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24051  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Useful Idiots on: September 23, 2008, 12:46:33 AM
Imagine yourself as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, now in your fourth year as president of Iran and about to make yet another appearance at the U.N.'s General Assembly in New York. Superficially -- but only superficially -- things do not appear to be going well.

 
AP
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Over the weekend, you replaced the head of your central bank over differences about an inflation rate of 28%, up from 12% in 2006. He's the second one to go in just a year. Ali Larijani, once your top nuclear negotiator, resigned last year over his objections to your confrontational style, and may challenge you in next year's presidential election. Your boss, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has also cooled on your presidency.

Abroad, your tenure has brought about three binding, albeit weak, U.N. sanctions. The often pliant International Atomic Energy Agency last week issued a scathing report, scoring your government for obstructing its investigations and citing evidence that your military has sought to refit long-range missiles to carry a nuclear warhead. Now France and Britain are pressing for another round of sanctions -- and another kick in the shins to your faltering economy.

As for your well-publicized doubts and disquisitions on the future of Israel, or the existence of homosexuality in Iran, or the Holocaust, or the divine halo you sensed the first time you spoke at the U.N., you have succeeded -- as George W. Bush never could have done on his own -- in convincing the American public that Iran is a clear and present danger. In Tel Aviv they say you must be a Mossad mole. Could the Islamic Republic possibly have an uglier face?

Of course not. And that's the whole point of your presidency. Your goal has been to define Iranian deviancy down. You've succeeded handsomely.

A decade ago, before anyone outside the torture chambers of Tehran's Evin prison knew your name, it was former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani who personified the Iranian hard line. He green-lighted terrorist attacks on Jewish targets in Argentina; he refused to revoke the death sentence on novelist Salman Rushdie; a German court fingered him in the assassinations of Iranian-Kurdish dissidents in a Berlin restaurant. When Mohammad Khatami succeeded him as president, the world breathed a sigh of relief.

Now it is Mr. Rafsanjani who is often spoken of as a "pragmatist" and a "moderate" -- as compared to you.

As for the nuclear file, in 2004 the West's bottom line was that Iran had to suspend uranium enrichment as a precondition for negotiations. Mr. Khatami obliged (or at least pretended to); the West's negotiating position barely budged.

By contrast, since you took over you have installed thousands of centrifuges, spinning uranium roughly at a rate of a bomb's worth of fissile material every year. And while you've paid a price in U.N. sanctions, you've also caused Russia and China to split with the rest of the Security Council over stiffer penalties. Better yet, the Bush administration has gone from refusing to negotiate, to offering conditional negotiations, to pursuing low-level negotiations and now, lately, feeling its way toward tacit diplomatic normalization. All that without you bending an inch toward the West.

Above all, you have given the world time to digest the notion that Iran will inevitably become a nuclear power, and that nothing can be done to stop it -- at least at any kind of acceptable price. Will Americans agree to open a third military front in the Middle East? Does Israel, which couldn't so much as defeat Hezbollah, want to roll the dice on a bombing run that will spark another bloody regional war but retard Iran's nuclear programs by at most a few years? How will the U.S. afford its epic Wall Street bailouts if you shut down the Straits of Hormuz?

Surely your enemies will take no such risks. Which is why you're pleased that the more far-seeing Americans are coming around to your point of view. Look at former CIA spy Robert Baer. Mr. Baer has a new book arguing that the U.S. ought not "to stand in the way of Iran's quest to dominate Islam." He thinks Israel's nuclear arms should be put under U.N. supervision. He believes the U.S. and Iran are ripe for the kind of alliance Nixon forged with Mao.

It cannot surprise you that such ideas are now taking root with the American intelligentsia; useful idiots always contribute to the revolution.

And what about your own future? It's true that Iran has inflation and other economic headaches, but didn't the Imam Khomeini say he didn't start a revolution to bring down the price of melons? If the Almighty wills that you will leave office next year, so be it. As president, you have done more for the Islamic Republic in your four years than all your predecessors combined managed in their 25.
24052  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More details on the Ayers connection on: September 23, 2008, 12:38:27 AM
WSJ

Obama and Ayers
Pushed Radicalism
On Schools
By STANLEY KURTZArticle
 more in Opinion »Email Printer Friendly Share:
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Despite having authored two autobiographies, Barack Obama has never written about his most important executive experience. From 1995 to 1999, he led an education foundation called the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC), and remained on the board until 2001. The group poured more than $100 million into the hands of community organizers and radical education activists.

 
AP
Bill Ayers.
The CAC was the brainchild of Bill Ayers, a founder of the Weather Underground in the 1960s. Among other feats, Mr. Ayers and his cohorts bombed the Pentagon, and he has never expressed regret for his actions. Barack Obama's first run for the Illinois State Senate was launched at a 1995 gathering at Mr. Ayers's home.

The Obama campaign has struggled to downplay that association. Last April, Sen. Obama dismissed Mr. Ayers as just "a guy who lives in my neighborhood," and "not somebody who I exchange ideas with on a regular basis." Yet documents in the CAC archives make clear that Mr. Ayers and Mr. Obama were partners in the CAC. Those archives are housed in the Richard J. Daley Library at the University of Illinois at Chicago and I've recently spent days looking through them.

The Chicago Annenberg Challenge was created ostensibly to improve Chicago's public schools. The funding came from a national education initiative by Ambassador Walter Annenberg. In early 1995, Mr. Obama was appointed the first chairman of the board, which handled fiscal matters. Mr. Ayers co-chaired the foundation's other key body, the "Collaborative," which shaped education policy.

The CAC's basic functioning has long been known, because its annual reports, evaluations and some board minutes were public. But the Daley archive contains additional board minutes, the Collaborative minutes, and documentation on the groups that CAC funded and rejected. The Daley archives show that Mr. Obama and Mr. Ayers worked as a team to advance the CAC agenda.

One unsettled question is how Mr. Obama, a former community organizer fresh out of law school, could vault to the top of a new foundation? In response to my questions, the Obama campaign issued a statement saying that Mr. Ayers had nothing to do with Obama's "recruitment" to the board. The statement says Deborah Leff and Patricia Albjerg Graham (presidents of other foundations) recruited him. Yet the archives show that, along with Ms. Leff and Ms. Graham, Mr. Ayers was one of a working group of five who assembled the initial board in 1994. Mr. Ayers founded CAC and was its guiding spirit. No one would have been appointed the CAC chairman without his approval.

The CAC's agenda flowed from Mr. Ayers's educational philosophy, which called for infusing students and their parents with a radical political commitment, and which downplayed achievement tests in favor of activism. In the mid-1960s, Mr. Ayers taught at a radical alternative school, and served as a community organizer in Cleveland's ghetto.

In works like "City Kids, City Teachers" and "Teaching the Personal and the Political," Mr. Ayers wrote that teachers should be community organizers dedicated to provoking resistance to American racism and oppression. His preferred alternative? "I'm a radical, Leftist, small 'c' communist," Mr. Ayers said in an interview in Ron Chepesiuk's, "Sixties Radicals," at about the same time Mr. Ayers was forming CAC.

CAC translated Mr. Ayers's radicalism into practice. Instead of funding schools directly, it required schools to affiliate with "external partners," which actually got the money. Proposals from groups focused on math/science achievement were turned down. Instead CAC disbursed money through various far-left community organizers, such as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (or Acorn).

Mr. Obama once conducted "leadership training" seminars with Acorn, and Acorn members also served as volunteers in Mr. Obama's early campaigns. External partners like the South Shore African Village Collaborative and the Dual Language Exchange focused more on political consciousness, Afrocentricity and bilingualism than traditional education. CAC's in-house evaluators comprehensively studied the effects of its grants on the test scores of Chicago public-school students. They found no evidence of educational improvement.

CAC also funded programs designed to promote "leadership" among parents. Ostensibly this was to enable parents to advocate on behalf of their children's education. In practice, it meant funding Mr. Obama's alma mater, the Developing Communities Project, to recruit parents to its overall political agenda. CAC records show that board member Arnold Weber was concerned that parents "organized" by community groups might be viewed by school principals "as a political threat." Mr. Obama arranged meetings with the Collaborative to smooth out Mr. Weber's objections.

The Daley documents show that Mr. Ayers sat as an ex-officio member of the board Mr. Obama chaired through CAC's first year. He also served on the board's governance committee with Mr. Obama, and worked with him to craft CAC bylaws. Mr. Ayers made presentations to board meetings chaired by Mr. Obama. Mr. Ayers spoke for the Collaborative before the board. Likewise, Mr. Obama periodically spoke for the board at meetings of the Collaborative.

