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24251  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury on: July 07, 2010, 08:34:52 PM
Prechter has an absolutely horrendous track record.  Alan Reynolds has a really good one.  Here is what he says (btw I disagree quite a bit, but I do respect the man and pay attention to what he says):
===================
Money
Get Real: This Is Not 1932
Brian S. Wesbury and Robert Stein
07.07.10, 6:00 AM ET


Want to be invited to A-list parties? Want people to think you are smart? Then don't smile and don't say anything positive--especially about the economy. Pessimism has become so pervasive that people will believe just about anything, as long as it is negative.

Over the July 4 weekend, after a jobs report that showed 83,000 new private-sector jobs were created in June, the Drudge Report had not one but two headlines that compared the U.S. economy of 2010 to that of 1932. In other words, the U.S. is back in Depression. This is a complete overreaction and is indicative of the severe case of economic hypochondria that seems to have gripped the nation and the world.

One symptom of this disease is that common sense is suspended. The simple explanation is tossed aside and data releases are dredged and sifted to find the most dire possible explanation for any economic information.

For example, every 10 years the United States Government conducts a census, and every 10 years the government hires hundreds of thousands of very temporary workers to help in the effort. Some time between April and June total employment goes up and down by an amount that often swamps the underlying trends of employment.

In May total payrolls increased 433,000, but then fell by 125,000 in June. So rather than explain this to people, the Pouting Pundits of Pessimism said things like, "All the jobs in May were government jobs." And then last Friday, after the June jobs report, they said, "Jobs fell for the first time in seven months." Both of these reactions were misleading.

They could have said, "Once we adjust for the Census, private-sector payrolls increased by 33,000 in May, and then accelerated in June to 83,000." While both months were disappointing when compared with previous recoveries, the data shows six consecutive months of private-sector job creation.

Another interpretation that defies common sense involves labor force data. When 805,000 more people said they were looking for a job in April, the pessimists said, "See how many people had been discouraged ... the unemployment rate will never fall as they start looking again." And in June, when the labor force fell by 652,000, they said, "This is the only reason that the unemployment rate fell."

This is crazy. It defies common sense. Economic data is volatile, so quarterly data might be better. And in the second quarter the U.S. added 357,000 private-sector jobs--more than 50% greater than the 236,000 added during the first quarter.

New orders for durable goods, a leading indicator, are up 10% at an annual rate in the past three months. Excluding transportation, they are up 25%. If we look at just machinery orders, they are up 63% in the past three months and 23% in the past 12 months. This is not a depression.


Yes, housing has fallen. But what should we expect after a huge government program to support housing activity ends? Remember Cash for Clunkers? Activity was artificially boosted by the program, then it fell, then it recovered as the normal forces of economic activity kicked in again. The same thing will happen with housing in the months ahead.

So could we be repeating 1932? We suppose anything is possible, but these fears are based on a faulty comparison with history. In 1932 the M2 measure of the money supply fell by 16.5% -- the third of four consecutive yearly declines between 1929 and 1933. Meanwhile Herbert Hoover pushed through the largest tax hike in American history. The lowest tax rate rose from 1.5% to 4% (at $1 dollar of taxable income), the 6% rate (which kicked in at $10,000) rose to 10%, and the top rate more than doubled from 25% to 63%.

Today the M2 measure of money is growing, and tax rates, while scheduled to go higher in 2011, are nowhere near the levels of the 1930s. And there is no Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act.

None of this is to say that the government is not making it more difficult for business. Clearly the uncertainty of new laws, spending, taxes and regulations is throwing a wet blanket over the entrepreneurial side of the American economy.

But two things are true. First, productivity is so strong that the economy is growing despite massive increases in the size of government. The U.S. is creating jobs, even if the rate of growth is less than previous recoveries. Profits are still rising. In fact, analysts are still raising earnings estimates.

Second, the market has so much negativity priced in that it is cheap on just about any basis. Based on forward earnings, the PE ratio for the S&P 500 is under 12. And our capitalized profits model shows that stocks are severely undervalued. Based on very conservative inputs, we continue to believe the fair value for the Dow Jones industrial average is 14,500.

Pessimism creates value. Optimism has traditionally been rewarded. We remain optimistic.

Brian S. Wesbury is chief economist and Robert Stein senior economist at First Trust Advisors in Wheaton, Ill. They write a weekly column for Forbes. Wesbury is the author of It's Not As Bad As You Think: Why Capitalism Trumps Fear and the Economy Will Thrive.
24252  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Poll going on right now on: July 07, 2010, 11:47:27 AM
http://world-news.newsvine.com/_question/2010/05/12/4274124-do-you-support-arizonas-tough-new-law-on-illegal-immigration
24253  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Govt gold sales on: July 07, 2010, 11:39:06 AM

COMMODITIES
JULY 7, 2010
Central Banks Swap Tons of Gold to Raise Cash, Surprising Market
By CAROLN CUI And LIAM PLEVEN
Central banks are pawning their gold to the Bank for International Settlements at a record rate, taking advantage of the precious metal's historically high value to raise cash.
A little-noticed data point at the back of a 216-page report released last week by the BIS shows the international agency has taken 349 metric tons of gold since December—allowing central banks to raise a record $14 billion.
The number surprised the market, which had assumed most central banks had retained their holdings of gold. Instead, the BIS data show that they have been entering these gold swaps—exchanging their gold with the BIS in return for cash, agreeing to repurchase the gold at a later date.




The sharp increase in January, when most of the borrowing took place, coincides with a flare-up in worries about a sovereign-debt crisis in Greece spreading throughout Europe. At that time, borrowing costs soared and liquidity tightened.
Some central banks may have begun to fret, and chose to turn some of their holdings to cash as a standby, said Philip Klapwijk, executive chairman of GFMS Ltd., a London-based metals consultant.
"It suggests a bit of a last-resort measure," Mr. Klapwijk said.
The increase in the use of gold swaps is particularly surprising because central banks have rarely used them for decades, and the amount of gold at the BIS has remained stable for years.


AFP/Getty Images

Central banks of developed countries have relatively easy access to capital and capital markets, while emerging countries have generally been increasing their foreign reserves.
While the use of swaps has no practical implications for the gold market, the report helped weigh on gold prices, which have already come under pressure since reaching a peak last month.
The prospect that the gold isn't locked up in central-bank vaults as investors thought—and that it may, in an extreme case, be seized and sold on the open market by the BIS—gave some investors pause.
On Tuesday, the most actively traded gold contract, for August delivery, dropped $12.60 per troy ounce, or 1%, to $1,194.80 on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. It is now off 5% from its record high hit on June 18.
The BIS report could change investors' perception of gold as an asset to protect against the impact of global sovereign-debt woes, said Nicholas Johnson, co-manager of Pacific Investment Management Co.'s CommodityRealReturn Strategy Fund, a mutual fund with about $16 billion in assets.
"Originally sovereign financial troubles were taken as unambiguously bullish" for gold, Mr. Johnson said in an email.
"But some are now rethinking this if the gold that sovereigns hold has been pledged as collateral to someone else who has more ability to liquidate those holdings."
If the central bank that lent the gold is for some reason unable to make good on the loan, the BIS could opt to sell the gold in order to get its money back, which would amount to flooding the market with an unexpected boost to the global supply.
The BIS annual report covers the 12-month period through March. April data show that an additional 32 tons of gold were put up as collateral that month, suggesting further loans were taken out with the BIS, said Andy Smith, senior metals strategist at Bache Commodities Group.
At this rate, the BIS holdings represent the "biggest gold swap in history," Mr. Smith said.
Central banks probably chose to swap gold for cash with the BIS—which is known as the central bank for central banks—because it is less visible to the market and probably cheaper than a syndicated loan from commercial banks, Mr. Klapwijk said.
Gold is often regarded as a protection against inflation and is thought to benefit from the inflationary impact of governments' economic stimulus packages. It has also been used as a haven against another financial meltdown.
The news of the swaps comes as the World Gold Council, a trade group backed by miners, is trying to persuade central banks to buy more gold. The group sent a 28-page report to more than 800 central bankers and fiscal policy makers around the world, laying out the argument for increasing their bullion holdings.
Many central banks in rapidly growing countries have less than 2% of their reserves in gold, including China, Brazil, South Korea and Malaysia. By contrast, the U.S. has 72.8% of its reserves in gold.
Many developing countries are reluctant to increase their gold holdings significantly. Gold's volatility and its inability to generate income have long been cited as reason why central banks don't want to enhance their gold holdings. Countries also fear that it could become difficult to liquidate their holdings in a pinch.
24254  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: July 07, 2010, 11:36:59 AM
"IF he believes illegals pay more into our system then they take out than why is he against it?"

Well speaking only for myself, the econ costs vel non of the illegals is not really the point.  The point is that we get to decide who comes here and in what numbers they come.  Even were it to turn out that illegals coming here were a net econ positive, there are cultural and political aspects of the question to consider as well.
24255  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Tolmin, Slovenia 6/26-27 on: July 07, 2010, 08:28:04 AM
I just noticed that I have not yet filed an AAR on this.

Although Slovenia is 9 times zones east of my home in Los Angeles, a seminar the weekend before in NYC broke the trip and the time zone changes into smaller pieces-- this made things much easier on my body.

110 people attended-- a very nice group with a very good attitude. Lots of very agreeable socializing in the evenings-- sometimes well lubricated by a local moonshine known as "snake spit".

People from this part of the world are very tall. Lots of people were 6'3" to 6'6".

Some of the other instructors were Israeli and Lightning Scientific Arnis's John Escudero, a Filipino, lives in Israel. (LSA is a system of interest to me ever since I saw GM Ben Luna Lema teach one night at the Inosanto Academy) so it was particulary nice for me to get another look at it.)

Assisting me was Cro Dog, an LEO of Croatian descent who lives in Germany. (Tangent: I was surprised to see how little rancor there seemed to be left over from the war(s) of the early 1990s) It was a great help to have someone who understands the real fight and DBMA on the assist.

Sunday afternoon we went white water rafting on the bluest river I have ever seen. A fine finish to a wonderful trip!

25 hours door-to-door to get home. Wonderful to be with my family again.
24256  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Franklin: on: July 07, 2010, 07:43:29 AM
"And as to the Cares, they are chiefly what attend the bringing up of Children; and I would ask any Man who has experienced it, if they are  not the most delightful Cares in the World; and if from that Particular alone, he does not find the Bliss of a double State much greater, instead of being less than he expected." --Benjamin Franklin, Reply to a Piece of Advice
24257  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Different from other Victims? on: July 07, 2010, 06:55:27 AM
Are Jews Different from History’s Other Victims?

Posted By David Solway On July 6, 2010  In FrontPage

Hatred and revulsion for distinct ethnic and tribal groups, and the cleansing operations and genocides that accompany these obsessions, are obviously all-too commonplace phenomena. In recent historical times alone we have seen the Turkish genocide of its Armenian population, the Cambodian hecatomb, the Hutu massacre of nearly one million Tutsis, the Serbian slaughter of Bosnian Muslims, the Sudanese carnage in Darfur and other parts of the country, the ongoing bloodbath in the Congo and, of course, the still unassimilable abomination of the Holocaust.

The question that often arises among those who want to diminish the scale of Jewish suffering involves orders of magnitude and, so to speak, degrees of unimaginableness. What makes the Holocaust different in “the roll-call of genocides” (to use Theodore Dalrymple’s phrase [1]) and assures it a signal place in the history of human evil? Have not other peoples beside the Jews suffered persecution, segregation, pogroms and official campaigns of extermination? Are six to seven million Ukrainians starved to death by Josef Stalin in the forced collectivization program known as the Black Famine [2] any less to be mourned than six million dead Jews at the hands of Adolf Hitler? Do Jews have a monopoly on affliction?

Trading in such mass obituaries is always grotesque, but the issue comes up again and again whenever Jews, or those who sympathize with their trials, define the Holocaust as an unprecedented atrocity in the annals of collective suffering. Historian Peter Novick, for example, regards [3] the Jewish focus on the Holocaust as a form of cultural pathology, an aspect of Jewish narcissism and an attempt to acquire the cachet of victimhood. Have not other minority groups endured equivalent or near-equivalent tragedies? The late Nobel laureate José Saramago, a diehard communist and one of the world’s most notable antisemites, wrote [4] in the Spain’s leading newspaper El Pais, “educated and trained in the idea that any suffering that has been inflicted…will always be inferior to that which they themselves suffered in the Holocaust, the Jews endlessly scratch their own wound to keep it bleeding, to make it incurable, and they show it to the world as if it were a banner… Israel wants all of us to feel guilty, directly or indirectly, for the horrors of the Holocaust.” Philosopher Pascal Bruckner recognizes [5] the seductiveness of this argument; however, unlike Novick and Saramago, he deplores the growing propensity to cheapen the Holocaust among those who deem Jewish memory as “the potential for winning an inalienable immunity or irresponsibility,” and as “purloining the maximum misfortune and declaring yourself its only legitimate owner.”

This anti-Jewish proclivity and “envious hatred,” Bruckner contends, is really a movement to confiscate the Holocaust for disreputable purposes, to open “a kind of perpetual line of credit for immorality.” It is the gambit practiced by the “Serbian extremists” and, for that matter, by the Palestinians and their supporters, who claim a “Holocaust” of their own as a “source of unlimited moral and political advantages” that gives them “permission for all forms of abuse.” The abuse, we might say, is a double one for it leads not only to the “ambiguity of the ethnic theology” predicated on a false identification to advance a political or religious cause, but deprives Jews of the density and meaning of their own history and expropriates their suffering. In this way, the Holocaust is, once again, relativized and debased.

If we assume that Novick, Saramago and their congeners are right, what, then, would distinguish Jews from their fellow victims of unparalleled barbarism? Are there really no gradations of evil? One answer to this question that is frequently met with has to do with the bureaucratic and industrialized nature of the monstrosity perpetrated against the Jewish people. The Shoah was meticulously planned at the highest levels of government, a blueprint for infamy carefully prepared and a complex technology devised to carry it out. This is certainly true, for even Stalin’s Black Famine relied upon a comparatively simpler process. Stalin merely increased grain quotas for State procurement, thus depriving Ukrainian farmers of the means of subsistence. Though savagery is what it is, there is something incommensurable about the closely meditated intricacies of the Nazi Endlösung, or Final Solution. Stalin did not wish to depopulate Ukraine; Hitler’s consuming passion was to destroy an entire people, and he developed a detailed and methodical strategy to accomplish his purpose.

And yet there is much more to the matter than scientific malice and administrative elaboration. Unlike the Ukrainians who succumbed to a political calculation, Jews were targeted for who and what they were or believed to be, decimated on racial grounds as a people of impure blood contaminating the racial purity of a “superior” nation, much like the gypsies and the “defectives.” “And still there is a difference,” writes Norman Cohn in Warrant for Genocide[6]. “The Jews were hunted down with a fanatical hatred reserved for them alone,” the killed amounting “probably to more than two-thirds of all European Jews.”  But it is not only a matter of brute numbers—the tally of Mao Zedong’s murdered innocents far eclipses that of Hitler’s or Stalin’s victims. Yet, as with Stalin’s policy concerning the Ukrainians, Mao did not set out to liquidate the Chinese people. Neither wanted to erase a “nation.” Hitler did. This is a fact that cannot be scanted and casts its lurid shadow over the Holocaust. And still there is a difference. Nor, as I have suggested, is it exclusively a question of cold, administrative calibrations in which human beings are transformed into abstract ciphers.

The dimension of Time must also be taken into account.

For the campaign against the Israelite has an inordinately long pedigree, going back to the Egyptian captivity, the Babylonian exile, the Roman wars and dispossession, the mass killings of Jews during the First Crusade, the Edict of Expulsion from England during the reign of Edward I, the Alhambra Decree in Spain ordering the expulsion of the Jews, the Chmielnicki massacre in 17th century Ukraine, and the innumerable purges in between and since, in both Christian and Muslim lands, leading to its culmination in the Holocaust.

In other words, Jews have the unique status of being singled out for millennial execration, malevolence, hostility and extirpation. It is a prejudice that knows no surcease. The spectre of discrimination, xenophobia, pogroms and even annihilation never disappears and always threatens to re-emerge, as it has once again today with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Iran vowing to “wipe Israel off the map” in a second Holocaust. As I have written before [7], the destiny of the Jews, unlike other minorities, “is to be eternally unsafe in this world,” which is precisely the factor that differentiates the Jewish people from other peoples on the historical continuum of human ignominy. It keeps happening.

