that actually encourage liberal Democrats to extravagance; thus, Al Gore hyperventilates over Global Warming, Jean-Francois Kerry presents himself as a Vietnam War hero, and Barack Obama sits awash in red ink and promises more. Operating in accord with the principle, the liberal Democrats abandon themselves to a riot of fantasies far removed from the American consensus, and the result is catastrophe for them and much amusement for the rest of us. ... It doesn't sound like the Occupiers are making much headway with the average American. But they are making headway with liberal Democrats. White House adviser David Plouffe says, 'The protests you're seeing are the same conversations people are having in living rooms and kitchens across America. ... People are frustrated by an economy that does not reward hard work and responsibility, where Wall Street and Main Street don't seem to play by the same set of rules.' And the brightest president in American history has said, 'I think people are frustrated. And the protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works.' Once again, the Taranto Principle is vindicated." --columnist R. Emmett Tyrrell

For the Record
"If I were a liberal, I would have spent the last week in shock that a Democratic audience in Flint, Mich., cheered Vice President Joe Biden's description of a policeman being killed. ... Biden's audience whooped and applauded ... when he said that without Obama's jobs bill, police will be 'outgunned and outmanned.' ... What is liberals' evidence that there will be more rapes and murders if Obama's jobs bill doesn't pass? Biden claims that, without it, there won't be enough cops to interrupt a woman being raped in her own home -- which would be an amazing bit of police work/psychic talent, if it had ever happened. (That's why Americans like guns, liberals.) Obama's jobs bill tackles the problem of rape and murder by giving the states $30 billion ... for public school teachers. Only $5 billion is even allotted to the police.... [D]id Flint [Michigan] use any money from Obama's last trillion-dollar stimulus bill to hire more police in order to prevent rape and murder? No, Flint spent its $2.2 million from the first stimulus bill on buying two electric buses. Even if what Flint really needed was buses and not cops, for $2.2 million, the city could have bought seven brand-new diesel buses and had $100,000 left over for streetlights. ... The 'green' buses were never delivered because the company went out of business -- despite a $1.6 million loan from the American taxpayer." --columnist Ann Coulter
23939  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Less Academics, More Narcissism on: October 31, 2011, 12:17:42 AM
City Journal.
Heather Mac Donald
Less Academics, More Narcissism
The University of California is cutting back on many things, but not useless diversity programs.
14 July 2011

California’s budget crisis has reduced the University of California to near-penury, claim its spokesmen. “Our campuses and the UC Office of the President already have cut to the bone,” the university system’s vice president for budget and capital resources warned earlier this month, in advance of this week’s meeting of the university’s regents. Well, not exactly to the bone. Even as UC campuses jettison entire degree programs and lose faculty to competing universities, one fiefdom has remained virtually sacrosanct: the diversity machine.

Not only have diversity sinecures been protected from budget cuts, their numbers are actually growing. The University of California at San Diego, for example, is creating a new full-time “vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion.” This position would augment UC San Diego’s already massive diversity apparatus, which includes the Chancellor’s Diversity Office, the associate vice chancellor for faculty equity, the assistant vice chancellor for diversity, the faculty equity advisors, the graduate diversity coordinators, the staff diversity liaison, the undergraduate student diversity liaison, the graduate student diversity liaison, the chief diversity officer, the director of development for diversity initiatives, the Office of Academic Diversity and Equal Opportunity, the Committee on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Issues, the Committee on the Status of Women, the Campus Council on Climate, Culture and Inclusion, the Diversity Council, and the directors of the Cross-Cultural Center, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center, and the Women’s Center.

It’s not surprising that the new vice chancellor’s mission is rather opaque, given its superfluity. According to outgoing UCSD chancellor Marye Anne Fox, the new VC for EDI “will be responsible for building on existing diversity plans to develop and implement a campus-wide strategy on equity, diversity and inclusion.” UCSD has been churning out such diversity strategies for years. The “campus-wide strategy on equity, diversity and inclusion” that the new hire will supposedly produce differs from its predecessors only in being self-referential: it will define the very scope of the VC’s duties and the number of underlings he will command. “The strategic plan,” says Fox, “will inform the final organizational structure for the office of the VC EDI, will propose metrics to gauge progress, and will identify potential additional areas of responsibility.”

