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24601  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington, Farewell Address 1796 on: December 24, 2010, 09:40:54 AM
"There can be no greater error than to expect, or calculate upon real favours from Nation to Nation. 'Tis an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard." --George Washington, Farewell Address, 1796


24602  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: December 24, 2010, 09:22:18 AM
Finally I just finished the Levison article.  Good to re-examine one's precepts from time to time, but I come down on the particulars pretty much as Doug does.  I would add that we are averaging about one amendment every ten years which counters the notion that our C. is too hard to amend, and that we have the world's longest running constitutional republic.
24603  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Asset Protection strategies (Trusts, Family Partnerships, Charitable Trusts etc) on: December 24, 2010, 08:58:20 AM
Moving Canislatrans post on this interesting subject to this forum:

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

I'm familiar with the rudiments of a Living Trust, but I'm looking for the best source of information on various asset protecting strategies before I go looking to hire a lawyer to set it up.  I'm having a hard time specifically finding info on the Net about lawsuit protection; searches get spammed by estate planning focused sites (which I'm also interested in).

Apparently Joint Tenancy doesn't protect the assets if one partner is suied, although in some states marital real property is protected by Tenants in the Entirety.  An Irrevocable Living trust protects assets (but not distributions) and Revocable Living Trust exposes the assets.  According to one book a Family Partnership discourages collection of a suit, but an Offshore Trust is better.

Looking for something that protects from lawsuits AND avoids Probate.  No fancy asset ownership structure, just husband & wife.
24604  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / MOVED: Asset Protection strategies (Trusts, Family Partnerships, Charitable Trusts etc) on: December 24, 2010, 08:57:01 AM
This topic has been moved to the Science, Culture, & Humanities forum.
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=2129.0
24605  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYPD prepares for Mumbai style attack on: December 24, 2010, 08:54:44 AM


DECEMBER 20, 2010
 
By SEAN GARDINER  for The Wall Street Journal
Earlier this month the New York Police Department ran an antiterrorism exercise simulating an attack on the city.
A team of terrorists unleashed a coordinated series of bombings and gun attacks around the city in the simulation. At one point, terrorists attacked New York police officials visiting wounded officers in a hospital. By the time the daylong attacks were over, dozens of people had been killed and many more wounded.
The NYPD simulation was different from any of the terrorist incidents that have actually hit New York, such as the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks where terrorists hijacked planes to destroy the World Trade Center, or the foiled Times Square car-bombing attempt in May of this year.
Instead, the simulation deliberately mirrored the 2008 massacre in Mumbai. Within minutes of one another on the night of Nov. 26, 2008, 10 gunmen attacked various locations in the Indian city, including two luxury hotels, a hospital and a railway station. The attack stretched on for three days as hostages were taken at several of the locations. Ultimately, 174 people were killed.
Until Mumbai, NYPD counterterrorism officials felt reasonably comfortable that they were prepared for any type of terrorist attack. But that comfort level was built on preparing for a single event, not a series of coordinated attacks that would terrorize a city for days on end.
"The Mumbai attack two years ago was a bit of a game changer," Mitchell Silber, head of the NYPD's intelligence analysis division, said. "It was a model that most counterterrorism practitioners hadn't really considered. The armed gunmen roaming around the city taking hostages, that wasn't something we had seen by any jihadist group. That was a real eye-opener." Mr. Silber said the more NYPD officials learned about the Mumbai attacks "the more similarities we saw between Mumbai city and New York City." Both, he said, are financial centers; both are surrounded by water on three sides; both get intense media attention.
The latest simulation made additional sense, he said, in light of the rumors this past fall that jihadists were planning another "Mumbai-style" attack somewhere in Europe.
So on Dec. 3, the NYPD's top brass gathered inside the department's headquarters in downtown Manhattan, in the Police Academy on East 20th Street and a third location, which police don't want to identify, that will be activated in the event police headquarters is destroyed. More than 40 senior commanders took part, and a facilitator introduced "injects," or new complications, into the exercise.
According to a memo reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, the police were given a fictional scenario that began with President Barack Obama visiting New York for a bill signing. At the same time, convicted Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad was scheduled to appear in federal court. The attacks began with bombings in downtown that resulted in 18 dead and dozens injured. The president went ahead with the bill signing at the World Trade Center site, when another bomb went off nearby. He was whisked away.
The attack wasn't over. Six gunmen piled out of a van at Herald Square and opened fire on shoppers and pedestrians. They then entered the Macy's department store and took 26 hostages.
As in Mumbai, police in the simulation had trouble containing and anticipating the terrorists. At one point, police who tried to rescue hostages were shot by snipers. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Chief of Department Joseph Esposito went to Bellevue Hospital to visit wounded police officers, then both were incapacitated when a bomb exploded inside the emergency room, according to the simulation.
This is the eighth such large-scale tabletop exercise held by the NYPD since Mumbai, according to Paul Browne, the NYPD's spokesman. He said this exercise provided several valuable lessons. For instance, conventional wisdom was that the best way to deal with multiple subway bombings was to shut down all mass transportation and evacuate everyone by foot, Mr. Browne said. But the exercise showed the advantage of continuing to use buses during an attack to shepherd civilians out of lower Manhattan.
The exercise also showed that the first responding officers to Macy's shouldn't have evacuated people and waited for reinforcements, the traditional response in a hostage situation. Instead, the police could have minimized casualties by quickly finding and killing the terrorists who were shooting people.
Mr. Browne said the exercise also served as a reminder that the NYPD needs to obtain or update floor plans of the city's large department stores in case hostage-taking or some other standoff occurs there. Currently, the NYPD keeps floor plan copies for all of the city's major hotels and many popular buildings.
The department has taken other steps to prepare for a similar attack. Since Mumbai, Mr. Browne said, the NYPD has trained and equipped an addition 375 officers to use "heavy weapons" for a prolonged siege situation. The heavy weapons—MP5 submachine guns and Mini-14 semiautomatic carbine rifles—are needed to counteract military-style assault weapons like the ones used in Mumbai.
Lastly, police are preparing for more chaos. They now assume that when they advise civilians to "shelter in place," many will flee the island on foot as they did during the last major power blackout. That means police will need to protect pedestrians leaving Manhattan via the East River bridges or ferries.

sean.gardiner@wsj.com
24606  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Funny you should mention that , , , on: December 23, 2010, 10:36:46 PM
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=2101.0
24607  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Good thing fat cat Republicans in bed with Wall Street aren't in charge , , , on: December 23, 2010, 08:15:22 PM

David M Gordon:

The US government enlisted the help of investment bankers this year (2010), as it sold down its stakes in Citigroup, General Motors, AIG, and others. Total fees paid topped an astonishing $3 Billion!


The ugly truth in black and while (and some yellow highlighting)...
http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/GMWorkingforUncleSam.pdf

Scott Grannis:

That's actually not so surprising, considering that the $3 billion in fees represents only 4 bps (0.04%) of the total amount ($7.8 trillion!!!) raised. It's the total that is mind-boggling. Where did that money come from and where did it go??
24608  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The clusterfcuk continues , , , on: December 23, 2010, 08:13:29 PM
Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Thu, December 23, 2010 -- 5:20 PM ET
-----

U.S. Approves Business With Blacklisted Nations

A little-known office of the Treasury Department has
permitted American companies to do billions of dollars in
business with Iran and other countries blacklisted as state
sponsors of terrorism.

Read More:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/24/world/24sanctions.html?emc=na
24609  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Our sales agent answers on: December 23, 2010, 08:12:02 PM


The PPV show is no longer listed on Comcast.  Anyone see it on another network? 

SA:  In Demand played the show initially starting approximately 10/15.  Marc, I think you posted that schedule.  This does not preclude other airings down the line -- we shall have to see -- but this is at PPV's discretion.  The show has yet to play on Directv, which probably won't happen for at least several months.  It may still have more plays on Avail-TVN, and maybe more on DishNetwork....

Crafty, are you planning to distribute this show on DVD?  Comcast's streaming download quality was not very good with lots of video compression artifacts, and it would be fantastic to see this show in broadcast quality.

SA: I have no idea about the downloading or downloading quality.  Actually, I did not know that Comcast was streaming the show, but I am not surprised.
24610  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Krauthammer: Swindle of the year on: December 23, 2010, 08:05:13 PM
Moving CCP's post to this thread:

I wish Charles would stop telling us how smart Obama is.  He isn't.  He was dragged into negotiations kicking and screaming and only because his advisors were telling him to emulate Clinton who has given him the roadmap showing him how to improve his poll numbers.  That doesn't make him smart.  Yet the mainstream media has taken this line of talk up and are running at full speed trying to con us all into buying into the genius of the ONE.  We will see how brilliant he is next year when his super majorities in both houses are gone.

We all knew that Pelosi and Reid were going to ram through their agenda in the lame duck session.  No surprise.  And all Bamster has to do is sit back and take the credit like he did anything.

I do agree with Charles that if the tax cuts stimulate the economy over the next few years Bamster will have a better shot at re election.  He will take all the credit speaking about his bipartisan genius, all the devotees in the MSM will claim he is a centrist "all along" and the dopey swing voters will swoon all over it.  Perish the thought.  But Clinton did just that!:
 
***By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, December 17, 2010

If Barack Obama wins reelection in 2012, as is now more likely than not, historians will mark his comeback as beginning on Dec. 6, the day of the Great Tax Cut Deal of 2010.

This Story
Season's greetings from the Obamas
The new comeback kid
When it comes to politics, Obama's ego keeps getting in the way
Obama had a bad November. Self-confessedly shellacked in the midterm election, he fled the scene to Asia and various unsuccessful meetings, only to return to a sad-sack lame-duck Congress with ghostly dozens of defeated Democrats wandering the halls.

Now, with his stunning tax deal, Obama is back. Holding no high cards, he nonetheless managed to resurface suddenly not just as a player but as orchestrator, dealmaker and central actor in a high $1 trillion drama.


Compare this with Bill Clinton, greatest of all comeback kids, who, at a news conference a full five months after his shellacking in 1994, was reduced to plaintively protesting that "the president is relevant here." He had been so humiliatingly sidelined that he did not really recover until late 1995 when he outmaneuvered Newt Gingrich in the government-shutdown showdown.

And that was Clinton responding nimbly to political opportunity. Obama fashioned out of thin air his return to relevance, an even more impressive achievement.

Remember the question after Election Day: Can Obama move to the center to win back the independents who had abandoned the party in November? And if so, how long would it take? Answer: Five weeks. An indoor record, although an asterisk should denote that he had help - Republicans clearing his path and sprinkling it with rose petals.

Obama's repositioning to the center was first symbolized by his joint appearance with Clinton, the quintessential centrist Democrat, and followed days later by the overwhelming 81 to 19 Senate majority that supported the tax deal. That bipartisan margin will go a long way toward erasing the partisan stigma of Obama's first two years, marked by Stimulus I, which passed without a single House Republican, and a health-care bill that garnered no congressional Republicans at all.

Despite this, some on the right are gloating that Obama had been maneuvered into forfeiting his liberal base. Nonsense. He will never lose his base. Where do they go? Liberals will never have a president as ideologically kindred - and they know it. For the left, Obama is as good as it gets in a country that is barely 20 percent liberal.

The conservative gloaters were simply fooled again by the flapping and squawking that liberals ritually engage in before folding at Obama's feet. House liberals did it with Obamacare; they did it with the tax deal. Their boisterous protests are reminiscent of the floor demonstrations we used to see at party conventions when the losing candidate's partisans would dance and shout in the aisles for a while before settling down to eventually nominate the other guy by acclamation.

And Obama pulled this off at his lowest political ebb. After the shambles of the election and with no bargaining power - the Republicans could have gotten everything they wanted on the Bush tax cuts retroactively in January without fear of an Obama veto - he walks away with what even Paul Ryan admits was $313 billion in superfluous spending.

