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83743 Posts in 2261 Topics by 1067 Members
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24201  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: September 08, 2008, 01:42:44 PM
I must be getting to be a crotchety old fart, but I don't care for it at all when I see fighters continuing to pound on someone obviously already KTFO.   I don't care that it is within the rules.
24202  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: La experiencia del Gathering on: September 08, 2008, 01:34:18 PM
Hablando del tema de cuchillos escondidos:

Por unos anos he tratado de instalar en la cultura de nuestros Gatherings el concepto de usar y defender cuchillos escondidos-- y en el Gathering del Agosto 10 puedo decir que por la primera vez estoy contento. 

Mi pensamiento es lo siguiente:  Lo que se nos pasa en condicion de adrenalina, lo que sea, es algo que aprendemos en una manera muy, muy profunda-- !y una pelea Dog Brothers si' es una experiencia de adrenalina!  Por lo cual me parece una tremenda oportunidad instalar no solo habilidades fisicas, sino tambien maneras de pensar.

Aunque nuestras peleas son del mundo "ritual" (?como se dice "ritual"?) en mi opinion queremos instalar el buen habito de averiguando la posibilidad de armas escondidas y experimentando con los retos (challenges) de usar nuestras armas escondidas por que en la calle la cosa puede ser asi'.

Espero que me puedan entender mi espanol.
24203  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 08, 2008, 01:22:48 PM
", , , for a long time I have belonged to an old social/business club (The California Club) here in LA; it's comfortable and quiet.  Mostly Republican, but a few Democrats.  All great people.  It's fun to listen to Pete Wilson argue politics in the steam room, a CEO express his business opinion on the squash court, or Warren Christopher criticize Rice over lunch."

Tres cool cool
24204  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: September 08, 2008, 01:08:19 PM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/08/AR2008090800008_pf.html

Ha! grin
24205  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Logic and political arguement on: September 08, 2008, 04:42:09 AM
Man has four basic functions: thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition. Thinking is the dominant function for approximately only 10% of the population.

This explains a lot  cheesy
24206  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Big Three Bailout on: September 08, 2008, 04:39:12 AM
Detroit's Blackmail Attempt
Is Beyond Shameless
By PAUL INGRASSIA
September 8, 2008; Page A19

It was only a matter of time, unfortunately. And now that Michigan is an election-year swing state and Detroit's auto makers are posting sales declines topping 20% each month, the time has arrived. The issue of a government bailout for General Motors, Ford and Chrysler is moving to center stage.

Barack Obama has said yes to this proposal early on, and last week John McCain climbed on board. So much for change and fighting pork-barrel spending. We're moving beyond moral hazard here, folks, and into a moral quagmire. At least the Chrysler bailout of 1980 was structured so that taxpayers could reap a reward for taking a financial risk on the company's future. That's not what's happening now.

 
David Gothard 
Late last year, in its energy bill, Congress authorized $25 billion of low-interest loans to high-risk borrowers -- a strategy perfected by home-mortgage lenders in recent years. In this case the high-risk borrowers are the loss-plagued Detroit car companies. The loans are supposed to help them develop new, fuel-efficient cars, and retool their factories to produce them. Detroit, not being satisfied with this taxpayer largess, wants $50 billion.

This is bad public policy for reasons of philosophy, practicality and precedent. And by the way, this is a dumb idea for the car companies too, simply in terms of their own self-interest.

Philosophically, if the Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae debacles teach us any lesson, it is that subsidizing private profits with public risk is a terrible idea. Implicit government backing has led the managements of these two companies to make reckless investments that have backfired badly. Now government backing has become explicit, and under the plan announced by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson yesterday, taxpayers likely will pay billions to keep Fannie and Freddie solvent -- with the exact amount uncertain.

The Detroit Three got into their current quandary by making decades of bad decisions, with some help from the United Auto Workers union. Yet despite the current crisis, General Motors is still paying dividends to shareholders, the car companies are paying bonuses to executives, and the private-equity billionaires at Cerberus who bought Chrysler are trying to reap enormous rewards from their risky investment. Meanwhile the UAW's Jobs Bank -- which pays laid-off workers for doing nothing -- remains in place.

Of course, we can all hope that shareholders do well, that executives reap handsome rewards for work well done, that the Cerberus billionaires make more billions on Chrysler, and that workers get paid on whatever terms the car companies agree. But we taxpayers shouldn't subsidize any of this.

The only reason we should bail out any private company is the risk that its demise would wreak havoc on the entire economy. Bear Stearns conceivably passed the test; its collapse could have threatened the U.S. financial system, and the government didn't make the mistake of bailing out shareholders or management.

But just what calamity are we trying to avoid by subsidizing loans to Detroit? That we'll all be sentenced to the indignities of driving Hondas, Mazdas or BMWs? Toyota and Honda, the current leaders in hybrids and alternative-fuel technology, did their research and development on their own dimes.

Even if Ford, GM and Chrysler were to go out of business -- and it's highly unlikely that all three will simply cease to exist -- there will be plenty of good cars for Americans to buy. And many will be made in America, even if they carry foreign nameplates. Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Hyundai and other foreign car companies have expanded greatly their U.S. manufacturing operations in recent years. They're doing so because Americans are buying their cars.

As a practical matter, Americans could choose to buy more Detroit cars. Frankly, they should -- considering such outstanding products as the Ford Focus, a fuel-efficient and comfortable compact, and the Chevrolet Malibu, a terrific new mid-sized sedan. But they're not. Americans are voting with their dollars, which is their right.

And what about the precedent the government would set? If we bail out Detroit, where do we stop? The newspaper industry is in financial trouble because more readers and advertisers are turning to the Internet. Newspapers are good for democracy -- Thomas Jefferson said he would choose newspapers over government, after all -- so shouldn't they get low-interest government loans to help them adjust to the Internet? Of course not, and ditto for Detroit.

If Detroit's auto makers would apply more than knee-jerk analysis to what's being proposed, they would reject it quickly. No matter what their spin, including the patently absurd claim that government-guaranteed, below-market loans aren't a bailout, loan subsidies will paint them in the public mind as corporate welfare recipients that can't compete on their own. That can't be good for sales.

More fundamentally, the last thing these companies need just now is more debt. They are leveraged to the hilt, and risk climbing into a financial hole from which they'll never recover. Better to raise money by selling more assets (e.g., Ford's recent sale of Jaguar and Land Rover) or raising more equity -- even if new investors would require management changes or other measures.

All this said, if Detroit's short-sightedness and political expediency make a bailout inevitable, let's make sure taxpayers stand to get rewarded for their risk. In 1980, the government didn't lend any money directly to Chrysler, instead guaranteeing loans to the company made by private lenders, mostly banks, in the amount of $1.2 billion (bailouts, like everything else, were cheaper back then). But in return, the government got warrants to buy Chrysler stock at a very low price. When Chrysler staged its spectacular recovery and paid off the bank loans seven years early, the warrants soared in value and the government earned some $400 million.

Then CEO Lee Iacocca tried to get the government to forego its profits -- he even got into a telephone shouting match with Treasury Secretary Donald Regan. But Regan, backed by President Reagan, stuck to his guns.

One other stipulation: any low-interest loans to develop fuel-efficient cars should be made available to all car companies, not just the Detroit Three. The law passed by Congress last year is framed to make this highly unlikely. But if developing fuel-efficient and alternative-energy cars is deemed worthy of taxpayer subsidies for public-policy purposes, it's just common sense not to put all our eggs in Detroit's basket.

Mr. Ingrassia, a former Detroit bureau chief for this newspaper, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for his automotive coverage. He writes on automotive issues for The Journal, Condé Nast Portfolio and other publications.

Write to Paul Ingrassia at paul.ingrassia
24207  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / part three on: September 08, 2008, 04:10:21 AM


Even now, after his "conversion," Dr. Fadl is no one's idea of a modern secular thinker. Rather, his manifesto rejects the inherent radicalism of jihadism in favor of more orthodox conservative values, a return to a kind of Islamic mean. More than that, it is a frank recognition of reality—namely, that the jihadist fervor of men like Zawahiri can only lead Muslims down one dead-end street after another.

_____________

How widespread is this recognition? That remains to be seen, as do its consequences. As Max Boot has noted in COMMENTARY,1 it takes neither a large organization nor particularly deep pockets to perpetrate devastating terrorist attacks, and terrorist groups have shown considerable resilience even in the face of the most devastating setbacks. Furthermore, although al Qaeda may have been gravely wounded in the past year, Hizballah has grown considerably stronger and more confident. The Bush administration kept its nerve in Iraq, and may finally have won the war. But it seems to have lost its nerve vis-à-vis Iran's quest to become a nuclear power. Israel defeated Yasir Arafat's second intifada, but it may soon be beset by a third one, this time planned and instigated by Hamas.

Still, al Qaeda's decline offers a kind of portrait-in-miniature of a civilization that seems perpetually to be collapsing in on itself. Here is a movement in which suicide—that is, self-destruction—is treated as the ultimate act of self-assertion. A movement that sees itself as an Islamic vanguard, leading the way toward a genuine Muslim umma, but is permanently at war with the Muslim communities it inhabits. A movement whose attacks beyond the Islamic world have mainly had the effect of accelerating the very forces by which it is sealing its own fate. To use an inexact astronomical analogy, this is a movement with the quality of a supernova: even as an envelope of superheated gas rapidly expands outward, its core is compressing and ultimately implodes.

A similar pattern played out with the pan-Arabist regimes of the 1950's and 60's. And the same forces are at work today in Iran, where the regime's outward-directed, "revolutionary" activities—from supporting Hamas to engineering Hizballah's de-facto takeover of Lebanon to developing nuclear weapons—seem almost purposely designed to counterbalance the weight of the regime's manifold domestic discontents.

As for how the United States and its allies should attempt to deal with this new reality, one temptation is simply to stay away, on the theory that no good can come from putting our hands in such a mess. This is roughly the view of the libertarian and paleoconservative Right, and perhaps a majority of the Left. But the view hardly bears discussion: all mention of Israel aside, access to Middle Eastern energy resources is a vital American interest and will almost certainly remain so for decades. The Muslim world is also inextricably a part of the Western one, particularly in Europe. Nor is the global terrorist threat likely to go away even if al Qaeda does. The possibility that a regime that sponsors or supports terrorists might be in a position to supply them with weapons of mass destruction is a direct threat to us.

A second option, associated with the so-called realist school, contends that with rare exceptions, the U.S. should deal with the Muslim world more or less as it is, without seeking to change it.2 This is a view that has much to recommend it—at least in the hands of a master diplomatic practitioner. But Metternichs are hard to come by, and in the hands of lesser statesmen, realism easily slides into passive acquiescence in an intolerable status quo—or into intolerable changes to it. Witness the readiness of Colin Powell, as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff during the first Bush administration, to accept Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 as a fait accompli.

A third view, shared to varying degrees by neoconservatives and liberal internationalists, is that the U.S. and the West have no choice but actively to seek domestic reforms in Muslim countries. Needless to say, such a course is fraught with risks and often prone to mishandling, overreaching, and failure. But some version of it is the only approach that can, if not heal the pathologies of the Muslim world, then at least ameliorate and contain them so that they do not end up arriving unbidden on our doorstep, as they did one morning in September 2001.

This is not the place to lay out precisely how the U.S. might go about pursuing such a course with greater success than it has achieved thus far. But a few points are worth noting in light of the experience detailed above:

First, while we should pursue democratic (and economic) openings wherever we realistically can do so, our overarching and primary aim is to make the Muslim world unsafe for radicalism—whether that radicalism is of the Islamist, pan-Arabist, or Baathist variety. This means a policy of unyielding opposition to groups like Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and to the Iranian and Syrian regimes, despite growing calls to come to terms with all of them. But we must also come to terms with the limits of what intervention in Muslim politics can plausibly achieve. In particular, we need to be attentive to the fact that Western-style political or social prescriptions can often be counterproductive.3

Second, the experience of the so-called Anbar Awakening of tribal leaders against al Qaeda is an instructive reminder that the Muslim world does not, as was widely asserted in the wake of September 11, divide merely between a handful of extremists and a "vast majority" of moderates who can easily be rallied to our side. Instead, Muslim societies typically divide into at least three significant blocs: a "pre-modern" element, consisting mainly of tribesmen, peasants, nomads, and the like; a "modern" element, typically urban, educated, and, by the standards of their societies, middle-class; and an "anti-modern" element, consisting mostly of Islamists but also of members of the Baath party and other fascistic groups.

So far, many of our democracy-promotion efforts have been aimed at the middle group, the one most familiar to us. But this is not, in all cases, politically the most consequential element. What we have learned in Iraq is that it is possible, indeed necessary, to isolate anti-moderns by creating political alliances between the urban middle class and the tribes.

Third, we can seek ways to cultivate nationalist sentiment in the Muslim world, not least because jihadists detest, and fear, the notion of Arab and Muslim nationalism as yet another locus of loyalty that has nothing to do with Islam. In hindsight, Iraq's near-miraculous soccer victory in last year's Asian Cup was a significant moment in its evolution as a post-Baathist state, confirming that there really is such a thing as an Iraqi nationalism shared by Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds alike.

Finally, although the internal factors that ultimately did so much to cripple al Qaeda were, so to speak, written into its very DNA, they were not triggered until the United States proved itself capable of defeating the bin Laden gang militarily—first incompletely in Afghanistan, later decisively in Iraq. The importance of these confrontations lay not only in the actual killing or capture of al Qaeda's leadership and its foot soldiers but also in the demonstration to a watching Muslim world of the full extent of American power and the comparative weakness of al Qaeda. Its defeat finally pricked the Muslim myth that the jihadists were a military match for the U.S., just as Israel's victory in the Six-Day war of 1967 made a mockery of the martial pretensions of pan-Arabism and dealt Nasser a near-fatal blow.

Now the government of neighboring Iran has invested some $20 billion of scarce national treasure, and the weight of the regime's prestige, in its nuclear programs. Aside from the inherent case for getting rid of these programs for the threat they pose to core U.S. interests, it ought at least to be considered that their swift destruction might, far from rallying Iranians to their leaders' side, produce precisely the opposite effect.

These suggestions are only a sketch of a policy. But effective policy depends above all on a correct understanding of the people, places, and things toward which it is being applied. To speak of an Islamic civilization is to speak in error. Rather, there is a Muslim world. It is fractured, and fractious. At times, Muslim causes or conflicts spill over into the non-Islamic world, as they did in the 1990's. Today, thanks in no small part to our actions, they remain internal—expression not, or not merely, of a clash of civilizations, but of the convulsion of one. In this internal disunity lie our strength and our opportunity—and ultimately, perhaps, the reform of the Muslim world itself.

Bret Stephens is a member of the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal and the author of the paper's "Global View," a weekly column.

24208  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: September 08, 2008, 04:09:38 AM
Part two


But the Soviet (and Yugoslav) collapse had another important consequence: it reshaped the map of the Muslim world by bringing newly independent post-Soviet states into its fold. Some independence movements, notably in Chechnya and Bosnia, took on an Islamic coloration. Elsewhere, a pan-Islamic consciousness, which had already gained considerable momentum with the 1979 Iranian revolution and the mujahideen war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, was spreading rapidly. It was aided immeasurably by advances in mass communication and by the worldwide establishment of thousands of Saudi-funded madrassas preaching an inflexible version of desert Islam. If, previously, the very idea of an "Islamic civilization" would have seemed at most a remote abstraction to most Muslims living within it, in the 90's it became at least possible to imagine this as an expression not only of common religious identity but also of shared political aspirations.

Most deeply invested in the concept were the Islamist radicals for whom the abolition of the caliphate represented not the passing of an outdated institution but a historical calamity. To them, the 90's presented its own set of opportunities. Unable to dislodge the "apostate regimes" of the Middle East through terrorist campaigns, they decided to focus on dislodging their patron—the United States—from the region.