The Obama campaign notes that Mr. Ayers attended only six board meetings, and stresses that the Collaborative lost its "operational role" at CAC after the first year. Yet the Collaborative was demoted to a strictly advisory role largely because of ethical concerns, since the projects of Collaborative members were receiving grants. CAC's own evaluators noted that project accountability was hampered by the board's reluctance to break away from grant decisions made in 1995. So even after Mr. Ayers's formal sway declined, the board largely adhered to the grant program he had put in place.

Mr. Ayers's defenders claim that he has redeemed himself with public-spirited education work. That claim is hard to swallow if you understand that he views his education work as an effort to stoke resistance to an oppressive American system. He likes to stress that he learned of his first teaching job while in jail for a draft-board sit-in. For Mr. Ayers, teaching and his 1960s radicalism are two sides of the same coin.

Mr. Ayers is the founder of the "small schools" movement (heavily funded by CAC), in which individual schools built around specific political themes push students to "confront issues of inequity, war, and violence." He believes teacher education programs should serve as "sites of resistance" to an oppressive system. (His teacher-training programs were also CAC funded.) The point, says Mr. Ayers in his "Teaching Toward Freedom," is to "teach against oppression," against America's history of evil and racism, thereby forcing social transformation.

The Obama campaign has cried foul when Bill Ayers comes up, claiming "guilt by association." Yet the issue here isn't guilt by association; it's guilt by participation. As CAC chairman, Mr. Obama was lending moral and financial support to Mr. Ayers and his radical circle. That is a story even if Mr. Ayers had never planted a single bomb 40 years ago.

Mr. Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
24053  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Request for Reviews on: September 23, 2008, 12:30:32 AM
Woof All:

I was just surfing through our catalog/store and noticed that several of the DVDs have few or no reviews.  Would folks be so kind as to post reviews of any of our DVDs which you have?

TIA,
Guro Crafty
24054  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Turning point in Pak attitudes? on: September 23, 2008, 12:19:41 AM
Geopolitical Diary: A Turning Point in Pakistan's Attitude Toward Jihadist War?
September 22, 2008
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said on Sunday that the Prime Minister House in Islamabad was the original target of the Sept. 20 suicide bombing at the Marriott hotel in the Pakistani capital but that militants could not attack the house due to tight security.

Whether or not Gilani is correct, the Marriott attack — considered by many Pakistanis as the worst terrorist attack in the history of the country — hit close to home for the Pakistani government. At the time of the bombing, the who’s who of Pakistan’s top civil and military leadership — including Gilani, army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani and President Asif Ali Zardari — were at a dinner gathering at the Prime Minister House, located about half a mile from the Marriott. When the blast occurred, there was a large commotion at the Prime Minister House as officials scurried to make sure the president was protected.

The Marriott bombing was a major wake-up call for the Pakistani government, which until now has waffled on its handling of Islamist militants operating in the country. After such a dramatic attack so close to so many high-ranking government officials, Zardari announced that his government will now be going on the offensive against the militants, much like U.S. President George W. Bush did after the Sept. 11 attacks. Zardari is a controversial figure among the public as well as the military because of past corruption charges, and his bad reputation is likely to get in the way of his attempts to get tough with jihadists.

But he may have help, in that this latest bombing has also had an impact on public perceptions, which have thus far been against fighting what is seen as an American war that has destabilized the country. The attack is getting a lot of play in the media, and as more Pakistanis see the magnitude of the damage, popular perceptions are undergoing a shift. We are hearing of a move to organize local forces in the Pashtun areas to counter the Taliban and their al Qaeda allies.

The biggest problem facing the United States since the beginning of the war against militants has been Pakistan’s reluctance to aggressively pursue the jihadists. A lot of this has been because Islamabad does not want to see the complete neutralization of the Afghan Taliban — a key asset for Pakistan in its attempt to re-establish influence in Afghanistan. Even after the rise of the Pakistani Taliban, which has been waging war against Islamabad, the policy has been to distinguish between rogue Taliban and those still under control.

This attitude, along with the view within Washington that Islamabad was unwilling to seriously deliver on its commitments as an ally in the jihadist war, were key factors that led to Washington engaging in unilateral actions on Pakistani soil. The destruction of the Marriott hotel could be a turning point in terms of the Pakistanis mustering up the political will for decisive action against jihadist forces. A behavioral shift in Islamabad could offset recent frictions with Washington.

The extent to which Pakistan will get tough on the jihadists, however, remains to be seen. What is clear though is that the destruction of the Marriott has demonstrated that Islamabad can no longer afford to remain on the defensive.
24055  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: September 23, 2008, 12:17:03 AM
For my daughter (she's 6) accompanying me to the store this evening, and then tonight SHE read TO me her bedtime stories.
24056  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: September 23, 2008, 12:15:32 AM
Woof TD:

There's a brief bit of footage of GM Villabrille on our "The Grandfathers Speak" which Guro Inosanto authorized me to use, likewise footage of Manong LaCoste and several other GMs.  http://www.dogbrothers.com/pages/articles_wheredoibegin.html   

Do you have URLs for the footage you have seen?

TIA,
CD
24057  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: soempat on: September 23, 2008, 12:05:36 AM
Woof Guide Dog:

My memory jibes with yours-- and no worries about mentioning his DVDs, Pak Vik is a friend of ours.

TAC,
CD
24058  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Farewells and Goodbyes on: September 23, 2008, 12:03:55 AM
Woof Maxx:

Happy and healthy hunting to you.  As President Reagan said, the strategy is this "We win.  They lose."

De opreser liber,
Crafty Dog
24059  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tithing on: September 22, 2008, 02:37:38 PM
Woof All:

Tithing is an important part of Life.  This thread is for sharing good ideas for tithing.  (In a closely related vein, please see the "Help our Troops"   http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=329.0  )  As I have posted previously on this forum, amongst the recipients of tithing by our family is Michael Yon, whose reader supported reporting in Iraq and now Afghanistan does so much to get the Truth out.

In this post, I begin with this email sent to me by my wife, which both supports the Cub Scouts AND our troops while scoring you some good popcorn:

BEGIN

We could help out our Cub Scout pack greatly if we did fundraising for it via the popcorn sales.  And, if we have folks use a certain code (TENXVBF)  Conrad
can get credit for it and even earn a week camping trip. Maybe you could do some marketing via your forums?  The fundraising ends mid-October.

There is even something they can click on that will send popcorn/trail mix they order to our troops.

Here is what they'd have to do:

1) Log on to :  http://www.orderpopcorn.com/Store/Catalog/Affiliate/AffiliateLandingView.aspx?AffiliateCode=TENXVBF
2) Then they will see when they are logged in to give credit to Conrad D.
3) Then they can click on Support Our Troops Buy Now link and send popcorn
to the troops.
        They can also order popcorn and have it sent to themselves.
        (They should use the red links at the top for themselves.
        Otherwise it will send them to the link that tries to get them
        to order a case of the tins.)

END

Thanking you for your consideration,
Marc/CD
24060  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Tithing on: September 22, 2008, 02:35:03 PM
Woof All:

Tithing is an important part of Life.  This thread is for sharing good ideas for tithing.  (In a closely related vein, please see "Help our Troops" http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=329.0  )

I begin with this sent to me by my wife, which both supports the Cub Scouts AND our troops:

BEGIN

We could help out our Cub Scout pack greatly if we did fundraising for it via the
popcorn sales.  And, if we have folks use a certain code (TENXVBF)  Conrad
can get credit for it and even earn a week camping trip.

I was just thinking you could maybe so some shameless marketing via your
forums and ask people to buy popcorn and use the code TENXVBF.

There is even something they can click on that will send popcorn/trail mix they order
to our troops!

Here is what they'd have to do:

1) Log on to : http://www.orderpopcorn.com
2) Key in TENXVBF where is says ENTER ORDER KEY.  Then they will see when they
are logged in to give credit to Conrad D.
3) Then they can click on Support Our Troops Buy Now link and send popcorn
to the troops.
        They can also order popcorn and have it sent to themselves.
        (They should use the red links at the top for themselves.
        Otherwise it will send them to the link that tries to get them
        to order a case of the tins.)

END

Thanking you for your consideration,
CD
24061  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Everyone's Worry on: September 22, 2008, 12:48:26 PM
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits the United Nations in New York this week. Don't expect an honest update from him on his country's nuclear program. Iran is now edging closer to being armed with nuclear weapons, and it continues to develop a ballistic-missile capability.

 
AP
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Such developments may be overshadowed by our presidential election, but the challenge Iran poses is very real and not a partisan matter. We may have different political allegiances and worldviews, yet we share a common concern -- Iran's drive to be a nuclear state. We believe that Iran's desire for nuclear weapons is one of the most urgent issues facing America today, because even the most conservative estimates tell us that they could have nuclear weapons soon.

A nuclear-armed Iran would likely destabilize an already dangerous region that includes Israel, Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, and pose a direct threat to America's national security. For this reason, Iran's nuclear ambitions demand a response that will compel Iran's leaders to change their behavior and come to understand that they have more to lose than to gain by going nuclear.