What a boon for a taxpayer-funded bureaucrat, to be able to define his own portfolio and determine how many staff lines he will control! UC Berkeley’s own vice chancellor for equity and inclusion shows how voracious a diversity apparatchik’s appetite for power can be. Gibor Basri has 17 people working for him in his immediate office, including a “chief of staff,” two “project/policy analysts,” and a “director of special projects.” The funding propping up Basri’s vast office could support many an English or history professor. According to state databases, Basri’s base pay in 2009 was $194,000, which does not include a variety of possible add-ons, including summer salary and administrative stipends. By comparison, the official salary for assistant professors at UC starts at around $53,000. Add to Basri’s salary those of his minions, and you’re looking at more than $1 million a year.

UC San Diego is adding diversity fat even as it snuffs out substantive academic programs. In March, the Academic Senate decided that the school would no longer offer a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering; it also eliminated a master’s program in comparative literature and courses in French, German, Spanish, and English literature. At the same time, the body mandated a new campus-wide diversity requirement for graduation. The cultivation of “a student’s understanding of her or his identity,” as the diversity requirement proposal put it, would focus on “African Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, Chicanos, Latinos, Native Americans, or other groups” through the “framework” of “race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexuality, language, ability/disability, class or age.” Training computer scientists to compete with the growing technical prowess of China and India, apparently, can wait. More pressing is guaranteeing that students graduate from UCSD having fully explored their “identity.” Why study Cervantes, Voltaire, or Goethe when you can contemplate yourself? “Diversity,” it turns out, is simply a code word for narcissism.

UC San Diego just lost a trio of prestigious cancer researchers to Rice University. Rice had offered them 40 percent pay raises over their total compensation packages, which at UCSD ranged from $187,000 to $330,000 a year. They take with them many times that amount in government grants. Scrapping the new Vice Chancellorship for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion could have saved at least one, if not two, of those biologists’ positions, depending on how greedily the new VC for EDI defines his realm. UCSD is not disclosing how much the VC for EDI will pull in or how large his staff will be: “We expect that [budget/staffing] will be part of the negotiation with the successful candidate at the end of our search process,” says Senior Director of Marketing and Communications Judy Piercey. Since the new UCSD vice chancellor will be responsible for equity, inclusion, and diversity—unlike the Berkeley vice chancellor, who is responsible only for equity and inclusion—the salary at UCSD will presumably reflect that infinitely greater mandate.

UCSD is by no means the only campus bullish on the diversity business, despite budgetary shortfalls hitting the UC system everywhere else. In 2010, Berkeley announced the UC Berkeley Initiative for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, funded in part by a $16 million gift from the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund. The “new” initiative duplicates existing “equity” projects, not least the Berkeley Diversity Research Initiative, established by Berkeley chancellor Robert Birgeneau in 2006. This latest initiative boasts five new faculty chairs in “diversity-related research”—one of which will be “focused on equity rights affecting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community,” according to the press release, and “will be one of the first endowed chairs on this subject in the United States.” (Sorry, Berkeley, Yale got there first.)

The main purpose of the UC Berkeley Initiative for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion seems to be to buy for the academic identity racket the respectability that no amount of campus mau-mauing has yet been able to achieve. “Area studies such as ethnic studies, queer studies and gender studies tend to be marginalized and viewed as less essential to the university than such fields as engineering, law or biology,” glumly noted the press release. (The use of the term “area studies” to refer to the solipsist’s curriculum is a novel appropriation of a phrase originally referring to geopolitical specialization.) According to a campus administrator on the Berkeley Diversity Research Initiative’s executive committee, the new initiative will change the character of Berkeley’s area studies by “asserting [sic] them squarely into the main life and importance of the campus.”