The idea of killing large numbers of Westerners, particularly Americans, had the additional advantage of being both plausible and popular. Plausible, because the Reagan administration's precipitous withdrawal from Beirut after the 1983 bombings of our Marine barracks and embassy, followed a decade later by the Clinton administration's equally precipitous withdrawal from Somalia, suggested a superpower easily frightened. And popular because the U.S. really was broadly detested throughout the Muslim world, not least on account of its support for the selfsame apostate regimes that were detested by the radicals.

The strategy of an "escalating sequence" of terrorist attacks on American targets was explicitly laid out by the jihadist theoretician Abu Bakr Naji (the name is almost certainly a pseudonym) in a document, The Management of Savagery, published on the Internet in 2004. Predicated on the idea that everyone loves a winner, it was not, in its own terms, a bad strategy.

In the immediate wake of the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration and other governments had been quick to brand Osama bin Laden as an outcast among Muslims. But the overwhelming weight of evidence suggested differently. There were large public demonstrations of support for bin Laden in the Philippines and Indonesia. In the Muslim areas of Thailand, the name "Osama" became suddenly popular among newborn boys and girls, according to an October 2001 report in the Hindustan Times. Portraits of bin Laden were hot-selling items from Bangladesh to Nigeria. A poll found that fully 42 percent of Kuwaitis, whose country the U.S. had liberated only a decade earlier, considered bin Laden a "freedom fighter." Among Palestinians, 9/11 made bin Laden "the most popular figure in the West Bank and Gaza, second only to Arafat," according to a Fatah leader in Nablus.

Al Qaeda's popularity would not soon fade. In 2004, the Pew Global Survey found 55 percent of Jordanians and 65 percent of Pakistanis holding a favorable view of bin Laden. Nor was al Qaeda slow to capitalize on its stardom. By 2002, European intelligence agencies were reporting a sharp uptick in the organization's recruitment efforts. More worrisomely, al Qaeda was able to transform itself from a group into a movement. Some jihadist outfits, like Abu Musab al Zarqawi's Tawhid wal-Jihad and the Algerian Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, swore loyalty oaths directly to bin Laden. Others, including Indonesia's Jemaah Islamiyah, began imitating al Qaeda's methods by attacking prominent Western targets. Cells sprang up in Gaza. Al-Qaeda "wannabes" murdered 52 people in the London bombings of July 2005 and plotted to murder the prime minister of Canada.

But it was the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq that, as Naji wrote in The Management of Savagery, had the most galvanizing effect on would-be jihadists. Even before the U.S. toppled the Taliban, the radical televangelist Sheik Yussuf al-Qaradawi had decreed: "Islamic law says that if a Muslim country is attacked, the other Muslim countries must help it, with their souls and their money, until it is liberated." His call was widely heeded. By late 2006, al Qaeda could count on as many as 5,000 to 10,000 active members in Iraq, many of whom (including nearly all the senior leadership) had come from abroad. And while they were never the major part of the Sunni insurgency that gripped the country until last year, they accounted for an estimated 90 percent of all suicide bombings.

Late 2006 was also the moment when it became at least conceivable that Naji's strategy, which foresaw the creation of "liberated zones" under the dominion of al-Qaeda-like groups, might actually succeed on the ground. Al Qaeda in Iraq had largely "liberated" Anbar province through an unbridled campaign of terror against other Sunnis. It had also pursued a policy of deliberate carnage against Iraq's Shiites, with the intent, and effect, of creating all-but ungovernable chaos in the country. In the United States, the report of the Iraq Study Group, headed by James Baker and Lee Hamilton, recommended that no more U.S. troops be committed to Iraq, while the Democratic party, which had largely supported the initial decision to invade Iraq, began issuing increasingly hectic calls for immediate withdrawal.

Had those calls become U.S. policy, Naji's strategy might have been vindicated. The "fall of prestige of America" that he prognosticated would have accelerated dramatically throughout the Muslim world. Precipitous U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would have been seen by jihadists and their fellow travelers in a similar light to the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1988—as proof that it was possible to defeat a superpower, and as a harbinger of their enemies' complete rout. Al Qaeda would have had every incentive to apply the Iraq model—the "management of savagery"—to other Muslim states, particularly weaker secular states like Jordan, deemed guilty of "apostasy." And al Qaeda's own prestige would have been hugely boosted, offering a large pool of new recruits to replenish those who had been lost.

_____________

That, however, is not how matters have turned out, at least so far. President Bush pushed ahead with his "surge" strategy, under a new commanding officer using tried and true counterinsurgency tactics. Its effects were soon felt. Al Qaeda's ranks were decimated, and the flow of foreign fighters dried up.

In late 2007, the U.S. military captured letters from two of al Qaeda's "emirs" in Iraq. One of them appraised his situation thus:

There were almost 600 fighters in our sector before the [Sunni] tribes changed course 360 [sic] degrees. . . . Many of our fighters quit and some of them joined the deserters. . . . As a result of that the number of fighters dropped down to 20 or less. We were mistreated, cheated, and betrayed by some of our brothers who used to be part of the jihadi movement, therefore we must not have mercy on those traitors until they come back to the right side or get eliminated completely.

The second emir offered similar testimony:

The Islamic State of Iraq [al Qaeda] is faced with an extraordinary crisis, especially in al-Anbar province. Al Qaeda's expulsion from Anbar created weakness and psychological defeat. This also created panic, fear, and the unwillingness to fight.

Nor was it only in Iraq that al Qaeda found itself on the run. In summer 2007, a National Intelligence Estimate warned that the terrorist group was once again in a position to strike the U.S. Yet less than a year later, CIA Director Michael Hayden offered a strikingly different assessment to the Washington Post. "On balance, we're doing pretty well," he said. "Near-strategic defeat of al Qaeda in Iraq. Near-strategic defeat for al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia. Significant setbacks for al Qaeda globally . . . as a lot of the Islamic world pushes back on [its] form of Islam." Polls found declining levels of support for al Qaeda and other Islamist groups in several places in the Muslim world; in Pakistan, Islamist parties were trounced in February's parliamentary elections. Key al-Qaeda leaders were also killed in Predator strikes in the Pakistani hinterland bordering Afghanistan.

In short, al Qaeda's star has dimmed considerably, and it is important to consider the reasons why. Though there can be little question that the surge accounts for a large part of the explanation, it is equally true that the surge would not have succeeded without the support of the very Sunnis who, until 2007, had provided sanctuary and support to men like Zarqawi and his minions. This switch is in turn explained by al Qaeda's barbaric treatment of ordinary Sunnis and their tribal leaders during the period of the "Anbar caliphate."

And that raises a question: why did al Qaeda put itself "in a state of war with the masses in the region" (in Naji's words) rather than using those masses as allies or pawns in their war against America and the so-called apostate governments? The answer, it turns out, is inscribed in the very nature of the jihadist movement.

_____________

"All existing so-called Muslim societies are also Jahili societies," wrote Sayyid Qutb, al Qaeda's intellectual godfather, in his 1964 book Milestones. By "Jahili societies," Qutb was referring to the pre-Islamic, pagan world of Arabia that lived in "ignorance of divine guidance." Put simply, Qutb, his fellow travelers, and his spiritual heirs were, and are, not merely at war with the modern world, as defined by liberal democratic government and Western social mores. They are also murderously inclined toward "heretical Muslims," particularly Shiites. They object violently to Muslim attempts to fashion a kind of compromise modernity between Western and Islamic norms. They seek to overthrow secular Muslim regimes like Indonesia and Jordan, and religious Muslim regimes like Saudi Arabia that maintain relations with the West.

They are also—crucially—at war with the pre-modern world: traditional tribal societies in which authority is handed down from father to son and in which Islam is a religion and not a binding legal code or political ideology. Typically, Muslim regimes have been careful to accommodate their tribes, plying them with money, government jobs, small arms, and other tokens of honor, and above all by allowing them to govern their internal affairs. This was (generally) true even in Saddam's Iraq. To the jihadists, however, tribal structures represent a twofold political challenge: first, they instill a powerful sense of local identity as opposed to a strictly pan-Islamic one; second, their systems of patronage and charity get in the way of the jihadists' agenda of radical social change.

It was this anti-tribalist attitude, combined with the utter savagery with which the jihadists put it into practice, that proved to be al Qaeda's undoing in Iraq. And that was not the only manner of its undoing. Precisely because of the post-9/11 transformation from a group to a movement, al Qaeda's leadership lost control of what in the West would be called message discipline.

"I repeat the warning against separating from the masses, whatever the danger," wrote Ayman al-Zawahiri to Zarqawi in an intercepted 2005 letter, stressing the need to avoid killing other Muslims, including Shiites. Zarqawi ignored the advice. The mass killings of fellow Muslims reversed the popular support previously garnered through attacks on Western targets. Worse, al Qaeda picked fights with countries that might have otherwise looked the other way at its activities. As late as early 2002, for example, Saudi Arabia's interior minister, Prince Nayef, was flatly denying that al Qaeda even existed in his country. Four years later, after spectacular al-Qaeda attacks on the kingdom, the same prince was threatening to "cut off the tongues" of bin Laden and Zawahiri.

Most significantly, al Qaeda's failures and reversals began to sow deeper doubts about its basic purposes. The breakthrough came with the publication of The Document of Right Guidance for Jihad Activity in Egypt and the World, a systematic refutation of al Qaeda's theology and methods by Sayyid Imam al-Sharif, a/k/a "Dr. Fadl." The importance of this work derived from the standing of its author. Dr. Fadl was the first "emir" of Egyptian Islamic Jihad and the author of the 1988 Foundations for the Preparation of Holy War, a bible among jihadists.

There are various theories as to why Dr. Fadl—now imprisoned in Egypt—wrote the book; these range from a long and bitter personal feud with Zawahiri to coercion by the Egyptian government to a genuine ideological volte face. Whatever the case, its chief significance lies in its insistence that jihadist activities must be subordinate to ordinary moral considerations. The jihadi, Dr. Fadl writes, cannot steal for the sake of jihad, or murder Muslim civilians, religious minorities, or foreign tourists, or seek the overthrow of existing Muslim governments, or cavalierly decree the apostasy of others, or disobey his parents. ("We find parents," Dr. Fadl states severely, "who only learn that their son has gone to fight jihad after his picture is published in the newspaper as a fatality or a prisoner.")
24209  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / How to manage savagery on: September 08, 2008, 04:08:41 AM
How to Manage Savagery
By BRET STEPHENS
September 5, 2008

"Islam has bloody borders." So wrote Samuel Huntington in "The Clash of Civilizations?," his 1993 Foreign Affairs article later expanded (minus the question mark) into a best-selling book. Huntington argued that, eclipsing past eras of national and ideological conflict, "the battle lines of the future" would be drawn along the "fault lines between civilizations." Here, according to Huntington, was where current and coming generations would define the all-important "us" versus "them."

 
At the time of its writing, "The Clash of Civilizations?" had, beyond the virtues of pithiness and historical sweep, something to recommend it on purely empirical grounds. It seemed especially plausible as applied to the "crescent-shaped Islamic bloc" from the Maghreb to the East Indies.

In the Balkans, for example, Orthodox Serbs were at the throats of Bosnian and later Kosovar Muslims. In Africa, Muslims were either skirmishing or at war with Christians in Nigeria, Sudan, and Ethiopia. In the Caucasus, there was all-out war between Orthodox Russia and Muslim Chechnya, all-out war between Christian Armenia and Muslim Azerbaijan, and violent skirmishes between Orthodox Ossetia and Muslim Ingushetia.

In the Middle East, some 500,000 U.S. troops had intervened to expel Iraq from Kuwait. Israel had just endured several years of the first Palestinian intifada, soon to be followed by a fraudulent peace process leading, in turn, to a second and far bloodier intifada. Further to the east, Pakistan and India were at perpetual daggers drawn over Kashmir. There were tensions—sometimes violent—between the Hindu majority and the large Muslim minority in India, just as there were between the Christian minority and the Muslim majority in Indonesia.

For Huntington, all this was of a piece with a pattern dating at least as far back as the battle of Poitiers in 732, when Charles Martel turned back the advancing Umayyads and saved Europe for Christianity. Nor was the pattern likely to end any time soon. "The centuries-old military interaction between the West and Islam is unlikely to decline," he wrote. To the contrary: "It could become more virulent."

As predictions go, Huntington's landmark thesis seemed in many ways to have been borne out by subsequent events. Long before 9/11, and long before George W. Bush came to office, anti-American hostility within the Muslim—and, particularly, the Arab—world was plainly on the rise. So was terrorist activity directed at U.S. targets. Meanwhile, the advent of satellite TV brought channels like al-Jazeera and Hizballah's al-Manar to millions of Muslim homes and public places, offering their audience a robust diet of anti-American, anti-Israel, and often anti-Semitic "news," propaganda, and Islamist indoctrination.

It should have come as no surprise, then, that Muslim reaction to the attacks of September 11, 2001 tended toward the euphoric—in striking confirmation, it would seem, of Huntington's bold thesis. And that thesis would seem to be no less firmly established today, when opinion polls show America's "favorability ratings" plummeting even in Muslim countries once relatively well-disposed toward us: in Turkey, for example, descending from 52 percent in 1999 to 12 percent in 2008, and in Indonesia from 75 percent to 37 percent in the same period (according to the Pew Global Survey). These findings are all the more depressing in light of the massive humanitarian assistance provided to Indonesia by the U.S. after the 2004 tsunami. The same might be said of Pakistan where, despite similarly critical U.S. assistance after the 2005 earthquake, already low opinions of the U.S. have sunk still further.

Nor is the phenomenon of "Muslim rage" directed against America alone. In Spain, the Netherlands, Great Britain, France and Germany—countries with widely varying foreign policies toward, and colonial histories in, the Muslim world—terrorist plots, terrorist attacks, spectacular murders, and mass rioting have made vivid the gulf that separates embittered and often radicalized Muslim minorities from the societies around them. Even in tiny, inoffensive Belgium, whose government was among the most vocal in opposing the war in Iraq and has bent over backward to respect the sensitivities of the Muslim community, the entire Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek, according to the Flemish newspaper Het Volk, has been turned into a "breeding ground for thousands of jihad candidates."

_____________

And yet even as these trends unfolded, and continue to unfold, a second and almost opposite set of trends can be perceived today. Contrary to Huntington's forecast, much of world conflict is now overwhelmingly characterized by fighting and competition not between or among civilizations but within them. And nowhere is this truer than in the Muslim world.

Look again at the peripheries of the Islamic crescent where Huntington perceived a collision course between Islam and the West. In the Balkans, NATO intervention in Bosnia and later in Kosovo secured Muslim populations and ultimately ended the Serbian regime of Slobodan Milosevic. In Africa, U.S. diplomatic mediation helped to bring an end to the 22-year second Sudanese civil war and to initiate de-facto autonomy—with the ultimate goal of independence—for that country's largely Christian south. In Israel, the second intifada with its wave of suicide bombings was all but stopped cold by a combination of aggressive counterinsurgency operations and the building of a separation fence.

In the Caucasus, the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan ended with a ceasefire that has held to this day, while Chechnya was brought to heel by a brutal military campaign directed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. In Kashmir, there has been no direct fighting between India and Pakistan; the head of the main jihadist group lamented this past July that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf had "murdered the Kashmir cause." Even as far afield as Mindanao in the Philippines, the radical Islamist Abu Sayyaf movement has been crippled by a combination of Filipino and American arms.

True, not all the wars of the Islamic periphery have ended: Hamas's Kassam rockets continue to fly from Gaza into Israel, and Hizballah, itself an Iranian proxy, has fully re-armed following the summer 2006 Lebanese war. In January 2007, Ethiopia invaded neighboring Somalia to depose a Taliban-like regime. Bombay was hit with a Madrid-style bombing attack on its commuter rails in 2006. Thailand's Muslim minority has been restive and violent.

