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23951  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: September 18, 2008, 11:06:22 PM
About all I can offer is that by being a corporation, I can deduct the cost of my health insurance, rather than pay for it with after tax dollars. 

Also, I would give a VERY serious look at Health Savings Accounts.  HSAs have a lot to recommend them.

23952  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: September 18, 2008, 11:02:51 PM
JDN:  A while ago I posted to the effect, "... Muslims getting blamed for everything."  Perhaps it's not true, yet if I read this forum, especially GM's posts, it seems all the evils of the world are caused by and propagated by Muslims.  Otherwise, America is perfect; Europe is perfect, Israel is innocent, etc.  yet it is simply not true.

GM: **, , ,Where have I ever said that all the world's evils are caused by muslims, or asserted that the US, Israel or europe is perfect? Answer: I haven't.**

Me:  JDN, I think you may be confusing having a fundamental problem with certain aspects of the Muslim religion and blaming them for everything.  Anyway, I agree with GM that he has not made the blanket assertions that you assert that he has.  IMHO he may make his points with little concern for the ego of the other  cheesy but I find that he HAS done quite a bit of reading and thinking on these subjects.  I for one am impressed with his ability to come up with pertinent pieces that support his point on a tremendous variety of aspects of the larger question. What do you think?   Agree with him or not, the invitation to you is to answer with similar specificity (or acknowledge when you can't) as well as broad statements.

Speaking for myself, I think in this moment we wrestle with the key difficulty for the west.  Let the conversation continue!

23953  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Uechi Ryu breaking on: September 18, 2008, 04:57:20 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pant_xwqHMc

and in a very different vein "They itch"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0S7jCOEK40
23954  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Swiss Gathering 26-27 of September on: September 18, 2008, 02:10:39 PM
From Lonely Dog:

A friendly bark,
Mit freundschaftlichem Bellen,
Avec amical aboyer,
Con amichevole abbaiare,
Con amistoso ladrar,

Dear Fighter for the „Tribal Gathering“

This e-mail is to give you some information’s about how the Friday will be scheduled…

We will meet at the parking place next to the training hall “Bleichestrasse” (see map) on 2 pm. Please try to be in time… the plan is to leave Stettlen by car (at the latest of 3 pm). If you are to late I’m sorry but we can’t wait for you…

Fighting will be outdoor! We are in Switzerland and it’s end of September, means there is a chance that it will rain… and it will be quite chilly for sure. Bring enough clothing, and suitable footwear (think about fighting in the rain…).

After the fighting we will have the dinner and probably live music at the same location. Fortunately inside a nice old farmhouse...

Looking forward to see you soon

Wuff
Benjamin “Lonely Dog”
23955  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: September 18, 2008, 02:01:29 PM
“[Barack] Obama... blamed the shocking new round of subprime-related bankruptcies on the free-market system, and specifically the ‘trickle-down’ economics of the Bush administration, which he tried to gig opponent John McCain for wanting to extend. But it was the Clinton administration, obsessed with multiculturalism, that dictated where mortgage lenders could lend, and originally helped create the market for the high-risk subprime loans now infecting like a retrovirus the balance sheets of many of Wall Street’s most revered institutions. Tough new regulations forced lenders into high-risk areas where they had no choice but to lower lending standards to make the loans that sound business practices had previously guarded against making. It was either that or face stiff government penalties. The untold story in this whole national crisis is that President Clinton put on steroids the Community Redevelopment Act, a well-intended Carter-era law designed to encourage minority homeownership. And in so doing, he helped create the market for the risky subprime loans that he and Democrats now decry as not only greedy but ‘predatory.’ Yes, the market was fueled by greed and overleveraging in the secondary market for subprimes, vis-a-vis mortgaged-backed securities traded on Wall Street. But the seed was planted in the ‘90s by Clinton and his social engineers.” —Investor’s Business Daily
23956  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 18, 2008, 01:39:45 PM
Plausible, but unsourced from Jack Wheeler's "Tothepoint":

PROOF THE CLINTONS ARE SCREWING OBAMA     
Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler     
Monday, 15 September 2008 

To The Point has long maintained that the Clintons will do what they can to make sure Obambi loses in November - for only then does Hillary have a chance for the White House in 2012.

Now there's proof.

As reported by WorldNetDaily, last Wednesday (9/10), billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife met Bill Clinton in the latter's Harlem office in New York.  Ostensibly, the purpose of the meeting was to gain Scaife's funding support for Clinton's Global Initiative project.

But WND missed the real story - for that wasn't the purpose of the meeting at all, only the cover.  Here's what really happened.

The day after the end of the Republican convention (Friday 9/05) with Palinmania beginning to sweep the country, Bill Clinton made a personal phone call to Scaife and asked when they could meet.  They settled on the following Wednesday - the day before Clinton was to meet Obama in his Harlem office on Sept. 11.

In the meeting Clinton had personally requested, the two discussed the Global Initiative project, but it was clear to Scaife that this wasn't Clinton's purpose.  The discussion was perfunctory, Clinton didn't go into detail about the project nor push Scaife for specific ways to support it.

So Scaife waited for the other shoe to drop and it did. 

"How's NewsMax doing?" Clinton asked.  Scaife is the one the principal investors in NewsMax, which has become a major conservative news website.  Then after a little blah-blah, Clinton casually mentioned the purpose of the meeting.

"You know, Dick, one thing that nobody has really checked out yet is Obama's long-standing and deep relationship with Louis Farrakhan.  It's going to really hurt him badly once it's fully disclosed."

Your assignment, Mr. Scaife, is to unleash NewsMax and the conservative media on Obama's connection with the most rabidly anti-Semitic black racist in America.

Expect NewsMax to do so. 

Finally we have specific evidence of Clinton submarining Obama.  This isn't the only instance, of course.  The Clintons are launching a full-court press to ensure Obama's defeat.

Take Pennsylvania.  It's a must-win state for Obambi.  He cannot do so without the legendarily corrupt "overvote" support of former Philadelphia mayor and now governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell.  As Philly mayor in 2004, Rendell's machine stuffed enough ballot boxes in South Philly to ensure victory for Kerry.

Last April, Hillary defeated Obambi in the Dem Pennsylvania primary by 10%.  Note who is raising her hand in victory in this story:  Gov. Ed Rendell. 

What Clinton has asked Rendell to do is shut off the fraud machine.  And more.  Word is that Rendell intends to shut down the independent vote fraud organizers of ACORN in Philly and Pittsburgh.

Obambi can kiss the Keystone State adios.

Thus the left can also kiss goodbye any hope for their latest delusion - that Obambi will dump Biden and throw a "Hail Hillary" pass.

As explained this week by Jack Kelly, the speculation is that Saracuda is going to field dress Biden and make moose stew out of him in their October 2 debate.  So on October 3, the entire leftie media/blogosphere chorus will deafeningly demand Hillary replace Slow Joe.

She will tell Obambi to not even think about it. 

She and Bubba have too many fun October Surprises planned for Obambi.  What Bubba tasked Scaife with was only one of them.  There'll be lots more.  Relax and enjoy.

 
23957  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Russia's Stock market on: September 18, 2008, 12:44:08 PM
The main stock index is down 55% in four months, banks are starved for capital and teetering on the brink, the currency is at a one-year low and the government is throwing money at the problem. We're not talking about Wall Street.

The current carnage on Russian markets comes amid global market turmoil. But the dive in Moscow began before the wider world cared about AIG's balance sheet, and its chief causes are home-grown. To wit, the bill for eight years of Putinism is coming due. And a Kremlin leadership that only weeks ago brimmed with menacing self-confidence is struggling to slow this financial free fall.

 
APThe first sign of trouble came in late July when Prime Minister Vladimir Putin lashed out at a Russian coal and steel company, Mechel, for alleged price gouging and appeared to threaten personally its chief executive. Mechel shares fell by a third, and the incident sent a chill through the market as a whole. Investors woke up to the systemic risk to property rights and the lack of any rule of law in Russia. They did so belatedly, we'd add, considering the attempted or successful expropriation of Yukos, BP and Shell assets and the blatant use of state resources to menace private business.

Another trigger was last month's war in the Caucasus. The Russians routed the Georgian army in four days and annexed -- in all but name -- its provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Then Russia got routed by the global economy. Since the war started, investors have pulled more than $35 billion from Russian markets. Russian businesses are having trouble getting access to international financial markets, as foreign lenders wonder if they can get paid back. Some $45 billion in foreign debt held by Russian corporates must be refinanced by the end of the year, and the cost of doing so is rising.

Other emerging markets have been hit hard in recent weeks, particularly the natural resource-driven economies. But Russia's is the worst performing market in the world this year. The decline from the all-time high in May wiped out $680 billion in value; Russia's entire GDP was just $1,286 billion as of last year. On Tuesday, the main ruble-denominated index was off 11.2%, the steepest fall since the 1998 ruble crisis. It plummeted yesterday as well, before regulators stopped trading for good at midday.

Each of the past three days, the Russian central bank injected over $10 billion into the money market, and also moved to prop up the ruble. The Kremlin yesterday lent the country's three largest banks $44.9 billion. Thanks to the oil and gas windfall of the past few years, Russia has built up a $573 billion reserve war chest that can tide the financial system over for a while and avoid a rerun of the 1998 crisis.

Not forever, especially if oil prices continue their fall. Russia's economy is hugely dependent on natural resources. In good times, the Kremlin pocketed the billions and didn't worry about pushing economic reforms. The outside investment needed to diversify was discouraged by the Kremlin's backsliding on the rule of law. Now the drop in crude prices is squeezing the country's blue chips and the Kremlin's coffers, even though on the current budget the Russian state will break even with oil at $70 a barrel or above.

Long reluctant to criticize the thin-skinned Putin regime, businesses have started to voice their unhappiness. On Monday Putin sidekick and President Dmitry Medvedev hosted 50 leading businessman at the Kremlin, and acknowledged that the Georgia war contributed to the country's economic troubles. He said Russia didn't want to be isolated, but added, "If they" -- meaning the West -- "try to stop us accessing certain markets there will be no catastrophe for the state or for those sitting here."

As it has turned out, much faster than anyone realized or hoped during the Georgian war in August, Western governments haven't had to do anything to have Russia pay a price for its aggressive behavior. Which is fortunate, considering the weak stomachs in Europe and at the State Department for any serious response to the war. Investors did it for them.

The war has also exposed the fiction that Russia is the next China -- an authoritarian political regime that's stable, predictable and on a path toward becoming a free-market economy. It's authoritarian all right, but it lags China on other counts. After this war, Russia is unlikely to join China in the World Trade Organization. Georgia and Ukraine, another potential target for Russian aggression, are in that club and in a position to block entry. But the bigger hurdle ought to be the WTO's standard that candidates be "market-based" economies ready to respect the commitments and rules of this international organization. By this standard, Russia doesn't belong there, or in the OECD or G-8.

Perhaps the Russian people, who give their leaders high marks in opinion polls, will begin to see the economic toll from Putinism and question whether their country is well-served by this leadership.
23958  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fire Hydrant: Howls from Crafty Dog, Rules of the Road, etc on: September 18, 2008, 12:40:12 PM
Folks:

Whenever possible, please put something in the subject heading for your posts.  For example, in the "video clips of interest" thread, it will help someone search for the video URL you post if the post subject has a title e.g. "multiple player, 2 KOs" or something of the sort.

TIA,
CD
23959  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: McC wasting Palin? on: September 18, 2008, 12:17:20 PM
The media is turning the news into a presidential video game. "Hurricane Ike" or "Wall Street Meltdown" appears onscreen, and the media boots up Barack Obama and John McCain to see how well they talk the problem. Mostly they are speaking gobbledygook about things they barely understand. Whatever a credit default swap is, I'm against it. The public is left to wonder if they are voting for a commentator in chief or commander in chief.

 
AP
Sen. McCain: Make government fit inside this flag.
The credit-market turmoil is serious, but no campaign has the information Treasury or the Fed are using to work the problem.

