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24451  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / I'm shocked! Absolutely shocked! on: July 15, 2011, 12:22:28 PM

Waiting for firestorm of indignation , , ,
24452  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hold the line! on: July 15, 2011, 11:58:44 AM

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

Posted by Erick Erickson (Profile)

Friday, July 15th at 5:00AM EDT

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

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

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

Will you now fail at the second task too?

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

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

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

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

They did it with TARP too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is a time for choosing. Choose wisely.
24453  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: July 15, 2011, 11:30:09 AM
Thanks Rachel.  I needed that.
24454  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne on: July 15, 2011, 11:26:09 AM
"Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the most powerful Indian Tribe in American History"

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

Truly a special book.
24455  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: July 15, 2011, 11:19:35 AM
Good piece, but , , , Although of course this has implications for the Presdential race, but then most things do.  So to prevent this thread from becoming an incoherent mishmash, please post that in the Budget thread.  Thank you.
24456  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: July 15, 2011, 11:17:15 AM
Bought it in 1997 and so we are still solidly in the black.  Moving out of CA is under consideration.
24457  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: July 15, 2011, 11:16:13 AM
That would be for the Media thread please smiley
24458  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 15, 2011, 11:15:27 AM
The Afghanistan Withdrawal Creates A Complex Diplomatic Dynamic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Assassination May Create Leadership Void In Crucial Kandahar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

24459  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Baraq lies on SS checks on: July 15, 2011, 10:00:16 AM
24460  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury on June CPI on: July 15, 2011, 09:58:44 AM
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) fell 0.2% in June To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 7/15/2011

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

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

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

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

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

24461  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / George Friedman on: July 15, 2011, 08:52:09 AM
A re-emerging Russia is restoring its global influence without taking on the burden of an empire. In the second of his series on global pressure points, STRATFOR CEO Dr. George Friedman applauds Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s achievements and examines the Russian-U.S. relationship.   

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

24462  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fire Hydrant: Howls from Crafty Dog, Rules of the Road, etc on: July 15, 2011, 12:12:23 AM
Back home.
24463  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: July 15, 2011, 12:11:39 AM
Back home smiley
24464  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: July 14, 2011, 11:51:03 PM
We're drifting a bit back towards budget discussion, but what I want to focus on here is what to do with my meager savings, hence the specific questions I asked.

BTW, did anyone notice Moody's warning shot across the bow?  IMHO a downgrade would mean instant higher interest rates, which means the deficit instantly becomes bigger.
24465  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: July 13, 2011, 05:32:48 PM
Ummm , , , that's a tough one.  Do I get to print the money with which I pay off the debts incurred?
24466  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The always pithy Day by Day Cartoon on: July 13, 2011, 04:21:38 PM
24467  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 13, 2011, 03:52:13 PM
Well, we've been doing the same thing too; as a matter of fact we've been so strict about it there somewhere between 12,000,000 and 20,000,000 of them.

OTOH, the investor class, the educated, the rules following, the English speaking, seem to have a harder time of it , , ,
24468  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Training Camp August 12-14 on: July 13, 2011, 01:24:37 PM
I do NOT do speedos! cheesy

BTW folks, it looks like we may have a special extra.  A South African security specialist (who has worked in East Africa as well) and author of an anti-carjacking book, is now scheduled to come and do a presentation, including some drills in, out of, and around a car.   This promises to be interesting, , ,
24469  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fall Dog Brothers Open Gathering of the Pack 9/18/11 on: July 13, 2011, 01:21:08 PM
I am looking forward to that fight!
24470  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: European “Gathering of the Pack” 2011 on: July 13, 2011, 01:19:57 PM
DLO yesterday.  Rest today.  Home tomorrow.
24471  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Security, Surveillance issues on: July 13, 2011, 01:18:48 PM


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

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

In this week’s Above the Tearline, we are going to examine the risk posed by trusted
security personnel in the aftermath of the killing of Wali Karzai in Afghanistan.
President Karzai's half-brother Wali was shot and killed in Kandahar on July 12 by a
trusted security official known to the family by the name of Sardar Mohammed.
According to the police official investigating the case, the victim was shot once in
the chest with a second round in the head. The victim, Wali Karzai, is no stranger
to controversy. He was linked to the CIA in Afghanistan and also allegedly tied to
drug smuggling in the country. Although the Taliban has claimed credit for his
assassination, the investigating police officer said that he could not rule out a
foreign hand. Having said that, if Wali Karzai was engaged in the drug running
business there could be other motives in play which caused his death.
This killing in Kandahar shows how trusted security personnel can be utilized
because of their access, means and opportunity. One of the tremendous weaknesses in
this arena is the selection and vetting of personnel that you're going to place in
these positions of trust and confidence. The challenge exists in developing
countries like Afghanistan with your inability to have robust process and procedures
to identify candidates as well as an aggressive update process to make sure that
person has not been flipped by a terrorist organization.
There is a historical precedence for security personnel being engaged in
high-profile killings. Going back to the Lincoln assassination at Ford’s Theatre,
when the police officer had abandoned his post allowing John Wilkes Booth to come in
and shoot President Lincoln. You can also look in the international arena with the
1984 assassination and Indira Gandhi by one of her personal bodyguards.
The Above the Tearline aspect with his video is: who watches the watchers? The fear
and vulnerability of this kind of threat exists in pretty much every protection
agency around the globe. You have individuals with guns that are placed in positions
of trust and confidence. The challenges of vetting these personnel abroad are always
going to be there. And at the end of the day, if someone is committed and willing to
die, in all probability he would be successful.
More Videos -
24472  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post on: July 13, 2011, 01:01:54 PM
The Patriot Post
Chronicle -- Wednesday, July 13, 2011
On the Web:
Printer Friendly:
PDF Version:


The Foundation

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


Editorial Exegesis

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


Essential Liberty

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



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

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

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

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


Patriot News Review

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


The Demo-gogues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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


