Dog Brothers Public Forum


Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
August 23, 2017, 10:11:11 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Search:     Advanced search
Welcome to the Dog Brothers Public Forum.
104295 Posts in 2390 Topics by 1091 Members
Latest Member: Phorize
* Home Help Search Login Register
  Show Posts
Pages: 1 ... 477 478 [479] 480 481 ... 816
23901  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Important Wesbury piece on: June 27, 2011, 12:42:35 PM

No, The US Is Not Greece To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 6/27/2011

Two-hundred and thirty-five July 4th’s ago, the United States became reality. While there have been plenty of stumbles along the way, other than during the Civil War, doubts about its continued existence have been few and far between. Lately, however, government spending and debt levels have created a mainstream fear that the US is possibly on its last legs – destined to become a future version of Greece.

We don’t agree and, no, we are not sticking our heads in the sand. Our problems are clear.  The budget deficit will be about 8.5% of GDP in 2011, down slightly from 9% in 2010 and 10% in 2009. These deficits are impossible to sustain over the longer run.
Meanwhile, the total public debt of the US is now $14.3 trillion and future promised, but as yet unfunded, Social Security and Medicare benefits amount to about $60 trillion in present value terms. Combined, this $75 trillion is roughly five times annual GDP. With numbers like these, how could we not think serious, economy-threatening problems are on the way?
Well, for one thing, the very obvious problems in Greece (and other countries and the states) and the fact that politicians can’t hide from the Internet are forcing the issue. Second, the political landscape in the US has changed – perhaps because of point one. Third, the solutions are relatively simple in reality, even though very complicated politically.
Part of the solution is higher revenues, and this will happen even if tax rates are not increased. In the past 12 months, revenues have climbed by about $220 billion over the previous 12 months – or, about 0.5% of GDP. We expect revenues to continue this trend, rising from their current level of 14.5% of GDP back to about 18.5% of GDP (a 4% move).
Meanwhile, current debt-limit negotiations are likely to cut federal discretionary (non-entitlement, non-interest) spending. In the 1990s, discretionary spending fell from about 9% of GDP to 6%. So let’s say, we go from 9% today to 7.5%, which could be a “low hurdle” given the eventual reduction in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Combining this 1.5% of GDP cut with the 4% rise in revenues (total of 5.5%), could bring the annual deficit down to 3% of GDP.
Of course, that still leaves the long-term entitlement problem. But even there we can see the outlines of solutions looming in the distance. For Medicare and Medicaid, which are much bigger problems than Social Security, we think ultimately the forces of smaller government win. We do not know whether it will be in 2012, 2016, or 2020. But one of those elections is likely to result in a Republican in the White House with control of both the US Senate and House. And at that point, they can enact major reforms along the lines of some recent proposals to turn Medicare into premium support and turn Medicaid into block grants to the states.
Parliamentary rules will allow the GOP to enact these changes with only a simple majority in the Senate (with no chance for a Democratic filibuster). And to reverse these reforms, because it would make future budget deficits larger, Democrats would need 60 votes in the Senate!
On Social Security, any change requires 60 votes in the Senate. This means tax hikes (to fill the gap) are as much in play as benefit cuts and this is why it will likely be put off for many years into the future. In the meantime, news stories suggest even AARP is now willing to consider some reductions in benefits. In other words, fiscal reality is beginning to bite.
In the end, the road to fiscal redemption is a long one and we’ll be on it for many years. But we think the ultimate destination will be smaller government and more manageable deficits than most investors realize.
23902  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: To die or not to die? on: June 27, 2011, 12:36:21 PM
As Venezuela's Hugo Chávez convalesces in a Havana hospital, his condition is shrouded in secrecy. The party line is that he had emergency surgery on June 10 for a pelvic abscess. But he has not been seen in public for more than two weeks and speculation is rampant that he is battling something more serious.

His critics ought to be careful what they wish for. While conventional wisdom holds that the demise of Mr. Chávez would set Venezuela free, it may instead make the country more repressive. If there is any justice in the world, he will return to Venezuela to marinate in his own stew—the economic disaster he has created over the past 12 years. A serious illness that takes him out of play would leave Venezuela haunted by the ghost of chavismo much as Peronism has haunted Argentina for the past half-century.

Some Venezuelans think they smell a rat. With living standards steadily declining in their country and popular discontent rising, these skeptics say that Mr. Chávez is looking for a way to revive his image. A triumphant return to Caracas, after he was believed to be near death in Cuba, might do the trick. If his "resurrection" coincides with the July 5 celebration of the nation's bicentennial anniversary, for which a Soviet-style military extravaganza is planned, it would be even more spectacular.
For the half or more of the population that opposes the Venezuelan strongman, even the thought of such a comeback is unbearable. They detest his never-ending decrees and manipulation of the law. But what rankles most among those who oppose him are his theatrics, like seizing the airwaves several times a day to sing songs and deliver demagogic rants. A hero's return is likely to heighten this narcissistic behavior. It is also true that he has said he will not leave power even if he loses the election next year.

Still, it is worth considering the alternative outcome. Because Mr. Chávez has destroyed institutions in order to foster a cult of personality, his mortality implies sheer chaos—as well as opportunity for the violent and ambitious. The bloodbath for power would not be between democrats and chavistas. It would be between the many armed factions that he has nurtured. Once victorious the winner will try to inherit his power by insisting that the nation worship his memory. Since none of his likely successors shares his charisma, repression is likely to get worse.

Cuba will be ready to help. The Castro brothers have long provided the security and intelligence apparatus that Mr. Chávez uses to stifle dissent. In exchange, Mr. Chávez funnels at least $5 billion annually to the island regime. The survival of that symbiotic relationship would be a top priority for the Cuban military dictatorship.

That a recovered Mr. Chávez would organize a welcoming committee for himself there is no doubt, and he might even get a bump in the polls from it. But he will also have to take responsibility for a host of Bolivarian-made problems.

For starters, he will have to confront the heavily armed mob that has taken over the El Rodeo prison in the state of Miranda, and the families of nearly 2,000 inmates whose lives are at risk. These are his constituents and he has promised to make the prison system more just. But things have only gotten worse during his presidency.

The Americas in the News
Get the latest information in Spanish from The Wall Street Journal's Americas page.
.The nongovernmental organization, Venezuelan Prison Observatory (OVP), estimates that facilities built for 14,000 inmates now hold more than 49,000. It also says that almost 46% of those detained are in "judicial limbo" and do not know "the status of their case." According to the OVP, there was a 22% increase in prison deaths in the first quarter of this year over the same period last year. Since 1999 over 4,500 inmates have died.

El Rodeo is emblematic of a wider problem for Mr. Chávez: The most vulnerable Venezuelans are still waiting for him to deliver on his promises of a better life. Until now he has bribed them with subsidies and rhetoric. But near 30% inflation is destroying their income and his words are getting old.

The 30,000 families who lost their homes in the floods last fall were supposed to be a priority for his government. But they are still without shelter, and their protests are growing louder. Mr. Chávez has pledged to build 153,000 new homes this year, but in the first quarter only 1,600 were completed.

Add to this food shortages, electricity blackouts, capital flight and one of the worst crime rates in the hemisphere, and it's not surprising that the economic outlook is so bleak. Oil and drug trafficking have kept the military satisfied until now. But the patience of the masses will one day hit its limit. When it does, they ought to have the opportunity to direct their wrath at the architect of their misery.

23903  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our man fomerly in Iraq recommends on: June 27, 2011, 11:28:05 AM
23904  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: June 26, 2011, 12:45:34 PM
23905  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: June 26, 2011, 11:51:57 AM

As always, fascinating stuff.  Much to think about there! 

Although apparently a relatively minor point in the larger context, this caught my attention as something likely to go unnoticed:

"As senior US officials have briefed New Delhi, the dependence on Pakistan for logistical routes has already come down thanks to Russia’s cooperation in expanding the Northern Distribution Network (NDN). This involves landing US supplies in Baltic Sea ports and then transporting them to Afghanistan through Russia and the Central Asian countries over a 3,200-mile railway. Even though the NDN is four times as expensive as the comparatively straightforward route through Pakistan, it already accounts for half of America’s logistical requirements in Afghanistan. Any reduction in the American presence will further decrease Pakistan’s leverage."

A lot of implications there for the leverage Russia will have in its dealings with the US , , ,

23906  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Not in a cheery mood , , , on: June 26, 2011, 10:13:35 AM

Geither:  Must have more taxes on the rich

And a friends response:

Today was a very sobering day for me.  I saw first hand the effects of these policies on the ground.

It was bad enough that the week began with one of my good friends telling me that his business was going under and he and his wife were going to file for bankruptcy.  They had operated a successful floor covering business for 13 years until 2007.  Then, the recession began eating away at their business.  They just decided to throw in the towel.  Since they had to personally guarantee their business line of credit, bankruptcy is the only option for them.


This morning I walked into my favorite local coffee shop – not a Starbucks or a national chain.  The owner called me aside and asked if I would know of anyone who would buy her shop.  She would be willing to work as an employee in her old shop for $10 per hour.  She had been operating break-even for the past 3 years.  Now, an unexpected family emergency has forced her to sell her business.  Less people are going out to buy coffee because they are unemployed or their budgets are being squeezed by stagnant incomes and rising costs.  She will not make it through the summer.  How do you tell a friend that without profits, her business is probably not worth more than the value of the inventory and the liquidation value of her equipment?  I knew that she knew that she was really asking me to buy her business and give her a little dignity for her 8 years of hard work and honest effort.  I am sure that she will appreciate the endless tax loss carry-forwards.


Both of my friends do not show up in the unemployment numbers.  They are self-employed business owners who are ineligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits.  They are honest, hardworking Americans who exemplify the American dream and who are collateral damage of the crony capitalism that permeates DC.


Geithner and his cohorts created and supported the policies that chose the big TBTF banks as the winners and that condemned my friends to ash heap of failed entrepreneurs.  It just isn’t the Japanese tsunami.  It just isn’t the Euro.  These are the consequences of decades of mismanagement and cronyism.


My friends are real people.  They are not just statistics on a BEA downloadable spreadsheet.  They are Americans in their 50’s and 60’s who are now condemned, if they are lucky, to be Wal-Mart greeters or Home Depot seasonal workers in the Christmas decoration aisles.  They should have failed earlier and then tried for one of the 60,000 McDonald’s jobs.


These people are not accurately represented in Scott’s statistics.  This nation has entered a second wave of the recession.  These stories are happening all over the country.  We are in a slow moving train wreck that appears to correct itself only to careen again off the tracks.  Thank you Hank Paulson.  Thank you Tim Geithner.  Thanks to all of the politicians and bureaucrats who destroyed these families.  Especially Ben Bernanke.  All the clueless eggheads that have destroyed the lives of real Americans.  No recovery will ever cause me to forget my friends who were destroyed because of these fools.

SUNDAY, JUNE 26, 2011
The Social Cost of the Loss of Job Stability and Careers
As much as the rest of the world has chosen to look down on Japan in its post bubble era for its failure to clean up its banking mess and resultant stagnant economy, it has managed its relative decline in status with considerable aplomb. It still has the longest life expectancy in the world, universal health care, not bad unemployment (3% to 5%) and ranks well on other social indicators And now that the US is going down the Japan path, it might behoove us to take heed of their example.

One of the striking difference between the cultures is importance ascribed to job creation. The Japanese understand full well that the workplace for many people is a far more important community to them than where they live, and so in contrast to the US, generating and preserving employment is a high priority. For example, Japanese entrepreneurs are revered for generating jobs, while in the US, personal wealth is proof of success.

McKinsey had Yankelovich survey the attitudes of young people a decade ago, and even then, the results were pretty disturbing. Yankelovich projected that college graduates would average 11 jobs by the time they were 38 (!), yet found they were demanding of their employers, wanting frequent feedback (as in lots of attention) and quick advancement. But if you are not likely to be around for very long, no one is likely to want to invest in you all that much (McKinsey, which was competing for a narrow slice of supposed “top” talent and not offering Wall Street sized payopportunities, might have been more inclined to indulge this sort of thing than other employers).

But these rapid moves from job to job, and now a much weaker job market, are producing behaviors that old farts like me find troubling. One is rampant careerism. I’ve run into too many polished people under the age of 35 where the veneer is very thin. It isn’t hard to see the opportunism, the shameless currying of favor, and ruthless calculations of whom to help and whom to kick, including throwing former patrons under the bus when they are no longer useful (I can cite specific examples of the last behavior). The world has always had its Sammy Glicks, but now we seem to be setting out to create them on a mass basis.

