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24801  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Symposium 3 on: May 23, 2008, 12:01:50 PM
Luft: Since we all seem to agree that fuel flexibility in our cars is the lowest hanging fruit, let's talk about how to make this happen. In the past two sessions of Congress there was strong bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House for flex fuel legislation. More than 30 senators from Sam Brownback on the right to Ted Kennedy on the left co-sponsored a bill including a requirement that at least 50 percent of new cars be flex fuel.

Presidential candidates are also in agreement. Both Barack Obama's and John McCain's energy platform include strong flex fuel provisions. Obama campaign pledged that an Obama Administration would ensure that all new vehicles have FFV capability by the end of his first term in office.

Less clear is how the automakers would respond. While it is true that the Big Three previously pledged to make 50 percent of their cars flex fuel by 2012, no industry likes to be told what to do and we should not expect the automakers, to embrace a full mandate without a fight, particularly after their recent defeat in the battle over mandatory fuel efficiency standards. (The Big Three also resisted other mandated low cost features like seat belts and airbags.) The Japanese automakers who don't have experience with this technology are likely to be even less enthusiastic.

But considering the low cost of fuel flexibility and the simplicity of retooling the production lines, this is certainly something they can live with.

So it’s basically in the hands of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to make this vision of fuel choice come true. Instead of complaining about the "insane" profits of oil companies the Democratic leadership in Congress could serve America best by pushing a flex fuel legislation and bringing it to a vote before the elections.

It is important to ensure that the legislation doesn't enable automakers to get away with making E-85 cars that can only accommodate ethanol. True fuel flexibility is one that enables all alcohols to compete. The cars should therefore be warranted to run on both ethanol and methanol. With such legislation presented before the Senate all three senators who are running for president would be forced to endorse it, which means that the next president would be on board.

Extra $100 per car is less than the price of one barrel of oil, and equipping every car in the US with the feature would cost roughly $20 billion over the next two decades, much less than what the Fed forked over one weekend to save Bear Sterns. The same Congress that spent billions on regulating an open standard for high definition TV should be able to give us an open fuel standard for our cars.

Korin: The Arab oil embargo in the Seventies led to massive Japanese automaker entry into the US market. While US automakers were building huge cars, the Japanese had the more efficient vehicles that appealed to consumers at a time of high gas prices. Today, other competitors waits in the wings should US autos stall on the road to fuel choice. Not so long ago a Chinese automaker showed an under $10,000 family sedan at the Detroit auto show. Take that car, make it a flex fuel plug in hybrid, and you have an under $20,000 fuel choice enabling family sedan. Coming soon to a Walmart near you.

The Chinese are not waiting for us to move toward alcohol fuels or electrification of transportation. We can lead the train or we can run after it, and absent the policies discussed above and summarized below, the latter is more likely every day.

To summarize, the three key policies for breaking oil's monopoly in the transportation sector, the sector from which oil's strategic value is derived, are: an Open Fuel Standard so most new cars sold in the US will be gasoline-ethanol-methanol FFVs; repeal of the 54 cent a gallon tariff on ethanol imports; consumer tax credits for plug in hybrids (this is the policy that helped hybrids move past the early adopter hump.)


Gartenstein-Ross: There is broad agreement on this panel about the significance of the energy security problem that we face, as well as the steps that the government needs to take to address this critical issue; thus, I will keep my remarks atypically short. I offer an apology to Jamie if he’s disappointed that this symposium lacks the fireworks of some of the previous symposia in which I have participated—but I don’t think that’s a terribly bad thing in this case, since energy security is an issue where acting in the near-term is more important than lengthy debate.

I will follow Luft’s suggestion that we discuss how to make the fuel flexibility mandate happen. I agree with him that automakers are likely to fight against a full mandate, and also think it likely that iterations of this legislation will be offered that involve E-85 cars rather than true fuel flexibility. So it is critical to ensure that any legislation on fuel flexibility that is signed into law not be watered down through the legislative process or subjected to the kind of bureaucratic capture that too frequently occurs in this country. I know that a large number of conservative activists read FPM (although I do not see energy security as an issue that should break along partisan lines). Informed members of the public should serve as energy security watchdogs, demanding of our politicians the full implementation of policies necessary to counter our dangerous dependence on foreign oil.


McFarlane: Gal and Anne often make the point that we ought to be realistic politically in structuring our approach to new legislation -- as is required to mandate Flex-Fuel vehicles. It does not good to be doctrinaire -- and lose. Or as President Reagan once told me, "Bud, if you go over the cliff, flags flying, you still go over the cliff." Specifically it does no good to take on the major oil companies. Indeed our point is not anti-oil, we will need oil for a long time and it is in all our interests for American oil companies to produce as much oil as they can for as long as they can.

Rather, our approach to the public and to members of both parties ought to be cast in terms of the political, economic and security costs of doing nothing -- losses which are measured in trillions of dollars, thousands of lives, and the gradual control of American industries by foreign sovereigns.

We must also stress that the global war against Islamism -- especially as its financial support grows in proportion to oil revenues flowing to the Persian Gulf -- will someday go nuclear. Unless we get serious toward moving our four-part agenda, we may run out of time.


FP: Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Robert Zubrin, Gal Luft, Anne Korin and Bud McFarlane, thank you for joining Frontpage Symposium.

Jamie Glazov is Frontpage Magazine's managing editor. He holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialty in U.S. and Canadian foreign policy. He edited and wrote the introduction to David Horowitz’s Left Illusions. He is also the co-editor (with David Horowitz) of The Hate America Left and the author of Canadian Policy Toward Khrushchev’s Soviet Union (McGill-Queens University Press, 2002) and 15 Tips on How to be a Good Leftist. To see his previous symposiums, interviews and articles Click Here. Email him at jglazov@rogers.com.
24802  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: May 23, 2008, 11:58:12 AM
Reid's Reversal

Virginia Supreme Court Judge Steven Agee was confirmed unanimously this week to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, fulfilling one-third of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's pledge to put through three Bush appeals-court picks by Memorial Day.

With the deadline bearing down, Mr. Reid has skittered away from his earlier promises. He reminded Senators this week that he "explicitly" said he "couldn't guarantee" the trio of confirmations. Mr. Reid blames Republicans for holding up two Michigan nominees - Raymond Kethledge and Helene White -- whose nominations for the Sixth Circuit were worked out as a compromise package between Michigan's senators and the White House. Mr. Kethledge is the Administration's pick; Judge White is the Democrats' choice.

Democrats are eager to take credit for the White-Kethledge confirmations, hurrying them through a process that has left other highly qualified nominees beached for years. Judge White is being pushed through even without her ABA rating, a qualification Democrats have insisted on in the past.

But these are hardly the only two nominees available for confirmation in order for Mr. Reid to fulfill his end of the bargain. Also waiting in the wings are strong appeals-court nominees like Peter Keisler for the D.C. Circuit as well as Robert Conrad and Steve Matthew for the Fourth Circuit. Yet Democrats refuse to give them an up-or-down vote.

Sen. Arlen Specter has said before that he would not hesitate to shut down the Senate over Democrats' obstruction of judicial nominees. Republicans have declined to take such steps in recent weeks out of good faith, taking Sen. Reid at his word on the Memorial Day deal. If the deal falls through, it's a good bet that won't happen twice.

-- Collin Levy

How High Can Tax Rates Go?

Tax rates under a Barack Obama presidency are expected to rise to as high as 52.2% when combining the income-tax increase the candidate supports and his proposed elimination of the payroll tax cap. These would be the highest rates since the late 1970s, when the economy went haywire. "That's a frightening proposition, especially when the rest of the world is cutting tax rates," says Jim Carter, chief economist on the Senate Budget Committee's minority staff.

Now a new study by the Congressional Budget Office suggests that rates would have to go even higher if entitlement spending isn't reined in. The report, which was requested by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, finds that the top rate of personal income tax would have to rise to 88% from 35% to pay all the nation's bills. Even the lowest tax rate would have to more than double. This is the price we pay for running up unfunded liabilities in Medicare and Social Security.

Faster economic growth would help ease the burden of these long-term costs, but if tax rates are raised, economic growth will slow. That's the point of Mr. Ryan's inquiry. If we don't get serious about reforming health care programs and Social Security, Democrats will argue that only super-sized tax hikes will solve the problem.

Ryan Ellis of the American Shareholders Association states the obvious when he says that income-tax rates of 88% are a surefire way to create a massive outflow of capital away from the U.S.

-- Stephen Moore

Quote of the Day

Today, according to the most recent CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey, "71 percent of the American public disapproves of how Bush is handling his job as President, an all-time high in polling." His position can be compared with that of Harry Truman who left Washington unpopular and alone in 1953. Today, with the passage of time, most historians and certainly the American people, see Truman in a different light, primarily for his willingness to stand firm against Soviet aggression, whether against Greece or South Korea, and proclaim the Truman Doctrine, effectively defending the free world from Soviet efforts to expand their hegemony. Like Truman, George W. Bush, in my view, will be seen as one of the few world leaders who recognized the danger of Islamic terrorism and was willing with Tony Blair to stand up to it and not capitulate. - columnist and former New York Mayor Ed Koch

Obama's China Policy

Barack Obama wrote yesterday to Taiwan's new president, Ma Ying-jeou. "A sound U.S.-Taiwan relationship will certainly be the goal of my Administration," he said, while confirming his support of America's "One China" policy. " And, "I will do all that I can to support Taiwan's democracy in the years ahead." The Kuomintang News Network reports that Richard Bush, former chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan, hand-delivered the missive.

Mr. Obama is smart to reach out to Mr. Ma, an eager U.S. ally who's working hard to mend Taiwan's ties with Beijing, which was on bad terms with Mr. Ma's pro-independence predecessor. In his inaugural address Tuesday, Mr. Ma called for "cross-strait peace and regional stability" and pledged not to pursue unification, independence or use of force. Mr. Ma also emphasized Taiwan's role as the "sole ethnic Chinese society to complete a second democratic turnover of power" and called the island a "beacon of democracy to Asia and the world."

U.S. policy toward China and Taiwan is a tricky balancing act. Ever since Nixon recognized the mainland as the "one China," U.S. administrations of both parties have given Taiwan presidents the cold shoulder while taking pains to maintain good relations with the island. Mr. Obama indicates he's willing to talk to dictators. Someone should ask him whether he is also willing to talk to the elected leader of the world's only Chinese democracy.

-- Mary Kissel

A British Omen for Nov. 4?

The U.S. isn't the only country with an electorate that appears to be fed up with the party in power. Yesterday, British voters in the Labour stronghold of Crewe and Nantwich swung sharply away from the governing party to elect a Conservative to Parliament.

It had been three decades since the Tories last won a special election. Yesterday's was held to replace Gwyneth Dunwoody, who died last month after 34 years in the House of Commons. Ms. Dunwoody had been the only person to hold the seat since the Crewe and Nantwich constituencies were merged in 1983; Crewe had gone for Labour since 1945. Conservative candidate Edward Timpson ended those streaks, winning 49.5% of a large turnout to defeat Ms. Dunwoody's daughter, Tamsin, and eight other candidates.

Like their American cousins, though, British voters have been unclear as to whether they're shifting party allegiances out of enthusiasm for an ascendant opposition or mere frustration with the party in power. Tory leader David Cameron last night boasted that the election marked "the end of New Labour." The result is certainly a bad sign for Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whose desperate party had resorted to using class as a wedge issue: During the latter stages of the campaign, Labour supporters dressed in tail-coats and top hats trailed Mr. Timpson, trying to paint him as an out-of-touch "toff."

The more common refrain about Cameron's Tories is that it's a party with no ideas. But with the Brown government stumbling into a new crisis seemingly every day, simply being different is enough for now.

-- Kyle Wingfield



24803  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Symposium 2 on: May 23, 2008, 11:49:16 AM
Korin: The goal is indeed independence, not in the sense of autarky (not importing any oil) but in the sense of regaining ability to act independently, without need to kowtow or defer to petrodictators chief among them the Saudi royal family, a family which controls a quarter of the world's oil reserves and essentially all swing capacity on the global oil market (the mafia never had it so good.) To regain our independence we must strip oil of its strategic value. Salt presents a compelling historical parallel. Salt was once a strategic commodity, control of which determined geopolitical power and ability to sway world affairs. With the advent of electricity and refrigeration salt lost its strategic status as it was no longer the only option for preserving meat. Oil's strategic value derives from its domination of the transportation sector, which in turn accounts for two thirds of oil consumption - as Gal noted, we essentially no longer use oil to generate electricity (an inconvenient fact that renders bizarre the protestations of many politicians that solar, wind, or nuclear can reduce oil demand.)

Stripping oil of its strategic value will require fuel competition in the transportation sector. Flexible fuel vehicles, as Robert noted, provide a platform on which fuels can compete. For a very modest premium, they enable a driver to choose amongst a variety of liquid fuels, made from a variety of feedstocks, from coal to agricultural material. It costs 50 cents a gallon to make methanol from coal. Methanol has about half the energy of gasoline, so that's one dollar per gasoline equivalent gallon. The US is the Saudi Arabia of coal. China and India also have a lot of coal, and indeed China is rapidly expanding its coal to methanol capacity.

We need to remove the ridiculous 54 cent a gallon import tariff on sugarcane ethanol - we don't tax oil imports, so why are we taxing imports of an alternative fuel? It's not because of the oil industry, it's because of corn ethanol protectionists who'd rather be big fish in a small pond than open the dam and turn the pond into a sea. As Gal notes, it is also critical to get electricity into the transportation fuel market. Flex fuel plug in hybrids will mean the Saudis will need to figure out how to monetize sand. Perhaps they can learn to blow glass.


Gartenstein-Ross: I am of the opinion that energy security is the most pressing challenge we face. It should be the top issue in the current presidential campaigns because our oil dependence is without a doubt our Achilles’ heel, yet no candidate has been seriously pushing the issue. This comes on top of the systemic failure of our political leaders, including the Bush administration and the presidential administrations that preceded it, to curtail our dangerous dependence on oil. (Interestingly, the one real exception was the Carter administration’s Fuel Use Act, which is a major reason that, as Luft and Korin note, only 2 percent of our electricity comes from oil today.) Energy security has a cognizable impact on virtually all the other major issues that our country now faces.

There is the economy. Today, more than three out of four Americans believe that the country is in recession—and it is not difficult to recognize that high energy prices are a primary driver. Oil prices have more than doubled in the past fifteen months, rising from around $50 a barrel in early 2007 to about $110 a barrel today. Such a dramatic rise in energy prices will of course harm the U.S. economy. As Zubrin stated, this equates to a $500 billion per year tax on the U.S. economy, affecting all sectors. We depend on long supply lines to transport agriculture to consumers, as well as the vast majority of products that you can buy off store shelves. All prices—the price of food, the price of consumer goods—are pushed upward by the rising price of oil.

There is terrorism and our international political adversaries. One distinctive characteristic of Islamic terror movements is that they explicitly find religious sanction for their actions. Their interpretation obviously is not shared by all Muslims, as the world would look much different if we were at war with over a billion people. What helps extremist interpretations of Islam gain a foothold? One clear answer is petrodollars. Numerous analysts have connected radicalization in various regions to extremist charities, mosques, and madrasas funded by oil money. Some of the charities funded by petro-dollars are “dual-use,” not only propagating an extreme interpretation of Islam but also directly funding terrorist groups. Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez famously declared in his opening address to an OPEC conference in 2006 that “the American empire will be destroyed.” Do we want to be dependent on political leaders like that because of their oil resources?

