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24201  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Another bow on: November 11, 2010, 10:40:17 AM
Pasted here for its picture of our President bowing yet again, this time to the Chinese.  The backdrop gives a clue as to when and where.

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/jeremywarner/100008581/china-may-be-bigger-economy-than-us-within-two-years/
24202  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: November 11, 2010, 10:26:53 AM
My thinking exactly.  We agree 100%.
24203  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: November 11, 2010, 10:24:52 AM
In my travel overseas (e.g. Slovenia, Switzerland this past year) my experience has been that on a PPP basis the US dollar is badly undervalued.  This applies much more I think we all can agree to the dollar/yuan rate.  While the group covered in the article may be overstating things quite a bit, the underlying premise of using PPP to more accurately compare the size of the two economies strikes me as sound.

I agree 100% that devaluing a currency in order to create jobs/export unemployment is a bad idea.
24204  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: November 10, 2010, 08:58:41 PM
10
NOV

The BBC has an article up on the gun-smuggling from the US to Mexico.  In typically one-sided fashion, it mentions that guns seized from narcos in Mexico are often traced back to the United States, and that the ATF isn’t effectively fighting this problem.

For those without much knowledge on the subject, it gives the impression that there’s a flood of illegal guns being bought in the US across the counter legally, and then shipped into Mexico to fuel the gun crime there–blaming our “lax gun laws” for Mexico’s narco turf war violence.

First of all, let’s point out that Mexico has a narco problem because the US has a hard-on for drug prohibition, not because Americans can buy guns legally.  I’ve often read that canard about drug buyers financing drug crime with their purchases, but the simple twofold truth is that a.) people will always desire and buy mind-altering substances, no matter what the law says, and b.) the War on Drugs serves as a price control mechanism and profit guarantee for dealers and traffickers.

Second, let’s look at that article a little more closely.  The picture that accompanies it shows a bunch of 40mm grenade launchers along with ammunition.  Looking at that, your average BBC reader could be lead to believe that those things are legal to buy and own freely in the US, and that they originated at a US gun show or gun store.  Grenade launchers are, of course, illegal to own, purchase, or sell in the United States without a special registration and tax stamp.  Grenade launchers are tightly controlled “destructive devices”, as is their ammunition.  (Every single 40mm grenade is also classified as a DD, and subject to a $200 transfer tax per round.  Each grenade must be individually registered with the BATFE, which makes them super-expensive and very rare to find in civilian hands.)  Considering the difficulty and expense of obtaining a launcher and the ammo for it, never mind the fact that every single launcher and round is registered to an owner with the ATF, I guarantee that the 40mm launchers in that picture came not from the US, but from Mexican military armories.

Third, the language in the article isn’t quite misleading, but it omits a few facts.  We are told that “the majority of guns confiscated by Mexico and submitted to the ATF for tracing do originate in the US <emphasis mine>.”  What it doesn’t mention is that the majority of guns seized from Mexican narcos do not originate in the US.  The Mexican Federales do not submit most of their seized guns to the ATF for tracing because they know their provenance already.  Mexico uses a licensed version of the H&K G36 assault rifle, for example, and whenever one of those shows up, they know it didn’t walk out of a gun store in San Antonio.  (They also use the licensed version of the H&K 40mm grenade launcher, which happens to look exactly like the weapon in the center of the picture.)  So they only send the serial numbers of the non-domestic guns to the ATF, which is the minority of seized weapons.  Reading the article over a quick latte, one could however get the impression that most of the crime guns in Mexico are traced back to the US, because they omit that information.

Lastly, even those guns that were bought in the US and then smuggled into Mexico for use by narcos didn’t get sold to Mexican nationals legally.  Gun shops have to run federal background checks on every single gun purchase, and foreign nationals, with few exceptions, are not eligible to buy firearms in the United States.  If a rifle made it from a legal buyer into the hands of a Mexican criminal, the person buying the rifle and then handing it to said criminal broke federal law.  (Buying a gun for a non-eligible person is called a “straw sale”, and will get you ten years in Club Fed.)

Mexico has plenty of problems, but corruption (where and how do you think the narcos get Mexican military hardware?) and the economic incentives created by drug prohibition make up the lion’s share of those, not legal gun sales in the United States.  You want to curb the flow of guns and stop the violence in Mexico, you stop guaranteeing those dealers and traffickers a 10,000% profit margin on some powdered plant product.  Drug dealers don’t care about cocaine or “poisoning America’s children”, they care about profit.  If you held a voter referendum on keeping or tossing drug prohibition, all the drug dealers in the country would vote to keep them illegal.  Take away their price control system, and they’ll go the way of the booze runners of the Prohibition era.

But nobody’s going to do that, of course.  Between asset forfeiture, inability to learn from the Prohibition, the suitability of drug laws to curb inconvenient liberties, and the millions on the payroll of drug task forces and agencies nationwide, that wouldn’t be good business.  And civil liberties continue to take it in the pants.

Remember: a vote for drug prohibition is a vote for gun control.  Without illicit substance turf wars, we wouldn’t even have NFA ’34, GCA ’68, or the 1994 Crime Bill.  We wouldn’t have asset forfeiture, RICO, or any of the many other onerous laws that shackle our movements and make a mockery of the Bill of Rights.  But point that out to a self-righteous dope prohibitionist, and you get the old saw about the damage drugs can do, and do you want to see schoolchildren legally light up crack pipes in front of the CVS at eight in the morning?  It’s the same kind of arrogant paternalism that the gun banners display when they talk about how blood would flow in the streets if we removed all the restrictions on gun ownership and carry.  “Well, I know that I wouldn’t abuse them, but I’m damned sure those peasants all around me couldn’t handle the liberty…”

http://munchkinwrangler.wordpress.com/2010/11/10/lies-half-truths-and-omissions/
24205  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BBC propaganda on: November 10, 2010, 08:58:10 PM
Hat tip to BBG:

10
NOV

The BBC has an article up on the gun-smuggling from the US to Mexico.  In typically one-sided fashion, it mentions that guns seized from narcos in Mexico are often traced back to the United States, and that the ATF isn’t effectively fighting this problem.

For those without much knowledge on the subject, it gives the impression that there’s a flood of illegal guns being bought in the US across the counter legally, and then shipped into Mexico to fuel the gun crime there–blaming our “lax gun laws” for Mexico’s narco turf war violence.

First of all, let’s point out that Mexico has a narco problem because the US has a hard-on for drug prohibition, not because Americans can buy guns legally.  I’ve often read that canard about drug buyers financing drug crime with their purchases, but the simple twofold truth is that a.) people will always desire and buy mind-altering substances, no matter what the law says, and b.) the War on Drugs serves as a price control mechanism and profit guarantee for dealers and traffickers.

Second, let’s look at that article a little more closely.  The picture that accompanies it shows a bunch of 40mm grenade launchers along with ammunition.  Looking at that, your average BBC reader could be lead to believe that those things are legal to buy and own freely in the US, and that they originated at a US gun show or gun store.  Grenade launchers are, of course, illegal to own, purchase, or sell in the United States without a special registration and tax stamp.  Grenade launchers are tightly controlled “destructive devices”, as is their ammunition.  (Every single 40mm grenade is also classified as a DD, and subject to a $200 transfer tax per round.  Each grenade must be individually registered with the BATFE, which makes them super-expensive and very rare to find in civilian hands.)  Considering the difficulty and expense of obtaining a launcher and the ammo for it, never mind the fact that every single launcher and round is registered to an owner with the ATF, I guarantee that the 40mm launchers in that picture came not from the US, but from Mexican military armories.

Third, the language in the article isn’t quite misleading, but it omits a few facts.  We are told that “the majority of guns confiscated by Mexico and submitted to the ATF for tracing do originate in the US <emphasis mine>.”  What it doesn’t mention is that the majority of guns seized from Mexican narcos do not originate in the US.  The Mexican Federales do not submit most of their seized guns to the ATF for tracing because they know their provenance already.  Mexico uses a licensed version of the H&K G36 assault rifle, for example, and whenever one of those shows up, they know it didn’t walk out of a gun store in San Antonio.  (They also use the licensed version of the H&K 40mm grenade launcher, which happens to look exactly like the weapon in the center of the picture.)  So they only send the serial numbers of the non-domestic guns to the ATF, which is the minority of seized weapons.  Reading the article over a quick latte, one could however get the impression that most of the crime guns in Mexico are traced back to the US, because they omit that information.

