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24651  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: June 11, 2011, 05:23:29 PM
Umm , , , GM , , , the Harlequinn paraody was/is a joke rolleyes
24652  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: June 11, 2011, 05:08:13 PM
Yip from , , , a secret location.   cheesy  I am on the road for an oof-the-radar-screen seminar.  Will be back on Monday.
24653  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar, & Gold/Silver on: June 11, 2011, 05:07:26 PM
From an internet friend who is deep into Austrian economics:

A good article, as most of "Pater Tenbrarum's" articles are -- and solidly
grounded in a good understanding of Austrian School economics, too.

In my mind we truly have an unprecedented situation in the world. Almost
every government, everywhere, is facilitating a rapid debt buildup -- mostly
unproductive debt created by issuing new money unbacked by any commodity or
even any productive activity. Whenever markets swoon and threaten to stop
some of the nonsense, these governments act to prevent any correction from
being completed. They give yet more newly created money to the entities that
have already wasted hundreds of billions of dollars of real resources -- and
then count the ensuing spending as "economic activity." It's not; it's
un-economic activity. This is not a process that can continue forever.

Given where we are now, it's pretty clear that governments around the world
will continue this craziness until some circumstance forcibly prevents them
from doing so. By definition, I would think, such a crisis will be bigger
and more difficult to endure than any previous crisis.

I will post yesterday's Doug Noland commentary immediately below. I wish he
wrote the English language better than he does, but Noland still does
understand some things about credit expansions that elude most other
analysts. He writes the weekly Credit Bubble

Here is one of my key take-away paragraphs from Noland's column:

"At some inevitable - if not predictable - point the markets will care
tremendously whether a Credit system is sound or not.  Regrettably, the
current era’s ... unique capacity for sustaining non-productive debt booms
poses major problems.  In short, the booms last too long and activist
policymaking ensures they end up afflicting the heart of Credit systems.
These protracted Bubbles are resolved through problematic crises of
confidence, debt revulsion and economic restructuring."


The King Of Non-Productive Debt:

There is important confirmation of the “bear” thesis to discuss.  But, as
usual, let’s first set the backdrop:

The world is in the midst of history’s greatest Credit Bubble.  A
dysfunctional global financial system essentially operates without
mechanisms to regulate the quantity and quality of debt issuance.  In
response to severe banking system impairment and fiscal problems in the
early-nineties, the Greenspan Fed helped nurture a Credit system shift to
nontraditional marketable debt.  The bank loan was largely replaced by
mortgage-backed securities (MBS), asset-backed securities (ABS), GSE debt
instruments, derivatives and a multitude of sophisticated “Wall Street”
Credit instruments.  The Credit expansion grew exponentially, while becoming
increasingly detached from production and economic wealth-creation (the
boom, in fact, exacerbated deindustrialization).

The Fed implemented momentous changes in monetary management to bolster the
new “marketable debt” Credit system structure, including “pegging”
short-term interest rates; serial interventions to assure “liquid and
continuous markets;” and adopting an “asymmetrical” policy framework that
disregarded asset inflation/Bubbles, while guaranteeing the marketplace an
aggressive policy response to any risk of market illiquidity or
financial/economic instability.  Massive expansion of marketable debt
coupled with a highly-accommodative policy backdrop incited incredible
growth in speculation and leveraging.  Over time, trends in U.S. Credit,
policy and speculative excess took root around the world.

Global markets suffered a devastating crisis of confidence in 2008.  The
failure of Lehman Brothers, in particular, set off a panic throughout global
markets for private-sector debt, especially Credit intermediated through
sophisticated Wall Street structures.  Unprecedented government intervention
reversed the downward spiral in Credit and economic output.  Especially in
the U.S., Trillions of private debt instruments were put under the umbrella
of government backing.  Meanwhile, Trillions more were acquired by the Fed,
ECB and global central bankers in the greatest market intervention and debt
monetization in history.  Policy making – fiscal and monetary, at home and
abroad – unleashed the “Global Government Finance Bubble”.

Currency market distortions have been instrumental in sowing financial
fragility and economic instability.  Chiefly because of the dollar’s special
“reserve currency” status, U.S. Credit system excesses have been
accommodated for way too long.  Global central banks have been willing to
accumulate Trillions of our I.O.U.s, providing a critical liquidity backstop
for the marketplace.  Highly liquid and orderly currency markets have been
instrumental in ensuring a liquid Credit market, which has provided our
fiscal and monetary policymakers extraordinary flexibility to inflate our
Credit, our asset markets and our economy.  Meanwhile, massive U.S. Current
Account Deficits and other financial flows have inundated the world,
creating liquidity excess and unfettered domestic Credit expansion
throughout the world.  Global imbalances, having mounted for decades, went
“parabolic” over the past few years.

I would argue strongly that the euro currency regime owes much of its great
success to the structurally weak U.S. dollar.  For all the flaws and
potential pitfalls of a common European currency, the euro has from day one
looked awfully appealing standing side-by-side with the dollar.  And the
buoyant euro created powerful market distortions that promoted Credit excess
throughout the region, especially in Europe’s periphery (Greece and the
so-called “PIIGS” would never have enjoyed the capacity to push borrowing to
such extremes had they been issuing debt denominated in their own
currencies).  The weak dollar and strong euro – along with the perception
that the Eurozone and ECB would never tolerate a default by one of its
sovereigns – were instrumental in promoting profligate borrowing, lending,
spending and speculating.

I have recently turned more focused on differentiating between “productive”
and “non-productive” debt.  This is an important analytical distinction –
although, by nature, a challenging gray area for Macro Credit Analysis.  At
the time of its creation, there might actually be little difference from a
systemic perspective whether a new financial claim is created in the process
of financing real investment or an asset purchase or, instead, to fund a
government stimulus program.  In each case, new purchasing power is released
into the system.  The key is that the new Credit stimulates economic
“output” through increased spending, incomes and/or asset inflation.
Especially during the halcyon Credit boom days, the markets will pay scant
attention to the assets underpinning the new debt instruments (particularly
when policymakers are actively intervening and distorting markets!).

However, don’t be fooled and don’t become too complacent.  At some
inevitable - if not predictable - point the markets will care tremendously
whether a Credit system is sound or not.  Regrettably, the current era’s
(unrestrained global finance, structurally-unsound dollar, “activist”
policymaking, rampant global speculation, etc.) unique capacity for
sustaining non-productive debt booms poses major problems.  In short, the
booms last too long and activist policymaking ensures they end up afflicting
the heart of Credit systems.  These protracted Bubbles are resolved through
problematic crises of confidence, debt revulsion and economic

First of all, booms create a fragile mountain of debt not supported by
underlying wealth-creating capacity.  Second, Credit Bubbles inflate various
price levels throughout the economy, creating systemic dependencies
requiring ongoing debt and speculative excess.  And, third, the boom in
non-productive debt will tend to foster consumption and malinvestment at the
expense of sound investment in productive capacity.   When the boom
eventually falters, market revulsion to unsound debt, the  economy’s
addiction to uninterrupted Credit expansion, and the lack of capacity for
real wealth creation within the (“Bubble”) real economy ensure a very severe
crisis and prolonged adjustment period.  These dynamics become critically
important as soon as a government (finally) loses its capacity to perpetuate
the Bubble (i.e. Greece, Portugal, Ireland, etc.)

As a crisis unfolds, the markets eventually must come to grips with a very
harsh reality:  There will be denial and it will take some time to really
sink in - but the markets will come to recognize that too little of the
existing debt is backed by real wealth.  Non-productive Credit booms are,
after all, essentially “Ponzi Finance” schemes.  Worse yet, only huge
additional injections of debt/purchasing power will hold economic collapse
at bay.  Fundamentally, non-productive Credit booms foment deleterious
effects upon the economic structure – that only compound over time.  As we
have witnessed with Greece and Ireland, “bailout” costs can quickly
skyrocket to meaningful percentages of GDP - and will keep growing.

And once stunned by the downside of “Ponzi Finance,” markets will be keen to
mitigate risk exposure to the next episode.   This is the essence of
“contagion effects.”  Especially in interlocking global markets dominated by
leveraged speculation and trend-following trading strategies, de-risking and
de-leveraging in one market tend to quickly translate to risk aversion and
faltering liquidity throughout the marketplace.  Markets perceived as
liquidity abundant can almost overnight be transformed to
liquidity-challenged.  This dynamic went to devastating extremes during the
2008 crisis – only to begin mount a resurgence with last year’s Greek debt
crisis and contagion.

It has been my thesis that last year’s aggressive market interventions –
QE2, the European fiscal and monetary “bailouts,” and massive global central
bank monetization – incited a highly speculative Bubble environment
vulnerable to negative liquidity surprises.  And now we’re down to the final
few weeks of QE2.  The European bailout strategy is unwinding, with little
possibility of near-term stabilization.  Meanwhile, the US economy has
downshifted in spite of massive fiscal and monetary stimulus.  Risk and
uncertainty abound; de-risking and de-leveraging are making a comeback.

Bloomberg went with the headline, “Fed’s Maiden Lane Sales Trigger Bank
Stampede to Dump Risk.”  At The Wall Street Journal, it was “As ‘Junk’ Bonds
Fall, Some Blame the Fed.”  Both articles noted the deterioration in pricing
for a broadening list of Credit market instruments, including junk bonds,
subprime mortgage securities, and various Credit derivatives.  And while the
Fed’s liquidation of an old AIG portfolio is surely a drag on some prices, I
believe the rapidly changing liquidity backdrop is more indicative of global
de-risking dynamics.  This is providing important confirmation of the bear

There are fascinating dynamics at work throughout our Credit market.
Arguably, the U.S. is the King of Non-Productive Debt.  In the wake of a
historic expansion of non-productive household debt comes a Bubble in
government (Treasury and related) Credit.  The assets underpinning too much
of the U.S. debt mountain are of suspect quality, although this hasn’t
mattered recently.  And in true Bubble fashion, the marketplace has
increasingly gravitated to Treasury debt as the “Greek” crisis escalates and
contagion effects gather momentum.  The corporate debt market has enjoyed
extreme bullish sentiment – along with waves of investment and speculative
inflows.  While the corporate balance sheet appears sound, I would counter
that corporate earnings and cash flows have been artificially inflated by
unsustainable federal deficits.  In particular, the bubbling junk bond
market would appear vulnerable to the deteriorating liquidity backdrop.

