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24651  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: July 03, 2008, 09:28:26 PM
I am grateful that a secret project with the potential to be huge for the Dog Brother mission took an important step forward today.

I am grateful for the time over at the local HS track/football field with my 6 year old daughter on her first day out and about with her new bicycle.  Happy dad.
24652  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Canton OH 7/12-13 on: July 03, 2008, 09:26:06 PM
Tres cool  cool
24653  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sharia OK in UK says top judge on: July 03, 2008, 05:22:33 PM
Sharia law SHOULD be used in Britain, says UK's top judge

By Steve Doughty
Last updated at 8:07 PM on 03rd July 2008

The most senior judge in England tonight gave his blessing to the use of sharia law to resolve disputes among Muslims.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips said that Islamic legal principles could be employed to deal with family and marital arguments and to regulate finance.

He declared: 'It is possible in this country for those who are entering into a contractual agreement to agree that the agreement shall be governed by a law other than English law.'

In his speech in an East London mosque Lord Phillips signalled approval of sharia principles as a means of settling disputes so long as no punishments that conflict with the established law are involved, and as long as divorces are made to comply with the civil law.

But his remarks - which give the green light from the highest judicial office to the informal sharia courts already operated by numerous mosques - provoked a storm of criticism.

Lawyers warned that family and marital disputes settled by sharia could leave women or vulnerable people at a serious disadvantage.

Tories said that equality under the law must be respected and warned that outcomes incompatible with English law should never be enforceable.

Lord Phillips spoke five months after Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams surrounded himself in controversy with a lecture in which he suggested Islamic law could have official status and that it could govern marital law, financial transactions and arbitration in disputes.

The Lord Chief Justice said today of the Archbishop's views: 'It was not very radical to advocate embracing sharia law in the context of family disputes.'

He added that there was 'widespread misunderstanding as to the nature of sharia law'.

Lord Phillips said: 'Those who in this country are in dispute as to their respective rights are free to subject that dispute to the mediation of a chosen person, or to agree that the dispute shall be resolved by a chosen arbitrator.

'There is no reason why principles of sharia law or any other religious code should not be the basis for mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution.'

Lord Phillips said that any sanctions must be 'drawn from the laws of England and Wales'. Severe physical punishment - he mentioned stoning, flogging or the cutting off of hands - was 'out of the question' in Britain, he said.

'So far as aspects of matrimonial law are concerned, there is a limited precedent for English law to recognise aspects of religious laws, although when it comes to divorce this can only be effected in accordance with the civil law of this country,' he said

The signal of approval for voluntary sharia tribunals brought protests from lawyers who fear that in some Islamic communities women do not have a full and equal say and that they could be disadvantaged in supposedly voluntary sharia arrangements.

Barrister and human rights specialist John Cooper said: 'There should be one law by which everyone is held to account.

'I have considerable concerns that well-crafted and carefully designed laws in this country, drawn up to protect both parties including the weak and vulnerable party in matrimonial break-ups could be compromised.

'I have concerns over a system of law that may cause one party to be disadvantaged.'

Resolution, the organisation of family law solicitors, said people should govern their lives in accordance with religious principles 'provided that those beliefs and traditions do not contradict the fundamental principle of equality on which this country’s laws are based.'

Spokesman Teresa Richardson said religious law 'must be used to find solutions which are consistent with the basic principles of family law in this country and people must always have redress to the civil courts where they so choose.'

Robert Whelan of the Civitas think tank said: 'Everybody is governed by English law and it is not possible to sign away your legal rights.

That is why guarantees on consumer products always have to tell customers their statutory rights are not affected.

'There is not much doubt that in traditional Islamic communities women do not enjoy the freedoms that women in this country have had for 100 years or more.

'It is very easy to put pressure on young women in a male-dominated household.

'The English law stands to protect people from intimidation in such circumstances.'

Tories warned that principles of equality under the law must be respected.

Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve said: 'The Lord Chief Justice correctly points out that there is a tradition in this country of allowing mediation to take place subject to other legal principles as long as it is voluntary and not subject to coercion, and with outcomes which are not fundamentally incompatible with our own legal principles.

'Any that are incompatible cannot and should never be enforceable.

'One of the key aspects of our free society in Britain is equality under our own laws. It is important that this should be understood and respected by all in our country.'

A spokesman for Jack Straw's Ministry of Justice said: 'English law, which is based on our shared values of equality and a respect for the rule of law, takes precedence over any other legal system.

'The Government has no intention of changing this position. Alongside this it is possible for other dispute resolution systems on matters of civil law to be accommodated, so long as they are not in conflict with the laws of England and Wales and are abided by on a voluntary basis.'

BRIEFING: SHARIA LAW

* Sharia law is based on the Koran, on associated teaching about the life of the Prophet Mohammed, and on the judgements of Islamic clerics and lawyers down the centuries.
* It is in essence a set of religious principles by which Muslims are required to live. Sharia is interpreted and enforced differently in different countries across the Islamic world.
* Islamic law is often regarded as having four parts: how Muslims should worship; commerce; crime and punishment; and marriage and divorce.
* Sharia says forbidden behaviour, like drinking alcohol and taking drugs, or adultery, should be punished. Islamic scholars say the Koran sets down punishments such as lashes or stoning for adultery.
* Sharia law also permits behaviour not allowed by English law, for examply polygamy, which in some jurisdictions says men may have up to four wives.
* In Britain, sharia courts are often operated by mosques. Muslim families come to sharia courts for justice and agree to be bound by their rulings.
* They have no formal legal status.
* There are around 1.6 million British Muslims, most of whom are of Pakistani origin. The strongest Muslim communities are in London, especially in the East London borough of Tower Hamlets where Lord Phillips spoke yesterday, Birmingham, Yorkshire and Lancashire.
* Orthodox Jews operate Beth Din courts which are subordinate to the civil law and which decide issues among 180,000 people according to ancient Jewish law. They are regulated by the Chief Rabbi. A divorcing Jewish couple first divorce in the civil courts, then come to the Beth Din tribunals for religious judgement.
* The only religious courts in England with full and official legal status are the consistory courts and tribunals which decide disputes and disciplinary matters in the Church of England.
24654  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Conviction upheld on: July 03, 2008, 05:16:26 PM
U.S. conviction upheld in FBI sting of NY Muslims
Wed Jul 2, 2008 3:45pm EDT

By Christine Kearney
NEW YORK (Reuters) - An Iraqi Kurdish imam and a Bangladeshi-American pizzeria owner on Wednesday lost an appeal of their convictions for plotting to kill a Pakistani diplomat in what turned out to be an FBI sting operation.
The U.S Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the convictions of Yassin Aref, 37, and Mohammed Hossain, 53, who were sentenced last year to 15 years each in prison for their roles in a fake plot to attack the Pakistani ambassador to the United Nations in New York with a missile.
Both appealed their convictions of money-laundering and conspiring to provide material support to the Pakistan-based Islamic militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed, which is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.
The federal appeals court rejected all the defense's arguments, including that the men did not know missiles were involved.
"The evidence sufficed for a jury to conclude that Aref intended to aid in preparing a missile attack on American soil," the ruling said, concluding the same for Hossain.
During the 2006 trial, the two were found to have laundered $50,000 from an FBI informant who said he worked for the militant group.
Aref, who came to the United States as a refugee, was the imam of an Albany mosque when he was arrested in August 2004. Hossain is a naturalized U.S. citizen.
In a separate ruling, the appeals court dismissed arguments from defense lawyers and the New York Civil Liberties Union that the lower court had improperly denied it access to classified information and sealed court papers and orders.

The NYCLU's request for the wiretapping evidence followed a New York Times report citing the case as an example of the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance program.
During the trial, Aref alleged Muslims were unfairly branded as terrorists in the United States. Defense lawyers argued the men were victims of post-September 11 racial profiling.
http://www.reuters.com/article/domes...39355420080702
24655  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rove says on: July 03, 2008, 06:33:13 AM
Can Barack Buy the Presidency?
By KARL ROVE
July 3, 2008

On the money front, how do Sens. Obama and McCain stack up? No contest, it seems. Since the campaign began, Mr. Obama has raised a staggering $295-plus million, versus Mr. McCain's almost $122 million. But that's misleading.

Mr. Obama spent a lot to win the nomination. So how much cash did he and his rival have when the general election effectively began in June? As of May 31, Mr. Obama had $43.1 million on hand while Mr. McCain had $31.6 million – a significant but not overwhelming advantage.

 
AP 
Barack Obama
There is also the cash raised by the Republican and Democratic National Committees. Each candidate depends on the party committees for certain expenditures – registration, voter identification and get-out-the-vote drives, materials distributed by volunteers, even some advertising. Here, the Republicans had $53.5 million in hand on May 31, versus the Democrats' paltry $4 million. Thus Mr. McCain and the RNC have $38 million more than Mr. Obama and the DNC.

If Mr. Obama maintains his prodigious fund-raising pace, he could overtake Mr. McCain and the RNC. But that's not guaranteed. In May, Mr. Obama raised $23.3 million and the DNC $4.8 million; but Mr. McCain raised $21.5 million and the RNC $24.4 million. Mr. Obama's Internet-driven fund raising may require a renewed sense of urgency, crisis and energy that may be hard to gin up until the race heats up with the conventions in late August.

The savvy Obama team believes they can raise considerably more than the $84 million Mr. McCain will receive by taking public financing in September for the general election. They realize this is likely to be a close, hard-fought contest and they want every advantage – their candidate's previous pledges to take public funds and criticism of money in politics notwithstanding.

Then, too, unions will give Mr. Obama an edge. The AFL-CIO has committed $53.4 million for the Democratic nominee, up $6 million from 2004. Other unions will chip in. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employee has pledged $50 million.

There are other third-party groups. While the GOP may be seen as the party of Big Money, recent presidential contests have shown that – taking unions, George Soros's wealth, and organizations like MoveOn.Org into consideration – Democrats have a large financial advantage. In 2004, when each side's spending by candidates, national committees and third-party groups was totaled up, Democrats outspent Republicans in the presidential race by $119.4 million.

Mr. Obama has used his money advantage to launch the air war. Starting June 20, Mr. Obama spent $4.3 million for 10 days of a televised, biographical ad covering 18 states. Mr. McCain countered on Monday with roughly $2.1 million for a week of ads in 11 states. Mr. Obama has now volleyed back, expanding his buy to 21 states for two additional weeks at a cost of $15 million – half for his original bio ad and half for a new ad on welfare reform.

But early television may not be as smart as it appears. Is it wise for Mr. Obama to spend almost as much on ads in three weeks in July as he raised in May? His fund raising peaked in February. June's fund-raising numbers, due in mid-July, will show whether his current pace of spending can be sustained. And TV becomes less effective in a general election, since so much free media attention is focused on the presidential candidates, whose actions have a larger impact than ads.

Mr. Obama's ads show he's aware of his vulnerability on two fronts: his liberal values and his meager achievements. Yet he should be more cautious with these weaknesses. His bio ad says he was raised with "values straight from the Kansas heartland," though he grew up in Hawaii. He claims to have passed three bills, but fails to mention that two were in the Illinois state Senate and that he didn't vote on the third in the U.S. Senate. His new ad praises welfare reform, yet he opposed the legislation when a Republican Congress passed and President Clinton signed it.

Mr. Obama may be overreaching by running ads in North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina, Indiana, Nebraska, Montana, Alaska and North Dakota – states Republicans won by comfortable margins in recent years. It would require a shift of between one-sixth and over one-quarter of the vote to win any of them. Shifts that large rarely happen.

Big shifts do occur – witness West Virginia in 2000, which swung more than 20 points between 1996 (when Bill Clinton carried the state) and 2000 (when George W. Bush did) – but these require sharp contrasts on big issues, not just money. Money may be the mother's milk of politics, in Jesse Unruh's famous phrase, but when running for president, money alone can't buy a candidate love. Cash matters, but being a good candidate and right on the issues matters even more.

Mr. Rove is the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion
24656  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The Enemy Detainee Mess on: July 03, 2008, 06:09:18 AM
The Enemy Detainee Mess
July 3, 2008; Page A10
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has departed for summer vacation, but what a mess he's left behind, especially for the U.S. military. His 5-4 decision requiring habeas corpus review for foreign terrorists is already creating confusion and problems about how to handle these dangerous enemies.

The Bush Administration is currently debating how to respond to Mr. Kennedy's war-fighting ukase in Boumediene v. Bush, with President Bush set to make a decision soon. Some in the Administration want Mr. Bush to abolish not merely Guantanamo but even military commissions, the special tribunals set up to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others for their war crimes. This would compound the mistake of Boumediene, and do away with what has long been a useful tool of military justice.

It is already clear to nearly everyone in the Administration that it will be impossible for the U.S. to hold most detainees from now on. That's true not merely at Gitmo, but even in Afghanistan, Iraq and other foreign battlefields. Earlier this month, lawyers filed a lawsuit on behalf of a detainee held at the U.S. military prison at Bagram air base near Kabul. It's only a matter of time before suits are filed demanding habeas writs for anyone captured and held by GIs for any length of time anywhere in the world.

Regrettably, the Administration will now have to let most enemy fighters go. The burden of gathering enough evidence to meet the habeas standards of U.S. federal courts is simply too great under battlefield conditions – and in any case is far too dangerous. This week a panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the enemy combatant status of a Gitmo detainee captured after training in al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. The press has reported this as if the Bush Administration had invented a case against an innocent shepherd. But the truth is that in the fog of battle it is impossible to gather evidence the way a Manhattan cop can. There's no "CSI: Kandahar."

While GIs gathered shell casings or interviewed witnesses to meet a U.S. judge's habeas standard, they would leave themselves open to counterattack or sniper fire. No commander – and no Commander in Chief – can ask his troops to put themselves in danger to satisfy Justice Kennedy's legal afflatus. This is what Justice Antonin Scalia meant when he wrote that Americans will die as a result of Boumediene.

Justice Kennedy won't want to hear this, but this means that some enemy combatants will be shot on the battlefield rather than captured. Most who are captured will be interrogated for a brief time and released. Some will be set free entirely, while others will be handed over to the tender mercies of our allies on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The U.S. will still require some kind of detention for the worst combatants – such as KSM, and others we will want to put on trial. But if Gitmo is no longer a prison, some U.S. domestic prison will have to house these men while they await a habeas hearing and trial. If a habeas court finds the evidence against them unpersuasive, they can then be held only for six months under immigration law before they are deported. If no country will accept them, the possibility exists that they will be released here. It will be fascinating to watch the Congressfolk who cheered Boumediene now saying "not in my backyard." What does Pat Leahy think about a Vermont destination?

That still leaves the issue of trials for those who are found to be enemy combatants. The State Department is arguing that Mr. Bush should now cashier the entire post-9/11 system, including Gitmo and military commissions. The argument is that the U.S. will get no diplomatic benefit from refusing to hold future detainees as long as the commissions continue. In any case, State's legal sages say, the Supreme Court will eventually declare military commissions unconstitutional too.

But we doubt even Justice Kennedy would disallow commissions, which have existed throughout American history. After the Civil War, they were even used against the KKK's attempts to defeat Reconstruction of the South. After six long years, about 20 enemy combatants (including KSM) are now set for the tribunals, and multiple trials are under way. If Mr. Bush shuts down the commissions at this late date, the military justice process would have to start over.