Lastly, even those guns that were bought in the US and then smuggled into Mexico for use by narcos didn’t get sold to Mexican nationals legally.  Gun shops have to run federal background checks on every single gun purchase, and foreign nationals, with few exceptions, are not eligible to buy firearms in the United States.  If a rifle made it from a legal buyer into the hands of a Mexican criminal, the person buying the rifle and then handing it to said criminal broke federal law.  (Buying a gun for a non-eligible person is called a “straw sale”, and will get you ten years in Club Fed.)

Mexico has plenty of problems, but corruption (where and how do you think the narcos get Mexican military hardware?) and the economic incentives created by drug prohibition make up the lion’s share of those, not legal gun sales in the United States.  You want to curb the flow of guns and stop the violence in Mexico, you stop guaranteeing those dealers and traffickers a 10,000% profit margin on some powdered plant product.  Drug dealers don’t care about cocaine or “poisoning America’s children”, they care about profit.  If you held a voter referendum on keeping or tossing drug prohibition, all the drug dealers in the country would vote to keep them illegal.  Take away their price control system, and they’ll go the way of the booze runners of the Prohibition era.

But nobody’s going to do that, of course.  Between asset forfeiture, inability to learn from the Prohibition, the suitability of drug laws to curb inconvenient liberties, and the millions on the payroll of drug task forces and agencies nationwide, that wouldn’t be good business.  And civil liberties continue to take it in the pants.

Remember: a vote for drug prohibition is a vote for gun control.  Without illicit substance turf wars, we wouldn’t even have NFA ’34, GCA ’68, or the 1994 Crime Bill.  We wouldn’t have asset forfeiture, RICO, or any of the many other onerous laws that shackle our movements and make a mockery of the Bill of Rights.  But point that out to a self-righteous dope prohibitionist, and you get the old saw about the damage drugs can do, and do you want to see schoolchildren legally light up crack pipes in front of the CVS at eight in the morning?  It’s the same kind of arrogant paternalism that the gun banners display when they talk about how blood would flow in the streets if we removed all the restrictions on gun ownership and carry.  “Well, I know that I wouldn’t abuse them, but I’m damned sure those peasants all around me couldn’t handle the liberty…”

http://munchkinwrangler.wordpress.com/2010/11/10/lies-half-truths-and-omissions/
24206  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: November 10, 2010, 08:53:51 PM
Now that I read it, I smack my forehead.  Of course! Given how undervalued the yuan is, that sounds plausible.
24207  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: November 10, 2010, 03:50:40 PM
You crack me up  cheesy
24208  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: November 10, 2010, 02:39:15 PM
 cheesy
24209  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Currency War and the G20 on: November 10, 2010, 02:38:16 PM
Dispatch: Currency War and the G-20
November 10, 2010 | 2018 GMT
Click on image below to watch video:



Analyst Peter Zeihan examines the potential for currency war between the United States and China and what is expected to emerge from the G-20 summit.

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

The G-20 summit begins in Seoul, South Korea on Thursday. The topic of the day is currency appreciation, manipulation in the ongoing global economic issues. Every state is coming with their own plan but really there’s only two that matter.

The first is the United States. The United States is the world’s largest importer, the holder of the global currency, it’s the largest economy by a factor of three, and that has actually been this state of affairs in now going back to at least World War II. The United States has been large and in charge for that long, and none of the tools the United States has for manipulating its economic system and therefore the globe have changed. The kicker is the United States only depends on international trade for about 15% of its GDP. So should the United States manipulate the dollar to achieve any of its economic aims, it will be the country that suffers the least as a consequence from any sort of international chaos that follows.

The last time the United States did this was in 1985. The agreement that was signed was called the Plaza Accords, and in it the United States threatened Germany and Japan with retaliatory tariffs unless they purposefully, deliberately over the course of several years steadily change the exchange rate of their currencies versus the dollar. Japan and Germany - two major global event powers - caved.

Country number two is China. China is if anything actually more vulnerable to American currency manipulation than either Germany or Japan was in 1985. It’s much more dependent on exports, its capital structure is much less flexible and more vulnerable to outside intervention. The United States could easily quite easily crush China currency war if push came to shove. However, the Chinese have influence in the international system that the U.S. needs right now. The United States is trying to prevent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan from spinning out of control. It needs Chinese influence in Iran in order to make sanctions there work, and it certainly doesn’t want problems in North Korea just to top everything off.

So the most likely outcome from the G-20 summit is some sort of American-Chinese partnership on currency issues that does not require the Chinese to actually do very much. To have those two powers on the same page, there is really nothing else than anyone else in the world can do about it. So it looks like the two of them are edging toward some sort of compromise that doesn’t require a lot of actual action and to revisit this issue in 6-12 months.

24210  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101 on: November 10, 2010, 02:13:38 PM
No, sedition to the American Creed is a bad idea.  Sedition is not a concept within the "freedom of religion" of the First Amendment, it is a political ideology and can and should be analyzed as such.
24211  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ah so! Sulplise! on: November 10, 2010, 02:11:02 PM
A friend sends me this:
==================

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-492804/The-uninvited-guest-Chinese-sub-pops-middle-U-S-Navy-exercise-leaving-military-chiefs-red-faced.html#ixzz14tu4BSka

 

The uninvited guest: Chinese sub pops up in middle of U.S. Navy exercise, leaving military chiefs red-faced.   American military chiefs have been left dumbstruck by an undetected Chinese submarine popping up at the heart of a recent Pacific exercise and close to the vast U.S.S. Kitty Hawk - a 1,000ft super carrier with 4,500 personnel on board. By the time it surfaced the 160ft Song Class diesel-electric attack submarine is understood to have sailed within viable range for launching torpedoes or missiles at the carrier.

 

The lone Chinese vessel slipped past at least a dozen other American warships which were supposed to protect the carrier from hostile aircraft or submarines.

And the rest of the costly defensive screen, which usually includes at least two U.S. submarines, was also apparently unable to detect it.    They probably stole our stealth technology.
24212  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: November 10, 2010, 02:08:19 PM
That is quite fascinating! , , , but I can top it cheesy

Terrence McKenna in "The Nector of the Gods" posits that human consciousness was triggered by eating psilocybin-like mushrooms. 

As those of the psychodelic generation can tell you these shrooms grow from the dung of cattle.  With the shift of the tectonic plates eons ago in Africa which gave rise to the savana, came the rise of herds of animals of the cattle family e.g. wildebeasts.  McKenna hypothesizes that early man ate the shrooms growing therein and thus triggered consciousness.

Ha!  Top that!  grin
24213  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101 on: November 10, 2010, 02:01:07 PM
"And that’s the crux of the matter: citing foreign law, using it to support a given reading of domestic law undermines democratic self-governance.  The interpretation of the U.S. Constitution should depend on that document’s text, structure, and history, what it means in the context of the American polity."

Exactly so!
24214  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The GOPs racial challenge on: November 10, 2010, 10:33:21 AM
By ZOLTAN HAJNAL
Lost in the GOP's euphoria over its landslide midterm victory is the fact that the Republican Party has almost become a whites-only party. Its strategy may win seats now, but it will lose over the long run.

Republicans won big in 2010 primarily because they won big among white voters. The 60% of the white vote that Republicans garnered last Tuesday is, by most estimates, the highest proportion of the white vote that the GOP has won in any national election since World War II.

Relying on white support is not a new strategy for the party. In 2008, 91% of the votes that John McCain received in his presidential bid came from white voters.

The problem for Republicans is two-fold. First, whites may currently be the majority but they are a declining demographic. The proportion of all voters who are white has already declined to 75% today from 94% in 1960. By 2050, whites are no longer expected to be a majority of the U.S. population.

Second, Republicans are alienating racial and ethnic minorities—the voters who will ultimately replace the white majority and who they need to stay in power. In every national election in the past few decades, Democrats have dominated the nonwhite vote. Democrats typically garner about 90% of the black vote, two-thirds of the Latino vote, and a clear majority of the Asian-American vote—and 2010 didn't fundamentally alter this pattern.

Even with Democrats presiding over the worst economy since the Great Depression, racial and ethnic minorities did not turn away from the Democratic Party. Last week Latinos favored Democrats over Republicans nearly 2 to 1 (64% to 34%), blacks voted overwhelmingly for Democrats (90%), and a clear majority of Asian- Americans (56%) supported Democrats.