Remarkably, however, the wars that chiefly roil the Islamic world today are no longer at its periphery. They are at the center, and they pit Muslims against other Muslims. The genocide in Darfur is being perpetrated by a regime that is every bit as Muslim—and black—as its victims. The Palestinians went from intifada to civil war: in 2006 and 2007, nearly as many Palestinians died violently at the hands of other Palestinians as at the hands of Israelis. In Lebanon, there have been bloody clashes this year among Shiites, Sunnis, and Druze. Last year, the Lebanese government had to send troops into Palestinian refugee camps to suppress an insurrectionary attempt by a Syrian-sponsored terrorist group.

It does not end there. Saudi Arabia has been under attack by al Qaeda since 2003. In November 2005, Jordan suffered devastating suicide bombings at three Amman hotels in which nearly all the victims were, like their murderers, Sunni Muslims. In Afghanistan, a Muslim government led by Hamid Karzai—a Pashtun—fights an Islamist rebellion by Taliban remnants and their allies, also mostly Pashtun. In Pakistan, the axis of conflict has shifted from the east to the west, where sizable areas are under the control of Islamist militants; in 2007 alone, some 1,500 Pakistanis were killed in terrorist attacks, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto notably among them.

Then there is Iraq. Though Americans naturally focus on the more than 4,000 U.S. servicemen killed so far since the country was liberated in April 2003, that figure pales in comparison with the number of Iraqis killed in inter- and intra-sectarian violence: Sunnis against Shiites and Kurds, Sunnis against Sunnis, Shiites against Sunnis, Shiites against Shiites. Cumulatively, the number of civilian deaths since early 2006, when sectarian fighting got under way in earnest, now stands at just over 100,000 (according to the Brookings Institution).

All this serves as a useful reminder of another significant fact. In the years immediately prior to 9/11, non-Muslims tended to be the likeliest targets of terrorism. In recent years, Muslims themselves have overwhelmingly been their co-religionists' primary victims. In 2007, of the nearly 8,000 deaths due to terrorism in the Middle East, only a handful were Israeli. Similarly, of the roughly 270 suicide bombings in 2007, some 240 took place in predominantly Muslim countries. Nearly 100 mosques were also the targets of terrorist attack, many at the hands of Muslims.

_____________

Taking the long view, one might note that intra-Islamic feuding is as old as the religion itself. Of Muhammad's immediate successors—the "righteous caliphs," according to Sunni tradition—the first, Abu Bakr, may have been poisoned; the next three are all known to have been assassinated, with the murder of the third caliph (Othman) resulting in the schism from which the Shiite branch of Islam emerged. The Abassid revolt destroyed the Umayyad caliphate in the 8th century; the early 9th century was marked by civil war between the sons of the fifth Abassid caliph, Haroun al-Rashid. Al Qaeda itself has ancient Islamic antecedents: the 8th-century Kharajites, for instance, were notorious for their extreme puritanism, frequent recourse to violence, and the belief that they could declare their Muslim opponents to be infidels and treat them accordingly.

To be sure, endless feuding is hardly unique to Islamic civilization: the history of the West is also one of intense competition, bitter conflict, and outbursts of religious fanaticism. On the whole, though, these conflicts have dissipated and evanesced as the West has almost universally adopted democratic forms of governance. By contrast, Islam's foundational patterns not only persist into the present day but in many ways have intensified.

There have been devastating civil wars in Algeria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen, and an even more terrible war between Iran and Iraq. Even a partial list of prominent political assassinations in the Muslim world since World War II runs to over 100 names. It includes two prime ministers and a president of Egypt; two presidents and a prime minister of Bangladesh; three prime ministers and a president of Iran; a king and two prime ministers of Jordan; two presidents, a president-elect, a prime minister, and a former prime minister of Lebanon; a president of Syria; a king and two prime ministers of Jordan; a king and a former prime minister of Iraq; a president, a prime minister, and former prime minister of Pakistan; a king of Saudi Arabia. And these are just the successful attempts. The list of coups in the Muslim world is about as long. In Syria alone there have been no fewer than nine since 1949.

Several explanations have been offered for this history of violence. There is the absence of democracy, which forecloses opportunities for non-violent political change and pushes most forms of dissent into the mosque. There is the oil curse, which allows states like Saddam Hussein's Iraq to finance expensive wars, buy political support, sustain huge sclerotic bureaucracies, and prevent the diversification and modernization of their economies. There is the endemic tribalism of Muslim, and particularly Arab, societies, and the values that go with it: the claims of kinship, the premium on familial honor, the submission to established hierarchies, suspicion of those outside the clan. There is the moral abdication of the Muslim intellectual class, which, with some notable exceptions, fell prey to nearly every bad idea that came its way, from fascism to socialism to third-worldism. And there is the history of Islam itself, which has made a virtue of military conquest, dealt sharply with heretics, and, until the abolition of the caliphate in 1924 by Turkey's Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, typically combined political with religious authority.

There is also the fact that European colonial regimes overstayed their welcome in their Middle Eastern possessions, with the effect that more or less liberal movements like the Egyptian Wafd came to be seen as stooges of the West, incapable of achieving national goals through nonviolent means. Partly as a result of this failure, the Muslim world soured on liberalism before it ever really tasted it, and traditional liberal parties and policies were discredited in favor of more radical alternatives: the Muslim Brotherhood, the violent Arab nationalisms of the Baath parties in Syria and Iraq, Gamal Abdel Nasser and the "Free Officers" in Egypt, Algeria's National Liberation Front, and so on. Despite the manifest failings of these movements, and the triumph of liberal politics from Mexico City to Warsaw to Seoul, liberalism has never really recaptured its good name in the Muslim world beyond a handful of courageous individuals.

Exactly how to weigh the relative importance of these factors is hard to say; plainly they are mutually reinforcing. And while Muslim and especially Arab societies are not alone in suffering from them, they have come together in a unique way in those societies to produce a culture of perpetual failure and worsening crisis.

_____________

Should this have been more apparent to Huntington when he wrote "The Clash of Civilizations?" Perhaps. It may have been obscured, in part, by what later turned out to be the Muslim world's own version of a holiday from history. The Iran-Iraq war ended in 1988, and the death of Ayatollah Khomeini in the following year seemed to cool Iran's revolutionary ardor. Civil wars in Lebanon and Yemen were brought to an end, leaving most existing Arab regimes as entrenched as ever. The collapse of the Soviet Union meant the Middle East was no longer a cold-war battleground. Socialism lost favor, and some Middle Eastern regimes began expressing an interest in reforming their economies. From the outside, at least, one could almost begin imagining a "New Middle East," as Israel's Shimon Peres did with consummate naiveté in a 1993 book.
24210  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: September 07, 2008, 02:42:10 PM
Leading with a rear uppercut is usually a bad idea  cheesy  Too bad, Chuck looked confident and was dominating the fight until that moment.
24211  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: September 07, 2008, 12:22:34 PM
After the seminar today we did a bit together and he showed me his current understandings and movement.  Deeply satisfying to see how he has grasped and evolved with the things we have worked together over the years, his understading of DBMA.  His teaching here in Hawaii is deep and strong.
24212  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Politica-Economia en Latino America on: September 07, 2008, 12:09:20 PM
 Opositores a Morales saquean un avión militar cargado de material antidisturbios
To:


¡Tanto que les maman gallo y vean los ....... que tienen! ¡UN GENERAL!
Éstos sí merecen nuestro Himno...

Enviado por un amigo:
=====================



Opositores a Evo saquean avión militar

Menos mal que no fue "nuestro" YV-1495

Yahoo News
http://es.noticias.yahoo.com/efe/20080906/twl-opositores-a-morales-saquean-un-avio-e1e34ad.html

Noticiero Digital (05/09/08-9:55pm).- Este viernes centenares de opositores al gobierno de Evo Morales saquearon un avión militar cargado de material antidisturbios y gases lacrimógenos en Cobija, ciudad ubicada en el departamento de Pando. Los pilotos del avión, un general y dos capitanes, fueron liberados unas tres horas después.

Según Yahoo!News, unas "trescientas personas se encuentran en vigilia permanente en el aeródromo de Cobija.

Hasta donde hemos podido averiguar, el avión saqueado no es venezolano. En particular, no se trata del avión siglas YV-1495 de PDVSA que fue usado por Evo Morales en su reciente gira por Asia.


 
Foto: El Deber (Bolivia)

Lea la nota de Yahoo!News a continuación:

Cita:

Opositores a Morales saquean un avión militar cargado de material antidisturbios

La Paz, 5 sep (EFE).- Centenares de opositores de la ciudad de Cobija, al norte de Bolivia, saquearon hoy un avión militar que había llegado al aeropuerto de esa localidad cargado de material antidisturbios y gases lacrimógenos, informó una fuente oficial.

Hugo Mopi, portavoz de la Prefectura de Pando, departamento cuya capital es Cobija, confirmó a Efe que miembros del Comité Cívico retuvieron a los tres militares que pilotaban la aeronave y trasladaron a sus oficinas todo el material antimotines que transportaban.

El funcionario de la gobernación pandina, controlada por la oposición, informó de que los tres militares, un general y dos capitanes, fueron liberados horas después de haber sido retenidos por "unas 300 personas" que se encontraban en "vigilia permanente" en el aeródromo de Cobija.

En la avioneta "encontraron 23 tambores con granadas de gases lacrimógenos y material antimotín", señaló el funcionario prefectural, quien agregó que los cívicos no van a devolverlo, según manifestó la presidenta de la entidad, Ana Melena.

Tanto los medios como Mopi confirmaron que las ruedas de la aeronave fueron pinchadas porque los tripulantes "querían escaparse", afirmó el funcionario.

Según la prensa local de Cobija, situada a unos 600 kilómetros al norte de La Paz, en la frontera con Brasil, los cívicos además tomaron cinco oficinas de instituciones estatales sin que la policía pudiera impedirlo.

En otras seis ciudades de mayoría opositora se ha desatado una ola de protestas, que incluyen bloqueos de carreteras e intentos de toma de oficinas estatales, desde que el Gobierno de Evo Morales aprobó por decreto la convocatoria de un referendo para someter a consulta popular la nueva Constitución.

El presidente Morales volvió a acusar hoy a los autores de las protestas de "golpistas" y de tener una motivación "netamente política". [¡No, pendejo!, es por razones deportivas... ¡Nomejodan...!]

Por su parte, la delegada de Morales en Pando, Nancy Texeira, en declaraciones a la Red Erbol, dijo que el asalto al avión militar fue obra de un "grupo de vándalos encabezado por el secretario general de la Prefectura".

Además, denunció que los militares fueron "agredidos, insultados y amenazados" y que un periodista fue brutalmente golpeado cuando desempeñaba su labor informativa en el aeropuerto.
24213  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia-Georgia, Turkey, Caucasus on: September 07, 2008, 04:55:00 AM
US navy ship steams into port where Russian troops stationed
(Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images)
The USS Mount Whitney, pictured here in the Bosphorus, today made a controversial landing at the port of Poti

James Hider in Tbilisi
A US navy flagship has steamed into a Georgian port where Russian troops are still stationed, stoking tensions once again in the tinderbox Caucasus region.

A previous trip by American warships was cancelled at the last minute a week ago amid fears that an armed stand off could erupt in the Black Sea port of Poti.

The arrival of the USS Mount Whitney came as Moscow accused Dick Cheney, the hawkish US vice-president, of stoking tensions during a visit to Tbilisi yesterday, in which he vowed to bring Georgia into the Nato alliance. Russia sees any such move as a blatant Western encroachment on its traditional sphere of influence.

Russia’s leadership has already questioned whether previous US warships that docked at the port of Batumi, to the south, were delivering weapons to rearm the smashed Georgian military, something Washington has denied.

Related Links
Cheney delivers warning to Moscow
Georgia linked to Nato early warning system
Britain values unity in Nato over Georgia
While Russia again questioned the deployment of what it described as "the number one ship of its type in the US navy” on the Black Sea, it said it planned no military action in response. The Russian Army has kept a small number of soldiers in Poti, where local Georgian officials accuse them of looting port authority buildings.

“Naval ships of that class can hardly deliver a large amount of aid,” said Andrei Nesterenko, a Russian foreign ministry spokesman. “Such ships of course have a hold for keeping provisions for the crew and items needed for sailing. How many dozens of tonnes of aid can a ship of that type deliver?"

He said the presence of US warships could contravene international conventions governing shipping on the Black Sea, and - in particular - restricting the entry of naval ships from countries that do not share a Black Sea coastline.

Militarily, the small Russian garrison in Poti would pose almost no threat to a vessel like the Mount Whitney, but the proximity of two hostile forces in such a fraught setting set the political temperature rising again in the Caucasus, a month after Russia’s five day war with Georgia.

The American warship is too large to actually enter the port, where Russia sunk several Georgian navy vessels in its offensive last month. Instead, it is expected anchor offshore and unload its cargo of blankets, hygiene kits, baby food and infant care supplies on to smaller boats.

"I can confirm it has arrived in Poti. Anchoring procedures are still ongoing but it has arrived," said a US naval official.

Moscow, which followed up its crushing military defeat of Georgia by unilaterally recognising the independence of two of its breakaway regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, was fuming that Mr Cheney still insisted on Georgia’s entrance into the Atlantic alliance – something several key NATO members are wary of.

“The new promises to Tbilisi relating to the speedy membership of NATO simply strengthen the Saakashvili regime’s dangerous feeling of impunity and encourages its dangerous ambitions,” said Mr Nesterenko.

Washington has also pledged one billion dollars in aid to help Georgia rebuild after Russia pounded many of its military bases to dust and targeted important infrastructure.

The brief conflict has left thousands of Georgians homeless, including many driven from South Ossetia and the surrounding Russian buffer zone inside Georgia itself.

Georgian officials have accused the Russian-backed Ossetian militias of “ethnically cleansing” remote villages, while Moscow has charged Tbilisi with “genocide” for its heavy handed attack on the breakaway region last month.
24214  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: September 07, 2008, 03:28:47 AM
Let's Talk
About Palin's
Family Challenges
By KATTY KAY and CLAIRE SHIPMAN
September 6, 2008; Page A11

Gov. Sarah Palin's commando muscle-flex in St. Paul Wednesday night eviscerated the argument that she might not be capable of handling the vice presidency and five children at the same time. Indeed, we were left with the distinct impression that on a slow day, she could clean up America, balance our budget with a little help from eBay, and win the Iditarod -- all with 10 kids tied to her back.

What Sarah Palin did not do, however, is put an end to the latest national conversation about "trying to have it all." Because the question we're all asking isn't can she do it, but why is she doing it? Mrs. Palin, you see, happens to be bucking a new national trend. Even as most mothers across America chuckle appreciatively about pit bulls and lipstick and applaud her bravado, they are making choices that look very un-Palinesque.

This week we've heard our feminist foremothers argue that any sentence mixing the words woman, kids and work is inappropriate -- heretical even. "A man wouldn't face this sort of scrutiny," they grumble darkly.

But Mrs. Palin and her career aspirations are not falling victim to a secret cabal of men trying, once again, to impose an impossible standard on women. And this is not a redux of the old Mommy Wars -- that stale, red herring of a debate between "career" moms and their "stay at home" counterparts.

Mrs. Palin is actually putting a spotlight on a new women's movement we call "Womenomics." Thanks to women's fast-growing market value we can finally live and work in a way that wins us time and avoids that agonizing choice of career or kids. Today as never before women can define success on their own terms.