Conferring academic legitimacy on narcissism studies is apparently a superhuman task deserving of superhuman remuneration. The salary and expense account of the likely new director of the UC Berkeley Initiative for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, John Powell—who is currently the executive director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University’s law school—will likely dwarf anything seen so far among diversocrats, according to inside sources.

UCLA’s diversity infrastructure has likewise been spared the budgetary ax. In the pre-recession 2005–06 academic year, UCLA’s associate vice chancellor for faculty diversity reported up the bureaucratic ladder to a vice chancellor for academic personnel, herself reporting to an executive vice chancellor and provost, who in turn reported to the university chancellor. Today, that associate vice chancellor for faculty diversity has been transformed into a vice provost position, while the vice chancellor for academic personnel above her has been eliminated. The new vice provost for faculty diversity will not be lonely; she can pal around with UCLA’s associate director for diversity research and analysis, its associate vice provost for student diversity, its associate dean for academic diversity, its director of diversity outreach, and its director of staff affirmative action.

The one observable activity performed by these lavishly funded diversity bureaucrats is to pressure academic departments to hire more women and minorities. (Even that activity is superfluous, given the abundant pressure for race and gender quotas already exerted by campus groups, every accrediting agency, and external political bodies.) Should a department fail to satisfy—as it inevitably will in every field with low minority participation—only one explanation is possible: a departmental or campus “climate” hostile to diversity, which then requires more intercessions from the diversity bureaucracy. The fact that every other college and university in the country is scouring the horizon for the identical elusive cache of qualified female and minority hires is not allowed into the discourse. Even less acceptable is any recognition of the academic achievement gap between black and Hispanic students, on the one hand, and white and Asian students, on the other, which affects the pool of qualified faculty candidates in fields with remotely traditional scholarly prerequisites. Student admissions offices are under the same pressure, which in California results in the constant generation of new schemes for “holistic” admissions procedures designed to evade the ban on racial and gender preferences that California voters enacted in 1996.

UC San Diego’s lunge toward an even more costly diversity apparatus was inspired in part by one of those periodic outbreaks of tasteless adolescent humor that every diversity bureaucrat lives for (and whose significance is trivial compared with the overwhelmingly supportive environment that today’s universities provide all of their students). But it was hardly out of character on a campus presided over by a chancellor fond of “social justice” rhetoric. And UC’s other campuses are equally committed to bureaucratic diversity aggrandizement, even without a pretext for accelerating those efforts.

This week, in light of a possible cut of $650 million in state financing, the University of California’s regents will likely raise tuition rates to $12,192. Though tuition at UC will remain a bargain compared with what you would pay at private colleges, the regents won’t be meeting their responsibility to California’s taxpayers if they pass over in silence the useless diversity infrastructure that sucks money away from the university’s real function: teaching students about the world outside their own limited selves. California’s budget crisis could have had a silver lining if it had resulted in the dismantling of that infrastructure—but the power of the diversity complex makes such an outcome unthinkable.

Heather Mac Donald is a contributing editor of City Journal and the John M. Olin Fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
23940  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: October 30, 2011, 11:29:58 PM
Anonymous sources quoting unnamed people about alleged behavior twenty years ago; is another high tech lynching (see Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill-- who was busted while trying to be anonymous) under way?  Looks like it. 
23941  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Guro Crafty en Madrid, Espana, primavera 2012 on: October 30, 2011, 09:19:56 PM
Se espera tener las fechas muy pronto.  cool
23942  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Estudio: ?Que paso' aqui? on: October 30, 2011, 09:18:50 PM
23943  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / List of Romney flip flops on: October 30, 2011, 07:58:08 PM
23944  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud, SEIU/ACORN et al, corruption etc. on: October 30, 2011, 04:09:03 PM
I don't think even Gov. Chris Christie is fat enough for there to be enough room.
23945  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Scrapping and replacing the current U.S. tax code. on: October 30, 2011, 04:07:53 PM

Welcome aboard smiley

Do know that we try to have a substantial amount of thread coherence around here; the idea being that this strengthens this forum as a resource and as a research tool.   For example, as Doug notes, your post would fit nicely in the Tax Policy thread.  Generally, see the Rules of the Road thread.