If minorities didn't give up on the Democratic Party last week, they are unlikely to do so without dramatic changes in the platforms of the two parties. A growing and resolutely Democratic nonwhite population is clearly a serious threat to the Republican electoral calculus.

Republicans thus face a real dilemma. They may be able to gain over the short term by continuing their current strategy of ignoring or attacking minorities. But that is short-sighted.

Over the long term—as white voters become a smaller and smaller fraction of the electorate and Latinos and other racial and ethnic minorities become a larger and larger share of the electorate—any campaign that appeals primarily to whites will be doomed.

Mr. Hajnal, an associate professor of political science at U.C. San Diego, is author of "America's Uneven Democracy" (Cambridge University Press, 2009).

24215  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / USA: Market Manipulator on: November 10, 2010, 08:37:37 AM
From MarketWatch:

The U.S. has been after China to loosen the peg on Yuan against the Dollar.  So far, China has committed only to a gradual devaluation of the currency into wider free-exchange bands.  That may take too long, and this move to print money to buy up assets may force China to unload currency in that peg.  Even if China holds on to its Dollar horde, the impact may be the same.  Where this becomes a conundrum is that China would likely unload Treasury securities along the way and it would likely buy even fewer Treasuries as a percentage of its Central Bank assets ahead.  That would imply that China could keep selling and large portions of the money freshly printed just went to buy up the debt held by China.

The FOMC wants inflation a bit closer to its 2% implied target, far higher than what has been seen.  With the FOMC keeping short-term rates low at near-zero and with the Treasury increasing its balance sheet by buying Treasuries, this forces investors into risk-based assets.  If you can magically get inflation to 2% and short-term and intermediate-term Treasury rates are so low, what does that do to real returns on an inflation-adjusted basis?  Yep, negative real rates of return...
24216  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / POTH: Georgia 1860 on: November 10, 2010, 08:11:13 AM
Georgia to U.S.: ‘Don’t Tread on Me’
By ADAM GOODHEART
Disunion follows the Civil War as it unfolded.
Nov. 9, 1860

Across the country, the day’s headlines blazed with reports of Southerners’ response to Lincoln’s election. Perhaps most disturbing to many Americans, though thrilling to others, was news of a mass meeting in Savannah, Ga., the previous afternoon. Thousands of citizens – the largest gathering that the city had ever seen, newspapers said – had filled Johnson Square at the heart of downtown, thronging around a monument to Revolutionary War general Nathanael Greene to launch a revolution of their own. The crowd cheered wildly as a speaker declared that “the election of Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin to the Presidency and Vice Presidency of the United States, ought not and will not be submitted to.” The shouts and whoops redoubled as a flag was unfurled across the white marble obelisk: a banner with a coiled rattlesnake and the words “SOUTHERN RIGHTS. EQUALITY OF THE STATES. DON’T TREAD ON ME.”


Library of Congress
 
The first flag of Southern independence, raised in Savannah, Ga., on November 8, 1860. CLICK TO SEE FLAG DETAILRelated
Civil War Timeline

An unfolding history of the Civil War with photos and articles from the Times archive and ongoing commentary from Disunion contributors.

Probably no one mentioned the ironic fact that this Southern banner, one of the very first flags of secession, was raised atop a monument to a Northerner: General Greene had been born and raised in Rhode Island. Like many Americans of the founding generation, he had harbored mixed feelings about slavery – to say the least. “On the subject of slavery, nothing can be said in its defence,” he wrote to a Quaker acquaintance in 1783, while he was in the process of moving to Georgia to take possession of a large plantation and its hundreds of enslaved African Americans, a gift from the state of Georgia. Greene justified this acquisition by claiming that he planned to treat his new chattels kindly. Two years later, just before his early death, he still harbored vague plans to free his slaves and keep them in a system resembling medieval feudalism.

 
Cleveland Plain Dealer headline, Nov. 9, 1860
In 1860, however, Georgia’s leaders felt no such ambivalence about human bondage. As the secessionists gathered in Savannah, Governor Joseph E. Brown issued a proclamation vindicating Georgia’s right to withdraw from the Union rather than submit to “proud and haughty Northern Abolitionists.” Brown, who came from a family of hardscrabble farmers in northern Georgia, struck a populist tone, as he often did, reminding the South’s poor whites how much better off they were than Northern factory workers:

Here the poor white laborer is respected as an equal. His family are treated with kindness, consideration and respect. He does not belong to the menial class. The negro is in no sense of the term his equal. Be feels and knows this. He belongs to the only true aristocracy, the race of white men. …

These [laborers] know that in the event of the abolition of Slavery, they would be greater sufferers than the rich, who would be able to protect themselves. They will, therefore, never permit the slaves of the South to be set free among them, come in competition with their labor, associate with them and their children as equals – be allowed to testify in our Courts against them – sit on juries with them, march to the ballot-box by their sides, and participate in the choice of their rulers – claim social equality with them – and ask the hands of their children in marriage. …[T]he ultimate design of the Black Republican Party is to bring about this state of things in the Southern States.

But the crowd in Savannah on Nov. 8 probably needed no reminder about the current state of race relations. One of the largest slave pens in Georgia – a business establishment where hundreds of people at a time were often imprisoned, awaiting sale – faced the Greene Monument across Johnson Square.


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

Sources: New York Times, Nov. 9 and Nov. 12, 1860; Cleveland Plain Dealer, Nov. 9, 1860; Macon Daily Telegraph, Nov. 12, 1860; Terry Golway, “Washington’s General: Nathanael Greene and the Triumph of the American Revolution”; Gerald M. Carbone, “Nathanael Greene: A Biography of the American Revolution”; George Washington Greene, “The Life of Nathanael Greene, Major-General in the Army of the Revolution”; William W. Freehling and Craig M. Simpson, “Secession Debated: Georgia’s Showdown in 1860”; Walter J. Fraser, “Savannah in the Old South”; Malcolm Bell Jr., “Major Butler’s Legacy: Five Generations of a Slaveholding Family.”


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Adam Goodheart is the author of the forthcoming book “1861: The Civil War Awakening.” He lives in Washington, D.C., and on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where he is the Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience.

.
24217  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Megamind on: November 10, 2010, 07:02:34 AM
We took the kids to the early show this past Sunday ($6 instead of $10, or $12 for 3D IIRC).  An excellent family movie.

Also, my wife and I have become big fans of the TV show "The Mentalist" about a high IQ consultant to the homocide squad for the "California Bureau of Investigation".   It is on Wednesday or Thursday nights; I foreget which because we just have it set to record.
24218  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Indonesia on: November 10, 2010, 06:59:47 AM
It looks to me like at least some people in the BO administration are beginning to get a clue (SecState Clinton?) that we need to pay attention in SE Asia and form alliances to deal with China's increasingly negative intentions.  Indonesia most certainly is relevant to that and people who will be there when Obama is gone are aware of this.
 
=======
http://townhall.com/columnists/TerryJeffrey/2010/11/10/obama_to_visit_mosque_where_crowd_cheered_ahmadinejad/page/full/
Obama to Visit Mosque Where Crowd Cheered Ahmadinejad
 
 
Terry Jeffrey
Obama to Visit Mosque Where Crowd Cheered Ahmadinejad

President Barack Obama was scheduled to spend his Wednesday in Indonesia visiting Jakarta's massive Istiqlal Mosque and then giving a speech on the "pluralism and tolerance" of his host country at the University of Indonesia.

It is both ironic and instructive that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad not only made the same stops on a trip to Indonesia four years ago, but was greeted, according to press reports, as a "rock star."

At the university, Ahmadinejad gave a speech that cast doubt on the holocaust, predicted the destruction of Israel and yearned aloud for a day when the entire world would submit to Shariah law.

Later, he told a group of Indonesia's top clerics that every young Muslim man was an "atomic bomb." When Ahmadinejad attended the Friday prayer service at the Istiqlal Mosque, the congregation greeted him with a chant of "God is great" and a crowd gathered outside sent him off with a lusty cheer of "Fight America, fight Israel."

In an Oct. 28 White House briefing, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes set the stage for Obama's Indonesian trip by announcing that the president would first visit the Istiqlal Mosque and follow that visit with a speech to the Indonesian people that would "talk about some of the themes of democracy and development and our outreach to Muslim communities around the world, while also speaking of Indonesia's pluralism and tolerance, as well."

