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23901  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dowd snaps on Hillibllaries on: May 28, 2008, 09:07:33 AM
Can He Take a Frisk?
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By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: May 28, 2008
After “Rahmbo” Emanuel, the Illinois congressman dubbed “the hostage negotiator” by the Obama forces, fails to talk Hillary down, Barack Obama knows that he is left with one final roll of the dice. He sets up a secret meeting with Bill Clinton in neutral territory at Rahm’s hideaway office in the Capitol.

Skip to next paragraph
 
Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Maureen Dowd

Go to Columnist Page » Bill arrives two hours late, red-faced and truculent.

“If you brought me over here to cry uncle, shame on you, Barack Obama. You and your press lackeys are engaged in a cover-up even though Hillary’s winnin’ the popular vote and the general election.”

“Hey, Bill, please, stop wagging your finger at me. Call off Harold Ickes and the Hillaryland Huns. You’re right. I can’t win without her. The two of us can clean McCain’s grandfather clock.”

“Goshalmighty. You could knock me over with a hair on a biscuit, Barack. Smart move, everybody wins. Now Hillary won’t be the skunk at your Denver garden party.”

“That’s why they call me: No Drama Obama.”

“You’re a natural, like me. I was for hope; you are for hope. I was for change; you are for change. I took the Camelot sword from J.F.K.; you took it from Teddy. I would have been with you from the beginning except for that little deal I had with Hillary. She’s going to be so relieved that she doesn’t have to return to the back rows of the Senate with everybody there snickering that she flopped. And if something happens to you, God forbid, she’s right there in the Situation Room, ready to go at 3 a.m. on her Day One.”

“Yeah. I really want to announce this quickly, so let’s clear up a few niggling details.”

“Thank goodness you’ve got Jim Johnson frisking me. He’s the guy who missed all the baggage weighing down Geraldine Ferraro’s husband.”

“Mr. President, I’m going to run a very transparent administration, everything on C-Span. So I’ll need a full accounting of your foundation donors.”

“Oh, sure thing, buddy, from this day forward.”

“No, Bill, we’ll need full disclosure of your business dealings for the last eight years. And you can no longer accept Arab millions — not if I’m going to talk tough to them about oil. I can’t send Hillary on diplomatic missions to the Middle East if you’re taking money from Dubai and Kuwait. And no more trips to Kazakhstan. I wouldn’t want to have to put a Geiger-counter bracelet on you to check that you’re not involved in another shady uranium deal.”

“Ha, ha.”

“We need to know where that $11 million came from that you guys loaned your campaign. And the $15 million from Ron Burkle at Yucaipa and the $3 million from Vinod Gupta. And you must spill about any offshore accounts in the Caymans. And no more big-money speeches, Bill. You guys have already cashed in for more than $100 million.”

“You’re right, Barack, no more speeches. Just conversations. If a C.E.O. interviews me in front of a small audience, that’s fine. But no speeches.”

“I’m not debating the meaning of the word ‘speech,’ Bill. We’re going to have an administration so squeaky clean that it makes Jimmy Carter look like Marc Rich. All your trips abroad will have to be authorized by a higher authority.”

“The State Department? Fine, I’ll check with them.”

“Higher.”

“Oh, no. Not that.”

“Yes, Michelle. She’ll have you on a much shorter leash, Bill, and it’s not so fun. There’ll be no more Ron Air, no Burkling and Binging. Eight long years of Michelle watching your every move. No eruptions of any kind. And that big telescope in the Naval Observatory is off limits. We’re going to be a family-values administration. And in the campaign, we’ll use you the way Al Gore did: Not at all. No more Bill YouTube meltdowns.”

“You know, Barack, the more I’m seein’ what you’ve got in mind for me, the more I’m worryin’ that Hillary’s just not cut out for this job. You don’t want her glomming on to everythin’. Since she’s almost even with the delegates, she’ll want to go halfsies in the government. She’ll want to run foreign policy, cause you know nothin’ about that. And legal stuff, because you never practiced real law. And economic policy, ’cause she connected better with working-class voters. And everything to do with white people, of course. I’ve got to level with you, man. Hillary’s a lot of work. And that Kathleen Sebelius is terrific and has those twinkly eyes.”

“So, Bill, you’re not wedded to Hillary being vice president? You won’t sabotage my campaign if I pick somebody I like, I mean, like, if I pick somebody else?”

“Nah. Now that I see the big picture, the idea of Hillary as your No. 2 was always a fairy tale.”
23902  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton: States rights, federalism on: May 28, 2008, 08:54:09 AM
"The proposed Constitution, so far from implying an abolition
of the State governments, makes them constituent parts of the
national sovereignty, by allowing them a direct representation in
the Senate, and leaves in their possession certain exclusive and
very important portions of sovereign power. This fully corresponds,
in every rational import of the terms, with the idea of a federal
government."

-- Alexander Hamilton (Federalist No. 9, 1787)

Reference: The Federalist
23903  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: May 27, 2008, 04:35:42 PM
Tom:

I got about 4:30 into it and , , , that's as far as I can go.

The guy makes some sound points.  Yes there is an excrement load of undrilled oil out there in various forms.  Some of it is not being drilled because its really dirty, or would require refineries with capabilities as yet unbuilt.  Why hasn't the US built a refinery since the mid 1970s?  Good question , , , and its answer is not the rapacious oil companies, who would love to have lots of refineries, but the liberals who accuse the oil companies of being the problem.

Some of it is not being used because the planet cannot support the filth that would ensue from such dirty supplies.

Some of it requires huge investment in infrastructure (e.g. how the hell to get the Canadian tar sands to market?) and burn it cleanly?

Some of it is there, but not likely to be economically successful for a long time.

Some investment is forclosed because of security risks.  Woud you drill in Kazakstan if it were your money?  Some of it is blocked off due to foreign domestic politics e.g. Mexico.

Some of the guys numbers SOUND authoritative, but I'm not aware of the Russians having huge finds at 40,000' (40,000' Huh) beneath the Artic Sea.  I know they have been manuvering to claim most of the Artic sea bed with some tiny scientific drilling, (there's a thread on this forum devoted to this BTW) but to read this as something being held back from market is , , , silly.

Ultimately, just because it exists, does not mean its available in a politically secure, economically profitable, and environmentally acceptable manner.

Here's something from Stratfor I think a better use of our time:

May 27, 2008
By George Friedman

Oil prices have risen dramatically over the past year. When they passed $100 a barrel, they hit new heights, expressed in dollars adjusted for inflation. As they passed $120 a barrel, they clearly began to have global impact. Recently, we have seen startling rises in the price of food, particularly grains. Apart from higher prices, there have been disruptions in the availability of food as governments limit food exports and as hoarding increases in anticipation of even higher prices.

Oil and food differ from other commodities in that they are indispensable for the functioning of society. Food obviously is the more immediately essential. Food shortages can trigger social and political instability with startling swiftness. It does not take long to starve to death. Oil has a less-immediate — but perhaps broader — impact. Everything, including growing and marketing food, depends on energy; and oil is the world’s primary source of energy, particularly in transportation. Oil and grains — where the shortages hit hardest — are not merely strategic commodities. They are geopolitical commodities. All nations require them, and a shift in the price or availability of either triggers shifts in relationships within and among nations.

It is not altogether clear to us why oil and grains have behaved as they have. The question for us is what impact this generalized rise in commodity prices — particularly energy and food — will have on the international system. We understand that it is possible that the price of both will plunge. There is certainly a speculative element in both. Nevertheless, based on the realities of supply conditions, we do not expect the price of either to fall to levels that existed in 2003. We will proceed in this analysis on the assumption that these prices will fluctuate, but that they will remain dramatically higher than prices were from the 1980s to the mid-2000s.

If that assumption is true and we continue to see elevated commodity prices, perhaps rising substantially higher than they are now, then it seems to us that we have entered a new geopolitical era. Since the end of World War II, we have lived in three geopolitical regimes, broadly understood:

The Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, in which the focus was on the military balance between those two countries, particularly on the nuclear balance. During this period, all countries, in some way or another, defined their behavior in terms of the U.S.-Soviet competition.
The period from the fall of the Berlin Wall until 9/11, when the primary focus of the world was on economic development. This was the period in which former communist countries redefined themselves, East and Southeast Asian economies surged and collapsed, and China grew dramatically. It was a period in which politico-military power was secondary and economic power primary.
The period from 9/11 until today that has been defined in terms of the increasing complexity of the U.S.-jihadist war — a reality that supplanted the second phase and redefined the international system dramatically.
With the U.S.-jihadist war in either a stalemate or a long-term evolution, its impact on the international system is diminishing. First, it has lost its dynamism. The conflict is no longer drawing other countries into it. Second, it is becoming an endemic reality rather than an urgent crisis. The international system has accommodated itself to the conflict, and its claims on that system are lessening.

The surge in commodity prices — particularly oil — has superseded the U.S.-jihadist war, much as the war superseded the period in which economic issues dominated the global system. This does not mean that the U.S.-jihadist war will not continue to rage, any more than 9/11 abolished economic issues. Rather, it means that a new dynamic has inserted itself into the international system and is in the process of transforming it.

It is a cliche that money and power are linked. It is nevertheless true. Economic power creates political and military power, just as political and military power can create economic power. The rise in the price of oil is triggering shifts in economic power that are in turn creating changes in the international order. This was not apparent until now because of three reasons. First, oil prices had not risen to the level where they had geopolitical impact. The system was ignoring higher prices. Second, they had not been joined in crisis condition by grain prices. Third, the permanence of higher prices had not been clear. When $70-a-barrel oil seemed impermanent, and likely to fall below $50, oil was viewed very differently than it was at $130, where a decline to $100 would be dramatic and a fall to $70 beyond the calculation of most. As oil passed $120 a barrel, the international system, in our view, started to reshape itself in what will be a long-term process.

Obviously, the winners in this game are those who export oil, and the losers are those who import it. The victory is not only economic but political as well. The ability to control where exports go and where they don’t go transforms into political power. The ability to export in a seller’s market not only increases wealth but also increases the ability to coerce, if that is desired.

The game is somewhat more complex than this. The real winners are countries that can export and generate cash in excess of what they need domestically. So countries such as Venezuela, Indonesia and Nigeria might benefit from higher prices, but they absorb all the wealth that is transferred to them. Countries such as Saudi Arabia do not need to use so much of their wealth for domestic needs. They control huge and increasing pools of cash that they can use for everything from achieving domestic political stability to influencing regional governments and the global economic system. Indeed, the entire Arabian Peninsula is in this position.

The big losers are countries that not only have to import oil but also are heavily industrialized relative to their economy. Countries in which service makes up a larger sector than manufacturing obviously use less oil for critical economic functions than do countries that are heavily manufacturing-oriented. Certainly, consumers in countries such as the United States are hurt by rising prices. And these countries’ economies might slow. But higher oil prices simply do not have the same impact that they do on countries that both are primarily manufacturing-oriented and have a consumer base driving cars.

East Asia has been most affected by the combination of sustained high oil prices and disruptions in the food supply. Japan, which imports all of its oil and remains heavily industrialized (along with South Korea), is obviously affected. But the most immediately affected is China, where shortages of diesel fuel have been reported. China’s miracle — rapid industrialization — has now met its Achilles’ heel: high energy prices.

China is facing higher energy prices at a time when the U.S. economy is weak and the ability to raise prices is limited. As oil prices increase costs, the Chinese continue to export and, with some exceptions, are holding prices. The reason is simple. The Chinese are aware that slowing exports could cause some businesses to fail. That would lead to unemployment, which in turn will lead to instability. The Chinese have their hands full between natural disasters, Tibet, terrorism and the Olympics. They do not need a wave of business failures.

Therefore, they are continuing to cap the domestic price of gasoline. This has caused tension between the government and Chinese oil companies, which have refused to distribute at capped prices. Behind this power struggle is this reality: The Chinese government can afford to subsidize oil prices to maintain social stability, but given the need to export, they are effectively squeezing profits out of exports. Between subsidies and no-profit exports, China’s reserves could shrink with remarkable speed, leaving their financial system — already overloaded with nonperforming loans — vulnerable. If they take the cap off, they face potential domestic unrest.

The Chinese dilemma is present throughout Asia. But just as Asia is the big loser because of long-term high oil prices coupled with food disruptions, Russia is the big winner. Russia is an exporter of natural gas and oil. It also could be a massive exporter of grains if prices were attractive enough and if it had the infrastructure (crop failures in Russia are a thing of the past). Russia has been very careful, under Vladimir Putin, not to assume that energy prices will remain high and has taken advantage of high prices to accumulate substantial foreign currency reserves. That puts them in a doubly-strong position. Economically, they are becoming major players in global acquisitions. Politically, countries that have become dependent on Russian energy exports — and this includes a good part of Europe — are vulnerable, precisely because the Russians are in a surplus-cash position. They could tweak energy availability, hurting the Europeans badly, if they chose. They will not need to. The Europeans, aware of what could happen, will tread lightly in order to ensure that it doesn’t happen.

As we have already said, the biggest winners are the countries of the Arabian Peninsula. Although somewhat strained, these countries never really suffered during the period of low oil prices. They have now more than rebalanced their financial system and are making the most of it. This is a time when they absolutely do not want anything disrupting the flow of oil from their region. Closing the Strait of Hormuz, for example, would be disastrous to them. We therefore see the Saudis, in particular, taking steps to stabilize the region. This includes supporting Israeli-Syrian peace talks, using influence with Sunnis in Iraq to confront al Qaeda, making certain that Shiites in Saudi Arabia profit from the boom. (Other Gulf countries are doing the same with their Shiites. This is designed to remove one of Iran’s levers in the region: a rising of Shiites in the Arabian Peninsula.) In addition, the Saudis are using their economic power to re-establish the relationship they had with the United States before 9/11. With the financial institutions in the United States in disarray, the Arabian Peninsula can be very helpful.

China is in an increasingly insular and defensive position. The tension is palpable, particularly in Central Asia, which Russia has traditionally dominated and where China is becoming increasingly active in making energy investments. The Russians are becoming more assertive, using their economic position to improve their geopolitical position in the region. The Saudis are using their money to try to stabilize the region. With oil above $120 a barrel, the last thing they need is a war disrupting their ability to sell. They do not want to see the Iranians mining the Strait of Hormuz or the Americans trying to blockade Iran.

The Iranians themselves are facing problems. Despite being the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter, Iran also is the world’s second-largest gasoline importer, taking in roughly 40 percent of its annual demand. Because of the type of oil they have, and because they have neglected their oil industry over the last 30 years, their ability to participate in the bonanza is severely limited. It is obvious that there is now internal political tension between the president and the religious leadership over the status of the economy. Put differently, Iranians are asking how they got into this situation.

Suddenly, the regional dynamics have changed. The Saudi royal family is secure against any threats. They can buy peace on the Peninsula. The high price of oil makes even Iraqis think that it might be time to pump more oil rather than fight. Certainly the Iranians, Saudis and Kuwaitis are thinking of ways of getting into the action, and all have the means and geography to benefit from an Iraqi oil renaissance. The war in Iraq did not begin over oil — a point we have made many times — but it might well be brought under control because of oil.

For the United States, the situation is largely a push. The United States is an oil importer, but its relative vulnerability to high energy prices is nothing like it was in 1973, during the Arab oil embargo. De-industrialization has clearly had its upside. At the same time, the United States is a food exporter, along with Canada, Australia, Argentina and others. Higher grain prices help the United States. The shifts will not change the status of the United States, but they might create a new dynamic in the Gulf region that could change the framework of the Iraqi war.

This is far from an exhaustive examination of the global shifts caused by rising oil and grain prices. Our point is this: High oil prices can increase as well as decrease stability. In Iraq — but not in Afghanistan — the war has already been regionally overshadowed by high oil prices. Oil-exporting countries are in a moneymaking mode, and even the Iranians are trying to figure out how to get into the action; it’s hard to see how they can without the participation of the Western oil majors — and this requires burying the hatchet with the United States. Groups such as al Qaeda and Hezbollah are decidedly secondary to these considerations.

We are very early in this process, and these are just our opening thoughts. But in our view, a wire has been tripped, and the world is refocusing on high commodity prices. As always in geopolitics, issues from the last generation linger, but they are no longer the focus. Last week there was talk of Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) talks between the United States and Russia — a fossil from the Cold War. These things never go away. But history moves on. It seems to us that history is moving.

23904  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama's Snipergate? on: May 27, 2008, 04:08:13 PM


Recollection of Obama Uncle’s War Service Missing Key Details

by FOXNews.com
Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Barack Obama is getting called out again for his knowledge of history, including his own family’s, after declaring to veterans on Memorial Day that his uncle helped liberate the Auschwitz death camp at the end of World War II.

Two problems with the tale: Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviet Army, and Obama’s American mother was an only child.

Speaking in Las Cruces, N.M., on Monday, the Democratic presidential candidate said he did not serve, but comes from a family that did sacrifice for the nation. He was speaking about the many members of the military who suffer post traumatic stress disorder and should be given better care.

“I had a uncle who was one of the, who was part of the first American troops to go into Auschwitz and liberate the concentration camps and the story in our family is that when he came home, he just went up into the attic and he didn’t leave the house for six months, right. Now obviously something had really affected him deeply but at that time there just weren’t the kinds of facilities to help somebody work through that kind of pain,” he said.

However, a quick check on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Web site shows that Soviet forces were the first to approach Auschwitz, which was in Poland.

“On Jan. 27, 1945, the Soviet army entered Auschwitz and liberated more than 7,000 remaining prisoners,” the site reads.

U.S. forces did liberate several camps, including Ohrdruf Concentration Camp on April 4, 1945; Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp on April 11, 1945; Buchenwald on April 12, 1945; Dachau on April 29, 1945; and Mauthausen on May 5, 1945.

Obama was raised in part by his grandparents, and his father served in the second World War. A request for clarification has been made to the Obama campaign.
__________________
23905  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Pre-emption and Sucker Punches on: May 27, 2008, 02:40:34 PM
We have Southnark's PUC DVD in our possession and will be offering it in our catalog quite soon.
23906  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Karambit Vs. straight blades on: May 27, 2008, 01:16:51 PM
JDN:

To maintain thread coherency, lets take the legal questions over to the Knife Law and Self Defense Law threads.

Maxx:

I'd love to see someone research the Karambiteer at a DB Gathering.  My suspicision is that, being designed more for FUTs than long range dueling, it will have a tough time at long range.

TAC,
CD
23907  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Toronto, Canada 7/19-20 on: May 27, 2008, 01:05:39 PM
july19th- 20th
Guro  Marc Denny
in Toronto
contact Rene cocolo @
renecocolo@hotmail.com


Woof All:

I have emailed the flyer for the seminar to our webmaster who should have it up on the seminar page , , , soon.   In the meantime just contact Rene at his email address above.

Guro Crafty
23908  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: May 27, 2008, 12:02:37 PM
And more in the same vein:

 http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-mahdi27-2008may27,0,2392748.story

Iraqis losing patience with Sadr's militiamen
23909  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Al Durra Case on: May 27, 2008, 11:58:13 AM
REVIEW & OUTLOOK 
 

Al-Durra Case Revisited
FROM TODAY'S WALL STREET JOURNAL EUROPE
May 27, 2008

It's hard to exaggerate the significance of Mohammed al-Durra, the 12-year-old Palestinian boy allegedly killed by Israeli bullets on Sept. 30, 2000. The iconic image of the terrified child crouching behind his father helped sway world opinion against the Jewish state and fueled the last Intifada.

