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24801  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Off the rails on: May 30, 2011, 06:36:36 PM
Even Left Coasters are beginning to grumble about the Obama Administration's ideological imperative for high-speed rail that defies all common sense.

A couple of weeks ago California's Legislative Analyst's Office issued a withering report calling the state's 500-mile high-speed rail project between Anaheim and San Francisco a fiscal crackup ready to happen. (See "California's Next Train Wreck," May 18.)

The federal Department of Transportation has offered $3 billion of stimulus funds with the catch that the state has to begin construction by 2012 and build the first segment in the Central Valley. A stand-alone segment running through a sparsely populated area couldn't operate without a huge taxpayer subsidy, but a voter-approved ballot measure explicitly prohibits any such subsidies.

At the urging of the state watchdog, the rail authority asked the feds for more flexibility about where and when to start building. Last week the Department of Transportation told them to dream on. In a letter responding to the request for more flexibility, Under Secretary for Policy Roy Kienitz ordered the authority to charge full speed ahead since "once major construction is underway and approvals to complete other sections of the line have been obtained, the private sector will have compelling reasons to invest in further construction." Private sector seems to be the Obama Administration's code for government.

Even some of the state's Democrats are protesting the Administration's mulishness. Democratic state senator Alan Lowenthal told the Los Angeles Times that "there is nothing in the letter saying the federal government would commit $17 billion to $19 billion for the project . . . If it had, we would build the Central Valley segment right now. But the state needs to be financially and fiscally responsible."

Which is why the legislature needs to kill the train now. Once this boondoggle gets out of the station, the state will be writing checks for decades.

24802  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Gerecht & Dubowitz: Iranian oil-free zone on: May 30, 2011, 06:33:45 PM


By REUEL MARC GERECHT AND MARK DUBOWITZ
If we buy oil from despotic states, are we somehow complicit in their crimes? Even after the Arab Spring has highlighted tyranny in the Middle East, Americans and Europeans still generally remove oil and natural gas from their moral calculations.

But what if we could do a lot of good by sanctioning Iranian oil? Is it possible, moreover, for Europeans to continue to buy Iranian crude but give the Iranian regime less money? And could China and India, major oil customers of Tehran who couldn't care less about the regime's behavior, purchase as much crude as they want and still hurt the mullahs' ability to translate oil wealth into nefarious actions?

The answer to all three questions is "yes." All buyers need is more incentive to shop ruthlessly whenever they buy from Tehran. Washington could provide it by declaring the United States an Iranian-oil-free zone. Any company that exports an oil-based product to America—gasoline, plastics, petrochemicals, synthetic fibers—would have to certify that no Iranian oil was involved in its manufacture.

In 2010, the U.S. imported approximately 5% of its finished (fully-refined) and unfinished daily gasoline consumption from Europe. Since Iranian oil is now freely blended into European stocks, the U.S. is certainly consuming Iranian crude. And Iran's petrochemical exports to China amount to roughly $2 billion, so imagine how much of that comes to the U.S. via Chinese-manufactured plastics.

Making the U.S. an Iranian-oil-free zone would make it a hassle to trade in and use Iranian crude, which would strongly encourage any importer to demand a discount from Tehran. The pressure on Iran to lower its price everywhere could become acute.

VThe U.S. is Europe's largest export market for gasoline, so Washington could give foreign refineries a six-month grace period to adjust their supplies, making it unlikely there would be any increase in the price of gasoline exported to the U.S. No refinery in Europe is dependent on Iranian crude: Even in a tight market, alternative oil supplies could quickly replace Iranian supplies for those refineries that prefer to avoid Iranian oil.

Even for countries that might try to cheat the system, like Venezuela, the incentive would be strong to take advantage of this American sanction and force a lower Iranian price. Moving oil from Iran to Venezuela isn't free—ideological fraternity would probably come at a price.

It's difficult to assess exactly, but it's reasonable to posit that aggressive oil traders would force Tehran to discount its oil by at least 10%. Currently, gasoline traders willing to defy U.S. sanctions on refined petroleum demand premiums of about 30% for the sale of petrol to the Islamic Republic.

Given the state of the Iranian economy—oil production is declining, investments in natural-gas production and distribution are lagging, state subsidies are still exploding, and unemployment and inflation are both rising—a small reduction in oil revenue could have a cascading effect.

It would be easy for European Union countries to adapt to a U.S. Iranian-oil free zone. Under current practices, all foreign oil coming into the EU is so designated by origin for customs purposes. When petroleum is in port, it is tagged as a "T1" (non-EU) good. The discharge of this oil is managed by a handful of highly reputable survey companies that must certify how much oil was unloaded, whether any was lost in shipment, and who now owns the crude. The oil is then processed, refined, and distilled, becoming "T2" (EU) petroleum.


Because of the nature of the refining business, refiners know exactly whose oil is entering into the system and what its properties are (heavy or light, sweet or sour) owing to the desired final product (gasoline, diesel, heating oil, petrochemicals, etc). Iranian crude could be clearly marked as it enters a refinery, placing the legal onus on the refinery and the end-user to certify that Iranian oil has not entered a stream that becomes, for example, Shell gasoline destined for the American market.

In India and China, where legal checks are poorer, it will be more demanding to monitor imports and exports. Still, American pressure could force certification. The objective wouldn't be to create a leak-proof system globally, but a mechanism that would encourage oil traders to demand discounts from Tehran.

On the American side, Congress can easily close a legal loophole that allows for the importation of refined petroleum and other petroleum-based products made from Iranian oil. (The direct importation of Iranian crude has long been illegal.) European refineries might at first bridle at the hassle of separating Iranian petroleum from everyone else's, but they would soon comply given the importance of the American market. Oil traders everywhere would realize their new advantage over Tehran.

Sanctions are too often ineffective because they run counter to our pecuniary motivations, but an Iranian-oil-free zone wouldn't be. It would bring cheaper Iranian oil to those who want it, and it would punish the Iranian regime—perhaps more so than any existing sanctions effort—for its transgressions. That's a win-win for everyone.

Mr. Gerecht, a former CIA officer, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the author of "The Wave: Man, God and the Ballot Box in the Middle East" (Hoover, 2011). Mr. Dubowitz is executive director of the foundation and heads its Iran Energy Project.

24803  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Helprin on: May 30, 2011, 05:45:32 PM
By MARK HELPRIN
Largely out of touch with the tragedies of war, America sends often principled and self-sacrificing volunteers to suffer and die in our behalf. We call them heroes and salve our consciences in a froth of words. Or, among those of us who will fight only if the Taliban come to Beverly Hills, and probably not even then, congratulate ourselves for being intelligent enough not to volunteer. Then we go about our business, either satisfied that we are appropriately patriotic or assuming that as we face only imagined dangers we need not lose sleep over the unfortunates who pursue them, often unto death, leaving behind broken and grieving families who suffer a pain that never goes away.

On Memorial Day, we pause at the graves of lost soldiers and make speeches that sometimes open to view the heartbreak and love that are their last traces. But this is not enough, because they do not hear, and because those who will have followed in the years to come will not hear. Love is not enough, rationalization not enough, commemoration a thin and insufficient offering. The only just memorial to those who went forth and died for us, and who therefore question us eternally, cannot be of stone or steel or time set aside for speeches and picnics.