The economic effects are also not pretty. A 30 year mortgage made sense when people would spend a decade or more with a single employer. And more frequent job changes means not only more total time unemployed over one’s working years, but also the very high odds of falling out of a highly or even moderately paid career path to a much lower one as the work place continues to be restructured.

A New York Times piece tonight describes the latest stage of this sorry devolution: “job jugglers” who hold down multiple part time jobs to make a living. This sort of thing used to happen only to lower income people, artists, or people who live in resort areas. The article makes clear that this is often a hand-to-mouth, high stress existence, although the interviewees put a brave face on it. And we aren’t necessarily talking having one income source in the days and another in the evenings: three of the individuals featured had four jobs. Even then, they barely cover their expenses.

Yet it could indeed be worse:

Still, Ms. [Mia] Branco, who graduated magna cum laude with a degree in musical theater from American University in 2009, says she feels lucky to be employed at all. “The majority of the jobs I have right now are because people were laid off and they didn’t want to hire back full-time employees,” she said. “My willingness to have a hodgepodge schedule makes me more

But the “marketable” benefits are only short term.

A national study by the Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies found that young women who worked primarily in part-time jobs did not make higher wages in their 30s than in their 20s…The reason is that part-time jobs generally provide fewer training opportunities and often don’t put workers on a track for advancement.

And many of these jobs are clearly stopgaps:

More college graduates are working in second jobs that don’t require college degrees, part of a phenomenon called “mal-employment.” In short, many baby-sitters, sales clerks, telemarketers and bartenders are overqualified for their jobs.

Last year, 1.9 million college graduates were mal-employed and had multiple jobs, up 17 percent from 2007, according to federal data. Almost half of all college graduates have a job that doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree.

I see this in my own building. One of the new doormen, a clean cut, high energy fellow, is a college graduate who is going to work on his graduate degree at night. One who has been here about a year also went to college. That was unheard of until recently.

Even though the evidence is that these jugglers would do better financially and probably in terms of lifestyle if they got on a career path, some seemed to have been imprinted by their multi-job routine and seemed loath to give it up, even though they recognized that it is not conducive to having a family.

These part-time jobs may just be another feature of this recession, but the odds are that it will become yet another aspect of the “new normal”.


23907  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bachman moving up on: June 26, 2011, 01:02:37 AM

Bachmann Surging in the Polls Ahead of Campaign Kickoff

Published June 25, 2011


Rep. Michele Bachmann has rolled out her presidential campaign with all the flare and flirtation of a seasoned boxing promoter.

First, she stole her opponents' thunder by using a debate stage earlier this month to announce she filed her 2012 papers. Then, she held off on formally announcing that bid for another two weeks -- the formal kickoff is set for Monday in Iowa. The evening before the announcement, Bachmann is planning an informal meet-and-greet in Waterloo. And the week following the announcement will be spent touring early primary states.

The candidate is no doubt making up for lost time, having given her opponents a wide opening to build their operations in key states by waiting so long to make the presidential plunge. But polling conducted since she revealed her intentions at the debate in mid-June suggest she's doing something right.

After weeks of struggling to break out of the single digits, Bachmann has surged in recent polls. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is still the solid GOP frontrunner, but Bachmann has started to separate herself from the rest of the pack.

A Rasmussen Reports poll taken right after Bachmann's debate performance showed her rising to 19 percent, in second place behind Romney at 33 percent. A subsequent poll in Florida taken June 16-19 by Public Policy Polling also showed Bachmann surging into a tie for second place with Sarah Palin -- who has not announced a presidential bid. Though the poll only questioned Republicans in one state, the results showed Bachmann's support climbing from 7 to 17 percent since March. If Palin were taken out of the mix, PPP found Bachmann picking up the bulk of her support and gliding even closer to Romney.

Meanwhile, an Associated Press-GfK poll released this week showed her favorability rating jumping from 41 percent to 54 percent among Republicans, though one third did not have an opinion of her.

"Given that we have been in this race less than two weeks, we are pleased with the growing momentum of the campaign," campaign spokeswoman Alice Stewart said in an email to

Stewart said that as Bachmann formally enters the race, voters will see her as "their voice for constitutional conservatism." The Tea Party favorite has surged into the spotlight in recent years by opposing government spending, as well as other popular conservative targets like the federal health care overhaul and environmental regulations.

But Bachmann, who will appear on "Fox News Sunday" ahead of her announcement, is just the latest X-factor in the race. Speculation continues to swirl around Texas Gov. Rick Perry, while Palin stays in the spotlight -- from a distance. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman is trying in earnest to build his moderate brand after announcing his bid Tuesday.

Some Iowa Republicans have suggested Bachmann missed out on her chance to build a formidable operation in the nation's leadoff caucus state, while others question whether the outspoken Minnesota conservative could ever be more than an also-ran nationally.

The Iowa Democratic Party, which has held counterprogramming events for other Republican candidates, does not plan on holding a news conference to counter Bachmann's announcement Monday. A spokesman for the party told Fox News that while party officials see Bachmann as a contender to win the caucuses, they do not feel she can win the GOP nomination.

But the congresswoman is making a big push to appeal to voters in Iowa despite the late entrance -- and the fact that House members rarely end up as presidential finalists. She's stressing her Iowa roots by holding her announcement in her hometown of Waterloo, and also is looking to return to Iowa after touring South Carolina and New Hampshire. Her social conservative streak is a plus in the leadoff state, and she's trying to develop the other parts of her portfolio.

Though Bachmann in May said the United States needs to "get out" of Afghanistan, she amended her position this past week after President Obama announced his troop withdrawal plan.

In a statement Thursday, she accused the president of "undercutting our security objectives in Afghanistan with ill-advised timelines and accelerated (troop) withdrawals."

Read more:

23908  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar, & Gold/Silver on: June 25, 2011, 08:13:26 PM
Kudlow is a good economist and I think his point about QE3 has merit.

"If Bernanke keeps his balance sheet stable, applying what former Fed Governor Wayne Angell calls quantitative neutrality, it's quite possible that the greenback will rise and oil and commodity prices will slip."

Here I do not understand the point about keeping the balance sheet stable (worth noting is that Scott Grannis is far more sanguine than most of us here for just this sort of thing) but IMHO Kudlow misses the point about the boost to the dollar at present coming from the flight to stability due to the Greek/Euro situation/crisis.  In that the price of oil in dollars is to a great extent a function of the state of the dollars purchasing parity viz other currencies, of course this makes sense.  So I suppose it is possible the Baraq-Bernanke may get a bit lucky here and get away with a bit of stimulus without us seeming to pay a price for it.   Also to be remembered in taking meaning from the numbers is the low margin requirement/high market price volatility dynamic.
23909  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender, Gay, Lesbian on: June 25, 2011, 10:24:51 AM
23910  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Training Camp August 12-14 on: June 25, 2011, 08:26:22 AM
23911  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / La Belleza de la Mujer on: June 24, 2011, 09:09:51 PM
23912  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Uncle Tom's Cabin on: June 24, 2011, 08:45:09 PM

In April 1857, Samuel Green, a free black farmer and preacher living on Maryland's Eastern Shore, was taken from his home and sentenced to 10 years in prison for the felony of possessing a book that was, the law asserted, "calculated to create discontent among the colored population of this state." The book was called "Uncle Tom's Cabin: Or, Life Among the Lowly." The prosecution of Green was of course a travesty. But Maryland and the rest of the slave-holding South had reason to be scared.

"Uncle Tom's Cabin" was abolitionist propaganda, but it was also a brilliant novel that intertwined the stories of a host of memorable characters: the long-suffering slave Uncle Tom, the sadistic overseer Simon Legree, the defiant fugitive George Harris, the antic slave girl Topsy, the conscience-stricken slave owner Augustine St. Clare, and a teeming cast of abolitionists, Southerners and African-Americans. By presenting an array of emotive story lines—e.g., the bonding of Uncle Tom with St. Clare's saintly daughter Eva, Tom's fatal persecution at a Louisiana plantation, and the dramatic flight of the Harris family to freedom in the North—the author Harriet Beecher Stowe rendered American slavery as a soul-destroying system of grinding injustice and, for the first time in American literature, depicted slaves as complex, heroic and emotionally nuanced individuals.

The novel shocked Americans North and South not just with its heart-rending portrayal of slavery's cruelty but with its attention to such subversive themes as interracial sex, cross-racial friendship and black rage. "Wherever it goes, prejudice is disarmed, opposition is removed, and the hearts of all are touched with a new and strange feeling, to which they before were strangers," declared an editorialist in Washington's National Era newspaper.

In the first year after its release in 1852, "Uncle Tom's Cabin" sold 310,000 copies in the United States, triple the number of its nearest rivals; it sold one million copies in Britain alone. In "Mightier Than the Sword," a splendid and subtle history of the novel's effect on American culture, David S. Reynolds writes that "Uncle Tom's Cabin" "opened the way for a widespread acceptance in the North of antislavery arguments that had long been ignored or dismissed." It would also help to pave the way for the public's openness to Abraham Lincoln and to convert countless apathetic Yankees into men willing to fight for the emancipation of slaves.

View Full Image
.Mightier Than the Sword
By David S. Reynolds
(Norton, 351 pages, $27.95)
."Uncle Tom's Cabin" became a phenomenon like nothing Americans had seen before. The very term "Great American Novel" was coined, in 1868, by the Nation magazine, specifically to describe it. Literary luminaries such as Mark Twain, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Henry James showered it with praise. The radical Russian writer Nikolai Chernyshevsky drew upon the book for his own novel, "What Is to Be Done?," which in turn influenced many of his country's revolutionaries. ("Uncle Tom's Cabin," Mr. Reynolds notes, was Lenin's favorite childhood book.) Less significantly, the novel spawned a dizzying explosion of "Tomitudes," or spin-offs, including card games, cheap engravings, jigsaw puzzles, wall hangings, snuffboxes, fountain pens and eponymous products such as "Uncle Tom's Shrinkable Woolen Stockings."

Stowe's creation probably had its most lasting effect as a stage play, which was almost always performed by white actors in blackface. By 1912, it was estimated, Americans had seen at least 250,000 performances of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" by hundreds, if not thousands, of specialized theater companies. With its elevating Christian message of martyrdom and redemption, the play made theaters—previously the haunt of roughs, sports and prostitutes—so respectable, Mr. Reynolds says, that managers invented the afternoon matinee to cope with the demand.

Competing troupes added song-and-dance interludes and boxing matches—the actor playing Uncle Tom would sometimes step out of the play to go a few rounds in costume. Like the novel, the play was translated into scores of languages, including Yiddish, where it was accompanied by "Hebrew melodies" and readings from the Talmud instead of the Bible. Bizarrely, some shows doubled and even tripled the actors on stage playing the lead roles. "For playgoers of the era, the more Tom characters, the better," Mr. Reynolds writes. Both Mary Pickford and Spencer Tracy began their careers in "Tom" shows.

By the mid-20th century, Stowe's story had entered the broader culture in all sorts of forms, many utterly divorced from the gravity of the original. Skits and satires referring to "Uncle Tom's Cabin" were performed by the likes of Abbott and Costello and the Little Rascals. When the 1956 film "The King and I," set in Siam and starring Yul Brynner, incorporated the hilarious rendering of a ballet titled "Small House of Uncle Thomas," it was a typically incoherent destiny for a book that, as William Dean Howells once declared, had "move[d] the whole world more than any other."

Paradoxically, the phrase "Uncle Tom" is known today as an epithet for spineless collaboration with white oppression, the antithesis of the morally heroic character for whom Stowe named her novel. "At times," Mr. Reynolds writes, "it seemed that the epithet would tear apart the whole movement for black rights," as even black leaders as bold as W.E.B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X were accused of being Uncle Toms by their enemies. In "Mightier Than the Sword," Mr. Reynolds sets out to show the many and often contradictory ways in which one of the nation's most important works of literature has been understood and, alas, misunderstood. He has admirably succeeded.

Mr. Bordewich is the author of "Bound for Canaan: The Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America."

23913  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NLRB determines how Catholic is Catholic enough on: June 24, 2011, 03:18:25 PM
It's not just Boeing that the National Labor Relations Board is picking on: For the second time this year, the NLRB has ruled against a Catholic college.

The Chicago office of the NLRB said that St. Xavier University had failed to demonstrate the "substantial religious character" necessary to qualify for exemption from federal labor law. As a result, adjunct professors in its employ will be allowed to organize, even though the school has argued that a faculty union would interfere with the school's autonomy as a religious institution by ceding "jurisdiction over important matters to a third party."