There is yet another element to reflect upon. The religious wars that drenched the European continent in blood for centuries are now, for the most part, a thing of the past and have been superseded in the West by secular antagonisms expressed as an ideological conflict. The Cold War is over, presumably, but the culture wars persist. The battle between socialism and conservatism, the left and the right, Democrat and Republican, transnationalism and nationalism, statism and individualism, and, yes, between Europe and Israel, as well as between a left-oriented, terror-appeasing American presidency and Israel, is gathering momentum with every passing hour. Religious violence still exists, of course, but this is largely a prerogative of the Islamic world, manifest in the divide between Sunni and Shi’ite and the ubiquitous desire to exterminate the Jews. As Jonathan Kellerman writes in a symposium hosted by Commentary magazine (June, 2010), “the war being waged against Israel by the Muslim world is, at the core, a religious dispute. Radical Islamists no longer talk about Zionists, they come right out and broadcast their goal of eradicating worldwide Jewry.”

Thus, the forces at work in the contemporary world render Jews even more vulnerable than is usually the case, for they are now assaulted on two fronts: by secularists on the left who regard Israel as a colonial implant in the Middle East and by Muslims commanded by the Koran and the Ahadith to kill Jews wherever they may be found. Jews are perhaps the only people in the world who live in the crosshairs of two implacable enemies, one avowedly secular and the other driven by a theological mandate. The paradox is as mordant as it gets. Coming or going, for the Jew there is no acquittal, no peace and no relenting. If the secular left doesn’t get him, the Islamic right will—or devote itself to trying. It is a vise of world-historical proportions. And this means, clearly, that the menace Jews have always had to face will continue to flourish and quite possibly to augment.

I believe that most Jews are instinctively aware of the world’s undying hatred and misprision, but few are willing or capable of consciously acknowledging the scope of so unpalatable a truth. As Sarah Honig astutely writes [8], it is “disagreeable to realize that de rigueur Israel-bashing has unleashed latent predilections which, despite their transitory abeyance, festered beneath the floorboards of human decency.” The allusion to the great but antisemitic Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky is apt. In Notes from Under the Floorboards [9], Dostoevsky depicted in the novel’s protagonist an insectal longing for abasement and a contempt for all that is good, decent and noble in life, an embodiment of moral catastrophe. “I am angry,” the character says, “my irritability keeps me alive and kicking.” This tendency is, to use Dostoevsky’s term, “representative.” It appears to be inherent in the human psyche, and the Jew has ever been its most reliable outlet.

Norman Cohn refines the diagnosis for the modern age. “The drive to exterminate the Jews,” he writes, springs from “a quasi-demonological superstition,” namely, “the myth of the Jewish world-conspiracy…set on ruining and then dominating the rest of mankind.” The myth, whose chief repository is The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a forgery dating back to the early 20th century, is “designed to appeal to all the paranoid and destructive potentialities in human beings.” And myths, as we know, guarantee longevity of belief, precisely because of human credulity and innate aggression.

But we can go further and posit that Jews have ever been the casualties of one or another myth, which are constantly pupating from one form into another, whether of plotting world conquest, or of poisoning wells, or of baking the blood of Christian children into Passover matzot, or of being the carriers of diseases—or of robbing the Palestinians of their land irrespective of the fact that, as Joan Peters, among other respectable scholars, has convincingly shown in her seminal study, From Time Immemorial [10], a substantial influx of Arab migrants, late arrivals to the region from the surrounding Arab countries, appropriated the identity of “Palestinians.” One myth will replace another to ensure that the engine of hatred keeps running and that a destination for bigotry and delirium remains always attainable.

The current myth, as we have noted, is that Jews are usurpers—in the very land in which they have maintained a continuous presence for 3,500 years and which, despite the vicissitudes of history, bears archeological, textual and demographic witness to their tenure from antiquity to the present moment. As the Reverend James Parkes spells out for us in his scrupulously researched Whose Land? A History of the Peoples of Palestine [11], the Jewish connection with the land “has been continuous from the 2nd millennium B.C.E. up to modern times.” Recent genetic findings [12] have reinforced the evidence for geographical origins. But myths are insidiously potent. “Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine,” as notorious Press Corps reporter Helen Thomas [13] recently demanded [13]. Not to be undone, deputy leader of Canada’s National Democratic Party Libby Davies [14] parroted Thomas’ ultimatum a few days later, asserting [15] that Israel’s “occupation of Palestinian lands” began in 1948 with its formal recognition as a legitimate state—a tirelessly reiterated jihadist theme. We cannot predict what the next such myth will be. We can only be sure that anti-Jewish myths, bordering on caricature, multiply like rabbits on aphrodisiacs.

This is what makes Jews, wherever they may find themselves, different from history’s other genocidal victims: they must always prepare for yet another round of social resentment, another irruption of ostracism and rejection, another flotilla (really an armada) of bogus “peace activists” aimed at dislodging them from their toehold on the Mediterranean, another barrage of denunciations from the so-called “international community,” and another calamity waiting in the offing. For what sets Jews apart from other victims of human malignancy is that the hatred and violence, the demonising, never go away.

Such is the nature of antisemitism: it is not a singular event but a perpetual sentence of condemnation. It is what we might call an ontological compulsion, an antipathy that has been reified. Regardless of the effort of Jews to assimilate, to forget the past, to deny their heritage or even to work against the very existence of the Jewish state and to trivialize the Holocaust, and despite the protestations of Western intellectuals and scions of the Enlightenment, who disingenuously claim they are not anti-Jewish but only anti-Zionist, the return of the same, or the will to re-enact it, is preordained.

And this is what makes numbers, methods, reasons and intentions as a medium of comparative judgment—albeit factors by no means insignificant in themselves—in the deepest sense irrelevant in determining the relative weights of the ordeals of peoples. For others who have suffered the saturnalia of blood, what happened once is always remembered; for Jews, what is remembered has occurred not once but many times before, in greater or lesser measure, and always threatens to recur. The essential difference resides in the unbroken cycle, the periodicity of the world’s “longest hatred [16],” the irresistible urge toward the replication of the unthinkable. What happened in the Treblinka of God’s eye was prepared in the crucible of time by hideous increments and may conceivably happen again.

Saramago, like so many others, lashes out at the Jews as “contaminated by the monstrous and rooted ‘certitude’…that there exists a people chosen by God.” Deeply religious Jews certainly believe they have a special relationship with God, which is exactly why the Holocaust continues to defeat their understanding, no matter how they struggle to explain it. Secular, Reform,  Reconstructionist and Sabra Jews, by far the majority (I am not speaking of the apostates), do not place particular emphasis on this biblical tenet. They do not regard themselves as better or worse than anyone else but as a coherent people upholding a cultural tradition and a ritual sense of patrimony. They are not so much baffled by the Holocaust—human evil, after all, is pandemic—but horrified by both its occurrence and its possible imminence. This is what makes the Jew different and constitutes the real meaning of “chosenness.”

In other words, unlike other peoples, Jews have been selected for vilification, injury and even destruction from time immemorial. Or to put succinctly, the Jewish people bleeds history.

 
24258  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Kagan on: July 07, 2010, 06:47:06 AM
That sounds like a good and worthy idea to me.
24259  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / STratfor: The Caucasus Caldron on: July 07, 2010, 06:45:53 AM

By George Friedman

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited some interesting spots over the July 4 weekend. Her itinerary included Poland and Ukraine, both intriguing choices in light of the recent Obama-Medvedev talks in Washington. But she also traveled to a region that has not been on the American radar screen much in the last two years — namely, the Caucasus — visiting Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia.

The stop in Poland coincided with the signing of a new agreement on ballistic missile defense and was designed to sustain U.S.-Polish relations in the face of the German-Russian discussions we have discussed. The stop in Ukraine was meant simply to show the flag in a country rapidly moving into the Russian orbit. In both cases, the trip was about the Russians. Regardless of how warm the atmospherics are between the United States and Russia, the fact is that the Russians are continuing to rebuild their regional influence and are taking advantage of European disequilibrium to build new relationships there, too. The United States, still focused on Iraq and Afghanistan, has limited surplus capacity to apply to resisting the Russians. No amount of atmospherics can hide that fact, certainly not from the Poles or the Ukrainians. Therefore, if not a substantial contribution, the secretary of state’s visit was a symbolic one. But when there is little of substance, symbols matter.

That the Poland and Ukraine stops so obviously were about the Russians makes the stops in Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia all the more interesting. Clinton’s statements during the Caucasian leg of her visit were positive, as one would expect. She expressed her support for Georgia without committing the United States to any arms shipments for Georgia to resist the Russians, who currently are stationed inside Georgia’s northern secessionist regions. In Azerbaijan and Armenia, she called on both countries to settle the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed region within western Azerbaijan proper. Armenia took control of the region by force following the Soviet collapse. For Azerbaijan, the return of Nagorno-Karabakh under a U.N. resolution is fundamental to its national security and political strategy. For Armenia, retreat is not politically possible.

This means Clinton’s call for negotiations and her offer of U.S. help are not particularly significant, especially since the call was for Washington to help under the guise of international, not bilateral, negotiations. This is particularly true after Clinton seemed to indicate that the collapse in Turkish-Armenian talks was Turkey’s responsibility and that it was up to Turkey to make the next move. Given that her visit to the region seems on the surface to have achieved little — and indeed, little seems to have been intended — it is worth taking time to understand why she went there in the first place, and the region’s strategic significance.

The Strategic Significance of the Caucasus
The Caucasus is the point where Russia, Iran and Turkey meet. For most of the 19th century, the three powers dueled for dominance of the region. This dispute froze during the Soviet period but is certainly in motion again. With none of these primary powers directly controlling the region, there are secondary competitions involving Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, both among these secondary powers and between the secondary powers and the major powers. And given that the region involves the Russians, Iranians and Turks, it is inevitable that the global power would have an interest as well — hence, Hillary Clinton’s visit.

Of all the regions of the world, this one is among the most potentially explosive. It is the most likely to draw in major powers and the most likely to involve the United States. It is quiet now — but like the Balkans in 1990, quiet does not necessarily reassure any of the players. Therefore, seven players are involved in a very small space. Think of it as a cauldron framed by Russia, Iran and Turkey, occasionally stirred by Washington, for whom each of the other three major powers poses special challenges of varying degrees.

The Caucasus region dominates a land bridge between the Black and Caspian seas. The bridge connects Turkey and Iran to the south with Russia in the north. The region is divided between two mountain ranges, the Greater Caucasus to the north and the Lesser Caucasus in the south; and two plains divided from one another, one in Western Georgia on the Black Sea and another, larger plain in the east in Azerbaijan along the Kura River. A narrow river valley cuts through Georgia, connecting the two plains.

The Greater Caucasus Mountains serve as the southern frontier of Russia. To the north of these mountains, running east to west, lies the Russian agricultural heartland, flat and without any natural barriers. Thus, ever since the beginning of the 19th century, Russia has fought for a significant portion of the Caucasus to block any ambitions by the Turkish or Persian empires. The Caucasus mountains are so difficult to traverse by major military forces that as long as Russia maintains a hold somewhere in the Caucasus, its southern frontier is secure. During the latter part of the 19th century and for most of the Soviet period (except a brief time at the beginning of the era), the Soviet position in the Caucasus ran along the frontier with Turkey and Persia (later Iran). Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia were incorporated into the Soviet Union, giving the Soviets a deep penetration of the Caucasus and, along with this, security.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the three Caucasian republics broke free of Moscow, pushing Russia’s frontier north by between about 160 to 320 kilometers (100-200 miles). The Russians still maintained a position in the Caucasus, but their position was not secure. The northern portion of the Caucasus consisted of Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan and others, all of which had significant Islamist insurgencies under way. If the Russians abandoned the northeastern Caucasus, their position was breached. But if they stood, they faced an interminable fight.

Georgia borders most of the Russian frontier. In the chaos of the fall of the Soviet Union, various Georgian regions attempted to secede from Georgia with Russian encouragement. From the Georgian point of view, Russia represented a threat. But from the Russian point of view, Georgia represented a double threat. First, the Russians suspected the Georgians of supporting Chechen rebels in the 1990s — a charge the Georgians deny. The more important threat was that the United States selected Georgia as its main ally in the region. The choice made sense if the United States was conducting an encirclement strategy of Russia, which Washington was doing in the 1990s (though it became somewhat distracted from this strategy after 2001). In response to what it saw as U.S. pressure around its periphery, the Russians countered in Georgia in 2008 to demonstrate U.S. impotence in the region.

The Russians also maintained a close relationship with Armenia, where they continue to station more than 3,000 troops. The Armenians are deeply hostile to the Turks over demands that Turkey admit to massacres of large number of Armenians in 1915-16. The Armenians and Turks were recently involved in negotiations over the normalization of relations, but these talks collapsed — in our view, because of Russian interference. The issue was further complicated when a U.S. congressional committee passed a resolution in March condemning Turkey for committing genocide, infuriating the Turks.

One of the countercharges against Armenia is that it has conducted its own massacres of Azerbaijanis. Around the time of the Soviet breakup, it conducted a war against Azerbaijan, replete with the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis in a region known as Nagorno-Karabakh in western Azerbaijan, leaving Azerbaijan with a massive refugee problem. While the U.N. Security Council condemned the invasion, the conflict has been frozen, to use the jargon of diplomats.

The Importance of Azerbaijan
For its part, Azerbaijan cannot afford to fight a war against Russian troops in Armenia while it also shares a northern border with Russia. Azerbaijan also faces a significant Iranian problem. There are more Azerbaijanis living in Iran than in Azerbaijan; Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is a prominent Azerbaijani-Iranian. The Soviets occupied all of Azerbaijan during World War II but were forced to retreat under British and American pressure after the war, leaving most of Azerbaijan inside Iran. The remainder became a Soviet republic and then an independent state.

The Azerbaijanis are deeply concerned about the Iranians. Azerbaijan is profoundly different from Iran. It is Muslim but heavily secular. It maintains close and formal relations with Israel. It has supported the war in Afghanistan and made logistical facilities available to the United States. The Azerbaijanis claim that Iran is sending clerics north to build Shiite schools that threaten the regime. Obviously, Iran also operates an intelligence network there.

Adding to the complexity, Azerbaijan has long been a major producer of oil and has recently become an exporter of natural gas near the capital of Baku, exporting it to Turkey via a pipeline passing through Georgia. From the Turkish point of view, this provides alternative sources of energy to Russia and Iran, something that obviously pleases the United States. It is also an obvious reason why Russia sees Azerbaijan as undermining its position as the region’s dominant energy exporter.

The Russians have an interest, demonstrated in 2008, to move southward into Georgia. Obviously, if they were able to do this — preferably by a change in government and policy in Tbilisi — they would link up with their position in Armenia, becoming a force both on the Turkish border and facing Azerbaijan. The Russians would like to be able to integrate Azerbaijan’s exports into its broader energy policy, which would concentrate power in Russian hands and increase Russian influence on Russia’s periphery. This was made clear by Russia’s recent offer to buy all of Azerbaijan’s natural gas at European-level prices. The Turks would obviously oppose this for the same reason the Russians would want it. Hence, the Turks must support Georgia.

Iran, which should be viewed as an Azerbaijani country as well as a Persian one, has two reasons to want to dominate Azerbaijan. First, it would give Tehran access to Baku oil, and second, it would give Tehran strategic bargaining power with the Russians, something it does not currently have. In addition, talk of present unrest in Iran notwithstanding, Iran’s single most vulnerable point in the long term is the potential for Azerbaijanis living in Iran to want to unite with an independent Azerbaijani state. This is not in the offing, but if any critical vulnerability exists in the Iranian polity, this is it.

Consider this from the American side. When we look at the map, we notice that Azerbaijan borders both Russia and Iran. That strategic position alone makes it a major asset to the United States. Add to it oil in Baku and investment by U.S. companies, and Azerbaijan becomes even more attractive. Add to this that its oil exports support Turkey and weaken Russian influence, and its value goes up again. Finally, add to it that Turkey infuriated Azerbaijan by negotiating with Armenia without tying the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh to any Turkish-Armenian settlement. Altogether, the United States has the opportunity to forge a beneficial relationship with Azerbaijan that would put U.S. hands on one of Turkey’s sources of oil. At a time when the Turks recognize a declining dependence on the United States, anything that could increase that dependence helps Washington. Moreover, Azerbaijan is a platform from which Washington could make the Iranians uncomfortable, or from which to conduct negotiations with Iran.