It would insult the 9/11 families if justice for KSM and the others who planned those attacks is delayed once again. Assuming they are convicted, they will have the right of appeal. But would five Supreme Court Justices really set free the men who plotted the murders of 3,000 Americans? As for diplomacy, those who dislike America won't bother to distinguish between military commissions and courts martial. They'll find any military trials unfair.

The killers of 9/11 need to be put on trial, and soon. Americans need to hear them revel in their jihad, boasting that they would kill again if they get the chance. Justice Kennedy needs to hear it too.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary,
24657  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / T. Paine: on: July 03, 2008, 05:52:25 AM
"The Sun never shined on a cause of greater worth."

-- Thomas Paine (Common Sense, 1776)

Reference: Paine: Collected Writings, Foner ed., Library of America
(21)
24658  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Defecate or get off the pot on: July 03, 2008, 04:58:57 AM
Geopolitical Diary: The Economic and Political Effects of an Iranian Threat
July 2, 2008
The rumors and denial of rumors continue to swirl around Iran. Endless leaks of decisions made by the United States and/or Israel to strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities continue. In the latest variants, Americans warned that Israel might already have decided to attack Iran, with the date set sometime between the U.S. election and Inauguration Day. Or it might be the Americans attacking. It is not clear what effect this is having on Iran, but it is certainly making others players nervous, not the least of which are the oil markets.

There is an important interaction going on between two geopolitical elements. One is the attempt by Israel and the United States to force the Iranians to capitulate on the nuclear issue by convincing them that an attack is inevitable if they don’t. The other is the impact of oil prices on the global economy and thereby on international power relations. An attack on Iranian nuclear facilities would obviously spike oil prices. The real question would be whether that spike in prices would last and how high it would go. The answer to that question rests in what the Iranians would do in response. The Iranians have now been duly warned that an attack is coming. One would think that they have considered their response.

The obvious response, if the Iranians are capable of it, would be to block the Strait of Hormuz, through which Saudi and Kuwaiti oil flows to the world markets. The obvious means for this, as we discussed in an analysis Tuesday, would be to mine the Strait. That might not be as easy as it appears, since the U.S. Navy could deploy in the Strait en masse and block any Iranian ship that might try to approach the channel. But the Iranians would likely retain the ability to mine parts of the Persian Gulf itself. Iran has a long coast and a lot of small boats. It wouldn’t take much to scatter mines.

Most importantly, it would not have to be effective. The mere possibility of mines — the uncertainty factor — would not only slow down the movement of tankers in the Gulf, but also spike insurance rates. Tankers cost a lot of money and their cargoes these days are incredibly expensive. Risking both ship and cargo is not something tanker owners like to do. They buy insurance. If the possibility of mines in the Gulf existed, insurance rates would not only rise, but might become altogether unavailable. Insurance and re-insurance companies these days do not have enormous appetites for unpredictable risk involving large amounts of money. And without insurance, as we saw during the tanker wars in the 1980s, owners won’t take the risk themselves.

Iran’s counter could be to increase the potential risk to the point where insurers back off. At that point, governments would have the option of insuring tankers themselves. Given how quickly governments move, particularly in what would have to be an international undertaking, oil supplies could be disrupted for days or even weeks. At this point, speculators and psychology aside, prices would spike dramatically. The creaking sound would turn into a cracking sound for the world economy.

Herein lies the fear for markets. The longer the psychological warfare goes on, the more nervous they will become and the more pressure there will be on the global economy. The thought of this going on until after the November election may or may not panic the Iranians. But it is certainly worrying the markets at a time when the markets should be calmed. It is hard to figure out whether months of uncertainty or rapid action would have more soothing results.

Conducting an extended psychological campaign against Iran makes complete politico-military sense. It does not make politico-economic sense. It creates a massive unknown in a situation where no action may actually be taken. Here is the problem. It is clear that Israel and the United States don’t really want to attack Iran. If they wanted that, they would shut up and do it. But that’s a guess. So the markets must take into account a possible attack and an Iranian counter. Hitting Iran fast, taking the hit and then calming the markets by showing that the Iranians can’t disrupt tanker traffic makes more sense from an economic standpoint than constantly creating unknowns.

The problem is that neither Israel nor the United States is certain that Iran can’t disrupt tanker traffic. And they don’t want Iran to have nuclear weapons. Some decisions have to be made. Attack, don’t attack — but stop threatening to attack.
stratfor
24659  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: The Fallout from Phoenix on: July 02, 2008, 06:00:47 PM
Mexican Cartels and the Fallout From Phoenix
July 2, 2008




By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

Late on the night of June 22, a residence in Phoenix was approached by a heavily armed tactical team preparing to serve a warrant. The members of the team were wearing the typical gear for members of their profession: black boots, black BDU pants, Kevlar helmets and Phoenix Police Department (PPD) raid shirts pulled over their body armor. The team members carried AR-15 rifles equipped with Aimpoint sights to help them during the low-light operation and, like most cops on a tactical team, in addition to their long guns, the members of this team carried secondary weapons — pistols strapped to their thighs.

But the raid took a strange turn when one element of the team began directing suppressive fire on the residence windows while the second element entered — a tactic not normally employed by the PPD. This breach of departmental protocol did not stem from a mistake on the part of the team’s commander. It occurred because the eight men on the assault team were not from the PPD at all. These men were not cops serving a legal search or arrest warrant signed by a judge; they were cartel hit men serving a death warrant signed by a Mexican drug lord.

The tactical team struck hard and fast. They quickly killed a man in the house and then fled the scene in two vehicles, a red Chevy Tahoe and a gray Honda sedan. Their aggressive tactics did have consequences, however. The fury the attackers unleashed on the home — firing over 100 rounds during the operation — drew the attention of a nearby Special Assignments Unit (SAU) team, the PPD’s real tactical team, which responded to the scene with other officers. An SAU officer noticed the Tahoe fleeing the scene and followed it until it entered an alley. Sensing a potential ambush, the SAU officer chose to establish a perimeter and wait for reinforcements rather than charge down the alley after the suspects. This was fortunate, because after three of the suspects from the Tahoe were arrested, they confessed that they had indeed planned to ambush the police officers chasing them.

The assailants who fled in the Honda have not yet been found, but police did recover the vehicle in a church parking lot. They reportedly found four sets of body armor in the vehicle and also recovered an assault rifle abandoned in a field adjacent to the church.

This Phoenix home invasion and murder is a vivid reminder of the threat to U.S. law enforcement officers that stems from the cartel wars in Mexico.

Violence Crosses the Border
The fact that the Mexican men involved in the Phoenix case were heavily armed and dressed as police comes as no surprise to anyone who has followed security events in Mexico. Teams of cartel enforcers frequently impersonate police or military personnel, often wearing matching tactical gear and carrying standardized weapons. In fact, it is rare to see a shootout or cartel-related arms seizure in Mexico where tactical gear and clothing bearing police or military insignia is not found.

One reason for the prevalent use of this type of equipment is that many cartel enforcers come from military or police backgrounds. By training and habit, they prefer to operate as a team composed of members equipped with standardized gear so that items such as ammunition and magazines can be interchanged during a firefight. This also gives a team member the ability to pick up the familiar weapon of a fallen comrade and immediately bring it into action. This is of course the same reason military units and police forces use standardized equipment in most places.

Police clothing, such as hats, patches and raid jackets, is surprisingly easy to come by. Authentic articles can be stolen or purchased through uniform vendors or cop shops. Knockoff uniform items can easily be manufactured in silk screen or embroidery shops by duplicating authentic designs. Even badges are easy to obtain if one knows where to look.

While it now appears that the three men arrested in Phoenix were not former or active members of the Mexican military or police, it is not surprising that they employed military- and police-style tactics. Enforcers of various cartel groups such as Los Zetas, La Gente Nueva or the Kaibiles who have received advanced tactical training often pass on that training to younger enforcers (many of whom are former street thugs) at makeshift training camps located on ranches in northern Mexico. There are also reports of Israeli mercenaries visiting these camps to provide tactical training. In this way, the cartel enforcers are transforming ordinary street thugs into highly-trained cartel tactical teams.

Though cartel enforcers have almost always had ready access to guns, including military weapons such as assault rifles and grenade launchers, groups such as Los Zetas, the Kaibiles and their young disciples bring an added level of threat to the equation. They are highly trained men with soldiers’ mindsets who operate as a unit capable of using their weapons with deadly effectiveness. Assault rifles in the hands of untrained thugs are dangerous, but when those same weapons are placed in the hands of men who can shoot accurately and operate tactically as a fire team, they can be overwhelmingly powerful — not only when used against enemies and other intended targets, but also when used against law enforcement officers who attempt to interfere with the team’s operations.

Targets
Although the victim in the Phoenix killing, Andrew Williams, was reportedly a Jamaican drug dealer who crossed a Mexican cartel, there are many other targets in the United States that the cartels would like to eliminate. These targets include Mexican cartel members who have fled to the United States due to several different factors. The first factor is the violent cartel war that has raged in Mexico for the past few years over control of important smuggling routes and strategic locations along those routes. The second factor is the Calderon administration’s crackdown, first on the Gulf cartel and now on the Sinaloa cartel. Pressure from rival cartels and the government has forced many cartel leaders into hiding, and some of them have left Mexico for Central America or the United States.

Traditionally, when violence has spiked in Mexico, cartel figures have used U.S. cities such as Laredo, El Paso and San Diego as rest and recreation spots, reasoning that the general umbrella of safety provided by U.S. law enforcement to those residing in the United States would protect them from assassination by their enemies. As bolder Mexican cartel hit men have begun to carry out assassinations on the U.S. side of the border in places such as Laredo, Rio Bravo, and even Dallas, the cartel figures have begun to seek sanctuary deeper in the United States, thereby bringing the threat with them.

While many cartel leaders are wanted in the United States, many have family members not being sought by U.S. law enforcement. (Many of them even have relatives who are U.S. citizens.) Some family members have also settled comfortably inside the United States, using the country as a haven from violence in Mexico. These families might become targets, however, as the cartels look for creative ways to hurt their rivals.

Other cartel targets in the United States include Drug Enforcement Administration and other law enforcement officers responsible for operations against the cartels, and informants who have cooperated with U.S. or Mexican authorities and been relocated stateside for safety. There are also many police officers who have quit their jobs in Mexico and fled to the United States to escape threats from the cartels, as well as Mexican businessmen who are targeted by cartels and have moved to the United States for safety.

To date, the cartels for the most part have refrained from targeting innocent civilians. In the type of environment they operate under inside Mexico, cartels cannot afford to have the local population, a group they use as camouflage, turn against them. It is not uncommon for cartel leaders to undertake public relations events (they have even held carnivals for children) in order to build goodwill with the general population. As seen with al Qaeda in Iraq, losing the support of the local population is deadly for a militant group attempting to hide within that population.

Cartels have also attempted to minimize civilian casualties in their operations inside the United States, though for a different operational consideration. The cartels believe that if a U.S. drug dealer or a member of a rival Mexican cartel is killed in a place like Dallas or Phoenix, nobody really cares. Many people see such a killing as a public service, and there will not be much public outcry about it, nor much real effort on the part of law enforcement agencies to identify and catch the killers. The death of a civilian, on the other hand, brings far more public condemnation and law enforcement attention.

However, the aggressiveness of cartel enforcers and their brutal lack of regard for human life means that while they do not intentionally target civilians, they are bound to create collateral casualties along the way. This is especially true as they continue to conduct operations like the Phoenix killing, where they fired over 100 rounds of 5.56 mm ball ammunition at a home in a residential neighborhood.

Tactical Implications
Judging from the operations of the cartel enforcers in Mexico, they have absolutely no hesitation about firing at police officers who interfere with their operations or who dare to chase them. Indeed, the Phoenix case nearly ended in an ambush of the police. It must be noted, however, that this ambush was not really intentional, but rather the natural reaction of these Mexican cartel enforcers to police pursuit. They were accustomed to shooting at police and military south of the border and have very little regard for them. In many instances, this aggression convinces the poorly armed and trained police to leave the cartel gunmen alone.

The problem such teams pose for the average U.S. cop on patrol is that the average cop is neither trained nor armed to confront a heavily armed fire team. In fact, a PPD source advised Stratfor that, had the SAU officer not been the first to arrive on the scene, it could have been a disaster for the department. This is not a criticism of the Phoenix cops. The vast majority of police officers and federal agents in the United States simply are not prepared or equipped to deal with a highly trained fire team using insurgent tactics. That is a task suited more for the U.S. military forces currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

These cartel gunmen also have the advantage of being camouflaged as cops. This might not only cause considerable confusion during a firefight (who do backup officers shoot at if both parties in the fight are dressed like cops?) but also means that responding officers might hesitate to fire on the criminals dressed as cops. Such hesitation could provide the criminals with an important tactical advantage — an advantage that could prove fatal for the officers.

Mexican cartel enforcers have also demonstrated a history of using sophisticated scanners to listen to police radio traffic, and in some cases they have even employed police radios to confuse and misdirect the police responding to an armed confrontation with cartel enforcers.

We anticipate that as the Mexican cartels begin to go after more targets inside the United States, the spread of cartel violence and these dangerous tactics beyond the border region will catch some law enforcement officers by surprise. A patrol officer conducting a traffic stop on a group of cartel members who are preparing to conduct an assassination in, say, Los Angeles, Chicago or northern Virginia could quickly find himself heavily outgunned and under fire. With that said, cops in the United States are far more capable than their Mexican counterparts of dealing with this threat.

In addition to being far better trained, U.S. law enforcement officers also have access to far better command, control and communication networks than their Mexican counterparts. Like we saw in the Phoenix example, this communication network provides cops with the ability to quickly summon reinforcements, air support and tactical teams to deal with heavily armed criminals — but this communication system only helps if it can be used. That means cops need to recognize the danger before they are attacked and prevented from calling for help. As with many other threats, the key to protecting oneself against this threat is situational awareness, and cops far from the border need to become aware of this trend.

Tell Stratfor What You Think

This report may be forwarded or republished on your website with attribution to www.stratfor.com
24660  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: July 02, 2008, 05:59:34 PM
Mexican Cartels and the Fallout From Phoenix
July 2, 2008




By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

Late on the night of June 22, a residence in Phoenix was approached by a heavily armed tactical team preparing to serve a warrant. The members of the team were wearing the typical gear for members of their profession: black boots, black BDU pants, Kevlar helmets and Phoenix Police Department (PPD) raid shirts pulled over their body armor. The team members carried AR-15 rifles equipped with Aimpoint sights to help them during the low-light operation and, like most cops on a tactical team, in addition to their long guns, the members of this team carried secondary weapons — pistols strapped to their thighs.

But the raid took a strange turn when one element of the team began directing suppressive fire on the residence windows while the second element entered — a tactic not normally employed by the PPD. This breach of departmental protocol did not stem from a mistake on the part of the team’s commander. It occurred because the eight men on the assault team were not from the PPD at all. These men were not cops serving a legal search or arrest warrant signed by a judge; they were cartel hit men serving a death warrant signed by a Mexican drug lord.

The tactical team struck hard and fast. They quickly killed a man in the house and then fled the scene in two vehicles, a red Chevy Tahoe and a gray Honda sedan. Their aggressive tactics did have consequences, however. The fury the attackers unleashed on the home — firing over 100 rounds during the operation — drew the attention of a nearby Special Assignments Unit (SAU) team, the PPD’s real tactical team, which responded to the scene with other officers. An SAU officer noticed the Tahoe fleeing the scene and followed it until it entered an alley. Sensing a potential ambush, the SAU officer chose to establish a perimeter and wait for reinforcements rather than charge down the alley after the suspects. This was fortunate, because after three of the suspects from the Tahoe were arrested, they confessed that they had indeed planned to ambush the police officers chasing them.