We should offer instead a memorial, never ending, of probity and preparation, shared sacrifice, continuing resolve, and the clarity the nation once had in regard to how, where, when, and when not to go to war. This is the least we can do both for America and for the troops we dispatch into worlds of sorrow and death. Once, it came naturally, but no longer, and it must be restored.

First, and despite the times, is the demonstrable fact that throttling defense in the name of economy is economical neither in the long nor the short run. Not if you count the cost of avoidable wars undeterred. Not if you count the cost of major world realignments that lead to overt challenges and adventures. Not if you count the cost—in money, division, demoralization, decline, death, and grief—of lost wars. Is there any doubt that a relatively minor expenditure of money and courage could have kept Germany in its place and prevented the incalculable cost of World War II?

A public that otherwise professes deep loyalty to its troops is in the name of economy stripping down their equipment and resources, making it more likely that they will fight future battles against forces both gratuitously undeterred and against which they may not prevail. This is short sighted, tragic, hardly a memorial, and in fact an irony, in that other than in redeploying a portion of our wealth from luxury to security, military spending has always been a spur to the economy, as history demonstrates and every member of Congress with military facilities or manufactures in his district knows.

Nonetheless, the greatest economy—of lives, money, strategy—is found in neither the diminution nor the accretion of forces but in the wisdom and precision of their deployment and the adoption of feasible goals. It is neither possible nor desirable to build nations while simultaneously trying to conquer them with inadequate force. (Unlike Iraq and Afghanistan, the oft-mentioned counter examples of Germany and Japan had been decisively defeated and were heirs to different traditions of governance.)

And what opponents of the United States could not be delighted that the current administration, in the name of unrealizable ideals, has made a project of destabilizing the whole world by abandoning friendly countries and allies because it is too delicate and self-concerned to tolerate that they are at times unsavory? President Obama would undoubtedly praise this in FDR, but apparently to him the co-operative states and allies he has undermined are neither as warm nor as fuzzy as Stalin.

When in defense of our essential interests we do go to war, not only must we carefully determine war aims—and thus dictate to the enemy the time, place, and nature of battle rather than chasing him into the briar patch of his choosing—but we must accomplish them massively, overwhelmingly, decisively, and, if necessary, ruthlessly. For anything other than minor operations this requires the consent of Congress, a declaration of war, and the clear statement and unflinching prosecution of our objectives. Rapid shocks cost less in lives, ours and theirs, than wars that drag inconclusively for a decade. We must make our enemies understand at the deepest level of apprehension that if we are attacked we will be quick and they will be dead.

We can construct a genuine memorial to the patriot graves in Arlington and thousands of other cemeteries only if we abandon the many illusory and destructive assumptions with which the weakness of the present will burden the future.

We will fail to assure the national security if we assume that we will not be drawn into two wars at once; if we do not provide a surplus of material power; if we believe that "conventional" war is a thing of the past; if in the name of false economy we do not apply our full technological potential to our arsenals; if we imagine that technological advance will carry the day in the absence of strategic clarity and the proven principles of warfare; if we make the armed forces a laboratory for the hobby horses of progressivism; and if our political leaders, very few of whom have studied much less known war, commit our troops promiscuously, in service to tangential ideology, with scatterbrained objectives, and without what Winston Churchill called the "continual stress of soul" necessary for proper decision.

Only the dead have seen the end of war, which will not be eradicated but must be suppressed, managed, and minimized. This cannot be accomplished in the absence of resolution, vigilance, and sacrifice. These are the only fitting memorials to the long ranks of the dead, and what we owe to those who in the absence of our care and devotion are sure to join them.

Mr. Helprin, a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, is the author of, among
24804  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: May 30, 2011, 05:44:20 PM
Uhhh , , , what is a "Four Loko"?
24805  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / 9/11 Registered so far on: May 30, 2011, 05:34:30 PM
Hugh "C - Teufel Hunden" (formerly known as (C-Irish Dog) Sargent

Larry Brown
24806  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Known Internet Explorer Bug When Posting on: May 30, 2011, 05:29:33 PM
Taking this off of "sticky" status , , ,
24807  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Gates on: May 30, 2011, 01:59:33 PM
Robert Gates, who steps down next month after four-plus years at the Pentagon, is making his retirement lap a tutorial on America's defense spending and security needs. His message is welcome, especially on Memorial Day, and even if he couldn't always heed it in his time as Secretary of Defense.

In a series of farewell speeches, Mr. Gates has warned against cuts to weapon programs and troop levels that would make America vulnerable in "a complex and unpredictable security environment," as he said Sunday at Notre Dame. On Tuesday at the American Enterprise Institute, Mr. Gates noted that the U.S. went on "a procurement holiday" in the 1990s, when the Clinton Administration decided to cash in the Cold War peace dividend. The past decade showed that history (and war) didn't end in 1989.

"It is vitally important to protect the military modernization accounts," he said, and push ahead with new capabilities, from an air refueling tanker fleet to ballistic missile submarines.

***
America's role as a global leader depends on its ability to project power. In historical terms, the U.S. spends relatively little on defense today, even after the post-9/11 buildup. This year's $530 billion budget accounts for 3.5% of GDP, 4.5% when the costs of the Afghan and Iraq wars are included. The U.S. spent, on average, 7.5% of GDP on defense throughout the Cold War, and 6.2% at the height of the Reagan buildup in 1986.

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Associated Press
 
In a series of farewell speeches, Mr. Gates has warned against cuts to weapon programs and troop levels.
.But on coming into office, the Obama Administration put the Pentagon on a fiscal diet—even as it foisted new European-sized entitlements on America, starting with $2.6 trillion for ObamaCare. The White House proposed a $553 billion defense budget for 2012, $13 billion below what it projected last year. Through 2016, the Pentagon will see virtually zero growth in spending and will have to whittle down the Army and Marine Corps by 47,000 troops. The White House originally wanted deeper savings of up to $150 billion.

Mr. Gates deserves credit for fighting off the worst White House instincts, but his biggest defeat was not getting a share of the stimulus. Instead he has cut or killed some $350 billion worth of weapon programs. He told his four service chiefs last August to find $100 billion in savings. The White House pocketed that and asked for another $78 billion. Last year, Mr. Gates said that the Pentagon needs 2%-3% real budget growth merely to sustain what it's doing now, but it could make do with 1%. The White House gave him 0%.

In the Gates term, resources were focused on the demands of today's wars over hypothetical conflicts of tomorrow. This approach made sense at the start of his tenure in 2007, when the U.S. was in a hard fight in Iraq. Yet this has distracted from budgeting to address the rise of China and perhaps of regional powers like a nuclear Iran that will shape the security future. The decision to stop producing the F-22 fighter and to kill several promising missile defense programs may come back to haunt the U.S.

Mr. Gates knows well that America won't balance its budget by squeezing the Pentagon. "If you cut the defense budget by 10%, which would be catastrophic in terms of force structure, that's $55 billion out of a $1.4 trillion deficit," he told the Journal's CEO Council conference last November. "We are not the problem."

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...So what is? Mr. Gates acknowledged it only in passing this week, but the reality is that the entitlement state is crowding out national defense. Over two decades ago, liberal historian Paul Kennedy claimed that "imperial overstretch" had brought first the Romans, then the British and now Americans down to size. He was wrong then, but what's really happening now is "entitlement overstretch," to quote military analyst Andrew Krepinevich.