Newspulper Headlines:

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

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

That's Racist: "Mello Yello Returns to Japan"

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

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

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

(Thanks to The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto
( ))


Village Idiots

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

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

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

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


Short Cuts

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

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

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

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

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
The Patriot Post Editorial Team
24473  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education/Parenting on: July 13, 2011, 12:55:51 PM
Essential Liberty

"The ignorance about our country is staggering. According to one survey, only 28% of
students could identify the Constitution as the supreme law of the land. Only 26% of
students knew that the first 10 amendments to the Constitution are called the Bill
of Rights. Fewer than one-quarter of students knew that George Washington was the
first president of the United States. ... Ignorance and possibly contempt for
American values, civics and history might help explain how someone like Barack Obama
could become president of the United States. At no other time in our history could a
person with longtime associations with people who hate our country become president.
... The fact that Obama became president and brought openly Marxist people into his
administration doesn't say so much about him as it says about the effects of decades
of brainwashing of the American people by the education establishment, media and the
intellectual elite." --economist Walter E. Williams
( )
24474  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / IBD before the McConnel fold on: July 13, 2011, 12:54:16 PM
Surely Rep candidates should be making these points with the same gusto , , ,

Editorial Exegesis

"Republicans seemed warily confident that they might get a [debt-ceiling] deal over
the weekend on cutting future spending without raising taxes -- a deal that would
likely lead to smaller future deficits, the possibility of badly needed tax reforms
and the resumption of economic and jobs growth. No such luck. Not only did Obama not
really put any specific major cuts on the table, he reportedly surprised negotiators
by asking them to agree to a 'balanced approach' to deficit-cutting by including a
job-killing $1.7 trillion in potential new tax hikes. ... As a new Heritage
Foundation study shows, the government's tax take under Obama's current budget plans
will 'increase rapidly' from its long-term average of about 18% of GDP to a ruinous
26% of GDP in coming decades. That's why he seemed desperate, saying we need to
'tear the Band-Aid' off and 'eat our peas' to get a deal done by Aug. 2, the phony
deadline established by Democrats for fiscal Armageddon. ... During the press
conference Monday in which he made his case for 'revenue increases' -- that is, tax
hikes -- in deficit talks, Obama suggested why: He wants to spend even more in the
future. He's not shy about airing his many ideas for this, among them what he calls
'investments' in Head Start and student loan programs, more government funding of
medical research, and even an 'infrastructure bank.' Such programs aren't possible,
Obama said, 'if we haven't gotten our fiscal house in order.' This almost defies
belief. This is how we got into the problem in the first place. Too much government,
too much spending, too many regulations, too many taxes. Is Obama really that out of
touch with Americans? It seems so." --Investor's Business Daily
24475  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: July 13, 2011, 12:43:10 PM
Exactly.  Core beliefs?  The Tea Party goes too far. tongue  As best as I can tell Huntsman is the candidate of the Bush wing of the Republican Party.
24476  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 13, 2011, 12:38:58 PM
I think you misapprehend the general view around here.  I, and most here I think, would be delighted to have hard working educated investor entrepeneurial type people who want to learn English and become Americans coming here.
24477  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mumbai 2 on: July 13, 2011, 12:36:23 PM
July 13, 2011


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

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

Copyright 2011 STRATFOR.
24478  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: July 13, 2011, 12:32:01 PM
In precisely that vein , , ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Politics as usual usually gets us here. If we want to move back to fiscal sanity, we need to try a different approach.
24479  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Contract with America on: July 13, 2011, 10:43:02 AM
Newt appears to be toast for a variety of reasons, but that does not mean the man is lacking is some pretty sharp insights.

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

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

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

Foreign affairs has been a Rep political strength for a long time.  We have a president apparently doing his best to accelerate our decline in the world and yet Rep candidates have no counter vision.
24480  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: July 13, 2011, 10:19:08 AM
I am profoundly disappointed to hear that.  Huey made a real effort and there were LOTS of yard signs for him and a lot of hard work by his team.  This is a real disappointment.  The Dem winner is a second or third generation LA Dem hack.
24481  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 13, 2011, 10:16:35 AM

I'd suggest you search "Gilder" here and read his pieces which I have posted on the subject of Israel.  There is quote a story there.
24482  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: July 13, 2011, 06:45:33 AM
I was really irked the other day on the gay propaganda starting in grade school bill that Gov. Brown is about to sign.   angry angry angry
24483  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: July 13, 2011, 06:21:01 AM
About a year ago ? the Euro had its first bad spell due to the Greek situation.

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

24484  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / While the Pravdas sleep , , , on: July 13, 2011, 06:01:36 AM
New Pentagon chief Leon Panetta's maiden journey to America's conflict zones this week garnered attention for his alleged misstatements about the pace of the Afghan troop drawdown and the rationale for the Iraq war. We came away more concerned by his incomplete answers to Iran's designs on Iraq and America's future role there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

As much as al Qaeda, Iran wants to rekindle sectarian tensions and undermine democratic politics in Iraq. Their model is Lebanon. The U.S. can help the Iraqis push back. The proposed multibillion dollar sale of up to two F-16 squadrons, which the Journal reported yesterday was back on track, is one step forward. A long-term security relationship with Iraq can best ensure that the sacrifices made in the last decade aren't squandered.
24485  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US-China Competition and re-engagement on: July 13, 2011, 04:48:01 AM
July 13, 2011


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2011 STRATFOR.
24486  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: July 13, 2011, 02:28:52 AM
grumble , , , grumble , , , grumble , , , I suppose that makes sense , , , grumble , , ,
24487  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the Republicans on: July 12, 2011, 03:48:32 PM
Maybe its because I am jet lagged, but it is so ingenious it is going right over my head with nary a look back.  Please explain.
24488  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: July 12, 2011, 02:46:05 PM
24489  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / COWARDS! TRAITORS! on: July 12, 2011, 02:27:43 PM

 Dear RedState Morning Briefing Subscriber:

Mitch McConnell just concluded a press conference declaring his intentions
to have the Senate Republicans engage in a historic capitulation. So fearful
of being blamed for a default, McConnell is proposing a compromise that lets
Barack Obama raise the debt ceiling without making any spending cuts at all.

