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24251  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: July 16, 2011, 10:48:55 AM
True!  Pravda on the Hudson most certainly lives in a big glass house, but the question presented here is the WSJ.  I think I posted here at the time that Murdoch took over of my concerns; also to be noted is that the Pravdas will be using all this to continue their attack on non-Pravda sources and beliefs.
24252  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Who pays that? on: July 16, 2011, 10:46:06 AM
"Further, regarding your high tax rates quote , , , my accountant friend laughed; his quote was "who pays that?""

JDN, I think you miss a key point here.  OF COURSE few people actually pay that!!!  The reason is that they jump through the tax code's inducements to invest in the places to which the government wishes them to invest a.k.a. their special interest friends.  THIS is one of the meanings of "public-private partnership" so often blathered about.  This is one of the faces of economic fascism. 

The net result is malinvestment and is an insidious and invidious destructive force acting upon the American economy.
24253  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: European “Gathering of the Pack” 2011 on: July 16, 2011, 10:06:56 AM
Ron Balicki tried getting me a job once as one of the bad guys/things but at 6'1" I was 1" too tall for the maximum allowed for the costume.
24254  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Pol?tica on: July 16, 2011, 10:02:34 AM
?Que/Quien viene proximo?
24255  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ has become Fox-fied on: July 16, 2011, 09:48:59 AM
Although as my inserts below indicate I have some disagreements with the following POTH piece, I do agree with its general thrust that Murdoch has been bad for the WSJ, a paper which I used to love dearly.
=========================================

It’s official. The Wall Street Journal has been Fox-ified.
Earl Wilson/The New York Times

It took Rupert Murdoch only three and a half years to get there, starting with the moment he acquired the paper from the dysfunctional Bancroft family in December 2007, a purchase that was completed after he vowed to protect The Journal’s editorial integrity and agreed to a (toothless) board that was supposed to make sure he kept that promise.

Fat chance of that. Within five months, Murdoch had fired the editor and installed his close friend Robert Thomson, fresh from a stint Fox-ifying The Times of London. The new publisher was Leslie Hinton, former boss of the division that published Murdoch’s British newspapers, including The News of the World. (He resigned on Friday.) Soon came the changes, swift and sure: shorter articles, less depth, an increased emphasis on politics and, weirdly, sometimes surprisingly unsophisticated coverage of business.  (Marc: Agree!)

Along with the transformation of a great paper into a mediocre one came a change that was both more subtle and more insidious. The political articles grew more and more slanted toward the Republican party line. (Marc: Disagree!  Lots of Dem blather that would never have seen the light of day began appearing!) The Journal sometimes took to using the word “Democrat” as an adjective instead of a noun, a usage favored by the right wing. In her book, “War at The Wall Street Journal,” Sarah Ellison recounts how editors inserted the phrase “assault on business” in an article about corporate taxes under President Obama. The Journal was turned into a propaganda vehicle for its owner’s conservative views. That’s half the definition of Fox-ification.  ("Conservative" does not mean "pro certain busienss interests, and as noted the papaer moved leftward, not rightward)

The other half is that Murdoch’s media outlets must shill for his business interests. With the News of the World scandal, The Journal has now shown itself willing to do that, too.

As a business story, the News of the World scandal isn’t just about phone hacking and police bribery. It is about Murdoch’s media empire, the News Corporation, being at risk — along with his family’s once unshakable hold on it. The old Wall Street Journal would have been leading the pack in pursuit of that story.

Now? At first, The Journal ignored the scandal, even though, as the Murdoch biographer Michael Wolff pointed out in Adweek, it was front-page news all across Britain. Then, when the scandal was no longer avoidable, The Journal did just enough to avoid being accused of looking the other way. Blogging for Columbia Journalism Review, Dean Starkman, the media critic, described The Journal’s coverage as “obviously hamstrung, and far, far below the paper’s true capacity.”

On Friday, however, the coverage went all the way to craven. The paper published an interview with Murdoch that might as well have been dictated by the News Corporation public relations department. He was going to testify before Parliament next week, he told the Journal reporter, because “it’s important to absolutely establish our integrity.” Some of the accusations made in Parliament were “total lies.” The News Corporation had handled the scandal “extremely well in every way possible.” So had his son James, a top company executive. “When I hear something going wrong, I insist on it being put right,” he said. He was “getting annoyed” by the scandal. And “tired.” And so on.

In the article containing the interview, there was no pushback against any of these statements, even though several of them bordered on the delusional. The two most obvious questions — When did Murdoch first learn of the phone hacking at The News of the World? And when did he learn that reporters were bribing police officers for information? — went unasked. The Journal reporter had either been told not to ask those questions, or instinctively knew that he shouldn’t. It is hard to know which is worse. The dwindling handful of great journalists who remain at the paper — Mark Maremont, Alan Murray and Alix Freedman among them — must be hanging their heads in shame.

To tell you the truth, I’m hanging my head in shame too. Four years ago, when Murdoch was battling recalcitrant members of the Bancroft family to gain control of The Journal, which he had long lusted after and which he viewed as the vehicle that would finally allow him to go head-to-head against The New York Times, I wrote several columns saying that he would be a better owner than the Bancrofts.

The Bancrofts’ history of mismanagement had made The Journal vulnerable in the first place. I thought that Murdoch’s resources would stop the financial bleeding, and that his desire for a decent legacy would keep him from destroying a great newspaper.

After the family agreed to sell to him, Elisabeth Goth, the brave Bancroft heir who had long tried to get her family to fix the company, told me, “He has a tremendous opportunity, and I don’t think he’s going to blow it.” In that same column, I wrote, “The chances of Mr. Murdoch wrecking The Journal are lower than you’d think.”

Mea culpa.

Gail Collins is on book leave.

24256  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lott: Seven Myths (lies) on: July 16, 2011, 08:49:33 AM
http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/07/15/seven-myths-about-looming-debt-ceiling-disaster/
24257  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Training Camp August 12-14 on: July 16, 2011, 08:23:20 AM
Woof All: 

Damian Halforty is going to be coming to the camp all the way from New Zealand, (we also have two coming from Great Britain) to where he has emmigrated from South Africa.  While he lived in South Africa he was a noted security specialist (including stints in east Africa) and was the author of a book on Anti-carjacking techniques.  (Do I have these details correct Damian? Please feel free to add or delete).

    Anyway, Damian will be doing a session on anti-carjacking at the Camp. (He mentioned something about using the Dogcatcher while exiting the vehicle) I am very excited about this! 

A question is presented by the fact that I have billed the camp as "all Real Contact Stickfighting".   I do not want people feeling misled about the contents of the camp, so I am asking for some feedback.  Would we rather have a full half day on this (it looks like my truck is going to be the laboratory) or would we rather have this as an extra session Saturday evening?

TAC!
Guro Crafty
24258  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: No new tax Dems on: July 15, 2011, 02:28:14 PM


If Democrats think it is a national priority to raise taxes to lower the deficit, why don't they take a stand in the Senate and do it?

Democrats hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, so Majority Leader Harry Reid shouldn't need a single Republican vote to move his tax agenda forward. A budget resolution requires only 51 votes, which means Democrats could vote today to pass a budget resolution on a $1 trillion tax increase as President Obama has endorsed, or the $2 trillion that Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad has proposed.

Instead, Mr. Reid continues to put any Democratic budget with tax increases in the deep freeze even as the party keeps saying the polls show that Americans support a tax hike as part of a debt plan. Why not go for it?

The answer is Senator Reid can't rally his own caucus to get anywhere near 51 votes for a big tax increase. Even as President Obama and Mr. Reid continue to push for a closed-door bipartisan agreement to raise taxes, the only bipartisan consensus in the Senate on taxes right now is . . . against raising them. Here's a sampling:

Ben Nelson of Nebraska, up for re-election in November 2012: "Raising taxes at a time when our economy remains fragile takes us in the wrong direction." He adds: "If we start with plans to raise taxes, pretty soon spending cuts will fall by the wayside."

Joe Manchin of West Virginia, also up for re-election next year, told us: "Make no mistake, I don't believe in tax hikes, I believe in tax fairness." This means closing "unnecessary loopholes."

Virginia's Jim Webb, who is retiring at the end of next year: "During my time in the Senate, I have consistently opposed the notion of increasing revenues through raising taxes on ordinary, earned income—those amounts, whether large or small, that Americans take home as part of their every-day work and their basic compensation packages." He said he advocates raising taxes "by other means," including "ending costly subsidies and tax loopholes or by adjusting such measures as capital gains."

Joe Lieberman, the independent from Connecticut, told the Connecticut Mirror he has a lot of "unanswered questions" about the Democratic budget plan, and that the $2 trillion to come from tax hikes could be too "high" for him to accept. "For 50% to come from tax increases is a lot."

Specific tax-hike proposals also hit a wall of opposition in the Democratic caucus. An increase on the oil and gas industry, a top priority for the White House, has firm opposition from three energy-state Democrats—Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Begich of Alaska and Mr. Nelson of Nebraska. Ms. Landrieu cites bipartisan opposition to the idea.

Bill Nelson of Florida and Mr. Begich have expressed reservations about another populist Democratic revenue raiser: a millionaire surtax.

One of the most unjustified tax loopholes is the ethanol subsidy. But 13 Senate Democrats voted against a measure earlier this year to kill it, including Iowa liberal Tom Harkin.

The White House and Harry Reid may think Americans favor reducing debt with a big tax increase. But first they need to convince the antitax Democrats in their own caucus.

24259  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Reich on: July 15, 2011, 02:26:00 PM

Reich was in Clinton's cabinet. 

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

By ROBERT REICH
After a bruising midterm election, the president moves to the political center. He distances himself from his Democratic base. He calls for cuts in Social Security and signs historic legislation ending a major entitlement program. He agrees to balance the budget with major cuts in domestic discretionary spending. He has a showdown with Republicans who threaten to bring government to its knees if their budget demands aren't met. He wins the showdown, successfully painting them as radicals. He goes on to win re-election.

Barack Obama in 2012? Maybe. But the president who actually did it was Bill Clinton. (The program he ended was Title IV of the Social Security Act, Aid to Families with Dependent Children.)

It's no accident that President Obama appears to be following the Clinton script. After all, it worked. Despite a 1994 midterm election that delivered Congress to the GOP and was widely seen as a repudiation of his presidency, President Clinton went on to win re-election. And many of Mr. Obama's top aides—including Chief of Staff Bill Daley, National Economic Council head Gene Sperling and Pentagon chief Leon Panetta—are Clinton veterans who know the 1995-96 story line by heart.

Republicans have obligingly been playing their parts this time. In the fall of 1995, Speaker Newt Gingrich was the firebrand, making budget demands that the public interpreted as causing two government shutdowns—while President Clinton appeared to be the great compromiser. This time it's House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and his Republican allies who appear unwilling to bend and risk defaulting on the nation's bills—while President Obama offers to cut Social Security and reduce $3 of spending for every dollar of tax increase.

And with Moody's threatening to downgrade the nation's debt if the debt limit isn't raised soon, Republicans appear all the more radical.

So will Barack Obama pull a Bill Clinton? His real problem is one Mr. Clinton didn't have to contend with: a continuing terrible economy. The recession in 1991-92 was relatively mild, and by the spring of 1995, the economy was averaging 200,000 new jobs per month. By early 1996, it was roaring—with 434,000 new jobs added in February alone.