An American strategy should include Georgia, but Georgia is always going to be weaker than Russia, and unless the United States is prepared to commit major forces there, the Russians can act, overtly and covertly, at their discretion. A Georgian strategy requires a strong rear base, which Azerbaijan provides, not only strategically but also as a source of capital for Georgia. Georgian-Azerbaijani relations are good, and in the long run so is Turkey’s relation with these two countries.

For Azerbaijan, the burning issue is Nagorno-Karabakh. This is not a burning issue for the United States, but the creation of a stable platform in the region is. Armenia, by far the weakest country economically, is allied with the Russians, and it has Russian troops on its territory. Given that the United States has no interest in who governs Nagorno-Karabakh and there is a U.N. resolution on the table favoring Azerbaijan that serves as cover, it is difficult to understand why the United States is effectively neutral. If the United States is committed to Georgia, which is official policy, then it follows that satisfying Azerbaijan and bringing it into a close relationship to the United States would be beneficial to Washington’s ability to manage relations with Russia, Iran and Turkey.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited Azerbaijan a month ago and Clinton visited this weekend. As complex as the politics of this region are to outsiders, they are clearly increasing in importance to the United States. We could put it this way: Bosnia and Kosovo were obscure concepts to the world until they blew up. Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia and Abkhazia are equally obscure now. They will not remain obscure unless strategic measures are taken. It is not clear to us that Clinton was simply making a courtesy call or had strategy on her mind. But the logic of the American position is that it should think strategically about the Caucasus, and in doing so, logic and regional dynamics point to a strong relationship with Azerbaijan.
24260  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: July 07, 2010, 12:56:57 AM
When they belong to Big Brother that is a very distinct question from the one presented here GM.
24261  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: July 06, 2010, 09:55:15 PM
A Hatred That Resists Exorcism
By EDWARD ROTHSTEIN
Published: July 5, 2010
Is there anything left to be said about anti-Semitism? By now surely the outline is clear: how hatred of Jews grew out of early Christianity’s attempts to supplant Judaism; how the demonization of Jews in the Middle Ages turned violent; how the hatred was given its name by a 19th-century German journalist; and how it reached cataclysmic fulfillment in the Holocaust.

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Special Collection and Rare Books/Mu Libraries, University of Missouri
A George Cruikshank illustration of Fagin for “Oliver Twist.”

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Al-Dustour, Jordan
“The Blood of a Palestinian Child, a Gift for Mother’s Day,” a 1994 cartoon in a Jordanian newspaper.

There are other landmarks: the expulsion of the Jews from England, Spain and Portugal; intermittent massacres in Muslim lands; the construction of European ghettos; the pogroms of Russia and Eastern Europe; the Dreyfus Affair; the Nazification of Europe; Stalin’s purges and show trials.

And then, of course, there are the triumphs that act as a kind of remonstrance: the Enlightenment success of Jews in secular European societies, the myriad opportunities in the United States, the birth of modern Hebrew and, after a half-century of settlement, land purchases and institution building, the creation of Israel, whose founding principles incorporated both democratic and Judaic ideals.

Why then during the last six months have new tomes been published devoted to the hatred of Jews? “A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism From Antiquity to the Global Jihad” (Random House) weighs in at about 1,200 pages, a compendium of a career’s research by Robert S. Wistrich, professor of modern Jewish history at Hebrew University in Israel. And more than 800 pages are devoted just to British anti-Semitic history in “Trials of the Diaspora” (Oxford) by Anthony Julius, a learned British lawyer whose clients included Diana, Princess of Wales, and whose book on T.S. Eliot’s anti-Semitism was widely praised for its supple understanding.

Surely this attention is a bit overwrought? Aren’t we in an age that must be “post” all such sentiments — postmodern, post-Auschwitz and post-anti-Semitic? Haven’t many anti-Semitic doctrines (or their consequences) been largely overturned? How many people today would advocate ghettos or extermination? Who still believes that Jews bake Christian children’s blood into matzo? Many countries have forbidden hate speech; hasn’t that enforced a decorous social tact? And while it is difficult to ignore the vulgar hatreds expressed by Muslim protestors or in the newspapers of the Arab world or even among Westerners, aren’t those just frustrated expressions of justifiable political grievances?

Besides, anti-Semitism, we now understand, is a form of racism. Like all forms of group hatred, it is subject to reform and to the modern cure of sensitivity training. We learn about such hatreds in order to exorcise them. It seems every museum exhibition, textbook and children’s story about racism provides a similar moral prescription: tolerance.

So isn’t there something a little tasteless about bringing up anti-Semitism all the time, let alone drumming its theme page after page? Sure, racism may still flourish, but given the modern success of Jews, hasn’t this particular form of it become an anomaly? Or worse, hasn’t the term become a manipulative attempt to deflect judgment? As is often pointed out, criticism of Israel is not necessarily anti-Semitic any more than criticism of any particular Jew is.

But spend some time submerged in these books — by no means a pleasant or an easy task — and these notions recede into irrelevance. Mr. Wistrich’s volume presents itself as an encyclopedic history, and is so full of details and citations, it overwhelms. We hear from a 17th-century Viennese preacher (“After Satan Christians have no greater enemies than the Jews”), Karl Marx (“What is the worldly cult of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly god? Money”) and the Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah (“If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew”).

Mr. Wistrich offers less a history, though, than a contemporary indictment with historical background. This makes his book difficult to read. Its approach is one of cumulative examples culminating in jihadists and their apologists. Its rosterlike style can become tedious but the examples are powerfully dispiriting.

“Trials of the Diaspora” has a similar effect, though Mr. Julius is more focused and analytical, dissecting types of enmity, the nature of anti-Semitic myth and its influence on the greatest examples of English literature. From his analysis, we begin to see too just how different anti-Semitism is from other forms of racism.

Racism attaches negative attributes onto people bearing a particular biological heritage. Such characteristics are passed on; they are inherited. The hatred is focused; the perceived threat can be excised. In a way, racism is a materialist or physical passion: the problem and the solution are concrete.

While anti-Semitism has tapped into racial hatreds in modern times, Mr. Julius and Mr. Wistrich highlight its traditional reliance on conspiracy: the hidden plot. Anti-Semitism isn’t just a matter of asserting unpleasant or reprehensible attributes. It sees the Jew as an antinomian threat, overturning all ethical laws. The Jew works in secret, creating invisible alliances, pulling elaborate strings, undermining society’s foundations. This is why the Protocols of the Elders of Zion has found such a fertile international ground. That 19th-century document purports to be the secret minutes of such a plotting ensemble of Jews. It is the counterfeit confirmation of a long-held belief.

Anti-Semitism is a metaphysical passion, not a materialist one. It doesn’t even require a Jewish presence.

One reason anti-Semites have been so obsessed with the issue of finance in the modern world is that money is the circulatory system of capitalist society. It is mysterious, manipulable: the Jew’s perfect instrument. The Jew, first seen as a theological spoiler, becomes a metaphysical and monetary spoiler. The medieval image of the Jew was related to the vampire, Mr. Julius shows; the modern anti-Semitic vision sees the Jew as a guzzler of a society’s lifeblood.

This amplifies virulence as well: the Jew, for the anti-Semite, is not just a danger, but the greatest danger exerting the greatest powers. In current paradoxical parlance, the Jew is, in essence, a Nazi. The Jew does not just devour a Christian child’s blood, but the blood of all innocent children, and more completely, the blood of all innocents.

Is any evidence needed? Appearances are irrelevant; argument is illusion. What use is visible fact when the power of the Jew is in the web woven below the surface? Jewish autonomy is itself evidence of Jewish threat. Moreover, confrontation requires courage. Anti-Semitism never sees itself as a hatred; it views itself as a revelation. An attack on the Jew is never offensive; it is always defensive. This is precisely how the Nazis portrayed it. It is precisely how Islamist ideology does as well, evident, for example, in the principles and founding documents of Hamas and Hezbollah.

In a recent book, “Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World” (Yale), the historian Jeffrey Herf shows how Nazi propagandists literally taught Arab audiences the language of anti-Semitism through popular radio programs in Arabic. Nazi ideology bears many resemblances to that of contemporary Islamic extremism, some the consequence of careful teaching. That teaching is still present in the Arab world, amplified by political leaders and imams, often annexed to denigrations of Jews taken from Islamic sources

The result, Mr. Julius and Mr. Wistrich recognize, has been one of the most historically noxious forms of anti-Semitic mythology, which has also fed into political debates in the West and cannot be overlooked or easily dismissed. It is easy enough to discern when responsible criticisms of Israel veer into something reprehensible: the structure of anti-Semitic belief is not subtle. There is a wildly exaggerated scale of condemnation, in which extremes of contempt confront a country caricatured as the world’s worst enemy of peace; such attacks (and the use of Nazi analogies) are beyond evidence and beyond pragmatic political debate or protest. Israel’s autonomy — it’s very presence — is the problem. Mr. Julius writes, “Israel is the only state in the world whose legitimacy is widely denied and whose destruction is publicly advocated and threatened; Israelis are the only citizens of a state whose indiscriminate murder is widely considered justifiable.”

But even if we leave aside such manifestations, it is clear enough that anti-Semitism requires much deeper understanding than it usually gets. Last week, for example, Hannah Rosenthal, the United States’ special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, spoke in Kazakhstan, asserting the similarity of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

This is not an uncommon assertion (and cases of unwarranted discrimination are always similar) but Islamophobia is a concept developed within the last two decades by those who wish to elevate Islam’s reputation in the West; anti-Semitism was a concept eagerly embraced and expanded by haters of Jews. One was constructed by a group’s supporters, the other by a group’s enemies.

Moreover, much of what is characterized as Islamophobia today arises out of taking seriously the impassioned claims of doctrinal allegiance made by Islamic terrorist groups and their supporters. Anti-Semitism, though, has nothing to do with any claims at all.

Connections is a critic’s perspective on arts and ideas.
24262  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CCN reporter mourns Hezzie death on: July 06, 2010, 09:09:11 PM
Recently some big mucky muck of Hezbollah died.  I gather some twit reporter at CNN tweeted about her sadness at his death.
24263  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 06, 2010, 09:02:24 PM
Steele is proving to be an ass on many levels, one of which is exhibited here, and should resign.

GM is right.  BO ran on Afpakia being the right war and that we had to get out of Iraq so we would have the bandwidth to focus on Afpakia.  Instead , , , well you already know the story.
24264  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Left Fascist Axis on: July 06, 2010, 03:54:55 PM
July 06, 2010
The Left-Fascist Axis. Again
By James Lewis

We are seeing another Left-fascist axis in our time, recapitulating Stalin's (and worldwide communism's) embrace of Hitler's Germany. The Gaza flotilla crisis was set up by the radical Left (Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, Jodie Evans and other Obama buds), in collusion with Hamas, which is about as fascist as they get. If you doubt it, watch Hamas TV on the MEMRI website. They are the worst. They teach toddlers about the glories of dying for Allah.  Even Fatah thinks Hamas is a throwback to the Dark Ages.


In the Gaza flotilla, the Turks who yelled out "Khaibar! Khaibar!" as they were trying to kill Israeli soldiers, were members of the Turkish branch of Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood. They yelled out "Khaibar!" because that massacre of Jews was Mohammed's own Auschwitz. That doesn't leave any doubt about who they are. Martyrdom is just a means to an end, and that end is "Khaibar." The media always forget to tell us that part.


Words matter, which is why the Left is always making up new words for themselves, to disguise who they really are.  The Left isn't  Communist any more, they are "progressive" -- which leaves the rest of us  back in 1776. "Progressives" always know which way to find "progress," and it always comes down to stomping on the rest of us. Because if you're not "progressive" you must be an enemy of  "progress."   


The radical Left  hasn't changed one smidgen since Stalin. The Left still believes in global totalitarianism. Stalin is dead, but Stalinism is on the march. Listen to the stomping of their boots.


The Left is a throwback to all the ancient utopian cults, the Mayans, Genghis Khan and the Yellow Emperor of China, Idi Amin Dada and Robert Mugabe. It's the ancient Egyptian priesthood, which was also a cult run by a totalitarian clique. In ancient Egypt you had to die to get to utopia, but the psychology is always the same.  Utopian cults always appeal to suckers. They are a very nasty part of the human condition. But there's nothing new there, and they are certainly not "progressive." They are a throwback.


Obama doesn't look like a normal American because he is a High Priest. Harry Truman wouldn't recognize him, but King Tut would. Obama has all the arrogance and ignorance of a Pharaoh.


So here are two ways to simplify the daily media circus. First, the media are the cult of the Left, trying to twist your mind. The "Left" equals global totalitarianism, which is Stalinism, which is Leninism, which is radical feminism, which is the hateful racism of the Reverend Wright and Louis Farrakhan.  Same story, different labels. Keep it simple.


Whatever mask they try on, radical leftists are internationalists -- meaning that they are against America as a sovereign nation. That's Obama's real beef against us, and it's why he will never enforce our borders. Sure, leftists are all "patriots" in their own minds, because they worship the prairie flowers and the pretty mountains.  And they all despise MacDonald's hamburgers and eat arugula, because at bottom they are the most amazing snobs.  America is just one little piece of Planet Gaia, where everybody will live in peace and harmony because Obama or Algore will rule us with an iron fist. It's all for our own good.


So, the Left hasn't changed since ancient times. That's why Harvard has a "speech code," courtesy of the likes of Elena Kagan and the PC Commissars. People can't be trusted to say what's on their minds.  They might hurt somebody's feelings. Speech codes are ancient ways to control people.  All the prehistoric little Hitlers had speech taboos.


The second useful word is "fascist." Academics spend their lives trying to define that word. But if  you believe in killing people until they surrender to your totalitarian hokum; if you want to enslave women, kids, Jews, Christians, nonconformist Muslims (like the Bahai'is), gays, Africans in the Sudan, Marxists (yes), Trotskyites, liberals, and anybody who thinks the US Constitution is a good idea, you're a fascist. Simple, reasonable definition.


So we are seeing the Hitler-Stalin Pact, Take 2. The motivation is identical. These people  hate the modern world, just like the Nazis and Lenin did.  Hitler wanted to go back to the Nordic gods. His utopia was in a fantasy past. Lenin placed his utopia in the distant future. If you're a coercive utopian you have to dream of  a long-ago  past or a misty future, as long as it's impossible to see what it's really like.


Today the Saudis want to go back to Mohammed in the 7th century, and the Twelvers in Iran want to go back to the Hidden Mahdi in the 11th century. They all want to make utopia by force and terror. 


The Left-fascists are intolerant of individualism, liberty, free speech and electoral legitimacy, which is why they always try to sabotage constitutional government. Kagan on the Supreme Court. Obama as Pharaoh in the Oval. Why bow down to the King of Saudi and the Emperor of Japan? They are both medieval reactionaries. Obama bowed down to them, but he was really giving the high sign to America. That's Obama's schtick.


We are seeing a re-run of the Hitler-Stalin Pact of 1938. That Left-Fascist alliance fell apart when Hitler flipped and decided to send tanks into Poland and Russia instead.


It is what Freud called a "repetition compulsion." It happens over and over again, because these people don't live in reality. That's why they are dangerous. They can never figure out what went wrong last time, so they keep trying it again.  They live in egomaniacal fantasies, and real people keep getting in their way. Off with their heads!


The last time a Left-Fascist Axis rose to power it led to World War Two and the Cold War. Maybe the only way to win is to make them fight each other. That's how we came out of it before.


I don't know how decent people will prevail this time. I think we will, because we have done so over the centuries. But we are in another Long War with some real bad hot spots. The enemy today is both the Left and the fascists.


Read the news and you'll see it every day.


They're baaaaack!

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/07/the_leftfascist_axis_again.html at July 06, 2010 - 02:57:38 PM CDT
24265  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Hall of Shame on: July 06, 2010, 12:18:22 PM
I suspect this was part of a governmental deal for oil.
24266  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Southern Pulse on: July 06, 2010, 12:17:35 PM
Mexico 

Mexican State and Ministerial Police raided a safe house that allegedly belonged to Los Zetas in Las Hortensias neighborhood of Tapachula, Chiapas, on 30 June 2010. Authorities seized two armored vehicles, fragmentation grenades, and multiple high caliber weapons. An explosive device was dismantled.  (Clearly these were bought in some Texas gun store , , ,)

Mexico 

Narco banners signed by Carteles Unidos (United Cartels) were posted on 27 June 2010 in select areas of Guadalajara, Jalisco. These messages, directed to the Governor of Jalisco, read: "With all due respect Mr. Governor, this information is true, let us kill all these criminals that have dismembered innocent people in our State.”
24267  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Turkey on: July 06, 2010, 10:38:36 AM
BTW, for those not familiar with Turkey or POTH (Pravda on the Hudson a.k.a. The NY Times)  "socially conservative" in the article of the previous post is POTH's term of the moment for "Islamist".

