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24451  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Looking for Teachers, Schools, and Training Partners on: September 22, 2011, 05:09:14 PM
Surf Dog is in Hemet. 

War Dog is in Palm Springs area.
24452  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The $5 million man on: September 22, 2011, 02:54:46 PM
In his Labor Day speech in Detroit, Barack Obama issued a ringing endorsement of government employee unions:

Having a voice on the job and a chance to organize and a chance to negotiate for a fair day's pay after a hard day's work, that is the right of every man and woman in America--not just the CEO in the corner office, but also the janitor who cleans that office after the CEO goes home. Everybody has got the same right.
And that's true for public employees as well. Look, the recession had a terrible effect on state and local budgets--we all understand that. Unions have recognized that; they've already made tough concessions.
From the president's hometown comes an example of what he is actually supporting. The Chicago Tribune reports that an investigation it conducted with WGN-TV found "23 retired union officials from Chicago stand to collect about $56 million from two ailing city pension funds."

That's an average of $2.4 million each, and some will rake in even more. Dennis Gannon, a former president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, stands to collect some $5 million. In line for $4 million apiece are Liberato "Al" Naimoli, president of the Cement Workers Union Local 76, and James McNally, vice president of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150.

"Since the 1950s," the Trib explains, "city workers who take leaves of absence to work full time for unions have been able to remain in city pension funds if they choose. The time they spend at their union jobs counts toward their city pensions."

Ill. Attorney General Office
Dennis Gannon, pensioner
.Union jobs, however, are far more lucrative than city jobs. Gannon's city salary was $56,000 a year; his union salary, $200,000. But he retired from his city job in 2004--at age 50, and 13 years after beginning a leave of absence. Between then and 2010, when he retired from the union, he collected both the $200,000 union salary and a $150,000 city pension.

How did the city end up paying him a pension nearly three times his salary? That's where things get interesting. Few labor leaders took city pensions, the Tribune reports, "until the law was changed in 1991 to base those workers' city pensions on their union salaries instead of their old city paychecks, dramatically boosting the amount they could receive"--a provision that "became law with no public debate among state legislators and, more importantly, no cost analysis."

And no accountability: "No one from either the state Legislature or city government will take credit for the law, which passed in 1991, and the process of drafting pension legislation in Springfield is so shrouded in secrecy that there's no way of knowing exactly whom to hold responsible."

And no possibility of reversal: "The state constitution says pension benefits cannot be diminished once they are earned."

"Gannon told the Tribune that he was only following the law in filing for a city pension," the paper reports. The scandal isn't that what they're doing is illegal but that it is legal.

Related Video
 Bill McGurn on retired Chicago union leaders' lavish pensions.
..This particular provision is unique to Obama's home state, the Tribune reports: "Pension experts from around the country say they've never heard of such a perk for union leaders." But unions have any number of perfectly legal ways to rip off the taxpayers. As we noted in July, the Wisconsin teachers union runs its own insurance company, the WEA Trust. Until Gov. Scott Walker's reforms took effect earlier this year, the union negotiated "collective bargaining" agreements obliging local school districts to pay above-market premiums for its health benefits.

And as The Daily's Jillian Melchior reported last month, state pension funds frequently make risky investments, knowing that if they don't pan out, taxpayers will have to make up the losses. What's more, the boards that manage these funds are stacked with union representatives and political appointees: "Because public unions are an influential constituency, they're inclined toward union priorities."

That is the system President Obama defended on Labor Day. And his support for it is not merely rhetorical. Both the 2009 stimulus and the recently proposed Stimulus Jr. include vast payments to states and localities--in effect, a federal taxpayer bailout for governments that have been so profligate with their own taxpayers' dollars. Some of that money, of course, gets kicked back as campaign contributions and independent expenditures to support the campaigns of Obama and other Democrats. It's all legal, but that doesn't mean it isn't a scam.

24453  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: September 22, 2011, 02:46:41 PM
Down 490 with twenty minutes to go  shocked
24454  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues and LE in action on: September 22, 2011, 02:43:47 PM
Amen to that and Amen to you.

Do know however that sometimes you do not effectively communicate an awareness that there are cops who do wrong, either purposively, or under the stress of a bad moment.
24455  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: September 22, 2011, 02:39:47 PM
For future reference, that sort of piece would better belong in Politics, or The American Creed threads.
24456  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: socioeconomic class in the US on: September 22, 2011, 02:38:18 PM
As I understand the term "free market" it includes the enforcement of contract and the prevention of theft, fraud, and force and the idea that all costs to a transaction should be born by buyer and seller (i.e. pollution)  Properly understood, that covers quite a bit.
24457  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues and LE in action on: September 22, 2011, 10:47:15 AM

Nice rhetorical flourishes and not without merit, but it seems like you have a hard time acknowledging that sometimes an LEO can be a real dick and here I AM speaking from personal experience.  Not that I am going to discuss the details-- you will have to take my word for it or not-- I have had an LEO commit direct and deliberate perjury in an effort to put me in prison.  In a separate matter WHILE ALL OF US WERE COMPLETELY COOPERATING I have been part of a group that was slammed up against the wall.  I confess it crosses my mind to note that except for me all of us were black and the police were white. 

24458  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Info epidemic and how to handle it on: September 22, 2011, 10:14:46 AM

With more medical information than ever before at their fingertips, patients increasingly feel empowered to make their own decisions about care—or overpowered by all that data.

In "Your Medical Mind," oncologist Jerome Groopman, and his wife, endocrinologist Pamela Hartzband, offer a road map for navigating the medical maze and the mountains of information that Google searches produce. In an era when the magisterial physician who dictates care is obsolete, the book may be a welcome guide for those who are daunted by the choices they face, ranging from taking a cholesterol-lowering drug to making end-of-life decisions for a loved one.

Dr. Groopman is the author of four other books that have helped demystify medicine for a lay audience, including "How Doctors Think." "Your Medical Mind" analyzes how patients think as they weigh the pros and cons of different options, especially when they are presented with conflicting evidence and advice. "The unsettling reality," the authors note, "is that much of medicine still exists in a gray zone, where there is no black or white answer about when to treat or how to treat."

The books draws heavily on the approach known as shared medical decision-making, which has been promoted by researchers at Dartmouth College and others. This approach holds that doctor and patient together should review information about the risks and benefits of any given treatment and then customize care according to the patient's values and preferences.

To illustrate, the authors use anecdotes from real patients like Dave Simon, an avid tennis player diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, an abnormal heart rhythm. He must choose whether to take a blood-thinning medication that may prevent stroke from a clot but that can also cause internal bleeding. He is afraid to take the medication but is more terrified of having a stroke. Complicating matters: There is a new blood thinner on the market with a smaller risk of bleeding—but slightly more risk of heart attack. Mr. Simon, with his doctor, reviews the data on the risks, but he also thinks hard about his own mind-set: He's a doubter when it comes to new treatments. He goes with the more established medication.

The authors categorize patients like Mr. Simon by their biases: Are they believers in the benefits of medical intervention or has experience or upbringing made them skeptics? Are they apt to go for the maximum amount of care or the minimal amount that's still likely to get the job done? Do they embrace technology or are they inclined to natural solutions?

Enlarge Image

Close.Your Medical Mind
By Jerome Groopman and Pamela Hartzband
(The Penguin Press, 308 pages, $27.95)
.Drs. Groopman and Hartzband have had their own experiences as patients, including Dr. Groopman's disastrous and well-chronicled experience with back surgery, which changed him from a maximalist to a more risk-averse patient. Dr. Hartzband says that she is a minimalist, avoiding medicines and supplements unless absolutely necessary. Both say that they are mindful in their practices not to impose their preferences on patients.

A dilemma often arises, though: where to draw the line between a patient's preference and the strongest medical evidence. The authors acknowledge that patient autonomy is taken too far when a doctor neglects his role as guide and puts the burden of choice entirely on the patient's shoulders. The closest that "Your Medical Mind" comes to a solution is noting that when patients want to know what their doctors think, the answer should be offered only "after information is presented in a neutral way."

One approach the authors examine is a formula for rational decision-making often used in economics: Measure the probability of an outcome and place a numerical value on the outcome itself. In medicine, that would mean finding out the probability of a particular outcome from a proposed medical treatment and then placing a numerical value on the state of health that such an outcome would bring about. Simple multiplication (the probability-percentage times the numerical value) will yield a number that can be compared with the numbers derived from other treatments. The highest number indicates the most rational or "best" choice.

The best choice, of course, may differ from patient to patient. For example, the treatments for Graves' disease, which results from an overactive thyroid gland, include radioactive iodine, surgery and medication, but there are differences in potential negative outcomes and side effects. The authors tell us about Lily Chan, a 27-year-old social worker who has the disease. She fears radioactive iodine and worries that it may increase the risk of cancer, so she chooses surgery. Anna Gonzales, a 42-year-old journalist with three kids, has no fear of radioactive iodine and isn't bothered that the treatment will also require her to take a thyroid-hormone pill every day for the rest of her life—a prospect that 36-year-old Patrick Baptiste, another Graves' patient, can't bear to contemplate.

Naturally, it can be hard to imagine a disease's progress or the effects of possible treatments, and weighing all the options can be exhausting. "Having many options," the authors observe, "can be more distressing than having fewer options and can impede our ability to make a sound decision, or any decision." Even when a choice doesn't turn out as we had hoped, though, "we often underestimate the reservoir of our resilience."

Prostate cancer patients, for example, face choices that include watchful waiting, radiation and surgery. Concerning the two medical interventions, the specialists advising their patients may well focus on the bad side effects of the other's approach (incontinence, impotence). One prostate-cancer patient that Drs. Groopman and Hartzband discuss, Matt Conlin, speaks to 20 doctors about his disease, and he quizzes other patients about their experiences—even if he is embarrassed by asking about their sex lives or bladder issues. He decides to go ahead with robotic surgery, a newer approach, and does suffer some bad side effects. But he is rid of his cancer, and he resolves that it is time to move forward without regret—a choice that may be the best outcome for any medical decision.

Ms. Landro writes The Informed Patient column for the Journal.

24459  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Green and Free Market solutions on: September 22, 2011, 08:37:26 AM

Green Tea Party
As the presidential campaign heats up, it would be nice to see some environmental leadership. Unfortunately, neither political party is providing it. Democrats keep throwing money and regulations at environmental problems, and Republicans keep arguing that a focus on jobs and the economy must trump environmental protection.

It is time for a movement that brings environmental quality through economic prosperity. It's time for a Green Tea Party.

The GTP would not be for you if you think increasing Washington bureaucracy budgets will produce a cleaner environment. Since 1980, the Environmental Protection Agency's inflation-adjusted budget has been relatively flat, but air and water quality have improved. Most improvements came through cost-saving technologies in the private sector, not regulations.

Enlarge Image

CloseGetty Images
 .The GTP's platform would be that only prosperity and incentives can drive environmental improvements. The first plank: Wealthier is healthier. From the U.S. to the former Soviet Union, data show that economic growth is necessary for environmental improvement, not its enemy. Such growth requires a strong private sector, not more federal spending and red tape. The second plank: Incentives matter. The GTP would use a carrot instead of the regulatory stick to improve environmental quality, and let energy markets and prices dictate energy sources. A replacement for fossil fuels will be found only when entrepreneurs can make a profit from cheaper, cleaner and more efficient energy.

The Obama administration has spent billions on alternative energy ostensibly to create jobs and improve the environment, but it hasn't been able to pick winners. The now-bankrupt solar company, Solyndra, received subsidies of $535 million and only had 1,500 employees. Subsidized ethanol production encourages the destruction of wetlands and increases the use of pesticides and herbicides. Wind turbines disrupt bird flight paths, and solar farms are unsightly.

Here are a few GTP environmental policies that make economic and common sense because they rely on market forces to discover what works:

• The GTP would make land management agencies such as the Forest Service, Park Service and Bureau of Land Management turn a profit on the federal estate. With lands worth trillions of dollars, there is no excuse for continually adding red ink to the federal deficit. Yet between 2006 and 2008, the Forest Service lost an average of $3.58 billion per year. Moreover, an estimated 39 million acres are at risk of catastrophic wildfire and another six million are dying from insect infestation, much of which is due to environmental lawsuits that prevent agencies from cutting trees.

In contrast, between 1998 and 2005, the Salish-Kootenai Confederated Tribes in Montana earned $2.04 for each dollar they spent on tribal forests—because trees from their healthy forests command higher prices and keep administrative costs down. All this while maintaining an endangered-species habitat and improving water quality. The GTP would require federal land management agencies either to earn a profit or to turn the land over to state agencies, tribes, companies or environmental groups with a record of sound fiscal and environmental stewardship.

• The GTP would tap water markets instead of tapping the U.S. Treasury. For decades, agencies such as the Bureau of Reclamation and the Corps of Engineers have subsidized housing by providing free flood protection and water treatment, and below-cost irrigation and hydropower. These agencies have made water cheaper than dirt while ignoring environmental impacts such as dams that prevent salmon from spawning, and toxic irrigation runoff. Water markets would make consumers face the full cost, including the environmental cost, thus reducing the demand for water and providing more revenue for deteriorating infrastructure, such as water treatment plants.