Pluralism and tolerance, to put it mildly, were not the themes Ahmadinejad developed in Indonesia. What Ahmadinejad did say -- and the wildly enthusiastic reception he received from at least some Indonesians -- ought to give prudential pause to those who believe the ultimate answer to Islamist terrorism is the sort Wilsonian foreign policy vision that has been embraced by both Obama and George W. Bush.

Ahamdinejad spent three days in and around Jakarta in May 2006. He first met with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and then went on what amounted to an Islamist publicity tour in the capital environs of a country that with 240 million people -- 86 percent of whom are Muslims -- is the world's largest Islamic nation.

Ahmadinejad spoke not only at the University of Indonesia, but also at the Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University, with a group of local editors and with some of the nation's leading Muslim clerics. On his third day in town, he attended Friday prayers at Indonesia's largest mosque.

At the University of Indonesia, according to The Associated Press, Ahmadinejad called Israel a "regime based on evil" and declared that it "cannot continue and one day will vanish."

An Australian newspaper, the Melbourne Age, noted that Ahmadinejad "predicted liberal democracies would crumble and be replaced by Islamic law."

"Some superpower countries think they are better than other countries, they try to eradicate other countries' culture, economies and opinions," Ahmadinejad told the "cheering" audience of Indonesian college students, according to the Age. "How can they protect human rights when they violate human rights? Therefore, liberalism and democracy will disappear and the justice of the prophet Mohammad will be revived."

In his speech at the University of Indonesia, Ahmadinejad also questioned the historical fact of the Holocaust. "The West claims that more than 6 million Jews were killed in World War II and to compensate for that they established and support Israel," he said, according to UPI. "If it is true that the Jews were killed in Europe, why should Israel be established in the East, in Palestine?"

As reported by The Associated Press, one of student told Ahmadinejad, "I think you are the man of the year." Another said, "We will always be with you."

Two days later, when Ahmadinejad met with Indonesian clerics, The Associated Press reported that one person in the audience urged the Iranian president to move forward with building nuclear weapons because the "enemies of Islam" already have them.

Ahmadinejad responded that "every young man in the Islamic world is an atomic bomb because they have faith, God and love the character of the Prophet Mohammad."

Ahamadinejad then proceeded to the Istaqlal Mosque, where, according to Agence France Presse, "he was mobbed by a crowd of thousands eager to catch a glimpse of him and shake his hand. The congregation chanted 'God is great!' when he was introduced by Indonesia's religious affairs minister."

"'Fight America, fight Israel!' a crowd shouted after the Iranian leader offered prayers Friday at the main mosque in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta," The Associated Press reported.

Good things have certainly happened in Indonesia in the past decade. It has held a series of successful elections and established a democratic government.

The Congressional Research Service sees signs for optimism in what it deemed a small turnout for the Islamic parties in last year's Indonesian elections. "The Islamic vote," CRS reported, "declined from 38.1 percent of the vote in the 2004 election to 27.8 percent of the vote in 2009."

But last year in Jakarta, Islamist terrorists simultaneously bombed the Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels.

Indonesians may now have the right to vote, but their country remains a place where an Ahmadinejad can be cheered and an Islamist terrorist can find sanctuary.
24219  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: November 10, 2010, 06:54:56 AM
I'm not following this point , , ,  huh
24220  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 10, 2010, 06:53:48 AM
These are excellent posts GM, but may I ask that you put them in the China thread please?
24221  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: November 10, 2010, 06:48:25 AM
Doug:

If you search for "Ronald Reagan" on the "Founding Fathers" thread you will find him there.  My house, my rules, and my rules say Ronald Reagan IS a Founding Father!

Rubio is certainly off to a most promising start and is a man to watch, but let us remember that Reagan had a very successful career as an actor and was head of the Screen Actor Guild (what a wonderful education in the ways of some of the finest liars on the planet and as such for a career in politics!) activist, governor of CA for 8 years during turbulent times, and an unsuccessful run for the Presidency before being elected.   At this point Rubio has the right values and speaks well but he has little life experience and testing so far IMHO.
24222  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101 on: November 09, 2010, 05:59:26 PM
Backing up now.  I was in a mood when I posted that.
24223  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: November 09, 2010, 05:46:59 PM
There was quite a surge of practical oriented criticisms near the finish line:  e.g. the implications of no-testing and people driving, the rights of employers to have employees who were stoned at work, etc.  Lots of people said, there were open to the idea but this Proposition was badly drawn.  It very much looks like a better crafted version will be attempted in 2012.
24224  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Prager! CA & the Titanic on: November 09, 2010, 05:44:26 PM
How Do California and the Titanic Differ?

By Dennis Prager



OK, riddle fans, here's a toughie: What's the difference between California voters and the passengers on the Titanic?

The passengers on the Titanic didn't vote to hit the iceberg.

Most Americans understand that California is sinking. What is almost incredible is that it has voted to sink.

On Election Day, 2010 Californians voted Democrats into every statewide position (one is still undecided). This is the party that singlehandedly has brought one of the world's greatest economies to near ruin. There may well be historical parallels to what Californians did — but I cannot think of any.

A listener called my radio show two days after the elections to tell me that his business is booming — thanks to Californians. His occupation? He's a real estate agent in Phoenix, Ariz.

The middle class has begun to leave California. It is, of course, impossible for most members of such a large group to leave a state; few people leave their family, their friends, their job and their home except under the most dramatic circumstances. But this fact makes all the more noteworthy the exodus from California that has been taking place.

You have to wonder how many businesses and individuals would leave California if their friends and family could also leave, if they could find a comparable job elsewhere and if they could sell their homes without losing money. What you don't have to wonder about is who would stay under those conditions. The state of California would eventually be left largely with those groups who voted Democrat in this election: rich liberals (such as those who live in Nancy Pelosi's Marin County, in the bay area and in West Los Angeles); state and municipal workers (who vote Democrat in as direct a pay-for-vote scheme as a law-based society allows); those who rely on state and city governments for entitlements; and those Latinos who either fall into the last category or who unfortunately identify the Republican Party with anti-Latino sentiments because it opposes illegal immigration.

Those who believe in individual responsibility, the free market and personal liberty are a minority in California. We greet each other as Americans would greet each other meeting in a foreign country.

We watch as one of the greatest places in the world — with its extraordinary natural beauty, almost uniquely beautiful weather and agricultural abundance — wastes all of this as a result of having become a left-wing experiment. What is particularly saddening is to see a state whose success was achieved because it was a Mecca for the adventurous in spirit do everything possible to crush that spirit and drive away those who have it.

There is a silver lining here: clarity. Americans living elsewhere need not elect liberal Democrats to know what will happen if they do. They only need to look at California if they want to see what happens to a state governed by the left (and, for that matter, they can look at Texas to see what happens to a state's finances when governed by the right).

The left and its teachers unions have ruined public education in California. The left and its public service unions have saddled the state with $500 billion in unfunded pension liability. California's left-governed cities have set themselves up as "sanctuary cities" for those who have come into America illegally. And the left passes more and more rules governing the behavior of California citizens. Two examples: San Francisco just banned McDonald Happy Meals because they come with a toy and therefore entice children to eat fattening food; and the Democratic legislature has made it illegal for a California employer — even in a retail operation — to ask a male employee who comes to work wearing a dress to wear men's clothing while at work.

And to render the Titanic analogy even more accurate, Californians voted to retain a law that was described by George Will as one "that preposterously aims to cool the planet by requiring a 30 percent reduction of carbon emissions by 2020."

That law will ensure that California taxes energy use more than any other state. That, in turn, is guaranteed to increase unemployment and the cost of living in the state — one more reason businesses and productive individuals are leaving, but rarely moving, into California.

Environmentalist true believers have free reign in California. They have convinced a majority of the state's voters to believe the increasingly absurd notion that human carbon dioxide emission is heating up the planet to temperatures so high that humanity and the earth will suffer cataclysmic consequences.

To return to our Titanic metaphor, the great difference between that ill-fated ship's crew and California's crew (its voters and the California Democratic Party) is that the Titanic's crew did everything possible to avoid hitting the iceberg; California's crew did everything possible to hit it. Perhaps they believe global warming will melt it before they get there.

24225  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: November 09, 2010, 05:33:31 PM
GM nails it:

"The crisis that threatens this country is the ethnic loyalties that trump American loyalty. Rewarding illegal immigration is corrosive to the rule of law. If "La Raza" is more important than America, then we are fcuked."