The American entitlement state was born with the New Deal, got fat with the Great Society of the 1960s and hit another growth spurt in the first two years of the Obama era. The big three entitlements—Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, plus other retirement and disability expenses—accounted for 4.9% of GDP by 1970, eclipsed defense spending in 1976 and stood at 9.8% as of last year. Under current projections, entitlements will eat up 10.8% of GDP by 2020, while defense spending goes down to 2.7%. On current trends, those entitlements will consume all tax revenues by 2052, estimates Mackenzie Eaglen of the Heritage Foundation.

Europe went down this yellow brick road decades ago and today spends just 1.7% of GDP on defense. The Europeans get a free security ride from America, but who will the U.S. turn to for protection—China?

As Reagan knew, America's global power begins at home, with a strong economy able to generate wealth. The push for defense cuts reflects the reality of a weak recovery and a national debt that has doubled in the last two years. But the Obama Administration made a conscious decision to squeeze defense while pouring money on everything else.

***
"More perhaps than any other Secretary of Defense, I have been a strong advocate of soft power—of the critical importance of diplomacy and development as fundamental components of our foreign policy and national security," Mr. Gates said at Notre Dame. "But make no mistake, the ultimate guarantee against the success of aggressors, dictators and terrorists in the 21st century, as in the 20th, is hard power—the size, strength and global reach of the United States military."

That's a crucial message for Republican deficit hawks, and especially for a Commander in Chief who inherited the capability to capture Osama bin Laden half way around the world but is on track to leave America militarily weaker than he found it.

24808  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Miraculous cure! on: May 30, 2011, 01:41:20 PM
By BARI WEISS
In March 2008, David Mamet was outed in the Village Voice. The Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright had a comedy about an American president running on Broadway, and—perhaps to help with ticket sales—decided to write an article about the election season. The headline was subtle: "Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal.'"

"They mistitled it," he insists. Mr. Mamet had given the piece the far more staid title, "Political Civility." But the Voice's headline was truth in advertising. "I took the liberal view for many decades, but I believe I have changed my mind," Mr. Mamet wrote, referring to his prior self as, yes, a "brain-dead liberal."

The article was the most popular ever published on the Voice's website. But was the acclaimed Mr. Mamet really a conservative?

For a few years, he played it coy. In a 2008 interview with New York Magazine, he sloughed off a question about who he was voting for: "I'm not the guy to ask about politics. I'm a gag writer." In 2010, he told PBS's Charlie Rose he'd only offer his opinion about President Obama off-camera.  But spend five minutes with Mr. Mamet and you realize that coy can only last so long. "Being a rather pugnacious sort of fellow I thought, as Albert Finney says in 'Two for the Road': 'As I said to the duchess, 'If you want to be a duchess, be a duchess. If you want to make love, it's hats off.'"

Hats off, indeed. Now Mr. Mamet has written a book-length, raucous coming-out party: "The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture." (If only the Voice editors had been around to supply a snappier title.)

Hear him take on the left's sacred cows. Diversity is a "commodity." College is nothing more than "Socialist Camp." Liberalism is like roulette addiction. Toyota's Prius, he tells me, is an "anti-chick magnet" and "ugly as a dogcatcher's butt." Hollywood liberals—his former crowd—once embraced Communism "because they hadn't invented Pilates yet." Oh, and good radio isn't NPR ("National Palestinian Radio") but Dennis Prager, Michael Medved and Hugh Hewitt.

The book is blunt, at times funny, and often over the top. When I meet the apostate in a loft in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, he's wrapping up a production meeting. "Bye, bye, Bette!" he calls to the actress walking toward the elevator. That'd be Bette Midler. Al Pacino gets a bear hug. The two are starring in an upcoming HBO film about Phil Spector's murder trial. Mr. Mamet is directing and he looks the part in a scarf, black beret and round yellow-framed glasses. Looking out the window at NYU film school, where he used to teach, I ask him to tell me his conversion story.

He starts, naturally, with the most famous political convert in modern American history: Whittaker Chambers, whose 1952 book, "Witness," documented his turn from Communism. "I read it. It was miraculous. Extraordinary hero-journey of this fellow that had to examine everything he believed in at the great, great cost—which is a cost I'm not subject to—of abandoning his life, his sustenance, his friends, his associations, and his past. And I said, 'Oh my God. . . . Perhaps it might be incumbent upon me to see if I could get my thought and my actions into line too."

There were other books. Most were given to him by his rabbi in L.A., Mordecai Finley. Mr. Mamet rattles off the works that affected him most: "White Guilt" by Shelby Steele, "Ethnic America" by Thomas Sowell, "The Instincts of the Herd in Peace and War" by Wilfred Trotter, "The Road to Serfdom" by Friedrich Hayek, "Capitalism and Freedom" by Milton Friedman, and "On Liberty" by John Stuart Mill.

Before he moved to California, Mr. Mamet had never met a self-described conservative or read one's writings. He'd never heard of Messrs. Sowell or Steele. "No one on the left has," he tells me. "I realized I lived in this bubble."

When it popped, it was rough. "I did what I thought was, if not a legitimate, then at least a usual, thing—I took it out on those around me," Mr. Mamet says wryly. It took "a long, long, long time and a lot of difficult thinking first to analyze, then change, some of my ideas."

Then comes one of Mr. Mamet's many Hollywood fables. "It's like Orson Welles," he begins.

"It's his first day on the set of Citizen Kane, and he's never directed a movie, he's the greatest stage director of his time. Gregg Toland is his cinematographer, and Toland's the greatest cinematographer of his day. And Orson says, 'Ok, this next shot we're gonna put the camera over here. And Gregg says, 'You can't put the camera there, Orson.' So Orson says, 'Well why not? The director can put it wherever.' Gregg says, 'No. Because you're crossing the line.' So Orson says, 'What does it mean crossing the line? So Gregg explains to him that there's a line of action." (Mr. Mamet attempts to demonstrate the principle to me by indicating the line of sight between our noses.)

"Orson says, 'I don't understand.'" (Neither did I.) "So Gregg explains it again. And Orson says, 'I still don't understand'—'cause sometimes it can get very, very complicated. So Orson says, 'Stop! Stop filming! I have to go home.' He went home and he stayed up all night with sheets of paper and a ruler and he came back next day and said: 'Now I understand, now we can go on.'"

And so it was with Mr. Mamet and politics. He couldn't move on, so to speak, before he understood "what the nature of government is, just sufficient so that I as a citizen can actually vote without being a member of a herd." Same for taxes: "I pay them, so I think I should be responsible for what actually happens to them." As for the history of the country itself, he wanted to understand "the vision of the Founding Fathers. . . . How does holding to it keep people safe and prosperous?"

Reading and reflecting got him to some basics. Real diversity is intellectual. Whatever its flaws, America is the greatest country in the history of the world. The free market always solves problems better than government. It's the job of the state to be just, not to render social justice. And, most sobering, Mr. Mamet writes in "The Secret Knowledge," there are no perfect solutions to inequality, only trade-offs.


It's a wonder he didn't explicitly adopt this tragic view of reality earlier on. The play "Glengarry Glen Ross," for example, for which Mr. Mamet won the 1984 Pulitzer Prize, is about a group of desperate men competing with each other in a Chicago real estate office. At stake: a Cadillac for the top seller. Second place: a set of steak knives. Third prize: you're fired.