Again, good to see you here. 


PS: Locking this thread.
23946  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Pravda on the Beach calls to our GM for a response on: October 30, 2011, 12:37:50 PM
I hazard the guess that our GM will not approve of the tone here cheesy,0,1292189.story
23947  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: US presence in the mid-east post Iraq on: October 30, 2011, 12:05:06 PM
MacDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — The Obama administration plans to bolster the American military presence in the Persian Gulf after it withdraws the remaining troops from Iraq this year, according to officials and diplomats. That repositioning could include new combat forces in Kuwait able to respond to a collapse of security in Iraq or a military confrontation with Iran.
The plans, under discussion for months, gained new urgency after President Obama’s announcement this month that the last American soldiers would be brought home from Iraq by the end of December. Ending the eight-year war was a central pledge of his presidential campaign, but American military officers and diplomats, as well as officials of several countries in the region, worry that the withdrawal could leave instability or worse in its wake.

After unsuccessfully pressing both the Obama administration and the Iraqi government to permit as many as 20,000 American troops to remain in Iraq beyond 2011, the Pentagon is now drawing up an alternative.

In addition to negotiations over maintaining a ground combat presence in Kuwait, the United States is considering sending more naval warships through international waters in the region.

With an eye on the threat of a belligerent Iran, the administration is also seeking to expand military ties with the six nations in the Gulf Cooperation Council — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman. While the United States has close bilateral military relationships with each, the administration and the military are trying to foster a new “security architecture” for the Persian Gulf that would integrate air and naval patrols and missile defense.

The size of the standby American combat force to be based in Kuwait remains the subject of negotiations, with an answer expected in coming days. Officers at the Central Command headquarters here declined to discuss specifics of the proposals, but it was clear that successful deployment plans from past decades could be incorporated into plans for a post-Iraq footprint in the region.

For example, in the time between the Persian Gulf war in 1991 and the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the United States Army kept at least a combat battalion — and sometimes a full combat brigade —  in Kuwait year-round, along with an enormous arsenal ready to be unpacked should even more troops have been called to the region.

“Back to the future” is how Maj. Gen. Karl R. Horst, Central Command’s chief of staff, described planning for a new posture in the Gulf. He said the command was focusing on smaller but highly capable deployments and training partnerships with regional militaries. “We are kind of thinking of going back to the way it was before we had a big ‘boots on the ground’ presence,” General Horst said. “I think it is healthy. I think it is efficient. I think it is practical.”