In January, the NLRB's New York office made the same determination about Manhattan College, a Christian Brothers institution, which has since appealed.

Both cases hinge on the Supreme Court's ruling in NLRB v. The Catholic Bishop of Chicago, et al. (1979), which found that the NLRB had violated the First Amendment's free exercise clause by requiring Catholic schools to comply with federal labor laws, thereby possibly interfering with religious decision-making. But that ruling didn't stop the NLRB from claiming authority over most Catholic colleges and universities by arguing that Catholic Bishop protects only "church-controlled" institutions that are "substantially religious," a phrase taken from Chief Justice Warren Burger's majority opinion in the case. Many of the nation's 224 Catholic colleges and universities are legally independent of the Catholic bishops or the religious orders that founded them.

So the NLRB has put itself in the position of judging schools' religious character, and it has concluded over the years that many Catholic institutions are inconsistent in their application of Catholic principles to teaching, course requirements, campus life and faculty hiring. It's a serious overreach by the government, though many Catholics would agree that colleges and universities often demonstrate inconsistent religious observation.

View Full Image

Getty Images
 .The erosion of religious identity in Catholic higher education over the past 50 years has been marked by theological dissent, hostility toward the bishops, and increasingly liberal campus-life arrangements such as co-ed dorms and lax visitation rules. These issues fueled the 2009 confrontation at Notre Dame, for example, when pro-life Catholics objected to the school honoring President Barack Obama. This year the U.S. bishops are engaged in a review of Catholic educators' compliance with church rules for colleges and universities.

Colleges that have deliberately watered down their Catholic identity, in part to help themselves compete for government aid, now face church pressure to strengthen their religious identity. The choice for Catholic educators is increasingly clear: defend religious liberty and stand up for a strong Catholic identity—or give up the pretense.

Catholic educators are now awaiting the result of Manhattan College's appeal to the NLRB regulators in Washington. Their appeal relies heavily on an argument put forward in 1986 by future Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. Writing for half the members of an evenly divided D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Breyer argued that the NLRB had contravened the Catholic Bishop ruling by establishing a "substantial religious character" test to determine whether a college meets sectarian standards.

The D.C. Circuit has formally embraced Justice Breyer's reasoning twice over the past decade, instructing the NLRB to stop interfering with any college or university that "holds itself out to students, faculty and community as providing a religious educational environment." In ruling against St. Xavier University and Manhattan College, NLRB regional staff seem to have ignored that instruction.

Mr. Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, is author of "The NLRB's Assault on Religious Liberty," published by the society's Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education.

23914  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fall Dog Brothers Open Gathering of the Pack 9/18/11 on: June 24, 2011, 02:55:08 PM
Pete Juska of Chicago, IL: registered smiley
23915  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Geert Wilders on: June 24, 2011, 02:35:15 PM
Yesterday was a beautiful day for freedom of speech in the Netherlands. An Amsterdam court acquitted me of all charges of hate speech after a legal ordeal that lasted almost two years. The Dutch people learned that political debate has not been stifled in their country. They learned they are still allowed to speak critically about Islam, and that resistance against Islamization is not a crime.

I was brought to trial despite being an elected politician and the leader of the third-largest party in the Dutch parliament. I was not prosecuted for anything I did, but for what I said. My view on Islam is that it is not so much a religion as a totalitarian political ideology with religious elements. While there are many moderate Muslims, Islam's political ideology is radical and has global ambitions. I expressed these views in newspaper interviews, op-ed articles, and in my 2008 documentary, "Fitna."

I was dragged to court by leftist and Islamic organizations that were bent not only on silencing me but on stifling public debate. My accusers claimed that I deliberately "insulted" and "incited discrimination and hatred" against Muslims. The Dutch penal code states in its articles 137c and 137d that anyone who either "publicly, verbally or in writing or image, deliberately expresses himself in any way that incites hatred against a group of people" or "in any way that insults a group of people because of their race, their religion or belief, their hetero- or homosexual inclination or their physical, psychological or mental handicap, will be punished."

I was dragged to court for statements that I made as a politician and which were meant to stimulate public debate in a country where public debate has stagnated for decades. Dutch political parties see themselves as guardians of a sterile status quo. I want our problems to be discussed. I believe that politicians have a public trust to further debates about important issues. I firmly believe that every public debate holds the prospect of enlightenment.

My views represent those of a growing number of Dutch voters, who have flocked to the Party for Freedom, or PVV. The PVV is the fastest-growing party in the country, expanding from one seat in the 150-seat House of Representatives in 2004, to nine seats in 2006 and 24 seats in 2010. My party's views, however, are so uncommon in the Netherlands that they are considered blasphemous by powerful elites who fear and resent discussion.

That's why I was taken to court, even though the public prosecutor saw no reason to prosecute me. "Freedom of expression fulfills an essential role in public debate in a democratic society," the prosecutors repeatedly said during my trial. "That comments are hurtful and offensive for a large number of Muslims does not mean that they are punishable."

The Netherlands is one of the few countries in the world where a court can force the public prosecutor to prosecute someone. In January 2009, three judges of the Amsterdam Appeals Court ordered my prosecution in a politically motivated verdict that focused on the content of the case. They implied that I was guilty. The case was subsequently referred to the Amsterdam Court of First Instance.

The judges who acquitted me yesterday already had a peremptory ruling from the appeals court on their desk. They decided, however, to follow the arguments of the public prosecutor, who during the trial had once again reiterated his position and had asked for a full acquittal.

Though I am obviously relieved by yesterday's decision, my thoughts go to people such as Danish journalist Lars Hedegaard, Austrian human rights activist Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff and others who have recently been convicted for criticizing Islam. They have not been as fortunate. In far too many Western countries, it is still impossible to have a debate about the nature of Islam.

The biggest threat to our democracies is not political debate, nor is it public dissent. As the American judge Learned Hand once said in a speech: "That community is already in the process of dissolution . . . where faith in the eventual supremacy of reason has become so timid that we dare not enter our convictions in the open lists to win or lose." It has been a tenet in European and American thinking that men are only free when they respect each other's freedom. If the courts can no longer guarantee this, then surely a community is in the process of dissolution.

Legislation such as articles 137c and 137d of the Dutch Penal Code disgraces our democratic free societies. On the basis of such legislation, I was prevented from representing my million-and-a-half voters in parliament because I had to be in the courtroom for several days, sometimes up to three days per week, during the past year and a half. Such legislation should be abolished. It should be abolished in all Western countries where it exists—and replaced by First Amendment clauses.

Citizens should never allow themselves to be silenced. I have spoken, I speak and I shall continue to speak.

Mr. Wilders is a member of the Dutch Parliament and the leader of the Party for Freedom.

23916  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libya and on: June 24, 2011, 02:22:52 PM
Not really responsive GM.  I am well aware of the domestic/economic issues.  I speak to the role of foreign affairs.  If BO can say he killed OBL where Bush failed, brought us home, and killed Kaddaffy where Reagan and others failed, it helps him politically AND more importantly, leaves him in a position to keep damaging and sabotaging the US in the world.
23917  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libya and on: June 24, 2011, 01:40:46 PM
Those are both sensible pieces.

I would add a political point-- that if BO gets lucky and Kadaffy gets killed (and this is not a small possibility) A LOT of the Republican Party is going to look foolish and the Dems will crow about Baraq killing OBL and Kaddaffy.

As I have alluded to elsewhere, the Reps are skating on some very thin ice on foreign affairs-- which traditionally has been a strong suit.  It would be pretty amazing that Baraq could do all the blithering stupidities that he has done, only to be outdone by the Reps and thus come out smelling like a rose.
23918  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Noonan on: June 24, 2011, 01:35:48 PM
The GOP field is sorting itself out, which is to be expected. What's surprising is that so are Republican voters. The early rise of Mitt Romney, the second-place showing of Jon Huntsman (behind Ron Paul) at the recent Republican Leadership Conference, and a Gallup poll last week saying 50% of Republicans and independents who lean Republican favor the candidate with the best chance of beating President Obama, suggests GOP voters on the ground don't want to pick anyone the moderate Democrat down the block wouldn't support.

It's still early, but that makes it even more interesting. It's at this point in a presidential race that obstreperous and passionate movements and candidacies would normally be rising. It's later and with time that a certain soberness, a certain inherent moderation normally take hold. But Republicans at the moment seem prematurely settled, even as they watch, judge and figure out whom to support.

A quick read on a few in the field:

Mitt Romney really is the kind of candidate Republicans imagine centrists would like. He looks the part, sounds the part, has experience in the world and government. Four years ago he was new and controversial. Now he's next in line and kind of old shoe. But the question that dogged him in 2008 hasn't gone away: Does he have philosophical fire inside him, or only personal destiny fire? If the latter, would he do what needs doing as president? Ronald Reagan was mild and attractive as a person and candidate and never claimed to be a radical, but when he got into office at a crucial moment, he did some radical things that turned out to be the right things. He had philosophical fire, which is important.

 Peggy Noonan reports on Jon Huntsman's campaign kick-off.
.Michele Bachmann's got fire, a libertarian conservative who means it. She broke through in New Hampshire because she wasn't Cable Bachmann—skittery, combative—but Candidate Bachmann, sincere and accomplished. Does she have the weight and ballast to see it all the way through? Is she a serious person or just a dramatic one who rouses a portion of the base? Will America be drawn to her brand of conservatism?

Tim Pawlenty is earnest, nice, Midwestern. Interestingly, no one doubts his grounding in political thought, or his accomplishments, and yet he's coming across as weak. Does he want this thing? Is he the right size?

Newt Gingrich? That didn't work. Good thing voters found out early, not late.

Herman Cain always gets applause in GOP debates because everyone likes him. The media suspect the reason is that he's handy evidence Republicans aren't racist. But Republicans like him because they like him.

View Full Image

One imagines him more as secretary of state, like Cordell Hull.
.A number of prominent conservatives are black, and they are admired because they all swam upstream, with no establishment to help them. They weren't born into it, they had to struggle through to it. And when they arrived they were often greeted awkwardly. They were like the old working-class ethnic Democrats who joined the Republican Party in the 1970s and '80s and were greeted by Mrs. Waffington Wafferthird IV: "Your name is Kowalski? We had a plumber named Kowalski at Little Compton, he did wonderful work!" Yeah. Well, glad the pipes work.

It's been a generation or two since the party was like that, and now old Mrs. Wafferthird is likely to introduce herself with theatricality and flair. "Darling, I'm the antique old stereotype we all spoof. I even spoof myself. Have a Ritz cracker." And we all feel protective of her because she's part of a dying wave, a great, three-centuries-long wave.

Anyway Republicans like Mr. Cain because he's plain-spoken and humorous, and he made some money in America. He's the American dream. But is he a president? No, he's a businessman. It's 2011 and he doesn't know his own opinion on Afghanistan.

And now Jon Huntsman. The former Utah governor and ambassador to China announced in New Jersey's Liberty State Park on Tuesday. I went to see a Huntsman crowd, to find out who they are and why they support him. But there was no Huntsman crowd, only a hunk of milling media. Interspersed among them were perhaps a hundred individuals who got themselves there to watch and show support. When asked why they were for him, they said words like "balance," "principles" and "expanding the umbrella."

More Peggy Noonan
Read Peggy Noonan's previous columns

Click here to order her book, Patriotic Grace
.Two weeks ago at a Reuters lunch in Manhattan, Mr. Huntsman appeared with Henry Kissinger to talk about the latter's new book, "On China." As Mr. Huntsman talked—when Mr. Kissinger couldn't remember a particular word in Chinese, Mr. Huntsman smoothly supplied it—two journalists at a table to the side came to the same conclusion at almost the same moment: This isn't a president, this is a secretary of state. Huntsman—well-tailored, willowy, gray-haired, cerebral-looking—comes alive when talking about Asia. You imagine him in striped pants and morning coat, like Cordell Hull. Yet he's from Utah, has seven kids, is Mormon, has lowered taxes and balanced budgets. His work in the Obama administration is supposed to be a negative with Republican voters, but it won't be: It's China, the big country now always in the back of the American mind. He speaks two Chinese dialects. That sounds useful.

What part of the GOP base would be Mr. Huntsman's natural constituency? Here political professionals scratch their heads.

Maybe he's going for moderate conservatives and Republicans who have Romney Reluctance, who just can't get to Mitt-land, or not yet. Maybe he's trying to take the vote of conservatives who think deep down Romney doesn't have a deep down. He's saying, "I'm like Romney but I have deep beliefs and a particular expertise: I won two terms as a governor, not one, and was a major ambassador. I'm cool, and my hair is just as presidential."