• The GTP would establish tradable catch shares to halt the decline of ocean fisheries. Where such shares—essentially, fishing rights—have been implemented, as in the Alaska halibut fishery, season lengths have increased, costs have declined, fish quality has increased and profits have risen. The Journal of Sustainable Development recently reported that "the federal deficit could be decreased by an estimated $890 million to $1.24 billion . . . if 36 of the 44 federal U.S. fisheries adopted catch shares."

It is not enough to strut your stuff in clothes made of recycled materials while driving your hybrid to an environmental protest. And environmental quality cannot be bought simply by throwing more tax dollars and regulations at problems. The GTP would serve environmental quality, budget cuts and economic prosperity.

Mr. Anderson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, is executive director of the Property and Environment Research Center in Bozeman, Mont.

24460  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Reynolds: Spend now, tax later on: September 22, 2011, 08:34:55 AM
Please be sure to see the first post of the morning as well:

The president's "Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction" mainly hinges on persuading Congress to trade $447 billion in temporary payroll tax cuts and spending increases—the "jobs plan"—for permanent income-tax increases of $150 billion a year. Mr. Obama also calls on the 12-member congressional super committee to undertake "comprehensive tax reform," which he defines in peculiar fashion as trading lower deductions for higher rates.

According to the Sept. 19 White House fact sheet, "The President calls on [the super committee] to undertake comprehensive tax reform, and lays out five principles for it to follow: 1) lower tax rates; 2) cut wasteful loopholes and tax breaks; 3) reduce the deficit by $1.5 trillion; 4) boost job creation and growth; and 5) comport with the "Buffett Rule" that people making more than $1 million a year should not pay a smaller share of their income in taxes than middle-class families pay."

But the administration's tax plan violates these principles. It raises rather than lowers tax rates, shrinks tax deductions to pay for more spending, makes no believable contribution to economic growth, has nothing specific to say about the Buffett Rule, and allocates a third of the proposed $1.5 trillion tax increase over the next decade to such miscellany as the temporary payroll tax break, more subsidies for state and local government jobs, and prolonged unemployment benefits.

Enlarge Image

 .Nearly all of Mr. Obama's new tax increases are identical to those in his failed budgets of 2011 and 2012. But the repackaging of stale ideas is partly concealed by intermingling the phasing-out of deductions and exemptions with allowing the Bush tax rates to expire, thus increasing the top two tax rates to 36% and 39.6% from 33% and 35%. This intermingling gives the false impression that $866 billion in projected additional revenue comes from raising the top tax rates alone.

The Treasury Department's more candid explanation of these same proposals in the 2011 budget estimated that raising the top two tax rates would bring in only an extra $36.4 billion a year from 2011 to 2020, which adds up to little more than $400 billion from 2012 to 2021. The administration's 2011 proposal to raise the tax rate on capital gains and dividends to 20% from 15% on upper incomes was estimated to raise an even punier $10.5 billion a year. But the 3.8% surtax in ObamaCare already raised those tax rates to 18.8% to finance health-insurance subsidies, leaving no meaningful revenue from that source.

In other words, most of that large, $866 billion 10-year tax hike comes from phasing out personal exemptions and deductions. These are not "tax breaks that small businesses and middle-class families don't get," as the president claimed on Monday in his Rose Garden remarks. The phase-outs apply to the same exemptions and deductions enjoyed by those earning less than $250,000, including deductions for mortgage interest, charitable contributions, and state income taxes.

Mr. Obama's second biggest tax increase, supposedly worth $410 billion over 10 years according to the fact sheet, comes from further reducing "the value of itemized deductions and other tax preferences to 28% for those with high income." The phasing out itemized deductions for upper-income taxpayers would shrink those deductions by as much as 80%, so this additional cap would limit any remaining deductions to 28 cents on the dollar. The combination would be severe. Ask any charity.

As for corporate taxes, Mr. Obama said in the Rose Garden that "We can lower the corporate rate if we get rid of all these special deals." But his plan does not include a lower corporate rate. Instead it earmarks the revenue from eliminating any loopholes and "special deals" to pay for the $447 billion jobs bill.

This brings us to the president's puzzling remarks about "the Buffett Plan," which has no clear connection to anything in his own plan. Mr. Obama has said that anyone who thinks "somebody who's making $50 million a year in the financial markets [i.e., Warren Buffett] should be paying 15 percent on their taxes, when a teacher making $50,000 a year is paying more than that" should "have to defend that unfairness. . . . They ought to have to answer for it."

Related Video
 Editorial board member Steve Moore on why some Democrats are opposing Obama's deficit plan.
..Warren Buffett's large capital gains (mostly unrealized) and token $100,000 salary are by no means typical. IRS statistics show those earning more than $1 million paid 28.9% in federal income taxes in 2009, compared with 24.6% for those earning from $200,000 to $500,000 and 11.6% for those earning from $50,000 to $75,000.

However, if Mr. Obama is seriously suggesting that marginal tax rates should be the same for the working teacher's salary as for the retired teacher's capital gain, then he may be flirting with a rerun of George McGovern's 1972 presidential campaign theme that, "Money made by money should be taxed at the same rate as money made by men."

Unlike Mr. McGovern, though, Mr. Obama has not yet proposed a capital gains or dividend tax higher than 20%. If the rhetorical Buffett Rule has any meaning at all, it appears to be nothing more than a presidential hint to the congressional super committee that he would like them to propose (as he has not) that incomes above $1 million face a 28% tax on capital gains and dividends.

The trouble is that such a Buffett Rule would quite certainly reduce rather than enlarge federal revenue. That's because we know from experience that a 28% tax on selling stock or property greatly reduces the amount offered for sale. Wealthy people then sit on more unrealized capital gains rather than subjecting themselves to a stiff tax penalty on selling those assets. The 28% tax on long-term capital gains brought in only $36.9 billion a year from 1987 to 1997, according to the Treasury Department, while the 15% tax brought in $96.8 billion a year from 2004 to 2007.

Putting aside the seemingly empty threat of a Buffett Plan tax on capital gains, the president's new-old plan to raise income taxes on families and small businesses earning more than $250,000—to pay for temporary tax gimmicks and extra spending—is just stale wine in a new bottle.

Any plan that would impose permanently higher tax rates on income to pay for temporarily lower tax rates on payrolls is no stimulus or jobs plan under any sort of economics. Neither is a tax-financed extension of unemployment benefits. It's a tax-and-spend plan, and a bad one.

Mr. Reynolds, a senior fellow with the Cato Institute, is the author of "Income and Wealth" (Greenwood, Press 2006).

24461  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Helicopter shortages on: September 22, 2011, 08:04:37 AM

Greetings from Kandahar Province,

In this interview with Glenn Reynolds, I mention some of the problems with helicopter medevacs in Afghanistan.  I'll have much more on that, later.

Meanwhile, please listen to this interview.

24462  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: September 22, 2011, 07:49:57 AM
second post of morning:

We are not passive observers of this universe, but rather partners in its creation. We are the ones who assign each thing its meaning, who bring definition and resolution to an otherwise ambiguous world.

In fact, we are legal witnesses who determine a matter of life or death: For each thing we hold, each event that enters our life, our word declares whether it breathes with G‑dly life or simply idles itself into oblivion.

24463  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Prager: Thinking morally on: September 22, 2011, 07:41:28 AM
Why Young Americans Can't Think Morally
Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Last week, David Brooks of The New York Times wrote a column on an academic study concerning the nearly complete lack of a moral vocabulary among most American young people. Below are some excerpts from Brooks' summary of the study of Americans aged 18 to 23. (It was led by "the eminent Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith.")

"Smith and company asked about the young people's moral lives, and the results are depressing ...

"When asked to describe a moral dilemma they had faced, two-thirds of the young people either couldn't answer the question or described problems that are not moral at all ...

"Moral thinking didn't enter the picture, even when considering things like drunken driving, cheating in school or cheating on a partner ...

"The default position, which most of them came back to again and again, is that moral choices are just a matter of individual taste ...

"As one put it, 'I mean, I guess what makes something right is how I feel about it. But different people feel different ways, so I couldn't speak on behalf of anyone else as to what's right and wrong ...

"Morality was once revealed, inherited and shared, but now it's thought of as something that emerges in the privacy of your own heart."

Ever since I attended college, I have been convinced that either "studies" confirm what common sense suggests or that they are mistaken. I realized this when I was presented with study after study showing that boys and girls were not inherently different from one another, and they acted differently only because of sexist upbringings.

This latest study cited by David Brooks confirms what conservatives have known for a generation: Moral standards have been replaced by feelings. Of course, those on the left believe this only when a writer at a major liberal newspaper cites an "eminent sociologist."

What is disconcerting about Brooks' piece is that nowhere in what is an important column does he mention the reason for this disturbing trend -- namely, secularism.

The intellectual class and the left still believe that secularism is an unalloyed blessing. They are wrong. Secularism is good for government. But it is terrible for society (though still preferable to bad religion) and for the individual.

One key reason is what secularism does to moral standards. If moral standards are not rooted in God, they do not objectively exist. Good and evil are no more real than "yummy" and "yucky." They are simply a matter of personal preference. One of the foremost liberal philosophers, Richard Rorty, an atheist, acknowledged that for the secular liberal, "There is no answer to the question, 'Why not be cruel?'"

With the death of Judeo-Christian-God-based standards, people have simply substituted feelings for those standards. Millions of American young people have been raised by parents and schools with "How do you feel about it?" as the only guide to what they ought to do. The heart has replaced God and the Bible as a moral guide.

And now, as Brooks points out, we see the results. A vast number of American young people do not even ask whether an action is right or wrong. The question would strike them as foreign. Why? Because the question suggests that there is a right and wrong outside of themselves. And just as there is no God higher than them, there is no morality higher than them, either.

Forty years ago, I began writing and lecturing about this problem. It was then that I began asking students if they would save their dog or a stranger first if both were drowning. The majority always voted against the stranger -- because, they explained, they loved their dog and they didn't love the stranger.

They followed their feelings.

Without God and Judeo-Christian religions, what else is there?
24464  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Narcos amenazan periodistas esadounidenses (US journalists intimidated on: September 22, 2011, 07:31:04 AM

Vice President of Intelligence Fred Burton examines the emerging threat against journalists covering Mexican cartel violence along the border and the challenges of corroborating source information.

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

Related Links
Mexico Security Memo: Zetas Communications Network Dismantled
As a forecasting company, we try to look at emerging threats. Intelligence surfaced this week over concerns for border violence against journalists that cover cartel violence from Mexico. In this week’s Above the Tearline, we’re going to examine the challenges of making sense of this kind of emerging threat, as well as how we go about attempting to corroborate or refute the information.

Being a journalist or an investigative reporter in Mexico is an extremely dangerous job. Organizations like Reporters Without Borders reports that there’s been 80 journalists killed in Mexico since 2000, and recently we had two female journalists found naked, bound and killed in Mexico City. The intelligence we received this week is from a very reliable source of STRATFOR that expressed very specific concern for this emerging threat against journalists inside the United States, especially those in close proximity to the border.

When STRATFOR receives a report like this from a reliable contact, we take great strides to attempt to corroborate or refute the data point, meaning we go about contacting our other sources in state and local and federal law enforcement, as well as foreign police, in this case, Mexico, in an effort to see what they may know about this concern and to seek out their assessment as to whether or not this could be a viable threat. One of the things that we did to connect the dots is, we have had over the years anecdotal information from various media contacts and investigative journalists of the exact same fear. We’ve had reports of journalists being relocated out of concerns surrounding this exact issue, and in essence protective security measures being taken by various media outlets to protect themselves from this kind of issue.

One of the other things we do in an effort to corroborate or refute a source report is, we’ll gather together the tactical team that puts together the Mexico Security Memo and discuss in great detail whether or not we think this is a viable threat and will unpack that threat to see if it makes sense or if it’s something that just is totally off the wall.

The Above the Tearline aspect with this video is the fear that the cartels have the capability to suppress the open source as to what’s taking place in Mexico or along the border and in essence shape the perception of what the cartels are doing. We have already seen this happen inside of Mexico. There has been a reduction of investigative journalists, we’ve had numerous killed and intimidated and if this threat is now coming across the border, this is an issue that most of us have to look at very closely and think about the ramifications of the spillover effect and the ability of the cartels to shape the news inside the United States.

Click for more videos

24465  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mex narcos intimidating US journalists on: September 22, 2011, 07:28:13 AM

Vice President of Intelligence Fred Burton examines the emerging threat against journalists covering Mexican cartel violence along the border and the challenges of corroborating source information.

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

Related Links
Mexico Security Memo: Zetas Communications Network Dismantled
As a forecasting company, we try to look at emerging threats. Intelligence surfaced this week over concerns for border violence against journalists that cover cartel violence from Mexico. In this week’s Above the Tearline, we’re going to examine the challenges of making sense of this kind of emerging threat, as well as how we go about attempting to corroborate or refute the information.