The Bush administration has had more than seven years to steer the country’s energy policy, yet its combined policies amount to slapping a few Band-Aids on a hemorrhaging wound. (This is of course not just the Bush administration’s fault: as a country, we have had more than forty years to address this issue since the dangers of our oil dependence became crystal clear.) For example, the primary strategy of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 is a new national mandatory fuel economy standard that, in President Bush’s words, “will save billions of gallons of gasoline.” But as Zubrin shows in his commendable book Energy Victory, conservation-based strategies are not, and will not be, sufficient. If we could duplicate the technical success that Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) standards achieved from 1975 through 1990, Zubrin writes, we would not cut our oil consumption at all. Instead, it would reduce our expected rate of increase of oil usage by only 2.2 million barrels a day, during a period when the world as a whole is likely to raise its consumption another 30 million barrels per day. Whatever demand we eliminate would be replaced fifteen times over.

President Bush has also congratulated himself on the ethanol policies that his administration has undertaken, but they are a far cry from the large market for ethanol that Zubrin’s policy recommendations would spur. (By Bush’s account, we produced 6.4 billion gallons of ethanol in 2007 versus the approximately 200 billion gallons of gasoline and petroleum diesel that we use annually.)

But fortunately, while our oil dependence is currently causing great harm, I don’t think the immediate solutions are mysterious. I agree strongly with the recommendations put forward by Zubrin and Luft in this symposium. Fuel flexibility should be the first major policy we push for because it provides immediate relief from this grave problem, but we should also move toward electrification of the transportation sector. The bottom line is that we are worse off, and our enemies in a better position, for each day that action is delayed.

McFarlane: As the panel has made clear, we have the means at hand to overcome the vulnerability of our economy and the challenge to our very way of life that is posed by our reliance on foreign oil. It starts with mandating that all cars and trucks sold in the US be flex-fuel, and then that we accelerate the production of plug-in hybrid-electric and all-electric cars and trucks, and that we build them out of carbon composite materials as Boeing is doing today in its new 787 Dreamliner.

We cannot consider this as nice-to-have, P-C, green "someday" matter. This is a matter of grave urgency. Today if an attack on any of a dozen very vulnerable Saudi oil processing facilities were successful, we would be facing oil at $200/barrel overnight. That would lead within weeks (not months) to the collapse of the Japanese economy, and before long to those of our European allies and ultimately of our own.

And even if such an attack does not occur, consider the price we are paying for our reliance on foreign oil. Last year we spent over $300 billion on foreign oil. Think for a moment of what $300 billion could buy in terms of better schools, health care, highways and bridges, law enforcement, a partial solution to our sub-prime mortgage problems, and a dozen other domestic priorities. But that's just the beginning.

Think about the half trillion dollars we spend every year -- yes, 'trillion' every year -- on the defense budget, and that doesn't count the supplemental appropriations for the war in Iraq. At least $200 of that $500 billion pays for forces that are deployed in the Middle East or to protect lines of communication between here and there and to our allies in Europe and Japan. Add it up -- $500 billion for defense, another $300 billion to pay for foreign oil, and with the price now above $100/bbl, the total from now on will be at least 1 trillion every year -- yes every year -- until we start changing our ways.

Of course the foregoing costs are just the financial dimension. Far more important are the costs in human lives, families shattered by separation, and the loss of loved ones. This is truly an intolerable condition -- one that is all the more unconscionable considering that we have the means at hand to overcome it.

Zubrin: I would like to make an additional point. As bad as $100 per barrel oil is for us, it is much worse for the poorer nations of the world. It is one thing to pay $100 per barrel for oil when you live in a country where the average person makes $40,000 per year. It is quite another if you live in a country where the average person makes $1,000 per year. To many third world countries, particularly in Africa, the effects of OPEC looting are not merely recessionary, but genocidal. Indeed, the jacked up oil price is nothing else than a huge regressive tax levied by the world’s richest people on the world’s poorest people.

Consider this: This year, Saudi Arabia’s high-priced oil business will reap that nation’s rulers over $300 billion. Much of this bounty will be wasted on a wild assortment of narcissistic luxuries. The rest go towards funding of network of over twenty thousand Wahhabi madrassas worldwide. There, millions of young boys will be instructed that the way to salvation is to kill Christians, Jews, Buddhists, animists, and Hindus, all as part of a global campaign to create reactionary theocratic states that totally degrade women and deny all political, religious, intellectual, scientific, artistic, or personal freedom to everyone.

Simultaneously, Kenya, a nation whose population of 36 million is half again as great as that of Saudi Arabia, will scrape up around $3 billion in export earnings, and use these funds to buy badly needed fuel, farm machinery, and replacement parts for equipment. (Kenya, incidentally, is not one of the world’s fifty poorest nations. There are many others much worse off.)

Distributed elsewhere, the loot garnered by the Saudi terror bankers could triple the foreign exchange of 50 counties comparable to Kenya. Distributed elsewhere, the $1.3 trillion per year taxed out of the world economy by the all the OPEC tyrannies could lift the entire third world out of poverty.

By shifting to alcohol fuels, we can shift a very substantial amount of capital flows in precisely such a direction. Many third world countries are tropical nations with very high agricultural potential. Within a few years of the establishment of a flex fuel mandate, we will have a much larger domestic market for agricultural produce to make ethanol than American farmers can deliver to. That is a very GOOD thing. It means that we will be able to give them all the business they can handle, and still have market share left over, which we could open to Latin American and Caribbean ethanol, but dropping the current tariff. So countries like Haiti, which desperately needs an export income source, will be able to get it by growing sugar ethanol for export to the USA. In the same way, Europe would be able to drop its agricultural trade barriers, and open itself up to ethanol exported from Africa, and Japan likewise from south Asia. Effectively, we would be able to redirect about a trillion dollars a year that is now going to OPEC and send it to the global agricultural sector instead, with about half going to advanced sector farmers and half going to the third world. This would create an enormous engine for world development.

Ethanol has been criticized by certain opponents who have alleged that its production from corn takes away from the food supply, and that large irrigation requirements draw power that exceeds that provided by the ethanol. Such analyses, however, are false. When ethanol is made from corn, all of the protein in the corn is preserved for use as animal feeds, and virtually no ethanol corn grown in the USA is irrigated. In fact, for the expenditure of a given amount of petroleum, nearly ten times as much ethanol can be produced as gasoline.

World food prices have been rising recently, at a rate of 4 percent a year, and oil cartel propaganda organs have been quick to place the blame on bio-fuel programs. But these are false accusations. Despite the corn ethanol program, US corn exports have not declined at all in recent years, and our overall agricultural exports this year are up over 23 percent. So its not corn ethanol that is driving up global food prices, including those for fish, fruit, and every kind of crop. Rather it is high fuel costs, which have risen 40 percent over the past year due to vicious OPEC price rigging. Not only that, these high fuel costs are driving up the cost of not just food, but nearly every product that needs to be transported anywhere in the world. And again, the hardest hit victims are the world's poor.

For the sake of social justice, OPEC must be destroyed.


24804  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Symposium 1 on: May 23, 2008, 11:48:28 AM
Moving GM's post from another thread to here:
============
Symposium: Energy Independence and the Terror War   
By Jamie Glazov
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, May 02, 2008
What is the best way for us to achieve energy independence? What is the urgency for us to do so in terms of our conflict with Islamo-Fascism? To discuss this issue with us today, Frontpage Symposium has assembled a distinguished panel. Our guests are:

Robert “Bud” McFarlane, Ronald Reagan’s National Security Advisor. Currently, he serves as Chairman and CEO of McFarlane Associates Inc., developing energy projects in third world countries and working to develop alternative fuels so as to reduce US reliance on foreign oil.




Robert Zubrin, the president of Pioneer Astronautics and also president of the Mars Society. For many years he worked as a senior engineer for Lockheed Martin. In addition, he is the author of the critically acclaimed nonfiction books The Case for Mars, Entering Space, Mars on Earth; the science fiction novels The Holy Land and First Landing; and articles in Scientific American, The New Atlantis, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Mechanical Engineering, and The American Enterprise. He has appeared on major media including CNN, CSPAN, the BBC, the Discovery Channel, NBC, ABC, and NPR. He is the author of the new book, Energy Victory: Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free of Oil.




Gal Luft, one of America 's most influential energy independence advocates. He is executive director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (IAGS) a Washington based energy policy think tank and co-founder of the Set America Free Coalition, an alliance of national security, environmental, labor and religious groups promoting ways to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil. He specializes in strategy, geopolitics, terrorism, energy security and economic warfare.



Anne Korin, Chair of Set America Free Coalition.




and


Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, the vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the author of My Year Inside Radical Islam, which documents his time working for the extremist Al Haramain Islamic Foundation.




FP: Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Robert Zubrin, Gal Luft, Anne Korin and Bud McFarlane, welcome to Frontpage Symposium.

Robert Zubrin, let’s begin with you.

What kind of policy do you favor to create energy security?


Zubrin: I'm glad you used the words "energy security," not "energy independence." While admittedly, being energy independent would be an improvement on our current position, it is not good enough, because if the oil cartel still controlled the world market, they could still collapse our economy by collapsing that of our allies and trading partners like Japan and Europe, and they would still be harvesting trillions that they could use to finance jihad and the takeover of our corporations and media organizations.

So even if it were possible, walling ourselves in a defensive "energy independent" position would not suffice. Rather, we have to take the offensive and destroy the power of the oil cartel internationally. The key to doing that is to destroy the vertical monopoly that they have on the world's vehicle fuel supplies. The US Congress could strike a devastating blow in this direction simply by passing a law requiring that all new cars sold in the United States be flex fueled -- that is able to run on any combination of gasoline, methanol, or ethanol. Such cars are existing technology and only cost about $100 more than the same vehicle in non-flex fuel form.

If such a law were passed, it would make flex fuel the international standard for cars, as not only the Detroit Big 3, but all the foreign manufacturers would shift their lines over immediately in response. This would put 50 million cars on the road in the USA within 3 years capable of running on alcohol fuels, and hundreds of millions more worldwide. With such a market available, alcohol production and distribution facilities would multiply rapidly, and gasoline would be forced to compete at the pump against alcohol fuels produced in any number of ways from any number of sources everywhere in the world. (Methanol, for example, can be produced from any kind of biomass, without exception, as well as from coal, natural gas, and recycled urban trash. There are many starchy or sweet crops that can be used to make ethanol, with cellulosic options increasingly viable as well.)

This opening of the fuel market would put a permanent constraint on OPEC's ability to raise fuel prices. Instead of being able to raise oil prices to $200/barrel, which they are already discussing, prices would be forced back down to $50/barrel, because that is where alcohol fuels become competitive. Then, once such an alcohol fuel infrastructure is well in place, we can proceed to roll the oil cartel right off the map by instituting tax and tariff policies that favor alcohols over petroleum. That's how we beat the Islamists.

If we don't do that, with our current imports of 5 billion barrels per year, they will use a $100/barrel price to tax us $500 billion per year (and rob the world at a rate of $1.2 trillion/year). The NY Times today had a front page article quoting leading economists as saying that this huge tax (more than triple the size of the current economic stimulus treasury give-back) is grinding our economy into recession. So it is, but it is worse than that. If they are allowed to keep taxing us in this way, they will use that enormous monetary power to not only massively grow their jihadi movement, but to take over most of the major corporations and media organizations in the US, Europe, and Japan within a decade.

So not only our economy, but our independence is at stake. We need to break the oil cartel, and forceful action to create fuel choice internationally is the way to do it.

Luft: I share Robert's sense of urgency about reducing the strategic value of oil by opening the transportation sector to healthy competition, and fuel flexibility should indeed be the first item on our agenda. There is no reason why the $100 addition which allows cars to burn alcohol should not be - just like seat belts, air bags or rear view mirrors - a standard feature in every car sold worldwide. This would be a low premium insurance policy against future supply disruptions and a Band-Aid to stop the bleeding of our economy. But flex fuel alone would not be sufficient to solve our energy problem. In the U.S. today we use annually roughly 140 billion gallons of gasoline and additional 60 billion gallons of petroleum diesel. We simply don't have the resource base to replace all of this with alcohol and bio-diesel, even if we tapped into our vast coal reserves and diverted all of our food crops into fuel production. So we need solutions beyond liquid
fuels.

In order to achieve significant petroleum displacement we must begin to electrify the transportation sector by speeding the commercialization of plug-in hybrids and fully electric cars. Unlike in the 1970s, today only 2 percent of our electricity is made from oil. Almost all of our electricity is made from domestic energy resources like coal, nuclear power, natural gas and hydro. In other words, on the electricity front, unlike the Europeans who rely on imported natural gas for their light and heating, Americans are already energy independent. Using electrons for transportation, instead of gasoline, essentially means shifting from an imported resource which poses a national security threat to an array of abundant domestic energy sources. In addition, electricity is cheaper and cleaner than gasoline. It costs about 3 cents per mile to run a car on electricity--roughly one fifth of the cost of driving the same mile on gasoline. This cost differential protects us from a counterattack by OPEC.


The oil cartel will surely respond to the emerging alcohol economy by dropping crude prices to a level that would make ethanol and methanol economically unatractive. This is exactly what they did in the 1980s in response to a massive effort by Western countries to wean themselves from oil. Oil dropped to $8 a barrel and alternative fuels producers lost their shirts. If cars had full fuel flexibility, allowing them, in addition to burning alcohols, to also tap into the grid, OPEC would have to drop prices to $5 a barrel to compete with 3 cents per mile of electric drive. This is way below where they can afford to go considering their youth bulges and domestic economic conditions. This is why the commercialization of plug in hybrid electric vehicles, which allow us to drive the first chunk of our daily driving on electricity after which the car begins to burn liquid fuel, is so critical. Congress should therefore provide tax incentives to early adopters of plug in hubrids--just as it did in the case of regular hybrids--while facilitating the emergence of a viable battery industry in the U.S. A flex fuel plug-in hybrid will run approximately 500 miles on a gallon of gasoline. This could really pull the plug on OPEC.


 
24805  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: May 23, 2008, 11:46:19 AM
Congratulations Dog Dean!

Yesterday I was grateful to watch my son's growth in his hockey practice.  Happy, proud dad!

This morning I am grateful for my chess game with my daughter.  She plays an excellent game for a girl who is still five.  Again, happy and proud dad!
24806  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Karambit Vs. straight blades on: May 23, 2008, 11:42:25 AM
James:

It was many years ago that I reseached this, so perhaps I am out of date, but I would love to have some citations for what you say.

Crafty
24807  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB Gathering of the Pack August 10th, 2008 on: May 23, 2008, 11:40:39 AM
At the moment, our prime hope is what Pappy Dog can find.  I hope to speak with him today.
24808  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why oil is expensive on: May 23, 2008, 11:39:21 AM
Max:

There are already three threads on this subject, please move yours to "Energy Politics and Science"
======
Energy issues, energy technology
in Science, Culture, & Humanities

Energy Politics & Science
in Politics & Religion

Energy issues
in Science, Culture, & Humanities
=======

The first and the third of these are clearly redundant, lets use "Energy issues, energy technology" and let "Energy issues" fade away.

I have moved GM's post to "Energy issues, energy technology
in Science, Culture, & Humanities"

TAC,
Marc

24809  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Memorial Day on: May 23, 2008, 09:47:56 AM
“War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feelings which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.” —John Stuart Mill


On this Memorial Day, four young men who served in Iraq and Afghanistan will not be at the malls, nor will they be at the family barbecue.

These young men are not much different from others who have served in the past or those serving today in our nation’s Armed Forces but for the fact that they responded to extraordinary circumstances with extraordinary courage.

