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24651  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Seminar: 10/11-12 Guro Crafty in Bloomington IL on: October 14, 2008, 02:08:12 PM
I had an awesome time Terry.  I am pleased to see what you and Scott have been doing and congratulations on making DBMAA Instructor!  (Likewise to Robin and Will of Memphis on making Group Leader!)  There were lots of great people there-- a fine, fine weekend.
24652  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: October 14, 2008, 12:00:37 PM
Actually GM that is Rachel taking me to task for my comments on Buddhism.  cheesy

Very good Rachel!  cheesy

But let us be clear, If I read correctly the terrorist Tamils are not the Buddhists here:

"Ethnic Sinhalese Buddhists make up about three-quarters of the island's population; Tamils, both Indian and Sri Lankan, are the next largest ethnic group. Most are Hindu. Tamil terrorism is rooted in conflict between the Tamils and the Sinhalese, who predominate in government."

i.e.the Buddhists are the government/majority population, NOT the terrorist Tamils.

"The Tamil population began to agitate for secession in the early 1970s, following Sinhalese measures to establish their cultural and political dominance. For example, Sinhalese was made the only official language and Buddhism was decreed the official religion. In the 1970s, student groups and others turned to armed protest to press their case with the government."

Armed resistance to English being the official language of the US would certainly tick me off more than a little.  As for ANY religion being an official religion, that strikes me as a really bad idea-- which is a fundamental problem I have with Sharia by the way.  That said, from this article we do not know what practical consequences resulted from this declaration.

"The conflict escalated in 1983, when anti-Tamil riots in the capital, Colomo, killed thousands and displaced almost 100,000 residents. The moment was decisive for many Tamils, who lent large scale support to independence movements." 

Coincidentally enough the DBMA Ass'n has a representative in Sri Lanka named Prasad and I will ask him about this.  He is Christian, which may put him in a good position to comment from a relatively impartial point of view.

That said, I think my larger point remains valid and essentially uncontested by this piece.  So far it appears that we have an ethnic conflict.  There's nothing here about Buddha saying that the Sinhalese must submit cut off the heads of the Tamils if they do not submit to Buddha.

I look forward to Prasad's input.

24653  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: McCain on: October 14, 2008, 11:40:33 AM
Actually I found some of the typed in commentary to be a bit over the top but overall a good piece of guerrila theater.  Wish I had been back there-- this is where I grew up  grin
24654  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Indonesia on: October 14, 2008, 11:01:48 AM
Second post of the AM

LA Times

The Mujahedin Council wants to put an end to what it sees as Western depravity, including racy ads and beauty contests. But opponents say the bill threatens free expression.
By Paul Watson, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
October 14, 2008
JAKARTA, INDONESIA -- A beauty queen in a full-length evening gown is enough to make Abu Mohammed Jibril's blood boil.

Those bare arms and uncovered head. That cleavage. And don't get him started on the bikini portion of the show.

 Abu Mohammed JibrilMiss Universe is disgusting pornography to the deputy head of Indonesia's Mujahedin Council.

"It's destructive," he said of the contest that airs here. "Miss Universe is very famous, so Muslim mothers want their daughters to be like Miss Universe and copy what they've seen.

"So all of these things, like Miss Universe, fashion shows, are degrading morality. They're all porn. A Muslim woman should not let her hair be seen by other people."

Jibril's council hopes a proposed anti-pornography law will put an end to what it sees as Western depravity. But religious and cultural minorities, artists, teachers and other opponents warn that the bill, which supporters hope will come up for a vote in parliament this week, threatens free expression in Indonesia.

The Muslim council is headed by Abu Bakar Bashir, who has been widely accused of being the spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiah, Al Qaeda's affiliate in Southeast Asia, a claim he denies. Still, his council shares Al Qaeda's sharp disdain for what Bashir and his followers consider Western moral pollution.

When worshipers answered the call to prayer at Jibril's Jakarta mosque on a recent afternoon, one young man arrived wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a portrait of Osama bin Laden.

Jibril sat for an interview on a green prayer rug, behind the wooden lectern he uses for sermons. Vilifying immoral dress, loose sex and other social trends he sees as signs of social decay, he paused only for an occasional question -- and to answer the male voice reciting a verse from the Koran, which is his cellphone's ring tone.

To punctuate each point, he flashed his palms, fingers stretched wide in little starbursts around his white turban.

"It's not only drugs and criminals that are at the root of all the devastation of our younger generation, but also the culture of pornography," said Jibril. "That is why we find many husbands cheating on their wives, and many wives cheating on their husbands."

Indonesia's long debate over the anti-porn bill, which has gone through many revisions, is dividing a nation founded on principles that include "Unity in Diversity." The Muslim majority has long been known for respecting the rights of religious minorities. Although this is the most populous Muslim nation, women more commonly wear Western fashions than head scarves.

The proposed law casts a broad net for purveyors of smut. It defines porn as sexual material that includes photographs, cartoons, films, poems, vocalization, conversations and body gestures in the media, or in public shows, exhibits or performances.

Those that "arouse sexual propensity, desires or longings" or "contravene community ethics, decency or morality" would be criminal acts if the bill becomes law.

Producers of obscene material, which would include depictions of sexual intercourse, child pornography, sexual violence, masturbation and what is described as "allusions to nudity," would face up to 15 years in prison or a maximum fine equivalent to $1.5 million.

Distributors of porn, which also would include what the bill's drafters call racy advertising, could be sentenced to a maximum three-year prison term or a $500,000 fine.

Backers of the bill's provisions against the sexual exploitation of children, Internet porn and other, more conventional measures against indecency decry what they consider the overkill of the measure's more aggressive elements. The loudest opposition comes from the resort island of Bali, where Hindus are a majority and Western tourists exposing skin are part of the scenery.

On Saturday, thousands of protesters from around the country came to Bali to rally against the bill, which opponents say is a threat to minority cultures. To make their point, Papuan tribesmen danced wearing only traditional penis sheaths and body paint.

Bali Gov. Made Mangku Pastika raised objections to the bill in a letter this month to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the speaker of the House of Representatives.

Jibril discounts the governor's objections, which he says are to be expected from the leader of a province where "they gain income from allowing foreigners to shows their breasts, to get naked by the beach, to kiss on the lips in public." Jibril said he doubts the bill will pass because the government is a cabal of liars intent on prolonging the debate to manipulate voters. In the end, the politicians will side with minorities and Muslims will give up on peaceful protest, he said in what sounded like a veiled threat.

"There will be a time when Muslims are tired of holding these [mass protests] and then something unwanted can happen," he warned.

24655  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: October 14, 2008, 10:56:30 AM
ISTANBUL — High school hurt for Havva Yilmaz. She tried out several selves. She ran away. Nothing felt right.

Havva Yilmaz, center, with friends at a cafe in Istanbul. Ms. Yilmaz has embraced her religious identity, and has campaigned for tolerance of those who, like her, choose to express their beliefs.

“There was no sincerity,” she said. “It was shallow.”

So at 16, she did something none of her friends had done: She put on an Islamic head scarf.

In most Muslim countries, that would be a nonevent. In Turkey, it was a rebellion. Turkey has built its modern identity on secularism. Women on billboards do not wear scarves. The scarves are banned in schools and universities. So Ms. Yilmaz dropped out of school. Her parents were angry. Her classmates stopped calling her.

Like many young people at a time of religious revival across the Muslim world, Ms. Yilmaz, now 21, is more observant than her parents. Her mother wears a scarf, but cannot read the Koran in Arabic. They do not pray five times a day. The habits were typical for their generation — Turks who moved from the countryside during industrialization.

“Before I decided to cover, I knew who I was not,” Ms. Yilmaz said, sitting in a leafy Ottoman-era courtyard. “After I covered, I finally knew who I was.”

While her decision was in some ways a recognizable act of youthful rebellion, in Turkey her personal choices are part of a paradox at the heart of the country’s modern identity.

Turkey is now run by a party of observant Muslims, but its reigning ideology and law are strictly secular, dating from the authoritarian rule in the 1920s of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, a former army general who pushed Turkey toward the West and cut its roots with the Ottoman East. For some young people today, freedom means the right to practice Islam, and self-expression means covering their hair.

They are redrawing lines between freedom and devotion, modernization and tradition, and blurring some prevailing distinctions between East and West.

Ms. Yilmaz’s embrace of her religious identity has thrust her into politics. She campaigned to allow women to wear scarves on college campuses, a movement that prompted emotional, often agonized, debates across Turkey about where Islam fit into an open society. That question has paralyzed politics twice in the past year and a half, and has drawn hundreds of thousands into the streets to protest what they call a growing religiosity in society and in government.

By dropping out of the education system, she found her way into Turkey’s growing, lively culture of young activists.

She attended a political philosophy reading group, studying Hegel, St. Augustine and Machiavelli. She took sociology classes from a free learning center. She met other activists, many of them students trying to redefine words like “modern,” which has meant secular and Western-looking for decades. She made new friends, like Hilal Kaplan, whose scarf sometimes had a map of the world on it.

Their fight is not solely about Islam. Turkey is in ferment, and Ms. Yilmaz and her young peers are demanding equal rights for all groups in Turkey. They are far less bothered by the religious and ethnic differences that divide older generations. “Turkey is not just secular people versus religious people,” Ms. Kaplan said. “We were a very segregated society, but that segregation is breaking up.”

In a slushy week in the middle of January, the head scarf became the focus of a heated national outpouring, and Ms. Yilmaz one of its most eloquent defenders.

The government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged to pass a law letting women who wear them into college. Staunchly secular Turks opposed broader freedoms for Islam, in part because they did not trust Mr. Erdogan, a popular politician who began his career championing a greater role for Islam in politics and who has since moderated his stance.

Turkey remains a democratic experiment unique in the Muslim world. The Ottomans dabbled in democracy as early as 1876, creating a Constitution and a Parliament. The country was never colonized by Western powers, as Arabs were. It gradually developed into a vibrant democracy. The fact that young people like Ms. Yilmaz are protesting at all is one of its distinguishing features.

In many ways, Ms. Yilmaz’s scarf freed her, but for many other women, it is the opposite. In poor, religiously conservative areas in rural Turkey, girls wear scarves from young ages, and many Turks feel strongly that without state regulation, young women would come under more pressure to cover up.

The head scarf bill, in that respect, could lead to less freedom for women, they argued. But for Ms. Yilmaz, the anger against the bill was hard to understand.

So one day, armed with a microphone and a strong sense of justice, Ms. Yilmaz marched into a hotel in central Istanbul and, with two friends, both in scarves, made her best case


Page 2 of 3)

“The pain that we’ve been through as university doors were harshly shut in our faces taught us one thing,” she said, speaking to reporters. “Our real problem is with the mentality of prohibition that thinks it has the right to interfere with people’s lives.”

Generation Faithful

Ms. Yilmaz’s heartfelt speech, written with her friends, drew national attention. They were invited on television talk shows. They gave radio and newspaper interviews. Part of their appeal came from their attempt to go beyond religion to include all groups in Turkish society, like ethnic and sectarian minorities.

After Ms. Yilmaz left high school, she joined a group called the Young Civilians, a diverse band of young people who used dark humor and occasional references to the philosopher Michel Foucault to criticize everything from the state’s repression of Kurds, the biggest ethnic minority, to its day of “Youth and Sport,” a series of Soviet-style rallies of students in stadiums every spring.

Their symbol was a Converse sneaker. Their members were funny and irreverent. One once joked that if you mentioned the name Marx, young women without head scarves assumed you were talking about the British department store Marks & Spencer, while ones in scarves understood the reference to the philosopher.

In a tongue-in-cheek effort to change perceptions of Kurds, the group ran a discussion program called “Let’s Get a Little Kurdish,” which featured sessions on Kurdish music, history and — in a particularly rebellious twist — even language.

By March, the month after Parliament passed the final version of the head scarf proposal, the debate had reached a frenzied pitch. Ms. Yilmaz and some friends — some in scarves, some not — agreed to go on a popular television talk show. The audience’s questions were angry.

One young woman stood up and, looking directly at another in a scarf, said that she did not want her on campus, said Neslihan Akbulut, a friend of Ms. Yilmaz, who had helped to compose the head scarf statement. Another said she felt sorry for them because they were oppressed by men. A third fretted that allowing them into universities would lead to further demands about jobs, resulting in an “invasion.”

Ms. Yilmaz said later: “I thought, are we living in the same country? No, it’s impossible.”

They did not give up. They spent the day in a drafty cafe in central Istanbul, wearing boots and coats and going over their position with journalists, one by one.

“If women are ever forced to wear head scarves, we should be equally sensitive and stand against it,” Ms. Akbulut said.

One of the journalists said, “You don’t support gays.”

Ms. Kaplan countered: “Islam tells us to fight this urge,” but she said that did not affect a homosexual’s rights as a citizen. “I am against police oppression of homosexuals. I am against a worldview that diminishes us to our scarves and homosexuals to the bedroom.”

Ms. Yilmaz agreed. “When you wear a scarf,” she said, “you are expected to act and think in a certain way, and support a certain political party. You’re stripped of your personality.”

The young women say that the scarf, contrary to popular belief, was not forced on them by their families. Some women wear it because their mothers did. For others, like Ms. Yilmaz, it was a carefully considered choice.

Though it is not among the five pillars of Islam — the duties required for every Muslim, including daily prayer — Ms. Yilmaz sees it as a command in the Koran.

“Physical contact is something special, something private,” she said, describing the thinking behind her covering. “Constant contact takes away from the specialness, the privacy of the thing you share.”

Still, in Turkey, traditional rules are often bent to accommodate modern life. Handshaking, for example, is a widespread Turkish custom, and most women follow it. Turkey is culturally very different from Arab societies, and for that reason interprets Islam differently. Islam here is heavily influenced by Sufism, an introspective strain that tends to be more flexible.

“You can’t reject an extended hand,” Ms. Kaplan said. “You don’t want to break a person’s heart.”


(Page 3 of 3)

Young activists like Ms. Yilmaz are driving change in Turkish society against a backdrop of growing materialism and consumerism. Most young Turks care little for politics and are instead occupied with the daily task of paying the bills.

This is the seventh in a series of articles examining the lives of the young across the Muslim world at a time of religious revival.

That is an easier task in Turkey than in a number of Middle Eastern countries, because Turkey is relatively affluent. After three decades of intense development, its economy is five times bigger than Egypt’s — a country with roughly the same population.

The wealth has profoundly shaped young lives. In cities, young people no longer have to live with their parents after marriage. They take mortgages. They buy furniture on credit. They compete for jobs in new fields like marketing, finance and public relations.

In past generations, women lived with their husband’s families, doubling their work.

“When you don’t have time to do anything for yourself, you don’t have time to question anything, even religion,” Ms. Kaplan said.

The economic changes that have swept Turkish society, bringing cellphones, iPods and the Internet, are transforming the younger generation. Young people are more connected to the Western world than ever before. A quick visit to a bookstore or a movie theater offers proof.

Observant Turks are grappling with questions like: Where does praying fit in a busy life of e-mail messages and 60-hour weeks? How do you hold on to Eastern tradition in a rising tide of Western culture?

The head scarf debate ended abruptly in June, when Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruled that the new law allowing women attending universities to wear scarves was unconstitutional, because it violated the nation’s principles of secularism.

Ms. Yilmaz got the news in a text message from her friend. In her bitter disappointment, she realized how much hope she had held out. “How can I be a part of a country that does not accept me?” she said.

Still, she has no regrets and is not giving up. “What we did was worth something,” she said. “People heard our voices. One day the prohibition is imposed on us. The next day, it could be someone else. If we work together, we can fight it.”
24656  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: ACORN on: October 14, 2008, 10:36:56 AM
copied from the 2008 thread:

Vote drives defended, despite fake names
By Richard Danielson, Times Staff Writer
In print: Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mickey Mouse tried to register to vote in Florida this summer, but Orange County elections officials rejected his application, which had an ACORN stamp on it. 
 Mickey Mouse tried to register to vote in Florida this summer.

Orange County elections officials rejected his application, which was stamped with the logo of the nonprofit group ACORN.

Tow truck driver Newton Bell did register to vote in Orange County this summer. In the hands of ACORN, his paperwork went through without a hitch.

Two cases, two outcomes, each with a connection to ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

Nationwide, ACORN is a favorite GOP target for allegations of voter registration fraud this year.

That's not new. Similar complaints followed the 2004 elections. A criminal investigation in Florida found no evidence of fraud. ACORN even has a cameo role in the scandal over the 2006 firings of several U.S. attorneys by the Bush Justice Department.