Including a $6 billion subsidy for ethanol. Why, just a few weeks ago Al Gore, the Earth King, finally confessed that ethanol subsidies were a mistake. There is not a single economic or environmental rationale left for this boondoggle that has induced American farmers to dedicate an amazing 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop - for burning! And the Republicans have just revived it.

Even as they were near unanimously voting for this monstrosity, Republicans began righteously protesting $8.3 billion of earmarks in Harry Reid's omnibus spending bill. They seem not to understand how ridiculous this looks after having agreed to a Stimulus II that even by their own generous reckoning has 38 times as much spending as all these earmarks combined.

The greatest mistake Ronald Reagan's opponents ever made - and they made it over and over again - was to underestimate him. Same with Obama. The difference is that Reagan was so deeply self-assured that he invited underestimation - low expectations are a priceless political asset - whereas Obama's vanity makes him always needing to appear the smartest guy in the room. Hence that display of prickliness in his disastrous post-deal news conference last week.

But don't be fooled by defensive style or thin-skinned temperament. The president is a very smart man. How smart? His comeback is already a year ahead of Clinton's.
24611  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GF on Start treaty and on: December 23, 2010, 02:17:20 PM
I almost put this in the nuclear war thread, but it addresses larger issues as well and so I put it here.
===============
Colin: The United States Senate approves the much-debated nuclear treaty with Russia. But is it really a new start? In the end, many Republicans decided to back the treaty and it achieved the required two-thirds majority with a vote of 71 for, 26 against.

Colin: Welcome to Agenda, today with George Friedman. George, in terms of global geopolitics, how important is this Senate vote?

Dr. Friedman: From the point of view of this particular treaty, it’s not very significant at all. The reduction in warheads really doesn’t affect the balance of terror, apart from everything else because there is no balance of terror. This is an issue from 30 years ago. That’s when it mattered. Now, it really doesn’t. However, it did matter from the standpoint of the ability of President Obama to conduct foreign policy. If he couldn’t take this fairly innocuous treaty and get it through the Senate, it would have indicated that really his foreign policy capabilities were crippled. At the same time, as Republicans pointed out, it left open a bunch of questions that weren’t properly part of this treaty but really mattered, such as the Russian relationship to ballistic missile defense, the status of tactical nuclear weapons, and more importantly the general relationship between the United States and Russia.

Colin: Will this essentially Republican decision refresh Obama?

Dr. Friedman: No, what Obama had on this was a near-death experience, which he survived. But there’s very little victory here because in the end what he got was a fairly vanilla treaty, and the other issues between the U.S. and Russia really weren’t expressed. What you really did see was the extent to which rather an uncontroversial treaty — endorsed by Republicans and Democrats, the secretary of state, and all sides and so on, and the shows that Obama put on how — close it came to not passing. I mean I think that’s the most important thing. Obama is back against the wall in making foreign policy and what this entire incident shows is just how weak he is. This should not have been a debate.

Colin: Would it smooth the path of some of those negotiations you’ve just mentioned, such as with Iran and over a European ABM system?

Dr. Friedman: Well, let’s begin with why this treaty emerged and why it became important. After the famous restart button incident with Hillary Clinton, there was a question of how to get relations with Russia better. And the theory was that it was important to have something to build confidence and this treaty was an easy thing to do and get the two sides used to working together. Well, that didn’t happen — it almost fell apart, it didn’t build confidence. Most importantly, the theory that confidence building would change the American or the Russian position on Iran or their position on ballistic missile defense — I think it was basically flawed. Russia and the United States disagree on some really important issues that affect the national security of each country. There’s some overlap in their views, there’s some difference in their views, neither country is going to change their position because they got the warm and fuzzy feeling from getting this passed.

Colin: The treaty still leaves much of nuclear arms reduction still to do, but presumably it will alleviate the fears of European countries like Germany.

Dr. Friedman: The Germans have really serious disagreements with the United States, both over financial matters and over the future of NATO. I doubt that the Germans are going to relax over this because I don’t think they regard it as that significant. It may well have been that if it had failed it would have increased nervousness, and I really think that’s the way this treaty should be viewed. Had Obama not been able to get this passed, there would have been some serious questions, not so much about the United States, but about Obama’s credibility as president. That he got it passed doesn’t solve those problems. It doesn’t alleviate the question of whether or not Obama is capable and in control of his foreign policy because he shouldn’t have had a crisis in the first place over it.

Colin: Is it a given that the treaty will now pass through Russia’s Duma?

Dr. Friedman: Well, I think the Russians will probably pass it and I think they’re going to have a parallel crisis over it to show that the Russians also have a democratic system, they also have to ratify it and it’s not a slam dunk that they will. So the Russians will now posture serious questions, and they’ll posture the serious questions not because Putin and Medvedev don’t control the Duma, but because they don’t want to have been almost embarrassed by the U.S. Senate without almost embarrassing them back.

Colin: Assuming it’s all signed and sealed by, say, March, what will then be the next step in negotiations between the United States and Russia?

Dr. Friedman: Well, I mean it’s the same steps that are in place right now. Russian relations with the former Soviet Union, the status of NATO and EU expansion, the Iranian question, a host of issues. The Russians have shifted their policy somewhat from a singular focus on rebuilding the former Soviet Union — their sphere of influence at least — beyond that. They feel that they’ve achieved the core of what they needed to achieve. And they’re prepared now to be more flexible, both for example in terms of what their prepared to tolerate in Ukraine and in terms of what they’re willing to negotiate with the European and the Americans. So the Russians have entered a new sphere. The Americans, at the same time, are now in a deep debate over every issue on the table, including foreign policy, with clearly a disagreement between the Republicans and the Democrats over core issues such as the relationship with Russia. I think we will see the Russians testing the Americans around the periphery, in places like Georgia, Moldova and the Baltics. They will be trying to test how strong or weak Obama is, how resolute he is. I think what they come away with from this entire affair is the old Russian understanding that where there’s weakness, move. And I think they’re smelling a great deal of weakness.

Colin: George, thank you.

24612  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: December 23, 2010, 02:11:22 PM
I echo JDN's gratitudes for this forum and all who come to play.  It has taken a lot of doing to bring it to where it is, but thanks to all of us I confess to feeling rather proud of how far we have come and what we do.
24613  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Pascal vs. Hopkins on: December 23, 2010, 02:08:27 PM
I thought the boxing light heavyweight title fight between Pascal and Hopkins several days ago quite good.  I wouldn't have scored the first knockdown a knockdown and would have given the decision to Hopkins (45 years old vs. Pascal's 28! Go Hopkins!!!) but of relevance to this thread were the first few rounds of the fight, which were clearly won by Pascal (and kudos to Hopkins for keeping his mind right and turning the fight around).

To my eye, Pascal threw a number of successful zirconias though he began going to the well a bit too often I thought.  Like Rua's knock out of Chuck Liddell, the punch was more of a hook than a straight and there was no cutting of the corner of the diamond to the point of the diamond, but this is a move that was not really seen until , , , sometime after the release of Kali Tudo 1 cheesy  Of course, the move existed before KT1 and I certainly can't say that Rua, Pascal, or their trainers watched KT1, but it is an interesting coincidence.  At the very least, the people who doubted the zirconia when they first saw it in KT1 need to reconsider.  Indeed I know of a few who have reconsidered to the point of their saying it was nothing new and has been there all along.  wink
24614  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: December 23, 2010, 01:55:48 PM
Grannis and Wesbury have similar perspectives (both are supply siders btw).  David Gordon, Scott Grannis and I are part of an email group and David is a high level market player with the pay-to-enter blog www.investmentpoetry.com to which I subscribe.  David, who has quite a number of remarkably prescient market calls into an excellent stock picking and timing record, thinks we are about to have a sharp downturn, and that there will be a big downturn sometime in 2011-- currently he suspects it will be around the middle of the year but reserves the right to evolve his views as time goes by.

David is a vast reader.  Here is an article he shared this morning:
============
Where Will the Next Economic Boom Come From?
Derek Thompson

 

If you want to know what industry will power the next U.S. economy, follow the money. Where are investors really looking? And where is research and experimentation really happening?

Abraxas Discala, is CEO of the Broadsmoore Group, a financial advisory and investment firm founded in 2009. He sees the future the same way many urbanists and mayors see it: It's all about alternative energy. "The Internet bubble was the last real boom. The next boom is alternative energy, getting away from our need on OPEC oil," he said. "I think it could be five or six times what the tech boom was."

China's overwhelming investment in solar energy in the last five years has been formidable, Discala said. But solar is a long term bet that isn't guaranteed to take off. "I'm more interested in coal and natural gas, where T. Boone Pickens has a phenomenal plan," he said. "The fact is, if we just turned our 18-wheelers to natural gas right now, we would reduce our dependency on oil by 50 percent."

The other space Discala sees a productivity revolution is in regenerative medicine -- where scientists create living tissue to heal illnesses or replace organs. With enough government investment at its back, technologies like stem cells and soft tissue manufacturers should have breakthroughs in the next decade that will pay off dramatically, not only in the United States, but throughout the world where foreign governments will want to buy and license our innovation.

FOLLOW THE R&D

Innovation is the key to spotting the next boom, says economist Michael Mandel. That's why he focuses on research and development investments. If you follow the R&D money, it's a clear picture. "The truth of the matter is the US in the last 10 years has put its R&D money into information technology and biosciences," he said. "That's really it. We have not really put it into energy."





Source: Mandel.



What would an infotech and bioscience economy look like? First, it could resemble a communications revolution, with telecom providers like Verizon, Internet giants like Google and Facebook, and Web services like Groupon and Mint soaking up legions of software engineers, computer support specialists, web developers and programmers. These highly skilled, highly educated, and highly paid jobs where the United States still has a competitive advantage over the rest of the world.

This would, as a National Journal reporter told me, resemble Tech Boom: Part Two, "but this time, we get it right."

THE FUTURE IS SCIENCE...

Like information technology, bioscience is a term that evokes vague visions (beakers? lab coats? titration? ... titration!). But Mandel sees it more concretely. He sees the ramp up in bioscience investment from the 1990s starting to pay off in real products with vast implications for every industry. Microcellular organism-based technology to produce energy. Bioprocessing to juice productivity on our farms.  And new machines, pills and treatments to make our health care industry more efficient.

"We need a biosciences revolution because it's a direct attack on our biggest problem, which is tremendous amount of resources sucked up by health care," he said.

"Imagine if we had a pill to deal with Alzheimer's patients. Now those bodies are freed up to do other things. And those costs are freed up. That drives growth across the entire economy."

It's a compelling vision, but it raises the question: If biosciences are the future, why aren't they the present? We've been investing in the next big pharmaceutical breakthrough (cancer? AIDS? heart disease?) for two decades with frustratingly little to show for our efforts.

"For a variety of reasons it turned out that bioscience has lots of good science but not a lot of good products," Mandel acknowledged. "If we're looking for what the future looks like, there are two separate futures. One is this record of weakness could continue in which case, in which case, that's all she wrote. The other thing that could happen is it could have turned out to be a pause," he said.

"I'm betting that we'll see this bioscience drought as a pause rather than a stop."

... NOT ENERGY

The most surprising thing about Mandel's vision is his pessimism about alternative energy. At a time when almost every mayor, urbanist and government leader talking about the need to develop clean energy sources, Mandel's says the money just isn't there to build a competitive advantage for the United States.

"We have no investment in green energy R& D," he said. "We have no dynamism there. When your local university invests 70 percent in life sciences and 2 percent in energy, why put your bet on energy?"

24615  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / New single-family home sales on: December 23, 2010, 01:50:46 PM
New single-family home sales increased 5.5% in November To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 12/23/2010


New single-family home sales increased 5.5% in November, coming in at a 290,000 annual rate, but still fell short of the consensus expected pace of 300,000.