It's equally hard, then, to exaggerate the significance of last week's French court ruling that called the story into doubt. Not just whether the Israeli military shot the boy, but whether the whole incident may have been staged for propaganda purposes. If so, it would be one of the most harmful put-up jobs in media history.

You probably didn't hear this news. International media lapped up the televised report of al-Durra's shooting on France's main state-owned network, France 2. Barely a peep was heard, however, when the Paris Court of Appeal ruled in a suit brought by the network against the founder of a media watchdog group. The judge's verdict, released Thursday, said that Philippe Karsenty was within his rights to call the France 2 report a "hoax," overturning a 2006 decision that found him guilty of defaming the network and its Mideast correspondent, Charles Enderlin. France 2 has appealed to the country's highest court.

Judge Laurence Trébucq did more than assert Mr. Karsenty's right to free speech. In overturning a lower court's ruling, she said the issues he raised about the original France 2 report were legitimate. While Mr. Karsenty couldn't provide absolute proof of his claims, the court ruled that he marshalled a "coherent mass of evidence" and "exercised in good faith his right to free criticism." The court also found that Talal Abu Rahma, the Palestinian cameraman for France 2 who was the only journalist to capture the scene and the network's crown witness in this case, can't be considered "perfectly credible."

The ruling at the very least opens the way for honest discussion of the al-Durra case, and coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in general. French media could stand some self-examination. The same holds for journalists elsewhere.

On that Saturday in 2000, Palestinians faced off against Israeli troops at Gaza's Netzarim junction. Two months before, Yasser Arafat had walked out of the Camp David peace talks. Two days before, Ariel Sharon had visited Jerusalem's Temple Mount. The second Intifada was brewing. The French network's cameraman, Mr. Abu Rahma, filmed the skirmishes and got the footage to the France 2 bureau in Israel. Mr. Enderlin edited the film and, relying only on his cameraman's account, provided the voice-over for the report. He suggested Israeli soldiers killed the boy. He didn't say he wasn't there.

Along with the Temple Mount incident, the al-Durra shooting was the seminal event behind the second Intifada. Israel apologized. But nagging doubts soon emerged, as Nidra Poller recounts here. An Israeli military probe found that its soldiers couldn't have shot the father and son, given where the two were crouching.

Others including Mr. Karsenty asked, among various questions, Why the lack of any blood on the boy or his father? Or why did France 2 claim to have 27 minutes of footage but refuse to show any but the 57 seconds on its original broadcast? Mr. Enderlin said, "I cut the images of the child's agony, they were unbearable."

Under pressure from media watchdogs, and after years of stonewalling, France 2 eventually shared the additional film. It turns out that no footage of the child's alleged death throes seems to exist. The extra material shows what appears to be staged scenes of gun battles before the al-Durra killing. For a sample, check out www.seconddraft.org, a site run by Richard Landes, a Boston University professor and one of Mr. Karsenty's witnesses.

Judge Trébucq said that Mr. Karsenty "observed inexplicable inconsistencies and contradictions in the explanations by Charles Enderlin."

We don't know exactly what happened to Mohammed al-Durra. Perhaps we never will. But the Paris court ruling shows that France 2 wasn't completely open about what it knew about that day. It suggests the Israelis may not have been to blame. It makes it plausible to consider -- without being dismissed as an unhinged conspiracy theorist -- the possibility that the al-Durra story was a hoax.

To this day, Islamic militants use the al-Durra case to incite violence and hatred against Israel. They are well aware of the power of images. Mr. Karsenty is, too, which is why he and others have tried to hold France 2 accountable for its reporting.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.

23910  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Al Durra case on: May 27, 2008, 11:56:39 AM
REVIEW & OUTLOOK 
 

Al-Durra Case Revisited
FROM TODAY'S WALL STREET JOURNAL EUROPE
May 27, 2008

It's hard to exaggerate the significance of Mohammed al-Durra, the 12-year-old Palestinian boy allegedly killed by Israeli bullets on Sept. 30, 2000. The iconic image of the terrified child crouching behind his father helped sway world opinion against the Jewish state and fueled the last Intifada.

It's equally hard, then, to exaggerate the significance of last week's French court ruling that called the story into doubt. Not just whether the Israeli military shot the boy, but whether the whole incident may have been staged for propaganda purposes. If so, it would be one of the most harmful put-up jobs in media history.

You probably didn't hear this news. International media lapped up the televised report of al-Durra's shooting on France's main state-owned network, France 2. Barely a peep was heard, however, when the Paris Court of Appeal ruled in a suit brought by the network against the founder of a media watchdog group. The judge's verdict, released Thursday, said that Philippe Karsenty was within his rights to call the France 2 report a "hoax," overturning a 2006 decision that found him guilty of defaming the network and its Mideast correspondent, Charles Enderlin. France 2 has appealed to the country's highest court.

Judge Laurence Trébucq did more than assert Mr. Karsenty's right to free speech. In overturning a lower court's ruling, she said the issues he raised about the original France 2 report were legitimate. While Mr. Karsenty couldn't provide absolute proof of his claims, the court ruled that he marshalled a "coherent mass of evidence" and "exercised in good faith his right to free criticism." The court also found that Talal Abu Rahma, the Palestinian cameraman for France 2 who was the only journalist to capture the scene and the network's crown witness in this case, can't be considered "perfectly credible."

The ruling at the very least opens the way for honest discussion of the al-Durra case, and coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in general. French media could stand some self-examination. The same holds for journalists elsewhere.

On that Saturday in 2000, Palestinians faced off against Israeli troops at Gaza's Netzarim junction. Two months before, Yasser Arafat had walked out of the Camp David peace talks. Two days before, Ariel Sharon had visited Jerusalem's Temple Mount. The second Intifada was brewing. The French network's cameraman, Mr. Abu Rahma, filmed the skirmishes and got the footage to the France 2 bureau in Israel. Mr. Enderlin edited the film and, relying only on his cameraman's account, provided the voice-over for the report. He suggested Israeli soldiers killed the boy. He didn't say he wasn't there.

Along with the Temple Mount incident, the al-Durra shooting was the seminal event behind the second Intifada. Israel apologized. But nagging doubts soon emerged, as Nidra Poller recounts here. An Israeli military probe found that its soldiers couldn't have shot the father and son, given where the two were crouching.

Others including Mr. Karsenty asked, among various questions, Why the lack of any blood on the boy or his father? Or why did France 2 claim to have 27 minutes of footage but refuse to show any but the 57 seconds on its original broadcast? Mr. Enderlin said, "I cut the images of the child's agony, they were unbearable."

Under pressure from media watchdogs, and after years of stonewalling, France 2 eventually shared the additional film. It turns out that no footage of the child's alleged death throes seems to exist. The extra material shows what appears to be staged scenes of gun battles before the al-Durra killing. For a sample, check out www.seconddraft.org, a site run by Richard Landes, a Boston University professor and one of Mr. Karsenty's witnesses.

Judge Trébucq said that Mr. Karsenty "observed inexplicable inconsistencies and contradictions in the explanations by Charles Enderlin."

We don't know exactly what happened to Mohammed al-Durra. Perhaps we never will. But the Paris court ruling shows that France 2 wasn't completely open about what it knew about that day. It suggests the Israelis may not have been to blame. It makes it plausible to consider -- without being dismissed as an unhinged conspiracy theorist -- the possibility that the al-Durra story was a hoax.

To this day, Islamic militants use the al-Durra case to incite violence and hatred against Israel. They are well aware of the power of images. Mr. Karsenty is, too, which is why he and others have tried to hold France 2 accountable for its reporting.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.

23911  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: May 27, 2008, 11:54:21 AM
Senator Vicki?

It took only hours after news of Senator Ted Kennedy's cancerous brain tumor before family retainers began maneuvering to keep the seat in the family.

The New York Daily News reports that Mr. Kennedy has told confidants he would like his wife Vicki to take his Senate seat. The 54-year-old Victoria Reggie Kennedy is the daughter of a politically active judge from Louisiana and has worked as a Washington lawyer.

But she isn't the only Kennedy with possible designs on the seat. Ted's nephew Joseph is sitting on $2 million in campaign funds left over from his time in Congress. On the downside, the younger Kennedy has baggage from a messy divorce and close ties to Venezuelan dictator Hugh Chavez, a benefactor of his Boston-based fuel company.

Some cynics speculate that the family is so eager to keep the seat that it might push one of the senator's sons, Rep. Patrick Kennedy, into running. There is the small matter that Mr. Kennedy currently represents neighboring Rhode Island in the House, but Boston wags note that Robert F. Kennedy had little connection with New York before he sought that state's Senate seat in 1964.

Given that this year's presidential election once was shaping up as the sixth consecutive race in which a Bush or Clinton was the presidential candidate of a major party, it's safe to say nepotism is making a comeback in America's public life. There remains a deep-seated American belief that those who gain public office through artificial privilege should be viewed with suspicion. But voters nevertheless seem to be resigned to the art form that nepotism has become. If another Kennedy should now take over the Senate seat that has been in the family for 54 of the last 56 years, it will only be one of the most brazen examples of a troubling trend in U.S. politics.

-- John Fund

Thanks for the Memories, Tom

Virginia Rep. Tom Davis stirred the pot with his widely-distributed memo last week on the failings of the Republican Party as it heads into the fall elections. In media interviews, Mr. Davis went further and predicted that John McCain would be a "20-point loser" if Democrats succeed in tagging him as "Bush III."

On paper, Mr. Davis's critique of Republican prospects offers some useful insights as he prepares to take himself out of the fray by retiring in the fall. In real life, his own career offers a vivid example of why the GOP is in big trouble.

Mr. Davis roiled the party with his 20-page assertion that this year's political atmosphere is the worst for Republicans "since Watergate and is far more toxic than the fall of 2006." He plunged into the unfavorable polling data, surveyed the Democratic money advantage and concluded that the "Republican brand is in the trash can." Mr. Davis offered advice on policies the GOP might put forward to address voter concern about high energy prices and housing woes and the war in Iraq.

Yet this is the same Mr. Davis who last year requested a $1.5 billion earmark for the Washington D.C. Metro -- one of the largest requests in Congressional history. This is the same Mr. Davis who has made a career out of bragging about the federal money he's secured for Fairfax County, the wealthy Washington suburb he's represented for the last decade and half. In fact, take a look back through his 20-page memo and the one word you won't see is "earmark."

What's the old saying about actions speaking louder than words? Voters aren't going to believe Republicans have changed so long as they continue feeding at the trough. Mr. Davis suggested the GOP get a new "wardrobe." Voters might be looking for a GOP whose reforms go just a little deeper.

-- Kim Strassel

Quote of the Day I

"The Obama advocates declare that we have entered an entirely new political era. It is not only possible but also desirable, they say, for Democrats to win by turning away from those whom 'progressive' pundits and bloggers disdain variously as 'Nascar man,' whites, 'rubes, fools, and hate-mongers'.... In fact, all of the evidence demonstrates that white racism has not been a principal or even secondary motivation in any of this year's Democratic primaries. Every poll shows that economics, health care, and national security are the leading issues for white working class voters -- and for Latino working class voters as well. These constituencies have cast positive ballots for Hillary Clinton not because she is white, but because they regard her as better on these issues. Obama's campaign and its passionate supporters refuse to acknowledge that these voters consider him weaker.... Instead they impute racism to working class Democrats who, the polls also show, happen to be liberal on every leading issue. The effort to taint anyone who does not support Obama as motivated by racism has now become a major factor in alienating core Democrats from Obama's campaign" -- Princeton historian Sean Wilentz, writing at HuffingtonPost.com.

Quote of the Day II

"t seems increasingly clear that what we have avoided with fire-arms is now being delivered through another weapon and, terrifyingly, one which is tougher to control. There have been 100 stabbings in London in the first five months of this year -- including, in the past six days, the Oxford Street murder of Steven Bigby, 22, and the baker's shop killing of 16-year-old Jimmy Mizen, who now joins Stephen Lawrence and Damilola Taylor among the symbolic martyrs of a despairing era of street-life. Our biggest mistake was to assume guns are the greatest threat to life. Knives are easier to find -- they are present in every kitchen -- and simpler to use. It is impossible to improvise a gun from stuff found in the gutter or on a supermarket shelf, but a bottle can become a dagger with one smash. Gun control is difficult; knife control is all but impossible" -- Mark Lawson, a columnist for the Guardian, on the failure of Britain's sweeping ban on private gun ownership to halt violent crime.

Spoiler vs. Spoiler

Former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr had to sweat to become the Libertarian Party's presidential nominee over the weekend. The former Republican won 54% of the delegates on the sixth ballot, beating out Mary Ruwart, a scientist and educator whose individualistic purity is such that she believes child pornography shouldn't be outlawed.

To win, Mr. Barr had to renounce many of his votes in Congress, including those in favor of the Patriot Act and the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Such concessions along with a strong debate performance apparently satisfied enough delegates that his less-than-pure record was outweighed by the media attention a Barr candidacy would gather for the Libertarian cause.

But will that attention translate into enough votes to cost John McCain the presidential election, much as Ralph Nader is said to have "spoiled" Florida for Al Gore in 2000? Libertarians say that's the wrong question, because while journalists routinely assume the party's supporters are disgruntled conservatives, many are actually liberals who oppose drug laws, foreign policy interventions and federal surveillance measures.

Indeed, a new Rasmussen Reports poll finds that in a four-way race, Barack Obama wins 42% of the vote, McCain 38%, Bob Barr 6% and Ralph Nader 4%. Significantly, Mr. Barr picks up 7% of the Republican vote, only slightly more than the 5% vote he draws from Democrats. He also wins 5% of those unaffiliated with any party. If anything, Mr. Nader's backers skew more in the direction of Mr. Nader's own leftish views. The consumer advocate collects only 1% of the Republican vote, but 3% of the Democratic vote and 8% support from the unaffiliated.

Of course, third-party candidates always poll better in the summer before the fall campaign, which usually ends up driving voters into one major party camp or the other. Ralph Nader wound up with only 2.7% of the vote in 2000, and well under 1% four years later. The best Libertarian showing came in 1980, when Ed Clark won 1.1% of the national vote.

Only if this fall's election is as close as the Bush-Gore race of 2000, Mr. Barr or Mr. Nader could indeed play a determining role in who ultimately wins. But caution is advised in drawing conclusions about which major party either man will draw the most votes from.

-- John Fund



23912  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: How Bush sold the War on: May 27, 2008, 10:31:08 AM
 

How Bush Sold the War
By DOUGLAS J. FEITH
May 27, 2008; Page A21

In the fall of 2003, a few months after Saddam Hussein's overthrow, U.S. officials began to despair of finding stockpiles of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. The resulting embarrassment caused a radical shift in administration rhetoric about the war in Iraq.

President Bush no longer stressed Saddam's record or the threats from the Baathist regime as reasons for going to war. Rather, from that point forward, he focused almost exclusively on the larger aim of promoting democracy. This new focus compounded the damage to the president's credibility that had already been caused by the CIA's errors on Iraqi WMD. The president was seen as distancing himself from the actual case he had made for removing the Iraqi regime from power.

 
AP 
This change can be quantified: In the year beginning with his first major speech about Iraq – the Sept. 12, 2002 address to the U.N. General Assembly – Mr. Bush delivered nine major talks about Iraq. There were, on average, approximately 14 paragraphs per speech on Saddam's record as an enemy, aggressor, tyrant and danger, with only three paragraphs on promoting democracy. In the next year – from September 2003 to September 2004 – Mr. Bush delivered 15 major talks about Iraq. The average number of paragraphs devoted to the record of threats from Saddam was one, and the number devoted to democracy promotion was approximately 11.

The stunning change in rhetoric appeared to confirm his critics' argument that the security rationale for the war was at best an error, and at worst a lie. That's a shame, for Mr. Bush had solid grounds for worrying about the dangers of leaving Saddam in power.

In the spring of 2004, with the transfer of sovereign authority to the Iraqis imminent, the president was scheduled to give a major speech about Iraq. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld received an advance draft and he gave it to me for review. In keeping with the new trend, the drafted speech focused on the prospects for Iraqi democracy.

White House officials understandably preferred to declare affirmative messages about Iraq's future, rather than rehash the government's intelligence embarrassments. Even so, I thought it was a strategic error for the president to make no effort to defend the arguments that had motivated him before the war. Mr. Bush's political opponents were intent on magnifying the administration's mistakes regarding WMD. On television and radio, in print and on the Internet, day after day they repeated the claim that the undiscovered stockpiles were the sum and substance of why the U.S. went to war against Saddam.

Electoral politics aside, I thought it was important for national security reasons that the president refute his critics' misstatements. The CIA assessments of WMD were wrong, but they originated in the years before he became president and they had been accepted by Democratic and Republican members of Congress, as well as by the U.N. and other officials around the world. And, in any event, the erroneous WMD intelligence was not the entire security rationale for overthrowing Saddam.

On May 22, 2004, I gave Mr. Rumsfeld a memo to pass along to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and the president's speechwriters. I proposed that the speech "should deal with some basics – in particular, why we went to war in the first place." It would be useful to "make clear the tie-in between Iraq and the broader war on terrorism" in the following terms: The Saddam Hussein regime "had used WMD, supported various terrorist groups, was hostile to the U.S. and had a record of aggression and of defiance of numerous U.N. resolutions."

In light of 9/11, the "danger that Saddam's regime could provide biological weapons or other WMD to terrorist groups for use against us was too great" to let stand. And other ways of countering the danger – containment, sanctions, inspections, no-fly zones – had proven "unsustainable or inadequate." I suggested that the president distinguish between the essential U.S. interests in Iraq and the extra benefits if we could succeed in building democratic institutions there: "A unified Iraq that does not support terrorism or pursue WMD will in and of itself be an important victory in the war on terrorism."

Some of the speech's rhetoric about democracy struck me as a problem: "The draft speech now implies that we went to war in Iraq simply to free the Iraqi people from tyranny and create democracy there," I noted. But that implication "is not accurate and it sets us up for accusations of failure if Iraq does not quickly achieve 'democracy.'"

As was typical, the speech went through multiple drafts. Ms. Rice's office sent us a new version, and the next day I wrote Mr. Rumsfeld another set of comments – without great hope of persuading the speechwriting team. The speech's centerpiece, once again, was the set of steps "to help Iraq achieve democracy." One line in particular asserted that we went to Iraq "to make them free." I dissented:

- "This mixes up our current important goal (i.e., getting Iraq on the path to democratic government) with the strategic rationale for the war, which was to end the danger that Saddam might provide biological or [other] weapons of mass destruction to terrorists for use against us."

- "There is a widespread misconception that the war's rationale was the existence of Iraqi WMD stockpiles. This allows critics to say that our failure to find such stockpiles undermines that rationale."

- "If the President ignores this altogether and then implies that the war's rationale was not the terrorism/state sponsorship/WMD nexus but rather democracy for Iraqis, the critics may say that he is changing the subject or rewriting history."