Mr. Obama and his senior national security advisers have sought to reassure allies and answer critics, including many Republicans, that the United States will not abandon its commitments in the Persian Gulf even as it winds down the war in Iraq and looks ahead to doing the same in Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
“We will have a robust continuing presence throughout the region, which is proof of our ongoing commitment to Iraq and to the future of that region, which holds such promise and should be freed from outside interference to continue on a pathway to democracy,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in Tajikistan after the president’s announcement.
During town-hall-style meetings with military personnel in Asia last week, the secretary of defense, Leon E. Panetta, noted that the United States had 40,000 troops in the region, including 23,000 in Kuwait, though the bulk of those serve as logistical support for the forces in Iraq.
As they undertake this effort, the Pentagon and its Central Command, which oversees operations in the region, have begun a significant rearrangement of American forces, acutely aware of the political and budgetary constraints facing the United States, including at least $450 billion of cuts in military spending over the next decade as part of the agreement to reduce the budget deficit.
Officers at Central Command said that the post-Iraq era required them to seek more efficient ways to deploy forces and maximize cooperation with regional partners. One significant outcome of the coming cuts, officials said, could be a steep decrease in the number of intelligence analysts assigned to the region. At the same time, officers hope to expand security relationships in the region. General Horst said that training exercises were “a sign of commitment to presence, a sign of commitment of resources, and a sign of commitment in building partner capability and partner capacity.”
(Page 2 of 2)
Col. John G. Worman, Central Command’s chief for exercises, noted a Persian Gulf milestone: For the first time, he said, the military of Iraq had been invited to participate in a regional exercise in Jordan next year, called Eager Lion 12, built around the threat of guerrilla warfare and terrorism.
Another part of the administration’s post-Iraq planning involves the Gulf Cooperation Council, dominated by Saudi Arabia. It has increasingly sought to exert its diplomatic and military influence in the region and beyond. Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, for example, sent combat aircraft to the Mediterranean as part of the NATO-led intervention in Libya, while Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates each have forces in Afghanistan.
At the same time, however, the council sent a mostly Saudi ground force into Bahrain to support that government’s suppression of demonstrations this year, despite international criticism.
Despite such concerns, the administration has proposed establishing a stronger, multilateral security alliance with the six nations and the United States. Mr. Panetta and Mrs. Clinton outlined the proposal in an unusual joint meeting with the council on the sidelines of the United Nations in New York last month.
The proposal still requires the approval of the council, whose leaders will meet again in December in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, and the kind of multilateral collaboration that the administration envisions must overcome rivalries among the six nations.
“It’s not going to be a NATO tomorrow,” said a senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss diplomatic negotiations still under way, “but the idea is to move to a more integrated effort.”
Iran, as it has been for more than three decades, remains the most worrisome threat to many of those nations, as well as to Iraq itself, where it has re-established political, cultural and economic ties, even as it provided covert support for Shiite insurgents who have battled American forces.
“They’re worried that the American withdrawal will leave a vacuum, that their being close by will always make anyone think twice before taking any action,” Bahrain’s foreign minister, Sheik Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, said in an interview, referring to officials in the Persian Gulf region.
Sheik Khalid was in Washington last week for meetings with the administration and Congress. “There’s no doubt it will create a vacuum,” he said, “and it may invite regional powers to exert more overt action in Iraq.”
He added that the administration’s proposal to expand its security relationship with the Persian Gulf nations would not “replace what’s going on in Iraq” but was required in the wake of the withdrawal to demonstrate a unified defense in a dangerous region. “Now the game is different,” he said. “We’ll have to be partners in operations, in issues and in many ways that we should work together.”
At home, Iraq has long been a matter of intense dispute. Some foreign policy analysts and Democrats — and a few Republicans — say the United States has remained in Iraq for too long. Others, including many Republicans and military analysts, have criticized Mr. Obama’s announcement of a final withdrawal, expressing fear that Iraq remained too weak and unstable.
“The U.S. will have to come to terms with an Iraq that is unable to defend itself for at least a decade,” Adam Mausner and Anthony H. Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies wrote after the withdrawal announcement.
Twelve Republican Senators demanded hearings on the administration’s ending of negotiations with the Iraqis — for now at least — on the continuation of American training and on counterterrorism efforts in Iraq.
“As you know, the complete withdrawal of our forces from Iraq is likely to be viewed as a strategic victory by our enemies in the Middle East, especially the Iranian regime,” the senators wrote Wednesday in a letter to the chairman of the Senate’s Armed Services Committee.
23948  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cain, Paul on: October 30, 2011, 11:54:22 AM
Saw Cain on Face the Nation this AM.  Thought he did reasonably well with a fairly hostile Washington insider interview.  Improving answering questions on foreign affairs, but still not at a level that seems presidential.

Saw Ron Paul handle CNN's Candy Crowley VERY well too.  He really has gotten quite good at handling heart string questions such as "Surely you can't be against helping people go to college."   He articulates well things like actually shutting down entire departments such as Energy, Education, Commerce, etc.  Too bad his foreign affairs are what they are.  Too bad he has too many stray crackpot comments, such as the one about a border fence with Mexico being used to keep us in.  On the Bret Baier Report's "hot seat" interview, Charles Krauthammer badly stuffed him to his face with it.
23949  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on Tunisia's elections on: October 30, 2011, 11:47:54 AM

"Most important is that democracy wins," said Mondher Ben Ayed, an IT executive in the Tunisian capital of Tunis about this North African country's electoral experiment. "But we'll also get to know who we are."