Needless to say, no one ends up getting the Caddie. "That's the essence of drama," Mr. Mamet says. "Anyone can write: And then we realized that Lithuanians are people too and we're all happier now. Who cares?" Tragedy is devastating, he says, precisely because it's about "people trying to do the best they can and ending up destroying each other.

"So it wasn't a great shift to adopt the tragic view, and it's much healthier," he says. "Rather than saying, as the liberals do, 'Everything's always wrong, there's nothing that's not wrong, there's something bad bad bad—there's a bad thing in the world and it's probably called the Jews,'" he says sardonically. "And if it's not called the Jews for the moment, it's their fiendish slave second-hand smoke. Or transfats. Or global warming. Or the Y2K. Or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. And something must be done!'"

It's the last part—the temptation to believe that everything can be fixed—that Mr. Mamet thinks is the fatal error. "That's such a f— bore," he says. "I mean, have you ever tried to get a pipe fixed in your bathroom on a Saturday? It's not going to happen. It's gonna happen wrong, and the guy's gonna be late because his dog got run over, and he's going to fix the wrong pipe, and when he takes it apart he's gonna say, 'Oops, the whole plumbing system's gonna have to go and dah dah dah and etc. etc. etc. And your daughter's Bat Mitzvah's gonna be ruined. It's interesting—it's the tragic view of life."

As Mr. Mamet quotes his son, Noah, in "The Secret Knowledge," "it's the difference between the Heavenly Dream and the God-Awful Reality."

On the left, Mr. Mamet is accused of having ulterior motives for his political shift. The New Republic's Jonathan Chait writes that the story is a familiar, Zionist one: "An increasingly religious Jew with strong loyalty to Israel, he became aware of a tension between the illiberal nationalism of his right-wing views on the Middle East and the liberalism of his views on everything else, and resolved the tension by abandoning the latter." Mr. Mamet calls this a "crock of s—."

The Slate website has run with the "Rich Person Discovers He Is a Republican" narrative. And then there's the jiu-jitsu theory offered by a film blogger: "Mamet's escalating interest in martial arts—traditionally the domain of right-wing nutjobs like Chuck Norris—has pointed toward this new stance for some time." Obviously.

None of these responses comes as a surprise. And, being a contrarian and a dramatist, Mr. Mamet doubtless relishes the attention for his heresy. What will be more interesting is to see how critics respond to his two new plays.

The first, playing now in Manhattan, is called "The Linguistics Class." Only 10 minutes long, it's part of a festival of 25 short plays at the Atlantic Theater Company, running alongside works by Ethan Coen and Sam Shepard. It's a coming home for Mr. Mamet: He founded the company with his friend, the actor William H. Macey, 25 years ago.

The play is about a teacher and a student who don't see eye to eye, and Mr. Mamet assures me "it has nothing to do with Noam Chomsky."

"The Anarchist," on the other hand, sounds like it will be red meat for conservatives. The two-woman show, which opens this fall in London, is about a prisoner, a former member of a Weather Underground-type group, and her parole officer. The play's themes have been developing since Sept. 11, 2001.

Mr. Mamet was in Toronto that day for a film festival. "I read an article, I think it was in that day's Toronto Star, that had been a reprint from the Chicago Tribune," he says. It was an interview with Bill Ayers and his wife Bernardine Dorne, two former leaders of the Weather Underground. "They were talking about the bombings in the '60s. And the guy says to Bill Ayers: 'Are you regretful?' And he said: 'No, no, no.' . . . And I read it, and I thought, this is appalling and immoral," recalls Mr. Mamet.

"Then I got on a plane. And while I was on the plane they blew up New York City. The combination of the two things just started me thinking what have we—meaning my generation—done?" Mr. Mamet knows these characters intimately. They went to school with him at Goddard College in Vermont, or they passed through. "Some of the people I knew actually were involved in blowing up the building on 11th Street [in Manhattan by members of the Weather Underground in 1970]. . . . And I thought: how does this happen?"


Is it a coincidence that this play is arriving at the same time as Mr. Mamet's public conservatism? Does he worry that critics will see it as polemical? "I don't know," he contends, insistent that his job as a writer is not to worry about politics but to entertain and surprise his audience. "The question is can you put the asses in the seats and can you keep the asses in the seats. That's not me, that's Aristotle. I've forgotten the Greek for it."

Ms. Weiss is an assistant editorial features editor at the Journal. A review of Mr. Mamet's book, "The Secret Knowledge," can be found on page C13 in today's Review section.

24809  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ross Douthat on: May 30, 2011, 01:32:08 PM


The Arizona immigration law was controversial from the beginning. Critics said it was ripe for abuse, implicitly discriminatory and probably unconstitutional as well. Business groups and liberal activists joined forces to oppose it.  But now that it’s been implemented, it might just be a model for nationwide reform.

No, I’m not talking about the Arizona law that empowers local police to check the immigration status of anyone they detain, which generated a wave of boycotts and a surfeit of Gestapo analogies last spring. I mean the 2007 Arizona law requiring businesses to confirm their employees’ legal status with the federal E-Verify database, which was upheld last week in a 5-to-3 decision by the United States Supreme Court.

The E-Verify law was never as polarizing as last year’s police-powers legislation, but it still attracted plenty of opposition. Arizona business interests called it unfair and draconian. (An employer’s business license is suspended for the first offense and revoked for the second.) Civil liberties groups argued that the E-Verify database’s error rate is unacceptably high, and that the law creates a presumptive bias against hiring Hispanics.

If these arguments sound familiar, it’s because similar critiques are always leveled against any attempt to actually enforce America’s immigration laws. From the border to the workplace, immigration enforcement is invariably depicted as terribly harsh, hopelessly expensive and probably racist into the bargain.

Not to mention counterproductive: advocates for “comprehensive” reform, the holy grail of liberal Democrats and moderate Republicans alike, have long implied that it’s essentially impossible to prevent illegal immigrants from finding their way to eager employers. Instead, they argue, we have no choice but to ratify the status quo — i.e., mass low-skilled immigration from Mexico and Central America — by creating a vast new guest-worker program and offering citizenship to illegal immigrants already here.

So far, though, Arizona’s E-Verify law seems to be providing a strong counterpoint to this counsel of despair. According to a recent study from the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California, the legislation reduced Arizona’s population of working-age illegal immigrants by about 17 percent, or roughly 92,000 people, in just a single year. (This effect was entirely distinct from the Great Recession’s broader impact on immigration, the study argues.) And the swift attrition was mainly achieved through voluntary compliance: the number of employers prosecuted under the law can be counted on one hand.

These results suggest that maybe — just maybe — America’s immigration rate isn’t determined by forces beyond any lawmaker’s control. Maybe public policy can make a difference after all. Maybe we could have an immigration system that looked as if it were designed on purpose, not embraced in a fit of absence of mind.

At least in the short term, there’s no good reason for such a system to include any kind of amnesty. This was a dubious idea even during the last decade’s economic boom. It would be folly (and a political nonstarter) in this economic climate, which has left Americans without high school diplomas (who tend to lose out from low-skilled immigration) facing a 15 percent unemployment rate.

But eschewing amnesty doesn’t require shutting down immigration. Quite the opposite: With increased enforcement (to date, only a few states have Arizona-style E-Verify laws on the books, though the Obama White House seems to be stepping up prosecutions of employers), the United States could welcome as many immigrants as we do today. But instead of shrugging as low-skilled workers jump the border to compete with the struggling American working class, our immigration policy should focus on recruiting well-educated migrants, opening the door to greater legal immigration from Asia, Africa and Europe.