Being a journalist or an investigative reporter in Mexico is an extremely dangerous job. Organizations like Reporters Without Borders reports that there’s been 80 journalists killed in Mexico since 2000, and recently we had two female journalists found naked, bound and killed in Mexico City. The intelligence we received this week is from a very reliable source of STRATFOR that expressed very specific concern for this emerging threat against journalists inside the United States, especially those in close proximity to the border.

When STRATFOR receives a report like this from a reliable contact, we take great strides to attempt to corroborate or refute the data point, meaning we go about contacting our other sources in state and local and federal law enforcement, as well as foreign police, in this case, Mexico, in an effort to see what they may know about this concern and to seek out their assessment as to whether or not this could be a viable threat. One of the things that we did to connect the dots is, we have had over the years anecdotal information from various media contacts and investigative journalists of the exact same fear. We’ve had reports of journalists being relocated out of concerns surrounding this exact issue, and in essence protective security measures being taken by various media outlets to protect themselves from this kind of issue.

One of the other things we do in an effort to corroborate or refute a source report is, we’ll gather together the tactical team that puts together the Mexico Security Memo and discuss in great detail whether or not we think this is a viable threat and will unpack that threat to see if it makes sense or if it’s something that just is totally off the wall.

The Above the Tearline aspect with this video is the fear that the cartels have the capability to suppress the open source as to what’s taking place in Mexico or along the border and in essence shape the perception of what the cartels are doing. We have already seen this happen inside of Mexico. There has been a reduction of investigative journalists, we’ve had numerous killed and intimidated and if this threat is now coming across the border, this is an issue that most of us have to look at very closely and think about the ramifications of the spillover effect and the ability of the cartels to shape the news inside the United States.

Click for more videos

24466  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Attack on Accidental Americans on: September 22, 2011, 07:12:03 AM
The final three sentences contain some highly objectionable hyperbole, but the content of the piece is most worthy of attention.

The Attack on Accidental Americans
by Wendy McElroy on September 21, 2011

When Julie Veilleux discovered she was American, she went to the nearest US embassy to renounce her citizenship. Having lived in Canada since she was a young child, the 48-year-old had no idea she carried the burden of dual citizenship. But the renunciation will not clear away the past ten years of penalties with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).[1]

Born to American parents living in Canada, Kerry Knoll's two teenaged daughters had no clue they became dual citizens at birth. (An American parent confers such status on Canadian-born children.[2] ) Now the IRS wants to grab at money they earned in Canada from summer jobs; the girls had hoped to use their RESPs (registered education savings plans) for college.[3]

The IRS is making a worldwide push to squeeze money from Americans living abroad and from anyone who holds dual citizenship, whether they know it or not. It doesn't matter if the "duals" want US status, have never set foot on US soil, or never conducted business with an American. It doesn't matter if those targeted owe a single cent to the IRS. Unlike almost every other nation in the world, the United States requires citizens living abroad to file tax forms on the money they do not owe as well as to report foreign bank accounts or holdings such as stocks or RSSPs. The possible penalty for not reporting is $10,000 per "disclosed asset" per year.

Thus, Americans and dual citizens living in Canada (or elsewhere) who do not disclose their local checking account — now labeled by the IRS as "an illegal offshore account" — are liable for fines that stretch back ten years and might amount to $100,000. A family, like the Knolls, in which there are two American parents and two dual-citizen children, might be collectively liable for $400,000.

Approximately 7 million Americans live abroad. According to the IRS, they received upwards of 400,000 tax returns from expatriates last year — a compliance rate of approximately 6 percent. Presumably the compliance of dual-citizen children is far lower. Customs and Immigration is now sharing information with the IRS and, should any of 94 percent expats or their accidentally American offspring set foot on US soil, they are vulnerable to arrest.

Why Now?
As of 8:30 a.m. EST, September 20, the US National debt was $14,744,278,404,668. That is over $47,000 per American citizen, over $131,000 per taxpayer. America is bankrupt and desperate to grab at any loose dollar within its reach. Having reaped the easy pickings within its own borders, America is extending its reach.

So far, the IRS push into foreign territory has been a rousing success by their own standards. In 2009, the IRS offered "amnesty" — that is, lessened but still hefty penalties — to whoever stepped forward to disclose foreign bank accounts. According to FOX Business News, the 2009 program netted

the government $2.2 billion in tax revenues … and $500 million in interest from the 2011 program, for a total of $2.7 billion.… Moreover, the IRS says it has yet to reap penalties from these evaders, which could rake in hundreds of millions more.

IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman stated,

we are in the middle of an unprecedented period for our global international tax enforcement efforts. We have pierced international bank secrecy laws, and we are making a serious dent in offshore tax evasion.[4]

Going after the college money earned by children born and raised in Canada (or elsewhere) is just one part of the international enforcement effort. The entire package is called the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act or FATCA; it was a revenue-raising provision that was slipped into one of Obama's disastrous stimulus bills. Starting in 2013 — or 2014 if an exemption is granted — every bank in the world will be required to report to the IRS all accounts held by current and former US citizens. If account holders refuse to provide verification of their non-US citizenship, the banks will be required to impose a 30 percent tax of all payments or transfers to the account on behalf of the IRS. Banks that do not comply will "face withholding on U.S.-source interest and dividends, gross proceeds from the disposition of U.S. securities, and pass-through payments."[5]

Australia and Japan have already declared their refusal to comply. Canada's Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has publicly stated that the proposed American legislation "has far-reaching extraterritorial implications. It would turn Canadian banks into extensions of the IRS and would raise significant privacy concerns for Canadians."[6]

According to the Financial Post,

Toronto-Dominion Bank is putting up a fight against a new U.S. regulation that would compel foreign banks to sort through billions of dollars of deposits to find U.S. citizens who might be hiding money.… TD has complained that the proposed IRS rule is unreasonable because it would require the bank to make US$100-million investment in new software and staff. Other lenders resisting the effort include Allianz SE of Germany, Aegon NV of the Netherlands and Commonwealth Bank of Australia.… Now the Canadian Bankers association has joined the fray. In an emailed statement the CBA called the requirement "highly complex" and "very difficult and costly for Canadian banks to comply with."[7]

The Financial Times reports,

  • ne of Asia's largest financial groups is quietly mulling a potentially explosive question: could it organise some of its subsidiaries so that they could stop handling all US Treasury bonds? Their motive has nothing to do with the outlook for the dollar.… Instead, what is worrying this particular Asian financial group is tax. In January 2013, the US will implement a new law called the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.… [T]he new rules leave some financial officials fuming in places such as Australia, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong and Singapore.… mplementing these measures is likely to be costly; in jurisdictions such as Singapore or Hong Kong, the IRS rules appear to contravene local privacy laws.… Hence the fact that some non-US asset managers and banking groups are debating whether they could simply ignore Fatca by creating subsidiaries that never touch US assets at all. "This is complete madness for the US — America needs global investors to buy its bonds," fumes one bank manager. "But not holding US assets might turn out to be the easiest thing for us to do."[8]

Meanwhile, banking will become more difficult within the United States. FATCA will hold banks liable for any "improper" transfer of money to outside the United States. The Wealth Report, a financial analysis site, states,

US banks will be desperately trying to cover their liability by checking the exact purpose of the payment, to make sure it doesn't come within the scope of the legislation. The burden of proof will naturally pass to the account holder who is trying to transfer money, to demonstrate that the transaction is not subject to the new withholding tax. If the sending bank in the USA has any doubt at all about the purpose of the transaction, they will be forced to deduct 30 percent tax. Net result? It is going to be darned difficult for anyone to transfer money out of the USA. If that isn't a form of currency control, then I don't know what is! (emphasis original)

Returning to the Little Guy and Gal
Expat Americans and children — a.k.a. dual citizens — will be caught in the indiscriminate steel net that the IRS wants to throw around the globe. Their innocence or ignorance will not matter. The IRS wants money. If expats and duals do not owe money from their earnings, then the IRS will pursue obscure reporting requirements and apply them to people who did not even know they were American. It will try to yank their college funds and drain their parents' retirement savings.

They can renounce their American citizenship but that is an imperfect solution. For one thing, it does not immunize them from the past ten years of nonreporting. For another, following the United States' "exit" sign takes many people directly through the Treasury Department where they may be required to pay a brutal one-time exit tax. Basically, for those with more than $2 million dollars in assets, the tax comes to $600,000.

Moreover, renunciation is a difficult process. The Globe and Mail is one of many Canadian newspapers now explaining to readers how they can renounce American citizenship. G&M states,

Renouncing your U.S. citizenship starts with a hefty fee — $450 (U.S.), just for the chance to appear in front of a consular official. Need it done in a hurry? Forget about it. It can take about two years to get an appointment.[9]

$25.00 $18.00
The true hope lies in a worldwide refusal to comply. The only power strong enough to rein in the United States is the world itself. There is hope that this will happen. Reutersdeclared,

A U.S. law meant to snuff out billions of dollars in offshore tax evasion has drawn the criticism of the world's banks and business people, who dismiss it as imperialist and "the neutron bomb of the global financial system." … A senior American finance executive at the Hong Kong branch of a major investment house [declared] that FATCA was "America's most imperialist act since it invaded the Philippine Islands in 1899." The regulation … was "engendering a profound and growing anti-American sentiment abroad."[10]

How long can America maintain that people "hate us for our freedom?" People fear and hate America for its totalitarianism. And among those people filled with fear are American citizens.

24467  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Bono's one percent on: September 22, 2011, 07:05:08 AM
Bono's ONE foundation under fire for giving little over 1% of funds to charity

Read more:

Bono's anti-poverty foundation ONE is under pressure to explain its finances after it was revealed that only a small percentage of money it raises reaches the needy.
The non-profit organisation set up by the U2 frontman received almost £9.6million in donations in 2008 but handed out only £118,000 to good causes (1.2 per cent).

The figures published by the New York Post also show that £5.1million went towards paying salaries

While the organisation's gameplan has never been direct handouts on the ground, many who admire the Irish rock legend may be surprised by the figures.

Bono was playing Brussels last night with U2 as the world's leaders - so many of whom he speaks to directly - were meeting at the UN assembly in New York to assess the progress, or lack of, in reaching the Millennium goals they set.

The Post revealed it had received a number of gifts from ONE in the run-up to the event, such as leather notebooks, bags of coffee and water bottles.
In the UK, the organisation has laid on a series of high-profile, celebrity-supported events since it launched in 2002 to fight poverty in Africa and Aids worldwide.
In 2009, the group campaigned to have enshrined in British law a commitment to development assistance abroad.

ONE spokesman Oliver Buston has now defended the way the organisation is run, insisting the money is used for promoting its campaign and raising awareness rather than being given straight to those who need help.
He said: 'We don't provide programmes on the ground. We're an advocacy and campaigning organisation.'
Another spokesman in New York today dismissed the notion of lavish salaries being paid to its 120 members of staff and said the organisation was highly efficient in its raising of awareness.

ONE said it took no money from the public and that most of its funding came from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Scott Grannis comments:

Having worked with a number of large charitable organizations, I can say that the vast majority spend no more than 5% of their assets per year (because by law they need to do that to remain a charitable organization). This story is not surprising to me. Both Bono and Gates spend most of their time lobbying for governments to spend money on the causes that they think are worthy. I would wager that a large percentage of the money that the gates foundation is obligated to spend every year (5%) is money that is given to another charity, and that charity in turn spends only 5% of its money. Charitable organizations are for the most part loathe to actually spend their money on charitable causes, preferring instead to accumulate assets that are invested for handsome returns. Why? Because those who are running the charity make a salary that is proportionate to the size of the assets they are managing.

24468  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Olmert says on: September 22, 2011, 07:01:23 AM
second post of the morning:

AS the United Nations General Assembly opens this year, I feel uneasy. An unnecessary diplomatic clash between Israel and the Palestinians is taking shape in New York, and it will be harmful to Israel and to the future of the Middle East.

I know that things could and should have been different.

I truly believe that a two-state solution is the only way to ensure a more stable Middle East and to grant Israel the security and well-being it desires. As tensions grow, I cannot but feel that we in the region are on the verge of missing an opportunity — one that we cannot afford to miss.

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, plans to make a unilateral bid for recognition of a Palestinian state at the United Nations on Friday. He has the right to do so, and the vast majority of countries in the General Assembly support his move. But this is not the wisest step Mr. Abbas can take.

The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has declared publicly that he believes in the two-state solution, but he is expending all of his political effort to block Mr. Abbas’s bid for statehood by rallying domestic support and appealing to other countries. This is not the wisest step Mr. Netanyahu can take.

In the worst-case scenario, chaos and violence could erupt, making the possibility of an agreement even more distant, if not impossible. If that happens, peace will definitely not be the outcome.

The parameters of a peace deal are well known and they have already been put on the table. I put them there in September 2008 when I presented a far-reaching offer to Mr. Abbas.

According to my offer, the territorial dispute would be solved by establishing a Palestinian state on territory equivalent in size to the pre-1967 West Bank and Gaza Strip with mutually agreed-upon land swaps that take into account the new realities on the ground.