View Full Image

Martin Kozlowski
 .I remember suggesting to Mr. Clinton's then-political adviser, Dick Morris, that the president come up with some new policy ideas for the election. Mr. Morris wasn't interested. The election will be about the economy—nothing more, nothing less, he said. He knew voters didn't care much about policy. They cared about jobs.

President Obama isn't as fortunate. The economy remains hampered by the Great Recession, brought on not by overshooting by the Federal Reserve but by the bursting of a giant housing bubble. As such, the downturn has proven resistant to reversal by low interest rates. The Fed has kept interest rates near zero for more than two years, opened the spigots of its discount window, and undertaken two rounds of quantitative easing—all with little to show for it.

Some in the White House and on Wall Street assume the anemic recovery will turn stronger in the second half of the year, emerging full strength in 2012. They blame the anemia on disruptions in Japanese supply chains, bad weather, high oil prices, European debt crises, and whatever else they can come up with. These factors have contributed, but they're not the big story.

When the Great Recession wiped out $7.8 trillion of home values, it crushed the nest eggs and eliminated the collateral of America's middle class. As a result, consumer spending has been decimated. Households have been forced to reduce their debt to 115% of disposable personal income from 130% in 2007, and there's more to come. Household debt averaged 75% of personal income between 1975 and 2000.

We're in a vicious cycle in which job and wage losses further reduce Americans' willingness to spend, which further slows the economy. Job growth has effectively stopped. The fraction of the population now working (58.2%) is near a 25-year low—lower than it was when recession officially ended in June 2009.

Wage growth has stopped as well. Average real hourly earnings for all employees declined by 1.1% between June 2009, when the recovery began, and May 2011. For the first time since World War II, there has been a decline in aggregate wages and salaries over seven quarters of post-recession recovery.

This is not Bill Clinton's economy. So many jobs have been lost since Mr. Obama was elected that, even if job growth were to match the extraordinary pace of the late 1990s—averaging 300,000 to 350,000 per month—the unemployment rate wouldn't fall below 6% until 2016. That pace of job growth is unlikely, to say the least. If Republicans manage to cut federal spending significantly between now and Election Day, while state outlays continue to shrink, the certain result is continued high unemployment and anemic growth.

So Mr. Obama's challenge in 2012 has nothing to do with Mr. Clinton's in 1996. Most Americans care far more about jobs and wages than they do about budget deficits and debt ceilings. Even if Mr. Obama is seen to win the contest over raising the debt limit and succeeds in painting Republicans as radicals, he risks losing the upcoming election unless he directly addresses the horrendous employment problem.

How can he do this while continuing to appear more reasonable than Republicans on the deficit? By coming up with a bold jobs plan that would increase outlays over the next year or two but would credibly begin a long-term plan to shrink the budget. To the extent the jobs plan spurs growth, the long-term ratio of debt to GDP will improve.

Elements of the plan might include putting more money into peoples' pockets by exempting the first $20,000 of income from payroll taxes for the next year, recreating a Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps to employ the long-term jobless, creating an infrastructure bank to finance improvements to roads and bridges, enacting partial unemployment benefits for those who have been laid off from part-time jobs, and giving employers tax credits for net new hires.

The fight over the debt ceiling will be over very soon. Most Washington hands know it will be raised. Political tacticians know President Obama will likely appear to win the battle, and his apparent move to the center will make Republicans look like radicals. But the Clinton script will take the president only so far. If he wants a second term, he'll have to come out swinging on jobs.

Mr. Reich, a former U.S. secretary of labor, is professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley and author of "Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future" (Alfred A. Knopf, 2010).

24260  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Noonan: No times for games on: July 15, 2011, 02:19:52 PM


Looked at one way, it shouldn't be hard. Both parties in Washington have every reason to want to prove they possess the baseline political competence to meet the government's central and pending crisis, which is the spending crisis. Both parties should be eager to reach a debt ceiling agreement, if only to prove the system isn't broken. Because really, they are the system. If it's broken, they're broken, and if they're broken, who needs them?

So you'd think the hangman's noose would have concentrated their minds. Instead, of course, it's a battle. As this is written, the president seems to have the edge. But if he wins—whatever winning looks like—he'll likely pay a price for his political victory. He usually does. He won on health care, which ruined his first two years in office and sharply accelerated the decline in his popularity.

***
The issues of spending and taxes should be decoupled. The spending crisis is what's going on and demands attention now; it's because of out-of-control spending that we are up against the debt ceiling. Taxes—whether to raise them on the wealthy, whether to reform the tax code and how—can't be satisfyingly dealt with in the next few weeks. It is gameful of the White House to obscure the central crisis by focusing on a secondary one. The American people have very interesting thoughts and views on taxes, and in no way is it certain that this issue will always favor the Republicans. There's an election in 2012, we can argue it through from now to then.

A central problem for Republicans is that they're trying to do everything—cut spending, fight off tax increases, win national support—from the House. The House is probably not enough to win a fight like this. In the words of a conservative strategist, Republicans have one bullet and the Democrats have three: the presidency, the Senate, and a mainstream media generally willing to accept the idea that the president is the moderate in the fight.

View Full Image

Chad Crowe
 .The president is in the better position, and he knows it. Majority Leader Eric Cantor reports Mr. Obama went into enough-is-enough mode during White House talks this week, warned Mr. Cantor not to call his bluff, and ended the meeting saying: "Can you imagine Ronald Reagan sitting here?" I'm glad Reagan is his model for how presidents should comport themselves, but he should know Reagan never tried to scare people into doing things his way. Instead he tried to encourage support, and with a light touch. When locked in battle with a Democratic Congress he didn't go on TV and make threats. He didn't say, "Congress needs to know we must rebuild our defense system, and if they don't, your children will die in a fiery hale of Soviet bullets."

That was—how to put it?—not his style. It's not any president's style. But it's what Mr. Obama was doing when he told CBS's Scott Pelley that he isn't sure there will be "money in the coffers" to send out Social Security checks. Soon he may be saying there won't be money in the coffers to let students return to college or to pay servicemen. The president is playing Targeted Catastrophe. He's attempting to agitate and frighten people into calling their congressmen and saying Don't Cut Anything, Raise Taxes on Millionaires.

Three weeks of Targeted Catastrophe could be pretty effective. But if the president wins this way, there will be residual costs. He will have scared America and shook it up, all for a political victory. That will not add to affection or regard for the president. Centrists and independents, however they react in terms of support, will not think more highly of him.

Which gets me, briefly, to the latest poll on whether Americans think we're on the right track or wrong track as a nation. The wrong-track number hit 63% this month, up from 60% last month, according to Reuters/Ipsos, which laid the increase to pessimism about the economy and "prolonged gridlock in Washington."

Fair enough. But there's more to be said about the nation the president seems to be busy agitating. It's always assumed the right track/wrong track numbers are about the economy, which makes sense because economic facts are always in the forefronts of everyone's minds. Will I get laid off, can I pay the bills, can my business survive?

More Peggy Noonan
Read Peggy Noonan's previous columns

Click here to order her book, Patriotic Grace
.But there are other reasons for American unease, and in a way some are deeper and more pervasive. Some are cultural. Here are only two. Pretty much everyone over 50 in America feels on some level like a refugee. That's because they were born in one place—the old America—and live now in another. We're like immigrants, whether we literally are or not. One of the reasons America has always celebrated immigrants is a natural, shared knowledge that they left behind everything they knew to enter a place that was different—different language, different ways and manners, different food and habits, different tempo. This took courage. They missed the old country. There's a line in a Bernard Shaw play, "Mrs. Warren's Profession": "I kept myself lonely for you!" That is the unspoken sentence of all immigrants toward their children—I made myself long for an old world so you could have a better one.

But everyone over 50 in America feels a certain cultural longing now. They hear the new culture out of the radio, the TV, the billboard, the movie, the talk show. It is so violent, so sexualized, so politicized, so rough. They miss the old America they were born into, 50 to 70 years ago. And they fear, deep down, that this new culture, the one their children live in, isn't going to make it. Because it is, in essence, an assaultive culture, from the pop music coming out of the rental car radio to the TSA agent with her hands on your kids' buttocks. We are increasingly strangers here, and we fear for the future. There are, by the way, 100 million Americans over 50. A third of the nation. That's a lot of displaced people. They are part of the wrong-track numbers.

So is this. In the Old America there were a lot of bad parents. There always are, because being a parent is hard, and not everyone has the ability or even the desire. But in the old America you knew it wasn't so bad, because the culture could bring the kids up. Inadequate parents could sort of say, "Go outside and play in the culture," and the culture—relatively innocent, and boring—could be more or less trusted to bring the kids up. Popular songs, the messages in movies—all of it was pretty hopeful, and, to use a corny old word, wholesome. Grown-ups now know you can't send the kids out to play in the culture, because the culture will leave them distorted and disturbed. And there isn't less bad parenting now than there used to be. There may be more.

There is so much unease and yearning and sadness in America. So much good, too, so much energy and genius. But it isn't a country anyone should be playing games with, and adding to the general sense of loss
24261  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: June Industrial Production on: July 15, 2011, 01:57:49 PM
Industrial production increased 0.2% in June To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 7/15/2011


Industrial production increased 0.2% in June, coming in slightly below the consensus expected gain of 0.3%. Including revisions to prior months, production rose 0.1%. Output is up 3.4% in the past year.

Manufacturing, which excludes mining/utilities, was unchanged in June. Auto production fell 2.0% in June. Non-auto manufacturing increased 0.1%. Auto production is up 2.5% versus a year ago while non-auto manufacturing has risen 3.8%.
 
The production of high-tech equipment increased 0.6% in June and is up 10.0% versus a year ago.
 
Overall capacity utilization was unchanged at 76.7% in June. Manufacturing capacity use was unchanged at 74.4%.
 
Implications:  Industrial production grew modestly in June but is going to surge sharply in July as automakers start to recover from the supply-chain disruptions coming from Japan. In the past three months, auto and light truck assemblies have dropped at a 39% annual rate, resulting in razor-thin inventories and slower sales (as auto companies and dealers curbed incentives). The reversal of that problem is going to generate eye-grabbing and positive headlines in the next few months. Since the multiple disasters that hit Japan, we have been following manufacturing production excluding autos to assess the underlying trend – even though some of these manufacturers were also temporarily hurt by the supply-chain problems. That production increased 0.1% in June, the most since the disasters hit in March, and was up 3.8% versus a year ago. In addition, we expect business investment in equipment to accelerate. Corporate profits and cash on the balance sheets of non-financial companies are at record highs. Meanwhile, companies can fully expense these purchases for tax purposes through year-end. In other news this morning on the manufacturing sector, the Empire State index, a measure of manufacturing activity in New York, increased to -3.8 in July from -7.8 in June. This is a smaller gain than the consensus expected but we expect better regional survey numbers where the auto industry is more prominent.
24262  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PP: Baraq changes tune on Syria on: July 15, 2011, 01:37:21 PM
Many penetrating comments in here, but in the big picture ultimately do they matter?
===========
Administration Changes Tune on Syria
Better late than never, we suppose. This week the Obama administration finally decided that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, whom Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently called "a reformer," has now "lost legitimacy." Was it the brutal repression of his own people, which in just the last two months has seen more than 1,600 Syrians murdered by regime goons? Nope. Was it inheriting his father's family business, and with it the guilt for as many as 100,000 Syrian and Lebanese lives lost to terrorism, torture and war? Nope. Was it Syria's covert pursuit of nuclear weapons, or its continued sponsorship of the terrorist mafia known as Hezbollah? Nope. None of these was worth calling Assad out for what he is -- an iron-fisted dictator with a regime propped up by brute force and fear, a leader hated by his own people, and an international pariah. But when you attack the U.S. embassy, even the Obama administration must take notice.