Rather than be dragged into the path of the financial storm, the McCain campaign especially needs to refocus on its postconvention momentum. It needs to worry about wasting the political capital Gov. Sarah Palin deposited in the Bank of McCain three weeks ago.

Once Mr. McCain picked Mrs. Palin as his running mate, he demoted "experience" and elevated a government "reform" message. It was the right thing to do. Presidential voters are ambivalent about Beltway-marinated senators like Mr. McCain and Joe Biden. John McCain's edge is his famous reputation as a reform maverick. So far, though, he is not casting his reform message in large enough terms.


John McCain should be playing up Palin's popularity and resume of reform, Wonder Land columnist Daniel Henninger tells Kelsey Hubbard. (Sept. 18)
Washington is arguably at its lowest ebb in the public mind since before World War II. Join that fact to Sarah Palin's personally gutsy and professionally strong reform credentials, and Mr. McCain has the chance to offer voters a reform presidency in historic terms.

Yes, the Obama campaign is trying to hang the Bush presidency around his neck. Mr. McCain knows -- and should give -- the answer to that: Voter disgust with Washington goes far beyond George W. Bush.

In the 2006 off-year election, voters threw out the Republican bums and turned over control of Congress to the Democrats. In an odd thank-you, the Democratic Congress earned the lowest approval ratings ever recorded in opinion polls.

This decline is not part of the normal ebb and flow of politics. The fall, the malfeasance, is deeper. It's bipartisan. It's endemic. The most acute comment on what Washington has become -- and what the American public knows it has become -- was a federal judge's Sept. 4 sentencing statement for convicted Beltway favor-meister Jack Abramoff.

Standing before federal Judge Ellen Huvelle, Abramoff said, "So much that happens in Washington stretches the envelope, skirts the spirit of the law and lives in loopholes." Agreed, said Judge Huvelle, who hammered Abramoff with an additional 48-month sentence, more than prosecutors had asked. She said simply: "The true victims are members of the public who lost their trust in government."

Forget the Tina Fey SNL mockery and all the marginalia being written about Sarah Palin now. She did four real things in Alaska that make her fit for anyone interested in a reform presidency.

She took on: her party's state chairman, her party's state attorney general, GOP Gov. Frank Murkowski's tainted gas pipeline project, and then she supported a GOP candidate who ran against Alaska's "untouchable" GOP congressional earmarker, Don Young.

One way or another, each episode involved severing the sleazy ties that bind public officials to grasping commercial interests, something even the Democratic left purports to favor.

It isn't just Washington and Juneau. You could open the nozzle on the same reform fire hose to wash the public-private slime out of the capital hallways of New York, New Jersey, California, Illinois and onward.

You say Sarah Palin doesn't have enough "experience" to run Washington? Washington is barely fit to be run.

The problem isn't standard political corruption. The problem is that the $2.8 trillion federal budget is a vast ocean of Beltway pilot fish feeding off scraps from the whale -- lawyers, lobbyists, ex-Members of Congress. No one runs the Sea of Washington. It's too big, too deep.

Barack Obama wants to dig a deeper hole. John McCain should ask the American people if they want this to go on, because it's nonsense to vote for government to do "more" and then whine when it doesn't work or degrades into sweetheart-deal hell.

Unfocused "reform" rhetoric from Mr. McCain isn't enough. The public has been there, heard that. Sen. McCain should talk about what he knows -- fat Fannie and Freddie, farm-bill bloat, the ethanol subsidy fiasco, the federal procurement mess. Show people Gov. Palin's 18 single-spaced pages of 2007 vetoes. Then identify Congress's bipartisan supporters of the Legislative Line-Item Veto Act and ask the voters' support. Appear with GOP congressman from Sarah's new generation who want to help -- Eric Cantor of Virginia, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Kevin McCarthy of California. There are others.

Promise to spend the first two years on this historic political reform effort, and if a Democratic Congress laughs, promise to barnstorm in 2010 for a Congress willing to act, from any party.

One hears talk of John McCain's temper. My guess is voters want someone to lose it with Washington, big time. Oh, and he should ask what's the difference between a reformist pit bull and a six-term senator. It isn't lipstick.
23960  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Copyright symbol on: September 18, 2008, 11:51:13 AM
© = hold down ALT key and type 0169 (NUM LOCK must be on)
23961  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington on: September 18, 2008, 11:18:06 AM

"The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent
and respectable Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all
Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation
of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of
conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment."

-- George Washington (Address to the Members of the Volunteer
Association of Ireland, 2 December 1783)

Reference: George Washington, Address to the Members of the
Volunteer Association of Ireland, December 2, 1783.
23962  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: September 17, 2008, 11:33:14 PM
You had me, until this:

"Sometimes I think on this forum we blame Islam for every little problem in society today". 

Examples please?
23963  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: September 17, 2008, 04:34:32 PM
Unfortunately, that end game is facilitated by the integrity of your position.  Big Bummer that!  Any thoughts on this?


@GM:

The piece you post is powerful. Before spreading it around, I find myself wondering about these numbers:

"More than a hundred and thirty million women living today have been victimized by this horrifying crime, and more than two million girls are assaulted by it each year. In other words, we are talking about 6,000 girls every day -- 6,000 girls today."

Lets see.  1.3 billion Muslims= 675,000,000 women.

130/675= approximately 20%.  If we screen out girls too young for the amputation, the percentage is even higher. 

This number seems questionably high to me.  My understanding is that the clitorectomies tend to take place in Ethiopia, Somalia, Egypt, Yemen-- not through out the Muslim world-- though the larger point of the neuroses about women remains.
23964  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Swiss Gathering 26-27 of September on: September 17, 2008, 03:31:14 PM
Woof All:

Lonely Dog tells me that already there are 50 fighters with over a week to go.  Even allowing for the usual 20% rate last minute mini-epidemic of vaginitis, this is going to be a big Gathering.

I leave next Wednesday for Bern.

The Adventure continues!
"Higher consciousness through harder contact!" (c)
Crafty Dog
GF
23965  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: September 17, 2008, 01:34:28 PM
Michelle's Princeton thesis:  http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/thesis.asp
23966  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: September 17, 2008, 12:40:06 PM
Once again I acknowledge the logic of your point and once again I invite you to address the underlying question about sharia being the camel's nose inside the tent for something seditious.
23967  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: September 17, 2008, 12:35:40 PM
Return of the Keating Five

For a second day in a row, Barack Obama has added references to the 1980s savings and loan scandal as a way of highlighting why John McCain isn't capable of addressing the crisis in financial markets. That Mr. McCain was embroiled in the S&L meltdown as a player in the "Keating Five" scandal is well known to Obama aides.

"When we loosened restrictions on savings and loans and appointed regulators who ignored even these weaker rules, too many S&Ls took advantage of the lax rules set by Washington to gamble that they could make big money in speculative real estate," Mr. Obama told audiences yesterday. "Confident of their clout in Washington, they made hundreds of billions in bad loans, knowing that if they lost money, the government would bail them out. And they were right. The gambles did not pay off, our economy went into recession, and the taxpayers ended up footing the bill. Does that sound familiar?"

Mr. Obama went on to say Mr. McCain's new support for regulation should be contrasted with his "scornful attitude towards oversight and enforcement. . . . John McCain has shown time and again that he doesn't believe" in regulation.

While he didn't specifically tie Mr. McCain to the Keating Five scandal, you can bet other Democrats and outside groups will. In the late 1980s, Mr. McCain was linked with four other senators who met with federal banking regulators in an effort to aid financier Charles Keating, a major campaign contributor. Mr. Keating's S&L empire later collapsed and he spent time in prison.

The scandal ended the careers of Democratic Senators Alan Cranston, Don Riegle and Dennis DeConcini. Two others, Democrat John Glenn and Mr. McCain, were judged less culpable and won re-election. Mr. McCain was found to have used "poor judgment" by the Senate Ethics Committee, and the experience launched his efforts to reform the campaign finance laws that ultimately became the McCain-Feingold law.

While his allies will no doubt bring up the Keating Five scandal, Mr. Obama is likely to remain above the fray on that issue. He has his own vulnerabilities, having received $9.9 million in contributions from the financial services industry. He is also the third-largest recipient of political contributions from the home mortgage giant Fannie Mae, which was recently taken over by the government.

-- John Fund

What's to Debate?

Barack Obama came under unusually tough questioning from ABC's Chris Cuomo this week. The "Good Morning America" co-host challenged the Democratic candidate on why he ducked an offer from the McCain campaign for a series of town hall meetings with voters in addition to the normal trio of debates.

"You're saying the issues are all that matter here," Mr. Cuomo told Mr. Obama during their interview on a train winding its way through Massachusetts. "Why don't you pick up the phone to him and say, 'What are you doing next week? How about Tuesday? How about Wednesday? How about Thursday? Let's get out there as much as possible, you and me and talk about what matters most?'"

Mr. Obama responded that the idea of town hall meetings "is a little bit of a gimmick" and that he had agreed to do three debates in coming weeks. When asked why there wouldn't be more, Mr. Obama responded with impatience, "Listen, I've gone through 22. . . . Nobody's debated more than I have."

What Mr. Obama didn't note is that the Democratic debates he referred to were almost completely taken up by discussions of which Democratic candidate could best take the fight to Republicans. Issue differences -- save for a dispute between Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton over whether government should mandate that an individual buy health insurance -- were conspicuous for their absence. "We were primarily concerned with explaining to Democratic primary voters why each of us would be the best candidate to represent their values in the fall election," New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said last spring.

If Mr. Obama really believes that his political philosophy and proposals were challenged during those debates, he attended a different set of encounters than the other candidates did.

-- John Fund

Congratulations, You're in Private Equity!

Politicians in Washington may have to stop sliming hedge fund and private equity operators -- because now they're one.

The Treasury owns warrants for 80% of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's equity, and the Fed just took a similar position in AIG. These highly leveraged "bailouts" -- Washington has yet to put in any real cash -- may be controversial now but could be huge political winners when they pay off. The profits are potentially enormous and potentially a sure thing -- since Washington influences the competitive and regulatory environment for the businesses its owns.

In fact, Washington hardly has to put up cash at all -- just breathe a hint about whether it wishes the share price well or ill. As Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson explained to CNBC's Maria Bartiromo after the Fannie and Freddie operation: "There are a number of reasonable cases where even the existing shareholders will end up having their stock price come back."

Translation: The now-minority shareholders would be wise to shut up about the force majeure takeover and enjoy the ride if they know what's good for them.

Wall Street must be disgusted at how it's been outdone by Washington. Private buyout operators obviously don't have the privilege of dictating that their quarries are insolvent or at what price they'll be taken over. AIG shareholders in particular must be scratching their heads at all the whacks their fundamentally solvent company has taken from politicians in the past three years -- and now the politicians own it.

Why, it almost sounds like . . . Russia under Vladimir Putin. AIG's Hank Greenberg perhaps should strike up a correspondence with Mikhail Khodorkovsky (if he can find the address of the jail he's in) to compare notes.

-- Holman W. Jenkins Jr.

Democratic Breakdown in Upstate New York

The open seat of retiring Republican Congressman Tom Reynolds was supposed to be ripe for a Democratic pickup this year. Mr. Reynolds won by just four points in his last re-election campaign against self-funded millionaire Jack Davis. In a presidential year, the Dems especially liked their chances.

But last week, Mr. Davis lost his bid to take a third run at Mr. Reynolds's seat. In a bruising three-way primary with Iraq war veteran Jon Powers and a little-known lawyer named Alice Kryzan, Ms. Kryzan pulled out a surprise victory after Messrs. Powers and Davis expended all their energy attacking each other. The Democratic Party establishment, which had unified behind Mr. Powers, now finds itself in a bind. Mr. Powers is still on the ballot on the Working Families Party line. A week after his defeat, though, he still won't say whether he'll step aside in favor of Ms. Kryzan, only that he is still "deciding how best to proceed."

That, in turn, puts the diminutive Working Families Party in an awkward position. It has already announced that it will support Ms. Kryzan in November, even though Mr. Powers will remain its candidate on the ballot.