With this in mind, Turkey's demand for Israel's apology for the flotilla brouhaha when it really supported creating an interantional incidennt to burnish its credentials in the Arab world ()see GM's post this morning in the Israel thread) and its move east as described in the POTH piece is understood.

24268  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: July 06, 2010, 10:30:47 AM
Yet the market is strongly up this morning.   huh
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The Washington Post babbled again today about Obama inheriting a huge deficit from Bush. Amazingly enough,...... a lot of people swallow this nonsense. So once more, a short civics lesson.    

Budgets do not come from the White House. They come from Congress, and the party that controlled Congress since January 2007 is the Democratic Party. They controlled the budget process for FY 2008 and FY 2009, as well as FY 2010 and FY 2011. In that first year, they had to contend with George Bush, which caused them to compromise on spending, when Bush somewhat belatedly got tough on spending increases.
For FY 2009 though, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid bypassed George Bush entirely, passing continuing resolutions to keep government running until Barack Obama could take office. At that time, they passed a massive omnibus spending bill to complete the FY 2009 budgets.  

And where was Barack Obama during this time? He was a member of that very Congress that passed all of these massive spending bills, and he signed the omnibus bill as President to complete FY 2009. Let's remember what the deficits looked like during that period:    (below)

GRAPH

If the Democrats inherited any deficit, it was the FY 2007 deficit, the last of the Republican budgets.  That deficit was the lowest in five years, and the fourth straight decline in deficit spending. After that, Democrats in Congress took control of spending, and that includes Barack Obama, who voted for the budgets. If Obama inherited anything, he inherited it from himself.
In a nutshell, what Obama is saying is I inherited a deficit that I voted for and then I voted to expand that deficit four-fold since January 20th.  
(remember that the federal government’s fiscal year runs from October 1st of the preceding calendar year to September 30th of the actual calendar year.  So, FY 2007 ran from October 1, 2006 to September 30, 2007.  The budget “deemed passed” by the last House bill is for FY 2011.)

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Not sure where to put this one, but here is as good a place as any:

“If you really want to see when an empire is getting vulnerable, the big giveaway is when the costs of servicing the debt exceed the cost of the defense budget,” Niall Ferguson said. Ferguson also predicts that will happen in the U.S. within the next six years because politicians lack urgency over the crisis to come.
24269  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH fluff piece on Turkey on: July 06, 2010, 05:31:15 AM
Turning East, Turkey Asserts Economic Power
By LANDON THOMAS Jr.
Published: July 5, 2010

 
ISTANBUL — For decades, Turkey has been told it was not ready to join the European Union — that it was too backward economically to qualify for membership in the now 27-nation club. That argument may no longer hold.  Today, Turkey is a fast-rising economic power, with a core of internationally competitive companies turning the youthful nation into an entrepreneurial hub, tapping cash-rich export markets in Russia and the Middle East while attracting billions of investment dollars in return.

For many in aging and debt-weary Europe, which will be lucky to eke out a little more than 1 percent growth this year, Turkey’s economic renaissance — last week it reported a stunning 11.4 percent expansion for the first quarter, second only to China — poses a completely new question: who needs the other one more — Europe or Turkey?

“The old powers are losing power, both economically and intellectually,” said Vural Ak, 42, the founder and chief executive of Intercity, the largest car leasing company in Turkey. “And Turkey is now strong enough to stand by itself.”

It is an astonishing transformation for an economy that just 10 years ago had a budget deficit of 16 percent of gross domestic product and inflation of 72 percent. It is one that lies at the root of the rise to power of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has combined social conservatism with fiscally cautious economic policies to make his Justice and Development Party, or A.K.P., the most dominant political movement in Turkey since the early days of the republic.

So complete has this evolution been that Turkey is now closer to fulfilling the criteria for adopting the euro — if it ever does get into the European Union — than most of the troubled economies already in the euro zone. It is well under the 60 percent ceiling on government debt (49 percent of G.D.P.) and could well get its annual budget deficit below the 3 percent benchmark next year. That leaves the reduction of inflation, now running at 8 percent, as the only remaining major policy goal.

“This is a dream world,” said Husnu M. Ozyegin, who became the richest man in Turkey when he sold his bank, Finansbank, to the National Bank of Greece in 2006. Sitting on the rooftop of his five-star Swiss Hotel, he was looking at his BlackBerry, scrolling down the most recent credit-default spreads for euro zone countries. He still could not quite believe what he was seeing.

“Greece, 980. Italy, 194 and here is Turkey at 192,” he said with a grunt of satisfaction. “If you had told me 10 years ago that Turkey’s financial risk would equal that of Italy I would have said you were crazy.”

Having sold at the top to Greece, Mr. Ozyegin is now putting his money to work in the east. His new bank, Eurocredit, gets 35 percent of its profit from its Russian operations.

Mr. Ozyegin represents the old guard of Turkey’s business elite that has embraced the Erdogan government for its economic successes. Less well known but just as important to Turkey’s future development has been the rapid rise of socially conservative business leaders who, under the A.K.P., have seen their businesses thrive by tapping Turkey’s flourishing consumer and export markets.

Mr. Ak, the car leasing executive, exemplifies this new business elite of entrepreneurs. He drives a Ferrari to work, but he is also a practicing Muslim who does not drink and has no qualms in talking about his faith. He is not bound to the 20th-century secular consensus among the business, military and judicial elite that fought long and hard to keep Islam removed from public life.

On the wall behind his desk is a framed passage in Arabic from the Koran, and he recently financed an Islamic studies program just outside Washington at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., where Mr. Erdogan recently spoke.

Whether he is embracing Islam as a set of principles to govern his life or Israeli irrigation technology for his sideline almond and walnut growing business, Mr. Ak represents the flexible dynamism — both social and economic — that has allowed Turkey to expand the commercial ties with Israel, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria that now underpin its ambition to become the dominant political actor in the region.

Other prominent members of this newer group of business executives are Mustafa Latif Topbas, the chairman and a founder of the discount-shopping chain BIM, the country’s fastest-growing retail chain, and Murat Ulker, who runs the chocolate and cookie manufacturer Yildiz Holding.

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With around $11 billion in sales, Yildiz Holding supplies its branded food products not just to the Turkish market but to 110 markets globally. It has set up factories in Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Ukraine and now owns the Godiva brand.

The two billionaires have deep ties to the prime minister — Mr. Erdogan once owned a company that distributed Ulker-branded products, and Mr. Topbas is a close adviser — but the trade opportunities in this part of the world are plentiful enough that a boost from the government is now no longer needed.
In June, Turkish exports grew by 13 percent compared with the previous year, with much of the demand coming from countries on Turkey’s border or close to it, like Iraq, Iran and Russia. With their immature manufacturing bases, they are eager buyers of Turkish cookies, automobiles and flat-screen televisions.

This year, for example, the country’s flagship carrier, Turkish Airlines, will fly to as many cities in Iraq (three) as it does to France. Some of its fastest growing routes are to Libya, Syria and Russia, Turkey’s largest trading partner, where it flies to seven cities. That is second only to Germany, which has a large population of immigrant Turks.

In Iran, Turkish companies are building fertilizer plants, making diapers and female sanitary products. In Iraq, the Acarsan Group, based in the southeastern town of Gaziantep, just won a bid to build five hospitals. And Turkish construction companies have a collective order book of over $30 billion, second only to China.

On the flip side, the Azerbaijani government owns Turkey’s major petrochemicals company and Saudi Arabia has been a big investor in the country’s growing Islamic finance sector.

No one here disputes that these trends give Mr. Erdogan the legitimacy — both at home and abroad — to lash out at Israel and to cut deals with Iran over its nuclear energy, moves that have strained ties with its chief ally and longtime supporter, the United States. (Turkey has exported $1.6 billion worth of goods to Iran and Syria this year, $200 million more than to the United States.)

But some worry that the muscle flexing may have gone too far — perhaps the result of tightening election polls at home — and that the aggressive tone with Israel may jeopardize the defining tenet of Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk: peace at home, peace in the world.

“The foreign policy of Turkey is good if it brings self-pride,” said Ferda Yildiz, the chairman of Basari Holding, a conglomerate that itself is in negotiations with the Syrian government to set up a factory in Syria that would make electricity meters.

Even so, he warns that it would be a mistake to become too caught up in an eastward expansion if it comes at the expense of the country’s longstanding inclination to look to the West for innovation and inspiration.

“It takes centuries to make relations and minutes to destroy them,” he said.
24270  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NASA, Space programs on: July 06, 2010, 05:14:22 AM
I posted this yesterday in the Hall of Shame thread, and use it here today to kick off this thread.

Amongst the long list of areas of strong disagreement I have with Obama is what he has done/is doing with US efforts in space.  My understanding is that our edge in space forms a essential cornerstone of our military strength via our abilities to look down, to communicate, , , and other matters.  This is why the Chinese are so intent on killer satellite technology (as well as hacking our military computer networks)-- so they can blind us and incapacitate our communications.

That our CinC has selected policies that leave us having to pay the Russians to give us a ride into space (on top of depending on them as a supply route to Afghanistan) is jaw dropping to the point of wondering about the man's sanity , , , or patriotism.   I gather he now is absolving the US of any intention of acting independently in outer space as well. 

With regard to the following, Krauthammer spoke of "PC psycho babble".  He is right:
==============

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/obamas-new-mission-for-nasa-reach-out-to-muslim-world-97785979.html

Obama’s new mission for NASA: Reach out to Muslim world
By: Byron York
Chief Political Correspondent
07/05/10 2:50 AM EDT

In a far-reaching restatement of goals for the nation’s space agency, NASA administrator Charles Bolden says President Obama has ordered him to pursue three new objectives: to “re-inspire children” to study science and math, to “expand our international relationships,” and to “reach out to the Muslim world.”  Of those three goals, Bolden said in a recent interview with al-Jazeera, the mission to reach out to Muslims is “perhaps foremost,” because it will help Islamic nations “feel good” about their scientific accomplishments.

In the same interview, Bolden also said the United States, which first sent men to the moon in 1969, is no longer capable of reaching beyond low earth orbit without help from other nations.

Bolden made the statements during a recent trip to the Middle East.  He told al-Jazeera that in the wake of the president’s speech in Cairo last year, the American space agency is now pursuing “a new beginning of the relationship between the United States and the Muslim world.”  Then:
When I became the NASA Administrator — before I became the NASA Administrator — [Obama] charged me with three things: One was he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math, he wanted me to expand our international relationships, and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.

Later in the interview, Bolden discussed NASA’s goal of greater international cooperation in space exploration.  He said the United States, more than 40 years after the first moon mission, cannot reach beyond earth’s orbit today without assistance from abroad:
In his message in Cairo, [Obama] talked about expanding our international outreach, expanding our international involvement.  We’re not going to go anywhere beyond low earth orbit as a single entity.  The United States can’t do it, China can’t do it — no single nation is going to go to a place like Mars alone.

Bolden’s trip included a June 15 speech at the American University in Cairo.  In that speech, he said in the past NASA worked mostly with countries that are capable of space exploration.  But that, too, has changed in light of Obama’s Cairo initiative.  “He asked NASA to change…by reaching out to ‘non-traditional’ partners and strengthening our cooperation in the Middle East, North Africa, Southeast Asia and in particular in Muslim-majority nations,” Bolden said.  “NASA has embraced this charge.”

“NASA is not only a space exploration agency,” Bolden concluded, “but also an earth improvement agency.”




Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/obamas-new-mission-for-nasa-reach-out-to-muslim-world-97785979.html#ixzz0spO08kib
24271  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Baraq Hussein Obama on: July 05, 2010, 06:24:54 PM
Second entry of the day:

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/obamas-new-mission-for-nasa-reach-out-to-muslim-world-97785979.html

Obama’s new mission for NASA: Reach out to Muslim world
By: Byron York
Chief Political Correspondent
07/05/10 2:50 AM EDT

In a far-reaching restatement of goals for the nation’s space agency, NASA administrator Charles Bolden says President Obama has ordered him to pursue three new objectives: to “re-inspire children” to study science and math, to “expand our international relationships,” and to “reach out to the Muslim world.”  Of those three goals, Bolden said in a recent interview with al-Jazeera, the mission to reach out to Muslims is “perhaps foremost,” because it will help Islamic nations “feel good” about their scientific accomplishments.

In the same interview, Bolden also said the United States, which first sent men to the moon in 1969, is no longer capable of reaching beyond low earth orbit without help from other nations.

Bolden made the statements during a recent trip to the Middle East.  He told al-Jazeera that in the wake of the president’s speech in Cairo last year, the American space agency is now pursuing “a new beginning of the relationship between the United States and the Muslim world.”  Then:
When I became the NASA Administrator — before I became the NASA Administrator — [Obama] charged me with three things: One was he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math, he wanted me to expand our international relationships, and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.

Later in the interview, Bolden discussed NASA’s goal of greater international cooperation in space exploration.  He said the United States, more than 40 years after the first moon mission, cannot reach beyond earth’s orbit today without assistance from abroad:
In his message in Cairo, [Obama] talked about expanding our international outreach, expanding our international involvement.  We’re not going to go anywhere beyond low earth orbit as a single entity.  The United States can’t do it, China can’t do it — no single nation is going to go to a place like Mars alone.

Bolden’s trip included a June 15 speech at the American University in Cairo.  In that speech, he said in the past NASA worked mostly with countries that are capable of space exploration.  But that, too, has changed in light of Obama’s Cairo initiative.  “He asked NASA to change…by reaching out to ‘non-traditional’ partners and strengthening our cooperation in the Middle East, North Africa, Southeast Asia and in particular in Muslim-majority nations,” Bolden said.  “NASA has embraced this charge.”

“NASA is not only a space exploration agency,” Bolden concluded, “but also an earth improvement agency.”




Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/obamas-new-mission-for-nasa-reach-out-to-muslim-world-97785979.html#ixzz0spO08kib
24272  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Kagan on: July 05, 2010, 02:23:13 PM
Wow.  Good stuff with the Questions for Kagan too.
24273  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Shocking, absolutely shocking development on: July 05, 2010, 10:42:26 AM
Doctor: 'Dying' Lockerbie bomber may live 10 years

'Embarrassing that he's gone on so long,' says expert who gave 3-month prognosis


msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 7/4/2010 7:03:03 AM



LONDON — A doctor who said the man convicted of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 had only three months to live now says the Libyan could survive another 10 years, London's Sunday Times reported.

Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, who was convicted of 270 counts of murder for being behind the 1988 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, was released on compassionate grounds in 2009, after doctors said he only had a few months to live.

Specialist Karol Sikora told the newspaper it was "embarrassing" that al-Megrahi, who has prostate cancer and received a hero's welcome upon his return to Libya, had managed to outlive the prognosis.

The report is sure to re-ignite accusations that Scottish authorities bowed to pressure from Libya and the British government to release al-Megrahi, who American officials accuse of being an officer of the Libyan intelligence service.

"There is always a chance that he would live for 10 years ... but it's very unusual," Sikora told the Times.

"There was a 50 percent chance that he would die in three months," he added, "but there was also a 50 percent chance that he would live longer."

While at the time of his release the Scottish government sited "firm consensus" among medical experts over al-Megrahi's condition, that agreement does not appear to exist, according to the newspaper.

Eight people involved in the case now "suggest" that the Scottish government and Libyan officials selectively chose their information, the Sunday Times reported.

According to an earlier Sunday Times report, a former British justice secretary wrote to his counterpart in Scotland that it was "in the overwhelming interests of the United Kingdom" to make it possible for al-Megrahi to return to Libya.

The letter was written in 2007 during stalled negotiations over a BP oil exploration contract worth billions of dollars.

The Scottish government said at the time of the release in August that "life expectancy of less than three months" could make a prisoner eligible for release under compassionate grounds.

Sikora, who was paid 200 pounds (about $304) an hour by the Libyan government for his opinion, told the newspaper that there was always a chance that the Libyan would live longer than three months, but admitted that it was "embarrassing that he's gone on for so long."