They are Corporal Jason L. Dunham, USMC; Master-at-Arms Second Class Michael A. Monsoor, USN; Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith, USA; and Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy, USN.

Their Medal of Honor citations read:

DUNHAM, JASON L. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Rifle Squad Leader, 4th Platoon, Company K, Third Battalion, Seventh Marines (Reinforced), Regimental Combat Team 7, First Marine Division (Reinforced), on 14 April 2004. Corporal Dunham’s squad was conducting a reconnaissance mission in the town of Karabilah, Iraq, when they heard rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire erupt approximately two kilometers to the west. Corporal Dunham led his Combined Anti-Armor Team towards the engagement to provide fire support to their Battalion Commander’s convoy, which had been ambushed as it was traveling to Camp Husaybah. As Corporal Dunham and his Marines advanced, they quickly began to receive enemy fire. Corporal Dunham ordered his squad to dismount their vehicles and led one of his fire teams on foot several blocks south of the ambushed convoy. Discovering seven Iraqi vehicles in a column attempting to depart, Corporal Dunham and his team stopped the vehicles to search them for weapons. As they approached the vehicles, an insurgent leaped out and attacked Corporal Dunham. Corporal Dunham wrestled the insurgent to the ground and in the ensuing struggle saw the insurgent release a grenade. Corporal Dunham immediately alerted his fellow Marines to the threat. Aware of the imminent danger and without hesitation, Corporal Dunham covered the grenade with his helmet and body, bearing the brunt of the explosion and shielding his Marines from the blast. In an ultimate and selfless act of bravery in which he was mortally wounded, he saved the lives of at least two fellow Marines. By his undaunted courage, intrepid fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty, Corporal Dunham gallantly gave his life for his country, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

MONSOOR, MICHAEL, A. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as automatic weapons gunner for Naval Special Warfare Task Group Arabian Peninsula, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 29 September 2006. As a member of a combined SEAL and Iraqi Army Sniper Overwatch Element, tasked with providing early warning and stand-off protection from a rooftop in an insurgent held sector of Ar Ramadi, Iraq, Petty Officer Monsoor distinguished himself by his exceptional bravery in the face of grave danger. In the early morning, insurgents prepared to execute a coordinated attack by reconnoitering the area around the element’s position. Element snipers thwarted the enemy’s initial attempt by eliminating two insurgents. The enemy continued to assault the element, engaging them with a rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire. As enemy activity increased, Petty Officer Monsoor took position with his machine gun between two teammates on an outcropping of the roof. While the SEALs vigilantly watched for enemy activity, an insurgent threw a hand grenade from an unseen location, which bounced off Petty Officer Monsoor’s chest and landed in front of him. Although only he could have escaped the blast, Petty Officer Monsoor chose instead to protect his teammates. Instantly and without regard for his own safety, he threw himself onto the grenade to absorb the force of the explosion with his body, saving the lives of his two teammates. By his undaunted courage, fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of certain death, Petty Officer Monsoor gallantly gave his life for his country, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

SMITH, PAUL R. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty: Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy near Baghdad International Airport, Baghdad, Iraq on 4 April 2003. On that day, Sergeant First Class Smith was engaged in the construction of a prisoner of war holding area when his Task Force was violently attacked by a company-sized enemy force. Realizing the vulnerability of over 100 fellow soldiers, Sergeant First Class Smith quickly organized a hasty defense consisting of two platoons of soldiers, one Bradley Fighting Vehicle and three armored personnel carriers. As the fight developed, Sergeant First Class Smith braved hostile enemy fire to personally engage the enemy with hand grenades and anti-tank weapons, and organized the evacuation of three wounded soldiers from an armored personnel carrier struck by a rocket propelled grenade and a 60mm mortar round. Fearing the enemy would overrun their defenses, Sergeant First Class Smith moved under withering enemy fire to man a.50 caliber machine gun mounted on a damaged armored personnel carrier. In total disregard for his own life, he maintained his exposed position in order to engage the attacking enemy force. During this action, he was mortally wounded. His courageous actions helped defeat the enemy attack, and resulted in as many as 50 enemy soldiers killed, while allowing the safe withdrawal of numerous wounded soldiers. Sergeant First Class Smith’s extraordinary heroism and uncommon valor are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the Third Infantry Division “Rock of the Marne,” and the United States Army.

MURPHY, MICHAEL P. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as the leader of a special reconnaissance element with Naval Special Warfare Task Unit Afghanistan on 27 and 28 June 2005. While leading a mission to locate a high-level anti-coalition militia leader, Lieutenant Murphy demonstrated extraordinary heroism in the face of grave danger in the vicinity of Asadabad, Konar Province, Afghanistan. On 28 June 2005, operating in an extremely rugged enemy-controlled area, Lieutenant Murphy’s team was discovered by anti-coalition militia sympathizers, who revealed their position to Taliban fighters. As a result, between 30 and 40 enemy fighters besieged his four-member team. Demonstrating exceptional resolve, Lieutenant Murphy valiantly led his men in engaging the large enemy force. The ensuing fierce firefight resulted in numerous enemy casualties, as well as the wounding of all four members of the team. Ignoring his own wounds and demonstrating exceptional composure, Lieutenant Murphy continued to lead and encourage his men. When the primary communicator fell mortally wounded, Lieutenant Murphy repeatedly attempted to call for assistance for his beleaguered teammates. Realizing the impossibility of communicating in the extreme terrain, and in the face of almost certain death, he fought his way into open terrain to gain a better position to transmit a call. This deliberate, heroic act deprived him of cover, exposing him to direct enemy fire. Finally achieving contact with his Headquarters, Lieutenant Murphy maintained his exposed position while he provided his location and requested immediate support for his team. In his final act of bravery, he continued to engage the enemy until he was mortally wounded, gallantly giving his life for his country and for the cause of freedom. By his selfless leadership, courageous actions, and extraordinary devotion to duty, Lieutenant Murphy reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

In my lifetime, I have been honored to know five men who have been awarded our nation’s Medal of Honor. To a man, they are among the most humble Patriots I have ever met. To a man, they have told me that they did nothing more than the men next to them would have done, but for fate, it was their turn to act.

All five of those men are now in the company of their Creator. Each of them could claim 2 Timothy 4:7: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

Monday, 26 May, is Memorial Day. Please set it aside in reverence for all those who have served with honor and are now departed.

from PatriotPost.com
24810  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Larger Army on: May 23, 2008, 09:27:39 AM
We Still Need a Larger Army
By THOMAS DONNELLY and FREDERICK W. KAGAN
May 23, 2008

"That is the war we are in.
That is the war we must win."

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is a plainspoken man, as befits his Texas roots. His words, quoted above, were about the war in Iraq. But as a remarkable series of recent speeches indicates, he intends to do what he can during the final months of his tenure to reorient the American military for the tasks of the "Long War."

This is long overdue. Donald Rumsfeld, Mr. Gates' predecessor, famously lamented that you went to war with the force you had, not the one you'd like to have. Yet in the years since 9/11, the U.S. military still hasn't developed into the force that we need. To be sure, our soldiers have transformed themselves radically, painstakingly acquiring the arts of modern irregular warfare. But success in Baghdad and Kabul will be hard to sustain unless it is matched in Washington.

As Mr. Gates recognizes, the first order of business is to expand, restructure and modernize U.S. land forces. Unfortunately, the Bush administration's program – to grow the active Army and Marine Corps from the current 700,000 to about 750,000 in the next five years – is a Rumsfeld legacy and entirely inadequate. Regardless of the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, we will need a total active land force of something like one million soldiers and Marines.

The active duty portion of the U.S. Army needs to grow to about 800,000 soldiers. That's the size maintained during the 1980s and into the early 1990s, and it is a bare minimum for success in the many and varied missions that will be required in the future – missions that have ranged from "building partnership capacity" in West Africa to tracking down terrorists in Southeast Asia, as well as large-scale invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Those who believe that the need for such a force size will abate as troops are drawn down in Iraq should consider the larger pattern of American operations over the past generation. Since its creation in 1983, the U.S. Central Command, which is responsible for operations in East Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, has demanded an ever-increasing American presence, a presence which has changed from being largely air and maritime to boots on the ground. That's the war we are in.

Repairing and reshaping the active Army is also key to restoring the Marine Corps to its traditional and still essential role as a sea-based contingency force. And it is critical in order to return the Army National Guard to a proper place as a national strategic reserve, and an operational force with state responsibilities. The Army is the keystone in the arch of America's land-force structure.

The Army brigade also needs to be reworked. Under a plan initiated in the late 1990s – and embraced by Mr. Rumsfeld as part of his program of defense transformation to "lighten" the Army by creating a larger number of smaller, "modularized" brigades – the personnel strength of an Army brigade was reduced to about 3,500. Yet in practice in Iraq and Afghanistan, as units scramble to secure additional mission-enabling capabilities, the total climbs to about 5,000 – roughly the strength of a premodularized unit. The current Bush expansion plan will not remedy the problem of having more but weaker units.

More important, the concept of the "tooth-to-tail ratio" needs to be revisited. For the past generation, military reformers looked at the support, headquarters and institutional base of the armed services, especially the Army, as overhead fat to be trimmed ruthlessly. But in an irregular warfare environment, the old tail – military police, engineers, civil affairs units, intelligence analysts, command-and-control nodes, military education and so on – is the new tooth.

Finally, the failure to modernize U.S. land-force equipment has stunted the ability of the Marines and Army to meet their new missions. The Mine Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle provides a case in point. The Army also has not expanded its planned procurement of wheeled Stryker vehicles, nor accelerated the pace at which it is "networking" the force under the Future Combat Systems project.

There have been extraordinarily successful experiments suggesting that the effectiveness and survivability of dismounted infantry can be exponentially multiplied, even in a complex, urban environment. But the so-called Land Warrior program has been managed with peacetime lethargy rather than wartime urgency.

While there is a general bipartisan consensus that America's land forces are too small, there are big differences among the candidates about the size of the problem. Sen. John McCain, for example, has suggested that the active Army and Marine Corps should be increased to about 900,000. Sen. Barack Obama, by contrast, believes the Bush expansion plan is sufficient.

The limitations of America's land forces remain the most fundamental constraint on U.S. military strategy. Unless we begin now to restore and reshape the services to do what we have asked them to do, there will be tragic consequences: not that our Army and Marine Corps will be "broken," but that our nation will not win the war that it is in.

Messrs. Donnelly and Kagan are co-authors of "Ground Truth: The Future of U.S. Land Power," just published by AEI Press.
24811  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: May 23, 2008, 09:21:34 AM
POTOMAC WATCH
By KIMBERLEY A. STRASSEL   

The Obama Learning Curve
May 23, 2008

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joe Biden took to the airwaves this week to "help" the rookie Barack Obama out of a foreign-policy jam. Oh sure, admitted Mr. Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee had given the "wrong" answer when he said he'd meet unconditionally with leaders of rogue states. But on the upside, the guy "has learned a hell of a lot."

Somewhere Mr. Obama was muttering an expletive. But give Mr. Biden marks for honesty. As Mr. Obama finishes a week of brutal questioning over his foreign-policy judgments, it's become clear he has learned a lot – and is learning still.

Right now, for instance, he's learning how tough it can be to pivot to a general-election stance on the crucial issue of foreign policy. He's also learning Democrats won't be able to sail through a national-security debate by simply painting John McCain as the second coming of George Bush.

Remember how Mr. Obama got here. In a July debate, the Illinois senator was asked if he'd meet, "without preconditions," the "leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea." It was an unexpected question, and Mr. Obama rolled with his gut: "I would," he said, riffing that the Bush administration's policy of not negotiating with terror-sponsoring states was "ridiculous."

Hillary Clinton, who still had the aura of inevitability, and who was already thinking ahead to a general election, wouldn't bite. At that point, any initial misgivings the Obama campaign had about the boss's answer disappeared. Mr. Obama hadn't got much traction differentiating himself from Mrs. Clinton over Iraq, but this was a chance to get to her left, to cast her to liberal primary voters as a warmonger. Which he did, often, committing himself ever more to a policy of unfettered engagement.

Today's Obama, all-but-nominee, is pitching to a broad American audience less keen to legitimize Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who provides weapons that kill American soldiers. The senator clumsily invited this debate when he took great umbrage to President Bush's recent criticism of appeasers (which, in a wonderfully revealing moment, Democrats instantly assumed meant them). Mr. Obama has since been scrambling to neutralize his former statement.

A week ago, in Oregon, he adopted the "no-big-deal" approach, telling listeners Iran was just a "tiny" country that, unlike the Soviet Union, did not "pose a serious threat to us." But this suggested he'd missed that whole asymmetrical warfare debate – not to mention 9/11 – so by the next day, he'd switched to the "blame-Republicans" line. Iran was in fact "the greatest threat to the United States and Israel and the Middle East for a generation" – but all because of President Bush's Iraq war.

This, however, revived questions of why he'd meet with said greatest-threat leader, so his advisers jumped in, this time to float the "misunderstood" balloon. Obama senior foreign policy adviser Susan Rice, channeling Bill Clinton, said it all depended on what the definition of a "leader" is. "Well, first of all, he said he'd meet with the appropriate Iranian leaders. He hasn't named who that leader will be." (Turns out, Mr. Obama has said he will meet with . . . Mr. Ahmadinejad.)

Former Sen. Tom Daschle, channeling Ms. Rice, explained it also depended on what the definition of a precondition is: "It's important to emphasize again when we talk about preconditions, we're just saying everything needs to be on the table. I would not say that we would meet unconditionally." This is called being against preconditions before you were for them.

And so it goes, as Mr. Obama shifts and shambles, all the while telling audiences that when voting for president they should look beyond "experience" to "judgment." In this case, whatever his particular judgment on Iran is on any particular day.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. Democrats entered this race confident national security wouldn't be the drag on the party it has in the past. With an unpopular war and a rival who supports that war, they planned to wrap Mr. McCain around the unpopular Mr. Bush and be done with it. Mr. Obama is still manfully marching down this road, today spending as much time warning about a "third Bush term" as he does reassuring voters about a first Obama one.

Then again, 9/11 and five years of Iraq debate have educated voters. Mr. McCain is certainly betting they can separate the war from the urgent threat of an Iranian dictator who could possess nukes, and whose legitimization would encourage other rogues in their belligerence. This is a debate the Arizonan has been preparing for all his life and, note, Iranian diplomacy is simply the topic du jour.

Mr. McCain has every intention of running his opponent through the complete foreign-policy gamut. Explain again in what circumstances you'd use nuclear weapons? What was that about invading Pakistan? How does a policy of engaging the world include Mr. Ahmadinejad, but not our ally Colombia and its trade pact?

It explains too the strong desire among the McCain camp to get Mr. Obama on stage for debates soon. There's a feeling Mr. Obama is still climbing the foreign-policy learning curve. And they see mileage in his issuing a few more gut reactions.
24812  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison: Being armed, subordinate governments on: May 23, 2008, 09:06:27 AM
"Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess
over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of
subordinate governments, to which the people are attached and by
which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against
the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which
a simple government of any form can admit of."

-- James Madison (Federalist No. 46, 1 February 1788)

Reference: Madison, Federalist No. 46.
24813  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Karambit Vs. straight blades on: May 22, 2008, 08:40:59 PM
Guide Dog:

I will answer you later.

Maxx:

The issue is whether your intent is for it to be a weapon.  IF IT IS, then X, Y, and Z follow.