Again, I proposed that the president distinguish between achieving our primary goal in Iraq – eliminating a security threat – and aiming for the over-and-above goal of democracy promotion, which may not be readily achievable.

Mr. Bush gave his speech at the Army War College on May 24, as Iraq was entering into the last month of its 14-month occupation by the U.S. The president declared: "I sent American troops to Iraq to defend our security, not to stay as an occupying power. I sent American troops to Iraq to make its people free, not to make them American. Iraqis will write their own history, and find their own way."

I had hoped the president would explain why sending American troops to Iraq had helped defend our security, but he did not. The questionable line about sending those troops to make Iraq's people free had remained in the speech. And it was rather late to be promising the Iraqis that we would not stay as an occupying power but instead let them find their own way.

The president had chosen to talk almost exclusively about Iraq's future. His political opponents noticed that if they talked about the past – about prewar intelligence and prewar planning for the war and the aftermath – no one in the White House communications effort would contradict them. Opponents could say anything about the prewar period – misstating Saddam's record, the administration's record or their own – and their statements would go uncorrected. This was a big incentive for them to recriminate about the administration's prewar work, and congressional Democrats have pressed for one retrospective investigation after another.

But the most damaging effect of this communications strategy was that it changed the definition of success. Before the war, administration officials said that success would mean an Iraq that no longer threatened important U.S. interests – that did not support terrorism, aspire to WMD, threaten its neighbors, or conduct mass murder. But from the fall of 2003 on, the president defined success as stable democracy in Iraq.

This was a public affairs decision that has had enormous strategic consequences for American support for the war. The new formula fails to connect the Iraq war directly to U.S. interests. It causes many Americans to question why we should be investing so much blood and treasure for Iraqis. And many Americans doubt that the new aim is realistic – that stable democracy can be achieved in Iraq in the foreseeable future.

To fight a long war, the president has to ensure he can preserve public and congressional support for the effort. It is not an overstatement to say that the president's shift in rhetoric nearly cost the U.S. the war. Victory or defeat can hinge on the president's words as much as on the military plans of his generals or the actions of their troops on the ground.

Mr. Feith was under secretary of defense for policy from July 2001 until August 2005. This article is adapted from his new memoir, "War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism" (HarperCollins).
23913  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: May 27, 2008, 10:00:19 AM
You may have missed it due to the nearly non-existant MSM covnerage yesterday, but "Iraqi Violence at a 4 year low, US says.  The Military gives credit to crackdowns launched my Maliki in the last two months."  (buried in yesterday's LA Times)
23914  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton: emminent domain on: May 27, 2008, 09:40:14 AM
"Wherever indeed a right of property is infringed for the
general good, if the nature of the case admits of compensation,
it ought to be made; but if compensation be impracticable, that
impracticability ought to be an obstacle to a clearly essential
reform."

-- Alexander Hamilton (Vindication of the Funding System, 1792)

Reference: Selected Writings and Speeches of Alexander Hamilton,
Frisch, 334.
23915  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Change in driving habits on: May 26, 2008, 03:32:31 PM
U.S.: A Record-Setting Change in Driving Habits
Stratfor Today » May 23, 2008 | 2136 GMT

David McNew/Getty Images
Morning rush-hour traffic moves along a freeway in Riverside, Calif.Summary
The number of miles driven by Americans dropped 4.3 percent year-on-year in March, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The decline — the sharpest ever — represents a behavioral change that is a necessary precursor to a shift in the markets.

Analysis
Car-loving Americans drove 11 billion fewer miles in March than they did a year earlier, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported May 23. The 4.3 percent decline is the first year-on-year decline since the 1979 oil shock, and the sharpest decline ever.

While Americans typically think of themselves as pressed for funds, in fact they have the most disposable income per capita of any of the major developed states. Adjusted for inflation, the average American’s disposable income has increased by more than $10,000 since the 1979 oil shock as estimated by the Bureau for Economic Analysis. There are more than 300 million Americans, and the sheer size of their collective purchasing power is simply mammoth.

Thus, Americans can rather painlessly absorb nearly any price increase for basic goods. But apparently there is a level at which they begin to adjust their behavior. Oil prices are now above $130 a barrel, twice what they were a year ago, and gasoline prices averaged $3.79 this week. Whether the decline in miles driven is happening because of high oil prices or slower economic growth — or more likely a combination of the two — is irrelevant.

The point is that it is happening and that will have results. The current economic situation is changing driving and spending habits on a long-term basis. For example, wretched sales of trucks and sport utility vehicles have a counterpoint in phenomenal sales of hybrid vehicles. These shifts to a more energy-efficient lifestyle are factors that will shape oil demand for a decade, and permanently reduce the demand of a culture that has traditionally been the oil producers’ best customer.

This is not to say that the May 23 statistical release will become known as the turning point in the market, but never forget that the United States uses more oil in absolute and per capita terms than any other country in the world. Without a shift in American behavior, it is difficult to see how the markets could ever undergo a fundamental drop. With that shift, it is difficult to see how — given time — they cannot.

23916  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Memorial Day on: May 26, 2008, 03:31:21 PM
Second post of the day:

THE FOUNDATION
“I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is worth more than all the means...” —John Adams

PUBLISHER’S NOTE
Memorial Day is reserved by American Patriots as a day to honor the service and sacrifice of fallen men and women who donned our Armed Forces uniforms with honor. We at The Patriot pay our humble respects to those that gave the ultimate sacrifice as members of the United States Armed Forces. We will remember you always.

Accordingly, this tribute is in honor of our fallen American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coastguardsmen.

Please join Patriots honoring Memorial Day across our great nation on Monday by observing a moment of silence at 1500 local time for remembrance and prayer. Flags should be flown at half-staff until noon, local time. Please give a personal word of gratitude and comfort to surviving family members who grieve for a beloved warrior fallen in battlefields defending our cherished liberties.

(For The Patriot’s tribute to our Armed Forces, see “To Support and Defend... So Help Me God.”)

INSIGHT
“[L]et us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us re-consecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.” —Dwight Eisenhower

“No man can sit down and withhold his hands from the warfare against wrong and get peace from his acquiescence.” —Woodrow Wilson

“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” —Sir Winston Churchill

“The patriot volunteer, fighting for country and his rights, makes the most reliable soldier on earth.” —Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson

“No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.” —Calvin Coolidge

 

LIBERTY
“In November 1776, after Washington had lost four battles and just before he crossed the Delaware to Trenton, British commanders offered a pardon to all who would swear allegiance to the crown. It was time to put up or shut up. I can hope I would have remained steadfast then, resolute in confidence that neither I nor my family would ever again sing ‘God Save the King.’ I didn’t have to make that choice. Thousands of men and women who went before us did, and thank God for every one of them.” —Suzanne Fields

OPINION IN BRIEF
“Of our three national holidays, for me, Memorial Day is the most significant. The Fourth of July celebrates our independence. Harkening back to our beginnings, Thanksgiving recalls our religious roots. But it’s the blood and guts (the suffering and sacrifice) symbolized by Memorial Day that made America possible. To make ideals real—and to protect and preserve them—requires payment in the coin of strife and death.” —Don Feder

FOR THE RECORD
“A real star is the soldier of the 4th Infantry Division who poked his head into a hole on a farm near Tikrit, Iraq. He could have been met by a bomb or a hail of AK-47 bullets. Instead, he faced an abject Saddam Hussein and the gratitude of all of the decent people of the world. A real star is the U.S. soldier who was sent to disarm a bomb next to a road north of Baghdad. He approached it, and the bomb went off and killed him. A real star, the kind who haunts my memory night and day, is the U.S. soldier in Baghdad who saw a little girl playing with a piece of unexploded ordnance on a street near where he was guarding a station. He pushed her aside and threw himself on it just as it exploded. He left a family desolate in California and a little girl alive in Baghdad. The stars who deserve media attention are not the ones who have lavish weddings on TV but the ones who patrol the streets of Mosul even after two of their buddies were murdered and their bodies battered and stripped for the sin of trying to protect Iraqis from terrorists. We put couples with incomes of $100 million a year on the covers of our magazines. The noncoms and officers who barely scrape by on military pay but stand on guard in Afghanistan and Iraq and on ships and in submarines and near the Arctic Circle are anonymous as they live and die.” —Ben Stein

THE GIPPER
“Once each May, amid the quiet hills and rolling lanes and breeze-brushed trees of Arlington National Cemetery, far above the majestic Potomac and the monuments and memorials of our Nation’s Capital just beyond, the graves of America’s military dead are decorated with the beautiful flag that in life these brave souls followed and loved. This scene is repeated across our land and around the world, wherever our defenders rest. Let us hold it our sacred duty and our inestimable privilege on this day to decorate these graves ourselves—with a fervent prayer and a pledge of true allegiance to the cause of liberty, peace, and country for which America’s own have ever served and sacrificed... Our pledge and our prayer this day are those of free men and free women who know that all we hold dear must constantly be built up, fostered, revered and guarded vigilantly from those in every age who seek its destruction. We know, as have our Nation’s defenders down through the years, that there can never be peace without its essential elements of liberty, justice and independence. Those true and only building blocks of peace were the lone and lasting cause and hope and prayer that lighted the way of those whom we honor and remember this Memorial Day. To keep faith with our hallowed dead, let us be sure, and very sure, today and every day of our lives, that we keep their cause, their hope, their prayer, forever our country’s own.” —Ronald Reagan



THE LAST WORD
American Anthem

All we’ve been given by those who came before:
the dream of a nation where freedom would endure.
The work and prayers of centuries have brought us to this day.
What shall be our legacy? What will our children say?
Let them say of me I was one who believed in sharing the blessings I received.
Let me know in my heart when my days are through,
America, America, I gave my best to you.

Each generation from the plains to distant shore
with the gifts that they were given were determined to leave more.
Valiant battles fought together, acts of conscience fought alone.
Those are the seeds from which America has grown.
Let them say of me I was one who believed in sharing the blessings I received.
Let me know in my heart when my days are through,
America, America, I gave my best to you.


For those who think they have nothing to share,
who fear in their hearts there is no hero there,
know that quiet acts of dignity are that
which fortifies the soul of a generation that never dies.
Let them say of me I was one who believed in sharing the blessings I received.
Let me know in my heart when my days are through:
America, America, I gave my best to you.

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

23917  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Support our troops on: May 26, 2008, 02:29:57 PM
From Michael Yon's website: http://www.michaelyon-online.com/
============================

Copies of my new book Moment of Truth in Iraq are in distribution, but this is the only place to get signed copies. Moment of Truth is available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com. It is also available in Barnes & Noble and other major bookstores. Download this handout to give to your military exchange, local bookstore or library so that they may order the book.

Please support this mission by buying Moment of Truth today, or by making a direct contribution. Without your support, the mission will end. Thank you for helping me tell the full story of the struggle for Iraq.



  Comments (1)
Curiouser and curiouser
  Bob Owens at Pajamas Media hunts it down:


Please Click here.



Copies of my new book Moment of Truth in Iraq are in distribution, but this is the only place to get signed copies. Moment of Truth is available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com. It is also available in Barnes & Noble and other major bookstores. Download this handout to give to your military exchange, local bookstore or library so that they may order the book.

Please support this mission by buying Moment of Truth today, or by making a direct contribution. Without your support, the mission will end. Thank you for helping me tell the full story of the struggle for Iraq.


  Comments (3)
Distributor Refuses to Carry "Moment of Truth in Iraq" on Military Bases
  Folks are asking why "Moment of Truth in Iraq" is not being carried on most military bases within the United States.



Here's why:

My publisher and literary agent have been working with the private companies who handle book distribution on military bases in order to get "Moment of Truth in Iraq" on their shelves. The process is arduous, to put it mildly.

They have succeeded in getting the book into overseas bases. But as the publisher and my agent are slowly working their way through US distributors who cover different geographic regions, they have been told "no" by the largest distributor, the Anderson News Company.

A letter from Anderson News:


Thank you for submitting Moment of Truth in Iraq to Anderson News for review. We have reviewed this book and do not consider it appropriate for our company to handle at this time, as it does not fit our current distribution needs and capabilities.

Thank you for considering us to distribute your book.

Sincerely,

Book Purchasing
Anderson News Company

Stunning response. Over the past weeks, as my literary agent spoke to Anderson while they reviewed the book, Anderson told him that the desires of the base exchange customers would have no influence and play no role in their decision making process. Anderson also stated that even appeals from high ranking military officers could not persuade Anderson to carry a title. Apparently, in Anderson's mind, they outrank the Joint Chiefs of Staff when it comes to doing business on military bases.

Anderson News Company has almost a complete monopoly over the books carried on Army, Navy and Air Force book shelves in the following US states:

ALABAMA, ARIZONA, ARKANSAS, COLORADO, FLORIDA, GEORGIA, HAWAII, ILLINOIS, INDIANA, IOWA, KANSAS, KENTUCKY, LOUISIANA, MISSISSIPPI, MISSOURI, N CAROLINA, NEBRASKA, NEVADA, NEW MEXICO, OHIO, OKLAHOMA, OREGON, S CAROLINA, TENNESSEE, TEXAS, UTAH, VIRGINIA, W VIRGINIA, WASHINGTON


The two military agencies, AAFES and NEXCOM, handle book distribution on base exchanges and work directly with private distributors such as Anderson News. AAFES and NEXCOM allow companies such as Anderson News to choose the books they will sell.

The best way to encourage Anderson to do the right thing is to contact the AAFES and NEXCOM, and encourage them to pay attention to what Anderson is not doing. My publisher and agent have tried without success.

If this is important to you, please call and request that base exchanges carry the book. Please be polite. You may also contact Anderson directly.

AAFES (Army & Air Force Exchange Service) handles Army and Air Force bases and the phone number for their book buying section is (214) 312-2741.

NEXCOM (Navy Exchange Service Command) handles Navy bases and the phone number for their book buying section is (757) 631-3465 .

Anderson News Company may be reached at (865) 588-0254. That is a general number and you will need to go to the operator and ask for the book buyers for military bases.


Please look at or print this handout: it contains all necessary information about "Moment of Truth in Iraq." The ISBN No. is 978-0-9800763-2-5.


While we struggle to get the book on exchange shelves, signed copies are still available and Barnes & Noble and Amazon are fully stocked. It also goes on front tables in Barnes & Noble stores across the country today. Hopefully, if we sell in Barnes & Noble stores, other book sellers will realize this is an important book they need to carry.

As always, I humbly thank you for your help and your efforts. You continue to make my sacrifices worthwhile.

Michael

 
23918  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Memorial Day on: May 26, 2008, 02:23:36 PM

http://www.michaelyon-online.com/

In Memory of SPC David Lee Leimbach
  CSM Jeff Mellinger is out there still "Walking the Line." He did the longest continuous tour in Iraq that I have ever seen: about 2.5 years without a break except for normal leave. Think 15 months is long? It is long, but 2.5 years straight is pretty doggone long in Iraq, and CSM Mellinger was seriously out in the red zone. I drove about 4,000 miles with him within Iraq checking on our servicemen and women, Walking the Line, and that was a tiny fraction of the work he did. And so he came back to the United States and is stationed in Washington D.C., but CSM Mellinger's duties have taken him back to Iraq and Afghanistan. I got an email from CSM Mellinger this morning from Afghanistan. He was remembering SPC David Lee Leimbach, the latest Great American to give his life in Afghanistan fighting dark forces that wish to do us great harm. CSM Mellinger had written a private tribute to SPC Leimbach, and I immediately asked if I may publish it so others may see. Just a few minutes ago, I spoke with CSM Mellinger on the phone. He's in Afghanistan Walking the Line right now, and says we are taking the fight to the enemy.


And so here is the private tribute written by CSM Jeff Mellinger in honor of our latest fallen warrior, SPC David Lee Leimbach, who gave his life in our defence:



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Afghanistan


This morning at 0600, we paid final respects to SPC David Lee Leimbach, a Taylor, South Carolina, National Guard soldier killed yesterday in the mountains of Afghanistan.

Just before 0500, an announcement came across the Bagram Airfield PA system for everyone to dress in their combat uniforms and assemble along the road which cuts through the middle of Bagram Air Base.

Little by little, troops from all services and many coalition countries began lining the main street of the base. They stood literally shoulder to shoulder on both sides of the road for nearly a mile.

At about 0530, a USAF C-17 landed (ironically from Charleston, SC), taxied, pulled into a space in front of the formed troops, turning its tail towards them. The ramp dropped, the engines shut down, the crew disembarked and lined up in front of the plane. All down the flight line, warriors stood at parade rest; talking and whispering stopped.

At 0600 on this bright, sunny day, the vehicle bearing the casket, having completed its drive from the mortuary to the airfield, turned onto the airfield. A single soldier walked in front of the vehicle to lead the way.

Along the road leading to the airfield, the troops that lined the road were standing at attention and saluting. On the airfield you could only hear the birds flitting around. In the distance were the sounds of aircraft flying their missions.

Now, the troops on the airfield came to attention and saluted as a bagpipe played Amazing Grace. The color guard moved into position, and those of us assembled near the plane came to attention and saluted.

Two cameramen ran ahead of the vehicle, recording the entire procession, and now the unloading and movement of the casket.

The casket, carried by soldiers of the unit, moved forward to the plane. The band played My Country, Tis of Thee. The casket was loaded on the plane, the senior personnel present (to include five general officers) walked onto the plane behind the casket, and final prayers and remarks were made, then those leaders and casket bearers disembarked.

As the assembled began to move from the site, the crew embarked, the ramp closed, the C-17 taxied and took off, and the fight continued.


I hope the family of this warrior knows that we loved him, too.
From every mountain side, let freedom ring!
Happy Memorial Day.


 
23919  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Paine: Sunshine patriots on: May 26, 2008, 10:55:55 AM
"These are the times that try men's souls.  The summer soldier
and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the
service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the
love and thanks of man and woman."

-- Thomas Paine (The American Crisis, No. 1, 19 December 1776)

Reference: Thomas Paine: Collected Writings , Foner ed., Library
of America (91)
23920  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: McCain on: May 25, 2008, 08:37:28 AM
Caveat Lector, its the NYTimes:
============================

WASHINGTON — Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign is in a troubled stretch, hindered by resignations of staff members, a lagging effort to build a national campaign organization and questions over whether he has taken full advantage of Democratic turmoil to present a case for his candidacy, Republicans say.

 
In interviews, some party leaders said they were worried about signs of disorder in his campaign, and if the focus in the last several weeks on the prominent role of lobbyists in Mr. McCain’s inner circle might undercut the heart of his general election message: that he is a reformer taking on special interests in Washington.

“The core image of John McCain is as a reformer in Washington — and the more dominant the story is about the lobbying teams around him, the more you put that into question,” said Terry Nelson, who was Mr. McCain’s campaign manager until he left in a shake-up last fall. “If the Obama campaign can truly change him from being seen as a reformer to just being another Washington politician, it could be very damaging over the course of the campaign.”

The ousters of some of the staff members came after Mr. McCain imposed a new policy that active lobbyists would not be allowed to hold paying jobs in the campaign.