Under attack again, ACORN leaders defend their work. Often, they say, things are as not simple as they're portrayed.

Take Mickey Mouse.

Yes, that's their logo. But they say their workers routinely scanned all suspicious applications.

"We don't think this card came through our system," said Brian Kettenring, ACORN's head organizer in Florida.

With more than 450,000 member families nationwide — 14,000 in Florida — ACORN is a grass roots advocacy group focused on health care, wages, affordable housing and foreclosure.  Bell, the truck driver, certainly, is more representative of ACORN's work in Florida than the cartoon mouse is.

This year, ACORN signed up 1.3-million voters nationwide and about 152,000 in Florida, mostly in Orange, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. ACORN estimates it flagged 2 percent of its Florida registrations as problematic because they were incomplete, duplicates or just plain bogus.

That's enough to give headaches to election officials and to provide ammunition to Republican activists.

Brevard County elections officials have turned over 23 suspect registrations from ACORN to prosecutors. The state Division of Elections has received two ACORN-related complaints, in Orange and Broward counties.  ACORN wasn't active in the Tampa Bay area. Last week, however, Pinellas County elections officials gave local prosecutors 35 questionable registrations from another group, Work for Progress. 

The GOP accuses ACORN of registration fraud all over the country. In Las Vegas, authorities said the group's petitions included the names of the starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys.

"This is part of a widespread and systemic effort … to undermine the election process," says Republican National Committee chief counsel Sean Cairncross, who describes ACORN as a "quasicriminal organization."

No, Kettenring said, it's more like Wal-Mart.

"Some percentage of Wal-Mart workers try to get paid without doing their work or steal from their employer," he said.

Some ACORN workers, he said, have simply made up names.

Maybe, elections officials say, but it's still annoying.

"We did experience a significant amount of problems, enough that we did contact the group to express some of our frustration with their work," said Linda Tanko, Orange County's senior deputy supervisor for voter services.

ACORN's problems included applications with unreadable handwriting, missing information, signatures that didn't match those on file, altered dates of birth or Social Security numbers, applications for people already registered to vote and names that appeared repeatedly, often with different addresses.

ACORN said it terminates canvassers who forge applications. In Broward County, it fired one worker after he turned in applications with similar handwriting and brought the matter to the attention of the Supervisor of Elections Office.

Pay to gather registrations started at $8 an hour, and the goal was 20 signups per day. The organization did not pay by the signature or pay bonuses for volume. The organization also tried to follow up on each registration, calling the person listed to confirm that the form is accurate.

In most states, ACORN must turn in every form that is filled out. "We must turn in every voter registration card by Florida law, even Mickey Mouse," Kettenring said.

Well, not yet, said Jennifer Krell Davis, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of State.

Florida does have a law saying third-party voter registration groups must turn in every form without regard to things like party affiliation, race, ethnicity or gender. So far, however, the state has not written the rules to implement it.

In Florida, ACORN is best known for its 2004 effort to lead a petition drive to raise the minimum wage. The FDLE looked into voter fraud allegations then and found no laws were broken.  ACORN also played a role in the firing of one of nine U.S. attorneys dismissed in 2006.  In New Mexico, U.S. Attorney David Iglesias was fired "because of complaints by elected officials who had a political interest in the outcome" of, among other things, a Republican voter fraud complaint against ACORN, according to an internal Justice Department report last month.  This year, 39 members of the House of Representatives have asked Attorney General Michael Mukasey to investigate ACORN.  One of those, Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Oviedo, also has written to supervisor of elections offices in Central Florida seeking "all ACORN-related registration of voters within the last two years."

Republicans also accuse Sen. Barack Obama of trying to distance himself from ACORN, which he represented in a federal lawsuit in 1995.

ACORN's political action committee has endorsed Obama, but the group says its voter registration efforts are nonpartisan.

And the McCain campaign's complaints now are puzzling, ACORN says, because two years ago McCain was the keynote speaker at an immigration reform rally ACORN co-sponsored in Miami. "In 2006," Kettenring said, "we were working together."

Richard Danielson can be reached at or (813)269-5311.

24657  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: October 14, 2008, 10:33:57 AM
JDN wrote:

"Not sure where to post this, but on this Subject and many others on this forum Islam in general has been badly maligned. 
Yes, we are are war.  And yes, there are some very bad Muslims as there are bad Christians, Jews, and Buddhists although
bad Muslims seem to rank near the top.  Yet, we seem to paint all Muslims as being bad; I don't think it's true.  I think we
need to stop being racists and simply be human and try a little tolerance and understanding."

Ummm , , , I invite you to name us some "bad Buddhists".  Any terrorist bombings?  Any fatwas?  Any beheadings? Any beatings of women by purity police?  Any destruction of the symbols of other religions?  Any thing at all?  rolleyes

I challenge you to show where this forum is about maligning Muslims and Islam.  This forum is about TRUTH.  To speak the Truth is not to malign- and to conflate the two is , , , a malignment of its own.

Where do we "paint all Muslims as being bad"? 

For example, I have repeatedly made the point here that we need to define this war with Islamic Fascism as being between Civilization and Barbarism, not against Islam when Islam respects "Pursuit of Happiness enabled by Freedom of Choice, informed by Freedom of Speech, and guaranteed by Separation of Church and State".    The very purpose of this formulation is to leave it up to Muslims to decide what their religion is to be!

There was a time (one thousand years ago) when Islam led the world in science and shone in many ways.  Then it decided to freeze itself in its understandings (I forget the name for this decision) and with this decision, things began to go downhill and now we have a situatiaon where intellectually brave and honest people are left to fairly wonder if they can respect "Pursuit of Happiness enabled by Freedom of Choice, informed by Freedom of Speech, and guaranteed by Separation of Church and State". 

If they cannot, then there is a fundamental problem unique to Islam and Islam is fundamentally seditious to the American creed in a way that has nothing to do with freedom of religion and everything to do with self-defense.   If they DO respect and support "Pursuit of Happiness enabled by Freedom of Choice, informed by Freedom of Speech, and guaranteed by Separation of Church and State", then we will see it in support from American Muslims (e.g. with language skills, as well as politically) for efforts to deal with Islamic Fascism. 

As for Muslims outside of America, for them too it is for them to decide what their religion is to be.  If the relgion is about fatwas for books and cartoons, then there is a fundamental problem.  If the religion is about death to apostates (see e.g. yesterday's post about Iran in Islam in Islamic Countries) then it is silliness incarnate to blather about racism.  (Indeed, in that Islam is not a race, it IS silliness, but that is a separate point.)

In this forum we are ALL about understanding-- WE SEEK TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IS TRUE, not to find ways to believe that avoid the search for Truth.    As for "tolerance", tolerance begets tolerance.  OTOH tolerance of that which seeks to destroy one's tolerance is simply , , , the path of those who fear to speak truth to religious fascism.

"Tere are more than 1.2 million Arab-Americans and about 7 million Muslim-Americans, former Cabinet secretaries, members of Congress, successful business people, normal average Americans from all walks of life."

I have seen articles suggesting that these numbers have been puffed up, but putting that point aside I will agree.  There ARE many American Muslims who are fine people and good Americans. (I'm not wild about that Muslim congressman from MI though).  Indeed we do not see here in America analogs of the Paristinian Revolt that we see in Paris and elsewhere in France.  America has been good to them, and many of them seek to be good to America.  There are some (far too few in my opinion) who help OUR country with their language skills.  There are some (far too few in my opinion) who sign up to serve our Armed Forces.  I have a doctor who is a Muslim.

JDN, I have complete confidence that you are a good person of a good heart and I am sorry that I feel the need for such vigorous words in this post-- but I utterly reject your charge that this forum is about racism and intolerance.

24658  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: October 14, 2008, 09:38:50 AM

As always you paste interesting and pertinent pieces , , , without personal commentary.  Would you care to personally answer BBG's reasoned personal response to you?

24659  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: October 14, 2008, 08:21:00 AM
As a Noble winner, Stiglitz is certainly a big name, but I find this piece singularly unimpressive.

For example, lets look at his list of woe:

"Virtually all the indicators look grim. Inflation is running at an annual rate of nearly 6 percent, its highest level in 17 years. Unemployment stands at 6 percent; there has been no net job growth in the private sector for almost a year. Housing prices have fallen faster than at any time in memory—in Florida and California, by 30 percent or more. Banks are reporting record losses, only months after their executives walked off with record bonuses as their reward. President Bush inherited a $128 billion budget surplus from Bill Clinton; this year the federal government announced the second-largest budget deficit ever reported. During the eight years of the Bush administration, the national debt has increased by more than 65 percent, to nearly $10 trillion (to which the debts of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae should now be added, according to the Congressional Budget Office). Meanwhile, we are saddled with the cost of two wars. The price tag for the one in Iraq alone will, by my estimate, ultimately exceed $3 trillion."

a) inflation is a function of too much money being printed.  Gold has gone from $250 to over $900 during the Bush years and interest rates are negative.   The govt, via the Fed, prints money and as such this is 100% a government caused problem. 
b) the 6% number he quotes for inflation, is that of one month at the peak of peak oil prices, which have declined dramatically since then.  I don't know the time lag for new data, but it will be intereting to see.  I comment that making the point as he does based upon one month, a month which I am sure a bright fellow likes him to know to be a typical, is the sort of type of persuasion that I would expect from a chattering class piece, not a Nobel laureate.
c) Again, the government deficit is a function of , , , drum roll please , , , the government!!!  Duh!!!  The deficit has increased despite an increase in revenues (until this year at any rate!) because , , , shocking development here  , , , government spending has increased dramatically.
d) FM and FM, and their debt, are the creations of , , , the government!!!
e) war is waged by , , , the government!!!

Yet somehow from this tale of woe he concludes the cause was the free market and the solution is , , , the government!!!

I find it remarkably unserious for a lengthy piece (lengthy enough to require two entries in our forum here) by a serious economist to not address that the government has pushed private behavior towards the reckless due to causing inflation, due to negative interest rates, due to a dramatically fallling currency, due to the force of law of the CRA (Community Reinvestment Act or something like that) which forced lenders to lend to mass numbers of unqualified people-- people who numbers now swell the data of foreclosures--and particulary due to the FMs and all that they have spawned.  Add in the unintended consequences of the "mark to market" regulations too!  For him not to address these points in a piece that blames the free market and proposes MORE GOVERNMENT is simply extraordinary.

I am unable to comprehend the derivatives thing enough to comment there, but until I do understand better, it seems to me that what transpired would not have transpired or would have transpired to a significantly lesser degree but for the underlying impetus of unsound money and negative interest rates.
24660  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / VA Ratifying Convention on: October 14, 2008, 07:57:45 AM
"That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a
well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people trained
to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defence of a free state;
that standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty,
and therefore ought to be avoided, as far as the circumstances
and protection of the community will admit; and that, in all
cases, the military should be under strict subordination to,
and governed by, the civil power."

Recommended Bill of Rights from the Virginia Ratifying Convention,
27 June 1778

Reference: The Debates of the Several State..., Elliot, vol. 3
24661  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Water at Gulliver' on: October 13, 2008, 10:17:25 PM
America Will Remain the Superpower When the tide laps at Gulliver's waistline, it usually means the Lilliputians are already 10 feet under.By BRET STEPHENS
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Constantinople fell to the Ottomans after two centuries of retreat and decline. It took two world wars, a global depression and the onset of the Cold War to lay the British Empire low.

APSo it's a safe bet that the era of American dominance will not be brought to a close by credit default swaps, mark-to-market accounting or (even) Barney Frank.

Not that there's a shortage of invitations to believe otherwise. Almost in unison, Germany's finance minister, Russia's prime minister and Iran's president predict the end of U.S. "hegemony," financial and/or otherwise. The New York Times weighs in with meditations on "A Power That May Not Stay So Super." Der Spiegel gives us "The End of Hubris." Guardian columnist John Gray sees "A Shattering Moment in America's Fall From Power."

Much of this is said, or written, with ill-disguised glee. But when the tide laps at Gulliver's waistline, it usually means the Lilliputians are already 10 feet under. Before yesterday's surge, the Dow had dropped 25% in three months. But that only means it had outperformed nearly every single major foreign stock exchange, including Germany's XETRADAX (down 28%) China's Shanghai exchange (down 30%), Japan's NIKK225 (down 37%), Brazil's BOVESPA (down 41%) and Russia RTSI (down 61%). These contrasts are a useful demonstration that America's financial woes are nobody else's gain.

On the other hand, global economic distress doesn't invariably work at cross-purposes with American interests. Hugo Chávez's nosedive toward bankruptcy begins when oil dips below $80 a barrel, the price where it hovers now. An identical logic, if perhaps at a different price, applies to the petrodictatorships in Moscow and Tehran, which already are heavily saddled with inflationary and investor-confidence concerns. Russia will also likely burn through its $550 billion in foreign-currency reserves faster than anticipated -- a pleasing if roundabout comeuppance for last summer's Georgian adventure.

Nor does the U.S. seem all that badly off, comparatively speaking, when it comes to its ability to finance a bailout. Last month's $700 billion bailout package seems staggeringly large, but it amounts to a little more than 5% of U.S. gross domestic product. Compare that to Germany's $400 billion to $536 billion rescue package (between 12% and 16% of its GDP), or Britain's $835 billion plan (30%).

Of course it may require considerably more than $700 billion to clean out our Augean Stables. But here it helps that the ratio of government debt to GDP in the U.S. runs to about 62%. For the eurozone, it's 75%; for Japan, 180%.

It also helps that the U.S. continues to have the world's largest inflows of foreign direct investment; that it ranks third in the world (after Singapore and New Zealand) for ease of doing business, according to the World Bank; and that its demographic trends aren't headed toward a tall and steep cliff -- as they are in the EU, Russia, Japan and China.

Above all, the U.S. remains biased toward financial transparency. I am agnostic as to whether mark-to-market accounting is a good idea; last month's temporary ban on short-selling financials seemed a bad one.

But a system that demands timely and accurate financial disclosure and doesn't interfere with price discovery will invariably prove more resilient over time than a system that does not make such demands. If Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were financial time bombs of one kind, then surely China's state-owned enterprises are time bombs of another. Can anyone determine with even approximate confidence the extent of their liabilities?

This isn't to say that the abrupt failure of the SOEs would be in anyone's interests, including the U.S.'s. But one of the unremarked ironies of the present crisis is that America's financial vulnerabilities came fully into view months before Europe's (or the rest of the world's) did. That's one reason the dollar has rallied in recent months. It's also why the U.S. is likely to come through the crisis much more quickly than, say, Japan, which spent the better part of the 1990s hiding its own banking crisis from itself.

Exactly how -- and how quickly -- the U.S. does come through is anyone's guess. Recessions are periodic facts of economic life that tend to last anywhere between six and 16 months. Severe recessions or depressions are fundamentally political events that can last a decade or longer -- however long economic policy remains bad.

If the next administration is wise, it will do what it can to help the markets clear, let the recession take its course, and do what it can to preserve intact a financial system that has served us splendidly. If it is unwise, it will embark on several years of grandiose social experimentation. Either way, the United States will eventually regain its economic footing and maintain its place.

Write to
24662  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on: October 13, 2008, 10:03:33 PM
At the recent Emmy Awards, historian Laura Linney averred that America's Founders had been "community organizers" -- like Barack Obama. Too bad they aren't like that any more. Mr. Obama's kind of organizers work at Acorn, the militant advocacy group that is turning up in reports about voter fraud across the country.

APAcorn -- the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now -- has been around since 1970 and boasts 350,000 members. We've written about them for years, but Acorn is now getting more attention as John McCain's campaign makes an issue of the fraud reports and Acorn's ties to Mr. Obama. It's about time someone exposed this shady outfit that uses government dollars to lobby for larger government.

Acorn uses various affiliated groups to agitate for "a living wage," for "affordable housing," for "tax justice" and union and environmental goals, as well as against school choice and welfare reform. It was a major contributor to the subprime meltdown by pushing lenders to make home loans on easy terms, conducting "strikes" against banks so they'd lower credit standards.

But the organization's real genius is getting American taxpayers to foot the bill. According to a 2006 report from the Employment Policies Institute (EPI), Acorn has been on the federal take since 1977. For instance, Acorn's American Institute for Social Justice claimed $240,000 in tax money between fiscal years 2002 and 2003. Its American Environmental Justice Project received 100% of its revenue from government grants in the same years. EPI estimates the Acorn Housing Corporation alone received some $16 million in federal dollars from 1997-2007. Only recently, Democrats tried and failed to stuff an "affordable housing" provision into the $700 billion bank rescue package that would have let politicians give even more to Acorn.