Tehran claims that it is enriching uranium only for peaceful energy uses. These claims exceed the boundaries of credibility and science. Iran's enrichment program is far larger than reasonably necessary for an energy program. In past inspections of Iranian nuclear sites, U.N. inspectors found rare elements that only have utility in nuclear weapons and not in a peaceful nuclear energy program. Iran's persistent rejection of offers from outside energy suppliers or private bidders to supply it with nuclear fuel suggests it has a motive other than energy in developing its nuclear program. Tehran's continual refusal to answer questions from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about this troublesome part of its nuclear program suggests that it has something to hide.

The world rightfully doubts Tehran's assertion that it needs nuclear energy and is enriching nuclear materials for strictly peaceful purposes. Iran has vast supplies of inexpensive oil and natural gas, and its construction of nuclear reactors and attempts to perfect the nuclear fuel cycle are exceedingly costly. There is no legitimate economic reason for Iran to pursue nuclear energy.

Iran is a deadly and irresponsible world actor, employing terrorist organizations including Hezbollah and Hamas to undermine existing regimes and to foment conflict. Emboldened by the bomb, Iran will become more inclined to sponsor terror, threaten our allies, and support the most deadly elements of the Iraqi insurgency.

Tehran's development of a nuclear bomb could serve as the "starter's gun" in a new and potentially deadly arms race in the most volatile region of the world. Many believe that Iran's neighbors would feel forced to pursue the bomb if it goes nuclear.

By continuing to act in open defiance of its treaty obligations under the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, Iran rejects the inspections mandated by the IAEA and flouts multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions and sanctions.

At the same time, Iranian leaders declare that Israel is illegitimate and should not exist. President Ahmadinejad specifically calls for Israel to be "wiped off from the map," while seeking the weapons to do so. Such behavior casts Iran as an international outlier. No one can reasonably suggest that a nuclear-armed Iran will suddenly honor international treaty obligations, acknowledge Israel's right to exist, or cease efforts to undermine the Arab-Israeli peace process.

Mr. Ahmadinejad is also the chief spokesman for a regime that represses religious and ethnic minorities, women, students, labor groups and homosexuals. A government willing to persecute its own people can only be viewed as even more dangerous if armed with nuclear weapons.

Finally, our economy has suffered under the burden of rising oil prices. Iran is strategically located on a key choke point in the world's energy supply chain -- the Strait of Hormuz. No one can suggest that a nuclear Iran would hesitate to use its enhanced leverage to affect oil prices, or would work to ease the burden on the battered economies of the world's oil importers.

Facing such a threat, Americans must put aside their political differences and send a clear and united message that a nuclear armed Iran is unacceptable.

That is why the four of us, along with other policy advocates from across the political spectrum, have formed the nonpartisan group United Against Nuclear Iran. Everyone must understand the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran and mobilize the power of a united American public in opposition. As part of the United Against Nuclear Iran effort, we will announce various programs in the months ahead that we hope will be rallying points for the American and international public to voice unified opposition to a nuclear Iran.

We do not aim to beat the drums of war. On the contrary, we hope to lay the groundwork for effective U.S. policies in coordination with our allies, the U.N. and others by a strong showing of unified support from the American people to alter the Iranian regime's current course. The American people must have a voice in this great foreign-policy challenge, and we can make a real difference through national and international, social, economic, political and diplomatic measures.

Mr. Holbrooke is a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Mr. Woolsey is a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Mr. Ross was a special Middle East coordinator for President Clinton. Mr. Wallace was a representative of the U.S. to the U.N. for management and reform.
24062  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: A Mortgage Fable on: September 22, 2008, 12:38:23 PM
I think this gets it exactly right:
===============================

Once upon a time, in the land that FDR built, there was the rule of "regulation" and all was right on Wall and Main Streets. Wise 27-year-old bank examiners looked down upon the banks and saw that they were sound. America's Hobbits lived happily in homes financed by 30-year-mortgages that never left their local banker's balance sheet, and nary a crisis did we have.

Then, lo, came the evil Reagan marching from Mordor with his horde of Orcs, short for "market fundamentalists." Reagan's apprentice, Gramm of Texas and later of McCain, unleashed the scourge of "deregulation," and thus were "greed," short-selling, securitization, McMansions, liar loans and other horrors loosed upon the world of men.

Now, however, comes Obama of Illinois, Schumer of New York and others in the fellowship of the Beltway to slay the Orcs and restore the rule of the regulator. So once more will the Hobbits be able to sleep peacefully in the shire.

 

 
AP
From left: Christopher Cox, Henry Paulson, Harry Reid, Richard Shelby, Nancy Pelosi, Chris Dodd and Ben Bernanke.
With apologies to Tolkien, or at least Peter Jackson, something like this tale is now being sold to the American people to explain the financial panic of the past year. It is truly a fable from start to finish. Yet we are likely to hear some version of it often in the coming months as the barons of Congress try to absolve themselves of any responsibility for the housing and mortgage meltdowns.

Yes, greed is ever with us, at least until Washington transforms human nature. The wizards of Wall Street and London became ever more inventive in finding ways to sell mortgages and finance housing. Some of those peddling subprime loans were crooks, as were some of the borrowers who lied about their incomes. This is what happens in a credit bubble that becomes a societal mania.

A Look Back at the Crisis Unfolding
Stopping the Panic 09/20/08 – Now the task is to protect taxpayers and restore markets.Be It Resolved 09/19/08 – Paulson and Bernanke ask Congress for a resolution agency.The Fed and AIG 09/18/08 – Nationalizations aren't stopping the financial panic.McCain and the Markets 09/17/08 – Denouncing 'greed' and Wall Street isn't a growth agenda.The Fed's Epic Day 09/17/08 – It's only fair to praise the central bank when it does the right thing.Surviving the Panic 09/16/08 – A resolution agency, steady monetary policy, and a big tax cut.Wall Street Reckoning 09/15/08 – Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson's refusal to blink won't get any second guessing from us.But Washington is as deeply implicated in this meltdown as anyone on Wall Street or at Countrywide Financial. Going back decades, but especially in the past 15 or so years, our politicians have promoted housing and easy credit with a variety of subsidies and policies that helped to create and feed the mania. Let us take the roll of political cause and financial effect:

- The Federal Reserve. The original sin of this crisis was easy money. For too long this decade, especially from 2003 to 2005, the Fed held interest rates below the level of expected inflation, thus creating a vast subsidy for debt that both households and financial firms exploited. The housing bubble was a result, along with its financial counterparts, the subprime loan and the mortgage SIV.

Fed Chairmen Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke prefer to blame "a global savings glut" that began when the Cold War ended. But Communism was dead for more than a decade before the housing mania took off. The savings glut was in large part a creation of the Fed, which flooded the world with too many dollars that often found their way back into housing markets in the U.S., the U.K. and elsewhere.

- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Created by government, and able to borrow at rates lower than fully private corporations because of the implied backing from taxpayers, these firms turbocharged the credit mania. They channeled far more liquidity into the market than would have been the case otherwise, especially from the Chinese, who thought (rightly) that they were investing in mortgage securities that were as safe as Treasurys but with a higher yield.

These are the firms that bought the increasingly questionable mortgages originated by Angelo Mozilo's Countrywide and others. Even as the bubble was popping, they dived into pools of subprime and Alt-A ("liar") loans to meet Congressional demand to finance "affordable" housing. And they were both the cause and beneficiary of the great interest-group army that lobbied for ever more housing subsidies.

Fan and Fred's patrons on Capitol Hill didn't care about the risks inherent in their combined trillion-dollar-plus mortgage portfolios, so long as they helped meet political goals on housing. Even after taxpayers have had to pick up a bailout tab that may grow as large as $200 billion, House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank still won't back a reduction in their mortgage portfolios.

- A credit-rating oligopoly. Thanks to federal and state regulation, a small handful of credit rating agencies pass judgment on the risk for all debt securities in our markets. Many of these judgments turned out to be wrong, and this goes to the root of the credit crisis: Assets officially deemed rock-solid by the government's favored risk experts have lately been recognized as nothing of the kind.

When debt instruments are downgraded, banks must then recognize a paper loss on these assets. In a bitter irony, the losses cause the same credit raters whose judgments allowed the banks to hold these dodgy assets to then lower their ratings on the banks, requiring the banks to raise more money, and pay more to raise it. The major government-anointed credit raters -- S&P, Moody's and Fitch -- were as asleep on mortgages as they were on Enron. Senator Richard Shelby (R., Ala.) tried to weaken this government-created oligopoly, but his reforms didn't begin to take effect until 2007, too late to stop the mania.

- Banking regulators. In the Beltway fable, bank supervision all but vanished in recent years. But the great irony is that the banks that made some of the worst mortgage investments are the most highly regulated. The Fed's regulators blessed, or overlooked, Citigroup's off-balance-sheet SIVs, while the SEC tolerated leverage of 30 or 40 to 1 by Lehman and Bear Stearns.