Elsewhere, there is the murky world of subprime derivatives and such.  This
bastion of speculative excess certainly enjoyed the fruits of policy-induced
reflation.  But not only has housing performed dismally, there are now the
market issues of de-risking and liquidity uncertainties.  Today from the
WSJ:  “Since April, prices of many subprime mortgage securities have
declined between 15% and 20%... The decline in subprime mortgage bonds
accelerated in the last two weeks…”  From Bloomberg this morning:  “Declines
in credit-default swaps indexes used to protect against losses on subprime
housing debt and commercial mortgages accelerated this month, reaching
almost 20% in the past five weeks..”  Also from Bloomberg:  “Default swaps
on the six largest U.S. banks have gained an average of 19.4 bps to 137.2
bps since May 31…”

In conclusion, support seemed abundant this week for the thesis which holds
that the U.S. Credit system and economy are much more vulnerable to
contagion effects than is commonly appreciated.  Treasury and dollar rallies
appear constructive for system liquidity.  In reality, it is likely that
both markets are heavily impacted by speculative trading (speculators, in
various forms, have used Treasury and dollar short positions to finance
higher-returning holdings).  Strength in the Treasury market and the dollar
are indicative of – and place additional pressure on – the unwind of
leveraged trades.  And it is when the speculator community finds itself back
on its heels and backing away from risk that liquidity becomes a critical
market issue.
24654  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Training Camp August 12-14 on: June 10, 2011, 01:36:07 PM
Woof All:

On August 12-14, 2011 (Friday-Sunday) we will be holding the "Dog Brothers
Martial Arts Training Camp" here in Hermosa Beach (Seven miles south of the
Los Angeles LAX Airport).  Hermosa Beach is a very agreeable place to be,
especially in August; as always, there will be plenty of socializing in the

With this year's camp being five weeks before the Sept 18th, 2011 "Dog
Brothers Open Gathering of the Pack", the timing is perfect for the focus of
this year's camp, which will be , , , drum roll please , , , Real Contact
Stick Fighting (RCSFg).  This camp is ideal for relative beginners looking
to raise their learning curve as well as for intermediate and experienced
fighters looking to put themselves to the test at Dog Brothers Gatherings.
For those fighting at the Gathering, this camp will help bring your game up
to a new level.  For those who don't fight, training alongside and with
those who do will help you functionalize your skills more than you may think

While leaving ourselves free to go with the flow, the planned progression

1) Conceptual Overview:

   a)  Our Theory of Seven Ranges and how it helps us to apply our skills
technically in the adrenal state.  See my article of several years ago
posted in the "Ranges observed in the fights" thread at  (Also see the "Snake
Range" article from ten years ago at the end of this newsletter);
   b) The Triangle from the Third Dimension:  Getting to the inner ranges
(medio, corto, clinch, and ground) scientifically, whether it be by
combinations, "attacking blocks", or "occupying strikes";
   c) St. Foom:  The art and science of maintaining the outer ranges and
preventing the close;
   d) How RCSFg lays the foundation for "Kali Tudo"-- really applying
weaponry motions empty handed and in street situations (our "Die Less Often"
material) so that we have "Consistency across categories";
   e) Footwork:  Applied triangles and bilateralism;

2) Basic Krabi Krabong for DBMA:  KK is the Thai military weaponry system
from which the combat ring sport of Muay Thai descends.

3) Dos Triques and Advanced Double Stick fighting:  "Triques" is our
neologism for the initials of our subsystem that blends "Kali" and "Krabi
Krabong"-- KKK!  For obvious reasons we want to avoid this!!!  Thus, the bad
pun of Triques for "the three Ks". Dos Triques is the double stick aspect of
"Triques" and is where we install the triangular footwork matrix that
applies in all areas of DBMA.

4) Los Triques:  Although traditional Filipino Martial Art theology posits
that kicking in a weapons fight is a really bad idea, our experience has
been that the KK approach to using of kicks and knees has a lot of merit. We
teach the integration of kicks with stick with triangular footwork in the
single stick portion of Triques.

5) The Science of Closing to Media/Corto/Clinch:  In my opinion, one of the
fortes of DBMA is our ability to get to the inner ranges technically and
scientifically so that we arrive in a dominant manner in good balance with
our eyes open.  This is where we
see Attacking Blocks, Closing Combinations, and Occupying Strikes.

6) The Salty Structure and The Bolo Game:  Named after the legendary Salty
Dog, the Salty Game is the science of fighting from the off lead (weapon in
rear hand)  The Bolo Game works very well from the Salty Structure.

7) Snaggletooth Variations

Cool The Trident: Integrating the various games into the footwork matrix.

9) Applied Staff fighting

10) Applied Stick & Knife

11) Stick Clinch

12) Stick grappling

I am in a mood to really lay it down with this material and there is a very
good chance that the material from this camp will become a DBMA DVD
"Advanced Stick Fighting".

So, how much for this veritable cornucopia of stickfighting sagacity?  As
always, we respect that value of your time and money with fair prices:  The
cost is $100 per day, or $250 for all three days.  10% discount for DBMA
Association members, 15% discount for Law Enforcement, and 25% for US (and
NATO allies e.g. Canada) military.

The Adventure continues!
Guro Crafty

PS:  For additional discussion of the Camp, please see

The following article is quite old, but perhaps it remains relevant wink

Snake Range,
by Guro Crafty  (Copyright 2001 Dog Brothers Inc.)

  As Juan Matus has pointed out, seeing what is not there as well as what is
powerful--in life as well as in stickfighting. I often see doubt or the “BS
alert” expression in people’s faces when they hear that Snake Range, the
first range of DBMA, is defined as “before contact is made”. To most people,
if no hitting is going on, then nothing of importance is going on. Yet the
idea of Snake Range is that what is done in the absence of hitting in order
to define the moment of impact (and its continuation) is one of the most
important parts of fighting.

  So what are the elements of the Snake in DBMA?

First there is “the skill of moving your stick to protect your hand, hide
your intent, create your opening, and mask your initiation.”

Second, there is the analysis of your opponent’s psychological type.

Third, and closely related, there is the analysis of his structure which we
call “The Theory of Chambers”.

Fourth, there is a specific theory of footwork.

Fifth, there is using this range to AVOID contact, which includes both ST.
FOOM (an acronym for “stay the fornicate off of me”) and the specific
footwork theory for avoiding engagement. And sixth, there is the theory of
the skirmish (multiple versus one, and many versus many where numbers may or
may not be equal)

The first element we will leave for another day. For now we will note that
Top Dog’s distinctive circling of the stick we call “the clock” and that a
fighter seasoned in the Attacking Block Drills will be able to use a Upward
8 in a similar manner.

Lets turn to psychological types and games that one should recognize in
Snake Range. Here, in no particular order, are some examples:

  a) "Mongo" (after the Alex Karras character in Mel Brooks's "Blazing
Saddles") Mongo looks to smash anything and every thing that comes at him or
is in front of him.

  b) The Stalker: he lumbers after you, often with step and slide footwork.

  c) The Evader: evades and looks to counter hit.

  d) The Blocking Counter Hitter: he presses forward and looks to counter
hit after blocking your strike.

  e) The Posturer: he doesn’t really want to fight. Typically Posturers
strut and posture just out of reach in the hopes you will overextend
yourself due to impatience.

  f) The Salesman: uses the stick deceptively hoping to trick you into
exposing yourself.

  g) Three Card Monte: a variation of the salesman done with double stick.
It mixes the chambers of each stick (e.g. holds one high and one low) and
tries to hit you with the one at which you’re not looking.

  h) The Speed Merchant: not much power, but he scores and moves.

  i) The Troglodyte: doesn’t care much if you hit him, he’s going to hit

  j) The Linebacker: comes after you like a linebacker blitzing a
quarterback. He wants to crash and take it to the ground.

There’s more of course and these types can be combined. For example, a Mongo
can be a Troglodyte Stalker.

The Theory of Chambers is the analysis of the physical structure of the man
in front of you. From where does he throw? Some examples:

  a) From above the forehand shoulder is “the Caveman”.

  b) Does he finish this swing with his elbow in centerline? Then he is
“elbow fulcrum”.

  c) A “backhander” prefers to throw from the backhand side.

  d) A “slapper” has bad form and tends to swing horizontally.

  e) “Off-lead” is with the weapon in the rear hand.

  f) Low Chamber is a low forehand position. This sometimes is in an

  g) Siniwali Caveman is with the caveman strike in the rear, and the front
stick is a jabbing/shielding position (a.k.a. “paw and pow”).

  h) Double Caveman is with each stick above its respective shoulder.

  i) False lead is left shoulder and right foot forward, right stick in
right hand or vice versa.

  These are but some examples. For each of these structures you want to know
what are the strengths and weaknesses and have solutions.

  In addition to the snakey stick, there is also “the snaky foot”, which of
course is an oxymoron because snakes don’t have feet?but never mind that.
There is a specific theory of footwork for this distance which we will leave
for another day.

  And in the street you may not want to engage and may want to keep the
jackal(s) away. ST. FOOM is moving your feet and swinging your stick so as
to create a bubble around yourself into which no one wants to step.

  And the Skirmish is all the skills you need for multiple situations. This
is more tactics and strategy than particular technique. Technical competence
is already assumed, thus it is usually covered later in the training. If you
can’t fight one, you may not be ready to think about fighting more than one.

  All of these are elements of Snake Range in Dog Brothers Martial Arts.

  Guro Crafty

24655  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The congnitive dissonance of the left on: June 10, 2011, 12:32:22 PM
And then there were the various responses to Bill stuffing Monica with a cigar and getting blown in the Oval Office , , , and forcing himself on Paula Jones and the insults tow which she was subjected (ugly, trailer park and the like) and what was her name, the woman who came to him to plead for her husband's job only to get groped or something like that?

Well maybe we can say that Mrs. Weiner is rather attractive and Hillary could give a man frostbite?  cheesy

Meanwhile, the country heads off a fg cliff. 
24656  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: June 10, 2011, 12:26:11 PM
There most certainly WAS the C'l issue as to whether he was eligible to be President!   Given how few tracks he left in his life, and the considerable sums he spent covering up those that were, it is completely understandable and rational that heightened suspicion would result from his failure to show the long form.

As for Pravda on the Beach (POTB a.k.a. the Left Angeles Times) holding back the video, the responsibility and shame for that fall squarely on POTB.
24657  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: June 10, 2011, 12:10:52 PM
Harlequin novel, version 2011


He grasped me firmly, but gently, just above my elbow and guided me into a room, his room. Then he quietly shut the  door and we were alone. He approached me soundlessly, from behind, and spoke in  a low, reassuring voice close to my ear.