All this money gives Acorn the ability to pursue its other great hobby: electing liberals. Acorn is spending $16 million this year to register new Democrats and is already boasting it has put 1.3 million new voters on the rolls. The big question is how many of these registrations are real.

The Michigan Secretary of State told the press in September that Acorn had submitted "a sizeable number of duplicate and fraudulent applications." Earlier this month, Nevada's Democratic Secretary of State Ross Miller requested a raid on Acorn's offices, following complaints of false names and fictional addresses (including the starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys). Nevada's Clark County Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax said he saw rampant fraud in 2,000 to 3,000 applications Acorn submitted weekly.

Officials in Ohio are investigating voter fraud connected with Acorn, and Florida's Seminole County is withholding Acorn registrations that appear fraudulent. New Mexico, North Carolina and Missouri are looking into hundreds of dubious Acorn registrations. Wisconsin is investigating Acorn employees for, according to an election official, "making people up or registering people that were still in prison."

Then there's Lake County, Indiana, which has already found more than 2,100 bogus applications among the 5,000 Acorn dumped right before the deadline. "All the signatures looked exactly the same," said Ruthann Hoagland, of the county election board. Bridgeport, Connecticut estimates about 20% of Acorn's registrations were faulty. As of July, the city of Houston had rejected or put on hold about 40% of the 27,000 registration cards submitted by Acorn.

That's just this year. In 2004, four Acorn employees were indicted in Ohio for submitting false voter registrations. In 2005, two Colorado Acorn workers were found to have submitted false registrations. Four Acorn Missouri employees were indicted in 2006; five were found guilty in Washington state in 2007 for filling out registration forms with names from a phone book.

Which brings us to Mr. Obama, who got his start as a Chicago "community organizer" at Acorn's side. In 1992 he led voter registration efforts as the director of Project Vote, which included Acorn. This past November, he lauded Acorn's leaders for being "smack dab in the middle" of that effort. Mr. Obama also served as a lawyer for Acorn in 1995, in a case against Illinois to increase access to the polls.

During his tenure on the board of Chicago's Woods Fund, that body funneled more than $200,000 to Acorn. More recently, the Obama campaign paid $832,000 to an Acorn affiliate. The campaign initially told the Federal Election Commission this money was for "staging, sound, lighting." It later admitted the cash was to get out the vote.


The Obama campaign is now distancing itself from Acorn, claiming Mr. Obama never organized with it and has nothing to do with illegal voter registration. Yet it's disingenuous to channel cash into an operation with a history of fraud and then claim you're shocked to discover reports of fraud. As with Rev. Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers, Mr. Obama was happy to associate with Acorn when it suited his purposes. But now that he's on the brink of the Presidency, he wants to disavow his ties.

The Justice Department needs to treat these fraud reports as something larger than a few local violators. The question is whether Acorn is systematically subverting U.S. election law -- on the taxpayer's dime.

Please add your comments to the Opinion Journal forum.

24663  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hanged for being a Christian in Iran on: October 13, 2008, 07:41:30 PM
Hanged for being a Christian in Iran

Eighteen years ago, Rashin Soodmand's father was hanged in Iran for converting to Christianity. Now her brother is in a Mashad jail, and expects to be executed under new religious laws brought in this summer. Alasdair Palmer reports.


A month ago, the Iranian parliament voted in favour of a draft bill, entitled "Islamic Penal Code", which would codify the death penalty for any male Iranian who leaves his Islamic faith. Women would get life imprisonment. The majority in favour of the new law was overwhelming: 196 votes for, with just seven against.

Imposing the death penalty for changing religion blatantly violates one of the most fundamental of all human rights. The right to freedom of religion is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and in the European Convention of Human Rights. It is even enshrined as Article 23 of Iran's own constitution, which states that no one may be molested simply for his beliefs.

And yet few politicians or clerics in Iran see any contradiction between a law mandating the death penalty for changing religion and Iran's constitution. There has been no public protest in Iran against it.

David Miliband, Britain's Foreign Secretary, stands out as one of the few politicians from any Western country who has put on record his opposition to making apostasy a crime punishable by death. The protest from the EU has been distinctly muted; meanwhile, Germany, Iran's largest foreign trading partner, has just increased its business deals with Iran by more than half. Characteristically, the United Nations has said nothing.

It is a sign of how little interest there is in Iran's intention to launch a campaign of religious persecution that its parliamentary vote has still not been reported in the mainstream media. (Guess at this point any criticism of that "tiny country that does not pose a threat" might be bad for the Obamination and his campaign, so it's better to pretend shit like that isn't happening.)

For one woman living in London, however, the Iranian parliamentary vote cannot be brushed aside. Rashin Soodmand is a 29-year-old Iranian Christian. Her father, Hossein Soodmand, was the last man to be executed in Iran for apostasy, the "crime" of abandoning one's religion. He had converted from Islam to Christianity in 1960, when he was 13 years old. Thirty years later, he was hanged by the Iranian authorities for that decision.

Today, Rashin's brother, Ramtin, is also held in a prison cell in Mashad, Iran's holiest city. He was arrested on August 21. He has not been charged but he is a Christian. And Rashin fears that, just as her father was the last man to be executed for apostasy in Iran, her brother may become one of the first to be killed under Iran's new law.

Not surprisingly, Rashin is desperately worried. "I am terribly anxious about him," she explains. "Even though my brother is not an apostate, because he has never been a Muslim – my father raised us all as Christians – I don't think he is safe. They assume that if you are Iranian, you must be Muslim."

Her brother's situation has ominous echoes of her father's fate. Rashin was 14 when her father was arrested. "He was held in prison for one month," she remembers. "Then the religious police released him without explanation and without apology. We were overjoyed. We thought his ordeal was over."

But six months later, the police came back and took her father away again. This time, they offered him a choice: he could denounce his Christian faith, and the church in which he was a pastor – or he would be killed. "Of course, my father refused to give up his faith," Rashid recalls proudly. "He could not renounce his God. His belief in Christ was his life – it was his deepest conviction." So two weeks later, Hossein Soodmand was taken by guards to the prison gallows and hanged.

Life for Rashin, her siblings and her mother became extremely difficult. Some Muslims are extremely hostile to people of any other religion, never mind to those who they consider apostates: Ayatollah Khomeini declared that "non-Muslims are impure", insisting that for Muslims to wash the clothes of non-Muslims, or to eat food with non-Muslims, or even to use utensils touched by non-Muslims, would spoil their purity.

The family was supported with financial and other help from a Christian church based in Iran. That support became even more critical as Rashin's mother began to lose her sight. Rashin herself was eventually able to leave Iran. She now lives in London, married to a fellow Christian from Iran who successfully applied for asylum in Germany.

It took years for Rashin to understand how her father could have been legally executed simply for becoming a Christian. In 1990, there was no parliamentary law mandating the death for apostates. What, then, was the legal basis for Hossein Soodmand's execution?

"After the revolution of 1979, Iran's rulers wanted to turn Iran into an Islamic state, and to abolish the secular laws of the Shah," explains Alexa Papadouris of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a human rights organisation that specialises in freedom of religion. "So the clerics instituted a mandate for judges presiding over criminal cases: if the existing penal code did not include legislation on whether a certain kind of behaviour is an offence, then the judges should refer to traditional Islamic jurisprudence." In other words: sharia law.

"That automatically created problems" says Mr Papadouris, "because Islamic jurisprudence is not codified law: it is a series of formulations developed across generations by scholars and clerics. Depending on the Islamic school or historical era, these formulations can differ and even contradict each other."

On one subject, however, sharia law is unequivocal: men who change their religion from Islam must be punished with death. So when the judge heard the case of Rashid's father, he could refer to sharia and reach a straightforward decision: the death penalty. There was no procedure for appeal.

Nevertheless, in the 18 years since Hossein Soodmand's execution, there have been no judicially sanctioned killings of apostates in Iran, although there have been many reports of disappearances and even murders. "As the number of converts from Islam grows," notes Ms Papadouris, "apostasy has again become a serious concern for the Iranian government." In addition to 10,000 Christian converts living in Iran, there are several hundred thousand Baha'is who are deemed apostates.

There is another factor: President Ahmadinejad. "The President didn't initiate the law mandating the death penalty for apostates," says Papadouris, "but he has been lobbying for it. It is an effective form of playing populist politics. The Iranian economy is doing very badly, and the country is in a mess: Ahmadinejad may be calculating that he can gain support, and deflect attention from Iran's problems, by persecuting apostates."

The new law is not yet in force in Iran: it requires another vote in parliament, and then the signature of the Ayatollah. But that could happen within a matter of weeks. "Or," says Papadouris, "it could conceivably be allowed to drop, were there a powerful enough international outcry".

Time may be running out for Rashin's brother. She believes that the new law will be applied in an arbitrary fashion, with individuals selected for death being chosen to frighten others into submission. That is why she fears for her brother. "We just don't know what will happen to him. We only know that if they want to kill him, they will."
24664  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: October 13, 2008, 07:21:40 PM
I'm thinking today's move in the market should lessen the damage to McC.

Here's PD WSJ:

Like Nixon, Obama Won't Be Satisfied Unless He Wins Ugly
An Alaska Scandal That Wasn't
Just Pray the Election Doesn't Come Down to Ohio
Obama's Ghostwriter? (Quote of the Day)
Another Lehman Lesson


A PD item on Massachusetts politics should have made clear that no woman had been elected to its governorship or U.S. Senate seat. Lt. Gov. Jane Swift became Acting Governor in 2001 when Gov. Paul Cellucci resigned to become U.S. Ambassador to Canada. Sorry for the error.

-- The Mgmt.

If You Don't Have a Race Card, Invent One

Georgia Rep. John Lewis has decided that the McCain campaign is channeling Southern segregationist George Wallace. The civil rights icon issued a statement over the weekend saying, "What I am seeing reminds me too much of another destructive period in American history." He accused Team McCain of "hatred and division, and there is no need for this hostility in our political discourse."

New York Daily News columnist Errol Louis followed up by accusing the McCain campaign of using Willie Horton tactics, referring to a 1988 ad by an independent group supporting George H. W. Bush against Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, involving rapist and murderer Willie Horton, who was released from prison on a furlough program supported by Mr. Dukakis. On one of his furloughs, Horton raped a woman in front of her husband. Even Mr. Louis acknowledges the incident was "fair game, to a point." But the use of Horton's image in a single commercial "became the worst kind of racial scare-mongering, a low point in modern politics," he says, before sliding into an unexplained parallel to the fact that "McCain has begun harping on Obama's tenuous connection to William Ayers, an ex-radical who served with Obama on the six-member board of a Chicago charity."

What is curious about these attacks is that there are almost no specific examples. Congressman Lewis cites no examples and Mr. Louis only refers to Mr. McCain's attacks on the Obama-Ayers connections without saying how they implicate racism. Mr. Ayers is white and investigations by both the New York Times and CNN have found that Mr. Obama appears to have obscured the extent of his relationship with the unrepentant Weather Underground bomber.

Last week, Mr. McCain responded to a woman at a rally who called Mr. Obama "an Arab" by saying she was wrong and that his opponent was a decent man whom he had disagreements with. To date, Mr. McCain has never used the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's 20-year association with Barack Obama against him -- a forbearance that was nonetheless rewarded with the kind of attacks that Rep. Lewis and Mr. Louis launched over the weekend. Just imagine the reaction from Obama supporters if Mr. McCain had even dipped his toe into the Rev. Wright controversy.

Claiming that race has been injected into a campaign when it clearly hasn't is cheap demagoguery and does nothing to improve race relations in this country.

-- John Fund

The Old-Boy Network Strikes Back

Gov. Sarah Palin has been asking reporters to actually read the Alaska state government report issued over the weekend that supposedly found she had abused her power in seeking the dismissal of Alaska State Trooper Mike Wooten. And indeed, the report is more favorable to Mrs. Palin than much of the reporting has suggested. Mrs. Palin and her husband Todd did likely push for Mr. Wooten to be fired. But Special Prosecutor Stephen Branchflower was originally asked to look into whether Mrs. Palin violated state laws by firing her Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan, who claimed that he was let go for refusing to oust Mr. Wooten. Mr. Branchflower determined that, in fact, the governor was within her rights to fire Mr. Monegan.

What's more, the recommendations Mr. Branchflower makes are largely favorable to Mrs. Palin. She had warned that Mr. Wooten, her ex-brother-in-law, was too unstable to be a police officer and had posed a threat the Palin family. Mr. Branchflower discounts the family's personal safety concerns, but recommends that the legislature create procedures so those who file complaints about police officers are informed about what steps are subsequently taken. Throughout the Wooten affair, the Palins had expressed frustration that no one could tell them what disciplinary action had been taken against Mr. Wooten (which likely led to the impression they were pressuring state officials). The report also notes that the original complaint filed against Mr. Wooten came from Chuck Heath, Mrs. Palin's father, who reported being concerned about an alleged threat by Mr. Wooten to kill him.

The report is a compilation of sordid details surrounding a messy episode in Alaska. Democrat Sen. Hollis French, who oversaw the special out-of-session legislative committee that ordered the investigation, insisted it be completed and released before Election Day. The report seems to rely on an assumption that Mrs. Palin wasn't really concerned about her personal safety, because she had reduced the size of her security detail -- never mind that she had campaigned partly on trimming back gubernatorial perks and pomp and had acted on those promises in other ways too. The report is available online ( It's hardly the smoking gun her opponents would like it to be.

-- Brendan Miniter

The War for Ohio

The seesaw court battle in Ohio over "Golden Week," a seven-day period earlier this month when state residents could register and immediately cast an absentee ballot, continues.

First, a federal judge slapped down Jennifer Brunner, Ohio's controversial Democratic Secretary of State, for failing to allow counties the information they need to verify the identity of hundreds of thousands of newly-registered voters signed up by outside groups such as the housing lobby ACORN. A lawsuit asking Ms. Brunner to follow the federal Help America Vote Act's provisions mandating that new registrations be matched with government databases to confirm their validity was brought by the Ohio Republican Party.

"Plaintiffs assert, and the court agrees, that it is hard to imagine a public interest more compelling than safeguarding the legitimacy of the election of the president of the United States," Federal District Judge George C. Smith, who was appointed to the bench by President Reagan, wrote in his ruling.

The Associated Press reports that Ms. Brunner claims HAVA "provides no requirements regarding what to do if a mismatch is discovered, and it is up to Ohio's counties to check the system for flagged registrations and investigate if warranted." But until the judge's order, Ohio's counties had not been allowed full access to the necessary records to do the job.

Ms. Brunner responded with an immediate appeal to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Over the weekend, a divided three-judge panel vacated Judge Smith's order, siding with Secretary Brunner. Today, the full Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals is likely to take up the case and issue a final ruling.

Democrats, who had expressed keen interest in making the position of Secretary of State a non-partisan office when Republican Ken Blackwell held the post in 2004, have been largely silent on the issue since Ms. Brunner won election in 2006.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day

"Prior to 1990, when Barack Obama contracted to write 'Dreams From My Father,' he had written very close to nothing. Then, five years later, this untested 33 year-old produced what Time Magazine has called -- with a straight face -- 'the best-written memoir ever produced by an American politician.' The public is asked to believe Obama wrote 'Dreams From My Father' on his own, almost as though he were some sort of literary idiot savant. I do not buy this canard for a minute, not at all. . . . [T]here are only two real possibilities: one is that Obama experienced a near miraculous turnaround in his literary abilities; the second is that he had major editorial help, up to and including a ghostwriter. The weight of the evidence overwhelming favors the latter conclusion and strongly suggests who that ghostwriter is" -- author Jack Cashill, writing at on why he suspects former Weather Underground fugitive William Ayers ghostwrote Mr. Obama's memoirs.

Have We Found the Real 'Weapons of Mass Financial Destruction'?

Barack Obama and Joe Biden and just about anybody else with a "D" stumps on "restoring America's standing in the world," while generously throwing around the damnation "unilateral" in relation to George W. Bush's administration.

Whatever the errors of the Bush team, this critique mangles the real issue -- which was never "unilateral vs. multilateral" (a distinction that resolves into meaninglessness when you really think about it) but "isolationist vs. engaged." President Bush engaged the U.S. in the world in extraordinarily controversial ways -- but we're certainly engaged. The message of the Iraq and Afghanistan interventions: The march toward a more interdependent globalized economic society will not be stopped by chaos arising from lagging regions and failing nations.

This weekend's coordinated actions by First World governments to repair the financial system may be even more significant. Message: We're doubling down on interdependence, not throwing up our hands and running away from globalization.