The assailants who fled in the Honda have not yet been found, but police did recover the vehicle in a church parking lot. They reportedly found four sets of body armor in the vehicle and also recovered an assault rifle abandoned in a field adjacent to the church.

This Phoenix home invasion and murder is a vivid reminder of the threat to U.S. law enforcement officers that stems from the cartel wars in Mexico.

Violence Crosses the Border
The fact that the Mexican men involved in the Phoenix case were heavily armed and dressed as police comes as no surprise to anyone who has followed security events in Mexico. Teams of cartel enforcers frequently impersonate police or military personnel, often wearing matching tactical gear and carrying standardized weapons. In fact, it is rare to see a shootout or cartel-related arms seizure in Mexico where tactical gear and clothing bearing police or military insignia is not found.

One reason for the prevalent use of this type of equipment is that many cartel enforcers come from military or police backgrounds. By training and habit, they prefer to operate as a team composed of members equipped with standardized gear so that items such as ammunition and magazines can be interchanged during a firefight. This also gives a team member the ability to pick up the familiar weapon of a fallen comrade and immediately bring it into action. This is of course the same reason military units and police forces use standardized equipment in most places.

Police clothing, such as hats, patches and raid jackets, is surprisingly easy to come by. Authentic articles can be stolen or purchased through uniform vendors or cop shops. Knockoff uniform items can easily be manufactured in silk screen or embroidery shops by duplicating authentic designs. Even badges are easy to obtain if one knows where to look.

While it now appears that the three men arrested in Phoenix were not former or active members of the Mexican military or police, it is not surprising that they employed military- and police-style tactics. Enforcers of various cartel groups such as Los Zetas, La Gente Nueva or the Kaibiles who have received advanced tactical training often pass on that training to younger enforcers (many of whom are former street thugs) at makeshift training camps located on ranches in northern Mexico. There are also reports of Israeli mercenaries visiting these camps to provide tactical training. In this way, the cartel enforcers are transforming ordinary street thugs into highly-trained cartel tactical teams.

Though cartel enforcers have almost always had ready access to guns, including military weapons such as assault rifles and grenade launchers, groups such as Los Zetas, the Kaibiles and their young disciples bring an added level of threat to the equation. They are highly trained men with soldiers’ mindsets who operate as a unit capable of using their weapons with deadly effectiveness. Assault rifles in the hands of untrained thugs are dangerous, but when those same weapons are placed in the hands of men who can shoot accurately and operate tactically as a fire team, they can be overwhelmingly powerful — not only when used against enemies and other intended targets, but also when used against law enforcement officers who attempt to interfere with the team’s operations.

Targets
Although the victim in the Phoenix killing, Andrew Williams, was reportedly a Jamaican drug dealer who crossed a Mexican cartel, there are many other targets in the United States that the cartels would like to eliminate. These targets include Mexican cartel members who have fled to the United States due to several different factors. The first factor is the violent cartel war that has raged in Mexico for the past few years over control of important smuggling routes and strategic locations along those routes. The second factor is the Calderon administration’s crackdown, first on the Gulf cartel and now on the Sinaloa cartel. Pressure from rival cartels and the government has forced many cartel leaders into hiding, and some of them have left Mexico for Central America or the United States.

Traditionally, when violence has spiked in Mexico, cartel figures have used U.S. cities such as Laredo, El Paso and San Diego as rest and recreation spots, reasoning that the general umbrella of safety provided by U.S. law enforcement to those residing in the United States would protect them from assassination by their enemies. As bolder Mexican cartel hit men have begun to carry out assassinations on the U.S. side of the border in places such as Laredo, Rio Bravo, and even Dallas, the cartel figures have begun to seek sanctuary deeper in the United States, thereby bringing the threat with them.

While many cartel leaders are wanted in the United States, many have family members not being sought by U.S. law enforcement. (Many of them even have relatives who are U.S. citizens.) Some family members have also settled comfortably inside the United States, using the country as a haven from violence in Mexico. These families might become targets, however, as the cartels look for creative ways to hurt their rivals.

Other cartel targets in the United States include Drug Enforcement Administration and other law enforcement officers responsible for operations against the cartels, and informants who have cooperated with U.S. or Mexican authorities and been relocated stateside for safety. There are also many police officers who have quit their jobs in Mexico and fled to the United States to escape threats from the cartels, as well as Mexican businessmen who are targeted by cartels and have moved to the United States for safety.

To date, the cartels for the most part have refrained from targeting innocent civilians. In the type of environment they operate under inside Mexico, cartels cannot afford to have the local population, a group they use as camouflage, turn against them. It is not uncommon for cartel leaders to undertake public relations events (they have even held carnivals for children) in order to build goodwill with the general population. As seen with al Qaeda in Iraq, losing the support of the local population is deadly for a militant group attempting to hide within that population.

Cartels have also attempted to minimize civilian casualties in their operations inside the United States, though for a different operational consideration. The cartels believe that if a U.S. drug dealer or a member of a rival Mexican cartel is killed in a place like Dallas or Phoenix, nobody really cares. Many people see such a killing as a public service, and there will not be much public outcry about it, nor much real effort on the part of law enforcement agencies to identify and catch the killers. The death of a civilian, on the other hand, brings far more public condemnation and law enforcement attention.

However, the aggressiveness of cartel enforcers and their brutal lack of regard for human life means that while they do not intentionally target civilians, they are bound to create collateral casualties along the way. This is especially true as they continue to conduct operations like the Phoenix killing, where they fired over 100 rounds of 5.56 mm ball ammunition at a home in a residential neighborhood.

Tactical Implications
Judging from the operations of the cartel enforcers in Mexico, they have absolutely no hesitation about firing at police officers who interfere with their operations or who dare to chase them. Indeed, the Phoenix case nearly ended in an ambush of the police. It must be noted, however, that this ambush was not really intentional, but rather the natural reaction of these Mexican cartel enforcers to police pursuit. They were accustomed to shooting at police and military south of the border and have very little regard for them. In many instances, this aggression convinces the poorly armed and trained police to leave the cartel gunmen alone.

The problem such teams pose for the average U.S. cop on patrol is that the average cop is neither trained nor armed to confront a heavily armed fire team. In fact, a PPD source advised Stratfor that, had the SAU officer not been the first to arrive on the scene, it could have been a disaster for the department. This is not a criticism of the Phoenix cops. The vast majority of police officers and federal agents in the United States simply are not prepared or equipped to deal with a highly trained fire team using insurgent tactics. That is a task suited more for the U.S. military forces currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

These cartel gunmen also have the advantage of being camouflaged as cops. This might not only cause considerable confusion during a firefight (who do backup officers shoot at if both parties in the fight are dressed like cops?) but also means that responding officers might hesitate to fire on the criminals dressed as cops. Such hesitation could provide the criminals with an important tactical advantage — an advantage that could prove fatal for the officers.

Mexican cartel enforcers have also demonstrated a history of using sophisticated scanners to listen to police radio traffic, and in some cases they have even employed police radios to confuse and misdirect the police responding to an armed confrontation with cartel enforcers.

We anticipate that as the Mexican cartels begin to go after more targets inside the United States, the spread of cartel violence and these dangerous tactics beyond the border region will catch some law enforcement officers by surprise. A patrol officer conducting a traffic stop on a group of cartel members who are preparing to conduct an assassination in, say, Los Angeles, Chicago or northern Virginia could quickly find himself heavily outgunned and under fire. With that said, cops in the United States are far more capable than their Mexican counterparts of dealing with this threat.

In addition to being far better trained, U.S. law enforcement officers also have access to far better command, control and communication networks than their Mexican counterparts. Like we saw in the Phoenix example, this communication network provides cops with the ability to quickly summon reinforcements, air support and tactical teams to deal with heavily armed criminals — but this communication system only helps if it can be used. That means cops need to recognize the danger before they are attacked and prevented from calling for help. As with many other threats, the key to protecting oneself against this threat is situational awareness, and cops far from the border need to become aware of this trend.

Tell Stratfor What You Think

This report may be forwarded or republished on your website with attribution to www.stratfor.com
24661  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: July 02, 2008, 05:08:28 PM
For the body work a student did on me today.
24662  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / HELP PLEASE! Event Insurance on: July 02, 2008, 05:07:13 PM
Woof All:

We have a gym willing to host our DB Gathering of the Pack, but want us to have "event insurance"  huh  We have never had to do this and I have absolutely no idea whom to go to for this, no idea what the costs can be, no idea if what we do is insurable, in short NO IDEA!

PLEASE HELP!  I'm guessing anyone who has done a MMA show would have ideas about how to go about this.

The Adventure continues!
Crafty Dog
24663  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB Gathering of the Pack August 10th, 2008 on: July 02, 2008, 04:58:37 PM
We have a gym in Burbank that is willing, but I found out last night that they want us to have "event insurance" or something like that.  I HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO BEGIN WITH THIS.  DOES ANYONE HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS/HINTS?
24664  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / McCain & the Sandanista on: July 02, 2008, 04:12:36 PM
Sounds like President McC should negotiate with Ahmadinejad cheesy

http://www.sunherald.com/newsupdates/story/660742.html
24665  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: After Gitmo on: July 02, 2008, 08:33:02 AM
After Guantanamo
By DAVID B. RIVKIN JR. and LEE A. CASEY
July 2, 2008; Page A13

The Guantanamo Bay detention facility's days are clearly numbered. John McCain and Barack Obama have said it should be closed, and even President George W. Bush would like to see it abandoned.

Whatever legal benefit Guantanamo offered for being offshore has been largely eliminated by the Supreme Court's decision in Boumediene v. Bush, which extended American constitutional protections to the foreign fighters held there. That decision has created new and vexing legal and practical problems for the U.S. military. Here are some of the issues:

 
AP 
Fort Leavenworth: Is Kansas ready for KSM?
- Habeas games: The Supreme Court has now taken a central role in deciding who may be captured and detained as an enemy combatant , ruling that detainees, akin to criminal defendants, are constitutionally entitled to challenge their confinement through "habeas corpus" proceedings in federal district courts. The court's reasoning extends far beyond how "unlawful enemy combatants" like the Guantanamo detainees are treated. Legitimate prisoners of war in a future conventional conflict – who now receive less legal process than the detainees at Guantanamo – also can demand habeas proceedings. Thus, American forces, if they wish to be sufficiently certain of holding enemy prisoners anywhere in the world, must set about securing CSI-style evidence to satisfy the judges that their captives are indeed what they seem to be – enemies in arms against the United States.

Collecting this evidence on the battlefield will cost lives and impair combat effectiveness. Moreover, the need to litigate habeas proceedings, particularly when applied to a large body of prisoners, will impose great additional burdens on the U.S. military, which is already stretched thin by the demands of global operations. One example: Operations in Guantanamo had to be fundamentally recast to accommodate hundreds of detainee lawyers and their support personnel.

It is deplorable that American forces can no longer detain captured enemy combatants without a burdensome judicial process. But Congress cannot fix the problem by legislating new limits on detainee due-process "rights." Until the Supreme Court's balance changes and Boumediene is overruled, the armed forces will be driven to a tragic "catch and release" policy. The most senior enemy operatives, assuming enough evidence can be collected, will be tried for war crimes before military commissions. Others will be taken into custody, interrogated, and then transferred to the custody of allied governments – or even set free in the theater of action after they have been disarmed.

- Processing Guantanamo detainees: With respect to the 270 or so Guantanamo detainees, some are being, or will be, tried by military commissions for war crimes. The Court's Boumediene decision should not prevent those trials from going forward. Indeed, they should be accelerated, and all enemy combatants in U.S. custody, against whom sufficient evidence of war crimes exists, should be brought expeditiously to trial. But for many of those not slated for these trials, habeas proceedings may well result in a release order if the government does not have sufficient evidence to satisfy a civilian judge as to their enemy combatant status.

This is the only area where Congress can and should promptly act. It may be that a handful of detainees deserve "parole" into the United States on humanitarian grounds, but none of them have a right to enter, even if a federal court does order their release. Where such parole is inappropriate, Congress should establish a category of detention that permits aliens not otherwise lawfully admitted to this country to be held until a suitable foreign government can be found to accept them, however long that may be.

Under current law, aliens in the U.S. without a lawful basis for being here, and for whom no receiving country can be found, can only be held up to six months. The Constitution grants Congress plenary authority over questions of immigration and nationality and the Supreme Court has – so far – respected that authority.

- Prison for Guantanamo detainees: That leaves the problem of what to do with those Guantanamo detainees who cannot be repatriated but who a habeas court determines can be properly detained. For all of the real diplomatic costs incurred over Guantanamo, that base was admirably suited to house captured enemy combatants. It is under complete U.S. control, far from any active battlefield, and it is isolated from nearby civilian populations – largely thanks to the surrounding "workers paradise" run by the Castro brothers. In short, the base is easily secured and presents no "host nation" or "not in my backyard" issues. It is those issues that make Guantanamo's prompt closure a bigger problem than almost anyone imagines.

Although many members of Congress (mostly Democrats hostile to Mr. Bush) have decried the detainees' fate at Gitmo, few have offered their states or districts as a suitable alternative, and chances are none will. Last July, a Senate resolution opposing transfer of Gitmo detainees "stateside into facilities in American neighborhoods" passed 94-3 (with Sen. Obama abstaining). The detainees' lawyers may claim that they are mostly innocent aid workers, supposedly sold to U.S. forces by unscrupulous Afghan or Pakistani bounty hunters, but our representatives in Congress know better. Transferring the Guantanamo detainees to the U.S. would create a security problem of unrivaled character. The new location would immediately become a particular target for al Qaeda and other jihadist groups.

The logical place to hold them, of course, would be the Military Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. But, unlike Guantanamo Bay, Fort Leavenworth is not isolated from the surrounding civilian population. It is very much a part of the communities of eastern Kansas and western Missouri. Other alternatives, such as the old federal prison on Alcatraz Island, are also surrounded by population centers.

For that very reason it is Congress that must make the decision where to put the detainees. If that is to be Fort Leavenworth , then the Kansas and Missouri delegations must have the opportunity to speak on the subject in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Neither President Bush nor his successor, Democrat or Republican, should act without a full and complete congressional debate on the subject, and legislation establishing the new locus for detainee operations.

Mr. Bush has taken much on his own shoulders in keeping the U.S. safe since 9/11. He has often been criticized for not consulting Congress or obtaining legislation, and has been equally vilified when consultation and legislation have been secured. This is one issue where both law and reason suggest the president should bring Congress into the decision-making process early, so that it can bear its full and fair share of responsibility for the consequences.

Messrs. Rivkin and Casey , Washington attorneys , served in the Justice Department under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
24666  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: BO's thrid term on: July 02, 2008, 07:32:37 AM
Bush's Third Term
July 2, 2008; Page A12
We're beginning to understand why Barack Obama keeps protesting so vigorously against the prospect of "George Bush's third term." Maybe he's worried that someone will notice that he's the candidate who's running for it.

Most Presidential candidates adapt their message after they win their party nomination, but Mr. Obama isn't merely "running to the center." He's fleeing from many of his primary positions so markedly and so rapidly that he's embracing a sizable chunk of President Bush's policy. Who would have thought that a Democrat would rehabilitate the much-maligned Bush agenda?