The New York Sun reports that an SEC rule change that allowed more leverage was made in 2004 under then Chairman William Donaldson, one of the most aggressive regulators in SEC history. Of course the SEC's task was only to protect the investor assets at the broker-dealers, not the holding companies themselves, which everyone thought were not too big to fail. Now we know differently (see Bear Stearns below).

Meanwhile, the least regulated firms -- hedge funds and private-equity companies -- have had the fewest problems, or have folded up their mistakes with the least amount of trauma. All of this reaffirms the historical truth that regulators almost always discover financial excesses only after the fact.

- The Bear Stearns rescue. In retrospect, the Fed-Treasury intervention only delayed a necessary day of reckoning for Wall Street. While Bear was punished for its sins, the Fed opened its discount window to the other big investment banks and thus sent a signal that they would provide a creditor safety net for bad debt.

Morgan Stanley, Lehman and Goldman Sachs all concluded that they could ride out the panic without changing their business models or reducing their leverage. John Thain at Merrill Lynch was the only CEO willing to sell his bad mortgage paper -- at 22 cents on the dollar. Treasury and the Fed should have followed the Bear trauma with more than additional liquidity. Once they were on the taxpayer dime, the banks needed a thorough scrubbing that might have avoided last week's stampede.

- The Community Reinvestment Act. This 1977 law compels banks to make loans to poor borrowers who often cannot repay them. Banks that failed to make enough of these loans were often held hostage by activists when they next sought some regulatory approval.

Robert Litan, an economist at the Brookings Institution, told the Washington Post this year that banks "had to show they were making a conscious effort to make loans to subprime borrowers." The much-maligned Phil Gramm fought to limit these CRA requirements in the 1990s, albeit to little effect and much political jeering.

 

We could cite other Washington policies, including the political agitation for "mark-to-market" accounting that has forced firms to record losses after ratings downgrades even if the assets haven't been sold. But these are some of the main lowlights.

Our point here isn't to absolve Wall Street or pretend there weren't private excesses. But the investment mistakes would surely have been less extreme, and ultimately their damage more containable, if not for the enormous political support and subsidy for mortgage credit. Beware politicians who peddle fables that cast themselves as the heroes.
24063  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: September 22, 2008, 12:15:47 PM
Marriage in the Balance

Opponents of a measure that would cement a definition of marriage as between a man and a woman in the California constitution were cheered by a new Field Poll last week showing the measure losing 55% to 38%. Just a few weeks ago, the measure was trailing by only nine points.

But the battle over Proposition 8, which seeks to reestablish a traditional definition of marriage that was overturned by the state's Supreme Court this summer, isn't over.

A new study of polling in 26 states -- including California -- that have voted on the issue of gay marriage shows that support for such measures is often under-reported in polls. For example, in 2000 when California first voted on gay marriage, polls showed that Proposition 22 -- which would have banned gay marriage -- had 53% support in the final pre-election poll. It wound up winning with 61%.

"I can't say for sure why polls almost always understate support for traditional marriage," says Frank Schubert, a strategist for anti-gay marriage forces. "I believe it is because the media portrays same-sex marriage as being politically correct. Supporters of traditional marriage don't want pollsters to consider them intolerant, so they mask their true feelings on the issue."

In states that have voted on gay marriage, the study found that polls underestimated support for traditional marriage by an average of seven points. In only two states (Texas and South Carolina) did pre-election polls accurately predict the outcome of the vote. In only one state (Arizona), polls overstated the final percentage of voters who backed traditional marriage.

While that history may be of some solace to opponents of gay marriage, their trailing in California is at the outer edges of the survey errors. Buoyed by a favorable rewording of the ballot summary for November's Proposition 8 by California's Attorney General Jerry Brown, supporters of gay marriage may be on their way to an historic reversal of their state's 2000 vote.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day

"Seven days ago, Democrats were in a state of political panic after Sarah Palin's selection as running mate had helped push John McCain ahead in the polls. Now it may be the Republicans' turn . . . because the GOP is closely identified with big business in the minds of voters [in the current financial crisis]. . . . No poll numbers or headlines between now and Friday are as likely to influence the final outcome of election as much as [this week's first presidential] debate. Obama has avoided debates since his poor showing in April against Clinton in Philadelphia, and also did poorly in a Sept. 16 forum at California's Saddleback Church. If Obama doesn't turn in a solid performance Friday, his recent poll advantage could fade quickly. A week from now, Democrats may find themselves pushing the panic button again" -- Robert Stacy McCain, writing at the American Spectator's web site spectator.org.

Barney Frank Creates a Diversion

Nobody said Barney Frank wasn't smart, but his cynicism is getting the best of him. His House Finance committee quietly voted out a reversal of a recent mortgage reform. The latest bill would again require the Federal Housing Administration to allow seller financed downpayments -- which even the FHA calls an engine of fraud. Yet, meanwhile, in a shadow play of accountability, he noisily demands that Hank Paulson's mortgage bailout package be conditioned with caps on CEO pay for financial firms that participate.

Mr. Frank is being frivolous. If the idea is to get the financial system working again, depriving firms of the means to compete for talent is a strange way to do it. But he doesn't really mean it -- he's flogging his initiative on the hot button of CEO pay merely to create a simulation of debate while he and Mr. Paulson rush through a vast new subsidy machine for the housing lobby.

That's not to say incentives aren't important. Redesigning incentives is a big part of the day-to-day work of capitalism and that's going on now -- think of the near-constant stream of innovations aimed at fine-tuning CEO contracts. But the urgent target for political reform should be government's own contribution -- its massive subsidies and incentives for rich and poor alike to incur housing debt, including egregious things like FHA guarantees for no-downpayment loans. A lot of questions ought to be asked before Congress enacts the Paulson plan. Don't expect Mr. Frank to ask them -- he's too busy carrying water for the housing lobby that got us here in the first place.

-- Holman W. Jenkins Jr.



24064  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 22, 2008, 12:13:25 PM
McCain at His Worst

What is John McCain thinking? First, Mr. McCain takes a wild swing by saying as president, he would have fired Chris Cox, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, for "betraying the public trust." It turns out a president doesn't have the statutory authority to do that, and Mr. Cox has been a political asset in dealing with the financial meltdown of last week. Indeed, the day after his call for Mr. Cox's firing, Mr. McCain retreated and called him "a good man."

Now Mr. McCain has compounded his error by floating the name of Andrew Cuomo, the pugilistic Democratic New York attorney general, as his possible nominee to head the Securities and Exchange Commission. Mr. McCain told CBS's "60 Minutes" that Mr. Cuomo had "respect" and "prestige," praising his tenure as secretary of housing and urban development in the Clinton administration.

Mr. McCain must be looking at a different record than I am. Mr. Cuomo was a political grandstander at HUD, ranging far afield to file frivolous lawsuits against gun manufacturers. He also spent taxpayer money to hire such firms as Booz Allen Hamilton, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and Ernst & Young to paper over snafus at his agency.

Among the problems created by Mr. Cuomo while at HUD were what the liberal Village Voice called last month "a series of decisions between 1997 and 2001 that gave birth to the country's current crisis." A Voice investigation found that Mr. Cuomo "took actions that -- in combination with many other factors -- helped plunge Fannie and Freddie into the subprime markets without putting in place the means to monitor their increasingly risky investments. He turned the Federal Housing Administration mortgage program into a sweetheart lender with sky-high loan ceilings and no money down, and he legalized what a federal judge has branded 'kickbacks' to brokers that have fueled the sale of overpriced and unsupportable loans. Three to four million families are now facing foreclosure, and Cuomo is one of the reasons why."

Most egregiously, Matthew Rees of the Weekly Standard documented how Secretary Cuomo used the power of his office to declare war against Susan Gaffney, the HUD inspector general who was investigating charges of self-dealing by Cuomo aides. The Government Accountability Office later concluded Mr. Cuomo had used underhanded tactics to pursue spurious charges of racial discrimination against Ms. Gaffney.

The GAO found that HUD's decision to handpick two lawyers to investigate the discrimination charge, and award them contracts totaling $100,000 (the normal cost is about $3,000), represented "significant deviation" from the standard process of investigating discrimination complaints.

Ms. Gaffney, a classic whistleblower in the maverick tradition John McCain claims to embody, was an innocent victim of Mr. Cuomo's smear machine. Mr. McCain needs to go back and look at the Cuomo record at HUD -- and at the New York Attorney General's office for that matter -- before he so loosely and recklessly promotes Mr. Cuomo as someone to oversee the nation's securities regulation.