Fed up with 50- and 60-hour weeks and a career ladder we didn't build and don't want to climb, women are looking for jobs that demand fewer and freer hours. We want to work but we also want quantity time, as well as quality time, with our children. Most of us no longer buy the onwards-and-upwards drive to the corner office (or in Mrs. Palin's case, the West Wing) at the cost of a fragmented family life. More and more, women are choosing a tapestry of family and work in which we define our own success in reasonable terms -- even if we sacrifice some "prestige."

In 1992, 57% of women with degrees wanted more responsibility at work, but by 2002 that figure had plummeted to 36%, according to the Family and Work Institute. Four out of five women want more flexibility at work and call it a top priority; 60% of us want to work part-time. What we're saying is we'll trade responsibility, title -- even paycheck -- for more time and more control. And we have company. Increasingly men say they too want more flexibility at work. Gen X and Gen Y won't even talk about sitting at a desk for 10 hours a day.

What makes this revolution possible is that it's grounded in hard-core economics. Women are the hottest commodity in the hunt for talent.

We're 58% of college graduates, we get graduate degrees in greater numbers than men. Companies are waking up to the fact that women are more than a politically correct nod to diversity. We help the bottom line. A recent 19-year study of 215 Fortune 500 firms found that companies that have more women in executive positions make more money. Companies with more women in senior management get higher valuations on the American Stock Exchange.

Overwhelmingly, women are using this professional clout to redefine work, not chain themselves to it. And companies, eager to keep us and terrified of the cost of replacing us, are responding. They've discovered that offering work-life balance actually increases productivity. There are accountants who get home at 3 p.m. every day but remain on the fast track. Top New York Law firms have part-time partners who are still players. Can investment banks be far behind?

This isn't really about whether Mrs. Palin can do the job with five children. Will she do it all well? That depends on your yardstick, at least on the home front. How much time is "enough" with your children, or at work, is an extremely personal decision. The point is we now have reasonable options -- it's not all or nothing. Our mother's generation may bemoan the fact that there is still a dearth of female CEOs, but our generation knows a big part of the reason why isn't that we can't get there, but that most of us don't want to make the sacrifices necessary, as the jobs are now defined, to get there.

It's important to understand why, then, Mrs. Palin has hit a nerve. It's not because she's a woman with children trying to do a man's job. It's because she's actually pushing the combination of professional and personal ambitions beyond the sensibilities of this generation of working moms. As women, we may be awed by her, but she's not necessarily a role model for so many professional women who now say they want to do it differently, that they don't want to do 150% of everything all of the time.

So what you are hearing is less condemnation than a collective gasp of amazement -- and exhaustion -- at the thought of juggling five children, one of them an infant, and the most extreme example of a job with little or no flexibility. It would make supermom feel feeble. And we should celebrate the fact that all of this can now be discussed openly.

It is not sexist to have this conversation. It is sexist not to.

Ms. Kay is a BBC anchor and reporter. Ms. Shipman is an ABC News reporter. They are the authors of "Womenomics: The Workplace Revolution That Will Change Your Life," due out next spring by HarperCollins.
24215  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: September 07, 2008, 03:11:55 AM
BBG:

That was an excellent read, thank you for taking the time to post.

Respects to the reporter for both courage and quality of reporting.
-----------------------------------------
@ Everyone:

What do we make of the following?  I continue to deepen in my concern that our strategy in Afg-Pak is conceptually clueless and unsound.
----------
http://www.longwarjournal.org/archiv...loses_tork.php

Pakistan closes Torkham border crossing, shuts down NATO's supply line

By Bill RoggioSeptember 6, 2008 12:04 AM
 
Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the tribal areas. Map from PBS' Frontline. Click to view.

Pakistan closed the Torkham border crossing in the Khyber tribal agency. The road through the Khyber Pass is NATO's primary supply line into Afghanistan.
The government claimed Taliban threats and poor security on the strategic road into Afghanistan forced the closure. The road has been shut down exclusively for NATO traffic.
"All Afghanistan-bound supplies for the International Security Assistance Force have been stopped as the [Torkham] highway is vulnerable," the Khyber Agency’s political agent told Daily Times.
According to Dawn, the closure only applies to fuel trucks heading to Afghanistan. But trucks carrting supplies other than fuel have been held up at the border. "Over 20 heavily-loaded vehicles, including oil tankers, were stranded at the border town of Torkham following the government’s decision," the Pakistani newspaper reported.
An estimated 70 percent of NATO supplies move through Khyber to resupply troops fighting against the Taliban in Afghanistan. The bulk of NATO's supplies arrive in the port city of Karachi, move north to Peshawar, and head west to the Torkham crossing into Afghanistan and the final destination in Kabul. The rest of the supplies pass through the Chaman border crossing point in Baluchistan or arrive via air.
The Taliban has increased attacks against trucks shipping NATO supplies. The group has issued death threats to Pakistani truckers hauling NATO goods into Afghanistan.
A response to US attacks in Pakistan
The closure of the Torkham crossing point to NATO traffic occurs just as the US has ramped up its cross-border strikes inside Pakistan's Taliban-controlled tribal agencies.
The Pakistani government denied the move to close the road in Khyber to NATO traffic was related to the recent US airstrikes and a ground assault in the Waziristan tribal agencies further south.
"This decision has nothing to do with the situation in Waziristan or the US attacks,' the political agent said.”This is purely a security issue and we want no untoward incident to take place as far as supplies for ISAF are concerned." No timeframe was given for the reopening of the road for NATO supply columns.
The move to close the border occurred the same day the Pakistani military said it could respond to US attacks inside Pakistani territory.
"Pakistan reserves the right to appropriately retaliate in future," General Tariq Majid, the Chairman of Pakistan's Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, told Germany defense minister.
The US has conducted an unprecedented air campaign over the past week in North and South Waziristan. The US has conducted five cross-border attacks inside Pakistan since Aug 31. Three of the strikes occurred in North Waziristan, and two in South Waziristan.
The US has stepped up its attacks against al Qaeda and the Taliban's networks inside Pakistan over the past year. There have been 13 confirmed cross-border attacks by the US in Pakistan this year [see list below]. Five safe houses have been hit in North Waziristan, six have been hit in South Waziristan, and two have been targeted in Bajaur this year. Only 10 such cross-border strikes were recorded in 2006 and 2007 combined.
The most controversial strike involved special operations teams inserted by helicopters in a village in South Waziristan just one mile from the Afghan border on Sept. 3. This is the second recorded incident of the direct involvement of US ground troops in a raid inside Pakistan since 2006.
24216  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: September 07, 2008, 03:04:03 AM
http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2008/0...our-guns-away/
September 5, 2008, 2:38 pm
Obama: ‘I’m Not Going to Take Your Guns Away’


Christopher Cooper reports from Duryea, Pa., on the presidential race.

The Obama campaign talks a lot about new ideas and expanding the political map, but in the swing state of Pennsylvania, which the campaign has focused on almost exclusively since the Democratic convention, old-school issues still rise to the fore.

The latest example came Friday during a small political event at SCHOTT North America Inc., a glass factory in Duryea, Pa., where even a hand-picked crowd threw Barack Obama a curve ball.

A woman in the crowd told Obama she had “heard a rumor” that he might be planning some sort of gun ban upon being elected president. Obama trotted out his standard policy stance, that he had a deep respect for the “traditions of gun ownership” but favored measures in big cities to keep guns out of the hands of “gang bangers and drug dealers’’ in big cities “who already have them and are shooting people.”

“If you’ve got a gun in your house, I’m not taking it,’’ Obama said. But the Illinois senator could still see skeptics in the crowd, particularly on the faces of several men at the back of the room.

So he tried again. “Even if I want to take them away, I don’t have the votes in Congress,’’ he said. “This can’t be the reason not to vote for me. Can everyone hear me in the back? I see a couple of sportsmen back there. I’m not going to take away your guns.’’
24217  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: September 07, 2008, 03:02:09 AM
Done.
24218  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rachel, comments? on: September 07, 2008, 03:01:55 AM
Pasted from the Obama thread:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Quote from: JDN on September 05, 2008, 10:19:28 PM
GM; It seems odd for me to be defending Islam and "criticizing Christianity since I am a practicing Christian, truly believe in God's power and attend Church on most Sundays.That said, I beg to differ with your conclusions/questions/comments.

To ignore God's (Christian God) Law and make your own is also not acceptable is classic Christian theology.

I am not a theologian, but I'll try to express my opinion.  However, I think if your read the Bible, a theocratic state is thought to be ideal.  Israel is a theocratic state; while perhaps not Christians,

**Israel is a parliamentary democracy, not a theocracy. Most Israelis are secular Jews.**

 the Old Testament has a strong influence.  The Catholic Church (I am not Catholic) at one time and I bet even today if asked privately would support a Christian theocratic state.  Our founding fathers decided not to be a Christian Nation, but rather a nation for all religions; rather wise of them. 

And "go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing  them..." has nothing to do with feeding the poor, tending to the sick, etc.
albeit all good.  It is very clear, MAKE DISCIPLES all nations, i.e. convert them to Christianity period.  That is the sole objective of missionary work; feeding the poor, educating them, tending to the sick gives them the inside track to conversion, but their objective is to convert people.  The rest is just a means to an end.

**I disagree. I've spoken to more than a few that have gone on missions and they tend to cite such things as:

"On the last day, Jesus will say to those on His right hand, "Come, enter the Kingdom. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was sick and you visited me." Then Jesus will turn to those on His left hand and say, "Depart from me because I was hungry and you did not feed me, I was thirsty and you did not give me to drink, I was sick and you did not visit me." These will ask Him, "When did we see You hungry, or thirsty or sick and did not come to Your help?" And Jesus will answer them, "Whatever you neglected to do unto one of these least of these, you neglected to do unto Me!"**

Yes, Jesus resisted earthly power; he looked upon his power as absolute far greater than any earthly power.  As for material things, they simply are not needed if you have the Lord in your heart and look forward to heaven; your final reward.  Live a good life, fight for the Lord, make disciples of all nations and you will be rewarded in heaven; is that much different than Islam?

**Yes, Mohammed created a political-theological entity with the mandate to make all submit to islam.**

I am not an expert on the Qu'ran (I read it a long time ago and need to do again), but then again, the Bible, especially the Old Testament is full of versus and chapters telling how God punished the disbelieving.  Actually, especially in the Old Testament, God is Love, but God is also a God of wrath; don't mess with him or oppose him or thousands will die and not a tear will be shed.

**The key difference being that in Christianity (at least modern christianity), humans are not tasked with being direct agents of god's wrath. If god chooses to unleash biblical plagues, christians aren't expected to brew up bioweapons to fulfill god's desires. Reading the qu'ran without reading the sunna and ahadith and commentaries doesn't lend to getting a good grasp of islamic theology.**

The Bible has become watered down.  But if you simply read the Bible, it's a "you are with Me or against Me" story; period; it is very black and white. Those that are not with Me and don't believe in Me and/or have a false God are condemned to Hell.  And no tears are to be shed for them.  And if one city after another of non believers is destroyed, well, that's their fault for not believing and following God's word.  And in the Bible a lot of cities of non believers were destroyed by the Lord.

**There is a big difference between the old testament and the new theologically. And again, modern christianity does not teach that christianity should be spread at swordpoint. Islam has been spread at swordpoint since it's inception and is being spread around the world by violence, as we speak.**

That being said, I am truly grateful for the wisdom of our founding fathers not to make the U.S. a Christian Nation, but rather a nation that welcomes and tolerates all faiths.  I do not think any state should be a theocratic state, yet like Israel, I understand the attraction.

**Again, Israel is a secular parliamentary democracy, not a theocracy. A core element of christian theology that allows for freedom of religion is the concept of free will. God gives free will and thus humans are free to accept or reject him. Allah does not grant free will.**

========
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Quote from: G M on September 05, 2008, 10:52:08 PM
[
**Israel is a parliamentary democracy, not a theocracy. Most Israelis are secular Jews.**

**I disagree. I've spoken to more than a few that have gone on missions and they tend to cite such things as:

"On the last day, Jesus will say to those on His right hand, "Come, enter the Kingdom. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was sick and you visited me." Then Jesus will turn to those on His left hand and say, "Depart from me because I was hungry and you did not feed me, I was thirsty and you did not give me to drink, I was sick and you did not visit me." These will ask Him, "When did we see You hungry, or thirsty or sick and did not come to Your help?" And Jesus will answer them, "Whatever you neglected to do unto one of these least of these, you neglected to do unto Me!"**

I disagree: I think you misunderstood.  While food is nice and so is water/wine, and that may help conversions, however, the Kingdom of heaven is for those who believe; period.  How "nice" you are is just frosting on the cake, but "believe in me and you will be saved".  And so you can do all the good works you want, but if you don't truly believe and follow the Lord, you are damned.  It is very cut and dried; there is no grey.  That being said, if you truly believe, then you will help the hungry and thirsty and those that are fed and given water may be more prone to believe.  But the point is without belief, regardless of all your good works, you are going to hell.  Nobody gets invited to heaven without belief regardless of what good works they did.

As for Israel, is it truly a parliamentary democracy"?  hmmm I am a big fan of Israel, I only wish them well, but a true "democracy" it is not. If that was true, then the Palestinians should soon be in charge; one man one vote?  Isn't that a democracy?  And while "most Israelis are secular Jews" they are still Jews. It is a Jewish State.  I think most Israelis would admit they are a Jewish State and be proud of it.

===========
I've known more than a few Americans that were Jewish and supporters of Israel, but Jewish only in a secular manner with very little religious observance, if any.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Israel

Wikipedia isn't a great source, but it's quick.
==========
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I mentioned this article a month or two ago but no one seemed interested;
but it does make some good points about "democracy" in Israel. 

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/eo20071206gd.html 
 
 
24219  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 07, 2008, 02:54:50 AM
Interesting thought piece.  Some overlapping points with the book "Liberal Fascism" which I have not finished yet.  It is an uneven, but interesting book.

And here's this humorous stroll down memory lane with the NY Times-- not the date:   cheesy cheesy cheesy

From a New York Times editorial on July 3, 1984, on Geraldine Ferraro's nomination for vice president:

Where is it written that only senators are qualified to become President? . . . Or where is it written that mere representatives aren't qualified, like Geraldine Ferraro of Queens? . . . Where is it written that governors and mayors, like Dianne Feinstein of San Francisco, are too local, too provincial? . . . Presidential candidates have always chosen their running mates for reasons of practical demography, not idealized democracy. . . . What a splendid system, we say to ourselves, that takes little-known men, tests them in high office and permits them to grow into statesmen. . . . Why shouldn't a little-known woman have the same opportunity to grow?
24220  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: September 07, 2008, 02:40:42 AM
Thank you BBG.
24221  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: September 06, 2008, 11:19:26 PM
A fine day working Kali Tudo with Dogzilla and the Hawaii clan  cool
24222  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: another new guy on: September 06, 2008, 11:18:15 PM
Yup Tom, you were the one of whom I was thinking!  Folks you can see a very nice double chux by Tom vs. Top Dog in the "DB Gathering of the Pack" DVD.
24223  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 06, 2008, 12:56:27 PM
Bill Kristol is a sharp guy, but I will disagree with him here on his comments about BO not nominating Hillary.  What he says is true I suppose, but utter ignores that if BO had won, he would have been but one of three presidents and would have been spending a lot of money on food testers and time hiring new ones. 

24224  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: September 06, 2008, 12:43:36 PM
I'm thinking that would be the "Israel" thread. cheesy  I too hope for Rachel's input.
24225  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: September 06, 2008, 12:41:27 PM
BBG:

That was very interesting.  I think I sensed the gist of it, but quite a bit of it went right over my head with nary a look back  embarassed cheesy

Changing subjects abruptly, a couple of days ago I saw a seemingly serious piece about sun spots and their relation to temperatures here on earth.  I would have posted it here, but I was on the road at a computer which wasn't mine and didn't have the time at the moment.   