What's more, Mr. Bush and his fellow world leaders got some good news with the successful netting out of $400 billion in Lehman default insurance trades on Friday. These unregulated instruments (known as credit default swaps) raised fears of potential domino-like consequences because no regulatory overseer was in a position to know whether 350 banks and hedge funds had used them responsibly or recklessly committed one-way bets on Lehman's solvency. Well, it turns out big financial players aren't crazy. In a new market created outside the established regulatory apparatus, it appears they didn't take suicidal, "unregulated" risks after all.

Keep this in mind as the post-mortems of the global panic start to come in. More and more the relevant question will be why firms took exactly such unhedged risks in the market for housing-related financial instruments -- a market created by government, dominated by government, and subject to never-ending solicitude and subsidies from Congress and the White House regardless of political party.

-- Holman W. Jenkins Jr.

24665  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Old Boy Network Strikes Back on: October 13, 2008, 06:04:21 PM
The Old-Boy Network Strikes Back

Gov. Sarah Palin has been asking reporters to actually read the Alaska state government report issued over the weekend that supposedly found she had abused her power in seeking the dismissal of Alaska State Trooper Mike Wooten. And indeed, the report is more favorable to Mrs. Palin than much of the reporting has suggested. Mrs. Palin and her husband Todd did likely push for Mr. Wooten to be fired. But Special Prosecutor Stephen Branchflower was originally asked to look into whether Mrs. Palin violated state laws by firing her Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan, who claimed that he was let go for refusing to oust Mr. Wooten. Mr. Branchflower determined that, in fact, the governor was within her rights to fire Mr. Monegan.

What's more, the recommendations Mr. Branchflower makes are largely favorable to Mrs. Palin. She had warned that Mr. Wooten, her ex-brother-in-law, was too unstable to be a police officer and had posed a threat the Palin family. Mr. Branchflower discounts the family's personal safety concerns, but recommends that the legislature create procedures so those who file complaints about police officers are informed about what steps are subsequently taken. Throughout the Wooten affair, the Palins had expressed frustration that no one could tell them what disciplinary action had been taken against Mr. Wooten (which likely led to the impression they were pressuring state officials). The report also notes that the original complaint filed against Mr. Wooten came from Chuck Heath, Mrs. Palin's father, who reported being concerned about an alleged threat by Mr. Wooten to kill him.

The report is a compilation of sordid details surrounding a messy episode in Alaska. Democrat Sen. Hollis French, who oversaw the special out-of-session legislative committee that ordered the investigation, insisted it be completed and released before Election Day. The report seems to rely on an assumption that Mrs. Palin wasn't really concerned about her personal safety, because she had reduced the size of her security detail -- never mind that she had campaigned partly on trimming back gubernatorial perks and pomp and had acted on those promises in other ways too. The report is available online ( It's hardly the smoking gun her opponents would like it to be.

-- Brendan Miniter
24666  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Class at Inosanto Academy on: October 12, 2008, 09:05:29 PM
I will be putting the word to various people to come.
24667  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: October 12, 2008, 06:06:30 PM
Smart ass cheesy

I'm on the road and do not have the time at this moment.  I fly to LA starting at 0600 tomorrow.
24668  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Class at Inosanto Academy on: October 12, 2008, 06:03:30 PM

I am in Bloomington IL at the moment, but will be teaching again next week.
24669  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 100 Taliban killed on: October 12, 2008, 08:11:46 AM
Official: More Than 100 Taliban Militants Killed in Afghanistan Clashes

Sunday , October 12, 2008

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan —
Taliban militants launched a surprise attack on a key southern Afghan town, sparking a battle that killed some 60 insurgents, an Afghan official said Sunday. A second clash in the same region killed another 40 militants.

Taliban fighters used rockets and other heavy weapons to attack Afghan forces on the outskirts of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, said Daud Ahmadi, the spokesman for Helmand's governor.

Militants attacked the city from three sides starting just after midnight and were pushed back only after a battle that involved airstrikes, Ahmadi said. Rockets landed in different parts of the city but there were no civilian casualties, he said.

Authorities recovered the bodies of 41 Taliban fighters on the city's outskirts, from where the attack was launched, he said. He estimated the bodies of another 20 fighters were taken from the battle site by the militants, citing intelligence reports.

British forces are responsible for protecting the area around Lashkar Gah.
In a second battle in Helmand province, Afghan and international troops retook the Nad Ali district center — which had been held by militants — during a three-day fight, Ahmadi said. That battle, which also involved airstrikes, ended Saturday, Ahmadi said.

Afghan police and soldiers were now in control of the district center. There were no casualties among Afghan or NATO troops, Ahmadi said.
Ahmadi's death tolls could not be verified independently. Journalists are not able to travel to remote and dangerous battle sites. Afghan officials have been known to exaggerate death tolls in the past.

The NATO-led force said it was aware of fighting in Helmand but could not provide any information.

Helmand province is the largest drug producing area in the world and the region alone accounts for more than half of Afghanistan's production of opium poppies. More than 90 percent of the world's opium is produced in Afghanistan and up to $100 million of the trade's profits are used to finance the Taliban insurgency.

Insurgency related violence has killed more than 4,700 people — mostly militants — this year, according to an Associated Press count of figures from Western and Afghan officials.

A roadside bomb, meanwhile, struck a civilian vehicle traveling in the Shamulzai district of Zabul province on Sunday, killing five people, said Ghulab Shah Alikheil, a provincial official.

Alikheil blamed Taliban militants for planting the bomb.
24670  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: October 12, 2008, 07:57:28 AM
I am grateful for a fine day yesterday working with a good group of people and having a good time. I do so like what I get to do.
24671  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: October 12, 2008, 12:36:39 AM
"Yeah, I don't see how sorting through voluntarily supplied information violates any constitutional protection. I have yet to see anyone here explain how it does.****"

OK, let me take a stab at it.  The collection and sorting into patterns of tremendous amounts of data, as is increasingly being enabled by the geometric progressions in technological capabilities, gives a far clearer picture of a person's private life than if these various fragments of data are not mined.  There may be very rare examples, but for general purposes it seems to me that NO ONE lives a life wherein they wouldn't be embarrassed by something coming to light.  The inchoate concerns triggered when the private sector does it reify when it is The State (or nefarious actors within the State) who can purposely destroy the reputation of those who are perceived as posing a political risk.

Example:  If I were to run for US Congress again (I've run 3x for the Libertarian Party 1984,1988, 1992) there are youtube clips I've watched that I would not want to have to explain to my son or daughter.

24672  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Quotes of note: on: October 12, 2008, 12:21:31 AM
There comes a point when every society advances enough to eliminate natural selection.Then you get liberals.
24673  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: October 11, 2008, 06:30:33 PM
"If you are really concerned about it, i'd suggest that you go "off the grid" as much as possible."

Mmmm, , , No thank you.  I am American and I don't shut up for fear of the government.  I simply would rather not to have to have courage to speak out or read about odd things.  Nor should people who wish to get involved a lot more than me have to worry about a State capable of playing a level of the politics of personal destruction for beyond anything we've seen.

PS:  I would like to offer for your consideration that overal I think Buz and I have a pretty good track record around here of lucid reasoning, so I am left wondering at the relevance of general references to wooly headed liberal thinking.
24674  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Street Weapons on: October 11, 2008, 06:21:32 PM
Where can I get one? cheesy
24675  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Europe's Islamic Legacy challenged on: October 11, 2008, 08:07:04 AM
The West’s Islamic legacy challenged
A French scholar has sparked a controversy by challenging the conventional wisdom that we emerged from the Dark Ages guided by Muslim teachers.
Sylvain Gouguenheim | Aristote au Mont saint-Michel – Les Racines grecques de l’Europe chrétienne | Seuil, Paris | 2008 | 280 pages

In France, historians writing about the cultural formation of Christian Europe throughout the Middle Ages do so at their own peril, as Sylvain Gouguenheim, professor of Medieval History at the École normale supérieure de Lyon (ENS-L), recently discovered. Because his latest book argues that the contribution of Islam to the cultural and intellectual development of Europe has been largely overemphasized, a petition was drawn up last spring by faculty colleagues lamenting its “ideological positions [inconsistent with] the pedagogical serenity and the scientific reputation of the ENS-L”.

The controversy quickly spilled into the French press with various specialists of the Middle Ages debating the book’s merits and demerits for weeks on end. Although Le Figaro (moderate right) and Le Monde (left) both published positive reviews, other publications such as Libération (far left) and Télérama (Catholic progressive) accused Gouguenheim of pursuing a “repugnant objective, that of annihilating the very notion of Arabian identity”. This led some world known authorities on the Middle-Ages, notably Rémi Brague and Jacques Le Goff, to take Gouguenheim’s defense. The book was also hotly debated on French television.

To understand why the controversy arose in the first place, one must bear in mind that there are currently three schools of thought about the relationship between Greece, the Islamic world and Medieval Europe.

The first school is premised on the notion of the “Dark Ages”, a period allegedly running from about 400 AD to 1200 AD (or earlier, depending on various historians) during which almost any form of learning would have ceased to exist except in monasteries. It holds: a) that the works of Greek philosophers, doctors and mathematicians would have first been discovered by the Arab-Muslim world beginning in the 9th century, thus giving rise to an “Islamic Enlightenment” fostered by the Abbasid Dynasty; b) that, thanks to the translation of these works from Arabic into Latin, Greek knowledge would have then penetrated into Christian Europe beginning in the 12th century; and c) that the West grew out of its “darkness” largely as a result of this “Islamic Enlightenment” and is therefore culturally indebted to the Islamic World. (1)

While this school held sway until the early 1950s, it was gradually overtaken in recent decades by a second school, one that might be termed the “self-development” view, which holds that Western civilization essentially grew out of a synthesis of Greek philosophy, Roman law and the Christian faith. Although it admits of some limited cultural influence exerted by the Islamic world on the West, it emphasizes the autonomy of Western cultural development based on a self-directed assimilation of our Greek heritage.

The third school argues that the notion of a vital continuity, whether directly from Greece to Europe, or indirectly from Greece to Arabia to Europe, is highly debatable and that, indeed, the very concept of “cultural roots” on which historians have traditionally relied should be called into question.(2)

Because the relatively new “self-development” view of the Middle Ages has been increasingly challenged in recent years by upholders of the first and third schools mentioned above, Gouguenheim has undertaken to buttress it and to respond to the arguments of its challengers. His book is essentially a synthesis of scholarly works published in the last 40 years (the bibliography includes more than 250 books and articles) by well-known French, British, Italian and American historians who contributed to the “self-development” interpretation of the Middle Ages.

So what does Gougenheim’s synthesis tell us? Four things.

First, Greek thought never really impregnated the Islamic world because the latter carefully subjected all “foreign” knowledge to an “Islamic filter” designed to determine its consistency with Muslim beliefs. Consequently, what Islamic scholars retained from Greece was limited “to that which did not contradict the teaching of the Koran”. This created major problems, notably with respect to Aristotle’s Physics and Metaphysics. More specifically, the Greek concept of causality was deemed incompatible with the Koranic understanding of God’s omnipotence, which it seemed to limit. And although some scholars like Al-Farabi, Al-Andalusi, Avicenna and Averroes were genuinely receptive to Greek influences, they were unable to reconcile Aristotelian metaphysical concepts with the content of Islamic revelation.

Moreover, Islamic works that did reflect Greek influence were usually not well received. Averroes’ books were burnt (only Latin translations of his commentaries on Aristotle have survived, all of his commentaries in Arabic having been lost or destroyed) and his disciples were found only among Jews and Christians. While the Koran may well offer its adherents a rational view of the world, Muslim rationalism has very little in common with Western rationalism. The notion of kalâm, sometimes translated as “Islamic philosophy”, was understood by the famous Muslim theologian Al-Ghazali as a means of “protecting the faith against the disruptions of innovators” and was, therefore, alien to the Greek concept of philosophy.

Finally, Muslim scholars were quick to realize that Aristotle’s political theories were inapplicable in a Muslim state, where politics, law and religion are closely intertwined. This explains why the Greco-Roman legal system was never envisaged, even by Averroes, as a source of juridical thinking in the Islamic world.

Second, Greek knowledge became accessible to the Islamic world thanks to the work of Eastern Christian scholars who translated Greek works into their own Syriac language, and then from Syriac into Arabic. More importantly, however, Islamic civilization is itself culturally indebted to early Christian scholars. For example, because the translation of Greek documents into Arabic raised major problems occasioned by the total absence of scientific terms in that language, it became incumbent on Christian Melkite translators to develop most of the Arabic scientific vocabulary. They were responsible in particular for translating into Arabic 139 medical books by Galen and Hippocratus and 43 books by Rufus of Ephesis. Also of interest is the fact, attested by several Muslim writers, that the Arabic “coufic” writing was developed by Christian missionaries in the 6th Century.

Third, Islam did not pass on its intellectual heritage to the West. The knowledge acquired by the West is the product of its own discoveries. The West benefited from the translations done at the request of abbots and bishops by clerics familiar with the Greek language, like Jacques de Venise who, after studying several years in Byzantium, spent the rest of his life translating Aristotle and other Greek philosophers at the monastery of Mont Saint-Michel, in Brittany. The West also benefited from a constant relationship with Byzantium, where Greek was the everyday language and Byzantine scholars were quite familiar with the Greek heritage. Thus, most of the knowledge discovered or transmitted throughout the period extending from the 8th to the 12th centuries resulted, not from Islam, but from the intellectual appetite of European Church elites. This explains the first Western Renaissance, known as the Carolingian Renaissance, which took place at the turn of the 9th Century.

Fourth, far from having been a “dark” or “barbarian” age, the period from the 8th to the 12th century, from Charlemagne to Peter Abelard, was characterized by the gradual assimilation of Greek philosophy and science and by an exceptional intellectual dynamism. It is throughout this period that Europe acquired the frame of mind of Greek and Roman antiquity and developed an understanding of the world and of science which became a specific character of Western civilization. The period set the stage for the 13th century, which witnessed a new intellectual “take-off” that manifested itself in the philosophical and theological works of Bonaventure, Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas, as well as in the scientific works of Roger Bacon, Campanus de Novare and Pierre de Marincourt.

Anyone interested in understanding the cultural roots of Western civilization will benefit greatly from reading Gouguenheim’s book. It provides overwhelming evidence in support of the notion that the Islamic world and the West reacted very differently to Greek knowledge, with the former remaining relatively impermeable to its influence and the latter making it very much its own. No one who reads Guggenheim can fail to realize how true remains the contention that Western civilization was built on the combined heritage of Athens, Rome and Jerusalem.

Finally, one is hard put to find any evidence in this book in support of the view that it is ideologically biased. The grievances against the author call to mind Matthew 7:3 – “Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye but fail to notice the beam in your own eye?”

Richard Bastien is director of the Catholic Civil Rights League for the National Capital Area in Canada and a contributor to Égards, a French language journal of ideas.


(1) This is the view held by historians such as R.-R. Menocal (The Arabic Role in Medieval Literary History: A Forgotten Heritage), A. de Libera (Penser au Moyen Âge), A. Miquel (L’Islam et sa civilisation) and R. Mantran (L’Expansion musulmane).
24676  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYT: NATO agrees to take aim at Drug Trade on: October 11, 2008, 06:45:12 AM
This also seems significant to me and seeks address a point I have been making-- of course its significance it could turn out to be that it is meaningless or counterproductive rolleyes :

NATO Agrees to Take Aim at Afghan Drug Trade
Published: October 10, 2008
NY Times

BUDAPEST — NATO defense ministers agreed Friday to allow troops operating in Afghanistan to attack drug lords and their networks supporting the escalating insurgency in the country.

The United States has identified opium trafficking in Afghanistan as a primary target in the battle against the Taliban, but many poor farmers who toil in the poppy fields, above, depend on it.

Times Topics: Afghanistan
 The agreement came after strong pressure from the United States, which has identified opium trafficking in Afghanistan — the source of more than 90 percent of the world’s heroin supplies — as a primary target in the stepped-up battle against the Taliban insurgency that American commanders have begun mapping out in recent weeks.

But the accord also accommodates objections from some of the 26 NATO nations that contribute troops to the 50,000-strong NATO force. Attacks on drug “facilities and facilitators supporting the insurgency” are to occur only if the NATO and Afghan troops involved have the authorization of their own governments, a provision that will allow dissenting nations to opt out of counternarcotics strikes.

The compromise appeared to satisfy the two American officials who pushed the case for the new policy at a meeting here, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Gen. John Craddock, the supreme NATO commander. Afterward, Mr. Gates said that the accord would allow “some to do things that others did not want to do,” and added, “It’s better than nothing.”