Sales were up in the South and West but down in the Northeast and Midwest
 
At the current sales pace, the months’ supply of new homes (how long it would take to sell homes in inventory) fell to 8.2 in November from 8.8 in October. The drop in the months’ supply was mainly due to the faster selling pace. The number of homes for sale fell 4,000 to 197,000, down 65.6% versus the peak in 2006. Interestingly, this is the lowest level of new homes in inventory since 1968.
 
The median price of new homes sold was $213,000 in November, down 2.7% from a year ago. The average price of new homes sold was $268,700, down 2.2% versus last year.
 
Implications:  The market for new homes remains sluggish, still suffering from the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit but also from intense competition from the large inventory of foreclosed homes on the market, many of which were built within the past decade. The tax credit, which required buyers to sign a contract by the end of April, moved sales forward into the early part of this year.  New home sales, which are counted at contract, increased to a 414,000 annual pace in April. But sales dropped off almost immediately, and have only averaged 289,000 in the seven months since. It is important to note that, despite the slow pace of sales, inventories are still declining and are already at levels not seen since the late 1960s. As inventories fall, homebuilders will need to start building more homes. Given a growing population and the need for more housing, the pace of new home sales should more than triple over the next several years to roughly 950,000. With lumber prices on the rise in recent months, that process may be underway. On the price front, the median sales price of new homes rose to $213,000 in November, bouncing back after going below $200,000 last month. This price measure is down 2.7% versus a year ago. We expect the new home market to continue to improve, albeit gradually.
24616  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / My blackberry is not working on: December 23, 2010, 11:24:19 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAG39jKi0lI
24617  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: US Economy on: December 23, 2010, 11:05:12 AM
Well, I haven't a clue  cheesy  That said, there seems to be a lot of bullishness, perhaps too much, out there.  David Gordon, whom I respect and follow, thinks a sharp reversal may be in the wind.  At least my LED play AIXG is up sharply today  cool

@all:

I have been posting Wesbury's stuff on the Political Economics thread, but I think I will begin posting it here on this thread as it really about the US economy, period.

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

Personal income increased 0.3% in November while personal consumption increased 0.4% To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 12/23/2010


Personal income increased 0.3% in November versus a consensus expected gain of 0.2%. Personal consumption increased 0.4% versus a consensus expected gain of 0.5%. In the past six months, personal income is up at a 2.7% annual rate while spending is up at a 4.4% rate.

Disposable personal income (income after taxes) was up 0.4% in November and is up at a 2.1% annual rate in the past six months. The rise in November was largely due to interest income.
 
The overall PCE deflator (consumer inflation) increased 0.1% in November and is up 1.0% versus a year ago. The “core” PCE deflator, which excludes food and energy, was also up 0.1% in November and is up 0.8% since last year.
 
After adjusting for inflation, “real” consumption was up 0.3% in November (0.5% including upward revisions to prior months), is up at a 3.3% annual rate in the past six months, and at a 4.3% annual rate in the past three months.  
 
Implications: Consumers are buying again and doing it with vigor. “Real” (inflation-adjusted) consumer spending increased 0.3% in November and is up at a 3.3% annual rate in the past six months. This is not an unsustainable or temporary buying binge. Real wages and salaries in the private sector are up at a 2.8% annual rate in the past six months; real profits for small businesses are up at a 4.7% rate. In addition, those touting a “new normal” where the real economy grows 2% or less per year are making a fundamental mistake about deleveraging. Consumer deleveraging may impede spending when the debt reduction begins; deleveraging may also impede spending when the debt reductions accelerate. But deleveraging does not hurt spending when the debt reductions slow down. If a consumer is still paying down debt but is doing so more slowly than last year, her spending increases faster than her income, not slower. On the inflation front, consumption prices are up only 1% versus a year ago but seem to be modestly accelerating, with prices up at a 1.3% annual rate in the past three months. The opposite is true if we exclude food and energy. “Core” prices are up 0.8% versus a year ago but up at only a 0.3% annual rate in the past three months. Low core inflation is the excuse the Federal Reserve is using for quantitative easing. In other news this morning, new claims for unemployment insurance declined 3,000 last week to 420,000. Continuing claims for regular state benefits fell 103,000 to 4.06 million. These figures suggest robust growth in private sector payrolls in December.
===================
New orders for durable goods declined 1.3% in November To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 12/23/2010


New orders for durable goods declined 1.3% in November, coming in below the consensus expected dip of 0.5%. Excluding transportation, orders increased 2.4%, beating the consensus expected gain of 1.8%. Orders are up 9.4% versus a year ago, 10.6% excluding transportation.

The overall decline in orders in November was entirely due to transportation equipment, specifically civilian aircraft/parts (which are extremely volatile from month to month). All other major categories of orders were up.
 
The government calculates business investment for GDP purposes by using shipments of non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft.  That measure rose 1.0% in November (1.2% including upward revisions to prior months) and is up 10.4% versus a year ago. If these shipments are unchanged in December, they will be up at a 2.3% annual rate in Q4 versus the Q3 average.
 
Unfilled orders increased 0.4% in November and are up at a 10.4% annual rate in the past three months.
 
Implications:  Ignore the headline decline in durable goods orders; the report was very good news for the US economy. All of the overall drop in orders was due to the transportation sector, particularly civilian aircraft, which is extremely volatile from month to month. Outside the transportation sector, every single major category of orders increased in November, with the largest gain in computers and electronics, rebounding from a steep decline last month. Meanwhile, shipments of “core” capital goods (which exclude civilian aircraft and defense) also bounced back in November, rising 1.0% in November after a 1.2% decline in October. These shipments are up 10.4% versus a year ago but the pace of the gains has slowed of late, rising at only a 3.1% annual rate in the past three months. However, we think these shipments are poised to reaccelerate. Unfilled orders for these goods (which can turn into future shipments) have increased seven months in a row. Cash on the balance sheets of non-financial companies is at a record high and corporate profits are near a record high. In this environment, business investment is heading up.
24618  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB on PPV TV on: December 23, 2010, 10:48:40 AM
I will check with our sales agent on the deal.
24619  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Oy vey on: December 23, 2010, 10:46:50 AM
So, we had to sign it by the year's end or they would be upset even though they had not approved it themselves? rolleyes angry
========================

The U.S. Senate ratified the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (known as START) by a 71-26 vote Dec. 22. The agreement reduces the deployed strategic warheads of each country to 1,550. The treaty has received intense attention during the past week, as it was unclear if the Senate could even get enough votes to discuss the issue — though many Republicans in the U.S. government have blasted the agreement since its arrangement between Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama in April.

The START Treaty has been a bellwether of relations between Moscow and Washington. In the spring, it was a sign of warming sentiments between the countries. Since then, Russia and the United States have struck a slew of compromises on issues like sanctions against Iran and U.S. investment in Russia’s modernization efforts. However, Moscow has publicly stated over the past few months that if START was not signed by the end of the year, it would consider relations between Russia and the United States as cooling. Thus, Obama has been trying to pressure those standing in the treaty’s way — mainly Republicans — to sign.

As Russia has watched the Senate debate the treaty, it has been most concerned about the possible addition of amendments that would increase U.S. inspections, lower the cap on nuclear weapons or even add topics not really relevant to the treaty, like the U.S. moving forward on ballistic missile defense. (WTF?!?)This last issue is the most important to Russia, as it would most likely put U.S. defense on Russia’s doorstep. On Dec. 21, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that any such amendment would be a deal-breaker, since the treaty cannot be opened up to new negotiations. (It shoudl also be quite important to us!!!)

The treaty passed by the Senate does not have any of these non-binding amendments, but it does have addendums regarding the Senate’s concerns. The addendums have no bearing on the treaty itself, but the question remains of how Russia will view the addendums. Since they are not actual amendments to the treaty, Russia likely will sign START within weeks, as the treaty has already been debated in the State Duma. But the Russian Foreign Ministry has already announced that it will have to take a fresh look at what the U.S. Senate actually ratified.



Read more: U.S. Senate Ratifies START Treaty | STRATFOR
24620  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / And Scott Grannis replies: on: December 22, 2010, 08:24:26 PM
http://scottgrannis.blogspot.com/2010/11/assessing-impact-of-quantitative-easing.html
24621  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Where's Ben's money? on: December 22, 2010, 08:21:58 PM
Since Jan 2008 bank reserves up from 33 bil to 995.  Fed not printing?  So, where's the money coming from? 
 
 http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2010/12/22/is-the-fed-printing-money/
 
December 22, 2010, 4:15 PM ET
Is the Fed Printing Money?
Is the Federal Reserve printing money to finance its bond buying? Or isn’t it? Ben Bernanke has given inconsistent answers, at times saying it is and at times saying it isn’t.
 
In an exchange with readers on Time magazine’s website this past weekend, a reader asked Mr. Bernanke why the Fed is creating dollars “out of thin air.” Mr. Bernanke said it wasn’t. “These policies are not leading to increases in the amount of currency in circulation,” he said.
He made a similar argument to CBS News’s Scott Pelley earlier this month in defense of the Fed’s plan to purchase $600 billion of U.S. Treasury bonds with money that the Fed creates. “People talk about the printing press. That’s not what this is about. This policy does not increase the amount of currency in circulation. It does not increase in any significant way the amount of money in broader terms, say, as measured by bank deposits,” he said.

  Yet back in March 2009 Mr. Bernanke told Mr. Pelley that the Fed was printing money to fund an earlier bond buying program. “It’s not tax money. The banks have accounts with the Fed, much the same way that you have an account in a commercial bank. So, to lend to a bank, we simply use the computer to mark up the size of the account that they have with the Fed. It’s much more akin to printing money than it is to borrowing,” he said.
Comedian Jon Stewart made much of this obvious contradiction.
 
Here is an attempt to sort it out:
 
The Fed has been buying bonds since early 2009. When a private investor buys bonds, the investor uses cash or sells some existing asset to raise cash and uses that money to buy bonds. The investor might also borrow money from a bank and use the borrowed funds to buy securities on margin. The Fed can do something else. It has the power to electronically credit money to the bank accounts of sellers who in turn sell government securities or mortgage backed securities to the Fed. The banks get the money and the Fed gets the securities. The Fed isn’t literally printing $100 dollar bills when it does this. But it is creating money, electronically, that wasn’t in the financial system before. In that sense, it is printing money.
 
But as Mr. Bernanke has been trying to emphasize lately — perhaps clumsily — most of the money that the Fed has created isn’t circulating much through the financial system. It’s mostly sitting idly, often in deposits — also known as reserves — that banks keep with the Fed itself. Broader measures of the money supply haven’t grown that much because the money isn’t being lent on. Since January 2008, the amount of Federal Reserve notes, i.e. currency, in circulation has increased 18%, to $980 billion. During the same stretch, the reserves banks keep with the Fed has increased more than 30-fold to $995 billion from $33 billion.
 
Meantime, in the 12 months between November 2009 and November 2010, M2 money supply, a broad measure of money including bank deposits, retail money market fund deposits and other measures of short-term money, are up just 3.3%.
 
The Fed chairman seems to be trying to emphasize two points: 1) The Fed isn’t literally printing money; and 2) The money that it is creating isn’t flooding through the financial system in a way that would be inflationary.
 
Mr. Bernanke might be a little sensitive about the first point. Critics have called him “Helicopter Ben” ever since he cited Milton Friedman in a November 2002 speech saying that in a crisis the Fed could flood the economy with money to avoid deflation, as if it were dropping bills from helicopters. Ironically, it was Friedman, not Bernanke, who came up with the helicopter analogy. But Mr. Bernanke is the one who got stuck with the reputation as a serial money dropper.
He’s trying to shoot down the idea by saying, “Hey, I’m not actually printing money.” More broadly, the chairman is trying to dispel the worry that the Fed is sowing the seeds of an inflationary mess by flooding the system with so much cash.
 