All this is good news for the Republican candidate, business executive Christopher Lee, Mr. Reynolds's anointed successor. Even though President Bush won the upstate district by 12 points in 2004, Mr. Lee was facing an uphill battle thanks to Mr. Reynolds' ties to the scandal-tarred former Republican majority. But serendipity has arrived. He now faces an underfunded Democrat who could see her support siphoned off by Mr. Powers' presence on the ballot. Call it one more way that Election 2008 isn't going according to script for the Democrats.

-- Brian M. Carney

Terminator 4: Arnold Versus the Republicans

"Arnold has lost his mind." That's what one long-time GOP budget aide in California told me in response to news that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will veto the state budget.

Everyone is confused by this latest action, because just a few weeks ago the governor was running around the state insisting on a tax increase to balance the budget. Now that conservative Republicans have won a major victory in forcing the majority Democrats to pass a no-tax-increase version, Arnold seethes that he wants a budget that puts "our fiscal house in order, and I promise the people of California that I will not stop until the job is done."

The problem is that Arnold doesn't have any allies left in the legislature in either party. Conservatives are still fuming for good reason that Arnold tried to ram a tax increase through by going into Republican districts to attack lawmakers in his own party who wouldn't vote for his tax hike. When Republicans in the state assembly tried to insist on a hard spending cap, Arnold was cutting deals with Democrats. Meanwhile, Democrats are angry they didn't get a tax increase or the big spending increases they wanted.

But the budget that Arnold will veto is a victory of sorts for taxpayers and conservatives know it. That's because the budget, three months overdue, does not include a sales tax or income tax increase to close a $15 billion budget deficit. Heroically, Republicans neither bent nor broke and effectively vetoed the tax increase plan the Democrats and their left wing interest groups coveted.

One hero here was House Minority Leader Mike Villines, who convinced his GOP caucus to rally behind the "no new taxes" position despite a big lobbying campaign by the media and recipients of government spending and the governor. "We're all taxed out in California," Mr. Villines tells me. "We all agreed that taxes would be counterproductive, because we are losing so many businesses and families to low tax states in the West."

But now along comes Arnold trying to recreate himself as a fiscal conservative. Many in the state think he's a budgetary Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. Mr. Villines points out that state spending has risen more than 40% in four years on Arnold's watch. Where was the concern then about "putting the fiscal house in order?" Senate Republicans, including the minority leader Dave Cogdill, are vowing to override the governor's veto.

Arnold has betrayed Republicans too often on too many issues -- taxes, environmental regulation, health care, global warming -- to have any credibility left. His budget veto comes years too late and billions of dollars short.

-- Stephen Moore
23968  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Stock Market on: September 17, 2008, 11:20:45 AM
Recommended in the highest terms as a place to go REGULARLY:

http://scottgrannis.blogspot.com/
23969  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: September 17, 2008, 10:34:27 AM
JDN:

Now that GM has acknowledged your point, is there anything in what he has posted that you wish to acknowledge?

"Marc, i am not defending Islam's treatment of women; I unequivocally do not approve.  But then I do not approve of truly terrible treatment of women in Africa, some places in Asia, and also, I find appalling the amount of domestic violence in this country.  No one is immune.  For example, among those sworn to protect us, domestic violence among police officers is 2 to 4 times the national average and many incidents do not even get reported.  I was raised that you simply do not/ever strike a woman; period."

Two points here:

1) In the comparisons you mention, violence against women is not specifically called for/permitted by God.

2)  There is GM's larger point wherein these sharia courts are specifically part of a larger cause to establish Sharia and Islam for all. 
23970  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton on: September 17, 2008, 09:45:21 AM

"[T]he present Constitution is the standard to which we are to
cling. Under its banners, bona fide must we combat our political
foes - rejecting all changes but through the channel itself
provides for amendments."

-- Alexander Hamilton (letter to James Bayard, April 1802)

Reference: Selected Writings and Speeches of Alexander Hamilton,
Frisch, ed. (511)
23971  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: September 16, 2008, 11:09:33 PM
Now THIS is a rant!!!

http://www.atlah.org/broadcast/ndnr09-03-08.html

ROTFLMAO!
23972  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BO's eligiblility for Pres. challenged in court on: September 16, 2008, 11:03:59 PM

Attached is a .pdf of the motions filed.  I did a quick search and found this story.  Here's the link if you want to see it yourself: http://www.obamacrimes.com/index.php/component/content/article/1-main/1-philip-j-berg-esq-files-federal-lawsuit-requesting-obama-be-removed-as-a-candidate-as-he-does-not-meet-the-qualifications-for-president

all the best,
jvs



Philip J. Berg, Esq. Files Federal Lawsuit Requesting Obama Be Removed as a Candidate as he does not meet the Qualifications for President
Thursday, 21 August 2008 23:09 administrator
 
For Immediate Release: - 08/21/08

Suit filed 08/21/08, No. 08-cv-4083
Contact information at the end of this press release. Documents filed with the court and a copy of this press release can be downloaded at the end of this press release.

(Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania – 08/21/08) - Philip J. Berg, Esquire, [Berg is a former Deputy Attorney General of Pennsylvania; former candidate for Governor and U.S. Senate in Democratic Primaries; former Chair of the Democratic Party in Montgomery County; former member of Democratic State Committee; an attorney with offices in Montgomery County, PA and an active practice in Philadelphia, PA, filed a lawsuit in Federal Court today, Berg vs. Obama, Civil Action No. 08-cv-4083, seeking a Declaratory Judgment and an Injunction that Obama does not meet the qualifications to be President of the United States. Berg filed this suit for the best interests of the Democratic Party and the citizens of the United States.

1. Where was Obama born? Hawaii; an island off of Hawaii; Kenya; Canada; or ?

2. Was he a citizen of Kenya, Indonesia and/or Canada?

3. What was the early childhood of Obama in Hawaii; in Kenya; in Indonesia when he was adopted; and later, back to Hawaii?

4. An explanation as to the various names utilized by Obama that include: Barack Hussein Obama; Barry Soetoro; Barry Obama; Barack Dunham; and Barry Dunham.

5. Illinois Bar Application – Obama fails to acknowledge use of names other than Barack Hussein Obama, a blatant lie.

If Obama can prove U.S. citizenship, we still have the issue of muti-citizenship with responsibilities owed to and allegance to other countries.

Berg continued:

“Eighteen million Democratic Primary voters donated money, volunteered their time and energy, worked very hard and then not only supported Senator Clinton, but voted for her and often recruited other supporters as well. All the efforts of supporters of legitimate citizens were for nothing because this man lied and cheated his way into a fraudulent candidacy and cheated legitimately eligible natural born citizens from competing in a fair process and the supporters of their citizen choice for the nomination.

Voters donated money, goods and services to elect a nominee and were defrauded by Senator Obama's lies and obfuscations. He clearly shows a conscience of guilt by his actions in using the forged birth certificate and the lies he's told to cover his loss of citizenship. We believe he does know, supported this belief by his actions in hiding his secret, in that he failed to regain his citizenship and used documents to further his position as a natural born citizen. We would also show he proclaims himself a Constitutional scholar and lecturer, but did not learn he had no eligibility to become President except by means of lying, obfuscations and deceptions. His very acts proves he knew he was no longer a natural born citizen. We believe he knew he was defrauding the country or else why use the forged birth certificate of his half sister?

Americans lost money, goods and services donated in their support of a candidate who supposedly was a natural born citizen simply because the DNC officers and party leaders looked the other way and did not demand credentials to answer the questions and prove whether or not Senator Obama was a legitimately natural born citizen, even in light of recent information that has surfaced on websites on the Internet suggesting Senator Obama may not be eligible to become President and questioning his status of multiple citizenships and questionable loyalties! If the DNC officers and.or leaders had performed one ounce of due diligence we would not find ourselves in this emergency predicament, one week away from making a person the nominee who has lost their citizenship as a child and failed to even perform the basic steps of regaining citizenship through an oath of allegiance at age eighteen [18] as prescribed by Constitutional laws!

The injunctrive relief must be granted because failing to do so, this inaction defrauds everyone who voted in the Democratic Primary for a nominee that is a fair representation of the voters. Failure to grant injunctive relief would allow a corrupted, fraudulent nomination process to continue. It not only allows, but promotes an overwhelming degree of disrespect and creates such a lack of confidence in voters of the primary process itself, so that it would cement a prevailing belief that no potential candidate has to obey the laws of this country, respect our election process, follow the Constitution, or even suffer any consequence for lying and defrauding voters to get onto the ballot when they have no chance of serving if they fraudulently manage to get elected! It is unfair to the country for candidates of either party to become the nominee when there is any question of their ability to serve if elected.

All judges are lawyers and held to a higher standard of practice than a regular lawyer. It is this Judicial standard that demands injunctive relief prayed for here. This relief is predicated upon one of the most basic premises of practicing law which states no lawyer can allow themselves to be used in furthering a criminal enterprise. And by that gauge alone, failing to give injunctive relief to the 18 million supporters of the other candidate, a true natural born citizen eligible to serve if elected, this court must not allow itself to be used to further the criminal and fraudulent acts to continue and be rewarded by becoming the Democratic Nominee. Failure to give the injunctive relief prayed for will insure that a corrupted Presidential election process will only guarantee a show of unfair preference of one group of people over another group by not demanding the same rules be applied to all groups equally and fairly, especially in light of the fact that both candidates are each considered a minority.

Philip J. Berg, Esquire
555 Andorra Glen Court, Suite 12
Lafayette Hill, PA 19444-2531
Cell (610) 662-3005
(610) 825-3134
(800) 993-PHIL [7445]
Fax (610) 834-7659
philjberg@obamacrimes.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

# # #

Attachments: File Description File size
Complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief   142 Kb
Memorandum in support of temporary restraining order This document contains a complete narrative of the facts. 164 Kb
Plaintiff's motion for temporary restraining order Plaintiff's motion for temporary restraining order 108 Kb
Temporary Restraining Order   79 Kb
 ObamaCrimes Press Release 200820821 Press Release 20080821 Announcing the filing of Obama qualifications Lawsuit  45 Kb

Last Updated ( Thursday, 11 September 2008 11:56 )

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23973  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: September 16, 2008, 10:56:13 PM
GM:

JDN's linear logic seems correct to me and his point fairly made.

JDN:

Although it is sure to make many of us uncomfortable, GM's point about Islam seems reasonably made to me as well.  Because Islam seeks theocracy, to treat it as simply another religion raises profound problems because as best as I can tell many of its tenets are inherently seditious to core Western political principles such as (to put it in American terms) pursuit of happiness, freedom of choice, freedom of speech, equality of the sexes in front of the law and separation of church and state.  I can readily understand GM's concern at any expansion of Sharia.  Is there anything in what he says that you can acknowledge?

Marc
23974  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: September 16, 2008, 08:58:20 PM
"Why it’s a bad idea: Obama was right in July when he said that the strategic oil reserve “has to be reserved for a genuine emergency.” Selling oil from the 700 million barrel reserve would increase domestic supply and could drive down prices in the short term, but encouraging consumers to use more oil isn’t going to fix anything. And depleting the reserve would leave the United States vulnerable to a supply disruption caused by a natural disaster or further unrest in the Middle East. Obama swapped common sense for this dangerous boondoggle in August after McCain started to hammer him on offshore drilling. So much for tough truths."

I had a conversation once with someone who worked on the SPR and he said that you can only empty and refill the caverns but so many times (6?) without them degrading.
23975  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: September 16, 2008, 06:05:43 PM
That's very funny BBG.
23976  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sarah and Hillary together!!! on: September 16, 2008, 05:59:41 PM
http://video.google.com:80/videoplay?docid=1592171482172108406
23977  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: on: September 16, 2008, 09:35:23 AM
McCain, Obama Confront the Market
By NICK TIMIRAOS and ELIZABETH HOLMESArticle
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. -- The U.S. banking crisis is shaking up the presidential race as well as the agenda of the next president, forcing both candidates to confront a financial calamity.