On the drug policy, the United States once again ran into a problem that has beset the Afghan war: the widely-differing levels of commitment by its NATO partners, some of whom have committed troops to the effort, but have insisted that they remain in areas of Afghanistan where insurgent threats are low. Reluctance to widening the NATO mandate to include attacks on drug networks has come from Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain, among other nations.

Their fear has been that attacks on drug lords, laboratories and supply networks will further alienate ordinary Afghans who have grown wary or hostile toward NATO troops, undercutting efforts to curb the insurgency and increasing threats to NATO troops.

The drug trade is estimated to account for about half of Afghanistan’s meager economy, and some of the nation’s poorest people, including farmers who toil in the poppy fields, are dependent on incomes that flow directly or indirectly from narcotics. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, in a recent survey on the 2008 opium yield in Afghanistan, estimated that the average income for the 500,000 families involved in the opium harvest amounted to nearly $2,000.

There have also been concerns that attacks on drug networks will depend heavily on intelligence supplied by Afghans, which has often proved unreliable, contributing to the deaths of civilians in attacks. Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, under pressure from NATO members to rid his government of the corruption and incompetence they say are hampering the war effort, has been increasingly shrill in recent months in his criticism of the civilian toll taken by NATO military action, particularly American airstrikes.

Mr. Karzai has also opposed the forceful eradication of poppy crops, something that did not appear to be sanctioned by the new NATO mandate. Mr. Karzai has argued that other measures, including crop substitution and public education programs, along with foreign aid that provides jobs, are the most effective ways of cutting opium production without the violence likely to be provoked by crop eradication.

But American commanders have concluded that gaining the upper hand in the fight against the resurgent Taliban will require depriving the insurgents of income from the drug trade, which the top American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David D. McKiernan, estimated at a Washington briefing last week to be a minimum of $100 million.

Despite the misgivings among some NATO allies, the American push for a NATO mandate that includes attacks on drug networks fueling the insurgency has been backed by the Afghan government, which reiterated the sentiment at the Budapest meeting.

The need for more aggressive action against the drug lords has also been pressed by the United Nations drug agency. In its August report, authored by its executive director, Antonio Maria Costa of Italy, it noted the “inextricable link between drugs and conflict,” and without referring to or sanctioning military action, said that something needed to be done.

Beyond that, the American commanders have been supported by Britain, whose 8,000 troops in Afghanistan are second only in numbers, among NATO nations, to the 33,000 American troops. British support is particularly significant, since most of the British troops are concentrated in Helmand Province in the southwest, the heartland of the opium trade and one of the most intensive battlefields of the insurgency. United Nations figures estimate that Helmand alone accounts for more than 50 percent of the country’s opium production.

According to the recent United Nations survey, 98 percent of Afghanistan’s opium comes from seven provinces in the southwest, with no opium at all produced in half of the country’s 34 provinces. The bulk of the NATO troops operating in the southwest come from the United States, Britain, Canada and Denmark, and it is those nations that are likely to be most affected by the new NATO mandate.

Together with the United States, Britain and Canada have already taken the heaviest casualties among the NATO nations fighting the Taliban and Al Qaeda, with NATO troops who have died in the seven-year war now approaching 1,000, including more than 600 Americans.

Judy Dempsey reported from Budapest, and John F. Burns from Kabul, Afghanistan
24677  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: October 10, 2008, 10:45:46 PM
Grateful for a very full and very enjoyable day of teaching privates here in Bloomington.
24678  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: October 10, 2008, 10:44:17 PM
Woof Gentlemen:

I am far less orderly and organized than my Swiss DB Lonely Dog  embarassed This is the perfect place to bring this to my attention.  I am in Bloomington IL for a seminar at the moment, but will attend to this when I get back to LA.

Crafty Dog
24679  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: October 10, 2008, 10:39:31 PM

As usual you make good points, but for me you seem to have a blind spot for what it is that concerns, BBG, JDN, and me.  Please allow me to take another try at communicating one aspect of it (of course I do not speak for BBG or JDN, but I suspect there is overlap with their positions and mine):

Yes the private sector data mines, but the private sector does not have the ability to get violent with or oppress me.  The State does.  For example, Amazon knows a lot about my reading habits, but I would much rather that the government not keep track of what I read.  This is not because I am a nefarious individual, it is because the State might decide to harass me (e.g. an IRS investigation not because of anything I've done or not done, but in order to drag me down).  We have already seen the Hilbillary Clintons do this IMHO.  I would rather that the coming minions of His Glibness not be keeping track of me and my thoughts.
24680  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: October 10, 2008, 10:20:43 PM
Off the top of my head, it occurs to me to note that we may be losing in Afg.  As I have opined here several times recently we have no coherent strategy that I can discern.  Thus negotiating with them arguably is a sign of defeat-- as it arguably would be with Iran.  Please note that I personally have not taken a position here.

Here is Stratfor's take on things:

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said on Thursday that the United States would be prepared for a reconciliation with the Taliban if the Afghan government chose to pursue talks to end the war. He made the statement at a NATO conference in Budapest. According to Gates, “There has to be ultimately, and I’ll underscore ultimately, reconciliation as part of the political outcome to this. That’s ultimately the exit strategy for all of us.” Gates made it clear that reconciling with the Taliban does not mean reconciling with al Qaeda, which is something that the United States would never do.

The United States thus has taken the first critical step in moving toward a political resolution to the Afghan war. By distinguishing the Taliban from al Qaeda, Gates is distinguishing between domestic Afghan forces who might share values with al Qaeda, but who did not participate in the 9/11 attacks. This is not only an important distinction, it is a vital one. The Taliban organization was allied with al Qaeda but distinct from it: One was an Afghan movement, the other an internationalist movement. Now it has to be understood that the Taliban gave al Qaeda sanctuary and enabled it to launch its global operations from Afghanistan. However, the Taliban and al Qaeda are technically different organizations, and the Taliban were not directly involved in the 9/11 operation.

This is an important distinction for the United States to make in order to justify a necessary reversal in its policy in Afghanistan. The United States does not have the force to defeat the Taliban, nor is the future makeup of the Afghan government a matter of fundamental national interest for the United States. What is important is that the Taliban movement not enable further attacks by al Qaeda. If it were to agree to that, the United States could secure its interests in Afghanistan and leave, while allowing the Afghan government to make what deal it can make with the Taliban.

There are two problems with the idea. First, why should the United States trust the Taliban to keep their distance from al Qaeda? Second, why should the Taliban agree to any deal with the United States? The United States is not going to defeat them militarily, and from their point of view, time is on their side, since the Americans can’t remain in Afghanistan permanently. These would seem to kill any chance for the deal to get off the ground.

However, there is a key element to consider. The Taliban movement is not a homogenous organization. It has many elements, and some are more rigidly committed to the jihadist cause than others. Some might be very interested in the possibilities that could open up to them as major elements of an Afghan government, controlling important regions for their own use. Certainly, there are elements in the Taliban group that would reject any reconciliation, but the members of the group are sufficiently divided that it might be possible to split the organization and turn factions against each other. There might be factions that have no use for al Qaeda, and they might well be interested in the benefits of reconciliation.

This is, of course, the essence of U.S. Gen. David Petraeus’ strategy in Iraq. First, make a small increase in forces and use that as a psychological tool to demonstrate U.S. commitment to the country. Then enter into relations with the most hardened enemies of the United States — the Sunni insurgents — who then turn on the foreign jihadists calling themselves al Qaeda. At the same time, introduce them into the Baghdad government and slowly begin tiptoeing to the exits.

So, in Afghanistan, we have discussions of increased forces, coupled with indications of a willingness to reconcile with the Taliban. This splits the factions — and the faction wanting a deal turns on the faction opposing it. The former enters into Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government, and the United States heads for the exits. And Karzai is left trying to figure out what happened to him.

The real question is whether the United States has enough credibility to attract any faction and whether the faction it attracts is stronger than the faction it doesn’t. The problem is that the Americans have no way to defeat the Taliban with available forces — and the Taliban knows it. However, the United States might be able to shift expectations by increasing forces and massively increasing air operations. The pain the American forces inflict on some factions of the Taliban might be enough to persuade them to split.

The primary virtue of this strategy is that it is the only strategy that has the potential of working. The other option is an extended war without a clear and attainable end. It is interesting that Gates made his statement about reconciliation with the Taliban while U.S. presidential candidates Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain have spoken of their commitment to fight this war in Afghanistan. Since the ground truth is the same for them as for the Bush administration, Gates just made either of their lives easier by opening the door to this strategy. Obama or McCain will be able to claim that he was merely following established policy when he sits down with the Taliban. Then there is also a chance that some in the Taliban would like to make a deal with an administration looking for a legacy, rather than a new one that is unpredictable.

Gates’ statement was a major event, but not necessarily a promising one.

Tell Stratfor What You Think
24681  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / J. Adams on: October 10, 2008, 08:28:35 AM
"[D]emocracy will soon degenerate into an anarchy, such an anarchy
that every man will do what is right in his own eyes and no man's
life or property or reputation or liberty will be secure, and every
one of these will soon mould itself into a system of subordination
of all the moral virtues and intellectual abilities, all the powers
of wealth, beauty, wit and science, to the wanton pleasures, the
capricious will, and the execrable cruelty of one or a very few."

-- John Adams (An Essay on Man's Lust for Power, 29 August 1763)

Reference: Original Intent, Barton (338); original The Papers of
John Adams, Taylor, ed., vol. 1 (83)

24682  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: BO the Magician on: October 10, 2008, 08:23:01 AM
And now, America, we introduce the Great Obama! The world's most gifted political magician! A thing of wonder. A thing of awe. Just watch him defy politics, economics, even gravity! (And hold your applause until the end, please.)

To kick off our show tonight, Mr. Obama will give 95% of American working families a tax cut, even though 40% of Americans today don't pay income taxes! How can our star enact such mathemagic? How can he "cut" zero? Abracadabra! It's called a "refundable tax credit." It involves the federal government taking money from those who do pay taxes, and writing checks to those who don't. Yes, yes, in the real world this is known as "welfare," but please try not to ruin the show.

Ken FallinFor his next trick, the Great Obama will jumpstart the economy, and he'll do it by raising taxes on the very businesses that are today adrift in a financial tsunami! That will include all those among the top 1% of taxpayers who are in fact small-business owners, and the nation's biggest employers who currently pay some of the highest corporate tax rates in the developed world. Mr. Obama will, with a flick of his fingers, show them how to create more jobs with less money. It's simple, really. He has a wand.

Next up, Mr. Obama will re-regulate the economy, with no ill effects whatsoever! You may have heard that for the past 40 years most politicians believed deregulation was good for the U.S. economy. You might have even heard that much of today's financial mess tracks to loose money policy, or Fannie and Freddie excesses. Our magician will show the fault was instead with our failure to clamp down on innovation and risk-taking, and will fix this with new, all-encompassing rules. Presto!

Did someone in the audience just shout "Sarbanes Oxley?" Usher, can you remove that man? Thank you. Mr. Obama will now demonstrate how he gives Americans the "choice" of a "voluntary" government health plan, designed in such a way as to crowd out the private market and eliminate all other choice! Don't worry people: You won't have to join, until you do. Mr. Obama will follow this with a demonstration of how his plan will differ from our failing Medicare program. Oops, sorry, folks. The Great Obama just reminded me it is time for an intermission. Maybe we'll get to that marvel later.

We're back now. And just watch the Great Obama perform a feat never yet managed in all history. He will create that enormous new government health program, spend billions to transform our energy economy, provide financial assistance to former Soviet satellites, invest in infrastructure, increase education spending, provide job training assistance, and give 95% of Americans a tax (ahem) cut -- all without raising the deficit a single penny! And he'll do it in the middle of a financial crisis. And with falling tax revenues! Voila!

Moving along to a little ventriloquism. Study his mouth carefully, folks: It looks like he's saying "I'll stop the special interests," when in fact the words coming out are "Welcome to Washington, friends!" Wind and solar companies, ethanol makers, tort lawyers, unions, community organizers -- all are welcome to feed at the public trough and to request special favors. From now on "special interests" will only refer to universally despised, if utterly crucial, economic players. Say, oil companies. Hocus Pocus!

And for tonight's finale, the Great Obama will uphold America's "moral" obligation to "stop genocide" by abandoning Iraq! While teleported to the region, he will simultaneously convince Iranian leaders to peacefully abandon their nuclear pursuits (even as he does not sit down with them), fix Afghanistan with a strategy that does not resemble the Iraqi surge, and (drumroll!) pull Osama bin Laden out of his hat!


You can clap now. (Applause. Cheers.) We'd like to thank a few people in the audience. Namely, Republican presidential nominee John McCain, who has so admirably restrained himself from running up on stage to debunk any of these illusions and spoil everyone's fun.

We know he's in a bit of a box, having initially blamed today's financial crisis on corporate "greed," and thus made it that much harder to call for a corporate tax cut, or warn against excessive regulation. Still, there were some pretty big openings up here this evening, and he let them alone! We'd also like to thank Mr. McCain for keeping all the focus on himself these past weeks. It has helped the Great Obama to just get on with the show.

As for that show, we'd love to invite you all back for next week's performance, when the Great Obama will thrill with new, amazing exploits. He will respect your Second Amendment rights even as he regulates firearms! He will renegotiate Nafta, even as he supports free trade! He will . . .

Write to

24683  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / MILF, Army, non-Muslim Civilians fighting on: October 10, 2008, 07:49:44 AM
24684  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / UK Self-Defense Law on: October 10, 2008, 01:03:41 AM
Brit Gardener Ordered To Remove Barbed Wire to Protect Thieves


Gardener ordered to take down barbed wire to protect thieves

A gardener who fenced off his allotment patch with a single strand of barbed wire to protect it from thieves has been ordered to take it down in case intruders hurt themselves.

Last Updated: 2:53PM BST 09 Oct 2008

Bill Malcolm, 61, was told to "remove it on health and safety grounds" by the local council, which owns the allotments.

He erected the deterrent after thieves struck three times in four months, stealing more than £300 worth of spades, forks, hoes and wrecking his potato patch in the process.

But officials instructed Mr Malcolm to remove the waist-high wire from his plot at Round Hill Allotments in Marlbrook, Worcs.

He said: "It's an absolutely ridiculous situation, all I wanted was to protect my property but the wire had to go in case a thief scratched himself.

"The council said they were unhappy about the precautions I had made but my response was to tell them that only someone climbing over on to my allotment could possibly hurt themselves.

"They shouldn't be trespassing in the first place but the council apologised and said they didn't want to be sued by a wounded thief.

"I told them to let the thief sue me so at least that way I would know who was breaking into my allotment but everything I said fell on deaf ears.

"It seems as though they are so wrapped up in red tape, they are unable to help me.

"The barbed wire was a single strand and ringing my property only. It was just three foot high and wasn't as though I'd dug a moat filled with piranha and erected six foot iron railings."

A spokesman for Bromsgrove District Council responded: "With regard to the barbed wire, when this is identified on site, we are obliged to request its removal or remove it on health and safety grounds to the general public, as this is a liability issue. This is a requirement enforced by our health and safety department."

She advised allotment tenants with security concerns to contact the local police.

Judge orders court to apologise to gardener prosecuted for having a scythe

Last updated at 6:18 PM on 09th October 2008

As a professional gardener, they are the essential tools of Peter Drew's trade.

But in the eyes of the police, the scythe, axes and knives found inside the back of his van were something far more sinister.

And despite Mr Drew's desperate attempts to explain that he needed them for horticultural reasons, he was arrested - and charged with carrying an offensive weapon.

Mr Drew, 49, then endured eight months of court appearances and the threat of a trial hanging over his head.

But last week the judge threw the case out of court moments before a trial was due to begin and demanded a public apology to Mr Drew from the prosecution.

He blasted the Crown Prosecution Service for wasting jurors' time and for putting Mr Drew through the 'trauma' of a doomed prosecution.

After Mr Drew produced references from customers - including several solicitors - Judge Paul Darlow ordered prosecution barrister, Philip Lee, to issue a public apology to Mr Drew at Truro Crown Court in Cornwall and asked the CPS to do the same.

Speaking at the hearing, Judge Darlow said: 'I want to find out why we've got to the start of the trial and the CPS are suddenly saying 'Oops'.

'I don't think the CPS can escape criticism or blame if they leave it to the last minute to make up their minds.

'We despair of trying to run these courts in any sort of efficient way.

'Try telling this to jurors who come from their jobs and their homes, quite apart from any trial and trauma that Mr Drew has been through, by knowing that in October he would be in front of a jury.'

The judge went on: 'I think some sort of public apology to Mr Drew from the court would not go amiss.'