McConnell’s idea is to make the debt ceiling
*unless Congress, by a 2/3 vote* blocks the increase. Oh yes, he put a salve
on it by dressing it up in tough talk that, to quote the *Wall Street
Journal*, “[a] ‘eal solution’ to U.S. fiscal problems isn’t possible as long
as President Barack Obama remains in office.” So since no “real solution” is
possible, McConnell proposes to go Pontius Pilate and wash his hands of
spending, blaming Obama while doing nothing himself.

Here is how the plan would

In a nutshell, the President would get to raise the debt ceiling three times
in the next year at several billion bucks a pop without making any spending
cuts unless two-thirds of both houses of Congress disagree. In his press
conference, McConnell says he would not give the President “unilateral
authority to make spending cuts on his own,” but this plan would allow the
President to raise the debt ceiling pretty much automatically.

Much more information on this amazing capitulation can be found by clicking
.  You'll find a rather appropriate suggestion for a response as well.

Sincerely yours,

Erick Erickson
24490  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: liberals have absconded the education system on: July 12, 2011, 01:53:46 PM
Lets keep this line of thought on the Education thread.  Please repost it there.
24491  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Abortion on: July 12, 2011, 01:41:44 PM

Dang!  Fay still wields a mean keyboard!
24492  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the Republicans on: July 12, 2011, 01:30:37 PM
Boener and McConnell (Senate) are the epitome of the stereotype of the unhip old white wasp male Repbublican.
24493  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Newt Gingrich on: July 12, 2011, 05:50:25 AM
This could be posted elsewhere, but I am posting it here because of how it underelines just how bad the current trajectory is.  What are we to do?

A Diplomatic Defeat for President Obama
and America
by Newt Gingrich

The elite media largely ignored an astounding defeat recently for the United States and for the cause of freedom.

The Iranian dictatorship hosted an anti-terrorism conference in Tehran.

That's right. The world's leading state sponsor of terrorism--the country that funds and trains Hamas and Hezbollah and sends arms to the Taliban--simply stole our language and held a conference that professed to oppose terrorism.

Under the Iranian definition of that term, the United States and Israel are the primary supporters of terrorism in the world.

Amazingly, sixty countries--yes, sixty--participated in the Iranian conference.

In a scene worthy of a Kurt Vonnegut satire, the North Koreans, Cubans, Venezuelans, Palestineans and other enthusiastic supporters of anti-American activities all showed up.

Even more alarmingly, our so-called allies Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan were also in attendance. After billions of dollars spent and thousands of Americans lost, these "allies" ignored our requests and dignified the dishonest event and a country that is funding terrorism worldwide.

Cliff May captured the disaster in the National Review.

"A few days ago, the regime that rules Iran, designated by the U.S. State Department as the world's most active state sponsor of terrorism, held what it called the First International Conference on the Global Fight against Terrorism. The U.S. and Israel were singled out as "satanic world powers" with a "black record of terrorist behaviors." This should have been the subject of scorn and ridicule from the "international community." But senior officials from at least 60 countries attended and U.N. secretary general Ban Ki-moon delivered a message via special envoy expressing his appreciation to Tehran. Apparently he was not bothered by the fact that Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, indicted for genocide by the International Criminal Court, was among those attending."

As an example of how bad some of the participants were who showed up to accuse the U.S. of "terrorism," consider the indictment of the Sudanese President: Omar al-Bashir was charged with genocide, with crimes against humanity (including murder, extermination, forcible transfer of civilian populations, torture, and rapes), and with war crimes (including intentional attacks against civilians and pillaging).

This is the company our so-called allies are comfortable with?

Liberals Are Destroying the Bill Of Rights

Bestselling author Frank Miniter exposes the shocking
campaign to destroy our God-given liberties in his new book, Saving the Bill of Rights. Click Here...

To make this outrageous situation even worse, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon sent a special envoy to Tehran to deliver a message supporting the conference.

Perhaps nothing should have surprised us after Iran won a vice-presidency of the U.N. General Assembly recently. An organization founded to preserve peace has now elevated the world's top state sponsor of terrorism to a leadership role.

Unfortunately, also like a Vonnegut novel, these stories represent a reality that is less humorous than it is distressing.

The participation of allies like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan in the anti-American charade in Tehran is just the kind of sight that could become more common in the future amid questions about the United States' commitment in the region.

As the Obama Administration's policy--which appears to be "weakness and abandonment"--becomes clearer, allies will revaluate and reorient away from the United States and toward Iran. After all, the U.S. is leaving, and Iran is an increasingly powerful force in the region--and it will soon be armed with nuclear weapons.

The elite media has largely ignored this unfolding disaster. Yet the dangers of this realignment are serious. The radical Islamists that countries like Iran arm, train, and support while claiming to oppose terrorism are no small threat. They aim to destroy the United States and Israel, and to halt the cause of freedom wherever they can.

Radical Islamism is dangerous given weak state sponsors, and it will be even more serious when backed by a large regional power such as Iran is becoming.

The Obama Administration, meanwhile, remains blind to the forces threatening us.

Consider this additional report from Cliff May regarding a young Marine who was charged last month for repeated shooting attacks on the Pentagon and was arrested, in Arlington Cemetery, with explosives materials and literature referencing Al Qaeda:

"Yonathan Melaku was charged in federal court with shooting at the National Museum of the Marine Corps. The officials who arrested him later searched his home and found a videotape in which he is shouting "Allahu Akbar!" They also found a notebook in which he'd written about Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda , the Taliban, and The Path to Jihad, a book of lectures by Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born Islamic cleric who was widely considered a moderate before he fled to Yemen where he is now a top Al Qaeda commander.