Some state party leaders said they were apprehensive about the unusual organization Mr. McCain had set up: the campaign has been broken into 10 semi-autonomous regions, with each having power over things like television advertising and the candidate’s schedule, decisions normally left to headquarters.

More than that, they said, Mr. McCain organizationally still seems far behind where President Bush was in 2004. Several Republican Party leaders said they were worried the campaign was losing an opportunity as they waited for approval to open offices and set up telephone banks.

“They finally assigned someone to West Virginia three weeks ago,” said Doug McKinney, the state Republican chairman there. “I had a couple of contacts with him and I e-mailed him twice and I never heard back. I finally called and they said that the guy had resigned.”

Mr. McCain’s campaign has transmitted conflicting messages in recent days about how he would present himself, as he has sought to reassure conservatives nervous about his ideological consistency even as he has tried to expand his appeal to moderates and liberals.

He recently spent three days talking about global warming, a subject he used to emphasize his differences with Mr. Bush. But he ended that week with a high-profile speech to the National Rifle Association, a group suspicious of his views on gun control.

Mr. McCain’s advisers — some of whom gathered with the candidate for the holiday weekend at his Arizona ranch along with three Republicans assumed to be under consideration as his running mate — said the concern in the party reflected, in part, exaggerated concern about Senator Barack Obama’s strengths as a general election candidate. Mr. McCain, they said, was in a strong position entering into this next phase of the race.

Steve Schmidt, a senior adviser, said Mr. McCain had used the time since effectively winning the nomination to methodically raise his standing by traveling the country, delivering speeches on issues including national security and the environment, and raising money, to make sure he could at least hold his own with Mr. Obama going through the summer.

Although Mr. Obama has continued to raise far more money than Mr. McCain, Mr. Bush’s fund-raising machinery has helped keep the Republican Party competitive. The McCain campaign and the Republican National Committee, between them, have $11 million more on hand — about $62 million — than the combined cash-on-hand of Mr. Obama and the Democratic National Committee.

“How do you measure success over the course of the spring campaign?” Mr. Schmidt asked. “This is how: The reality of this race is the Republican Party brand is very, very badly damaged, in some places broken. We’ve lost Congressional seats in districts that have elected only Republican for a generation. And Senator McCain is running even or ahead of Senator Obama in most national polls.”

Mr. McCain has taken steps to inject new thinking into his campaign. He recently expanded his extremely tight circle of advisers by bringing on Nicolle Wallace, who was communications director for Mr. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign, which many Republicans view as the model for political management.

Last Sunday, he invited Mike Murphy, his longtime friend and political adviser, who is not involved in this campaign, to his home in Virginia. There, Mr. Murphy reportedly gave him a detailed and at times tough assessment of what Mr. McCain had done wrong.

Mr. Murphy urged him to tone down his attacks on Mr. Obama and stop coming across as so angry. He recommended that Mr. McCain concentrate on running as a reform candidate to strip that issue from Mr. Obama, and to make greater efforts to distance himself from Mr. Bush, Republicans familiar with the conversation said.

Some of Mr. McCain’s associates said that Mr. McCain might be interested in bringing Mr. Murphy back on board, but that his current circle of advisers was resisting that.

As soon as Mr. Obama secures the Democratic nomination, Mr. Schmidt said, Mr. McCain will begin a series of speeches intended to contrast their positions. Mr. McCain’s advisers said they did not think it made sense to do that until Mr. Obama wrapped up his battle against Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, given how the two Democrats are dominating the news.
======
Page 2 of 2)



“The race changes the moment she drops out and he emerges as the official nominee,” said Charlie Black, a senior McCain adviser. “Then the focus becomes on a two-person race and that leads to us getting more equal treatment in terms of getting airtime. We’ve had to fight with one hand tied behind our back.”


Republicans said Mr. McCain certainly had time to get his campaign back on track, and they remained confident that he would be a strong general election candidate against Mr. Obama. Some said the level of concern was overstated, or reflected the general Republican apprehension about this electoral environment, rather than anything Mr. McCain had done wrong.

“I think any Republican who doesn’t say panic is in the wind is lying through their shirt,” said Ron Kaufman, who was a senior adviser this year for Mitt Romney. “The question is, is that panic caused by McCain’s campaign — or lack thereof in some respects — or is it the climate?”

The string of departures from the campaign was prompted by questions about lobbying activities by aides and advisers to Mr. McCain and a new policy, which he dictated, that active lobbyists not be allowed to hold paying jobs in the campaign. Mr. Schmidt said that policy was an example of how Mr. McCain would take tough action, part of a contrast he said they would draw with Mr. Obama for “giving great speeches” but having no record of accomplishment.

But Mr. McCain’s associates said the campaign had failed to anticipate the extent to which the news media would use the policy to examine Mr. McCain’s staff. The result was a run of damaging stories and resignations that highlighted not the policy itself but the backgrounds of top campaign officials, including Rick Davis, the campaign manager, and Mr. Black, both of whom have long lobbying backgrounds.

Some Republicans said they were concerned that the Democrats would soon unify around Mr. Obama, and that it was only a matter of weeks before Mr. Obama began unloading a huge round of advertising intended to define Mr. McCain. If that happens, they said, Mr. McCain may look back at this period as a time of missed opportunity.

Discussing what Mr. McCain needed to do, Mr. Nelson, another veteran of the Bush 2004 team, said: “Step No. 1 would be finding a compelling message that excited Republicans, and Step No. 2 would be having the ability to turn your voters out. From what I see, in both respects, they have a long way to go, but they have time.”

Mr. McCain has made some gains in reassuring conservatives nervous about his views on issues like immigration, polls suggest. But if he is going to rely on turnout in the Republican base more than on winning over independents and disaffected Democrats, there is evidence that he has not gone as far as he needs to — particularly given how energized Democrats appear to be.

“He is going to need extraordinary participation of Republicans if Democrats continue to flock to the polls the way they have,” said Kris Kobach, the Republican Party leader from Kansas. “It’s critical that he use this period to generate enthusiasm from his base.”

Mr. McKinney, the Republican chairman in West Virginia, said Mr. McCain’s identification with immigration legislation that would eventually permit some illegal immigrants to apply for citizenship continued to be highly problematic for him.

“But it doesn’t matter what we think — Senator McCain goes his own way,” Mr. McKinney said. “Always has and always will.”

23921  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Memorial Day on: May 24, 2008, 12:53:02 PM
Woof James:

I think you will find them all honored around here. 

This thread is not the place for a discussion of the point, but for the record my thinking is that one can patriotically have been against the decision to go into Iraq, and one can patriotically (albeit foolishly IMHO) support leaving.  I feel contermpt for those who speak recklessly with the result of stiffening the enemy's resolve.  I feel anger for those who care only returning to power.  I accuse of treason is those who sabotage the effort.

If you want to discuss the point further, this thread is not the place for it.

Returning to the subject of the thread-- yes the picture is quite powerful.  I admit to misting more than once from looking at it.  As part of my son's Cub Scouts, I just got back from taking my family to Memorial services which included the Cub and Boy Scouts placing flags at the graves of those who served.  My son is only 8, and frankly for his friends and him much went right over their heads, but I think we succeeded in planting seeds that his mother and I will water as time goes by.

All:

My Cindy has spotted the complete Mills quote:

=====

Mill demonstrated a deep appreciation for the military, noting in his essay "The Contest In America": “ War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. ”

This particular version of the quotation is often used as a condensed version by military doctrines in order to express the message simply. The original, wordier full quotation is:

“ But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other. ”
23922  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Nothing but Misogynists on: May 24, 2008, 09:25:36 AM
'Nothing but Misogynists'
By DONALD J. BOUDREAUX
May 24, 2008

Hillary Clinton is now complaining that her candidacy has been harmed by sexism. Interviewed earlier this week by the Washington Post, Sen. Clinton said the polls show that "more people would be reluctant to vote for a woman [than] to vote for an African American." This gender bias, she grumbled, "rarely gets reported on."

So a woman who holds degrees from Wellesley and Yale – who has earned millions in the private sector, won two terms in the U.S. Senate, and gathered many more votes than John Edwards, Bill Richardson and several other middle-aged white guys in their respective bids for the 2008 Democratic nomination – feels cheated because she's a woman.

Seems doubtful. But hey, I'm a guy and perhaps hopelessly insensitive. So let's give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that her campaign has indeed suffered because of sexism.

This fact (if it be a fact) reveals a hitherto unknown, ugly truth about the Democratic Party. The alleged bastion of modern liberalism, toleration and diversity is full of (to use Mrs. Clinton's own phrase) "people who are nothing but misogynists." Large numbers of Democratic voters are sexists. Who knew?

But here's another revelation. If Mrs. Clinton is correct that she is more likely than Barack Obama to defeat John McCain in November, that implies Republicans and independents are less sexist than Democrats.

It must be so. If American voters of all parties are as sexist as the Democrats, Mr. Obama would have a better chance than Mrs. Clinton of defeating Mr. McCain. The same misogyny that thwarted her in the Democratic primaries would thwart her in the general election. Only if registered Republicans and independents are more open-minded than registered Democrats – only if people who lean GOP or who have no party affiliation are more willing than Democrats to overlook a candidate's sex and vote on the issues – could Mrs. Clinton be a stronger candidate.

I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican. But if I ever become convinced that Mrs. Clinton is correct that sexism played a role in her disappointing showing in the Democratic primaries – and that she truly is her party's strongest candidate to take on John McCain – I might finally join a party: the GOP. At least it's not infested with sexists.

Mr. Boudreaux is chairman of the economics department at George Mason University.
23923  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Protesting the protestors on: May 24, 2008, 09:21:08 AM
Protesting the Antiwar Protestors
By KEVIN FERRIS
May 24, 2008

West Chester, Pa.

Memorial Day isn't until Monday. But for Rich Davis, a 20-year veteran of the Navy, it seems to come every Saturday. That's when he pulls out a handmade sign and heads for a street corner near the Chester County Court House in this suburban Philadelphia community.

Mr. Davis, 54, is a pro-military protester who makes a public stand each week in support of the troops and their mission.

 
Sean Carpenter 
Supporters of the Chester County Victory Movement rally on May 17, 2008.
In 2001, Mr. Davis retired from the Navy and ended up settling in West Chester, where he spent 2006 and 2007 watching antiwar protesters rally each Saturday from 11 a.m. until noon outside the courthouse near his apartment. The Chester County Peace Movement, Mr. Davis would later learn, had been demonstrating at the site since March 2003, when the U.S. invaded Iraq. At first he hoped someone would challenge the protesters, speak up for the troops, and defend their mission. On Sept. 8, 2007 he decided that someone had to be him.

Mr. Davis had been building to such a decision for a long time. He was just a kid during the Vietnam War, but he is still bothered by the disrespect heaped on returning Vietnam vets in the 1960s and '70s. In part that is because, in 1967, Mr. Davis attended the funeral of a man he idolized – his sister's boyfriend, Marine Lance Cpl. Alan R. Schultz from Levittown, Pa. Schultz was killed by mortar fire in Vietnam.

"Al was a great guy," Mr. Davis remembers. "When we got the word that he had been killed, I felt the bottom fall out. I cried the rest of that summer."

Even today, Mr. Davis can't look at an antiwar protest without thinking that Schultz, his comrades and their modern-day counterparts are being disrespected. So after seeing the war protesters each week, Mr. Davis said to himself, "Not this war. Not this time."

"We're not silent anymore," Mr. Davis told me. "We refuse to let antiwar protesters have the stage to themselves."

Not that he wants to stifle dissent. He just doesn't want to go unanswered the signs and protests that he believes encourage the enemy and demoralize U.S. troops. So, sign in hand in September, he walked to the corner praying he would have the strength to stand there, to be seen and heard.

Seen he was. Though there was plenty of room on the corner, he says he was bumped, shoved and challenged. One person asked, "Do you live in fear?" Another demanded, "Why don't you go and serve?"

"They had that corner for five years, every Saturday, unopposed," Mr. Davis told me. "They couldn't stand the thought of one person having a sign they couldn't tolerate."

More people than the antiwar protesters took notice. A few weeks after he started his own weekly protests, Mr. Davis had about 40 sign-holding, flag-waving supporters at his side, thanks to support from the Gathering of Eagles, a national organization supporting the troops.

The number of antiwar protesters began to swell in response, which led to an increase in taunts hurled between the two groups. Mr. Davis admits the childish behavior cut both ways. "At times we have been confrontational and done things that were inappropriate, especially in the early days." But now, he says, "I have zero tolerance for yelling and buffoonery."

In March, an angry antiwar protester hit a woman who covers the weekly demonstrations on her pro-troop blog. That led the local police to lay down a few ground rules. Now each group is to keep to its own side of the street, and the two groups swap sides of the street each week.

There are a few other changes. Mr. Davis's once informal group is getting organized. They have a name, Chester County Victory Movement, and a Web site (www.americansheepdogs.com) that they use to share information about welcoming troops home, sending care packages, and joining discussions at West Chester University.

Mr. Davis also sends weekly emails to thank people for their support, and to pass on encouragement. A few members of Mr. Davis's group meet regularly to discuss problems. At these meetings, some people raise ideas aimed at embarrassing those on the antiwar side of the street. But Mr. Davis constantly refers back to the reason that brought him to the corner in the first place: letting the public and the troops know that there is a reservoir of support for the sailors, soldiers, airmen and Marines who risk their lives to fight the war on terror.

"Every time we go out, I remind the guys that we represent more than ourselves," he told me. "The troops and their families look at us. So I hope we present ourselves with the same type of dignity, courage and honor that our own sons and daughters are showing in Iraq and Afghanistan."

What Mr. Davis wants those troops to see is the solid wall of red, white and blue of his group's flags and "Support Our Troops" signs. He averages about 30 supporters a week, but hopes for a larger turnout for Flag Day, June 14.

Mr. Davis notes that he has been accused of being part of a vast right-wing conspiracy that trains and pays pro-troop advocates. Asked about that, he offers an answer that may inspire others to join his efforts.

"In a way they're right," he told me. "I was trained by a family that taught me to love our country, not blame it. And I am paid by troops and their families who say thanks for doing this, thanks for being here."

Mr. Ferris is an assistant editor and columnist at the Philadelphia Inquirer.
23924  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Knife Law on: May 24, 2008, 09:07:02 AM
"Another interesting question might have been, if I was stopped by the officer in LA and he noticed my 6" screwdriver on the seat next to me; what would he do?  Probably nothing, but IF he asked, "what is the screwdriver for?" and I said, "self defense", he would be entitled to arrest me for having a dagger longer than 3" (LA City Limit).

"But the issue still is not "intent".  The issue is whether the instrument is legal to carry or not."

Disagree.  By your own words it is precisely the intent that turns it into a dagger.

As for the right to not answer, I suppose so-- but I submit that an answer the equivalent of "I don't have to tell you" is likely to heighten the LEO's propensity to make all the negative inferences he can and act upon them.  Yes?
23925  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: sean sherk vs. bj penn on: May 24, 2008, 08:59:40 AM
I caught a bit of the buzz build show on Spike and heard BJ talking about how SS's use of steroids indicated a weak mind/heart.  SS denied using steroids.  Any athoughts on his innocence or guilt and the implications thereof?
23926  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / NY Times: Rain Forest for sale on: May 24, 2008, 08:45:25 AM
40 Million Acres of Rain Forest for the Greenest Bidder


 
By ROBERT B. SEMPLE Jr.
Published: May 24, 2008
The other day I went to a meeting to hear Harrison Ford talk about saving the rain forests and ended up listening to a man who has a rain forest to save: Guyana’s president, Bharrat Jagdeo.

The occasion was the announcement of a new campaign to protect the world’s rain forests, Guyana’s included, organized by the environmental group Conservation International. (Mr. Ford, a board member, was in New York to promote his new movie and somehow got his schedule wrong.)

That left the spotlight where it belonged: on Mr. Jagdeo and his mission to get the world’s rich nations to help save Guyana’s huge rain forest from chainsaws and prevent the release of billions of tons of carbon dioxide, the main global-warming gas.

Mr. Jagdeo caused a stir last year when he offered to cede the management of his country’s entire rain forest — 40-plus million acres, covering 80 percent of Guyana’s land mass — to a British government agency in return for British economic assistance. Though the British have yet to take him up on the deal, Mr. Jagdeo continues to press the case for protecting not only his rain forest, but all of them.

It is a noble and necessary mission. The rain forests form a cooling band around Earth’s equator. And their accelerating loss — from logging, farming, mining and burning — is a major cause of climate change, accounting for one-fifth of all carbon-dioxide emissions. That is more than the amount the United States puts into the atmosphere from all sources and more than the emissions generated by all of the world’s cars, trucks, buses and airplanes.

Rain forests serve many important purposes. They provide clean water, protection against floods and the basis for many medicines. Yet their most useful function in a warming world is to absorb carbon and store it.

For too long these facts have been undervalued in discussions of climate change. At the Kyoto talks in 1997, for instance, various nations proposed that industrialized countries be allowed to offset some of their own emissions by paying poorer countries not to cut down their forests. European environmental groups fiercely resisted the idea, warning that this would let rich countries off the hook, and engineered the proposal’s defeat.

That was a colossal blunder for which the planet has been paying ever since. Rain forests continue to disappear at a rate of 20 million to 30 million acres every year.

Mr. Jagdeo is the perfect champion for the rain forests. Guyana, together with Suriname, French Guiana and sections of Venezuela and northern Brazil form the Guayana Shield, an ancient geologic formation that contains 14 percent of the world’s carbon. The hope is that his example will inspire bigger countries like Brazil to take a far more aggressive role in protecting their forests from commercial development.

He also speaks with authority about the impact of global warming on poorer countries. He noted the other day that while climate change might require wealthy Americans to drive fewer S.U.V.’s, it is a matter of life and death for poor countries that face floods and drought. Guyana’s capital, Georgetown, is right at sea level. If the seas rise substantially, Georgetown goes.

Finally, as an economist by training, Mr. Jagdeo is a persuasive advocate for new ways of looking at the economic value of forests. Right now, he suggests, too many countries put no dollar value at all on their standing forests. So any payment they get from harvesting trees is seen as a clear profit. If forests are correctly valued — for the carbon they sequester and the damage they spare the planet — then there is far more to gain from leaving them in tact.

The good news is that the world is finally starting to see things Mr. Jagdeo’s way. Negotiators at last year’s climate change conference in Bali — the first of several meetings aimed at crafting a post-Kyoto treaty — agreed to address deforestation. The big climate bill that is expected to be debated on the Senate floor very soon provides incentives for American companies to invest in rain-forest projects abroad. Mr. Jagdeo may yet wind up with a buyer.
23927  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: desperately seeking dogbrother on: May 23, 2008, 11:56:32 PM
I once had a stranger show up at my house  unannounced shocked angry with a 6" DBMA logo tatooed on his chest with visions of sitting in front of my house until I accepted him as a student , , ,
23928  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: sean sherk vs. bj penn on: May 23, 2008, 11:54:36 PM
Any calls on Lyotto Machida's (sp?) fight?  I used to spar with him at RAW and coached him a couple of times on DBMA Kali Tudo.  He's a lefty and seemed very interested in the ideas we worked together.  Very nice guy-- naturally I am routing for him.
23929  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Knife Law on: May 23, 2008, 11:51:27 PM
Which brings me to my point. 