Phillip Lee, prosecuting, responded: 'On behalf of the CPS I apologise that it has taken this long.

'Some decisions are very obvious and some less so. I wouldn't say this was an obvious decision.'

After the brief hearing Mr Drew, of Heamoor near Penzance, Cornwall, described his ordeal as a 'nightmare'.

He said: 'The whole thing knocked me for six - I've lived in Heamoor all my life and when the case was reported in the papers, people were asking me what it was all about and I didn't want to say anything because the case was still going on.

'I'm disgusted, really. Now I just want to clear my name so everyone knows I haven't been carrying knives illegally.'

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said Peter Drew was found with a bread knife and a machete behind the sun visor of his van.

Officers also discovered two axes in driver's door pocket and a scythe in the passenger footwell.

He said: 'Officers searched Mr Drew's van and found various bladed items, including an axe and a bread knife.

'The items were in the side pockets, the footwell and behind the sun visor.

'An officer might assume a professional gardener would keep his tools in a bag in the back of the van.

'He explained that the knives were for business purposes but the officers felt this was for the courts to decide.

'Mr Drew was summonsed to magistrates court and offered no plea and the matter was referred to crown court.

'He produced evidence that the knives were used for pruning and the CPS accepted his explanation before proceedings began.'
24685  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Seminar: 10/11-12 Guro Crafty in Bloomington IL on: October 10, 2008, 12:50:42 AM
Arrived in Bloomington and have been put in a wonderful B&B built in 1869 with a baby grand piano that is in tune cool With no one else in the house tonight I have been having a fine time.

Scott has visions of chess revenge on Saturday night , , , sounds like he's been playing , , , cheesy
24686  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Syria masses on Leb border on: October 09, 2008, 11:07:49 AM
Syria downplays troop buildup on Lebanese border
Damascas says it's merely beefing up border security. But the US issued Syria a strong warning, and Israeli troops are on alert.
By Jonathan Adams
Syria this week continued to mass troops on its border with northern and eastern Lebanon. But officials from both countries dismissed US and Israeli concerns about the buildup as alarmist hype.

Damascus claims it is merely beefing up border security to prevent smuggling and the infiltration of Islamic extremists from northern Lebanon. But some fear Syria wants to use the threat of Sunni Islamic terrorism as a pretext for reentering Lebanon. Syria withdrew its troops from its neighbor in 2005 under intense international pressure.

Last month, Syria's president publicly warned that northern Lebanon had become a haven for Sunni militants who aim to destabilize his country. That warning came before back-to-back car bombings in Damascus (Sept. 27, blamed on Sunni extremists) and in northern Lebanon's Tripoli (Sept. 29) that killed at least 22.

Gulf News, a Dubai-based daily, reported Wednesday that the Lebanese foreign minister had downplayed concerns about the military ramp-up.

The deployment of thousands of Syrian troops along the Lebanese frontier isn't a threat to Beirut and the move should be seen in the context of Damascus's need to safeguard its interests, the Lebanese foreign minister said on Tuesday. "The troop deployment doesn't constitute a source of concern for us as long as they [troops] remain within Syrian territory," Lebanese Foreign Minister Fawzi Sallough told Gulf News.

Last month the Lebanese Army said Syria had massed nearly 10,000 troops on the border. Syria insists their deployment along the border numbers only in the hundreds.

Lebanon's The Daily Star cited a report by Agence France-Presse (AFP) that quoted a Syrian official defending the buildup.

"These measures are aimed to control the border, only from Syrian territory, and we have no other intentions," a Syrian official told AFP on condition of anonymity. "Syria has in effect boosted its security measures with a few hundred [extra] soldiers, and the spy satellites know the truth," the official said. "Our aim is to control the border, combat smuggling and stop saboteurs from crossing these borders," the official said, adding that the issue had been raised during Lebanese President Michel Sleiman's visit to Damascus in August.

On Monday, the US State Department expressed concern that Syria might have designs on Lebanon, and warned against any Syrian incursion. Reuters reported spokesman Robert Wood saying:

"The recent terrorist attacks that took place in Tripoli (Lebanon) and Damascus should not serve as a pretext for, you know, further Syrian military engagement or, should not be used to interfere in Lebanese internal affairs," Wood told reporters. "Obviously we're concerned about this type of activity along the border and that it not lead to any further interference on the part of Syria into Lebanon's internal affairs," Wood said.

Those comments came as the US and Lebanon set up a joint military commission to improve defense ties, according to the Associated Press (AP).

The National Post, a Canadian daily, reported that Israeli officials are also nervous about Syrian intentions.

...Israel placed its armed forces in the Golan Heights on an increased alert on Tuesday and ordered the air force and emergency first aid teams on standby in case of attacks by Syria or Hezbollah. The Israeli alerts came as the country prepared to shut down for 25 hours starting Wednesday afternoon to observe Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), the most solemn and important of Jewish holidays.

The AP noted that Syria-Lebanon ties have actually warmed recently.

...Ties have improved considerably in recent months after Lebanon formed a unity government that includes Syria's ally, the Shiite militant group Hezbollah. Syria has agreed to establish formal diplomatic ties with Lebanon for the first time since the countries' creation in the 1940s and promised to officially delineate their borders, a longtime Lebanese demand. Syria also views Lebanon's new president favorably and many doubt it would undermine him with a military incursion.

The Christian Science Monitor reported last month on worsening sectarian violence in northern Lebanon. There, Sunni Muslim fundamentalists are pitted against a small Shiite group that's close to the Syrian government. Sunni jihadists that oppose the Syrian regime regularly pass between northern Lebanon and Syria, the report said.

Since May, Sunni militants in northern Lebanon have clashed with the small Alawite community, which has close links to the Syrian regime. A reconciliation agreement reached earlier this month has quelled fighting for now, but north Lebanon remains tense.

In a 2005 report, the International Crisis Group noted a reason Damascus would want to keep a hand in Lebanese affairs, despite its withdrawal:

Seen from the angle of Lebanon's fractious groups – whether in the opposition or loyal to Damascus – the end of Syria's presence means re-opening issues suppressed since the close of the civil war, from sectarian relations and the distribution of power through to Hizbollah and Palestinian refugees. All these are combustible elements that disgruntled Lebanese and outside actors will be tempted to exploit. In a country awash with weapons, accustomed to being a theatre for proxy wars between Arabs, Palestinian and Israelis, and on the verge of a major redistribution of power and resources, the means and motivations for violence abound.
Lebanese media has reported that Syria is massing still more troops on the Syrian-Lebanese border. The move is part of a Syrian effort to rebuild its position in Lebanon.

Related Special Topic Page
Israel, Syria and Lebanon: A Tangled Web
Syria is reportedly massing more troops along the Lebanese border, according to various Lebanese news agencies. The Arab daily Al Hayat reported Oct. 8 that the Syrian army had deployed tanks to the border town of Al Qaa along Lebanon’s eastern Bekaa Valley. Eyewitness reports from the area said the Syrian army has dug trenches and erected earthen barriers. The reported troop buildup comes in the wake of an additional Syrian massing of 10,000 troops on the northern Syrian-Lebanese border near the Lebanese city of Tripoli, which began more than two weeks ago.

As Stratfor previously has discussed, the Syrian government is signaling Lebanon and the international community that it is prepared to reassert Syria’s physical presence in its western neighbor. Part of the Syrian plan is to use its covert assets and militant proxies in northern Lebanon to instigate clashes in Tripoli, thereby justifying a Syrian military intervention. Damascus’ show of force has set off alarm bells in Saudi Arabia and among Lebanon’s anti-Syrian March 14 coalition, which greatly fears having the Syrians re-assume the powerbroker status that they held in Lebanon prior to the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.

But no group is perhaps more scared by the sight of Syrian forces on the border than Hezbollah, which has seen its relationship with Syria disintegrate following the February assassination of Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyah. This latest Syrian military buildup is quite significantly on the edge of Hezbollah’s main stronghold, the Bekaa Valley.

So far, Hezbollah has remained silent on the matter. The group cannot endorse Syrian efforts to enter Lebanon because it knows it will soon be victimized by the Syrians. Conversely, it cannot condemn Syrian efforts because the falling-out between Damascus and the Shiite militant groups has not yet fully come out in the public domain.

Syrian tanks are in close proximity to Al Qaa, a Maronite village from which Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea draws many recruits. Deploying troops next to this village not only undermines Hezbollah security, it also points to Syrian fears that Lebanese forces may be planning an offensive against the Mirada militia of Suleiman Franjiyye, who is one of Syria’s closest allies in Lebanon.

Syria continues to assert that the troop buildup is simply its way of watching out for its own security, particularly in the wake of a Sept. 27 car bombing in Damascus and recent clashes in Tripoli (even though many of the clashes in Tripoli have been instigated by perpetrators on the payroll of Syrian intelligence). Damascus intends to show the world that Syria, as well as the Lebanese army, is a victim of terrorism from Lebanon. As the militant threat in Lebanon appears to grow larger (with the aid of the Syrians), Syria will gradually build a case for intervention, much as it did in 1975, after which Syria eventually received a green light from the Israelis and the Americans to enter Lebanon in 1976. Though the general fear in the region is that Syria is on the verge of rolling troops into Lebanon, sources in the region claim that Syria plans to take its time, gradually build a case for intervention and reclaim its position in Lebanon by spring 2009.

In the meantime, Syria can also see what comes out of peace talks with Israel once the Israeli government sorts out its political issues at home. Without a doubt, Syria’s moves have Iran on edge, as Tehran’s main militant proxy in the Levant is under threat. The United States has been the most vocal in its opposition to the Syrian military buildup, revealing an apparent divide between Israel and the United States over the merits of having the Syrians “impose stability” in Lebanon. Whereas Israel is more inclined toward negotiations with Damascus to secure Israel’s northern frontier and contain the threat from Hezbollah, the U.S. administration is much more reluctant to have Syria re-empowered in Lebanon.

The Syrians may be on a longer timetable than previously expected, but that will do little to calm the fears of those in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iran and the United States who want to keep Syrian influence curtailed. Without having made any big, overt moves into Lebanon yet, the Syrians have not run a major risk of provoking these powers into acting against Damascus. Instead, Damascus is more focused on preparing the world for what it sees as an inevitable Syrian return to Lebanon.

24687  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: October 09, 2008, 09:49:05 AM

"We established however some, although not all its
[self-government] important principles . The constitutions of most
of our States assert, that all power is inherent in the people;
that they may exercise it by themselves, in all cases to which they
think themselves competent, (as in electing their functionaries
executive and legislative, and deciding by a jury of themselves,
in all judiciary cases in which any fact is involved,) or they
may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it
is their right and duty to be at all times armed."

-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to John Cartwright, 1824)

Reference: The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Memorial Edition,
24688  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: October 09, 2008, 12:10:45 AM
Good find SB Mig.   cry cheesy

24689  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rove spins on: October 09, 2008, 12:05:47 AM
Voters Haven't Decided Yet
Now it's up to the candidates to drive home their message.By KARL ROVEArticle
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Tuesday night's presidential debate was good entertainment. Both candidates were animated and loose throughout a wide-ranging discussion. Sen. Barack Obama did well in Sen. John McCain's favorite format. Mr. McCain was more focused and sharp than in the first debate, though the cameras above him made his balding pate more prominent.

APTom Brokaw was often a distraction: Did he really need over a hundred words -- including the name "Sherard Cowper-Coles" -- to ask about Afghanistan?

Mr. McCain's advocates were cheered by him advancing the theme that Mr. Obama lacks a record of accomplishment or bipartisanship in the Senate. Mr. McCain also described how Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac constituted "the match that started this forest fire" that's engulfed our economy, and nailed Mr. Obama and Democrats for being AWOL on GSE reform.

Mr. McCain was most effective on taxes and spending. He argued now is not the time to raise taxes and hit Mr. Obama's proposal to hike small business taxes: three out of four filers in the top 5% report small-business income. Mr. McCain called for a spending freeze and attacked earmarks, including Mr. Obama's $3 million for a Chicago planetarium's "overhead projector." Mr. Obama weakly replied earmarks were only $18 billion.

Advocates of Mr. Obama, on the other hand, saw him scoring points on style and connecting with questioners. He patiently explained to one how the Wall Street rescue package would help him and his neighbors on Main Street. He had the night's emotional high point when he talked about his dying mother fighting her insurer over whether her cancer was a pre-existing condition. He called for dramatic change and tied Mr. McCain to the Bush administration, though not too often to be obnoxious.

Mr. Obama also offered his villain responsible for the current crisis: "the deregulation of the financial system." Many voters will accept Mr. Obama's designation, despite it being both wrong and a slap at President Bill Clinton, who signed the 1999 deregulation legislation that Mr. Obama seems to object to, and Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin and Undersecretary Larry Summers, who helped fashion it. What do these Obama advisers think of being blamed for the credit-market meltdown?

What about swing voters? There are probably more undecided and persuadable voters open to switching their choice than in any election since 1968.

About Karl Rove
Karl Rove served as Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush from 2000–2007 and Deputy Chief of Staff from 2004–2007. At the White House he oversaw the Offices of Strategic Initiatives, Political Affairs, Public Liaison, and Intergovernmental Affairs and was Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, coordinating the White House policy making process.

Before Karl became known as "The Architect" of President Bush's 2000 and 2004 campaigns, he was president of Karl Rove + Company, an Austin-based public affairs firm that worked for Republican candidates, nonpartisan causes, and nonprofit groups. His clients included over 75 Republican U.S. Senate, Congressional and gubernatorial candidates in 24 states, as well as the Moderate Party of Sweden.

Karl writes a weekly op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, is a Newsweek columnist and is now writing a book to be published by Simon & Schuster. Email the author at or visit him on the web at
For those open to Mr. McCain, it is unclear how they will respond to his plan to order the Treasury secretary "to immediately buy up the bad home loan mortgages in America and renegotiate at the new value of those homes." It came across as both impulsive and badly explained. No experts were ready to defend it. No explanatory paper was flung at journalists. Nor were surrogates like Mitt Romney briefed. But the campaign did admit it borrowed the idea from Hillary Clinton.

 shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked  cry cry cry

While it was good Mr. McCain engaged on health-care reform, his explanations were not crisp or powerful. And he failed to defend his proposed corporate tax cut. Why not say America has the world's second-highest corporate tax rate, putting the U.S. at a disadvantage in creating jobs?

For those leaning to Mr. Obama, there was no evidence of bipartisanship. There was no talk of accomplishments. Did he really think it was smart to answer Mr. McCain on Fannie by dismissing the GSE reform bill and pointing to a letter he wrote? In the Senate, is the pen mightier than legislation? And Mr. Obama's say-one-thing, do-another approach was apparent. Blast Mr. McCain for talking up the economy, then say, "I am confident about the American economy." Blame Mr. McCain for the credit meltdown, and end the assault with "you're not interested in hearing politicians pointing fingers." Say "only a few percent of small businesses" will get taxed when 663,000 small enterprises are in the top 5%.

There were no knockouts. What matters now is how well the candidates prosecute the themes they have laid out in the election's remaining 26 days. Interest is high. People are paying more attention than usual.

Each faces a big challenge. Mr. McCain's is that events have tilted the field towards Mr. Obama. To win, Mr. McCain must demonstrate he stands for responsible conservative change, while portraying Mr. Obama as an out-of-the-mainstream liberal not ready to be president.

Mr. Obama's test is that voters haven't shaken deep concerns about his lack of qualifications. Having accomplished virtually nothing in his three years in the Senate except to win the Democratic nomination, Mr. Obama must show he is up to the job. Voters like him, conditions favor him, yet he has not closed the sale. He may be approaching the finish line with that mixture of lassitude and insouciance he displayed in the spring against Mrs. Clinton.

But here's a warning sign for Mr. Obama. Of recent candidates, only Michael Dukakis in 1988 has had a larger percentage of voters tell pollsters they believe he lacks the necessary qualifications to be president.

Mr. Rove is a former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.
24690  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Women fighters at DB Gathering on: October 08, 2008, 11:31:49 PM
Freedom of choice applies to us in the audience too  cheesy

Thought Experiment:  Imagine a woman fight in this context:
24691  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Scott Grannis blog on: October 08, 2008, 11:29:03 PM
I recommend Scott Grannis in the very highest terms.
24692  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Is BO a natural born American citizen? on: October 08, 2008, 05:22:59 PM
Wait! There's more!

By Jon Christian Dryer
October 3, 2008

On September 29, 2008 US District Court Judge R. Barclay Surrick, the
federal magistrate for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled in the
matter of Philip J. Berg vs Barack Hussein Obama, et al as the world was
distracted by the $700 billion subprime mortgage crisis. Obama signed a
breathe of relief as the mainstream media chose to ignore the question:
"Can Senator Barack Hussein Obama legally seek the office of President of the
United States?"