Mr. Huntsman's call, in his announcement speech, for more civility, was both appropriate and shrewd. Appropriate because there's nothing wrong with adding a bit of grace to the political moment. There's too much hate out there and too many people making a living peddling resentment. Shrewd because it pre-emptively forgives, or retroactively explains, his past friendliness to and support of Mr. Obama. He can flick off criticisms with sad shake of the head: "That's the kind of thing I was talking about when I asked for a higher tone."

His support for gay civil unions is supposedly controversial, but is it? It is a compromise position, and the tea party won't be made unhappy by it: Social issues are not their focus. Mitch Daniels was knocked for calling for a social issues truce some months ago, but only because he put a name on what is happening anyway. There is an informal truce on social issues in the GOP, but no one likes hearing potential leaders mention it, because then the other leaders have to take a side. But almost everyone in the party is focused now on economic issues, in part because a strong economy fosters everything else, including American compassion. Six months ago a profoundly pro-life U.S. senator who now speaks more on economic issues was asked how he explains the shift in emphasis to his pro-life allies. "I tell them unless we turn things around, no one's going to be able to have babies."

23919  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More on Hillary's aide as a MB mole on: June 24, 2011, 01:23:07 PM
This also could belong under Homeland (In)Security:
23920  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: June 24, 2011, 01:11:28 PM
"**So, we must sell all the oil in the Bayou Choctaw Cavern 20 (7.5 million barrels) because it's structural integrity was damaged by previous drawdowns, and in addition, we are going to damage other caverns to sell another 22.5 million gallons of oil. Sounds like something a community organizer would come up with."

That 'bout gets it-- sorry JDN, but it looks like I remembered correctly smiley
23921  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar, & Gold/Silver on: June 24, 2011, 01:07:06 PM
Forgive me, but that sounds like the logic of Carter's malaise speech.

We need to undo the massive wave of new regulations known and unknown, we need to eliminate the massive spending by the Feds, we need to end monetizing the debt and to protect the value of the currency, we need to throw out the tax code and replace it with something simple and fair e.g. the FAIR tax, etc etc etc.
23922  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WEsbury on: June 24, 2011, 01:03:37 PM
Balancing out the Bear with some Bull from Wesbury cheesy  Seriously, he is a good economist and we need to keep an open mind. smiley
Data Watch

New orders for durable goods increased 1.9% in May To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 6/24/2011

 New orders for durable goods increased 1.9% in May (2.8% including upward revisions to April). The consensus expected a gain of 1.5%. Orders excluding transportation rose 0.6% in May (1.9% including upward revisions to April). The consensus expected 0.9%.  From a year ago, overall new orders are up 9.0%, while orders excluding transportation are up 7.2%

The overall increase in orders was led by civilian aircraft. Almost all other major categories of orders increased as well.
The government calculates business investment for GDP purposes by using shipments of non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft. That measure rose 1.4% in May and even if unchanged in June, will be up at a 7.2% annual rate in Q2 versus the Q1 average.
Unfilled orders rose 0.9% in May and are up 6.3% from last year.
Implications:  The economy is still alive and kicking, and today’s report on durable goods shows it. New orders for durable goods increased 1.9% in May, beating the expected increase of 1.5%, and were revised up for April as well. Most of the gain in May was due to civilian aircraft, which are very volatile from month to month. However, excluding the transportation sector, orders were still up 0.6% in May and up 1.9% including upward revisions for April. Moreover, the gains in May were widespread, with almost every major category of orders increasing. In other words, this is not just a Boeing story. Shipments of “core” capital goods (which exclude civilian aircraft and defense and which the government uses to calculate GDP) bounced back 1.4% in May. These shipments are up 7.7% versus a year ago and up at a much faster 14.9% annual rate in the past three months. Given record corporate profits and balance sheet cash, relatively low borrowing rates in the corporate sector, a recent rise in commercial and industrial lending, plus full expensing for tax purposes for 2011, we believe business investment will continue to increase substantially for at least the next couple of years.
23923  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Chinese military capabilities on: June 24, 2011, 11:49:52 AM

Colin: Tensions have been rising again in the South China Sea, this time between Vietnam and the Philippines and China over disputed potentially oil-rich territory. This weekend China’s vice minister for foreign affairs and the United States assistant secretary of Asia-Pacific meet in Hawaii with the Chinese side advising Americans to urge restraint. (!!!) The vice foreign minister was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying, “some countries are playing with fire and I hope the U.S. won’t would be burned by this,” well we will see.

Welcome to agenda and joining me this week for his latest assessment of the Chinese Military is Nathan Hughes, Stratfor’s director of military analysis. Nate, it’s a good time to be discussing this. China’s first aircraft carrier goes for trials next week. It will be another year until, of course, it is in service but what difference will it make?

Nate: Well, the Chinese fixed-wing carrier aviation program is still very preliminary, they have had the Varyag in their possession for over a decade now. It was originally bought from the Ukraine as surplus to be a casino, at least extensively in 1998. But it takes a long time to really develop all the capabilities necessary to really run an effective flight deck, and that’s something that the United States has been doing for 100 years now and China is sort of just getting started with it. While the aircraft carrier goes to sea, it’s not even clear with the first time when they will actually start landing aircraft on at it. At the moment we’ve got some imagery that suggests there is still considerable amount of construction equipment and detritus on the deck itself, and it may go to sea with some of that because this first sea trial is really about putting the engines through their paces and making sure the basic shipboard systems are functioning properly.

Colin: So these are just sea trials not weapons testing?

Nate: Right, the initial sea trials of a vessel is really about making sure that the engines work the way they are supposed to and this sort of thing, and especially when you start talking about the purpose of an aircraft carrier, to feel and be able to launch and recover fixed wing aircraft, that is really quite a ways down the road for the Chinese even after, probably well after, the commissioning of this ship next year.

Colin: Of course even with this addition, the Chinese Navy only forms a relatively small part of China’s military. Most of it is in the army, which has also has a bigger budget. How much of the PLA’s effort is taken up with dealing with China’s internal problems?

Nate: Well, this is really an important thing to remember about China is that the vast majority of its military and security apparatus is devoted to land combat and internal security missions. While the navy and air force have gotten a lot of press lately, this is only a small fraction of, in fact combined the Navy and Air Force number fewer than nearly the internal security forces under the Ministry of Defense. It is important to remember the size of China. While it’s the size of the United States, it has one billion extra people. Almost all of whom exist in a fairly low state of subsistence or less, many are disillusioned with the amount of financial rebalancing that has taken place. Many are in buffer areas and some are ethnic minorities, so there is a lot for China to manage internally even as it appears to be expending a lot of effort externally.

Colin: Can you put any kind of percentage on it?

Nate: The Chinese People’s liberation Army Navy and People’s Liberation Army Air Force together, number less than 600,000, while the People’s armed police and a number of other internal security entities: everything from border police to railroad police, number over 700,000. And this isn’t even counting the 1.6 million-man People’s Liberation Army.

Colin: What are the chances of these forces actually having to be deployed in the short-term?

Nate: Well China spent almost its entire modern existence working with a very low- tech conscripted People’s Army. The idea was simply to be able to maintain internal security and defend China’s borders in a fairly traditional, attritional warfare sort of sense. So the challenges before China in the modernization that has taken place since the 1980’s are very profound in terms of taking these new techniques, these new systems and these new weapons that they have been working on, integrating them into an effective war fighting system, and being able to deploy them further afield. China’s been spending a lot of focus lately on China’s deployment of only two warships and a replenishment vessel at a time to the counter piracy mission off the coast of Somalia. And while this is somewhat of a prestige thing, it’s also about learning the basics of sustaining naval vessels far afield; the basics of maintenance, replenishment, the metrics of logistics, these are things China is still very unfamiliar with and those working to learn the tricks of the trade the idea, the idea that they will be able to deploy large numbers of forces anywhere beyond China’s borders, I think is very, is still a very real question.

Colin: What is your assessment of the quality of the hardware that China has invested in?

Nate: Which I have been doing since the 1980’s, has been investing a considerable amount in the latest Russian hardware, in the 1990’s when things were pretty bad for Russia, China was the single biggest buyer of high-end late Soviet technology. They’ve combined that with an aggressive espionage effort, including cyber espionage efforts, to glean the latest technology from the United States and its allies. China’s domestic efforts to put this all together, to be able to build it itself and use it itself, are very extensive, but the challenge is that because China is still new at this, and it’s been growing so rapidly, it’s in a very uncertain place while some of the technology it’s fielding is certainly very impressive, its ability to integrate that into a war fighting concept, it’s lack of real practical or operational experience with it, leaves very real questions about its performance in a shooting war.

Colin: Nate, thank you very much. STRATFOR’s Director of Military Analysis Nathan Hughes ending agenda for this week. I’m Colin Chapman, goodbye for now.

23924  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson 1803 on: June 24, 2011, 06:47:19 AM
"Experience having long taught me the reasonableness of mutual sacrifices of opinion among those who are to act together for any common object, and the expediency of doing what good we can; when we cannot do all we would wish." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Randolph, 1803
23925  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / All dogs go to heaven on: June 24, 2011, 06:39:27 AM
23926  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: June 24, 2011, 06:28:10 AM
A different take from the previous post from Stratfor-- any comments contrasting the two?

Obama's Announcement and the Future of the Afghan War

U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday night made the most important political statement on the war in Afghanistan since the death of Osama bin Laden. In a planned statement, Obama spelled out his post-surge strategy, as the July 2011 deadline approaches that would mark the start of the drawdown of American and allied forces in Afghanistan. While Obama did not declare victory in his address, he laid the groundwork to do so.

Before he came to office, a key plank in Obama’s election platform was the idea that Iraq was the “wrong” war and Afghanistan, by contrast, the “right” war. That stance was founded on the idea that since al Qaeda attacked the United States in 2001, the war in Afghanistan is morally just and a military imperative. But even as the 2008 presidential campaign unfolded, the United States had already begun to shift its operational focus in Afghanistan toward a counterinsurgency-oriented campaign centered against the Taliban.

“It’s noteworthy that Obama’s speech lays the groundwork for American domestic political rhetoric to align with military reality..”
Even while justifying the 2009 surge by saying 30,000 additional troops were needed to fight al Qaeda, Obama was giving the military the resources to wage a protracted counterinsurgency against the Taliban. In 2001, al Qaeda and the Taliban were distinct, yet necessarily intertwined. After all, it was the Taliban regime in Afghanistan that had provided al Qaeda sanctuary, facilitating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But the Taliban declined combat in 2001, refusing to fight on American terms. Instead its fighters withdrew into the population — largely but not completely within Afghanistan — employing a standard guerrilla tactic. Meanwhile — and especially after Tora Bora — al Qaeda was increasingly driven into Pakistan and, more importantly, farther abroad.

Thus began the deepening divide between the two groups. For al Qaeda, a transnational jihadist phenomenon with global ambitions, the logic behind setting up franchises from Yemen and the Maghreb to East Asia was readily apparent. Its ideology was not reliant on location. As the United States focused its war effort on one locality, it made perfect sense for al Qaeda to devolve into a dispersed, decentralized organization. The group needed to avoid any place the United States decided to park more than 100,000 combat troops. Meanwhile, the Taliban, an Afghan phenomenon, doubled down on their home turf.

And so, while the United States never settled the war in Afghanistan, it found itself fighting an increasingly domestic entity near the heart of Central Asia — an entity that came to consider driving the United States out of the country its primary objective. For their part, the United States and its allies never wanted to occupy Afghanistan in the first place.

The war in Afghanistan has been a victory for the United States, but a qualified one. The war has helped prevent a subsequent attack of the magnitude of Sept. 11, 2001 — and there is no sign that the old al Qaeda core has the ability to launch another attack on that scale. But the war in Afghanistan has not proven an efficient or appropriately focused means of achieving this qualified victory. It has not kept al Qaeda franchise operations from waging an aggressive and innovative campaign to continue the struggle, nor can we say that what remains of al Qaeda in the Afghan-Pakistani region could not reconstitute itself, given sufficient space and time.

Meanwhile, even the most serious observers wonder why the United States is so heavily committed in Afghanistan. The example of the Korengal Valley, once considered an important focus of the war effort, is demonstrative. A vulnerable and isolated outpost at an old lumberyard was established and defended at no small cost in American blood and treasure. It was closed in 2010 as the United States reoriented toward a counterinsurgency-based strategy focused on population centers — and more importantly as it became clear that the strongest influence driving locals to the Taliban was the presence of American troops at that outpost.