Anyway, I have been keeping an eye out for the sunspot hypothesis for a while now.  I have seen articles which stated that Mars's temperatures have increased proportionately to earth's temperatures, which suggests a non-terrestrial cause of earth's variations i.e. the sun.  The article the other day said that something very unusual had happened with the sun spots-- there were none for a certain amount of time and said that data seems to correlate this with prior cooling periods on the earth.   Of all the people I know you are amongst the few likely to be aware of or able to track this down.    If your readings bring it to your attention, would you be so kind as to bring it here and offer your comments?

TIA,
Marc
24226  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: September 06, 2008, 03:04:18 AM
Gentlemen:

A quick yip from the road: several of today's posts belong in other threads.

Thank you,
Marc
24227  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fire Hydrant: Howls from Crafty Dog, Rules of the Road, etc on: September 06, 2008, 02:57:04 AM
Actually, in that Night Owl and I are in Hawaii with Dogzilla for the next 6 days for a seminar and DVD shoot, it looks like it will not get taken care of until I return. rolleyes smiley
24228  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 05, 2008, 10:40:43 AM
'A Servant's Heart'
September 5, 2008 11:24 a.m.
Sarah Palin killed. And more than killed.

Much has been said about her speech, but a few points. "The difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull? Lipstick" is pure American and goes straight into Bartlett's. This is the authentic sound of the American mama, of every mother you know at school who joins the board, reads the books, heads the committee, and gets the show on the road. These women make large portions of America work.

She has the power of the normal. Hillary Clinton is grim, stentorian, was born to politics and its connivances. Nancy Pelosi, another mother of five, often seems dazed and ad hoc. But this state governor and mother of a big family is a woman in a good mood. There is something so normal about her, so "You've met this person before and you like her," that she broke through in a new way, as a character vividly herself, and vividly genuine.

***

 
Associated Press 
Her flaws accentuated her virtues. Now and then this happens in politics, but it's rare. An example: The very averageness of her voice, the not-wonderfulness of it, highlighted her normality: most people don't have great voices. That normality in turn highlighted the courage she showed in being there, on that stage for the first time in her life and under trying circumstances. Her averageness accentuated her specialness. Her commonality highlighted her uniqueness.

She seemed wholly different from, and in fact seemed a refutation to, all the men of Washington at their great desks who make rules others have to live by but they don't have to live by themselves, who mandate work rules from which they exempt Congress, for instance. They don't live by the rules they espouse. She has lived her expressed values. She said yes to a Down Syndrome child. This too is powerful.

***

What she did in terms of the campaign itself was important. No one has ever really laid a glove on Obama before, not in this campaign and maybe not in his life. But Palin really damaged him. She took him square on, fearlessly, by which I mean in part that she showed no awkwardness connected to race, or racial history. A small town mayor is kind of like a community organizer only you have actual responsibilities. He wrote two memoirs but never authored a major bill. They've hauled the Styrofoam pillars back to the Hollywood lot.

This was powerful coming from Baberaham Lincoln, as she's been called.

By the end, Democrats knew they had been dinged, and badly. After the speech they descended on cable news en masse with the dart-eyed, moist-browed look of the operative who doesn't believe his talking points. They seemed like they were thinking, "I've seen this movie before and it doesn't end well." Actually they haven't seen it before in that Palin is something new, but they have seen it before in terms of what she said.

Which gets me to the most important element of the speech, and that is the startlingness of the content. It was not modern conservatism, or split the difference Conservative-ish-ism. It was not a conservatism that assumes the America of 2008 is very different from the America of 1980.

It was the old-time conservatism. Government is too big, Obama will "grow it", Congress spends too much and he'll spend "more." It was for low taxes, for small business, for the private sector, for less regulation, for governing with "a servant's heart"; it was pro-small town values, and implicitly but strongly pro-life.

This was so old it seemed new, and startling. The speech was, in its way, a call so tender it made grown-ups weep on the floor. The things she spoke of were the beating heart of the old America. But as I watched I thought, I know where the people in that room are, I know their heart, for it is my heart. But this election is a wild card, because America is a wild card. It is not as it was in '80. I know where the Republican base is, but we do not know where this country that never stops changing is.

***

It all left me wondering if this campaign is about to take on a new shape, with the old time conservatism on one side, and a smoother, evolved form of the old style liberalism on the other.

It doesn't get more dramatic, or dramatically drawn, than that.

***

I don't like the new media war. I don't like what it has the potential to do to the election, and the country.

The media overstepped. The Republican party resented it. GOP strategists saw a unifying force rising: anger in the base. They too had seen this movie before. They slammed the media. The media shot back: "You're attacking us for doing our job!"

How did the media overstep? By offending people by going so immediately and so personally into issues surrounding Mrs. Palin's family. They did not overstep by digging, by deep reporting, by investigating Palin's professional record.

Campbell Brown of CNN did nothing wrong for instance in pressing a campaign spokesman on Palin's foreign policy credentials. She was unjustly criticized for following an appropriate and necessary line of inquiry. But endless front page stories connected to Mrs. Palin's 17-year-old daughter? Cable news shows that had people insinuating Palin, whom America had not yet even met, was a bad mother, and that used her daughter's circumstances to examine Republican views on abstinence education? That was ugly.

In the end it made Palin the underdog, and gave her the perfect platform for the perfect dive she made Wednesday night.

We have had these old press fights in the past – they were a source of constant tension when I was a child, when Barry Goldwater came forward as a conservative and the press scorned him as a flake, and later when Ronald Reagan came up and the press dismissed him as Bonzo.

But this latest fight commences on a new and wilder battlefield. The old combatants were old school gentlemen, Eric Sevareid and Walter Cronkite; the new combatants are half-crazy cable anchors, the lower lurkers of the Internet, and the anonymous posters on the comment thread on the radical website.

This new war on new turf is not good, and carries the potential of great harm. Everyone really ought to stop, breathe deep, and think.

I am worried they won't. A friend IM'd the day after Palin's speech, and I told him of an inexplicable sense of foreboding. He surprised me by saying he shared it. "Calling all underworlds reporting for duty!," he wrote. "The bed is about to fly around the room, the puke is about to come out." He meant: this campaign is going to engage unseen powers and forces. He meant: this campaign, this beautiful golden thing with two admirable men at the top and two admirable vice presidential candidates, is going to turn dark.

***

It is starting to look to me like a nation-defining election. And in this it seems almost old-fashioned. 1992 for instance didn't seem or feel nation-defining, not as I remember it, nor did 2000. 1964 did, and '80 did, but they both ended in landslides. Landslide is not what I'm seeing here.

Where are the Democrats going to go? I suspect to foreign policy. In politics it used to be called Tolstoy: war and peace. McCain-Palin will mean more war, Obama-Biden will mean peace.

This campaign is about to become: epic.

***

John McCain also made a speech. It was flat.

***
24229  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Pol?tica on: September 05, 2008, 10:05:33 AM
?Entonces la bandera quiere decir que el pueblo Venezolano es jodido por la alianza de lideres/caudillos izquierdistas?
24230  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 05, 2008, 09:00:17 AM
The use of Georgian airfields adds an interesting angle.


NATO guarantees that an attack against one member country is an attack against all are no longer what they used to be. Had Georgia been inside NATO, a number of European countries would no longer be willing to consider it an attack against their own soil.

For Russia, the geopolitical stars were in perfect alignment. The U.S. was badly overstretched and had no plausible way to talk tough without coming across as empty rhetoric. American resources have been drained by the Iraq and Afghan wars, and the war on terror. The European Union is still a military dwarf that swings no weight in the Kremlin. And the ineptitude of Georgia's leadership gave Russian leaders a huge new window of opportunity.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili evidently thought the U.S. would come to his side militarily if Russian troops pushed him back into Georgia after ordering an attack last Aug. 8 on the breakaway province of South Ossetia. And when his forces were mauled by Russia's counterattack, bitter disappointment turned to anger. Along with Abkhazia, Georgia lost two provinces.

Georgia also had a special relationship with Israel that was mostly under the radar. Georgia's Defense Minister Davit Kezerashvili is a former Israeli who moved things along by facilitating Israeli arms sales with U.S. aid. "We are now in a fight against the great Russia," he was quoted as saying, "and our hope is to receive assistance from the White House because Georgia cannot survive on its own."

The Jerusalem Post on Aug. 12 reported, "Georgian Prime Minister Vladimir Gurgenidze made a special call to Israel Tuesday morning to receive a blessing from one of the Haredi community's most important rabbis and spiritual leaders, Rabbi Aaron Leib Steinman. "I want him to pray for us and our state," he was quoted.

Israel began selling arms to Georgia seven years ago. U.S. grants facilitated these purchases. From Israel came former minister and former mayor of Tel Aviv Roni Milo, representing Elbit Systems, and his brother Shlomo, former director-general of Military Industries. Israeli UAV spy drones, made by Elbit Maarahot Systems, conducted recon flights over southern Russia, as well as into nearby Iran.

In a secret agreement between Israel and Georgia, two military airfields in southern Georgia had been earmarked for the use of Israeli fighter bombers in the event of preemptive attacks against Iranian nuclear installations. This would sharply reduce the distance Israeli fighter bombers would have to fly to hit targets in Iran. And to reach Georgian airstrips, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) would fly over Turkey.

At a Moscow news conference, Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, Russia's deputy chief of staff, said the extent of Israeli aid to Georgia included, "eight types of military vehicles, explosives, landmines and special explosives for clearing minefields." Estimated numbers of Israeli trainers attached to the Georgian army range from 100 to 1,000. There were also 110 U.S. military personnel on training assignments in Georgia. Last July 2,000 U.S. troops were flown in for "Immediate Response 2008," a joint exercise with Georgian forces.

Details of Israel's involvement were largely ignored by Israeli media lest they be interpreted as another blow to Israel's legendary military prowess, which took a bad hit in the Lebanese war against Hezbollah two years ago. Georgia's top diplomat in Tel Aviv complained about Israel's "lackluster" response to his country's military predicament, and called for "diplomatic pressure on Moscow." According to the Jerusalem Post, the Georgian was told "the address for that type of pressure is Washington."

The daily Haaretz reported Georgian Minister Temur Yakobashvili - who is Jewish, the newspaper said - told Israeli Army radio that "Israel should be proud of its military, which trained Georgian soldiers" because he explained rather implausibly, "a small group of our soldiers were able to wipe out an entire Russian military division, thanks to Israeli training."

The Tel Aviv-Tbilisi military axis was agreed at the highest levels with the approval of the Bush administration. The official liaison between the two entities was Reserve Brig. Gen. Gal Hirsch, who commanded Israeli forces on the Lebanese border in July 2006. He resigned from the army after the Winograd commission flayed Israel's conduct of its Second Lebanon War.

That Russia assessed these Israeli training missions as U.S.-approved is a given. The U.S. was also handicapped by a shortage of spy-in-the-sky satellite capability, already overextended by the Iraq and Afghan wars. Neither U.S. nor Georgian intelligence knew Russian forces were ready with an immediate and massive response to the Georgian attack Moscow knew was coming. Russian double agents ostensibly working for Georgia most probably egged on the military fantasies of the impetuous President Saakashvili's "surprise attack" plans.

Mr. Saakashvili was convinced that by sending 2,000 of his soldiers to serve in Iraq (that were immediately flown home by the U.S. when Russia launched a massive counterattack into Georgia), he would be rewarded for his loyalty. He could not believe Mr. Bush, a personal friend, would leave him in the lurch. Georgia, as Mr. Saakashvili saw his country's role, was "Israel of the Caucasus."

The Tel Aviv-Tbilisi military axis appears to have been cemented at the highest levels, according to YNet, the Israeli electronic daily. But whether the IAF can still count on those air bases to launch bombing missions against Iran's nuke facilities is now in doubt.

Iran comes out ahead in the wake of the Georgian crisis. Neither Russia nor China is willing to respond to a Western request for more and tougher sanctions against the mullahs. Iran's European trading partners are also loath to squeeze Iran. The Russian-built, 1,000-megawatt Iranian reactor in Bushehr is scheduled to go on line early next year.

A combination of Vladimir Putin and oil has put Russia back on the geopolitical map of the world. Moscow's oil and gas revenue this year is projected at $201 billion, a 13-fold increase since Mr. Putin succeeded Boris Yeltsin eight years ago.

The Bush administration's global democracy crusade, as seen by the men in the Kremlin, and not an insignificant number of friends, is code for imperial hubris. The Putin-Medvedev tandem's response is a new five-point doctrine that told the U.S. to butt out of what was once the Soviet empire, not only former Soviet republics, but also former satellites and client states.

Only superannuated cold warriors saw a rebirth of the Cold War's Brezhnev Doctrine, or the right to intervene in the internal affairs of other "socialist states," e.g., the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia. But it does mean the Russian bear cannot be baited with impunity - a la Georgia.

Arnaud de Borchgrave is editor at large for The Washington Times and for United Press International.
24231  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / AWACs on: September 05, 2008, 08:50:09 AM
Originally posted by BBG in the China thread:

  China to provide Pakistan four AWACS aircrafts
    Updated at: 1510 PST, Friday, September 05, 2008
 
    ISLAMABAD: Air Chief Marshall Tanvir Mahmood Ahmed on Friday said China would provide four AWACS aircrafts to Pakistan for the purpose of aerial surveillance, adding an agreement in this regard has been signed by the two countires.

Talking to Geo News, he said talks were also underway to purchase FC-20 aircrafts from China and added 30 to 40 planes would be provided to Pakistan under the agreement signed by China and Pakistan.

Air chief Marshall further said four such aircrafts were being also acquired from Sweden for aerial surveillance.

http://www.thenews.com.pk/updates.asp?id=54260
 
24232  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Thomas Paine on: September 05, 2008, 08:43:34 AM
"Now is the seedtime of continental union, faith and honor.
The least fracture now, will be like a name engraved with the point
of a pin on the tender rind of a young oak; the wound would enlarge
with the tree, and posterity read in it full grown characters."

-- Thomas Paine (Common Sense, 1776)

Reference: Paine: Collected Writings, Foner ed., Library of America
(21)

24233  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Learning from Maggie Thatcher on: September 05, 2008, 12:45:53 AM
What Mrs. Palin
Could Learn
From Mrs. T
By BARBARA AMIEL
September 5, 2008; Page A15

The glummest face Wednesday night might have been, if only we could have seen it, that of Hillary Clinton.

 
Corbis 
Margaret Thatcher was a 49-year-old mother of two when she became Conservative Party leader in 1974.
Imagine watching Sarah Palin, the gun-toting, lifelong member of the NRA, the PTA mom with teased hair and hips half the size of Hillary's, who went ... omigod ... to the University of Idaho and studied journalism. Mrs. Palin with her five kids and one of them still virtually suckling age, going wham through that cement ceiling put there exclusively for good-looking right-wing/populist conservative females by not-so-good-looking left-wing ones (Gloria Steinem excepting). There, pending some terrible goof or revelation, stood the woman most likely to get into the Oval Office as its official occupant rather than as an intern.

Imagine Hillary's fury. The gnashing of teeth after all the years of sacrifice and hard work—a life of it—and then the endless nuisance of stylists, makeovers and fittings for Oscar de la Renta gowns for Vogue covers. And surely that gimmicky holding of the baby papoose style by Todd Palin after his wife's acceptance speech is sacrosanct left-wing territory! If only Chelsea had been younger of course, Bill could have done it and then, well, who knows what might have been forgiven him?

American feminists have always had a tough sell to make. To the rest of the world, no females on earth have ever had it as easy as middle-class American women. Cosseted, surrounded by labor-saving devices, easily available contraception and supermarkets groaning with food, their complaints have always seemed to have no relationship to reality.