For a very long time I have had a wonderful Mexican mechanic who has a small neighborhood shop with two men under him.  He has been here a long time and speaks English just fine and seems to have Americanized.  Often he and his guys and I have bantered in Spanish; it chuckled them to see just how Mexicanized my Spanish was-- expressions I use are those only of someone who has spent a lot of time in country off the beaten path.  I thought and felt him to be exactly how it should be for Mexicans coming to America.

A couple of months ago I had on a t-shirt with a "Viva la Revolucion Reagan" caption to a silhouette of head shot of President Reagan with a posture like that of the famous Che Guevara picture.  So my mechanic gets aggro with me with "!Viva la Raza!"  Those who know of these things know that this is exactly whereof GM speaks.  Things went back and forth a bit, with one of his guys also chiiming in with his own "!Viva la Raza!" with me answering that this was America, that the place for people who thought of themselves as La Raza was 120 miles to the south and "!Viva La Migra!" (This is pocho slang for the INS). 

This is the short version of the story; bottom line though is that I feel quite bummed; I liked him, felt him to be a good addition to America, and then it turns out I had been fooled as to where his sense of loyalty lay
24226  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: November 09, 2010, 05:21:01 PM
As an empirically oriented man I would be completely comfortable with a compromise that decriminalized pot but not the hard drugs for a reasonable amount of time to see how things worked out.
24227  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101 on: November 09, 2010, 05:18:18 PM
"2. The plaintiff also argues that he suffers a more tangible injury, because his will directs the executor of the estate to follow Islamic law in arranging the funeral, and directs his wife to contribute to charity in accordance with Islamic law. The constitutional amendment, the plaintiff argues, bars courts from effectively probating the will in accordance to the plaintiff’s wishes, and thus unconstitutionally discriminates against plaintiff."

IMHO this clearly is a justiciable claim with sufficient standing.

"It’s not clear to me whether plaintiff might lack standing on the grounds that the harm will only happen some time in the future, or whether he could in principle have standing in such a case because the prospect of the courts’ inability to apply Sharia law in the future might cause sufficient harm to plaintiff now. (All this would involve the legal requirement of “ripeness.”)"

IMHO this simply is profoundly stupid.  The harm as the author defines it is such that when the harm it occurs, by definition the injured party, the plaintiff here, will already be dead! Cf. Roe v. Wade wherein the issue presented was one of mootness.  By the time the case got heard, the woman would already be a mother and no case could ever be heard.



24228  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Don't worry, but we don't know what it was on: November 09, 2010, 04:58:06 PM


WTF?

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/mystery-missile-launched-near-calif-has-military-speechless/
24229  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: November 09, 2010, 11:49:27 AM
We already have substantial laws on the books regarding fraud in its various incarnations.  Without the FMs guaranteeing the loans, people would have been paying attention and apart from the fraud for those who didn't , , , too bad.  Stupid SHOULD hurt.
24230  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Networked Intelligence on: November 09, 2010, 11:23:06 AM
Networked Intelligence | 9 November 2010

Mexico - 400 cities lacking operational police force

According to Mexican Minister of the Interior Francisco Blake Mora, there are at least 400 cities out of 2,449 without an operational police force. (October 2010)

Mexico - Public officials arrested for ties to La Familia Michoacana

On 31 October 2010, Jose Luis Avalos Rangel, Municipal President of Tzitzio from 2005 to 2007, and four other men were arrested in Charo, Michoacan, for alleged ties to La Familia Michoacana. In a separate incident, the Director of the Water Commission (CAPALAC) of Lazaro Cardenas, Roman Mendoza Valencia, was arrested for his alleged ties to La Familia Michoacana in Lazaro Cardenas, Michoacan.

Mexico - La Familia Michoacana improves access to California

La Familia Michoacana’s recently formed alliance with the Arellano Felix organization (AFO) gave them an entrance route into the United States by way of Tijuana. La Familia, which dominates the market of methamphetamines, initiated the alliance with the AFO, which would help move methamphetamine through Baja California into California. (November 2010)

Mexico - Six Americans killed within five days

The U.S. Department of State confirmed on 2 November 2010 that six US citizens from El Paso, Texas were killed in separate attacks in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico between 29 October 2010 and 2 November 2010. In total, 47 Americans were murdered in Mexico in the first half of 2010.
24231  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Indonesia on: November 09, 2010, 11:17:54 AM
Stratfor

Summary
The president of the United States arrived in Indonesia on Nov. 9 as interest in strengthening commercial and military ties is increasing in both Washington and Jakarta. Constraints on this emergent relationship remain, however, on issues such as economic protectionism and human rights. Still, the relationship is set to grow, leaving Indonesia with the task of carefully balancing between the United States and China as it attempts to capitalize on its economic and strategic advantages and relative political stability.

Analysis
U.S. President Barack Obama arrived in Indonesia on Nov. 9 after visiting India in a tour that will later take him to South Korea and Japan for the G-20 and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summits. Obama has delayed his visit to Indonesia twice already, and volcanic ash in the air over Java from the recent eruptions of Mount Merapi may require him to cut this one short, but the trip was made as a sign of deepening interest in a relationship with bilateral, multilateral and strategic potential.

Washington wants to forge a closer relationship with Indonesia to boost bilateral trade and investment, use ties with Indonesia as a pathway to better relations with the region as a whole through multilateral groupings like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and generally maintain support for a Muslim ally in the conflict against radical jihadists. But the longer term and more important strategic goal is to develop Indonesia as one of several regional counterweights to China. Jakarta will welcome greater U.S. involvement, and ultimately may lean toward the United States and away from China. But it will try to avoid choosing sides and will seek to maintain good relations with China and the United States, and leverage its economic size and strategic location to its maximum advantage.


Toward a Comprehensive U.S.-Indonesian Partnership

On one level, Obama’s visit to Indonesia is about improving diplomatic relations to pave the way for more substantial economic, security and political agreements. Obama will emphasize that Indonesia is a model Muslim-majority country. He will highlight how its $631 billion economy, population of 237 million and fast economic growth (estimated at around 6 percent in 2010) hold promise for the U.S. economy, and that it has made strides in stabilizing its domestic political situation since the chaos of the late 1990s, when the Asian financial crisis struck and the collapse of the decades-old Suharto regime brought the country close to breaking apart. Obama will emphasize his willingness to engage the Muslim world, will call attention to his childhood years in Indonesia to show his connection to the country, and will express optimism about Indonesian and American relations going forward.

Obama and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono officially will launch a Comprehensive Partnership Agreement between the two states, which will serve as a framework for expanding bilateral ties. This partnership, announced in June, included an agreement on closer defense ties and science and technology cooperation and American investment in Indonesia. The latter included a renewed agreement with the Overseas Private Investment Corp. (which has provided $2.1 billion since the 1960s but is only engaged in $94 million worth of projects at the moment) and a $1 billion credit facility from the Export-Import Bank of the United States. The two sides have established a joint commission that met in September and will meet annually and several working groups in trade and investment, security and energy, and education and democracy; these groups are expected to develop more initiatives going forward, ranging from U.S. investment in Indonesia’s infrastructure construction and energy sector to expanded educational exchanges.

Simultaneously, U.S. companies will promote their products in Indonesia, as Washington attempts to give more momentum to its national export initiative. For its part, Indonesia is looking for high-tech and high-value added goods, especially in infrastructure, energy and transportation, inherently capital-intensive sectors difficult to develop in a sprawling archipelago like Indonesia.

Washington and Jakarta also will reaffirm their security relationship. The United States has agreed to restart training and exchanges with Kopassus, the Indonesian military’s special operations unit. Though that cooperation has not yet begun, it is on track to do so, and is only one aspect of U.S.-Indonesian security cooperation. Washington will continue to support Indonesia’s police efforts to fight terrorism, including through the elite Special Detachment 88, which has racked up a string of successes over the past year. The United States also is looking to expand arms exports after having seen Indonesia’s willingness to turn elsewhere (for instance, to Russia) for its military needs.


Constraints on the U.S.-Indonesian Relationship

Of course, there are inherent constraints on their cooperation. Indonesia is highly protective about its economy, which is dominated by state-owned and state-affiliated companies and has high barriers to foreign competition that threatens privileged sectors. The United States repeatedly has run into trouble accessing Indonesian markets for farm goods and medicine, for instance, and has a number of outstanding disputes over import and investment regulations and concerns of inadequate intellectual property rights protection. In sectors where Jakarta has opened up the economy, it already has attracted a number of foreign investors to provide the higher-end goods and services, including huge infrastructure contracts, that it needs to continue developing — which means the United States faces stiff competition from far more established players like Singapore, Japan, and South Korea (not to mention Western competitors like the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, which in 2009 were also bigger investors in Indonesia than the United States).