The noteworthy aspect of Obama’s speech is that it lays the groundwork for American domestic political rhetoric to circle back into alignment with military reality. If military reality and military objectives are defined in terms of the Taliban insurgency, then Afghanistan is every bit as lost now as it was two years ago – if not more so. But if they are defined in terms of al Qaeda, then the United States has good cause to claim victory and reorient its posture in Afghanistan. The U.S. war against transnational extremism is far from over. But the trepidation that the rest of the world feels as Washington slowly regains the ability to focus its attention elsewhere is a testament to the magnitude of the window of opportunity that other global powers have enjoyed, thanks to the American focus on geographically restricted wars against an elusive, transnational phenomenon.

23927  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Global bankruptcy on: June 24, 2011, 05:51:52 AM
A former Reagan administration official who worked on trade policy is warning that unless Congress can agree to a significant reduction in spending that the world may run out of money in 6-18 months. When that happens the economy could enter “a death spiral.”

“Based upon world liquidity, the amount of money available to fund sovereign debt in 2011 is between $6-9 trillion,” Marc Nuttle told Townhall Finance. Nuttle runs the site “The world’s government projections for deficit financing in 2011 is $8-10 trillion. We are bumping into the ceiling of the world’s ability to fund ongoing sovereign deficits and debt on an annual basis.”

The $2-6 trillion shortfall will have to come from other parts of the economy like small business loans, the stock market, commercial bonds and consumer spending.   

Unless something is done to reign in spending, Nuttle, an attorney from Oklahoma who served on Reagan’s Industrial Policy Advisory Committee, predicts that the financing of government debt will eat into the world’s ability to invest in public and private projects.

Money that would normally be available to capital markets would have to be switched just to finance interest rate increases. 

“Interest rates may well hit double digits,” he said, “forcing businesses to operate without adequate float for inventory, materials, facilities and production. Businesses will fail, jobs will be lost, salaries and wages will be reduced.” 

The Republican in charge of deficit negotiations reported this week that there has been no substantial progress with Democrats on cutting the spending of the federal government and has shutdown talks in frustration.

“Deficit-reduction talks led by Vice President Joe Biden have reached an ‘impasse,’ House of Representatives Majority Leader Eric Cantor said on Thursday,” according to Reuters, “adding that he will not participate in the meeting of the bipartisan group that had been scheduled for later in the day.”

An unnamed Senate Democrat aide said that both sides need to continue talking, but Reuters says “an aide to Senator Jon Kyl, a Republican member of the Biden group, declined to comment on whether the senator would attend Thursday's scheduled meeting.”

Nuttle says that in order to avert a short-term crisis the U.S. has to take the lead by cutting $500 billion in spending immediately.

“This will not completely solve the problem but it is an adequate step in the right direction,” Nuttle said. “This is the necessary amount that will alleviate pressure on the funding of 2012 world sovereign debt projections. It is still possible to develop a four-year plan to avert hitting the debt wall, but the plan requires immediate cuts in the deficit.”

A recent Rasmussen poll shows that Americans are concerned about the government’s ability to pay its debts. The survey released June 1st, “finds that 66% of American Adults are at least somewhat worried that the U.S. government will run out of money,” while “separate surveying has found that 50% of Likely U.S. Voters think it’s more likely that the government will go bankrupt and be unable to pay its debt before the federal budget is balanced.”

With the end of the Fed’s policy of quantitative easing, financing U.S. government debt is going to present a challenge almost immediately says Peter Schiff, president of Euro Pacific Capital.

“There’s no real private demand for Treasuries,” says Schiff, pointing out that central banks have been the main buyers. “No one buys them to hold them. They flip them, just like condos in Vegas.”

As a consequence either rates will have to go up to attract real buyers or the governments around the world will have to continue to subsidize U.S. debt, which will lead to a world “awash in inflation.”

Nuttle points out that under current artificially low rates, the interest on the U.S. debt is $187 billion. If interest rates were to go back to the historic norm of 4 percent, interest on the debt would come in at $600 billion. 

In fact, Schiff says the low interest rates are holding back the recovery.

“Rates are going to have to go up, if you want to put people back to work. You can make rates as low as you want, but it does no good. Because if banks can get compensated for the risk,” through higher rates, “they aren’t going to loan money.”

Rates will have to go up or the economy is going to have to change, Schiff says.

“Money will have to come from someplace to finance government debt. Consumer spending, stock market, someplace.”

Nuttle predicts that when that happens, “The economy will enter a death spiral of increasing business failures, fewer jobs, higher prices, higher taxes and stagnant growth. Liberals in government will use the ensuing economic crisis as a pretext for increasing the size and scope of government.”

If that’s what’s going to happen, it sounds kind of like we’re out of money already.

Because, really, we are.

23928  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Baraq and the Strategic Oil Reserve on: June 23, 2011, 11:28:48 PM
Yet another contemptible action by our Commander in Chief, who, for purely political and economically illiterate reasons is releasing 30 million barrels of oil from our Strategic Oil Reserve.    angry angry angry  By the way, an additional detail, not widely known:  The salt caverns in which the oil is stored, deteriorate somewhat every time oil is taken out and then replaced.

23929  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: KALI TUDO (tm) Article on: June 23, 2011, 11:24:51 PM
Keep us posted  smiley
23930  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: June 23, 2011, 11:12:07 PM
Prayers for those of us in pain of body, soul, and spirit.
23931  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Delta Airlines ready to be Sharia compliant? on: June 23, 2011, 07:24:39 PM
This is WND so read with care and search for confirmation:

23932  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mark Alexander: Opting out of enduring freedom on: June 23, 2011, 07:08:49 PM
Here's another POV:

Alexander's Essay – June 23, 2011

Opting Out of Enduring Freedom
Political Expediency vs. National Security

"t is a common observation here that our cause is the cause of all mankind, and that we are fighting for their liberty in defending our own." --Benjamin Franklin
In opposition to the advice of military and intelligence advisers -- but with the support of popular polls -- Barack Hussein Obama is moving ahead with his plan to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan beginning this July. In other words, though the drawdown does not comport with the best interests of U.S. national security, it does conform to his 2012 political campaign agenda.

Obama rolled out his worn rhetoric about Iraq being the wrong war, which distracted our nation from the right war, Afghanistan, which would seem to contradict his drawdown plans. As you recall, President George W. Bush launched Operation Enduring Freedom against al-Qa'ida and their Taliban hosts in Afghanistan on 7 October 2001, in response to the 9/11 attack on our nation. Operation Iraqi Freedom was not launched until 20 March 2003, after Saddam Hussein refused, repeatedly, to comply with UN Resolution 1441, giving him "a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations."

At the time, we had ongoing combat operations over Iraq enforcing the "no-fly zone," and arguably, "Desert Storm 2.0" was necessitated because we departed Iraq prematurely after the first Desert Storm in 1991.

Obama credited himself with having taken "decisive action" in late 2009 by ordering a troop surge of 30,000 to Afghanistan. History will note, however, that he dithered for several months before finally granting his military commanders a smaller surge force than the one they'd requested, and that he hamstrung our forces by announcing a date certain by which we'd begin to remove them.

Obama has committed to withdraw at least 33,000 of our 100,000 warfighters in the region by "next summer," just in time to mollify his anti-war base and re-energize them for the 2012 presidential election. That would be 30,000 more than his advisers requested, which might explain why he made no mention of General David Petraeus, Commander of the International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan.

In early May, besieged with the failure of his socialist economic policies, BHO received a short-lived bounce in the polls after announcing that he (read "U.S. Special Forces") killed Osama bin Laden, thanks to intelligence "extracted" from Jihadi insurgents captured in Iraq when George Bush was president.

As Obama's domestic policies continue to fail miserably, and his popular approval sinks to new lows, he hopes to get another pop-poll bounce with the announcement of the Afghan drawdown. He jibed, "America, it is time to focus on nation-building here at home," but just hours before, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke downgraded the outlook for the U.S. economic recovery, the direct result of Obama's "nation building here at home."

All political shenanigans aside, the question we should ask is what action in Afghanistan is in the best long-term interest of our national security? Is our nation-building strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan the right strategy, or will targeted hunt and kill operations suffice.

For the record, the primary national security objective of both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom were not, first and foremost, to eradicate dictators and establish democracy and free enterprise through extensive and expensive nation-building efforts. Our objective was to contain the nuclear threat posed by asymmetric elements in the region.

In plain words, our objective was (and should remain) to prevent the detonation by Jihadi terrorists of a nuclear device in one or more U.S. urban centers. If you think the cost of keeping the battle on their turf for the last 10 years has been expensive, try calculating the cost of recovery after a fissile weapon detonation in Boston or Baltimore, and the resulting economic consequence. Notably, the economic collapse of 2008 can be linked directly to the economic consequences of the 9/11 attack, (Marc:  This comment is seriously wide of the mark in my opinion) but those consequences were minor in comparison to the cost of a nuclear attack.

The nuclear deterrence objective depends on a coherent Long War strategy to combat Islamist adversaries in the region, and around the world, but Obama has now made clear his intent to short-circuit that objective for his political expedience.

Obama errantly believes that concessions will inspire our Jihadi foes in al-Qa'ida's broad and amorphous terrorist network to go home in peace. However, since he took office, casualties in Afghanistan have increased five-fold. If history repeats itself -- and it will -- Obama's foreign policy today will cost us dearly at some future date. Retreat from Afghanistan without a clear military victory will be seen by jihadists as a victory for al-Qa'ida and Islamo-Facists around the world. (Tellingly, he never once used the words "win" or "victory" last night when he announced his rationale for withdrawing our forces.)

Obama was a national security neophyte when he entered office, and he hasn't learned much since then. Rather than exhibit leadership, a personality characteristic that remains enigmatic to him, Obama is content to follow the polls.

Unquestionably, most Americans want to "bring the troops home." Of course we do. The 10-year campaign to contain Islamists in Afghanistan has cost our nation the lives of 1,522 of its Patriot warriors -- about half the number of Americans killed on 9/11 -- and more than 10,000 injured. But the consequences of a rapid drawdown will cost us far more lives in the future.

This is clear to military leaders stateside, and military commanders in Afghanistan.

Of Obama's foreign policy, departing SecDef Robert Gates said of his decision to resign, "I've spent my entire adult life with the United States as a superpower, and one that had no compunction about spending what it took to sustain that position. ... I can't imagine being part of a nation, part of a government ... that's being forced to dramatically scale back our engagement with the rest of the world." (Gates's successor, Leon Panetta, will be charged with dramatic military cuts as Obama continues to massively expand the size and role of the central government, creating a "debt bomb," perhaps more perilous to our national security than the Jihadi threat.)

According to my sources, Gen. Petraeus has warned Obama that his proposed drawdown is too much, too soon, and that the current level of U.S. military personnel is needed for at least another year to turn the tide. U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. John Toolan, Regional Command Southwest, has expressed similar concerns, as has Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, commander of NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan.

However, it is the Army and Marine commanders on the frontlines in Afghanistan whose opinion we give greatest weight, because their perspective is unfettered by political agendas.

Having contacted five commanders at the O-5 to O-6 ranks on the ground in Afghanistan, I can present the following composite of the perspectives they shared with me: If we leave on Obama's political timeframe, not only will Afghanistan return to the breeding ground for terrorists as it was prior to 2003, but Islamists are likely to overtake Pakistan, a nuclear power on the precipice of chaos. In addition to redoubling their campaign against Israel and Western targets, they may also set their sights on India, another nuclear power, and the scene fades to dark after that. The rhetoric about timelines and drawdowns is counterproductive, because what our allied Afghans and Pakistanis hear is that America is abandoning them. That belief only serves to embolden the Taliban, al-Qa'ida and other Islamo-Fascists in the region, including those in Iran. Region-wide, Obama's policies portray us as uncommitted and untrustworthy, which further demoralizes the moderates we seek to empower. In short, this is a war against a formidable adversary that we must continue to prosecute if our ultimate objective -- keeping the battlefront on their turf rather than ours -- is to be maintained.

In summation, one Marine officer put it this way: "When I hear Obama say 'the American people want me to end this war and I am responding with an exit plan,' that's the antithesis of leadership. President Bush, against the popular will, surged forces here, and that was the right policy and required leadership."

The death of OBL gave BHO a temporary boost in the polls. Using that as a catalyst to draw down our forces in Afghanistan he might enjoy another temporary boost. But the bottom line that gets lost in this debate is the potential that Islamist terrorists will one day detonate a nuke on U.S. soil.