"Just  relax."


Without warning, he reached down and I felt his strong,  calloused hands start at my ankles, gently probing, and moving upward along my  calves, slowly but steadily. My breath caught in my throat.


I knew I should  be afraid, but somehow I didn't care. His touch was so experienced, so sure.  When his hands moved up onto my thighs, I gave a slight shudder, and partly  closed my eyes. My pulse was pounding. I felt his knowing fingers caress my  abdomen, my ribcage. And then, as he cupped my firm, full breasts in his hands,  I inhaled sharply.


Probing, searching, knowing what he wanted, he brought his  hands to my shoulders, slid them down my tingling spine and into my panties..  Although I knew nothing about this man, I felt oddly trusting and expectant.  This is a man, I thought. A man used to taking charge. A man not used to taking  ‘No for an answer. A man who would tell me what he wanted. A man who would look into my soul and say . . . .


"Okay ma'am, you can board your flight now."



24658  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: June 10, 2011, 12:02:17 PM
I believe my point is supported, i.e. that the House of Reps, where spending originates, can specify to what purpose the spending is to be put and to specify that spending can not be put to other purposes.

Was this not the root of Iran-contragate?  That the Ollie North and other Reagan folks were looking to raise money that they could not get from Congress?
24659  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson on the judiciary 1821 on: June 10, 2011, 11:59:21 AM
"The great object of my fear is the federal judiciary. That body, like gravity, ever acting, with noiseless foot, and unalarming advance, gaining ground step by step, and holding what it gains, is ingulfing insidiously the special governments into the jaws of that which feeds them." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to Judge Spencer Roane, 1821
24660  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 21 battalions of narco gunmen in two cities on: June 10, 2011, 10:52:32 AM
From a retired USMS friend:

At least 14,000 "armed criminals" are in the northern Mexican cities of Ciudad Juárez and Chihuahua, working for the drug cartels that are fighting for control of smuggling routes into the United States, Chihuahua state Attorney General Carlos Manuel Salas said.


RF: Based upon approx. 650 soldiers per rifle battalion (the number back in my day), that's like 21 battalions of narco gunmen in those two cities...
24661  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Vehicle flight a violent felony on: June 10, 2011, 10:48:34 AM

Sent to me by a retired USMS friend:

The Supreme Court decided yesterday that fleeing the police in a vehicle could be considered a violent felony.
Back in 1990 I was involved in a car chase event.  Afterwards, among other things, I argued that the act of fleeing law enforcement in a car (indeed the predicate act of escape from custody as well which was the situation in this case), was in and of itself an act of desperation with a high risk of a dangerous outcome and a disregard for others.  The head of U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) personnel told me, and I quote almost verbatim, that 'until the guy actually hit somebody with the car he was not a danger to the public.'  I thought he was a moron then, and I am glad to see the Supreme Court essentially agrees.
Of particular interest back then was the number of mindless know it all drones who, although ostensibly operational personnel, had never been in any dangerous/complicated situation in their entire careers and who simply agreed in lockstep with this idiot who was head of USMS personnel.  For all practical purposes they were nothing more than, as most of them are right now, administrative employees who had been given a gun and a badge and who themselves would flee for their lives at the merest hint of danger like the cowards they are.  Most of them are an utter embarrassment to law enforcement in general, and the warrior ethos in particular.
24662  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: June 09, 2011, 09:27:32 PM
Isn't spending targeted?  e.g. $X for the XYZ plane, $Y for Iraq, $Z for toilet seats, etc?
24663  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Sun activity on: June 09, 2011, 09:26:23 PM

24664  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / John Adams, Inaugural Address 1797 on: June 09, 2011, 05:10:05 PM

"We should be unfaithful to ourselves if we should ever lose sight of the danger to our liberties if anything partial or extraneous should infect the purity of our free, fair, virtuous, and independent elections." --John Adams, Inaugural Address, 1797

24665  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: June 09, 2011, 05:09:28 PM
Ignore it.  Let Congress defund or not.
24666  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / John Adams, Inaugural Address 1797 on: June 09, 2011, 05:07:22 PM

"We should be unfaithful to ourselves if we should ever lose sight of the danger to our liberties if anything partial or extraneous should infect the purity of our free, fair, virtuous, and independent elections." --John Adams, Inaugural Address, 1797

24667  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues and LE in action on: June 09, 2011, 05:05:46 PM
For which I can see a notation being made in his record and his being told "Next time let us know promptly where you are" and that sort of thing, but to fire him?  Wrong, very wrong.
24668  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Newt's aides abandoning ship; Krauthammer on Cain on: June 09, 2011, 05:02:14 PM
Krauthamamer hasn't changed his opinion on Cain, but gave him a nod of respect on Bret Baier yesterday for getting 7% in the poll.

Gingrich’s Senior Campaign Aides Resign

Newt Gingrich’s campaign manager and a half-dozen senior advisers resigned on Thursday, two aides said, dealing a significant setback to his bid to seek the Republican presidential nomination and severely complicating his plan to make a political comeback.

The campaign manager, Rob Johnson, along with advisers in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, joined together to step down after a period of deep internal disagreements about the direction of the campaign.

Mr. Gingrich, a former House speaker who has been fighting to regain his political footing after a rough campaign announcement last month, had been absent from the campaign trail for about two weeks on what aides had described as a pre-planned vacation. He made his first return to the campaign trail on Wednesday in New Hampshire, one day before the resignations were announced.

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24669  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy, Big Brother (State and Corporate) & the 4th Amendment on: June 09, 2011, 10:30:34 AM
Thank you for the correction to the false original report.  I am relieved to hear it.
24670  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues and LE in action on: June 09, 2011, 10:28:04 AM
Try looking the widow of the fallen officer in the eye when her man died because your employee did not come to his aid for fear of losing his job.
24671  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues and LE in action on: June 08, 2011, 11:21:49 PM
Officers were down.  Some men will run towards the sound of the guns.  Others will do nothing.  Some are sheep dogs, and some are sheep.
24672  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Good things Pres. Bush isn't the one doing this or POTH would be PO'd on: June 08, 2011, 08:39:47 PM

U.S. Is Intensifying a Secret Campaign of Yemen Airstrikes

The Obama administration has intensified the American covert war in Yemen, exploiting a growing power vacuum in the country to strike at militant suspects with armed drones and fighter jets, according to American officials.

The acceleration of the American campaign in recent weeks comes amid a violent conflict in Yemen that has left the government in Sana, a United States ally, struggling to cling to power. Yemeni troops that had been battling militants linked to Al Qaeda in the south have been pulled back to the capital, and American officials see the strikes as one of the few options to keep the militants from consolidating power.

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24673  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Heh heh heh, take that Chicago! on: June 08, 2011, 08:33:36 PM
24674  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: June 08, 2011, 07:30:34 PM
Herman Cain had a fairly substantial amount of time on the Beck show today.  Not flashy, but good to see him getting exposure.
24675  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues and LE in action on: June 08, 2011, 06:05:14 PM
There was about a 15 year period in my youth (about 15 to 30 years of age) when every single dream I had, had a policeman in it somewhere.  Can we say "Issues with authority"?  cheesy

More seriously now, I profoundly disrespect the values of corporations, police departments, etc that do as was done here.
24676  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glen Beck TV on: June 08, 2011, 05:42:32 PM
24677  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues and LE in action on: June 08, 2011, 05:29:19 PM
Well, cross you off a list of people for whom I would want to work cheesy
24678  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fall Dog Brothers Open Gathering of the Pack 9/18/11 on: June 08, 2011, 05:28:03 PM
Hello Kitty (DF?):

I have been trying to get an answer out of my wife over this but she has been deep in a bookkeeping mission and is ignoring all other requests for info.
24679  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Constitutional Issues concerning the Fed and Coinage on: June 08, 2011, 11:44:31 AM

'Last October, I won the Nobel Prize in economics for my work on unemployment and the labor market," Peter Diamond, an economics professor at MIT, wrote in the New York Times on Sunday. "But I am unqualified to serve on the board of the Federal Reserve—at least according to the Republican senators who have blocked my nomination. How can this be?"

Not a bad question for the Republicans to be thinking about in the wake of Mr. Diamond's decision to withdraw his name from consideration for the Fed. Announcing his decision in the Times, Mr. Diamond warned of what he called "a failure to recognize that analysis of unemployment is crucial to conducting monetary policy."

Is another Ph.D. in economics really what is needed at the Federal Reserve? Prof. Diamond's leading opponent, Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, wants someone who has more experience in crafting monetary policy. Yet the Fed has plenty of experts in monetary policy.

I'd suggest what the board of the Fed really needs is a sage of the Constitution. The Constitution is the only place where our government gets its monetary powers and disabilities. And the more the Fed flounders during the course of this monetary crisis—in which the value of a dollar has plunged to less than a 1,500th of an ounce of gold—the more glaring is the blitheness of its attitude toward America's foundational law. And, for that matter, toward how the Founders of America thought about money.

This became clear within moments of Ben Bernanke being sworn in as the Fed's chairman in 2006. President Bush had gone over to the Federal Reserve for the occasion, and after the constitutionally required oath was sworn, Mr. Bernanke went over to a microphone to offer thanks to the president and his colleagues. Then he made an odd statement.

"The Federal Reserve," he said, "was created by Congress in 1913, and it was entrusted with the power, granted originally to the Congress by the U.S. Constitution, to coin money and regulate the value thereof."

Yet the Federal Reserve Act that Congress passed in 1913 didn't contain a single reference to the coinage power. On the contrary, as scholar Edwin Vieira Jr., has written, "one can search the Act until his eyes fall out without finding a delegation of the '"power to coin money.'"

The Supreme Court case that vouchsafed the power of the Congress to set up a national bank—McCulloch v. Maryland (1819), one of the most famous decisions ever handed down by the court—didn't mention the coinage power either, though it did allude to the taxing and spending power and the war powers.

By claiming power under the coinage clause, Mr. Bernanke was behaving a bit like Secretary of State Alexander Haig when, after President Ronald Reagan was shot, he suggested, albeit fleetingly, that he had the constitutional authority of the president. The fact is that not long after the Constitution was ratified, Congress exercised its coinage power not by creating the Fed but, in the Coinage Act of 1792, the United States Mint.