CD
24814  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: desperately seeking dogbrother on: May 22, 2008, 04:38:50 PM
I've posted on the DBMA Assn forum that this thread is here.
24815  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton: Citizen's discernment on: May 22, 2008, 09:32:10 AM
"The citizens of America have too much discernment to be argued
into anarchy. and I am much mistaken if experience has not wrought
a deep and solemn conviction in the public mind that greater
energy of government is essential to the welfare and prosperity
of the community."

-- Alexander Hamilton (Federalist No. 26)

Reference: Hamilton, Federalist No. 26.
24816  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: the New Big Dig on: May 21, 2008, 07:57:15 PM
The New Big Dig
May 21, 2008
Mitt Romney's presidential run is history, but it looks as if the taxpayers of Massachusetts will be paying for it for years to come. The former Governor had hoped to ride his grand state "universal" health-care reform of 2006 to the White House, but his state's residents are now having to live with what he and the state's Democratic Legislature passed. As the Boston press likes to say, it's "the new Big Dig."

The showpiece of RomneyCare was its individual mandate, a requirement that all Massachusetts residents obtain health insurance by July of last year or else pay penalties. The idea was that getting everyone into the insurance system would eliminate the "free-rider" problem of those who refuse to buy insurance but then go to emergency rooms when they're sick; thus costs would fall. "Will it work? I'm optimistic, but time will tell," Mr. Romney wrote in these pages in 2006.

Well, the returns are rolling in, and the critics look prescient. First, the plan isn't "universal" at all: About 350,000 more people are now insured in Massachusetts since the reform passed. Federal estimates put the prior number of uninsured at more than 657,000, so there was a reduction. But it was not secured through the market reforms that Governor Romney promised. Instead, Massachusetts also created a new state entitlement that is already trembling on the verge of bankruptcy inside of a year.

Some two-thirds of the growth in coverage owes to a low- or no-cost public insurance option. Called Commonwealth Care, it uses a sliding income scale to subsidize coverage for everyone under 300% of the federal poverty level, or about $63,000 for a family of four. Commonwealth Care also accounts for 60% of statewide growth in individual insurance over the last year, and the trend is expected to accelerate, perhaps double.

One lesson here is that while pledging "universal" coverage is easy, the harder problem is paying for it. This year's appropriation for Commonwealth Care was $472 million, but officials have asked for an add-on that will bring it to $625 million. For 2009, Governor Deval Patrick requested $869 million but has already conceded that even that huge figure is too low. Over the coming decade, the expected overruns float in as much as $4 billion over budget. It's too early to tell how much is new coverage or if state programs are displacing private insurance.

The "new Big Dig" moniker refers to the legendary cost overruns when Boston rebuilt its traffic system. Now state legislators are pushing new schemes to offset RomneyCare's runaway expenses, including reductions in state payments to doctors and hospitals, enlarged business penalties, an increase in the state tobacco tax, and more restrictions on drug companies and insurers.

Mr. Romney's fundamental mistake was focusing on making health insurance "universal" without first reforming the private insurance market. The "connector" that was supposed to link individuals to private insurance options has barely been used, as lower-income workers flood to the public option. Meanwhile, low-cost private insurers continue to avoid the state because it imposes multiple and costly mandates on all policies.

Hailed at first as a new national model, the Massachusetts nonmiracle ought to be a warning to Washington. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are both proposing versions of RomneyCare on a national scale, with similar promises that covering everyone under a government plan will reduce costs. Mr. Obama at least argues that more people would be covered were insurance more affordable. But his solution is Massachusetts on steroids – make insurance less expensive for policyholders by transferring the extra costs onto the government. Mrs. Clinton likes that but also wants the individual mandate, despite the mediocre results so far.

The real problem in health care is the way the tax code and third-party payment system distort incentives. That's where John McCain has been focusing his reform efforts – because that really does have the potential to reduce costs while covering more of the uninsured – and Republicans ought to follow his lead.

In this respect paradoxically, we can be thankful that Massachusetts ignored the cost problems that doomed other recent liberal health insurance overhauls in California, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Illinois. The Bay State is showing everyone how not to reform health care.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.
24817  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tranny driving instructor on: May 21, 2008, 06:47:47 PM
This appeals to my deranged sense of humor.  I am not without sympathy for the man.
===================


Muslim man threatens to sue driving school for sending transsexual instructor to teach his wife

By Chris Brooke
Last updated at 9:45 AM on 21st May 2008

For the past 12 months, she had proudly taken to the road as part of an all-female driving school.

But Emma Sherdley is not exactly all woman.
Until a few years ago she was a married father-of-two called Andrew.

She is, though, in the middle of treatment to change gender and has the legal paperwork to prove it.

But that wasn't enough to satisfy one client who claimed he had been shortchanged when he booked a female instructor to teach his wife how to drive.

He phoned the Laugh 'n' Pass driving school threatening to sue after Miss Sherdley, 42, turned up for the lesson.

'You have sent me a man. Send me a proper female. How dare you send a man with a deep voice,' he told Joanne Dixon, who runs the school in West Yorkshire.

The man, a Muslim from the Meadowhall district of Sheffield who has not been named, claimed the company deliberately sent a man disguised as a woman.

'His attitude and behaviour was outrageous and has upset me and Emma and everyone else who works here,' Miss Dixon said.

'We are not racist. We are not sexist-If anyone was being so it was that man.'

She said no other learners had complained about being taught by Miss Sherdley, an experienced instructor.

As for Miss Sherdley, she is trying to develop a thicker skin.

She said the man's comments had been 'hurtful, offensive and deeply upsetting' and had even made her think of quitting her job.

His wife had apparently cut their two-hour lesson short after an hour, claiming she had to go home to breastfeed her baby.

Miss Sherdley said: 'I always knew as a child that I was a woman stuck in a man's body.

'I tried hard to be a man, getting married and having children but it never worked and never would.

'For the past six years I have been what is correctly called "transitioned". I still have to undergo final surgery but legally I am a woman.

That is what my birth certificate says and that is what the gender recognition certificate proves. For that prejudiced and biased man to threaten to sue me and the driving school is totally and utterly wrong.'

There are currently 32 female pupils on the books at the school. Miss Dixon employs 20 female instructors who teach learners throughout Yorkshire.

The school, which has been running for ten years, boasts a high pass rate.

'We say each of our female instructors promise to be friendly, professional and patient - that is exactly what Emma is,' Miss Dixon said.

'For her to be subjected to abuse and threats is simply intolerable.'

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...each-wife.html
24818  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: May 21, 2008, 04:16:25 PM
Getting one's mind right heading out is a part of action too:

https://www.infantry.army.mil/videos/video22/index.htm
24819  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Nuke Plant targetted in Sweden? on: May 21, 2008, 11:20:26 AM
I find myself wondering what the ethnicity of these two men is?  Curious that they may have sought to use the same ingredient in an attempted Islamo Fascist attack in the UK , , ,
===========

May 21, 2008

Swedish Police Hold Two Men Over Nuclear Scare

By REUTERS
Filed at 11:42 a.m. ET

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Swedish police detained two men on suspicion of planning to sabotage a nuclear power station on Wednesday after one of them was discovered entering it with small amounts of a highly explosive material.

"Two men who were taken in for questioning this morning have now been detained on suspicion of preparing for sabotage," said Kalmar County Police spokesman Sven-Erik Karlsson.

Police were alerted shortly before 8 a.m. by the Oskarshamn nuclear power plant on the southeast coast of Sweden. Initially, police only said they were interrogating one man.

"They told us a welder who was going to perform a job there had been stopped in a random security check. He had been carrying small amounts of the highly explosive material TATP," Karlsson said.

TATP, or triacetone triperoxide, is extremely unstable, especially when subjected to heat, friction and shock.

The compound can be prepared in a home laboratory from easily available household chemicals. It has been used by suicide bombers in Israel and by Richard Reid, the thwarted British "shoebomber" who attempted to blow up a transatlantic airliner in 2001.

Police did not initially treat the men as criminal suspects.

"They were only being questioned in order to gather information," Karlsson said.

He said both were contract workers and one of them was previously known to police. He had no other details other than the years in which they were born, 1955 and 1962.

SUSPECT BAG

Police sealed off a 300-meter (330-yard) area around the substance and called in explosives technicians from Malmo, the nearest large city.

Oskarshamn, jointly owned by Germany's E.ON and Finland's Fortum, said in a statement on its Web site that it believed the reactor's safety was never threatened.

An E.ON spokesman said the material had been found on or inside the first man's bag. "What has happened is that a guy, a contractor, this morning came to the security check with a bag on which, or in which, there were traces of explosives," E.ON spokesman Johan Aspegren said.

An official at the plant said the men had been at one of the plant's three reactors, which had been shut for maintenance.

Professor Hans Michels, an explosives expert at Imperial College London, said TATP was mainly used as an initiator or "trigger explosive" to detonate a larger main charge.

He said four men who tried unsuccessfully to set off bombs on London transport in July 2005 had used detonators with 5-10 grams (0.18 to 0.35 oz) of TATP but failed to ignite the main charge of their devices.

Michels said TATP could also be used as a main charge, in which case he estimated that more than 100 grams (3.5 oz) of it would be needed to blow a hole in a heavy structure with an inch

or more of high-quality steel.

"Normal explosive experts shun (TATP) because it's very unstable, it's dangerous and it's not very pure. It tends to decompose," Michels said.

An experienced British investigator, who asked not to be named, said it was possible for small traces of household products such as hair bleach to trigger positive readings when picked up by explosive-screening devices. Hair bleach commonly contains hydrogen peroxide, an ingredient in TATP.

Oskarshamn is one of three nuclear plants in Sweden that meet half the country's power needs. Sweden's nuclear industry has been hit by a series of mishaps in recent years, prompting the United Nations nuclear watchdog to call for safety measures.

The Swedish nuclear regulator said there has never been an incident involving sabotage of a Swedish nuclear plant, although last year a bomb threat was received at one facility and turned out to be false.

http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/world...=1&oref=slogin
24820  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / A case in Atlanta finally ends on: May 21, 2008, 11:04:59 AM


This case was the subject of a huge and often heated thread on the Warrior Talk forum.  One of the main strands concerned the merits and drawbacks of no-knock search warrants-- which in this case led to the death of 92 year old woman who shot at the men smashing through her door.
======================

Atlanta officer convicted in coverup of shooting
Arthur Tesler didn't fire a shot, but he now faces five years in prison in the death of a 92-year-old woman killed during a botched drug raid.
By Jenny Jarvie, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
May 21, 2008
ATLANTA -- In a verdict that brought tears to both sides of an Atlanta courtroom Tuesday, a jury convicted a police officer of lying to cover up his role in the fatal shooting of a 92-year-old woman.

Arthur Bruce Tesler, 42, is the only officer to face trial in the death of Kathryn Johnston, felled by a hail of bullets after plainclothes narcotics officers burst into her home in November 2006. He faces as many as five years in prison.

After deliberating more than three days, the state court jury acquitted Tesler of violating his oath of office and of false imprisonment under color of legal process. If convicted of all three charges, he could have faced as many as 20 years in prison.

Unlike two officers who testified against him, he was on duty outside Johnston's house and never fired a shot.

The Rev. Markel Hutchins, a community activist who represents Johnston's family, described the verdict as "bittersweet."

"Juries typically don't convict police officers," he said. ". . . Nothing can bring back Kathryn Johnston, but to the extent that her life can be used to make sure that no more citizens are violated, we think it is a step in the right direction."

Others were more blunt.

"Justice has not been done," said State Rep. "Able" Mabel Thomas. "This officer lied, this officer was part of the coverup. Blood was on his hands."

Johnston's shooting stirred up a whirlwind of protest about aggressive policing in her predominantly African American neighborhood of southwest Atlanta and triggered a federal probe into corruption in the Atlanta Police Department.

Last year, state prosecutors dropped murder, burglary and assault charges against two officers in exchange for their cooperation with a federal investigation into what the U.S. attorney here has described as a "culture of misconduct." Jason R. Smith and Gregg Junnier pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and federal civil rights charges. Junnier faces 10 years behind bars and Smith faces 12, but they have yet to be sentenced. The federal probe continues.

The shooting occurred two days before Thanksgiving, when officers burst through Johnston's front door without knocking after an informant provided false information that drugs were being sold at her house. She fired a single shot from a .38-caliber revolver but did not hit anyone. The officers fired 39 shots, striking Johnston five or six times.

Prosecutors say the officers lied to a magistrate to get the no-knock warrant, claiming that a confidential informant had made a purchase at the address and that the house was fitted with electronic surveillance. Both claims were false.

According to testimony, officers handcuffed Johnston as she lay dying, planted three bags of marijuana in her basement, and asked an informant to pretend that the officers had sent him to her home earlier to purchase drugs.

In his testimony, Tesler, a junior detective who had worked on the narcotics unit for less than a year, admitted that he had lied to help cover up the botched raid. But he said he did not know that Smith had lied to a judge to obtain the no-knock warrant.

In closing statements Thursday, his attorney, William McKenney, argued that Tesler was just a rookie who went along with the coverup because he felt intimidated by his more experienced partners.

Since the shooting, the Atlanta Police Department has tried to address claims that narcotics officers routinely lied to obtain search warrants and planted drugs at crime scenes so they could make arrest quotas. Police Chief Richard J. Pennington disbanded the narcotics unit, then reformulated it and doubled its size. The department also introduced more stringent requirements for how officers can obtain search warrants.

Last year, the Atlanta City Council created a citizen review board to investigate allegations of police misconduct.

On Tuesday, Fulton County Dist. Atty. Paul Howard said he hoped the Tesler verdict would bring "some closure" to Johnston's family. With the three officers involved in the shooting incarcerated, he said, "as a community, we should be pleased."

jenny.jarvie@latimes.com
24821  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / CA earthquake coming soon? on: May 21, 2008, 09:08:34 AM
Frogs Swarmed in China Before the Quake--Now It's California
Frogs Swarmed in China Before the Quake--Now It's California
19-May-2008

In the days prior to the gigantic earthquake that devastated Sichuan province in China, odd swarms of frogs were seen in the streets of cities in the area, and have subsequently been identified as unusual animal behavior of the type that is thought by some geologists to precede earthquakes. Now it has developed that similar frog appearances have been taking place in Bakersfield, California for about two weeks, and nobody is sure why. Strange swarms of frogs also appeared before the 6.9 Loma Prieta Earthquake in October of 1989.



The frogs are emerging from a drainage ditch and are being observed in swarms of hundreds by local residents. Nobody can remember a frog swarm like this in the area. The animals appear to be emerging from a drainage ditch, and it is possible that a lack of natural predators in the water has allowed the overgrowth of frogs.

A more controversial earthquake sign is linear clouds, or clouds that appear arrayed in lines, such as those shown in this photograph, which was taken in Shandong Province, also on May 9, 2 days prior to the Sichuan quake. So far, such clouds have not been observed by Unknowncountry.com correspondents in California, but should you see a similar formation, please photograph it and send the picture to us at News@unknowncountry.com .

If you live in California, do consider making preparations for an earthquake. If you have made such preparations, check your supplies, especially water supplies, and review your family emergency plan. However, there is no conclusive evidence that the Bakersfield toads represent more than a disturbing coincidence. There are far fewer of them than appeared in China, and they have been swarming for two weeks. The frogs in China appeared just two days before the quake took place, and in much greater numbers.
http://www.unknowncountry.com/news/?id=6882
24822  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Entitlement Crisis on: May 21, 2008, 08:59:38 AM
Currently we are headed off a cliff.  Denial is not a solution. 
==========
How to Tackle the Entitlement Crisis
By PAUL D. RYAN
May 21, 2008

While Congress will have a partisan debate over the federal budget this week, there is a growing, bipartisan consensus about the greatest threat to our nation's long-term economic prosperity: the explosion of entitlement spending. Unfortunately, Washington is not planning to address that problem this week, or any time soon. By doing nothing, we are shackling our future with unsustainable debt and taxes.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the rest of government will consume nearly 40% of the economy by the time my three young children reach my age (38). This will require more than doubling the average tax burden of the past 40 years just to keep the government afloat. Continuing down this path will eventually strangle our economy.