Education was there for the taking. Marriages were not arranged. Going against social mores had no serious consequences. Postwar American women (excluding those mired in poverty or the odious restrictions of race) have always had the choice of what they wanted to be. They simply didn't decide to exercise it until it became more fashionable to get out of the home than to run it.

Sarah Palin has put the flim-flam nature of America feminism sharply into focus, revealing the not-so-secret hypocrisy of its code and, whatever her future, this alone is an accomplishment. As she emerged into the nation's consciousness, a shudder went through the feminist left—a political movement not restricted to females. She is a mother refusing to stay at home (good) who had made a success out in the workplace (excellent) whose marriage nevertheless is a rip-roaring success and whose views are unspeakable—those of a red-blooded, right-wing principled pragmatist.

The metaphorical hair stood up on the back of every licensed member of the feminist movement who could immediately see she was a monster out of a nightmare landscape by Hieronymus Bosch. Pro-life. Pro-oil exploration in Alaska, home of the nation's polar bears for heaven's sake. Smaller government. Lower taxes. And that family of hers: Next to the Clintons with their dysfunctional marriage, her fertility and sexually robust life could only emphasize the shriveled nature of the one-child family of the former Queen Bee of political female accomplishment.

Mrs. Palin's emergence caused a spasm in American feminism. Caste and class have always been ammunition in the very Eastern seaboard women's movement, and now they were (so to speak) loading for bear. Sally Quinn felt a mother of five had no business being vice president. Andrea Mitchell remarked that "only the uneducated" would vote for Mrs. Palin. "Choose a woman but this woman?" wrote Baltimore Sun columnist Susan Reimer, accusing Sen. McCain of using a Down's syndrome child as qualification for the VP spot.

The hypocrisy was breathtaking. Only nanoseconds before the choice of Mrs. Palin as VP put her a geriatric heartbeat away from the presidency, a woman's right to have a career and children was a shibboleth of feminism. One always knew that women with views that opposed those of official feminism were to be treated as nonwomen. To see it now out in the open was the real shocker.

The fact that this mom had been governor of a state was dismissed because it was a "small state," as was the city of which she had been mayor. Her acceptance speech, which knowledgeable left-wing critics feared would be effective, was dismissed before being delivered. She would be reading from a teleprompter. The speech would be good, no doubt, but written for her.

Had she been a man with similar political views, the left's opposition would have been strong but less personally vicious: It would have focused neither on a daughter's pregnancy, nor on the candidate's inability to be a good parent if the job was landed. In its panic, the left was indicating that to be a female running for office these days is no hindrance but an advantage, and admitting that there is indeed a difference between mothers and fathers that cannot necessarily be resolved by having daddy doing the diaper run.

All the shrapnel has so far been counterproductive. The mudslinging tabloid journalism—is Mrs. Palin the mother or grandmother of her Down's baby?—only raised her profile to a point where viewers who would never dream of watching a Republican vice-presidential acceptance speech tuned in.

Watching the frenzied reaction was déjà vu from my years as a political columnist in Margaret Thatcher's Britain. Modern history's titan of female political life suffered a similar hatred, fuelled to a large extent by her gender. Mrs. Thatcher overcame it magnificently, but in the end, the fact was that she was female and not one of "them"—a member of the old boys' club of the Tory establishment—played a significant role in bringing her down.

She was bound to be disliked vehemently by the left once she began to reveal her agenda of deregulation, sensible industrial relations, and tax reduction. Still among most of her enemies this had to do more with her ideas than her ovaries at the beginning. It was the aristocracy of her own Conservative Party that could not bear the notion of being led by "that woman." "Until she became leader," says Charles Moore, former editor of the Daily Telegraph and authorized biographer of Mrs. Thatcher, "it was assumed she could not be it because of her sex."

Mrs. Thatcher was originally given the education portfolio by Prime Minister Edward Heath, though she wanted to be Chancellor of the Exchequer, the equivalent of the U.S. Treasury Secretary. Education was considered a woman's job, and regarded as far less important than it would be today. In the education portfolio she was excluded from higher counsels and out of the way. When she challenged Heath for the party leadership in February 1974, at age 49, she turned the tables and used her gender to appeal to the gallantry of disaffected Tory backbenchers. "She's a very brave girl," they would say.

Mrs. Thatcher, a good-looking woman, used her sexual attractiveness to its legitimate hilt. She was known to flirt both with caucus members and the opposition, her face tilted girlishly in conversation. She succeeded politically with those leaders with whom she could flirt—including Ronald Reagan, Francois Mitterrand and most unlikely of all, Mikhail Gorbachev. Her stylish, hint-of-Dr. Zhivago wardrobe for a 1987 visit to the Soviet Union became something of a national obsession.

Such attractiveness had the opposite effect on the Tory grandees. Books have been written on what it was that nurtured their contempt. After all, they were in the same political party, and their fortunes rested on her popularity.

No doubt part of the animosity arose from her origins as the daughter of a Grantham grocer, a woman whose home address was a street number rather than an estate with simply the house name. Lord Ian Gilmour of Craigmillar dismissed Mrs. Thatcher as "a Daily Telegraph woman"—code language for some ghastly suburban creature wearing a tasteless flowered hat. Winston Churchill's son-in-law, Christopher Soames, a man of much genuine intelligence, allegedly called her "Heath with tits"—an inaccurate and inelegant description, but one that captured exquisitely the contempt his class had for her. Both Gilmour and Soames were fired by Mrs. Thatcher in the housecleaning that took place during the late '70s and early '80s. But the core of High Tories remained active in the party waiting to bring her down.

The British feminist movement at that time was of little import. "I owe nothing to women's lib," Mrs. Thatcher remarked, thus assuring herself of a permanent place in their pantheon of evil. During her years in power, Mrs. Thatcher could and did use the rhetoric of home economics in a way a prudent male politician no longer dared do. Metaphors of kitchen and gender abounded in her speeches: "it is the cock that crows," she would say, "but the hen that lays the eggs."

Mrs. Thatcher would have recognized the guns aimed at Sarah Palin as the weapons of the left with feminist trigger-pullers. She also would have known that Mrs. Palin has less to fear from East-Coast intellectual snobs in egalitarian America than she had to fear from her own Tory base in class-prejudiced Britain. She would have told her to stand her ground and do her homework. Read your briefs, choose advisers with care, and, as she once said to me, my arm in her grip and her eyes fixed firmly on mine, "Just be yourself, don't ever give in and they can't harm you."

It wasn't quite true, of course. She did read her briefs, did stand her ground, and in the end they pulled her down, those grandees. But she made history. If a grocer's daughter can do it, a self-described hockey mom cannot be dismissed.

Ms. Amiel is a columnist for Macleans', the Canadian weekly newsmagazine, and a former senior political columnist for the Sunday Times of London.
24234  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Pol?tica on: September 05, 2008, 12:38:30 AM
?Que quiere decir "chulo/chula" en Venezuela?  En Mexico una mujer "chula" es muy bonita y simpatica.
24235  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Class at Inosanto Academy on: September 05, 2008, 12:35:31 AM
Academy shorts and shirts will be fine.
24236  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Military Life, The Return and Crafty Dog?? on: September 05, 2008, 12:34:19 AM
Fort Polk LA has its charms too.  In addition to the heat and humidity, the local concept of health food consists of not deep frying the cigarettes.
24237  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 05, 2008, 12:00:00 AM
A real snore of a speech tonight from McCain.  cry
24238  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: September 04, 2008, 12:45:10 PM


GOP to Media: Please, Please Attack Sarah Palin

MINNEAPOLIS -- Liberal reaction to Sarah Palin's roof-raising speech last night was somewhat subdued. And there was some surprising agreement from Hillary Clinton's camp that Mrs. Palin had been treated unfairly because of her gender.

Barack Obama's campaign issued a terse statement saying: "The speech that Gov. Palin gave was well delivered, but it was written by George Bush's speechwriter and sounds exactly like the same divisive, partisan attacks we've heard from George Bush for the last eight years."

Keith Olbermann, MSNBC's official attack dog, could muster only this as commentary on Mrs. Palin's performance: "People who like this sort of thing will find this . . . the sort of thing they like." His colleague Andrea Mitchell, who had effusively praised Barack Obama's acceptance speech last week, could only say glumly: "The war has begun."

War is exactly what some Hillary Clinton allies think has been waged on Governor Palin. Georgetown University professor Deborah Tannen says some in the media have improperly questioned if Mrs. Palin can adequately take care of her family while she runs for vice president. "There's no way those questions would be asked of a male candidate," agrees Howard Wolfson, Hillary Clinton's spokesman during her presidential campaign.

Phil Singer, who helped Mr. Wolfson deal with media issues on the Clinton campaign, concurred with his colleague and told Politico.com: "The real indictment that needs to be prosecuted is about her views, not her personal life."

My view is that some liberal commentators have done a good job of enraging not just conservative Republicans but many Hillary supporters with their coverage of Mrs. Palin. I received e-mails last night from two moderate voters who had been leaning towards Barack Obama and are now firmly in the McCain-Palin camp. In the space of less than a week, Sarah Palin has become a part of the culture war and in a way that may catch Barack Obama in the crossfire.

-- John Fund

Advice to Dems: Stop Digging

ST. PAUL -- What did we learn about Gov. Sarah Palin last night? That Democrats aren't the only ones with a budding star political talent in this election. Following a harsh week for the McCain campaign's decision to put up this political newcomer, Mrs. Palin not only eased fears but gave conservative Republicans a reason to be excited this year. Equally important, she has given Democrats a reason to start worrying.

Which leaves the Obama campaign with an interesting choice. Does it continue the Palin discussion which has dominated the news cycle this past week -- and will dominate it going into the weekend -- or should Mr. Obama and his surrogates quickly try to change the subject?

Mrs. Palin still has much to prove on the campaign trail, but it's clear the McCain campaign wants its opponents to continue going after her. Just yesterday, Team McCain released an ad titled "Alaska Maverick," comparing Mrs. Palin's experience not to her counterpart Sen. Joe Biden but to Sen. Barack Obama. If not a first in modern presidential politics, this line of attack is certainly something we haven't seen in a while. And it displays a level of confidence the McCain campaign isn't supposed to be feeling, given the powerful political winds the Democrats have at their backs this year.

In its first attempt at criticizing Mrs. Palin, the Obama campaign sent mixed messages. A statement by spokesman Bill Burton attacking her experience was rejected by the candidate himself only hours later. The lesson? Stop getting into specifics with Mrs. Palin and go back to tying Sen. John McCain to President Bush. There's a reason Mr. Bush -- and his own vice president -- weren't mentioned once in Mrs. Palin's speech last night. Nor in Rudy Giuliani's. Nor in Mike Huckabee's. And just once by Mitt Romney. The strategy for Democrats: Attack what your opponent is trying to hide, not what he's trying to promote. Attack Bush-Cheney, not Mrs. Palin.

-- Blake Dvorak, RealClearPolitics.com

Sarah, Get Thee to Chapel Hill

Sarah Palin thrilled the GOP last night in St. Paul, reminding more than a few GOP veterans of how Elizabeth Dole wowed them at the 1996 Republican convention in San Diego. Too bad Mrs. Dole wasn't there to enjoy it. She skipped this week's festivities to focus on her reelection battle against state Senator Kay Hagan in what has become a must-watch race.

And for good reason: A new poll by a Democratic firm shows Mrs. Hagan with a five-point lead, echoing a host of recent polls that show a tight race getting tighter. Mrs. Dole is the biggest star on the North Carolina stage now that John Edwards is in disgrace. Chapel Hill-based venture capitalist Alston Gardner emailed us to explain why she's in trouble: "Much like John Edwards, she's just another pretty face that hasn't delivered for the citizens and leaders of North Carolina. Her focus has always been on a national audience and not doing the less glamorous, but politically necessary constituent services." Ouch.

On Wednesday Mrs. Dole launched her first attack ad against her opponent. The spot portrays Ms. Hagan as a yapping dog and calls her "Fibber Kay," and defends Mrs. Dole as "one of the 10 most admired women in the world" whose "clout works wonders for North Carolina." The campaign also turned up the heat over a scheduled fundraiser for Ms. Hagan in two weeks hosted by author Wendy Kaminer, whose real estate developer husband is a board member of the Secular Coalition for America. Says a Dole press release: "Kay Hagan does not represent the values of this state; she is a Trojan horse for a long list of wacky left-wing outside groups bent on policies that would horrify most North Carolinians if they knew about it."

Husband Bob Dole, who did make an appearance on the Xcel Center floor before Mrs. Palin's speech yesterday, told the Washington Post that he's been busy on the trail supporting his wife as well. "I'm spending three days a week down there helping out," he said. "I just work the side streets. I don't go down Main Street."

Partly to assist in North Carolina, the cash-strapped National Republican Senatorial Committee on Tuesday pulled its ads from New Mexico, abandoning Republican Rep. Steve Pearce in his own fight with Rep. Tom Udall for the retiring Pete Domenici's seat. Bottom line: The Republican triage has begun and Election Day is still two months away.

-- Robert Costa

Quote of the Day

"He may have pulled off the impossible by finding someone who fires up independents and Reagan Democrats while not turning off social conservatives" -- Republican Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, commenting on John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin.

How to Pick Out the Navy Enthusiasts at the RNC

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twin Cities are providing a hearty welcome to Republicans this week. Store windows carry welcome signs. Red, white and blue decorations abound. And the elephant, well, the elephant is everywhere. At a downtown Minneapolis hotel, a herd of topiary elephants, trunks raised, greet the guests. The leader of the pachyderms is an immense creature, almost life size, and visitors must pass beneath her trunk in order to reach the concierge's desk. I say "she" because the lady elephant sports red roses for toenails and more red roses bedeck her tail. A floral G-O-P is emblazoned on her saddle.

The elephant is everywhere at the convention too: on hats, tote bags, lapel pins and every form of jewelry. A delegate from Maine was spied wearing elephant earrings. But another popular accessory features no elephants -- rather, it's a pale blue tie or scarf sported by some Republicans featuring three of the international marine signal flags used by ships at sea. Strung together, the flags spell out the letters JSM, for John Sidney McCain.

-- Melanie Kirkpatrick

24239  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / STratfor: The Big Quiet on: September 04, 2008, 12:44:00 PM
Washington has gone quiet on Iran in the aftermath of the Russia-Georgia war. In essence, the Russian action was a declaration that Russia intends to dictate precisely what its near abroad looks like, and pro-American governments are simply not welcome in the mix. If the United States is going to challenge this, it must find a way to free up significant military resources as quickly as possible. Since the vast bulk of American land forces are involved in the Iraq conflict, that means winding that war down.

Which, in turn, cannot be done without Iranian cooperation. It is Iran via its proxies that has the ability to influence the pace and heat of the Iraqi conflict — it played a very real role in both the escalation of violence in 2006 and its marked decline in 2007-2008. So for the United States to have the capacity to counter Russia, it must first strike a deal with Iran.

Stratfor finds it very interesting that the normal noise out of Washington concerning all things Iranian has gone nearly silent. In the past two weeks, only U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has issued so much as a peep on the issue, and even that was oblique and in the context of Washington’s planned missile defense systems in Europe.

So Stratfor is watching the movements of the senior American and Iranian leadership very closely. Currently, Vice President Dick Cheney is in Georgia after having visited Azerbaijan. Tomorrow he flies to Italy for a four-day visit. Any of these locations would be excellent places for Cheney to meet with Iranian counterparts and hammer out the final stages of a deal (negotiations have been ongoing for months now).

Our focus is on the Italy trip right now. Publicly, Cheney will be meeting with senior European intelligence officials over the weekend, and we have picked up a rumor that some Iranian officials will be making a discreet appearance. We cannot emphasize enough that this rumor is unconfirmed, but it makes sense. Everything about this makes sense. The location, the format, the timing, and Russia’s rearranging of the geopolitical constellation.