The flap began in June when National Review's Jim Geraghty raised the
question and asked the Obama Campaign to release a copy of his birth
certificate in order to prove that he actually was born in the United
States. (Reports had previously surfaced claiming that Obama's Kenyan
grandmother, Sarah Hussein Obama, told reporters that Obama was not born
in Hawaii, but in Kenya. She reportedly told reporters that when her son,
Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. returned to Kenya he was accompanied by a
pregnant white wife who was close to term.)

 Obama's family did not take to Stanley Ann Dunham Obama well according to
Sarah Obama because she was white. Shortly after she arrived in Kenya
Stanley Ann decided to return to Hawaii because she did not like how
Muslim men treated their wives in Kenya. However, because she was near term the
airline would not let her fly until after the birth of her baby. Obama's
grandmother said the baby was born in Kenya and that shortly after Barack
Hussein Obama, Jr. was born, Stanley Ann returned to Hawaii.

 Purportedly, when she arrived back in Hawaii, Stanley Anne registered her
son's live birth as an event which had just happened-in Hawaii. This
supposition is based on the appearance, shortly after Nov. 6, 2007, of a
Hawaiian birth certificate that was issued, as a duplicate birth
certificate, by the State of Hawaii to a US Senator who requested it.

 While the Internet screamed that the birth certificate, which appeared on
the Obama Campaign's "Fight The Smears" website and was also downloaded
and used by far left blogger Markos Zuniga on his website, Daily Kos, it was
not an electronic image concocted by Daily KOs as was hypothesized by a
self-described cyvbersleuth who uses the cyber pseudonym Techdude. It was
the real McCoy-even if it was issued as a political favor to a prospective
Democratic presidential candidate by a Democrat official in Hawaii. The
county clerk who issued the document, which purports to be a copy of an
original document, was date stamped "Nov. 6, 2007" on the reverse side of
the birth certificate in blue ink which bled through and is visible on the
front of the electronic image.> 

 Attorney Philip J. Berg, the former head of the Montgomery County.
Pennsylvania Democratic Party and a former member of the Democratic State
Convention and, reportedly a Hillary Clinton supporter, wanted to learn
the truth from the myriad of rumors that also suggested that Sen. Obama may
also have been a citizen of Indonesia. The only consistent part of the story
was Stanley Ann returning to Hawaii to claim he had been in the United States
and was a US citizen. In his ruling, Judge Surrick noted that the
"...cause came before the United States District Court Judge, Honorable R. Barclay
Surrick on defendant Barack Hussein Obama and the Democratic National
Committee's motion to dismiss." The order continued, "Having reviewed the
motion and plaintiff's opposition to said motion and for good cause shown,
it is hereby ordered that the motion to dismiss pursuant to F.R.C.P.
12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) is denied. It is further order of this court that
the following discovery is to be turned over to plaintiff within three (3)

1. Obama's "vault" version (certified copy of his "original" long version)
birth certificate; and

2. a certified copy of Obama's Certificate of Citizenship;

3. a certified copy of Obama's oath of allegiance."

In his original filing, Berg specifically asked for those three items.
Berg told the court that " the time Plaintiff's complaint was filed,
Plaintiff was requesting protections from the court in order to stop Obama
from being nominated by the DNC as the Democratic Presidential Nominee as
Obama is not eligible to serve as President of the United States. However,
Obama was nominated by the DNC...For that reason, Plaintiff must amend his
complaint and will be amending this complaint to file a First Amendment

 Berg argued that he felt it was the role of the Federal Election
Commission to ensure that presidential and congressional candidates are eligible to
hold the positions for which they were seeking, and that those candidates
run a fair and legitimate campaign. "In vetting the presidential
candidate," Berg argued, "the DNC and the FEC are required to ensure the eligibility
requirements pursuant to our Constitution are met and the Presidential
nominee, if elected, is qualified and eligible to serve pursuant to our
United States Constitution. In order to be eligible to run for the Office
of President of the United States, you must be a "natural born" citizen.

 "There appears to be no question that Defendant Obama's mother, Stanley
Ann Dunham, was a US citizen. It is also undisputed, however, that his father,
Barack Obama, Sr., was a citizen of Kenya. Obama's parents, according to
divorce recorded, were married on or about February 2, 1961.

 "Defendant Obama claims he was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. on August 4, 1961
and it is uncertain in which hospital he claims to have been born. Obama's
grandmother on his father's side, his half-brother and half-sister all
claim Obama was born not in Hawaii but in Kenya. reports reflect that Obama's
mother traveled to Kenya during her pregnancy; however, she was prevented
from boarding a flight from Kenya to Hawaii. at her late stage of
pregnancy (which apparently are normal restrictions, to avoid births during
flights). By these reports, Stanley Ann Dunham Obama gave birth to Obama in Kenya,
after which she flew home and registered Obama's birth. There are records
of a "registry of birth" for Obama, on or about August 8, 1961 in the public
records office in Hawaii."
 Berg's investigators revealed that Obama's own half-sister Maya
Soetoro-with whom he was raised-seemed not to know where her own brother was born. In
the Nov., 2004 interview by the Rainbow Newsletter Maya Soetoro said Obama was
born on Aug. 4, 1961 at Queens Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. In
February, 2008 Maya was interviewed by the Star Bulletin. This time she
told reporters that Obama was born on August 4, 1961 at the Kaliolani Medical
Center for Women and Children. On June 9, 2008 Wayne Madsen, a journalist
with Online Journal published an article in which he said a research team
went to Mombassa, Kenya and located a Certificate registering the live
birth of Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. to his father, a Kenyan citizen and his
mother, a US citizen.

Berg's argument to the court was that under the US Nationality Act of
1940, Section 317 (b), a minor child follows the naturalization and citizenship
status of his or her custodial parent. In Obama's case, Berg argued, a
minor child follows the naturalization and citizenship status of his or her
custodial father. Obama's Indonesian stepfather, Lolo Soetora signed a
statement acknowledging Obama as his son, giving Obama natural Indonesian
citizenship, which explains the name "Barry Soetoro" and his citizenship
listed as Indonesian. Loss of US citizenship, under US law in effect in
1967 required that foreign citizenship be achieved through "application."
Which,  according to Berg, is precisely what happened to Obama when his mother
married Soetoro and the family moved to Indonesia.>

When Obama and his mother moved to Indonesia, Obama had already been
enrolled in school-something that could not have happened under Indonesian
law if Soetoro had not signed an acknowledgment (the application)
affirming that Obama was his son, it deemed his son to an Indonesian State citizen.
(Citizenship of Republic of Indonesia, Law No. 9 of 1992 dated 31 mar.
1992, Indonesia Civil Code):"...State children of Indonesia include: (viii)
children who are born outside of legal marriage from foreign State citizen
mother who are acknowledged by father who is Indonesian State citizen as
his children and that acknowledgment is made prior to children reaching 18
years of age or prior to marriage; Republic of Indonesia Constitution, 1945."
Furthermore, under Indonesian law, if a resident Indonesian citizen
married a foreigner-in this case, Lolo Soetoro marrying Stanley Ann Obama-she was
required to renounce her US citizenship.>

 In his lawsuit, Berg demanded a copy of Obama's Certificate of
Citizenship, a document Obama must have applied for to regain his citizenship-which was
lost in Indonesia. He will have that document only if the proper paperwork
was filed with the US State Department when Obama returned to Hawaii in
1971 since that is the only way Obama could regain his US "natural born"

Berg is convinced that Obama was never naturalized in the United States
after his return. Obama returned to his maternal grandparents in Hawaii
without his mother. Since she is the only one who could have filed for the
reinstatement of his citizenship, it is unlikely it ever happened. If it
did, his Certificate of Citizenship would affirm his right to seek the
office of President. Without it, Barack Obama is just another resident
alien who can't legally hold his seat in the US Senate.

 C 2008 Jon C. Ryter - All Rights Reserved
24693  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: October 08, 2008, 03:33:20 PM
The Suri of Ethiopia-- this is the tribe seen in RCSFg-1: Power.
24694  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / California on: October 08, 2008, 02:48:06 PM
You know you're from California if:

1. Your coworker has 8 body piercings and none are visible.

2. You make over $300,000 and still can't afford a house..

3. You take a bus and are shocked at two people carrying on a conversation in English.

4. Your child's 3rd-grade teacher has purple hair, a nose ring, and is named Flower..

5. You can't remember . . is pot illegal?

6. You've been to a baby shower that has two mothers and a sperm donor.

7. You have a very strong opinion about where your coffee beans are grown, and you can taste the difference between Sumatran and Ethiopian.

8. You can't remember . . is pot illegal?

9. A really great parking space can totally move you to tears.

10. Gas costs $1.00 per gallon more than anywhere else in the U.S.

11. Unlike back home, the guy sitting in Starbucks at 8:30 a.m. wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses who looks like George Clooney really IS George Clooney

12. Your car insurance costs as much as your house payment.

13. You can't remember . . is pot illegal?

14. It's barely sprinkling rain and there's a report on every news station: 'STORM WATCH.'

15. You pass an elementary school playground and the children are all busy with their cellphones or Ipods.

16. It's barely sprinkling rain outside, so you leave for work an hour early to avoid all the weather-related accidents.

17. HEY!!!! Is pot illegal?Huh

18. Both you AND your dog have therapists, psychics, personal trainers and cosmetic surgeons.

19. The Terminator is your governor.

20. If you drive illegally, they take your driver's license. If you're here illegally, they want to give you one.
24695  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: October 08, 2008, 02:04:28 PM
For someone running as the tribune of "change," Barack Obama showed again in last night's debate that he sure is comfortable with the status quo on health care. He continued his recent assaults on John McCain's health reform even though it is precisely the kind of plan that someone of Mr. Obama's professed convictions ought to support.

APThe attacks include swing-state TV spots and Joe Biden's multiple distortions, though the most over-the-top come from the candidate himself. Over the weekend, Mr. Obama called the McCain plan "radical," "out of line with our basic values" and, in case he wasn't clear, "catastrophic for your health care." Since Mr. McCain offered only a once-over-lightly defense of his plan, allow us to give it a try.

Perhaps Mr. Obama is so agitated because Mr. McCain's proposal is highly progressive. The Republican wants to readjust the subsidies that Congress channels into health coverage for business so that lower- and middle-wage workers aren't shortchanged, as they are now. Currently, people who get insurance through their employers pay no income or payroll taxes on the value of the benefit. This is revenue the government forgoes to encourage certain behavior. If those losses were direct spending, the tax exemption would have cost more than $246 billion in 2007.

But all that money props up only employer-provided insurance. For reasons of historical accident and lobbying clout, individuals who buy policies get no tax benefits and pay with after-tax dollars. Mr. McCain is proposing to make the tax benefits available to everyone, regardless of how they purchase their insurance.

He would offer a refundable tax credit of $5,000 for families, $2,500 for individuals, and the benefit isn't dependent on where people work or what they earn. Some would stick with their current job-based coverage. Given the option, others -- especially the uninsured, armed with new health dollars -- would decide to buy coverage on their own. That in turn would stimulate a market for more affordable insurance.

Mr. Obama doesn't want to let people make this choice. He even claims it would amount to "taxing your health-care benefits for the first time in history," which is a wild distortion. His point seems to be that because companies wouldn't have to pay for health care, they could raise wages and thus taxes would also increase for workers on those higher incomes. But doesn't Mr. Obama want higher wages?

All in all, workers would come out ahead with the McCain plan. According to the left-leaning Tax Policy Center, the average taxpayer would see his tax bill drop by $1,241 in 2009. On average, lower-wage workers have more limited coverage as part of their compensation, mostly from small- or medium-size businesses. But the more generous the employer health plan, the more the tax subsidies increase. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, the current employer benefit is only worth between $600 and $3,000 for people making under $100,000. The upper-income brackets save between $4,000 and $5,000.

The most affluent -- i.e., the top quintile of earners -- would be slightly worse off after 2013 under the McCain plan, though they'd still have plenty of options. Even as he routinely promises to raise taxes on "the rich," Mr. Obama is leaping to their unlikely defense here only to frighten everyone else. The McCain plan is fairer than the status quo, which subsidizes the most expensive employer (and union) insurance plans.

But don't take our word for it. Mr. Obama's chief economic adviser agrees with the McCain critique of the current system, or at least he once did. "This massive program of tax breaks is ineffective and regressive, wasting money on those who have health insurance while doing little for those who can barely afford it and nothing at all for those without it," wrote Jason Furman in 2006 in the journal Democracy. Before he joined the Obama campaign, Mr. Furman championed a health reform that relied on many of the same tax tools as Mr. McCain's.


In contrast to Mr. McCain, the Obama plan is all about expanding government health care. Mr. Obama is proposing a "public option" that is similar to Medicare but open to everyone of any age. With this new taxpayer-funded entitlement, private insurers would be crowded out as the government gradually paid all of the country's health-care costs.

Yet according to the Congressional Budget Office, federal spending on Medicare and Medicaid already takes up 4% of GDP today and will rise to an unsustainable 9% over the next two decades. Mr. Obama wants to add even more costs to this taxpayer balance sheet. The inevitable result as spending explodes would be price controls and rationing.

On choice, portability, quality and especially equity, the McCain health plan is far superior to Mr. Obama's. The Democrat is merely offering Canada on the installment plan.

Please add your comments to the Opinion Journal forum.
24696  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Cool training Vids on: October 08, 2008, 12:52:44 PM
Woof Dog Dan:

Great to see you here!  That first clip was great, I dunno wtf that second one was though  cheesy
24697  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: October 08, 2008, 12:47:53 PM
Pathetic unprincipled populist pandering by McCain as he tries to poach on BO's natural turf.  It is no coincidence that he is diving in the polls.
24698  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iceland on: October 08, 2008, 12:42:48 PM
Geopolitical Diary: A Russian Financial Power Play in Iceland
October 8, 2008 | 0120 GMT
The Russians are coming. Only this time they are invited and by Icelanders of all people.

Icelandic Prime Minister Geir Haarde confirmed Tuesday that indeed the NATO member state and staunch U.S. ally against the Soviet Union during the Cold War had asked for a $5.43 billion (4 billion euro) loan from its “new friend” Moscow and that it did so because it found no aid coming from its Western allies. Iceland’s economy has been devastated by the global credit crunch that destroyed its banking sector and currency. Icelandic banks have been either nationalized or propped up by the state, but the krona (Iceland’s currency) is falling precipitously. The Russian loan may have staved off a speculative run on the krona that ultimately saves the country from complete bankruptcy.

It was hard not to notice the bitter and wounded tone of Haarde, particularly when explaining why Reykjavik turned to Moscow for help in the face of rejection from his country’s equally financially stressed Western allies. That tone may soon be repeated by a number of countries as the financial crisis picks off the weakest and shakiest economies, a tone that will certainly be welcomed by the Kremlin looking to extend its influence globally.

Of course, the game of handing out money to allies in exchange for influence is not new to Moscow. The Soviet Union based its foreign policy in large part on buying allies (particularly in the Middle East and Africa), a strategy that to an extent helped bankrupt Moscow and bring the Cold War to an end. Thus far, post-Soviet Russia has been extremely careful and frugal — even the Iceland financial package is a loan and not a grant — in part because of its experiences and lessons from the Soviet era and in part because there was not any money to be shared with potential allies in the aftermath of the Soviet collapse.

Recently, however, that frugality has changed dramatically. Rising commodity prices have allowed Russia to build a massive $750 billion reserve fund and its energy and metals behemoths (and their oligarchs) to amass fortunes and power that could easily be mobilized to serve the Kremlin’s interests. While it is true that the Russian stock market recently plunged to lows not seen since the Ruble Crisis of 1998, drawing calls from analysts around the world that Russian economy is in tatters, the relevance of equity markets to the Russian economy is not altogether clear. The stock market was created to bring in foreign investment, but with the Russian coffers swollen with energy money the Kremlin is not too worried — for the moment — about the flight of foreign capital.

Russia is therefore well positioned to use its vast reserves to play the key role of a creditor nation during the woeful time of a global credit crunch — a position of great power. And Iceland is not the only country vulnerable to the financial crisis.

Ukraine, Greece, Slovakia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Austria, Romania and Hungary are some of the other countries that, for whatever reason, may be extremely vulnerable and of particular interest to Russia. These all have a particularly troubling combination of high public debt, a government budget deficit and a high government tax dependency. While predicting endangered economies is not an exact science, it is safe to argue that during a global credit crunch these economies would be put under extreme pressure to fund their budgets. For Moscow, the goal would be to aid countries where Russian capital intervention would both irk the West and advance its position in overall Russia-West brinkmanship. Furthermore, Russia would want to target countries where a few billion dollars would go a long way.