PD WSJ
24065  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Reagan; Luther Martin on: September 22, 2008, 12:06:10 PM
“The character that takes command in moments of crucial choices has already been determined by a thousand other choices made earlier in seemingly unimportant moments. It has been determined by all the ‘little’ choices of years past—by all those times when the voice of conscience was at war with the voice of temptation, [which was] whispering the lie that ‘it really doesn’t matter.’ It has been determined by all the day-to-day decisions made when life seemed easy and crises seemed far away—the decision that, piece by piece, bit by bit, developed habits of discipline or of laziness; habits of self-sacrifice or self-indulgence; habits of duty and honor and integrity—or dishonor and shame.” —Ronald Reagan

================

God, we're told, chooses the foolish to confound the wise, and the wise men who guided America's founding -- James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Marshall and Gouverneur Morris, among others -- were, to a man, confounded by Luther Martin. They were mistaken to take their obstreperous opponent lightly, however, though foolish he could be.

 In "Forgotten Founder, Drunken Prophet," a short and engaging biography of Luther Martin (1748-1826), Bill Kauffman shows us a sot, a quarrelsome bore, a butcher of the English language, an outspoken abolitionist who himself owned slaves -- and a man who advanced opinions at the Constitutional Convention that desperately needed to be heard.

The Maryland lawyer, and the state's attorney general, was the Constitutional Convention's "least honored delegate," Mr. Kauffman says. This relatively low esteem Mr. Kauffman attributes to Martin's relentless defense of the Articles of Confederation, under which, we should remember, the states, though "united" during the Revolutionary War, nevertheless retained their autonomy and independence. Martin's efforts to prevent a more centralized form of government surely made him his share of enemies at the Convention, though his slovenly habits, argumentative nature and blabbermouth tendencies surely played a role, too. Had Martin been tactful and succinct, his warnings might well have received the serious consideration they deserved.

The Anti-Federalists have long been portrayed as bumpkins who, in their provincialism, refused to admit the superiority of the Constitution and the new nation's potential for greatness. The portrayal is often unfair, and it is to Mr. Kauffman's credit that he has undertaken to give the dissenters their due. Martin, George Mason and Patrick Henry -- easily the intellectual equals of their more celebrated opponents -- raised serious arguments against the Constitution. In case after case, as Mr. Kauffman demonstrates, their dire predictions proved warranted.

Forgotten Founder, Drunken Prophet
By Bill Kauffman
(ISI Books, 202 pages, $25)
The Constitution would relegate the states to a subordinate status, the Anti-Federalists argued. It would thereby prove to be a threat to liberty, by denying states the freedom to govern their own affairs and by imposing laws and obligations that the states themselves would otherwise reject. The Constitution did not safeguard civil liberties either, the anti- Federalists charged; a Bill of Rights would be required to correct the flaw. The Constitution's "general welfare" clause, they said, could open the door to almost any activity that the national government wished to involve itself in -- as indeed it did.

When Martin was raising the alarm about such dangers, he was at his reckless best. In November 1787, in a speech to the Maryland House of Delegates, he assailed the Constitutional Convention not only for what it was attempting to do but for how it was going about the job. He broke the pledge to secrecy under which the convention had met and informed the Maryland legislators that the Framers -- already regarded with reverence -- had wantonly violated their instructions to meet "for the sole and express purpose of revising" the Articles of Confederation.

Instead, convention delegates had taken it upon themselves to make a fresh start by creating an entirely new system of government. To Martin, such an effort was akin to launching a coup d'état. George Washington and Benjamin Franklin had given their "hearty concurrence" to this mischief, Martin declared, but we should not "suffer our eyes to be so far dazzled by the splendor of names, as to run blindfolded into what may be our destruction."

Maryland largely ignored Martin's warnings. In April 1788, it voted to ratify the Constitution, the seventh state to do so, though on condition that a Bill of Rights be added. In June, when New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify, the required threshold had been reached, and the new Constitution took effect. Three years later, the first 10 amendments were added.

Martin's energetic opposition to the Constitution, though ultimately futile, was nevertheless the capstone of a peculiar career. Before then, he had been an increasingly important force in Maryland and the new nation. After, he seems to have stalled. His later life, while reasonably productive, was not happy. Just 40 years old when defeated by the Constitution's ratification, Martin served for decades on the Maryland bar and bench. In 1818, he represented the losing side in the landmark case of McCulloch v. Maryland, in which the state attempted to impose a tax on the notes of banks not chartered in Maryland. The state lost, further strengthening the power of the federal government that Martin had sought to restrain.

Martin also continued to drink heavily, sinking into bankruptcy and madness. By the mid-1820s he was subsisting on a special tax imposed on Maryland lawyers solely for his personal support. Eventually he was taken in by Aaron Burr, whom he had defended at the disgraced ex-vice president's 1807 trial for treason. By this time, an irrational detestation of Thomas Jefferson, his one-time decentralist ally, led Martin to embrace the Federalist Party, in apparent repudiation of everything he had argued for so strenuously. He was buried in New York City, evidently in an unmarked grave.

Mr. Kauffman tells this harrowing tale with a proper recognition of its farcical elements. He is a rollicksome stylist, though some readers may find his tone a tad too jokey at times. But throughout Mr. Kauffman shows a sympathetic regard for his subject. An appreciation of Luther Martin is perhaps overdue; a respect for the Anti-Federalists certainly is. Both ends are well served by this entertaining and instructive work.

Mr. Crawford is the author of "Twilight at Monticello: The Final Years of Thomas Jefferson."
24066  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Nathan Hale on: September 22, 2008, 05:37:15 AM

"I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."

-- Nathan Hale (before being hanged by the British, 22 September
1776)

Reference: The Spirit of `Seventy-Six, Commager and Morris (476);
original General William Hull, Campbell (37-38)
24067  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: September 22, 2008, 04:01:00 AM
I usually find Krugman to be an ass, an idiot, or both-- but here I think he raises some fair questions.

Cash for Trash
PAUL KRUGMAN
Published: September 21, 2008
NY Times

Some skeptics are calling Henry Paulson’s $700 billion rescue plan for the U.S. financial system “cash for trash.” Others are calling the proposed legislation the Authorization for Use of Financial Force, after the Authorization for Use of Military Force, the infamous bill that gave the Bush administration the green light to invade Iraq.

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There’s justice in the gibes. Everyone agrees that something major must be done. But Mr. Paulson is demanding extraordinary power for himself — and for his successor — to deploy taxpayers’ money on behalf of a plan that, as far as I can see, doesn’t make sense.

Some are saying that we should simply trust Mr. Paulson, because he’s a smart guy who knows what he’s doing. But that’s only half true: he is a smart guy, but what, exactly, in the experience of the past year and a half — a period during which Mr. Paulson repeatedly declared the financial crisis “contained,” and then offered a series of unsuccessful fixes — justifies the belief that he knows what he’s doing? He’s making it up as he goes along, just like the rest of us.

So let’s try to think this through for ourselves. I have a four-step view of the financial crisis:

1. The bursting of the housing bubble has led to a surge in defaults and foreclosures, which in turn has led to a plunge in the prices of mortgage-backed securities — assets whose value ultimately comes from mortgage payments.

2. These financial losses have left many financial institutions with too little capital — too few assets compared with their debt. This problem is especially severe because everyone took on so much debt during the bubble years.

3. Because financial institutions have too little capital relative to their debt, they haven’t been able or willing to provide the credit the economy needs.

4. Financial institutions have been trying to pay down their debt by selling assets, including those mortgage-backed securities, but this drives asset prices down and makes their financial position even worse. This vicious circle is what some call the “paradox of deleveraging.”

The Paulson plan calls for the federal government to buy up $700 billion worth of troubled assets, mainly mortgage-backed securities. How does this resolve the crisis?

Well, it might — might — break the vicious circle of deleveraging, step 4 in my capsule description. Even that isn’t clear: the prices of many assets, not just those the Treasury proposes to buy, are under pressure. And even if the vicious circle is limited, the financial system will still be crippled by inadequate capital.

Or rather, it will be crippled by inadequate capital unless the federal government hugely overpays for the assets it buys, giving financial firms — and their stockholders and executives — a giant windfall at taxpayer expense. Did I mention that I’m not happy with this plan?

The logic of the crisis seems to call for an intervention, not at step 4, but at step 2: the financial system needs more capital. And if the government is going to provide capital to financial firms, it should get what people who provide capital are entitled to — a share in ownership, so that all the gains if the rescue plan works don’t go to the people who made the mess in the first place.

That’s what happened in the savings and loan crisis: the feds took over ownership of the bad banks, not just their bad assets. It’s also what happened with Fannie and Freddie. (And by the way, that rescue has done what it was supposed to. Mortgage interest rates have come down sharply since the federal takeover.)

But Mr. Paulson insists that he wants a “clean” plan. “Clean,” in this context, means a taxpayer-financed bailout with no strings attached — no quid pro quo on the part of those being bailed out. Why is that a good thing? Add to this the fact that Mr. Paulson is also demanding dictatorial authority, plus immunity from review “by any court of law or any administrative agency,” and this adds up to an unacceptable proposal.