John McCain and Barack Obama jockeyed to seize an advantage on the financial crisis, signaling how Wall Street's troubles have become a bigger concern on Main Street. The candidates wrapped the market instability into broader campaign themes but found themselves wrestling on unfamiliar territory. Republican candidate Sen. McCain pointed to his credentials cleaning up Washington's excesses while Democratic candidate Sen. Obama blamed the crisis on Washington's deregulatory bent over the past three decades.

Both candidates blamed Wall Street greed and special-interest influences in Washington. "We've seen self-interest, greed, irresponsibility and corruption undermine these hard-working American people," Sen. McCain said at a rally in Orlando, Fla., where he promised to "put an end...to running Wall Street like a casino." He offered no specific prescriptions but did call for ending "multimillion-dollar payouts to CEOs that have broken the public trust."

Sen. McCain pushed the need for an updated regulatory system, a cry he began this spring. "And there's an alphabet soup of different agencies, and they have to be streamlined, they have to be consolidated, and they have to be effective," he said. "Those regulators have been asleep at the switch, and we've got to fix it." Sen. McCain also promised he wouldn't use taxpayers' dollars to solve the problem.

Sen. Obama singled out the Bush administration's deregulatory push for what he described as "the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression." While Sen. McCain wasn't at fault, he said, "I do fault the economic philosophy he subscribes to...one that says we should give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down."

While the candidates and their running mates focused on the financial crisis Monday, all four found themselves in unfamiliar territory. Sen. McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, have little experience dealing with financial crises, and neither do Sen. Obama or his running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, whose expertise is in foreign affairs.

Sen. McCain's campaign pointed out that the senator had talked with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson for "seven to 10 minutes" and contacted his economic team, including former Hewlett-Packard Co. head Carly Fiorina. Sen. Obama said he spoke about the market turmoil Monday morning with his economic team, including former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker and former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers.

Regardless of who wins the election, the crisis will further constrain the next president, sapping time and money from proposals on health care and tax relief. Both sides have promised more regulation of financial institutions and more transparency for investors. Sen. McCain has called for tougher measures to overhaul Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Sen. McCain Monday stressed the importance of allowing homeowners to refinance their mortgages, saying that the financial markets couldn't stabilize until the housing market found a bottom.

In a March speech on financial-market overhaul, Sen. Obama called for extending commercial-banking regulations to investment banks, hedge funds and mortgage brokers. He called for a commission that would monitor threats to the financial system. He said deregulation that culminated in 1999 with a partial repeal of the 1930s' Glass-Steagall Act, which had separated investment banks and commercial banks, had been driven by lobbyists and was intended primarily to facilitate mergers.

Neither candidate backed a government rescue deal for Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. over the weekend. But each offered few specifics about what they would do. "We are going to have a lot of rebuilding to do," Sen. Obama said at a rally in Colorado.

The McCain campaign released a new ad Monday to capture the mantle of reform by promising tough changes to "protect your life savings."

Sen. McCain promised to overhaul the regulatory system. Among the problems Sen. McCain has identified, according to policy head Doug Holtz-Eakin, is the lack of a clearing house for derivatives so investors know the risks they entail; the lack of accountability for mortgage brokers; and the overall lack of capital backing in the system.

Both candidates had rushed to address the need for regulatory overhaul in March after the collapse of Bear Stearns Cos., but until the government was forced to backstop Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac last week, the financial crisis was viewed as a problem that concerned Wall Street bankers but not rank-and-file workers.
23978  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The WSJ compares McC and BO on: September 16, 2008, 09:22:44 AM
Studies Detail Contrasts in Rivals' Health-Care Plans
Obama's Proposal Would Insure More but at Higher Cost
By LAURA MECKLERArticle
   
WASHINGTON -- Republican presidential candidate John McCain's health-care plan would make only a small dent in the ranks of the uninsured, at best covering about five million more people, two new reports conclude.

Democratic nominee Barack Obama would cover more people -- eventually adding about 34 million, according to one of those reports, by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

 
Barack Obama
Sen. Obama's plan would be costly, the center concluded: $1.6 trillion over 10 years. Sen. McCain's would cost nearly as much: $1.3 trillion over the same span. The center doesn't give either campaign credit for initiatives to reduce the cost of health care.

The advantages of the McCain plan, according to the reports, are less government regulation, a more generous tax break and, for many, more flexibility and choice in where to buy coverage.

The Tax Policy Center called its estimates for both plans preliminary because neither campaign has put out enough information to provide a full evaluation.  Similarly, a pair of studies analyzing the candidates' plans, being published Tuesday in Health Affairs, a peer-reviewed policy journal, found many details lacking.  But the campaigns have made clear what direction they would take the health-care system. The differences provide a sharp contrast for voters.

Neither plan would offer universal coverage, though Sen. Obama regularly says his would. Critics of each plan suggest the other would erode the employer-based system that currently covers some 170 million people.

The reports shed new light on the potential and the problems of each plan.

THE OBAMA PLAN:
Sen. Obama would give consumers more options, but he would increase federal regulations.

He would create a new government-run plan as well as an "exchange" in which private companies would offer insurance to compete with the government plan. New rules would require that insurance companies provide coverage to everyone, at consistent prices, even those with existing ailments. Parents would be required to cover their children, and large employers would be required to cover their workers or pay a fine.

It amounts to a significant amount of new regulation, health experts Joseph Antos, Gail Wilensky and Hanns Kuttner write in Health Affairs.

"Each of these [new rules] extends the control of government over health insurance, imposing new requirements that will drive up the cost of insurance," they write.

The government-run plan would set a minimum standard for benefits that private plans would have to meet, they explain. Politically, there will be pressure to include generous benefits, they say, and that will lead to high premiums, leaving few options for those who want cheaper, more basic coverage.

 It is likely that companies would be required to offer the same generous benefits to their workers, they say -- another increase in government regulation.  Still, the impact on the uninsured is significant. Overall, the Tax Policy Center predicts that the Obama plan would reduce the number of uninsured by 18 million people in the first year and by 34 million in 10 years.

THE McCAIN PLAN:
Sen. McCain would reduce both state and federal regulations and give consumers more choices about where to buy health insurance.

Current law offers a tax break only to those who get insurance through their jobs. The McCain plan would give a refundable tax credit to all who find coverage: $2,500 per person or $5,000 per family. In trade, workers would pay income taxes on the value of health insurance as part of their compensation.

But, unlike a similar plan put forth by President George W. Bush last year, health benefits still would be exempt from the payroll tax paid by workers and employers, and that is why the McCain plan is more expensive than Mr. Bush's, said Len Burman, director of the Tax Policy Center.  Because people could buy insurance on their own, some would leave the employer-sponsored system, especially young and healthy people who can get a better deal on their own. Older, sicker people are likely to face problems buying coverage.

Overall, the Tax Policy Center and the four academics writing in Health Affairs project that about 20 million would leave employer-sponsored coverage, while about 21 million people would be newly covered on the open market. That is a net increase of about one million insured people.

"Many employers would be quick to drop health benefits in response to a major policy change, such as the McCain plan, that greatly altered the business case for offering benefits," the article concludes. The Tax Policy Center projects that the number of newly insured Americans could climb in future years and perhaps reach five million people before dropping again.

The Health Affairs article, whose lead author is Thomas Buchmueller of the University of Michigan, finds other problems with the McCain plan. Because administrative costs are higher on the open market, where insurers evaluate customers individually, he predicts that coverage would be more expensive but less generous.

The McCain plan would allow consumers to buy insurance across state lines. That would give people more choices, but it also would undermine state laws that mandate certain benefits and provide various consumer protections.

Write to Laura Meckler at laura.meckler@wsj.com

23979  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson on: September 16, 2008, 08:28:30 AM
"The freedom and happiness of man...[are] the sole objects of
all legitimate government."

-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to Thaddeus Kosciusko, 1810)

Reference: The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Lipscomb and Bergh,
eds., 12:369.
23980  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BO on: September 16, 2008, 08:17:08 AM
For those of us who have had quite enough of lipsticked pigs and the politics of personality, here is an effort at discussing the issues from BO's team posting at the WSJ

Why Obama's Health Plan Is Better
By DAVID M. CUTLER, J. BRADFORD DELONG and ANN MARIE MARCIARILLEArticle
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The big threat to growth in the next decade is not oil or food prices, but the rising cost of health care. The doubling of health insurance premiums since 2000 makes employers choose between cutting benefits and hiring fewer workers.

Rising health costs push total employment costs up and wages and benefits down. The result is lost profits and lost wages, in addition to pointless risk, insecurity and a flood of personal bankruptcies.

 
APSustained growth thus requires successful health-care reform. Barack Obama and John McCain propose to lead us in opposite directions -- and the Obama direction is far superior.

Sen. Obama's proposal will modernize our current system of employer- and government-provided health care, keeping what works well, and making the investments now that will lead to a more efficient medical system. He does this in five ways:

- Learning. One-third of medical costs go for services at best ineffective and at worst harmful. Fifty billion dollars will jump-start the long-overdue information revolution in health care to identify the best providers, treatments and patient management strategies.

- Rewarding. Doctors and hospitals today are paid for performing procedures, not for helping patients. Insurers make money by dumping sick patients, not by keeping people healthy. Mr. Obama proposes to base Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements to hospitals and doctors on patient outcomes (lower cholesterol readings, made and kept follow-up appointments) in a coordinated effort to focus the entire payment system around better health, not just more care.

- Pooling. The Obama plan would give individuals and small firms the option of joining large insurance pools. With large patient pools, a few people incurring high medical costs will not topple the entire system, so insurers would no longer need to waste time, money and resources weeding out the healthy from the sick, and businesses and individuals would no longer have to subject themselves to that costly and stressful process.

- Preventing. In today's health-care market, less than one dollar in 25 goes for prevention, even though preventive services -- regular screenings and healthy lifestyle information -- are among the most cost-effective medical services around. Guaranteeing access to preventive services will improve health and in many cases save money.

- Covering. Controlling long-run health-care costs requires removing the hidden expenses of the uninsured. The reforms described above will lower premiums by $2,500 for the typical family, allowing millions previously priced out of the market to afford insurance.

In addition, tax credits for those still unable to afford private coverage, and the option to buy in to the federal government's benefits system, will ensure that all individuals have access to an affordable, portable alternative at a price they can afford.

Given the current inefficiencies in our system, the impact of the Obama plan will be profound. Besides the $2,500 savings in medical costs for the typical family, according to our research annual business-sector costs will fall by about $140 billion. Our figures suggest that decreasing employer costs by this amount will result in the expansion of employer-provided health insurance to 10 million previously uninsured people.

We know these savings are attainable: other countries have them today. We spend 40% more than other countries such as Canada and Switzeraland on health care -- nearly $1 trillion -- but our health outcomes are no better.

The lower cost of benefits will allow employers to hire some 90,000 low-wage workers currently without jobs because they are currently priced out of the market. It also would pull one and a half million more workers out of low-wage low-benefit and into high-wage high-benefit jobs. Workers currently locked into jobs because they fear losing their health benefits would be able to move to entrepreneurial jobs, or simply work part time.

In contrast, Sen. McCain, who constantly repeats his no-new-taxes promise on the campaign trail, proposes a big tax hike as the solution to our health-care crisis. His plan would raise taxes on workers who receive health benefits, with the idea of encouraging their employers to drop coverage. A study conducted by University of Michigan economist Tom Buchmueller and colleagues published in the journal Health Affairs suggests that the McCain tax hike will lead employers to drop coverage for over 20 million Americans.

What would happen to these people? Mr. McCain will give them a small tax credit, $5,000 for a family and $2,500 for an individual, and tell them to navigate the individual insurance market on their own.

For middle- and lower-income people, the credits are way too small. They are less than half the cost of policies today ($12,000 on average for a family), and are far below the 75% that most employers offering coverage contribute. Further, their value would erode over time, as the credit increases less rapidly than average premiums.

Those already sick are completely out of luck, as individual insurers are free to deny coverage due to pre-existing conditions. Mr. McCain has proposed a high-risk pool for the very sick, but has not put forward the money to make it work.