On Monday, Assad's security forces and their underlings orchestrated and carried out attack on the U.S. and French embassies in Damascus. The absence of Syrian police, which required the Marine security unit to eject the attackers forcibly, is an unmistakable indication the regime was behind the attack. It may seem easy to dismiss an action in which no Americans were harmed and which did no significant damage to U.S. property, but the fact that Assad felt he could safely attack the embassy of the United States without fear of serious repercussion speaks volumes.

Assad watched as the Obama administration did nothing during the 2009 Iranian protests. He watched as the Obama administration dithered for weeks before finally launching a half-hearted "kinetic military action" against Libya's lunatic dictator, Moammar Gadhafi. He then watched as Obama promptly stepped back and handed the Libyan tar baby to NATO, which appears no closer to finishing the job -- whatever it is -- than it was on March 23. What does Assad have to fear from an America that will not lead, or a NATO that cannot fight? Why not attack the U.S. embassy, and gain support from all those in the Middle East (and there are still many) who side with the dictators over democracy? So far, Assad's risk calculus has been proven correct.

24263  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Libya's new government on: July 15, 2011, 01:32:48 PM
Interesting development.

There has been much sneering around here (with good reason!) about Baraq's handling of all this, but it is not impossible that things turn out relatively well , , ,

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

By MARC CHAMPION And JOE PARKINSON
ISTANBUL—The U.S. and some 30 other countries declared they were recognizing Libya's opposition National Transitional Council as the country's "legitimate governing authority" on Friday, opening the way for billions of dollars in frozen Libyan assets to be released to them.

 Leaders from 30 nations and organizations convene in Istanbul to discuss a road-map to peace in Libya. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, talks to British Foreign Secretary William Hague during the fourth Libya Contact Group Meeting. Video and image courtesy of Reuters.

The upgrade came in the concluding statement of a meeting of the Libya Contact Group in Istanbul. Diplomats described the move as a significant boost for opposition forces that have been fighting to topple Col. Moammar Gadhafi, as well as a clear message to the Libyan strongman to step aside.

The U.S. and many of its North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies had previously treated the Benghazi-based council, known as the TNC, as their legitimate "interlocutor" in Libya, a lesser status that had significant legal implications.

"We still have to work through various legal issues, but we expect this step on recognition will enable the TNC to access additional sources of funding," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters. However, a senior U.S. official said that it would take time to work out the simplest legal way for the U.S. to disperse the funds.

More than $30 billion of Libyan assets are frozen in the U.S. U.S. officials have been looking at two options. The first involves issuing "directive licenses" to banks in the U.S that would authorize them to release the funds to the TNC. However, that could fall foul of provisions in two United Nations Security Council resolutions on Libya, according to people familiar with the matter.

The second option, using the frozen assets as collateral for loans to the TNC would be more complex to set up, but wouldn't run into hurdles at the U.N.

The U.S. appeared to be following, rather than leading, some of its North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies with Friday's announcement. Italy said it would immediately release €100 million ($141.4 million) in credit to the TNC, using frozen assets as collateral, and had already begun taking legal steps to make that possible.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said a contract for the €100 million would be signed "in the next few days," and that his country was in a position to offer up to €400 million in total.

France's foreign minister, Alain Juppe, later told reporters that his country was in the process of unfreezing $250 million in Libyan assets, but added that this could take time due to legal complications. Turkey, meanwhile, has already pledged a $200 million to the TNC under a collateralization scheme.

"Our loan implementation will constitute an example to other countries...we should cover the needs of our Libyan brothers," said Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, at a closing news press conference with the meeting's co-chairman, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayn.

The senior U.S. official said there was no immediate prospect of the U.S. releasing funds.

Mr. Davutoglu had opened Friday's conference with a call for the contact group members to loan the TNC "a percentage" of the funds frozen in their counties to meet humanitarian needs during the religious Ramadan holidays next month.

How to handle Ramadan also formed part of the discussions among diplomats, who said NATO would have to navigate between the twin dangers of granting Col. Gadhafi propaganda victories by continuing to bomb, and giving him time to regroup his forces by relenting.

Mahmoud Shamman, spokesman for the TNC, said there was "no chance" of a cease-fire before Ramadan, a position backed by France's Mr. Juppe. Mr. Shamman also said the TNC needs $3 billion over the next six months, but so far has been promised only $700 million to $800 million.

Mrs. Clinton said the decision to give full recognition to the TNC had come only after it provided "assurances regarding its intentions to pursue democratic reform that is inclusive geographically and politically, and to uphold Libya's international obligations and to disburse funds in a transparent manner, to address the humanitarian and other needs of the Libyan people."

Pressed as to why it had taken the U.S. so long to recognize the TNC, Mrs. Clinton said: "we really acted in warp time in diplomatic terms, but we took our time to make sure that we were doing so based on the best possible assessments."

Diplomats said Friday's contact group meeting, the fourth since it was formed in March, differed from previous ones in focusing on the post-Gadhafi transition, rather than on NATO's military campaign. Mr. Juppe said there was agreement that Col. Gadhafi would have to leave power ahead of any political transition, but that it was up to the Libyans to decide whether that meant his paving the country.

There were few answers, though, on how to achieve that Friday. Friday's joint statement reiterated support for actions by the International Criminal Court to bring Col. Gadhafi to justice, making any deal under which he might leave for exile difficult.

Write to Marc Champion at marc.champion@wsj.com and Joe Parkinson at joe.parkinson@dowjones.com

24264  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post on: July 15, 2011, 01:24:27 PM
"[T]he present Constitution is the standard to which we are to cling. Under its banners, bona fide must we combat our political foes -- rejecting all changes but through the channel itself provides for amendments." --Alexander Hamilton


Government & Politics
The Debt Ceiling and the Constitution
"C'mon, man!" Joe Biden exclaimed Monday, "Let's get real!" On Wednesday, Barack Obama was so upset that he took his ball and went home, shoving his chair away from the table and saying tersely, "I'll see you tomorrow." The topic, of course, is the debt ceiling, which Obama and his pals at the Treasury Department insist must be raised by Aug. 2 to prevent default on U.S. debt. But this isn't your father's debt ceiling; it's $14.3 trillion currently, and Democrats want $2 trillion more. It's no wonder that tensions are running high. This is where ideological rubber hits the road and either builds America or tears it down.

The sticking points aren't new. Democrats want to raise taxes by as much as $2 trillion in addition to making cuts to various budget items, not least of which is defense. Republicans want cuts with no tax increases. Obama is so insistent on tax increases that, according to a GOP aide in the discussions, he declared, "This may bring my presidency down, but I will not yield on this." He didn't yield as he demagogued Social Security, either. "I cannot guarantee that [Social Security] checks go out on August 3rd if we haven't resolved this issue," he shamelessly warned. Who's throwing grandma off the cliff now?

After that snit, he audaciously criticized Republicans' "my way or the highway" approach.

As for the cuts under discussion, they aren't genuine cuts like those average Americans are making -- buying less milk and fewer eggs, for example. Called base-line budgeting, Washington's cuts are merely reductions in projected growth, as in, "We're still going to buy more milk and eggs than we did last year, but not quite as much as we would have under better political circumstances."

To put it in perspective, spending over the next decade is projected to reach about $46 trillion, including $13 trillion in new debt. The haggling is over $2-4 trillion in cuts to that projected increase. Spreading $2 trillion over 10 years "saves" just $200 billion a year, or less than the interest payment on the debt, and even by reducing projected growth by that much, we still end up with an increase in spending. That, in a nutshell, is Washington-speak.

As for the status of compromise, it has succeeded only in Minnesota, where the Democrat governor and Republican legislature just agreed to end a government shutdown. At the federal level, Republicans have all but given up on a comprehensive reform package. As many as 60 House Republicans might vote against any increase to the debt ceiling, and Democrats control the Senate and the White House, making a deal without their support impossible. What to do?

McConnell's Plan

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) concluded this week, "[A]fter years of discussions and months of negotiations, I have little question that as long as this president is in the Oval Office, a real solution is unattainable. I was one of those who had hoped we could do something big for the country. But in my view the president has presented us with three choices: smoke and mirrors, tax hikes or default." McConnell is absolutely correct. However, his solution is questionable.

He outlined a complicated legislative maneuver in which Congress would permit the president to raise the debt ceiling unilaterally in three increments totaling $2.5 trillion, provided that he offer equivalent spending cuts each time. Each increase would be subject to a resolution of disapproval from Congress. The president would almost certainly veto that, but he would also then "own" the debt increase, and Congress -- particularly Republicans -- could be absolved, in theory, of responsibility for raising the debt ceiling. The plan has caused a split on both sides of the aisle. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) both praised the deal, and Reid is working to make it reality. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), not so much. Many House Republicans indicate it's a non-starter.

The Wall Street Journal asks, "The debt ceiling is going to be increased one way or another, and the only question has been what if anything Republicans could get in return. If Mr. Obama insists on a tax increase, and Republicans won't vote for one, then what's the alternative to Mr. McConnell's maneuver?"

"Ugly and unpleasant as it is," writes Daniel Foster of National Review, "not all retreats are capitulations. McConnell clearly thinks of this as a tactical retreat in the service of his overarching strategic objective: to make President Obama a one-term president."

On the other hand, there are constitutional concerns with McConnell's plan. The Constitution (Article I, Section Cool puts budget responsibility directly in the hands of Congress, not the president. Technically, the deal would leave Congress with the authority to dictate the amount of the increases and to "disapprove" if they choose, but there's a real sense that one of the three co-equal branches of government is abdicating its constitutional duty for political gain.

Rory Cooper of the Heritage Foundation writes, "Depending on exactly how the legislative language is drafted, it well might violate the Bicameralism and Presentment Clauses for the making of law, the separation of powers regarding Congress's control over the budget and spending, [and] the legislative Recommendations Clause, and it might also be struck down as an attempt to grant the President the equivalent of a line-item veto. It is also unclear whether the unconstitutional portion would be struck down by the courts and severed from the rest of the statute (which would eliminate Congress's ability to veto the cuts) or if the entire scheme would be struck down. But, at a minimum, the proposal is highly dubious as a matter of constitutional law."

Call us crazy, but we think the Constitution trumps political concerns. Regardless of the worthy strategic objective of limiting Obama to one term in office, or of limiting blame in the polls, the ends don't justify the means. The debt was run up by politicians who have ignored their sacred oaths to support and defend the Constitution. Congress and the president must take their oaths seriously, and solidify the full faith and credit of the United States by cutting excessive and unconstitutional spending. The goal should be to lower the debt ceiling, not bicker about how high to raise it. Following the Constitution -- not skirting it -- is the proper path to arrive there.

(Comment here.)