I’m aware that Congress is under enormous pressure to agree to the Paulson plan in the next few days, with at most a few modifications that make it slightly less bad. Basically, after having spent a year and a half telling everyone that things were under control, the Bush administration says that the sky is falling, and that to save the world we have to do exactly what it says now now now.

But I’d urge Congress to pause for a minute, take a deep breath, and try to seriously rework the structure of the plan, making it a plan that addresses the real problem. Don’t let yourself be railroaded — if this plan goes through in anything like its current form, we’ll all be very sorry in the not-too-distant future.
24068  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: September 22, 2008, 03:56:36 AM
Bill Kristol's conservative bona fides are in good order, so , , ,

A Fine Mess
By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Published: September 21, 2008
NY Times

A friend serving in the Bush administration called Sunday to try to talk me out of my doubts about the $700 billion financial bailout the administration was asking Congress to approve. I picked up the phone, and made the mistake of good-naturedly remarking, in my best imitation of Oliver Hardy, “Well, this is a fine mess you’ve gotten us into.”

People who’ve been working 18-hour days trying to avert a meltdown are entitled to bristle at jocular comments from those of us not in public office. So he bristled. He then tried to persuade me that the only responsible course of action was to support the administration’s request.

I’m not convinced.

It’s not that I don’t believe the situation is dire. It’s not that I want to insist on some sort of ideological purity or free-market fastidiousness. I will stipulate that this is an emergency, and is a time for pragmatic problem-solving, perhaps even for violating some cherished economic or political principles. (What are cherished principles for but to be violated in emergencies?)

And I acknowledge that there are serious people who think the situation too urgent and the day too late to allow for a real public and Congressional debate on what should be done. But — based on conversations with economists, Wall Street types, businessmen and public officials — I’m doubtful that the only thing standing between us and a financial panic is for Congress to sign this week, on behalf of the American taxpayer, a $700 billion check over to the Treasury.

A huge speculative housing bubble has collapsed. We’re going to have a recession. Unemployment will go up. Credit is going to be tighter. The challenge is to contain the damage to a “normal” recession — and to prevent a devastating series of bank runs, a collapse of the credit markets and a full-bore depression.

Everyone seems to agree on the need for a big and comprehensive plan, and that the markets have to have some confidence that help is on the way. Funds need to be supplied, trading markets need to be stabilized, solvent institutions needs to be protected, and insolvent institutions need to be put on the path to a deliberate liquidation or reorganization.

But is the administration’s proposal the right way to do this? It would enable the Treasury, without Congressionally approved guidelines as to pricing or procedure, to purchase hundreds of billions of dollars of financial assets, and hire private firms to manage and sell them, presumably at their discretion There are no provisions for — or even promises of — disclosure, accountability or transparency. Surely Congress can at least ask some hard questions about such an open-ended commitment.

And I’ve been shocked by the number of (mostly conservative) experts I’ve spoken with who aren’t at all confident that the Bush administration has even the basics right — or who think that the plan, though it looks simple on paper, will prove to be a nightmare in practice.

But will political leaders dare oppose it? Barack Obama called Sunday for more accountability, and I imagine he’ll support the efforts of the Democratic Congressional leadership to try to add to the legislation a host of liberal spending provisions. He probably won’t want to run the risk of actually opposing it, or even of raising big questions and causing significant delay — lest he be attacked for risking the possible meltdown of the global financial system.

What about John McCain? He could play it safe, going along with whatever the Bush administration and the Congress are able to negotiate.

If he wants to be critical, but concludes that Congress has to pass something quickly lest the markets fall apart again, and that he can’t reasonably insist that Congress come up with something fundamentally better, he could propose various amendments insisting on much more accountability and transparency in how Treasury handles this amazing grant of power.

Comments by McCain on Sunday suggest he might propose an amendment along the lines of one I received in an e-mail message from a fellow semi-populist conservative: “Any institution selling securities under this legislation to the Treasury Department shall not be allowed to compensate any officer or employee with a higher salary next year than that paid the president of the United States.” This would punish overpaid Wall Streeters and, more important, limit participation in the bailout to institutions really in trouble.

Or McCain — more of a gambler than Obama — could take a big risk. While assuring the public and the financial markets that his administration will act forcefully and swiftly to deal with the crisis, he could decide that he must oppose the bailout as the panicked product of a discredited administration, an irresponsible Congress, and a feckless financial establishment, all of which got us into this fine mess.

Critics would charge that in opposing the bailout, in standing against an apparent bipartisan consensus, McCain was being irresponsible.

Or would this be an act of responsibility and courage?
24069  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dominic Pitchard on: September 22, 2008, 03:47:43 AM
RIP Dominic Pritchard  KIA from war wounds to the spirit.
24070  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 21, 2008, 08:53:29 PM
"Frankly, the fact that Israel has accomplished so much while under such constant threat is nothing short of miraculous."

Amen to that.  I am reminded of the words of the heroic Wafa Sultan, when responding to comments about us Jews being "people of the book"; she said "No, they are people of MANY books- of science, medicine, and art and more."

Making editor of Law Review at Harvard is a really big deal.  Odd is not writing any articles while there , , , kind of like voting "present"  cheesy 

Anyway, time for dinner, gotta go.
24071  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: September 21, 2008, 04:03:04 PM
Jack Wheeler:

Over three years ago (April 2005) in Bye Bye Bolivia, you learned that under Evo Morales, Bolivia would someday break apart.  Ever since, Evo's puppet master Hugo Chavez has desperately tried to prevent this.  Now, this week, the moment of dissolution seems to have arrived.

With the lowland provinces of the "Media Luna" in outright rebellion, Morales has been unable to trust his military enough to order it to crush the rebels.  The New York Times is reporting that Chavez is publicly ridiculing the Bolivian military and threatening to invade the country with Venezuelan soldiers.

One or another, Morales or the country itself as an intact nation will not be around for much longer.

***

Speaking of nations that may not be around brings up Pakistan.  It's so upset over the US sending real live soldiers based in Afghanistan across its border to kill Taliban terrorists trying to kill them that the whole country is having a temper tantrum over the violation of its sacred "sovereignty."

The reason for the tantrum is that the sovereignty they demand the US "respect" doesn't exist.

I've crossed from Pakistan into Afghanistan - on foot, on horseback, by truck, even in a raft across the Kabul River - and vice versa many times.  I have seen with my own eyes:  there is no border.  Pakistan has never exercised anything approaching sovereign authority over its border with Afghanistan.

That 1600-mile border was drawn by a British civil servant, Sir Mortimer Durand (1850-1924), in 1893 in his capacity as Foreign Secretary of British India.  The government of Afghanistan has never recognized the "Durand Line" as a legitimate border - since it divides the Pushtun people (who make up the majority of Afghans) in two.

Further, the Durand Line Agreement - which the Brits claimed Afghan King Abdur Rahman Khan signed, but only in English which he didn't speak or read - was valid for 100 years and expired in 1993.  No subsequent Afghan government has renewed the Durand Agreement.

Thus the Afghan-Pakistan border does not exist either legally or actual reality.

The Pakistan "government-within-a-government," the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency or ISI, is conducting a proxy war against the United States and the government of Afghanistan via the Taliban and Al Qaeda terrorists.  The US, NATO, and Afghan military forces have every right to take whatever measures are necessary to shut this war down in territory the Paks have no legal right to nor control.

Pakistan is rapidly becoming a failed state - so failed that there is an increasing chance it may break apart into its constituents:  Baluchistan, the Sindh, Punjab, and "Pushtunistan" which may merge with Afghanistan.  India and the US better have a well-thought out and well-practiced plan to seize control of Pak nukes if necessary.
24072  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 21, 2008, 03:59:13 PM
"his brain worked well enough to get through Harvard and Harvard Law"

Actually his undergrad was Columbia. smiley
24073  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 21, 2008, 02:00:06 PM
Woof GM:

We have here Exhibit A as to why it is a good idea to put in an explanatory sentence or three as to WHY you are posting articles cheesy  If you had included the descriptions you include here with the original post, all would have been clear to JDN.

Yio!
Marc/CD

24074  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 21, 2008, 01:19:40 PM
Jack Wheeler:

 , , , And fourth is the release this week of John Fund's book Stealing Elections.  This is an incredibly important book.  John exposes the plans of the ultimate "community organizer" ACORN to commit massive voter fraud in cities throughout the country - and details how Obama is an ACORN operative.  He was a "community organizer for ACORN and then their lawyer.

Obambi, John reveals, has 9,000 lawyers ready to challenge November 4 election results in thousands of precincts in hundreds of counties in dozens of states, all under the phony claim of "voter suppression" perpetrated by evil election-stealing Republicans.