Elections are a great mirror to society, and for too long Arabs were denied a look. Ten months ago, Tunisians launched the Arab Spring by deposing dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, and the elections on Sunday were the first to follow from this year of uprisings. The results, which were released last night, introduced Tunisians to themselves.

The Islamist Nahda Party won 41% of the votes, good enough for 90 seats in a 217-member constituent assembly, which will form a government and write a new constitution. Though the proof will be in its behavior in office, Nahda ran on a moderate platform, promising to keep religion (and shariah law) out of Tunisian politics. The outcome forces Tunisians to adjust their self-image. The country's old elites have for decades thought of Tunisia as overwhelmingly secular and Westernized. This isn't quite right. What also needs to be adjusted is an often condescending attitude among the better-educated toward poorer religious or more conservative citizens who got their say Sunday. Plaintive cries from those whose preferred parties lagged Nahda call to mind the reaction on the U.S. coasts when a Republican sweeps the red states to the White House.

The electorate was described in some quarters as too apathetic or culturally ill-suited to democracy. But Tunisians took to the vote with enthusiasm; turnout was around 90%. As well as Nahda did, the four leading so-called secular parties won 31% of the vote. These parties might alternatively be called left-of-center, particularly on economics, and the outcome suggests a typical left-right national split. Anyone associated with the old regime learned how deeply their countrymen hate Ben Ali: They got 5% of the vote.

The biggest surprise was the group led by Hechmi Hamdi, the London-based owner of satellite television network Al Mostakilla. His so-called Popular Petition promised free health care, generous unemployment benefits and a fantastic new bridge to southern Italy. Apparently 13% of Tunisians believe in such miracles, and made the party the fourth-largest in the assembly. The election commission ruled that Popular Petition broke campaign laws and took away six of their seats. The commission's decision, which seemed borderline legally and symbolically stupid, leaves a black mark on an otherwise well-run election. Violent protests broke out in several cities.

Many eyes now will be trained on the new ruling Islamist party. Yet the other message from Sunday is that Tunisia revealed itself to be a pluralistic society enthused, for the time being, about this opportunity to build a representative system of government.

23950  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: From Cave to Kennel on: October 29, 2011, 09:12:30 PM
Ross MacDonald

Chauvet Cave in southern France houses the oldest representational paintings ever discovered. Created some 32,000 years ago, the 400-plus images of large grazing animals and the predators who hunted them form a multi-chambered Paleolithic bestiary. Many scholars believe that these paintings mark the emergence of a recognizably modern human consciousness. We feel that we know their creators, even though they are from a time and place as alien as another planet.

 Dog historian Mark Derr discusses the story of how man's best friend came to be and how new scientific findings are changing our preconceived notions of the domesticated dog. He speaks with WSJ's Christina Tsuei.

What most intrigues many people about the cave, however, is not the artwork but a set of markings at once more human and more mysterious: the bare footprints of an 8- to 10-year-old torch-bearing boy left in the mud of a back chamber some 26,000 years ago—and, alongside one of them, the paw print of his traveling companion, variously identified as a wolf or a large dog.

Attributing that paw print to a dog or even to a socialized wolf has been controversial since it was first proposed a decade ago. It would push back by some 12,000 years the oldest dog on record. More than that: Along with a cascade of other new scientific findings, it could totally rewrite the story of man and dog and what they mean to each other.

For decades, the story told by science has been that today's dogs are the offspring of scavenger wolves who wandered into the villages established by early humans at the end of the last ice age, about 15,000 years ago. This view emphasizes simple biological drive—to feed on human garbage, the scavenging wolf had to behave in a docile fashion toward humans. And—being human—we responded in kind, seeking out dogs for their obsequiousness and unconditional devotion.

As the story goes, these tame wolves bred with other tame wolves and became juvenilized. Think of them as wolves-lite, diminished in strength, stamina and brains. They resembled young wolves, with piebald coats, floppy ears and shorter, weaker jaws. Pleading whiners, they drowned their human marks in slavish devotion and unconditional love. Along the way, they lost their ability to kill and consume their prey.