"So it's pretty obvious what Melaku was up to, right? Not if you're a federal employee, it's not. "I can't suggest to you his motivations or intent," James W. McJunkin, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Washington field office, told reporters at a news conference. "It's not readily apparent yet."

"Many in the mainstream media also expressed befuddlement. A Washington Post story carried the headline: "Pentagon Shooting Subject Not Known to Law Enforcement." (Really? That's the news here?) The article told readers that "a motive for the shootings -- and why Melaku had possible bomb-making materials -- remains elusive." So does that mean we can't rule out a crime of passion -- or a paint-ball competition that got out of hand?"

In case after case, we have leaders who are determined to ignore obvious truths.

Not since the 1930s have our leaders so willfully deceived themselves about a growing threat to our survival.
Your Friend,
24494  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Warming up for the bug out. on: July 12, 2011, 05:09:38 AM
July 12, 2011


Afghan President Hamid Karzai's younger brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, was killed in
Kandahar on July 12 during a gathering in his house, Kandahar Governor Tooryali Wesa
confirmed. Initial reports remain sketchy but it is believed that the Afghan
leader's brother was killed by multiple gunshots to the head and chest with a AK-47
fired by Sardar Mohammad, a former bodyguard to Karzai's older brother Qayyoum.
Unconfirmed reports say that the assassin was immediately killed and Ahmad Wali's
body has been taken to Mirwais Civil Hospital. One of the two official spokesmen for
the Taliban, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, told the German News Agency Deutsche Presse Agentur
that Ahmad Wali Karzai was killed by a Taliban sleeper agent.

This particular Karzai brother has escaped assassination attempts in the past. His
death comes as a major blow to President Karzai who depended on Ahmed Wali for
creating a social support base for the president in Kandahar province, the homeland
of the Taliban. Ahmed Wali's official position was head of the legislative council
in Kandahar, but he wielded a disproportionate amount of influence in the province
and the country at large, claiming close relations with a wide array of players
including the CIA, local Taliban elements and even drug lords. Despite his close
dealings with U.S. intelligence, American officials openly criticized Ahmed Wali in
2009, accusing him of corruption and being involved in the drug trade.

For President Karzai, the death of Ahmed Wali couldn't have come at a worse time.
The senior Karzai was already confronting the fact that U.S.-NATO forces have begun
working toward a withdrawal from the country and have engaged in talks with the
Taliban as well as neighboring Pakistan. The loss of his influential sibling further
weakens President Karzai's position in the south of Afghanistan and complicates
efforts to try and reach a negotiated settlement with the Taliban. 

Copyright 2011 STRATFOR.
24495  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: European “Gathering of the Pack” 2011 on: July 12, 2011, 05:05:13 AM
Yesterday at the Camp Guro Lonely opened with KK, then I taught Double Stick into Kali Tudo. For those so inclined Guro Lonely did a Kali Fitness segment. Today my section will be on DLO.
24496  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Training Camp August 12-14 on: July 12, 2011, 04:52:00 AM

If you are coming, please get your registrations in ASAP so we can get a sense of the numbers coming and choose our location accordingly.

Generally it will be held in the Hermosa Beach area and run each day from 10:00-16:30.  For those inclined there will be a swim in the ocean at the end of the day and there will be group dinner each evening.

Guro Crafty
24497  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The problem with the Hague on: July 12, 2011, 04:13:38 AM
July 12, 2011