Even for those healthy enough to gain coverage in the individual insurance market, the screening, marketing and individual underwriting that insurers do to separate healthy from sick boosts premiums by 17% relative to employer-provided insurance, well beyond the help offered by the McCain tax credit.

The immediate consequences of the McCain plan are even worse. The McCain plan is a big tax increase on employers and workers. With the economy in recession, that's the last thing America's businesses need.

Finally, Mr. McCain does nothing to bend the curve of rising health-care costs downward. He does not fund investments in learning, rewarding and preventing. Eliminating state coverage requirements will slash preventive service availability.

The high cost-sharing plans he envisions will similarly discourage preventive care. And as he does nothing about the hidden costs of the uncovered -- expensive ER visits, recurring conditions resulting from inadequate follow-up care.

Everyone agrees our health-care financing system must change. But only one candidate, Barack Obama, has real change we can believe in.

Mr. Cutler is professor of economics at Harvard and an adviser to Barack Obama's presidential campaign. Mr. DeLong is professor of economics at University of California, Berkeley. Ms. Marciarille is adjunct law professor at McGeorge School of Law.
23981  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: September 16, 2008, 07:51:25 AM
I postd the article in question without comment of my own.  JDN correctly summarizes the case for the sharia arbirtration panels/courts.  The logic is impeccable.  Unfortunately it is not clear that things are that simple and GM does a good job I think of fleshing out why. 

We live in interesting times.
23982  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Reproductive issues on: September 15, 2008, 08:54:03 PM
"I would personally fell  terrible for a guy whose partner decided to have an abortion against their (sic) wishes but I don’t think the guy should have legal rights to control the women's  body." 

From which it follows that she shouldn't be able to impose upon him the obligation to pay for the child's upbringing?

FWIW, my own thoughts on the subject:

1) Roe vs. Wade was a terribly reasoned and wrongly decided decision.  Although I strongly agree that there is a Right to Privacy and a Right to Pursue Happiness, these do not give the right to kill.  The question presented is when human life begins.  No where does the Constitution declare that the SCt gets to determine the beginning of human life.

2) The proper place for the determination of the beginning of human life is:
a) in the States,
b) by the political branches: the legislature and the executive

3)  At the time of Roe, a growing minority of states allowed some form of abortion.  The Supremes simply decided to short circuit the political process to impose their personal predilictions.

4) If Roe is reversed (as it should be) the decision making process will revert to where it was before Roe-- to the State legislatures and Executives.  In that a a majority of American's favor some sort of abortion option, the Left's wail that Reversing Roe equals the end of abortion is a crock of excrement.  I suspect what will be worked out is a compromise-- with early abortions being OK and later ones not.

5) The slippery slope argument cuts both ways.  For example, at one end, we see BO voting for partial birth abortion and to allow living aborted fetuses to die.

6) Much of the issue is driven by the long and increasing interregunum between sexual maturity and being ready to have children.  Many people want to fcuk during this time and do so without the risk of children.  I think it can reasonably be pointed out that completely separating the sex act from reproduction has profound societal implications.
23983  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Richard Wright of Pink Floyd on: September 15, 2008, 08:32:30 PM
Sax. 65 years old.  Cancer. cry
23984  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russian Resurgence and the New-Old Front: Stratfor on: September 15, 2008, 06:18:32 PM
The Russian Resurgence and the New-Old Front
September 15, 2008




By Peter Zeihan

Related Special Topic Page
The Russian Resurgence
Russia is attempting to reforge its Cold War-era influence in its near abroad. This is not simply an issue of nostalgia, but a perfectly logical and predictable reaction to the Russian environment. Russia lacks easily definable, easily defendable borders. There is no redoubt to which the Russians can withdraw, and the only security they know comes from establishing buffers — buffers which tend to be lost in times of crisis. The alternative is for Russia to simply trust other states to leave it alone. Considering Russia’s history of occupations, from the Mongol horde to Napoleonic France to Hitler’s Germany, it is not difficult to surmise why the Russians tend to choose a more activist set of policies.

As such, the country tends to expand and contract like a beating heart — gobbling up nearby territories in times of strength, and then contracting and losing those territories in times of weakness. Rather than what Westerners think of as a traditional nation-state, Russia has always been a multiethnic empire, heavily stocked with non-Russian (and even non-Orthodox) minorities. Keeping those minorities from damaging central control requires a strong internal security and intelligence arm, and hence we get the Cheka, the KGB, and now the FSB.

Nature of the Budding Conflict
Combine a security policy thoroughly wedded to expansion with an internal stabilization policy that institutionalizes terror, and it is understandable why most of Russia’s neighbors do not like Moscow very much. A fair portion of Western history revolves around the formation and shifting of coalitions to manage Russian insecurities.

In the American case specifically, the issue is one of continental control. The United States is the only country in the world that effectively controls an entire continent. Mexico and Canada have been sufficiently intimidated so that they can operate independently only in a very limited sense. (Technically, Australia controls a continent, but with the some 85 percent of its territory unusable, it is more accurate in geopolitical terms to think of it as a small archipelago with some very long bridges.) This grants the United States not only a potentially massive internal market, but also the ability to project power without the fear of facing rearguard security threats. U.S. forces can be focused almost entirely on offensive operations, whereas potential competitors in Eurasia must constantly be on their guard about the neighbors.

The only thing that could threaten U.S. security would be the rise of a Eurasian continental hegemon. For the past 60 years, Russia (or the Soviet Union) has been the only entity that has had a chance of achieving that, largely due to its geographic reach. U.S. strategy for coping with this is simple: containment, or the creation of a network of allies to hedge in Russian political, economic and military expansion. NATO is the most obvious manifestation of this policy imperative, while the Sino-Soviet split is the most dramatic one.

Containment requires that United States counter Russian expansionism at every turn, crafting a new coalition wherever Russia attempts to break out of the strategic ring, and if necessary committing direct U.S. forces to the effort. The Korean and Vietnam wars — both traumatic periods in American history — were manifestations of this effort, as were the Berlin airlift and the backing of Islamist militants in Afghanistan (who incidentally went on to form al Qaeda).

The Georgian war in August was simply the first effort by a resurging Russia to pulse out, expand its security buffer and, ideally, in the Kremlin’s plans, break out of the post-Cold War noose that other powers have tied. The Americans (and others) will react as they did during the Cold War: by building coalitions to constrain Russian expansion. In Europe, the challenges will be to keep the Germans on board and to keep NATO cohesive. In the Caucasus, the United States will need to deftly manage its Turkish alliance and find a means of engaging Iran. In China and Japan, economic conflicts will undoubtedly take a backseat to security cooperation.

Russia and the United States will struggle in all of these areas, consisting as they do the Russian borderlands. Most of the locations will feel familiar, as Russia’s near abroad has been Russia’s near abroad for nearly 300 years. Those locations — the Baltics, Austria, Ukraine, Serbia, Turkey, Central Asia and Mongolia — that defined Russia’s conflicts in times gone by will surface again. Such is the tapestry of history: the major powers seeking advantage in the same places over and over again.

The New Old-Front
But not all of those fronts are in Eurasia. So long as U.S. power projection puts the Russians on the defensive, it is only a matter of time before something along the cordon cracks and the Russians are either fighting a land war or facing a local insurrection. Russia must keep U.S. efforts dispersed and captured by events as far away from the Russian periphery as possible — preferably where Russian strengths can exploit American weakness.

So where is that?

Geography dictates that U.S. strength involves coalition building based on mutual interest and long-range force projection, and internal U.S. harmony is such that America’s intelligence and security agencies have no need to shine. Unlike Russia, the United States does not have large, unruly, resentful, conquered populations to keep in line. In contrast, recall that the multiethnic nature of the Russian state requires a powerful security and intelligence apparatus. No place better reflects Russia’s intelligence strengths and America’s intelligence weakness than Latin America.

The United States faces no traditional security threats in its backyard. South America is in essence a hollow continent, populated only on the edges and thus lacking a deep enough hinterland to ever coalesce into a single hegemonic power. Central America and southern Mexico are similarly fractured, primarily due to rugged terrain. Northern Mexico (like Canada) is too economically dependent upon the United States to seriously consider anything more vibrant than ideological hostility toward Washington. Faced with this kind of local competition, the United States simply does not worry too much about the rest of the Western Hemisphere — except when someone comes to visit.

Stretching back to the time of the Monroe Doctrine, Washington’s Latin American policy has been very simple. The United States does not feel threatened by any local power, but it feels inordinately threatened by any Eastern Hemispheric power that could ally with a local entity. Latin American entities cannot greatly harm American interests themselves, but they can be used as fulcrums by hostile states further abroad to strike at the core of the United States’ power: its undisputed command of North America.

It is a fairly straightforward exercise to predict where Russian activity will reach its deepest. One only needs to revisit Cold War history. Future Russian efforts can be broken down into three broad categories: naval interdiction, drug facilitation and direct territorial challenge.

Naval Interdiction

Naval interdiction represents the longest sustained fear of American policymakers. Among the earliest U.S. foreign efforts after securing the mainland was asserting control over the various waterways used for approaching North America. Key in this American geopolitical imperative is the neutralization of Cuba. All the naval power-projection capabilities in the world mean very little if Cuba is both hostile and serving as a basing ground for an extra-hemispheric power.

The U.S. Gulf Coast is not only the heart of the country’s energy industry, but the body of water that allows the United States to function as a unified polity and economy. The Ohio, Missouri, and Mississippi river basins all drain to New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico. The economic strength of these basins depends upon access to oceanic shipping. A hostile power in Cuba could fairly easily seal both the Straits of Florida and the Yucatan Channel, reducing the Gulf of Mexico to little more than a lake.

Building on the idea of naval interdiction, there is another key asset the Soviets targeted at which the Russians are sure to attempt a reprise: the Panama Canal. For both economic and military reasons, it is enormously convenient to not have to sail around the Americas, especially because U.S. economic and military power is based on maritime power and access. In the Cold War, the Soviets established friendly relations with Nicaragua and arranged for a favorable political evolution on the Caribbean island of Grenada. Like Cuba, these two locations are of dubious importance by themselves. But take them together — and add in a Soviet air base at each location as well as in Cuba — and there is a triangle of Soviet airpower that can threaten access to the Panama Canal.

Drug Facilitation

The next stage — drug facilitation — is somewhat trickier. South America is a wide and varying land with very little to offer Russian interests. Most of the states are commodity providers, much like the Soviet Union was and Russia is today, so they are seen as economic competitors. Politically, they are useful as anti-American bastions, so the Kremlin encourages such behavior whenever possible. But even if every country in South America were run by anti-American governments, it would not overly concern Washington; these states, alone or en masse, lack the ability to threaten American interests … in all ways but one.

The drug trade undermines American society from within, generating massive costs for social stability, law enforcement, the health system and trade. During the Cold War, the Soviets dabbled with narcotics producers and smugglers, from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to the highland coca farmers of Bolivia. It is not so much that the Soviets encouraged the drug trade directly, but that they encouraged any group they saw as ideologically useful.

Stratfor expects future Russian involvement in such activities to eclipse those of the past. After the Soviet fall, many FSB agents were forced to find new means to financially support themselves. (Remember it was not until 1999 that Vladimir Putin took over the Russian government and began treating Russian intelligence like a bona fide state asset again.) The Soviet fall led many FSB agents, who already possessed more than a passing familiarity with things such as smuggling and organized crime, directly into the heart of such activities. Most of those agents are — formally or not — back in the service of the Russian government, now with a decade of gritty experience on the less savory side of intelligence under their belts. And they now have a deeply personal financial interest in the outcome of future operations.

Drug groups do not need cash from the Russians, but they do need weaponry and a touch of training — needs which dovetail perfectly with the Russians’ strengths. Obviously, Russian state involvement in such areas will be far from overt; it just does not do to ship weapons to the FARC or to one side of the brewing Bolivian civil war with CNN watching. But this is a challenge the Russians are good at meeting. One of Russia’s current deputy prime ministers, Igor Sechin, was the USSR’s point man for weapons smuggling to much of Latin America and the Middle East. This really is old hat for them.