If a LEO pulls over someone with a baseball bat on his front seat, and conversation reveals no baseball game in the near past or future, and upon query as to the reason for the bat the answer is given "Self Defense", I'm thinking this could lead to legally unhappy consequences.

Re Section 12020, I'm thinking the same applies to that screwdriver in your pocket.  If frisked per a "Terry stop" (calling all LEOs, am I using the term correctly?) i.e. a pat down search and the screwdriver turns up and your answer is "self-defense", again I am thinking your intent could lead to legally unhappy consequences.

Yes?
23930  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: May 23, 2008, 07:24:05 PM
Woof Rachel:

You seem like someone worthy of having an intelligent conversation wtih.  The problem on my end is that I sense this to be a subject that once entered is likely to call for considerable and extended conversation-- and I have many demands upon my time.  My random participation in the thread could be misinterpreted as meaning I couldn't handle the conversation or was being rude or something like that.  If you can accept these limitations of mine in the conversation, I am game.

Also, I would like everyone to note the word "conversation".   I have some strong opinions on the subject and they are incorrect.  For anyone who cannot handle this, as my Tort professor in law school would say "too bad, so sad."  That said, as strongly as we may disagree, we need to keep the spirit of conversation at all times.

With that said, let me see if I can sort my thoughts out:

First, my basic attitude is that gays/lesbians are free to be gay and others are free to make of it what they will.  That includes thinking it is wrong, repulsive, condemned by God, something to avoid, whatever.

Flowing from the first thought, is the second, making anti-gay thoughts, feelings, employment practices, etc. illegal is liberal fascism.  Government is force and contrary to the Orwellian liberal use of the word "progressive", progress is increasing the amount of voluntary human interaction.  Increasing violence and coercion i.e. the role of the State in human interaction, is the opposite of progress.

Third, by definition marriage is between a man and a woman.  It is not for the courts to redefine the foundational relationship of our society.  Just like Roe v. Wade, the only basis for the CA S. Ct decision and the MA S. Ct. decision is liberal arrogance and judicial imperialism.

Fourth, liberal fascism does not seem willing to compromise.  The offers of compromises such as "domestic partnership" and "Don't ask, don't tell" are disingenuous lies used simply to work towards imposing through the violence of government action an Orwellian  thought crime.

Fifth, there are areas where discrimination probably is a pretty good idea.  For example, a lesbian probably should not be taking a girls school group on an overnight outing.  I don't want a gay scout leader in my son's cub scout troop.    (I note that liberal fascism hounds the Boy Scouts for this very reason-- this fine, wholesome group faces litigation wherever it goes, particularly if it wants to use a facility with some sort of governmental qualities.)  Because I have never served I defer to those that have, but it seems to me that the military is probably a good place for discrimination too.  I would not want to be in a squad with a gay sargeant when it came to deciding who had to take lead the way through the minefield.  It seems quite logical to me that in the close quarters of combat operations in particular, that disciplinary problems could result.

Sixth and last, and probably the most important, I think it should be a strike against someone who wants to adopt.  We can squabble over the exact %, (I think it around 97%) but most children are straight and to place them in the care of "parents" who are not is profoundly wrong.  Children are born to imitate, their parents most of all, and to have a hetero boy naturally and inadvertently absorb the mannerisms of a fairy father and the man who _______ him is to indulge narcisstic cruelty of the highest order.  To have a hetero girl have to turn to lesbian mothers as she seeks to mature into the complexities and challanges of what it is to be a woman and think it does not matter that her "mothers" are at best clueless about men and at worst quite hostile to them is to be an intellectual coward.

Well, there it is.  The Adventure is begun.
Marc
23931  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Oil and the Fed on: May 23, 2008, 02:13:19 PM
Second post of day

Oil and the Fed
May 23, 2008
So the Federal Reserve is signaling that its rate-cutting binge may finally be over, and we can be grateful for that small favor. The consequences of its easy-money bender will roll through the economy for years to come, however, so it's important to draw the right lessons.

All the more so because the Fed's most senior officials continue to insist that recent price increases have almost nothing to do with . . . monetary policy. Imagine that. The latest to wash his hands of responsibility for the value of the currency is Donald Kohn, the Fed's current Vice Chairman and long-time resident intellectual. In a speech in New Orleans this week, Mr. Kohn acknowledged soaring oil and food prices, but he blamed them on global supply and demand for corn, oil and so on.

"As interest rates in the United States fell relative to those abroad, the dollar declined, which could have boosted the prices of commodities commonly priced in dollars by reducing their cost in terms of other currencies," Mr. Kohn explained. "But the prices of commodities have risen substantially in terms of all currencies, not just the dollar. In sum, lower interest rates and the reduced foreign exchange value of the dollar may have played a role in the rise in the prices of oil and other commodities, but it probably has been a small one."

If Mr. Kohn really believes this, we're in more trouble than we thought.

For starters, he is simply wrong about the relative price of commodities and other currencies. The price of oil has risen far more rapidly in dollars than it has in euros since 2002. David King points this out today with a chart that we have run in the past. Had the Fed merely kept the dollar stable against the euro, the price of oil would be closer to $80 than to $131 a barrel.

No one denies that supply and demand play a role in commodity prices, but oil on global markets is denominated in dollars. When the value of the greenback falls, and especially when speculators anticipate that it will fall further, oil sellers demand more dollars for their product. This was the experience of the 1970s, the last time the Fed lost its monetary moorings, and we have been living through a sequel this decade.

As recently as last August, the dollar price of oil was only $70. The current spike in oil and other commodity prices coincides almost exactly with the Fed's decision to turn the monetary spigots wide open as a response to the credit crunch. They have since taken the fed funds rate down to 2% from 5.25%, while commodity prices have soared.

Oil prices have jumped recently on reports of higher global demand, but this too reveals a Fed miscalculation. The central bankers have justified their rapid plunge down the yield curve as necessary to avoid a recession, arguing that a slowing economy would mitigate any inflationary impact. Yet the economy has been far more resilient than either the Fed or its Wall Street beseechers expected, and we may still avoid a single negative quarter for gross domestic product this year.

As for inflation, this week's producer price numbers were alarming. The wholesale inflation figure is up 6.5% in the last year, despite an anomalous April decline in gasoline prices. That decline won't continue with $131 oil. With even the Fed's phony "core inflation" rate well above the 2% fed funds rate, Mr. Kohn and company are running a negative real interest rate policy.

 
No wonder inflation expectations have been rising. Economist Michael Darda points out that the University of Michigan's year-ahead inflation survey hit 5.2% in May, the highest reading since 1982. Yet some at the Fed continue to insist that inflation expectations are "well-anchored." Anchored on what planet?

The price for this Fed blunder is going to be very high, and we don't mean only at the grocery store or gas station. If inflation doesn't fall, the Fed will have no choice but to start raising rates again, perhaps rapidly and perhaps soon. That could put a damper on any economic recovery, especially if it coincides with the huge tax increase that Barack Obama is promising next year.

Politically, meanwhile, the Fed's commodity spike is proving to be deadly for the Republican Party that occupies the White House. As the nearby poll question shows, rising prices overall and gas prices specifically are by far the public's biggest economic worries. Voters are understandably furious because they can see that their real incomes are falling as prices rise. This is the real source of middle-class economic anxiety – not the housing recession, or jobs, or the liberal obsession with income inequality.

Republicans may be punished this November for forgetting that the Reagan policy mix had two levers – tax cuts and stable money. The Bush Administration got tax policy right. Its tragic error was falling for the siren song of dollar depreciation, and abetting a Federal Reserve that even now seems not to comprehend the damage it has done.
23932  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Karambit Vs. straight blades on: May 23, 2008, 01:55:07 PM
Scott:

I've pasted your post on the Self Defense thread.

Jason:

I've pasted your post on a new thread "Knife Laws"

TAC,
CD
23933  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Knife Law on: May 23, 2008, 01:53:45 PM
Knife law is varies from jurisdiction to jurisdicition.  This thread is to help us know what the laws are, where to find them, to discuss them and so forth.  We open with a post from the Kerambit vs. Straight knife thread by James in response to a question from me:
============
Crafty:

I will do my best.

California Penal Code 653k       Legal knife stuff.  But note, no mention of length; any length is therefore ok.  Dirks, daggers, fixed blades, folders etc. are legal.  Switchblades, cane knives, etc. are illegal.

California Penal Code 12020     Street Carry Laws...Fixed blades must be openly carried; note any possible weapon, i.e. a screwdriver carried concealed can be considered a dagger and you could be in violation.  Non switchblade pocket knives that are in the closed position can legally be carried concealed or open carry.

California Penal Code 626.10    Basically, don't carry a knife K-12.  However on a college campus while you may not carry a fixed blade, you may carry a folder of any length.

Los Angeles City Ordinance     I am sorry, I don't know the Ordinance, but I do know that LA prohibits open carry (and remember State Law says no concealed carry for a fixed blade) of ANY knife over 3".  This would include folders.  However, if you carry your folder 100% concealed, and it is over 3", this would seem to be legal but...

NOTE, nowhere in any CA Law (in contrast to some other states) is INTENT mentioned.  Intent is not an issue until you use the knife; but that is a whole other discussion.

Crafty, I hope the above helps.
=========

Maybe  cheesy

I certainly appreciate your giving us the sections of the CA code involved and your summary of them.  May I push my luck further and ask for the URLs and/or the actual language of the statutes?

Also, may I suggest what remains open on the question of intent is whether one is allowed to carry ANYTHING with the intent of it being a weapon?  A baseball bat is legal , , , for baseball.  A bat for the purpose of a weapon may not be.  Anyone?

CD
============
23934  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Common Law Principles on: May 23, 2008, 01:45:58 PM
Pasting Scott's post from the Kerambit thread here:
==========

Some reading:

Self-defense

Common law principles

 Deadly force used in self-defense is justified at common law when:  The defendant is a non-aggressor and the defendant reasonably believes that deadly force is necessary to repel an imminent, unlawful, and deadly attack by the other person.  This set of elements also fit the structure of a justification defense, namely: (1) Proportionality – the force used is proportional and reasonable in relation to the harm threatened.  (2) Necessity – the force used is necessary to protect the interest at stake.  Deadly force generally means either force likely to cause death or serious bodily harm.  In order to justify the use of self-defense on the basis of deadly force, you must be trying to repel deadly force in response.  You can use deadly force to defend against potential crimes other than murder.

 At common law, if you act in justifiable self-defense, you’re not guilty of any crime.  Even if you prove all the elements of the crime of murder, if you have a justification, then you’re not guilty.  Even if you have the intent to kill that usually constitutes malice, you may not be guilty of the offense.

 The “aggressor” issue

 You can’t use deadly force in self-defense if you’re the aggressor at the time of the conflict.  In order to find the aggressor, we are looking for an “affirmative unlawful act reasonably calculated to produce” a potentially fatal fight.  Self-defense cannot be claimed by someone who deliberately puts himself in danger.

 “Reasonable belief” at common law

 Say a defendant shoots someone believing they have a real gun when the gun is actually fake.  Under the reasonable belief requirement, even though the person couldn’t or wouldn’t have killed the defendant, the defendant still is acquitted even though what he did was objectively wrong.  However, if, on the other hand, the gun was obviously a toy then the defendant loses the self-defense claim because the belief about the threat wasn’t objectively reasonable.

 People v. Goetz – The reasonable person standard for self-defense as justification is an objective standard.  Goetz felt that the prosecution gave an objective standard whereas the standard should have been subjective based on the statute.  The intermediate appellate court argued that the emphasis in the phrase “he reasonably believes” is on “he”.  That becomes a subjective standard because we’re not interested in what a reasonable person would do, but rather whether the defendant thought he was doing a reasonable thing.

 The thing is that the defendant will obviously think that what he’s doing is reasonable.  But the defendant may be an unreasonable person.

 The Court of Appeals of New York rules that the statute was meant to create an objective standard.  But how objective did the legislature intend it to be?  Who is that reasonable person?

 
How can it be justifiable to kill an objectively innocent person?  We might excuse someone for it, but maybe it wouldn’t be justified.  The common law says, on the other hand, that such an act would not be justified, but rather excused.  Dressler argues that this could create a situation where two people could justifiably kill each other.

State v. Wanrow – The jury may “stand in the shoes” of the defendant in assessing whether his or her conduct was justified.  The basic issue in this case is bringing gender into the discussion of the reasonable person.  What does this case stand for?  Does this mean that a woman who uses self-defense must be judged by the standard of a reasonable woman, or must she be judged by the objective standard of a reasonable person?  The ruling says that the defendant’s actions must be judged subjectively, not objectively.  After this case, case law has clarified this result to mean that they use a “reasonable woman” standard.  The Model Penal Code chooses “designedly ambiguous” language to describe the standard of behavior: “a reasonable person in the actor’s situation”.

State v. Norman – If North Carolina applies the common law, why isn’t Norman entitled to a self-defense claim?  It rests on the meaning of the word “imminent”.  At common law, this term means “just about right now”.  We’re talking seconds, not minutes or hours or days or weeks.  Since that’s not what we have in Norman, the Supreme Court of North Carolina represents the traditional view.  Under the ruling of this case and in most common law jurisdictions, Norman would not even be entitled to an instruction on the justification of self-defense.

 Does syndrome evidence arguably turn a justification defense into an excuse?

 “Self-protection” and the Model Penal Code

 § 3.04(2)(b)(i) deals with one limitation on the use of deadly force: the defendant mustn’t provoke the use of force with the purpose of causing death or serious bodily injury.  The Model Penal Code says that § 3.04(2)(b)(ii) says that you can’t use self-defense if you can retreat, except if you’re in your own home or you’re a public officer.  The Model Penal Code, as well as common law, treats human life very, very highly.  The sanctity of human life is valued so highly that the law doesn’t even want “bad guys” killed unless it’s absolutely necessary.  Thus, it’s very difficult under the Model Penal Code and at common law to win on a self-defense claim.

 The Model Penal Code doesn’t focus on the amount of time before the actor will be killed, rather, it focuses on the actor to figure out if it is necessary now to use deadly force against the victim.

 § 3.04.  This statute uses the word “immediately necessary” rather than “imminent”.  The provision is general.  The deadly force provision is § 3.04(2)(b).  Even if you meet § 3.04(1), there are additional conditions in order for a valid justification to be constructed.

 If an actor’s belief is sincere but reckless or negligent, the actor isn’t justified as far as reckless or negligent offenses.  If the defendant was negligent in believing that a toy gun was actually real, then under the Model Penal Code the defendant wouldn’t be guilty of murder.  The defendant would be guilty of negligent homicide if the defendant was negligent, and the defendant would be guilty of manslaughter if the defendant was reckless.

 What the Model Penal Code does that is dramatically different from common law is that it doesn’t like the “all-or-nothing” proposition.  In the three situations above, the defendant is not guilty in the first case, not guilty in the second case, but fully guilty in the third case.  On the other hand, the Model Penal Code allows conviction for a lesser crime in the third case.

 Necessity

 
Three elements are required in order to show necessity: (1) The act charged must have been done to prevent a significant evil.  (2) There must have been no adequate alternative.  (3) The harm caused must not have been disproportionate to the harm avoided.

 Nelson v. State – There’s a balancing test here between the harm actually caused and the harm averted by the act.  That’s the very definition of necessity.

 The drafters of the Model Penal Code § 3.02 thought the necessity defense was essential because we want to encourage sort of “efficient breach” of the law.  If obeying the law involves greater harm to society than breaking the law, we want people to break it.  This is kind of a belt to keep the legislature’s pants from falling down in exceptional situations.  If the legislature would have said “Yes, break the law in this case”, then we want to let the offender off the hook.  It would be irrational to want people to obey the law if we believed that the legislature in a certain situation would say “do break the law” because that would result in a better outcome for society than obeying the law.

 Although necessity (or the “choice of evils” justification defense) is typically thought of as a utilitarian justification because of its balancing aspect, it can also be viewed in non-utilitarian terms by comparing the moral value of one choice of action against another.

 A defendant must actually believe that his conduct is necessary to avert a greater evil (and not an equal or lesser evil).  The necessity defense doesn’t help you if you recklessly or negligently created the necessity.

 The Queen v. Dudley and Stephens – This is the single most important case in Anglo-American jurisprudence to deal with the following question: is it ever justifiable to kill an innocent person in order to save a greater number of innocent persons?  The court suggests that sometimes the law has to set up standards that we can’t really live up to.  Can we punish someone when we all would have done the same thing?

 If you’re a retributivist, then it is never right to kill an innocent person in order to save a greater number of innocent lives.  If you’re a Kantian, you believe that you must never use a person as a means to an end rather than as an end in itself.  That’s what Dudley and Stephens did with Parker: they used him as a means to an end, violating what Kant would say is a categorical imperative.

 Excuse

 Excuse focuses on the actor, not the act.  Excuse concedes that the act was bad, but there was something about the actor such that we’re willing to let them go without punishment.  When we use an excuse defense, the burden of proof is placed on the defendant.

 Bentham says that an excuse is a defense when their conduct was nondeterrable.  The only use for punishment, in a utilitarian view, is deterrence.  Therefore, if there is no value to punishment and only a net social cost, we shouldn’t punish.

 However, say there are some people who are genuinely undeterrable.  There may still be some utilitarian value in punishing an undeterrable person due to specific deterrence or incapacitation.  What about the general deterrence value in punishing an undeterrable person?  If we excuse an undeterrable person, someone else might get the wrong message.  Someone else might believe that they can convince a jury that they are undeterrable.  Generally speaking, they may be less likely to obey the law because they will perceive it as full of holes.

 Retributivists say that we have excuses because we don’t want to blame those who were not responsible for their actions.  To blame someone who is not responsible for his actions is a falsehood.  It is a matter of justice to excuse certain people even though they have caused some social harm.

 Excuse law is now explained almost exclusively by some sort of retributive theory rather than utilitarian theory.  Even the utilitarian argument has a retributivist aspect to it.

 Our theories of excuse are: (1) Utilitarian theories, (2) causation, (3) character, and (4) choice (personhood).

 Duress

 Duress is an excuse and not a justification.  Most jurisdictions treat it in this way.  At common law, duress is no excuse for murder.  In the Model Penal Code, however, there is no murder exception.

 United States v. Contento-Pachon – There are three elements of the duress defense, according to the court: (1) immediacy of the threat, (2) well-grounded fear of the threat, and (3) lack of escapability from the threat.

 Another way of describing duress as an excuse is that a person will be acquitted of any crime other than murder if: (1) the coercer issues an unlawful threat to imminently kill or grievously injure the defendant or another person, and (2) the defendant was not at fault in exposing himself to the threat.

 The court also says that a necessity defense suggests that there was no social harm on balance.   On the other hand, the court says that duress suggests there was no culpability.  The court therefore implies that necessity is a justification rather than an excuse.

 The Model Penal Code definition of duress is revolutionary compared to the common law.  It’s different from the common law definition in many different ways.  There is a limit to duress under Model Penal Code § 3.02: the threat listed is “unlawful force”.  Only humans can do unlawful things.  The Model Penal Code is like the common law in the fact that it limits the defense of duress to human threats.  However, under the category of necessity, the Model Penal Code would allow either natural or human threats.  The Model Penal Code is well aware of this.  It says that even if § 3.02 applies, § 2.09 may still apply if you’re dealing with a human threat.