Graham Allison, Director of Harvard's Center for Science and International Affairs, and a leading analyst of U.S. national security and defense policy pertaining to nuclear weapons and terrorism, grimly notes in regard to a nuclear attack on the U.S., "I think that we should be very thankful that it hasn't happened already. ... We're living on borrowed time."

Unfortunately, while we currently control the clock, we're about to pass it back to the bad guys through Barack Obama's malfeasance.

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!

Mark Alexander
Publisher, The Patriot Post
23933  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar, & Gold/Silver on: June 23, 2011, 04:45:33 PM
Agreed.  My only intended point is to not be fooled if the the predicted consequences of ending QE2 do not appear immediatly.
23934  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / STratfor: Baraq's withdrawal on: June 23, 2011, 04:43:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama announced June 22 his plan to withdraw the “surge” troops deployed to Afghanistan in 2009. Five thousand will come out this summer, another 5,000 before the end of the year, and a total of 33,000 by next summer. While there has been some discussion about what exactly the military wanted and what his advisers wanted, this is not inconsistent with the timetable that was to be expected under the counterinsurgency-focused strategy that Gen. David Petraeus had been overseeing as commander of all forces in Afghanistan. While there’s been some rhetorical maneuvering, America’s allies are more than happy to be leaving sooner rather than later.

There has been no indication so far that there’s going to be a rapid shift in strategy or operations on the ground and with the limited initial reductions there are not necessarily going to be any major operational or tactical shifts. While President Barack Obama has been defining the war in Afghanistan since before his presidency in terms of al Qaeda, the 30,000 troops he sent to the country in 2009 joined nearly 70,000 U.S. troops already in place waging a protracted counterinsurgency not against al Qaeda but against the Taliban and the ongoing insurgency being waged by the Taliban remains as unsettled as it was two years ago. So while the United States is preparing the political ground for a drawdown and the idea of the war being won against al Qaeda, it still remains to be seen how the United States wants to pull back in the midst of insurgency that remains unsettled.

But while the war in Taliban remains unsettled, America’s allies are more than happy to be making withdrawal from the country. For the most part, these countries are primarily there at America’s allies and because of the importance of their alliance with the United States, not because of any deep-seated interest in what happens in Afghanistan specifically, especially as the al Qaeda phenomenon that is a transnational threat to more than just United States has really dispersed and devolved around the world. For the Europeans in particular there is a great deal of focus on the campaign in Libya, which isn’t going perfectly well which is also becoming more and more expensive, there is a focus on fiscal austerity and looming budget cuts including defense cuts, and so the expense of Afghanistan not just in terms of blood but treasure is on European minds in particular. But for allies in the region like Pakistan, the real question is what happens when United States is gone.

There will continue to be some sort of training, advising and probably special operations presence perhaps well beyond 2014, but the way the war has been fought for 10 years, particularly the last several years where there’s a large foreign force both attracting the attention of Taliban, absorbing the Taliban and continued the pressure upon them, that force goes away and however capable the Afghan forces are, they are not to be capable at the same degree in the same way. So there’s an enormous question for everywhere from Islamabad to Moscow about what sort of shape Afghanistan is left in as the U.S. and its allies pull back. The United States can go home, most of its allies can go home, but Pakistan cannot leave the Afghan border and so what happens there will be of essential importance for the countries that have to continue to live with whatever is left behind Afghanistan.

23935  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy, Big Brother (State and Corporate) & the 4th Amendment on: June 23, 2011, 09:25:31 AM
Please use the Subject line to facilitate finding this in the future and please provide a statement of why you are posting this.
23936  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton: Natural Right 1775 on: June 23, 2011, 09:22:24 AM
"The fundamental source of all your errors, sophisms and false reasonings is a total ignorance of the natural rights of mankind. Were you once to become acquainted with these, you could never entertain a thought, that all men are not, by nature, entitled to a parity of privileges. You would be convinced, that natural liberty is a gift of the beneficent Creator to the whole human race, and that civil liberty is founded in that; and cannot be wrested from any people, without the most manifest violation of justice." --Alexander Hamilton, The Farmer Refuted, 1775
23937  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor on Baraq's Plan and the Realities of Withdrawal on: June 23, 2011, 09:20:53 AM
By Nathan Hughes

U.S. President Barack Obama announced June 22 that the long process of drawing down forces in Afghanistan would begin on schedule in July. Though the  initial phase of the drawdown appears limited, minimizing the tactical and operational impact on the ground in the immediate future, the United States and its allies are now beginning the inevitable process of removing their forces from Afghanistan. This will entail the risk of greater Taliban battlefield successes.

The Logistical Challenge

Afghanistan, a landlocked country in the heart of Central Asia, is one of the most isolated places on Earth. This isolation has posed huge logistical challenges for the United States. Hundreds of shipping containers and fuel trucks must enter the country every day from Pakistan and from the north to sustain the nearly 150,000 U.S. and allied forces stationed in Afghanistan, about half the total number of Afghan security forces. Supplying a single gallon of gasoline in Afghanistan reportedly costs the U.S. military an average of $400, while sustaining a single U.S. soldier runs around $1 million a year (by contrast, sustaining an Afghan soldier costs about $12,000 a year).

These forces appear considerably lighter than those in Iraq because Afghanistan’s rough terrain often demands dismounted foot patrols. Heavy main battle tanks and self-propelled howitzers are thus few and far between, though not entirely absent. Afghanistan even required a new, lighter and more agile version of the hulking mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle known as the M-ATV (for “all-terrain vehicle”).

Based solely on the activity on the ground in Afghanistan today, one would think the United States and its allies were preparing for a permanent presence, not the imminent beginning of a long-scheduled drawdown (a perception the United States and its allies have in some cases used to their advantage to reach political arrangements with locals). An 11,500-foot all-weather concrete and asphalt runway and an air traffic control tower were completed this February at Camp Leatherneck and Camp Bastion in Helmand province. Another more than 9,000-foot runway was finished at Shindand Air Field in Herat province last December.

(click here to enlarge image)
Meanwhile, a so-called iron mountain of spare parts needed to maintain vehicles and aircraft, construction and engineering equipment, generators, ammunition and other supplies — even innumerable pallets of bottled water — has slowly been built up to sustain day-to-day military operations. There are fewer troops in Afghanistan than the nearly 170,000 in Iraq at the peak of operations and considerably lighter tonnage in terms of armored vehicles. But short of a hasty and rapid withdrawal reminiscent of the chaotic American exit from Saigon in 1975 (which no one currently foresees in Afghanistan), the logistical challenge of withdrawing from Afghanistan — at whatever pace — is perhaps even more daunting than the drawdown in Iraq. The complexity of having nearly 50 allies with troops in country will complicate this process.

Moreover, coalition forces in Iraq had ready access to well-established bases and modern port facilities in nearby Kuwait and in Turkey, a long-standing NATO ally. Though U.S. and allied equipment comes ashore on a routine basis in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, the facilities there are nothing like what exists in Kuwait. Routes to bases in Afghanistan are anything but short and established, with locally contracted fuel tankers and other supplies not only traveling far greater distances but also regularly subject to harassing attacks. They are inherently vulnerable to aggressive interdiction by militants fighting on terrain far more favorable to them, and to politically motivated interruptions by Islamabad. The American logistical dependence on Pakistani acquiescence cannot be understated. Most supplies transit the isolated Khyber Pass in the restive Pakistani Federally Administered Tribal Areas west of Islamabad. As in Iraq, the United States does have an alternative to the north. But instead of Turkey it is the Northern Distribution Network (NDN), which runs through Central Asia and Russia (Moscow has agreed to continue to expand it) and entails a 3,200-mile rail route to the Baltic Sea and ports in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

(click here to enlarge image)
Given the extraordinary distances involved, the metrics for defining whether something is worth the expense of shipping back from Afghanistan are unforgiving. Some equipment will be deemed too heavily damaged or cheap and will be sanitized if necessary and discarded. Much construction and fortification has been done with engineering and construction equipment like Hesco barriers (which are filled with sand and dirt) that will not be reclaimed, and will continue to characterize the landscape in Afghanistan for decades to come, much as the Soviet influence was perceivable long after their 1989 withdrawal. Much equipment will be handed over to Afghan security forces, which already have begun to receive up-armored U.S. HMMWVs, aka “humvees.” Similarly, some 800,000 items valued at nearly $100 million have already been handed over to more than a dozen Iraqi military, security and government entities.

Other gear will have to be stripped of sensitive equipment (radios and other cryptographic gear, navigation equipment, jammers for improvised explosive devices, etc.), which is usually flown out of the country due to security concerns before being shipped overland. And while some Iraqi stocks were designated for redeployment to Afghanistan or prepared for long-term storage in pre-positioned equipment depots and aboard maritime pre-positioning ships at facilities in Kuwait, most vehicles and supplies slated to be moved out of Afghanistan increasingly will have to be shipped far afield. This could be from Karachi by ship or to Europe by rail even if they are never intended for return to the United States.

Security Transition

More important than the fate of armored trucks and equipment will be the process of rebalancing forces across the country. This will involve handing over outposts and facilities to Afghan security forces, who continue to struggle to reach full capability, and scaling back the extent of the U.S. and allied presence in the country. In Iraq, and likely in Afghanistan, the beginning of this process will be slow and measured. But its pace in the years ahead remains to be seen, and may accelerate considerably.

(click here to enlarge image)
The first areas slated for handover to Afghan control, the provinces of Panjshir, Bamiyan and Kabul — aside the restive Surobi district, though the rest of Kabul’s security effectively has been in Afghan hands for years — and the cities of Mazar-e-Sharif, Herat, Lashkar Gah and Mehtar Lam have been relatively quiet places for some time. Afghan security forces increasingly have taken over in these areas. As in Iraq, the first places to be turned over to indigenous security forces already were fairly secure. Handing over more restive areas later in the year will prove trickier.

This process of pulling back and handing over responsibility for security (in Iraq often termed having Iraqi security forces “in the lead” in specific areas) is a slow and deliberate one, not a sudden and jarring maneuver. Well before the formal announcement, Afghan forces began to transition to a more independent role, conducting more small-unit operations on their own. International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops slowly have transitioned from joint patrols and tactical overwatch to a more operational overwatch, but have remained nearby even after transitions formally have taken place.

Under the current training regime, Afghan units continue to require advice and assistance, particularly with matters like intelligence, planning, logistics and maintenance. The ISAF will be cautious in its reductions for fear of pulling back too quickly and seeing the situation deteriorate — unless, of course, Obama directs it to conduct a hastier pullback.

As in Afghanistan, in Iraq the process of drawing down and handing over responsibility in each area was done very cautiously. There was a critical distinction, however. A political accommodation with the Sunnis facilitated the apparent success of the Iraqi surge — something that has not been (and cannot be) replicated in Afghanistan. Even with that advantage, Iraq remains in an unsettled and contentious state. The lack of any political framework to facilitate a military pullback leaves the prospect of a viable transition in restive areas where the U.S. counterinsurgency-focused strategy has been focused tenuous at best — particularly if timetables are accelerated.

In June 2009, U.S. forces in Iraq occupied 357 bases. A year later, U.S. forces occupied only 92 bases, 58 of which were partnered with the Iraqis. The pace of the transition in Afghanistan remains to be seen, but handing over the majority of positions to Afghan forces will fundamentally alter the situational awareness, visibility and influence of ISAF forces.

Casualties and Force Protection

The security of the remaining outposts and ensuring the security of U.S. and allied forces and critical lines of supply (particularly key sections of the Ring Road) that sustain remaining forces will be key to crafting the withdrawal and pulling back to fewer, stronger and more secure positions. As that drawdown progresses — and particularly if a more substantive shift in strategy is implemented — the increased pace begins to bring new incentives into play. Of particular note will be both a military and political incentive to reduce casualties as the endgame draws closer.

The desire to accelerate the consolidation to more secure positions will clash with the need to pull back slowly and continue to provide Afghan forces with advice and assistance. The reorientation may expose potential vulnerabilities to Taliban attack in the process of transitioning to a new posture. Major reversals and defeats for Afghan security forces at the hands of the Taliban after they have been left to their own devices can be expected in at least some areas and will have wide repercussions, perhaps even shifting the psychology and perception of the war.