Just to take one single county, Bernalillo County in New Mexico:  over 1,000 fraudulent voters registrations have been submitted by ACORN, and if they are not accepted, ACORN will scream "voter suppression!"

Incidentally, Obambi's call for his followers to "argue with your neighbors and get in their face" if they don't support him (9/17 in Elko NV) is a classic ACORN intimidation technique.  Read John's book.
24075  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: September 21, 2008, 10:22:41 AM
Like most Americans, I feel a special affinity for/bond with the British-- so much of the best of America we inherited from them--, but on several fronts (the response to Islamic Fascism, the hostility to self-defense, the Orwellian supervision, the PC nanny state and its intimidation of common sense leave one wondering where the heck they are headed.
24076  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: September 21, 2008, 10:13:28 AM
Ali, who became an international celebrity after refusing to accept her marriage to a man three times her age and winning a divorce, is now back to a semblance of a normal life in Sana.
By Delphine Minoui and Borzou Daragahi, Special to The Times
September 20, 2008

SANA, YEMEN -- Still groggy, the schoolgirl brushed her hair, struggled to pull on her socks and snuggled into her school uniform: a green gown and a white head scarf.

By the time she gathered up her books and strapped on her backpack she was smiling and enthusiastic, her nervousness eclipsed by anticipation of the first day of class.  Like children across the world, 10-year-old Nujood Ali went back to school this month after a lengthy break. But Nujood hadn't been lazing about or playing hide-and-seek with her friends during the summer.  Instead, after she was pulled out of the second grade by her father earlier this year, she was married off to a man three times her  age, who beat her and sexually abused her.

For many girls in this traditional society, where tribal custom and conservative interpretations of Islam dominate, that would have been the end of the story. But Nujood was outraged. She gathered up her courage and on the advice of an aunt went to court in April. She got the help of a lawyer and filed for divorce.


A judge quickly granted it.

And on Tuesday morning, the divorcee, possibly the world's youngest, once again became a schoolgirl.

"I'm very happy to be going back to school," she said, waiting in her ramshackle home for her younger sister Haifa to get ready. "I'm going to study Arabic, the Koran, mathematics and drawing. I will do that with my classmates and I will definitely make friends there."

Nujood's unusual story of rebellion made her an international celebrity. Since The Times wrote of her in June, CNN, Elle magazine and other international media have come to this mountaintop capital to chronicle her tale.  Hordes of nonprofit organizations offered to help her get back to school, some even willing to foot the bill to send her abroad or to a fancy private academy, though they ignored Haifa, Nujood's little sister and best friend.

In the end, Nujood opted for a small, government-run public school relatively close to her home. She would begin where she left off, starting the second grade again.

Even then, it wasn't easy. One teacher said she worried that Nujood might disturb other students by talking about her sexual experiences.  The night before she went to school, Nujood said she dreamed of notebooks, drawings and new friends.

"When I left school, I learned how to count from one to 100," she said. "Now, I am going to learn how to count until a million."

Nujood said she wanted to study hard, to be able to attend university and become a lawyer like Shada Nasser, the well-known Yemeni human rights advocate who helped her get her divorce.  The girl's experience, and her ambition, have even served as an inspiration to her parents, uneducated rural people who moved to the capital's outskirts a few years ago and say they married her off to protect her from the dangers of the city.

"We were never asked if we wanted to go to school when we were children," said her father, Ali Mohammed Ahdal, who has two wives and 16 children.

"If we had a choice, we would have loved to study like Nujood."

On Tuesday morning, Nujood and Haifa climbed into a yellow taxi paid for by an Italian aid group and drove through the capital's smog-choked streets, passing vendors of the mildly narcotic khat leaves and the occasional shepherd.

Outside the schoolhouse, Nasser stood waiting, eager to share a day she had anticipated. "I can't believe we finally made it," said the attorney, who agreed to drop the rest of her caseload to take up Nujood's cause after the girl showed up alone in a Sana courthouse in April.
----------
Nujood and Nasser were welcomed by Njala Matri, the principal of the school in Rawdha, a lower-middle-class neighborhood along the road to the city's international airport.

"You are welcome here. You can feel at home," she said, smiling at Nujood.

Only about half of Yemeni girls attend primary school. Last year, one of the school's 1,200 girls, a 13-year-old, dropped out to marry, though the legal age of consent is 15. "Now, she's a mother," Matri said in dismay.

Women's rights activists say child marriage is part of a vicious circle. Girls drop out of school and bear too many children, contributing to Yemen's high female illiteracy and exploding birth rate.  But on Tuesday, Nujood stepped through the school's gates into a vast courtyard, disappearing into a swarm of noisy classmates. Some paid her no mind, while others approached the girl who had become a local and international media star.

"I am so excited," she said, playing nervously with her hands.

A bell sounded and the students quieted down, forming lines for roll call before shuffling into classrooms of about 50 students each. 
Nujood took a seat in the third row, neither at the front nor the back of the classroom.  The teacher, dressed in an all-covering black abaya, hushed the students and began the day's lesson by asking them to recite the national anthem as well as passages from the Koran.

Small hands shot into the air.

"Who can recite the Surat al-Hamd?" the teacher asked, referring to the first chapter of the Koran.

She saw Nujood's hand, and called her name.

"Nujood?" she said.

Nujood stood up and began, ending with: "Show us the straight path. The path of those whom You have favored. Not the path of those who earn Your anger nor of those who go astray."

"May God bless you," said the teacher.

"Let's give her a round of applause."

The others clapped as Nujood sat down, a little girl once again.


LA Times
24077  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: September 20, 2008, 01:32:54 PM
Yes, go to Search or Advanced Search and type in "Correct" and click the box for "thread titles".   In that you might not have remembered whether it was titled "Politically Corrret" or Politically Incorrect" this seach command will find you the thread no mater what.
24078  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 20, 2008, 12:20:21 PM
BTW, I already posted that WSJ editorial.

Concerning this: "a Murdoch publication (Fox News)"  as a very long time WSJ reader (30 years now) I found the Murdoch takeover to be very concerning and since it has happened I have seen a disconcerting drift towards posting more and more articles by Democrats, liberals, and others of that ilk in some sort of misguided "fair and balanced" nonsense.  I don't go to the WSJ for "fair and balanced", I go there for informed, intelligent discussion i.e. people who have already figured out the free minds and free markets are the way to go.  Fox News (excepting the outstanding Brit Hume Report, and the solid Neil Cavuto show) is not right or left, it is pandering to market segments underserved by the MSM.

24079  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: September 20, 2008, 12:12:12 PM
JDN:

Forgive me, but unless I misunderstand here you are missing the point.  The one is not of legal or constitutional rights, it is about whether the responses, or lack thereof, are hypocritical.

CCP: 

For future reference there is a thread on "Politically (in)correct" which is where this would have been a better fit.
24080  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Stock Market on: September 19, 2008, 09:47:04 PM
Me too.

I did add to PHO at 19 and CSCO too.
24081  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: September 19, 2008, 06:25:20 PM
A Howl of welcome into the Tribe to

Dog Lorenz Glaza

HCTHC!
CD
GF
24082  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / People who don't stickfight on: September 19, 2008, 06:06:56 PM
run the risk of ending up like this!

http://www.break.com:80/index/office-worker-goes-absolutely-insane.html
24083  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 19, 2008, 10:56:35 AM
financial crisis changes the entire shape and feel of the presidential election. It isn't just bad news, it's bad news that reveals what many people deep down feared, and hoped not to see revealed: that the huge and sprawling financial system of Wall Street is maintained essentially on faith, mood and assumption; that its problems are deep; that at some level the system looks to have been a house of cards. It isn't just bad news; it's deep bad news that reaches into the heart of widespread national anxiety.

 
APEveryone is afraid—the rich that they will no longer be rich, the poor that they'll be hit first by the downturn in the "last hired, first fired" sense, the middle class that it will be harder now to maintain their hold on middle-classness.

Both the Democrats and the Republicans spent the week treating the catastrophe as a political opportunity. This was unserious. A serious approach might have addressed large questions such as: Was this crisis not, at bottom, a failure of stewardship?

Instead, from Barack Obama: It's the Republicans' fault, and John McCain means more of the same. From McCain: We're reformers and we'll clean up the mess, unlike Mr. I Can't Think of Anything to Do but Raise Taxes.

Open question only history will answer: President Bush did not address the nation on the crisis until Thursday of this week, almost a week after it began, and Democrats are going to try to paint this as 9/11 times Katrina: Where was he? Will this work? Will it stick? They're going to try to turn Mr. Bush into Herbert Hoover. Hoover was not good for the Republican brand.