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38084497...d_news-europe/
24274  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post: The Brief on: July 05, 2010, 10:33:53 AM
"At the establishment of our constitutions, the judiciary bodies were supposed to be the most helpless and harmless members of the government. Experience, however, soon showed in what way they were to become the most dangerous." --Thomas Jefferson

Political Futures

The Kagan Show Hearings"[In her confirmation hearings last week, Elena] Kagan did her best to say nothing, and her best was sufficient unto the day. She reduced the vapid to the insipid, as in an exchange with Sen. Tom Coburn over the limits of the Constitution's Commerce Clause -- written by the Founders to limit the power of the federal government and distorted by liberals, both on the Supreme Court and off, to enable the feds to expand the nanny state without limit. When Mr. Coburn asked whether Congress could enact a law requiring Americans to eat three fruits and three vegetables a day, Mzz Kagan replied: 'That sounds like a dumb law.' Mr. Coburn was trying to get at her view of the Commerce Clause, and got a wisecrack. Mzz Kagan then added that the courts would be wrong to strike down a dumb law just because it was dumb. What's not at all dumb about the question is that President Obama is relying on the Commerce Clause to defend his own dumb idea, the health care 'reform.' But not to laugh. The left is always eager to defend its dumb ideas. ... Since Mzz Kagan has never been a judge, we don't have a judicial record to measure her by, and we must rely on her vague answers to vapid questions and can only surmise, suppose and speculate. She sounds like a reliable liberal, ready to stand up for the law of the nanny, enforced by the rod of the state. We won't know for sure until it's time to bend over." --Washington Times editor emeritus Wesley Pruden

For the Record
"As the great Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, his job was 'to see that the game is played according to the rules whether I like them or not.' If the public doesn't like the rules, or the consequences to which the rules lead, then the public can change the rules via the ballot box. But that is very different from judges changing the rules by verbal sleight of hand, or by talking about 'weighing of the constitutional right to bear arms' against other considerations, as Justice Breyer puts it. That's not his job. Not if 'we the people' are to govern ourselves, as the Constitution says. As for the merits or demerits of gun control laws themselves, a vast amount of evidence, both from the United States and from other countries, shows that keeping guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens does not keep guns out of the hands of criminals. It is not uncommon for a tightening of gun control laws to be followed by an increase -- not a decrease -- in gun crimes, including murder. Conversely, there have been places and times where an increase in gun ownership has been followed by a reduction in crimes in general and murder in particular. Unfortunately, the media intelligentsia tend to favor gun control laws, so a lot of hard facts about the futility, or the counterproductive consequences of such laws, never reach the public through the media. ... The media, like Justice Breyer, might do well to reflect on what is their job and what is the voting public's job." --economist Thomas Sowell


Culture
"[In] the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision ... in the case of Christian Legal Society v. Martinez (UC Hastings) ... [the] court ruled that a public university is not required to subsidize campus groups it considers discriminatory. The Christian Legal Society excludes homosexuals and non-Christians. But isn't the court allowing the university to discriminate against the beliefs of the Christian group, especially if the group is now required to admit people who violate teachings central to its faith and mission statement? In writing for the majority, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the school's policy, which requires student organizations to be open to everyone to qualify for official status, 'ensures that no Hastings student is forced to fund a group that would reject her as a member.' I wonder if this would apply to a member of CLS if they applied for membership in the gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender club, or anything else that may come down the pike. Will campus Jewish groups be required to admit Christians? Maybe the football team can bring a discrimination suit against the school for not allowing them to shower with the women's lacrosse team. The court's ruling in the CLS case is no less far-fetched. Student activity fees have long subsidized campus organizations whose beliefs and practices no doubt offend and are counter to the beliefs and practices of other students. The way the legal game is played, the beliefs of Christian groups can be regularly offended, but gay and other groups favored by the secular left enjoy special status from academic elites. This is what passes for pluralism, tolerance and academic freedom on college campuses." --columnist Cal Thomas
24275  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: July 05, 2010, 10:20:50 AM
Grateful for a family game of lacrosse.

Grateful to be an American.
24276  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Michael Yon on Journalism on: July 05, 2010, 10:14:13 AM
http://www.michaelyon-online.com/even-as-the-world-watched-ii-tasting-the-kool-aid.htm
24277  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: July 05, 2010, 01:14:25 AM
http://www.usflag.org/more2.html
24278  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Americans who risked everything on: July 04, 2010, 01:22:59 PM
The Americans Who Risked Everything
 

My father, Rush H. Limbaugh, Jr., delivered this oft-requested address locally a number of times, but it had never before appeared in print until it appeared in The Limbaugh Letter. My dad was renowned for his oratory skills and for his original mind; this speech is, I think, a superb demonstration of both. I will always be grateful to him for instilling in me a passion for the ideas and lives of America's Founders, as well as a deep appreciation for the inspirational power of words which you will see evidenced here:
 
"Our Lives, Our Fortunes, Our Sacred Honor"
 

It was a glorious morning. The sun was shining and the wind was from the southeast. Up especially early, a tall bony, redheaded young Virginian found time to buy a new thermometer, for which he paid three pounds, fifteen shillings. He also bought gloves for Martha, his wife, who was ill at home.

Thomas Jefferson arrived early at the statehouse. The temperature was 72.5 degrees and the horseflies weren't nearly so bad at that hour. It was a lovely room, very large, with gleaming white walls. The chairs were comfortable. Facing the single door were two brass fireplaces, but they would not be used today.

The moment the door was shut, and it was always kept locked, the room became an oven. The tall windows were shut, so that loud quarreling voices could not be heard by passersby. Small openings atop the windows allowed a slight stir of air, and also a large number of horseflies. Jefferson records that "the horseflies were dexterous in finding necks, and the silk of stockings was nothing to them." All discussing was punctuated by the slap of hands on necks.

On the wall at the back, facing the president's desk, was a panoply -- consisting of a drum, swords, and banners seized from Fort Ticonderoga the previous year. Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold had captured the place, shouting that they were taking it "in the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!"

Now Congress got to work, promptly taking up an emergency measure about which there was discussion but no dissension. "Resolved: That an application be made to the Committee of Safety of Pennsylvania for a supply of flints for the troops at New York."

Then Congress transformed itself into a committee of the whole. The Declaration of Independence was read aloud once more, and debate resumed. Though Jefferson was the best writer of all of them, he had been somewhat verbose. Congress hacked the excess away. They did a good job, as a side-by-side comparison of the rough draft and the final text shows. They cut the phrase "by a self-assumed power." "Climb" was replaced by "must read," then "must" was eliminated, then the whole sentence, and soon the whole paragraph was cut. Jefferson groaned as they continued what he later called "their depredations." "Inherent and inalienable rights" came out "certain unalienable rights," and to this day no one knows who suggested the elegant change.

A total of 86 alterations were made. Almost 500 words were eliminated, leaving 1,337. At last, after three days of wrangling, the document was put to a vote.

Here in this hall Patrick Henry had once thundered: "I am no longer a Virginian, sir, but an American." But today the loud, sometimes bitter argument stilled, and without fanfare the vote was taken from north to south by colonies, as was the custom. On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted.

There were no trumpets blown. No one stood on his chair and cheered. The afternoon was waning and Congress had no thought of delaying the full calendar of routine business on its hands. For several hours they worked on many other problems before adjourning for the day.
 
 
Much To Lose

What kind of men were the 56 signers who adopted the Declaration of Independence and who, by their signing, committed an act of treason against the crown? To each of you, the names Franklin, Adams, Hancock and Jefferson are almost as familiar as household words. Most of us, however, know nothing of the other signers. Who were they? What happened to them?

I imagine that many of you are somewhat surprised at the names not there: George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Patrick Henry. All were elsewhere.

Ben Franklin was the only really old man. Eighteen were under 40; three were in their 20s. Of the 56 almost half - 24 - were judges and lawyers. Eleven were merchants, nine were landowners and farmers, and the remaining 12 were doctors, ministers, and politicians.

With only a few exceptions, such as Samuel Adams of Massachusetts, these were men of substantial property. All but two had families. The vast majority were men of education and standing in their communities. They had economic security as few men had in the 18th Century.

Each had more to lose from revolution than he had to gain by it. John Hancock, one of the richest men in America, already had a price of 500 pounds on his head. He signed in enormous letters so that his Majesty could now read his name without glasses and could now double the reward. Ben Franklin wryly noted: "Indeed we must all hang together, otherwise we shall most assuredly hang separately."

Fat Benjamin Harrison of Virginia told tiny Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts: "With me it will all be over in a minute, but you, you will be dancing on air an hour after I am gone."

These men knew what they risked. The penalty for treason was death by hanging. And remember, a great British fleet was already at anchor in New York Harbor.
 
They were sober men. There were no dreamy-eyed intellectuals or draft card burners here. They were far from hot-eyed fanatics yammering for an explosion. They simply asked for the status quo. It was change they resisted. It was equality with the mother country they desired. It was taxation with representation they sought. They were all conservatives, yet they rebelled.

It was principle, not property, that had brought these men to Philadelphia. Two of them became presidents of the United States. Seven of them became state governors. One died in office as vice president of the United States. Several would go on to be U.S. Senators. One, the richest man in America, in 1828 founded the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. One, a delegate from Philadelphia, was the only real poet, musician and philosopher of the signers. (It was he, Francis Hopkinson not Betsy Ross who designed the United States flag.)

Richard Henry Lee, a delegate from Virginia, had introduced the resolution to adopt the Declaration of Independence in June of 1776. He was prophetic in his concluding remarks: "Why then sir, why do we longer delay? Why still deliberate? Let this happy day give birth to an American Republic. Let her arise not to devastate and to conquer but to reestablish the reign of peace and law.

"The eyes of Europe are fixed upon us. She demands of us a living example of freedom that may exhibit a contrast in the felicity of the citizen to the ever-increasing tyranny which desolates her polluted shores. She invites us to prepare an asylum where the unhappy may find solace, and the persecuted repost.

"If we are not this day wanting in our duty, the names of the American Legislatures of 1776 will be placed by posterity at the side of all of those whose memory has been and ever will be dear to virtuous men and good citizens."

Though the resolution was formally adopted July 4, it was not until July 8 that two of the states authorized their delegates to sign, and it was not until August 2 that the signers met at Philadelphia to actually put their names to the Declaration.

William Ellery, delegate from Rhode Island, was curious to see the signers' faces as they committed this supreme act of personal courage. He saw some men sign quickly, "but in no face was he able to discern real fear." Stephan Hopkins, Ellery's colleague from Rhode Island, was a man past 60. As he signed with a shaking pen, he declared: "My hand trembles, but my heart does not."
 
 
 
"Most Glorious Service"

Even before the list was published, the British marked down every member of Congress suspected of having put his name to treason. All of them became the objects of vicious manhunts. Some were taken. Some, like Jefferson, had narrow escapes. All who had property or families near British strongholds suffered.

· Francis Lewis, New York delegate saw his home plundered -- and his estates in what is now Harlem -- completely destroyed by British Soldiers. Mrs. Lewis was captured and treated with great brutality. Though she was later exchanged for two British prisoners through the efforts of Congress, she died from the effects of her abuse.

· William Floyd, another New York delegate, was able to escape with his wife and children across Long Island Sound to Connecticut, where they lived as refugees without income for seven years. When they came home they found a devastated ruin.

· Philips Livingstone had all his great holdings in New York confiscated and his family driven out of their home. Livingstone died in 1778 still working in Congress for the cause.

· Louis Morris, the fourth New York delegate, saw all his timber, crops, and livestock taken. For seven years he was barred from his home and family.

· John Hart of Trenton, New Jersey, risked his life to return home to see his dying wife. Hessian soldiers rode after him, and he escaped in the woods. While his wife lay on her deathbed, the soldiers ruined his farm and wrecked his homestead. Hart, 65, slept in caves and woods as he was hunted across the countryside. When at long last, emaciated by hardship, he was able to sneak home, he found his wife had already been buried, and his 13 children taken away. He never saw them again. He died a broken man in 1779, without ever finding his family.

· Dr. John Witherspoon, signer, was president of the College of New Jersey, later called Princeton. The British occupied the town of Princeton, and billeted troops in the college. They trampled and burned the finest college library in the country.
 
· Judge Richard Stockton, another New Jersey delegate signer, had rushed back to his estate in an effort to evacuate his wife and children. The family found refuge with friends, but a Tory sympathizer betrayed them. Judge Stockton was pulled from bed in the night and brutally beaten by the arresting soldiers. Thrown into a common jail, he was deliberately starved. Congress finally arranged for Stockton's parole, but his health was ruined. The judge was released as an invalid, when he could no longer harm the British cause. He returned home to find his estate looted and did not live to see the triumph of the Revolution. His family was forced to live off charity.

· Robert Morris, merchant prince of Philadelphia, delegate and signer, met Washington's appeals and pleas for money year after year. He made and raised arms and provisions which made it possible for Washington to cross the Delaware at Trenton. In the process he lost 150 ships at sea, bleeding his own fortune and credit almost dry.

· George Clymer, Pennsylvania signer, escaped with his family from their home, but their property was completely destroyed by the British in the Germantown and Brandywine campaigns.

· Dr. Benjamin Rush, also from Pennsylvania, was forced to flee to Maryland. As a heroic surgeon with the army, Rush had several narrow escapes.

· John Martin, a Tory in his views previous to the debate, lived in a strongly loyalist area of Pennsylvania. When he came out for independence, most of his neighbors and even some of his relatives ostracized him. He was a sensitive and troubled man, and many believed this action killed him. When he died in 1777, his last words to his tormentors were: "Tell them that they will live to see the hour when they shall acknowledge it [the signing] to have been the most glorious service that I have ever rendered to my country."

· William Ellery, Rhode Island delegate, saw his property and home burned to the ground.
 
 
· Thomas Lynch, Jr., South Carolina delegate, had his health broken from privation and exposures while serving as a company commander in the military. His doctors ordered him to seek a cure in the West Indies and on the voyage, he and his young bride were drowned at sea.

· Edward Rutledge, Arthur Middleton, and Thomas Heyward, Jr., the other three South Carolina signers, were taken by the British in the siege of Charleston. They were carried as prisoners of war to St. Augustine, Florida, where they were singled out for indignities. They were exchanged at the end of the war, the British in the meantime having completely devastated their large landholdings and estates.

· Thomas Nelson, signer of Virginia, was at the front in command of the Virginia military forces. With British General Charles Cornwallis in Yorktown, fire from 70 heavy American guns began to destroy Yorktown piece by piece. Lord Cornwallis and his staff moved their headquarters into Nelson's palatial home. While American cannonballs were making a shambles of the town, the house of Governor Nelson remained untouched. Nelson turned in rage to the American gunners and asked, "Why do you spare my home?" They replied, "Sir, out of respect to you." Nelson cried, "Give me the cannon!" and fired on his magnificent home himself, smashing it to bits. But Nelson's sacrifice was not quite over. He had raised $2 million for the Revolutionary cause by pledging his own estates. When the loans came due, a newer peacetime Congress refused to honor them, and Nelson's property was forfeited. He was never reimbursed. He died, impoverished, a few years later at the age of 50.
 
 
 
Lives, Fortunes, Honor

Of those 56 who signed the Declaration of Independence, nine died of wounds or hardships during the war. Five were captured and imprisoned, in each case with brutal treatment. Several lost wives, sons or entire families. One lost his 13 children. Two wives were brutally treated. All were at one time or another the victims of manhunts and driven from their homes. Twelve signers had their homes completely burned. Seventeen lost everything they owned. Yet not one defected or went back on his pledged word. Their honor, and the nation they sacrificed so much to create is still intact.

And, finally, there is the New Jersey signer, Abraham Clark.

He gave two sons to the officer corps in the Revolutionary Army. They were captured and sent to that infamous British prison hulk afloat in New York Harbor known as the hell ship Jersey, where 11,000 American captives were to die. The younger Clarks were treated with a special brutality because of their father. One was put in solitary and given no food. With the end almost in sight, with the war almost won, no one could have blamed Abraham Clark for acceding to the British request when they offered him his sons' lives if he would recant and come out for the King and Parliament. The utter despair in this man's heart, the anguish in his very soul, must reach out to each one of us down through 200 years with his answer: "No."

The 56 signers of the Declaration Of Independence proved by their every deed that they made no idle boast when they composed the most magnificent curtain line in history. "And for the support of this Declaration with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."
 
 
My friends, I know you have a copy of the Declaration of Independence somewhere around the house - in an old history book (newer ones may well omit it), an encyclopedia, or one of those artificially aged "parchments" we all got in school years ago. I suggest that each of you take the time this month to read through the text of the Declaration, one of the most noble and beautiful political documents in human history.