When ISAF units are paired closely with Afghan forces, those units have a stronger day-to-day tactical presence in the field, and other units are generally operating nearby. So while they are more vulnerable and exposed to threats like IEDs while out on patrol, they also — indeed, in part because of that exposure — have a more alert and robust posture. As the transition accelerates and particularly if Washington accelerates it, the posture and therefore the vulnerabilities of forces change.

Force protection remains a key consideration throughout. The United States gained considerable experience with that during the Iraq transition — though again, a political accommodation underlay much of that transition, which will not be the case in Afghanistan.

As the drawdown continues, ISAF will have to balance having advisers in the field alongside Afghan units for as long as possible against pulling more back to key strongholds and pulling them out of the country completely. In the former case, the close presence of advisers can improve the effectiveness of Afghan security forces and provide better situational awareness. But it also exposes smaller units to operations more distant from strongholds as the number of outposts and major positions begins to be reduced. And as the process of pulling back accelerates and particularly as allied forces increasingly hunker down on larger and more secure outposts, their already limited situational awareness will decline even further, which opens up its own vulnerabilities.

One of these will be the impact on not just situational awareness on the ground but intelligence collection and particularly exploitable relationships with local political factions. As the withdrawal becomes more and more undeniable and ISAF pulls back from key areas, the human relationships that underlie intelligence sharing will be affected and reduced. This is particularly the case in places where the Taliban are strongest, as villagers there return to a strategy of hedging their bets out of necessity and focus on the more enduring power structure, which in many areas will clearly be the Taliban.

The Taliban

Ultimately, the Taliban’s incentive vis-a-vis the United States and its allies — especially as their exit becomes increasingly undeniable — is to conserve and maximize their strength for a potential fight in the vacuum sure to ensue after the majority of foreign troops have left the country. At the same time, any “revolutionary” movement must be able to consolidate internal control and maintain discipline while continuing to make itself relevant to domestic constituencies. The Taliban also may seek to take advantage of the shifting tactical realities to demonstrate their strength and the extent of their reach across the country, not only by targeting newly independent and newly isolated Afghan units but by attempting to kill or even kidnap now-more isolated foreign troops.

Though this year the Taliban have demonstrated their ability to strike almost anywhere in the country, they so far have failed to demonstrate the ability to penetrate the perimeter of large, secured facilities with a sizable assault force or to bring crew-served weapons to bear in an effective supporting manner. Given the intensity and tempo of special operations forces raids on Taliban leadership and weapons caches, it is unclear whether the Taliban have managed to retain a significant cache of heavier arms and the capability to wield them.

The inherent danger of compromise and penetration of indigenous security forces also continues to loom large. The vulnerabilities of ISAF forces will grow and change while they begin to shift as mission and posture evolve — and those vulnerabilities will be particularly pronounced in places where the posture and presence remains residual and a legacy of a previous strategy instead of more fundamental rebalancing. The shift from a dispersed, counterinsurgency-focused orientation to a more limited and more secure presence will ultimately provide the space to reduce casualties, but it will necessarily entail more limited visibility and influence. And the transition will create space for potentially more significant Taliban successes on the battlefield.

23938  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar, & Gold/Silver on: June 23, 2011, 01:51:11 AM
Worth noting at this moment is the situation with Greece and the Euro, leading to a flight to safety.  This may (temporarily?) offset the points you make , , ,
23939  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / El Chango on: June 22, 2011, 09:06:15 PM
Vice President of Tactical Intelligence Scott Stewart looks at the implications of the arrest of drug cartel leader Jose de Jesus Mendez Vargas or “El Chango.”

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

In today’s Dispatch we’re going to be looking at the arrests yesterday in Aguascalientes State, of Jose de Jesus Mendez Vargas, “El Chango” (the monkey), the leader of one of the factions of the La Familia Michoacana cartel.

To understand what the arrest of El Chango means, we have to really go back and look at the flow, or really the context, of what has been happening with the Mexican cartels over the last year. A year ago this time, the La Familia or, as we call them, “LFM,” (La Familia Michoacana), the LFM cartel was an up-and-coming cartel, it was rising in power and prominence, and it had banded together with two other powerful cartel groups, the Sinaloa Federation and the Gulf Cartel, to assist them in their battle against the Zetas and their allies.

Now one of the things that we’ve seen happen over the years with the Mexican cartels is that when any one figure — especially in the Sinaloa Federation — gets too powerful, they have a tendency to run into accidents, and that’s what we saw happen last July. There was a gentleman by the name of Ignacio Coronel Villarreal, “El Nacho.” Ignacio Coronel had an issue with the authorities, was taken out, and this created a vacuum in Jalisco and Guadalajara. Now at this time what happened is we had the LFM cartel saw that vacuum of power that was started by the removal of Ignacio Coronel, and they decided to move in and try to assume control of Jalisco and Guadalajara. This then initiated a war between the Sinaloa Federation and the LFM for control of this very lucrative place. As LFM began fighting with Sinaloa, we saw Sinaloa Federation becoming really dominant and getting the upper hand in that fight, and that struggle culminated in the death, late last year, of the leader of the LFM, a guy by the name of Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, “El Mas Loco,” (the craziest one).

Following the death of El Mas Loco, what we saw happen was that it devolved into two different organizations that were basically coalescing around different powerful leaders — lieutenants of El Mas Loco. The first of these lieutenants was Jose Mendez Vargas, “El Chango.” The second one was Servando Gomez, “La Tuta,” (the teacher). La Tuta’s faction began using the name the Knights Templar. The other organization — the faction that formed around El Chango — kept using the name La Familia. So over the last few months, as these organizations have formed up, we’ve seen them locked in a very bloody battle for control of Michoacan. So over the next weeks and months we’re going to be watching for indications of which way this is going to be going: whether or not this LFM faction will be able to stay united, whether they’ll be able to be able to fend off the offensive of the Knights Templar, and whether or not they could become more closely allied with Los Zetas.

Click for more videos

23940  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / El Chango on: June 22, 2011, 09:05:30 PM

Vice President of Tactical Intelligence Scott Stewart looks at the implications of the arrest of drug cartel leader Jose de Jesus Mendez Vargas or “El Chango.”

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

In today’s Dispatch we’re going to be looking at the arrests yesterday in Aguascalientes State, of Jose de Jesus Mendez Vargas, “El Chango” (the monkey), the leader of one of the factions of the La Familia Michoacana cartel.

To understand what the arrest of El Chango means, we have to really go back and look at the flow, or really the context, of what has been happening with the Mexican cartels over the last year. A year ago this time, the La Familia or, as we call them, “LFM,” (La Familia Michoacana), the LFM cartel was an up-and-coming cartel, it was rising in power and prominence, and it had banded together with two other powerful cartel groups, the Sinaloa Federation and the Gulf Cartel, to assist them in their battle against the Zetas and their allies.

Now one of the things that we’ve seen happen over the years with the Mexican cartels is that when any one figure — especially in the Sinaloa Federation — gets too powerful, they have a tendency to run into accidents, and that’s what we saw happen last July. There was a gentleman by the name of Ignacio Coronel Villarreal, “El Nacho.” Ignacio Coronel had an issue with the authorities, was taken out, and this created a vacuum in Jalisco and Guadalajara. Now at this time what happened is we had the LFM cartel saw that vacuum of power that was started by the removal of Ignacio Coronel, and they decided to move in and try to assume control of Jalisco and Guadalajara. This then initiated a war between the Sinaloa Federation and the LFM for control of this very lucrative place. As LFM began fighting with Sinaloa, we saw Sinaloa Federation becoming really dominant and getting the upper hand in that fight, and that struggle culminated in the death, late last year, of the leader of the LFM, a guy by the name of Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, “El Mas Loco,” (the craziest one).

Following the death of El Mas Loco, what we saw happen was that it devolved into two different organizations that were basically coalescing around different powerful leaders — lieutenants of El Mas Loco. The first of these lieutenants was Jose Mendez Vargas, “El Chango.” The second one was Servando Gomez, “La Tuta,” (the teacher). La Tuta’s faction began using the name the Knights Templar. The other organization — the faction that formed around El Chango — kept using the name La Familia. So over the last few months, as these organizations have formed up, we’ve seen them locked in a very bloody battle for control of Michoacan. So over the next weeks and months we’re going to be watching for indications of which way this is going to be going: whether or not this LFM faction will be able to stay united, whether they’ll be able to be able to fend off the offensive of the Knights Templar, and whether or not they could become more closely allied with Los Zetas.

Click for more videos

23941  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fed QE2 to end as planned on: June 22, 2011, 12:32:02 PM

Fed to End Stimulus Measures as Planned

The nation’s central bank said Wednesday that it would complete the planned purchase of $600 billion in Treasury securities  next week as scheduled, and then suspend its three-year-old economic rescue campaign, leaving in place the aid it already is providing but doing nothing more, for now, to boost growth.

“The economic recovery is continuing at a moderate pace, though somewhat more slowly than the committee had expected,” the Fed said in a statement. “The committee expects the pace of recovery to pick up over coming quarters and the unemployment rate to resume its gradual decline.”

The Fed’s policy board, the Federal Open Market Committee, voted unanimously to maintain its two-year-old commitment to hold a benchmark interest rate near zero “for an extended period.”

Read More:
23942  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rural Councils on: June 22, 2011, 12:27:09 PM
Also posted on the UN thread:
23943  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US-UN Rural Council on: June 22, 2011, 12:26:20 PM
Will also post this on the Liberal Fascism thread
23944  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Medvedev on: June 22, 2011, 11:15:30 AM

International Obama fan club: "I would like Barack Obama to be re-elected president of the United States maybe more than someone else. If another person becomes U.S. president, then he may have another course. We understand that there are representatives of a rather conservative wing there who are trying to achieve their political goals at the expense of inflaming passions in relation to Russia, among other things. But what use is criticizing them? This is simply a way of achieving political goals." --Russian President Dmitry Medvedev

23945  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Weiner's wife Huma Abedin and brother in law Hassan on: June 22, 2011, 11:10:04 AM
This came to me from the Patriot Post, which I regard as reliable.  I have no idea who the columnist in question is, but this sure sounds like a matter for our GM's best google fu skills!

"Far more disturbing than the salacious details of [Anthony] Weiner's dalliances is the fact that apparently his mother-in-law is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Furthermore, [his wife] Huma Abedin's brother, Hassan, 'is listed as a fellow and partner with a number of Muslim Brotherhood members.' Hassan works at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (OCIS) at Oxford University. The Egyptian Al-Azhar University, well-known for a curriculum that encourages extremism and terrorism, is active in establishing links with OCIS. ... Is the Weiner scandal really covering up a far more disturbing scenario whereby jihadists continue to infiltrate and influence American universities, military installations, homeland security, even local police forces, all while the press ignores the steady encroachment of these radicals who seek to overturn and destroy America?" --columnist Eileen F. Toplansky

23946  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patrick Henry and an IBD editorial on: June 22, 2011, 11:03:28 AM
Now there's a shocking development!  rolleyes angry


"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined." --Patrick Henry

Editorial Exegesis
"Acting ATF director Kenneth Melson is apparently ready to take the fall for what may be the most morally repulsive scandal to befall the Obama administration so far. Our neighbor Mexico lies bleeding from a long, vicious war to fight seven major drug cartels at once. Some 38,000 have been left dead since 2006. Amid all this, U.S. ATF agents had orders from on high to supply U.S. weapons to cartel middlemen buying them on U.S. soil for the odd purpose of 'tracing' them. The news that Melson is resigning seems to be a bid by the Obama administration to paint this as simply an example of Keystone Kop-style bungling being corrected. But many things suggest the operation may have been done for political purposes, and not merely stupidity. The idea behind 'Operation Fast and Furious' was to let gun dealers sell weapons to cartel middlemen, who would then ship them to criminal gangs in Mexico, and damn the consequences. ... There was no effort to trace the weapons even after letting them get out. If the weapons weren't traced, why was this operation sanctioned? ... [Barack Obama ... wanted to reinstate an assault-weapon ban in 2008, but said he did not have the political capital to do it. Bob Owens, writing for Pajamas Media, noted that the administration seemed to want to whip up a crisis requiring a crackdown on guns in the U.S. It gets worse. President Obama has long wanted gun-control-oriented ATF agent Andrew Traver to head the agency. Now, with Melson rumored to be ready to quit this week, he may get his way and benefit. There are real questions that must be answered about who knew about this, and when. An American lies murdered for what may be political aims. He has a right to justice -- as high up as it goes." --Investor's Business Daily

23947  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gingrich: Audit the Fed on: June 22, 2011, 10:07:27 AM
In a speech this morning in Atlanta, I called for the repeal of the Dodd-Frank legislation and dramatic reforms in the operation of the Federal Reserve, starting with a full-scale audit of its activities.  