That, of course, does not mean that it is true. But it makes perfect sense.
24240  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 04, 2008, 10:33:57 AM
The digs at BO were beautiful in their graceful brutality  grin

And now the WSJ lays the groundwork for going after Biden:

Biden Was Wrong
On the Cold War
By PETER WEHNER
September 4, 2008

The choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has electrified many conservatives and strengthened John McCain's claim that his administration would be far more reform-minded than Barack Obama's. At the same time, it has triggered accusations that Gov. Palin is far too inexperienced to be vice president, and has little knowledge of national security issues.

Mrs. Palin's lack of mastery of national security issues is often contrasted with Mr. Obama's vice presidential pick, Joseph Biden Jr. Mr. Biden has served in the Senate since 1973, is currently chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and is often described as a "statesman."

In fact, decade after decade and on important issue after important issue, Mr. Biden's judgment has been deeply flawed.

In the 1970s, Mr. Biden opposed giving aid to the South Vietnamese government in its war against the North. Congress's cut-off of funds contributed to the fall of an American ally, helped communism advance, and led to mass death throughout the region. Mr. Biden also advocated defense cuts so massive that both Edmund Muskie and Walter Mondale, both leading liberal Democrats at the time, opposed them.

In the early 1980s, the U.S. was engaged in a debate over funding the Contras, a group of Nicaraguan freedom fighters attempting to overthrow the Communist regime of Daniel Ortega. Mr. Biden was a leading opponent of President Ronald Reagan's efforts to fund the Contras. He also opposed Reagan's efforts to send military assistance to the pro-American government in El Salvador, which at the time was battling the FMLN, a Soviet-supported Marxist group.

Throughout his career, Mr. Biden has consistently opposed modernization of our strategic nuclear forces. He was a fierce opponent of Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative. Mr. Biden voted against funding SDI, saying, "The president's continued adherence to [SDI] constitutes one of the most reckless and irresponsible acts in the history of modern statecraft." Mr. Biden has remained a consistent critic of missile defense and even opposed the U.S. dropping out of the Antiballistic Missile Treaty after the collapse of the Soviet Union (which was the co-signatory to the ABM Treaty) and the end of the Cold War.

In 1990, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and, we later learned, was much closer to attaining a nuclear weapon than we had believed. President George H.W. Bush sought war authorization from Congress. Mr. Biden voted against the first Gulf War, asking: "What vital interests of the United States justify sending Americans to their deaths in the sands of Saudi Arabia?"

In 2006, after having voted three years earlier to authorize President George W. Bush's war to liberate Iraq, Mr. Biden argued for the partition of Iraq, which would have led to its crack-up. Then in 2007, Mr. Biden opposed President Bush's troop surge in Iraq, calling it a "tragic mistake." It turned out to be quite the opposite. Without the surge, the Iraq war would have been lost, giving jihadists their most important victory ever.

On many of the most important and controversial issues of the last four decades, Mr. Biden has built a record based on bad assumptions, misguided analyses and flawed judgments. If he had his way, America would be significantly weaker, allies under siege would routinely be cut loose, and the enemies of the U.S. would be stronger.

There are few members of Congress whose record on national security matters can be judged, with the benefit of hindsight, to be as consistently bad as Joseph Biden's. It's true that Sarah Palin has precious little experience in national security affairs. But in this instance, no record beats a manifestly bad one.

Mr. Wehner, a former deputy assistant to President George W. Bush, is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds
24241  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Coulter on: September 04, 2008, 01:19:02 AM
The Best Man Turned Out To Be A Woman

 
John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska, as his running mate finally gave Republicans a reason to vote for him -- a reason, that is, other than B. Hussein Obama.

The media are hopping mad about McCain's vice presidential selection, but they're really furious over at MSNBC. After drawing "Keith (plus) Obama" hearts on their denim notebooks, Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews stayed up all night last Thursday, writing jokes about Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, the presumed vice presidential pick. Now they can't use any of them.

So the media are taking it out on our brave Sarah and her 17-year-old daughter.  They claimed Palin was chosen only because she's a woman. In fact, Palin was chosen because she's pro-life, pro-gun, pro-drilling and pro-tax cuts. She's fought both Republicans and Democrats on public corruption and does not have hair plugs like some other vice presidential candidate I could mention. In other words, she's a "Republican."

As a right-winger, Palin will appeal to the narrow 59 percent of Americans who voted for another former small-market sportscaster: Ronald Reagan. Our motto: Sarah Palin is only a heartbeat away!

If you're going to say Palin was chosen because she's a woman, you're going to have to demonstrate that the runners-up were more qualified. Gov. Tim Pawlenty seems like a terrific fellow and fine governor, but he is not obviously more qualified than Palin.

As for former governor of Pennsylvania Tom Ridge and Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman, the other also-rans, I can think of at least 40 million unborn reasons she's better than either of them.

Within the first few hours after Palin's name was announced, McCain raised $4 million in campaign donations online, reaching $10 million within the next two days. Which shortlist vice presidential pick could have beaten that?

The media hysterically denounced Palin as "inexperienced." But then people started to notice that she has more executive experience than B. Hussein Obama -- the guy at the top of the Democrats' ticket.

They tried to create a "Troopergate" for Palin, indignantly demanding to know why she wanted to get her ex-brother-in-law removed as a state trooper. Again, public corruption is not a good issue for someone like Obama, Chicago pol and noted friend of Syrian National/convicted felon Antoin Rezko.

For the cherry on top, then we found out Palin's ex-brother-in-law had Tasered his own 10-year-old stepson. Defend that, Democrats.

The bien-pensant criticized Palin, saying it's irresponsible for a woman with five children to run for vice president. Liberals' new talking point: Sarah Palin: Only five abortions away from the presidency.

They claimed her newborn wasn't her child, but the child of her 17-year-old daughter. That turned out to be a lie.

Then they attacked her daughter, who actually is pregnant now, for being unmarried. When liberals start acting like they're opposed to pre-marital sex and mothers having careers, you know McCain's vice presidential choice has knocked them back on their heels.

But at least liberal reporters had finally found someone their own size to pick on: a 17-year-old girl.

Speaking of Democrats with newborn children, the media weren't particularly concerned about John Edwards running for president despite his having a mistress with a newborn child.

While the difficult circumstances of Palin's pregnant daughter are being covered like a terrorist attack on the nation, with leering accounts of the 18-year-old father, the media remain resolutely uninterested in the parentage of Edwards' mistress's love child. Except, that is, the hardworking reporters at the National Enquirer, who say Edwards is the father.

As this goes to press, the latest media-invented scandal about Palin is that McCain didn't know her well before choosing her as his running mate. He knew her well enough, though admittedly, not as well as Obama knows William Ayers.

John F. Kennedy, who was -- from what the media tell me -- America's most beloved president, detested his vice president, Lyndon Johnson.

Until Clinton interviewed Al Gore one time before choosing him as his vice presidential candidate, he had met Gore only one other time: when Gore was running for president in 1988 and flew to Little Rock seeking Clinton's endorsement. Clinton turned him down.

To this day, there's no proof that Bill Clinton ever met one-on-one with his CIA director, James Woolsey, other than a brief chat after midnight the night before Woolsey's nomination was announced.

Barring some all-new, trivial and probably false story about Palin -- her former hairdresser got a parking ticket in 1978! -- the media apparently intend to keep being hysterical about McCain's alleged failure to "vet" Palin properly. The problem with this argument is that it presupposes that everyone is asking: "HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?"

No one's saying that.

Attacks on McCain's "vetting" process require the media to keep claiming that Palin has a lot of problems. But she doesn't have any problems. Remember? Those were all blind alleys.

Unfortunately, for the ordinary TV viewer hearing nonstop hysteria about nonspecific "problems," it takes a lot of effort to figure out that every attack liberals have launched against Palin turned out to be a lie.

It's as if a basketball player made the winning shot in the last three seconds of the game and liberals demand that we have a week-long discussion about whether the player should have taken that shot. WHAT IF HE MISSED?

With Palin, McCain didn't miss.
24242  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia-- Europe on: September 04, 2008, 01:09:12 AM
 
Geopolitical Diary: More Ripples in the Post-Georgia Pond
September 4, 2008

There are two disparate and odd bits of news that together might add up to something of interest. First, according to the RIA Novosti press agency, two farms in Estonia have formed an independent “Soviet republic” and plan to ask for Russian recognition, according to a group of Estonian communists.

In itself this is not important, to say the least. It is interesting that RIA Novosti would decide to publicize it beyond its worth, but at this point, everyone is hypersensitive to anything that happens, and publicizing it under current circumstances makes some sense. What it does do is to point to real underlying tensions in the Baltics. The Baltic states have large Russian minorities. Many of these are Russian citizens. The Lithuanians, Estonians and Latvians have bad memories of Russian occupation and view their countries’ Russian populations with a degree of unease. The Russians claim to be discriminated against. Between ethnic and some degree of ideological differences, there is tension.

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev recently said that Moscow is responsible for Russian citizens wherever they live. That statement implicitly targeted the Baltic states, essentially saying that Moscow speaks for the Russian minorities and that, therefore, Moscow has a role to play in the internal affairs of these countries. On the assumption that the local Bolsheviks who declared independence are Russian — a fair bet — the Russians could theoretically claim to be responsible for them in some way.

The Russians are not behind this stunt, although they clearly want to publicize it. But it points to a flash point that is truly dangerous. If the Russians were to challenge the legitimacy of the Baltic countries’ treatment of Russians, they would not have problems identifying substantial numbers of Russians who would claim grievances. The Baltics, unlike Georgia, are members of NATO and any political conflict there would inevitably involve NATO. We doubt that the Russians would have any interest in invading the Baltics, but we don’t doubt that under the current conditions they might be interested in stirring up problems in the Baltics. The Russians clearly enjoyed the Georgian crisis, and their appetite for confrontation might be growing. This is a stunt. But it is being reported by Russian media. It is not serious, but the underlying issue is.

Along the lines of straws in the wind, a second nation has recognized the independence of the breakaway Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The first was Russia. Now it is joined by Nicaragua. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega was, for those old enough to remember, president of Nicaragua in the 1980s, when he led a Marxist government. He was elected again a few years ago, and no one seemed to care very much, including us, since being a Marxist and pro-Soviet didn’t really matter much. Nicaragua’s recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia does not, by itself, rise to significance, but it does make two points.

The first is that the Russians, should they choose to follow a confrontational course, have recourse to the old Soviet strategy of posing problems for the United States by supporting Soviet allies around the world, and particularly in Latin American where the United States was always sensitive. That strategy is alive because there are Latin American leaders looking for a major power prepared to support them. Nicaragua is one, but Venezuela and Cuba have also spoken in support of Russia’s decision to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia (stopping short of outright recognition). There are also rumors that Russia might consider putting military bases in Venezuela and Cuba — another chance for Moscow to push Washington’s buttons.

Second, there appears to be an expectation of support from Russia in return for recognition. We need to be very careful not to assume either that Russia will simply follow a Soviet-model foreign policy or that it has the resources to do so even if it wanted to. Ortega might simply be enjoying a nostalgic moment. Alternatively, Ortega might be fishing for something from the Russians. As with the Baltics, it will be interesting what the Russians do with this opening, or if they even see it as an opening. We are beginning to have opportunities to measure the distance between Russia’s new foreign policy and traditional Soviet policies and see the delta between the two. How the Kremlin deals with these potential openings could indicate just how far the new Russian foreign policy is willing to push.
24243  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: September 03, 2008, 01:30:13 PM
He's No Ed McMahon, But He'll Do


MINNEAPOLIS -- Who will introduce Sarah Palin tonight? The word in town is that President Bush will do the honors in a surprise appearance before the convention. After canceling his appearance for Monday night because of Hurricane Gustav, he addressed the delegates last night by a video hook-up. The feed was live, but he apparently couldn't hear the crowd and didn't pause long enough for the cheers, which kept on coming. LBJ was the last President to miss being physically present at a convention -- he stayed away in 1968.

A rallying cry at last week's Democratic convention was "Eight Is Enough," and when Mr. Bush's appearance was canceled Monday, some Republicans were talking about it being a "blessing in disguise." The conventional wisdom holds that John McCain needs to keep a polite distance from the unpopular President. But Mr. McCain isn't known for hewing to the conventional wisdom.

The other whisper about town is that Mr. McCain has chosen another Texan to introduce him tomorrow night: Michael Williams, chairman of the Railroad Commission of Texas and the first African-American in Texas history to hold a statewide elected post. He's a champion of alternative energy and his "Breathe Easy" campaign urges the transformation of the state's bus fleets, especially school buses, from diesel and gasoline to natural gas and propane, which are cheaper and environmentally cleaner.

-- Melanie Kirkpatrick

Scouting Report on Palin: Natural Talent, Needs Coaching

MINNEAPOLIS -- Speculation about how GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin will fare in her October 2 debate with Joe Biden is rife here in the Twin Cities.

But thanks to the archives of C-SPAN, it's possible to watch a debate she conducted during her 2006 race for governor. Her opponent was popular Democrat and former two-term governor Tony Knowles. Ms. Palin performed well, showing an organized mind and a populist bent (twice referring to "the will of the people"). In an ironic twist given recent news events, she was even asked what she would counsel her daughter to do if she became pregnant. "I would choose life," Ms. Palin said emphatically.

The one strange note came when the feisty former point guard for her high school basketball team (nickname "Sarah Barracuda") went after Mr. Knowles' qualifications to return to the governor's mansion. "Do we need a chef down in [the state capital of] Juneau?" she asked the debate audience. Mr. Knowles, who owns a restaurant in Anchorage, looked pained and the joust was quickly parried. If she's going to go after Joe Biden's vulnerabilities, such as the fact that he's a Washington lifer who ranks No. 17 in seniority among all senators who've ever served in Congress, Ms. Palin will need some better attack lines.

-- John Fund

The Thrill is Gone

The love affair between John McCain and the elite media is over. The cause of the final estrangement was alienation of affection -- namely Mr. McCain's decision to hook up with a pro-life, moose-hunting unknown governor of Alaska named Sarah Palin.

The resulting media attacks on the fitness and experience of Mr. McCain's running mate led to a quick series of "Dear Media" letters putting the relationship on ice. CNN's Wolf Blitzer told viewers yesterday that the McCain campaign had abruptly canceled an interview with Larry King after a contentious exchange between CNN's Campbell Brown and McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds. Ms. Brown had sharply questioned Sarah Palin's foreign policy experience.

That was followed by an attack on the New York Times' Elisabeth Bumiller for suggesting that the McCain campaign had not vetted the Alaska governor properly. The campaign's blogger Michael Goldfarb wrote: "Ms. Bumiller, if you'd like to try reporting instead of writing fiction, here's a link to our press line," offering up the campaign's telephone number.

Other McCain supporters were even more pointed. At a rally yesterday organized by Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum, radio talk show host Laura Ingraham told the audience that the media doesn't understand what the GOP convention is all about: "Life is the first. Big families. Hunting. Patriotism. Gun ownership. Beating back fat, bloated bureaucracy. Holding government accountable. Fighting liberal corruption. Sarah Palin stands for all of these principles that if taken away from the left, it's over for them. It's over."

I don't know about that, but clearly Mr. McCain and his former media chums won't be exchanging chocolates and flowers much over the next two months.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day

"Never mind the naysayers and inside-the-Beltway snobs who mock John McCain's selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. This was a brilliant choice. . . . t offered an alternative to Americans who are ready to shake up Washington but who don't think that Obama is the one to do the shaking. It also showed that neither party is wedded to the old and tired image of four white males vying to lead the country. Besides, those who know Palin best -- her Alaska constituents -- tell reporters they like her, trust her and find her easy to relate to, which happen to be the same personal qualities that many Americans say they find lacking in the Democratic nominee. And anyone who thinks those qualities aren't important in a presidential candidate probably doesn't understand why Bill Clinton beat Bob Dole in 1996 and George W. Bush beat John Kerry in 2004" -- San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Ruben Navarrette.