But it was never clear, in this old account, just how we got from the scavenging wolf to the remarkable spectrum of dogs who have existed over time, from fell beasts trained to terrorize and kill people to creatures so timid that they flee their own shadows. The standard explanation was that once the dump-diver became a dog, humans took charge of its evolution through selective breeding, choosing those with desired traits and culling those who came up short.

This account is now falling apart in the face of new genetic analyses and recently discovered fossils. The emerging story sees humans and proto-dogs evolving together: We chose them, to be sure, but they chose us too, and our shared characteristics may well account for our seemingly unshakable mutual intimacy.

Dogs and humans are social beings who depend on cooperation for their survival and have an uncanny ability to understand each other in order to work together. Both wolves and humans brought unique, complementary talents to a relationship that was based not on subservience and intimidation but on mutual respect.

It seems that wolves and humans met on the trail of the large grazing animals that they both hunted, and the most social members of both species gravitated toward each other. Several scholars have even suggested that humans learned to hunt from wolves. At the least, camps with wolf sentinels had a competitive advantage over those without. And people whose socialized wolves would carry packs had an even greater advantage, since they could transport more supplies. Wolves benefited as well by gaining some relief from pup rearing, protection for themselves and their offspring, and a steadier food supply.

The relationship between dogs and humans has been so mutually beneficial and enduring that some scholars have suggested that we—dog and human—influenced each other's evolution.

The Chauvet Cave "dogwolf"—the term I use for a doglike, or highly socialized, wolf who kept company with humans—is controversial, but it cannot easily be dismissed. Over the past three years, it has been grouped convincingly with a number of similar animals that have been identified in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Ukraine and the Altai Mountains in Southern Siberia, dating from 33,000 to 16,000 years ago.

Identification of these early dogs, combined with recent genetic evidence and a growing understanding of animals not as stimulus-response machines but as sentient beings, has broken the consensus model of dog domestication—leaving intact little more than the recognition of the grey wolf, Canis lupus, as progenitor of the dog. Everything else, it seems, is up for grabs.

According to the old view, the dog arose around 15,000 years ago in the Middle East. (Or in China, south of the Yangtze River, an alternate possible origin point added in the last decade in an attempt to reconcile archaeological evidence with emerging DNA evidence.)

The first major challenge to the consensus came in 1997, when an international team of biologists published a paper in the journal Science placing the origin of the dog as early as 135,000 years ago. Their date was based on analysis of mitochondrial DNA, which is passed on to offspring through females and is believed to change little from generation to generation; it allows scientists to calculate the time when populations or species separated genetically. This analysis suggested that wolves could have become dogs wherever in Eurasia they associated closely with early humans, and that even after the split was made, dogs and wolves continued to interbreed.

In short, because of their natural affinities, wherever and whenever wolves and humans met on the trail, some of them began to keep company. Often, when socialized wolves died, there were no others immediately available to replace them. But sometimes several socialized wolves would mate or a socialized female would mate with a "wild" wolf and then have her litter near the human camp. The pups would stay or go, according to their natures. This kind of arrangement could have continued for a considerable period. Any number of them could ultimately have produced dogwolves or dogs. Most of those lines would have vanished over time.

The DNA evidence remained controversial for years, even as most major studies placed the genetic separation of wolf and dog at earlier dates than those favored by archaeologists. Hard proof was slow to appear. The Chauvet Cave paw print once provided the only physical evidence for the existence of dogs before 15,000 years ago—and it was, at best, an indirect piece of support.

Then in 2008, Mietje Germonpré, a paleontologist at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Science and the leader of an international team of scientists, re-examined fossil material excavated from Goyet Cave in Belgium in the late 19th century and announced the identification of a 31,700-year-old dog, a large and powerful animal who ate reindeer, musk oxen and horses. The dogwolf from Goyet Cave was a creature of the Aurignacian culture that had produced the art in Chauvet Cave.

Last July, another international team identified the remains of a 33,000-year-old "incipient dog" from the Altai Mountains in southern Siberia. This month, Ms. Germonpré confirmed another find, this one in the Czech Republic, of the remains of a 26,000- to 27,000-year-old dog that had been buried with a bone in its mouth—perhaps to fuel it as it accompanied its human companion to the afterlife.