Essential Liberty
"Republicans have been neatly set up to take the fall if a deal is not reached by Aug. 2. Obama is already waving the red flag, warning ominously that Social Security, disabled veterans' benefits, 'critical' medical research, food inspection -- without which agriculture shuts down -- are in jeopardy. The Republicans are being totally outmaneuvered. The House speaker appears disoriented. It's time to act. Time to call Obama's bluff. A long-term deal or nothing? The Republican House should immediately pass a short-term debt-ceiling hike of $500 billion containing $500 billion in budget cuts. That would give us about five months to work on something larger. ... Will the Democratic Senate or the Democratic president refuse this offer and allow the country to default -- with all the cataclysmic consequences that the Democrats have been warning about for months -- because Obama insists on a deal that is 10 months and seven days longer? That's indefensible and transparently self-serving. Dare the president to make that case. Dare him to veto -- or the Democratic Senate to block -- a short-term debt-limit increase." --columnist Charles Krauthammer

24265  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Napolitano open letter to Boener on: July 15, 2011, 12:40:48 PM
http://www.theblaze.com/stories/judge-napolitanos-open-letter-to-john-boehner-a-common-sense-guide-to-what-needs-to-be-done/
24266  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / I'm shocked! Absolutely shocked! on: July 15, 2011, 12:22:28 PM
http://www.theblaze.com/stories/exposed-white-house-press-e-mails-reveal-anti-fox-news-bias/

Waiting for firestorm of indignation , , ,
24267  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hold the line! on: July 15, 2011, 11:58:44 AM


Dear Republicans - It's Time for You to Choose - Choose Wisely

Posted by Erick Erickson (Profile)

Friday, July 15th at 5:00AM EDT



“From here on out, if you lose this fight, every time you balk at expanding government, social security checks will be withheld, medicare payments will be withheld, and in just a few short years, surgeries will be cancelled, vaccinations withheld, and hospitals shuttered.”Dear House Republicans,

In the election of 2010, voters sent you to Washington to do two things: (1) End Obamacare and (2) pull us back from the brink of financial ruin.

You have failed at the first task. Obamacare remains. You never even seriously attempted to restrain its funding or implementation. Heck, you haven’t even saved the incandescent lightbulb.

Will you now fail at the second task too?

If you cave, fold, or compromise on the President’s terms, you will have failed in both your missions. If you support Mitch McConnell’s plan, you will have decisively failed.

Now is a time for choosing. Now is your time for choosing.As I pointed out to John Boehner yesterday, despite what the pundits in Washington are telling you, it is you and not Obama who hold most of the cards. Obama has a legacy to worry about. Should the United States lose its bond rating, it will be called the “Obama Depression”. Congress does not get pinned with this stuff.

But there are a few points that you need to understand.

First, as the hours go on, the doom and gloom scenarios are going to get worse. By the end of July, Goldman Sachs, Ben Bernanke, and Timmy Geithner are going to tell you the world will end unless you raise the debt ceiling.

They did it with TARP too.

And now we know that the amount of money used in TARP was far less than allocated and a lot of the TARP situation involved Hank Paulson forcing solvent banks to play along. Oh, and a great many Republicans were primaried out of office.

Do not believe the doom and gloom. Wise decisions are never made when premised on fear.

Second, understand that the pundits and talking heads people expect you to listen to probably have it wrong. Remember, in 2010, they told you that if you kept being the Party of No, you’d lose. And yet . . .

As I’ve said repeatedly, the pundits and chattering class in Washington have a bias far greater than their liberal one — it is a good government bias. They believe Republicans and Democrats should come together and do grand bargains. Evil and stupid come together and do something evil and stupid. The press heralds it as bipartisanship at its finest, damn the results. We’ve been doing these grand bargains for years. Remember the last time we had a balanced budget in DC? That was at $5 trillion in national debt and no one bothered to read the fine print that the “balance” was actually based on a 10 year Congressional Budget Office projection.

Likewise, the pundits with a good government bias for some reason tend to ignore the Democrats’ problems. In 2010, the media told us you beat the Democrats because the Democrats got their message wrong, not their policy. We know the truth. But we also know that the Democrats were willing to lose to advance socialism. Are you willing to lose to advance freedom?

Finally, and here is my big point — you have to win this fight. If you do not win this fight, there will be no more chances to turn back government. Why? Because President Obama is holding senior citizens hostage with their social security checks.

If the President can force your hand by using entitlements as a lever to punish the American people if you don’t do as he wants, you will have established this as a precedent. From here on out, if you lose this fight, every time you balk at expanding government, social security checks will be withheld, medicare payments will be withheld, and in just a few short years, surgeries will be cancelled, vaccinations withheld, and hospitals shuttered.

It will all be because if you lose this fight now, the Democrats will know for certain from here on out that they can use withholding entitlements as a tool to force your hand.

You must win this fight. You must show you are not afraid. When Ben Bernanke brings the Grim Reaper in on August 1st to tell you we are all going to die, you must mock death and choose life — not bipartisan compromises that will keep growing government and ever more rapidly turn this nation into a third class banana republic. In short, you must hold the freaking line!

Now, some of you, if you have read this far, are saying, “But in 1995, the Republicans got blamed for shutting down the government.” They did. But that’s because Americans detest losers. And Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole threw in the towel instead of fighting. Their will broke. They did not break the President’s will. Of course, the next year the GOP still only lost 9 House seats and actually gained Senate seats. Imagine what would have happened had they broken the President’s will.

House Republicans, this is a time for choosing: Do you choose to be more courageous than the Democrats who were willing to risk defeat to advance socialism? Is keeping your job more important to you than saving the country? If so, the odds are you will both lose your job and lose your country.

This is a time for choosing. Choose wisely.
24268  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: July 15, 2011, 11:30:09 AM
Thanks Rachel.  I needed that.
24269  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne on: July 15, 2011, 11:26:09 AM
"Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the most powerful Indian Tribe in American History"

I just finished reading the extraordinary book.  The research, the story itself and its telling are quite remarkable.  Gwynne is a tremendously gifted writer who not only turns the history into an exhilarating page turner, but captures the POV of both sides and the pathos of this remarkable and remarkably unknown history.

Truly a special book.
24270  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: July 15, 2011, 11:19:35 AM
Good piece, but , , , Although of course this has implications for the Presdential race, but then most things do.  So to prevent this thread from becoming an incoherent mishmash, please post that in the Budget thread.  Thank you.
24271  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: July 15, 2011, 11:17:15 AM
Bought it in 1997 and so we are still solidly in the black.  Moving out of CA is under consideration.
24272  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: July 15, 2011, 11:16:13 AM
That would be for the Media thread please smiley
24273  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 15, 2011, 11:15:27 AM
The Afghanistan Withdrawal Creates A Complex Diplomatic Dynamic

Three blasts struck Mumbai, India’s financial hub, Wednesday, killing at least 21 people and injuring more than 100 others. The attacks took place on the same day Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, head of Pakistan’s foreign intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate, was in Washington on an unannounced visit. These two developments come a day before the head of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council (which is supposed to lead talks with the Taliban), Burhanuddin Rabbani, is due to visit the Indian capital.

“With these state actors locked in a difficult dynamic, Islamist militant non-state actors allied with al Qaeda are trying to act as spoilers to U.S.-led regional efforts.”
These three seemingly disparate events are important in the frame of the U.S. strategy to withdraw NATO forces from Afghanistan. The withdrawal of Western forces from the southwest Asian nation requires the United States to maintain a difficult triangular balance between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. The United States and Pakistan must reconcile their differences on how to bring closure to the longest war in American history. The decades-old conflict between India and Pakistan also cannot be allowed to cloud the Western calculus for Afghanistan.

With these state actors locked in a difficult dynamic, Islamist militant non-state actors allied with al Qaeda are trying to act as spoilers to U.S.-led regional efforts. For al Qaeda and its South Asian allies, disrupting the American strategy is not only a means of countering their own existential issues but an opportunity to ensure that they can enhance their stature after Western forces pull out from Afghanistan. It is not clear whether Wednesday’s attacks were the work of al Qaeda-linked elements or local Indian Islamist militants. Nevertheless, the global jihadist network knows that the surest path toward their goals is reached by having Pakistan-based militants stage terrorist attacks in India, triggering an Indo-Pakistani conflict.

Washington, even as it tries to prevent such a scenario, must manage its unprecedented bilateral tensions with Pakistan. Washington and Islamabad should be jointly formulating an arrangement for post-NATO Afghanistan. However, this is not happening, at least not yet. The Obama administration is caught between the pragmatic need to work with Pakistan to achieve its goals in Afghanistan and idealistic ambitions of effecting a change in the Pakistani security establishment’s attitude toward Islamist militant proxies.

The ISI chief’s visit to Washington is an attempt by Pakistan to clear up misunderstandings and to try to get the Americans to appreciate the view from Islamabad. Pakistan does not want a Western exit from Afghanistan that exacerbates the jihadist insurgency within Pakistan’s borders.

While the Pakistanis work to sort out their problems with the Americans, India is concerned about its own regional security in post-NATO Afghanistan. Rabbani’s visit to the Indian capital is an important part of New Delhi’s efforts in this regard. Rabbani is the former Afghan president whose presidency was toppled when the Taliban captured Kabul in 1996 and he is the most senior leader of the country’s largest ethnic minority, the Tajiks. The Tajiks have long opposed Pakistan’s backing of Pashtun forces, the Talibs in particular. Although Rabbani recently paid an extensive visit to Pakistan in an effort to facilitate peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban, he remains closer to the Indians than to the Pakistanis.

For this reason, Rabbani’s trip to New Delhi will be of concern to Islamabad. The Pakistanis hope that what they perceive as a disproportionate amount of Indian influence in Afghanistan will sink to manageable levels after NATO forces leave. Conversely, India does not want to lose the leverage it has built over the past decade in Afghanistan.

Therefore, a three-way relationship exists that needs to find its natural balance. Such an equilibrium cannot just be conducive to a NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan; it must also prevent a regional conflagration after the U.S.-led Western troops have departed.
===========

Assassination May Create Leadership Void In Crucial Kandahar

Ahmed Wali Karzai, a Kandahar strongman and the half-brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, was shot and killed during a meeting July 12 by a security commander from Ahmed Wali’s hometown. Sadar Mohammad, the shooter, who was then killed by Karzai’s bodyguards, had long worked for the Karzai family. Both men were members of the Popolzai tribe, which belongs to the Pashtun, Afghanistan’s main ethnic group. Much speculation will center on the reasons for the shooting — whether it resulted, for instance, from a personal dispute, perhaps related to Ahmed Wali’s illicit activities, or from an infiltration by the Taliban (which the latter claims, as they do in many cases whether they are responsible or not). Ahmed Wali’s death is an important development, but it must be looked at in the appropriate context to be understood.

“President Hamid Karzai will seek a replacement able to maintain the existing networks and power structure, but Ahmed Wali’s charisma, clout and relationships make him tough to replace.”
Ahmed Wali was often accused of corruption, drug dealing and other illicit behavior, yet his brother gave him consistently unflinching support. This loyalty was not simply due to family connections but reflected the important role Ahmed Wali played in maintaining the presence and influence of his brother’s government in Kandahar province, the Taliban’s homeland. While he was not the actual governor, as chairman of the provincial council Ahmed Wali developed relationships with various power networks in the Pashtun region. He even interacted with the Taliban, both out of pragmatism and for personal gain.