The point is that there’s not as much money out there as you might think. Mr. Bernanke and his colleagues are also confident they can soak it up when needed. One way the Fed plans to do this is by paying banks interest on the reserves they keep with it. It only pays 0.25% now. If the economy heats up, it can increase that rate and keep all of those reserve from being lent too aggressively and overheating the economy. (We’re a long way from that moment.)
Reassuring the public on that point is important because if people begin to expect a lot more inflation, it could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Unfortunately for the Fed chairman, instead of clarifying, he has confused the issue by failing to flesh out the distinction in more detail.

 
 
24622  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Scott Grannis speaks! on: December 22, 2010, 04:21:04 PM
Word from the man himself in response to this thread!  cool
=====================
All the worries about federal state and local budget cuts have been out there for a very long time, and progress is already being made on addressing the issue. Public sector jobs are already shrinking (I'm excluding census workers), down 340K since early last year, marking the first time in decades (or perhaps ever) that we have seen a meaningful decline in the public sector workforce.

Furthermore, it was the huge increase in the public sector that is a problem for the economy. As Milton Friedman always said, the burden of the public sector is best measured by the amount of spending relative to the economy, not by the deficit. Government spends money inefficiently, and thus is a drag on the economy. Cutting back government spending should therefore free up resources for the private sector, thus boosting the economy going forward.

We should not fear budget cutbacks, we should welcome them!

Defaults are very likely to happen, but those are being priced in already. Defaults will only serve to reinforce discipline on the public sector, and that is a good thing.

Finally, I would argue that the self-reinforcing forces of recovery lead to growth, and growth solves all kinds of problems related to debt and budgets. Growth is already boosting federal revenues, which are growing at a 10% annualized rate.

24623  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: Home Sales on: December 22, 2010, 11:54:16 AM
Existing home sales increased 5.6% in November to an annual rate of 4.68 million To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 12/22/2010


Existing home sales increased 5.6% in November to an annual rate of 4.68 million, slightly below the consensus expected pace of 4.75 million. Existing home sales are down 27.9% versus a year ago, when sales were artificially high due to the homebuyer credit.

Sales in November were up in all major regions of the country. Sales increased for single-family homes, but declined for condos/coops.
 
The median price of an existing home increased to $170,600 in November (not seasonally adjusted), and is up 0.4% versus a year ago. Last November, prices were down 5.7% from the prior year.
 
The months’ supply of existing homes (how long it would take to sell the entire inventory at the current sales rate) fell to 9.5 from 10.5 in October. The decline in the months’ supply was due to both the faster selling pace and a decline in overall inventories.
 
Implications: Existing home sales rebounded sharply in November, increasing 5.6% after falling 2.2% in October. Some of the rebound may have been due to the end of the moratorium on foreclosures that probably reduced sales in October. Regardless, we believe the underlying trend will be upward over the next year, as sales continue to rebound without artificial government support. Although the data will zig and zag from month to month, we expect sales to get back to about 5.5 million units at an annualized rate. And we expect the rebound even if mortgage rates float back upward.  Housing in November was more affordable than at any time in the past 40 years, and as buyers get more secure about the state of the economy, private-sector job creation accelerates, and purchasers become more confident that their homes will eventually rise in value rather than decline, they will be more willing to buy homes even if interest rates are higher. For example, mortgage rates averaged about 7.5% in the late 1990s and were not an impediment to climbing home sales. In other housing news this morning, the FHFA index, a measure of prices for homes financed with conforming mortgages, increased 0.7% in October (seasonally-adjusted), the first gain since May, although this measure of prices is still down 3.4% versus a year ago.
24624  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: December 22, 2010, 10:55:40 AM
My questions exactly, but I think Scott makes a fair point about the market being a forward looking mechanism.   The market tanked when BO passed McCain in the polls and McCain showed his progressive stripes at the same time-- worth noting is that Palin vigorously participated in some of this too).

I will see if I can get some comments from Scott.
24625  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / DADT on: December 22, 2010, 10:36:51 AM
Not having served, my idea is that DADT and related matters are for those who do, not Barney Frank et al in the US Congress.

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

"The U.S. military, already strained by wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, faces transformation from the world's most powerful fighting machine into an organization where political correctness is more important than victory. Saturday's Senate vote cleared the final hurdle for the repeal of President Clinton's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy designed to prevent homosexual conduct in the ranks. Battle lines will now form over how the homosexual advocacy policies will be implemented. Though the repudiated lawmakers who rammed the repeal through this weekend's session pretend they are simply latter-day Rosa Parkses seeking to end discrimination, there is no comparison. Since 2005, a mere 1 percent of Army discharges involved homosexual conduct. This issue isn't about retaining or recruiting qualified personnel for the military. This is part of the Left's larger societal goal of using government to force others to embrace unorthodox personal lifestyle choices. The implications are clear from a look at how the federal government treats issues of homosexuality. ... Troops can look forward to so-called pride parades on military bases and awareness days for the transgendered. Everyone knows the sort of thing that might work in Greenwich Village or a San Francisco neighborhood doesn't go over well in a fighting force drawn largely from red state America -- an area whose residents Mr. Obama once derisively referred to as the type who 'cling to guns or religion.' That's why implementing the New Gay Army means forcing soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines to endure 'diversity' training. Those who don't like it will be told to get out, as several senior military leaders have suggested already. Chaplains in particular will face the dilemma that preaching their faith will violate the new pro-homosexual code of conduct. As a result, far more are likely to leave or be thrown out of the military as a result of Mr. Obama's policy than were ever affected by Mr. Clinton's. It's hard to see how that will do anything to strengthen the nation's defenses." --The Washington Times

24626  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Scott Grannis on: December 22, 2010, 10:16:49 AM
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Fear subsides, prices rise

http://scottgrannis.blogspot.com/
I must have shown this chart at least a dozen times since late 2008, but it is so important that repetition is justified. (Here is a post from May '09 as an example) The main message here is that fear was the key driver of the 2008-2009 recession: fear of a global depression, fear of a global banking collapse, fear of deflation, and fear of a huge increase in future tax burdens thanks to an equally huge increase in the size of government. Fear drove us to the brink of what was expected to be an awful depression, and the reduction of fear is putting us back on a growth track.

The correlation between fear (represented by the red line, the Vix index inverted) and equity prices that is evident in this chart speaks for itself. The Vix has now returned to its pre-recession levels, and equity prices are on track to do the same, though the S&P 500 will need to rise another 25% to recover its previous highs.

Fears have been assuaged relentlessly since March '09. Swap spreads narrowed sharply. Credit spreads narrowed sharply. Signs of a recovery displaced expectations of a depression. Public reaction to the stimulus plan was mixed. Obama's popularity began declining, and the implementation of his agenda started facing headwinds. The Fed took strong action to expand the money supply. Financial markets began healing instead of collapsing. Commodity prices and gold prices started rising. Global trade got back in gear. Since the recession ended 18 months ago, the economy has proven the skeptics wrong more than once, and the forces of recovery have been working steadily behind the scenes, albeit slowly. Housing stopped collapsing and started stabilizing. A sea-change in the mood of the electorate resulted in a huge change in the congressional balance of power; the private sector now has a friend in Congress, and capital once again is held in high regard. More recently, a major increase in tax burdens was avoided, and a gargantuan omnibus spending bill went down in flames.

Short-term interest rates have been essentially zero for two years now. Investors, faced with the steep cost of safety (i.e., accepting a zero return for the safety of cash) have been realizing that the risks were not as great as they once feared, and they have been slowly deploying their cash hoards. Fearful investors have climbed countless walls of worry along the way, only to see the prices of risk assets moving higher. Consumers have been slowly drawing down their cash hoards, with the result that retail sales have now made a complete recovery. The next shoe to drop will be when corporations begin deploying their immense cash hoards to fund expansion plans and new hiring.

 It's hard to see how this self-reinforcing process of recovery can be derailed.
24627  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Strafor: Iran-Pakistan on: December 22, 2010, 08:57:47 AM


The Implications of Iranian Assertiveness Toward Pakistan

The Middle East and South Asia have no shortage of conflicts and on any given day there are developments on multiple issues. Monday, however, was different: Another fault line appeared to emerge. Iranian leaders used some very stern language in demanding that Pakistan act against the Sunni Baluchi Islamist militant group Jundallah, which recently staged suicide attacks against Shiite religious gatherings in the Iranian port city of Chahbahar.

The Islamic republic’s senior-most military leader, Chief of the Joint Staff Command of Iran’s Armed Forces Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi, threatened that Tehran would take unilateral action if Islamabad failed to prevent cross-border terrorism. Separately, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called his Pakistani counterpart, Asif Ali Zardari, and demanded that Pakistani security forces apprehend “known terrorists” and hand them over to Iranian authorities. This is not the first time that Jundallah has become a source of tension between the two neighbors. However, this time, the Iranian response was different: The apex leadership of Iran threatened to take matters into its own hands.

It’s even more interesting that the latest Jundallah attack was not that significant, especially compared to the attack from a little more than a year ago when as many as half a dozen senior generals from the ground forces of Iran’s elite military force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, were killed in a Jundallah attack in the border town of Pishin. At the time, however, Iran was much more mild in terms of pressing Pakistan to take action against Jundallah. Over the years, there has also been significant cooperation between Tehran and Islamabad leading to arrests of the group’s leaders and main operatives, including its founders.

“Tehran is likely concerned about how the deteriorating security situation in Pakistan will impact its own security and sees a situation in which it can enhance its influence in its southeastern neighbor.”
Why is Iran now escalating matters with Pakistan? The answer likely has to do with the Iranian government feeling confident in other foreign policy areas. It has been successful in having a Shiite-dominated government of its preference installed in Iraq. Also, for the first time, it appears to be negotiating from a position of relative strength on the nuclear issue.

Iran is also a major regional stakeholder in Afghanistan and a competitor of Pakistan there. It is therefore likely that Iran is now flexing its muscles on its eastern flank to showcase its regional rise. The Iranians have also been watching the fairly rapid destabilization that has taken place in Pakistan in recent years and sense both a threat and an opportunity. Tehran is likely concerned about how the deteriorating security situation in Pakistan will impact its own security and sees a situation in which it can enhance its influence in its southeastern neighbor.

It is too early to say anything about how Iran will go about projecting power across its frontier with Pakistan. However, there are geopolitical implications from this new Iranian assertiveness. The most serious one is obviously for Pakistan, which already has to deal with U.S. forces engaging in cross-border action along the country’s northwestern border with Afghanistan. Islamabad can’t afford pressures from Tehran on the southwestern extension of that border (an area where Pakistan is dealing with its own Baluchi rebellion). Any such move on the part of Iran could encourage India to increase pressure on its border with Pakistan. After all, India is a much bigger target of Pakistani-based militants than Iran, but has thus far not been able to get Pakistan to yield to its demands on cracking down on anti-India militants. New Delhi would love to take advantage of this new dynamic developing between Islamabad and Tehran.

At the very least, Monday’s Iranian statements reinforce perceptions that Pakistan is a state infested by Islamist militants of various stripes that threaten pretty much every country that shares a border with it (including Pakistan’s closest ally, China). Certainly, Pakistan doesn’t want to see problems on a third border and will try to address Iranian concerns. But the Pakistani situation is such that it is unlikely that Islamabad will be able to placate Tehran.

In terms of ramifications, Monday’s developments are actually not limited to only those countries that have a border with Pakistan. Iranian demands on Pakistan have likely set off alarm bells in Saudi Arabia, which is already terrified of Iran’s rise in the Persian Gulf region and the Levant. Pakistan constitutes a major Saudi sphere of influence and Riyadh is not about to let Tehran play in the South Asia country. Pakistan has been a Saudi-Iranian proxy battleground since the 1980s and the latest Iranian statements could intensify the Sunni-Shiite sectarian conflict in the country.