The city of Jerusalem would be shared. Its Jewish areas would be the capital of Israel and its Arab neighborhoods would become the Palestinian capital. Neither side would declare sovereignty over the city’s holy places; they would be administered jointly with the assistance of Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

The Palestinian refugee problem would be addressed within the framework of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. The new Palestinian state would become the home of all the Palestinian refugees just as the state of Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people. Israel would, however, be prepared to absorb a small number of refugees on humanitarian grounds.

Because ensuring Israel’s security is vital to the implementation of any agreement, the Palestinian state would be demilitarized and it would not form military alliances with other nations. Both states would cooperate to fight terrorism and violence.

These parameters were never formally rejected by Mr. Abbas, and they should be put on the table again today. Both Mr. Abbas and Mr. Netanyahu must then make brave and difficult decisions.

We Israelis simply do not have the luxury of spending more time postponing a solution. A further delay will only help extremists on both sides who seek to sabotage any prospect of a peaceful, negotiated two-state solution.

Moreover, the Arab Spring has changed the Middle East, and unpredictable developments in the region, such as the recent attack on Israel’s embassy in Cairo, could easily explode into widespread chaos. It is therefore in Israel’s strategic interest to cement existing peace agreements with its neighbors, Egypt and Jordan.

In addition, Israel must make every effort to defuse tensions with Turkey as soon as possible. Turkey is not an enemy of Israel. I have worked closely with the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In spite of his recent statements and actions, I believe that he understands the importance of relations with Israel. Mr. Erdogan and Mr. Netanyahu must work to end this crisis immediately for the benefit of both countries and the stability of the region.

In Israel, we are sorry for the loss of life of Turkish citizens in May 2010, when Israel confronted a provocative flotilla of ships bound for Gaza. I am sure that the proper way to express these sentiments to the Turkish government and the Turkish people can be found.

The time for true leadership has come. Leadership is tested not by one’s capacity to survive politically but by the ability to make tough decisions in trying times.

When I addressed international forums as prime minister, the Israeli people expected me to present bold political initiatives that would bring peace — not arguments outlining why achieving peace now is not possible. Today, such an initiative is more necessary than ever to prove to the world that Israel is a peace-seeking country.

The window of opportunity is limited. Israel will not always find itself sitting across the table from Palestinian leaders like Mr. Abbas and the prime minister, Salam Fayyad, who object to terrorism and want peace. Indeed, future Palestinian leaders might abandon the idea of two states and seek a one-state solution, making reconciliation impossible.

Now is the time. There will be no better one. I hope that Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas will meet the challenge.

Ehud Olmert was prime minister of Israel from 2006 to 2009.
24469  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We now interrupt the lunacy for some words from our Founding Fathers on: September 22, 2011, 06:53:15 AM
"No pecuniary consideration is more urgent, than the regular redemption and discharge of the public debt: on none can delay be more injurious, or an economy of time more valuable." --George Washington, Message to the House of Representatives, 1793

"There is not a more important and fundamental principle in legislation, than that the ways and means ought always to face the public engagements; that our appropriations should ever go hand in hand with our promises. To say that the United States should be answerable for twenty-five millions of dollars without knowing whether the ways and means can be provided, and without knowing whether those who are to succeed us will think with us on the subject, would be rash and unjustifiable." --James Madison, Speech in Congress, 1790

"The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Taylor, 1816
24470  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Several days of quotes on: September 22, 2011, 06:51:41 AM

"History by apprising [citizens] of the past will enable them to judge of the future; it will avail them of the experience of other times and other nations; it will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men; it will enable them to know ambition under every disguise it may assume; and knowing it, to defeat its views." --Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 14, 1781

"We are either a United people, or we are not. If the former, let us, in all maters of general concern act as a nation, which have national objects to promote, and a national character to support. If we are not, let us no longer act a farce by pretending to it." --George Washington, letter to James Madison, 1785

"The steady character of our countrymen is a rock to which we may safely moor; and notwithstanding the efforts of the papers to disseminate early discontents, I expect that a just, dispassionate and steady conduct, will at length rally to a proper system the great body of our country. Unequivocal in principle, reasonable in manner, we shall be able I hope to do a great deal of good to the cause of freedom & harmony." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to Elbridge Gerry, 1801

"No pecuniary consideration is more urgent, than the regular redemption and discharge of the public debt: on none can delay be more injurious, or an economy of time more valuable." --George Washington, Message to the House of Representatives, 1793

"There is not a more important and fundamental principle in legislation, than that the ways and means ought always to face the public engagements; that our appropriations should ever go hand in hand with our promises. To say that the United States should be answerable for twenty-five millions of dollars without knowing whether the ways and means can be provided, and without knowing whether those who are to succeed us will think with us on the subject, would be rash and unjustifiable." --James Madison, Speech in Congress, 1790

"The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Taylor, 1816
24471  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Lone Wolves on: September 22, 2011, 06:46:06 AM
Cutting Through the Lone-Wolf Hype
September 22, 2011

By Scott Stewart

Lone wolf. The mere mention of the phrase invokes a sense of fear and dread. It conjures up images of an unknown, malicious plotter working alone and silently to perpetrate an unpredictable, undetectable and unstoppable act of terror. This one phrase combines the persistent fear of terrorism in modern society with the primal fear of the unknown.

The phrase has been used a lot lately. Anyone who has been paying attention to the American press over the past few weeks has been bombarded with a steady stream of statements regarding lone-wolf militants. While many of these statements, such as those from President Barack Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden and Department of Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano, were made in the days leading up to the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, they did not stop when the threats surrounding the anniversary proved to be unfounded and the date passed without incident. Indeed, on Sept. 14, the Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Matthew Olsen, told CNN that one of the things that concerned him most was “finding that next lone-wolf terrorist before he strikes.”

Now, the focus on lone operatives and small independent cells is well founded. We have seen the jihadist threat devolve from one based primarily on the hierarchical al Qaeda core organization to a  threat emanating from a broader array of grassroots actors operating alone or in small groups. Indeed, at present, there is a far greater likelihood of a successful jihadist attack being conducted in the West by a lone-wolf attacker or small cell inspired by al Qaeda than by a member of the al Qaeda core or one of the franchise groups. But the lone-wolf threat can be generated by a broad array of ideologies, not just jihadism. A recent reminder of this was the July 22 attack in Oslo, Norway, conducted by lone wolf Anders Breivik.

The lone-wolf threat is nothing new, but it has received a great deal of press coverage in recent months, and with that press coverage has come a certain degree of hype based on the threat’s mystique. However, when one looks closely at the history of solitary terrorists, it becomes apparent that there is a significant gap between lone-wolf theory and lone-wolf practice. An examination of this gap is very helpful in placing the lone-wolf threat in the proper context.

The Shift Toward Leaderless Resistance

While the threat of lone wolves conducting terrorist attacks is real, the first step in putting the threat into context is understanding how long it has existed. To say it is nothing new really means that it is an inherent part of human conflict, a way for a weaker entity — even a solitary one — to inflict pain upon and destabilize a much larger entity. Modern lone-wolf terrorism is widely considered to have emerged in the 1800s, when fanatical individuals bent on effecting political change demonstrated that a solitary actor could impact history. Leon Czolgosz, the anarchist who assassinated U.S. President William McKinley in 1901, was one such lone wolf.

The 1970s brought lone wolf terrorists like Joseph Paul Franklin and Ted Kaczynski, both of whom were able to operate for years without being identified and apprehended. Based on the success of these lone wolves and following the 1988 Fort Smith Sedition Trial, in which the U.S. government’s penetration of white hate groups was clearly revealed, some of the leaders of these penetrated groups began to advocate “leaderless resistance” as a way to avoid government pressure. They did not invent the concept, which is really quite old, but they readily embraced it and used their status in the white supremacist movement to advocate it.

In 1989, William Pierce, the leader of a neo-Nazi group called the National Alliance and one of the Fort Smith defendants, published a fictional book under the pseudonym Andrew Macdonald titled “Hunter,” which dealt with the exploits of a fictional lone wolf named Oscar Yeager. Pierce dedicated the book to Joseph Paul Franklin and he clearly intended it to serve as an inspiration and model for lone-wolf operatives. Pierce’s earlier book, “The Turner Diaries,” was based on a militant operational theory involving a clandestine organization, and “Hunter” represented a distinct break from that approach.

In 1990, Richard Kelly Hoskins, an influential “Christian Identity” ideologue, published a book titled “Vigilantes of Christendom” in which he introduced the concept of the “Phineas Priest.” According to Hoskins, a Phineas Priest is a lone-wolf militant chosen by God and set apart to be God’s “agent of vengeance” upon the earth. Phineas Priests also believe their attacks will serve to ignite a wider “racial holy war” that will ultimately lead to the salvation of the white race.

In 1992, another of the Fort Smith defendants, former Ku Klux Klan Leader Louis Beam, published an essay in his magazine “The Seditionist” that provided a detailed roadmap for moving the white hate movement toward the leaderless resistance model. This roadmap called for lone wolves and small “phantom” cells to engage in violent action to protect themselves from detection.

In the white-supremacist realm, the shift toward leaderless resistance — taken because of the government’s success in penetrating and disrupting group operations — was an admission of failure on the part of leaders like Pierce, Hoskins and Beam. It is important to note that in the two decades that have passed since the leaderless-resistance model rose to prominence in the white-supremacist movement there have been only a handful of successful lone-wolf attacks. The army of lone wolves envisioned by the proponents of leaderless resistance never materialized.

But the leaderless resistance model was advocated not only by the far right. Influenced by their anarchist roots, left-wing extremists also moved in that direction, and movements such as the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front actually adopted operational models that were very similar to the leaderless-resistance doctrine prescribed by Beam.

More recently, and for similar reasons, the jihadists have also come to adopt the leaderless-resistance theory. Perhaps the first to promote the concept in the jihadist realm was jihadist military theoretician Abu Musab al-Suri. Upon seeing the success the United States and its allies were having against the al Qaeda core and its wider network following 9/11, al-Suri began to promote the concept of individual jihad — leaderless resistance. As if to prove his own point about the dangers of belonging to a group, al-Suri was reportedly captured in November 2005 in Pakistan.

Al-Suri’s concept of leaderless resistance was embraced by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the al Qaeda franchise group in Yemen, in 2009. AQAP called for this type of strategy in both its Arabic-language media and its English language magazine, “Inspire,” which published long excerpts of al-Suri’s material on individual jihad. In 2010, the al Qaeda core also embraced the idea, with U.S.-born spokesman Adam Gadahn echoing AQAP’s calls for Muslims to adopt the leaderless resistance model.

However, in the jihadist realm, as in the white-supremacist realm before it, the shift to leaderless resistance was an admission of weakness rather than a sign of strength. Jihadists recognized that they have been extremely limited in their ability to successfully attack the West, and while jihadist groups welcomed recruits in the past, they are now telling them it is too dangerous because of the steps taken by the United States and its allies to combat the transnational terrorist threat.

Busting the Mystique

Having established that when a group promotes leaderless resistance as an operational model it is a sign of failure rather than strength, let’s take a look at how the theory translates into practice.

On its face, as described by strategists such as Beam and al-Suri, the leaderless-resistance theory is tactically sound. By operating as lone wolves or small, insulated cells, operatives can increase their operational security and make it more difficult for law enforcement and intelligence agencies to identify them. As seen by examples such as Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hassan and Roshonara Choudhry, who stabbed British lawmaker Stephen Timms with a kitchen knife in May 2010, such attacks can create a significant impact with very little cost.

Lone wolves and small cells do indeed present unique challenges, but history has shown that it is very difficult to put the lone-wolf theory into practice. For every Eric Rudolph, Nidal Hasan and Anders Breivik there are scores of half-baked lone-wolf wannabes who either botch their operations or are uncovered before they can launch an attack.

It is a rare individual who possesses the requisite combination of will, discipline, adaptability, resourcefulness and technical skill to make the leap from theory to practice and become a successful lone wolf. Immaturity, impatience and incompetence are frequently the bane of failed lone-wolf operators, who also frequently lack a realistic assessment of their capabilities and tend to attempt attacks that are far too complex. When they try to do something spectacular they frequently achieve little or nothing. By definition and operational necessity, lone-wolf operatives do not have the luxury of attending training camps where they can be taught effective terrorist tradecraft. Nasir al-Wahayshi has recognized this and has urged jihadist lone wolves to focus on simple, easily accomplished attacks that can be conducted with readily available items and that do not require advanced tradecraft to succeed.

It must also be recognized that attacks, even those conducted by lone wolves, do not simply materialize out of a vacuum. Lone wolf attacks must follow the same planning process as an attack conducted by a small cell or hierarchical group. This means that lone wolves are also vulnerable to detection during their planning and preparation for an attack — even more so, since a lone wolf must conduct each step of the process alone and therefore must expose himself to detection on multiple occasions rather than delegate risky tasks such as surveillance to someone else in order to reduce the risk of detection. A lone wolf must conduct all the preoperational surveillance, acquire all the weapons, assemble and test all the components of the improvised explosive device (if one is to be used) and then deploy everything required for the attack before launching it.

Certainly, there is far more effort in a truck bomb attack than a simple attack with a knife, and the planning process is shorter for the latter, but the lone wolf still must follow and complete all the steps. While this operational model offers security advantages regarding communications and makes it impossible for the authorities to plant an informant in a group, it also increases operational security risks by exposing the lone operator at multiple points of the planning process.