Ahmed Wali spent years systematically developing networks to enhance his wealth and influence — and to some extent that of the Karzai regime. He had his hands in all business in the province — from the drug trade to facilitating the movement of resources from the United States. Many U.S. officials would like to think that weeding out corruption would help a viable government take root in Kandahar. However, that same convoluted system of personal networks is characteristic of Afghan politics and is essential to maintaining stability. Ahmed Wali’s success within this system ensured Hamid Karzai’s influence and presence on the Taliban’s core territory.

A reassessment of all local alliances is necessary in gauging the state of affairs in Kandahar province after Ahmed Wali’s killing. President Karzai will seek to appoint a successor able to maintain the existing networks and power structure, but Ahmed Wali’s charisma, clout and relationships make him tough to replace. Conversely, his death gives the Taliban an opportunity to compete for some of these networks — not to mention lucrative narcotics routes — and to fracture or divide others. Local warlords and businessmen will be deciding where to place their allegiance in order to maximize their positions, security and personal gain. This process can be particularly fluid in a country like Afghanistan, and the timing is especially delicate as the United States and its allies are beginning to draw down their forces in the region.

As the United States prepares to begin its withdrawal, the important question is how much authority the Karzai regime can maintain against Taliban forces in the Taliban’s ethnic, tribal and historical geographic core. Kandahar is a key indicator. With or without Ahmed Wali, Kandahar is where we can first expect the Taliban to gain influence when foreign troops leave. Without Ahmed Wali as a bulwark against their influence — and if a capable successor is not found — the Karzai regime’s ability to maintain control after a U.S. exit just got harder. Meanwhile, if the Taliban or other groups try and take Ahmed Wali’s networks, renewed instability and fighting in the south could make the U.S. drawdown more difficult.

If the Taliban can capitalize on this moment and fracture the Karzai power structure substantially, it would bring about an important shift at a time when the United States is attempting to reshape perceptions and redefine the war. As Washington attempts to initiate and then accelerate the drawdown, U.S. leadership is trying to negotiate with the Taliban through intermediaries. The loss of Ahmed Wali eliminates one such conduit and potentially increases U.S. dependence on Pakistani networks.

A STRATFOR source illustrated the tenuous situation created by the loss of Ahmed Wali. The source said that some locals working with the International Security Assistance Force, upon hearing of Ahmed Wali’s death, rushed to withdraw their money from Kabul Bank, a business over which he wielded substantial influence. The question now becomes whether the United States and the Karzai regime can maintain stability if the structure they have so painstakingly built begins to come apart. Ahmed Wali was no doubt important, but it is unclear how much the development and perpetuation of his networks depended on his personality. It remains to be seen whether the command, management and maintenance of the networks he built can be transitioned without significant maneuvering and fracturing . For the Karzai regime, the challenge is to fill the leadership void in the midst of the U.S. withdrawal. For the United States, it must handle negotiations with Pakistan to manage its withdrawal from Afghanistan.



24274  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Baraq lies on SS checks on: July 15, 2011, 10:00:16 AM
http://frontpagemag.com/2011/07/15/debt-ceiling-demagoguery-or-extortion-2/print/
24275  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury on June CPI on: July 15, 2011, 09:58:44 AM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) fell 0.2% in June To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 7/15/2011


The Consumer Price Index (CPI) fell 0.2% in June versus a consensus expected decline of 0.1%. The CPI is up 3.6% versus a year ago.

“Cash” inflation (which excludes the government’s estimate of what homeowners would charge themselves for rent) was down 0.3% in June but is up 4.2% in the past year.

The fall in the CPI was all due to a 4.4% drop in energy prices. Food prices were up 0.2%. Excluding food and energy, the “core” CPI increased 0.3% versus a consensus expected gain of 0.2%. Core prices are up 1.6% versus last year.

Real average hourly earnings – the cash earnings of all employees, adjusted for inflation – rose 0.2% in June but are down 1.5% in the past year. Real weekly earnings are down 0.9% in the past year.

Implications:  The Federal Reserve is losing its main excuse for keeping short-term rates near zero. Although the headline inflation number fell 0.2% in June, it was all due to what now appears to have been a temporary drop in energy prices. Higher energy prices in July mean the headline CPI will start moving up again in next month’s report. Today’s news is not a reason for the Fed or investors to become complacent about inflation. Despite the drop in June, consumer prices are up 3.6% in the past year and up 4.2% if we focus on “cash” inflation, which excludes the government’s estimate of what homeowners would pay themselves in rent. Moreover, monetary policymakers have been using low “core” inflation (which excludes food and energy) to justify keeping short-term interest rates near zero. But core inflation is accelerating. Although core prices are still up only 1.6% in the past year, they increased 0.3% in June following another 0.3% increase in May. In the past two months ‘core” prices are up at a 3.3% annual rate, the fastest two-month pace since 2006. The sharp increase in auto prices in June is related to supply-chain disruptions from Japan. Vehicle prices increased 1% in June and are up at an 11.2% annual rate in the past four months, the fastest pace on record (dating back to 1993). Inflation has been evident at the producer level for some time. Now, producers are passing some of those costs on to consumers. Rising inflation is a concern now, but we fully expect the Fed to maintain short-term interest rates near zero until at least mid-2012.

24276  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / George Friedman on: July 15, 2011, 08:52:09 AM
A re-emerging Russia is restoring its global influence without taking on the burden of an empire. In the second of his series on global pressure points, STRATFOR CEO Dr. George Friedman applauds Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s achievements and examines the Russian-U.S. relationship.   

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

Colin: Ronald Reagan used to call the Soviet Union, as it then was, “the evil empire.” Today, modern Russia presents differently. No longer an empire of course, but a huge country regaining a powerful influence.

Welcome to Agenda with George Friedman. George, last year the premiership of Vladimir Putin was characterized by various attempts — some effective, some less so —to claw back under Russia’s influence, some parts of the old Soviet empire.

George: Let’s begin by trying to explain what it was that Putin in particular created. What he recognized was the problem of the Soviet empire, the problem with the czarist empire, was that they totally controlled surrounding territories. As such, they benefited from them, but they were responsible for them as well, and so that wealth was transferred into them to maintain them, to sustain the regimes, and so on and so forth. Putin came up with a new structure in which he had limited desires from countries like Ukraine. These were irreducible, that is to say, they could not be part of NATO, could not have hostile forces there, they had to cooperate on a bunch of issues. But Russia was not responsible for their future, and it was really a brilliant maneuver because it gave them the benefit of the Russian empire, of the Soviet Union, without the responsibilities, without the drain on the Russian treasury.

And what he has created in Ukraine, in Kazakhstan, in Belarus, is sovereignty for these nations and yet alignment with Russia. And this has made Russia a very powerful player because its house is in order at the same time that, for example, as the European house is in massive disorder. And a country like Germany, for example, living in a very disorderly house now, begins to question whether or not that’s the house it wants to live in, and given the dependence they have on Russian natural gas, given the opportunities they have for investment and technology transfer in Russia, when they look at their relationship with Greece, for example, and they look at the opportunities available within the Russian sphere, they’re attracted to it. But what you’ve really seen the Russians do is a brilliant re-thinking of what it means to have an empire: how to get rid of the liabilities, maintain the benefits and then from a position of strength, deal with countries like Germany and the United States.

Colin: So, STRATFOR was perhaps a little unkind in its forecast for 2011 when it said that Russia would play a double game, ensuring it can reap benefits from having warm relations with countries, such as investment and economic ties, while keeping the pressure up on them. It’s been a clever game, hasn’t it?

George: Well, a double game is a clever game, particularly when no one realizes you’re playing a double game. I have to say that I don’t regard duplicity among nations as a critique of nations, it’s the lifeblood of international affairs. The Russians have said many things in many ways. Right now, they have moved out of the period of confrontation. Until really the Georgian invasion, which thoroughly startled the region and shocked Washington that Moscow would act in such a way, they have been very busy trying to reassert the level of control that they want, to reassert their rights in their sphere of influence and to confront the West. They’ve become much more accommodating because they’ve achieved, within the former Soviet Union, the goals they wanted to achieve by and large. They have become more than just first among equals, they have become the dominant political force in the region, worrying about countries like Tajikistan, worrying about Kyrgyzstan. This has been a transformation and so now they don’t have to be confrontational. Now they’re operating from a position of strength and therefore they don’t have to assert their strength. Now they’re being courted by the Americans, they’re being courted by the Germans and this is the position that Putin wanted to get them into, and he did.

Colin: Now the next president — Putin seems very much in charge and probably wouldn’t bother too much about regaining the presidency this time around anyway.

George: Well, we just spoke about duplicity and double games and I suspect that Medvedev and Putin are playing a double game. I’ve never doubted for a moment that Putin was in charge. He’s the man who masterminded it. But I will also say this: had Putin been hit by a car in 2000, another Putin would have emerged. The direction in which Putin took Russia, rebuilding the security apparatus to control the state, rebuilding the state to control Russia, rebuilding Russia to dominate the former Soviet Union — this was a natural course for any Russian president to follow. This Russian empire, the Soviet Union, were not accidents of history. They didn’t just happen. They were structures that grew naturally from the underlying economic and political relationships.

So as much as I admire Putin for doing what is necessary, I don’t think that Putin as an individual defined what was going to happen. And I don’t think that if Medvedev comes to power, and the White House may like Medvedev more than they like Putin, I don’t think it will change very much. Russia is far too vast to simply be the whim of a given personality. In my view even Stalin represented the vast czarist and Leninist tradition, to an extreme perhaps, but still the idea of the personalization of rule.

Colin: Do we think that relations between the United States and Russia are trending better and if so, is this likely to continue?

George: The media tends to think of better and worse relations — I don’t think of that. Russia has its interests; the United States has its interests. There are times when these interests coincide; there are times when these interests diverge. There are times when one country or the other is too preoccupied with other things to be worried about the other. At the moment, the truth of the matter is that the United States remains deeply concerned with Iraq and Afghanistan and the uprising in the Arab world. The United States doesn’t have that much time to worry about Russia and so you can say that relations have become better. But you can equally say that when they come worse, it’s not so much that a decision was made to make them worse, it’s just natural tensions arising.

Colin: George, thank you. And in next week’s Agenda, George will look at China.

24277  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fire Hydrant: Howls from Crafty Dog, Rules of the Road, etc on: July 15, 2011, 12:12:23 AM
Back home.
24278  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: July 15, 2011, 12:11:39 AM
Back home smiley
24279  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: July 14, 2011, 11:51:03 PM
We're drifting a bit back towards budget discussion, but what I want to focus on here is what to do with my meager savings, hence the specific questions I asked.

BTW, did anyone notice Moody's warning shot across the bow?  IMHO a downgrade would mean instant higher interest rates, which means the deficit instantly becomes bigger.
24280  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: July 13, 2011, 05:32:48 PM
Ummm , , , that's a tough one.  Do I get to print the money with which I pay off the debts incurred?
24281  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The always pithy Day by Day Cartoon on: July 13, 2011, 04:21:38 PM
http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2011/07/13/
24282  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 13, 2011, 03:52:13 PM
Well, we've been doing the same thing too; as a matter of fact we've been so strict about it there somewhere between 12,000,000 and 20,000,000 of them.