By George Friedman

The war in Libya has been under way for months, without any indication of when it
might end. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's faction has been stronger and more
cohesive than imagined and his enemies weaker and more divided. This is not unusual.
There is frequently a perception that dictators are widely hated and that their
power will collapse when challenged. That is certainly true at times, but often the
power of a dictator is rooted in the broad support of an ideological faction, an
ethnic group or simply those who benefit from the regime. As a result, naive
assumptions of rapid regime change are quite often replaced by the reality of
protracted conflict.
This has been a characteristic of what we have called "humanitarian wars," those
undertaken to remove a repressive regime and replace it with one that is more
representative. Defeating a tyrant is not always easy. Gadhafi did not manage to
rule Libya for 42 years without some substantial support.
Nevertheless, one would not expect that, faced with opposition from a substantial
anti-regime faction in Libya as well as NATO and many other countries, Gadhafi would
retain control of a substantial part of both the country and the army. Yet when we
look at the situation carefully, it should be expected.
The path many expected in Libya was that the support around Gadhafi would
deteriorate over time when faced with overwhelming force, with substantial
defections of senior leaders and the disintegration of his military as commanders
either went over to the other side en masse, taking their troops with them, or
simply left the country, leaving their troops leaderless. As the deterioration in
power occurred, Gadhafi -- or at least those immediately around Gadhafi -- would
enter into negotiations designed for an exit. That hasn't happened, and certainly
not to the degree that it has ended Gadhafi's ability to resist. Indeed, while NATO
airpower might be able to block an attack to the east, the airstrikes must continue
because it appears that Gadhafi has retained a great deal of his power.
The International Criminal Court
One of the roots of this phenomenon is the existence of the International Criminal
Court (ICC), which became operational in 2002 in The Hague, Netherlands. The ICC has
jurisdiction, under U.N. mandate, to prosecute individuals who have committed war
crimes, genocide and other crimes against humanity. Its jurisdiction is limited to
those places where recognized governments are unwilling or unable to carry out their
own judicial processes. The ICC can exercise jurisdiction if the case is referred to
the ICC prosecutor by an ICC state party signatory or the U.N. Security Council
(UNSC) or if the prosecutor initiates the investigation him or herself.
The current structure of international law, particularly the existence of the ICC
and its rules, has an unintended consequence. Rather than serving as a tool for
removing war criminals from power, it tends to enhance their power and remove
incentives for capitulation or a negotiated exit. In Libya's case, Gadhafi's
indictment was referred to the ICC by the UNSC, and he was formally indicted in late
June. The existence of the ICC, and the clause that says that it has jurisdiction
where signatory governments are unable or unwilling to carry out their own
prosecutions, creates an especially interesting dilemma for Gadhafi and the
intervening powers.
Consider the case of Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia. Milosevic, like Gadhafi, was
indicted during a NATO intervention against his country. His indictment was handed
down a month and a half into the air campaign, in May 1999, by the International
Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), a court that was to be the mold,
to a large extent, for the ICC. After the intervention, Milosevic clung to power
until 2001, cracking down on the opposition and dissident groups whom he painted as
traitors during the NATO air campaign. Milosevic still had supporters in Serbia, and
as long as he refused to cede his authority, he had enough loyalists in the
government who refused to prosecute him in the interest of maintaining stability.
One of the reasons Milosevic refused to cede power was the very real fear that
regime change in Serbia would result in a one-way ticket to The Hague. This is
exactly what happened. A few months after Serbia's October 2000 anti-Milosevic
revolution, the new and nominally pro-Western government issued an arrest warrant
for Milosevic, finally sending him to The Hague in June 2001 with a strong push from
NATO. The Milosevic case illustrates the inherent risk an indicted leader will face
when the government falls in the hands of the opposition.
The case of Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb political leader, is also instructive
in showing the low level of trust leaders like Gadhafi may place in assurances from
the West regarding non-prosecution. Serbian authorities arrested Karadzic in July
2008 after being on the run for 12 years. He claimed in court proceedings at the
ICTY that he was given assurances by the United States -- denied by Washington --
that if he were to step down and make way for a peace process in Bosnia, he would
not be prosecuted. This obviously did not happen. In other words, the likely
political arrangements that were arrived at to initiate a peace process in
Bosnia-Herzegovina were wholly disregarded by the ICTY.
Gadhafi is obviously aware of the Balkans precedents. He has no motivation to
capitulate, since that could result in him being sent to The Hague, nor is there
anyone that he can deal with who can hold the ICC in abeyance. In most criminal
proceedings, a plea bargain is possible, but this is not simply a matter of a plea
Regardless of what a country's leader has done, he or she holds political power, and
the transfer of that power is inherently a political process. What the ICC has done
since 2002 -- and the ICTY to an extent before that -- is to make the political
process moot by making amnesty impossible. It is not clear if any authority exists
to offer and honor an amnesty. However, the ICC is a product of the United Nations,
and the authority of the United Nations lies in the UNSC. Though there is no clear
precedent, there is an implicit assumption that the UNSC would be the entity to
offer a negotiated amnesty with a unanimous vote. In other words, the political
process is transferred from Libya to the UNSC, where any number of countries might
choose to abort the process for their own political ends. So the domestic political
process is trumped by The Hague's legal process, which can only be trumped by the
UNSC's political process. A potentially simple end to a civil war escalates to
global politics.
And this is not simply a matter of a leader's unwillingness to capitulate or
negotiate. It aborts the process that undermines men like Gadhafi. Without a doubt,
most of the men who have surrounded him for years are guilty of serious war crimes
and crimes against humanity. It is difficult to imagine anyone around Gadhafi whose
hands are clean, or who would have been selected by Gadhafi if their hands weren't
capable of being soiled. Each of them is liable for prosecution by the ICC,
particularly the senior leadership of the military; the ICC has bound their fate to
that of Gadhafi, actually increasing their loyalty to him. Just as Gadhafi has
nothing to lose by continued resistance, neither do they. The ICC has forged the
foundation of Gadhafi's survival and bitter resistance.
It is not a question only of the ICC. Recall the case of Augusto Pinochet, who
staged a coup in Chile against Salvador Allende and presided over a brutal
dictatorship. His support was not insubstantial in Chile, and he left power in a
carefully negotiated political process. A Spanish magistrate, a minor figure in the
Spanish legal system, claimed jurisdiction over Pinochet's crimes in Chile and
demanded that he be extradited from Britain, where Pinochet was visiting, and the
extradition was granted. Today the ICC is not the only authority that can claim
jurisdiction in such cases, but under current international law, nations have lost
the authority to negotiate solutions to the problem of transferring power from
dictators to representative democracies. Moreover, they have ceded that authority
not only to the ICC but also to any court that wants to claim jurisdiction.
Apply this to South Africa. An extended struggle took place between two communities.
The apartheid regime committed crimes under international law. In due course, a
negotiated political process arranged a transfer of power. Part of the agreement was
that a non-judicial truth commission would review events but that prosecutions would
be severely limited. If that transfer of power were occurring today, with the ICC in
place and "Spanish magistrates" loose, how likely would it be that the white
government would be willing to make the political concessions needed to transfer
power? Would an agreement among the South Africans have trumped the jurisdiction of
the ICC or another forum? Without the absolute certainty of amnesty, would the white
leadership have capitulated? 
The desire for justice is understandable, as is the need for an independent
judiciary. But a judiciary that is impervious to political realities can create
catastrophes in the name of justice. In both the Serbia and Libya cases, ICC
indictments were used by Western countries in the midst of bombing campaigns to
legitimize their humanitarian intervention. The problem is that the indictments left
little room for negotiated settlements. The desire to punish the wicked is natural.
But as in all things political -- though not judicial -- the price of justice must
also be considered. If it means that thousands must die because the need to punish
the guilty is an absolute, is that justice? Just as important, does it serve to
alleviate or exacerbate human suffering?
Judicial Absolutism
Consider a hypothetical. Assume that in the summer of 1944, Adolph Hitler had
offered to capitulate to the allies if they would grant him amnesty. Giving Hitler
amnesty would have been monstrous, but at the same time, it would have saved a year
of war and a year of the holocaust. From a personal point of view, the summer of
1944 was when deportation of Hungarian Jews was at its height. Most of my family
died that fall and winter. Would leaving Hitler alive been worth it to my family and
millions of others on all sides?
The Nuremberg precedent makes the case for punishment. But applied rigorously, it
undermines the case for political solutions. In the case of tyrannies, it means
negotiating the safety of tyrants in return for their abdication. The abdication
brings an end to war and allows people who would have died to continue to live their
The theory behind Nuremberg and the ICC is that the threat of punishment will deter
tyrants. Men like Gadhafi, Milosevic, Karadzic and Hitler grow accustomed to living
with death long before they take power. And the very act of seizing that power
involves two things: an indifference to common opinion about them, particularly
outside their countries, and a willingness to take risks and then crush those who
might take risks against them. Such leaders constitute an odd, paradoxical category
of men who will risk everything for power, and then guard their lives and power with
everything. It is hard to frighten them, and harder still to have them abandon power
without guarantees.
The result is that wars against them take a long time and kill a lot of people, and
they are singularly indifferent to the suffering they cause. Threatening them with a
trial simply closes off political options to end the war. It also strips countries
of their sovereign right to craft non-judicial, political solutions to their
national problems. The dictator and his followers have no reason to negotiate and no
reason to capitulate. They are forced to continue a war that could have ended
earlier and allowed those who would have died the opportunity to live.
There is something I call judicial absolutism in the way the ICC works. It begins
with the idea that the law demands absolute respect and that there are crimes that
are so extraordinary that no forgiveness is possible. This concept is wrapped in an
ineluctable judicial process that, by design, cannot be restrained and is
independent of any moderating principles. 
It is not the criminals the ICC is trying who are the issue. It is the next criminal
on the docket. Having seen an older dictator at The Hague earlier negotiate his own
exit, and see that negotiation fall through, why would a new dictator negotiate a
deal? How can Gadhafi contemplate a negotiation that would leave him without power
in Libya, when the Milosevic case clearly illuminates his potential fate at the
hands of a rebel-led Libya? Judicial absolutism assumes that the moral absolute is
the due process of law. A more humane moral absolute is to remove the tyrant and
give power to the nation with the fewest deaths possible in the process. 
The problem in Libya is that no one knows how to go from judicial absolutism to a
more subtle and humane understanding of the problem. Oddly, it is the judicial
absolutists who regard themselves as committed to humanitarianism. In a world filled
with tyrants, this is not a minor misconception.