 
Take the surveillance of foreign terrorists. Last October, while running with the Democratic pack, the Illinois Senator vowed to "support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies" that assisted in such eavesdropping after 9/11. As recently as February, still running as the liberal favorite against Hillary Clinton, he was one of 29 Democrats who voted against allowing a bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee reform of surveillance rules even to come to the floor.

Two weeks ago, however, the House passed a bill that is essentially the same as that Senate version, and Mr. Obama now says he supports it. Apparently legal immunity for the telcos is vital for U.S. national security, just as Mr. Bush has claimed. Apparently, too, the legislation isn't an attempt by Dick Cheney to gut the Constitution. Perhaps it is dawning on Mr. Obama that, if he does become President, he'll be responsible for preventing any new terrorist attack. So now he's happy to throw the New York Times under the bus.

Next up for Mr. Obama's political blessing will be Mr. Bush's Iraq policy. Only weeks ago, the Democrat was calling for an immediate and rapid U.S. withdrawal. When General David Petraeus first testified about the surge in September 2007, Mr. Obama was dismissive and skeptical. But with the surge having worked wonders in Iraq, this week Mr. Obama went out of his way to defend General Petraeus against MoveOn.org's attacks in 2007 that he was "General Betray Us." Perhaps he had a late epiphany.

Look for Mr. Obama to use his forthcoming visit to Iraq as an excuse to drop those withdrawal plans faster than he can say Jeremiah Wright "was not the person that I met 20 years ago." The Senator will learn – as John McCain has been saying – that withdrawal would squander the gains from the surge, set back Iraqi political progress, and weaken America's strategic position against Iran. Our guess is that he'll spin this switcheroo as some kind of conditional commitment, saying he'll stay in Iraq as long as Iraqis are making progress on political reconciliation, and so on. As things improve in Iraq, this would be Mr. Bush's policy too.

Mr. Obama has also made ostentatious leaps toward Mr. Bush on domestic issues. While he once bid for labor support by pledging a unilateral rewrite of Nafta, the Democrat now says he favors free trade as long as it works for "everybody." His economic aide, Austan Goolsbee, has been liberated from the five-month purdah he endured for telling Canadians that Mr. Obama's protectionism was merely campaign rhetoric. Now that Mr. Obama is in a general election, he can't scare the business community too much.

Back in the day, the first-term Senator also voted against the Supreme Court nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito. But last week he agreed with their majority opinion in the Heller gun rights case, and with their dissent against the liberal majority's ruling to ban the death penalty for rape. Mr. Obama seems to appreciate that getting pegged as a cultural lefty is deadly for national Democrats – at least until November.

This week the great Democratic hope even endorsed spending more money on faith-based charities. Apparently, this core plank of Mr. Bush's "compassionate conservatism" is not the assault on church-state separation that the ACLU and liberals have long claimed. And yesterday, Mr. Obama's campaign unveiled an ad asserting his support for welfare reform that "slashed the rolls by 80 percent." Never mind that Mr. Obama has declared multiple times that he opposed the landmark 1996 welfare reform.

* * *
All of which prompts a couple of thoughts. The first is that Mr. Obama doesn't seem to think American political sentiment has moved as far left as most of the media claim. Another is that the next President, whether Democrat or Republican, is going to embrace much of Mr. Bush's foreign and antiterror policy whether he admits it or not. Think Eisenhower endorsing Truman's Cold War architecture.

Most important is the matter of Mr. Obama's political character – and how honest he is being about what he truly believes. His voting record in the Senate and in Illinois, as well as his primary positions, would make him the most liberal Presidential candidate since George McGovern in 1972. But he clearly doesn't want voters to believe that in November. He's still the Obama Americans don't know.
24667  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: July 01, 2008, 08:22:27 PM
I am grateful for the HS football field up the block from my house where I can do my agility drills and wind sprints.
24668  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / NY Times: Police Impersonator on: July 01, 2008, 01:52:00 PM


GERALD, Mo. — Like so many rural communities in the country’s middle, this small town had wrestled for years with the woes of methamphetamine. Then, several months ago, a federal agent showed up.


Mayor Otis Schulte of Gerald said Bill A. Jakob went to great lengths to make police officers think he was a federal agent.
Arrests began. Houses were ransacked. People, in handcuffs on their front lawns, named names. To some, like Mayor Otis Schulte, who considers the county around Gerald, population 1,171, “a meth capital of the United States,” the drug scourge seemed to be fading at last.

Those whose homes were searched, though, grumbled about a peculiar change in what they understood — mainly from television — to be the law.

They said the agent, a man some had come to know as “Sergeant Bill,” boasted that he did not need search warrants to enter their homes because he worked for the federal government.

But after a reporter for the local weekly newspaper made a few calls about that claim, Gerald’s antidrug campaign abruptly fell apart after less than five months. Sergeant Bill, it turned out, was no federal agent, but Bill A. Jakob, an unemployed former trucking company owner, a former security guard, a former wedding minister and a former small-town cop from 23 miles down the road.

Mr. Jakob, 36, is now the subject of a criminal investigation by federal authorities, and he is likely to face charges related to impersonating a law enforcement officer, his lawyer said.

The strange adventures of Sergeant Bill have led to the firing of three of the town’s five police officers, left the outcome of a string of drug arrests in doubt, prompted multimillion-dollar federal civil rights lawsuits by at least 17 plaintiffs and stirred up a political battle, including a petition seeking the impeachment of Mr. Schulte, over who is to blame for the mess.

And the questions keep coming. How did Mr. Jakob wander into town and apparently leave the mayor, the aldermen and pretty much everyone else he met thinking that he was a federal agent delivered from Washington to help barrel into peoples’ homes and clean up Gerald’s drug problem? And why would anyone — receiving no pay and with no known connection to little Gerald, 70 miles from St. Louis and not even a county seat — want to carry off such a time-consuming ruse in the first place?

Mr. Jakob’s lawyer, Joel Schwartz, said that what happened in Gerald was never a sinister plot, but a chain of events rooted in “errors in judgment.” Mr. Schwartz said he believed that at least three Gerald police officers, including the chief, knew that Mr. Jakob was not a federal drug agent or even a certified police officer.

“It was an innocent evolution, where he helped with one minor thing, then one more on top of that, and all of the sudden, everyone thought he was a federal agent,” Mr. Schwartz said. “I’m not saying this was legal or lawful. But look, they were very, very effective while he was present. I don’t think Gerald is having the drug problem they were having. I’ve heard from some residents who were thrilled that he was there.”

There were numerous arrests during Mr. Jakob’s time in Gerald (the exact number is uncertain, local law enforcement officials said, as legal action surrounding the case proceeds), but Mayor Schulte said that Mr. Jakob had, in fact, gone to elaborate lengths to deceive local authorities, including Ryan McCrary, then the police chief, into believing that he was a federal agent — with the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Marshals Service or some other agency.

In addition to having a badge and a car that seemed to scream law enforcement, Mr. Jakob offered federal drug enforcement help, Mr. Schulte said. (Local officials thought the offer must have somehow grown out of their recent application for a federal grant for radio equipment.) Mr. Jakob even asked Chief McCrary to call what he said was his supervisor’s telephone number to confirm Gerald’s need for his help, the mayor said.

When the call was placed, a woman — whose identity is unknown — answered with the words “multijurisdictional task force,” and said that the city’s request for federal services was under review, the mayor said. Mr. Schulte said he now suspects that Mr. Jakob adapted the nonexistent task force name from the “Beverly Hills Cop” movies starring Eddie Murphy.

“Not only were these officers taken in, but so was everybody else,” said Chet Pleban, a lawyer for Mr. McCrary and the other two members of the police force who lost their jobs after Mr. Jakob’s real identity came to light.

Of the firings, Mayor Schulte said, “Nobody wanted to, but the city’s lawyer recommended it.”

When residents first began noticing Mr. Jakob, he certainly looked the part. His hair was chopped short, residents recalled, and his stocky chest filled a black T-shirt he sometimes wore that read “Police.” They said he wore military-style boots, pants with pockets running down the legs and carried a badge (his lawyer said it was from a former job as a security guard in St. Louis). And his off-white Ford Crown Victoria was decked out with police radios and internal flashing lights, residents said.
===========

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He first came to town in January, his lawyer said, to meet Chief McCrary, whose experiences serving in Afghanistan Mr. Jakob had read about in a local newspaper. Mr. Jakob was considering contract work overseas, Mr. Schwartz said, and the pair hit it off.
Soon, the arrests began. Some of those whose homes were searched said they had been kicked in the head and had had shotguns held against them. Mr. Jakob, many said, seemed to be leading the crew of Gerald police officers.

“He was definitely in charge — it was all him,” said Mike Withington, 49, a concrete finisher, who said Mr. Jakob pounded on his door in May, waking him up and yanking him, in handcuffs, out onto his front yard.

Mr. Withington said he had not yet been charged with a crime; Gary Toelke, the Franklin County sheriff, confirmed that no local charges had been issued against him. But the mortification of that day, Mr. Withington said, has kept him largely indoors and led him to consider moving. Since the search, residents have tossed garbage and crumpled boxes of Sudafed (which has an ingredient that can be used to make methamphetamine) on his lawn, he said, and he no longer shops in town, instead driving miles to neighboring towns.

“Everybody is staring at me,” he said. “People assume you’re guilty when things like this happen.”

When Linda Trest, 51, a reporter at The Gasconade County Republican, started hearing complaints from people whose homes had been searched, she began making inquiries about Mr. Jakob.

“Once I got his name, I hit the computer and within an hour I had all the dirt on this guy,” Ms. Trest said.

As it turned out, Mr. Jakob, who is married and lives near Washington, a small town not far from Gerald, filed for bankruptcy protection in 2003 when he owned a trucking company, and had, at 22, pleaded guilty in Illinois to a misdemeanor charge of criminal sex abuse of someone in their teens. Since the 1990s, he had worked, at times, as a police officer in tiny departments in towns like Kinloch, Mo., and Brooklyn, Ill., though he never seemed to stay anywhere long and was never certified as a police officer in either Missouri or Illinois, his lawyer said. (Under some conditions, short-term employees with some departments are not immediately required to have state certification.)

As in Gerald, he impressed some, if only at first. “He seemed to have experience on the street,” said J. D. Roth, the police chief in Caseyville, Ill., where Mr. Jakob was a temporary part-time officer for almost two months in 2000. “He walked the walk and talked the talk.”

In Gerald, just a day before it was revealed that he was not a federal agent, the city aldermen voted to make Mr. Jakob a reserve officer; he wanted the designation, Mr. Schulte said, so he could enforce local ordinances, and he stood before the aldermen, hands behind his back, seeking the title.  Mr. Jakob offered city officials three contact numbers — his personal cellphone, a cellphone he said he used for drug informants and his “multijurisdictional task force” cellphone, Mr. Schulte said.

“It was the movie, ‘Catch Me if You Can’ all over again,” said Mr. Schulte, referring to the 2002 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a master of deception. “I’m telling you, with this guy, everything was right.”
24669  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: What would you have done? on: July 01, 2008, 01:31:30 PM
Woof David:

This one is for you:  http://www.vimeo.com/1211060

The Adventure continues!
Crafty Dog
24670  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: July 01, 2008, 01:00:28 PM
In the category of "better late than never" (and also "barely above a whisper"), Barack Obama offered an overdue critique of his own side of the Iraq war debate in his speech on patriotism yesterday. Mr. Obama, surrounded by flags (and wearing -- 'tis true! -- a flag pin on his lapel) in Independence, Missouri, bemoaned the fact that "a general providing his best counsel on how to move forward in Iraq was accused of betrayal." That would be General David Petraeus, who last year was the focus of a MoveOn.org smear ad in major newspapers under the headline: "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?"

Recall that an uproar ensued at the time and Democratic politicians across the country disavowed the slur. Some 72 Senators even voted for a "sense of the Senate" resolution that condemned the attack and offered support for Gen. Petraeus. Yet one who didn't was none other than Sen. Obama. He managed to miss the Senate resolution vote, despite the fact he was in Washington and voted on two other measures that day. Indeed, when given an opportunity to criticize the ad, Mr. Obama instead criticized the Senate's decision to hold a vote denouncing it. "The focus of the United States Senate should be on ending this war, not on criticizing newspaper advertisements," Mr. Obama said. "This amendment was a stunt designed only to score cheap political points while what we should be doing is focusing on the deadly serious challenge we face in Iraq."

That was then -- back when Mr. Obama was apparently eager not to ruffle the Netroots activists. This is now -- with the MoveOn.org endorsement firmly in hand, Mr. Obama evidently feels free to pander in the opposite direction. Mr. Obama is certainly serving up the audacity of something, but I wouldn't call it hope.

-- Kim Strassel

The Madness of King George

He was governor of New York for twelve years and only left office on the last day of 2006. But George Pataki can't get any respect from his own Republican Party, which unceremoniously dumped him from its list of delegates invited to the GOP national convention in Minneapolis.

Everyone thinks it all has something to do with a feud between Mr. Pataki and GOP State Chairman Joe Mondello, who became angry in 2004 when the then-governor stripped him of a national party post.

But there are broader reasons for the snub. The state Republican Party disintegrated under Gov. Pataki's leadership, with party building and candidate recruitment largely ignored as deals were increasingly cut with Democratic teacher and health worker unions to preserve the shrinking GOP majority in the state senate. In 2006, the house of cards came crashing down when Republicans failed to win a single statewide office for the first time since the 1940s. Republicans now hold the state senate by a single seat.

Democrats were chortling yesterday over Mr. Pataki's discomfiture. "He should have tried to go to the Democratic convention," joked consultant Basil Smikle. "He'd have been named a super-delegate for all the help he gave Democrats in taking over control of the state."

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day

"Barack Obama is under hostile fire for changing his position on the D.C. gun ban. Oh, I'm sorry. He didn't change his position, apparently. He reworded a clumsy statement. That, at least, is what his campaign is saying. The same campaign that tried to spin his flip-flop in rejecting public financing as embracing the spirit of reform, if not the actual position he had once promised to embrace. Is this becoming a pattern? Wouldn't it be better for Obama to say he had thought more about such-and-such an issue and simply changed his mind? Is that verboten in American politics? Is it better to engage in linguistic pretzel-twisting in an effort to prove that you didn't change your mind?" -- Howard Kurtz, the Washington Post's media columnist.

Too Little, Too Late Is Africa's Response to Mugabe

Robert Mugabe didn't exactly receive an enthusiastic welcome when he arrived yesterday for a meeting of the 53-member African Union in Egypt. While he was seated as Zimbabwe's president despite the obviously fraudulent nature of his re-election last Friday, he was nonetheless roundly condemned by many of the leaders present.

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga urged the Union to "not accept or entertain Mr. Mugabe." He told an audience in Kenya on Sunday that the Union should "take its soldiers to Zimbabwe to free the people in that country."

Most surprising to conference attendees was the publication yesterday in a South African paper of a document that South African President Thabo Mbeki is said to have written in 2001, just as Mr. Mugabe took his own country down the path towards nationalization of agriculture and a totalitarian police state. Mr. Mbeki has been severely criticized for his public stance towards Zimbabwe, including his decision earlier this year to hold hands with the dictator and proclaim that Zimbabwe was not in crisis.