As it happens, a system along these lines exists right now — in Canada. A recent report from the Manhattan Institute found that the United States still assimilates immigrants more successfully than many Western European countries. But culturally and economically, we lag well behind our northern neighbor when it comes to integrating new arrivals.

In part, this is because Canada fast-tracks immigrants to citizenship. But it’s also because Canada does more to recruit highly educated émigrés than the United States — and the Dominion’s more international, geographically diverse immigrant population probably discourages balkanization and self-segregation. (No single country or region dominates Canada’s immigration numbers to the extent that Mexico and the rest of Latin America dominate immigration to the United States.)

The result is a system that welcomes newcomers but serves the national interest as well. America isn’t close to that sweet spot at the moment, but it’s what we should be aiming for. By learning from Arizona, and becoming more like Canada, we might finally have an immigration policy worthy of the U.S.A.

24810  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Good news, POTH is upset on: May 30, 2011, 01:28:42 PM
Inching Closer to States’ RightsPublished: May 29, 2011


 Chief Justice John Roberts is one vote short of moving the Supreme Court to a position so conservative on states’ rights that it would be to the right of the Tea Party’s idea of limited government. That chilling possibility was evident in the court’s recent ruling in the case of Virginia v. Stewart.

The principle at stake dates back to a 1908 case, Ex parte Young, in which the Supreme Court held that federal courts have a paramount role in stopping a state from violating federal law. Despite the 11th Amendment’s protection of a state from being sued in federal court, all state officials must comply with federal law, which the Constitution calls “the supreme Law of the Land.”

States’ rights has been a politically charged concept for even longer. It was a basis for secession and then for years of Southern defiance on segregation. Now it is used as an excuse for rejecting national immigration policy.

Ex parte Young, however, has long stood above legal politics, recognized by conservatives and liberals as defining an essential rule. Indeed, last month the court relied on it in ruling that a federal court could stop a Virginia agency from violating federal statutes requiring it to provide records of mentally ill or disabled patients who had died or been injured while in its care. It was noteworthy that the opinion was by Justice Antonin Scalia.

But there was a dissent by Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. joined by Justice Samuel Alito Jr. and an opinion concurring with the majority by Justice Anthony Kennedy joined by Justice Clarence Thomas. To these four justices, there is no longer an inviolable principle that federal courts can stop state officials from violating federal law.

The Roberts view is this: By letting one Virginia agency sue another to stop it from violating federal law, the majority has permitted “precisely what sovereign immunity is supposed to guard against” — the indignity of a federal judge deciding “an internal state dispute.”

The Kennedy view: While the court is right to let the lawsuit go forward, the interest served by doing so must be balanced against “the dignity and respect afforded a state” that is protected by sovereign immunity.

To understand why these opinions are threatening, it’s necessary to set them in a larger context. The Rehnquist court made states’ rights a central concern, especially sovereign immunity. Its vision was resolute, with a series of 5-to-4 votes won by conservatives limiting the power of Congress to subject states to state lawsuits and federal administrative proceedings as well as federal suits.

Yet Chief Justice William Rehnquist didn’t waiver from the view that it is not a breach of sovereign immunity to allow a suit against a state official alleged to be violating federal law, because if he is violating it, he is not acting with the state’s sovereign authority.

The April ruling was the first dealing with the topic by the Roberts court. Justice Kennedy has proposed the same unwarranted balancing before. But it is disquieting news that Chief Justice Roberts seems to endorse it, as if there were a state sovereign interest to balance where Supreme Courts for a century have seen none. That puts Justice Roberts and Justice Alito notably to the right of the Rehnquist court. If the chief justice gets a fifth vote, there will be no apparent check, like the federal law’s supremacy, against gutting Ex parte Young.

24811  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Utah gold and silver coins on: May 30, 2011, 01:25:32 PM
FARR WEST, Utah — Most people who amass the pure gold and silver coins produced by the United States Mint do so for collections or investments, not to buy Slurpees at 7-Eleven.

“You’d be a fool,” Tom Jurkowsky, a spokesman for the Mint, said of the Slurpee idea, “but you could do it.”

After all, while the one-ounce American Eagle coin produced by the Mint says “One Dollar,” it is actually worth more like $38 based on the current price of silver. (An ounce of gold is worth more than $1,500.)

Now, however, Utah has passed a law intended to encourage residents to use gold or silver coins made by the Mint as cash, but with their value based on the weight of the precious metals in them, not the face value — if, that is, they can find a merchant willing to accept the coins on that basis.

The legislation, called the Legal Tender Act of 2011, was inspired in part by Tea Party supporters, some of whom believe that the dollar should be backed by gold or silver and that Obama administration policies could cause a currency collapse. The law is the first of its kind in the United States. Several other states, including Minnesota, Idaho and Georgia, have considered similar laws.

Mr. Jurkowsky said the new law “is of no real consequence,” and is purely symbolic, but supporters say it is more than political pocket change. They say that it is just a beginning, that one day soon Utah might mint its own coins, that retailers could have scales for weighing precious metals and that a state defense force could be formed to guard warehouses where the new money would be made and stored.

“This is an incremental step in the right direction,” said Lowell Nelson, the interim coordinator for the Campaign for Liberty in Utah, a libertarian group rooted in Ron Paul’s presidential campaign. “If the federal government isn’t going to do it, then we here in Utah ought to be able to establish a monetary system that would survive a crash if and when that happens.”

Utah has a strong conservative streak, but there are other reasons why it was first to pass such a law.

For many of its supporters, the new law represents an extension of the notion of preparedness that is nurtured by Utah’s powerful founding institution, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Many of the law’s supporters believe policies like stimulus spending, the bank bailout and national health care will soon bankrupt the government, sending inflation soaring. Owning gold and silver, they say, will help protect people.

“It’s kind of written into our theology that we’re supposed to be prepared for any eventuality,” said Mr. Nelson, who was involved in early meetings with state lawmakers about the law.

Wayne Scholle, the marketing director for Old Glory Mint, in Spanish Fork, Utah, showed off a commemorative silver coin the company made honoring the new law, one he said he hoped could be a model for a future state-minted coin. The front — or obverse — includes an image representing “the miracle of the gulls,” an important story in Mormon folklore in which seagulls are said to have suddenly appeared and eaten insects that were destroying the first crops Mormon settlers raised, a year after arriving in Utah in 1847.

“Their messaging is spot on with this,” Mr. Scholle said. “It’s preparedness. It’s protecting yourself.”

Old Glory is not the only company that hopes to benefit. Craig Franco, a coin dealer south of Salt Lake City, said he was finishing an arrangement with a bank to create a depository through which people will be able to spend their gold and silver indirectly, by using a Visa credit card that makes charges against the value of their holdings. Mr. Franco noted that state law, for now, left it to the private sector to figure out how conducting business with gold and silver should work.

“The regulation of the system?” Mr. Franco said. “There is no regulation of the system. We are working out the nuances of it.”

Mr. Franco is among several supporters who say the law’s most important feature may be that it eliminates state capital gains taxes on the sale of gold and silver, a move he thinks will prompt individuals and large scale investors outside the state to move their gold and silver to Utah. But federal capital gains taxes would still apply.

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

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“I would hope the federal government would simply concede: ‘O.K., you’re right, it’s money, so we can’t tax it,’ ” said Larry Hilton, a lawyer and insurance broker who first took the idea to lawmakers. “But that may not happen.”