The economic crisis brings a new question, unarticulated so far but there, and I know because when I mention it to people they go off like rockets. It is: Do you worry that neither of them is up to it? Up to the job in general? Is either Mr. McCain or Mr. Obama actually up to getting us through this and other challenges? I haven't heard a single person say, "Yes, my guy is the answer." A lot of shrugging is going on out there. This is a read not only on the men but on the moment.

The overarching political question: In a time of heightened anxiety, will people inevitably lean toward the older congressional vet, the guy who's been around forever? Why take a chance on the new, young man at a time of crisis? Wouldn't that be akin to injecting an unstable element into an unstable environment? There's a lot at stake.

Or will people have the opposite reaction? I've had it, the system has been allowed to corrode and collapse under seven years of Republican stewardship. Throw the bums out. We need change. Obama may not be experienced, but that may help him cut through. He's not compromised.

The election, still close, still unknowable, may well hinge on whether people conclude A or B.

A mere hunch in a passing moment: In a time of crisis, confusion and fear, Americans just might, in their practicality, turn back to the old tradition of divided government. They know the Congress will be Democratic. They assume it will soon be more Democratic. Therefore the president they choose may well be of the other party.

A fearless prediction: My beautiful election enters its dark phase.

Lots of signs of the new darkness. Mr. Obama's army is swarming, blocking lines when Obama critics show up for radio interviews. A study out Thursday said the Obama campaign has become more negative than the McCain campaign. There is the hacking—no one at this point knows by whom—of Sarah Palin's personal email account. From Mr. Obama himself, a new edge. He tells an audience in Elko, Nev., to "argue" with McCain supporters and "get in their face." Bambi is playing Chicago style. No doubt everyone around him has been saying, and for some weeks now, "Get tough." But this is not how to get tough, and it does not reflect a shrewd reading of what the moment demands. People want depth, not ferocity. We've got nerves that jingle-jangle-jingle.

And it gives Mr. McCain a beautiful opening. He can now play Oldest and Wisest, damning the new meanness more in sorrow than in anger.

There's another reason things will get more mean than meaningful. Here is the tough, sad, rather deadly assumption I see rising among our media people, our thinkers, observers and chatterers, the highly sophisticated who've seen'em come and seen'em go: It is, again: What if neither of them is the right man? What if neither of them is equal to the moment? What if neither party is equal to the moment?

This is not in itself important—who cares what they think, really? But there will be a small impact in terms of tone. If you are a longtime Obama supporter and are beginning now to admit to deep doubts, you can't just announce you've been wrong for the past year. You'd look like a fool. You cannot speak credibly, or in a way you yourself believe, in rosy support. But what you can do is turn, with new rage, on the guy you've at least long opposed. So you ignore Mr. Obama and attack Mr. McCain with new ferocity. Or, if you have doubts about Mr. McCain, you ignore him and turn your heat on Mr. Obama.

The Obama campaign has been one of real dignity and cool, and in this it reflected its candidate. It won't be good to see this end. It will be sad, actually.

On the Republican side, the legitimate anger sparked by the media's personal attacks on Sarah Palin and her family has now been funneled, coolly and almost chillingly, into antimedia manipulation. This is no good. It may help the Republicans win, because no one likes the media. Even the media doesn't like the media. But it invites charges of winning bad. And if you win bad in a 50/50 nation, it makes it really hard to govern.

A final point. Do you ever have the passing thought that the presidential election doesn't matter as much as we think? Whoever wins will govern within more of less the same limits, both domestically and internationally. A New York liberal leaning toward Mr. McCain told me this week he has no fear that Mr. McCain may be a more militant figure than Mr. Obama. We already have two wars, "we're out of army." Even if Mr. McCain wanted a war, he said, he couldn't start one.

I wonder if we follow the election so passionately because we're afraid. We're afraid a lot of our national problems are intractable, and the future too full of challenge.

We cannot tolerate feeling this way. So we make believe the election can change everything. And we follow it passionately to convince ourselves its outcome will be decisive and make everything better. We reassure ourselves with pictures of the cheering crowds at the rally. We even find some comfort in the latest story of the latest dirty trick. But deep inside we think: Ah, that won't work either.

Some part of me thinks we are all making believe this is a life-changing election because we know it's not a life-changing election. Ever have that thought? Me too. Then there's a rally or a scandal or a gaffe, and it passes.

Please add your comments to the Opinion
24084  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Franklin on: September 19, 2008, 10:54:04 AM

"The ordaining of laws in favor of one part of the nation, to
the prejudice and oppression of another, is certainly the most
erroneous and mistaken policy. An equal dispensation of protection,
rights, privileges, and advantages, is what every part is entitled
to, and ought to enjoy."

-- Benjamin Franklin (Emblematical Representations, Circa 1774)

Reference: The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Sparks, ed. (457)
24085  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Teheran in the Caucasus on: September 19, 2008, 01:44:55 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Iranian Diplomacy in the Caucasus
September 18, 2008
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on Wednesday visited Georgia, where he met with Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili. During the visit, Mottaki told the Georgian leader that Tehran was closely observing the ongoing events in the Caucasus and that his country wants stability and security in the region restored. The Iranian foreign minister also said that his government was in the process of offering solutions to various regional actors in the hopes of normalizing the regional situation.

Mottaki’s visit to Tbilisi comes a day after a meeting with his Armenian counterpart in Tehran and two days after talks with his German counterpart in Berlin. On Sept. 13, Mottaki held talks with Russian leaders in Moscow and then flew to Azerbaijan to confer with officials in Baku. This flurry of diplomatic activity on the part of the Iranians underscores Tehran’s deep interests in the Caucasus.

After seeing Turkey’s moves in the region in the wake of the Georgian crisis, the Iranians do not want to be left out of the game. The Iranian ethnic, religious, linguistic and cultural ties to the Caucasus go back centuries — long before the Ottomans took control of the Caucasus, Persian empires ruled major parts of the area.

We have talked about how a resurgent Russia presents Iran with an opening to extract concessions from the United States in Iraq and on the nuclear issue. In this regard, Tehran’s calculus is that a Washington wanting to counter a revived Kremlin would be eager to reach a settlement on Iraq to free itself for dealings with Moscow.

Iran’s cautious behavior toward Russia, however, suggests that Tehran is not ready to jump on the Russian bandwagon. There are three key reasons for this.

First, in order for Iran to reach its goals in terms of Iraq, the nuclear issue, and its own international rehabilitation, it needs to work with the United States. From the Iranian point of view, Russia is a means to an end and not a substitute for the United States.

Second, in the past Russia has used Iran for its own strategic purposes. Tehran is quite disappointed that Moscow has not followed through on any of its promises — whether with regard to security guarantees, weapons sales or even the failure to complete Iran’s first nuclear power plant (for which the Iranians have already paid).

Third, and most important, is that a Russia imposing itself on the Caucasus poses a long-term security threat to Iran’s northern borders. After all, it was not too long ago that the Soviet Union under Stalin invaded Iran. Hence, Iranian moves toward regional diplomacy are largely designed to ensure that a Russian resurgence can be kept at tolerable levels.

But the Turks have the lead in this arena, which raises the question of what the Iranians hope to gain from their attempts to play a role in the Caucasus. The best option for Iran would be to cooperate with Turkey toward the common goal of containing Russia. There is also the additional potential benefit of connecting with the United States via the Turks in the process, not to mention the potential energy links Iran could build to connect to Europe through the Turks.

There are, however, a number of obstacles that prevent Turkish-Iranian cooperation from materializing. To start, Iran would not want to irk Russia at a time when Tehran is still not getting a deal from the United States. The Turks are in a much more comfortable position to risk angering the Russians but the Iranians do not have that luxury. Ankara is the world’s 18th-largest economy and a member of NATO, while Iran has very few friends and is reeling from economic sanctions.

Another reason why Tehran cannot play much of a role in the Caucasus is that its only anchor in the region is Armenia, and that is a relationship of expediency. While the Turks and the Azerbaijanis are moving toward a rapprochement with the Armenians, it is unlikely that they will want to allow Iran — a historical competitor for regional influence (especially for the Turks) — to establish a foothold in the region. Essentially, Iran faces sufficient arrestors blocking its path to becoming a regional player in the Caucasus, which is not unlike the situation that it faces in the Middle East where wealthy Sunni Arab states are reining in its regional ambitions.

Regardless of the role it will or will not play in the Caucasus, Iranian moves in the region highlight a very critical element in Iranian foreign policy vis-a-vis Russia. The Islamic republic is not prepared to align with Russia in Moscow’s efforts to reassert itself on the global scene. This is a critical weakness that the United States can exploit to its advantage in countering both Iranian and Russian moves.
24086  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Logic and political arguement on: September 18, 2008, 11:07:44 PM
TD:

Please expound!!!

TAC,
Marc
24087  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.

24088  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!

24089  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
24090  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”
24091  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
24092  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.

 
24093  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.
24094  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
24095  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.
24096  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)
24097  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.
24098  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?
24099  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.
24100  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
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