Even if, somewhere in the mists, the Fed can trace its authority to the coinage power, who on the Fed board is going to look out for these kinds of issues? Or more basic ones—like what a dollar really is, and what is its purpose?

Back in March, when Chairman Bernanke testified before the House Financial Services Committee, Congressman Ron Paul asked him for his definition of the dollar. Mr. Bernanke made no mention of the Constitution or any law passed by Congress. Instead he replied that his definition of a dollar was what it will buy.

That isn't how the Founders thought about the dollar. They thought about it as a measure of value. They gave Congress the coinage power in the same sentence in which they also gave it the power to fix the standard of weights and measures. When they twice used the word "dollars" in the Constitution, they had something specific in mind—371¼ grains of silver. They made reference not only to silver but to gold.

My guess is that the Founders would agree with Mr. Diamond when he writes that "[w]e need to preserve the independence of the Fed from efforts to politicize monetary policy." This is why they defined money in terms of silver and gold, the latter in particular being the measure of value that is hardest to politicize. Wouldn't it be nice to have among the governors of the Fed someone who thinks about money not in terms of theories but in the constitutional terms in which the Founders thought?

Mr. Lipsky is editor of the New York Sun. An anthology of its editorials on the gold standard, "It Shines for All," has just been published by New York Sun Books.

24680  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Wolves, Dogs and other canines on: June 08, 2011, 11:08:55 AM
 cool cool cool cool cool cool cool cool cool
24681  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Make Profs teach on: June 08, 2011, 11:08:08 AM
No sooner do parents proudly watch their children graduate high school than they must begin paying for college. As they write checks for upwards of $40,000 a year, they'll no doubt find themselves complaining loudly about rising college costs—even asking: "Is it worth it?"

It's a legitimate question. As college costs have risen wildly, the benefits of the degree seem less and less clear. Larger numbers of college graduates are taking relatively low-paying and low-skilled jobs.

The good news? There are ways to greatly ease the burden and make college more affordable, according to new data from the University of Texas at Austin.

 Naomi Schaefer Riley, author of "The Faculty Lounges," explains how colleges are spending your money.
.In a study for the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, Christopher Matgouranis, Jonathan Robe and I concluded that tuition fees at the flagship campus of the University of Texas could be cut by as much as half simply by asking the 80% of faculty with the lowest teaching loads to teach about half as much as the 20% of faculty with the highest loads. The top 20% currently handle 57% of all teaching.

Such a move would require the bulk of the faculty to teach, on average, about 150-160 students a year. For example, a professor might teach one undergraduate survey class for 100 students, two classes for advanced undergraduate students or beginning graduate students with 20-25 students, and an advanced graduate seminar for 10. That would require the professor to be in the classroom for fewer than 200 hours a year—hardly an arduous requirement.

Faculty will likely argue that this would imperil the university's research mission. Nonsense. First of all, at UT Austin, a mere 20% of the faculty garner 99.8% of the external research funding. Second, faculty who follow the work habits of other professional workers—go to work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and work five days a week for 48 or 49 weeks a year—can handle teaching 200 hours a year while publishing considerable amounts of research. I have done just this for decades as a professor.

Third, much research consists of obscure articles published in even more obscure journals on topics of trivial importance. Mark Bauerlein, a professor of English at Emory University, once estimated that 21,000 articles have been written on Shakespeare since 1980. Wouldn't 5,000 have been enough? Canadian scholar Jeffrey Litwin, looking at 70 leading U.S. universities, concluded the typical cost of writing a journal article is about $72,000. If we professors published somewhat fewer journal articles and did more teaching, we could make college more affordable.

There are other things colleges could do to reduce costs, such as slashing bureaucracies or using buildings more efficiently. But by not extending the contracts of nontenured faculty or by phasing out tenured positions over time, universities could seriously cut labor costs.

The bottom line is that colleges typically spread knowledge about everything under the sun except themselves. It's time to change that. There's no better place to start than by closely examining the work load of those who absorb the lion's share of university budgets.

Mr. Vedder is a professor of economics at Ohio University and directs the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.

24682  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: US tries to get UN SC to address Syria's failure to comply with IAEA on: June 08, 2011, 11:04:41 AM

Associated Press
VIENNA—The U.S. and its allies pushed ahead Wednesday with efforts to bring Syria before the United Nations Security Council for failure to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency, despite opposition from China and Russia.

Separately, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said that Britain and France will put forward a resolution at the U.N. condemning the crackdown in Syria.

A draft of a resolution obtained by The Associated Press finds Syria in "non-compliance with its obligations" with IAEA requirements to allow inspectors access to all nuclear facilities to ensure they are not being used for military purposes.

The draft criticizes Syria's lack of cooperation with "repeated requests for access" by the U.N. nuclear agency to information about a facility at Dair Alzour that appears to have been a nuclear reactor capable of producing plutonium, which is used to arm nuclear weapons. The site was destroyed in 2007.

The draft was circulated Wednesday to the 35 ministers who serve on the IAEA's board of governors to be discussed and put to vote. It needs majority approval from the board before it can be sent to the Security Council.

The IAEA has tried in vain since 2008 to follow up on strong evidence that the Dair Alzour site, bombed in 2007 by Israeli warplanes, was a nearly finished reactor built with North Korea's help.

Drawing on a May 24 report by IAEA chief Yukiya Amano, the resolution expresses "serious concern" over what it calls "Syria's lack of cooperation with the IAEA director general's repeated requests for access to additional information and locations as well as Syria's refusal to engage substantively with the agency on the nature of the Dair Alzour site."

Some nations have expressed misgivings about bringing Syria before the Security Council over an unresolved nuclear issue while there is a nationwide crackdown on a revolt against President Bashar Assad, but diplomats have indicated that a majority should be possible.

But without China and Russia the question remains whether that is enough, given the power of those nations to veto any measures that come before the Security Council.

In Britain, Mr. Cameron told the House of Commons that the U.K. and France wish to condemn the repression by Mr. Assad's government.

Mr. Cameron told lawmakers that the resolution before the Security Council will be focused on "demanding accountability and humanitarian action."

He said that if "anyone votes against that resolution or tries to veto it, that should be on their conscience."

Activists say Syria's nationwide crackdown on the revolt against Mr. Assad's regime has killed more than 1,300 Syrians.

24683  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / LEO fired for rendering assistance to officers under fire , , , on: June 08, 2011, 10:06:23 AM
Unfg believable , , ,
24684  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: June 08, 2011, 08:47:54 AM
Good to have you back with us Freki  smiley
24685  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gilder on: June 08, 2011, 08:45:01 AM
By George Gilder from the June 2011 issue

The root cause of Middle Eastern turmoil, according to a broad consensus of the international media and the considered cerebrations of the deepest-thinking movie stars, is Israeli settlers in what are described as the "occupied territories" on the West Bank of the Jordan River. Even such celebrated and fervent supporters of Israel as Alan Dershowitz and Bernard-Henri Lévy put the settlers beyond the pale of their Zionist sympathies. Remove the settlers, according to these sage analyses of the scene, and the problems of the region become remediable at last............................
24686  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on Humala's victory in Peru on: June 08, 2011, 01:41:54 AM
Peru has been a rare Latin American success story, a growing economy in an Andes region deteriorating under left-wing populism. Peruvians have now taken a big gamble with that success by electing their own Peronist manque, in the form of national-socialist candidate Ollanta Humala. We'll soon find out how far left his turn will be.

Mr. Humala narrowly defeated Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori, who began Peru's economic reform from 1990 to 2000. His government ended hyperinflation and improved property rights and fiscal accountability. Peru's economic growth averaged 6.5% a year from 2002 to 2010, and poverty is half what it was 20 years ago. But growth can often be taken for granted, and Mr. Humala tarred Ms. Fujimori with some of the rougher law and order practices that her father used to defeat Communist rebels.

The question now is which Mr. Humala will decide to govern in Lima. Until about two months ago he opposed the kind of democratic capitalism that has made Peruvians better off. In 2000, Comandante Humala, as he is sometimes known, led an unsuccessful military coup against the democratically elected Mr. Fujimori. In 2005 his brother Antauro led his own coup, which Mr. Humala endorsed from his post at the time as Peru's military attaché in Seoul.

Those incidents may seem like ancient history, but Mr. Humala's 198-page original party platform, dated December 2010, was in the same mold. It referred to market economics as "predatory" and called for the nationalization of strategic "activities." It also railed against "a foreign economic minority" that exploits natural resources and promised to "revise" free trade agreements that "oppose the exercise of our sovereign will." One of those trade deals is with the U.S.

Yet when Mr. Humala found himself in a runoff against Ms. Fujimori, he had some new advisers generate a more moderate, less detailed agenda. This agenda promised stable prices and responsible fiscal policy. It includes socialist vows to redistribute wealth and start a national airline, but it also promises to promote the rule of law, respect the division of government power and "reestablish public ethics and combat corruption and the squandering of public funds."

This pledge to govern with "honesty" seems to have been a deciding factor for many who associated Ms. Fujimori's father with graft. On election night, as it began to look like Mr. Humala had won, his spokesman told the world that private property would be respected.

Perhaps it will. The last decade has seen two kinds of left-wing populists come to power in Latin America. Those in the mold of Hugo Chávez—in Ecuador, Nicaragua and Bolivia—have politicized their economies and undermined democratic institutions to enhance their power. On the other hand, Brazil's Lula da Silva and Peru's current President Alan Garcia also had hard-left resumes, but they came to understand that free markets and property rights are crucial for growth that reduces poverty. Mr. Humala will now make his choice.

24687  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BO, Hillary, & Harold Koh working under the radar screen on: June 07, 2011, 11:50:01 PM
Larry Bell
Jun. 7 2011 - 2:04 pm
It may not come as surprising news to many of you that the United Nations doesn’t approve of our Second Amendment. Not one bit. And they very much hope to do something about it with help from some powerful American friends. Under the guise of a proposed global “Small Arms Treaty” premised to fight “terrorism”, “insurgency” and “international crime syndicates” you can be quite certain that an even more insidious threat is being targeted – our Constitutional right for law-abiding citizens to own and bear arms.
What, exactly, does the intended agreement entail?