 What’s different about the Model Penal Code provision on duress than the common law?  In the Model Penal Code, there need not be an imminent threat.  Also, under the Model Penal Code, a “kill or be killed” threat could work as an excuse: there is no murder exclusion.  Finally, it is a “person of reasonable firmness” standard.  It’s an objective rather than a subjective standard.

 People v. Anderson – At common law, duress was not a defense to murder.  Some intentional killings, if they are the result of provocation, reduce murder to manslaughter.  But this isn’t a heat of passion case.  Adequate provocation makes someone angry which makes them intentionally kill.  It’s a lot harder to control yourself when you’re very angry.  When we’ve very angry, our self-control is undermined.  But we don’t think one’s self-control is fully undermined by anger.  When you’re angry, you could do a lot of things other than kill.  You could vent your anger in some other way.

 Why couldn’t you have fear in place of anger in “heat of passion”?  Fear is an emotion that is like anger in that it makes self-control more difficult.  We may be able to empathize more with fear than with anger.

 Anderson’s point is that if you give a defense for killings caused by adequate provocation leading to anger leading to the intent to kill, then it follows that you should give a similar defense with fear in the place of anger.  Dressler seems to argue for just such a partial defense.

 The Model Penal Code would actually agree with Anderson, although they wouldn’t use duress to get there and they wouldn’t use the “heat of passion” excuse.  You would go straight to manslaughter based on the fact that the homicide was committed under “extreme emotional distress”.  The Model Penal Code necessity defense allows the intentional killing of an innocent person to save a greater number of lives.  In a Model Penal Code jurisdiction, you could have a complete defense.
23935  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Energy issues, energy technology on: May 23, 2008, 12:17:53 PM
Fourth post this morning! shocked

Worth a careful read:  Khosla is a legendary Silicon Valley VC who has shifted his focus to alternate energy.  Dummy he ain't. 
Investors take note – he is a premier builder of valuations, especially for IPO's (surprise, surprise).  This guy knows how to make money. His web site has a lot of interesting papers and presentations which I am now reviewing.  Have a look at: 

http://www.khoslaventures.com/resources.html

 

23936  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Oil up because dollar down on: May 23, 2008, 12:08:30 PM
Oil Is Up Because the Dollar Is Down
By DAVID T. KING
May 23, 2008

Back in December 2002, one dollar equaled one euro. But that exchange rate didn't last. The dollar was on its way down, a trend that had started more than a year earlier, and has lasted, with occasional oscillations, to this day.

On the day in 2002 that the value of a dollar was exactly the same as the value of a euro, the price of a barrel of oil was, therefore, the same in dollars and euros: about 25. Since that day, it's like the two currencies have traded on two different planets.

 
Certainly energy prices have risen, regardless of what currency you use. In Europe, the price of oil has risen by 50 euros in the past five-and-a-half years. It now stands at about 75 euros per barrel, three times what it was then. But in the U.S., the price of oil has risen to over $120 per barrel, and is now almost five times what it was then.

The sole reason for this enormous difference is the incredible depreciation of the dollar against the euro. From one for one at the end of 2002, it now costs nearly $1.60 to buy a euro.

The chorus of complaints about the price of gasoline gets louder every day, and is even becoming a campaign controversy both across and within parties. The same old solutions we have heard for years are being proposed – conservation, increased domestic exploration, manipulations of the tax on gasoline. But no one is pointing to what is by far the biggest reason for today's $60 fill-ups. The collapse of the dollar exchange rate, alone, explains at least half of the increase in the pump price of gas over the past five years. If it wasn't for the falling value of the dollar, the price of gasoline wouldn't be an issue.

Maybe the reason nobody talks about it is because they don't think you can do anything about it, or that it's somehow too esoteric to talk about exchange rates. But, economically speaking, what is more fundamental to us than the value of our currency? Why have we allowed the value of a dollar to fall by half?

The conventional wisdom, followed by U.S. administrations for the past 30 years, is that "the market" knows what it's doing in setting these rates, based on "the fundamentals" of the economy. This is, by the way, more or less the same market – the same band of traders, both on and off Wall Street – who, based on some view of the fundamentals, valued Bear Stearns at $100 a share one year ago. As the prevailing view of its fundamentals rapidly shifted, Bear's stock value collapsed, but it hurt only Bear's stockholders. The collapse of the dollar hurts everyone – a lot.

The fact is that the dollar exchange rate is way out of line with the fundamental strength of our economy, and even with such well-known fundamentals as relative inflation rates.

But when it stays out of line for too long, it starts to feed back on the fundamentals themselves. The dollar has been so weak for so long that it's now causing inflation even at a time of recession. It's to blame for the excessive price of gasoline, and now is pushing dangerously into wholesale price inflation, based on the most recent data published by the Labor Department.

Will the market, accommodated by hands-off policy makers, now say that we need more depreciation to offset the inflation that depreciation itself has created?

We don't need gas tax holidays. Exchange rates can be managed. We need exchange rate policy.

Mr. King, a former chief of the New York Federal Reserve's Industrial Economies Division, is a managing consultant for Emerging Markets Group Ltd., in Arlington, Va
WSJ
23937  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Hero fired on: May 23, 2008, 12:04:17 PM

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,356710,00.html


.
Gas Station Employee Fired for Fighting Off Robber

Tuesday, May 20, 2008
By Sara Bonisteel  KSTP.com

Mark Beverly

An act of bravery to defend a co-worker has cost a Minnesota gas-station attendant his job.
Mark Beverly, an overnight shift supervisor at a SuperAmerica in Roseville, Minn., was fired in March after he jumped on a masked robber who he believed was attacking a fellow employee.


SuperAmerica said he violated company policy when he came to his colleague's aid in the early morning of March 26. So instead of accolades, Beverly got the boot.


Adding insult to injury, Beverly — who is still looking for another job — has been denied unemployment benefits. He will appeal that decision on June 5.


The trouble began around 3 a.m. when Beverly was cleaning the bathroom and his female co-worker was behind the cash register. Beverly said he heard her scream, so he ran out and saw a robber wearing a blue-stocking cap jostling with her.


"It looked like he was hurting her, so I jumped on him," Beverly said. "I just tried to bang him on the counter a couple of times."


After a tussle, he said, the robber regained his footing and looked as if he was going to pull out a weapon. Beverly said the man told him, "Don't be a hero," before fleeing the store with about $15.
Beverly called police and reviewed security tapes with his managers before completing his shift. "Everything was fine," he said.


The next day, however, he was fired for violating company policy.


Marathon Petroleum Company, the owner of the SuperAmerica chain, said Beverly was told what to do in the company handbook — which advises employees to "cooperate: don't argue, resist or attack the robber" — and through a computer-based training program Beverly was required to complete when he was hired.


"He endangered himself and her, and that’s why we have the policy," said Linda Casey, a Marathon spokeswoman. "And we have enforced it with other employees, not just with him."

"I just thought it was wrong, that's all," said Beverly, who had worked at SuperAmerica for just over a year. "You're not really trained for a robbery, and that was the first robbery I have ever been in in my life."


Capt. Rick Mathwig of the Roseville Police Department said authorities advise people not to take action when faced with a robbery.


"When you start resisting at some way shape or form, the suspect who may not have intended on using the weapon that he or she came with may use it intentionally or unintentionally when faced with a conflict," he said.


Roseville police have listed the case as inactive as they have not been able to identify the robber. The only image of him is partial profile and his face is obscured by the stocking cap, Mathwig said.

The security tape did not show the female co-worker struggling with the robber over the cash-register drawer, Casey said.


"The female employee was never attacked," she said. The robber reached in and grabbed cash out of the drawer.


"We have a statement from both [Beverly] and the female employee," Casey said. "Neither one of them say anything about her being attacked, hurt or anything, and the video we have substantiates it."


Beverly said that from his vantage point, he thought she was being attacked.
"With both of them so close it looked — from the angle that I was at — it looked like she was being attacked," he said.


LINK WHERE YOU CAN SEND COMPANY A MESSAGE.

http://www.marathon.com/About_Marath...tomer_Service/
23938  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: May 23, 2008, 12:02:20 PM
The Death of Conservatism Is Greatly Exaggerated
By FRED D. THOMPSON
May 23, 2008

Recent congressional losses, President George W. Bush's unpopularity, and bleak generic ballot poll numbers have conservatives fearing the "liberalization" of America – a move toward secularization, the growth of government, stagnation, mediocrity and loss of freedom.

Yet there is still a way to revive the conservative cause. Doing so will require avoiding the traps of pessimism or election-year quick fixes. Conservatives need to stand back for a moment and think about our philosophical first principles.

Conservatives value the lessons of history and respect faith and tradition. They are skeptical of mass movements, perfect solutions and what often passes for "progress." At the same time, they recognize that change is inevitable. They also know that while man is prone to err, he is capable of great things and is meant to be free in an unfettered market of ideas, not subjugated by a too-powerful government.

These were the principles relied upon by our Founding Fathers, and which paved the way for a Constitution that delineated the powers of the central government, established checks and balances among its branches, and further diffused its power through a system of federalism. These principles led to a market economy, the primacy of the rule of law and the abolition of slavery. They also helped to establish liberal trade policies and to meld idealism and realism in our foreign and military policies.

The power of conservative principles is borne out in the most strong, prosperous and free country in the history of the world. In the U.S., basic constitutional government has been preserved, foreign tyrannies have been defeated, our failed welfare system was reformed, and the confiscatory income tax rates of a few decades ago have been substantially reduced. This may be why the party where most conservatives reside, the Republican Party, has won seven of the last 10 presidential elections.

Still, a lot of the issues that litter the political battlefield today put conservatives on the defensive. What are we going to do to fix the economy, the housing market, health-care costs and education? Some conservatives try to avoid philosophical confrontation with liberals, often urging solutions that would expand the government while rationalizing that the expansion would be at a slightly slower rate.

This strategy simply has not worked. Conservatives should stay true to their principles and remember:

- Congress cannot repeal the laws of economics. There are no short-term fixes without longer term consequences.

- In a free and dynamic country with social mobility, there will be great opportunity but also economic disparity, especially if the country has liberal immigration policies and a high divorce rate.

- An education system cannot overcome the breakdown of the family, and the social fabric that surrounds children daily.

- Free markets, not an expanding and more powerful government, are the solution to today's problems. Many of these problems, such as health-care costs, energy dependency and the subprime mortgage crisis, were caused in large part by government policies.

It's not that conservatives today no longer believe in the validity of these principles. They just find it difficult to stand strong when the political winds are blowing so hard against them. To be sure, standing by conservative principles does not always guarantee success at the ballot box – it did for Ronald Reagan, but not for Barry Goldwater. But abandoning these principles doesn't ensure victory either. Circumstances often play the deciding role. Is there any doubt that the Carter administration's misery index and the Iranian hostage crises allowed Reagan to prevail in 1980?

In this unpredictable world, conservatives should adhere to their fundamental ideals. These ideals have brought our country much success, and may well win the day again. Conservatives must have faith that, more often than not, Americans will make the sacrifices necessary to preserve national security and prosperity.

A political party that adheres to conservative principles should have continuing success – especially if its leadership believes in those principles and is able to articulate them.

Mr. Thompson, a former U.S. senator from Tennessee, was a candidate for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.
WSJ
23939  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Symposium 3 on: May 23, 2008, 12:01:50 PM
Luft: Since we all seem to agree that fuel flexibility in our cars is the lowest hanging fruit, let's talk about how to make this happen. In the past two sessions of Congress there was strong bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House for flex fuel legislation. More than 30 senators from Sam Brownback on the right to Ted Kennedy on the left co-sponsored a bill including a requirement that at least 50 percent of new cars be flex fuel.

Presidential candidates are also in agreement. Both Barack Obama's and John McCain's energy platform include strong flex fuel provisions. Obama campaign pledged that an Obama Administration would ensure that all new vehicles have FFV capability by the end of his first term in office.

Less clear is how the automakers would respond. While it is true that the Big Three previously pledged to make 50 percent of their cars flex fuel by 2012, no industry likes to be told what to do and we should not expect the automakers, to embrace a full mandate without a fight, particularly after their recent defeat in the battle over mandatory fuel efficiency standards. (The Big Three also resisted other mandated low cost features like seat belts and airbags.) The Japanese automakers who don't have experience with this technology are likely to be even less enthusiastic.

But considering the low cost of fuel flexibility and the simplicity of retooling the production lines, this is certainly something they can live with.

So it’s basically in the hands of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to make this vision of fuel choice come true. Instead of complaining about the "insane" profits of oil companies the Democratic leadership in Congress could serve America best by pushing a flex fuel legislation and bringing it to a vote before the elections.

It is important to ensure that the legislation doesn't enable automakers to get away with making E-85 cars that can only accommodate ethanol. True fuel flexibility is one that enables all alcohols to compete. The cars should therefore be warranted to run on both ethanol and methanol. With such legislation presented before the Senate all three senators who are running for president would be forced to endorse it, which means that the next president would be on board.

Extra $100 per car is less than the price of one barrel of oil, and equipping every car in the US with the feature would cost roughly $20 billion over the next two decades, much less than what the Fed forked over one weekend to save Bear Sterns. The same Congress that spent billions on regulating an open standard for high definition TV should be able to give us an open fuel standard for our cars.

Korin: The Arab oil embargo in the Seventies led to massive Japanese automaker entry into the US market. While US automakers were building huge cars, the Japanese had the more efficient vehicles that appealed to consumers at a time of high gas prices. Today, other competitors waits in the wings should US autos stall on the road to fuel choice. Not so long ago a Chinese automaker showed an under $10,000 family sedan at the Detroit auto show. Take that car, make it a flex fuel plug in hybrid, and you have an under $20,000 fuel choice enabling family sedan. Coming soon to a Walmart near you.

The Chinese are not waiting for us to move toward alcohol fuels or electrification of transportation. We can lead the train or we can run after it, and absent the policies discussed above and summarized below, the latter is more likely every day.

To summarize, the three key policies for breaking oil's monopoly in the transportation sector, the sector from which oil's strategic value is derived, are: an Open Fuel Standard so most new cars sold in the US will be gasoline-ethanol-methanol FFVs; repeal of the 54 cent a gallon tariff on ethanol imports; consumer tax credits for plug in hybrids (this is the policy that helped hybrids move past the early adopter hump.)


Gartenstein-Ross: There is broad agreement on this panel about the significance of the energy security problem that we face, as well as the steps that the government needs to take to address this critical issue; thus, I will keep my remarks atypically short. I offer an apology to Jamie if he’s disappointed that this symposium lacks the fireworks of some of the previous symposia in which I have participated—but I don’t think that’s a terribly bad thing in this case, since energy security is an issue where acting in the near-term is more important than lengthy debate.

I will follow Luft’s suggestion that we discuss how to make the fuel flexibility mandate happen. I agree with him that automakers are likely to fight against a full mandate, and also think it likely that iterations of this legislation will be offered that involve E-85 cars rather than true fuel flexibility. So it is critical to ensure that any legislation on fuel flexibility that is signed into law not be watered down through the legislative process or subjected to the kind of bureaucratic capture that too frequently occurs in this country. I know that a large number of conservative activists read FPM (although I do not see energy security as an issue that should break along partisan lines). Informed members of the public should serve as energy security watchdogs, demanding of our politicians the full implementation of policies necessary to counter our dangerous dependence on foreign oil.


McFarlane: Gal and Anne often make the point that we ought to be realistic politically in structuring our approach to new legislation -- as is required to mandate Flex-Fuel vehicles. It does not good to be doctrinaire -- and lose. Or as President Reagan once told me, "Bud, if you go over the cliff, flags flying, you still go over the cliff." Specifically it does no good to take on the major oil companies. Indeed our point is not anti-oil, we will need oil for a long time and it is in all our interests for American oil companies to produce as much oil as they can for as long as they can.

Rather, our approach to the public and to members of both parties ought to be cast in terms of the political, economic and security costs of doing nothing -- losses which are measured in trillions of dollars, thousands of lives, and the gradual control of American industries by foreign sovereigns.

We must also stress that the global war against Islamism -- especially as its financial support grows in proportion to oil revenues flowing to the Persian Gulf -- will someday go nuclear. Unless we get serious toward moving our four-part agenda, we may run out of time.


FP: Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Robert Zubrin, Gal Luft, Anne Korin and Bud McFarlane, thank you for joining Frontpage Symposium.

Jamie Glazov is Frontpage Magazine's managing editor. He holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialty in U.S. and Canadian foreign policy. He edited and wrote the introduction to David Horowitz’s Left Illusions. He is also the co-editor (with David Horowitz) of The Hate America Left and the author of Canadian Policy Toward Khrushchev’s Soviet Union (McGill-Queens University Press, 2002) and 15 Tips on How to be a Good Leftist. To see his previous symposiums, interviews and articles Click Here. Email him at jglazov@rogers.com.
23940  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: May 23, 2008, 11:58:12 AM
Reid's Reversal

Virginia Supreme Court Judge Steven Agee was confirmed unanimously this week to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, fulfilling one-third of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's pledge to put through three Bush appeals-court picks by Memorial Day.

With the deadline bearing down, Mr. Reid has skittered away from his earlier promises. He reminded Senators this week that he "explicitly" said he "couldn't guarantee" the trio of confirmations. Mr. Reid blames Republicans for holding up two Michigan nominees - Raymond Kethledge and Helene White -- whose nominations for the Sixth Circuit were worked out as a compromise package between Michigan's senators and the White House. Mr. Kethledge is the Administration's pick; Judge White is the Democrats' choice.

Democrats are eager to take credit for the White-Kethledge confirmations, hurrying them through a process that has left other highly qualified nominees beached for years. Judge White is being pushed through even without her ABA rating, a qualification Democrats have insisted on in the past.

But these are hardly the only two nominees available for confirmation in order for Mr. Reid to fulfill his end of the bargain. Also waiting in the wings are strong appeals-court nominees like Peter Keisler for the D.C. Circuit as well as Robert Conrad and Steve Matthew for the Fourth Circuit. Yet Democrats refuse to give them an up-or-down vote.

Sen. Arlen Specter has said before that he would not hesitate to shut down the Senate over Democrats' obstruction of judicial nominees. Republicans have declined to take such steps in recent weeks out of good faith, taking Sen. Reid at his word on the Memorial Day deal. If the deal falls through, it's a good bet that won't happen twice.

-- Collin Levy

How High Can Tax Rates Go?

Tax rates under a Barack Obama presidency are expected to rise to as high as 52.2% when combining the income-tax increase the candidate supports and his proposed elimination of the payroll tax cap. These would be the highest rates since the late 1970s, when the economy went haywire. "That's a frightening proposition, especially when the rest of the world is cutting tax rates," says Jim Carter, chief economist on the Senate Budget Committee's minority staff.

Now a new study by the Congressional Budget Office suggests that rates would have to go even higher if entitlement spending isn't reined in. The report, which was requested by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, finds that the top rate of personal income tax would have to rise to 88% from 35% to pay all the nation's bills. Even the lowest tax rate would have to more than double. This is the price we pay for running up unfunded liabilities in Medicare and Social Security.