Article 1, Section 10 of the Constitution says no state shall coin money, though Mr. Hilton and some others argue that a phrase used later, saying no state shall “make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts” can be read as a license for Utah’s new law and, perhaps, for a state’s right to mint its own coins.

A spokesman for the Mormon church would not comment on the Utah law, but said in a statement that the church’s teachings related to preparedness were “simply a matter of encouraging people to practice sound principles of provident living and to save for a rainy day.”

State Representative Brad Galvez, the freshman Republican who sponsored the bill at the request of party leadership, said he was “not trying to push back against the federal government” but simply to “create an alternative” to the dollar that lawmakers hoped might send a message to Washington about fiscal policy. He noted that the law does not require businesses to accept gold or silver, but only gives them a choice.

Much of the logic of the law is rooted in the belief that the dollar is at risk and that gold and silver, coined around the world for thousands of years, are enduring, stable investments. That, too, is in dispute.

“From an investment standpoint, I’ve always found that if something is heavily advertised on television, it’s not a good thing to do,” said Gary P. Brinson, a philanthropist who spent 40 years as an investment strategist. “Right now, it’s hard to find anywhere on television where you don’t see gold and silver being advertised.”

For all the excitement, so far, it is hard to find anyone who is using gold or silver to buy anything. But here in Farr West, about 40 miles north of Salt Lake City, there is at least some precedent for such transactions.

Decades ago, the rambling Smith and Edwards store, a kind of giant 7-Eleven from the Old West that sells everything from survival kits to sporting goods and copies of the Constitution, had a special sale, offering a very favorable rate if people made purchases with “junk silver” dollars and half dollars. In the 1980s, the store sold a man a $1,200 air compressor for a little less than 4 ounces of gold, recalled Bert Smith, one of the owners, who is now 91.

Mr. Smith said that he liked the new law, and that he was ready to accept silver and gold. But he does not expect to see much brought to his registers.

“I don’t suppose there’s going to be a big run on it,” Mr. Smith said, “because people are going to hang on to their gold and silver more than ever.”
24812  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Origins of Memorial Day on: May 30, 2011, 01:12:39 PM
MOST Americans know that Memorial Day is about honoring the nation’s war dead. It is also a holiday devoted to department store sales, half-marathons, picnics, baseball and auto racing. But where did it begin, who created it, and why?

At the end of the Civil War, Americans faced a formidable challenge: how to memorialize 625,000 dead soldiers, Northern and Southern. As Walt Whitman mused, it was “the dead, the dead, the dead — our dead — or South or North, ours all” that preoccupied the country. After all, if the same number of Americans per capita had died in Vietnam as died in the Civil War, four million names would be on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, instead of 58,000.
Officially, in the North, Memorial Day emerged in 1868 when the Grand Army of the Republic, the Union veterans’ organization, called on communities to conduct grave-decorating ceremonies. On May 30, funereal events attracted thousands of people at hundreds of cemeteries in countless towns, cities and mere crossroads. By the 1870s, one could not live in an American town, North or South, and be unaware of the spring ritual.

But the practice of decorating graves — which gave rise to an alternative name, Decoration Day — didn’t start with the 1868 events, nor was it an exclusively Northern practice. In 1866 the Ladies’ Memorial Association of Columbus, Ga., chose April 26, the anniversary of Gen. Joseph Johnston’s final surrender to Gen. William T. Sherman, to commemorate fallen Confederate soldiers. Later, both May 10, the anniversary of Gen. Stonewall Jackson’s death, and June 3, the birthday of Jefferson Davis, were designated Confederate Memorial Day in different states.

Memorial Days were initially occasions of sacred bereavement, and from the war’s end to the early 20th century they helped forge national reconciliation around soldierly sacrifice, regardless of cause. In North and South, orators and participants frequently called Memorial Day an “American All Saints Day,” likening it to the European Catholic tradition of whole towns marching to churchyards to honor dead loved ones.

But the ritual quickly became the tool of partisan memory as well, at least through the violent Reconstruction years. In the South, Memorial Day was a means of confronting the Confederacy’s defeat but without repudiating its cause. Some Southern orators stressed Christian notions of noble sacrifice. Others, however, used the ritual for Confederate vindication and renewed assertions of white supremacy. Blacks had a place in this Confederate narrative, but only as time-warped loyal slaves who were supposed to remain frozen in the past.

The Lost Cause tradition thrived in Confederate Memorial Day rhetoric; the Southern dead were honored as the true “patriots,” defenders of their homeland, sovereign rights, a natural racial order and a “cause” that had been overwhelmed by “numbers and resources” but never defeated on battlefields.

Yankee Memorial Day orations often righteously claimed the high ground of blood sacrifice to save the Union and destroy slavery. It was not uncommon for a speaker to honor the fallen of both sides, but still lay the war guilt on the “rebel dead.” Many a lonely widow or mother at these observances painfully endured expressions of joyous death on the altars of national survival.

Some events even stressed the Union dead as the source of a new egalitarian America, and a civic rather than a racial or ethnic definition of citizenship. In Wilmington, Del., in 1869, Memorial Day included a procession of Methodists, Baptists, Unitarians and Catholics; white Grand Army of the Republic posts in parade with a black post; and the “Mount Vernon Cornet Band (colored)” keeping step with the “Irish Nationalists with the harp and the sunburst flag of Erin.”

But for the earliest and most remarkable Memorial Day, we must return to where the war began. By the spring of 1865, after a long siege and prolonged bombardment, the beautiful port city of Charleston, S.C., lay in ruin and occupied by Union troops. Among the first soldiers to enter and march up Meeting Street singing liberation songs was the 21st United States Colored Infantry; their commander accepted the city’s official surrender.

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Page 2 of 2)



Whites had largely abandoned the city, but thousands of blacks, mostly former slaves, had remained, and they conducted a series of commemorations to declare their sense of the meaning of the war.

The largest of these events, forgotten until I had some extraordinary luck in an archive at Harvard, took place on May 1, 1865. During the final year of the war, the Confederates had converted the city’s Washington Race Course and Jockey Club into an outdoor prison. Union captives were kept in horrible conditions in the interior of the track; at least 257 died of disease and were hastily buried in a mass grave behind the grandstand.
After the Confederate evacuation of Charleston black workmen went to the site, reburied the Union dead properly, and built a high fence around the cemetery. They whitewashed the fence and built an archway over an entrance on which they inscribed the words, “Martyrs of the Race Course.”

The symbolic power of this Low Country planter aristocracy’s bastion was not lost on the freedpeople, who then, in cooperation with white missionaries and teachers, staged a parade of 10,000 on the track. A New York Tribune correspondent witnessed the event, describing “a procession of friends and mourners as South Carolina and the United States never saw before.”

The procession was led by 3,000 black schoolchildren carrying armloads of roses and singing the Union marching song “John Brown’s Body.” Several hundred black women followed with baskets of flowers, wreaths and crosses. Then came black men marching in cadence, followed by contingents of Union infantrymen. Within the cemetery enclosure a black children’s choir sang “We’ll Rally Around the Flag,” the “Star-Spangled Banner” and spirituals before a series of black ministers read from the Bible.