U.S. Stability

Finally, there is the issue of direct threats to U.S. stability, and this point rests solely on Mexico. With more than 100 million people, a growing economy and Atlantic and Pacific ports, Mexico is the only country in the Western Hemisphere that could theoretically (which is hardly to say inevitably) threaten U.S. dominance in North America. During the Cold War, Russian intelligence gave Mexico more than its share of jolts in efforts to cause chronic problems for the United States. In fact, the Mexico City KGB station was, and remains today, the biggest in the world. The Mexico City riots of 1968 were in part Soviet-inspired, and while ultimately unsuccessful at overthrowing the Mexican government, they remain a testament to the reach of Soviet intelligence. The security problems that would be created by the presence of a hostile state the size of Mexico on the southern U.S. border are as obvious as they would be dangerous.

As with involvement in drug activities, which incidentally are likely to overlap in Mexico, Stratfor expects Russia to be particularly active in destabilizing Mexico in the years ahead. But while an anti-American state is still a Russian goal, it is not their only option. The Mexican drug cartels have reached such strength that the Mexican government’s control over large portions of the country is an open question. Failure of the Mexican state is something that must be considered even before the Russians get involved. And simply doing with the Mexican cartels what the Soviets once did with anti-American militant groups the world over could suffice to tip the balance.

In many regards, Mexico as a failed state would be a worse result for Washington than a hostile united Mexico. A hostile Mexico could be intimidated, sanctioned or even invaded, effectively browbeaten into submission. But a failed Mexico would not restrict the drug trade at all. The border would be chaos, and the implications of that go well beyond drugs. One of the United States’ largest trading partners could well devolve into a seething anarchy that could not help but leak into the U.S. proper.

Whether Mexico becomes staunchly anti-American or devolves into the violent chaos of a failed state does not matter much to the Russians. Either one would threaten the United States with a staggering problem that no amount of resources could quickly or easily fix. And the Russians right now are shopping around for staggering problems with which to threaten the United States.

In terms of cost-benefit analysis, all of these options are no-brainers. Threatening naval interdiction simply requires a few jets. Encouraging the drug trade can be done with a few weapons shipments. Destabilizing a country just requires some creativity. However, countering such activities requires a massive outlay of intelligence and military assets — often into areas that are politically and militarily hostile, if not outright inaccessible. In many ways, this is containment in reverse.

Old Opportunities, New Twists
In Nicaragua, President Daniel Ortega has proven so enthusiastic in his nostalgia for Cold War alignments that Nicaragua has already recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the two territories in the former Soviet state (and U.S. ally) of Georgia that Russia went to war to protect. That makes Nicaragua the only country in the world other than Russia to recognize the breakaway regions. Moscow is quite obviously pleased — and was undoubtedly working the system behind the scenes.

In Bolivia, President Evo Morales is attempting to rewrite the laws that govern his country’s wealth distribution in favor of his poor supporters in the indigenous highlands. Now, a belt of conflict separates those highlands, which are roughly centered at the pro-Morales city of Cochabamba, from the wealthier, more Europeanized lowlands. A civil war is brewing — a conflict that is just screaming for outside interference, as similar fights did during the Cold War. It is likely only a matter of time before the headlines become splattered with pictures of Kalashnikov-wielding Cochabambinos decrying American imperialism.

Yet while the winds of history are blowing in the same old channels, there certainly are variations on the theme. The Mexican cartels, for one, were radically weaker beasts the last time around, and their current strength and disruptive capabilities present the Russians with new options.

So does Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a man so anti-American he seems to be even a few steps ahead of Kremlin propagandists. In recent days, Chavez has already hosted long-range Russian strategic bombers and evicted the U.S. ambassador. A glance at a map indicates that Venezuela is a far superior basing point than Grenada for threatening the Panama Canal. Additionally, Chavez’s Venezuela has already indicated both its willingness to get militarily involved in the Bolivian conflict and its willingness to act as a weapons smuggler via links to the FARC — and that without any heretofore detected Russian involvement. The opportunities for smuggling networks — both old and new — using Venezuela as a base are robust.

Not all changes since the Cold War are good for Russia, however. Cuba is not as blindly pro-Russian as it once was. While Russian hurricane aid to Cuba is a bid to reopen old doors, the Cubans are noticeably hesitant. Between the ailing of Fidel Castro and the presence of the world’s largest market within spitting distance, the emerging Cuban regime is not going to reflexively side with the Russians for peanuts. In Soviet times, Cuba traded massive Soviet subsidies in exchange for its allegiance. A few planeloads of hurricane aid simply won’t pay the bills in Havana, and it is still unclear how much money the Russians are willing to come up with.

There is also the question of Brazil. Long gone is the dysfunctional state; Brazil is now an emerging industrial powerhouse with an energy company, Petroleo Brasileiro, of skill levels that outshine anything the Russians have yet conquered in that sphere. While Brazilian rhetoric has always claimed that Brazil was just about to come of age, it now happens to be true. A rising Brazil is feeling its strength and tentatively pushing its influence into the border states of Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia, as well as into regional rivals Venezuela and Argentina. Russian intervention tends to appeal to those who do not feel they have meaningful control over their own neighborhoods. Brazil no longer fits into that category, and it will not appreciate Russia’s mucking around in its neighborhood.

A few weeks ago, Stratfor published a piece detailing how U.S. involvement in the Iraq war was winding to a close. We received many comments from readers applauding our optimism. We are afraid that we were misinterpreted. “New” does not mean “bright” or “better,” but simply different. And the dawning struggle in Latin America is an example of the sort of “different” that the United States can look forward to in the years ahead. Buckle up.
23985  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: September 15, 2008, 02:41:36 PM
Government Intelligence
Is Way Behind
September 15, 2008; Page A21
As we mark the anniversary of 9/11, it's worth reviewing how quickly the U.S. has closed intelligence gaps in the past and how far we have to go today. In a similar period after the Nazis started World War II, the U.S. broke the German communications code, invented radar, and developed and dropped the nuclear bomb. The war to gain the information upper hand over terrorists is taking longer -- perhaps too long.

Ironically, the government's last great innovation in information technology was the network that became the Internet. The Web has revolutionized civilian life, but not so for the intelligence agencies. Still plagued by old-fashioned giant IT projects, government intelligence agencies stockpile silos of unshared data in a large bureaucratic structure more suited to a predigital era.

National security should benefit more than it does from the country's technological genius, but Silicon Valley and Washington are opposite cultures. In one, the creative destruction of competition is the norm. In 2001, for example, digital leaders included Netscape, Excite and AltaVista where now Google and others dominate. In Washington, permanent bureaucracies are the rule, with new layers added in the name of reform. Venture capitalists back innovations through small technology teams. Washington has built a massive, unwieldy intelligence structure.

This is dangerous because successful intelligence requires great craft in gathering accurate information, then smartly connecting the dots. Recall that law-enforcement authorities had information that would have stopped most of the 9/11 hijackers if only known information about them -- their flight schools, travel documents and dubious wire payments from the Mideast -- had been shared and analyzed. Imagination needed to be applied to these facts, including that civilian airplanes could be turned into weapons.

We do know that many plots have been uncovered and stopped. What we don't know remains a huge risk. London and Madrid have had their versions of 9/11, and other plots have come close. Britain stopped a plot to blow up passenger airplanes flying to the U.S.; the FBI arrested al Qaeda supporters planning to attack soldiers at Fort Dix, N.J.; and German authorities arrested suspected Islamic Jihad Union members planning to attack U.S. military facilities in Germany.

The New York City Police Department alone cites a dozen serious plots against the city since 9/11. Publicized ones include a planned cyanide attack on the subway by al Qaeda operatives; a separate al Qaeda plot to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge; a plan to blow up the midtown subway station at Herald Square; and a plot to bomb underwater train tunnels to flood lower Manhattan.

The good news is that dots are being identified better than before 9/11. Attorney General Michael Mukasey plans to issue new guidelines next month so FBI agents can use the same investigative tools to stop terror plots that they use for criminal probes. A $90 million project is under way for massive surveillance of New York City's financial district, with closed-circuit cameras throughout the area and license-plate monitors to tag suspicious vehicles.

How well these dots are being connected is less clear. Post-9/11 legal reforms now permit FBI agents to search Google and other commercial sites. Yet less than one-third of the FBI's national security branch agents and analysts have Internet access at their desks. A $500 million technology project to update the software to access the terrorist watch list of some one million names doesn't reliably track Arabic names when translated into English. It also doesn't allow basic search terms such as "and" and "or."

Government intelligence has been reorganized into the massive bureaucracy at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. In contrast, countries such as Britain and Israel have structures that encourage information sharing while also ensuring competitive analysis of what the gathered intelligence really means.

Given how commercial innovation is outpacing government, it's likelier that you'll see a targeted, online advertisement for a flight to Orlando just when you're ready to go, long before smart algorithms mining classified data will alert intelligence authorities to connections among suspicious characters. The intelligence community should be challenged at least to become a fast follower of innovation.

Remembering 9/11 means remembering the losses of that day, but it also means remembering what went wrong to allow it to happen. No intelligence system can work all the time, but the government still has a lot to learn from Silicon Valley about how information flows best and how technology can help turn facts into knowledge. A war based on information should be a war fought on our terms, if we can become more intelligent about intelligence.
23986  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: September 15, 2008, 02:31:32 PM
Ain't this priceless?  No doubt the MSM will be all over this , , ,
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WHILE campaigning in public for a speedy withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, Sen. Barack Obama has tried in private to persuade Iraqi leaders to delay an agreement on a draw-down of the American military presence.

According to Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Obama made his demand for delay a key theme of his discussions with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad in July.

"He asked why we were not prepared to delay an agreement until after the US elections and the formation of a new administration in Washington," Zebari said in an interview.

Obama insisted that Congress should be involved in negotiations on the status of US troops - and that it was in the interests of both sides not to have an agreement negotiated by the Bush administration in its "state of weakness and political confusion."

"However, as an Iraqi, I prefer to have a security agreement that regulates the activities of foreign troops, rather than keeping the matter open." Zebari says.

Though Obama claims the US presence is "illegal," he suddenly remembered that Americans troops were in Iraq within the legal framework of a UN mandate. His advice was that, rather than reach an accord with the "weakened Bush administration," Iraq should seek an extension of the UN mandate.

While in Iraq, Obama also tried to persuade the US commanders, including Gen. David Petraeus, to suggest a "realistic withdrawal date." They declined.

Obama has made many contradictory statements with regard to Iraq. His latest position is that US combat troops should be out by 2010. Yet his effort to delay an agreement would make that withdrawal deadline impossible to meet.

Supposing he wins, Obama's administration wouldn't be fully operational before February - and naming a new ambassador to Baghdad and forming a new negotiation team might take longer still.

By then, Iraq will be in the throes of its own campaign season. Judging by the past two elections, forming a new coalition government may then take three months. So the Iraqi negotiating team might not be in place until next June.

Then, judging by how long the current talks have taken, restarting the process from scratch would leave the two sides needing at least six months to come up with a draft accord. That puts us at May 2010 for when the draft might be submitted to the Iraqi parliament - which might well need another six months to pass it into law.

Thus, the 2010 deadline fixed by Obama is a meaningless concept, thrown in as a sop to his anti-war base.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the Bush administration have a more flexible timetable in mind.

According to Zebari, the envisaged time span is two or three years - departure in 2011 or 2012. That would let Iraq hold its next general election, the third since liberation, and resolve a number of domestic political issues.

Even then, the dates mentioned are only "notional," making the timing and the cadence of withdrawal conditional on realities on the ground as appreciated by both sides.

Iraqi leaders are divided over the US election. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani (whose party is a member of the Socialist International) sees Obama as "a man of the Left" - who, once elected, might change his opposition to Iraq's liberation. Indeed, say Talabani's advisers, a President Obama might be tempted to appropriate the victory that America has already won in Iraq by claiming that his intervention transformed failure into success.