Operating alone also takes more time, does not allow the lone attacker to leverage the skills of others and requires that the lone attacker provide all the necessary resources for the attack. When we consider all the traits required for someone to bridge the gap between lone-wolf theory and practice, from will and discipline to self-sufficiency and tactical ability, there simply are not many people who have both the ability and the intent to conduct such attacks. This is why we have not seen more lone-wolf attacks despite the fact that the theory does offer some tactical advantages and has been around for so long.

The limits of working alone also mean that, for the most part, lone-wolf attacks tend to be smaller and less damaging than attacks conducted by independent cells or hierarchical organizations. Breivik’s attack in Norway and Hasan’s attack at Fort Hood are rare exceptions and not the rule.

When we set aside the mystique of the lone wolf and look at the reality of the phenomenon, we can see that the threat is often far less daunting in fact than in theory. One of the most vocal proponents of the theory in the white supremacist movement in the late 1990s was a young California neo-Nazi named Alex Curtis. After Curtis was arrested in 2000 and convicted of harassing Jewish figures in Southern California, it was said that when he made the jump from “keyboard commando” to conducting operations in the physical world he proved to be more of a “stray mutt” than a lone wolf.

Lone wolves — or stray mutts — do pose a threat, but that threat must be neither overstated nor ignored. Lone attackers are not mythical creatures that come out of nowhere to inflict harm. They follow a process and are vulnerable to detection at certain times during that process. Cutting through the hype is an important step in dispelling the mystique and addressing the problems posed by such individuals in a realistic and practical way.

24472  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / VDH: Will Israel Survive? on: September 22, 2011, 06:38:23 AM

Will Israel survive? That question hasn't really been asked since 1967. Then, a far weaker Israel was surrounded on all sides by Arab dictatorships that were equipped with sophisticated weapons from their nuclear patron, the Soviet Union. But now, things are far worse for the Jewish state.

Egyptian mobs just tried to storm the Israeli embassy in Cairo and kill any Israelis they could get their hands on. Whatever Egyptian government emerges, it will be more Islamist than before -- and may renounce the peace accords with Israel.

One thing unites Syrian and Libyan dissidents: They seem to hate Israel as much as the murderous dictators whom they have been trying to throw out.

The so-called "Arab Spring" was supposed to usher in Arab self-introspection about why intolerant strongmen keep sprouting up in the Middle East. Post-revolutionary critics could freely examine self-inflicted Arab wounds, such as tribalism, religious intolerance, authoritarianism, endemic corruption, closed economies and gender apartheid.

But so far, "revolutionaries" sound a lot more like reactionaries. They are more often retreating to the tired conspiracies that the Israelis and Americans pushed onto innocent Arab publics homegrown corrupt madmen such as Bashar Assad, Muammar Gadhafi and Hosni Mubarak.

In 1967, the more powerful periphery of the Middle East -- the Shah's Iran, Kemalist Turkey, a military-run Pakistan and the Gulf monarchies -- was mostly uninvolved in the Israel-Arab frontline fighting.

Not now. A soon-to-be-nuclear Iran serially promises to destroy Israel. The Erdogan government in Turkey brags about its Ottoman Islamist past -- and wants to provoke Israel into an eastern Mediterranean shooting war. Pakistan is the world's leading host and exporter of jihadists obsessed with destroying Israel. The oil-rich Gulf states use their vast petroleum wealth and clout to line up oil importers against Israel. The 21st century United Nations is a de facto enemy of the Jewish state.

Meanwhile, the West is nearly bankrupt. The European Union is on the brink of dissolving, its population shrinking amid growing numbers of Islamic immigrants.

America is $16 trillion in debt. We are tired of three wars. The Obama administration initially thought putting a little "light" into the once-solid relationship between Israel and the United States might coax Arab countries into negotiating a peace. That new American triangulation certainly has given a far more confident Muslim world more hope -- but it's hope that just maybe the United States now cannot or will not come to Israel's aid if Muslim states ratchet up the tension.

It is trendy to blame Israel intransigence for all these bleak developments. But to do so is simply to forget history. There were three Arab efforts to destroy Israel before it occupied any borderlands after its victory in 1967. Later, it gave back all of Sinai and yet now faces a hostile Egypt. It got out of Lebanon -- and Hezbollah crowed that Israel was weakening, as that terrorist organization moved in and stockpiled thousands of missiles pointed at Tel Aviv. Israel got out of Gaza and earned as thanks both rocket showers and a terrorist Hamas government sworn to destroy the Jewish state.

The Arab Middle East damns Israel for not granting a "right of return" into Israel to Palestinians who have not lived there in nearly 70 years. But it keeps embarrassed silence about the more than half-million Jews whom Arab dictatorships much later ethnically cleansed from Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo, and sent back into Israel. On cue, the Palestinian ambassador to the United States again brags that there will be no Jews allowed in his newly envisioned, and American subsidized, Palestinian state -- a boast with eerie historical parallels.

By now we know both what will start and deter yet another conflict in the Middle East. In the past, wars broke out when the Arab states thought they could win them and stopped when they conceded they could not.

But now a new array of factors -- ever more Islamist enemies of Israel such as Turkey and Iran, ever more likelihood of frontline Arab Islamist governments, ever more fear of Islamic terrorism, ever more unabashed anti-Semitism, ever more petrodollars flowing into the Middle East, ever more chance of nuclear Islamist states, and ever more indifference by Europe and the United States -- has probably convinced Israel's enemies that finally they can win what they could not in 1947, 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982 and 2006.

So brace yourself. The next war against Israel is no longer a matter of if, only when. And it will be far more deadly than any we've witnessed in quite some time.
24473  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues and LE in action on: September 22, 2011, 06:13:55 AM

"sheltered douchbags like you"?  "while you cower at a safe distance"?

I love ya man and I know you and JDN sometimes bump heads strongly, but you know that we seek to avoid this kind of personal commentary around here. 

Please do better on this.

Thank you,

Returning now to the merits of the conversation, as usual GM does a very good job of bringing out the LEO POV.  I know I certainly have seen indiginant news reports on TV showing LEO behavior with great indignation that at earlier points in my life I would have shared but now look at and shout back at the Barbie & Ken doll teleprompter readers about what clueless morons they are (as inwardly I realize what a moron I had been earlier in my life cheesy ).

That said, the point remains that there ARE times police get out of line, sometimes  quite a bit out of line.  Given the charges being brought here, it seems reasonable to me to think that perhaps this may have been such a case; even while keeping in mind that political charges are not unknown either.

24474  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: September 22, 2011, 05:58:04 AM
24475  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fall Dog Brothers Open Gathering of the Pack 9/18/11 on: September 22, 2011, 05:56:41 AM
Woof All:

We would appreciate your emailing to your thoughts in 2-3 paragraphs about your experience and what it meant to you for use in our newsletter.  Getting it in today would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
24476  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / I haven't a clue what this means , , , on: September 21, 2011, 10:11:31 PM
Fed Actively Twists But Holds Off on QE3
Today the Federal Reserve announced major changes to
the composition of its balance sheet as well as major
changes to its description of the economy.
From now through the middle of next year, the Fed will
sell $400 billion of Treasury securities with maturities of
three years or less and purchase $400 billion in Treasury
securities with maturities of six years to thirty years. This
is an “active” form of “twisting” the maturities in its
balance sheet in an attempt to bring down long-term
interest rates. It is more aggressive than the “passive”
alternative in which the Fed would roll some of its
maturing short-term Treasury securities into longer-term
Treasury debt. It is unclear at this point whether the Fed
will employ the passive approach in addition to the active
twist of $400 billion.
The Fed also announced that it will cease shifting its
portfolio of mortgage backed securities (MBS) and the
debt of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (GSE debt) into
Treasury securities. Since mid-2010, the Fed has reduced
its holdings of these residential mortgage-based assets by
about $300 billion, to $1 trillion from $1.3 trillion, buying
Treasury securities with the principal as MBS and GSE
debt matured. Now the Fed will use the principal to buy
MBS. The Fed did not provide a date for that process to
end. In other words, going forward and for the foreseeable
future the Fed will maintain a stable amount of Treasury
securities and a stable amount of mortgage-based assets.
All of these measures come on top of the decision at the
Fed’s last meeting in early August to commit to
maintaining the current federal funds rate at nearly zero
percent through at least mid-2013.
Notice, however, that neither the active twist nor a passive
twist, nor maintaining the size of its mortgage-related
assets will alter the overall size of the Fed’s balance sheet.
In other words, the Fed did not announce a third round of
quantitative easing. The Fed also did not reduce or
eliminate the interest rate it pays banks on their excess
reserves, another policy move it surely discussed at the
meeting over the last two days.
The changes to the language of the Fed’s statement were
also significant. The Fed noted a modest increase in
household spending but suggested the recovery should be
stronger given the easing of supply-chain disruptions
related to Japan’s disasters. More importantly, the Fed
said downside risks to the economic outlook were
“significant,” including recent problems in “global
financial markets,” an obvious reference to the European
sovereign debt problems. Remarkably, even with
consumer prices up 0.5% in July, 0.4% in August and
3.8% in the past year, the Fed said that “inflation appears
to have moderated since earlier in the year,” the exact
same language it used at the prior meeting. Message to
markets: the Fed does not care about inflation right now.
Three members of the Federal Open Market Committee
(Fisher, Kocherlakota and Plosser), all reserve bank
presidents, not members of the Washington DC-based
Board of Governors, voted against today’s decision to shift
the composition of the Fed’s Treasury assets to longerdated
maturities and maintain the size of the Fed’s
This report was prepared by First Trust Advisors L. P., and reflects the current opinion of the authors. It is based upon sources and data believed to be accurate and reliable.
Opinions and forward looking statements expressed are subject to change without notice. This information does not constitute a solicitation or an offer to buy or sell any security.
mortgage-related assets. These same three members
dissented last month against the decision to commit to
maintaining near zero short-term rates through at least
We believe the changes announced today are unlikely to
have the beneficial effects on the economy that the Fed
majority thinks. The Fed is clearly trying to reduce
mortgage rates as well as other long-term interest rates.
But the policy measures taken today will, if they have a
financial impact, flatten the slope of the yield curve,
reducing bank earnings.
Moreover, the shift in the composition of the Fed’s
portfolio of Treasury securities means that, on net
(Treasury issuance minus Fed purchases), the federal
government is issuing less long-term debt and more shortterm
debt. This is poor management of the federal debt.
Given historically low interest rates, the federal
government should be issuing more long-term debt and
less short-term debt, not the other way around.
Ultimately, we believe today’s policy moves were more
about appearing to do something than getting actual
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
24477  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Hitchhiker's guide to the Iranian galaxy on: September 21, 2011, 05:55:12 PM
Dispatch: Freed Hikers and Iran's Power Struggle
September 21, 2011 | 1941 GMT
Click on image below to watch video:

Analyst Reva Bhalla discusses what the hikers’ release reveals about the ongoing power struggle in Iran and whether this struggle could impede Iran’s goals in Iraq and the wider region.

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

Related Links
Intelligence Guidance: U.S.-Taliban Talks, Iran’s Power Struggle, Greek Austerity
Internal Rifts Hamper Iran’s Strong Negotiating Position
Long-Term Consequences of Iran’s Intra-Elite Struggle
It was announced on Wednesday that after having spent 782 days in an Iranian prison, the two remaining American hikers were released on a $1 million bail. The delay over the hiker release exposed the depth of the Iranian power struggle, but the release may be one small sign that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad still carries a great deal of authority when it comes to driving Iran’s foreign policy.

The Iranian power struggle is often exaggerated by mostly Western commentators who often describe the constant bickering between the Iranian president and his rivals as a sign of the regime is cracking under pressure, and that it’s only a matter of time before pro-democracy protesters are able to overwhelm a weakening clerical regime.

At STRATFOR we see things a bit differently. There’s no denying that there is a serious power struggle in Iran, and signs of that can be seen every day. Most recently, when the Iranian judiciary, controlled by the president’s biggest rivals, basically embarrassed Ahmadinejad in delaying the hikers’ release after Ahmadinejad publicly announced that they would be released. But it’s important to understand the core dynamics underlying this power struggle. A rising political faction so far led by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad charges the corrupted clerical elite of betraying the revolution and for ignoring the demands of the poor. The most striking aspect of this power struggle is not that a firebrand leader is getting ganged up on by the country’s most senior clerics, but the fact that such a leader would not be attacking the clerical establishment in the first place, if that establishment wasn’t already seen as weakening and undergoing a crisis in legitimacy. Ahmadinejad after all is just a politician in the end. The far more important thing to understand is the faction that he represents and the growing delegitimization of the country’s corrupted clerical elite.

This is a long-term process though. The clerical establishment still has a great deal of institutional strength and they’ve used that strength to constrain Ahmadinejad quite well. However, with time the discrediting of the clerical elite is likely to create an opening for the military, as opposed to pro-democracy groups, to fill a vacuum within the regime. That’s why it’s extremely important to watch the evolution of the IRGC [Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps], already a major military and economic force in the state, and now an increasingly influential voice in Iranian politics.