OTOH, the investor class, the educated, the rules following, the English speaking, seem to have a harder time of it , , ,
24283  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Training Camp August 12-14 on: July 13, 2011, 01:24:37 PM
I do NOT do speedos! cheesy

BTW folks, it looks like we may have a special extra.  A South African security specialist (who has worked in East Africa as well) and author of an anti-carjacking book, is now scheduled to come and do a presentation, including some drills in, out of, and around a car.   This promises to be interesting, , ,
24284  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fall Dog Brothers Open Gathering of the Pack 9/18/11 on: July 13, 2011, 01:21:08 PM
I am looking forward to that fight!
24285  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: European “Gathering of the Pack” 2011 on: July 13, 2011, 01:19:57 PM
DLO yesterday.  Rest today.  Home tomorrow.
24286  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Security, Surveillance issues on: July 13, 2011, 01:18:48 PM

VIDEO: ABOVE THE TEARLINE: TRUSTED SECURITY PERSONNEL WHO KILL

Vice President of Intelligence Fred Burton examines the assassination of Ahmed Wali
Karzai and the risks posed to VIPs from trusted security personnel.

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

In this week’s Above the Tearline, we are going to examine the risk posed by trusted
security personnel in the aftermath of the killing of Wali Karzai in Afghanistan.
 
President Karzai's half-brother Wali was shot and killed in Kandahar on July 12 by a
trusted security official known to the family by the name of Sardar Mohammed.
According to the police official investigating the case, the victim was shot once in
the chest with a second round in the head. The victim, Wali Karzai, is no stranger
to controversy. He was linked to the CIA in Afghanistan and also allegedly tied to
drug smuggling in the country. Although the Taliban has claimed credit for his
assassination, the investigating police officer said that he could not rule out a
foreign hand. Having said that, if Wali Karzai was engaged in the drug running
business there could be other motives in play which caused his death.
 
This killing in Kandahar shows how trusted security personnel can be utilized
because of their access, means and opportunity. One of the tremendous weaknesses in
this arena is the selection and vetting of personnel that you're going to place in
these positions of trust and confidence. The challenge exists in developing
countries like Afghanistan with your inability to have robust process and procedures
to identify candidates as well as an aggressive update process to make sure that
person has not been flipped by a terrorist organization.
 
There is a historical precedence for security personnel being engaged in
high-profile killings. Going back to the Lincoln assassination at Ford’s Theatre,
when the police officer had abandoned his post allowing John Wilkes Booth to come in
and shoot President Lincoln. You can also look in the international arena with the
1984 assassination and Indira Gandhi by one of her personal bodyguards.
 
The Above the Tearline aspect with his video is: who watches the watchers? The fear
and vulnerability of this kind of threat exists in pretty much every protection
agency around the globe. You have individuals with guns that are placed in positions
of trust and confidence. The challenges of vetting these personnel abroad are always
going to be there. And at the end of the day, if someone is committed and willing to
die, in all probability he would be successful.
More Videos - http://www.stratfor.com/theme/video_dispatch
24287  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post on: July 13, 2011, 01:01:54 PM
=================================
The Patriot Post
Chronicle -- Wednesday, July 13, 2011
=================================
On the Web: http://patriotpost.us/edition/2011/07/13/chronicle/
Printer Friendly: http://patriotpost.us/edition/2011/07/13/chronicle/print
PDF Version: http://pdf.patriotpost.us.s3.amazonaws.com/2011-07-13-chronicle.pdf

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

The Foundation

"[W]hen all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be
drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks
provided of one government on another." --Thomas Jefferson

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

Editorial Exegesis

"Republicans seemed warily confident that they might get a [debt-ceiling] deal over
the weekend on cutting future spending without raising taxes -- a deal that would
likely lead to smaller future deficits, the possibility of badly needed tax reforms
and the resumption of economic and jobs growth. No such luck. Not only did Obama not
really put any specific major cuts on the table, he reportedly surprised negotiators
by asking them to agree to a 'balanced approach' to deficit-cutting by including a
job-killing $1.7 trillion in potential new tax hikes. ... As a new Heritage
Foundation study shows, the government's tax take under Obama's current budget plans
will 'increase rapidly' from its long-term average of about 18% of GDP to a ruinous
26% of GDP in coming decades. That's why he seemed desperate, saying we need to
'tear the Band-Aid' off and 'eat our peas' to get a deal done by Aug. 2, the phony
deadline established by Democrats for fiscal Armageddon. ... During the press
conference Monday in which he made his case for 'revenue increases' -- that is, tax
hikes -- in deficit talks, Obama suggested why: He wants to spend even more in the
future. He's not shy about airing his many ideas for this, among them what he calls
'investments' in Head Start and student loan programs, more government funding of
medical research, and even an 'infrastructure bank.' Such programs aren't possible,
Obama said, 'if we haven't gotten our fiscal house in order.' This almost defies
belief. This is how we got into the problem in the first place. Too much government,
too much spending, too many regulations, too many taxes. Is Obama really that out of
touch with Americans? It seems so." --Investor's Business Daily
(http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/577932/201107111858/Compromise-Not-On-Taxes.htm
)

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

Essential Liberty

"The ignorance about our country is staggering. According to one survey, only 28% of
students could identify the Constitution as the supreme law of the land. Only 26% of
students knew that the first 10 amendments to the Constitution are called the Bill
of Rights. Fewer than one-quarter of students knew that George Washington was the
first president of the United States. ... Ignorance and possibly contempt for
American values, civics and history might help explain how someone like Barack Obama
could become president of the United States. At no other time in our history could a
person with longtime associations with people who hate our country become president.
... The fact that Obama became president and brought openly Marxist people into his
administration doesn't say so much about him as it says about the effects of decades
of brainwashing of the American people by the education establishment, media and the
intellectual elite." --economist Walter E. Williams
(http://patriotpost.us/opinion/walter-e-williams/2011/07/13/failing-liberty-101/ )

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

Upright

"It's a common refrain among those who lust to increase government's size and power:
Every failed measure justifies more of the same. Poverty programs make it harder to
escape poverty? We need more poverty programs! Racial preferences heighten racial
division? We need more racial preferences! And a diversity manual for every janitor
in the country! When ObamaCare ends up driving the costs of medicine up and the
quality and availability down, you can bet the people who created that monstrosity
will claim it failed only because it didn't go far enough. Let's generalize this
into the First Rule of Liberalism: Government failure always justifies more
government." --Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto

"Speaking for himself on July 11, the president offered that he had 'hundreds of
thousands of dollars that I don't need.' The president is of course welcome to
donate as much of his extra money as he likes to the federal treasury. He knows
Timothy Geithner personally and can probably get a guarantee that his check will be
cashed without delay. And since the president is so ready to impute unpleasant
motives (like greed) to those who oppose tax increases, perhaps we should impute
some sort of moral failing to him for not having thus far contributed his spare
change to the government." --columnist Mona Charen

"[T]he sheer incompetence and, in some cases, mendacity, of the current crop of
statist politicians in both the legislative and executive branches seem likely to
bring on an economic crisis that will actually force Americans to decide between a
constitutional restoration and a full embrace of statism. ... This pantomime
deficit-reduction process is evidence that those in charge have lost their mental
grip on the true dimensions of the fiscal crisis. Once they have lost their mental
grip, their economic grip -- and then their political grip -- also will soon slip
away, followed, perhaps, by a restoration of liberty." --columnist Tony Blankley

"Welfare mostly subsidizes people in poverty, helping few escape from it. In their
hearts, most people who are poor would like to be rich, or at least self-sustaining,
but this president never talks about how they might achieve that goal. Instead, he
criticizes those who made the right choices and now enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Rather than use successful people as examples for the poor to follow, the president
seeks to punish the rich with higher taxes and more regulations on their
businesses." --columnist Cal Thomas

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

Patriot News Review

We value your time. As a service to you, our editorial team evaluates hundreds of
reputable news sources each day for headlines that are relevant to our mission --
the advancement of Liberty. We post links to the most notable news by 0800 ET,
weekdays, and throughout the day. This page is also updated over the weekend. Don't
waste time surfing news sites. Visit the Patriot News Review
(http://patriotpost.us/headlines/ ).

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

The Demo-gogues

Deal now, spend more later: "Let's get this [debt ceiling] problem off the table ...
[and] with a solid fiscal situation, we will then be in a position to make the kind
of investments that I think are going to be necessary to win the future." --Barack
Obama

A great GOP campaign ad: "So, when you hear folks saying 'Well, the president
shouldn't want massive job killing tax increases when the economy is this weak.'
Nobody's looking to raise taxes right now. We're talking about potentially 2013 and
the out years." --Barack Obama

Hypocrisy: "You go talk to your constituents and ask them, 'Are you willing to
compromise your kids' safety so some corporate-jet owner can get a tax break?'"
--Barack Obama (Obama and his jet-setting entourage are the biggest spenders in the
world. How about we reverse the question?)

Constituents don't know anything: "Let me distinguish between professional
politicians and the public at large. You know, the public is not paying close
attention to the ins and outs of how a Treasury auction goes. They shouldn't.
They're worrying about their family, they're worrying about their jobs. They're
worrying about their neighborhood. They have got a lot of other things on their
plate. We're paid to worry about it." --Barack Obama, scoffing at the fact that more
than two-thirds of the electorate oppose increasing the debt ceiling

It's okay to mix religion and politics when Democrats do it: "What would Jesus do
this weekend? Or Moses? Or Allah? Or anyone else? I don't want this [debt
negotiations] book closed without the clergy having an opportunity to forcefully
express themselves as well as I know they can do." --Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY)

Belly laugh of the week: "Now, without re-litigating the past, I'm absolutely
convinced, and the vast majority of economists are convinced, that the steps we took
in the Recovery Act saved millions of people their jobs or created a whole bunch of
jobs. And part of the evidence of that is as you see what happens with the Recovery
Act phasing out." --Barack Obama arguing that current job losses are proof that the
stimulus worked

Throwing granny off a cliff: "I cannot guarantee that those [Social Security] checks
go out on August 3rd if we haven't resolved this [debt debate issue]. Because there
may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it. This is not just a matter of
Social Security checks. These are veterans checks, these are folks on disability and
their checks. There are about 70 million checks that go out." --Barack Obama

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

Dezinformatsia

And it's right-wingers employing extremist rhetoric: "Is the Republican Party
willing to risk economic Armageddon in the name of religion, that is the religion of
no taxes? Well, the GOP has become the Wahhabis of American government, willing to
risk bringing down the whole country in the service of their anti-tax ideology. ...
The Party's being driven by fanatics and they're determined to bounce America's
savings bonds and have the United States begin to become like Greece." --MSNBC's
Chris Matthews

The BIG Lie: "Every fresh report of 'progress' on the debt-ceiling talks produces
new reasons to feel profoundly uneasy. The talks were misbegotten from the
beginning, made necessary only by the irresponsible refusal of Republicans to pay
the nation's bills unless they got everything their way on government spending and
taxes. ... It is already clear that the Republicans have succeeded spectacularly in
their insistence that the agreement be mostly about spending cuts rather than
building back the money lost from the Bush tax cuts that was the principal cause of
the deficit." --The New York Times