While the terms have yet to be made public, if passed by the U.N. and ratified by our Senate, it will almost certainly force the U.S. to:

Enact tougher licensing requirements, creating additional bureaucratic red tape for legal firearms ownership.
Confiscate and destroy all “unauthorized” civilian firearms (exempting those owned by our government of course).
Ban the trade, sale and private ownership of all semi-automatic weapons (any that have magazines even though they still operate in the same one trigger pull – one single “bang” manner as revolvers, a simple fact the ant-gun media never seem to grasp).
Create an international gun registry, clearly setting the stage for full-scale gun confiscation.
In short, overriding our national sovereignty, and in the process, providing license for the federal government to assert preemptive powers over state regulatory powers guaranteed by the Tenth Amendment in addition to our Second Amendment rights
Have no doubt that this plan is very real, with strong Obama administration support. In January 2010 the U.S. joined 152 other countries in endorsing a U.N. Arms Treaty Resolution that will establish a 2012 conference to draft a blueprint for enactment. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has pledged to push for Senate ratification.

Former U.N. ambassador John Bolton has cautioned gun owners to take this initiative seriously, stating that the U.N. “is trying to act as though this is really just a treaty about international arms trade between nation states, but there is no doubt that the real agenda here is domestic firearms control.”

More from contributor Larry Bell

Although professing to support the Second Amendment during her presidential election bid, Hillary Clinton is not generally known as a gun rights enthusiast. She has been a long-time activist for federal firearms licensing and registration, and a vigorous opponent of state Right-to-Carry laws. As a New York senator she ranked among the National Rifle Association’s worst “F”-rated gun banners who voted to support the sort of gunpoint disarmament that marked New Orleans’ rogue police actions against law-abiding gun owners in the anarchistic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

President Obama’s record on citizen gun rights doesn’t reflect much advocacy either. Consider for example his appointment of anti-gun rights former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels as an alternate U.S. representative to the U.N., and his choice of Andrew Traver who has worked to terminate civilian ownership of so-called “assault rifles” (another prejudicially meaningless gun term) to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Then, in a move unprecedented in American history, the Obama administration quietly banned the re-importation and sale of 850,000 collectable antique U.S.-manufactured M1 Garand and Carbine rifles that were left in South Korea following the Korean War. Developed in the 1930s, the venerable M1 Garand carried the U.S. through World War II, seeing action in every major battle.

As an Illinois state senator, Barack Obama was an aggressive advocate for expanding gun control laws, and even voted against legislation giving gun owners an affirmative defense when they use firearms to defend themselves and their families against home invaders and burglars. He also served on a 10-member board of directors of the radically activist anti-gun Joyce Foundation in Chicago during a period between 1998-2001when it contributed $18,326,183 in grants to anti-Second Amendment organizations.

If someone breaks into your home when you are there, which would you prefer to have close at hand: 1) a telephone to call 911, or 2) a loaded gun of respectable caliber? That’s a pretty easy question for me to answer. I am a long-time NRA member, concealed firearms license holder and a regular weekly recreational pistol shooter. And while I don’t ordinarily care to target anything that has a mother, will reluctantly make an exception should an urgent provocation arise. I also happen to enjoy the company of friends who hunt, as well as those, like myself, who share an abiding interest in American history and the firearms that influenced it.

There are many like me, and fewer of them would be alive today were it not for exercise of their gun rights. In fact law-abiding citizens in America used guns in self-defense 2.5 million times during 1993 (about 6,850 times per day), and actually shot and killed 2 1/2 times as many criminals as police did (1,527 to 606). Those civilian self-defense shootings resulted in less than 1/5th as many incidents as police where an innocent person was mistakenly identified as a criminal (2% versus 11%).

Just how effectively have gun bans worked to make citizens safer in other countries? Take the number of home break-ins while residents are present as an indication. In Canada and Britain, both with tough gun-control laws, nearly half of all burglaries occur when residents are present. But in the U.S. where many households are armed, only about 13% happen when someone is home.

Recognizing clear statistical benefit evidence, 41 states now allow competent, law-abiding adults to carry permitted or permit-exempt concealed handguns. As a result, crime rates in those states have typically fallen at least 10% in the year following enactment.

So the majority in our Senate is smart enough to realize that the U.N.’s gun-grab agenda is unconstitutional, politically suicidal for those who support it, and down-right idiotic—right? Let’s hope so, but not entirely count on it. While a few loyal Obama Democrats are truly “pro-gun”, many are loathe to vote against treaties that carry the president’s international prestige, causing him embarrassment.

Also, don’t forget that Senate confirmation of anti-gun Obama nominee Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Many within the few who voted against her did so only because of massive grassroots pressure from constituents who take their Constitutional protections very seriously.

Now, more than ever, it’s imperative to stick by our guns in demanding that all Constitutional rights be preserved. If not, we will surely lose both.

24688  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: June 07, 2011, 09:35:00 PM
This is my understanding as well.
24689  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: States Rights on: June 07, 2011, 09:32:52 PM
OK, what about the Retained Sovereignty of the States?
24690  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: How to cut government spending on: June 07, 2011, 09:31:28 PM
Diagree.  Non-dsicretionary spending is only because some previous Congress said so and some previous president signed it.  We can do the same and make it descretionary again.

If you are not an activist president in this regard you will fail in solving the problem.
24691  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Stay or go? 2.0 and Stratfor on Russia and India's interests , , , on: June 07, 2011, 05:38:15 PM
YA, your thoughts on these two?  There seems to be considerable divergence between the two.

It's been 18 months since President Obama announced the Afghan troop surge, and now July 2011—the date at which he promised that a withdrawal would begin—is nearly upon us. Washington still hasn't decided whether withdrawals will be "modest," as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is encouraging, or more substantial, as leaks to the media suggest the White House may prefer. What's clear from Afghanistan, though, is that nothing about conditions on the ground justifies the withdrawal of any U.S. or coalition forces.

The fight is approaching its peak, progress remains fragile and under assault, and we need every soldier we have—U.S., coalition and Afghan—to maintain momentum. The risks of a small withdrawal (say, 5,000 troops) are probably manageable. But any such withdrawal would be driven by politics rather than strategy.

Progress in the fight is undeniable. Coalition forces have driven the Taliban from their major safe havens in southern Afghanistan and are continuing to press into lesser enemy strongholds. The Taliban have launched operations to retake the ground they have lost, but so far to no avail.

Their tactics, moreover, indicate their weakness. Having long eschewed suicide bombings and direct attacks against Afghan civilians for fear of alienating the population, the Taliban are increasingly carrying out such attacks. The attacks, in turn, are driving a wedge between the enemy and the population, a phenomenon we have seen in Iraq and elsewhere.

There is every reason to believe that coalition forces and their increasingly effective Afghan partners can hold the gains in the south through this fighting season (that is, until November). This would allow them to create meaningful security zones around all of the major population centers in the south for the first time since 2001, but only if they have the resources and the time to do it.

Aggressive operations have managed to preserve a great degree of security in Kabul and are slowly expanding out from there. But the enemy still has safe havens within eastern Afghanistan that must be cleared before they are turned over to Afghan responsibility. So must the Haqqani network—which operates from eastern Afghanistan and is closely linked to al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations, such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, with international aspirations—be defeated.

It hasn't been possible so far to undertake such clearing operations in the east because the surge was limited to about 30,000 troops. Without the full-force package requested by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commanders first had to focus on southern Afghanistan, which was in imminent danger of falling to the Taliban in 2009. Removing U.S. forces prematurely will deny the coalition and the Afghans the ability to shift their forces to eastern Afghanistan. Afghan security forces, although holding and fighting well, are not yet able to meet the Taliban threat on their own.

Above all, the Afghan population needs confidence before it really commits to resisting the Taliban and supporting the government. It can gain such confidence only by seeing that the coalition and Afghan forces will successfully fight off the coming Taliban counterattack.

A successful fighting season this year would permit decisive operations in eastern Afghanistan in 2012. The same rules will apply to those operations, however: If the coalition can clear remaining safe havens in the east in 2012, the enemy is likely to counterattack in 2013, and the coalition and the Afghans will have to defeat that counterattack to demonstrate to the local people that the insurgents have lost and are not coming back.

This timeline of operations is fully consistent with the 2014 deadline, announced by President Obama and the NATO allies in Lisbon last year, for transferring security control to the Afghans and reducing the American footprint to whatever is required for sustained training and counterterrorism operations. This timeline would also likely permit the beginning of substantial reductions in forces in 2013, assuming that progress continues in the south as we defeat enemy counterattacks in the east.

Pressure for withdrawal is driven largely by concerns about the U.S. budget, frustration with Afghanistan's government, anger at Pakistan, and irrational exuberance about the impact of Osama bin Laden's death. But bin Laden's death isn't significant to the situation on the ground in Afghanistan today because it has no meaningful effect on popular attitudes about the likelihood of insurgent victory or defeat.

As for the other problems, premature withdrawal will make them all worse. The Afghan government will behave more counterproductively the more it believes that the U.S. isn't serious about succeeding. The Pakistani military is much more likely to double down on its support for insurgent proxies in Afghanistan if Mr. Obama reinforces its decades-long conviction that America will inevitably abandon the region. And Pakistani failures to address terrorist bases on their own territory will be compounded by the re-emergence of such sanctuaries in Afghanistan.

The economic argument for withdrawing troops faster makes even less sense. The marginal savings of pulling an additional 5,000 or even 15,000 troops out of Afghanistan 12 or 18 months early is trivial compared to the cost of failure in this effort. If we defeat ourselves in Afghanistan now, we will have to choose later whether to accept likely attacks on the U.S. homeland or to intervene militarily once again—at a much higher price than we could hope to save now. Withdrawal is a penny-wise but pound-foolish approach to an enduring national security problem.

If Mr. Obama announces the withdrawal of all surge forces from Afghanistan in 2012, the war will likely be lost. Al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and other global terrorist groups will almost certainly re-establish sanctuaries in Afghanistan. The Afghan state would likely collapse and the country would descend into ethnic civil war. The outcome of this policy would be far worse than Nixon's decision to accept defeat in Vietnam, for it would directly increase the threat to the American homeland.

Americans may be tired of war, but war is not tired of us. Thousands of people around the world wake up every morning and think about how to kill Americans and destroy the American way of life. Right now, we have the momentum against those enemies in Afghanistan. This is the time to press the fight.

Ms. Kagan is president of the Institute for the Study of War. Mr. Kagan is director of the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute. They have spent about 10 months in Afghanistan since 2009.