To meet this challenge and secure our fiscal future, I'm introducing a comprehensive legislative plan called "A Roadmap for America's Future." Here are its components:

- Health Insurance. The bill provides universal access to affordable health insurance, by shifting the ownership of health coverage from the government and employers to individuals. It provides a refundable tax credit – $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families – to purchase coverage. Individuals will be able to buy insurance offered by any provider in any state – not just the one where they live – and carry it with them if they move or change jobs.

This will encourage, and enable, people to shop for the coverage best suited to their needs and financial circumstances. Insurance companies will also have an incentive to diversify coverage at competitive prices. The active participation of individuals and families in a national, competitive market will restrain health-care costs.

The plan also establishes transparency in health-care price and quality data, so this critical information is readily available before someone needs health services. It also encourages the adoption of health information technology.

- Medicaid and Medicare. The bill modernizes Medicaid by giving states maximum flexibility to tailor their Medicaid programs to the specific needs of their populations. It also allows Medicaid recipients to avail themselves of the health-coverage options open to everyone else through the tax-credit option.

The bill secures the existing Medicare program for those over 55 – so Americans can receive the benefits they planned for throughout most of their working lives. Those 55 and younger will, when they retire, receive an annual payment of up to $9,500 to purchase health coverage – either from a list of Medicare-certified plans, or any plan in the individual market, in any state.

The payment is adjusted for inflation and based on income, with low-income individuals receiving greater support and a funded medical savings account.

- Social Security. Workers under 55 will have the option of investing over one-third of their current Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts. These personal accounts are likely to grow faster than the traditional benefit. They are also the property of the individual, and are thus fully inheritable. The bill includes a guarantee that no one's total Social Security benefits from the personal accounts will be less than if he had chosen to say in the current system.

Combined with a more realistic plan for growth in Social Security benefits, and an eventual increase in the retirement age, the Social Security program can thus become sustainable for the long term.

- Tax Reform. The current federal tax code is complex, burdensome and discourages economic growth. It cannot be fixed with incremental changes; it needs a complete overhaul.

To accomplish this goal, the bill first of all offers individuals a choice of how to pay their taxes – either through the existing law, or through a simplified code with a tax return that fits on a postcard, just two rates and virtually no special tax deductions, credits or exclusions (except the health-care tax credit). Taxpayers themselves choose which code serves them better.

The rates in the simplified code are 10% on income up to $100,000 for joint filers ($50,000 for single filers); and 25% on taxable income above these amounts. There is also a generous standard deduction and personal exemption totaling $39,000 for a family of four. The alternative minimum tax is eliminated. And to promote long-term investment in economic growth, taxes on capital gains, dividends and estates are also eliminated.

On the business side, the bill gets rid of our uncompetitive corporate tax – currently the second highest in the industrialized world – and replaces it with a business consumption tax of 8.5%, which is half the average industrialized world rate.

The roadmap I'm offering is a real plan, with real proposals, real numbers to back them, and real legislation to implement it. Based on the analysis of government actuaries, it is projected to make Social Security and Medicare permanently solvent, lift the growing debt burden on future generations, and hold Federal taxes to 18.5% of GDP.

Many will disagree with this approach. But it is my sincere hope that it will spur Congress to move beyond simply rehashing the problem – to the politically difficult, but critical task of debating, and implementing actual solutions.

Mr. Ryan, a Republican congressman from Wisconsin, is a member of the Budget Committee and the Ways and Means Committee.

See all of today's editorials and
24823  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Taliban convicted on: May 21, 2008, 08:39:33 AM
A friend who was involved with this case sent me the following:
================

Member of Afghan Taliban Convicted in
U.S. Court on Narco-Terrorism and Drug Charges
MAY 20 -- WASHINGTON – A member of an Afghan Taliban cell was convicted today by a jury in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on charges of narcotics distribution and narco-terrorism, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division Alice S. Fisher announced. The conviction represents the first time a defendant has been convicted in U.S. federal court of narco-terrorism since the statute was enacted in March 2006.
Khan Mohammed, from the Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan, was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for weapons and narcotics offenses. The investigation revealed that Mohammed was part of a Taliban plan to obtain rockets to attack U.S. military and Afghan civilian personnel at Jalalabad Airfield in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. A cooperating witness working with the DEA met with Mohammed on several occasions to plan the rocket attack. Evidence presented at trial established that Mohammed had previously engaged in similar rocket attacks against other Afghan targets. During the investigation, Mohammed also sold opium and heroin that he knew was intended for importation into the United States.
“The Department of Justice will continue to use every available legal tool to bring to justice those who help fund terrorist activities by trafficking in illegal drugs,” said Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher. “I would like to thank the DEA, our law enforcement partners in Afghanistan and the federal prosecutors for their hard work on this case.”
“As an enemy of the United States, Khan Mohammed intended to ship heroin to the United States and use profits from that trade to assist the Taliban,” said DEA Acting Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. “ A dangerous double threat, Kahn Mohammed purchased rockets to attack American and coalition soldiers who were risking their lives to stabilize Afghanistan. The conviction of Kahn Mohammed puts an end to this source of poison and violence.”
A grand jury first returned an indictment against Mohammed on Dec. 13, 2006, charging him with distributing opium and heroin, knowing that it would be imported into the United States. A superseding indictment returned on Jan. 23, 2008, also charged Mohammed with engaging in drug trafficking knowing or intending to provide something of pecuniary value to a terrorist or terrorist organization. Mohammed was brought to the United States on Nov. 5, 2007. Mohammed faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years and a maximum of life in prison.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled before the Honorable Colleen Kollar-Kotelly on Oct. 10, 2008. The case was prosecuted by Deputy Chief of Litigation Julius Rothstein, Trial Attorney Matthew Stiglitz and paralegal Arianne Tice of the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section. The investigation was led by the DEA’s Kabul Country Office and DEA’s FAST team in Afghanistan with support from DEA’s Special Operations Division in the United States and in close cooperation with Afghan law enforcement.
24824  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: May 21, 2008, 07:04:47 AM
It must pain the NY Times to write this  cheesy

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/21/world/middleeast/21sadr.html?th&emc=th

Iraqi tanks and personnel carriers crossed into the militia-held section of Sadr City at dawn Tuesday, and met no opposition.

By MICHAEL R. GORDON and ALISSA J. RUBIN
Published: May 21, 2008
BAGHDAD — Iraqi forces rolled unopposed through the huge Shiite enclave of Sadr City on Tuesday, a dramatic turnaround from the bitter fighting that has plagued the Baghdad neighborhood for two months, and a qualified success for Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.



Map
Targets of the Operation
 Back Story With The Times’s Stephen Farrell (mp3)
 
Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images, for The New York Times
Iraqi soldiers prepared Tuesday to enter northern Sadr City, which Shiite militias had used to fire rockets at the Green Zone.

As it did in the southern city of Basra last month, the Iraqi government advanced its goal of establishing sovereignty and curtailing the powers of the militias.

This was a hopeful accomplishment, but one that came with caveats: In both cities, the militias eventually melted away in the face of Iraqi troops backed by American firepower. Thus nobody can say just where the militias might re-emerge or when Iraqi and American forces might need to fight them again.

By late Tuesday, Iraqi troops had pushed deep into the district and set up positions around hospitals and police stations, which the Iraqi government was seeking to bring under its control.

The main military question now is whether Iraqi soldiers can solidify their hold over Sadr City in the coming days. And the main political one is whether the Maliki government will cement its gains by carrying out its long-promised, multimillion-dollar program of economic assistance and job creation to win over a still wary population and erode the militias’ base of support.

Sadr City has long been a simmering trouble spot, a haven for Shiite militias and a conduit for what American commanders say are Iranian-supplied arms, including explosively formed penetrators, a particularly lethal type of roadside bomb.

In the past two months, it has also become a test of the government’s ability to find its footing in the slippery terrain of Middle Eastern Shiite politics and internal divisions among Iraq’s governing Shiite parties.

The recent fighting flared up in late March after Mr. Maliki sent troops to gain control of the port city of Basra. Shiite militants responded by taking over Iraqi Army checkpoints on the outskirts of Sadr City and using the neighborhood as a launching pad to fire rockets at the Green Zone, the seat of the Iraqi government and site of the United States Embassy.

American and Iraqi forces had little choice but to fight their way in to suppress the rocket fire. They pushed their way to Al Quds Street, which gave them a measure of control over the southern quarter of Sadr City. A massive concrete wall was erected along the thoroughfare to try to keep the militants out.

But that still left most of Sadr City in the hands of Shiite militias, which continued to lob rockets at the Green Zone and attack the Iraqi and American troops in the neighborhood’s southern tier.

Mr. Maliki had responded to a challenge from Shiite militias in Basra by mounting a hasty operation. The military campaign caught American officials by surprise and appeared to sputter at the start as the Iraqi forces faced logistical problems and more than 1,000 desertions.

But as the Basra operation proceeded and Iraqi troops began to pour into the city, militia commanders drifted away. Mr. Maliki was strengthened politically in his drive to shape an image as a strong and decisive leader, the kind of leader many Iraqis, Sunni and Shiite, think is needed to control the country.

Emboldened by the outcome in Basra, the prime minister wanted to act quickly against the militias in Sadr City as well, according to American and Iraqi officials. He was inclined to see the struggle as a test of wills, which he could win by striking a decisive blow, the officials said.

Iraqi and Americans commanders, chastened by the stumbling first week of the Basra operation, favored a more deliberate approach. Sadr City is densely populated, with more than two million people, a bastion of support for Moktada al-Sadr, the radical cleric, and a neighborhood with a resilient collection of militia cells adept at hiding among the populace. With operations in Basra, Mosul and other parts of Iraq, the Iraqi military was stretched.

Additional forces were brought in, including the Third Brigade of the First Iraqi Army Division, a quick reaction force from Anbar Province. Lt. Gen. Abud Qanbar, the commander of Iraqi forces in Baghdad, developed a plan to advance north into the heart of Sadr City.

The military preparations appeared to be serious, a fact that loomed large for leaders of Mr. Sadr’s militia, the Mahdi Army, who told one reporter last week that the militia was convinced that military operations were imminent.

Maj. Gen. Mizher al-Azawi, the commander of the 11th Iraqi Army Division, said that the operation would be carried out by Iraqi ground forces with the support of American airpower.

But for all the talk by Iraqi government officials about breaking the back of the militias, and the militants’ bluster about defending their turf, it was clear that the two sides had much to lose if they were unable to reach an accommodation, however temporary or expedient.

==========

Page 2 of 2)



Had it come to an urban battle in the Shiite enclave, the Iraqi government, backed by American force, would probably have prevailed. But Iraqi troops would have suffered casualties. Shiite civilians would have been caught in the cross-fire and further alienated from the government. And eventually the Shiite militias, which had already suffered considerable losses, would have been further depleted.


Certainly, a military offensive would not have been a simple operation. The militias had been significantly weakened over the previous two months of fighting. Col. John Hort, the commander of the Third Brigade Combat Team, Fourth Infantry Division, estimated that some 700 militia fighters had been killed by air and ground fire since fighting erupted in late March.
“It is pretty safe to say that we have killed the equivalent of a U.S. battalion,” he said in a recent interview.

Some Mahdi Army leaders put the death toll slightly higher. When a truce was first announced, they threatened to refuse Mr. Sadr’s order to stand down. “What about the martyrs?” a Mahdi battalion leader recently told a reporter. “A thousand martyrs, what did they die for?”

Still, the area directly north of Al Quds Street was believed to have had a heavy concentration of roadside bombs, presenting a substantial challenge for an Iraqi force. Combat engineers and explosive ordnance disposal teams are in short supply in the Iraqi military, which relies heavily on using sappers to cut the wires rigged to explosives.

A Sadr City battle would also have sent Iraqi forces into one of the most heavily populated sections of Baghdad, where there were ample opportunities for ambushes. Militia snipers have already taken a toll on Iraqi troops with powerful .50-caliber rifles.

There were other threats, as well. In one instance not previously disclosed, an American M1 tank was damaged by an RPG-29, an advanced anti-tank weapon. Even less powerful types of rocket-propelled grenades could pose a threat to some Iraqi vehicles, which are generally less heavily armored than those employed by the Americans.

While the planning continued, American military officials cited reports that Mahdi Army and Iranian-backed commanders were sneaking out of Sadr City and perhaps even Iraq. People close to Mahdi leaders in Sadr City said they knew some who were leaving for Lebanon by way of Iran.

“We have seen a lot of indications that some of the senior leaders within JAM and the special groups are preparing to leave or have already left Sadr City,” Colonel Hort said last week, referring to Jaysh al Mahdi, as the Mahdi Army is known, and the Iranian-backed militias the military refers to as special groups.

Iran, according to some Western analysts, was also focusing on developments in Lebanon, where it has been supporting the militant group Hezbollah, and seemed interested in an arrangement in which the groups it backed in Sadr City would withdraw to fight another day.

With the emergence of a political accord, the Iraqi military began to develop a new plan, which American officers learned about late last week. It assumed that Iraqi troops would be welcomed, or at least tolerated, by the residents. Instead of an assault through the roadside bombs, six battalions would drive in on parallel streets and set up checkpoints and search for weapons.

That plan was carried out on Tuesday and was uncontested.

So far, the Iraqi Army has been a winner. Iraqi commanders received, and sometimes rejected, advice from the American military. But in the end they were able to execute a plan that was very much their own.

Only two dozen or so roadside bombs were reported found, however, raising a question of whether others had been hidden by the militias for another day. Nor is it clear how energetic Iraqi soldiers will be in carrying out searches in a Mahdi Army stronghold.

Brig. Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, the chief of staff for the Multinational Corps in Iraq, said the Iraqi government had considered various factors.

“When you exert lethal actions against Sadr City, you are de facto going against a fairly poor sector of the Shia populace,” he said. “So that is a dynamic that the government of Iraq has to keep in their analysis about what is the right way to deal with this, and we believe a measured approach is appropriate.”
24825  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The Texas Cult on: May 21, 2008, 06:53:22 AM
Civilization and the Texas Cult
By LIONEL TIGER
May 21, 2008; Page A17

The desperate tragedy involving polygamous cultists in Texas has attracted a growing phalanx of lawyers, judges, law enforcers and assorted psychologists.

Those responsible for coping with this astonishing disaster would be well-advised to add a primatologist to the team. The fact is that, despite all the blather about faith and freedom of religion, the men operating the various compounds in question are behaving in virtually the same manner as countless dominant males in countless primate troops observed over the years.

The essence of the case is that the men who control the politics of the group (as well as the hapless women and children who live there) have used junk theology about heaven, hell, paradise and salvation to maintain their unquestioned access to all females of reproductive age (or younger).

That's the reproductive fantasy of any adult male primate.

In this blow to simple decency, the Texas polygamists are not pathfinders. Multiple wives are of course permitted in the Islamic religion, and co-wives are a feature of dozens of human groups in which powerful men control sufficient resources to be able to support more than one woman.

This is usually because the societies in which they live are sharply unequal. Sex and offspring flow to those with resources.