But in a 37-page "discussion document" he drafted for Mr. Mugabe's Zanu-PF party in 2001, Mr. Mbeki expressed private frustration and concern with the direction of the country. He warned of the need "to ensure that Zimbabwe does not end up in a situation of isolation, confronted by an array of international forces she cannot defeat, condemned to sink into an ever-deepening social and economic crisis."

Mr. Mbeki deplored the direction of Mr. Mugabe's policies, urging him to "encourage free, open and critical discussion" and "ensure the freedom of the press." He warned that the recruitment of unofficial militias made up of war veterans from the days of the party's struggle against white rule would undermine public support. He urged a U-turn in economic policy and predicted that resorting "to anti-imperialist rhetoric will not solve the problems of Zimbabwe, but may compound them."

Mr. Mbeki will leave office next year, having utterly failed to use any significant leverage to force changes in Mr. Mugabe's murderous and destructive policies. The leaked document is obviously an attempt to repair his battered public image. Mr. Mbeki clearly foresaw the disaster his old colleague in the liberation struggle was inflicting on his country. Too bad Mr. Mbeki, whose country is the economic powerhouse and moral leader of the region, did so little to prevent what Mr. Odinga, Kenya's prime minister, says has become an embarrassing stain on all of Africa.

24671  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: July 01, 2008, 11:29:00 AM
I am profoundly grateful for a quiet stretch in my work that allows me to enjoy my family.
24672  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: July 01, 2008, 11:06:04 AM
I too wonder if Strat is a bit too in love with a particular theory about what's going on to see this for what it is.
24673  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Puppy offends on: July 01, 2008, 11:04:18 AM
Muslims outraged at police advert featuring cute puppy sitting in policeman's hat

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 12:15 PM on 01st July 2008

A postcard featuring a cute puppy sitting in a policeman's hat advertising a Scottish police force's new telephone number has sparked outrage from Muslims.

Tayside Police's new non-emergency phone number has prompted complaints from members of the Islamic community.

The choice of image on the Tayside Police cards - a black dog sitting in a police officer's hat - has now been raised with Chief Constable John Vine.

The advert has upset Muslims because dogs are considered ritually unclean and has sparked such anger that some shopkeepers in Dundee have refused to display the advert.

Dundee councillor Mohammed Asif said: 'My concern was that it's not welcomed by all communities, with the dog on the cards.

'It was probably a waste of resources going to these communities.

'They (the police) should have understood. Since then, the police have explained that it was an oversight on their part, and that if they'd seen it was going to cause upset they wouldn't have done it.'

Councillor Asif, who is a member of the Tayside Joint Police Board, said that the force had a diversity adviser and was generally very aware of such issues.

He raised the matter with Mr Vine at a meeting of the board.

The chief constable said he was unaware of the concerns and that the force had not sought to cause any upset but added he would look into the matter.

Councillor Asif said: 'People who have shops just won't put up the postcard. But the police have said to me that it was simply an oversight and they did not seek to offend or upset.'

Cards featuring police dog-in-training Rebel have been distributed to communities throughout the area to advertise the single number point of contact for non-emergency calls to the police.

Rebel has proved a popular recruit for Tayside Police after coming through the very first Lothian and Borders Police dog-breeding programme in February.

One of seven German Shepherd pups born in early December, he has now completed his course of inoculations, and is free to venture out onto the streets of Tayside.

A spokesman for Tayside Police said: 'Trainee police dog Rebel has proved extremely popular with children and adults since being introduced to the public, aged six weeks old, as Tayside Police's newest canine recruit.

'His incredible world-wide popularity - he has attracted record visitor numbers to our website - led us to believe Rebel could play a starring role in the promotion of our non-emergency number.

'We did not seek advice from the force's diversity adviser prior to publishing and distributing the postcards. That was an oversight and we apologise for any offence caused.'

Find this story at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...emans-hat.html
24674  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / John Adams: Liberty's sources on: July 01, 2008, 10:55:33 AM
"Liberty must at all hazards be supported.  We have a right to it,
derived from our Maker.  But if we had not, our fathers have earned
and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates,
their pleasure, and their blood."

-- John Adams (A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law, 1765)

Reference: The Revolutionary Writings of John Adams, Thompson,
ed. (28)

24675  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Tortured Evidence on: June 30, 2008, 11:22:39 PM
Tortured Evidence
July 1, 2008
Democrats on Capitol Hill are continuing their "torture" hearings, with selective leaks suggesting that government officials delighted in cruel and inhuman punishment. Allow us to tell you the story they aren't telling friendly reporters.

Consider the case against former Pentagon General Counsel William Haynes, who in 2002 recommended the use of some "enhanced" interrogation techniques, such as light deprivation, stress positions and removal of clothing. Then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld signed off on that recommendation. Michigan's Carl Levin, the main Monday morning Senator, has been portraying this as illegal and disdainful of other Pentagon lawyers.

 
But Mr. Haynes was offering advice consistent with Justice Department legal briefs. And a document produced by Mr. Levin's own investigation shows that Mr. Haynes was willing to listen to internal critics. Among Mr. Levin's star witnesses was former Navy General Counsel Alberto Mora. That's the same Mr. Mora who in 2004 wrote a long statement about his role in the interrogation debate, and his interaction with Mr. Haynes.

According to that document, Mr. Mora arranged a meeting with Mr. Haynes in late 2002 to object to certain Guantanamo interrogation techniques. Mr. Haynes explained that he believed the techniques were legal and weren't torture. Mr. Mora agreed torture was not the "intent," but worried the interrogations could get out of hand. "Mr. Haynes listened attentively throughout. He promised to consider carefully what I had said," Mr. Mora wrote.

Several weeks later, concerned the policy hadn't changed, Mr. Mora again met with Mr. Haynes, who said that some U.S. officials felt the techniques were necessary to elicit information from men believed to have participated in 9/11 with knowledge of other terror plots. "I acknowledged the ethical issues were difficult. I was not sure what my position would be in the classic 'ticking bomb' scenario . . . ," Mr. Mora wrote.

Mr. Haynes said he'd get back to him, and he did by initiating two meetings – including one between Mr. Mora and the legal adviser to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – so Mr. Mora could register his concerns. "I regarded Mr. Haynes's initiative to schedule the above two meetings as a positive development and a sign that he not only took my arguments seriously, but that he possibly agreed with some or many of them."

About five days later, Mr. Rumsfeld suspended the techniques, and set up a working group to develop new recommendations. It was Mr. Haynes who oversaw an effort to find consensus among that group. Mr. Mora was also pleased by a letter Mr. Haynes sent to Senator Patrick Leahy, which Mr. Mora wrote was "the perfect expression of the legal obligations binding DOD and the happy culmination of the long debates in the Pentagon as to what the DOD detainee treatment policy should be. I wrote an email to Mr. Haynes expressing my pleasure on his letter and stating that I was proud to be on his team." Keep in mind this was written by one of the most vocal internal Pentagon critics of aggressive interrogation.

We report all this because it shows that, even as Senator Levin tries to portray a Bush Administration conspiracy to ram through "illegal" interrogation methods, what we really had in the period following 9/11 was a legitimate difference of opinion. President Bush ordered political appointees to prevent another attack, in part by breaking al Qaeda detainees, and they argued over how best to do this. Mr. Levin is now using those internal disagreements to play "gotcha," when he should be congratulating Administration officials for their willingness to listen and their moral conscience.

What isn't in doubt is that these public servants acted in good faith, and their efforts are one reason the country hasn't been attacked again. As political smears go, this tortured exercise is low even by Carl Levin's degraded standards of fairness.
WSJ
24676  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Strat on Hersh article on: June 30, 2008, 02:10:40 PM
U.S. President George W. Bush issued a highly classified presidential finding in late 2007 approving the initiation of covert operations focused on “undermining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change,” according to a July 7 article in The New Yorker by Seymour Hersh. Congressional leaders reportedly have been informed of the finding, and approved up to $400 million dollars to fund the operation.

This is, of course, explosive news. What is explosive is not that the United States is spending money on covert operations in Iran, but that someone has leaked a highly classified document to a reporter. The secret is now out; indeed, it was released before the article’s publication date. Hersh said only that the person who gave him the information was familiar with the document’s contents. This means his source is a person with extraordinarily high, code-named clearance — not to mention a criminal.

We would expect the Bush administration to be launching multiple investigations to find the leaker. If he is a Republican or a member of the administration or the intelligence community, then massive damage control is essential. If he is a Democrat who leaked (or an official of an agency deemed unfriendly to the administration), the incident represents a political opportunity. Everyone who had access to that document should be attached to a polygraph right now. Washington should have been in turmoil all weekend.

It wasn’t. Aside from some desultory comments, no one seems terribly upset that a major covert operation has been uncovered in the press and thereby crippled.

We are certain that a journalist of Hersh’s stature, writing for a respected publication like The New Yorker, did not make his story up. Since arrests are not pending, we can only conclude that the information was deliberately leaked to Hersh by the administration. This would not be the first time Hersh has been used as a channel by administration leakers. In 2006, he reported that the administration was carrying out covert operations in Iran for roughly the same end. Hersh is not friendly to the administration to say the least. A story by him carries great credibility because it appears to be an authentic scoop by a major journalist revealing things the administration doesn’t want revealed. Such a story therefore increases the sense of uncertainty in Iran substantially more than if a minor, pro-administration journalist published it. As we have pointed out in the case of the Mediterranean air exercises by Israel, the United States and Israel are intent on increasing the psychological pressure on Iran. This story fits into that pattern.

The only thing interesting in the story is the idea that until late 2007 there had been no presidential finding and the United States was not engaged in covert operations in Iran to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program and foment regime change. Given the administration’s stance on Iran, it is unthinkable that the intelligence community would not have been running operations in Iran for years focused on just these things. Stratfor has regularly reported on various bombings in the southwestern Arab regions of Iran as well as in Sistan-Balochistan, noting that these would be likely areas to foment unrest.

The latest finding could be an intensification in operations, but the authorization to spend up to $400 million to mess with the Iranians is really not all that much money — especially since that is the cap, and the time frame for expenditures isn’t authorized. But as Hersh made clear in 2006, operations already were under way, meaning a finding had to have been in place.

With all due respect to Mr. Hersh and The New Yorker, this is a report on the obvious. The United States regards Iran as a major target for covert operations, urgently wants to know everything it can about Iran’s nuclear facilities and would love to overthrow the Iranian government. A few hundred million, even on a long shot, is the least the United States would throw at this. As for a finding in late 2007, we do not know where the bureaucratic process is right now, but there have been presidential findings on covert operations in Iran for almost thirty years. Still, the details the administration has decided to make available to The New Yorker via Hersh should make worthwhile reading.

The important point is that unless there has been a massive breach of security, the administration has again acted to increase tensions with Iran — and this just a week after floating the idea of increased diplomatic ties with Iran and about ten days since leaking the report on the Israeli exercises. Since this article has been in preparation for weeks or months, and its publication date has not been under administration control, it remains unclear where in the sequence this leak was intended. But psychological warfare with Iran seems the order of the day, and this article is clearly part of it.

Our read of course might be wrong. Grand juries might be convening as we write and the FBI could be ranging all over D.C. taking statements from everyone with access to covert U.S. plans in Iran. But until that happens, we look at this as another attempt to make the Iranians feel insecure.

Tell Stratfor What You Think
24677  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: June 30, 2008, 02:06:38 PM
Tom Brokaw and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger are old friends, having met 30 years ago when Mr. Brokaw was NBC's correspondent in Los Angeles. But that didn't spare Arnold from tough questioning in the mold of the late Tim Russert when Mr. Brokaw interviewed him for "Meet the Press" yesterday.

Mr. Brokaw began by asking just how much had really changed in California. "When you ran for governor in 2003, you ran as a fiscal conservative who would change the system, who would bring business-like techniques," the host said. "Now, you are facing a $15-billion deficit here in California. Unemployment is running at about 6.8%; you've got the worst housing crisis since the Great Depression. If you were the CEO of a public company, the board would probably say, 'It is time to go.'"

Mr. Schwarzenegger joked: "Are you always this positive?" He then launched into a defense of some of his spending -- especially on infrastructure -- and said economic conditions were sour everywhere: "People are struggling, and I think we see that all over the world."

But Mr. Brokaw wasn't done. "Before you came in, governor, you said the spending was out of control. Your rate of increase in spending is about the same as your predecessor, Gov. Gray Davis. It has grown at about 34% since you took office."

A startled governor, who rode into office during the 2003 recall campaign excoriating the spending record of Democrat Davis, insisted: "The numbers are misleading. We have paid off a lot of debt. . . . I am very proud that we paid off a lot of debt and that we got the economy going again."

In truth, California's state government has taken on billions in new debt to pay for infrastructure projects. It also faces massive new obligations. Just last month, a federal court-appointed prison medical czar ordered the state to pay an additional $7 billion to build new facilities for inmates.

California's tough times have led to a slide in Mr. Schwarzenegger's approval ratings to about 40%, a fact the NBC host dryly noted by saying: "It is tough to govern under those circumstances."

But the governor was unfazed. "Not at all. I'm having a great time."

No one doubts that. Arnold has the role of a lifetime. But Californians aren't having a great time. The millions of Californians who voted for the Terminator five years ago in part because of his pledge to "blow up the boxes" of state government are wondering why their state is once again in the same fiscal fix as in 2003.

-- John Fund

A Sun Rises in the West

Governor Bill Ritter, who grew up on a Colorado farm, aced his first appearance on "Meet the Press" yesterday, appearing unpretentious and focused -- and hardly put off by host Tom Brokaw's questions about how a Western, pro-life Democratic Governor fits with the national party's "progressive" platform.

"I think the Democratic Party in the West has been able to say that [a pro-choice position on abortion] is not going to be a litmus test," Mr. Ritter answered. The national Democratic Party may have a pro-choice platform in Denver, but such planks hardly mean Democrats "don't very much embrace people who might have different views. I'm a great example of that."

Wow. How the party must have changed since popular Pennsylvania Gov. Bob Casey was denied a speaking turn at the 1992 Democratic convention because he adhered to Catholic teaching on abortion. Mr. Ritter, 51, is a former Catholic missionary in Africa who endorsed Mr. Obama on June 3. Numerous liberal blogs, from DailyKos to Democratic Underground, have buzzed ever since about Mr. Ritter's chances to be Mr. Obama's vice presidential nominee.

A recent Quinnipiac/Wall Street Journal/Washington Post poll shows Mr. Obama leading Senator John McCain by 49%-44% in Colorado, where the Democratic Convention will be held this summer. Colorado is one of several states potentially in position to swing a close election and Mr. Ritter could presumably help Mr. Obama with westerners, men and Catholics. Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas is another Catholic Democrat considered a viable Obama veep choice, though Ms. Sebelius, unlike Mr. Ritter, is pro-choice.

That said, history has not beamed on Catholic Democrats seeking the vice presidency. Edmund Muskie, who grew up in a large Polish Roman Catholic family, lost alongside Hubert Humphrey in 1968. George McGovern failed with two Catholic vice presidential nominees in 1972, Thomas Eagleton and Sargent Shriver. In 1984, Walter Mondale selected pro-choice Catholic Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, who struggled throughout the campaign with the abortion issue.

Of course, the problem in all these cases wasn't the veep candidate but the headliner. So the real question may not be whether Mr. Obama wants Mr. Ritter, but the other way around.