Russia's Concern in a Post-U.S. Afghanistan

Russian National Security Adviser Nikolai Patrushev, while on a visit to the Indian capital Monday, said there was no military solution to the situation in Afghanistan. Patrushev, who is the former long-time head of the Russian Federal Security Service and the second most influential intelligence official after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, explained that the problems of terrorism and drug trafficking in the southwest Asian nation would continue without some sort of negotiated settlement in the country that could allow for socio-economic development. Afghan forces on their own could not accomplish such tasks, and Russia is willing to provide the necessary assistance, the secretary of the Kremlin’s National Security Council said.

“Knowing that the Americans are unlikely to achieve some form of political resolution before they leave Afghanistan, the Russians are trying to step in and find with regional players some enduring strategy in the otherwise dysfunctional country.”
Patrushev’s remarks reflect Moscow’s growing concerns at the increasingly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, especially as the United States and its NATO allies approach the endgame. The Americans have the choice of walking away from Afghanistan while it remains a threat, albeit one that is not so close to home. For the Russians, however, given their interests in Central Asia and the Caucuses, Afghanistan in a state of anarchy — or worse, dominated by the Taliban — represents a clear and present danger due to terrorism, drugs, and political and regional destabilization.

Knowing that the Americans are unlikely to achieve some form of political resolution before they leave Afghanistan, the Russians are trying to step in and find with regional players some enduring strategy in the otherwise dysfunctional country. India and Russia, along with Iran, share similar concerns, and have long been supportive of anti-Taliban forces. But each of these powers realizes that the Taliban are a reality and thus need to be contained through engagement.

Iran already has significant ties to the Afghan jihadist militia, cultivated over the years since the Taliban began their resurgence. The Russians also have their own connections, a legacy from their involvement in the 1980s. India remains the weak link in this chain because of its rivalry with Pakistan and Taliban linkages to Islamabad, despite its having the most overt business relationship, and a recently announced training deal with Afghan security forces.

The Russians, who have been in communication with the Pakistanis, especially as U.S.-Pakistani relations have suffered, understand the need to work with Islamabad. This would explain Patrushev’s statement that the joint fight against terrorism could help normalize relations between India and Pakistan. “India and Pakistan have specific relations, and we do not see it as our role to try to change them,” he said. “However, there is a threat which affects everyone, international terrorism, and there is an understanding by the sides that this needs to be resolved together.”

However, the Indian-Pakistani rivalry is not the only thing that Russia has to be concerned about vis-a-vis Afghanistan. U.S. influence on the Indians has created a disconnect between India and Iran, preventing India from being able to purchase crude from Tehran. Tightening U.S.-led measures against doing business with the Iranians has left the Indians without a means by which to pay for the crude.

In the past couple of days there have been reports that Saudi Arabia is willing to make up for the amount of oil that the Indians have not been getting from Iran due to American-led sanctions. It is not clear if India can use Saudi Arabia to substitute this shortfall, but it creates problems between India and Iran as Tehran is at loggerheads with both Washington and Riyadh.

As Russia gets more nervous about what will come from the aftermath of the U.S. pullout in Afghanistan, it will seek assistance to engineer some direction in the country. Ultimately, if the Russians are to come up with a way to deal with Afghanistan, then they must have reach a consensus with the key regional players, especially Pakistan and Iran — the two countries with the most influence in Afghanistan and with problems with India.

24692  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ Epstein & Loyola: States Rights challenge to Obamacare on: June 07, 2011, 05:22:19 PM

The constitutional battle over ObamaCare has largely focused on the constitutionality of the individual mandate. Namely, does forcing individuals to buy health insurance violate the commerce clause? But as the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals prepares to hear Florida v. United States, a second issue is of equal importance: Was District Court Judge Roger Vinson correct to rule that the federal government can force states to expand their Medicaid programs as a precondition for continuing to receive matching federal funds for the program?

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, states have a choice: Expand their Medicaid rolls or bear the full cost of caring for their state's current Medicaid population, while continuing to subsidize the Medicaid programs of other states. The constitutional danger of such a scheme has long been recognized. In 1936, the Supreme Court warned in U.S. v. Butler that if conditional federal grants were not restrained, the taxing and spending power "could become the instrument for the total subversion of the governmental powers reserved to the individual states."

And yet the government is comparing this Medicaid requirement to a "voluntary" contract. Does anyone believe that a person is entitled "voluntarily" to continue his journey so long as he pays for all poor people who use the roads? The government's action is plainly coercive because it necessarily conditions the exercise of one right upon the conscious surrender of a second.

VUnfortunately, the Supreme Court's decision in South Dakota v. Dole (1987) confused matters. Dole let Congress condition 5% of federal highway funds on the states raising their drinking age to 21. The Court argued that this modest penalty was mere persuasion—not coercion—but cautioned that "in some circumstances, the financial inducement offered by Congress might be so coercive as to pass the point at which 'pressure turns into compulsion.'"

The question, then, is where that point is. Judge Vinson denied that any such point exists because the federal courts have routinely ignored the Court's warning in Dole by approving virtually every conditional federal grant program—no matter how intrusive.

The reason why the analysis in Dole has failed to offer any protection for state autonomy is that it is fundamentally wrong to think of coercion as a matter of degree. The government always engages in coercion when it taxes away money from the citizens of several states, only to return it to those states that abide by certain conditions.

The Medicaid provision of ObamaCare spells the death knell to competition among the states. States cannot function as "laboratories of democracy"—as the 10th Amendment intended—if the federal government can use its power to tax and spend to bludgeon all states into conformity.

In New York v. United States (1992), the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government cannot require state governments to take ownership of nuclear waste that citizens could not otherwise dispose of safely. And in Printz v. United States (1997), the Court held that the U.S. could not compel local law enforcement officers to conduct background checks on prospective handgun owners without their consent, because such commandeering of state public officials is contrary to the federal structure of our Constitution.

In neither New York nor Printz did the result turn on the "level" of coercion, nor should it do so in the current case. The constant backdrop of the federal taxing power makes a mockery of the claim that state participation under ObamaCare is voluntary. The only way to prevent this grave intrusion on state autonomy is to strike down the Medicaid provisions of the health-reform law.

Mr. Epstein is a professor of law at New York University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. Mr. Loyola is director of the Center for Tenth Amendment Studies at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, which filed an amicus brief in Florida v. United States
24693  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iranian Subs in Red Sea and Iran's play for the mid-east on: June 07, 2011, 05:03:30 PM
Iran has reportedly deployed submarines to the Red Sea in what appears to be another highly symbolic and low-cost power projection move. The timing of this deployment comes at a particularly tense time in the region, but if you take a hard look at Iranian capabilities beyond the symbolic actions and rhetoric, you’ll find that Iran is still facing a number of very large limitations.

Iran state-run Fars News Agency reported today that Iranian submarines have made their way to the Red Sea and are being accompanied by the Iranian navy’s 14th fleet. Now, we saw a similar move by the Iranians back in February when Iran deployed two warships through the Suez Canal on its way to Syria in the Mediterranean. That was the first such deployment since 1979.

The U.S. response to these Iranian military maneuvers has been pretty consistent and can be summed up in as many words as “no big deal.” The United States is making a concerted effort to deny Iran the attention it’s seeking through these military posturing moves.

Obviously, Iran and has a big opportunity on its hands and are lying in wait to fill a power vacuum in Iraq once the U.S. leaves. The site of Sadrite militiamen marching through the streets of Baghdad sends a very powerful message by the Iranians to the Arab states as well as to the United States that it has militant proxies that are ready to go to war if the United States even thinks about extending its stay in Iraq. This is all about Iran calling dibs on the Mesopotamian sphere of influence.

At the same time, you have uprisings across the region creating very real problems for long-standing Arab monarchies. Bahrain is a prime example. Today, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, and I’m paraphrasing, that the real problem in Bahrain is not between the people and the rulers of Bahrain, it’s with the U.S. military presence in Bahrain. Ahmadinejad added that Iran has a formula for the settlement of the Bahraini crisis, but it would only introduce that formula when the conditions were ripe.

Ahmadinejad is issuing a very explicit ultimatum to the GCC states. Basically he’s saying, “Look, you guys have internal problems. You accuse us of meddling in your internal affairs and inflaming those internal problems. That may be the case but let’s talk and we can help make those problems go away. The price of that is going to be for you to kick the United States out.”

Now the real question is: does Iran have the leverage to be making these kinds of threats and ultimatums? Certainly, Iran has a robust set of nonconventional capabilities to bring to bear and we seen after Hezbollah in Lebanon, through its militant assets in Iraq and even through its links to the Shiite opposition in Bahrain. But the GCC states, much less the United States, are not entirely convinced that Iran has what it takes to reshape the politics of the region.

Therefore, even as Iran is trying to coerce its Arab neighbors and the United States to negotiate on its terms and reach a solution that would aim to recognize Iran’s sphere of influence while limiting U.S. influence in the region, the more likely effect is that the GCC states, along with the United States, will band together in search of ways to try to keep the Iranians contained.

24694  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Home on: June 07, 2011, 12:01:25 PM
Home Iyar 29, 5771 · June 2, 2011
By Tzvi Freeman

A home is more than a house,
it is a state of being.

A home provides space and shelter,
not just for bodies, but for the human spirit.

Who creates this space?
Mainly the woman.

As it says, "A woman's wisdom builds her home."

24695  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison, 1792 Universal Peace on: June 07, 2011, 11:14:35 AM
"A universal peace, it is to be feared, is in the catalogue of events, which will never exist but in the imaginations of visionary philosophers, or in the breasts of benevolent enthusiasts." --James Madison, essay in the National Gazette, 1792
24696  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / WSJ: MovNat (paleolithic training) on: June 07, 2011, 11:10:43 AM
A few times a week, Ret Taylor can be spotted dangling upside down from a tree branch about 20 feet in the air in New York's Central Park.

View Interactive

Brian Harkin for The Wall Street Journal
Ret Taylor lifts a found log while working out in Central Park.
."A lot of little old ladies stop and look concerned," he says.

The 32-year-old Mr. Taylor isn't channeling his grade-school jungle-gym skills. He's trying to mimic how our ancestors might have exercised before the advent of high-tech gyms and yoga studios.

Mr. Taylor was inspired by a program called MovNat, short for "Move Naturally," founded by France's Erwan Le Corre in 2008. The idea is simple: Turn nature into your gym. Get out in the sunlight and run in fresh air. Rocks become dumbbells and tree branches become pull-up bars.

..Before he embraced natural movement, the founder of R. E. Taylor Associates Inc., a sales and consulting firm for the hospitality furniture- and fixture-manufacturing industry, logged about 70 miles a week training for marathons and ultramarathons (races longer than 26.2 miles). After nearly seven years of marathon training, Mr. Taylor had developed plantar fasciitis, an irritation of the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot that causes heel pain. He also had constant pain in his shins.