Blame game: "Wall Street wants to make it look like Fannie [Mae] and Freddie [Mac]
were the drivers behind the mortgage collapse, when in fact Wall Street led the way
and Fannie and Freddie basically caught up. I think, you know, Fannie and Freddie
were the product of government policy, both parties, and President Bush championed
the ownership society, and pushing low-cost mortgages were part of the Republican
inroad into the Hispanic community. So this wreaks of politics, but you cannot say
that Fannie and Freddie led the way with all those financial instruments."
--Newsweek's Eleanor Clift

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

Newspulper Headlines:

Out on a Limb: "Obama Really Might Have Made It Worse" --Reuters

Coming This Fall on the Discovery Channel: 'Dreary Jobs': "Obama Asks Congress for
Help on Dreary Jobs Front" --NationalJournal.com

That's Racist: "Mello Yello Returns to Japan" --JapanToday.com

He Was Just Trying to Put a Little Spark Back Into the Marriage: "Jilted Husband
Built Electric Chair in Garage in Attempt to Kill Wife" --Daily Telegraph (London)

Questions Nobody Is Asking: "Why Does Dominique Strauss-Kahn Have White Hair and
Black Eyebrows?" --Slate.com

Answers to Questions Nobody Is Asking: "What Obama Wants" --The New York Times

(Thanks to The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto
(http://online.wsj.com/article/best_of_the_web_today.html ))

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

Village Idiots

Recovery is a long time coming: "I think it will take a long time still. This is a
very tough economy. And I think for a lot of people, it's going to feel very hard,
harder than the experience in a lifetime for some time to come. And that is because
that is the tragic effects of a crisis this deep and this bad caused by a long
period of lost opportunities to do things that made the country stronger."
--Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner

Spread the wealth: "This is about bringing fiscal soundness so the world and
Americans can know that we can solve our problems ourselves, and do it in a way that
there is shared pain, and there is shared responsibility. And that is what the
president is fighting for." --White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley

Race bait: "There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax
and all the voter Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit a
franchise that we see today. ... Why should we disenfranchise people forever once
they've paid their price? Because most of them in Florida were African Americans and
Hispanics and would tend to vote for Democrats, that's why." --Bill Clinton on voter
ID laws

Gun Grabbers: "For years, Americans and Mexicans have watched in horror as Mexican
drug cartels have used assault rifles trafficked from America to kill thousands of
people and export drugs to our country. Now, after some in Congress unsuccessfully
tried to block this new reporting tool, the Department of Justice has finally
announced they are implementing it to help investigators take down illegal gun
traffickers. It's an encouraging sign that the administration is taking the
bloodshed at the border seriously -- and taking action to address it." --Boston
Mayor Thomas Menino of "Mayors Against Illegal Guns"

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

Short Cuts

"As the late Joseph Sobran quipped, 'The Constitution poses no threat to our form of
government.' That is, unless We the People begin to apply it to hold the Obama
administration and its toadies accountable for unleashing legal and fiscal anarchy
on our country." --columnist Robert Knight

"[F]or those of you who want [to] spread the blame equally between the parties,
understand this: Republicans have proposed a budget for this year and the next.
Democrats have proposed nothing. Republicans have proposed fixes for entitlements.
Democrats have proposed nothing. Republicans have proposed reforming the tax system.
Democrats have proposed nothing. Why? Because something, with a healthy dollop of
media assistance, can be demagogued to death, detail after media-skewed detail.
Nothing? Nothing is nothing." --columnist Arnold Ahlert

"The U.S. is now in serious danger of defaulting on our foreign loans, which
explains why today, China showed up and broke the Statue of Liberty's kneecaps."
--Jimmy Fallon

"You know what the scary part is? Not that the government will cease to function,
[but] that they think this is actually the government functioning. They think it is
working well." --comedian Jay Leno

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
The Patriot Post Editorial Team
24288  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education/Parenting on: July 13, 2011, 12:55:51 PM
Essential Liberty

"The ignorance about our country is staggering. According to one survey, only 28% of
students could identify the Constitution as the supreme law of the land. Only 26% of
students knew that the first 10 amendments to the Constitution are called the Bill
of Rights. Fewer than one-quarter of students knew that George Washington was the
first president of the United States. ... Ignorance and possibly contempt for
American values, civics and history might help explain how someone like Barack Obama
could become president of the United States. At no other time in our history could a
person with longtime associations with people who hate our country become president.
... The fact that Obama became president and brought openly Marxist people into his
administration doesn't say so much about him as it says about the effects of decades
of brainwashing of the American people by the education establishment, media and the
intellectual elite." --economist Walter E. Williams
(http://patriotpost.us/opinion/walter-e-williams/2011/07/13/failing-liberty-101/ )
24289  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / IBD before the McConnel fold on: July 13, 2011, 12:54:16 PM
Surely Rep candidates should be making these points with the same gusto , , ,


Editorial Exegesis

"Republicans seemed warily confident that they might get a [debt-ceiling] deal over
the weekend on cutting future spending without raising taxes -- a deal that would
likely lead to smaller future deficits, the possibility of badly needed tax reforms
and the resumption of economic and jobs growth. No such luck. Not only did Obama not
really put any specific major cuts on the table, he reportedly surprised negotiators
by asking them to agree to a 'balanced approach' to deficit-cutting by including a
job-killing $1.7 trillion in potential new tax hikes. ... As a new Heritage
Foundation study shows, the government's tax take under Obama's current budget plans
will 'increase rapidly' from its long-term average of about 18% of GDP to a ruinous
26% of GDP in coming decades. That's why he seemed desperate, saying we need to
'tear the Band-Aid' off and 'eat our peas' to get a deal done by Aug. 2, the phony
deadline established by Democrats for fiscal Armageddon. ... During the press
conference Monday in which he made his case for 'revenue increases' -- that is, tax
hikes -- in deficit talks, Obama suggested why: He wants to spend even more in the
future. He's not shy about airing his many ideas for this, among them what he calls
'investments' in Head Start and student loan programs, more government funding of
medical research, and even an 'infrastructure bank.' Such programs aren't possible,
Obama said, 'if we haven't gotten our fiscal house in order.' This almost defies
belief. This is how we got into the problem in the first place. Too much government,
too much spending, too many regulations, too many taxes. Is Obama really that out of
touch with Americans? It seems so." --Investor's Business Daily
(http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/577932/201107111858/Compromise-Not-On-Taxes.htm
24290  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: July 13, 2011, 12:43:10 PM
Exactly.  Core beliefs?  The Tea Party goes too far. tongue  As best as I can tell Huntsman is the candidate of the Bush wing of the Republican Party.
24291  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 13, 2011, 12:38:58 PM
I think you misapprehend the general view around here.  I, and most here I think, would be delighted to have hard working educated investor entrepeneurial type people who want to learn English and become Americans coming here.
24292  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mumbai 2 on: July 13, 2011, 12:36:23 PM
STRATFOR
---------------------------
July 13, 2011


RED ALERT: MULTIPLE EXPLOSIONS IN MUMBAI

Three explosions were reported in Mumbai on July 13 in the crowded Opera House,
Zaveri Bazaar and Dadar areas of the city. The explosions began around 7:10 p.m. and
occurred within minutes of each other. There are reports that a fourth bomb, likely
at the Roxy Theater, failed to detonate. Current casualty estimates indicate five
people have been killed and 100 injured thus far.
 
This marks the first major attack in India since the November 2008 Mumbai attacks.
Though the magnitude of these explosions has yet to be determined, this attack does
not appear to be as sophisticated as the 2008 attacks, which involved an assault
team consisting of a number of militants that coordinated 10 shooting and bombing
attacks across the city. The July 13 attack, by contrast, appears to have not
involved suicide attackers but consisted of explosives placed in a taxi, a meter box
and locations where they could be remotely detonated. This tactic is much more in
line with those used by more amateurish groups, such the Indian Mujahideen, who have
targeted crowded urban areas before.

Nonetheless, the attack comes at a critical juncture in U.S.-Pakistani relations as
the United States is trying to accelerate a withdrawal of its military forces in
Afghanistan. The 2008 Mumbai attacks revealed the extent to which traditional
Pakistan-based Islamist militant groups, such as elements from the defunct
Lashkar-e-Taiba, had collaborated with transnational jihadist elements like al Qaeda
in trying to instigate a crisis between Islamabad and New Delhi. Such a crisis would
complicate U.S.-Pakistani dealings on Afghanistan, potentially serving the interests
of al Qaeda as well as factions within Pakistan trying to derail a negotiation
between the United States and Pakistan.

Copyright 2011 STRATFOR.
24293  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: July 13, 2011, 12:32:01 PM
In precisely that vein , , ,

Posted by Erick Erickson (Profile)
Wednesday, July 13th at 5:00AM EDT
47 Comments
Everyone is using the hostage metaphor these days regarding the debt ceiling. Barack Obama started it back in December when he called the GOP hostage takers before the GOP gave him everything he wanted.

Well, I hope the GOP noticed Barack Obama yesterday upped the ante and declared his willingness to shoot his hostages, i.e. senior citizens. Yes, if the GOP dares to hold the line on spending cuts, Barack Obama will balk, the debt limit will not be raised, and Obama will refuse to pay senior citizens.

Jim Pethokoukis notes a Goldman Sachs report showing there will be plenty of money flowing into the treasury in August for the government to pay its debt obligations, pay social security obligations, pay military obligations, and avoid default. But Obama won’t let facts stand in the way of starving senior citizens to score political points against the GOP.

Of course, it is not just Obama willing to score political points. Mitch McConnell wants to give Barack Obama the right to automatically raise the debt ceiling. The only caveat is McConnell wants everyone to know it’ll be Obama who does it, not the GOP. Just how bad is McConnell’s plan? After David Hauptmann, a staffer in McConnell’s office, sent out an email linking to a National Review Online column that said Grover Norquist “supported” Mitch McConnell’s capitulation, Americans for Tax Reform rapidly sent out a press release saying Norquist did not support the plan, just “the goals.” They also asked NRO to clarify.

Undeterred, McConnell enlisted the support of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, which came out swinging not just in favor of McConnell’s plan, but also pretty directly against me. I can console myself that they also supported McConnell’s push for TARP.The Journal’s editorial opines

The hotter precincts of the blogosphere were calling this a sellout yesterday, though they might want to think before they shout. The debt ceiling is going to be increased one way or another, and the only question has been what if anything Republicans could get in return.

As I first out of the gate and drew the most ire from McConnell supporters, I think it is safe to conclude they are unhappy with me. Nonetheless, let’s move beyond the rather snotty “we are the adults and the rest of you are unwashed ignorant masses” tone of the editorial and get right to what they actually say.

They might not like my use of the word “sellout,” but McConnell’s plan is exactly what Barack Obama wants. He’ll get to raise the debt ceiling with no obligations to do anything else, except conduct a dog and pony show.

I have written repeated — not that the crack editorialists care — that the debt ceiling is going to go up. I have also written that, however admirable the opposition to any increase is, it is not realistic.

I have then gone on to say that the GOP must hold the line on their cut, cap, and balance plan.

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial goes on to note this:

The tea party/talk-radio expectations for what Republicans can accomplish over the debt-limit showdown have always been unrealistic. As former Senator Phil Gramm once told us, never take a hostage you’re not prepared to shoot. Republicans aren’t prepared to stop a debt-limit increase because the political costs are unbearable. Republicans might have played this game better, but the truth is that Mr. Obama has more cards to play

The President today signaled his willingness to shoot the hostage. The GOP should do the same — show an absolute unwillingness to raise the debt ceiling without their balanced budget amendment passing out of Congress to the states.