On the security front, although Indonesia can be expected to maintain strong relations with the United States, it does not want to be overly dependent on Washington or to appear like a proxy state. The Indonesian government must tread carefully since the United States is unpopular among those Indonesians who see Obama’s overtures to the Muslim world as mere rhetoric and who resent U.S. support for Israel (some of whom will stage demonstrations during Obama’s visit). Moreover, military ties will face political obstacles on the American side. This is because the Indonesian military always will struggle to maintain control over far-flung islands, especially in places like Aceh and West Papua where ethnic minorities have a tendency toward unrest or separatism — fairly frequently resulting in heavy-handed security measures and human rights violations. Despite officially re-opening relations, U.S. cooperation with the Indonesian military’s special operations forces must be approved by the U.S. State Department, which will vet the Indonesians’ progress on human rights.

Despite these hindrances, both states’ interests overlap significantly enough to point them toward deeper cooperation. Washington wants to tap into this massive and young consumer market and wants to take advantage of Indonesia’s fast growth rates and relative political stability. Meanwhile, the United States offers a massive consumer pool for Indonesian exports. Moreover, no one can offer better security guarantees for the strategically situated island chain than the United States, the world’s supreme naval power.


The Balancing Act with China

Crucially, the United States sees Indonesia as a counterweight in Southeast Asia to the rising influence of China. In recent years, Washington’s relations with China have become more tense as Beijing’s economic might has increased and it has expanded its influence in its periphery. China has built up its military and naval capabilities and has become more strident regarding its territorial claims in the South China Sea, a crucial waterway for the United States and its allies Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. The United States has sought to re-energize its alliances and partnerships in the region not only for the sake of its own regional relations, but also as a means of hedging against China. Indonesia is especially suitable for this purpose. It straddles the Strait of Malacca, a global shipping choke point, as well as the Sunda and Lombok straits, making it critical for sea-lanes between the Indian Ocean, the South China Sea and the Pacific and Australia and China. These sea-lanes supply China with critical raw materials; any power controlling this area accordingly has enormous leverage over Beijing.

This process has alarmed Beijing, which views it as an encirclement policy. As Washington gradually extricates itself from conflicts in the Middle East and South Asia, Beijing fears U.S. attention will come to focus squarely on suppressing China’s rise. Indeed, the U.S. focus on Indonesia, a staunch Cold War ally under the U.S.-backed Suharto dictatorship, has reinforced this impression of an emerging Cold War-style containment policy.

In general, Indonesia’s trade relationships with the United States and China are comparable, though China has a slight edge. Indonesia exported $11.5 billion and imported $14 billion worth of goods from China in 2009, while the United States exported $5.1 billion worth of goods to Indonesia and imported $12.9 billion worth. Indonesian imports from China grew by nearly 56 percent in the first three quarters of 2010, as the China-ASEAN free trade agreement took full effect. Still, U.S. export growth to Indonesia was also strong, growing 37 percent during the first half of the year. The United States is a larger investor in Indonesia than China, but neither country has a very large role — the United States accounted for 1.6 percent of total foreign direct investment in Indonesia in 2009, as opposed to China’s 0.6 percent.

Of course, Beijing has a number of economic advantages at the moment, including its aggressive outward investment strategy. This is driven by state-owned enterprises and state banks with massive pools of cash that have been allowed to spread across the world looking to expand markets, employ their services and buy up resources, including in Indonesia. To emphasize its economic strength and cash reserves it is able to draw upon immediately, on Nov. 8, the day before Obama arrived in Indonesia, Beijing announced a $6.6 billion construction and trade deal with Jakarta.

But Beijing’s growing economic sway has little impact on the immense U.S. advantage in security matters. The U.S. re-engagement therefore leaves Jakarta in a tricky position not unlike that of its fellow ASEAN states. It stands to benefit from competition between the United States and China (as well as competition among Singapore, Japan, the European Union and others) as it seeks to attract the highest bidder and to draw in foreign investment, however if relations between the United States and China take a turn for the worse, Indonesia could find itself caught in the middle of a strategic confrontation.

But Indonesia is in a more advantageous position than its fellow ASEAN states in managing this tricky situation. With the largest economy and population in ASEAN, and a strategic location in the crossroads of global maritime trade, Jakarta has a unique ability to leverage its relationships with the United States, China and other players. Domestic stability and national unity — maintaining the stabilization over the past near-decade — remain at the top of its strategic priorities. This means that economic growth and foreign capital are necessary, but also that it must move carefully on domestic reforms allowing foreign competition. Hence Jakarta will seek a careful balance in its relations, and will avoid having to choose sides. It will welcome improved ties with Washington and U.S. re-engagement with the region, while allowing Beijing to gain further traction in the economic sphere. In the final analysis, however, Indonesia has far more to fear from a militarily ascendant China close to home than it does from an outside power like the United States, which shares Indonesia’s interest in stability in its surrounding waters.

24232  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: November 09, 2010, 10:46:58 AM
Forgive me my sarcasm but , , , drum roll please , , , Duh.  OF COURSE Wall Street is greedy.  It is precisely why the Government should not lead them into temptation by guaranteeing mortgages (the FMs) or make them invest in people who can't pay (the Community Reinvestment Act) or create a bubble with unnaturally low interest rates or bail theirs asses out when things go south.
24233  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: November 09, 2010, 10:16:38 AM
"He blames Wall Street."

Umm , , , so what? cheesy

24234  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101 on: November 09, 2010, 10:14:25 AM
I skimmed the first 2-3 of the 27 pages.  Regardless of the ultimate determination on the merits, it is not clear to me that the standard for a TRO has been met (immediate and irreparable); the logic with regard to this point seems a bit circular to me.

Also, why not limit the TRO to the part about Islam and leave in place the part about international law?

Concerning the part about Islam, as best as I can tell this is a matter of first impression and both sides have yet to make their arguments and have them tested.
24235  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Reps and Latinos on: November 09, 2010, 06:50:39 AM
By JOHN FUND
When it comes to Hispanic voters, last week's elections were a tale of two results for Republicans. On one level, the GOP can take pride in the fact that 31% of all Hispanic members of Congress are now in their party. But on another level, the overwhelming Democratic advantage among Hispanics helped cost the GOP key Senate seats in Nevada, Colorado and California.

The next Congress will feature an unprecedented five new Hispanic Republicans. Two are from Texas and defeated Democratic incumbents - Bill Flores of Bryan and Quico Conseco from San Antonio. Jaime Herrera was elected to an open seat in Washington state. Raul Labrador defeated a Democratic incumbent in Idaho. David Rivera won an open House seat in Florida, just as Marco Rubio won that state's vacant U.S. Senate seat. In addition, Republicans elected two Hispanic governors -- prosecutor Susan Martinez in New Mexico and Brian Sandoval, a judge, in Nevada.

But Hispanic voters also powered the come-from-behind victories of two Democratic Senators. Hispanics accounted for 14% of the electorate in Nevada, up from 12% in the last midterm election of 2006. The two-to-one advantage they gave Majority Leader Harry Reid allowed him to win by a surprising 50% to 45% margin. In Colorado, Hispanic voters made up 13% of the vote, up from only 9% four years ago. Their big margin in favor of Democratic Senator Michael Bennet helped him pull off a come-from-behind victory.

Finally, in California exit polls show Hispanics made up 22% of all those voting, up from 19% in 2006. Republican Carly Fiorina won Anglo voters over Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer by nine points, but her 65% to 28% loss among Hispanics doomed her chances for an upset.

There are some lessons here. Clearly, Sharron Angle's ad depicting dark-skinned figures violating U.S. immigration laws angered many Hispanic voters in Nevada, especially after she clumsily tried to claim they might have been Asian. Similarly, the presence of anti-immigration hardliner Tom Tancredo on Colorado's ballot as the de facto Republican candidate for governor helped fuel Hispanic turnout.