Increased sectarian conflict in Pakistan will only exacerbate the jihadist insurgency in the country, thereby further eroding internal stability. Such a situation is extremely problematic for the United States, which is already trying to contain a rising Iran and has a complex love-hate relationship with Pakistan. There is also the problem that the success of America’s Afghan strategy is contingent upon Washington establishing a balance of power between Iran and Pakistan in Afghanistan.

24628  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: States Rights on: December 22, 2010, 08:38:07 AM
Just bringing this to the top to remind us that some Consitutional issues have their own thread.

24629  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH editorial on Barbour on: December 22, 2010, 08:32:12 AM
Certainly POTH is highly unreliable source, especially with regard to racially-tinged issues, but I must confess that it irks me how many Republicans seem to have a tin ear or worse on some of the history of the civil rights movement.
===========================

Gov. Barbour’s Dream World
Published: December 21, 2010               
 
In Gov. Haley Barbour’s hazy, dream-coated South, the civil-rights era was an easy transition for his Mississippi hometown of Yazoo City. As he told the Weekly Standard recently, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an unmemorable speaker, and notorious White Citizens Councils protected the world from violent racists.

Perhaps Mr. Barbour, one of the most powerful men in the Republican Party and a potential presidential candidate, suffers from the faulty memory all too common among those who stood on the sidelines during one of the greatest social upheavals in history. It is more likely, though, that his recent remarks on the period fit a well-established pattern of racial insensitivity that raises increasing doubts about his fitness for national office.

In the magazine’s profile of the second-term governor, Mr. Barbour suggests that the 1960s — when people lost life and limb battling for equal rights for black citizens — were not a terribly big deal in Yazoo City. “I just don’t remember it as being that bad,” he said. He heard Dr. King speak at the county fairgrounds in 1962 but can’t remember the speech. “We just sat on our cars, watching the girls, talking, doing what boys do,” he said. “We paid more attention to the girls than to King.”

And the Citizens Councils were simply right-minded business leaders trying to achieve integration without violence. Thanks to the councils, he said, “we didn’t have a problem with the Klan in Yazoo City.”

The councils, of course, arose in the South for a single and sinister purpose: to fight federal attempts at integration and to maintain the supremacy of white leaders in cities and states. Mississippi’s council, formed in reaction to the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, was one of the most powerful political forces in the state, and later raised funds for the defense of the murderer of Medgar Evers. The council chapter in Yazoo City, so fondly remembered by Mr. Barbour, published the names of N.A.A.C.P. leaders who dared to demand the town’s schools be integrated in 1955. Those on the list systematically lost their jobs and their livelihoods, boycotted by white citizens.

Mr. Barbour hastily issued a statement on Tuesday describing the councils as “indefensible” and the era as “difficult and painful.” But this is the same man who in 1982 made an indefensible remark to an aide who complained that there would be “coons” at a campaign stop. If the aide persisted in racist remarks, Mr. Barbour said, he would be reincarnated as a watermelon and placed at the mercy of blacks. His campaign for the governor’s office was also racially tinged.

Memory has long been the mutable clay of the South, changing the meaning of the Civil War and now the civil-rights era. But the memory of Mr. Barbour’s personal history will not soon fade. That should give pause to the Republican Party as it considers his future.

24630  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / POTH: Carbon Dioxide levels continue to rise on: December 22, 2010, 08:18:16 AM


http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/22/science/earth/22carbon.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=a2
24631  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BO's treaty on: December 22, 2010, 08:14:20 AM
Looks like BO is going to get the treaty passed  angry cry with the help of over ten Republicans  cry  angry and much of the Republican internationalist establishment (Bush 1, Kissinger, Sowcroft, etc)  Madness that such a serious agreement is getting rammed through, virtually unread.  WHY NOT WAIT THREE OR FOUR WEEKS UNTIL CONGRESS RECONVENES?

Apparently the Russians read the deal as meaning we are not allowed to increase our anti-missile capabilities and if we do they will withdraw.  So, if some other threat develops, , , ,   Frank Gaffney, a long-time serious player in this area notes that Russia and Iran are working with Venezuela to capacitate it with missiles and nuclear , , , ahem , , , power.  If Venezuela starts up with missiles similar to those that Iran already has that can reach Europe, then any effort on our part to develop a defensive capability must then be done at the cost of disrupting our agreement with the Russians-- upon whom BO currently relies for allowing transit of supplies to our effort in Afhanistan and whom BO begs not to capacitate Iran with nukes and anti-aircrafty capabilities.

These things deserve serious study and conversation, but as is so often the case Republican defections are our undoing , , , cry

24632  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stoessel: Alpacas on: December 22, 2010, 08:03:22 AM
http://townhall.com/columnists/JohnStossel/2010/12/22/uncle_sam_will_help_buy_you_an_alpaca/page/full/
24633  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: John Fund on "Net Neutrality"? on: December 22, 2010, 08:00:21 AM
By JOHN FUND
The Federal Communications Commission's new "net neutrality" rules, passed on a partisan 3-2 vote yesterday, represent a huge win for a slick lobbying campaign run by liberal activist groups and foundations. The losers are likely to be consumers who will see innovation and investment chilled by regulations that treat the Internet like a public utility.

There's little evidence the public is demanding these rules, which purport to stop the non-problem of phone and cable companies blocking access to websites and interfering with Internet traffic. Over 300 House and Senate members have signed a letter opposing FCC Internet regulation, and there will undoubtedly be even less support in the next Congress.

Yet President Obama, long an ardent backer of net neutrality, is ignoring both Congress and adverse court rulings, especially by a federal appeals court in April that the agency doesn't have the power to enforce net neutrality. He is seeking to impose his will on the Internet through the executive branch. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, a former law school friend of Mr. Obama, has worked closely with the White House on the issue. Official visitor logs show he's had at least 11 personal meetings with the president.

More
Internet Gets New Rules
Opinion: The FCC's Threat to Internet Freedom
Video: What Net Neutrality Really Means
.The net neutrality vision for government regulation of the Internet began with the work of Robert McChesney, a University of Illinois communications professor who founded the liberal lobby Free Press in 2002. Mr. McChesney's agenda? "At the moment, the battle over network neutrality is not to completely eliminate the telephone and cable companies," he told the website SocialistProject in 2009. "But the ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control."

A year earlier, Mr. McChesney wrote in the Marxist journal Monthly Review that "any serious effort to reform the media system would have to necessarily be part of a revolutionary program to overthrow the capitalist system itself." Mr. McChesney told me in an interview that some of his comments have been "taken out of context." He acknowledged that he is a socialist and said he was "hesitant to say I'm not a Marxist."

For a man with such radical views, Mr. McChesney and his Free Press group have had astonishing influence. Mr. Genachowski's press secretary at the FCC, Jen Howard, used to handle media relations at Free Press. The FCC's chief diversity officer, Mark Lloyd, co-authored a Free Press report calling for regulation of political talk radio.

Free Press has been funded by a network of liberal foundations that helped the lobby invent the purported problem that net neutrality is supposed to solve. They then fashioned a political strategy similar to the one employed by activists behind the political speech restrictions of the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign-finance reform bill. The methods of that earlier campaign were discussed in 2004 by Sean Treglia, a former program officer for the Pew Charitable Trusts, during a talk at the University of Southern California. Far from being the efforts of genuine grass-roots activists, Mr. Treglia noted, the campaign-finance reform lobby was controlled and funded by foundations like Pew.

"The idea was to create an impression that a mass movement was afoot," he told his audience. He noted that "If Congress thought this was a Pew effort, it'd be worthless." A study by the Political Money Line, a nonpartisan website dealing with issues of campaign funding, found that of the $140 million spent to directly promote campaign-finance reform in the last decade, $123 million came from eight liberal foundations.

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Martin Kozlowski
 .After McCain-Feingold passed, several of the foundations involved in the effort began shifting their attention to "media reform"—a movement to impose government controls on Internet companies somewhat related to the long-defunct "Fairness Doctrine" that used to regulate TV and radio companies. In a 2005 interview with the progressive website Buzzflash, Mr. McChesney said that campaign-finance reform advocate Josh Silver approached him and "said let's get to work on getting popular involvement in media policy making." Together the two founded Free Press.

Free Press and allied groups such as MoveOn.org quickly got funding. Of the eight major foundations that provided the vast bulk of money for campaign-finance reform, six became major funders of the media-reform movement. (They are the Pew Charitable Trusts, Bill Moyers's Schumann Center for Media and Democracy, the Joyce Foundation, George Soros's Open Society Institute, the Ford Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.) Free Press today has 40 staffers and an annual budget of $4 million.

These wealthy funders pay for more than publicity and conferences. In 2009, Free Press commissioned a poll, released by the Harmony Institute, on net neutrality. Harmony reported that "more than 50% of the public argued that, as a private resource, the Internet should not be regulated by the federal government." The poll went on to say that since "currently the public likes the way the Internet works . . . messaging should target supporters by asking them to act vigilantly" to prevent a "centrally controlled Internet."

To that end, Free Press and other groups helped manufacture "research" on net neutrality. In 2009, for example, the FCC commissioned Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society to conduct an "independent review of existing information" for the agency in order to "lay the foundation for enlightened, data-driven decision making."

Considering how openly activist the Berkman Center has been on these issues, it was an odd decision for the FCC to delegate its broadband research to this outfit. Unless, of course, the FCC already knew the answer it wanted to get.

The Berkman Center's FCC- commissioned report, "Next Generation Connectivity," wound up being funded in large part by the Ford and MacArthur foundations. So some of the same foundations that have spent years funding net neutrality advocacy research ended up funding the FCC-commissioned study that evaluated net neutrality research.

The FCC's "National Broadband Plan," released last spring, included only five citations of respected think tanks such as the International Technology and Innovation Foundation or the Brookings Institution. But the report cited research from liberal groups such as Free Press, Public Knowledge, Pew and the New America Foundation more than 50 times.

So the "media reform" movement paid for research that backed its views, paid activists to promote the research, saw its allies installed in the FCC and other key agencies, and paid for the FCC research that evaluated the research they had already paid for. Now they have their policy. That's quite a coup.

Mr. Fund is a columnist for WSJ.com.
24634  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy on: December 21, 2010, 10:47:22 PM
Another thing I would like to see is that the presence of surveillance cameras, private or governmental, must be posted.
24635  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Your rambling ruminations on: December 21, 2010, 07:52:13 PM
Woof All:

As the sun sets on this the shortest day of the year, it seems like a good time to reflect on where we have been this past year and where we think to go in the year that comes. 

This thread is a place for any and all of you to share more reflective thoughts-- regardless of the time of year.

WAAWFAYD,
Crafty Dog
24636  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Prager: What do men want? on: December 21, 2010, 07:41:03 PM
What Do Men Want?
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
ShareThis
It is said that the one question about men and women that even the great Sigmund Freud, father of psychoanalysis, could not answer was: What do women want?

Whether or not Freud actually said that is irrelevant. The very popularity of the anecdote testifies to one incontrovertible fact: A lot of men don't know the answer.  It is probably fair to say that a lot of women also don't know the answer. If they did, all they would have to do is tell men. That would solve the riddle -- and make most men and women very happy.  So, to the extent that this is a great riddle, it is so because most members of both sexes seem not to know the answer.

Adding support to the widespread belief that what women want is close to unknowable is the underlying presumption that just about everybody knows what men want.

The number of truly funny Internet jokes that describe what women want as complex and what men want as simple is a testament to how widespread these assumptions about the two sexes are. Three examples illustrate this:

The first example is the one that begins: "How To Impress a Woman."