This report may be forwarded or republished on your website with attribution to
24498  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are to blame on: July 12, 2011, 03:15:20 AM

When the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) reported in January that the 2008 crisis was caused by lax regulation, greed on Wall Street and faulty risk management at banks and other financial firms, few were surprised.

That, after all, was the narrative propagated by government sources since 2008 and widely accepted in the media, in numerous books, and by many commentators. Writing in the New York Times on June 30, for example, Pro-Publica reporter Jesse Eisinger complained that bankers' concerns about excessive regulation under the Dodd-Frank Act did not take account of "the staggering costs of the crisis that the banks led us into."

The notion that the "banks led us into" the financial crisis echoes the narrative of the FCIC's Democratic majority, which placed the blame for the financial crisis on the private sector and dismissed the idea that government housing policy could have been responsible.

According to the FCIC majority report, the government's housing policies—led by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—contributed only "marginally" to the crisis. Moreover, Fannie and Freddie "followed rather than led Wall Street and other lenders" into the subprime and other risky mortgage lending that ultimately caused the financial crisis.

View Full Image

Associated Press
James A. Johnson, former Fannie Mae Chairman

With the publication of "Reckless Endangerment," a new book about the causes of the crisis, this story is beginning to unravel. The authors, Gretchen Morgenson, a business reporter and commentator for the New York Times, and Josh Rosner, a financial analyst, make clear that it was Fannie Mae and the government housing policies it supported, pursued and exploited that brought the financial system to a halt in 2008.

After James A. Johnson, a Democratic political operative and former aide to Walter Mondale, became chairman of Fannie Mae in 1991, they note, it became a political powerhouse, intimidating and suborning Congress and tying itself closely to the Clinton administration's support for the low-income lending program called "affordable housing."

This program required subprime and other risky lending, but it solidified Fannie's support among Democrats and some Republicans in Congress, and enabled the agency to resist privatization or significant regulation until 2008. "Under Johnson," write Ms. Morgenson and Mr. Rosner, "Fannie Mae led the way in encouraging loose lending practices among banks whose loans the company bought. . . . Johnson led both the private and public sectors down a path that led directly to the financial crisis of 2008."

The authors are correct. Far from being a marginal player, Fannie Mae was the source of the decline in mortgage underwriting standards that eventually brought down the financial system. It led rather than followed Wall Street into risky lending.

This history does not appear in the FCIC majority report, and Mr. Johnson was not among the more than 700 witnesses the commission claims to have interviewed. Edward Pinto (a former chief credit officer of Fannie Mae, and now a colleague at the American Enterprise Institute) presented the evidence to the commission showing that by 2008 half of all mortgages in the U.S. (27 million loans) were subprime or otherwise risky, and that 12 million of these loans were on the books of the GSEs.

The research he gave the commission also showed that two-thirds of these subprime or risky loans were on the books of government agencies or firms subject to government control. But these facts were left out of the majority report. They did not fit with the narrative that the financial crisis was caused by the private sector, and they moved the blame uncomfortably close to the powerful figures in Congress who had supported the GSEs and the affordable housing goals over many years—and of course who appointed the majority of the commission.

If that were the end of the matter, we would be dealing solely with a report distorted by partisan considerations. The commission majority's false narrative, however, buttresses the notion that more regulation of banks and other private-sector financial institutions could have prevented the financial crisis—and might be necessary to prevent another one. This was the rationale for the Dodd-Frank Act.

But if government housing policy, and not Wall Street, caused the financial crisis, what was the basis for Dodd-Frank's extraordinary and growth-suppressing regulation on the financial system? This question is particularly trenchant as the country struggles through a seemingly interminable recession, brought on initially by a mortgage meltdown and a financial crisis but possibly extended by the uncertainties and credit restrictions flowing from the most comprehensive controls of the financial system since the New Deal.