On the other hand, there were Republican success stories. Texas Governor Rick Perry won 38% of the Hispanic vote in his re-election bid this year. He credits his showing to his advocacy of economic opportunity even while he vowed to tighten border controls. Marco Rubio won 40% of the non-Cuban Hispanic vote in Florida (and 55% of the overall Hispanic vote) and ran effective Spanish-language ads describing what the American dream means for immigrants. Columnist Luisita Lopez Torregrosa writes in PoliticsDaily.com that both men "appeal to the growing Latino middle- and upper-classes in states like Florida and Texas who oppose illegal immigration (because the negative image of illegal immigrants affects the image of all Latinos) and who believe in assimilation in the American mainstream."

Going forward, Republicans know that hardline immigration positions seen as insensitive to Hispanics can cost them votes among a growing share of the electorate. On the other hand, candidates can talk tough on immigration and still do well with Hispanic voters if they can convincingly promote a message of economic opportunity.

24236  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: November 09, 2010, 06:39:36 AM
Uhhh , , , what's "lipolysis"?  embarassed
24237  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Palin on the Fed on: November 09, 2010, 06:18:49 AM
By SUDEEP REDDY
Sarah Palin, delving into a major policy issue a week after the mid-term elections, took aim Monday at the Federal Reserve and called on Fed chairman Ben Bernanke to "cease and desist" with a bond-buying program designed to boost the economy.

Speaking at a trade association conference in Phoenix, the potential 2012 presidential candidate and tea-party favorite said she's "deeply concerned" about the central bank creating new money to buy government bonds. Ms. Palin said "it's far from certain this will even work" and suggested the move would create an inflation problem.

 Sarah Palin says she's deeply concerned about the Federal Reserve's plan to buy $600 billion of U.S. bonds to boost the economy. Alan Murray, Jerry Seib and Jon Hilsenrath discuss why the Federal Reserve has been drawn into the political fray.
.Monday's remarks, in which Ms. Palin staked out a firm stance on a complex topic, follow criticism from GOP strategist Karl Rove, who questioned her "gravitas" based on her appearance in a cable-television reality show about the Alaskan wilderness. Other Republicans have said she would have to answer for quitting her job as Alaska governor partway through her term.

Ms. Palin has made clear she intends to forge a policy profile apart from her celebrity image. She used her Facebook page over the summer to begin laying out foreign policy views, and used a National Review essay last week to caution newly empowered conservatives that compromising with Mr. Obama on spending would result in the GOP "going the way of the Whigs."

The Fed last week said it would buy $600 billion in Treasury securities over the next eight months in an effort to lower the 9.6% unemployment rate and ensure that inflation, which is running below the central bank's informal target, does not morph into outright deflation. Foreign officials have criticized the move for weakening the dollar and threatening speculative capital inflows that could hurt their own economies.

More
Sarah Palin's QE2 Criticism Includes Inflation Hyperbole
Palin Takes On Bernanke, QE2

."When Germany, a country that knows a thing or two about the dangers of inflation, warns us to think again, maybe it's time for Chairman Bernanke to cease and desist," according to Ms. Palin's remarks, obtained in advance by National Review magazine, before the Specialty Tools and Fasteners Distributors Association. "We don't want temporary, artificial economic growth bought at the expense of permanently higher inflation which will erode the value of our incomes and our savings."

U.S. politicians generally avoid criticizing the Fed, especially its monetary policy, to maintain the central bank's traditional independence from politics. But several Republican lawmakers last week assailed the Fed's decision to engage in another round of bond-buying, known as quantitative easing.

Ms. Palin's remarks Monday were the sharpest yet by a political figure about the Fed announcement. They echoed economists from the left and right who have questioned the policy's effectiveness and potential drawbacks.

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Associated Press
 
Sarah Palin campaigns in October, 2008.
.Ms. Palin's latest speech came within a week of the mid-term elections in which many candidates she backed won key races and helped Republicans take the House, though several of her high-profile picks were defeated. The Phoenix speech Monday appeared to mark a pivot toward a weighty and divisive policy issue—the strength of the dollar and how to boost the U.S. economy.

Other countries have attacked the Fed move just days before a big international summit in South Korea. President Barack Obama Monday effectively defended the U.S. central bank at a press conference in New Delhi, noting that U.S. economic growth is "good for the world as a whole."

—Peter Wallsten contributed reporting to this article.
Write to Sudeep Reddy at sudeep.reddy@wsj.com

24238  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Palin and Zoellick on the Fed's QE2 on: November 09, 2010, 06:17:57 AM
Doug:

While I place great importance on demographics (indeed, we have a thread here on exactly that) and recognize the role baby boomers in the US economy, I would ascribe the over-supply of large lot family homes to government intervention into the market place.   We may not yet fully realize just how heavy the misallocation of resources due to this intervention has been.
============
All:

It would be hard to find two more unlikely intellectual comrades than Robert Zoellick, the World Bank technocrat, and Sarah Palin, the populist conservative politician. But in separate interventions yesterday, the pair roiled the global monetary debate in complementary and timely fashion.

The former Alaskan Governor showed sound political and economic instincts by inveighing forcefully against the Federal Reserve's latest round of quantitative easing. According to the prepared text of remarks that she released to National Review online, Mrs. Palin also exhibited a more sophisticated knowledge of monetary policy than any major Republican this side of Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan.

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Associated Press
 
Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin
.Stressing the risks of Fed "pump priming," Mrs. Palin zeroed in on the connection between a "weak dollar—a direct result of the Fed's decision to dump more dollars onto the market"—and rising oil and food prices. She also noted the rising world alarm about the Fed's actions, which by now includes blunt comments by Germany, Brazil, China and most of Asia, among many others.

"We don't want temporary, artificial economic growth brought at the expense of permanently higher inflation which will erode the value of our incomes and our savings," the former GOP Vice Presidential nominee said. "We want a stable dollar combined with real economic reform. It's the only way we can get our economy back on the right track."

Mrs. Palin's remarks may have the beneficial effect of bringing the dollar back to the center of the American political debate, not to mention of the GOP economic platform. Republican economic reformers of the 1970s and 1980s—especially Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp—understood the importance of stable money to U.S. prosperity.

On the other hand, the Bush Administration was clueless. Its succession of Treasury Secretaries promoted dollar devaluation little different from that of the current Administration, while the White House ignored or applauded an over-easy Fed policy that created the credit boom and housing bubble that led to financial panic.

Misguided monetary policy can ruin an Administration as thoroughly as higher taxes and destructive regulation, and the new GOP majority in the House and especially the next GOP President need to be alert to the dangers. Mrs. Palin is way ahead of her potential Presidential competitors on this policy point, and she shows a talent for putting a technical subject in language that average Americans can understand.

Which brings us to Mr. Zoellick, who exceeded even Mrs. Palin's daring yesterday by mentioning the word "gold" in the orthodox Keynesian company of the Financial Times. This is like mentioning the name "Palin" in the Princeton faculty lounge.

Mr. Zoellick, who worked at the Treasury under James Baker in the 1980s, laid out an agenda for a new global monetary regime to reduce currency turmoil and spur growth: "This new system is likely to need to involve the dollar, the euro, the yen, the pound and a renminbi that moves toward internalization and then an open capital account," he wrote, in an echo of what we've been saying for some time.

And here's Mr. Zoellick's sound-money kicker: "The system should also consider employing gold as an international reference point of market expectations about inflation, deflation and future currency values. Although textbooks may view gold as the old money, markets are using gold as an alternative monetary asset today." Mr. Zoellick's last observation will not be news to investors, who have traded gold up to $1,400 an ounce, its highest level in real terms since the 1970s, as a hedge against the risk of future inflation.

However, his point will shock many of the world's financial policy makers, who still think of gold as a barbarous relic rather than as an important price signal. Lest they faint in the halls of the International Monetary Fund, we don't think Mr. Zoellick is calling for a return to a full-fledged gold standard. His nonetheless useful point is that a system of global monetary cooperation needs a North Star to judge when it is running off course. The Bretton Woods accord used gold as such a reference until the U.S. failed to heed its discipline in the late 1960s and in 1971 revoked the pledge to sell other central banks gold at $35 an ounce.

One big problem in the world economy today is the frequent and sharp movement in exchange rates, especially between the euro and dollar. This distorts trade and investment flows and leads to a misallocation of capital and trade tensions. A second and related problem is the desire of the Obama Administration and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to devalue the dollar to boost exports as a way to compensate for the failed spending stimulus.

As recently as this week in India, Mr. Obama said that "We can't continue situations where some countries maintain massive [trade] surpluses, other countries have massive deficits and never is there an adjustment with respect to currency that would lead to a more balanced growth pattern."