Maliki's advisers have persuaded him that Obama will win - but the prime minister worries about the senator's "political debt to the anti-war lobby" - which is determined to transform Iraq into a disaster to prove that toppling Saddam Hussein was "the biggest strategic blunder in US history."

Other prominent Iraqi leaders, such as Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi and Kurdish regional President Massoud Barzani, believe that Sen. John McCain would show "a more realistic approach to Iraqi issues."

Obama has given Iraqis the impression that he doesn't want Iraq to appear anything like a success, let alone a victory, for America. The reason? He fears that the perception of US victory there might revive the Bush Doctrine of "pre-emptive" war - that is, removing a threat before it strikes at America.

Despite some usual equivocations on the subject, Obama rejects pre-emption as a legitimate form of self -defense. To be credible, his foreign-policy philosophy requires Iraq to be seen as a failure, a disaster, a quagmire, a pig with lipstick or any of the other apocalyptic adjectives used by the American defeat industry in the past five years.

Yet Iraq is doing much better than its friends hoped and its enemies feared. The UN mandate will be extended in December, and we may yet get an agreement on the status of forces before President Bush leaves the White House in January.

Source NY Post
23987  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Bush's Lonely Decision on: September 15, 2008, 02:10:59 PM
Bush's Lonely Decision
September 15, 2008; Page A22
Now that even Barack Obama has acknowledged that President Bush's surge in Iraq has "succeeded beyond our wildest dreams," maybe it's time the Democratic nominee gives some thought to how that success actually came about -- not just in Ramadi and Baghdad, but in the bureaucratic Beltway infighting out of which the decision to surge emerged.

That's one reason to welcome "The War Within," the fourth installment in Bob Woodward's account of the Bush Presidency. As is often the case with the Washington Post stalwart, the reporting is better than the analysis, which reflects the Beltway conventional wisdom of a dogmatic and incurious President. But even as a (very) rough draft of history, we read Mr. Woodward's book as an instructive profile in Presidential decision-making.

Consider what confronted Mr. Bush in 2006. Following a February attack on a Shiite shrine in the city of Samarra, Iraq's sectarian violence began a steep upward spiral. The U.S. helped engineer the ouster of one Iraqi prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, in favor of Nouri al-Maliki, an untested leader about whom the U.S. knew next to nothing. The "Sunni Awakening" of tribal sheiks against al Qaeda was nowhere in sight. An attempt at a minisurge of U.S. and Iraqi forces in Baghdad failed dismally. George Casey, the American commander in Iraq, believed the only way the U.S. could "win" was to "draw down" -- a view shared up the chain of command, including Centcom Commander John Abizaid and then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Politically, the war had become deeply unpopular in an election year that would wipe out Republican majorities in Congress. The bipartisan Iraq Study Group, run by James Baker and Lee Hamilton, was gearing up to offer the President the option of a politically graceful defeat, dressed up as a regional "diplomatic offensive." Democrats united in their demands for immediate withdrawal, while skittish Republicans who had initially supported the war, including Senators Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Gordon Smith of Oregon, abandoned the Administration.

From the State Department, Condoleezza Rice opposed the surge, arguing, according to Mr. Woodward, that "the U.S. should minimize its role in punishing sectarian violence." Senior brass at the Pentagon were also against it, on the theory that it was more important to ease the stress on the military and be prepared for any conceivable military contingency than to win the war they were fighting.

Handed this menu of defeat, Mr. Bush played opposite to stereotype by firing Mr. Rumsfeld and seeking advice from a wider cast of advisers, particularly retired Army General Jack Keane and scholar Fred Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute. The President also pressed the fundamental question of how the war could actually be won, a consideration that seemed to elude most senior members of his government. "God, what is he talking about?" Mr. Woodward quotes a (typically anonymous) senior aide to Ms. Rice as wondering when Mr. Bush raised the question at one meeting of foreign service officers. "Was the President out of touch?"

No less remarkably, the surge continued to face entrenched Pentagon opposition even after the President had decided on it. Admiral Michael Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, went out of his way to prevent General Keane from visiting Iraq in order to limit his influence with the White House.

The Pentagon also sought to hamstring General David Petraeus in ways both petty and large, even as it became increasingly apparent that the surge was working. Following the general's first report to Congress last September, Mr. Bush dictated a personal message to assure General Petraeus of his complete support: "I do not want to change the strategy until the strategy has succeeded," Mr. Woodward reports the President as saying. In this respect, Mr. Bush would have been better advised to dictate that message directly to Admiral Mullen.

The success of the surge in pacifying Iraq has been so swift and decisive that it's easy to forget how difficult it was to find the right general, choose the right strategy, and muster the political will to implement it. It is also easy to forget how many obstacles the State and Pentagon bureaucracies threw in Mr. Bush's way, and how much of their bad advice he had to ignore, especially now that their reputations are also benefiting from Iraq's dramatic turn for the better.

Then again, American history offers plenty of examples of wartime Presidents who faced similar challenges: Ulysses Grant became Lincoln's general-in-chief in 1864, barely a year before the surrender at Appomattox. What matters most is that the President had the fortitude to insist on winning. That's a test President Bush passed -- something history, if not Bob Woodward, will recognize.
23988  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: September 15, 2008, 01:06:09 PM
Hi adrenaline skateboard


http://sfist.com/2008/09/12/mindrendingly_epic_powderblue_suite.php
23989  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 15, 2008, 01:04:05 PM
I appreciate your points, but apart for Rev. Wright this is a church that had a particularly warm relationship with Louis Farrakhan and featured him prominently.  There's plenty of black churches with community programs that don't promote such virulent bigots.
23990  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / pd wsj on: September 15, 2008, 12:59:23 PM
Lost amid last week's controversy over whether Barack Obama had insulted Sarah Palin with his "lipstick on a pig" reference was his inspiration for the dig. Once again the issue was whether he was borrowing material without citation.

What landed Mr. Obama in hot water was this statement: "John McCain says he's about change, too -- except for economic policy, health care policy, tax policy, education policy, foreign policy, and Karl Rove-style politics. That's just calling the same thing something different. You can put lipstick on a pig; it's still a pig. You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change; it's still going to stink after eight years."

The McCain campaign shamelessly claimed that because Ms. Palin had used a lipstick reference in her acceptance speech at the GOP convention, Mr. Obama was issuing a porcine insult of her. That was a stretch. A better riposte might have been to note that Mr. Obama seemed to be channeling a hard-left newspaper cartoonist named Tom Toles. Only four days earlier, Mr. Toles drew a picture of Mr. McCain and his running mate standing outside the White House. The punch line: "Watch out, Mr. Bush! With the exception of economic policy and energy policy and social issues and tax policy and foreign policy and Supreme Court appointments and Rove-style politics, we're coming in there to shake things up!"

Mr. Obama has had previous problems with appropriating the words of others -- such as channeling a speech on civil rights previously delivered by Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts. Michael Miner of the Chicago Reader even proposed a McCain TV ad showing Mr. Obama making his "change" argument against the background of the Toles cartoon. An announcer would quizzically ask: "Change? Or the same thing?" Then Mr. McCain would say: "I'm John McCain and I approve this message."

Such an ad, puncturing the media myth of Mr. Obama's vaunted eloquence, might have been devastating.

-- John Fund

I Was Raised in a Small Town Too

I had to chuckle at the charge in the New York Times that Sarah Palin had hired "cronies" from her high school when she was governor -- in a small state, that's hard not to do, and even harder in Alaska where recruiting from out of state is a special challenge.

I had to smile too at the alleged claim from a campaign contributor that he'd used his "influence" with Mrs. Palin to get the head of the town museum fired. Not only does the contributor deny the story, but any veteran of small town politics will tell you it's rife with colorful characters who sometimes think they wield more influence than they actually do.

A lot about the New York Times' front-page dissection of Sarah Palin's Alaska record on Sunday brought back memories of my own experiences growing up in a small town in a rural state. My erstwhile hometown, Rutland, Vt. (pop. 17,000), itself recently went through similar personnel upheaval following the election of a mayor and city treasurer determined to run the city more efficiently. And who knows what the Times would have made of a controversy in the 1990s about whether the town library should shelf "Daddy's Roommate," a children's book about same-sex couples?

The point being, the kind of small-town politics the Times describes would only come as news to, well, the New York Times. There may yet be undiscovered dirt in Mrs. Palin's Wasilla record, but on the evidence so far, her experiences will be pretty recognizable to many Americans. Contrast that with Barack Obama's mysterious record as a "community organizer" -- I don't remember many of those in Rutland.

-- Joseph Sternberg

Quote of the Day

"Until now, the crisis seemed like a confusing Wall Street story. That all ended with the fast-moving events of Sunday. . . . The candidates had hoped to put off their detailed prescriptions until they were in office, unrolling an economic agenda in conjunction with an address to the new Congress. Now, there's no way to duck it. . . . 'This is the financial equivalent of Russia invading Georgia -- an unexpected event that calls for leadership and direction,' said James Rickards, senior managing director for market intelligence at Omnis Inc., a research and analysis firm" -- Politico.com's Mike Allen on the political repercussions of Wall Street's crisis.

Your Wallet Still Isn't Safe

In the Fed's and Treasury's game of whack a mole, the moles are winning. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson didn't bail out Lehman, correctly judging that a bailout would be no real solution. But don't think this marks the end of government attempts to relieve the financial crisis.

If there has been one uninterrupted trend of the past century, it has been the steady socialization of risk -- especially financial risk. Deposit insurance was created and then expanded. In the S&L meltdown, even uninsured depositors were saved. Subsidy after subsidy was piled up to encourage mortgage debt. All the fiscal and monetary powers were mounted to rescue banks from their Third World lending misadventures. The "system" was protected from the failures of Penn Central, Continental Illinois, Long Term Capital, the crashing dotcoms and telecoms, etc.

And when even massive liquidity provided by a government lender of last resort proves insufficient? Today’s confidence hemorrhage probably won't stop until government supplies what the financial markets have failed to supply (except in small instances) -- a buyer of last resort for unwanted mortgage-related assets.

It was careless, of course, to hold a financial crisis in the middle of a presidential election. And neither ticket this year is especially confidence inspiring when it comes to economics -- more likely to one-up each other in denouncing "bailouts" and "greed" than to contribute anything constructive. Note the rich irony of Barack Obama and John McCain's sudden, after-the-fact recriminations over the severance packages of Fannie's and Freddie's departed chiefs -- for, if there ever was a case where two U.S. Senators had a duty to be on the ball before-the-fact, it was in overseeing these two "government sponsored enterprises."

For all that, a taxpayer bailout of the financial system is inevitable. The political calendar only means it likely won't arrive until next year.

What did Merrill get for its mortgage-related holdings, unloaded on a single hedge-fund buyer in late July? 22 cents on the dollar was surely a lowball value. In London, a competitive auction of the remains of Cheyne Finance's structured mortgage portfolio fetched 44 cents.

Let's say a flat price of 25 cents on the dollar, no questions asked. A new Resolution Trust Corporation, instead of taking over failed banks, would stand ready to buy any mortgage-related assets that any financial institution cares to bring it. We already have the makings of such an institution in place, in the form of the quasi-nationalized Fannie and Freddie (who already own about half the nation's foreclosed homes). No, not every down-on-its-luck firm would be saved, but banks would have a pawnshop willing to inject new capital into them by taking soggy assets off their hands at a price fair to the taxpayer. Even if such an offer tempted few takers, a floor on mortgage-debt prices might do a lot more to restore confidence (especially given the role of misguided government accounting rules for financial institutions) than the endless mole-whacking of Washington's first responders so far.

-- Holman W. Jenkins Jr.

Red Ink in the Golden State

After a stalemate that lasted two and a half months, California lawmakers reached a tentative deal to end the state's budget impasse.