There is no more profound sentence than this: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness..."

These are far more than mere poetic words. The underlying ideas that infuse every sentence of this treatise have sustained this nation for more than two centuries. They were forged in the crucible of great sacrifice. They are living words that spring from and satisfy the deepest cries for liberty in the human spirit.

"Sacred honor" isn't a phrase we use much these days, but every American life is touched by the bounty of this, the Founders' legacy. It is freedom, tested by blood, and watered with tears.

- Rush Limbaugh III
 
 
24279  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The Americans who risked everything on: July 04, 2010, 01:22:15 PM
The Americans Who Risked Everything
 

My father, Rush H. Limbaugh, Jr., delivered this oft-requested address locally a number of times, but it had never before appeared in print until it appeared in The Limbaugh Letter. My dad was renowned for his oratory skills and for his original mind; this speech is, I think, a superb demonstration of both. I will always be grateful to him for instilling in me a passion for the ideas and lives of America's Founders, as well as a deep appreciation for the inspirational power of words which you will see evidenced here:
 
"Our Lives, Our Fortunes, Our Sacred Honor"
 

It was a glorious morning. The sun was shining and the wind was from the southeast. Up especially early, a tall bony, redheaded young Virginian found time to buy a new thermometer, for which he paid three pounds, fifteen shillings. He also bought gloves for Martha, his wife, who was ill at home.

Thomas Jefferson arrived early at the statehouse. The temperature was 72.5 degrees and the horseflies weren't nearly so bad at that hour. It was a lovely room, very large, with gleaming white walls. The chairs were comfortable. Facing the single door were two brass fireplaces, but they would not be used today.

The moment the door was shut, and it was always kept locked, the room became an oven. The tall windows were shut, so that loud quarreling voices could not be heard by passersby. Small openings atop the windows allowed a slight stir of air, and also a large number of horseflies. Jefferson records that "the horseflies were dexterous in finding necks, and the silk of stockings was nothing to them." All discussing was punctuated by the slap of hands on necks.

On the wall at the back, facing the president's desk, was a panoply -- consisting of a drum, swords, and banners seized from Fort Ticonderoga the previous year. Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold had captured the place, shouting that they were taking it "in the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!"

Now Congress got to work, promptly taking up an emergency measure about which there was discussion but no dissension. "Resolved: That an application be made to the Committee of Safety of Pennsylvania for a supply of flints for the troops at New York."

Then Congress transformed itself into a committee of the whole. The Declaration of Independence was read aloud once more, and debate resumed. Though Jefferson was the best writer of all of them, he had been somewhat verbose. Congress hacked the excess away. They did a good job, as a side-by-side comparison of the rough draft and the final text shows. They cut the phrase "by a self-assumed power." "Climb" was replaced by "must read," then "must" was eliminated, then the whole sentence, and soon the whole paragraph was cut. Jefferson groaned as they continued what he later called "their depredations." "Inherent and inalienable rights" came out "certain unalienable rights," and to this day no one knows who suggested the elegant change.

A total of 86 alterations were made. Almost 500 words were eliminated, leaving 1,337. At last, after three days of wrangling, the document was put to a vote.

Here in this hall Patrick Henry had once thundered: "I am no longer a Virginian, sir, but an American." But today the loud, sometimes bitter argument stilled, and without fanfare the vote was taken from north to south by colonies, as was the custom. On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted.

There were no trumpets blown. No one stood on his chair and cheered. The afternoon was waning and Congress had no thought of delaying the full calendar of routine business on its hands. For several hours they worked on many other problems before adjourning for the day.
 
 
Much To Lose

What kind of men were the 56 signers who adopted the Declaration of Independence and who, by their signing, committed an act of treason against the crown? To each of you, the names Franklin, Adams, Hancock and Jefferson are almost as familiar as household words. Most of us, however, know nothing of the other signers. Who were they? What happened to them?

I imagine that many of you are somewhat surprised at the names not there: George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Patrick Henry. All were elsewhere.

Ben Franklin was the only really old man. Eighteen were under 40; three were in their 20s. Of the 56 almost half - 24 - were judges and lawyers. Eleven were merchants, nine were landowners and farmers, and the remaining 12 were doctors, ministers, and politicians.

With only a few exceptions, such as Samuel Adams of Massachusetts, these were men of substantial property. All but two had families. The vast majority were men of education and standing in their communities. They had economic security as few men had in the 18th Century.

Each had more to lose from revolution than he had to gain by it. John Hancock, one of the richest men in America, already had a price of 500 pounds on his head. He signed in enormous letters so that his Majesty could now read his name without glasses and could now double the reward. Ben Franklin wryly noted: "Indeed we must all hang together, otherwise we shall most assuredly hang separately."

Fat Benjamin Harrison of Virginia told tiny Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts: "With me it will all be over in a minute, but you, you will be dancing on air an hour after I am gone."

These men knew what they risked. The penalty for treason was death by hanging. And remember, a great British fleet was already at anchor in New York Harbor.
 
They were sober men. There were no dreamy-eyed intellectuals or draft card burners here. They were far from hot-eyed fanatics yammering for an explosion. They simply asked for the status quo. It was change they resisted. It was equality with the mother country they desired. It was taxation with representation they sought. They were all conservatives, yet they rebelled.

It was principle, not property, that had brought these men to Philadelphia. Two of them became presidents of the United States. Seven of them became state governors. One died in office as vice president of the United States. Several would go on to be U.S. Senators. One, the richest man in America, in 1828 founded the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. One, a delegate from Philadelphia, was the only real poet, musician and philosopher of the signers. (It was he, Francis Hopkinson not Betsy Ross who designed the United States flag.)

Richard Henry Lee, a delegate from Virginia, had introduced the resolution to adopt the Declaration of Independence in June of 1776. He was prophetic in his concluding remarks: "Why then sir, why do we longer delay? Why still deliberate? Let this happy day give birth to an American Republic. Let her arise not to devastate and to conquer but to reestablish the reign of peace and law.

"The eyes of Europe are fixed upon us. She demands of us a living example of freedom that may exhibit a contrast in the felicity of the citizen to the ever-increasing tyranny which desolates her polluted shores. She invites us to prepare an asylum where the unhappy may find solace, and the persecuted repost.

"If we are not this day wanting in our duty, the names of the American Legislatures of 1776 will be placed by posterity at the side of all of those whose memory has been and ever will be dear to virtuous men and good citizens."

Though the resolution was formally adopted July 4, it was not until July 8 that two of the states authorized their delegates to sign, and it was not until August 2 that the signers met at Philadelphia to actually put their names to the Declaration.

William Ellery, delegate from Rhode Island, was curious to see the signers' faces as they committed this supreme act of personal courage. He saw some men sign quickly, "but in no face was he able to discern real fear." Stephan Hopkins, Ellery's colleague from Rhode Island, was a man past 60. As he signed with a shaking pen, he declared: "My hand trembles, but my heart does not."
 
 
 
"Most Glorious Service"

Even before the list was published, the British marked down every member of Congress suspected of having put his name to treason. All of them became the objects of vicious manhunts. Some were taken. Some, like Jefferson, had narrow escapes. All who had property or families near British strongholds suffered.

· Francis Lewis, New York delegate saw his home plundered -- and his estates in what is now Harlem -- completely destroyed by British Soldiers. Mrs. Lewis was captured and treated with great brutality. Though she was later exchanged for two British prisoners through the efforts of Congress, she died from the effects of her abuse.

· William Floyd, another New York delegate, was able to escape with his wife and children across Long Island Sound to Connecticut, where they lived as refugees without income for seven years. When they came home they found a devastated ruin.

· Philips Livingstone had all his great holdings in New York confiscated and his family driven out of their home. Livingstone died in 1778 still working in Congress for the cause.

· Louis Morris, the fourth New York delegate, saw all his timber, crops, and livestock taken. For seven years he was barred from his home and family.

· John Hart of Trenton, New Jersey, risked his life to return home to see his dying wife. Hessian soldiers rode after him, and he escaped in the woods. While his wife lay on her deathbed, the soldiers ruined his farm and wrecked his homestead. Hart, 65, slept in caves and woods as he was hunted across the countryside. When at long last, emaciated by hardship, he was able to sneak home, he found his wife had already been buried, and his 13 children taken away. He never saw them again. He died a broken man in 1779, without ever finding his family.

· Dr. John Witherspoon, signer, was president of the College of New Jersey, later called Princeton. The British occupied the town of Princeton, and billeted troops in the college. They trampled and burned the finest college library in the country.
 
· Judge Richard Stockton, another New Jersey delegate signer, had rushed back to his estate in an effort to evacuate his wife and children. The family found refuge with friends, but a Tory sympathizer betrayed them. Judge Stockton was pulled from bed in the night and brutally beaten by the arresting soldiers. Thrown into a common jail, he was deliberately starved. Congress finally arranged for Stockton's parole, but his health was ruined. The judge was released as an invalid, when he could no longer harm the British cause. He returned home to find his estate looted and did not live to see the triumph of the Revolution. His family was forced to live off charity.

· Robert Morris, merchant prince of Philadelphia, delegate and signer, met Washington's appeals and pleas for money year after year. He made and raised arms and provisions which made it possible for Washington to cross the Delaware at Trenton. In the process he lost 150 ships at sea, bleeding his own fortune and credit almost dry.

· George Clymer, Pennsylvania signer, escaped with his family from their home, but their property was completely destroyed by the British in the Germantown and Brandywine campaigns.

· Dr. Benjamin Rush, also from Pennsylvania, was forced to flee to Maryland. As a heroic surgeon with the army, Rush had several narrow escapes.

· John Martin, a Tory in his views previous to the debate, lived in a strongly loyalist area of Pennsylvania. When he came out for independence, most of his neighbors and even some of his relatives ostracized him. He was a sensitive and troubled man, and many believed this action killed him. When he died in 1777, his last words to his tormentors were: "Tell them that they will live to see the hour when they shall acknowledge it [the signing] to have been the most glorious service that I have ever rendered to my country."

· William Ellery, Rhode Island delegate, saw his property and home burned to the ground.
 
 
· Thomas Lynch, Jr., South Carolina delegate, had his health broken from privation and exposures while serving as a company commander in the military. His doctors ordered him to seek a cure in the West Indies and on the voyage, he and his young bride were drowned at sea.

· Edward Rutledge, Arthur Middleton, and Thomas Heyward, Jr., the other three South Carolina signers, were taken by the British in the siege of Charleston. They were carried as prisoners of war to St. Augustine, Florida, where they were singled out for indignities. They were exchanged at the end of the war, the British in the meantime having completely devastated their large landholdings and estates.

· Thomas Nelson, signer of Virginia, was at the front in command of the Virginia military forces. With British General Charles Cornwallis in Yorktown, fire from 70 heavy American guns began to destroy Yorktown piece by piece. Lord Cornwallis and his staff moved their headquarters into Nelson's palatial home. While American cannonballs were making a shambles of the town, the house of Governor Nelson remained untouched. Nelson turned in rage to the American gunners and asked, "Why do you spare my home?" They replied, "Sir, out of respect to you." Nelson cried, "Give me the cannon!" and fired on his magnificent home himself, smashing it to bits. But Nelson's sacrifice was not quite over. He had raised $2 million for the Revolutionary cause by pledging his own estates. When the loans came due, a newer peacetime Congress refused to honor them, and Nelson's property was forfeited. He was never reimbursed. He died, impoverished, a few years later at the age of 50.
 
 
 
Lives, Fortunes, Honor

Of those 56 who signed the Declaration of Independence, nine died of wounds or hardships during the war. Five were captured and imprisoned, in each case with brutal treatment. Several lost wives, sons or entire families. One lost his 13 children. Two wives were brutally treated. All were at one time or another the victims of manhunts and driven from their homes. Twelve signers had their homes completely burned. Seventeen lost everything they owned. Yet not one defected or went back on his pledged word. Their honor, and the nation they sacrificed so much to create is still intact.

And, finally, there is the New Jersey signer, Abraham Clark.

He gave two sons to the officer corps in the Revolutionary Army. They were captured and sent to that infamous British prison hulk afloat in New York Harbor known as the hell ship Jersey, where 11,000 American captives were to die. The younger Clarks were treated with a special brutality because of their father. One was put in solitary and given no food. With the end almost in sight, with the war almost won, no one could have blamed Abraham Clark for acceding to the British request when they offered him his sons' lives if he would recant and come out for the King and Parliament. The utter despair in this man's heart, the anguish in his very soul, must reach out to each one of us down through 200 years with his answer: "No."

The 56 signers of the Declaration Of Independence proved by their every deed that they made no idle boast when they composed the most magnificent curtain line in history. "And for the support of this Declaration with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."
 
 
My friends, I know you have a copy of the Declaration of Independence somewhere around the house - in an old history book (newer ones may well omit it), an encyclopedia, or one of those artificially aged "parchments" we all got in school years ago. I suggest that each of you take the time this month to read through the text of the Declaration, one of the most noble and beautiful political documents in human history.

There is no more profound sentence than this: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness..."

These are far more than mere poetic words. The underlying ideas that infuse every sentence of this treatise have sustained this nation for more than two centuries. They were forged in the crucible of great sacrifice. They are living words that spring from and satisfy the deepest cries for liberty in the human spirit.

"Sacred honor" isn't a phrase we use much these days, but every American life is touched by the bounty of this, the Founders' legacy. It is freedom, tested by blood, and watered with tears.

- Rush Limbaugh III
 
 
24280  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Survivalist issues: Hunkering down at home on: July 04, 2010, 12:47:10 PM
No excrement!

OTOH having all the food in the refrigerator go bad and have no internet access until electricity is restored could be a much bigger bummer.
24281  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Die Less Often: Interface of Gun, Knife and Emtpy Hand on: July 04, 2010, 12:42:54 PM
Which is why a fuller statement of the facts and his name are awaiting further developments wink
24282  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Knives in the Middle East; jambiya daggers on: July 04, 2010, 12:41:54 PM
I'm hoping to get something more specific on when and how they are used , , ,
24283  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Repeal! on: July 04, 2010, 12:40:38 PM
Repeal BO's hostile takeover of our health care!

http://heritageforamerica.org/support/donate-now-to-help-heritage-actions-fight-to-repeal-obamacare/
24284  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Interesting website for border issues on: July 04, 2010, 11:04:20 AM
http://www.borderlandbeat.com/
24285  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Die Less Often: Interface of Gun, Knife and Emtpy Hand on: July 04, 2010, 10:43:26 AM
Marc, Gabe:

Your "Die Less Often" material saved 2 lives--mine and the "bad guy" in
March. He is in jail for pulling a gun, and I have been Mirandized, but not
charged with assault. He wound up being a felon with a firearm, and the
sheriff told me "good job", but still Mirandized me for my statement...<g>

Anyway--I used the DLO technique on him. I was not armed at the time--gun in
the car but not on the body, and I can't really go into detail until I know
how the court case is coming out. I made mistakes, that's for sure.

Suffice it to say? The sh*t works. I ain't no black belt, but his gun never
completely cleared leather, and nobody got shot. , , ,
Thank you, gentlemen.
24286  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / 72 year old CCW hero on: July 04, 2010, 10:23:38 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=soZT__WQKsM
24287  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: July 04, 2010, 10:11:16 AM
I don't understand.  Why would Baraq Hussein Obama want to deport this man?  cheesy angry angry
24288  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Survivalist issues: Hunkering down at home on: July 04, 2010, 10:09:56 AM
We have a substantial gasoline powered generator with enough power and enough outlets to keep our refrigerator and other things going , , , and the substantial length of construction grade extensions cords necessary to make the connections possible.
24289  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Split Your Sea on: July 04, 2010, 10:04:07 AM
Split Your Sea
http://www.chabad.org/holidays/passover/pesach_cdo/aid/488371/jewish/Split-Your-Sea.htm
By Yosef Y. Jacobson

"To match couples together is as difficult as the splitting of the sea,"
states the Talmud.1

What is the meaning behind these words? True, the process of finding and
maintaining a life partner may be challenging and difficult, nothing short
of a miracle. But why, of all miracles described in the Bible, does the
Talmud choose specifically the miracle of the splitting of the sea to
capture the process of marriage?

A Map of the Subconscious

What is the difference between the land and the sea? Both are vibrant and
action-filled enviroments populated by a myriad of creatures and a great
variety of minerals and vegetation. Yet the universe of dry land is exposed
and out in the open for all to see and appreciate, while the world of the
sea is hidden beneath a blanket of water.