Again and again, Congress folds to the doomsday scenarios. The Wall Street Journal again and again claims the sky will fall and the markets will crash. The suits come down from New York and paint the disaster scenario. The GOP falls in line. TARP is passed. What else will be passed?

This time, the GOP should embrace the apocalyptic future, call B.S. on the fear mongering, and shoot their debt ceiling hostage. if they engage in politics as usual as the Wall Street Journal and Mitch McConnell would have them, we’ll be back in this mess again next year.

Politics as usual usually gets us here. If we want to move back to fiscal sanity, we need to try a different approach.
24294  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Contract with America on: July 13, 2011, 10:43:02 AM
Newt appears to be toast for a variety of reasons, but that does not mean the man is lacking is some pretty sharp insights.

One of the points he made in the first debarte, was that this campaign needs to be about establishing a change in who is in power, not just winning the presidency.  It needs to be a campaign about ideas and a platform, not a popularity contest between two candidates.

Newt tookover the Congress for the first time in many decades ! with the "Contract with America".  When the Reps won, they had the power to change things e.g. Welfare Reform- this was and remains a big deal- cutting capital gains and much more.   What is the Rep CWA now?  They howl about deficits instead of spending (enabling tax increases to be part of the coversatiaon) and except for Ryan, are too chickenexcrement to name the elephant in the room.  ENTITLEMENTS WILL HAVE TO GET OFF OF BASELINE BUDGETING AND CONVERT TO VOUCHERS WITH A NUMBER= THIS AND NO MORE.

The unique uni-polar world of American Supremacy certain did not have to go the way that it has, but multi-polar is inevitable and the question is America's strategy in that.   Where is the Rep vision here?  Do we want to run on going further into Afpakia? Hitting Iran?  I'd be  game for a lot of things that would put me well outside the normal bell curve, but given the level of competence displayed by Bush-Rumbo and Bowing Baraq and the obvious incoherence of our stategy in Afpakia and the lack of anyone articulating anything plausible about Iran, I can't say as I blame the American people for declining to fk around another 10 years in Afpakia and not really caring that Baraq deliberately undercut his campaing promise to win the right and essential war of self defense in Afpakia by declaring we would be leaving it up to the Afghanis in 18 months.

Foreign affairs has been a Rep political strength for a long time.  We have a president apparently doing his best to accelerate our decline in the world and yet Rep candidates have no counter vision.
24295  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: July 13, 2011, 10:19:08 AM
I am profoundly disappointed to hear that.  Huey made a real effort and there were LOTS of yard signs for him and a lot of hard work by his team.  This is a real disappointment.  The Dem winner is a second or third generation LA Dem hack.
24296  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 13, 2011, 10:16:35 AM
GM:

I'd suggest you search "Gilder" here and read his pieces which I have posted on the subject of Israel.  There is quote a story there.
24297  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: July 13, 2011, 06:45:33 AM
I was really irked the other day on the gay propaganda starting in grade school bill that Gov. Brown is about to sign.   angry angry angry
24298  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: July 13, 2011, 06:21:01 AM
About a year ago ? the Euro had its first bad spell due to the Greek situation.

During that time, exactly what happened in the markets?  I am guessing that there was a flight to safety for the dollar and attendant downward pressure on interest rates.  What happened to gold, silver, US markets?

24299  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / While the Pravdas sleep , , , on: July 13, 2011, 06:01:36 AM
New Pentagon chief Leon Panetta's maiden journey to America's conflict zones this week garnered attention for his alleged misstatements about the pace of the Afghan troop drawdown and the rationale for the Iraq war. We came away more concerned by his incomplete answers to Iran's designs on Iraq and America's future role there.

Five months before a planned final withdrawal, Iran's proxies in Iraq are putting the squeeze on the U.S. and its allies. Three senior U.S. officials, including Mr. Panetta, say "forensic proof" shows that Iran is funding, arming and training Shiite militias, among them remnants of pro-Iranian cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi army. These groups are behind the recent escalation in violence. Fifteen GIs were killed in June, the highest monthly toll in three years, including nine in rocket attacks that carry a Tehran return address.

A public diagnosis of Iran's role is clarifying, but the next step has to be a coherent response to this provocation. The U.S. needs to protect its troops as well as the nearly decade-long investment in a secure and democratic Iraq. The gains made since the success of the 2007 surge aren't in immediate danger, yet they're reversible.

We doubt many of the troops in his audience in Iraq found reassuring Mr. Panetta's promise to "push the Iraqis to take on the responsibility" and lead a crackdown on the Shiite militias. The U.S. has chosen not to go after the militias directly to shield the government of Nouri al-Maliki from the domestic political fallout of unilateral American military action. Such considerations are cold comfort to soldiers under attack. The U.S. has a legal and moral responsibility to respond. We ought to go after the militias in Iraq as well as their backers in Iran who've decided to make Iraq a proxy war.

Iraqi domestic politics complicate American options. Mr. Maliki proved a brave and able leader during the hardest days of the 2007 surge, and he helped turn Iraq around. But his nationalist politics have boxed him in. Last year Mr. Maliki made political peace with the Sadr party, bringing them into his unwieldy coalition government. He won't fight Shiite militias with the same resolve he showed against Sunni extremists.

More recently Mr. Maliki has banked his political future on a U.S. withdrawal, proclaiming last year that "the last American soldier will leave" in December and that the decision "is sealed." Now Iraqi leaders quietly say they want some U.S. troops to stay beyond December, perhaps 10,000 or more, but they're too paralyzed by internal squabbling to put in the request. One can appreciate Mr. Panetta's frustration in saying, "Dammit, make a decision."

America's continued troop presence can fill in security gaps and provide a stabilizing influence in Iraq and the region. The U.S. has kept troops in South Korea and Japan for six decades after the end of the wars there, and a similar presence in Iraq might be as salutary. But it should only do so as long as the troops can protect themselves and have a good partner in Baghdad. They can't be sitting ducks.

As much as al Qaeda, Iran wants to rekindle sectarian tensions and undermine democratic politics in Iraq. Their model is Lebanon. The U.S. can help the Iraqis push back. The proposed multibillion dollar sale of up to two F-16 squadrons, which the Journal reported yesterday was back on track, is one step forward. A long-term security relationship with Iraq can best ensure that the sacrifices made in the last decade aren't squandered.
24300  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US-China Competition and re-engagement on: July 13, 2011, 04:48:01 AM
---------------------------
July 13, 2011


A COMPETITIVE CHINA-U.S. RE-ENGAGEMENT

U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen continued his visit to
China on Monday. He met with Chief of General Staff of the People's Liberation Army
Chen Bingde, future Chinese President Xi Jinping and other officials at naval and
air force bases in China.

Mullen's visit has attracted attention because the two sides have proved incapable
of sustained military communication and exchange, with disruptions arising from
intractable differences such as American military support for Taiwan. Mullen's trip
is the first for an official of his rank since 2007. There is every reason to think
that disruptions will continue to occur because of the disparity between the two
sides' views on how international military exchanges should function. The United
States seeks continual interaction separate from other aspects of the relationship,
whereas China cannot afford to separate what Washington views as "political" issues
from its military engagements and frequently cuts off exchange. Thus it is important
that the two sides are talking at all.

"Chen's comment that the United States should spend less on its military and focus
more on reviving its weak economy had a certain pointedness in the context of
American budget-deficit debates, but on a deeper level reflected China's fear that
it is becoming the United States' next target for direct competition before China is
ready."

However, the visit has also attracted attention because it is an exceedingly
interesting time for the two sides to be talking. As wars and a financial crisis
make the United States' strategic constraints more visible than at any other time in
the post-Cold War era, China's fast-growing economy and military development make
for a sharp contrast. The view among some regional players, whose national security
depends on their accurate assessment of the situation, is that a kind of leveling is
taking place.

The renewed engagement is also notable because it follows recent incidents and
conflicts that show regional animosities -- in the Koreas, the East and South China
Seas and Southeast Asia -- threaten to spill out of their former containers,
especially where American power is not considered to be overwhelming. Despite the
U.S. re-engagement throughout the region, some East Asian states suspect that
weakness and a long-term lack of commitment lie at the base of its prolonged
distance from regional affairs.

Thus what the United States and China say regarding military matters -- and any sign
of the trajectory of their intentions and capabilities -- are of great interest to
both parties as well as the rest of the region and world. So far the two sides have
shown they are capable proceeding with the calculated warming of relations formally
launched when Chinese President Hu Jintao met with U.S. President Barack Obama in
January. They have agreed to hold drills on humanitarian assistance and disaster
relief, as well as counter-piracy, and to work toward holding more traditional
military exercises in the future. These developments are not small, and they have at
least temporarily eased some fears in the region that relations between the United
States and China were on the verge of a downward spiral.

The recent warming in U.S.-China relations has drawn inevitable comparisons to the
Kissinger-style detente. However, the contrast between these events is more
striking. When Kissinger traveled to China, relations between the two countries
could hardly have been worse and because the countries shared a common enemy,
relations had ample opportunity to improve. At present, the prospects for
improvement appear limited, whereas their many differences on economic, military and
strategic interests present serious pitfalls. For instance, Chen's optimism
regarding China's future naval capabilities and his criticisms of U.S. military
exercises in the South China Sea with Australia, Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam
reflect Beijing's bolder stance. Meanwhile, Mullen's insistence on the durability
and depth of American power and presence in the region and emphasis on China's need
to become a more responsible power seem to reflect a warning to Beijing not to
become too bold. The clash over the South China Sea will intensify regardless of a
warmer diplomatic atmosphere.

Nevertheless, for the time being the warming of relations continues apace because
China is not yet the great power it aspires to be. What allows both countries to
defer confrontation is not only American preoccupation elsewhere but also -- as Chen
all too readily admitted during Monday's meeting -- China's persistent military
weaknesses, despite its recent highlighting of a fifth-generation fighter-jet
prototype, an aircraft carrier and anti-ship ballistic missiles. Chen's comment that
the United States should spend less on its military and focus more on reviving its
weak economy had a certain pointedness in the context of American budget-deficit
debates, but on a deeper level reflected China's fear that it is becoming the United
States' next target for direct competition before China is ready.

What Chen inadvertently pointed to is that, like the Soviets, Beijing's competition
with the United States has an economic basis. Economics is at the heart of military
power. However, in this regard the Chinese do not have as great an advantage as is
widely thought. The American economy has shown itself to be resilient after many
recessions, while the current Chinese model shows all the signs of unbalanced and
unsustainable growth. Coincidentally, the military meeting came as an American
financial delegation visited China to renew demands for inspections of auditing
firms, after a wave of accounting scandals struck Chinese companies listed on
American stock exchanges. The scandals have drawn attention because of their
flagrancy, but China's domestic economy is rife with false accounting. Hidden risks
have become more visible after recent revelations of gigantic debts held by local
governments that push China's total public debt up to levels comparable to
heavily-indebted, developed Western countries. The risks are located in the
state-owned banks, which can only hold things together so long as rapid growth
enables them to continue deferring debt payments. Thus China's great challenge is to
face not only a rising international rivalry but also its eventual combination with
deteriorating domestic economic conditions.

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