Last week, Democrats dropped their insistence on new taxes to resolve a $16.3 billion deficit problem. Republicans then promptly signed on to a series of accounting gimmicks and one-time fixes, many involving accelerated tax payments so they count in the current fiscal year rather than the next one.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who angered his fellow Republicans earlier this month by proposing a "temporary" sales tax, is keeping mum on whether he will sign off on the deal. His office professes to be worried about insufficient reform of the budget process. But everyone in Sacramento wants to cut a short-term deal and "get out of town." Elections involving 100 of the state's 120 legislators are only six weeks away and politicians are antsy to hit the campaign trail.

Regardless of any deal, California faces another budget crisis next year. "Both parties are papering over the problems," a longtime state budget analyst told me. "They've agreed not to raise taxes or make real spending reforms this year when the voters can pass judgment on their work in November. Next year, with everyone safely re-elected, they will then mete out the real pain."

This gamesmanship cries out for real budgetary reform. During the 1980s, California operated under the Gann Limit, a voter-approved constitutional restriction that prevented spending from growing faster than population growth and inflation. Unfortunately, Gann was cleverly watered down to the point of meaninglessness as part of a bait-and-switch transportation bond measure narrowly approved by voters in 1990. Ever since, California's legislators have pigged out on spending sprees during good economic times and then muddled through in downturns.

It's time for a new Gann Limit to be placed before voters, because state legislators and Governor Schwarzenegger have shown themselves of steering the state's fiscal vehicle without some budgetary guardrails installed.



23991  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: September 15, 2008, 11:07:05 AM
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/new...cle4749183.ece

ISLAMIC law has been officially adopted in Britain, with sharia courts given powers to rule on Muslim civil cases.
The government has quietly sanctioned the powers for sharia judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence.
Rulings issued by a network of five sharia courts are enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through the county courts or High Court.
Previously, the rulings of sharia courts in Britain could not be enforced, and depended on voluntary compliance among Muslims.
It has now emerged that sharia courts with these powers have been set up in London, Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester with the network’s headquarters in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. Two more courts are being planned for Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Sheikh Faiz-ul-Aqtab Siddiqi, whose Muslim Arbitration Tribunal runs the courts, said he had taken advantage of a clause in the Arbitration Act 1996.
Under the act, the sharia courts are classified as arbitration tribunals. The rulings of arbitration tribunals are binding in law, provided that both parties in the dispute agree to give it the power to rule on their case.
Siddiqi said: “We realised that under the Arbitration Act we can make rulings which can be enforced by county and high courts. The act allows disputes to be resolved using alternatives like tribunals. This method is called alternative dispute resolution, which for Muslims is what the sharia courts are.”
The disclosure that Muslim courts have legal powers in Britain comes seven months after Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was pilloried for suggesting that the establishment of sharia in the future “seems unavoidable” in Britain.
In July, the head of the judiciary, the lord chief justice, Lord Phillips, further stoked controversy when he said that sharia could be used to settle marital and financial disputes.
In fact, Muslim tribunal courts started passing sharia judgments in August 2007. They have dealt with more than 100 cases that range from Muslim divorce and inheritance to nuisance neighbours.
It has also emerged that tribunal courts have settled six cases of domestic violence between married couples, working in tandem with the police investigations.
Siddiqi said he expected the courts to handle a greater number of “smaller” criminal cases in coming years as more Muslim clients approach them. “All we are doing is regulating community affairs in these cases,” said Siddiqi, chairman of the governing council of the tribunal.
Jewish Beth Din courts operate under the same provision in the Arbitration Act and resolve civil cases, ranging from divorce to business disputes. They have existed in Britain for more than 100 years, and previously operated under a precursor to the act.
Politicians and church leaders expressed concerns that this could mark the beginnings of a “parallel legal system” based on sharia for some British Muslims.
Dominic Grieve, the shadow home secretary, said: “If it is true that these tribunals are passing binding decisions in the areas of family and criminal law, I would like to know which courts are enforcing them because I would consider such action unlawful. British law is absolute and must remain so.”
Douglas Murray, the director of the Centre for Social Cohesion, said: “I think it’s appalling. I don’t think arbitration that is done by sharia should ever be endorsed or enforced by the British state.”
There are concerns that women who agree to go to tribunal courts are getting worse deals because Islamic law favours men.
Siddiqi said that in a recent inheritance dispute handled by the court in Nuneaton, the estate of a Midlands man was divided between three daughters and two sons.
The judges on the panel gave the sons twice as much as the daughters, in accordance with sharia. Had the family gone to a normal British court, the daughters would have got equal amounts.
In the six cases of domestic violence, Siddiqi said the judges ordered the husbands to take anger management classes and mentoring from community elders. There was no further punishment.
In each case, the women subsequently withdrew the complaints they had lodged with the police and the police stopped their investigations.
Siddiqi said that in the domestic violence cases, the advantage was that marriages were saved and couples given a second chance.
Inayat Bunglawala, assistant secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “The MCB supports these tribunals. If the Jewish courts are allowed to flourish, so must the sharia ones.”
23992  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison on: September 15, 2008, 11:06:04 AM

"Conscience is the most sacred of all property. "

-- James Madison (essay on Property, 29 March 1792)

Reference: Madison: Writings, Rakove, ed., Library of America (516)
23993  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: September 15, 2008, 10:34:36 AM
Grateful for a confusion clarified.
23994  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Woof from a FMA noob on: September 15, 2008, 10:33:40 AM
Woof Chad:

Welcome aboard and glad to see your first post.

Both Greg and Rick are outstanding teachers and any time with them will be well spent.  I look forward to hearing from you when you are ready to work with me.

TAC,
Guro C.

23995  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: September 14, 2008, 06:27:46 PM
Concerning "the Bradley Effect" and the accuracy of polls.  I've read ttat pollsters call land lines, which tends to miss younger voters-- who tend to be pro BO.
23996  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: September 14, 2008, 04:46:58 PM
Sounds like I should have read it first  embarassed  The source from whom I received the recommendation has been downgraded from "relaible source" to "usually reliable source"  cheesy
23997  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fred Barnes on SP on: September 14, 2008, 04:44:21 PM
Fred Barnes fleshes out Barracuda's history:

 
 Palin the Pragmatic
Doctrinaire conservatives beware.
by Fred Barnes
09/22/2008, Volume 014, Issue 02



Conservatives are rushing to crown Alaska governor Sarah Palin as the new Ronald Reagan. And indeed there are similarities. Like Reagan, Palin has a dazzling star quality and an appeal to voters outside the conservative orbit. But there's another likeness to Reagan that conservatives may find a bit off-putting. She governs as a pragmatic conservative--with heavy emphasis on the pragmatic.

Palin, John McCain's vice presidential running mate, is a strong social and religious conservative. She opposes abortion and gay rights and, as an evangelical Christian, believes in a God-centered universe. But these matters are neither her top priorities as governor nor even her second-tier concerns. Her social conservatism has been muted.

Instead, her agenda since being elected governor in 2006 consists of oil and gas, taxes, and ethics reform. "Just look at the bills she put her name on," says John Bitney, her policy director during her first year as governor. "They speak for themselves." The bills involved a new arrangement for building a natural gas pipeline, higher taxes on oil companies, and new ethics rules covering the governor's administration and the legislature.

Those were her major initiatives. Next on Palin's list of priorities were maintaining the solvency of the pension program for teachers, cutting spending in the state's capital budget, and assuring that parents who home school their children aren't discriminated against by state regulations.

Palin has frequently voiced her support for anti-abortion bills requiring parental consent for girls under 17 and outlawing partial-birth abortions. "Alaskans know I am pro-life and have never wavered in my belief in the sanctity of every human life," she declared in April.

But she refused to introduce the pro-life measures in a special legislative session last spring devoted to the gas pipeline. "These issues are so important they shouldn't be diluted with oil and gas deliberations," she said.

Later, she declined to call a separate special session to take up the abortion bills. Her reasoning: Pro-lifers had failed to persuade her the bills could pass the state senate. Nor would she intervene to pressure two Republican senators who opposed the legislation to change their minds. Palin isn't willing "to jump out in front of the bus on things that aren't moveable" in the legislature, says state Republican chairman Randy Ruedrich.

Palin's conservatism, like Reagan's, has never been in doubt. When I talked to her last year, she described herself as "pro-business and pro-development." TheAnchorage Daily News said the spending cuts she imposed in 2007 "may be the biggest single-year line-item veto total in state history." Of course, Palin is also pro-gun.

When she attended a governor's conference in Washington last February and was interviewed on C-SPAN by Steve Scully, she endorsed "across the board" tax cuts because Americans "know best" how to spend their own money. Palin said she's "committed" to making Alaska "more of a contributing state .  .  . and less reliant on the federal government."

Her biggest task as governor has been to start construction of the gas pipeline to the lower 48 states. She tossed out the sweetheart contract her predecessor, Republican Frank Murkowski, had reached with three oil companies and negotiated a new deal with a Canadian company. The goal, she said, is "to feed hungry markets in our state, reduce energy costs, help secure the nation, [and] flow that energy into hungry markets across the nation. That's my mission."

Her record as governor hardly qualifies her as a doctrinaire conservative. She proposed a graduated tax on oil as the price soared, then signed a bill passed by the legislature that set the new tax rate even higher. Reagan, by the way, cut taxes in 1981 and raised them the next year.

Why did Palin push a pipeline and favor a tax hike? Bitney says the answer is simple: Alaska needs more energy as older oil fields become depleted, and the pipeline will generate jobs and revenue. As for raising taxes, Palin follows the command of the state constitution to get the maximum benefit from the state's natural resources.

Bitney says Palin never instructed her gubernatorial staff to "go after abortion" or any other issues of concern to social conservatives. In a campaign debate in 2006, she said that both evolution and creationism should be taught in public schools. "You know, don't be afraid of education," she said. "Healthy debate is so important and so valuable in our schools."

The next day she thought better of her comment. "I would not push the state board of education to add creation-based alternatives to the state's required curriculum," she said. But there shouldn't be "a prohibition against debate if [creationism] comes up in class."

As governor, Palin has appointed a commissioner of education and nine members of the state board--without applying a litmus test on creationism or evolution. And there's been no effort, either by Palin or her appointees, to add creationism to the curriculum.

Palin's most celebrated act of practical conservatism was killing the notorious Bridge to Nowhere in Ketchikan. She had endorsed it in a gubernatorial campaign debate, but changed her mind after being elected. By then, the project had become a symbol of wasteful spending, and the congressional earmark with money for it had been rescinded.

But the three members of Alaska's congressional delegation--Ted Stevens, Lisa Murkowski, and Don Young--still favored the project. Their expectation was that Palin would keep it alive with federal highway funds and state money. She refused.

The anointing of Palin as the new Reagan is surely premature. Let's say she's a potential Reagan. Like him, Palin has focused on a few big issues, while allowing others popular with conservatives to fall by the wayside. This brand of pragmatic conservatism worked for Reagan. It's worked for Palin too.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of THE WEEKLY STANDARD.
 
 
 
23998  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: September 14, 2008, 08:04:03 AM
This site comes recommended to me:

www.NewsBusters.org

23999  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Knife Clips on: September 14, 2008, 07:59:30 AM
Thank you. 

Please keep them coming folks!
24000  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Rules of Engagement on: September 14, 2008, 07:55:13 AM
Woof Peregrine:

I agree that moral and legal standards may well not be the same.

I would add to the analytical mix is not only the provocation/intimidation/threat/attack but its context.  Is it "intra-tribal" i.e. within your social circles/networks/someone known to you/traceable by you or is it in some anonymous context? 

A month or so ago, at the hotel swimming pool where we have a membership, while sitting in the jacuzzi a heavily tattooed gangmember joined us with his woman and my then daughter (just turned 6) asked him about his tatoos and why he wasn't worried the water would wash his tattoos off.  There was some awkwardness as his women said that they could NEVER be washed off and that was why one should not get tattoos.  Without realizing it I was staring at his tatts (about 7 of them had naked women with great breasts) as well as devils, gang names and such and he aked me what I was looking at.  I said sorry, I had just been staring into space, and about 90 seconds later told my daughter it was time to go.

My son is still at the age where he thinks dad can kick the world's butt, so I made sure to tell him the story that night as I tucked him into bed and explain why I had left.
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