One of the triumphs of Western arrangements is the institution of monogamy, which has in principle made it possible for each male and female to enjoy a plausible shot at the reproductive outcome which all the apparatus of nature demands. Even Karl Marx did not fully appreciate the immense radicalism of this form of equity.

The Texans' faith-flaunting is morally disgraceful and crudely cynical. It also raises bewildering questions about human gullibility on one hand and the efficacy of the Big Lie on the other.

Can anyone really believe that the notorious communal bed to which senior men command 16-year-old girls is part of some holy temple apparatus? Apparently some people do, and the few escapees from the fetid zoo have testified to the power the ridiculous theory wields.

The victims are not only young women but young men too. They are reproductively and productively disenfranchised, and are in effect forced to leave the communities to become hopeless, ill-schooled misfits in the towns of normal life. No dignified lives as celibate monks with colorful costumes for them.

Again, the issue is cross-cultural. Osama bin Laden has at least five wives, which means that four young men of his tribe have no date on Saturday night and forever. They may become willing jihadists, or desperate suicides eager to soothe their god by killing infidels and Americans.

Elsewhere, preference for sons has meant a sharp shortage of women in China. It is known that raiding parties from there cross into bordering countries with more regular sex ratios to steal women.

The deranged cults have been operating in plain sight for years in Texan communities whose police forces have been earnestly writing parking tickets while ignoring what is obvious major criminality. Some 400 young children have been drastically separated from their mothers – who among other derogations of civil life are allegedly part of longstanding welfare fraud engineered by their sexual tyrants.

And now what? It will be intensely depressing but probably useful to acknowledge this is at bottom a natural matter, a product of our inner behavioral nature. Understanding the shadowy sources of this nightmare may help our community cope with its victims.

Mr. Tiger teaches anthropology at Rutgers and is the author of "The Decline of Males" (St. Martin's, 2000).

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.

And add your comments to the Opinion Journal forum.
24826  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Afghanistan-Pakistan-India on: May 21, 2008, 06:50:56 AM
Geopolitical Diary: The Pakistani-Indian Rivalry Intensifies
May 20, 2008
After much delay, India and Pakistan will hold foreign secretary-level talks in Islamabad on May 20 as part of the ongoing Indo-Pakistani peace process. Confidence-building measures will be discussed, including expanding trade and transit links across the border, but the political theater of the summit will still do little to cover up a growing security conflict between the two South Asian rivals.

The peace talks are taking place against a backdrop of heightened border tensions across the Line of Control (LoC) — the border that splits the highly disputed region of Kashmir between India and Pakistan. The past month, in particular, has witnessed a series of cease-fire violations across the LoC (ostensibly provoked by Pakistan) detailed below that have placed India on guard.

May 8: Indian border guards spotted a group of armed men cutting through a barbed wire fence to cross into Indian-held Kashmir in the Samba sector, prompting cross-border fire.
May 13: Islamist militants, likely backed by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, launched a bomb attack in the northern Indian city of Jaipur, killing 63 people. India’s ruling Congress party refrained from blaming Pakistan outright, but said a “foreign hand” was responsible for the attack
May 14: The Indian military accused Pakistani troops of firing at an Indian army post across the LoC in the Tangdhar region.
May 15: India announced its deployment of an additional 5,000 troops to Tangdhar, Keran, Macchal and Gurez along the LoC to prevent further militant infiltration. A few days later it was announced that another 1,000 troops were deployed to the Samba sector.
May 19: Pakistan rejected as baseless an Indian claim that Pakistani troops had fired on an Indian post across the LoC, killing an Indian soldier. Cross-border firing is typically used as cover for insurgents to cross the border into Indian-administered Kashmir.
The situation has not yet reached a critical point, but as we watch further developments along this geopolitically contentious border, we must keep in mind the competing interests of the three main players who have a stake in the conflict: the United States, India and Pakistan.

The current U.S. priority in South Asia is to sustain pressure on Islamabad to deliver on its counterterrorism commitments. With the U.S. military focus shifting more toward NATO operations in Afghanistan, Washington is not exactly thrilled with the Pakistani government’s preferred method of dealing with its insurgents — which usually entails a balancing act of backdoor deals with militants that do little to stem the insurgent tide across the Afghan-Pakistani border. One way for Washington to turn the screws on Pakistan is to try the old U.S. game of exploiting tensions between India and Pakistan and then swooping in to demand concessions from Islamabad in return for getting the Indians to stand down. It is not yet clear whether this is a strategy Washington wants to pursue, however.

India so far has given off a fairly muted response to the recent Pakistani actions. After the Jaipur attack, India was quick to reaffirm that it would not walk away from its scheduled peace talks with Pakistan, while taking care not to blame the Pakistani government outright. The troop build-up along certain sectors of the LoC was motivated primarily by the ruling government’s need to fend off domestic opposition for being “soft on terror.” With state and general elections looming, the ruling Congress party has to show it actually has the political muscle to deal with Pakistan, but it also is facing a slew of problems domestically over rising inflation, food and fuel prices. Starting things up with Pakistan could allow the Indian government to distract the people from their domestic ailments, but it’s highly questionable whether the government can deal effectively with an escalated military conflict across its Pakistani border while juggling these other issues.

Pakistan meanwhile appears to be pursuing a far more complex strategy. As mentioned, the Pakistanis are facing pressure from all sides to get a grip over their jihadist problem. While insurgent management is a tricky business, the Pakistani security apparatus has an old method of reshuffling its militant proxies back and forth between its border with India and Afghanistan depending on its geopolitical priority at the time. Since Pakistan can’t afford to employ a force-only method in dealing with the insurgents, it has instead given the green light to a number of Islamist militant groups to ramp up attacks in Kashmir to go along with its plan of gradually shifting the militant focus away from the Pakistani-Afghan theater.

Just as the United States has played the India card, Pakistan, too, appears to have learned the benefits of raising the specter of a military conflict with India to deal more effectively with Washington. Pakistan needs to get the United States off its back as it tries to figure out how to manage its militant problem, particularly as the United States is exhibiting a higher tolerance for incurring domestic instability in Pakistan. In light of the domestic political pressures India currently faces, if Pakistan can show it’s willing to go the extra step to provoke a military conflict with India, it can distract its populace from the insurgency problem and spur the United States to reconsider pushing Pakistan too far.

And there is yet another added benefit to this strategy for Pakistan: Since 2001, Islamabad has warily been eyeing Washington’s warming relationship with New Delhi. Islamabad thus will jump at any opportunity to throw a wrench into U.S.-Indian relations. As long as Pakistan can plant the idea in India that the United States is turning a blind eye to an uptick in Kashmiri militant traffic in return for Pakistan’s cooperation in stemming jihadist traffic along the Afghan border, the United States and India could be headed for a rough patch.
==========
Pakistan’s government on May 21 reached a 15-point peace deal with Taliban militants in the country’s northern Swat valley, The Associated Press reported, citing Bashir Bilour, a senior minister in the North-West Frontier Province. The deal, which was signed in Peshawar, requires militants to recognize government authority, halt suicide and bomb attacks and turn over foreign militants in the region, Bilour said. In return, Bilour said the government must release prisoners and make certain concessions on the demands of pro-Taliban cleric Maulana Fazlullah for Islamic law in the region. The army also will gradually pull out of the Swat area, Bilour added, one of the militants’ key demands.
stratfor
24827  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Activity after a concussion on: May 21, 2008, 06:32:29 AM
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/05/16/sports-activity-after-a-concussion-slows-recovery/


Student athletes who return to sports quickly after a concussion appear to have a slower brain recovery than teens who stay off the field longer, a new study shows.
The report, from The Journal of Athletic Training, suggests that athletes who suffer from even mild concussions should slow down their return to the sports field. In fact, students with less severe injuries appeared to be those who return to sports the fastest. But resuming intense physical activity appeared to slow their recovery and even exacerbated their symptoms.
“By continuing with high levels of activity, they began to exhibit similar symptoms to those who initially experienced a more severe concussion,” said Jason P. Mihalik, an athletic trainer from the University of North Carolina and an author of the study.
The researchers tracked the medical records and activity levels of 95 student athletes, including 15 girls, who had suffered concussions in school sports. The students were evaluated using cognitive tests immediately after the concussion and in follow-up visits. The data showed that athletes who engaged in the highest level of activity soon after the initial injury tended to demonstrate the worst neurocognitive scores and slowest reaction times. Students fared better if they didn’t return immediately to their sport but instead simply engaged in normal school and home activities.
The study data reflect a general trend showing lower visual memory and reaction scores during the month following the injury among athletes who returned to their sports quickly after a concussion. But the data can’t be used to make specific recommendations about how long students should stay off the field after a concussion, which depends on the extent of the individual injury. However, the study does show that when it comes to concussions, the more time off to heal, the better.
Every year there are more than 300,000 sports-related concussions in the United States, and more than 60,000 cases occur among high school students. The study authors said that the results highlight the notion that concussion management may need to include recommendations regarding return to all activities, including school, work and daily chores, and not just sport-specific activities.
“Given the health issues associated with concussion, which may last longer than once thought, the decision on when and how to return an athlete not only to the playing field, but also to normal day-to-day activity, has begun receiving attention as a national health issue,” Mr. Mihalik said.
Part of the problem is that the culture of student athletics tends to reward students who stay on the field after a head injury, as reported in this Times story. The story is accompanied by this interactive graphic detailing numerous high school sports injuries.
And I recommend watching both of the following videos about what can happen when students suffer concussions on the field.

24828  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Captain John Parker at Lexington on: May 21, 2008, 06:20:16 AM


"Don't fire unless fired upon. But if they want a war let it
begin here."

-- Captain John Parker (commander of the militiamen at Lexington,
Massachusetts, on siting British Troops (attributed), 19 April
1775)

Reference: The Spirit of 'Seventy-Six, Commanger and Morris (70)
24829  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Karambit Vs. straight blades on: May 21, 2008, 06:07:25 AM
The conversation is percolating nicely now.  Very good post Maija!

"Many of the known natural predators have natural Karambit hanging/popping out of their body's for a reason. What those reason are, I hope to never find out."

If I am not mistaken, the claws typically are used to hold the prey while the fangs are use to insert/thrust.  Sometimes the fangs insertion/thrust severes something important e.g. the spine, other times they are used to hold while vigrous shaking accomplishes snapping the neck(or spine?)

Continuing on a point Maija makes, I have read that often people do not know that they have been cut or stabbed. "I thought he was punching me, but after the fight was over I saw I had been stabbed/cut."  Does this not mean we need to think about the small knife from an impact POV as well?

TAC,
CD
24830  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB Gathering of the Pack August 10th, 2008 on: May 21, 2008, 05:54:25 AM
Woof Dog Dean:

You have email.

All:

I should mention that it needs to be in the LA area.

TAC,
CD
24831  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Location, location, location on: May 20, 2008, 10:02:38 PM
Woof All:

In today's episode of "As the Stick Twirls" we learned that we do not have a place for the Gathering yet.  shocked shocked tongue  Any ideas, suggestions, offers?

The Adventure continues!
Crafty Dog
24832  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Liner lock issues on: May 20, 2008, 09:54:29 PM
Where do you live? 
24833  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / News crew attacked on: May 20, 2008, 01:59:36 PM
TV news crew attacked by officials at tax-funded Muslim school
Posted at: 05/19/2008 02:54:48 PM


By: Nicole Muehlhausen, Web Producer


News crew confronted during report at TiZA charter school




In an attempt to report about the new findings from the Department of Education Monday, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS went to Tarik ibn Zayad Academy in Inver Grove Heights.  While on school grounds, our crew was confronted by school officials. Our photographer was injured while wrestling with the two men over the camera.  Our photographer was examined by paramedics and suffered minor shoulder and back injuries.

The state education department on Monday directed the charter school to "correct" two areas related to religion at the school on Monday.

Tarik ibn Zayad Academy, which focuses on Middle Eastern culture and shares a mosque with the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, came under fire after a teacher alleged that the school was offering religious instruction in Islam to its students.

"The Minnesota Department of Education goes to great lengths to make clear to charter schools and their sponsors that, while schools should appropriately accomodate students' religious beliefs, they must be 'nonsectarian' under the state's charter school law," said the state's education Deputy Commissioner Chas Anderson.

The allegations first surfaced after an article by a columnist for the Star Tribune. The Education Department subsequently began a review of the south metro school and released its findings Monday.  The agency said it was concerned about the school, with about 300 students, accommodating communal prayer and providing transportation to an after-school religious program.

"We have directed the school to take appropriate corrective actions regarding these matters and will continue to provide oversight to ensure that the school is in compliance with state and federal law," Anderson said.

http://kstp.com/article/stories/S449649.shtml?cat=1

You can watch the attack on the news channel web site.

You Tube has it as well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=895U5aVbU7k
=================



To avoid blurring the line between religion and public education, a Twin Cities charter school must undertake "corrective actions," the state Department of Education said Monday.
Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, which teaches hundreds of Muslim students at its Inver Grove Heights and Blaine campuses, should modify its communal prayers on Fridays to make sure students aren't missing too much school, according to the state report.
The report also recommends the school provide after-school busing at different times for students who aren't participating in religious activities.
State officials did not have any concerns with the school's instruction or curriculum.
"With regard to the areas reviewed, most of TiZA's operations are in compliance with state and federal law," Deputy Commissioner Chas Anderson said in a statement.
The state's most important finding is that TiZA is not teaching Islam to students, said Asad Zaman, the school's executive director.
"When something is illegal, it's illegal," he said. "We have done nothing illegal."
He called the state's concerns minor but said the K-8 school will cooperate with the department to propose alternative schedules.
Many TiZA students take five minutes Monday through Thursday to pray, and this causes little interruption, according to the report. But on Fridays — the Muslim holy day — a 30-minute chunk of time is set aside for students to pray. The department is concerned that students
who pray that day may not fulfill the state's minimum hourly attendance requirement, that the prayer takes place in a public school building, and that younger students may not understand that teachers who decide to pray with them are not promoting Islam.
Zaman, who does not participate in the prayer time, said community volunteers run the Friday prayer in the school gymnasium. The state's other concern is with the school's transportation schedule: School is dismissed around 3:30 p.m.,


but no busing is provided until about 4:30 p.m. — when after-school activities end.
According to the report, some Inver Grove Heights students participate in a Muslim studies class that the adjacent Muslim American Society of Minnesota runs. The school said it does not track the number of students enrolled in the class.
Meanwhile, about 30 percent to 40 percent of the school's 400 or so students participate in the school's free program called CARE, which teaches students about empathy-building, problem-solving and anger management.
The school also offers Girl Scouts, Boys Scouts and community volunteer activities.
The bus arrives at the later hour to accommodate families, said Zaman, who added that it was preferred by 98 percent of parents.
It's also a financial move, because it is nearly $100,000 more expensive to bus students at 3:30 p.m., Zaman said.
The school already has discussed several scheduling solutions, Zaman said.
"We cannot solve everything right away," he said. "But this is not an unsolvable problem."
A columnist for the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, Katherine Kersten, sparked the investigation after she wrote that the school mixed the roles of religion and public education. Her column aired a substitute teacher's allegations that school officials promoted Islam in the classroom.
The school has received numerous threats and installed a new security system as a result of the column, Zaman said. State officials acknowledged that TiZA has received threatening messages and thanked school staff for cooperating at a time when students and employees were concerned for their safety.
The controversy has sparked national and local media attention, and on Monday, a KSTP-TV photographer had his camera briefly confiscated after he walked onto school property and began filming students as classes let out. Inver Grove Heights police officials said they were called to the scene, but as of Monday evening, no arrests had been made or citations handed out.
Joe Nathan, director for the Center for School Change at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute, said the controversy surrounding the school has diverted attention from the school's success in working with students from first-generation immigrant families.
Zaman agrees.
"We will continue to follow the law," he said. "It's in the best interest of the children and community." Bao Ong can be reached at 651-228-5435.


http://www.twincities.com/ci_9315800...e=most_emailed

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0btQTDwHJiU&feature=related
24834  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Obama and the Jews on: May 20, 2008, 08:55:45 AM
Obama and the Jews
May 20, 2008; Page A21
America's Jews account for a mere 2% of the U.S. population. But they have voted the Democratic ticket by margins averaging 78% over the past four election cycles, and their votes are potentially decisive in swing states like Florida and Pennsylvania. They also contribute an estimated half of all donations given to national Democratic candidates.