Faster economic growth would help ease the burden of these long-term costs, but if tax rates are raised, economic growth will slow. That's the point of Mr. Ryan's inquiry. If we don't get serious about reforming health care programs and Social Security, Democrats will argue that only super-sized tax hikes will solve the problem.

Ryan Ellis of the American Shareholders Association states the obvious when he says that income-tax rates of 88% are a surefire way to create a massive outflow of capital away from the U.S.

-- Stephen Moore

Quote of the Day

Today, according to the most recent CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey, "71 percent of the American public disapproves of how Bush is handling his job as President, an all-time high in polling." His position can be compared with that of Harry Truman who left Washington unpopular and alone in 1953. Today, with the passage of time, most historians and certainly the American people, see Truman in a different light, primarily for his willingness to stand firm against Soviet aggression, whether against Greece or South Korea, and proclaim the Truman Doctrine, effectively defending the free world from Soviet efforts to expand their hegemony. Like Truman, George W. Bush, in my view, will be seen as one of the few world leaders who recognized the danger of Islamic terrorism and was willing with Tony Blair to stand up to it and not capitulate. - columnist and former New York Mayor Ed Koch

Obama's China Policy

Barack Obama wrote yesterday to Taiwan's new president, Ma Ying-jeou. "A sound U.S.-Taiwan relationship will certainly be the goal of my Administration," he said, while confirming his support of America's "One China" policy. " And, "I will do all that I can to support Taiwan's democracy in the years ahead." The Kuomintang News Network reports that Richard Bush, former chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan, hand-delivered the missive.

Mr. Obama is smart to reach out to Mr. Ma, an eager U.S. ally who's working hard to mend Taiwan's ties with Beijing, which was on bad terms with Mr. Ma's pro-independence predecessor. In his inaugural address Tuesday, Mr. Ma called for "cross-strait peace and regional stability" and pledged not to pursue unification, independence or use of force. Mr. Ma also emphasized Taiwan's role as the "sole ethnic Chinese society to complete a second democratic turnover of power" and called the island a "beacon of democracy to Asia and the world."

U.S. policy toward China and Taiwan is a tricky balancing act. Ever since Nixon recognized the mainland as the "one China," U.S. administrations of both parties have given Taiwan presidents the cold shoulder while taking pains to maintain good relations with the island. Mr. Obama indicates he's willing to talk to dictators. Someone should ask him whether he is also willing to talk to the elected leader of the world's only Chinese democracy.

-- Mary Kissel

A British Omen for Nov. 4?

The U.S. isn't the only country with an electorate that appears to be fed up with the party in power. Yesterday, British voters in the Labour stronghold of Crewe and Nantwich swung sharply away from the governing party to elect a Conservative to Parliament.

It had been three decades since the Tories last won a special election. Yesterday's was held to replace Gwyneth Dunwoody, who died last month after 34 years in the House of Commons. Ms. Dunwoody had been the only person to hold the seat since the Crewe and Nantwich constituencies were merged in 1983; Crewe had gone for Labour since 1945. Conservative candidate Edward Timpson ended those streaks, winning 49.5% of a large turnout to defeat Ms. Dunwoody's daughter, Tamsin, and eight other candidates.

Like their American cousins, though, British voters have been unclear as to whether they're shifting party allegiances out of enthusiasm for an ascendant opposition or mere frustration with the party in power. Tory leader David Cameron last night boasted that the election marked "the end of New Labour." The result is certainly a bad sign for Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whose desperate party had resorted to using class as a wedge issue: During the latter stages of the campaign, Labour supporters dressed in tail-coats and top hats trailed Mr. Timpson, trying to paint him as an out-of-touch "toff."

The more common refrain about Cameron's Tories is that it's a party with no ideas. But with the Brown government stumbling into a new crisis seemingly every day, simply being different is enough for now.

-- Kyle Wingfield



23941  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Symposium 2 on: May 23, 2008, 11:49:16 AM
Korin: The goal is indeed independence, not in the sense of autarky (not importing any oil) but in the sense of regaining ability to act independently, without need to kowtow or defer to petrodictators chief among them the Saudi royal family, a family which controls a quarter of the world's oil reserves and essentially all swing capacity on the global oil market (the mafia never had it so good.) To regain our independence we must strip oil of its strategic value. Salt presents a compelling historical parallel. Salt was once a strategic commodity, control of which determined geopolitical power and ability to sway world affairs. With the advent of electricity and refrigeration salt lost its strategic status as it was no longer the only option for preserving meat. Oil's strategic value derives from its domination of the transportation sector, which in turn accounts for two thirds of oil consumption - as Gal noted, we essentially no longer use oil to generate electricity (an inconvenient fact that renders bizarre the protestations of many politicians that solar, wind, or nuclear can reduce oil demand.)

Stripping oil of its strategic value will require fuel competition in the transportation sector. Flexible fuel vehicles, as Robert noted, provide a platform on which fuels can compete. For a very modest premium, they enable a driver to choose amongst a variety of liquid fuels, made from a variety of feedstocks, from coal to agricultural material. It costs 50 cents a gallon to make methanol from coal. Methanol has about half the energy of gasoline, so that's one dollar per gasoline equivalent gallon. The US is the Saudi Arabia of coal. China and India also have a lot of coal, and indeed China is rapidly expanding its coal to methanol capacity.

We need to remove the ridiculous 54 cent a gallon import tariff on sugarcane ethanol - we don't tax oil imports, so why are we taxing imports of an alternative fuel? It's not because of the oil industry, it's because of corn ethanol protectionists who'd rather be big fish in a small pond than open the dam and turn the pond into a sea. As Gal notes, it is also critical to get electricity into the transportation fuel market. Flex fuel plug in hybrids will mean the Saudis will need to figure out how to monetize sand. Perhaps they can learn to blow glass.


Gartenstein-Ross: I am of the opinion that energy security is the most pressing challenge we face. It should be the top issue in the current presidential campaigns because our oil dependence is without a doubt our Achilles’ heel, yet no candidate has been seriously pushing the issue. This comes on top of the systemic failure of our political leaders, including the Bush administration and the presidential administrations that preceded it, to curtail our dangerous dependence on oil. (Interestingly, the one real exception was the Carter administration’s Fuel Use Act, which is a major reason that, as Luft and Korin note, only 2 percent of our electricity comes from oil today.) Energy security has a cognizable impact on virtually all the other major issues that our country now faces.

There is the economy. Today, more than three out of four Americans believe that the country is in recession—and it is not difficult to recognize that high energy prices are a primary driver. Oil prices have more than doubled in the past fifteen months, rising from around $50 a barrel in early 2007 to about $110 a barrel today. Such a dramatic rise in energy prices will of course harm the U.S. economy. As Zubrin stated, this equates to a $500 billion per year tax on the U.S. economy, affecting all sectors. We depend on long supply lines to transport agriculture to consumers, as well as the vast majority of products that you can buy off store shelves. All prices—the price of food, the price of consumer goods—are pushed upward by the rising price of oil.

There is terrorism and our international political adversaries. One distinctive characteristic of Islamic terror movements is that they explicitly find religious sanction for their actions. Their interpretation obviously is not shared by all Muslims, as the world would look much different if we were at war with over a billion people. What helps extremist interpretations of Islam gain a foothold? One clear answer is petrodollars. Numerous analysts have connected radicalization in various regions to extremist charities, mosques, and madrasas funded by oil money. Some of the charities funded by petro-dollars are “dual-use,” not only propagating an extreme interpretation of Islam but also directly funding terrorist groups. Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez famously declared in his opening address to an OPEC conference in 2006 that “the American empire will be destroyed.” Do we want to be dependent on political leaders like that because of their oil resources?

The Bush administration has had more than seven years to steer the country’s energy policy, yet its combined policies amount to slapping a few Band-Aids on a hemorrhaging wound. (This is of course not just the Bush administration’s fault: as a country, we have had more than forty years to address this issue since the dangers of our oil dependence became crystal clear.) For example, the primary strategy of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 is a new national mandatory fuel economy standard that, in President Bush’s words, “will save billions of gallons of gasoline.” But as Zubrin shows in his commendable book Energy Victory, conservation-based strategies are not, and will not be, sufficient. If we could duplicate the technical success that Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) standards achieved from 1975 through 1990, Zubrin writes, we would not cut our oil consumption at all. Instead, it would reduce our expected rate of increase of oil usage by only 2.2 million barrels a day, during a period when the world as a whole is likely to raise its consumption another 30 million barrels per day. Whatever demand we eliminate would be replaced fifteen times over.

President Bush has also congratulated himself on the ethanol policies that his administration has undertaken, but they are a far cry from the large market for ethanol that Zubrin’s policy recommendations would spur. (By Bush’s account, we produced 6.4 billion gallons of ethanol in 2007 versus the approximately 200 billion gallons of gasoline and petroleum diesel that we use annually.)

But fortunately, while our oil dependence is currently causing great harm, I don’t think the immediate solutions are mysterious. I agree strongly with the recommendations put forward by Zubrin and Luft in this symposium. Fuel flexibility should be the first major policy we push for because it provides immediate relief from this grave problem, but we should also move toward electrification of the transportation sector. The bottom line is that we are worse off, and our enemies in a better position, for each day that action is delayed.

McFarlane: As the panel has made clear, we have the means at hand to overcome the vulnerability of our economy and the challenge to our very way of life that is posed by our reliance on foreign oil. It starts with mandating that all cars and trucks sold in the US be flex-fuel, and then that we accelerate the production of plug-in hybrid-electric and all-electric cars and trucks, and that we build them out of carbon composite materials as Boeing is doing today in its new 787 Dreamliner.

We cannot consider this as nice-to-have, P-C, green "someday" matter. This is a matter of grave urgency. Today if an attack on any of a dozen very vulnerable Saudi oil processing facilities were successful, we would be facing oil at $200/barrel overnight. That would lead within weeks (not months) to the collapse of the Japanese economy, and before long to those of our European allies and ultimately of our own.

And even if such an attack does not occur, consider the price we are paying for our reliance on foreign oil. Last year we spent over $300 billion on foreign oil. Think for a moment of what $300 billion could buy in terms of better schools, health care, highways and bridges, law enforcement, a partial solution to our sub-prime mortgage problems, and a dozen other domestic priorities. But that's just the beginning.

Think about the half trillion dollars we spend every year -- yes, 'trillion' every year -- on the defense budget, and that doesn't count the supplemental appropriations for the war in Iraq. At least $200 of that $500 billion pays for forces that are deployed in the Middle East or to protect lines of communication between here and there and to our allies in Europe and Japan. Add it up -- $500 billion for defense, another $300 billion to pay for foreign oil, and with the price now above $100/bbl, the total from now on will be at least 1 trillion every year -- yes every year -- until we start changing our ways.

Of course the foregoing costs are just the financial dimension. Far more important are the costs in human lives, families shattered by separation, and the loss of loved ones. This is truly an intolerable condition -- one that is all the more unconscionable considering that we have the means at hand to overcome it.

Zubrin: I would like to make an additional point. As bad as $100 per barrel oil is for us, it is much worse for the poorer nations of the world. It is one thing to pay $100 per barrel for oil when you live in a country where the average person makes $40,000 per year. It is quite another if you live in a country where the average person makes $1,000 per year. To many third world countries, particularly in Africa, the effects of OPEC looting are not merely recessionary, but genocidal. Indeed, the jacked up oil price is nothing else than a huge regressive tax levied by the world’s richest people on the world’s poorest people.

Consider this: This year, Saudi Arabia’s high-priced oil business will reap that nation’s rulers over $300 billion. Much of this bounty will be wasted on a wild assortment of narcissistic luxuries. The rest go towards funding of network of over twenty thousand Wahhabi madrassas worldwide. There, millions of young boys will be instructed that the way to salvation is to kill Christians, Jews, Buddhists, animists, and Hindus, all as part of a global campaign to create reactionary theocratic states that totally degrade women and deny all political, religious, intellectual, scientific, artistic, or personal freedom to everyone.

Simultaneously, Kenya, a nation whose population of 36 million is half again as great as that of Saudi Arabia, will scrape up around $3 billion in export earnings, and use these funds to buy badly needed fuel, farm machinery, and replacement parts for equipment. (Kenya, incidentally, is not one of the world’s fifty poorest nations. There are many others much worse off.)

Distributed elsewhere, the loot garnered by the Saudi terror bankers could triple the foreign exchange of 50 counties comparable to Kenya. Distributed elsewhere, the $1.3 trillion per year taxed out of the world economy by the all the OPEC tyrannies could lift the entire third world out of poverty.

By shifting to alcohol fuels, we can shift a very substantial amount of capital flows in precisely such a direction. Many third world countries are tropical nations with very high agricultural potential. Within a few years of the establishment of a flex fuel mandate, we will have a much larger domestic market for agricultural produce to make ethanol than American farmers can deliver to. That is a very GOOD thing. It means that we will be able to give them all the business they can handle, and still have market share left over, which we could open to Latin American and Caribbean ethanol, but dropping the current tariff. So countries like Haiti, which desperately needs an export income source, will be able to get it by growing sugar ethanol for export to the USA. In the same way, Europe would be able to drop its agricultural trade barriers, and open itself up to ethanol exported from Africa, and Japan likewise from south Asia. Effectively, we would be able to redirect about a trillion dollars a year that is now going to OPEC and send it to the global agricultural sector instead, with about half going to advanced sector farmers and half going to the third world. This would create an enormous engine for world development.

Ethanol has been criticized by certain opponents who have alleged that its production from corn takes away from the food supply, and that large irrigation requirements draw power that exceeds that provided by the ethanol. Such analyses, however, are false. When ethanol is made from corn, all of the protein in the corn is preserved for use as animal feeds, and virtually no ethanol corn grown in the USA is irrigated. In fact, for the expenditure of a given amount of petroleum, nearly ten times as much ethanol can be produced as gasoline.

World food prices have been rising recently, at a rate of 4 percent a year, and oil cartel propaganda organs have been quick to place the blame on bio-fuel programs. But these are false accusations. Despite the corn ethanol program, US corn exports have not declined at all in recent years, and our overall agricultural exports this year are up over 23 percent. So its not corn ethanol that is driving up global food prices, including those for fish, fruit, and every kind of crop. Rather it is high fuel costs, which have risen 40 percent over the past year due to vicious OPEC price rigging. Not only that, these high fuel costs are driving up the cost of not just food, but nearly every product that needs to be transported anywhere in the world. And again, the hardest hit victims are the world's poor.

For the sake of social justice, OPEC must be destroyed.


23942  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Symposium 1 on: May 23, 2008, 11:48:28 AM
Moving GM's post from another thread to here:
============
Symposium: Energy Independence and the Terror War   
By Jamie Glazov
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, May 02, 2008
What is the best way for us to achieve energy independence? What is the urgency for us to do so in terms of our conflict with Islamo-Fascism? To discuss this issue with us today, Frontpage Symposium has assembled a distinguished panel. Our guests are:

Robert “Bud” McFarlane, Ronald Reagan’s National Security Advisor. Currently, he serves as Chairman and CEO of McFarlane Associates Inc., developing energy projects in third world countries and working to develop alternative fuels so as to reduce US reliance on foreign oil.




Robert Zubrin, the president of Pioneer Astronautics and also president of the Mars Society. For many years he worked as a senior engineer for Lockheed Martin. In addition, he is the author of the critically acclaimed nonfiction books The Case for Mars, Entering Space, Mars on Earth; the science fiction novels The Holy Land and First Landing; and articles in Scientific American, The New Atlantis, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Mechanical Engineering, and The American Enterprise. He has appeared on major media including CNN, CSPAN, the BBC, the Discovery Channel, NBC, ABC, and NPR. He is the author of the new book, Energy Victory: Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free of Oil.




Gal Luft, one of America 's most influential energy independence advocates. He is executive director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (IAGS) a Washington based energy policy think tank and co-founder of the Set America Free Coalition, an alliance of national security, environmental, labor and religious groups promoting ways to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil. He specializes in strategy, geopolitics, terrorism, energy security and economic warfare.



Anne Korin, Chair of Set America Free Coalition.




and


Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, the vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the author of My Year Inside Radical Islam, which documents his time working for the extremist Al Haramain Islamic Foundation.




FP: Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Robert Zubrin, Gal Luft, Anne Korin and Bud McFarlane, welcome to Frontpage Symposium.

Robert Zubrin, let’s begin with you.

What kind of policy do you favor to create energy security?


Zubrin: I'm glad you used the words "energy security," not "energy independence." While admittedly, being energy independent would be an improvement on our current position, it is not good enough, because if the oil cartel still controlled the world market, they could still collapse our economy by collapsing that of our allies and trading partners like Japan and Europe, and they would still be harvesting trillions that they could use to finance jihad and the takeover of our corporations and media organizations.

So even if it were possible, walling ourselves in a defensive "energy independent" position would not suffice. Rather, we have to take the offensive and destroy the power of the oil cartel internationally. The key to doing that is to destroy the vertical monopoly that they have on the world's vehicle fuel supplies. The US Congress could strike a devastating blow in this direction simply by passing a law requiring that all new cars sold in the United States be flex fueled -- that is able to run on any combination of gasoline, methanol, or ethanol. Such cars are existing technology and only cost about $100 more than the same vehicle in non-flex fuel form.

If such a law were passed, it would make flex fuel the international standard for cars, as not only the Detroit Big 3, but all the foreign manufacturers would shift their lines over immediately in response. This would put 50 million cars on the road in the USA within 3 years capable of running on alcohol fuels, and hundreds of millions more worldwide. With such a market available, alcohol production and distribution facilities would multiply rapidly, and gasoline would be forced to compete at the pump against alcohol fuels produced in any number of ways from any number of sources everywhere in the world. (Methanol, for example, can be produced from any kind of biomass, without exception, as well as from coal, natural gas, and recycled urban trash. There are many starchy or sweet crops that can be used to make ethanol, with cellulosic options increasingly viable as well.)

This opening of the fuel market would put a permanent constraint on OPEC's ability to raise fuel prices. Instead of being able to raise oil prices to $200/barrel, which they are already discussing, prices would be forced back down to $50/barrel, because that is where alcohol fuels become competitive. Then, once such an alcohol fuel infrastructure is well in place, we can proceed to roll the oil cartel right off the map by instituting tax and tariff policies that favor alcohols over petroleum. That's how we beat the Islamists.

If we don't do that, with our current imports of 5 billion barrels per year, they will use a $100/barrel price to tax us $500 billion per year (and rob the world at a rate of $1.2 trillion/year). The NY Times today had a front page article quoting leading economists as saying that this huge tax (more than triple the size of the current economic stimulus treasury give-back) is grinding our economy into recession. So it is, but it is worse than that. If they are allowed to keep taxing us in this way, they will use that enormous monetary power to not only massively grow their jihadi movement, but to take over most of the major corporations and media organizations in the US, Europe, and Japan within a decade.

So not only our economy, but our independence is at stake. We need to break the oil cartel, and forceful action to create fuel choice internationally is the way to do it.