The more immediate question that we’re asking ourselves is whether this Iranian power struggle is going to distract Iran from meeting its core geopolitical imperatives in Iraq. Clearly a power vacuum is opening in Iraq with the withdrawal of U.S. forces and this represents a historical opportunity for the Iranians. The next step for the Iran is not only to consolidate influence in Iraq but to shape a realignment of Arab interests in the region that, at least in the short-term, favor Iranian interests.

A big part of this effort will entail driving the United States toward an accommodation with Iran while Iran still feels like it has the upper hand. This is something that Ahmadinejad has actually tried to do but has been held back by his rivals as they have been trying to deny the president a major foreign policy coup. There is no guarantee of success for Iran in this wider initiative, as this is going to take a great deal of focus and strategy in the coming months. Given that we can also expect the level of internal turmoil in Iran to increase in the coming months, we’re going to have to watch very closely to see if Iran can contain its problems at home while it keeps its eye on the bigger prize in Iraq and the wider region.

Click for more videos

24478  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The ever relentless Wesbury: August existing home sales up 7.7% on: September 21, 2011, 05:49:29 PM
Existing home sales rose 7.7% in August To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 9/21/2011

Existing home sales rose 7.7% in August to an annual rate of 5.03 million units, easily beating the consensus expected pace of 4.75 million units. Existing home sales are up 18.6% versus a year ago.

Sales in August were up in all major regions of the country. Almost all of the increase in overall sales was due to single-family homes. Sales of condos/coops rose slightly.
The median price of an existing home fell to $168,300 in August (not seasonally adjusted), and is down 5.1% versus a year ago. Average prices are down 4.0% versus last year.
The months’ supply of existing homes (how long it would take to sell the entire inventory at the current sales rate) fell to 8.5 from 9.5 in July.  The drop in the months’ supply was due to both the faster pace of sales as well as a smaller inventory of homes for sale.
Implications:  Sales of existing homes rebounded sharply in August, coming in well above consensus expectations, and beating the forecast of all 74 economic groups that made predictions. What makes the 7.7% gain to a 5.03 million annual pace even more impressive is that it came in the face of financial volatility in August as well as a hurricane that hit the eastern seaboard late in the month. It would not have been surprising if these factors temporarily depressed sales, which are counted at closing. Lenders could have balked, asking for a larger down-payment or re-inspection to make sure the storm did not damage the home; buyers could have balked out of (in our view, unwarranted) concern about a double-dip recession. Despite these potential pitfalls, the strength in sales was widespread, increasing in all major regions of the country and for both single-family homes and condos/coops. While a large portion of sales came from distressed properties (such as foreclosures and short sales), this is necessary for inventories to continue to be worked off and for the housing market to ultimately recover. The inventory of existing homes is down 13.1% in the past year and homes available for sale this August were at the lowest level for any August since 2005. Despite today’s good news, strict lending standards continue to making access to credit difficult, so we don’t expect robust sales gains every month.  In other recent news, the growth of chain store sales continues to show we are not in recession. Last week’s same-store sales were up 3.4% versus a year ago according to the International Council of Shopping Centers and up 4.1% according to Redbook Research.
24479  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: How to cut government spending on: September 21, 2011, 05:47:56 PM
This article makes much more sense to me, and it is written by a guy who was Bill Clinton's pollster:

Voters Want State Government Reform
Americans believe that bold action to restrict spending is necessary to stabilize the finances of state government.

Last month, in a wide-ranging national survey of 1,000 randomly selected, registered voters, and in 10 polls in individual states each with 400 respondents, my polling company found that voters strongly favor measures to pare the compensation of current and future public employees. They strongly oppose higher taxes.

Specifically, over three-quarters (78%) say their state faced a budget crisis this year, and 68% say that the crisis was resolved with spending cuts. Overwhelmingly they blame politicians for creating and exacerbating the problems: 48% say "elected state officials made careless and self-serving decisions," while only 6% say "state governments did not tax enough."

The top priorities for resolving current fiscal issues are to cut government spending (47%) and to ask for greater sacrifice from current public employees, by having them contribute more towards their benefits (31%). By almost two-to-one, they think that current public employees should have to contribute more toward their pension benefits because of budget problems.

A majority (51%) say they would not be willing to cut "social service programs provided by your state" to maintain the compensation of public employees; and 60% say that "education and health care" should not be cut so that "the salaries and benefits of public employees could be paid at current levels."

Further, by 48% to 40%, voters say that public employees' salaries should be "frozen," and they should be required to contribute more towards their benefits when states face the type of crises they are now facing. Close to two-thirds (64%) say they would not be willing to have their taxes raised as a means of keeping salaries and benefits of current employees at current levels.

However, there is a clear distinction in voters' minds between what current public employees should be asked to contribute and what retired public employees should be asked to contribute. Sixty-nine percent say retirees should "not have to" contribute more towards their health-care benefits or take a reduced pension because of state and local government budget problems.

A majority (56%) supports reducing certain state services to address state budget crises if programs need to be cut. Voters are most inclined to cut libraries and parks services and least inclined to cut education, health care, police and fire protection. However, a whopping 60% of voters oppose "increasing state sales, income or other taxes" to reduce budget deficits.

While there is a clear sense that cutting spending and reducing salaries and benefits will result in fiscal stability for state governments, there is no similar linkage between reforming the collective bargaining process and achieving fiscal well-being for individual state governments.

Put simply, the voters don't see a connection between the two.

Collective bargaining is not overwhelmingly popular in the abstract. A majority (50%) agrees that "public employees should not bargain collectively and use union power to limit or delay the delivery of important government services." Moreover, 60% of voters feel that collective bargaining is a benefit "and can be changed and negotiated based on economic circumstances," while 30% see it as "essential" and "a basic right of labor." In the recent "disputes between state governments and public unions over collective bargaining," voters side with state officials by 46% to 39%.

However, this skepticism towards collective bargaining does not translate directly into support for the steps that Governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin and John Kasich of Ohio took in their individual jurisdictions.

Nationally, the Wisconsin law to restrict public employee collective bargaining rights was opposed 49% to 45%, and the similar Ohio legislation was opposed by 45% to 40%. In the states, there was similar opposition. Wisconsin voters oppose Mr. Walker's measure, 52% to 45%, and Ohio voters oppose Mr. Kasich's measure, 52% to 43%.

Yet the reason for this apparent movement against collective bargaining reform is that unlike reducing state spending and benefits, voters nationally and in those two states are not convinced that clear savings will result from reforming the labor relations process. By 56% to 33%, voters nationally say "it is unclear how much money will actually be saved by limiting" collective bargaining rights.

Voters also reject the notion that reforming collective bargaining will make government more efficient in each of these two states. A solid majority (55%) rejects that notion in Wisconsin, and a 45% to 41% plurality in Ohio rejects this notion as well. By large margins in both states—59% to 17% in Ohio and 43% to 28% in Wisconsin—voters say it is more important to reform public employee salaries and benefits than it is to reform collective bargaining.

On other measures that restrict current public employee rights and benefits, voters say that tenure for teachers should be phased out, 56% to 39%. Fundamental reform of public sector pension plans is strongly favored. Voters support "moving all new public employees from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan" by 69% to 17%.

One of the reasons voters feel so strongly about reducing the level of compensation for state employees is that they believe that they are earning disproportionately high wages relative to those in the private sector.

There is a clear belief that public employees are better compensated than those in the private sector: 41% of voters think "the salaries and benefits of most public employees are too high for the work they do," while 32% think they're "about right" and 13% think they're "too low."

Voters also think that while public sector workers generally can retire with full benefits at about age 57 years old, this is too early. Generally they say the normal retirement age should be 65.

It is clear that American voters endorse a very specific agenda to reduce spending, pare back employee benefits, and hold the line on taxes wherever and whenever possible. The electorate clearly shows sympathy with the concept of limiting collective bargaining rights, but so far has not seen or come to accept the direct linkage between restricting that benefit and assuring the ongoing fiscal well-being of their state.

Mr. Schoen, who served as a pollster for President Bill Clinton, is author of "Hopelessly Divided: The New Crisis in American Politics and What It Means for 2012 and Beyond."(Rowman and Littlefield, 2012). The national survey discussed in this op-ed was conducted on Aug. 5-10. The states individually surveyed on Aug. 29-Sept. 5 were Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. All surveys were conducted for the Manhattan Institute.

On Sep 20, 2011, at 6:24 AM, epo wrote:

Is Obama’s proposal winning him reelection?
Updated Tax Polls
19 Sep 2011
Posted by Bruce Bartlett

I have previously posted a table showing that people support raising taxes as part of deficit reduction by a 2-to-1 margin over the Grover Norquist/Club for Growth/Tea Party position that the deficit must be reduced only by spending cuts without a penny of higher taxes. In light of President Obama's new budget plan, which includes higher taxes, I am posting an updated table, including a poll on Friday showing that three-fourths of people support higher taxes and only 21 percent support the doctrinaire right-wing position.

Can/Should the Budget Deficit Be Reduced with Spending Cuts Alone or Should There Be Some Increase in Taxes?

Some/All Taxes
No Taxes/
All Spending
New York Times/CBS News
Associated Press
New York Times/CBS News
Washington Post/ABC News
NBC News/Wall Street Journal
CBS News
Washington Post/ABC News
USC/Los Angeles Times
New York Times/CBS News
Washington Post/ABC News
Washington Post/ABC News
Washington Post/ABC News
Associated Press/CNBC

Scott Grannis

24480  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: September 21, 2011, 04:17:29 PM
Bush made Pakistan the North Star of our Afpakia strategy.  How's that working out for us?
24481  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Beck right on yet another conspiracy on: September 21, 2011, 04:14:59 PM

and an additional citation:

Several years ago Glenn broke ties with GM as a sponsor, in large part because he was worried about their interactions with government. All that technology and access at the fingertips of the federal government just didn't sit well with Glenn. At the time, they said they wouldn't be doing any sort of tracking or anything like that. That was then, this is now. OnStar is now notifying its 6 million account holders that it will keep a complete account of the speed and location of OnStar-equipped vehicles even for drivers who discontinue the monthly service. Why? Glenn has more on radio today - check it out at
24482  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / OnStar spys on customers even after cancellation of service on: September 21, 2011, 04:14:14 PM
24483  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Power of Persuasion on: September 21, 2011, 04:09:33 PM
instead of the persuasion of power:
24484  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: September 21, 2011, 10:51:32 AM
Good one  smiley
24485  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / George Washington's Farewell Address on: September 21, 2011, 10:45:18 AM
George Washington’s Farewell Address
Monday, Sep 19, 2011 at 5:17 PM EDT

Delivered September 19, 1796

Friends and Citizens:

The period for a new election of a citizen to administer the executive government of the United States being not far distant, and the time actually arrived when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those out of whom a choice is to be made.

I beg you, at the same time, to do me the justice to be assured that this resolution has not been taken without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relation which binds a dutiful citizen to his country; and that in withdrawing the tender of service, which silence in my situation might imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest, no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness, but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both.

The acceptance of, and continuance hitherto in, the office to which your suffrages have twice called me have been a uniform sacrifice of inclination to the opinion of duty and to a deference for what appeared to be your desire. I constantly hoped that it would have been much earlier in my power, consistently with motives which I was not at liberty to disregard, to return to that retirement from which I had been reluctantly drawn. The strength of my inclination to do this, previous to the last election, had even led to the preparation of an address to declare it to you; but mature reflection on the then perplexed and critical posture of our affairs with foreign nations, and the unanimous advice of persons entitled to my confidence, impelled me to abandon the idea.

I rejoice that the state of your concerns, external as well as internal, no longer renders the pursuit of inclination incompatible with the sentiment of duty or propriety, and am persuaded, whatever partiality may be retained for my services, that, in the present circumstances of our country, you will not disapprove my determination to retire.

The impressions with which I first undertook the arduous trust were explained on the proper occasion. In the discharge of this trust, I will only say that I have, with good intentions, contributed towards the organization and administration of the government the best exertions of which a very fallible judgment was capable. Not unconscious in the outset of the inferiority of my qualifications, experience in my own eyes, perhaps still more in the eyes of others, has strengthened the motives to diffidence of myself; and every day the increasing weight of years admonishes me more and more that the shade of retirement is as necessary to me as it will be welcome. Satisfied that if any circumstances have given peculiar value to my services, they were temporary, I have the consolation to believe that, while choice and prudence invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism does not forbid it.

In looking forward to the moment which is intended to terminate the career of my public life, my feelings do not permit me to suspend the deep acknowledgment of that debt of gratitude which I owe to my beloved country for the many honors it has conferred upon me; still more for the steadfast confidence with which it has supported me; and for the opportunities I have thence enjoyed of manifesting my inviolable attachment, by services faithful and persevering, though in usefulness unequal to my zeal. If benefits have resulted to our country from these services, let it always be remembered to your praise, and as an instructive example in our annals, that under circumstances in which the passions, agitated in every direction, were liable to mislead, amidst appearances sometimes dubious, vicissitudes of fortune often discouraging, in situations in which not unfrequently want of success has countenanced the spirit of criticism, the constancy of your support was the essential prop of the efforts, and a guarantee of the plans by which they were effected. Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall carry it with me to my grave, as a strong incitement to unceasing vows that heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence; that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the free Constitution, which is the work of your hands, may be sacredly maintained; that its administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue; that, in fine, the happiness of the people of these States, under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this blessing as will acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the affection, and adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger to it.