Listed beneath that heading is this: "Compliment her, respect her, honor her, cuddle her, kiss her, caress her, love her, stroke her, tease her, comfort her, protect her, hug her, hold her, spend money on her, wine and dine her, buy things for her, listen to her, care for her, stand by her, support her, hold her, go to the ends of the Earth for her."

That long list is followed by: "How To Impress a Man."

And listed beneath is this: "Show up naked. Bring food."

The second Internet example:

"Q: What is the difference between men and women?

A: A woman wants one man to satisfy her every need. A man wants every woman to satisfy his one need."

And a third Internet example shows a box divided into two parts.

Under the part labeled "Women" are 40 dials and knobs.

Under the part labeled "Men" is one switch, marked "On-Off."

As with most generalizations, there is much truth to these.

Nevertheless, I take issue with both presumptions -- that what women want is a riddle that would stump the Sphinx and that what men want is so easy it could be written on the back of a postage stamp.  In fact, I believe that both are relatively simple to answer (though neither is simple to achieve).

What does a man most want?

Answer: He most wants to be admired by the woman he loves.

One proof is that the most devastating thing a woman can do to her man is to hold him in contempt. That is so devastating to a marriage that, over time, it is often more toxic than an affair. I am fairly certain that more marriages survive an affair, as difficult as that is, than contempt. Of course, this goes in both directions, but when a woman shows contempt toward her man, his very manhood is called into question.

My father and mother were married 69 years. As my brother and I have heard countless times, "She put me on a pedestal" was the quality my father most often cited in describing what a wonderful wife my mother was. She admired him, and to him, that was everything. On the other hand, in describing her love for my father over all those years, my mother never once said, "He put me on a pedestal" (despite the fact that he constantly praised her). Rather, she always spoke of what a "great man" he was, how "brilliant," etc. Of course, this is just one example, but I think it applies to the majority of men and women.

The obvious upshot of this thesis is that in order to gain a woman's love, a man must make -- and keep -- himself admirable.

Boys know this instinctively. Studies that have observed boys and young men reveal how much harder they work at anything -- sports comes immediately to mind -- when they know girls are watching them. 

That is why many single men in our society (often erroneously but understandably) place so much emphasis on what car they drive: They want to impress women. Yet, men couldn't care less what car a woman drives. In fact, for most men, a woman arriving on a first date in a relatively inexpensive car renders her more desirable than if she showed up in an expensive luxury car -- unless the man is looking to be supported by a woman. But few women are attracted to a man they know in advance they will have to support.

So, although the Internet jokes are right about men wanting sex, it isn't sex men most want from their woman. They want to be admired -- and sex is one manifestation of a woman's admiration for her man. When a man is regularly denied sex, in his eyes that means that his wife does not hold him in high esteem. Worse, he actually feels humiliated as a man. That, not the sex per se, is why regular denial devastates a man.

So, then, if what a man most wants is to be admired by his woman, what is it that a woman most wants?

That is the subject of the next column.

But here's a hint. If we begin with the assumption that men and women are made to bond with one another, what she most wants must be in some way related to what he most wants.

As we shall see, it is.
24637  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: December 21, 2010, 11:51:37 AM
Source?  Fair enough.  It was sent to me by a friend who is a senior US Marshal.
24638  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: December 21, 2010, 11:46:43 AM
IED attack on Police in Nuevo Leon

A small improvised explosive device (IED) detonated around 1 p.m. Dec. 17 inside a sport-utility vehicle outside the Zuazua Public Security Secretariat offices (the equivalent of a municipal police station) in Zuazua, Nuevo Leon state. In addition to destroying the vehicle, the blast injured at least three people and damaged several surrounding vehicles. A message attributed to the Sinaloa Federation and Gulf cartel addressed to “Zeta Police” was found shortly thereafter near the site of the explosion that read, “The state of Nuevo Leon does not guarantee the security of its citizens in the state, and more than a thousand kidnappings are not reported for fear of the authorities. Eleven more car bombs are waiting to be detonated to bring justice for the kidnapped, for the police and corrupt officials are aware.” Nuevo Leon authorities have been quick to say the claim of 11 more IEDs is false, but have offered little in the way of proof. Additionally, authorities have not officially said whether they believe area drug-trafficking organizations were involved in the attack, despite the very public message.

This attack is the year’s fifth successful deployment of an IED against a specified target in Mexico; one occurred in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, and three occurred near Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas state. While there has not been any indication as to the composition or exact size of the device, photographic evidence of the blast scene indicates that the device was relatively small and on the scale seen with other devices deployed in the country this year.

The enforcement arm of the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes (VCF) organization, La Linea, was responsible for the Juarez IED on July 15, and the group indicated after the attack that it would continue its “car bomb” campaign as long as the Federal Police continued to support the Sinaloa Federation, which the VCF accuses the police of doing. Despite these warnings, only one other IED was deployed in Juarez, a few weeks later, and the Mexican military was able to render it safe before it detonated. However, it appears from the message left near the scene and the geographic disparity between Juarez and Nuevo Leon that entirely different actors were responsible for the Dec. 17 incident.

The message falls in line with the strategy pursued by the New Federation alliance. In the spring, elements of the New Federation began taking the fight against Los Zetas to their stronghold in the Monterrey metro region, targeting not only Los Zetas members and operatives but also their support network in the region, including local politicians and local and regional police.

It remains to be seen whether the Sinaloa Federation and the Gulf cartel will actually follow through with a sustained bombing campaign against law enforcement believed to be associated with Los Zetas. If the groups do follow through with their pledge to deploy 11 more IEDs, it would be a significant escalation in the tempo of these types of attacks. While IED attacks in the country thus far have been discriminating in their targeting, the imprecise nature of IEDs greatly increases the risk of civilian casualties.


Nuevo Laredo Prison Break

A prison break the morning of Dec. 17 at the Center for Social Readaptation (CERESO) in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state, led to the escape of between 141 and 192 prisoners (the latest figure reported was 151). This is merely the latest in a string of prison breaks in Tamaulipas since January; the total number of prisoners having escaped in the state this year is more than 300.

In the Dec. 17 escape, the prisoners (reportedly both federal and local), working with complicit guards, were able to exit the prison facilities through a service entrance into waiting vehicles. Additionally, the prison director was reported missing the morning of Dec. 17. Multiple source reports indicate Los Zetas were the primary orchestrators of the escape, with some STRATFOR sources saying Los Zetas’ motivation was to augment their forces in the region. The prisoners were reportedly told that once released, they either must work for Los Zetas or be killed. Additionally, STRATFOR sources said the nephew of Los Zetas No. 2 Miguel “Z-40” Trevino Morales was one of the escapees from the CERESO unit.

Los Zetas have experienced several setbacks throughout much of 2010, with several regional plaza bosses and numerous operatives being killed or apprehended. However, developments in the last few months have weakened the Gulf cartel and the New Federation’s grip on Tamaulipas border region, and Los Zetas appear to be poised to regain some of their lost ground, particularly in the Reynosa and Matamoros regions. If the reported ultimatum for the freed prisoners is correct, this influx of forces for Los Zetas could provide the necessary resources to begin a campaign to retake these lost areas. However, the true number of prisoners that will actually go to work for Los Zetas remains to be seen; some likely will renege on their promise and slip back into Mexican society — only now with a bounty on their heads.



(click here to view interactive map)

Dec. 13

Unidentified gunmen shot a man to death during a suspected kidnapping in the Jardines Universidad neighborhood of Guadalajara, Jalisco state.
The body of an unidentified person was discovered near Tlajomulco, Jalisco state. The body was wrapped in a blanket tied together with a string and had a bag over its head.

Dec. 14

Four police officers were reportedly shot to death by a fellow police officer in Cancun, Quintana Roo state. The attacker later committed suicide.
Police found a decapitated body in the trunk of a car in the Ejidos de San Agustin neighborhood of Chimalhuacan, Mexico state. The victim’s head had been placed on the trunk lid.
Two decapitated bodies were found on a soccer field in Huixquilucan, Mexico state.

Dec. 15

In a recorded message released to a TV station, La Familia Michoacana (LFM) leader Servando Gomez Martinez called on his followers to continue fighting and called for more marches against the federal government. Gomez Martinez also confirmed the death of Nazario Gomez in Michoacan state during the week of Dec. 13.
The dismembered body of a man was found in several bags in Guadalajara, Jalisco state. A handwritten sign near the victim attributed the crime to the Jalisco Cartel, New Generation.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced the arrests of eight suspected members of LFM in Georgia and North Carolina. One of those arrested is believed to be the primary supplier of illegal drugs for LFM in Washington.
Unidentified gunmen shot and injured two police officers in Allende, Nuevo Leon state.
Authorities were alerted through an anonymous call about three boxes allegedly containing explosives that were placed near separate hospitals in Cuernavaca, Morelos state. The boxes contained clocks inside and were designed to give the appearance of being explosive devices.

Dec. 16

Unidentified gunmen opened fire on a police guard post in the Roma neighborhood of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, but did not cause any injuries.
One suspected cartel gunman was killed and two bystanders were injured during a firefight between soldiers and gunmen in the La Estanzuela neighborhood of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state.

Dec. 17

Unidentified gunmen kidnapped two employees from the nightclub where they worked in Acapulco, Guerrero state. The victims were later discovered shot to death.
A decapitated head was discovered wrapped in cloth inside a bag outside a bar near Texcoco, Mexico state.
A car with explosives inside was detonated outside a police station in Zuazua, Nuevo Leon state. Approximately 151 inmates escaped from a prison in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state. The director of the prison was reported missing after the escape.

Dec. 18

Federal security forces arrested four police officers suspected of participating in an attack on other police forces in Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon state on Dec. 16. Ten other officers had been arrested Dec. 17 for their alleged participation in the attack.
An e-mail sent to news outlets by a group calling itself the “Ex-Mysterious Disappearers” announced that former legislator Diego Fernandez de Cevallos will be freed soon by his kidnappers.

Dec. 19

Unidentified gunmen forced security personnel to pull back from a crime scene where a decapitated body was present in Juarez, Nuevo Leon state. The gunmen reportedly arrived to recover the body.
Military authorities announced the seizure of a suspected methamphetamine lab in the municipality of Tuxpan, Jalisco state.
Authorities announced the arrest of suspected Colombian drug trafficker Jerson Enrique Camacho Cedeno in an unspecified part of Mexico. Camacho Cedeno is allegedly linked to Los Zetas.
24639  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: December 21, 2010, 11:46:12 AM
IED attack on Police in Nuevo Leon

A small improvised explosive device (IED) detonated around 1 p.m. Dec. 17 inside a sport-utility vehicle outside the Zuazua Public Security Secretariat offices (the equivalent of a municipal police station) in Zuazua, Nuevo Leon state. In addition to destroying the vehicle, the blast injured at least three people and damaged several surrounding vehicles. A message attributed to the Sinaloa Federation and Gulf cartel addressed to “Zeta Police” was found shortly thereafter near the site of the explosion that read, “The state of Nuevo Leon does not guarantee the security of its citizens in the state, and more than a thousand kidnappings are not reported for fear of the authorities. Eleven more car bombs are waiting to be detonated to bring justice for the kidnapped, for the police and corrupt officials are aware.” Nuevo Leon authorities have been quick to say the claim of 11 more IEDs is false, but have offered little in the way of proof. Additionally, authorities have not officially said whether they believe area drug-trafficking organizations were involved in the attack, despite the very public message.

This attack is the year’s fifth successful deployment of an IED against a specified target in Mexico; one occurred in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, and three occurred near Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas state. While there has not been any indication as to the composition or exact size of the device, photographic evidence of the blast scene indicates that the device was relatively small and on the scale seen with other devices deployed in the country this year.