Countries with close ties to the West are ideal. For example, a financial package given to a country like Greece — which has an enormous public debt and high budget deficit and is therefore particularly endangered — would certainly be a useful strategic poke at the West. It is important to underscore that the Russian intention in these situations would not be to lure Athens or Reykjavik to allow a Russian military base or to abandon its alliances with the West. The idea would be to turn significant players in the West’s clique from skepticism toward Russia to a genuine appreciation for its generosity. The more members of NATO and the European Union that are indebted — both literally and figuratively — to the Kremlin for their financial survival, the more the proverbial window of opportunity will be cracked open for Moscow to act globally and in its periphery.

Russia of course has to play this strategy very carefully. The current state of affairs, in which Russia is the creditor nation and the West is either not unified (the European Union) or self-centered (the United States) will not last long. Russia’s upper hand in terms of liquidity is a transitory situation and the Kremlin knows it. It therefore will have to choose its battles carefully, placing strategic roadblocks in places where the West will have to take time to unwind Russian influence once the financial crisis is over, thus delaying the moment when the West focuses its attention fully on the Kremlin.
24699  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor on: October 08, 2008, 12:14:30 PM
Mexico Security Memo: Oct. 6, 2008
Stratfor Today » October 6, 2008 | 2034 GMT
Related Special Topic Page
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels
More Murders in Tijuana

Tijuana saw a dramatic increase in violence over the past week. A total of 64 people were killed in cartel-related violence in the northwestern border city between Sept. 26 and Oct. 5, making the week the most violent for Tijuana in recent memory. Tijuana was the deadliest city in Mexico during the first quarter of 2008, with firefights and kidnappings a common occurrence. But this past summer was a relatively quiet one for Tijuana, perhaps because of military deployments there in May or because of an agreement between the warring factions.

The latest round of murders was particularly public and gruesome. Bodies with signs of torture were stacked next to a primary school and most had their tongues cut out. Later in the week, six bodies were discovered elsewhere in the city dissolving in barrels of sulfuric acid. Nearly every body was accompanied by a message to “El Ingeniero,” or Fernando Sanchez Arellano, the leader of the fractured Arellano Felix Organization (AFO). The Baja state attorney general’s office says members of the Sinaloa federation are behind the killings.

Fractured and weakened by arrests, the AFO is not in a position to hold the lucrative Tijuana plaza. Just to the north lie San Diego and Los Angeles, California, the two cities that drive the huge cocaine market in southern California. With the AFO weakened, it appears that the Sinaloa federation has been able to poach on its territory.

Sinaloa’s presence in Tijuana is nothing new. Its battles with members of the AFO earlier this spring are what led to military deployments there in May. Although it is too soon to tell, Sinaloa may be mounting a fresh offensive in Tijuana after concentrating on the city of Juarez during the summer. This is notable because Juarez has been relatively quiet for the past couple of weeks. Although murders still occur there every few days, this is not nearly as frequent as in some weeks in the summer, when 30 to 40 murders was the norm.

Opening up a second front in Tijuana raises the question of the future of Juarez. While the violence there will undoubtedly continue, if Sinaloa is shifting its focus to a weakened Tijuana, it could signal that some kind of deal has been struck in Juarez. Stratfor received information at the end of September indicating that the situation in

Juarez would be resolved in a very bloody fashion. While large-scale violence did not materialize, the resolution might have.

Argentine Arrests in Paraguay
On Oct. 1, Jesus Martinez Espinoza, the presumed leader of a Sinaloa cartel cell in Argentina, was arrested on charges of passport falsification and possession of ephedrine, along with two other Mexican nationals, in a hotel in Asunción, Paraguay. Martinez Espinosa was wanted in Argentina for leading a group of Mexican drug traffickers that reportedly operates several methamphetamine labs in Buenos Aires. According to Argentine press reports, Mexican nationals with ties to the Sinaloa cartel have begun to take over the local methamphetamine market in Buenos Aires. The high-profile murder of a Buenos Aires pharmacist who reportedly supplied the Mexican nationals with Indian ephedrine (a precursor ingredient to methamphetamine) brought a lot of media attention to the issue, prompting the Argentine government to act.

Over the past two months, the Argentine government has led a crackdown on the distribution and production of synthetic drugs throughout the country, and especially in Buenos Aires. The vast majority of those arrested have been Mexican nationals. According to investigators in Paraguay, it looks as though synthetic drugs are manufactured in Argentina, smuggled across the border into Paraguay then shipped to Mexico for ultimate distribution in the United States.

The connection between the Mexican nationals in Argentina and the Sinaloa cartel remains unclear. There are conflicting reports about whether the Mexicans are under direct orders from the senior Sinaloa leadership or if they are just a franchise backed financially by the Sinaloa cartel. Either way the presence of Mexican nationals actively involved in the synthetic drug market in Argentina further indicates that Mexican drug traffickers are spreading their involvement over the continent. The murder of the pharmacist was a way of making their presence known.

(click to view map)

Sept. 29
Catalino Ortuño Duarte, a Party of the Democratic Revolution candidate for the Guerrero state congress, was shot in the back and killed as he was travelling through the village of El Naranjo in Guerrero State.
The Mexican Chamber of Commerce threatened not to pay taxes to Ciudad Juarez because city authorities are unable to ensure the security of organized trade. The Mexican Chamber of Commerce also began negotiations with the FBI to advise local businesses on security measures.
Eighteen people were killed in Tijuana, and the bodies of 12 victims were dumped in a vacant lot next to a primary school.
The counselor of the National Chamber of Road Freight in Veracruz state reported that over the past three years assaults on the state and federal highways in the state have risen 25 percent.
Two 17-year-olds were shot to death in Zapopan, Guadalajara state, when their red Corvette was intercepted by three assailants in a silver Suburban.
The Mexican navy seized a shrimp boat carrying four tons of cocaine in the Gulf of Tehuantepec. The boat, which left from Mazatlan, Sinaloa, was being escorted by an unknown number of speed boats which fled the area when the navy appeared.
A gun fight between two rival groups of drug traffickers in Cajeme, Sonora state, left three dead.
Sept. 30
The secretary of public security in Tijuana announced the seizure of 19 firearms, four vehicles and several uniforms that had been stolen from various Mexican law enforcement agencies.
Six bodies were found dissolving in three different barrels of sulfuric acid in Tijuana. Two other bodies were discovered in barrels of acid later in the day.
Thirty armed commandos stormed a private airstrip in Navolato, Sinaloa state, subdued a local policeman who was guarding the airstrip and stole five Cessna airplanes that reportedly had been seized by the Mexican military in counternarcotics operations earlier in the year.
The attorney general of Guatemala said Guatemala is in favor of the Mexican prosecution of Daniel Perez Rojas, reportedly the number two of Los Zetas, and that Guatemala supports his extradition, which has been requested by Mexican authorities.
Oct. 1
Argentine police conducted some 11 raids on various hotels in Buenos Aires, searching for eight Mexican nationals involved in trafficking ephedrine.
The bodies of two males reported missing Sept. 26 were found on the La Costerita highway with several bullet wounds and signs of torture.
Federal agents arrested eight suspected members of the Gulf cartel at a restaurant in the Juarez colony of Mexico City.
President Felipe Calderon sent a reform package to the Mexican congress in an attempt to overhaul the country’s security apparatus.
Oct. 2
Paraguayan authorities arrested three Mexican citizens and seized five kilos of ephedrine at the Silvio Pettirossi International Airport.
Ten people were murdered in Chihuahua state, four in Ciudad Juarez. The death toll in Ciudad Juarez alone for the year stands at 1,075, with more than 1,400 people killed in Chihuahua state during the same period.
A police officer was shot four times in Navolato, Sinaloa state, but his life was spared thanks to his bullet proof vest.
Eight bodies were dumped in a vacant lot in an industrial Park in Tijuana, Baja California state. The bodies showed signs of torture and their faces were wrapped in duct tape.
A group of armed men set fire to five buildings and kidnapped two people in the northern part of Chihuahua state.
One person was killed and one injured as a group of gunmen attempted to kidnap a father and his son in the San Pedro municipality of Nuevo Leon.
Oct. 3
The manager of a television station in Juarez, Chihuahua state, was detained by the military for driving an armored truck.
Three people were killed in attacks in Culiacan, Sinaloa state.
Four bodies were discovered near Vicente Guerrero, Durango state, near the border with Zacatecas.
Five bodies were discovered in the Guadalupe Victoria colony of Tijuana, two of which had been decapitated.
Oct. 4
The mayor of Ixtapan, Mexico state, a common weekend getaway for Mexico City residents, was executed. Los Zetas are the lead suspects.
Narcomessages appeared in Oaxaca offering rewards for the capture of Jesus Mendez Vargas and Enrique Tlacaltel and saying that members of La Familia participated in the Sept. 15 grenade attacks in Morelia, Michoacan.
Eight bodies were discovered in various parts of Tijuana, two of which had been decapitated. Narcomessages were found nearby.
Oct. 5
Some 7.2 million pills of pseudoephedrine were seized at the airport in Guadalajara, Jalisco state, in a shipment from Calcutta, India.
Víctor Manuel Álvarez, a lieutenant in the Beltran Leyva Organizations, will be extradited to the United States on charges of possession with intent to distribute five kilograms of cocaine.
Two men were killed in Sonora at different locations. One was shot to death in Nogales by two gunmen and the other was gunned down in Hermosillo as he was driving his jeep.
A 30-year-old man was gunned down in his Chevrolet truck as he was driving down the Boulevard Insurgentes in Tijuana. The man was accompanied by a woman who was wounded and transported to a local hospital.
24700  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: October 08, 2008, 11:43:26 AM
October 8, 2008

In today's Political Diary

The 'Voter Registration' Racket
McCain Is an Unguided Missile
The Housing Skit Is Back - Minus the Incitement to Homicide
Looking on the Bright Side of President Obama

A Smelly Acorn

Members of the left-wing activist group ACORN had a quick and predictable response to yesterday's raid of their Nevada offices by authorities investigating a possible massive voter registration fraud scheme.

The Las Vegas Sun reports that ACORN volunteer Frank Beaty immediately claimed the raid, which removed computers and files from the group's offices, was a conspiracy designed to prevent the registration of new voters. ACORN's national chief Bertha Lewis called the raid "a stunt that serves no useful purpose other than [to] discredit our work registering Nevadans and distracting us from the important work ahead of getting every eligible vote to the polls."

Reverting to the rhetoric of the 1960s voting rights struggle in the South may be politically useful, but it bears precious little resemblance to the reality of ACORN today. The group has constantly faced charges it mistreats its employees and even broke up their internal efforts to unionize their workplace.

Clark County Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax told the Sun that ACORN has been registering voters in Las Vegas since January and "we started having problems with them almost immediately." His staff met with ACORN and was offered promises that fraudulent registrations would no longer be turned in. "But those controls weren't sufficient," Mr. Lomax said.

Indeed, the more his office and that of Nevada's Secretary of State looked into ACORN's effort, the more worried they became. Jason Anderson rose to the rank of supervisor in ACORN even though he was a convicted felon. Other employees had served time for identity theft. Another former inmate who worked for ACORN told authorities his co-workers were "lazy crack heads."

ACORN's activities are under investigation or suspicion in a dozen states, with one of its workers indicted just last week in Wisconsin. Perhaps the Nevada raid will spur authorities elsewhere to dig down and conclude their investigations by Election Day -- before ACORN can do even more damage to the integrity of the vote.

-- John Fund

Maverick Without a Cause

When she was introduced as John McCain's running mate in Ohio six weeks ago, Gov. Sarah Palin hit on one of the most powerful themes Republicans have going this year when she said, "Join our cause." As a reformer from Alaska who unseated a governor of her own party, she was joining the ticket, she said, not just for a big job, but to help John McCain "reform" the Republican Party and the government in Washington. To many conservatives and independents across the country, she seemed the change agent they've been waiting for since Ronald Reagan.

But Sen. McCain showed little evidence in yesterday's debate of understanding why his Veep candidate is drawing crowds of 20,000 or why she ever had the potential to change the dynamics of this presidential race. In Nashville last night, Mr. McCain repeatedly asked voters to look at his record to see that he has reached across the aisle to work with Sens. Joe Lieberman, Russ Feingold and Ted Kennedy -- a litany of the most liberal Democrats. That's fine as far as it goes. It may even swing a few independents who are uncomfortable with Barack Obama and might vote for a Republican if he's willing to outsource large sections of domestic policy to Democratic senators.

But without a guiding set of principles to explain when and why Mr. McCain bucks his own party, "the maverick" gives the impression that he's flying by the seat of his pants. To win back the old Reagan Democrats while also reassembling the Republican coalition that has kept the GOP in power for decades, Mr. McCain needs a coherent set of principles that guide his actions and that voters can rally behind -- such as shrinking government, flattening the tax burden and reforming the federal policies that have contributed to America's health care and housing woes.

Mr. McCain needs a Maverick Manifesto -- and he didn't have one last night. If the last two debates are really his last chance to change the dynamic of the race, it may soon be over.

-- Brendan Miniter

NBC Explains Itself

NBC's "Saturday Night Live" has lampooned everyone over the years. Just two weeks ago it descended into tastelessness by implying that Todd Palin had committed incest. An actor portraying a New York Times reporter was shown ruminating about Palin scandals: "What about the husband? You know he's doing those daughters. I mean, come on. It's Alaska."

As raw as that was, it was passed off as humor and defended by NBC. But the network's reaction was quite different after last Saturday night's sketch dumping responsibility for the housing meltdown on the political fecklessness of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Finance Committee Chairman Barney Frank. Financier George Soros and mortgage investors Herb and Marion Sandler were depicted as benefiting from the subprime boom and its subsequent collapse. The Sandlers were given especially brutal treatment over their $24 billion sale of subprime mortgages to Wachovia Bank, which helped precipitate that institution's collapse. A caption underneath the couple's name indicated they were "people who should be shot."

NBC yanked the video off its Web site sometime early Monday. It appears NBC acted because it feared a lawsuit from the Sandlers, who are prominent funders of such left-wing groups as Air America and While no legal threat was received from the couple, Mr. Sandler did tell the Associated Press the skit was "crap."

Apparently, NBC acted preemptively to appease the Sandlers. It explains that the sketch did not meet its "standards." It has now reinstated the missing sketch on its Web site, having removed the "people who should be shot" line as well as a reference to "allegations of corruption" against the couple.

Veteran Hollywood journalist Nikki Finke says "NBC surely could have handled this better." While broadly accepting its explanation, she notes that "today's action may or may not silence critics like conservative commentator Michelle Malkin."

In my view, NBC may have acted appropriately, but its hasty response to liberal outrage over the sketch is likely to have a chilling effect on the network's future satire of leading liberals -- especially if Barack Obama is elected president.

-- John Fund

Candidates and Crisis

Anybody who knows markets probably went to bed last night wondering if today would be the day things really come unglued. By now, the wealth wiped out in the market collapse is already twice as big as the underlying housing losses, and the income losses to workers and investors, if the economy tanks, will be many times the losses in unreceived mortgage payments. We're at the place now where the politics of the housing meltdown could be far worse for the economy than the housing meltdown.

If you assume John McCain and Barack Obama are both idiot squirrels, at least one found the relevant nut last night. John McCain harped on the word "confidence" several times. Now if he could just have weaved the word into a coherent narrative of where we are in the financial crisis and how we get out. But he didn't.

Yet the cool deliberation with which Mr. Obama says whatever will get him where he's going -- last night it was the accusation "deregulation" repeated over and over -- is reassuring in its own way. Where's the evidence that he would be the least bit bound by anything he said during the campaign -- on taxes, regulation, health care or anything else? His dispassion in hitting his talking points is the dispassion of the truly noncommittal.

He wants to win and he wants to be reelected. Plus, he will have been elected without the help of Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Congress -- or, rather, despite them (Congress has a 9% favorable rating). Presumably he won't feel obligated to deliver their wish list. He wants Bill Clinton's presidency (he's already got Bill Clinton's economic advisers) without the intern baggage or other compulsive aspects.

Now Mr. McCain -- he's the one you might have to worry about. A one-term president, he might actually have some weird agenda that "honor" compels him to pursue. At least, that's the best argument we can think of for President Obama -- admittedly not much to weigh against the Halloween horror of one-party Democratic rule at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

-- Holman W. Jenkins Jr.

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