The principal sponsors of that Dodd-Frank Act, former Sen. Chris Dodd and former House Financial Services Committee Chair Barney Frank, were also the principal supporters and political protectors of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the government housing policies they implemented.

It is little wonder then that legislation named after them would place the blame for the financial crisis solely on the private sector and do nothing to reform a government-backed housing finance system that will increasingly be seen as the primary cause of the devastating events of 2008.

Mr. Wallison, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, was a member of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission and dissented from the majority report.
24499  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / New CA law requires gay is good instruction on: July 12, 2011, 03:00:26 AM
Earlier this month, the left-leaning California State Legislature overwhelmingly passed The FAIR Education Act (SB 48) and has sent the bill on Governor Jerry Brown for what will surely be a celebratory signing. The FAIR Education Act is the seventh sexual indoctrination law to teach the state’s children to regard homosexuality, transsexuality (sex-changes operations) and bisexuality as good and natural. This is another in an impressive string of legal victories by gay activists. On the other hand, it further fuels a growing national discontent with public education.

Among the bill’s provisions are that textbooks and instructional materials must positively promote “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans” as role models and that children as young as 6 will be taught to admire homosexuality, same-sex “marriages,” bisexuality, and transsexuality.

Teachers, even those with religious objections to the gay life style, will be made to positively portray homosexuality, same-sex “marriages,” bisexuality, and transsexuality, because to be silent can bring the charge of “reflecting adversely”. School boards will be required to select textbooks and other instructional materials that positively portray sex-change operations, same-sex “marriages”, because to be silent on these subjects opens them up to charges of “reflecting adversely. Finally, parents will not be notified, nor will they be able to exempt their children, from this new core curriculum.

In a free society where parents were financially able to select and direct the education of their children, such a pro-gay curriculum would make a reasonable choice for that minute portion of parent population who believes it is healthy and useful to educate young children and teens into these complex and controversial issues of human sexuality. But such is not the case in the US today where only a small percentage of parents can afford to send their children to private or religious schools.

Given the brute fact that the state can and does put parents in the slammer for not delivering up their children for the state approved and directed schooling, this new legislation has about it a distinct Stalinist odor. The odor is particularly strong in the nostrils of those parents who believe such grave matters as how one lives out their sexuality is not the educational province of the state bureaucrats who create the lesson plans for teachers.

It is tempting to dismiss this soon-to-be statewide curriculum as just another in a long line of outrageous and kooky, La-La Land events seemingly designed to keep the rest of us chuckling and mildly finger-wagging. However, the Sunshine State is the 800-pound gorilla of the textbook world and teachers and parents in Montana, Iowa and Georgia will surely be seeing the “gay agenda” in their next textbook adoptions.

It is, of course, morally reprehensible to be against an effort to stamp out bullying, especially if it involves matters of sexual self-identification. One does so at the fear of destroying one’s professional reputation and endangering life and limb. (Thankfully, I have no reputation to endanger and I am writing from a secure location known only to the editors of MercatorNet and the United States Internal Revenue Service.) That said, targeted anti-bullying campaigns, such as this current California effort, have always struck me as ineffective and rather phony.

Few children grow to maturity without feeling envy, jealousy, extreme frustration and, sometimes, real rage. In the hot-house and regimented world of our crowded schools, these feelings have and always will find an outlet. It is a fact of life, just as water runs downhill, that the strong will attempt to prey on the weak.

What should be done about it? Religion has one powerful set of answers. It tells us that we have fallen human natures which each of us must work hard to overcome. And that that twit who is getting on our nerves is, in fact, a child of God and I must treat him as such. But, of course, bringing such a dangerous idea into the public school would lead to a full-employment act for tort lawyers.

Another idea would be to teach the nation’s core documents and the meaning of such phrases as “certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” But, really teach them. Explain them. Build them into the rituals and procedures of the school. Make the virtues of respect and fair play which undergird a good society a major focus of the curriculum. Recognize students who exemplify these habits of good character. Demand adherence to them or face distasteful consequences, such as separation into less commodious environments.

Another idea… and one which is receiving a great boost from legislation requiring a gay-friendly curriculum… is to eliminate state-run public schools. That is, make a transition to one of the many school choice options that put parents back in charge of their children’s education.

Increasingly, the very idea of the state answering the core educational question, “what is most worth a child knowing,” is being acknowledged as dangerous and a violation of parents’ right to control the education of their children. Currently in the US the parents of well over one million children are making huge personal and financial sacrifices to homeschool their children, and the movement is growing. While motivations vary, many of these parents have withdrawn their children from the public school because of the very over-sexualized environment this new California legislation will doubtlessly intensify.

It is tempting to take solace in the idea that this latest school victory by gay activists is a step too far and will spark a revolt. However, the public school teachers unions, local, state and national, are very strong and very politically protected. The opposition is underfunded, disorganized and tends to have a short attention span.

On the other hand, if attempts to alter our children’s understanding of their sexuality and what is the correct way for them to live out their sexuality cannot arouse parents to action, what, in God’s name and our nation’s future, will?

Kevin Ryan founded the Center for the Advancement of Ethics and Character at Boston University, where he is professor emeritus. He has written and edited 20 books. He has appeared on CBS's "This Morning", ABC's "Good Morning America", "The O’Reilly Factor", CNN and the Public Broadcasting System speaking on character education. He can be reached at
24500  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Chinese Bears on: July 12, 2011, 02:39:40 AM
How can investors prepare themselves for a major Chinese slowdown?

Doubts are mounting about the health of China's property market, Beijing's ability to control inflation and the true extent of government debt. Last week, the central government disclosed that local governments owed debts equal to a quarter of gross domestic product. It's hard to imagine a large chunk of those borrowings won't turn sour.