Open for Business (Kindly Ignore the Russian Troops)

BRUSSELS -- On Georgian Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze's to-do list, somewhere below "get Russian army to leave," is making sure that economic aid comes to his war-ravaged country quickly enough that foreign investors continue to flock its way. The Bush administration is expected to announce today a $1 billion aid package, and Mr. Gurgenidze, while visiting the EU's capital this week, told me he hopes Europe "matches or exceeds that number" when it finally extends its own offer.

Before the Russian troops arrived almost a month ago, Georgia was a budding Caucasian Tiger. As democracy and free-market economics took hold following the Rose Revolution, foreign direct investment quadrupled last year. Those investors should keep coming, Mr. Gurgenidze said, "because fundamentally nothing has changed." The country is still being led by "the same people with the same libertarian leanings"-- the, ahem, visitors from up north notwithstanding.

Mr. Gurgenidze, who has an MBA from Emory University in that other Georgia and formerly played The Donald's role in a local version of TV's "The Apprentice," notes that Georgia's utilities and transportation recovered quickly and there was no meltdown in the country's financial sector. The national currency, the lari, has even appreciated slightly against the dollar during a time when the euro and pound have weakened.

Georgia still has severe problems and will have to lean on its Western allies economically for years to come. Whether or not Mr. Gurgenidze and especially President Mikheil Saakashvili eventually pay a price at the voting booth for taking the Russian bait, the country's future freedom will depend largely on its ability to remain an open and dynamic market.

24244  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 03, 2008, 10:11:09 AM
Ginsburg was VERY dry.  A cup of coffee before class was usually a good idea.

I never understood her position that "abortion rights" were a matter of the equal protection clause.  As best as I could tell she was saying that because men didn't get pregnant from sex, women too had a right not to get pregnant from sex.  huh huh huh

She and I knocked heads over National League of Cities vs. Usery and we didn't see eye to eye on the Equal Right Amendment evil

And I can tell you that her concern for States Rights in Bush vs. Gore was a first  angry rolleyes
=========
As for my classmates and their current level of understanding, I think my point still applies to quite a few of them-- especially those that, like BO, never worked in the private sector.
24245  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB Gathering of the Pack August 10th, 2008 on: September 03, 2008, 09:33:38 AM
The Reuters coverage of our Gathering has been picked up around the world.  Although it has mostly tapered off by now, here's a new one that chuckled me:

http://www.timesleader.com/features/news_of_the_weird_09-03-2008.html
24246  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Quotes of note: on: September 03, 2008, 09:27:59 AM
“Not only is [Sarah Palin] young, they’re saying she’s the prettiest candidate for vice president since John Edwards.” —Jimmy Kimmel
24247  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: September 03, 2008, 08:54:10 AM
"There is little need of commentary upon this clause. No man
can well doubt the propriety of placing a president of the
United States under the most solemn obligations to preserve,
protect, and defend the constitution. It is a suitable pledge of
his fidelity and responsibility to his country; and creates upon
his conscience a deep sense of duty, by an appeal, at once in the
presence of God and man, to the most sacred and solemn sanctions,
which can operate upon the human mind."

-- Joseph Story (Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833)

Reference: Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 545.
24248  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: September 03, 2008, 01:00:00 AM
Anyone have any intel on BO's relationship with Frank Marshall Davis?
24249  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / TTP: BO's favorite Moslem on: September 03, 2008, 12:35:39 AM
OBAMAS FAVORITE MOSLEM     
Written by Alex Alexiev     
Thursday, 28 August 2008 

As the Democrat Convention's carefully-scripted coronation of perhaps the least qualified major party presidential candidate in recent American history builds up to its climax, few have noticed that the convention's most pregnant political message may have already been delivered before it officially started.

It came in the form of a decision by Obama's campaign to feature the president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), Ms. Ingrid Mattson, at an "Interfaith Gathering" of Leftist religious luminaries the day before the convention opened (8/24).

In doing that, Obama and the Democrat leadership rather demonstratively bestowed their seal of approval on the largest and most important front organization of the American Muslim Brotherhood, a conspiratorial Islamist revolutionary movement dedicated, in their own words, to "a grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by their hands." 

The implications of this political legitimization of a group dedicated to the destruction of our constitutional order are so profoundly disturbing that some background on what exactly ISNA and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) or Ikhwan Muslimi are is in order.

The Ikhwan beachhead in America was first established by a Saudi-funded group of Muslim Brothers in 1963 at the University of Illinois that became known as the Muslim Students Association of the U.S. and Canada (MSA).

This was only a year after the founding in Saudi Arabia of the main instrument for export of the violent Wahhabi/Salafi creed, the Muslim World League (MWL). The MWL, like other similar organizations that followed, were the fruit of the symbiotic nexus between Ikhwan organizational talent and Saudi financial muscle, a key synergy that is the single most important determinant of the vast inroads radical Islamism has made in the West since then.

Acting according to the MB's principle of a unitary Islamic movement operating through many fronts, the MSA promptly spawned numerous Islamist professional, educational and publishing spinoffs, before founding the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) in 1973, an ingenious Saudi-funded vehicle for control of American Islam through interest-free financing and holding the title of many Muslim institutions.

Finally, in 1981, the Brotherhood and its Wahhabi patrons felt the need to set up yet another instrument of control of the proliferating American Islamist networks by incorporating ISNA in Indiana as an umbrella organization of these networks. In the process, numerous front organizations that preceded ISNA by many years, including the MSA itself and NAIT, became ISNA constituent organizations.

What never changed was the unremitting hostility of the organization to fundamental American values like democracy, separation of church and state and human rights and its dedication to the ultimate objective of establishing a world-wide Islamic rule under barbaric shariah law.

Under the guidance of well-known Islamist zealots like Muzamil Siddiqui, Jamal Badawi, Abdalla Idris Ali, Iqbal Unus, Ihsan Bagby and many others, ISNA has through the years aided and abetted all manner of extremist and terrorist causes, while mouthing disingenuous calls for interfaith dialog.

While it has been able to fool numerous politically correct useful idiots, ISNA has been less successful with U.S. law enforcement authorities who listed it (and its affiliate NAIT) as an unindicted co-conspirator in a recent terrorism funding case. 

Moreover, attempts to have its name expunged from that list were tersely rejected by the U.S. government citing numerous evidentiary exhibits establishing ISNA's "intimate relationship" with the Muslim Brotherhood and other terrorist organizations.

ISNA is intimately involved in yet another major Islamist effort to undermine American society that has so far escaped public scrutiny. Through its affiliate NAIT, it owns and runs the IMAN shariah finance mutual fund which is part of the global financial Jihad effort aiming to legitimize a medieval doctrine that mandates violent jihad against non-Muslims and the killing of adulterers and homosexuals.

Interestingly, the IMAN fund was known as the Dow Jones Islamic Fund until last March when it was revealed that the chairman of its shariah advisory board, Mufti Taqi Usmani, had long called for violence against infidels and sanctioned suicide terrorism.

No less puzzling is the fact that NAIT, which owns most shares of the for-profit multi-million dollar mutual fund and on whose board Ingrid Mattson sits, does not file tax returns since it ostensibly makes less than $25,000 per year.

Perhaps the best evidence of what ISNA really stands for is provided by its own poll of the attitudes of its membership conducted in 2006. By nearly a 3 to 1 margin ISNA members believed that the U.S. government had advance knowledge of the September 11, 2001 attacks and allowed them to happen and a majority did not believe that the terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks and the July 7, 2005 bombings in London were Moslem.

Despite such overwhelming evidence of ISNA"s subversive nature, many are willing to give it the benefit of doubt. This is at least partly due to the fact that Ingrid Mattson is the first woman head of a major Islamic organization and is especially skillful in beating the bogus interfaith dialog drums.

For the Obama campaign and more than a few others, this has by itself provided the needed proof that ISNA is a picture of moderation.

Indeed, how can all the lurid tales of Islamist misogyny, gay-bashing and hate-spewing against Christians and Jews be true when ISNA now has a leader that is seemingly an emancipated and enlightened woman dedicated to multiculturalism and understanding? A fair question, it seems, until one starts digging behind the headlines.

It doesn't take long to discover that far from being a new emancipated leader, Ms. Mattson is little more than a useful prop serving the Islamist agenda.

Shortly after she was elected ISNA president in August 2006, the organization's secretary-general Sayyid Syeed announced that this does not change the prohibition against women leading mixed-gender prayer and that Mattson will only be allowed to lead "ritual worship for women." Mattson herself promptly opined that Moslem women are quite content with their segregated prayer space in the mosque.

Nor has she raised even the slightest objection to numerous misogynist statements by her fellow-ISNA executives and Islamist ideologues, Muzammil Siddiqui and Jamal Badawi, who have openly supported shariah restrictions on women traveling by themselves, socialization between men and women, or making friends with non-Muslims and endorsed polygamy and the husband's right to beat his wife.

Or, for that matter, their implicit endorsement of the death penalty for homosexuality. Not to mention ISNA's vituperative anti-Semitism, rejection of basic American norms such as the separation of church and state and its support for the imposition of shariah law in Muslim communities in the West.

It would be interesting to find out whether key democratic constituencies such as feminists and gay and lesbian groups are aware of the real agenda of this newly anointed partner of the Obama coalition for change. Just as it would be for rank and file Americans to learn that as far as ISNA's leadership is concerned American Moslems "should not melt in any pot except the Muslim Brotherhood pot."

In the interest of fairness, the Obama campaign is not the only one to buy uncritically ISNA's deceitful protestations. The Bush Administration, which has had seven years to figure it out, is even guiltier in failing to understand the deeply subversive nature of the Muslim Brotherhood networks and has often acted as a willing dupe to the Islamists.

The number two man at the Pentagon, Gordon England, for instance, followed the advice of a likely Islamist plant in his office - who had lied about his background - in terminating Stephen Coughlin, one of the few genuine experts in the U.S. government on shariah law. Not surprisingly, Mr. England had earlier legitimized through his presence an ISNA convention which teemed with radical Islamist speakers and messages, making himself a useful idiot par excellence in the process.

Not to be overdone, the Administration's former public diplomacy czar, Karen Hughes, whose impeccable credentials as a close personal friend of President Bush were only exceeded by her impeccable cluelessness about radical Islam, proudly declared ISNA members to be her frontline troops in public diplomacy.

The documented failure of the outgoing administration to come to terms with the existence of a well-organized Islamist fifth column in America does not make the democrats? new infatuation with a key part of this fifth column any less serious. Especially because, as the party has veered sharply to the left, parts of it have increasingly embraced radical Islam as a new ally. These have ranged from the ACLU, which has openly allied itself with organizations like ISNA and CAIR, to the Greens who have lately been debating whether to engage radical Islam in a joint struggle to destroy capitalism.

These feelings are fully reciprocated on the other side as the Islamists increasingly see the Left as a potential ally in its quest to undermine Western civilization and replace it with shariah rule.

Following the Democrat mid-term election victories in 2006, the Muslim Brotherhood website ikhwanweb argued that the Democrat victory will work in favor of Moslems and the Muslim Brotherhood inside and outside the U.S. and expressed the hope that the democrats will begin dealing directly with "moderate Islamists."

The Democrat Convention's legitimization of Ingrid Mattson and ISNA would seem to justify such hopes further. One can only hope that the majority of patriotic Democrat voters would soon start asking questions about Obama's new Islamist partners.

Alex Alexiev was for 20 years a senior analyst with the national security division of the Rand Corporation, directing numerous research projects for the Department of Defense and other agencies.  Currently vice-president for research at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, his next book is Jihad on Wall Street: Shariah Finance in the War Against America.

[Note on "Moslem" vs. "Muslim".  Until recently, the normal transliteration for "one who submits" was Moslem.  Somehow, this became politically incorrect, with those-who-submit demanding a spelling of Muslim.  Since Arabic has no written vowels, the actual transliteration from Arabic into English should be "Mslm."  TTP will always opt for the politically incorrect - so in every case other than the actual title of an organization - it will render Mslm as Moslem, never Muslim.] 
24250  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Columbia U. and emminent domain on: September 03, 2008, 12:25:52 AM
Columbia University
Has No Right to My Land
By NICK SPRAYREGEN
September 3, 2008

In the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the government is permitted to take private property only for "public use."

This clause was once limited to true public projects such as the construction of highways, fire houses and public libraries. But over the last 50 years it has been bastardized by the powerful (in collusion with compliant politicians and the acquiescence of the courts) into a weapon used routinely to forcibly take other people's property for nonpublic uses. What is occurring in West Harlem today is a prime example of this abuse.

Columbia University, a private institution, officially announced its desire for a new campus five years ago. The university zeroed in on the Manhattanville area of Harlem -- between 125th and 134th Streets, and between Broadway and the Hudson River. Since that time, while wielding the sledgehammer of the possible use of eminent domain, Columbia has purchased roughly 80% of Manhattanville.

My family has owned for almost 30 years four commercial Manhattanville properties. We run a self-storage business, plus we lease to various large retailers such as a discount store and a supermarket. For over four years we have been fighting the state and Columbia in their joint attempts to condemn my properties for the school's expansion.

This week, the board of directors of the state agency threatening the condemnation -- the Empire State Development Corporation -- will hold two legally required public hearings, ostensibly to give the public a chance to be "heard." I believe that this is merely perfunctory.

Under New York state law, in order to condemn property the state first has to undertake a "neighborhood conditions study" and declare the area in question "blighted." Earlier this summer the state released its study, which concluded that Manhattanville is indeed "blighted." This gives the state the legal green light to condemn my four buildings and hand them over to the university.

The study's conclusion was unsurprising. Since the commencement of acquisitions in Manhattanville by Columbia, the school has made a solid effort to create the appearance of "blight." Once active buildings became vacant as Columbia either refused to renew leases, pressured small businesses to vacate, or made unreasonable demands that resulted in the businesses moving elsewhere. Columbia also let their holdings decay and left code violations unaddressed.

Only a few years ago, this area was undergoing a resurgence. Virtually all property was occupied, many by long-standing family operations such as my own. Now most of those businesses are gone -- forced out by the university. Still, Columbia has not been able to freeze all positive change in the neighborhood. Just in the past few years, three upscale restaurants have opened here. They seem to be thriving.

There is also a conflict of interest in the condemnation process. The firm the state hired to perform the "impartial" blight study -- the planning, engineering and environmental consultant Allee King Rosen & Fleming, Inc. (AKRF) -- had been retained by Columbia two years earlier to advocate for governmental approval of the university's expansion, including the possible use of eminent domain.

When I go to court in a few months to contest the condemnation, I will face an overwhelmingly unfair process particular to New York, and to eminent domain trials. I will not be permitted to question any of the state or Columbia's representatives, nor will I be allowed to have anyone take the witness stand on my behalf. My attorney will only be provided with 15 minutes to speak to the court on a matter that Columbia and the state have been working on for over four years.

Another problem is that in New York, the precise definition of what is blighted is nowhere to be found. It is virtually impossible to defend oneself from something that is not properly defined.

I am still denied access to documents with facts surrounding the Columbia expansion plan, asked for through Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests. I filed 12 different FOIL requests and have gone to court four times. The courts have now twice ruled that it was improper for the state to refuse to hand over all communication between it and AKRF.

Still, I look forward to my day in court. I am cautiously optimistic that it will expose as unconstitutional what Columbia and the state are attempting to do.

Mr. Sprayregen is the president of Tuck-It-Away, a West Harlem based self-storage company.
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