While the old consensus model held that the first dogs were small, these and other recently identified early dogs are large animals, often with shorter noses and broader faces than today's wolves. These early dogs appear in the camps of hunters of horses, reindeer, mammoths and other big game. From all appearances, they were pack animals, guards, hunters and companions. They are perhaps best viewed as the offspring of highly socialized wolves who had begun breeding in or near human camps.

Our view of domestication as a process has also begun to change, with recent research showing that, in dogs, alterations in only a small number of genes can have large effects in terms of size, shape and behavior. Far from being a product of the process of domestication, the mutations that separated early dogs from wolves may have arisen naturally in one or more small populations; the mutations were then perpetuated by humans through directed breeding. Geneticists have identified, for instance, a mutation in a single gene that appears to be responsible for smallness in dogs, and they have shown that the gene itself probably came from Middle Eastern wolves.

All of this suggests that it was common for highly socialized wolves and people to form alliances. It also leads logically to the conclusion that the first dogs were born on the move with bands of hunter-gatherers—not around semi-permanent pre-agricultural settlements. This may explain why it has proven so difficult to identify a time and place of domestication.

Taken together, these recent discoveries have led some scientists to conclude that the dog became an evolutionary inevitability as soon as humans met wolves. Highly social wolves and highly social humans started walking, playing and hunting together and never stopped. The dog is literally the wolf who stayed, who traded wolf society for human society.

Humans did wield a significant influence over dogs, of course, by using breeding to perpetuate mutations affecting their shape, size and physical abilities. Recent studies suggest that the dog has unique abilities among animals to follow human directions and that its capacity for understanding words can approach that of a two-year-old child. To various degrees, humans appear to have concentrated those and other characteristics and traits through selective breeding.

Since the advent of scientific breeding in the late 18th century, humans have altered the look and temperament of the dog more than they had over thousands of preceding years. A team of gene-sequencers at the Broad Institute of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology estimated that the dog lost 4% of its genetic diversity during its initial separation from the wolf. Much greater losses have occurred as a result of modern breed formation, one result of which is the more than 400 inheritable diseases to which purebreds are uniquely vulnerable.

Recent genetic evidence has confirmed that certain basic types—pariah dogs, sight hounds, mastiffs, spitz-type dogs and small dogs—arose very early in the transformation of wolf to dog. These dogs adapted to their homelands and often had special talents as hunters, guards and eventually herders. These characteristics were often perpetuated over time.

Scientific breeders believed they could improve on nature by consolidating several similar types into one breed or isolating a few prize specimens from a larger population. In both cases, they relied on inbreeding to create and perpetuate the look and talents they wanted. With the advent of kennel clubs in the mid-19th century, the pace of breed creation picked up.

Breeders began to create dogs to fit the needs of the wealthy—from sporting dogs that could point and retrieve fowl, to little puppy-like lap dogs. The dog proved to be a wonderful animal for testing the skill of breeders, since it could be stretched in size from two to 200 pounds.

Purebred dogs were expensive commodities until after World War II, when they became symbols of arrival in the middle class. Increased demand led to increased breeding, often in puppy mills. The resulting dogs had health and behavior problems from bad breeding and the poor care of pregnant females and newborn puppies.

In some cases, the traits that breeders desire are inherited along with unwanted, debilitating conditions—such as when blindness and epilepsy accompany particular coat styles and eye colors. In many regards, the original, naturally occurring breeds were healthier and better at their appointed tasks than their purebred heirs.

But this is just the most recent chapter of a long tale. The tableau in the mud of Chauvet Cave is a stark reminder that dogs and humans have traveled together for tens of thousands of years, from ancient hunting camps to farms, ranches cities and suburbs—from the tropics to the poles. The relationship has endured not because dogs are juvenilized wolves but because they are dogs—our faithful companions.

—Mr. Derr's most recent book is "How the Dog Became the Dog: From Wolves to Our Best Friends."
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