After the dedication the crowd dispersed into the infield and did what many of us do on Memorial Day: enjoyed picnics, listened to speeches and watched soldiers drill. Among the full brigade of Union infantrymen participating were the famous 54th Massachusetts and the 34th and 104th United States Colored Troops, who performed a special double-columned march around the gravesite.

The war was over, and Memorial Day had been founded by African-Americans in a ritual of remembrance and consecration. The war, they had boldly announced, had been about the triumph of their emancipation over a slaveholders’ republic. They were themselves the true patriots.

Despite the size and some newspaper coverage of the event, its memory was suppressed by white Charlestonians in favor of their own version of the day. From 1876 on, after white Democrats took back control of South Carolina politics and the Lost Cause defined public memory and race relations, the day’s racecourse origin vanished.

Indeed, 51 years later, the president of the Ladies’ Memorial Association of Charleston received an inquiry from a United Daughters of the Confederacy official in New Orleans asking if it was true that blacks had engaged in such a burial rite in 1865; the story had apparently migrated westward in community memory. Mrs. S. C. Beckwith, leader of the association, responded tersely, “I regret that I was unable to gather any official information in answer to this.”

Beckwith may or may not have known about the 1865 event; her own “official” story had become quite different and had no place for the former slaves’ march on their masters’ racecourse. In the struggle over memory and meaning in any society, some stories just get lost while others attain mainstream recognition.

AS we mark the Civil War’s sesquicentennial, we might reflect on Frederick Douglass’s words in an 1878 Memorial Day speech in New York City, in which he unwittingly gave voice to the forgotten Charleston marchers.

He said the war was not a struggle of mere “sectional character,” but a “war of ideas, a battle of principles.” It was “a war between the old and the new, slavery and freedom, barbarism and civilization ... and in dead earnest for something beyond the battlefield.” With or against Douglass, we still debate the “something” that the Civil War dead represent.

The old racetrack is gone, but an oval roadway survives on the site in Hampton Park, named for Wade Hampton, former Confederate general and the governor of South Carolina after the end of Reconstruction. The old gravesite of the Martyrs of the Race Course is gone too; they were reinterred in the 1880s at a national cemetery in Beaufort, S.C.

But the event is no longer forgotten. Last year I had the great honor of helping a coalition of Charlestonians, including the mayor, Joseph P. Riley, dedicate a marker to this first Memorial Day by a reflecting pool in Hampton Park.

By their labor, their words, their songs and their solemn parade on their former owners’ racecourse, black Charlestonians created for themselves, and for us, the Independence Day of a Second American Revolution.

«
David W. Blight, a professor of history and the director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale, is the author of the forthcoming “American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era.”
24813  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / City falls on: May 30, 2011, 01:06:33 PM
I gather that a city has fallen to Islamist forces , , ,
24814  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism, socialism: on: May 30, 2011, 12:21:07 PM
Woof AB:

Thank you for your responses.
  
Concerning your first response:

Before responding, I would like to remind you that we are Americans and as such are often quite ignorant of certain things taken for granted in educated Euro circles.  For example, you mention "Hegelian dialectic".   I have heard of this more than once, and would LOVE to be able to drop into conversation as you have here.  Would you
please help me out?  cheesy

More seriously now, as I read your response I am impressed with your rip-snorting condescension, (rather inconsistent with your mission "to open up the situation so that I can pave way for more appropriate questions" yes?) but as best as I can tell, you offer the youtube clip of that Slovenian professor as your substance.  That said, I found very
little in it beyond a rather superficial, glib, vacuous psuedo-wittiness e.g. unable to distinguish Bill Gates and Bernie Madoff or Hollywood movies and real life.   Perhaps a less fawning interviewer would have been of help? Perhaps the man has the substance to which you ascribe him; for example I would be more interested in hearing why he considers himself a marxist and a supporter of mass murderer Stalin?

Concerning your second response:

I share GM's response to your example of China's successes as being those of Marxism.  (IMHO the more accurate term would be "fascism", but that is not really the point)  Also I would most certainly add a) China's extraordinary rape of the environment and b) the many good reasons to wonder if it is in a huge bubble.

IMHO to serve your stated mission, the Fromm URL would have been a better place to start, particularly if you were to have deleted  "I doubt anyone will get halfway even into the first article, but at least my consciousness will be at rest, since there is no way of getting anything across here with writing your heart out."
 Despite the comment cheesy  I have started to read it anyway.

TAC!

24815  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Thomas Paine, Common Sense 1776 on: May 30, 2011, 09:37:38 AM


"Now is the seedtime of continental union, faith and honor. The least fracture now, will be like a name engraved with the point of a pin on the tender rind of a young oak; the wound would enlarge with the tree, and posterity read in it full grown characters." --Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776

24816  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: May 30, 2011, 09:32:55 AM

"Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by utter stupidity." --anon.
24817  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Rest in Peace on: May 30, 2011, 09:31:40 AM
"The wood is consumed, but the fire burns on."
24818  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism, socialism: on: May 29, 2011, 09:17:03 PM
Yep  grin
24819  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism, socialism: on: May 29, 2011, 08:43:48 PM
I haven't had a chance to watch the clip yet, but this is very, very funny:

"Marxism is the opiate of academics".
24820  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Allies anonymous on: May 29, 2011, 03:19:47 PM


http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2011/05/29/
24821  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: May 29, 2011, 03:16:27 PM


http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2011/05/22/
24822  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy, Big Brother (State and Corporate) & the 4th Amendment on: May 29, 2011, 03:13:44 PM

http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2011/05/16/
24823  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: May 29, 2011, 03:04:52 PM

http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2011/05/08/
24824  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the Republicans on: May 29, 2011, 02:55:10 PM


http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2011/04/12/
24825  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: May 29, 2011, 02:46:38 PM

http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2011/03/27/

http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2011/04/10/

24826  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: European “Gathering of the Pack” 2011 on: May 29, 2011, 02:24:09 PM
There is rumor of a sarong with a baseball inside vs double sticks fight.  cool
24827  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Prof. Wally Jay on: May 29, 2011, 02:11:28 PM
Sifu Mark Gerry wrote:
"It is with great sadness that I must report Professor Wally Jay has passed away after suffering from a stroke. He has touched the world and will be sorely missed by everyone. May God strengthen his family to endure such a loss as we all thank God for him having been born."
24828  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NY Times ombudsman's ruminations on: May 29, 2011, 10:45:39 AM
Loitering on the FringesBy ARTHUR S. BRISBANE
Published: May 28, 2011
THE culture is headed for the curb, and The New York Times is on the story.
.The Public Editor's Journal
.E-mail: public@nytimes.com
.Twitter: twitter.com/thepubliceditor
.Phone: (212) 556-7652

Address: Public Editor
The New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10018
.Readers' Comments

Recent examples include a May 19 article (“With a Harsh Light on Two Men, Much of the Scrutiny Falls on the Women”) about the privacy-invading media coverage of the women in the Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dominique Strauss-Kahn cases, as well as a Sunday, May 22, investigation (“The Gossip Machine, Churning Out Cash”) into how pay-to-play tabloid journalism works in the digital age.

The same Sunday paper brimmed with stories touching on the business and pop-cultural dimensions of a society that convicted Lenny Bruce in the 1960s for saying some words you can now hear every night on cable. Vampires and werewolves, Chelsea Handler’s sharp tongue, Charlie Sheen’s heavy-hitting lawyer, a cross-dressing memoirist and a two-page Sunday magazine essay on the semantics of women’s private parts — they’re all there for your consideration!