Here, perhaps, I ought to stop. But a solicitude for your welfare, which cannot end but with my life, and the apprehension of danger, natural to that solicitude, urge me, on an occasion like the present, to offer to your solemn contemplation, and to recommend to your frequent review, some sentiments which are the result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable observation, and which appear to me all-important to the permanency of your felicity as a people. These will be offered to you with the more freedom, as you can only see in them the disinterested warnings of a parting friend, who can possibly have no personal motive to bias his counsel. Nor can I forget, as an encouragement to it, your indulgent reception of my sentiments on a former and not dissimilar occasion.

Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the attachment.

The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.

For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest. Citizens, by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together; the independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint counsels, and joint efforts of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.

But these considerations, however powerfully they address themselves to your sensibility, are greatly outweighed by those which apply more immediately to your interest. Here every portion of our country finds the most commanding motives for carefully guarding and preserving the union of the whole.

The North, in an unrestrained intercourse with the South, protected by the equal laws of a common government, finds in the productions of the latter great additional resources of maritime and commercial enterprise and precious materials of manufacturing industry. The South, in the same intercourse, benefiting by the agency of the North, sees its agriculture grow and its commerce expand. Turning partly into its own channels the seamen of the North, it finds its particular navigation invigorated; and, while it contributes, in different ways, to nourish and increase the general mass of the national navigation, it looks forward to the protection of a maritime strength, to which itself is unequally adapted. The East, in a like intercourse with the West, already finds, and in the progressive improvement of interior communications by land and water, will more and more find a valuable vent for the commodities which it brings from abroad, or manufactures at home. The West derives from the East supplies requisite to its growth and comfort, and, what is perhaps of still greater consequence, it must of necessity owe the secure enjoyment of indispensable outlets for its own productions to the weight, influence, and the future maritime strength of the Atlantic side of the Union, directed by an indissoluble community of interest as one nation. Any other tenure by which the West can hold this essential advantage, whether derived from its own separate strength, or from an apostate and unnatural connection with any foreign power, must be intrinsically precarious.

While, then, every part of our country thus feels an immediate and particular interest in union, all the parts combined cannot fail to find in the united mass of means and efforts greater strength, greater resource, proportionably greater security from external danger, a less frequent interruption of their peace by foreign nations; and, what is of inestimable value, they must derive from union an exemption from those broils and wars between themselves, which so frequently afflict neighboring countries not tied together by the same governments, which their own rival ships alone would be sufficient to produce, but which opposite foreign alliances, attachments, and intrigues would stimulate and embitter. Hence, likewise, they will avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty. In this sense it is that your union ought to be considered as a main prop of your liberty, and that the love of the one ought to endear to you the preservation of the other.

These considerations speak a persuasive language to every reflecting and virtuous mind, and exhibit the continuance of the Union as a primary object of patriotic desire. Is there a doubt whether a common government can embrace so large a sphere? Let experience solve it. To listen to mere speculation in such a case were criminal. We are authorized to hope that a proper organization of the whole with the auxiliary agency of governments for the respective subdivisions, will afford a happy issue to the experiment. It is well worth a fair and full experiment. With such powerful and obvious motives to union, affecting all parts of our country, while experience shall not have demonstrated its impracticability, there will always be reason to distrust the patriotism of those who in any quarter may endeavor to weaken its bands.

In contemplating the causes which may disturb our Union, it occurs as matter of serious concern that any ground should have been furnished for characterizing parties by geographical discriminations, Northern and Southern, Atlantic and Western; whence designing men may endeavor to excite a belief that there is a real difference of local interests and views. One of the expedients of party to acquire influence within particular districts is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heartburnings which spring from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection. The inhabitants of our Western country have lately had a useful lesson on this head; they have seen, in the negotiation by the Executive, and in the unanimous ratification by the Senate, of the treaty with Spain, and in the universal satisfaction at that event, throughout the United States, a decisive proof how unfounded were the suspicions propagated among them of a policy in the General Government and in the Atlantic States unfriendly to their interests in regard to the Mississippi; they have been witnesses to the formation of two treaties, that with Great Britain, and that with Spain, which secure to them everything they could desire, in respect to our foreign relations, towards confirming their prosperity. Will it not be their wisdom to rely for the preservation of these advantages on the Union by which they were procured ? Will they not henceforth be deaf to those advisers, if such there are, who would sever them from their brethren and connect them with aliens?

To the efficacy and permanency of your Union, a government for the whole is indispensable. No alliance, however strict, between the parts can be an adequate substitute; they must inevitably experience the infractions and interruptions which all alliances in all times have experienced. Sensible of this momentous truth, you have improved upon your first essay, by the adoption of a constitution of government better calculated than your former for an intimate union, and for the efficacious management of your common concerns. This government, the offspring of our own choice, uninfluenced and unawed, adopted upon full investigation and mature deliberation, completely free in its principles, in the distribution of its powers, uniting security with energy, and containing within itself a provision for its own amendment, has a just claim to your confidence and your support. Respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true liberty. The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government.

All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.

However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.

Towards the preservation of your government, and the permanency of your present happy state, it is requisite, not only that you steadily discountenance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts. One method of assault may be to effect, in the forms of the Constitution, alterations which will impair the energy of the system, and thus to undermine what cannot be directly overthrown. In all the changes to which you may be invited, remember that time and habit are at least as necessary to fix the true character of governments as of other human institutions; that experience is the surest standard by which to test the real tendency of the existing constitution of a country; that facility in changes, upon the credit of mere hypothesis and opinion, exposes to perpetual change, from the endless variety of hypothesis and opinion; and remember, especially, that for the efficient management of your common interests, in a country so extensive as ours, a government of as much vigor as is consistent with the perfect security of liberty is indispensable. Liberty itself will find in such a government, with powers properly distributed and adjusted, its surest guardian. It is, indeed, little else than a name, where the government is too feeble to withstand the enterprises of faction, to confine each member of the society within the limits prescribed by the laws, and to maintain all in the secure and tranquil enjoyment of the rights of person and property.

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositaries, and constituting each the guardian of the public weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern; some of them in our country and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them. If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit, which the use can at any time yield.

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?

Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible, avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it, avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertion in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear. The execution of these maxims belongs to your representatives, but it is necessary that public opinion should co-operate. To facilitate to them the performance of their duty, it is essential that you should practically bear in mind that towards the payment of debts there must be revenue; that to have revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant; that the intrinsic embarrassment, inseparable from the selection of the proper objects (which is always a choice of difficulties), ought to be a decisive motive for a candid construction of the conduct of the government in making it, and for a spirit of acquiescence in the measures for obtaining revenue, which the public exigencies may at any time dictate.

Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be, that good policy does not equally enjoin it – It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and at no distant period, a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt that, in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to it ? Can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue ? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices?

In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence, frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of nations, has been the victim.

So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practice the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the public councils. Such an attachment of a small or weak towards a great and powerful nation dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter.

Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy to be useful must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.

The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop. Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none; or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people under an efficient government. the period is not far off when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.

Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor or caprice?

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.

Taking care always to keep ourselves by suitable establishments on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.

Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing (with powers so disposed, in order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our merchants, and to enable the government to support them) conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary, and liable to be from time to time abandoned or varied, as experience and circumstances shall dictate; constantly keeping in view that it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that, by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion, which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.

In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish; that they will control the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. But, if I may even flatter myself that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated.

How far in the discharge of my official duties I have been guided by the principles which have been delineated, the public records and other evidences of my conduct must witness to you and to the world. To myself, the assurance of my own conscience is, that I have at least believed myself to be guided by them.

In relation to the still subsisting war in Europe, my proclamation of the twenty-second of April, I793, is the index of my plan. Sanctioned by your approving voice, and by that of your representatives in both houses of Congress, the spirit of that measure has continually governed me, uninfluenced by any attempts to deter or divert me from it.

After deliberate examination, with the aid of the best lights I could obtain, I was well satisfied that our country, under all the circumstances of the case, had a right to take, and was bound in duty and interest to take, a neutral position. Having taken it, I determined, as far as should depend upon me, to maintain it, with moderation, perseverance, and firmness.

The considerations which respect the right to hold this conduct, it is not necessary on this occasion to detail. I will only observe that, according to my understanding of the matter, that right, so far from being denied by any of the belligerent powers, has been virtually admitted by all.

The duty of holding a neutral conduct may be inferred, without anything more, from the obligation which justice and humanity impose on every nation, in cases in which it is free to act, to maintain inviolate the relations of peace and amity towards other nations.

The inducements of interest for observing that conduct will best be referred to your own reflections and experience. With me a predominant motive has been to endeavor to gain time to our country to settle and mature its yet recent institutions, and to progress without interruption to that degree of strength and consistency which is necessary to give it, humanly speaking, the command of its own fortunes.

Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope that my country will never cease to view them with indulgence; and that, after forty five years of my life dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.

Relying on its kindness in this as in other things, and actuated by that fervent love towards it, which is so natural to a man who views in it the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations, I anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat in which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow-citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free government, the ever-favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labors, and dangers.

24486  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Who ya gonna call? Jew Busters! on: September 21, 2011, 10:40:13 AM
24487  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / McFarlane & Woolsey: Weakening the Power of Foreign Oil on: September 21, 2011, 10:11:59 AM

How to Weaken the Power of Foreign Oil
Published: September 20, 2011
OUR country has just gone through a sober national retrospective on the 9/11 attacks. Apart from the heartfelt honoring of those lost — on that day and since — what seemed most striking is our seeming passivity and indifference toward the well from which our enemies draw their political strength and financial power: the strategic importance of oil, which provides the wherewithal for a generational war against us, as we mutter diplomatic niceties.

Oil’s strategic importance stems from its virtual monopoly as a transportation fuel. Today, 97 percent of all air, sea and land transportation systems in the United States have only one option: petroleum-based products. For more than 35 years we have engaged in self-delusion, saying either that we have reserves here at home large enough to meet our needs, or that the OPEC cartel will keep prices affordable out of self-interest. Neither assumption has proved valid. While the Western Hemisphere’s reserves are substantial and growing, they pale in the face of OPEC’s, which are substantial enough to effectively determine global supply and thus the global price.
According to senior executives in the oil industry, in the years ahead that price is going to rise beyond anything we’ve seen — well above the $147 per barrel we experienced three years ago. Such a run-up in the price of oil has been predicted as a consequence of an event like an attack on a major Saudi processing facility that takes production off line. But such a spike would be more likely to be caused by the predictable increase of demand in China, India and developing countries, alongside the cartel’s strategy of driving up prices by constraining supply. While OPEC sits on 79 percent of the world’s conventional oil reserves, it accounts for only one-third of global oil supply.

There is, however, a way out of this crisis. Ultimately, electric cars may become the norm, but for the near and middle term, the solution lies in opening the transportation fuel market to competition from sources other than petroleum. American oil companies have come around to understanding the wisdom of introducing competition, as a matter of their own self-interest. But doing so means rapidly ramping up production of the alternative fuels, and that is the challenge. As an example, before investors will expand production capacity for cellulosic ethanol from plant life, or for methanol from natural gas — which on a per-mile basis is significantly cheaper than gasoline — they want to see that a sufficient proportion of the cars and trucks on America’s roads can burn these fuels.

Here too, however, a solution is at hand; it lies in Detroit’s making more flex-fuel cars — cars able to use gasoline, ethanol, methanol or any mixture of these. And because this flex-fuel option costs less than $100 per car, making such a change is not exorbitant. Indeed, some 90 percent of all cars sold in Brazil last year are flex-fuel cars, and many of them were made by Ford, Chrysler and General Motors. That gives Brazilian drivers the option to purchase the most cost-effective fuel, and they can easily switch from one type to another.

But here’s the rub. Although the American manufacturers have stated publicly their willingness to make flex-fuel vehicles up to 50 percent of their production, they’re just not doing it. Hence the need for Congress to require that new vehicles allow the use of alternative fuels. In some corners of Washington, that raises a cry against “mandates.” Of course the response to that is: Doing nothing is equivalent to mandating a monopoly by a single fuel (whose price is set by a foreign cartel).

Competition is a bedrock of our American way of life. It’s time to introduce it into our fuel market.

That is the purpose of the United States Energy Security Council, a bipartisan group being introduced to the public today in Washington, which includes former Secretary of State George P. Shultz and two former secretaries of defense, William J. Perry and Harold Brown, as well as three former national security advisers, a former C.I.A. director, two former senators, a Nobel laureate, a former Federal Reserve chairman, and several Fortune-50 chief executives (including a former president of Shell Oil North America, John D. Hofmeister).