The enforcement arm of the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes (VCF) organization, La Linea, was responsible for the Juarez IED on July 15, and the group indicated after the attack that it would continue its “car bomb” campaign as long as the Federal Police continued to support the Sinaloa Federation, which the VCF accuses the police of doing. Despite these warnings, only one other IED was deployed in Juarez, a few weeks later, and the Mexican military was able to render it safe before it detonated. However, it appears from the message left near the scene and the geographic disparity between Juarez and Nuevo Leon that entirely different actors were responsible for the Dec. 17 incident.

The message falls in line with the strategy pursued by the New Federation alliance. In the spring, elements of the New Federation began taking the fight against Los Zetas to their stronghold in the Monterrey metro region, targeting not only Los Zetas members and operatives but also their support network in the region, including local politicians and local and regional police.

It remains to be seen whether the Sinaloa Federation and the Gulf cartel will actually follow through with a sustained bombing campaign against law enforcement believed to be associated with Los Zetas. If the groups do follow through with their pledge to deploy 11 more IEDs, it would be a significant escalation in the tempo of these types of attacks. While IED attacks in the country thus far have been discriminating in their targeting, the imprecise nature of IEDs greatly increases the risk of civilian casualties.


Nuevo Laredo Prison Break

A prison break the morning of Dec. 17 at the Center for Social Readaptation (CERESO) in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state, led to the escape of between 141 and 192 prisoners (the latest figure reported was 151). This is merely the latest in a string of prison breaks in Tamaulipas since January; the total number of prisoners having escaped in the state this year is more than 300.

In the Dec. 17 escape, the prisoners (reportedly both federal and local), working with complicit guards, were able to exit the prison facilities through a service entrance into waiting vehicles. Additionally, the prison director was reported missing the morning of Dec. 17. Multiple source reports indicate Los Zetas were the primary orchestrators of the escape, with some STRATFOR sources saying Los Zetas’ motivation was to augment their forces in the region. The prisoners were reportedly told that once released, they either must work for Los Zetas or be killed. Additionally, STRATFOR sources said the nephew of Los Zetas No. 2 Miguel “Z-40” Trevino Morales was one of the escapees from the CERESO unit.

Los Zetas have experienced several setbacks throughout much of 2010, with several regional plaza bosses and numerous operatives being killed or apprehended. However, developments in the last few months have weakened the Gulf cartel and the New Federation’s grip on Tamaulipas border region, and Los Zetas appear to be poised to regain some of their lost ground, particularly in the Reynosa and Matamoros regions. If the reported ultimatum for the freed prisoners is correct, this influx of forces for Los Zetas could provide the necessary resources to begin a campaign to retake these lost areas. However, the true number of prisoners that will actually go to work for Los Zetas remains to be seen; some likely will renege on their promise and slip back into Mexican society — only now with a bounty on their heads.



(click here to view interactive map)

Dec. 13

Unidentified gunmen shot a man to death during a suspected kidnapping in the Jardines Universidad neighborhood of Guadalajara, Jalisco state.
The body of an unidentified person was discovered near Tlajomulco, Jalisco state. The body was wrapped in a blanket tied together with a string and had a bag over its head.

Dec. 14

Four police officers were reportedly shot to death by a fellow police officer in Cancun, Quintana Roo state. The attacker later committed suicide.
Police found a decapitated body in the trunk of a car in the Ejidos de San Agustin neighborhood of Chimalhuacan, Mexico state. The victim’s head had been placed on the trunk lid.
Two decapitated bodies were found on a soccer field in Huixquilucan, Mexico state.

Dec. 15

In a recorded message released to a TV station, La Familia Michoacana (LFM) leader Servando Gomez Martinez called on his followers to continue fighting and called for more marches against the federal government. Gomez Martinez also confirmed the death of Nazario Gomez in Michoacan state during the week of Dec. 13.
The dismembered body of a man was found in several bags in Guadalajara, Jalisco state. A handwritten sign near the victim attributed the crime to the Jalisco Cartel, New Generation.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced the arrests of eight suspected members of LFM in Georgia and North Carolina. One of those arrested is believed to be the primary supplier of illegal drugs for LFM in Washington.
Unidentified gunmen shot and injured two police officers in Allende, Nuevo Leon state.
Authorities were alerted through an anonymous call about three boxes allegedly containing explosives that were placed near separate hospitals in Cuernavaca, Morelos state. The boxes contained clocks inside and were designed to give the appearance of being explosive devices.

Dec. 16

Unidentified gunmen opened fire on a police guard post in the Roma neighborhood of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, but did not cause any injuries.
One suspected cartel gunman was killed and two bystanders were injured during a firefight between soldiers and gunmen in the La Estanzuela neighborhood of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state.

Dec. 17

Unidentified gunmen kidnapped two employees from the nightclub where they worked in Acapulco, Guerrero state. The victims were later discovered shot to death.
A decapitated head was discovered wrapped in cloth inside a bag outside a bar near Texcoco, Mexico state.
A car with explosives inside was detonated outside a police station in Zuazua, Nuevo Leon state. Approximately 151 inmates escaped from a prison in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state. The director of the prison was reported missing after the escape.

Dec. 18

Federal security forces arrested four police officers suspected of participating in an attack on other police forces in Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon state on Dec. 16. Ten other officers had been arrested Dec. 17 for their alleged participation in the attack.
An e-mail sent to news outlets by a group calling itself the “Ex-Mysterious Disappearers” announced that former legislator Diego Fernandez de Cevallos will be freed soon by his kidnappers.

Dec. 19

Unidentified gunmen forced security personnel to pull back from a crime scene where a decapitated body was present in Juarez, Nuevo Leon state. The gunmen reportedly arrived to recover the body.
Military authorities announced the seizure of a suspected methamphetamine lab in the municipality of Tuxpan, Jalisco state.
Authorities announced the arrest of suspected Colombian drug trafficker Jerson Enrique Camacho Cedeno in an unspecified part of Mexico. Camacho Cedeno is allegedly linked to Los Zetas.
24640  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy on: December 21, 2010, 11:34:41 AM
Generally, I would like to see the principal of "opt-in" as versus "opt-out" with full and easy to understand disclosure of exactly what is involved.
24641  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Dairy fat good? on: December 21, 2010, 11:31:05 AM
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20054459 The full text article is free.
 
Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2009 Oct;6(10):2626-38. Epub 2009 Oct 12.

Food choices and coronary heart disease: a population based cohort study of rural Swedish men with 12 years of follow-up.
Holmberg S, Thelin A, Stiernström EL.

Research and Development Centre, Kronoberg County Council, Box 1223, SE-351 12 Växjö, Sweden. sara.holmberg@ltkronoberg.se

Abstract
Coronary heart disease is associated with diet. Nutritional recommendations are frequently provided, but few long term studies on the effect of food choices on heart disease are available. We followed coronary heart disease morbidity and mortality in a cohort of rural men (N = 1,752) participating in a prospective observational study. Dietary choices were assessed at baseline with a 15-item food questionnaire. 138 men were hospitalized or deceased owing to coronary heart disease during the 12 year follow-up. Daily intake of fruit and vegetables was associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease when combined with a high dairy fat consumption (odds ratio 0.39, 95% CI 0.21-0.73), but not when combined with a low dairy fat consumption (odds ratio 1.70, 95% CI 0.97-2.98). Choosing wholemeal bread or eating fish at least twice a week showed no association with the outcome.

PMID: 20054459 [PubMed - in process]PMCID: PMC2790097Free PMC Article


24642  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Spengler: Tea Party=Revolt of the Creditor and Saver class on: December 20, 2010, 04:29:20 PM
Moved from the wrong thread to here:


 Longevity gives life to Tea Party
By Spengler

How could the Tea Party elect five senators and 40 members of the United States Congress last November, none with political experience and many with evident eccentricities? The answer is that a single issue united a slapdash agglomeration of amateurs, with sufficient power to override all the sources of weakness.

The Tea Party represents creditors of the government who do not want to be cheated out of their savings; that is, people close to retirement age who fear slow confiscation by inflation. Governments that run huge deficits normally reduce them by
debasing the currency, in order to repay their debts in inflated money.

In fact, the Tea Party is a triumph of economic rationality over lack of talent: its reason for being is so compelling and so clear that it has succeeded despite the silliness of some of its candidates. One top Republican pollster thinks that the "I am not a witch" message aired by losing Tea Party candidate Christine O'Donnell in Delware was the single worst piece of advertising in political history.

Elite commentators tend to dismiss the Tea Party as a mob of engaged boos. On the contrary, pollster Scott Rasmussen, reports, the Tea Partiers tend to be older than 45, married, wealthier and better educated than the general population, and concerned first of all with federal spending and deficits. The most important thing to know about such people is that there are more of them than ever before in American history.

Young families with small children borrow money from older people who have finished raising families. Most Americans begin adulthood heavily in debt and become lenders as they approach retirement. The changing proportions of young and old Americans has enormous bearing on political outcomes.

United States of America Dependency Ratios
YEAR TOTAL CHILD OLD AGE 
1975 55 39 16
1980 51 34 17
1985 50 32 18
1990 52 33 19
1995 53 34 19
2000 51 33 19
2005 50 31 19
2010 50 30 19
2015 52 30 22
2020 56 31 25
2025 60 31 29
2030 63 32 32

Two facts stand out in the table above showing the proportion of child vs elderly dependents in the United States. Elderly dependents have remained fairly static as a percentage of total population during the past 40 years. But the proportion will jump from 19% today to 32% in 2030. This seismic change in American demographics explains a great deal.

In 1975, when Jimmy Carter ran for president, 39 out 100 Americans were dependent children, but only 16 out of 100 Americans were dependent elderly. The baby boomers were in their twenties and starting families. Once elected president, Carter allowed the inflation rate to reach double-digits by 1981. A family that bought a house for $60,000 in January 1975 could have sold it for $110,000 in January 1981. In fact, home prices offered positive returns after inflation (stocks, bonds, and cash all showed negative real returns during the 1980s).

Elderly people on fixed pensions took part-time jobs or ate pet food as the value of money shrank; young people caught a free ride on the inflation wave. No one liked inflation, to be sure, but it was an ill wind that blew good to a great many people. The Carter administration, though, made an elementary blunder: as inflation drove up nominal income, it also pushed middle class taxpayers into higher tax brackets intended to soak the rich. With a top tax rate of 70%, the tax squeeze due to inflation became a crushing burden on the middle class, and the high rate of taxation on nominal capital gains was often confiscatory. If the Carter administration had indexed tax rates to inflation, it might have lasted a second term.

Now the tables are turned. By 2030, elderly dependents will comprise 32% of the American population, twice the level in 1975. For the first time in history, the number of elderly dependents will equal the number of child dependents. Americans now aged 45 will retire in 2030, and it is their concerns that give buoyancy to the Tea Party.

The Tea Party is an exercise in economic rationality. Measured inflation in the United States is less than 1% (according to the woefully inadequate Consumer Price Index), but the Tea Partiers anticipate higher inflation in the future should the federal government remain at 11% of gross domestic product.

This is not the first time that monetary issues have motivated the formation of an important third party. During the last quarter of the nineteenth century, a prolonged deflation under the gold standard drew Western farmers to the inflationist Free Silver movement. Permitting silver coinage would have increased the money supply, raised the price level and helped debtors. The movement was powerful enough to take over the Democratic Party in 1896, when its candidate William Jennings Bryan (an unknown 36-year-old congressman) excoriated Eastern creditor interests and their ''cross of gold'' imposed by Eastern creditor interests.

The proportion of prospective pensioners in the rest of the industrial world exceeds that in the United States, as shown in Table 2 below:

More developed regions of the world Dependency Ratios
YEAR TOTAL CHILD OLD AGE 
1975 54 37 17
1980 52 34 18
1985 49 32 17
1990 49 31 19
1995 50 29 20
2000 49 27 21
2005 48 25 23
2010 48 24 24
2015 51 25 26
2020 54 25 29
2025 57 25 33
2030 61 24 36
2035 63 24 39
2040 66 24 41
2045 68 25 43
2050 70 25 45

America's open political model makes it relatively easy for challengers to force their way onto the stage (although not to remain their for long), so the Tea Party as such is likely to remain a distinctly American phenomenon. But the shift towards an older population also will act as a brake on inflationist impulses elsewhere, for example, on the extent to which France and Germany will bail out Ireland, Portugal, Greece, or Spain.