In December, Mr. Taylor got a wake-up call after a pick-up basketball game with friends. "I had crazy blisters, and my legs were killing me," he says. Despite his prime cardiovascular shape, he realized the long-distance running only worked a few muscles. "If I wanted to be a well-rounded athlete, I had to focus more on the rest of my body," he says.

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Brian Harkin for The Wall Street Journal
New York's Central Park serves as a fully equipped gym for Ret Taylor, who follows a workout style focused on natural movement.
.He had read a magazine article about MovNat a few weeks earlier and decided to give it a try.

Mr. Taylor hasn't missed a weekend of MovNat-inspired workouts since. About a month ago, Mr. Taylor formed a group on called Natural Movement NYC. Now, about 20 people meet on weekends to run, jump and climb through Central Park.

He says his runner's aches have disappeared since he started natural-movement runs and cut his overall mileage.

The Workout
Mr. Taylor works out seven days a week, training each Saturday with the group in Central Park. His workout lasts two hours, but others might stay for less time. "But I'm there until the last person wants to be done," he says.

Au Naturel, or Almost
The fitness philosophy of natural movement combined with the buzz around Christopher McDougall's best-selling book "Born to Run" have spurred a growing curiosity about barefoot, or near-barefoot, running.

In turn, this has inspired a new category of running shoe known as minimalist or natural shoes. Minimalist shoes have a very slight heel and arch support and mimic the naked foot hitting the ground.

Runners say they like the new shoes' extremely light weight. The shoes also appeal to runners' desires to strengthen foot muscles, attain a more efficient running gait and cut the risk of injury.

John Pagliano, a runner, podiatrist and clinical professor at the Long Beach Memorial Medical Center Podiatric Surgery program in California, says the design of the minimalist shoes changes a runner's gait.

"The idea is that you run more forward on your foot, rather than back on your heel," he says. This prompts you to take shorter, more frequent strides and to land more softly than with conventional running shoes.

Whether that prevents injury or makes you faster is debatable. "There is no specific evidence that runners [using minimalist shoes] have fewer foot injuries or ankle sprains," he says. However, "there are some studies that show that barefoot conditions increased muscle strength," Dr. Pagliano adds.

Warren Greene, a Runner's World magazine editor known as the shoe guru, says starting out running too much, too soon in minimalist shoes can cause problems. "Most people will experience really bad calf or Achilles pain." He advises wearing minimalist shoes for short periods a few days a week before gradually ramping up the mileage.

Irene Davis, director of the Spaulding National Running Center at Harvard Medical School, says up to 75% of runners get injured each year from a running-related injury. "I believe we were designed to run so we shouldn't be getting injured at this rate," says Dr. Davis, who has been running barefoot since 2009 and hasn't had any injuries beyond a blister from hot pavement.

--Jen Murphy
.The group covers three to six miles of running, stopping every half mile or so for push-ups or crunches, often using objects in the park like they are gym equipment. "Every three minutes we're doing something else," he says, adding each person works at his or her own pace. "I might do 12 pull-ups, and someone else might do 20, and someone else might do four."

Mr. Taylor works out the other six days a week on his own. Weekday mornings he jogs barefoot on a grassy area before doing sprints. He does a series of jumping jacks, high kicks, jump-rope intervals and push-ups. He also works out for an hour or two at night.

The Diet
Mr. Taylor says he eats fairly healthily now, but he has gradually been adopting the Paleo Diet, which is based on foods available to early humans. It focuses on protein, vegetables and fruit. "The idea is to think about what people had before agriculture," says Mr. Taylor. "So I stay away from sugar, salt, dairy and really anything you couldn't hunt or gather."

Rather than go barefoot, Mr. Taylor wears minimalist shoes that have a very slight heel and arch support. Mr. Taylor bought his Vibram FiveFingers shoes three years ago after reading the book, "Born to Run," about the Tarahumara, an indigenous people in Mexico famed for their barefoot long-distance running.

He eased his way into the minimalist shoes, starting with short runs on grass or gravel. "I could feel my feet getting stronger." He says they often inspire just as many inquisitive stares in the park as tree climbing.

Fitness Tip
"It's all about improvising and not knowing what's around the next corner. You can work anything into it, be it a bench or a curb or a staircase," Mr. Taylor says.

Write to Jen Murphy at

.View Full Image

Vibram FiveFingers Bikila
.Vibram FiveFingers Bikila

The first of Vibram's 'toe shoes' for running has a 7 millimeter heel height. The shoe mimics being barefoot with a thin, flexible bottom and individually pocketed toes. Thin padding protects the ball of the foot.

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Reebok RealFlex
.Reebok RealFlex

Reebok's first foray in the natural-movement category has 76 multidirectional rubber nodes built into the sole to give a near-barefoot feel. The heel is 20% lower to the ground than a traditional running shoe.

.View Full Image

New Balance
New Balance MT10 Minimus Trail
.New Balance MT10 Minimus Trail

This trail-running shoe was designed to be worn with or without socks. The shoes weigh 7.1 ounces. New Balance collaborated with Vibram to develop the shoes.

.View Full Image

Nike Free Run +2
.Nike Free Run +2

The updated version of the original Nike Free, one of the first minimalist shoes, has an upper design inspired by the anatomy of the foot. Deep flex grooves along the outer sole allow a natural range of motion.

24697  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: June 07, 2011, 11:08:23 AM
Some good fights on the finals show of TUF I thought, though my recorder cut off just before that actual finals.  Great showing by Clay Guida!

Too bad about Lesnar's diverticulitis.  I disliked him before the TUF season began, and disliked him more as the season went by.  I would have liked to see Junior Dos Santos kick his ass.  Tis a thought without evidence beyond the curiosity of the timing, but I find myself wondering at the timing of the re-appearance of his diverticulitis , , ,  I read Lesnar as a bully and when a bully gets his ass thoroughly kicked as BL did by CV, the psychological implications for the bully's ego can be very challenging indeed.

Great face time for Erik Paulsen as the trainer for Team Lesnar!
24698  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: The Palestinian Move on: June 07, 2011, 10:55:43 AM

The Palestinian Move
June 7, 2011

By George Friedman

A former head of Mossad, Meir Dagan, has publicly criticized the current Israeli government for a lack of flexibility, judgment and foresight, calling it “reckless and irresponsible” in the handling of Israel’s foreign and security policies. In various recent interviews and speeches, he has made it clear that he regards the decision to ignore the 2002 Saudi proposal for a peace settlement on the pre-1967 lines as a mistake and the focus on Iran as a diversion from the real issue — the likely recognition of an independent Palestinian state by a large segment of the international community, something Dagan considers a greater threat.

What is important in Dagan’s statements is that, having been head of Mossad from 2002 to 2010, he is not considered in any way to be ideologically inclined toward accommodation. When Dagan was selected by Ariel Sharon to be head of Mossad, Sharon told him that he wanted a Mossad with “a knife between its teeth.” There were charges that he was too aggressive, but rarely were there charges that he was too soft. Dagan was as much a member of the Israeli governing establishment as anyone. Therefore, his statements, and the statements of some other senior figures, represent a split not so much within Israel but within the Israeli national security establishment, which has been seen as being as hard-line as the Likud.

In addition, over the weekend, when pro-Palestinian demonstrators on the Golan Heights tried to force their way into Israeli-held territory, Israeli troops opened fire. Eleven protesters were killed in the Golan, and six were killed in a separate but similar protest in the West Bank. The demonstrations, like the Nakba-day protests, were clearly intended by the Syrians to redirect anti-government protests to some other issue. They were also meant to be a provocation, and the government in Damascus undoubtedly hoped that the Israelis would open fire. Dagan’s statements seem to point at this paradox. There are two factions that want an extremely aggressive Israeli security policy: the Israeli right and countries and militant proxies like Hamas that are actively hostile to Israel. The issue is which benefits more.

3 Strategic Phases

Last week we discussed Israeli strategy. This week I want us to consider Palestinian strategy and to try to understand how the Palestinians will respond to the current situation. There have been three strategies on Palestine. The first was from before the founding of Israel until 1967. In this period, the primary focus was not on the creation of a Palestinian state but on the destruction of Israel by existing Arab nation-states and the absorption of the territory into those states.

Just a few years before 1967, the Palestine Liberation Army (PLO) came into existence, and after Israel’s victory in the June 1967 war, the Arab nations began to change their stance from simply the destruction of Israel and absorption of the territories into existing nation-states to the creation of an independent Palestinian state. The PLO strategy at this time was a dual track divided between political and paramilitary operations and included terrorist attacks in both Israel and Europe. The political track tried to position the PLO as being open to a negotiated state, while the terrorist track tried to make the PLO seem extremely dangerous in order to motivate other nations, particularly European nations, to pressure Israel on the political track.

The weakness of this strategy was that the political track lost credibility as the terrorist track became bound up with late Cold-War intrigues involving European terrorist groups like Italy’s Red Brigade or Germany’s Red Army Faction. Their networks ranged from the Irish Republican Army to the Basque terrorist group ETA to Soviet bloc intelligence services. The PLO was seen as a threat to Europe on many levels as well as a threat to the Arab royal houses that they tried to undermine.

For the Palestinians, the most significant loss was the decision by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to shift from the Soviet alliance and make peace with Israel. This isolated the Palestinian movement from any significant regional support and made it dependent on the Soviets. With the Cold War winding down, the PLO became an orphan, losing its sponsorship from the Soviets as it had lost Jordanian and Egyptian support in the 1970s. Two main tendencies developed during this second phase. The first was the emergence of Hamas, a radically new sort of Palestinian movement since it was neither secular nor socialist but religious. The second was the rise of the internal insurrection, or intifada, which, coupled with suicide bombings and rocket fire from Gaza as well as from Hezbollah in Lebanon, was designed to increase the cost of insurrection to the Israelis while generating support for the Palestinians.

Ultimately, the split between Hamas and Fatah, the dominant faction of the PLO that had morphed into the Palestinian National Authority, was the most significant aspect of the third strategic phase. Essentially, the Palestinians were simultaneously waging a civil war with each other while trying to organize resistance to Israel. This is not as odd as it appears. The Palestinians had always fought one another while they fought common enemies, and revolutionary organizations are frequently split. But the Hamas-Fatah split undermined the credibility of the resistance in two ways. First, there were times in which one or the other faction was prepared to share intelligence with the Israelis to gain an advantage over the other. Second, and more important, the Palestinians had no coherent goal, nor did anyone have the ability to negotiate on their behalf. Should Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas engage in negotiations with Israel he could not deliver Hamas, so the whole point of negotiations was limited. Indeed, negotiations were likely to weaken the Palestinians by exacerbating intra-communal tensions.