-- Robert Costa

His Best Work Was on Super-8

Bob Barr, now running for president on the Libertarian ticket, couldn't be more excited about having former movie actor Sonny Landham running on the same party line in Kentucky, where Mr. Landham announced last week he will challenge the powerful four-term GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell.

"I think that throughout the South there are a lot of disenchanted Republican voters and blue-collar Democrats who are looking for a new choice," Mr. Barr, a former Republican Congressman from Georgia, tells PD. "We both want an open political system, lower taxes and a rational defense policy. I think those issues will resonate among those groups."

Mr. Barr says his favorite Landham film was "Predator," the 1987 Oscar-nominated blockbuster directed by John McTiernan. And no wonder -- the same film also features Arnold Schwarzenegger (a future governor of California) and Jesse Ventura (a future governor of Minnesota). How could Mr. Landham be anything but a shoo-in now that he has turned to electoral politics?

"One of the best movies of all time," adds Mr. Barr.

For his part, Mr. Landham says the Kentucky race is his "to lose" (though the polls may beg to differ). He seems to enjoy calling Mr. McConnell "Boss Hogg" after the corrupt politician from "The Dukes of Hazzard." He also calls the Democratic challenger in the race, millionaire businessman Bruce Lunsford, an "elitist." "This whole campaign is about the economy," says Mr. Landham. "We have to start to drill everywhere -- onshore, offshore, build more refineries, start using coal and burn it cleanly and efficiently. We have to reindustrialize America," he adds. "I am for unionizing the whole globe."

On presidential politics, Mr. Landham has warmer feelings for the Democrat than the Republican. "Senator Obama is like Ronald Reagan, in that he thinks America's best days are ahead," he says, though Mr. Landham still intends to support the Libertarian candidate Mr. Barr. "This country is ready for revolution," says Mr. Landham. "John McCain is the same, old ancient Washington politics. . . . John McCain has not figured out who he is. One minute he's for something, the next minute he's against."

Mr. Landham, who says Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon influenced him politically, will bring a whole Pullman coach of baggage into the race. He spent 31 months in jail on assault charges, though the conviction was reportedly overturned on appeal. And he began his acting career in adult films in the 1970s. "The only thing I can say is that if you've seen my movies, you've seen my shortcomings," he says.

"I did it for the money. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Anybody who enjoys sex, yes, they'll enjoy it," says Mr. Landham, adding that "Andrea True and Georgina Spellman were two of the best actresses I worked with in adult films."

Now if only Ms. True and Ms. Spellman are registered to vote in Kentucky. . . .

-- Robert Costa

Quote of the Day

"The New Deal exists principally on an emotional plane for Barack Obama. To him the New Deal is something you play like a song, to make you or your constituents feel better. Let me be clear: It's too early to judge Obama on economics. But he does seem unaware of the economic consequences of government expansion that happens under the New Deal name. Politicians generally act as if there is no cost to reconnecting with voters by building new New Deals. But the whole exercise of writing law out of New Deal nostalgia is a form of national narcissism. Call it New Deal narcissism" -- Amity Shlaes, author of the New Deal history "The Forgotten Man," writing in National Review.

The Spirit of 13

It was 30 years ago this month that the Reagan revolution was launched. To be exact, on June 6th, 1978 California voters by a two-to-one margin approved the property tax cut called Proposition 13. Arthur Laffer, one of the few economists in the state to endorse the measure, called it "the greatest tax revolt since the Boston Tea Party."

Despite dire claims that Prop. 13 would cause the prisons to open, the police to lay down their guns and the schools to board up, a strong majority of voters approved the measure. Howard Jarvis, the proposition's author, was decried as a "rabble rouser" by the Los Angeles Times. Prop. 13 slashed property taxes by 30% and capped annual increases to 1%. The Jarvis Foundation points out that even a majority of firefighters voted for it, though their union was fiercely against it.

For the next 20 years, California's economy grew at a record pace. Population and income growth surged almost 30% faster than the rest of the nation. Mr. Laffer projected that the measure would cause the greatest housing boom in California history, and he was right. As a consequence, the static revenue losses from the tax cuts were minimal. Ronald Reagan witnessed the policy and political success of Prop. 13 and -- having originally opposed the measure -- latched on to supply-side economics as a consequence.

The left has tried to condemn Proposition 13 every time the state runs into financial trouble -- like right now. But a new Field Poll finds that 30 years after its passage, 57% of Californians say they would still vote for it and only 23% say they would be against it -- i.e., the same two-to-one margin.

According to Field Research: "Voters in this state remain highly supportive of [Prop 13] and its main provisions." Arnold Schwarzenegger should be paying close attention.

California has enormous budget problems today with housing values down by more than 30% over the past 18 months. The only thing that can save the state and return its economy to high growth might be another Proposition 13-type tax rebellion.

24678  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Seymour Hersh on Secret Bush moves against Iran on: June 30, 2008, 10:11:34 AM
Its Seymour Hersh, so super caveat lector.

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/07/07/080707fa_fact_hersh?currentPage=all

Normally I like to post the content in addition to the URL, but this one is just too long for that.
24679  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 27, 28-29 DBMA Camp with Guro Crafty on: June 30, 2008, 09:35:43 AM
This weekend also turned into a DBMA DVD shoot featuring Bruno.   The DVD will be an introduction to Garrote Venezolano with lots of footage of the old masters in Venezuela sparring and with Bruno teaching some of the distinctive footwork of GV.   cool
24680  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Franklin: Liberty on: June 30, 2008, 09:31:52 AM
"Where liberty dwells, there is my country."

-- Benjamin Franklin (letter to Benjamin Vaughn, 14 March 1783)

Reference: Respectfully Quoted, p. 201
24681  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: the former Mrs. Chavez on: June 29, 2008, 10:33:19 AM
Political Diary
June 26, 2008
Chávez Meets His Match
It's not been a good month for Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez. He had to do an about-face and call on the Marxist guerrilla group FARC to stop trying to overthrow the government of neighboring Colombia, lay down its arms and release its 700 hostages. But that head fake came only after evidence surfaced that Mr. Chávez had actually offered FARC leaders $300 million to support their terrorist operations and had even given them their own nameplate on an office in Venezuela's Pentagon.

 
Now Mr. Chávez has trouble on the domestic front. Marisabel Rodríguez, the former first lady of Venezuela whom Mr. Chávez divorced in 2004, announced she will run for mayor of one of Venezuela's most important cities in November local elections. She will run as an opposition candidate because she wants to "change the face and way of doing politics in this city and this country," she told reporters.

The candidacy of Ms. Rodríguez, a public relations executive, will no doubt revive stories about the couple's messy divorce. She is apparently a past master at psychological warfare against her ex-husband. "Marisabel doesn't hesitate to talk about Chávez on TV while holding their daughter, and that is the kind of tactic the opposition likes because to fight a media figure like Chávez you need to shock people in some way," says Arturo Serrano, a political scientist, told Britain's Guardian newspaper.

24682  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WP: My Heart on the Line on: June 29, 2008, 08:42:40 AM
My Heart on the Line

By Frank Schaeffer

The Washington Post

Before my son became a Marine, I never thought much about who was
defending me. Now when I read of the war on terrorism or the coming conflict in
Iraq , it cuts to my heart. When I see a picture of a member of our military who
has been killed, I read his or her name very carefully. Sometimes I cry.

In 1999, when the barrel-chested Marine recruiter showed up in dress blues
and bedazzled my son John, I did not stand in the way. John was
headstrong, and he seemed to understand these stern, clean men with straight backs and
flawless uniforms. I did not. I live in the Volvo-driving, higher
education-worshiping North Shore of Boston. I write novels for a living. I
have never served in the military.

 It had been hard enough sending my two older children off to Georgetown
and New York University . John's enlisting was unexpected, so deeply
unsettling. I did not relish the prospect of answering the question,  "So where is
John going to college?" from the parents who were itching to tell me all about
how their son or daughter was going to Harvard. At the private high school
John attended, no other students were going into the military.

 "But aren't the Marines terribly Southern?" asked one perplexed mother
while standing next to me at the brunch following  graduation. "What a waste, he
was such a good student," said another parent. One parent (a professor at
a nearby and rather famous university) spoke up at a school meeting and
suggested that the school should "carefully evaluate what went wrong."

 When John graduated from three months of boot camp on Parris Island, 3,000
parents and friends were on the parade deck stands.  We parents and our
Marines not only were of many races but also were  representative of many
economic classes. Many were poor. Some arrived crammed in the backs of
pickups, others by bus. John told me that a lot of parents could not
afford the trip.

 We in the audience were white and Native American. We were Hispanic, Arab
and African American and Asian. We were former Marines wearing the scars
of battle, or at least baseball caps emblazoned with  battles' names. We were
Southern whites from Nashville and skinheads from New Jersey, black kids
from Cleveland wearing ghetto rags and white ex-cons with ham-hock
forearms defaced by jailhouse tattoos. We would not have been mistaken for the
educated and well-heeled parents gathered on the lawns of John's private
school a half-year before.

 After graduation one new Marine told John, "Before I was a Marine, if I
had ever seen you on my block I  would've probably killed you just because you
were standing there." This was a serious statement from one of John's good
friends, an African American ex-gang member from Detroit who, as John
said, "would die for me now, just like I'd die for him."

 My son has connected me to my country in a way that I was too selfish and
insular to experience before. I feel closer to the waitress at our local
diner than to some of my oldest friends. She has two sons in  the Corps.
They are facing the same dangers as my boy. When the guy who fixes my car
asks me how John is doing, I know he means it. His younger brother is in
the Navy.

 Why were I and the other parents at my son's private school so surprised
by his choice? During World War II, the sons and daughters of the most
powerful and educated families did their bit. If the idea of the immorality of the
Vietnam War was the only reason those lucky enough to go to college dodged
the draft, why did we not encourage our children to volunteer for military
service once that war was done?

 Have we wealthy and educated Americans all become pacifists? Is the world
a safe place? Or have we just  gotten used to having somebody else defend
us?

What is the future of our democracy when the sons and daughters of the
janitors at our elite universities are far more likely to be put in harm's
way than are any of the students whose dorms their parents clean?

 I feel shame because it took my son's joining the Marine Corps to make me
take notice of who is defending me. I feel hope because perhaps my son is
part of a future "greatest generation." As the storm clouds of war gather,
at least I know that I can look the men and women in  uniform in the eye.
My son is one of them. He is the best I have to offer. He is my heart.
24683  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: on: June 29, 2008, 01:03:45 AM
Justices for Free Speech
June 28, 2008; Page A10
It has been a splendid week for the Bill of Rights at the Supreme Court. In addition to their landmark gun rights ruling, the same five Justices took another whack at Congress's attempts to limit political speech via campaign-finance limits. John McCain, call your office.

In Davis v. FEC, a 5-4 majority overturned a portion of the 2002 McCain-Feingold law that exempted the political opponents of rich candidates from the usual fund-raising limits in order to "level the playing field." Known as the Millionaire's Amendment, the law saddled wealthy, self-financing candidates with burdens designed to help their opponents. Millionaires had to report expenditures within 24 hours, while their opponents were allowed greater coordination with political parties and could raise three times the usual $2,300 limit on individual contributions. Naturally, this idea came from Congressional incumbents who hate wealthy challengers.

The case was brought by Jack Davis, a New York Democrat who twice ran a self-financed campaign to oust Congressman Tom Reynolds. Mr. Davis's spending triggered the millionaire limits, despite Mr. Reynolds's well-stocked campaign bank accounts. Though he lost both times, Mr. Davis was fined by the Federal Election Commission for failing to report expenditures in the 24-hour window.

Reformers justify the special rules for millionaires by crying fairness – an argument that Justice Samuel Alito dispatched in his majority opinion. "The argument that a candidate's speech may be restricted in order to 'level electoral opportunities' has ominous implications," he wrote, and is "antithetical to the First Amendment."

If Congress can massage the rules to level the playing field for candidates of differing personal means, what's to stop Congress from doing it for other reasons and in other ways? Some candidates are celebrities, others have famous political names, and still others may be adored by the local newspaper. Should Congress level the field for their opponents too? No prior Court opinions, Justice Alito added, support the notion that reducing the "natural advantage" of rich candidates is a legitimate government objective.

The ruling puts in jeopardy similar attempts to favor some candidates over others in such states as Arizona and Maine. More important, it signals that five Justices on the current Court view campaign-finance limits with increasing skepticism.

Sooner or later, they are likely to run up against the Court's own original sin in this area, Buckley v. Valeo, which in 1976 first allowed fund-raising limits. They should also revisit McConnell v. FEC, which in 2003 upheld most of McCain-Feingold. The arrival of Justice Alito has clearly changed the Court's approach to these cases, and there may now be a majority to reassert the Court's obligation to protect political speech in a democracy.

As for Mr. McCain, we assume his campaign-finance travails this year have been educational. He became a media fave by embracing fund-raising limits as a cause, only to watch as the media now drops him for Barack Obama, who refuses to adhere to the same limits and so will vastly outspend the Republican in the fall. Such are the rewards of pursuing liberal admiration.
24684  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: June 28, 2008, 11:20:56 AM
Indeed!!!  I try to stay focused on what the success of what I perceive to be the mission, but there are moments when I wonder if the America of our Founding Fathers will survive.   cry cry cry
24685  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct on: June 28, 2008, 11:16:30 AM
 angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry
24686  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: June 28, 2008, 11:10:06 AM
The smoothness with which he morphed from gun grabber to Individual Constitutional right with "reasonable" regulation is scary.

======
Another doctor joke:

"You want the good or the bad news first?"

"Good news."

"My son just got accepted to Harvard Medical school."

"What's the bad news?"

"You're paying for it."
24687  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: June 28, 2008, 11:06:15 AM
Have a wonderful time-- looking forward to continuing the conversation when you return.
24688  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ-- Noonan on: June 28, 2008, 11:05:15 AM
Let McCain Be McCain
June 27, 2008; Page A11
The big political headline this week, of course, involves John McCain's endless and humiliating attempts to placate Mitt Romney by bowing to demands he hire his operatives and pay his campaign debt. So far all he's got is a grudging one-sentence endorsement from that rampaging rage-aholic Ann Romney.

Oh wait, got confused, that's Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

 
M.E. Cohen 
The way it used to be is you ran and lost and either disappeared or pitched in. Mrs. Clinton continues making Mr. Obama look the dauphin to her embittered and domineering queen.

What a hothouse of egos and drama the Democratic Party has become.

Mr. McCain just can't get as much coverage as Mr. Obama, or the coverage is dutiful and therefore deadly. "McCain Unveils Proposal." "McCain Responds." At Google News there are 97,000 stories on Mr. McCain as I write this column, 138,000 on Mr. Obama. You know Mr. McCain's problems. He's old, he's angered everyone along the way, he never seems to mean it. His stands seem like positions. He bebops from issue to issue and never seems fully engaged in the real meat of policy, the content of it.

Also, we all know him. This, in time, will become a benefit to him—a big one. At the moment, early on, it's not. Mr. Obama has the lightning, he's new, he's still just being discovered. Or, as a person who runs a news site that traditionally treats Republicans fairly told me, "He's fun." McCain supporters have ginned up email campaigns aimed at people who run sites saying, to paraphrase, We notice your coverage is heavily Obama. We hope this is not a financial or opportunistic decision. We hope you're not tired of being brave. I should say it looks like it's ginned up by McCain supporters, or rather D.C. Republicans.