In its first electoral outing, America's Tea Party helped shift the political balance. It would be incautious to view it as a passing expression of voter frustration. On the contrary: spontaneity and inexperience held the Tea Party back from harvesting the political support that should come to it. If the Tea Party does a better job of screening and prepping candidates - or the Republican party has the good sense to adopt its program - demographics and rational interest will make it an even stronger force as time passes, and an obstacle to a new inflation cycle.

Spengler is channeled by David P Goldman senior editor at First Things (www.firstthings.com).

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/LL07Aa01.html
24643  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: Greedy Innkeeper or Generous Capitalist? on: December 20, 2010, 04:28:17 PM
Greedy Innkeeper or Generous Capitalist? To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 12/20/2010


The Bible story of the virgin birth is at the center of much of the holiday cheer at this time of the year. The book of Luke tells us Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem because Caesar Augustus decreed a census should be taken. Mary gave birth after arriving in Bethlehem and placed baby Jesus in a manger because there was “no room for them in the inn.”

Over the centuries, people have come to believe that because Jesus was born in a stable, and not in a hotel room, Mary and Joseph must have been mistreated by a greedy innkeeper. This innkeeper only cared about profits and decided this young couple was not “worth” his best accommodations. This angle on the traditional story is repeated in just about every play, skit, or sermon on the subject.
 
These stories persist even though the Bible records no complaints at the time and there was apparently no charge for the use of the stable. It may be that the stable was the only place available. Bethlehem, like other small towns, was overflowing with people who were returning to their ancestral homes for the census, which was ordered by the Romans for the purpose of levying a tax.
 
If there was a problem, it was caused by the unintended consequences of government policy. However, a political spin has been added to the story and it blames capitalism and capitalists for being greedy and uncaring, even evil.
 
A different narrative could be easily generated. The innkeeper was generous to a fault – a hero even. He was over-booked, but he charitably offered his stable, a building that would not have existed if it weren’t for his foresight and industriousness. And don’t forget, the government officials who ordered the census slept in their own beds with little care for the wellbeing of those who had to travel regardless of their difficult life circumstances.
 
If you must find “evil” in either one of these narratives, remember that evil is ultimately perpetrated by individuals, not the institutions in which they operate.
 
And this is why it’s important to favor economic and political systems that limit the use and abuse of power over others. In the story of baby Jesus, a law that requires innkeepers to always have extra rooms, or to take in anyone who asks, would “fix” the problem of the evil innkeeper.
 
This regulation, which would be enforced by government, would have unintended consequences. Fewer people would become innkeepers because they would need to build larger structures (that could accommodate the crowd during a census). But because censuses are rare, the innkeeper would be forced to charge higher prices to cover costs. This, in turn, would cause many to complain that the innkeeper was greedy.
 
This does not mean that free markets are perfect or create utopia, they aren’t and they don’t. But, business can’t force you to buy a service or product. You have a choice – even if it’s not exactly what you want. And good business people try to make you happy in creative and industrious ways.
 
Government doesn’t always care. In fact, if you happen to live in North Korea or Cuba, and are not happy about the way things are going, you can’t leave. And just in case you try, armed guards will help you think things through.
This is why the framers of the US Constitution made sure there were “checks and balances” in the system. We’re now seeing that system operate. In reaction to the health care bill passed earlier this year, voters rejected many of the bill’s supporters and boosted the clout of its opponents. And the “new” majority favors lower taxes and less spending.
 
For many, this is not like having a savior. But it should give us all reason to hope for a better world in the years ahead.
24644  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bean Bags vs. Bullets on: December 20, 2010, 04:10:45 PM
Or this:

"Border Patrol Agent Terry and the BORTAC team were under standing orders to always use ("non-lethal") bean-bag rounds first before using live ammunition. When the smugglers heard the first rounds, they returned fire with real bullets, and Agent Terry was killed in that exchange. Real bullets outperform bean bags every time."
24645  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Bean Bags vs. Bullets on: December 20, 2010, 04:09:43 PM
"Border Patrol Agent Terry and the BORTAC team were under standing orders to always use ("non-lethal") bean-bag rounds first before using live ammunition. When the smugglers heard the first rounds, they returned fire with real bullets, and Agent Terry was killed in that exchange. Real bullets outperform bean bags every time."
24646  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizen-Police interactions on: December 20, 2010, 04:07:20 PM
Dome light?  Good idea.

"Horizontal gaze nystagmus": another fascinating datum to add to my repertoire smiley
24647  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Pulled over by the police last night on: December 20, 2010, 12:55:21 PM
Woof All:

Coming home from Pappy Dog's 40th birthday party last night I was pulled over by the police for speeding on a big, wide open boulevard in a low populations density area.  It was raining heavily.  The flashing lights went on as I entered a busy intersection. 

I finished crossing the intersection and pulled into the very empty parking lot of a Del Taco and parked.  The officer parked behind me so I had no exit.  I rolled down my window and stuck out both my hands as he approached.  "Why were you doing 55 on a rainy night?" he asked.  Not wanting to contradict him, yet not wanting to admit to my speed I said "55?  It did not seem like that."

"Why were you driving so fast?"
"I grew up in NYC."
"Have you been drinking?"
"Not at all."  At this point I vigorously exhaled in his face to show my confidence that my breath was non-alcholic.  cheesy
"Where are you coming from?"
"A party."
"Were you drinking there?"
"No sir.  I don't drink at all."
Then he did a "Watch my finger" test which apparently I passed.
"Alright then.  Slow down your driving."
"Thank you sir."
And that was it.
24648  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Repeal Amendment on: December 20, 2010, 11:49:20 AM
second post of the morning:

POTH:

The same people driving the lawsuits that seek to dismantle the Obama administration’s health care overhaul have set their sights on an even bigger target: a constitutional amendment that would allow a vote of the states to overturn any act of Congress.

Under the proposed “repeal amendment,” any federal law or regulation could be repealed if the legislatures of two-thirds of the states voted to do so.
The idea has been propelled by the wave of Republican victories in the midterm elections. First promoted by Virginia lawmakers and Tea Party groups, it has the support of legislative leaders in 12 states. It also won the backing of the incoming House majority leader, Representative Eric Cantor, when it was introduced this month in Congress.

Like any constitutional amendment, it faces enormous hurdles: it must be approved by both chambers of Congress — requiring them to agree, in this case, to check their own power — and then by three-quarters of, or 38, state legislatures.

Still, the idea that the health care legislation was unconstitutional was dismissed as a fringe argument just six months ago — but last week, a federal judge agreed with that argument. Now, legal scholars are handicapping which Supreme Court justices will do the same.

The repeal amendment reflects a larger, growing debate about federal power at a time when the public’s approval of Congress is at a historic low. In the last several years, many states have passed so-called sovereignty resolutions, largely symbolic, aimed at nullifying federal laws they do not agree with, mostly on health care or gun control.

Tea Party groups and candidates have pushed for a repeal of the 17th Amendment, which took the power to elect United States senators out of the hands of state legislatures. And potential presidential candidates like Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin have tried to appeal to anger at Washington by talking about the importance of the 10th Amendment, which reserves for states any powers not explicitly granted to the federal government in the Constitution.

“Washington has grown far too large and has become far too intrusive, reaching into nearly every aspect of our lives,” Mr. Cantor said this month. “Massive expenditures like the stimulus, unconstitutional mandates like the takeover of health care and intrusions into the private sector like the auto bailouts have threatened the very core of the American free market. The repeal amendment would provide a check on the ever-expanding federal government, protect against Congressional overreach and get the government working for the people again, not the other way around.”

Randy E. Barnett, a law professor at Georgetown who helped draft the amendment, argued that it stood a better chance than others that have failed to win ratification. “This is something state legislatures have an interest in pursuing,” he said, “because it helps them fend off federal encroachment and gives them a seat at the table when Congress is proposing what to do.”

Professor Barnett, considered by many scholars to be the intellectual godfather of the argument that the health law is unconstitutional, first proposed the repeal amendment in a column published by Forbes.com in 2009.

Tea Party groups in Virginia contacted him. Virginia’s governor, attorney general and speaker of the House, all Republicans, then expressed their support. The speaker, William J. Howell, joined Professor Barnett in an op-ed article proposing the amendment in The Wall Street Journal in September.

Virginia was a particularly ripe place to start the argument. The attorney general, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, was among the first attorneys general to try to overturn the federal health care law, filing a lawsuit minutes after President Obama signed the measure last spring.

Mr. Cuccinelli argued that the federal provision establishing a health insurance mandate was against a law the legislature had recently passed decreeing that no resident could be required to have health insurance. The judge who declared the mandate unconstitutional last week was ruling in that case.

This month, Mr. Cuccinelli wrote to the attorneys general of every state for their support of the repeal amendment.

The measure was introduced in the House by Representative Rob Bishop, Republican of Utah, who was a founder of the Western States Coalition, which advocates states’ rights.

Sanford V. Levinson, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Texas, called the proposal “a really terrible idea” because it would give the same weight to small states as it would to large ones, allowing those with a relatively small proportion of the national population to have outsize influence.

“There’s not the slightest chance it would get through Congress” or be ratified by the states, he said. “You can bet the ranch that there are enough state legislators in the large states who will not consider it a good idea to reinforce the power of small parochial rural states in which most Americans do not live.”

Even if it were approved, it would be extremely unlikely to have any practical effect, Professor Levinson said. “Any bill that can get through the byzantine, gridlocked process of being approved by two houses and the presidential signature is wildly unlikely to be opposed by two-thirds of the states,” he said.

Marianne Moran, a lawyer in Florida who runs RepealAmendment.org, said that legislative leaders in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, South Carolina, Texas and Utah, as well as Virginia, were backing the amendment.

“Considering we’ve had 12 states get on board in the last two or three months that we’ve been pushing this, I think we’re getting some speed,” she said. “No amendment has ever been ratified without a broad national consensus — it’s an uphill battle — but we’ve done it 27 times as a country, and I think we can get enough states to agree.”

Proponents say their effort is not directed at any one law or set of laws. “Our desire is to have it in place so we can repeal as things come up,” Ms. Moran said. “What we’re trying to do is to draw a line in the sand saying the federal government has gone too far.”
24649  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy on: December 20, 2010, 11:08:29 AM
It seems to me that having clear statement of legal rights of privacy should be of great assistance to people looking to defend their privacy.
24650  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Commerce Clause on: December 20, 2010, 11:04:55 AM
"If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions." --James Madison

Liberty
"
  • ne reason the Founding Fathers decided to break with England was their dismay with England's mercantilist system, which generally required colonists to purchase manufactured goods from, or through, England rather than produce them in the colonies. Hatred for this system inspired a Virginia farmer named George Washington to try to convert his colonial farm into a self-sufficient unit -- where ... he could produce and consume what he wanted without trading with others, especially those in England. The Framers, who had not forgotten English mercantilism, wrote the Commerce Clause of the Constitution to create a free-trade zone among the American states. Their aim was to facilitate freedom, not restrict it. ... [Judge Henry] Hudson, while carefully staying within the Supreme Court precedent of Wickard v. Filburn, correctly understood that the issue raised by Obamacare's individual mandate ... is freedom itself. 'The unchecked expansion of congressional power to the limits suggested by the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision would invite unbridled exercise of federal police powers,' Hudson wrote in his opinion. ... And you thought liberals believed in freedom of choice?" --columnist Terence Jeffrey
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