The time has come to strip oil of its strategic status. We owe it to those who lost their lives on 9/11 and in its aftermath, and to those whose fate still hangs in the balance.

Robert C. McFarlane was the national security adviser from 1983 to 1985. R. James Woolsey, chairman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, was the director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 1993 to 1995.
24488  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: September 21, 2011, 10:08:25 AM
That doesn't mean that we of the American Creed don't need to be getting our thinking current.  Indeed, while the issues are somewhat out of the spotlight is a better time to do the work.
24489  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: September 21, 2011, 10:06:51 AM
"Those that are incorruptable will remain so no matter what the amount of money is that is offered in bribes"

Sorry, but that seems simplistic to me.  Lots of people, indeed perhaps most people have a price.  The cartels were paying $400,000US a month to someone on Calderon's staff at one point.  Combine that with "plata o plomo" (silver or lead, i.e. take the money or we will kill you) and most people will break.

Human trafficking is not an example of a "victimless crime" and as such should remain illegal and the resources currently wasted on the WoD could be brought to bear.

24490  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Peace negotiator Rabbani assassinated on: September 21, 2011, 10:01:04 AM
Afghan Assassination Raises Questions As Negotiations Begin

On Tuesday, Burhanuddin Rabbani, the head of the High Peace Council in Afghanistan, was assassinated in a suicide attack at his residence. While local and foreign officials confirmed his death, the details surrounding his assassination remain unclear. According to the head of the criminal investigation division of the Kabul police, Mohammad Zahir, Rabbani was meeting two Taliban representatives who were escorted by senior members of the peace council for talks at Rabbani’s residence. The Afghan interior ministry confirmed that one of the suicide attackers was arrested. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for Rabbani’s assassination approximately three hours after the attack. He said that two Taliban suicide bombers had met Rabbani under the pretext of talks and added that the attack killed the other suicide bomber, along with four of Rabbani’s guards. Mujahid typically claims militant Taliban attacks and reportedly has links with the Haqqani network, an autonomous branch of the Taliban.

“The U.S.-Taliban negotiating track is still in its developing phases, and now is the time to shape it.”
Significant gaps remain, however, in the Taliban claims and in the official Afghan statements. The most pressing preliminary unknown is the identity of the attackers. Taliban suicide bombers do not typically rise above the rank of foot soldiers — far short of negotiators with private access to Rabbani. Nor do we know how the two attackers infiltrated the strong layer of security that surrounds Rabbani’s residence in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood.

The attack comes as U.S.-Taliban negotiations, mediated by Pakistan, are in their initial phases. While we are currently seeing greater coordination between the Pakistan, Taliban and Haqqani triad, several factions within each group may be attempting to derail negotiations to work in their favor.

This calls into question why Rabbani would be targeted for an attack. Rabbani, an ethnic Tajik, was the president of Afghanistan from 1992-1996. He was overthrown by the Taliban and assumed political leadership of the Northern Alliance, in league with legendary Tajik leader Ahmed Shah Massoud. Afghan President Hamid Karzai made Rabbani chairman of the High Peace Council for good reason: Rabbani was well respected as one of the leading mujahideen leaders during the Soviet days. More importantly, as an influential representative of the minority Tajik community, Rabbani could counter resistance from Afghan Tajiks who were opposed to dealing on any level with their Taliban rivals. Rabbani also had his fair share of enemies — he was allegedly deeply involved in the Afghan drug trade, and as one of the main U.S. financial conduits in Afghanistan, he was reportedly taking more than his share of commission from money flows out of the United States.

The circumstances of Rabbani’s death remain unclear, but we can’t help but be reminded of the al Qaeda assassination of Ahmed Shah Massoud two days prior to 9/11. Massoud was killed in an intimate setting by a two-man Arab team carrying an explosives-laden video camera under the pretext of conducting an interview. Massoud was a resilient Northern Alliance leader, capable of standing up to the Taliban’s political authority — an obstacle that al Qaeda needed to get rid of.

Rabbani, who was filling Massoud’s shoes as the lead representative of the Tajiks, posed a strategic hurdle to the Taliban. The U.S.-Taliban negotiating track is still in its developing phases, and now is the time to shape it. Rabbani’s assassination creates a power vacuum within the factions in the North and allows the Taliban to push their demands for political dominance in any postwar political arrangement. If this is what the Taliban were actually calculating in assassinating Rabbani (and if the Taliban actually carried out this assassination), it leaves the United States in a highly uncomfortable position. As Marine Gen. John Allen, Commander of the International Security Assistance Force put it, the Rabbani assassination represents “another outrageous indicator that, regardless of what Taliban leadership outside the country say, they do not want peace, but rather war.”

The biggest question moving forward is the assassination’s impact on negotiations. The United States has to wonder whether Mullah Omar is a credible negotiator — and whether it can feel safe sending a representative to negotiate with the Taliban. Yet at the end of the day, the United States has no choice but to engage in an unsavory negotiation with the Taliban — and this may be what the Taliban were calculating all along.

24491  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: September 21, 2011, 08:41:49 AM
This is VERY bad stuff!  Once a cancer like this takes root, it is terribly hard to undo and terribly destructive of civic culture.

I would point out GM that BBG and I have pointed out numerous times in the War on Drugs thread that one of the costs of the WoD is that the supra-profits it creates will fuel tremendous corruption.

24492  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: September 21, 2011, 08:36:01 AM
Emotionally he seems to be in the right place, but I'm still looking for more substance from Perry.  Cain has put forth his very interesting 9-9-9 plan, Romney has his 59 point plan, etc.  I was glad to see Perry speak strongly and clearly for Israel the other day, but I'm not sensing yet any depth on foreign affairs e.g. his comments on Afpakia in the most recent debate.  I continue to doubt that most of the Reps have yet thought out the implications of the passing of the American uni-polar moment and to have a vision to communicate to the American people.  Indeed, I think a lot of Americans are burnt out on the Bush-Republican vision.
24493  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: September 21, 2011, 08:27:27 AM
Whoops GM, I see I missed acknowledging and thanking you for the clip of Ryan.  The first couple of minutes are not there, but it is most of it.  Thank you.
24494  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Secret recordings on: September 21, 2011, 08:20:20 AM
24495  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on: September 20, 2011, 08:39:41 PM
second post of day:

Turkey has been an American ally and a member of NATO since 1952. Sometimes it even acts like one.

The government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan—the popular three-term prime minister who lately has made his reputation abroad by bashing Israel and distancing Turkey from the West—agreed last week to host a powerful American radar on Turkish territory. The deal helps protect Turks and Europeans from Iranian missiles and deter Tehran's nuclear and regional aspirations.

The X-band radar station, located some 400 miles west of the Iranian border, will be a linchpin of a new missile defense system. The U.S. plans to put 48 interceptors in Romania and Poland that could intercept small- and medium-range missiles. Two years ago, the Obama Administration pulled the plug on plans to build a broader defense shield based in Europe that also protected the continental U.S. against a long-range missile attack. That was a mistake, but this new system is better than none at all.

For Turkey and NATO, the agreement is a security and diplomatic win. During the Cold War, Turkey stood on the frontline against the Soviets. Mr. Erdogan may pal around with Iran's despotic leaders and promote a booming cross-border trade, but he seems to realize the threat from Tehran's atomic ambitions.

This thaw was long in coming. Ankara damaged the U.S. at the onset of the Iraq war in 2003 by, at the last minute, forbidding American troops from invading through Turkey. The security relationship has never recovered, even as Turkey sent troops to Afghanistan and backed this year's Libya intervention. Also welcome are talks to base American drones in Turkey to fight Kurdish militants. The U.S. has been a steadfast ally against Kurdish terrorism, though it gets little credit from Turkey's leaders or public.

The Erdogan government did manage to spoil last week's moment by making even the radar about Israel, leaking that Israel wouldn't get any data gathered by the radar. U.S. officials say they will share any information from the U.S.-owned radar with all allies.

Israel poses no danger to Turkey, even as terrorism and nuclear proliferation do. Were Mr. Erdogan to temper his antipathy for Israel and confront those security challenges squarely, he'd become a more credible leader in the Middle East and a more respected partner for the West.

24496  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: September 20, 2011, 08:30:19 PM
Grateful for what I do and that I have my Pretty Kitty to share the Adventure with me.
24497  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Matt Berry is OK on: September 20, 2011, 08:27:02 PM
I spent quite a while in the ER last night and after CAT scans and Xrays it was determined my brain was fine (well no worse than it was when I stepped on the mat) but my TMJ was broken and I needed half a dozen stitches inside my ear. I need to see an oral surgen to get my jaw wired when I get back to Boston. It was disapointing, but hey if I was afraid to get hurt I would play checkers!

I had a great day, huge thanks to all my bros who fought and of.course yourself and Pretty Kitty. Can't wait fpr next year (or maybe the tribal?) I probably won't be able to fight at Beat the Crap Out of Cancer, but I will be attending the one in Toronto.

I was glad to see my Boy Ryan made C-, he deserved it.

Again, my thanks!

Matt Berry

PS: I am home safe now. I saw a doc when I got back and I am going to the specialist tomorrow.
Thanks again for the great time and I look forward to continuing being a part of this great organization.
24498  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: September 20, 2011, 05:22:46 PM
Clearly I am in need of an intervention.  I will see if I can get the ever efficient Lonely Dog to take on this mission.
24499  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: socioeconomic class in the US on: September 20, 2011, 05:20:32 PM
Or what some of us call economic fascism, liberal fascism, corporate fascism, etc.
24500  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / India getting involved in South China Sea on: September 20, 2011, 05:19:21 PM
Vice President of Strategic Intelligence Rodger Baker explains how increasing Indian involvement in the South China Sea is a maneuver to outflank China, which is becoming involved in the Indian Ocean.

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

Although competition between China and India is not terribly new, we do see a current flare-up in the relations between the two countries. India has been expanding its relations with Vietnam, focusing on oil and gas exploration and production as well as military cooperation. This has received a strong verbal response from the Chinese as well as some physical activity.

India and Vietnam have been cooperating in offshore oil and gas exploration for several years. However, they are moving to a new phase with more of the exploitation of the resources. It appears that later this year a new memorandum of understanding between the two countries is going to be signed. China has responded to this by accusing India of violating Chinese territorial waters and of interfering in Chinese territorial issues. There has been a report of an incident where Chinese maritime police have interfered with the operations of an Indian vessel in the Vietnamese waters, and we see statements coming out of Beijing warning India to back off.

India for a long time has pursued what it calls a “Look East” policy but it has not pursued it very strongly. We see India now moving back again into the ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] nations, into the South China Sea, trying to expand its activity, trying to secure some of its influence, and ultimately taking a role in securing the major supply routes to the area, but also in trying to counter the Chinese. Chinese activity in Pakistan, Chinese activity in Myanmar, the expansion of Chinese port agreements throughout the Indian Ocean Basin, even the Chinese naval activity in regard to the anti-piracy operations off of Africa, have left the Indians feeling a little bit vulnerable.

Seeing the Chinese become stronger, at least theoretically, in their operations in the Indian Ocean, India is looking in some sense to flank China now. In response to the Chinese activities in the Indian Ocean, the Indians are going to become more active in the South China Sea and maybe even farther north. There is talk about creating a trilateral grouping to discuss security, economics and politics of the region between India, the United States and Japan, for example. This very obviously to the Chinese looks like an attempt to constrain Chinese operations and Chinese capabilities within in their own sphere of influence.

The South China Sea has long been the center of competition for sea lane control as well as, for the most part, theoretically for resources; though fishing is there, there has been some offshore oil and gas activity. In recent years we’ve seen an expansion of attention into not only exploring but truly exploiting the undersea resources, and not just in oil and gas but also now in mineral exploration. This is changing, in some sense, the way in which the countries interact because formerly when lots of countries claimed either all or parts of the territory, there was little to force them into confrontation. Now as countries begin to access resources, begin to explore the resources in the sea beds, they are doing so in ways that in some sense asserts their territorial claim to that area. That leaves the other countries that don’t interfere with that in some sense accepting those territorial claims.

The concreteness of this has changed, in some sense, the way in which interactions regarding the South China Sea play out. As countries expand their operations, as they put in installations, semi-permanent, permanent installations, to be able to access these resources, they find themselves needing to defend those resources. Other countries may be interfering in the operations and so we see these issues where China will send a boat to interfere with the activity of another country’s ships. The response, then, from Vietnam, or from India in this case, may be to become more robust in their own military patrols in the area. And this builds up a case where you have more military vessels in the area at the same time and the chances for accidental confrontation start to rise.

In the end, while India is becoming more involved, there are some serious limitations. The Indians certainly have very large land borders that they are much more concerned about. The country still struggles with several internal insurgencies or militancy. And their ability to forcefully push themselves into the South China Sea is very limited. The Vietnamese who are working with them know this. Vietnam is playing a lot of different options, not just working with India but also working with China, with the United States, with Japan and several other countries.

As we watch this competition play, the countries in Southeast Asia are put in an interesting position. They have the ability to exploit this competition to draw, perhaps, greater attention from each of the different players. At the same time they have the risk of being exploited by these players and finding themselves caught up in this big power confrontation.

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