Post Cold-War Weakness

One of the significant problems the Palestinians had always had was the hostility of the Arab world to their cause, a matter insufficiently discussed. The Egyptians spent this period opposed to Hamas as a threat to their regime. They participated in blockading Gaza. The Jordanians hated Fatah, having long memories about the Black September rising in 1970 that almost destroyed the Hashemite regime. Having a population that is still predominantly Palestinian, the Hashemites fear the consequences of a Palestinian state. The Syrians have never been happy with the concept of an independent Palestinian state because they retain residual claims to all former Syrian provinces, including Lebanon, Israel and Jordan. When they invaded Lebanon in 1976, they were supporting Maronite Christians and trying to destroy the PLO. Finally, the constant attempts by Fatah and the PLO to overthrow the royal houses of Arabia — all of which failed — created massive mistrust between a number of Arab regimes and the fledgling Palestinian movement.

Therefore, the strategic position of the Palestinians has been extremely weak since the end of the Cold War. They have been able to put stress on Israel but not come anywhere close to endangering its survival or even forcing policies to change. Indeed, their actions tended to make Israel even more rigid. This did not displease the Palestinians as an outcome. The more rigid the Israelis were, the more intrusive they would be in the Palestinian community and the more both Fatah and Hamas could rely on Palestinian support for their policies. In a sense, the greatest threat to the Palestinian movement has always been the Palestinians losing interest in a Palestinian state in favor of increased economic wellbeing. The ability to force Israel to take aggressive measures increased public loyalty to each of the two groups. During a time of inherent civil conflict between the two, provoking Israel became a means of assuring support in the civil war.

From Israel’s point of view, so long as the suicide bombings were disrupted and Gaza was contained, they were in an extraordinarily secure position. The Arab states were indifferent or hostile (beyond public proclamations and donations that frequently wound up in European bank accounts); the United States was not prepared to press Israel more than formally; and the Europeans were not prepared to take any meaningful action because of the United States and the Arab countries. The Israelis had a problem but not one that ultimately threatened them. Even Iran’s attempt to meddle was of little consequence. Hezbollah was as much concerned with Lebanese politics as it was with fighting Israel, and Hamas would take money from anyone. In the end, Hamas did not want to become an Iranian pawn, and Fatah knew that Iran could be the end of it.

In a sense, the Palestinians have been in checkmate since the fall of the Soviet Union. They were divided, holding on to their public, dealing with a hostile Arab world and, except for the suicide bombings that frightened but did not weaken Israel, they had no levers to change the game. The Israeli view was that the status quo, which required no fundamental shifts of concessions, was satisfactory.

A New 4th Phase?

As we have said many times, the Arab Spring is a myth. Where there have been revolutions they have not been democratic, and where they have appeared democratic they have not been in any way mass movements capable of changing regimes. But what they have been in the past is not necessarily what they will be in the future. Certainly, this round has bought little democratic change, and I don’t think there will be much. But I can make assumptions that the Israeli government can’t afford to make.

One does not have to believe in the Arab Spring to see evolutions in which countries like Egypt change their positions on the Palestinians, as evidenced by Egypt’s decision to open the Rafah border crossing. In Egypt, as in other Arab countries, the Palestinian cause is popular. A government that would make no real concessions to its public could afford to make this concession, which costs the regime little and is an easy way to appease the crowds. With the exception of Jordan, which really does have to fear a Palestinian state, countries that were hostile to the Palestinians could be more supportive and states that had been minimally supportive could increase their support.

This is precisely what the Palestinians want, and the reason that Hamas and Fatah have signed a grudging agreement for unity. They see the risings in the Arab world as a historic opportunity to break out of the third phase into a new fourth phase. The ability to connect the Palestinian cause with regime preservation in the Arab world represents a remarkable opportunity. So Egypt could, at the same time, be repressive domestically — and even maintain the treaty with Israel — while dramatically increasing support for the Palestinians.

In doing that, two things happen: First, Europeans, who are important trading partners for Israel, might be prepared to support a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders in order to maintain relations in the Arab and Islamic world on an issue that is really of low cost to them. Second, the United States, fighting wars in the Islamic world and needing the support of intelligence services of Muslim states and stability in these countries, could support a peace treaty based on 1967 borders.

The key strategy that the Palestinians have adopted is that of provocation. The 2010 flotilla from Turkey presented a model: select an action that from the outside seems benign but will be perceived by the Israelis as threatening; orchestrate the event in a way that will maximize the chances for an Israeli action that will be seen as brutal; shape a narrative that makes the provocation seem benign; and use this narrative to undermine international support for the Israelis.

Given the rigid structure of Israeli policy, this strategy essentially puts the Palestinians or other groups in control of the Israeli response. The Palestinians understand Israeli limits, which are not dynamic and are predictable, and can trigger them at will. The more skillful they are, the more it will appear that they are the victims. And the conversation can shift from this particular action by Israel to the broader question of the Israeli occupation. With unrest in the Arab world, shifting evaluations of the situation in the West and a strategy that manages international perceptions and controls the tempo and type of events, the Palestinians have the opportunity to break out of the third phase.

Their deepest problem, of course, is the split between Hamas and Fatah, which merely has been papered over by their agreement. Essentially, Fatah supports a two-state solution and Hamas opposes it. And so long as Hamas opposes it, there can be no settlement. But Hamas, as part of this strategy, will do everything it can — aside from abandoning its position — to make it appear flexible on it. This will further build pressure on Israel.

How much pressure Israel can stand is something that will be found out and something Dagan warned about. But Israel has a superb countermove: accept some variation of the 1967 borders and force Hamas either to break with its principles and lose its support to an emergent group or openly blow apart the process. In other words, the Israelis can also pursue a strategy of provocation, in this case by giving the Palestinians what they want and betting that they will reject it. Of course, the problem with this strategy is that the Palestinians might accept the deal, with Hamas secretly intending to resume the war from a better position.

Israel’s bet has three possible outcomes. One is to hold the current position and be constantly manipulated into actions that isolate Israel. The second is to accept the concept of the 1967 borders and bet on the Palestinians rejecting it as they did with Bill Clinton. The third outcome, a dangerous one, is for the Palestinians to accept the deal and then double-cross the Israelis. But then if that happens, Israel has the alternative to return to the old borders.

In the end, this is not about the Israelis or the Palestinians. It is about the Palestinian relationship with the Arabs and Israel’s relationship with Europe and the United States. The Israelis want to isolate the Palestinians, and the Palestinians are trying to isolate the Israelis. At the moment, the Palestinians are doing better at this than the Israelis. The argument going on in Israel (and not with the peace movement) is how to respond. Benjamin Netanyahu wants to wait it out. Dagan is saying the risks are too high.

But on the Palestinian side, the real crisis will occur should Dagan win the debate. The center of gravity of Palestinian weakness is the inability to form a united front around the position that Israel has a right to exist. Some say it, some hint it and others reject it. An interesting gamble is to give the Palestinians what the Americans and Europeans are suggesting — modified 1967 borders. For Israel, the question is whether the risk of holding the present position is greater than the risk of a dramatic shift. For the Palestinians, the question is what they will do if there is a dramatic shift. The Palestinian dilemma is the more intense and interesting one — and an interesting opportunity for Israel.

24699  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Pawlenty announces budget, tax plan on: June 07, 2011, 10:35:16 AM

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty proposed significant reductions in the corporate and individual tax rates on Tuesday while calling for deep spending cuts that could see the federal government abandon its role delivering the mail or backstopping home loans.

The proposals are part of an economic plan Mr. Pawlenty unveiled in remarks at the University of Chicago business school. The plan is tailored to the business community and fiscal conservatives as he seeks the Republican presidential nomination, but its impact on the deficit is unclear, given the potential drop in tax revenue.

Mr. Pawlenty wants to reduce the corporate tax rate to 15% from 35% and create just two tax brackets for individuals and families: a 10% rate on the first $50,000 of income for individuals, or $100,000 for married couples, and a 25% rate for all other income. In addition, he will call for the elimination of taxes on capital gains, dividends, interest income and inheritance.

One challenge for Mr. Pawlenty is to show that his plan would not explode a deficit that is expected to top $1.6 trillion, given that cutting rates so steeply could prompt a falloff in tax revenues.

The plan could expose Mr. Pawlenty to criticism from Democrats or even rivals for the Republican presidential nomination who have all made deficit-reduction a hallmark of the primary fight.

Indeed, Democrats quickly made just that claim. "No one should be surprised that a failed former governor who left his state with a massive projected budget deficit in the billions of dollars is now proposing to massively explode the deficit at the federal level," said Brad Woodhouse, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee.

In order to offset any lost tax revenue, and to tackle the deficit, Mr. Pawlenty referred to something called "The Google Test" to determine whether the government should be involved in a program.

"If you can find a good or service on the Internet, then the federal government probably doesn't need to be doing it," Mr. Pawlenty says. "The post office, the government printing office, Amtrak, Fannie [Mae] and Freddie [Mac], were all built in a time in our country when the private sector did not adequately provide those products. That's no longer the case."

He calls on Congress to freeze spending at current levels and impound 5% of spending until the budget is balanced. "If they won't do it…I will," he said.

The former governor called for terminating all federal regulations, unless Congress votes to keep them individually.

Mr. Pawlenty didn't address any reforms to federal entitlement programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security—a major sticking point in federal negotiations over paring the deficit.

The proposals included in this platform would put Mr. Pawlenty on a collision course with President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats over the vision for government, if Republican primary voters give him that opportunity.

"Regrettably, President Obama is a champion practitioner of class warfare," Mr. Pawlenty said. "Elected with a call for unity and hope, he has spent three years dividing our nation, fanning the flames of class envy and resentment to deflect attention from his own failures and the economic hardship they have visited on America."

24700  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: June 07, 2011, 10:28:44 AM

It occurs to me that we already have a thread with many ideas on cutting spending, (see nearby) where I have just posted.  I would like to ask that we continue this conversation there so as to take advantage of the accumulated wisdom already to be found there.  As for the post already here, please feel free to repost them there or incorporate them by reference.
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