So whatever his actual convictions, it is a matter of ordinary political prudence that Barack Obama "get right with the Jews." Since Jews tend to be about as liberal as the Illinois senator on most domestic issues, what this really means is that he get right with Israel.

 
AP 
And so he has.

Over his campaign's port side have gone pastor Jeremiah Wright ("Every time you say 'Israel' Negroes get awfully quiet on you because they [sic] scared: Don't be scared; don't be scared"); former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski ("I think what the Israelis are doing today [2006] for example in Lebanon is in effect – maybe not in intent – the killing of hostages"); and former Clinton administration diplomat Robert Malley (an advocate and practitioner of talks with Hamas).

The campaign has also managed to clarify, or perhaps retool, Mr. Obama's much-quoted line that "nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people." What the senator was actually saying, he now tells us, is that "nobody has suffered more than the Palestinian people from the failure of the Palestinian leadership to recognize Israel, to renounce violence, and to get serious about negotiating peace and security for the region."

Still more forthrightly, Mr. Obama recently told the Atlantic Monthly that "the idea of a secure Jewish state is a fundamentally just idea, and a necessary idea, given not only world history but the active existence of anti-Semitism, the potential vulnerability that the Jewish people could still experience."

I can think of no good reason to doubt the sincerity of Mr. Obama's comments. Nor, from the standpoint of American Jewry, is there anything to be gained from doing so: The fastest way to turn whatever dark suspicions Jews may have of Mr. Obama into a self-fulfilling prophecy is to spurn his attempts at outreach.

Yet the significant question isn't whether Mr. Obama is "pro-Israel," in the sense that his heart is in the right place and he isn't quite Jimmy Carter. What matters is whether his vision for U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East – and the broader world view that informs it – will have ancillary effects favorable to Israel's core interests.

Take Hamas and Hezbollah, which pose the nearest threats to Israel's security. Mr. Obama has insisted he opposes negotiating with Hamas "until they recognize Israel, renounce terrorism and abide by previous agreements." He also calls Hezbollah a "destabilizing organization."

But if Mr. Obama's litmus test for his choice of negotiating partners is their recognition of Israel and their renunciation of terrorism, then what is the sense in negotiating without preconditions with Iran and Syria?

Alternatively, if the problem with Hamas and Hezbollah is that neither holds the reins of government, what happens when they actually do? Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary elections in January 2006; Hezbollah sits in the Lebanese cabinet. Would Mr. Obama be willing to parley if, in the course of his administration, either group should come to power?

Or take Iran, which Israelis universally see as their deadliest enemy. Yes, there are arguments to be made in favor of presidential-level negotiations between Washington and Tehran – perhaps as a last-ditch effort to avert military strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities. But does anyone seriously think Mr. Obama would authorize such strikes?

Instead, Mr. Obama says he favors "tough diplomacy," including tighter sanctions on Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps. Last fall, however, he was one of only 22 senators to oppose a Senate resolution calling for the IRGC to be designated as a terrorist organization, a vote that made him a dove even within the Democratic Party. Mr. Obama argued at the time the amendment would give the administration a pretext to go to war with Iran. It was an odd claim for a nonbinding resolution.

Or take Iraq. Israelis are now of two minds as to the wisdom of the invasion of Iraq, mainly because they fear it has weakened America's hand vis-à-vis Iran. Maybe. But is it so clear that a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq wouldn't further strengthen Iran's hand, and consolidate the so-called Shiite crescent stretching from southern Iraq to the hills overlooking northern Israel?

Finally, there is Israel itself. In the Atlantic interview, Mr. Obama declared that "my job in being a friend to Israel is partly to hold up a mirror and tell the truth," particularly in respect to the settlements. Yes, there are mirrors that need to be held up to those settlements, as there are to those Palestinians whose terrorism makes their dismantlement so problematic. Perhaps there is also a mirror to be held up to an American foreign-policy neophyte whose amazing conceit is that he understands Israel's dilemmas better than Israelis themselves.

Write to bstephens@wsj.com
24835  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson: Arms on: May 20, 2008, 08:35:50 AM
"One loves to possess arms, though they (sic) hope never to have occasion
for them."

-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to George Washington, 19 June 1796)

Reference: The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Library of Congress,
Mansucript Division, Microfilm Roll #51
24836  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: May 20, 2008, 08:17:09 AM
Grateful for my son keeping me company during yesterday's KB workout and for our game of Scrabble afterwords.
24837  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Karambit Vs. straight blades on: May 20, 2008, 07:53:04 AM
Of course legal issues apply here.

The PD solution has much to recommend it technically, but apart from LEOs and military in the field, what jurisdiction allows civilians to legally carry one?
24838  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / From Russia with hate on: May 20, 2008, 12:50:49 AM
 shocked

http://www.filecabi.net/video/Pod_RussiaSkinheads.html
24839  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The Lawyers' War on: May 19, 2008, 11:55:37 PM


The Lawyers War
May 20, 2008; Page A22
The war on terror is easily the most litigated war in history, and on the evidence so far the lawyers are winning. They may yet succeed in killing military commissions, despite their long U.S. history and a law duly passed by Congress and signed by the President.

The latest legal battle concerns the Pentagon's attempt to try the perpetrators of 9/11. You'd think this would be easy compared, say, to trying the eight Nazis who secretly landed on Long Island and Florida in June 1942. Those Nazis didn't kill any Americans. Yet they were captured within days and convicted by military commissions established by FDR; most were sentenced to hang within two months. The Supreme Court validated the action in Quirin. But today, nearly seven years after 9/11, the U.S. still hasn't tried the conspirators who planned the deaths of 3,000 Americans.

 
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and five others have been referred for trial at Guantanamo Bay under the 2006 Military Commissions Act. Yet a guerrilla campaign by military attorneys and human-rights lawyers is throwing up obstacles at every turn. The latest is an attempt to discredit Brigadier General Thomas Hartmann, the legal adviser to the commissions who has been given the thankless task of getting the trials underway.

General Hartmann was disqualified this month from advising in the case of one terror defendant on the preposterous grounds that he had exerted "undue influence." How so? It seems he had told military prosecutors that they should get better training, and that the cases to try first should be the "sexy" ones that might "capture the imagination of the American people." Such as those involving the deaths of 3,000 Americans.

In his bizarre decision, Military Judge Keith Allred conceded this wouldn't disqualify the legal adviser in a normal military court-martial. But it was enough in this case because Congress wanted the military commissions to avoid even the "appearance of unlawful command influence." Congress didn't define such unlawful influence, however, so Judge Allred defined it himself. And his elastic definition included the fact that the antiwar Harper's magazine had published a screed against military commissions and General Hartmann. Seriously.

Keep in mind that the trial judge in each case, not General Hartmann, still makes the decision about admitting evidence and other trial conduct. All General Hartmann has been doing is providing some legal direction to the prosecutors trying the case, rather like a district attorney or U.S. Attorney. The logic of Judge Allred's ruling is that General Hartmann must defer more to prosecutors in al Qaeda cases than he would in courts-martial against American soldiers.

Meanwhile, the press has distorted another recent Guantanamo decision. Susan Crawford, the former civilian judge who is supervising the military tribunals, dismissed the capital charges last week against one of the six al Qaeda 9/11 conspirators. Mohammed al-Qahtani was allegedly going to be the 20th hijacker on 9/11 had he been admitted to the U.S. He was captured in late 2001.

Echoing defense attorneys, the press is calling Judge Crawford's decision a setback for the tribunals and is reporting the now-routine claim he was tortured under interrogation. But those attorneys haven't seen Judge Crawford's ruling, which is under seal. We're told the judge separated al-Qahtani on grounds that he was less central to the conspiracy than were the likes of KSM, and that being tried with the five others might have prejudiced the death-penalty case against him. In other words, her ruling shows how independent Judge Crawford and the tribunals are from Pentagon pressure.

The larger game here, among many lawyers and most of the press, is to give the impression that military commissions are unworkable. The critics want to delay the trials long enough to push them into the next Administration, which they hope will then abandon commissions. Their ultimate goal is to get terrorists tried like any other defendant in civilian courts or regular courts-martial – fully aware of how daunting the chance of convictions would be.

The critics are especially worried that KSM and friends might go on trial before the November election, because their testimony is likely to celebrate their murders and remind the world how much they want to kill Americans. They deserve to be tried as "enemy combatants" under military tribunals precisely because they have violated the rules of war. The case against them also involves classified intelligence that can't be heard in open court.

Congress and the executive branch have decided that military commissions are necessary to defend the country, and the Supreme Court decided in Hamdan in 2006 that they are legal when properly established by both branches. The obligation of military lawyers is to get on with the trials, and see that justice is done to those who killed innocent Americans.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.
24840  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / WSJ A FARC fan's notes on: May 19, 2008, 11:43:30 PM
A FARC Fan's Notes
March 25, 2008; Page A22

A hard drive recovered from the computer of a killed Colombian guerrilla has offered more insights into the opposition of House Democrats to the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.

A military strike three weeks ago killed Raúl Reyes, No. 2 in command of the FARC, Colombia's most notorious terrorist group. The Reyes hard drive reveals an ardent effort to do business directly with the FARC by Congressman James McGovern (D., Mass.), a leading opponent of the free-trade deal. Mr. McGovern has been working with an American go-between, who has been offering the rebels help in undermining Colombia's elected and popular government.

Mr. McGovern's press office says the Congressman is merely working at the behest of families whose relatives are held as FARC kidnap hostages. However, his go-between's letters reveal more than routine intervention.

The intervenor with the FARC is James C. Jones, who the Congressman's office says is a "development expert and a former consultant to the United Nations." Accounts of Mr. Jones's exchanges with the FARC appeared in Colombia's Semana magazine on March 15. This Mr. Jones should not be confused with the former Congressman and ambassador to Mexico of the same name from Oklahoma.

"Receive my warm greetings, as always, from Washington," Mr. Jones began in a letter to the rebels last fall. "The big news is that I spoke for several hours with the Democratic Congressman James McGovern. In the meeting we had the opportunity to exchange some ideas that will be, I believe, of interest to the FARC-EP [popular army]."

Mr. Jones added that "a fundamental problem is that the FARC does not have, strategically, a spokesman that can communicate directly with persons of influence in my country like Mr. McGovern." Semana reports that in the documents Mr. Jones "rules himself out as the spokesman but offers himself as a 'bridge' of communication between the FARC and the congressman." Semana says when it spoke with Mr. Jones, he verified the letter and explained that "he made the offer because the guerrillas need interlocutors if they want to achieve peace and that it is a mistake to isolate them."

But communications among FARC rebels suggest the goal was to isolate Colombia's government. A letter that Reyes wrote to top FARC commander Manuel Marulanda on October 26 reads: "According to [Jones's] viewpoint, [President Álvaro] Uribe is increasingly discredited in the U.S. . . He believes that the safe haven [for the rebels] in the counties can be had for reasons mentioned. Congressional Democrats have invited him to Washington to talk about the Colombian crisis in which the principal theme is the swap."

Semana reports that Mr. Jones made some proposals to the FARC, including a Caracas meeting with representatives of Venezuela, Colombia, the FARC, other South American countries, U.S. Congressmen and the Catholic Church. "It would be almost impossible for Uribe to reject such a meeting," Mr. Jones wrote, "without burning himself a lot, nationally and internationally. If he persists in being against it, I have understood that there are ways to pressure him from my country [the U.S.]."

In a letter to Semana, Mr. Jones said his words were taken out of context. He says he is not in favor of the "violent methods of the guerrilla" or "the military solutions" of the government. He had only a professional relationship with the FARC and had to address them as he did because he had to build trust. Mr. McGovern's office says it knew what Mr. Jones was doing and engaged with him because "we need to find an interlocutor who could discuss these things including the safe haven" for the guerrillas.

We think the documents reveal something else entirely: Some Democrats oppose the Colombia trade deal because they sympathize more with FARC's terrorists than with a U.S. antiterror ally. 


http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1206...mEditorialPage
24841  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Karambit Vs. straight blades on: May 19, 2008, 07:46:29 PM
TT:

Well, duh!  cheesy

More seriously now, the only one that can help you is one you can pull during the middle of a fight wherein fear of serious bodily injury or death is at risk. Is there a difference between the three categories in this regard?  What technique/grip is best for a FUT? etc etc.

CD



24842  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Taser vs. Taser on: May 19, 2008, 07:39:52 PM
 rolleyes rolleyes rolleyes

May 19, 12:46 AM EDT

2 Colo. men exchange Taser shots over parked van

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) -- It wasn't exactly pistols at 30 paces, but police say a security company supervisor and a restaurateur shot each other with Tasers in a "bonehead" confrontation over parking.

Officers said neither man needed medical attention after the Saturday confrontation, but Harvey Epstein, co-owner of Mamacitas restaurant, was arrested on suspicion of felony menacing and using a stun gun.

A police report said Epstein and Casey M. Dane, a supervisor for Colorado Security Services Inc., were arguing over a metal boot that one of Dane's guards had clamped on a wheel of a van parked behind Mamacitas.

Dane told police he was afraid Epstein was going to hit him with a 2-foot-long pair of bolt cutters. Epstein told police he had only tried to remove the boot with the bolt cutters and hadn't threatened anyone with them.

Epstein told police Dane put his hand on a holstered pistol and threatened to shoot him. Dane told The Associated Press by telephone that he did put his hand on the holstered pistol but never threatened to shoot Epstein.

Both men drew Tasers.

"They shot each other," Police Sgt. Pat Wyton told the Camera newspaper. "It was just kind of a bonehead deal."

The guard claimed the van, owned by a Mamacitas employee, was on property he was hired to patrol. The van owner denied that.

Epstein, 36, told the AP in a phone interview Sunday he took out his Taser only after Dane pointed his at him and his mother, who was also outside. Epstein also said Dane repeatedly told him he was a police officer and that failing to comply with his orders was a federal offense, allegations that Dane denies.
24843  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The Next American Frontier on: May 19, 2008, 02:26:28 PM


The Next American Frontier
By MICHAEL S. MALONE
May 19, 2008; Page A15

The entire world seems to be heading toward points of inflection. The developing world is embarking on the digital age. The developed world is entering the Internet era. And the United States, once again at the vanguard, is on the verge of becoming the world's first Entrepreneurial Nation.

At the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, Frederick Jackson Turner delivered a paper to the American Historical Association – the most famous ever by an American historian. In "The Significance of the Frontier in American History," he noted that, according to the most recent U.S. census, so much of the nation had been settled that there was no longer an identifiable western migration. The very notion of a "frontier" was obsolete.

 
Ryan Inzana 
For three centuries the frontier had defined us, tantalized us with the perpetual chance to "light out for the territories" and start our lives over. It was the foundation of those very American notions of "federalism" and "rugged individualism." But Americans had crossed an invisible line in history, entering a new world with a new set of rules.