What a hotbed of incompetent manipulation they have become.

Mr. Obama's coverage is not all press bias. He sells papers and moves traffic. So right now it's all about him, or rather will be when Big Bertha gets out of the way. People are going to keep looking at him because they've heard the polls that say he's 5 or 12 or 15 points ahead. They can stop him or ease his way. They're looking to figure out which.

What can Mr. McCain do? It's still early, a lot of history has yet to unspool, we've entered summer and the shallow part of the campaign, the doldrums, there's a little space. He should take advantage of it and have some fun.

This would be a good time for him to get interesting again. And he'll find it easy because he is interesting. That's why the boys on the bus loved him in 2000. That's why the Republican base rejected him in 2000. He was hot and George W. Bush was—well, let's call it mellow. Mr. McCain attacked Christian conservative leaders while Mr. Bush played them. Republicans were trying to recover from eight years of interesting. They didn't want more.

I used to think what Mr. McCain's aides thought after he started winning: He has to change now, be more formal, more constrained. That was exactly wrong.

Let McCain be McCain. Get him in the papers being who he is, get people looking at his real nature. Maybe then they'll start taking him seriously when he talks policy. Maybe he'll start taking himself seriously when he talks policy.

The most interesting thing about Mr. McCain has always been the delight he takes in a certain unblinkered candor. There is also the antic part of his nature, his natural wit, his tropism toward comedy. All this was captured wonderfully by Mark Leibovich last February in the New York Times. Mr. McCain had taken the lead in the primaries and had gone from being "one of the most disruptive forces in his party" to someone playing it safe. In an airplane interview he said things like, "There is a process in place that will formalize the methodology." Then he couldn't help it, he became McCain:

"[He] volunteered that Brooke Buchanan, his spokeswoman who was seated nearby and rolling her eyes, 'has a lot of her money hidden in the Cayman Islands' and that she earned it by 'dealing drugs.' Previously, Mr. McCain had identified Ms. Buchanan as 'Pat Buchanan's illegitimate daughter,' 'bipolar,' 'a drunk,' 'someone with a lot of boyfriends,' and 'just out of Betty Ford.'"

That's my boy. That's the McCain his friends love, McCain unplugged. The fall will be dead serious. At this point why not be himself, be human? Let him refind his inner rebel, the famous irreverent maverick, let the tiger out of the cage. It won't solve everything but it will help obscure some other problems. His campaign is still not in great shape, his advance operation is not sharp—the one thing Republicans always used to know how to do!—he has many aides and few peers, and aides so doofuslike they blithely talk about the partisan impact of terror attacks.

And there is another problem that is bigger than all of that, and he is going to have to think himself through it. And that is that there is a sense about his campaign that . . . John McCain has already got what he wanted, he got what he needed, which was to be top dog in the Republican Party, the party that had abused him in 2000 and cast him aside. They all bow to him now, and he doesn't need anything else. He doesn't need the presidency. He got what he wanted. So now he can coast. This is, in the deepest way, unserious. JFK had to have the presidency—he wanted that thing. Nixon had to have it too, and Reagan had to have it to institute his new way. Clinton had to have it—it was his destiny, the thing he'd wanted since he was a teenager.

The last person I can think of who gave off the vibe that he didn't have to have it was Bob Dole. Who didn't get it. And who had a similar lack of engagement in terms of policy, and philosophy, and meaning.

Everyone in New York is saying, "What will happen?" "How do you see it?" "Who will win?" In this year of all years, who knows? My sense of it:

The campaign will grind along until a series of sharp moments. Maybe they will come in the debates. Things will move along, Mr. Obama in the lead. And then, just a few weeks out from the election, something will happen: America will look up and see the inevitability of Mr. Obama, that Mr. Obama has already been "elected," in a way, and America will say, Hey, wait a second, are we sure we want that? And it will tighten indeed.

The race has a subtext, a historic encounter between the Old America and the New, and suddenly the Old America—those who are literally old, who married a guy who fought at the Chosin Reservoir, and those not so old who yet remember, and cherish, the special glories of the Old—will rise, and join in, and make themselves heard. They will not leave without a fight.

And on that day John McCain will suddenly make it a race, as if moved by them and wanting to come through for them one last time. And then on down to the wire. And then . . .

And then. What a year, what an election. It continues to confound and to bedazzle.
24689  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North Korea on: June 28, 2008, 11:04:07 AM
The NK situation continues to befuddle me.  I lack confidence in Bush's judgment and fear Bolton is right.
24690  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: June 27, 2008, 09:52:56 AM
Indeed.

I've noted that whenever he says "As I have always said , , ," he is about to lie about what he previously said.  Most recent example, his comments yesterday on Heller.  How on earth can someone say the Second is an individual right AND have supported the DC law?  And what about all his previous statements of arch-liberal nature?  Oh, barf.  angry

Anyway, here's this:

Monsieur Obama's Tax Rates
FROM TODAY'S WALL STREET JOURNAL EUROPE
June 27, 2008

Celebrity chef Alain Ducasse insists that his change of citizenship this week from high-tax France to no-income-tax Monaco wasn't a financial decision but an "affair of the heart." Right. But even if he's being sincere, plenty of other Frenchmen have moved abroad to escape their country's confiscatory taxes.

Americans should be so lucky: Theirs is the only industrialized country that taxes its people even if they live overseas. That hasn't been a big problem as long as U.S. tax rates have been relatively low. But with Barack Obama promising to lift rates to French-like levels, this taxman-cometh policy could turn Americans into the world's foremost fiscal prisoners.

And make no mistake, taxes under a President Obama could be truly à la française. The top marginal tax rate, including federal, state and local levies, could approach 60% for self-employed New Yorkers and Californians. Not even France's taxes are that high now that President Nicolas Sarkozy has capped the total that high-earning Frenchmen like Mr. Ducasse can pay in income, social and wealth taxes at 50% of earnings.

Mr. Sarkozy set this "fiscal shield" because he knows that tax rates affect behavior. When he visited London this year, he observed that the British capital is now home to so many French bankers and other professionals seeking tax relief that it's the seventh-largest French city. Those expatriates choose not to use their creativity and investment capital to benefit France and its economy.

Senator Obama's plans to raise income, Social Security and capital-gains taxes amount to a belief that people don't react to punitive tax rates. If so, he needn't worry about people leaving the country and could let them pay taxes in whichever part of the globe they choose to live in. Once Americans are paying French-style tax rates, they ought to have the same freedom to move as Alain Ducasse.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video
WSJ

24691  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Heller on: June 27, 2008, 09:36:24 AM
News Flash: The Constitution Means What It Says
By RANDY E. BARNETT
June 27, 2008; Page A13
WSJ

Justice Antonin Scalia's majority opinion in yesterday's Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v. Heller is historic in its implications and exemplary in its reasoning.

A federal ban on an entire class of guns in ordinary use for self-defense – such as the handgun ban adopted by the District of Columbia – is now off the table. Every gun controller's fondest desire has become a constitutional pipe dream.

 
Getty Images 
Two important practical issues remain. First, will this ruling also apply to states and municipalities? That will depend on whether the Supreme Court decides to "incorporate" the right to keep and bear arms into the 14th Amendment. But in the middle of his opinion Justice Scalia acknowledges that the 39th Congress that enacted the 14th Amendment did so, in part, to protect the individual right to arms of freedmen and Southern Republicans so they might defend themselves from violence.

My prediction: This ruling will eventually be extended to the states.

Second, how will the court deal with firearms regulations that fall short of a ban? The majority opinion strongly suggests that such regulations must now be subjected to meaningful judicial scrutiny. The exact nature of this scrutiny is not clear, but Justice Scalia explicitly rejects the extremely deferential "rationality" review advocated by Justice Stephen Breyer.

Most likely, gun laws will receive the same sort of judicial scrutiny that is now used to evaluate "time, place and manner" regulations of speech and assembly. Such regulations of First Amendment freedoms are today upheld if they are narrowly tailored to achieve a truly important government purpose, but not if they are really a pretext for undermining protected liberties.

My prediction? Because gun-rights groups like the NRA have so successfully prevented enactment of unreasonable gun laws, most existing gun regulations falling short of a ban will eventually be upheld. But more extreme or merely symbolic laws that are sometimes proposed – whose aim is to impose an "undue burden" by raising the cost of gun production, ownership and sale – would likely be found unconstitutional. All gun regulations – for example, safe storage laws and licensing – will have to be shown to be consistent with an effective right of self-defense by law-abiding citizens.

Justice Scalia's opinion is exemplary for the way it was reasoned. It will be studied by law professors and students for years to come. It is the clearest, most careful interpretation of the meaning of the Constitution ever to be adopted by a majority of the Supreme Court. Justice Scalia begins with the text, and carefully parses the grammatical relationship of the "operative clause" identifying "the right to keep and bear arms" to the "prefatory clause" about the importance of a "well-regulated militia." Only then does he consider the extensive evidence of original meaning that has been uncovered by scholars over the past 20 years – evidence that was presented to the Court in numerous "friends of the court" briefs.

Justice Scalia's opinion is the finest example of what is now called "original public meaning" jurisprudence ever adopted by the Supreme Court. This approach stands in sharp contrast to Justice John Paul Stevens's dissenting opinion that largely focused on "original intent" – the method that many historians employ to explain away the text of the Second Amendment by placing its words in what they call a "larger context." Although original-intent jurisprudence was discredited years ago among constitutional law professors, that has not stopped nonoriginalists from using "original intent" – or the original principles "underlying" the text – to negate its original public meaning.

Of course, the originalism of both Justices Scalia's and Stevens's opinions are in stark contrast with Justice Breyer's dissenting opinion, in which he advocates balancing an enumerated constitutional right against what some consider a pressing need to prohibit its exercise. Guess which wins out in the balancing? As Justice Scalia notes, this is not how we normally protect individual rights, and was certainly not how Justice Breyer protected the individual right of habeas corpus in the military tribunals case decided just two weeks ago.

So what larger lessons does Heller teach? First, the differing methods of interpretation employed by the majority and the dissent demonstrate why appointments to the Supreme Court are so important. In the future, we should be vetting Supreme Court nominees to see if they understand how Justice Scalia reasoned in Heller and if they are committed to doing the same.

We should also seek to get a majority of the Supreme Court to reconsider its previous decisions or "precedents" that are inconsistent with the original public meaning of the text. This shows why elections matter – especially presidential elections – and why we should vet our politicians to see if they appreciate how the Constitution ought to be interpreted.

Good legal scholarship was absolutely crucial to this outcome. No justice is capable of producing the historical research and analysis upon which Justice Scalia relied. Brilliant as it was in its execution, his opinion rested on the work of many scholars of the Second Amendment, as I am sure he would be the first to acknowledge. (Disclosure: I joined a brief by Academics for the Second Amendment supporting the individual rights interpretation; one of my articles was cited by Justice Scalia and another by Justice Breyer in his dissent.)

Due to the political orthodoxy among most constitutional law professors, some of the most important and earliest of this scholarship was produced by nonacademics like Don Kates, Stephen Halbrook, David Kopel, Clayton Cramer and others. Believe it or not, Heller was a case of nearly first impression, uninhibited by any prior decisions misinterpreting the Second Amendment.

Last but not least, tribute must be paid to the plaintiffs – Shelly Parker, Dick Anthony Heller, Tom Palmer, Gillian St. Lawrence, Tracey Ambeau, and George Lyon – who went where the National Rifle Association feared to tread, and to their lawyers Robert Levy, Clark Neily, and lead counsel Alan Gura. I was privileged to witness Mr. Gura argue the case – his first Supreme Court argument ever – and he was outstanding. Heller provides yet another reminder of the crucial role that private lawyers play in the preservation of our liberties.

Mr. Barnett, a professor at Georgetown Law, is the author of "Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty" (Princeton, 2004).
24692  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Silver Bullet on: June 27, 2008, 09:02:43 AM
Silver Bullet
June 27, 2008; Page A12
The 2008 Supreme Court term ended with a bang yesterday as the Justices issued their most important ruling ever in upholding an individual right to bear arms. The dismaying surprise is that the Second Amendment came within a single vote of becoming a dead Constitutional letter.

That's the larger meaning of yesterday's landmark 5-4 ruling in D.C. v. Heller, the first gun control case to come before the Court in 70 years. Richard Heller brought his case after the Washington, D.C. government refused to grant him a permit to keep a handgun in his home. The District has some of the most restrictive handgun laws in the country – essentially a total ban. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision by Judge Laurence Silberman, overturned the ban in an opinion that set up yesterday's ruling by taking a panoramic view of gun rights and American legal history.
===========

In a First, High Court
Affirms Gun Rights
By JESS BRAVIN and SUSAN DAVIS
June 27, 2008; Page A1

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution guarantees individuals the right to keep handguns in the home, ending a debate about the Second Amendment's 18th-century language while opening new battles over the politically charged issues of guns, crime and violence.

 
See how justices have split in cases this term
In a 5-4 opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia, the court struck down perhaps the nation's toughest gun law, a 1976 District of Columbia ordinance that effectively bans handguns and required that rifles be disassembled or disabled by trigger locks in the home.

The decision stopped short of invalidating other local, state and federal gun regulations. The court also declined to hand legislators a blueprint for permissible gun regulations, acknowledging that the contours of the Second Amendment right, like other constitutional rights, will have to be mapped in litigation over the years to come.

Gun-rights advocates said their efforts will now swing toward challenging handgun bans in other cities, licensing laws and other statutes, such as zoning laws that ban gun stores. Among the issues that the court left to future litigation: whether the government can restrict other kinds of firearms besides handguns, specifically assault weapons, which have been the focus of numerous legislative battles at the state and federal level.

 
The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down one of the nation's strictest gun bans, ruling that individuals have the right to own guns for personal use. Video courtesy of Reuters. (June 26)
Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Handgun Violence, one of the NRA's chief opponents, said there could be a silver lining. Because the decision eliminates the specter of gun confiscation, advocates will be more willing to come to the table and discuss other gun-control issues.

Reflecting the passion and political importance of gun owners in an election that could be decided by independent voters, both presidential candidates immediately embraced the opinion -- while shading their comments to emphasize different portions of the decision that appealed to their varying bases.

Candidates React

"Unlike the elitist view that believes Americans cling to guns out of bitterness, today's ruling recognizes that gun ownership is a fundamental right -- sacred, just as the right to free speech and assembly," said Republican John McCain, seeking to join the gun enthusiasts' celebration while warning that the decision still left open the chance that lawmakers could enact firearms regulations that stopped short of an outright ban. "This ruling does not mark the end of our struggle."

His Democratic opponent, Barack Obama, was more restrained, saying that he "always believed that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to bear arms." He emphasized that while the ruling protects a core right and "the D.C. gun ban went too far," the protection "is not absolute and subject to reasonable regulations enacted by local communities to keep their streets safe."

 
Getty Images 
Three activists from Virginia cheered the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on the District of Columbia's gun ban Thursday.
The Bush administration sought simultaneously to endorse the decision while assuring the public that existing federal gun regulations would remain intact.

"As a longstanding advocate of the rights of gun owners in America, I applaud the Supreme Court's historic decision today confirming what has always been clear in the Constitution: the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear firearms," the president said in a statement. He urged the District of Columbia to "swiftly move" to protect residents' Second Amendment rights.

In its own statement, however, the Justice Department noted that the court said some restrictions on gun possession were permissible. The Justice Department said it "will continue to defend vigorously the constitutionality, under the Second Amendment, of all existing federal firearms laws."