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Agence-France Presse
Lunch at a Chinese construction site.

All that means bets against China are attracting new attention.

Popular places to profit from a negative bet on China have gotten crowded. In recent months, some hedge funds have earned big money after borrowing shares of U.S.-listed Chinese companies, many with auditing or governance problems, in order to profit from their subsequent fall.

Several say the easy money has been made. More to the point, these stock bets aren't really a play on China's broader economic health but rather on specific company woes.

Some investors are shorting exchange-traded funds that invest in China's heavily restricted yuan-denominated "A-share" markets in Shanghai and Shenzhen—that is, selling borrowed securities to profit from their fall. But the underlying A shares are battered, with the main index off nearly 20% its post-financial crisis highs of August 2009. Hong Kong-listed Chinese shares are more accessible for shorts, some of whom have taken negative positions on the Hang Seng Index or individual stocks, but the market there for Chinese shares is also pretty beaten down.

Short Plays

Examples of how an investor can bet on a major China slowdown through currencies. If the option expires without hitting the strike price, the total investment is lost. However, investors can also sell the options before they expire. When the currency moves in the direction of the bet, the option generally rises in value.

"One-touch" options pay off a specified amount once the currency pair reaches a certain level. "European-style" options allow the investor to exchange currencies at a specified rate on a predetermined future date.

Australian Dollar One Touch
Investor buys a one-touch option that pays US$1,000,000 if the Australian dollar falls to 70 U.S. cents any time within two years from its current level of around $1.07. The option now costs about US$120,000. If the strike price is hit, the investor makes a return of about 730%.

Australian Dollar European-Style Option
Investor buys a European-style option to sell the Australian dollar at 70 U.S. cents when the option expires in two years. An option that allows the investor to sell US$10 million of Australian dollars at 70 U.S. cents now costs about US$160,000. The more the Aussie dollar falls below 70 cents by the expiry date, the greater the return.

Canadian Dollar European-Style Option
Investor buys a European-style option to buy the U.S. dollar at 1.30 Canadian dollars in two years, compared to its current level of 86 Canadian cents. It now costs about US$80,000 to buy an option for US$10 million of Canadian dollars at C$1.30 cents. The more the U.S. dollar rises above C$1.30 by the expiry date, the greater the return.

Yuan Non-Deliverable European-Style Option
Investor buys a "European-style" option to buy the U.S. dollar at 8 yuan in two years, compared to its current level of 6.46 yuan. An option that allows the investor to buy US$10 million of yuan at 8 yuan now costs about US$50,000. The more the U.S. dollar rises above 8 yuan by the expiry date, the greater the return. With non-deliverable yuan trades, no yuan actually changes hands.

Source: WSJ Research

However, there are other ways to profit from a China implosion. While stocks have sagged, currencies and commodities subject to the country's huge influence over global demand are still hovering at levels that suggest nothing is wrong.

The Australian dollar has soared 75% against the U.S. dollar from lows set during the global financial crisis, in large part because of Chinese demand for the country's iron ore, coal, gas and other resources. It remains surprisingly close to its all-time highs, even as commodity prices have fallen back.

The Canadian dollar could be another, less obvious way to play a Chinese slowdown, particularly for those feeling gloomy about the U.S. and Europe and therefore expect weak demand for Chinese exports.

Like Australia, Canada would suffer from a drop in Chinese consumption of its oil, gas and minerals. If China sees both exports and imports fall off, it will have less money to buy Canadian government debt, too. That could depress the Canadian dollar, which still trades about 27% above its financial-crisis lows against the U.S. dollar.

A bet against the Canadian dollar is a bit cheaper than one against its Australian counterpart, in part because Canadian interest rates aren't as high, a main cost factor in pricing currency bets such as swaps and options.

Then there's copper. China is the No. 1 consumer of the red metal, which is used for pipes and wires in buildings. That makes it a proxy play on Chinese real-estate. On Friday, three-month copper prices fell as low as $9,345 a metric ton in London, down from $9,429 a ton Thursday, after the release of a soft Chinese purchasing managers index.

But prices remain more than double their levels from late 2008. And the last time China's Purchasing Managers Index was at current sluggish levels of around 50, copper was closer to $7,000 a ton, notes Patrick Perret-Green, a Singapore-based strategist for Citigroup.

Bets that rely on a China slowdown rippling through the corporate world are another avenue. Hugh Hendry, who runs Eclectica Asset Management in London, has taken an unusual short-China position by buying up credit-default swaps on Japanese companies he believes would suffer from a slowdown in exports to China, now Japan's biggest trading partner.

Perhaps the longest shot is betting on a fall in China's currency. That play has recently picked up some fans willing to defy the conventional wisdom that the yuan can only go up against the dollar. Bankers say hedge funds are buying cheap positions that will score huge profits if the yuan suddenly falls. But China's currency isn't freely convertible, and Beijing retains a lot of scope— $3 trillion in currency reserves, or the equivalent of 51% of GDP—to manipulate the exchange rate if it needs to. It's easy to envision a scenario where China's economy suffers while the currency doesn't budge. As one banker put it, these bets are cheap to make for a reason.

China shorts have been on a roll for over a year now. Hedge-fund manager James Chanos took a public beating early last year for challenging China's economic fundamentals, and asserting that it was in the midst of a "credit-driven property bubble." There's a lot more people agreeing with him these days.

They may not all be right. The negative China buzz could turn out to be a passing phase, and the chance to make money as a short has passed.

Indeed, some analysts argue that Chinese stocks are so beaten down that it's time for a rally. Royal Bank of Scotland predicts the MSCI-China index could jump as much as 80% through 2012 as Beijing shifts toward growth policies ahead of a change in China's leadership next year.

China proved naysayers wrong many times in the past. Even if things turn bad, it may take longer to happen than some might think. An investor who's right at the wrong time could lose a lot of money waiting to be vindicated.

Like long-term China bulls, the shorts may need to acquire a knack for patience.
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