What Turner couldn't guess was that the unexplored prairie would become the uninvented new product, the unexploited new market and the untried new business plan.

The great new American frontiers proved to be those of business, science and technology. In the course of the 20th century, Americans invented more milestone technologies and inventions, created more wealth and leisure time, and reorganized their institutions more times than any country had ever done before – despite a massive economic depression and two world wars. It all reached a crescendo in the magical year of 1969, with the creation of the Internet, the invention of the microprocessor and, most of all, a man walking on the moon.

Along with genetic engineering, we are still busily spinning out the implications of these marvels. Yet it is becoming increasingly apparent that the cultural underpinnings of these activities have changed in some fundamental way.

We still have schools, but a growing number of our children are studying at home or attending private schools – and those in public schools are doing ever more amounts of their class work on the Internet.

We still have companies and corporations, but now they are virtualized, with online work teams handing off assignments to each other 24/7 around the world. Men and women go to work, but the office is increasingly likely to be in the den. In 2005, an Intel survey of its employees found that nearly 20% of its professionals had never met their boss face-to-face. Half of them never expected to. Last summer, when the Media X institute at Stanford extended that survey to IBM, Sun, HP, Microsoft and Cisco, the percentages turned out to be even greater.

Newspapers are dying, networks are dying, and if teenage boys playing GTA 4 and World of Warcraft have any say about it, so is television. More than 200 million people now belong to just two social networks: MySpace and Facebook. And there are more than 80 million videos on YouTube, all put there by the same individual initiative.

The most compelling statistic of all? Half of all new college graduates now believe that self-employment is more secure than a full-time job. Today, 80% of the colleges and universities in the U.S. now offer courses on entrepreneurship; 60% of Gen Y business owners consider themselves to be serial entrepreneurs, according to Inc. magazine. Tellingly, 18 to 24-year-olds are starting companies at a faster rate than 35 to 44-year-olds. And 70% of today's high schoolers intend to start their own companies, according to a Gallup poll.

An upcoming wave of new workers in our society will never work for an established company if they can help it. To them, having a traditional job is one of the biggest career failures they can imagine.

Much of childhood today is spent, not in organized sports or organizations, but in ad hoc teams playing online games such as Half Life, or competing in robotics tournaments, or in constructing and decorating MySpace pages. Without knowing it, we have been training a whole generation of young entrepreneurs.

And who is going to dissuade them? Mom, who is a self-employed consultant working out of the spare bedroom? Or Dad, who is at Starbuck's working on the spreadsheet of his new business plan?

In the past there have been trading states like Venice, commercial regions like the Hanseatic League, and even so-called nations of shopkeepers. But there has never been a nation in which the dominant paradigm is entrepreneurship. Not just self-employment or sole proprietorship, but serial company-building, entire careers built on perpetual change, independence and the endless pursuit of the next opportunity.

Without noticing it, we have once again discovered, and then raced off to settle, a new frontier. Not land, not innovation, but ourselves and a growing control over our own lives and careers.

And why not? Each step in the development of American society has been towards an ever-greater level of independence, freedom and personal liberty. And as the rest of the world catches up to where we were, we've already moved on to the next epoch in the national story.

But liberty exacts its own demands. Entrepreneurial America is likely to become even more innovative than it is today. And that innovation is likely to spread across society, not just as products and inventions, but new ways of living and new types of organizations.

The economy will be much more volatile and much more competitive. In the continuous fervor to create new institutions, it will become increasingly difficult to sustain old ones. New political parties, new social groupings, thousands of new manias and movements and millions of new companies will pop up over the next few decades. Large corporations that don't figure out how to combine permanence with perpetual change will be swept away.

This higher level of anarchy will be exciting, but it will also sometimes be very painful. Entire industries will die almost overnight, laying off thousands, while others will just as suddenly appear, hungry for employees. Continuity and predictability will become the rarest of commodities. And if the entrepreneurial personality honors smart failures, by the same token it has little pity for weakness. That fraction of Americans – 10%, 20% – who still dream of the gold watch or the 30-year pin will suffer the most . . . and unless their needs are somehow met as well, they will remain a perpetually open wound in our society.

Scary, exciting, liberating, frustrating, infinitely ambitious and thoroughly amnesic. If you live in a high-tech community like Silicon Valley or Redmond or Austin, you already live in this world. It's hard to imagine more exciting places to be.

For all of our fears about privacy and security, for all the added pressures that will be created by heightened competition and clashing ambitions, America as an entrepreneurial nation will reward each of us with greater independence – and perhaps even greater happiness – than ever before. It waits out there for each of us. Being good entrepreneurs, it's time to look ahead, develop a good plan, and then bet everything on ourselves.

Mr. Malone's next book is "The Protean Corporation" (Random House). This essay was adapted from a recent speech at Santa Clara University.
24844  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Keegan on: May 19, 2008, 01:54:17 PM
I think John Keegan's "History of Warfare" sheds a lot of light on this subject.
24845  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PS WSJ on: May 19, 2008, 01:02:48 PM
Six-Gun Salute

Proving that time heals some wounds, John McCain spoke Friday at the National Rifle Association, where he made nice with some of his tougher critics over the years. CEO Wayne LaPierre acknowledged that the group has had differences with the candidate, but emphasized the positive. "We're not foolish enough to ignore the vast areas of agreement in which John McCain has been a friend to gun owners," he told the Associated Press.

That may be news to NRA-ers who have not yet forgiven Mr. McCain for his campaign-finance reform. As the architect of McCain-Feingold, the Senator ticked off many NRA members who see the campaign-finance law as an infringement on their freedom to engage in the political process and defend Second Amendment rights. At the group's national convention in 2001, Mr. LaPierre noted that McCain-Feingold would all but kick the NRA out of politics by prohibiting the group's ability to run ads within 60 days of an election season. "Is it possible that John McCain thinks you have too much freedom?" the NRA chief asked at the time.

Mr. McCain has also ticked off gun owners for his support of mandatory background checks at gun shows, which he refers to "closing the gun show loophole"—a position he still takes. On other issues however, the Arizona Senator is seen as a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights. He voted against bans on assault rifles and against limitations on types of ammunition. According to his campaign's Web site, he has also opposed attempts to hold gun manufacturers liable for crimes committed with guns.

Mr. McCain is walking a delicate balance into the general election, letting traditional GOP groups know he cares about their issues while avoiding the kind of flip-flops that did in John Kerry. By declining to sugarcoat things for the NRA audience, Mr. McCain could also gain points with some swing voters, who may only need a few issues to be won over.

-- Collin Levy

The Sweetie Vote

As Hillary Clinton's campaign enters its final days or weeks, it's exposing new rifts within the feminist big tent. The head of Emily's List, Ellen Malcolm, recently attacked NARAL Pro-Choice America for its endorsement of Barack Obama. Though that endorsement came only when Mr. Obama's nomination was all but a fait accompli, Ms. Malcolm still saw betrayal. "I think it is tremendously disrespectful to Senator Clinton," she said, "and it certainly must be disconcerting for elected leaders who stand up for reproductive rights and expect the choice community will stand with them."

But that's not what it's really about, is it? Mr. Obama is also a pro-choice candidate. The real sting is that feminist groups are now abandoning a candidate who has been caught in the ultimate switchback — a woman with decades of career experience losing out to a charming male newcomer who can't equal her credentials but may beat her anyway.

During the campaign, NARAL acted as a frequent fact-checker on the abortion politics of both candidates. It showed some preference for Mr. Obama earlier on when it asked Mrs. Clinton not to go after Mr. Obama's "present" votes on abortion issues while in the Illinois State Senate-positions many of his critics see as an effort to fence sit on controversial issues.

The argument among feminists has been present throughout the primary as many of the most liberal women preferred the antiwar politics of Mr. Obama, even over the unity of the sisterhood. But the Clinton campaign has survived as long as it has largely because of the 60% of white women she has consistently drawn in the primaries. The feminists may give Mr. Obama their vote, but he won't get a free pass: They were out in force to critique him last week when he called a news reporter "sweetie." He apologized.

-- Collin Levy

Michiganders and Floridians Unite!

Hillary Clinton's campaign fired its latest salvo in the fight over Michigan's and Florida's delegates Friday. In an email blast, the former First Lady called on supporters to pressure the Rules Committee of the Democratic Convention to "count every vote."

"Count every vote" has been the mantra of the Democratic Party since Florida in 2000. But it's never made much sense. The goal should be to make every properly cast vote count. If someone shows up a day early or a day late to the polls, his vote doesn't—and shouldn't—count. Likewise, if a Democrat or Republican tries to cast a vote in the wrong party's primary (when that primary is not "open"), it doesn't—and shouldn't—count. (This happened to your correspondent in the New York state primary this year. He hadn't filed his party registration in a timely fashion, so his provisional ballot was rejected.)

In the case of Florida and Michigan, every ballot was cast in violation of party rules that were well known to everyone involved at the time. We'll never know how many Floridians and Michiganders chose not to vote because they understood what was going on. Changing the rules after the votes have been cast isn't democracy.

Knowing the rules before an election is run is essential to a fair ballot. If it were anyone else's delegates in jeopardy, you'd better believe that's the argument that Candidate Clinton would be making.

-- Brian M. Carney

Quote of the Day

Conservatism is alive and well in America; don't let anyone tell you differently. And by conservatism, I don't mean the warmed-over "raise your hand if you believe ..." kind of conservatism we see blooming every election cycle. No, I'm speaking of the conservatism grounded in principles based upon enduring truths: an understanding of the importance of human nature in the affairs of individuals and nations. Respect for the lessons of history, the importance of faith and tradition. The understanding that while man is prone to err, he is capable of great things when not subjugated by a too-powerful government -- Fred Thompson, writing at Townhall.com.

Lobbyists Overboard

John McCain spent much of last week suffering self-inflicted wounds over his ties with Washington lobbyists.

Over the weekend, former Texas Congressman Tom Loeffler stepped down as a key McCain adviser after the campaign issued a stringent new hiring policy stipulating that no staffer could work for the campaign if he was also a registered lobbyist or did business on behalf of foreign interests. Mr. Loeffler was the fifth McCain aide to step aside over lobbying connections.

In February, the Arizona Senator easily weathered a New York Times story attempting to tie his official actions to his friendship with a female lobbyist.

Now the list of departing McCain lobbyists has unnecessarily revived the issue and allowed Barack Obama to piously claim that "John McCain is very much a creature of Washington." Mr. Obama can do this and get a media pass for it because he hasn't made a major issue of his lack of ties to lobbyists. While he will boast that he declines to take money from political action committees run by interest groups, he cheerfully has many lobbyists as part of his team and allows them to bundle contributions they've collected from other political players.

It was inevitable that Mr. McCain's occasional sanctimony on matters relating to money in politics would trip him up if he failed to meet an impossible standard for a practicing politician. He would have been better off to state simply that his career demonstrates his independence from special interest groups and disclose which of his advisers were working for outside interests. That would have been better than the parade of McCain officials who have left in the past week, creating the image of a campaign in disarray.

-- John Fund



24846  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Liner lock issues on: May 19, 2008, 12:55:43 PM
Apart from intent issues, there is also the simple fact that concealed fixed blades are a felony per se in many/most jurisdictions. 
24847  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Pre-emption and Sucker Punches on: May 19, 2008, 12:54:15 PM
I will be having dinner with Southnark this Thursday.  Apart from the pleasure of good conversation, there will be one business item discussed: DBMA will be carrying SN's "Managing Unknown Contact" DVD.  In my opinion this is an outstanding piece of work.  (PS:  I have a brief cameo in it as a Bad Guy cheesy )
24848  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Push Dagger on: May 19, 2008, 12:51:08 PM
Lets throw into the mix the consideration of the Push Dagger, which some people like as a solution for FUTs (A southnark term for "Fcuked UP Tangle").
24849  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Native American Fighting Systems on: May 19, 2008, 12:48:51 PM
I have no basis for an opinion.  A Navajo friend of mine writes:

Two perspectives on this topic;
 
First and foremost – old ways of fighting was banned on military Indian reservations [1885 to 1923].  By the time the musket and revolvers came around most of the old ways were put aside.  If any Indian was caught practicing martial art or any type of warfare activities you were put in a cell.  In some cases, even when the people danced to ask the great creator for guidance – it was thought that they were going up raise.  The result was massacres of elders, women and children. 
 
No one realizes that the prior American Indian generations were POW’s from about 1820’s to 1972-73.  The Indian Tribe - Nations were finally given sovereignty – self determination, self governance.  Yet there are still Bureau of Indian Affairs offices still alive and well on most Indian reservations.  The BIA used to be part of the Department of Indian Affairs under the Department of Interior – War Department.
 
Look at stories of Geronimo – who was caught by his own people [Scotts], imprisoned to Fort Sill, Virginia, Florida, and back to Fort Sill.  He was even taken to Europe for the World’s Fair.  Back home on the Military reservations – now Indian Reservations, all arms were taken away – tomahawks, spears, bows & arrows, knifes.  The people were given food, blankets, tents for shelter, etc.  No need for weapons to hunt and gather anymore.  The stories are sad – I have heard them oral stories and read some accounts in history.
 
I am very skeptical due to what history has stated.  In addition, I grew up on an Indian reservation – all I saw was some boxing, judo, some karate.  I never encountered anyone using Native American Indian martial arts of any type.  Once in while I saw a bunch of drunks fighting in town, social gatherings, etc.  Most of the best fighters were people who came back from the military. 
 
Second perspective – I heard of a few Native Fighting systems that were being promoted in martial arts magazines.  There was one from Oklahoma – Apaches, one from California – Pomo’s and one from Texas – Comanche.   On other forums, I have even heard that there was Navajo system that someone had learned in Northern Arizona from a police officer.  To me it’s Native fantasy or infatuation, half truths, off shoots of kenpo, shotokan, and kung fu.
 
I was asked and even talked about in some forums [World Modern Arnis Alliance, Dillman Karate International] regarding me being Navajo and that I would be the best person to talk to. 
 
The warrior path was is a part of the man’s rites of passage from childhood to adulthood.  Most of those rites of passage ceremonies are no longer practiced on the reservations.  Just in a few families that I am aware of still practice them. 
 
I met a man name Kurt Seanez while taking a Wing Chun seminar in Albuquerque with Phillip Romero.  He shared with me that there are dances which depict some martial arts movements.  Kurt was invited the Navajo Reservation to a ceremony.  There he witnessed the dances.  He told the host that there are martial arts movements in those dances.
24850  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CA S Ct decision on: May 19, 2008, 10:40:44 AM
“In Thursday’s 4-3 decision legalizing same-sex marriage, the California Supreme Court stripped children of the right to be raised by a mother and a father. Most of the media coverage of the California Supreme Court’s decision has focused on the court’s declaration that there is a right to same-sex marriage. The ruling invalidated California’s Proposition 22, a state ballot initiative that passed with 61 percent of the vote in 2000, and which banned same-sex marriage in the state. But the California Supreme Court decision goes beyond simply giving same-sex couples the right to call their unions a ‘marriage.’ It also strips children of the right not to be artificially conceived or adopted by people other than a mother and a father. Indeed, the court does not recognize that children have any right whatsoever to a mother and a father. In the decision, the California court sees children primarily through the eyes of same-sex couples who want to secure custody and control of children. The court makes emphatically clear that it deems this to be a right of same-sex couples that is equal to—and identical to—the right of married mothers and fathers to adopt or conceive and raise their own children. In making this argument, the court addresses biological parenthood as an accident of nature that can be swept aside by the court in its pursuit of what the court understands to be justice.” —Terrence Jeffrey
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