During the 2008 financial crisis, the Federal Reserve made thousands of loans to banks and other large institutions for reasons that aren’t entirely clear. These loans totaled at least three trillion dollars and exposed the American taxpayer to potentially enormous financial liability for losses.

Because such decisions of the Federal Reserve affect the value and stability of the dollar, and therefore the life and livelihood of every American, we have every right to ask - who got the money?

If you agree, please take a moment to watch our video laying out our "Who Got the Money?" proposal
and sign our petition in support of a full-scale audit of the Federal Reserve.

23948  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Two Visions of Europe on: June 22, 2011, 09:59:28 AM


There has been a fight between the advocates of two different ideals from the beginning of the European Union. Which stance it should adopt: the classical liberal vision, or the socialist vision of Europe? The introduction of the Euro has played a key role in the strategies of these two visions. In order to understand the tragedy of the Euro and its history, it is important to be familiar with these two diverging, and underlying visions and tensions that have come to the fore in the face of a single currency


The founding fathers of the EU, Schuman (France [born in Luxembourg]), Adenauer (Germany), and Alcide de Gasperi (Italy), all German speaking Catholics, were followers of the classical liberal vision of Europe. They were also Christian democrats. The classical liberal vision regards individual liberty as the most important cultural value of Europeans and Christianity. In this vision sovereign European states defend private property rights and a free market economy in a Europe of open borders, thus enabling the free exchange of goods, services and ideas.

The Treaty of Rome in 1957 was the main achievement toward the classical liberal vision for Europe. The Treaty delivered four basic liberties: free circulation of goods, free offering of services, free movement of financial capital, and free migration. The Treaty restored rights that had been essential for Europe during the classical liberal period in the nineteenth century, but had been abandoned in the age of nationalism and socialism. The Treaty was a turning away from the age of socialism that had led to conflicts between European nations, culminating in two world wars.

The classical liberal vision aims at a restoration of nineteenth century freedoms. Free competition without entry barriers should prevail in a common European market. In this vision, no one could prohibit a German hairdresser from cutting hair in Spain, and no one could tax an English man for transferring money from a German to a French bank, or for investing in the Italian stock market. No one could prevent, through regulations, a French brewer from selling beer in Germany. No government could give subsidies distorting competition. No one could prevent a Dane from running away from his welfare state and extreme high tax rates, and migrating to a state with a lower tax burden, such as Ireland.

In order to accomplish this ideal of peaceful cooperation and flourishing exchanges, nothing more than freedom would be necessary. In this vision there would be no need to create a European superstate. In fact, the classical liberal vision is highly skeptical of a central European state; it is considered detrimental to individual liberty. Philosophically speaking, many defenders of this vision are inspired by Catholicism, and borders of the European community are defined by Christianity. In line with Catholic social teaching, a principle of subsidiarity should prevail: problems should be solved at the lowest and least concentrated level possible. The only centralized European institution acceptable would be a European Court of Justice, its activities restricted to supervising conflicts between member states, and guaranteeing the four basic liberties.

From the classical liberal point of view, there should be many competing political systems, as has been the case in Europe for centuries. In the Middle Ages, and until the nineteenth century, there existed very different political systems, such as independent cities of Flanders, Germany and Northern Italy. There were Kingdoms such as Bavaria or Saxony, and there were Republics such as Venice. Political diversity was demonstrated most clearly in the strongly decentralized Germany. Under a culture of diversity and pluralism, science and industry flourished.

Competition on all levels is essential to the classical liberal vision. It leads to coherence, as product standards, factor prices, and especially wage rates tend to converge. Capital moves where wages are low, bidding them up; workers, on the other hand move where wage rates are high, bidding them down. Markets offer decentralized solutions for environmental problems based on private property. Political competition ensures the most important European value: liberty.Tax competition fosters lower tax rates and fiscal responsibility. People vote by foot, evading excessive tax rates, as do companies. Different national tax sovereignties are seen as the best protection against tyranny.Competition also prevails in the field of money. Different monetary authorities compete in offering currencies of high quality. Authorities offering more stable currencies exert pressure on other authorities to follow suit.


In direct opposition to the classical liberal vision is the socialist or Empire vision of Europe, defended by politicians such as Jacques Delors or François Mitterand. A coalition of statist interests of the nationalist, socialist, and conservative ilk does what it can do to advance its agenda. It wants to see the European Union as an empire or a fortress: protectionist to the outside and interventionist on the inside. These statists dream of a centralized state with efficient technocrats—as the ruling technocrat statists imagine themselves to be—managing it.

In this ideal, the center of the Empire would rule over the periphery. There would be common and centralized legislation. The defenders of the socialist vision of Europe want to erect a European mega state reproducing the nation states on the European level. They want a European welfare state that would provide for redistribution, regulation, and harmonization of legislation within Europe. The harmonization of taxes and social regulations would be carried out at the highest level. If the VAT is between fifteen and twenty-five percent in the European Union, socialists would harmonize it to twenty-five percent in all countries. Such harmonization of social regulation is in the interest of the most protected, the richest and the most productive workers, who can “afford” such regulation—while their peers cannot. If German social regulations were applied to the Poles, for instance, the latter would have problems competing with the former.

The agenda of the socialist vision is to grant ever more power to the central state, i.e., to Brussels. The socialist vision for Europe is the ideal of the political class, the bureaucrats, the interest groups, the privileged, and the subsidized sectors who want to create a powerful central state for their own enrichment. Adherents to this view present a European state as a necessity, and consider it only a question of time.

Along the socialist path, the European central state would one day become so powerful that the sovereign states would become subservient to them. (We can already see first indicators of such subservience in the case of Greece. Greece behaves like a protectorate of Brussels, who tells its government how to handle its deficit.)

The socialist vision provides no obvious geographical limits for the European state—in contrast to the Catholic-inspired classical liberal vision. Political competition is seen as an obstacle to the central state, which removes itself from public control. In this sense the central state in the socialist vision becomes less and less democratic as power is shifted to bureaucrats and technocrats. (An example is provided by the European Commission, the executive body of the European Union. The Commissioners are not elected but appointed by the member state governments.)

Historically, precedents for this old socialist plan of founding a controlling central state in Europe were established by Charlemagne, Napoleon, Stalin and Hitler. The difference is, however, that this time no direct military means would be necessary. But state power coercion is used in the push for a central European state.

From a tactical perspective, crisis situations in particular would be used by the adherents of the socialist vision to create new institutions (such as the European Central Bank (ECB) or possibly, in the future, a European Ministry of Finance), as well as to extend the powers of existing institutions such as the European Commission or the ECB.

The classical liberal and the socialist visions of Europe are, consequently, irreconcilable. In fact, the increase in power of a central state as proposed by the socialist vision implies a reduction of the four basic liberties, and most certainly less individual liberty.


The two visions have been struggling with each other since the 1950s. In the beginning, the design for the European Communities adhered more closely to the classical liberal vision.6 The European Community consisted of sovereign states and guaranteed the four basic liberties. From the point of view of the classical liberals, a main birth defect of the community was the subsidy and intervention in agricultural policy. Also, by construction, the only legislative initiative belongs to the European Commission. Once the Commission has made a proposal for legislation, the Council of the European Union alone, or together with the European Parliament, may approve the proposal.7 This setup contains the seed of centralization.

Consequently, the institutional setup, from the very beginning, was designed to accommodate centralization and dictatorship over minority opinions, as unanimity is not required for all decisions and the areas where unanimity rule is required have been reduced over the years.

The classical liberal model is defended traditionally by Christian democrats and states such as the Netherlands, Germany, and also Great Britain. But social democrats and socialists, usually led by the French government, defend the Empire version of Europe. In fact, in light of its rapid fall in 1940, the years of Nazi occupation, its failures in Indochina, and the loss of its African colonies, the French ruling class used the European Community to regain its influence and pride, and to compensate for the loss of its empire.

Over the years there has been a slow tendency toward the socialist ideal—with increasing budgets for the EU and a new regional policy that effectively redistributes wealth across Europe.10 Countless regulations and harmonization have pushed in that direction as well.

The classical liberal vision of sovereign and independent states did appear to be given new strength by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany. First, Germany, having traditionally defended this vision, became stronger due to the reunification. Second, the new states emerging from the ashes of communism, such as Czechoslovakia (Václav Klaus), Poland, Hungary, etc., also supported the classical liberal vision for Europe. These new states wanted to enjoy their new, recently won liberty. They had had enough of socialism, Empires, and centralization.

The influence of the French government was now reduced.11 The socialist camp saw its defeat coming. A fast enlargement of the EU incorporating the new states in the East had to be prevented. A step forward toward a central state had to be taken. The single currency was to be the vehicle to achieve this aim.12 According to the German newspapers, the French government feared that Germany, after its reunification, would create “a DM dominated free trade area from Brest to Brest-Litowsk”.13 European (French) socialists needed power over the monetary unit urgently.

As Charles Gave14 argued on the events following the fall of the Berlin Wall:

For the proponents of the “Roman Empire” [socialist vision], the European State had to be organized immediately, whatever the risks, and become inevitable. Otherwise, the proponents of “Christian Europe” [classical liberal vision] would win by default and history would likely never reverse its course. The collapse of the Soviet Union was the crisis which gave the opportunity, and drive, to the Roman Empire to push through an overly ambitious program. The scale had been tipped and the “Roman Empire” needed to tip it the other way; and the creation of the Euro, more than anything, came to symbolize the push by the Roman camp towards a centralized super-structure.

The official line of argument for the defenders of a single fiat currency was that the Euro would lower transactions costs—facilitating trade, tourism and growth in Europe. More implicitly, however, the single currency was seen as a first step toward the creation of a European state. It was assumed that the Euro would create pressure to introduce this state.

The real reason the German government, traditionally opposed to the socialist vision, finally accepted the Euro, had to do with German reunification. The deal was as follows: France builds its European empire and Germany gets its reunification.15 It was maintained that Germany would otherwise become too powerful and its sharpest weapon, the Deutschmark, had to be taken away—in other words, disarmament.

The next step in the plan of the socialist camp was the draft of a European constitution (by French ex-President Valery Giscard d’Estaing Ginard), establishing a central state. But the constitution project failed utterly; it was voted down by voters in France and the Netherlands in 2005. As is often the case, Germans had not even been asked. They had not been asked on the question of the Euro either. But politicians usually do not give up until they get what they want. In this case they just renamed the constitution; and it no longer required a popular vote in many countries.

As a consequence, the Lisbon Treaty was passed in December 2007. The Treaty is full of words like pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance and solidarity, all of which can be interpreted as calls to infringe upon private property rights and the freedom of contract. In Article Three, the European Union pledges to fight social exclusion and discrimination, thereby opening the doors to interventionists. God is not mentioned once in the Lisbon Treaty.

In actuality, the Lisbon Treaty constitutes a defeat for the socialist ideal. It is not a genuine constitution but merely a treaty. It is a dead end for Empire advocates, who were forced to regroup and focus on the one tool that they had left—the Euro. But how, exactly, does it provoke a centralization in Europe?

The Euro causes the kinds of problems which can be viewed as a pretext for centralization on the part of politicians. Indeed, the construction and setup of the Euro have themselves provoked a chain of severe crises: member states can use the printing press to finance their deficits; this feature of the EMU invariably leads to a sovereign debt crisis. The crisis, in turn, may be used to centralize power and fiscal policies. The centralization of fiscal policies may then be used to harmonize taxation and get rid of tax competition.

In the current sovereign debt crisis, the Euro, the only means left for the socialists to strengthen their case and achieve their central state, is at stake. It is, therefore, far from the truth that the end of the Euro would mean the end of Europe or the European idea; it would be just the end of the socialist version of it.

Naturally one can have an economically integrated Europe with its four basic liberties without a single fiat currency. The UK, Sweden, Denmark, and the Czech Republic do not have the Euro, but belong to the common market enjoying the four liberties. If Greece were to join these countries, the classical liberal vision would remain untouched. In fact, a free choice of currency is more akin to the European value of liberty than a European legal tender coming along with a monopolistic money producer.
23949  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson, first Inaugural address 1801 on: June 22, 2011, 09:28:11 AM
"All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression." --Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, 1801

23950  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / MOVED: The First Amendment & Free Speech on: June 22, 2011, 08:52:02 AM
This topic has been moved to Science, Culture, & Humanities.
Pages: 1 ... 477 478 [479] 480 481 ... 816
Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!