Luft: I share Robert's sense of urgency about reducing the strategic value of oil by opening the transportation sector to healthy competition, and fuel flexibility should indeed be the first item on our agenda. There is no reason why the $100 addition which allows cars to burn alcohol should not be - just like seat belts, air bags or rear view mirrors - a standard feature in every car sold worldwide. This would be a low premium insurance policy against future supply disruptions and a Band-Aid to stop the bleeding of our economy. But flex fuel alone would not be sufficient to solve our energy problem. In the U.S. today we use annually roughly 140 billion gallons of gasoline and additional 60 billion gallons of petroleum diesel. We simply don't have the resource base to replace all of this with alcohol and bio-diesel, even if we tapped into our vast coal reserves and diverted all of our food crops into fuel production. So we need solutions beyond liquid
fuels.

In order to achieve significant petroleum displacement we must begin to electrify the transportation sector by speeding the commercialization of plug-in hybrids and fully electric cars. Unlike in the 1970s, today only 2 percent of our electricity is made from oil. Almost all of our electricity is made from domestic energy resources like coal, nuclear power, natural gas and hydro. In other words, on the electricity front, unlike the Europeans who rely on imported natural gas for their light and heating, Americans are already energy independent. Using electrons for transportation, instead of gasoline, essentially means shifting from an imported resource which poses a national security threat to an array of abundant domestic energy sources. In addition, electricity is cheaper and cleaner than gasoline. It costs about 3 cents per mile to run a car on electricity--roughly one fifth of the cost of driving the same mile on gasoline. This cost differential protects us from a counterattack by OPEC.


The oil cartel will surely respond to the emerging alcohol economy by dropping crude prices to a level that would make ethanol and methanol economically unatractive. This is exactly what they did in the 1980s in response to a massive effort by Western countries to wean themselves from oil. Oil dropped to $8 a barrel and alternative fuels producers lost their shirts. If cars had full fuel flexibility, allowing them, in addition to burning alcohols, to also tap into the grid, OPEC would have to drop prices to $5 a barrel to compete with 3 cents per mile of electric drive. This is way below where they can afford to go considering their youth bulges and domestic economic conditions. This is why the commercialization of plug in hybrid electric vehicles, which allow us to drive the first chunk of our daily driving on electricity after which the car begins to burn liquid fuel, is so critical. Congress should therefore provide tax incentives to early adopters of plug in hubrids--just as it did in the case of regular hybrids--while facilitating the emergence of a viable battery industry in the U.S. A flex fuel plug-in hybrid will run approximately 500 miles on a gallon of gasoline. This could really pull the plug on OPEC.


 
23943  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: May 23, 2008, 11:46:19 AM
Congratulations Dog Dean!

Yesterday I was grateful to watch my son's growth in his hockey practice.  Happy, proud dad!

This morning I am grateful for my chess game with my daughter.  She plays an excellent game for a girl who is still five.  Again, happy and proud dad!
23944  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Karambit Vs. straight blades on: May 23, 2008, 11:42:25 AM
James:

It was many years ago that I reseached this, so perhaps I am out of date, but I would love to have some citations for what you say.

Crafty
23945  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB Gathering of the Pack August 10th, 2008 on: May 23, 2008, 11:40:39 AM
At the moment, our prime hope is what Pappy Dog can find.  I hope to speak with him today.
23946  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why oil is expensive on: May 23, 2008, 11:39:21 AM
Max:

There are already three threads on this subject, please move yours to "Energy Politics and Science"
======
Energy issues, energy technology
in Science, Culture, & Humanities

Energy Politics & Science
in Politics & Religion

Energy issues
in Science, Culture, & Humanities
=======

The first and the third of these are clearly redundant, lets use "Energy issues, energy technology" and let "Energy issues" fade away.

I have moved GM's post to "Energy issues, energy technology
in Science, Culture, & Humanities"

TAC,
Marc

23947  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Memorial Day on: May 23, 2008, 09:47:56 AM
“War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feelings which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.” —John Stuart Mill


On this Memorial Day, four young men who served in Iraq and Afghanistan will not be at the malls, nor will they be at the family barbecue.

These young men are not much different from others who have served in the past or those serving today in our nation’s Armed Forces but for the fact that they responded to extraordinary circumstances with extraordinary courage.

They are Corporal Jason L. Dunham, USMC; Master-at-Arms Second Class Michael A. Monsoor, USN; Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith, USA; and Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy, USN.

Their Medal of Honor citations read:

DUNHAM, JASON L. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Rifle Squad Leader, 4th Platoon, Company K, Third Battalion, Seventh Marines (Reinforced), Regimental Combat Team 7, First Marine Division (Reinforced), on 14 April 2004. Corporal Dunham’s squad was conducting a reconnaissance mission in the town of Karabilah, Iraq, when they heard rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire erupt approximately two kilometers to the west. Corporal Dunham led his Combined Anti-Armor Team towards the engagement to provide fire support to their Battalion Commander’s convoy, which had been ambushed as it was traveling to Camp Husaybah. As Corporal Dunham and his Marines advanced, they quickly began to receive enemy fire. Corporal Dunham ordered his squad to dismount their vehicles and led one of his fire teams on foot several blocks south of the ambushed convoy. Discovering seven Iraqi vehicles in a column attempting to depart, Corporal Dunham and his team stopped the vehicles to search them for weapons. As they approached the vehicles, an insurgent leaped out and attacked Corporal Dunham. Corporal Dunham wrestled the insurgent to the ground and in the ensuing struggle saw the insurgent release a grenade. Corporal Dunham immediately alerted his fellow Marines to the threat. Aware of the imminent danger and without hesitation, Corporal Dunham covered the grenade with his helmet and body, bearing the brunt of the explosion and shielding his Marines from the blast. In an ultimate and selfless act of bravery in which he was mortally wounded, he saved the lives of at least two fellow Marines. By his undaunted courage, intrepid fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty, Corporal Dunham gallantly gave his life for his country, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

MONSOOR, MICHAEL, A. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as automatic weapons gunner for Naval Special Warfare Task Group Arabian Peninsula, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 29 September 2006. As a member of a combined SEAL and Iraqi Army Sniper Overwatch Element, tasked with providing early warning and stand-off protection from a rooftop in an insurgent held sector of Ar Ramadi, Iraq, Petty Officer Monsoor distinguished himself by his exceptional bravery in the face of grave danger. In the early morning, insurgents prepared to execute a coordinated attack by reconnoitering the area around the element’s position. Element snipers thwarted the enemy’s initial attempt by eliminating two insurgents. The enemy continued to assault the element, engaging them with a rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire. As enemy activity increased, Petty Officer Monsoor took position with his machine gun between two teammates on an outcropping of the roof. While the SEALs vigilantly watched for enemy activity, an insurgent threw a hand grenade from an unseen location, which bounced off Petty Officer Monsoor’s chest and landed in front of him. Although only he could have escaped the blast, Petty Officer Monsoor chose instead to protect his teammates. Instantly and without regard for his own safety, he threw himself onto the grenade to absorb the force of the explosion with his body, saving the lives of his two teammates. By his undaunted courage, fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of certain death, Petty Officer Monsoor gallantly gave his life for his country, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

SMITH, PAUL R. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty: Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy near Baghdad International Airport, Baghdad, Iraq on 4 April 2003. On that day, Sergeant First Class Smith was engaged in the construction of a prisoner of war holding area when his Task Force was violently attacked by a company-sized enemy force. Realizing the vulnerability of over 100 fellow soldiers, Sergeant First Class Smith quickly organized a hasty defense consisting of two platoons of soldiers, one Bradley Fighting Vehicle and three armored personnel carriers. As the fight developed, Sergeant First Class Smith braved hostile enemy fire to personally engage the enemy with hand grenades and anti-tank weapons, and organized the evacuation of three wounded soldiers from an armored personnel carrier struck by a rocket propelled grenade and a 60mm mortar round. Fearing the enemy would overrun their defenses, Sergeant First Class Smith moved under withering enemy fire to man a.50 caliber machine gun mounted on a damaged armored personnel carrier. In total disregard for his own life, he maintained his exposed position in order to engage the attacking enemy force. During this action, he was mortally wounded. His courageous actions helped defeat the enemy attack, and resulted in as many as 50 enemy soldiers killed, while allowing the safe withdrawal of numerous wounded soldiers. Sergeant First Class Smith’s extraordinary heroism and uncommon valor are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the Third Infantry Division “Rock of the Marne,” and the United States Army.

MURPHY, MICHAEL P. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as the leader of a special reconnaissance element with Naval Special Warfare Task Unit Afghanistan on 27 and 28 June 2005. While leading a mission to locate a high-level anti-coalition militia leader, Lieutenant Murphy demonstrated extraordinary heroism in the face of grave danger in the vicinity of Asadabad, Konar Province, Afghanistan. On 28 June 2005, operating in an extremely rugged enemy-controlled area, Lieutenant Murphy’s team was discovered by anti-coalition militia sympathizers, who revealed their position to Taliban fighters. As a result, between 30 and 40 enemy fighters besieged his four-member team. Demonstrating exceptional resolve, Lieutenant Murphy valiantly led his men in engaging the large enemy force. The ensuing fierce firefight resulted in numerous enemy casualties, as well as the wounding of all four members of the team. Ignoring his own wounds and demonstrating exceptional composure, Lieutenant Murphy continued to lead and encourage his men. When the primary communicator fell mortally wounded, Lieutenant Murphy repeatedly attempted to call for assistance for his beleaguered teammates. Realizing the impossibility of communicating in the extreme terrain, and in the face of almost certain death, he fought his way into open terrain to gain a better position to transmit a call. This deliberate, heroic act deprived him of cover, exposing him to direct enemy fire. Finally achieving contact with his Headquarters, Lieutenant Murphy maintained his exposed position while he provided his location and requested immediate support for his team. In his final act of bravery, he continued to engage the enemy until he was mortally wounded, gallantly giving his life for his country and for the cause of freedom. By his selfless leadership, courageous actions, and extraordinary devotion to duty, Lieutenant Murphy reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

In my lifetime, I have been honored to know five men who have been awarded our nation’s Medal of Honor. To a man, they are among the most humble Patriots I have ever met. To a man, they have told me that they did nothing more than the men next to them would have done, but for fate, it was their turn to act.

All five of those men are now in the company of their Creator. Each of them could claim 2 Timothy 4:7: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

Monday, 26 May, is Memorial Day. Please set it aside in reverence for all those who have served with honor and are now departed.

from PatriotPost.com
23948  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Larger Army on: May 23, 2008, 09:27:39 AM
We Still Need a Larger Army
By THOMAS DONNELLY and FREDERICK W. KAGAN
May 23, 2008

"That is the war we are in.
That is the war we must win."

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is a plainspoken man, as befits his Texas roots. His words, quoted above, were about the war in Iraq. But as a remarkable series of recent speeches indicates, he intends to do what he can during the final months of his tenure to reorient the American military for the tasks of the "Long War."

This is long overdue. Donald Rumsfeld, Mr. Gates' predecessor, famously lamented that you went to war with the force you had, not the one you'd like to have. Yet in the years since 9/11, the U.S. military still hasn't developed into the force that we need. To be sure, our soldiers have transformed themselves radically, painstakingly acquiring the arts of modern irregular warfare. But success in Baghdad and Kabul will be hard to sustain unless it is matched in Washington.

As Mr. Gates recognizes, the first order of business is to expand, restructure and modernize U.S. land forces. Unfortunately, the Bush administration's program – to grow the active Army and Marine Corps from the current 700,000 to about 750,000 in the next five years – is a Rumsfeld legacy and entirely inadequate. Regardless of the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, we will need a total active land force of something like one million soldiers and Marines.

The active duty portion of the U.S. Army needs to grow to about 800,000 soldiers. That's the size maintained during the 1980s and into the early 1990s, and it is a bare minimum for success in the many and varied missions that will be required in the future – missions that have ranged from "building partnership capacity" in West Africa to tracking down terrorists in Southeast Asia, as well as large-scale invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Those who believe that the need for such a force size will abate as troops are drawn down in Iraq should consider the larger pattern of American operations over the past generation. Since its creation in 1983, the U.S. Central Command, which is responsible for operations in East Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, has demanded an ever-increasing American presence, a presence which has changed from being largely air and maritime to boots on the ground. That's the war we are in.

Repairing and reshaping the active Army is also key to restoring the Marine Corps to its traditional and still essential role as a sea-based contingency force. And it is critical in order to return the Army National Guard to a proper place as a national strategic reserve, and an operational force with state responsibilities. The Army is the keystone in the arch of America's land-force structure.

The Army brigade also needs to be reworked. Under a plan initiated in the late 1990s – and embraced by Mr. Rumsfeld as part of his program of defense transformation to "lighten" the Army by creating a larger number of smaller, "modularized" brigades – the personnel strength of an Army brigade was reduced to about 3,500. Yet in practice in Iraq and Afghanistan, as units scramble to secure additional mission-enabling capabilities, the total climbs to about 5,000 – roughly the strength of a premodularized unit. The current Bush expansion plan will not remedy the problem of having more but weaker units.

More important, the concept of the "tooth-to-tail ratio" needs to be revisited. For the past generation, military reformers looked at the support, headquarters and institutional base of the armed services, especially the Army, as overhead fat to be trimmed ruthlessly. But in an irregular warfare environment, the old tail – military police, engineers, civil affairs units, intelligence analysts, command-and-control nodes, military education and so on – is the new tooth.

Finally, the failure to modernize U.S. land-force equipment has stunted the ability of the Marines and Army to meet their new missions. The Mine Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle provides a case in point. The Army also has not expanded its planned procurement of wheeled Stryker vehicles, nor accelerated the pace at which it is "networking" the force under the Future Combat Systems project.

There have been extraordinarily successful experiments suggesting that the effectiveness and survivability of dismounted infantry can be exponentially multiplied, even in a complex, urban environment. But the so-called Land Warrior program has been managed with peacetime lethargy rather than wartime urgency.

While there is a general bipartisan consensus that America's land forces are too small, there are big differences among the candidates about the size of the problem. Sen. John McCain, for example, has suggested that the active Army and Marine Corps should be increased to about 900,000. Sen. Barack Obama, by contrast, believes the Bush expansion plan is sufficient.

The limitations of America's land forces remain the most fundamental constraint on U.S. military strategy. Unless we begin now to restore and reshape the services to do what we have asked them to do, there will be tragic consequences: not that our Army and Marine Corps will be "broken," but that our nation will not win the war that it is in.

Messrs. Donnelly and Kagan are co-authors of "Ground Truth: The Future of U.S. Land Power," just published by AEI Press.
23949  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: May 23, 2008, 09:21:34 AM
POTOMAC WATCH
By KIMBERLEY A. STRASSEL   

The Obama Learning Curve
May 23, 2008

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joe Biden took to the airwaves this week to "help" the rookie Barack Obama out of a foreign-policy jam. Oh sure, admitted Mr. Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee had given the "wrong" answer when he said he'd meet unconditionally with leaders of rogue states. But on the upside, the guy "has learned a hell of a lot."

Somewhere Mr. Obama was muttering an expletive. But give Mr. Biden marks for honesty. As Mr. Obama finishes a week of brutal questioning over his foreign-policy judgments, it's become clear he has learned a lot – and is learning still.

Right now, for instance, he's learning how tough it can be to pivot to a general-election stance on the crucial issue of foreign policy. He's also learning Democrats won't be able to sail through a national-security debate by simply painting John McCain as the second coming of George Bush.

Remember how Mr. Obama got here. In a July debate, the Illinois senator was asked if he'd meet, "without preconditions," the "leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea." It was an unexpected question, and Mr. Obama rolled with his gut: "I would," he said, riffing that the Bush administration's policy of not negotiating with terror-sponsoring states was "ridiculous."

Hillary Clinton, who still had the aura of inevitability, and who was already thinking ahead to a general election, wouldn't bite. At that point, any initial misgivings the Obama campaign had about the boss's answer disappeared. Mr. Obama hadn't got much traction differentiating himself from Mrs. Clinton over Iraq, but this was a chance to get to her left, to cast her to liberal primary voters as a warmonger. Which he did, often, committing himself ever more to a policy of unfettered engagement.

Today's Obama, all-but-nominee, is pitching to a broad American audience less keen to legitimize Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who provides weapons that kill American soldiers. The senator clumsily invited this debate when he took great umbrage to President Bush's recent criticism of appeasers (which, in a wonderfully revealing moment, Democrats instantly assumed meant them). Mr. Obama has since been scrambling to neutralize his former statement.

A week ago, in Oregon, he adopted the "no-big-deal" approach, telling listeners Iran was just a "tiny" country that, unlike the Soviet Union, did not "pose a serious threat to us." But this suggested he'd missed that whole asymmetrical warfare debate – not to mention 9/11 – so by the next day, he'd switched to the "blame-Republicans" line. Iran was in fact "the greatest threat to the United States and Israel and the Middle East for a generation" – but all because of President Bush's Iraq war.

This, however, revived questions of why he'd meet with said greatest-threat leader, so his advisers jumped in, this time to float the "misunderstood" balloon. Obama senior foreign policy adviser Susan Rice, channeling Bill Clinton, said it all depended on what the definition of a "leader" is. "Well, first of all, he said he'd meet with the appropriate Iranian leaders. He hasn't named who that leader will be." (Turns out, Mr. Obama has said he will meet with . . . Mr. Ahmadinejad.)

Former Sen. Tom Daschle, channeling Ms. Rice, explained it also depended on what the definition of a precondition is: "It's important to emphasize again when we talk about preconditions, we're just saying everything needs to be on the table. I would not say that we would meet unconditionally." This is called being against preconditions before you were for them.

And so it goes, as Mr. Obama shifts and shambles, all the while telling audiences that when voting for president they should look beyond "experience" to "judgment." In this case, whatever his particular judgment on Iran is on any particular day.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. Democrats entered this race confident national security wouldn't be the drag on the party it has in the past. With an unpopular war and a rival who supports that war, they planned to wrap Mr. McCain around the unpopular Mr. Bush and be done with it. Mr. Obama is still manfully marching down this road, today spending as much time warning about a "third Bush term" as he does reassuring voters about a first Obama one.

Then again, 9/11 and five years of Iraq debate have educated voters. Mr. McCain is certainly betting they can separate the war from the urgent threat of an Iranian dictator who could possess nukes, and whose legitimization would encourage other rogues in their belligerence. This is a debate the Arizonan has been preparing for all his life and, note, Iranian diplomacy is simply the topic du jour.

Mr. McCain has every intention of running his opponent through the complete foreign-policy gamut. Explain again in what circumstances you'd use nuclear weapons? What was that about invading Pakistan? How does a policy of engaging the world include Mr. Ahmadinejad, but not our ally Colombia and its trade pact?

It explains too the strong desire among the McCain camp to get Mr. Obama on stage for debates soon. There's a feeling Mr. Obama is still climbing the foreign-policy learning curve. And they see mileage in his issuing a few more gut reactions.
23950  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison: Being armed, subordinate governments on: May 23, 2008, 09:06:27 AM
"Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess
over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of
subordinate governments, to which the people are attached and by
which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against
the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which
a simple government of any form can admit of."

-- James Madison (Federalist No. 46, 1 February 1788)

Reference: Madison, Federalist No. 46.
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