The court's decision appears to strike a balance on gun ownership that reflects the views of the general public. A majority of Americans, 59%, said they oppose laws that ban the sale of handguns, according to an April poll conducted by the Pew Research Center. Yet a similar number, 58%, said it is more important to place controls on gun ownership versus the 37% that said it is more important to protect the right to own a gun.

Despite the opinion's broad language, it was unclear if it would apply beyond the District of Columbia, the federal enclave whose unique status as the seat of government makes it part of no state. Although the district's elected City Council operates autonomously under home-rule legislation approved by Congress, Washington's municipal government is, as a constitutional matter, part of the federal government.

In a footnote, Justice Scalia noted that the issue known as "incorporation" -- whether federal rights also are binding on state governments -- wasn't before the court, and observed that prior cases "reaffirmed that the Second Amendment applies only to the Federal Government." In a 1997 book, he suggested views even more ominous for gun enthusiasts, writing that "properly understood, [the amendment] is no limitation upon arms control by the states."

For Dick Heller, the security officer who challenged the ordinance, the court's 5-4 ruling means district officials must issue him a license to keep a handgun in his Washington home. But it doesn't necessarily allow him to buy another one in the district -- or require the city to allow gun stores to operate within its boundaries. District officials, noting that the decades-old gun ban was widely popular within their city, pledged to do all they can to limit firearms in their jurisdiction.

Elsewhere, cities with tough gun laws seized on the decision's focus on Washington. Because it only concerns the District of Columbia, the ruling "does not apply to state and local governments," said Benna Solomon, a deputy corporation counsel for Chicago. Chicago has one of the strictest gun regulations. City officials said they are expecting a challenge but would continue to enforce its handgun ban until ordered by a court to cease.

 
Associated Press 
Pro-gun advocates and supporters of the District of Columbia's firearms ban demonstrated outside the Supreme Court in March.
States with assault-weapons bans or licensing requirements for gun owners said that they felt confident their laws wouldn't have to change as a result of the ruling. "The decision affirms the right of states to regulate gun ownership in order to preserve public safety," said David Wald, a spokesman for New Jersey's attorney general.

The village president of Morton Grove, Richard Krier, said that lawyers were reviewing the community's ordinance following the decision and that he had "every intention" of complying with it.

Morton Grove has banned the possession of handguns in the homes of its 22,000 residents since 1981, as well as other dangerous weapons.

Delivered on the last day of the Supreme Court's term, the 5-4 decision underscored the central place the court plays in the nation's politics and culture as well as its law. For the third time this month, a major constitutional issue was decided by a single vote -- that of Justice Anthony Kennedy, the maverick conservative who earlier sided with the court's liberals to extend habeas corpus rights to Guantanamo detainees and bar the execution of child rapists. Today, he lined up on the right to hold that each household in Washington may arm itself with deadly weapons to fend off intruders.

Gun-Right Origins

Justice Scalia's opinion was a 64-page tour from the obscure origins of gun rights in the fratricidal wars of 17th-century England through the violent struggles that defined America in its colonial revolt against the British crown, its division over slavery and the subsequent repression of freed blacks. It continued through to the modern era, where battles against foreign invasion and between internal factions have given way to urban crime.

"By the time of the founding, the right to have arms had become fundamental for English subjects," Justice Scalia wrote, in an opinion joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. "The Second Amendment, like the First and Fourth Amendments, codified a pre-existing right."

The Second Amendment, in its entirety, reads: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

That phrasing has led to countless debates over what precisely is being protected -- a right of states and their citizens to organize militias, obviating the need for a standing army; a right of individuals to arm themselves, in case they may someday need to form a militia; or some other construction involving either or both personal and collective rights.

The Supreme Court last heard a Second Amendment case in 1939, when it upheld a federal ban on interstate transport of short-barreled shotguns. Since sawed-off shotguns had no "reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument," the court found then. Ever since, most courts have seen the amendment as providing for weapons possession in connection with service in a militia, or its modern descendant, the state-run National Guard.

Justice Scalia, however, wrote that his opinion was consistent with the 1939 ruling, which he saw as holding only that not all guns were covered by the Second Amendment. Otherwise, he wrote, why would the court focus on "the character of the weapon rather than simply note that the two crooks were not militiamen?"

Gamut of Restrictions

The court's liberal wing strenuously disagreed, offering its own historical construction that emphasized a gamut of restrictions on firearms over the same swath of time and asserting that the 1939 case, which itself examined precedents on weapons possession dating to colonial times, had settled the matter.

Yet the lead dissent, by Justice John Paul Stevens, did not dispute that the Second Amendment protects an individual right. Rather, he wrote, the question was the "scope of that right," which protected militia service but left additional regulation to the judgment of the legislature. The Second Amendment's drafting history revealed the founders' "concern about the potential threat to state sovereignty that a federal standing army would pose," something that could be checked by state militias, he wrote, joined by Justices David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.

--Gary Fields and Louise Radnofsky contributed to this article.

Write to Jess Bravin at jess.bravin@wsj.com and Susan Davis at susan.davis@wsj.com


In writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia follows the Silberman Constitutional roadmap in finding that the "right of the people to keep and bear arms" is an individual right. The alternative view – argued by the District of Columbia – is that the Second Amendment is merely a collective right for individuals who belong to a government militia.

Justice Scalia shreds the collective interpretation as a matter of both common law and Constitutional history. He writes that the Founders, as well as nearly all Constitutional scholars over the decades, believed in the individual right. Many Supreme Court opinions invoke the Founders, but this one is refreshing in its resort to first American principles and its affirmation of a basic liberty. It's not too much to say that Heller is every bit as important to the Second Amendment as Near v. Minnesota (prior restraint) or N.Y. Times v. Sullivan (libel) are to the First Amendment.

Which makes it all the more troubling that no less than four Justices were willing to explain this right away. These are the same four liberal Justices who routinely invoke the "right to privacy" – which is nowhere in the text of the Constitution – as a justification for asserting various social rights. Yet in his dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens argues that a right to bear arms that is plainly in the text adheres to an individual only if he is sanctioned by government.

Justice Breyer, who wrote a companion dissent, takes a more devious tack. He wants to establish an "interest-balancing test" to weigh the Constitutionality of particular restrictions on gun ownership. This balancing test is best understood as a roadmap for vitiating the practical effects of Heller going forward.

Using Justice Breyer's "test," judges could accept the existence of an individual right to bear arms in theory, while whittling it down to nothing by weighing that right against the interests of the government in preventing gun-related violence. Having set forth this supposedly neutral standard, Justice Breyer shows his policy hand by arguing that under this standard the interests of the District of Columbia would outweigh Mr. Heller's interest in defending himself, and the ban should thus be upheld.

But as Justice Scalia writes, no other Constitutional right is subjected to this sort of interest-balancing. "The very enumeration of the right takes [it] out of the hands of government" – even the hands of Olympian judges like Stephen Breyer. "Like the First, [the Second Amendment] is the very product of an interest-balancing by the people – which Justice Breyer would now conduct for them anew."

In that one sentence, Justice Scalia illuminates a main fault line on this current Supreme Court. The four liberals are far more willing to empower the government and judges to restrict individual liberty, save on matters of personal lifestyle (abortion, gay rights) or perhaps crime. The four conservatives are far more willing to defend individuals against government power – for example, in owning firearms, or private property (the 2005 Kelo case on eminent domain). Justice Anthony Kennedy swings both ways, and in Heller he sided with the people.

Heller leaves many questions unanswered. Contrary to the worries expressed by the Bush Administration in its embarrassing amicus brief, the ruling does not bar the government from regulating machine guns or other heavy weapons; or from limiting gun ownership by felons or the mentally ill. Any broad restriction on handguns or hunting rifles will be Constitutionally suspect, but legislatures will still have room to protect public safety.

Heller reveals the High Court at its best, upholding individual liberty as the Founders intended. Yet it is also precarious because the switch of a single Justice would have rendered the Second Amendment a nullity. With the next President likely to appoint as many as three Justices, the right to bear arms has been affirmed but still isn't safe.
24693  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison: Change of mind on: June 27, 2008, 08:42:46 AM
"Nothing more than a change of mind, my dear."

-- James Madison (responding to his niece asking what was wrong,
28 June 1836)

Reference: James Madison: Commander in Chief, Brandt, vol. 6 (520)
24694  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton: States' sovereignty on: June 26, 2008, 09:12:47 AM
"But as the plan of the convention aims only at a partial union or
consolidation, the State governments would clearly retain all the
rights of sovereignty which they before had, and which were not,
by that act, EXCLUSIVELY delegated to the United States."

-- Alexander Hamilton (Federalist No. 32, 3 January 1788)

Reference: The Federalist
24695  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: June 26, 2008, 09:06:54 AM
Exactly.
24696  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Communicating with the Muslim World on: June 26, 2008, 09:06:07 AM
Fight Terror With YouTube
By DANIEL KIMMAGE
Published: June 26, 2008
Baku, Azerbaijan
NY Times

AL QAEDA made its name in blood and pixels, with deadly attacks and an avalanche of electronic news media. Recent news articles depict an online terrorist juggernaut that has defied the best efforts by the United States government to counter it. While these articles are themselves a testimony to Al Qaeda’s media savvy, they don’t tell the whole story.

When it comes to user-generated content and interactivity, Al Qaeda is now behind the curve. And the United States can help to keep it there by encouraging the growth of freer, more empowered online communities, especially in the Arab-Islamic world.

The genius of Al Qaeda was to combine real-world mayhem with virtual marketing. The group’s guerrilla media network supports a family of brands, from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (in Algeria and Morocco) to the Islamic State of Iraq, through a daily stream of online media products that would make any corporation jealous.

A recent report I wrote for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty details this flow. In July 2007, for example, Al Qaeda released more than 450 statements, books, articles, magazines, audio recordings, short videos of attacks and longer films. These products reach the world through a network of quasi-official online production and distribution entities, like Al Sahab, which releases statements by Osama bin Laden.

But the Qaeda media nexus, as advanced as it is, is old hat. If Web 1.0 was about creating the snazziest official Web resources and Web 2.0 is about letting users run wild with self-created content and interactivity, Al Qaeda and its affiliates are stuck in 1.0.

In late 2006, with YouTube and Facebook growing rapidly, a position paper by a Qaeda-affiliated institute discouraged media jihadists from overly “exuberant” efforts on behalf of the group for fear of diluting its message.

This is probably sound advice, considering how Al Qaeda fares on YouTube. A recent list of the most viewed YouTube videos in Arabic about Al Qaeda included a rehash of an Islamic State of Iraq clip with sardonic commentary added and satirical verses about Al Qaeda by an Iraqi poet.

Statements by Mr. bin Laden and his chief deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, that are posted to YouTube do draw comments aplenty. But the reactions, which range from praise to blanket condemnation, are a far cry from the invariably positive feedback Al Qaeda gets on moderated jihadist forums. And even Al Qaeda’s biggest YouTube hits attract at most a small fraction of the millions of views that clips of Arab pop stars rack up routinely.

Other Qaeda ventures into interactivity are equally unimpressive. Mr. Zawahri solicited online questions last December, but his answers didn’t appear until early April. That’s eons in Web time.

Even if security concerns dictated the delay, as Mr. Zawahri claimed, this is further evidence of the online obstacles facing the world’s most-wanted fugitives. Try to imagine Osama bin Laden managing his Facebook account, and you can see why full-scale social networking might not be Al Qaeda’s next frontier.

It’s also an indication of how a more interactive, empowered online community, particularly in the Arab-Islamic world, may prove to be Al Qaeda’s Achilles’ heel. Anonymity and accessibility, the hallmarks of Web 1.0, provided an ideal platform for Al Qaeda’s radical demagoguery. Social networking, the emerging hallmark of Web 2.0, can unite a fragmented silent majority and help it to find its voice in the face of thuggish opponents, whether they are repressive rulers or extremist Islamic movements.

Unfortunately, the authoritarian governments of the Middle East are doing their best to hobble Web 2.0. By blocking the Internet, they are leaving the field open to Al Qaeda and its recruiters. The American military’s statistics and jihadists’ own online postings show that among the most common countries of origin for foreign fighters in Iraq are Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen. It’s no coincidence that Reporters Without Borders lists Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria as “Internet enemies,” and Libya and Yemen as countries where the Web is “under surveillance.” There is a simple lesson here: unfettered access to a free Internet is not merely a goal to which we should aspire on principle, but also a very practical means of countering Al Qaeda. As users increasingly make themselves heard, the ensuing chaos will not be to everyone’s liking, but it may shake the online edifice of Al Qaeda’s totalitarian ideology.

It would be premature to declare Al Qaeda’s marketing strategy hopelessly anachronistic. The group has shown remarkable resilience and will find ways to adapt to new trends.

But Al Qaeda’s online media network is also vulnerable to disruption. Technology-literate intelligence services that understand how the Qaeda media nexus works will do some of the job. The most damaging disruptions to the nexus, however, will come from millions of ordinary users in the communities that Al Qaeda aims for with its propaganda. We should do everything we can to empower them.

Daniel Kimmage is a senior analyst at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
24697  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: June 26, 2008, 08:40:53 AM
Woof Dog Dean:

I am glad to see that GM Estalilla is well.  Please give him my regards.

yip!
CD
24698  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: First Post, a Few Questions. on: June 26, 2008, 08:30:33 AM
Woof John:

Welcome aboard.  I hope others will chime in to answer your questions as well.

1) Yes  cheesy

2) Vid-lessons are part of the Dog Brothers Martial Arts Association (DBMAA).  Click on the appropriate page on the website here, and fill out the application.

3) Groin protectors and mouth guards are allowed.

The Adventure continues!
Crafty Dog
24699  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: June 26, 2008, 08:22:54 AM
CRAFTY DOG:
Rachel, forgive my martian linearity  wink but this is not the question presented.  The question presented is whether
a) the Consitution compels the State to make it a crime or civil offense
 
RACHEL:
A. I'm sorry -- I  don't feel capable of answering that question.

MARC  /CD:

But you HAVE answered it- in the affirmative- when you supported the CA SCT's decision!


CRAFTY DOG
Rachel, forgive my martian linearity but this is not the question presented.  The question presented is whether
, , ,
b) the State should make it a crime or civil offense
 
RACHEL.  The short answer is yes for actions not thoughts ( sexual orientation should have the  same protections for that we do for  gender, age, disabilities, etc) but the long answer there would be exceptions.  For example religious organizations should be able to discriminate.    ( I didn't think that was a question I was avoiding -- I thought I had answered it)

MARC/CD:
Yes you have begun to "answer" it, but my point was to define the question presented.  So, lets explore a bit further.  You now say that religious organizations should have the right to follow their beliefs and discriminate.  What about religious individuals?  And, why should atheists have lesser rights?

Which brings us to the next question presented:

Since  when called upon the point you are unwilling to say that the Constitution compels redefining marriage, and you say that discrimination should be illegal, how can you argue that the judiciary is the branch to carry this out over the expressly voted wishes of the people of California?  Why is this not a matter for the political process? (Executive and Legislative, plebecite (sp?) )

=====

Regarding the Albanian story, the point seems to be as thoroughly glossed over as possible, but this can be described a Muslim custom too, yes?
24700  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: June 25, 2008, 11:22:26 PM
http://www.warriorsthefilm.com/Movie.html
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