In Jewish mysticism (Kabbalah and Chassidic spirituality), these two
physical planes reflect the conscious and unconscious dimensions of the
human psyche.2 Both parts of the self are extremely vibrant and dynamic. The
difference between them is that while our conscious self is displayed and
exhibited for ourselves and others to feel and experience, our subconscious
self remains hidden, not only from other people but even from ourselves.
Most of us know very little of what is going on in the sub-cellars of our
psyche.

If you were given a glimpse into your own "sea" and discovered the universe
of personality hidden beneath your conscious brain, what do you think you
would find? Shame, fear, guilt, pain, insecurity, an urge to destroy, to
survive, to dominate, a cry for love? Would you discover Freud's Libido,
Jung's collective unconscious, Adler's search for power and control,
Frankl's quest for meaning?

Where Freud diagnosed the libido as a craving for a parent, and Jung saw it
as a longing etched in our collective unconscious, the Kabbalah understood
it as a quest for union with G-d In Kabbalah, at the core of the human
condition is a yearning for oneness. Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi
(1745-1812), founder of the Chabad school of Kabbalah, was one of the
greatest soul-experts in the history of Judaism, has written on the subject
more then any other Jewish sage. In 1796, a hundred years before Freud, he
published a book, the Tanya, in which he presented his "map of the
subconscious," based on the Talmudic and Kabbalistic tradition. Rabbi
Schnuer Zalman offers a facinating parable for the inner life of the soul:
quoteing the biblical verse, "The soul of man is a divine flame" (Proverbs
20:27), he explains that just as the flame is always swaying, dancing,
licking the air, seeking to tear free of the wick and rise heavenward, so
too the soul in man is always aspiring to leave its shell and experience
oneness with the divine.

The Secret of Intimacy

This quest for a relationship with the divine is manifested in our search
for relationships with our twin flame here below. Where Freud diagnosed the
libido as a craving for union with a parent, and Jung saw it as a longing
for the opposite gender etched in our collective unconscious, the Kabbalah
understood it as a quest for union with G-d. Our desire for intimacy is one
of the profoundest expressions of our existential craving for Truth, for
Oneness, for G-d.

As the Book of Genesis states, "G-d created Man in His image, in the image
of G-d He created him; male and female He created them." Clearly, it was in
the union and oneness of the genders that the first Adam, the first human
being, reflected the image of G-d.

This view of relationships and intimacy is expressed in the very Hebrew
names for man and woman given by Adam in Genesis. The Hebrew words for man
and woman -- Ish and Isah -- both contain the Hebrew word for fire, Eish.
They also each contain one more letter--a yud and a hei respectively--which
when combined makes up G-d's name. The significance of this is profound. Man
without woman, and woman without man, lack the fullness of G-d's name. When
they unite, the two-half images of the divine within them also unite. The
fire and passion drawing them to each other is their yearning to recreate
the full name of G-d between them.

At a Jewish wedding ceremony, this blessing is recited: Blessed are You,
G-d, King of the Universe, Who created the human being in His image... Why
is this blessing said at a wedding ceremony? Wouldn't it be more appropriate
to say such a blessing when a child is born? The answer is that it is
through the uniting of man and woman that the image of G-d is most closely
reflected.

Our desire for intimacy is one of the profoundest expressions of our
existential craving for TruthThe ramifications of this idea are important.
It means that marriage is not a suspension of one's natural individual self
for the sake of uniting with a stranger. Rather, through marriage man and
woman return to their true natural state, a single being reflecting G-d,
each in his and her own unique way. Marriage allows wife and husband to
discover their full and complete self, a self made up of masculine and
feminine energy.

Know Thyself

We may travel through life unaware of this dimension of self, seeking
oneness with the divine. Throughout our years on this planet we may behave
as though this element of self does not exist. Though its symptoms
reverberate through our consciousness -- most often in the feelings of
emptiness and lack of contentment when our spiritual self is un-satiated -- 
we are prone to dismiss it or deny it. After all, at least in the short
term, it is far easier to accept that we are nothing more than intelligent
beasts craving self-gratification than spiritual souls craving for G-d.

When we view the surface self, selfishness is easier than selflessness;
isolation more natural than relationship; solitariness more innate than love
and commitment. Only when we "split our sea," when we discover the depth of
our souls, the subtle vibrations of our subconscious, do we discover that
oneness satisfies our deepest core; that love is the most natural expression
of our most profound selves.

"To match couples together is as difficult as the splitting of the sea," the
Talmud states. The challenge in creating and maintaining a meaningful and
powerful relationship is the need to split our own seas each day, to learn
how in the depth of our spirits we yearn to love and share our lives with
another human being and with our creator.3

FOOTNOTES
1.   Talmud, Sotah 2a. The Talmud is discussing second marriages, however,
in many Jewish works, this quote is applied to all marriage (see for example
Akeidas Yitzchak Parshas Vayeishev).
2.   This notion of viewing the macrocosm as a metaphor for the microcosm is
central to all Jewish writings. "Man is a miniature universe," our sages
have declared (Midrash Tanchumah Pekudei 3), a microcosm of the entire
created existence. The human being thus includes the elements of the land as
well as the elements of the sea -- man has both a terrestrial and an aquatic
aspect to his life. In Kabbalah terminology, the sea is defined as alma
d'eiskasya, the "hidden world," while land is described as alma d'eitgalya,
the "revealed world" (Torah Or Parshas Beshalach).
3.   This essay is based on a discourse by the second Chabad-Lubavitch
Rebbe, Rabbi DovBer (1773-1827), known as the Miteler Rebbe. (Published in
Maamarei Admur Haemtzaei, Kuntrasim, Derushei Chasunah.)


   By Yosef Y. Jacobson   More articles...  |
Rabbi Yosef Y Jacobson is editor of Algemeiner.com, a website of Jewish news
and commentary in English and Yiddish. Rabbi Jacobson is also a popular and
widely-sought speaker on Chassidic teaching and the author of the tape
series "A Tale of Two Souls."
Originally posted on Algemeiner.com
Image: Detail from a painting by Sarah Kranz. Ms. Kranz has been
illustrating magazines, webzines and books (including five children's books)
since graduating from the Istituto Europeo di Design, Milan, in 1996. Her
clients have included The New York Times and Money Marketing Magazine of
London
24290  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A Perfect Storm of Ignorance on: July 04, 2010, 09:53:53 AM
A Perfect Storm of Ignorance

by Jeffrey Friedman

Jeffrey Friedman is the editor of Critical Review and of Causes of the
Financial Crisis, forthcoming from the University of Pennsylvania Press.

You are familiar by now with the role of the Federal Reserve in stimulating
the housing boom; the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in encouraging
low-equity mortgages; and the role of the Community Reinvestment Act in
mandating loans to "subprime" borrowers, meaning those who were poor credit
risks. So you may think that the government caused the financial crisis. But
you don't know the half of it. And neither does the government.

A full understanding of the crisis has to explain not just the housing and
subprime bubbles, but why, when they popped, it should have had such
disastrous worldwide effects on the financial system. The problem was that
commercial banks had made a huge overinvestment in mortgage-backed bonds
sold by investment banks such as Lehman Brothers.

Commercial banks are familiar to everyone with a checking or savings
account. They accept our deposits, against which they issue commercial loans
and mortgages. In 1933, the United States created the FDIC to insure
commercial banks' depositors. The aim was to discourage bank runs by
depositors who worried that if their bank had made too many risky loans,
their accounts, too, might be at risk.

The question of whether deposit insurance was necessary is worth asking, and
I will ask it later on. But for now, the key fact is that once deposit
insurance took effect, the FDIC feared that it had created what economists
call a "moral hazard": bankers, now insulated from bank runs, might be
encouraged to make riskier loans than before. The moral-hazard theory took
hold not only in the United States but in all of the countries in which
deposit insurance was instituted. And both here and abroad, the regulators'
solution to this (real or imagined) problem was to institute bank-capital
regulations. According to an array of scholars from around the world — Viral
Acharya, Juliusz Jablecki, Wladimir Kraus, Mateusz Machaj, and Matthew
Richardson — these regulations helped turn an American housing crisis into
the world's worst recession in 70 years.

WHAT REALLY WENT WRONG

The moral-hazard theory held that since the FDIC would now pick up the
pieces if anything went wrong, bankers left to their own devices would make
clearly risky loans and investments. The regulators' solution, across the
entire developed world, was to require banks to hold a minimum capital
cushion against a commercial bank's assets (loans and investments), but the
precise level of the capital reserve, and other details, varied from country
to country.

In 1988, financial regulators from the G-10 agreed on the Basel (I) Accords.
Basel I was an attempt to standardize the world's bank-capital regulations,
and it succeeded, spreading far beyond the G-10 countries. It differentiated
among the risks presented by different types of assets. For instance, a
commercial bank did not have to devote any capital to its holdings of
government bonds, cash, or gold — the safest assets, in the regulators'
judgment. But it had to allot 4 percent capital to each mortgage that it
issued, and 8 percent to commercial loans and corporate bonds.

Each country implemented Basel I on its own schedule and with its own
quirks. The United States implemented it in 1991, with several different
capital cushions; a 10 percent cushion was required for "well-capitalized"
commercial banks, a designation that carries privileges that most banks
want. Ten years later, however, came what proved in retrospect to be the
pivotal event. The FDIC, the Fed, the Comptroller of the Currency, and the
Office of Thrift Supervision issued an amendment to Basel I, the Recourse
Rule, that extended the accord's risk differentiations to asset-backed
securities (ABS): bonds backed by credit card debt, or car loans — or
mortgages — required a mere 2 percent capital cushion, as long as these
bonds were rated AA or AAA or were issued by a government-sponsored
enterprise (GSE), such as Fannie or Freddie. Thus, where a well-capitalized
commercial bank needed to devote $10 of capital to $100 worth of commercial
loans or corporate bonds, or $5 to $100 worth of mortgages, it needed to
spend only $2 of capital on a mortgage-backed security (MBS) worth $100. A
bank interested in reducing its capital cushion — also known as "leveraging
up" — would gain a 60 percent benefit from trading its mortgages for MBSs
and an 80 percent benefit for trading its commercial loans and corporate
securities for MBSs.

Astute readers will smell a connection between the Recourse Rule and the
financial crisis. By 2008 approximately 81 percent of all the rated MBSs
held by American commercial banks were rated AAA, and 93 percent of all the
MBSs that the banks held were either triple-A rated or were issued by a GSE,
thus complying with the Recourse Rule. (Figures for the proportion of
double-A bonds are not yet available.) According to the scholars I mentioned
earlier, the lesson is clear: the commercial banks loaded up on MBSs because
of the extremely favorable treatment that they received under the Recourse
Rule, as long as they were issued by a GSE or were rated AA or AAA.

When subprime mortgages began to default in the summer of 2007, however,
those high ratings were cast into doubt. A year later, the doubts turned
into a panic. Federally mandated mark-to-market accounting — the requirement
that assets be valued at the price for which they could be sold right now —
translated temporary market sentiment into actual numbers on a bank's
balance sheet, so when the market for MBSs dried up, Lehman Brothers went
bankrupt — on paper. Mark-to-market accounting applied to commercial banks
too. And it was the commercial banks' worry about their own and their
counterparties' solvency, due to their MBS holdings, that caused the lending
freeze and, thus, the Great Recession.

What about the rest of the world? The Recourse Rule did not apply to
countries other than the United States, but Basel I included provisions for
even more profitable forms of "capital arbitrage" through off-balance-sheet
entities such as structured investment vehicles, which were heavily used in
Europe. Then, in 2006, Basel II began to be implemented outside the United
States. It took the Recourse Rule's approach, encouraging foreign banks to
stock up on GSE-issued or highly rated MBSs.

THE PERFECT STORM?

Given the large number of contributory factors — the Fed's low interest
rates, the Community Reinvestment Act, Fannie and Freddie's actions, Basel
I, the Recourse Rule, and Basel II — it has been said that the financial
crisis was a perfect storm of regulatory error. But the factors I have just
named do not even begin to complete the list. First, Peter Wallison has
noted the prevalence of "no-recourse" laws in many states, which relieved
mortgagors of financial liability if they simply walked away from a house on
which they defaulted. This reassured people in financial straits that they
could take on a possibly unaffordable mortgage with virtually no risk.
Second, Richard Rahn has pointed out that the tax code discourages
partnerships in banking (and other industries). Partnerships encourage
prudence because each partner has a lot at stake if the firm goes under.
Rahn's point has wider implications, for scholars such as Amar Bhidé and
Jonathan Macey have underscored aspects of tax and securities law that
encourage publicly held corporations such as commercial banks — as opposed
to partnerships or other privately held companies — to encourage their
employees to generate the short-term profits adored by equities investors.
One way to generate short-term profits is to buy into an asset bubble.
Third, the Basel Accords treat monies set aside against unexpected loan
losses as part of banks' "Tier 2" capital, which is capped in relation to
"Tier 1" capital — equity capital raised by selling shares of stock. But
Bert Ely has shown in the Cato Journal that the tax code makes equity
capital unnecessarily expensive. Thus banks are doubly discouraged from
maintaining the capital cushion that the Basel Accords are trying to make
them maintain. This litany is not exhaustive. It is meant

only to convey the welter of regulations that have grown up across different
parts of the economy in such immense profusion that nobody can possibly
predict how they will interact with each other. We are, all of us, ignorant
of the vast bulk of what the government is doing for us, and what those
actions might be doing to us. That is the best explanation for how this
perfect regulatory storm happened, and for why it might well happen again.

By steering banks' leverage into mortgage-backed securities, Basel I, the
Recourse Rule, and Basel II encouraged banks to overinvest in housing at a
time when an unprecedented nationwide housing bubble was getting underway,
due in part to the Recourse Rule itself — which took effect on January 1,
2002: not coincidentally, just at the start of the housing boom. The Rule
created a huge artificial demand for mortgage-backed bonds, each of which
required thousands of mortgages as collateral. Commercial banks duly met
this demand by lowering their lending standards. When many of the same banks
traded their mortgages for mortgage-backed bonds to gain "capital relief,"
they thought they were offloading the riskiest mortgages by buying only
triple-A-rated slices of the resulting mortgage pools. The bankers appear to
have been ignorant of yet another obscure regulation: a 1975 amendment to
the SEC's Net Capital Rule, which turned the three existing rating
companies — S&P, Moody's, and Fitch — into a legally protected oligopoly.
The bankers' ignorance is suggested by e-mails unearthed during the recent
trial of Ralph Cioffi and Matthew Tannin, who ran the two Bear Stearns hedge
funds that invested heavily in highly rated subprime mortgage-backed bonds.
The e-mails show that Tannin was a true believer in the soundness of those
ratings; he and his partner were exonerated by the jury on the grounds that
the two men were as surprised by the catastrophe as everyone else was. Like
everyone else, they trusted S&P, Moody's, and Fitch. But as we would expect
of corporations shielded from market competition, these three "rating
agencies" had gotten sloppy. Moody's did not update its model of the
residential mortgage market after 2002, when the boom was barely underway.
And Moody's model, like those of its "competitors," determined how large
they could make the AA and AAA slices of mortgage-backed securities.

THE REGULATORS' IGNORANCE OF THE REGULATIONS

The regulators seem to have been as ignorant of the implications of the
relevant regulations as the bankers were. The SEC trusted the three rating
agencies to continue their reliable performance even after its own 1975
ruling protected them from the market competition that had made their
ratings reliable. Nearly everyone, from Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke on
down, seemed to be ignorant of the various regulations that were pumping up
house prices and pushing down lending standards. And the FDIC, the Fed, the
Comptroller of the Currency, and the Office of Thrift Supervision, in
promulgating one of those regulations, trusted the three rating companies
when they decided that these companies' AA and AAA ratings would be the
basis of the immense capital relief that the Recourse Rule conferred on
investment-bank-issued mortgage-backed securities. Did the four regulatory
bodies that issued the Recourse Rule know that the rating agencies on which
they were placing such heavy reliance were an SEC-created oligopoly, with
all that this implies? If you read the Recourse Rule, you will find that the
answer is no. Like the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), which later
studied whether to extend this American innovation to the rest of the world
in the form of Basel II (which it did, in 2006), the Recourse Rule wrongly
says that the rating agencies are subject to "market discipline."

Those who play the blame game can find plenty of targets here: the bankers
and the regulators were equally clueless. But should anyone be blamed for
not recognizing the implications of regulations that they don't even know
exist?