If this isn't a plea for a weaker dollar in the name of balancing trade flows, what is it? The world knows the Fed can always win such a currency race to the bottom in the short run because it can print an unlimited supply of dollars. But the risks of currency war and economic instability are enormous.

***
In their different ways, Mrs. Palin and Mr. Zoellick are offering a better policy path: More careful monetary policy in the U.S., and more U.S. leadership abroad with a goal of greater monetary cooperation and less volatile exchange rates. If Mr. Obama is looking for advice on this beyond Mr. Zoellick, he might consult Paul Volcker or Nobel laureate Robert Mundell. A chance for monetary reform is a terrible thing to waste.



24239  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Delinquency and Foreclosure numbers: Ouch! on: November 08, 2010, 03:32:13 PM
http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2010/11/lps-over-43-million-loans-90-days-or-in.html
24240  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: November 08, 2010, 12:11:22 PM
GM: 

A plausible point, but many other variables are present too.  For example, Taiwan (I have been there btw) has a coherent family culture and is a country of economic growth.

As for the Mexican law,

a) the US market and its huge profits remain,
b) honest coverage of drug issues in Mexico often leads to people getting shot/decapitated etc, all we have here is an author opining
c) there do not seem to be many Americans practicing narco-tourism cheesy
d) not much data yet, the law is quite new
24241  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Comentarios por favor on: November 08, 2010, 12:05:03 PM
http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2010/01/10/20100110mex-drugs.html

Drug law changes little for life in Mexico

by Dennis Wagner - Jan. 10, 2010 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

AGUA PRIETA, Sonora - A few blocks from the municipal police station, on the morning after a cartel gunfight took four more lives in Sonora, drug dealers cruise the streets of La Zona Roja with cellphones in their hands.

Addicts in a local treatment center say these "carros alegres," or happy cars, bring crack cocaine to consumers with all the speed and reliability of a pizza delivery.

The happy cars are one more sign of Mexico's growing drug-abuse problem and serve as a backdrop to the government's decision in August to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of narcotics. When the measure was adopted, President Felipe Calderón and Mexico's Congress said they wanted to concentrate law-enforcement efforts on the ruthless cartels that are blamed for an estimated 13,000 deaths since Calderón declared a war on drugs in December 2006. Calderón also said decriminalization of personal-use quantities would thwart corrupt Mexican cops who sometimes shake down drug users for bribes.

The measure incited controversy from Mexico City to Washington, D.C. Legalization advocates suggested that America's closest neighbor and ally in the drug war had finally recognized the waste of filling prisons with non-violent addicts who need treatment rather than punishment. Drug-enforcement hard-liners warned that eliminating criminal charges for drug abuse would lead to increased public consumption and addiction, perhaps even spawning narco-tourism by Americans looking to get high legally in Mexico.

That the happy cars still cruise about Agua Prieta suggests that critics and supporters overestimated the law's possible effects, both on drug violence and the scourge of addiction.

The reform seems to have had more impact in the rhetorical war over drug decriminalization than it has on Mexican streets. Rather than claiming victory, legalization advocates say the new law may even make things worse because of the way it's written. Conversely, anti-legalization groups condemn the measure because it appears to legitimize drug abuse.

Beneath the lofty debate, cops, treatment counselors, government officials, researchers and addicts interviewed last month said there have been no discernible changes related to the new law.
24242  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Shadow Statistics/Data on: November 08, 2010, 12:00:21 PM
Some interesting analysis here of the accuracy of govt. data and alternative data is offered:

http://www.shadowstats.com/
24243  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: November 08, 2010, 10:58:49 AM
There is a reason that one of God's TEN BIG RULES is "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's stuff"-- it is precisely because of how easy it is to feel envy and how pernicious the consequences of that envy are.  Our Founding Fathers knew this.  It is, in essence, why we are a Constitutional Republic and not a democracy.

When I ran for Congress I would tell a parable as a story: "My friend an I were eating at a restaurant.  Three people at a neighboring table finished and received their bill.  They got up to leave and handed it to us and said "This is a democracy.  There are three of us and two of you.  We had a vote.  You're paying."

Separate point:   As the Reagan tax rate cuts kicked in, the chattering classes began blathering about a massive increase in the concentration of wealth.    What these economic illiterates did not comprehend was that under the 70% top rate regime, wealth hid in tax shelters.  At the 30% rate most of the the shelters ceased making sense and the rich folks who invested in them decided to allow their income/profits/gains to be exposed to taxation.   Result?  Data showing a huge spike in the number of the rich and a dramatic increase in the concentration of wealth.
24244  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: November 08, 2010, 10:45:41 AM
Today's edition of Pravda On The Beach/Left Angeles Times/LA Times has a fairly big article on how the Prop 19 folks were encouraged by just how many votes they got from across the spectrum and are planning to try again in 2012 with a better crafted version.
24245  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our man in Iraq returns-10 on: November 08, 2010, 10:43:01 AM
At about 0800 today my partner and I came upon one of the "gauntlet" operations I have mentioned several times.  Basically the Iraqi Army will have about 30 soldiers split on both sides of the travel lane.  They stop cars in such a way that they can search about five of them at a time.
 
The search consists of them going through the entire vehicle.  Open trunks, hoods, glove boxes, bags, etc.  And not just open and look, but rummage around.  Get you out of the car.  Talk to you and ask questions.  Personally I think this works quite well for them.  By doing what they do they eliminate a vast amount of space within a vehicle as being able to carry an explosives payload.  So it's a practice I think has substantive value and certainly makes the adversary's job a lot more difficult.
 
The two soldiers that searched our particular vehicle were quite pleasant.  Mine, a young lad, asked me if I was American.  Then asked me (in very poor, one word "sentences") if I was from New York, which I was able to honestly answer yes.  He then asked me if I liked Iraq, to which I, of course, said yes.  Which made him smile.  I then said "America likes Iraq", which seemed to make him smile wider.
 
All in all a very pleasant transaction.  So far, knock on wood, I have found the Iraqi Army guys to be professional, respectful, considerate and pleasant.  I never quite got that level of positive note vibes from many of the Iraqi Police.  We don't have to interact with them a whole lot this time around.
 
Last week, I was going the other way past one of these gauntlet operations.  I suddenly observed one PSD vehicle pull out of the line and start to drive around the gauntlet.  An Iraqi soldier motioned for him to stop.  He didn't, and kept going.  The soldier had to step out into the middle of the road in front of the vehicle with clenched fist (the stop sign that you do not want to drive through no matter who is giving it to you).  I could see the PSD driver at that point very animatedly being all pissed off inside his vehicle.  I certainly could not help but think to myself that if he got himself dragged out of that car and whupped up on, he would have nobody to blame but himself.  Anybody who lives in the IZ for more than a week knows these gauntlet checkpoints are not uncommon, and you just better give yourself plenty of time to get where you need to be.  The gauntlet checkpoints usually translate to activity at the Iraqi Parliament building, so the soldiers (and by the way they mostly seem pretty sharp and squared away at these gauntlets), are taking their business seriously.  I had interaction with one of their officers a few weeks back, and although he was pleasant and respectful, he clearly was very intense about his business of running that gauntlet.  The type of leadership that, in my humble opinion, the Iraqis desperately need more of.
24246  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Security Council for India? on: November 08, 2010, 08:08:11 AM
Obama Backs India for Security Council Seat

President Obama announced on Monday in New Delhi that the
United States will back India's bid for a permanent seat on
an expanded United Nations Security Council, a major policy
shift that could aggravate China, which opposes such a move.

Read More:
http://www.nytimes.com?emc=na
24247  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: November 07, 2010, 11:04:09 PM
That would apply to these?

http://www.rgarden.com/enzymes.html

24248  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: November 07, 2010, 06:35:07 PM
Dashing off an observation:

The Cubans who came to US, especially Florida in 1959-60 etc. were the successful 10% of Cuba-- which in many ways was a much more successful country than people realize e.g. a very high literacy rate.   

The Mexicans who come to the US tend to be of those not finding opportunity in Mexico.

24249  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / From Canada: Talking to Americans on: November 07, 2010, 04:20:25 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhTZ_tgMUdo
24250  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: November 07, 2010, 02:23:03 PM
Driven by the illegal profits on both sides of the border and and the law abiding being unarmed in Mexico.
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