Omniscience cannot be expected of human beings. One really would have had to
be a god to master the millions of pages in the Federal Register — not to
mention the pages of the Register's state, local, and now international
counterparts — so one could pick out the specific group of regulations,
issued in different fields over the course of decades, that would end up
conspiring to create the greatest banking crisis since the Great Depression.
This storm may have been perfect, therefore, but it may not prove to be
rare. New regulations are bound to interact unexpectedly with old ones if
the regulators, being human, are ignorant of the old ones and of their
effects.

This is already happening. The SEC's response to the crisis has not been to
repeal its 1975 regulation, but to promise closer regulation of the rating
agencies. And instead of repealing Basel I or Basel II, the BIS is busily
working on Basel III, which will even more finely tune capital requirements
and, of course, increase capital cushions. Yet despite the barriers to
equity capital and loan-loss reserves created by the conjunction of the IRS
and the Basel Accords, the aggregate capital cushion of all American banks
at the start of 2008 stood at 13 percent — one-third higher than the
American minimum, which in turn was one-fifth higher than the Basel minimum.
Contrary to the regulators' assumption that bankers need regulators to
protect them from their own recklessness, the financial crisis was not
caused by too much bank leverage but by the form it took: mortgage-backed
securities. And that was the direct result of the fine tuning done by the
Recourse Rule and Basel II.

HOW DID WE GET INTO THIS MESS?

The financial crisis was a convulsion in the corpulent body of social
democracy. "Social democracy" is the modern mandate that government solve
social problems as they arise. Its body is the mass of laws that grow up
over time — seemingly in inverse proportion to the ability of its brain to
comprehend the causes of the underlying problems.

When voters demand "action," and when legislators and regulators provide it,
they are all naturally proceeding according to some theory of the cause of
the problem they are trying to solve. If their theories are mistaken, the
regulations may produce unintended consequences that, later on, in
principle, could be recognized as mistakes and rectified. In practice,
however, regulations are rarely repealed. Whatever made a mistaken
regulation seem sensible to begin with will probably blind people to its
unintended effects later on. Thus future regulators will tend to assume that
the problem with which they are grappling is a new "excess of capitalism,"
not an unintended consequence of an old mistake in the regulation of
capitalism.

Take bank-capital regulations. The theory was (and remains) that without
them, bankers protected by deposit insurance would make wild, speculative
investments. So deposit insurance begat bank-capital regulations. Initially
these were blunderbuss rules that required banks to spend the same levels of
capital on all their investments and loans, regardless of risk. In 1988 the
Basel Accords took a more discriminating approach, distinguishing among
different categories of asset according to their riskiness — riskiness as
perceived by the regulators. The American regulators decided in 2001 that
mortgage-backed bonds were among the least risky assets, so they required
much lower levels of capital for these securities than for every alternative
investment but Treasury's. And in 2006, Basel II applied that erroneous
judgment to the capital regulations governing most of the rest of the
world's banks. The whole sequence leading to the financial crisis began, in
1933, with deposit insurance. But was deposit insurance really necessary?

The theory behind deposit insurance was (and remains) that banking is
inherently prone to bank runs, which had been common in 19th-century America
and had swept the country at the start of the Depression.

But that theory is wrong, according to such economic historians as Kevin
Dowd, George Selgin, and Kurt Schuler, who argue that bank panics were
almost uniquely American events (there were none in Canada during the
Depression — and Canada didn't have deposit insurance until 1967). According
to these scholars, bank runs were caused by 19th-century regulations that
impeded branch banking and bank "clearinghouses." Thus, deposit insurance,
hence capital minima, hence the Basel rules, might all have been a mistake
founded on the New Deal legislators' and regulators' ignorance of the fact
that panics like the ones that had just gripped America were the unintended
effects of previous regulations.

What I am calling social democracy is, in its form, very different from
socialism. Under social democracy, laws and regulations are issued
piecemeal, as flexible responses to the side effects of progress — social
and economic problems — as they arise, one by one. (Thus the official name:
progressivism.) The case-by-case approach is supposed to be the height of
pragmatism. But in substance, there is a striking similarity between social
democracy and the most utopian socialism. Whether through piecemeal
regulation or central planning, both systems share the conceit that modern
societies are so legible that the causes of their problems yield easily to
inspection. Social democracy rests on the premise that when something goes
wrong, somebody — whether the voter, the legislator, or the specialist
regulator — will know what to do about it. This is less ambitious than the
premise that central planners will know what to do about everything all at
once, but it is no different in principle.

This premise would be questionable enough even if we started with a blank
legal slate. But we don't. And there is no conceivable way that we, the
people — or our agents in government — can know how to solve the problems of
modern societies when our efforts have, in fact, been preceded by
generations of previous efforts that have littered the ground with a tangle
of rules so thick that we can't possibly know what they all say, let alone
how they might interact to create another perfect storm.

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2010 edition of
Cato Policy Report.

http://www.cato.org/pubs/policy_report/v32n1/cpr32n1-1.html
24291  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Afg in the 1950s on: July 04, 2010, 08:11:50 AM
Some quite remarkable photos of Afg before its modern troubles began.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/05/27/once_upon_a_time_in_afghanistan
24292  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: July 03, 2010, 09:13:37 PM
Tangent:

Not disagreeing at all with the essence of this piece-- govt regs here are absurd and are destroying jobs.  That said, the LED market is going to be really big-- not only because of economic regs, but more because of the "creative destruction" of the free market. 

CREE will be the leader in this market.  AIXG, recently with a cup and a handle pattern that broke wrong, still bears watching.  Disclaimer: Most of my CREE was bought at 22 but I am buying more at 60 and more yet at 57 should it go there.

End of tangent.
24293  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Knives in the Middle East; jambiya daggers on: July 03, 2010, 04:02:00 PM
Woof All:

Anyone have anything to offer?  If you do not wish to post here, please PM me.

TAC!
CD
24294  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Criminal Justice system on: July 03, 2010, 02:03:04 PM
Exactly so.

BTW, until your comment I had never put the 2 and 2 together to realize that the 1936 date for the criminalization of pot roughly coincided with the end of Prohibition.  Anyone have the exact date for the end of Prohibition?
24295  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Masses yearning on: July 03, 2010, 11:13:50 AM
http://www.investors.com/EditorialCartoons/Cartoon.aspx?id=539231
24296  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Criminal Justice system on: July 03, 2010, 09:39:53 AM
Here in CA there is a good chance that an initiative legalizing pot will pass.
24297  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / El Paso city hall hit by 7 stray shots, and on: July 02, 2010, 03:54:10 PM
http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/APStories/stories/D9GLQI9G1.html

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/latin_america/10485228.stm
24298  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Resources and Helpful Links on: July 02, 2010, 03:40:06 PM
Good to see you here Mick C!
24299  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Jefferson' on: July 02, 2010, 09:48:33 AM
The tenderest words in American political history were cut from the document they were to have graced.

It was July 1, 2 ,3 and 4, 1776, in the State House in Philadelphia. America was being born. The Continental Congress was reviewing and editing the language of the proposed Declaration of Independence and Thomas Jefferson, its primary author, was suffering the death of a thousand cuts.

The tensions over slavery had been wrenching, terrible, and were resolved by brute calculation: to damn or outlaw it now would break fragile consensus, halt all momentum, and stop the creation of the United States. References to the slave trade were omitted, but the founders were not stupid men, and surely they knew their young nation would have its date with destiny; surely they heard in their silence the guns of Fort Sumter.

Still, in the end, the Congress would not produce only an act of the most enormous human and political significance, the creation of America, it would provide history with one of the few instances in which a work of true literary genius was produced, in essence, by committee. (The writing of the King James Bible is another.)

The beginning of the Declaration had a calm stateliness that signaled, subtly, that something huge is happening:

"When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to separate."

This gave a tone of moral modesty to an act, revolution, that is not a modest one. And it was an interesting modesty, expressing respect for the opinion of the world while assuming the whole world was watching. In time it would be. But that phrase, "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind" is still a marker, a reminder: We began with respect. America always gets in trouble when we forget that.

The second paragraph will, literally, live forever in the history of man. It still catches the throat:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

What followed was a list of grievances that made the case for separation from the mother country, and this part was fiery. Jefferson was a cold man who wrote with great feeling. He trained his eyes on the depredations of King George III: "He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns. . . . He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compete the work of death, desolation and tyranny . . ."

Members of the Congress read and reread, and the cutting commenced. Sometimes they cooled Jefferson down. He wrote that the king "suffered the administration of justice totally to cease in some of these states." They made it simpler: "He has obstructed the Administration of Justice."

"For Thomas Jefferson it became a painful ordeal, as change after change was called for and approximately a quarter of what he had written was cut entirely." I quote from the historian David McCullough's "John Adams," as I did last year at this time, because everything's there.

Jefferson looked on in silence. Mr. McCullough notes that there is no record that he uttered a word in protest or in defense of what he'd written. Benjamin Franklin, sitting nearby, comforted him: Edits often reduce things to their essence, don't fret. It was similar to the wisdom Scott Fitzgerald shared with the promising young novelist Thomas Wolfe 150 years later: Writers bleed over every cut, but at the end they don't miss what was removed, don't worry.

"Of more than eighty changes in Jefferson's draft during the time Congress deliberated, most were minor and served to improve it," writes Mr. McCullough. But one cut near the end was substantial, and its removal wounded Jefferson, who was right to be wounded, for some of those words should have stayed.

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.Jefferson had, in his bill of particulars against the king, taken a moment to incriminate the English people themselves—"our British brethren"—for allowing their king and Parliament to send over to America not only "soldiers of our own blood" but "foreign Mercenaries to invade and destroy us." This, he said, was at the heart of the tragedy of separation. "These facts have given the last stab to agonizing affection, and manly spirit bids us renounce forever" our old friends and brothers. "We must endeavor to forget our former love for them."

Well. Talk of love was a little much for the delegates. Love was not on their mind. The entire section was removed.

And so were the words that came next. But they should not have been, for they are the tenderest words.

Poignantly, with a plaintive sound, Jefferson addresses and gives voice to the human pain of parting: "We might have been a free and great people together."

What loss there is in those words, what humanity, and what realism, too.

"To write is to think, and to write well is to think well," David McCullough once said in conversation. Jefferson was thinking of the abrupt end of old ties, of self-defining ties, and, I suspect, that the pain of this had to be acknowledged. It is one thing to declare the case for freedom, and to make a fiery denunciation of abusive, autocratic and high-handed governance. But it is another thing, and an equally important one, to acknowledge the human implications of the break. These were our friends, our old relations; we were leaving them, ending the particular facts of our long relationship forever. We would feel it. Seventeen seventy-six was the beginning of a dream. But it was the end of one too. "We might have been a free and great people together."

It hurt Thomas Jefferson to see these words removed from his great document. And we know something about how he viewed his life, his own essence and meaning, from the words he directed that would, a half-century after 1776, be cut onto his tombstone. The first word after his name is "Author."

America and Britain did become great and free peoples together, and apart, bound by a special relationship our political leaders don't often speak of and should never let fade. You can't have enough old friends. There was the strange war of 1812, declared by America and waged here by England, which reinvaded, and burned our White House and Capitol. That was rude of them. But they got their heads handed to them in New Orleans and left, never to return as an army.

Even 1812 gave us something beautiful and tender. There was a bombardment at Fort McHenry. A young lawyer and writer was watching, Francis Scott Key. He knew his country was imperiled. He watched the long night in hopes the fort had not fallen. And he saw it—the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.

And so to all writers (would-be, occasional and professional) and all editors too, down through our history: Happy 234th Independence Day. And to our British cousins: Nice growing old with you.
24300  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: BO's tax trap on: July 02, 2010, 09:44:41 AM
"'Next year when I start presenting some very difficult choices to the country, I hope some of these folks who are hollering about deficits step up. Because I'm calling their bluff."

That was President Barack Obama, the heretofore unknown deficit hawk, all but announcing the other day the tax trap that he's been laying for Republicans. From what we hear about intra-GOP debates, more than a few will be happy to walk right into it.

You don't need a Mensa IQ to figure this one out. Mr. Obama's plan has been to increase spending to new, and what he hopes will be permanent, heights. Then as the public and financial markets begin to fret about deficits and debt, he'll claim that the debt is "unsustainable" and that the only "responsible" policy is to raise taxes.

White House officials even talk privately about the galvanizing political benefit of a bond market crisis, which would force panicked Members of Congress to accept a big new value-added tax. The President's two looming tax reports—one from his deficit commission and the other from Paul Volcker's economic advisory group—are intended to propose a VAT and other tax options. Whatever their initial reception, the proposals will be there to be pulled from the shelf when the political moment is right.

View Full Image

Associated Press
 .Voila, Mr. Obama will have established a new spend-and-tax policy architecture that has the feds taking from 25% to 30% of GDP, up from the roughly 21% modern average.

***
This strategy explains why Mr. Obama is now starting to fret in public about deficits and debt. This week he even said reducing the debt will be "our project." Funny how debt seemed a lower priority when he was urging Congress to pass $862 billion in stimulus and $1 trillion in new health-care subsidies.

The Congressional Budget Office is contributing to this political drama by declaring this week that the "federal budget is on an unsustainable path." Of course, but why? The biggest reason is that Medicare and Medicaid keep rising at two to three times the rate of everything else in the economy and, as CBO explains, will eventually take up every dollar of tax revenues raised, leaving no money for anything else, including national defense.

"Slowing the growth rate of outlays for Medicare and Medicaid," advises CBO, "is the central long term challenge for federal fiscal policy." This is the same CBO that blessed ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion to 16 million more recipients.

What CBO's latest apocalyptic report doesn't stress is what we'd call the more important deficit in its forecast: the growth deficit. CBO predicts an annual rate of GDP growth of 2.2%. Yet since 1959 the U.S. economy has grown at an average rate of 3%, and during the 1980s and 1990s it was closer to 3.5%. The compounding effect of restoring this faster pace of growth would mean far more net national wealth and would certainly make debt repayment easier.

Even Mr. Obama's current spending level of 25% of GDP would be more manageable if the slow economic recovery weren't keeping tax revenue at unusual lows. In 2007, the economy threw off revenue of 18.5% of GDP. That fell to 14.8% in 2009 and may not be too much higher this year. The point is that there is no hope of balancing the federal budget without a return to higher levels of economic growth.

This is where Republicans need to maneuver around Mr. Obama's tax trap. He and his White House economists believe that taxes have little effect on growth so they can get revenues to 20% or 25% of GDP simply by raising tax rates or imposing a VAT. But if they're wrong about the impact of those taxes on a still-fragile economy recovery, they could keep the economy on a subpar growth path for years to come. We think the last thing the U.S. economy needs at the moment—and the worst policy for the deficit—is the big tax increase that will hit on January 1 with the expiration of the Bush tax cuts.

Yet we hear that even many Republicans are privately insisting that any extension of those Bush tax cuts must be "paid for" with other tax increases. Under Congress's perverse budget rules, extending those tax cuts will "cost" the Treasury revenue, even though extending those tax rates would only prevent a tax increase.

And because Congress still uses static revenue scoring—meaning no change in economic behavior from tax changes—the Joint Tax Committee thinks it will raise nearly $1 trillion over 10 years from the higher tax rates on incomes, dividends and capital gains. That's highly improbable. After those tax rates were cut in 2003, total federal tax revenue increased by 44%, or $743 billion, from 2003-2007.

In other words, Democrats have rigged the rules so that merely stopping a tax increase will be scored to increase the deficit. These are the same Democrats who haven't "paid for" trillions of spending in the last four years, but watch them soon denounce Republicans as fiscally irresponsible merely for trying to stop a tax increase. Orwell would love modern Washington.

If Republicans go along with this perverse pay-as-you-go logic, they will play into Mr. Obama's hands. He'll gladly offer to raise taxes on the wealthy in order to "pay for" extending the lower Bush rates on the middle class. Never mind that the tax increases on capital gains, dividends and income tax rates will do the most economic harm.

***
Republicans need to break out of their rhetorical preoccupation with debt and deficits, focusing their political aim instead on spending and above all on reviving economic growth. They should hold the line against all tax increases and begin to consider a menu of tax cuts to make the U.S. more competitive, especially if the economy continues to underperform.

Mr. Obama's strategy of spending our way to prosperity clearly hasn't worked, as the voters are coming to understand. But if the GOP policy response is merely to bemoan deficits, they will soon find themselves back at their historic stand as tax collectors for the welfare state. To avoid Mr. Obama's tax trap, Republicans also need a growth agenda.
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