I can appreciate that, as a chronicler of the times, the newspaper has a mandate to cover events and culture wherever they may lead. As Jim Rutenberg, the author of the article on the cash economy behind tabloid reporting, told me: “We can’t pretend that this part of the world doesn’t exist. This is part of our culture.”

That said, it’s a challenge for The Times to preserve its dignified brand as it undertakes to cover the world as we have come to know it: high, low and, at times, suffused with vulgarity.

The “Harsh Light” article is a case in point. The story focused on how old taboos against revealing personal details are disappearing in today’s media environment. It also took note of the sharp disparity between the two men, who have wealth and position to deploy in their own defense, and the two women, who seem relatively powerless.

The article’s premise was, I think, a solid one and a good way to advance the Schwarzenegger and Strauss-Kahn stories. The question is whether it was necessary to actually put the seamy stuff in the paper.

To develop the personal-details theme, The Times started by describing a media mob camped out near the women’s homes, looking for dirt. The story named Mr. Schwarzenegger’s former housekeeper and quoted a disparaging comment about her appearance that had been published on a Forbes.com blog. It then added a second nugget from the gossip Web site TMZ that also cast her in a bad light. The Times took care to note that “several news organizations” had repeated the TMZ item.

In effect, the story took a kind of anthropological approach, donning latex gloves to report on how others were reporting the story — chronicling, as it were, others’ low standards.

Rick Berke, The Times’s national editor, said it was necessary to print the unpalatable details to document the premise of the piece. “If you cut it out, you are withholding from the reader what we are talking about,” he said, adding that this wasn’t a “backdoor” way of getting sleazy details into the paper.

It’s a fine line The Times walks. In Mr. Rutenberg’s story about the tabloid press, he eschewed what I am sure were many opportunities to publish choice samples of trashy journalism. As a result, the story — months in the making and ultimately pegged to the Schwarzenegger case — seemed more comfortably situated inside the boundary line of good taste.

The taste and standards issue isn’t static, of course, but moves with the times. Coverage of major public figures, like the former California governor and the former head of the International Monetary Fund, adapts with shifting social standards, and so does softer journalism that addresses popular tastes. What formerly existed off the page finds a way onto it.

In “An Unspeakable Word Is the Word That Has to Be Spoken,” published in the Sunday magazine, the author, Jenny Diski, rather creatively addressed a distinctly feminine obscenity: bits of literary history concerning it, BBC bloopers using it, the lingering cultural objection to it, and her own call to actually use it in print. All without ever using the word or resorting to asterisks or other such substitutes.

Accompanying the essay was an excerpt from The Times’s “Manual of Style and Usage” that included this admonition: “An article should not seem to be saying, ‘Look I want to use this word, but they won’t let me.’ ”

I suggested to Hugo Lindgren, the editor of the magazine, that the essay seemed to flout The Times’s guidelines, but he said that he and Philip B. Corbett, associate managing editor for standards, had discussed the question and decided carefully on how to handle it. Mr. Corbett said, “I would view this as a carefully considered exception to the rules, rather than a flouting of them.”

So I suppose we can feel assured that this loitering at the edge of propriety is not done heedlessly. But it is done with some regularity.

An illustration comes from the checkered realm of memoir-writing. In the Book Review section on Sunday, The Times published a review of “The Man in the Gray Flannel Skirt” by Jon-Jon Goulian. This came on top of an earlier review of the same book in the May 18 Arts section, and an article in the May 19 Styles section about the fuss surrounding the book and its underachieving author. All this for a work summarized by Publishers Weekly as follows:

“A man wears women’s clothes, rejects a legal career, and otherwise baffles his parents in this flamboyant but callow memoir.”

Granted, there is another view: Mr. Goulian is a fascinating creature of the New York publishing scene who got a $750,000 advance for a book that plumbs his riveting psyche. But still, three print articles in five days?

The Times editors overseeing the various pieces told me they made their assignments without knowledge of the others. This makes sense in the surprisingly decentralized system that produces The Times in print every day and, online, all day. But the ubiquitous Jon-Jon is symbolic, I think, of the strong tug on The Times and other mainstream news media to follow society, sometimes eagerly, to its fringes.

My preference would be to see more restraint. True, other media are indulging in questionable journalism, and it is difficult to resist the downward revision of standards. But The Times could just as easily pull back, recognizing that its readers don’t need and aren’t relying on it to chronicle these badlands. Other news outlets are more than willing to go there.

24829  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Weak Foundation on: May 29, 2011, 10:10:43 AM
ThE protesters who have toppled or endangered Arab dictators are demanding more freedoms, fair elections and a crackdown on corruption. But they have not promoted a distinct ideology, let alone a coherent one. This is because private organizations have played only a peripheral role and the demonstrations have lacked leaders of stature.
Both limitations are due to the longstanding dearth, across the Arab world, of autonomous nongovernmental associations serving as intermediaries between the individual and the state. This chronic weakness of civil society suggests that viable Arab democracies — or leaders who could govern them — will not emerge anytime soon. The more likely immediate outcome of the current turmoil is a new set of dictators or single-party regimes.

Democracy requires checks and balances, and it is largely through civil society that citizens protect their rights as individuals, force policy makers to accommodate their interests, and limit abuses of state authority. Civil society also promotes a culture of bargaining and gives future leaders the skills to articulate ideas, form coalitions and govern.

The preconditions for democracy are lacking in the Arab world partly because Hosni Mubarak and other Arab dictators spent the past half-century emasculating the news media, suppressing intellectual inquiry, restricting artistic expression, banning political parties, and co-opting regional, ethnic and religious organizations to silence dissenting voices.

But the handicaps of Arab civil society also have historical causes that transcend the policies of modern rulers. Until the establishment of colonial regimes in the late 19th century, Arab societies were ruled under Shariah law, which essentially precludes autonomous and self-governing private organizations. Thus, while Western Europe was making its tortuous transition from arbitrary rule by monarchs to democratic rule of law, the Middle East retained authoritarian political structures. Such a political environment prevented democratic institutions from taking root and ultimately facilitated the rise of modern Arab dictatorships.

Strikingly, Shariah lacks the concept of the corporation, a perpetual and self-governing organization that can be used either for profit-making purposes or to provide social services. Islam’s alternative to the nonprofit corporation was the waqf, a trust established in accordance with Shariah to deliver specified services forever, through trustees bound by essentially fixed instructions. Until modern times, schools, charities and places of worship, all organized as corporations in Western Europe, were set up as waqfs in the Middle East.

A corporation can adjust to changing conditions and participate in politics. A waqf can do neither. Thus, in premodern Europe, politically vocal churches, universities, professional associations and municipalities provided counterweights to monarchs. In the Middle East, apolitical waqfs did not foster social movements or ideologies.

Starting in the mid-19th century, the Middle East imported the concept of the corporation from Europe. In stages, self-governing Arab municipalities, professional associations, cultural groups and charities assumed the social functions of waqfs. Still, Arab civil society remains shallow by world standards.

A telling indication is that in their interactions with private or public organizations, citizens of Arab states are more likely than those in advanced democracies to rely on personal relationships with employees or representatives. This pattern is reflected in corruption statistics of Transparency International, which show that in Arab countries relationships with government agencies are much more likely to be viewed as personal business deals. A historically rooted preference for personal interactions limits the significance of organizations, which helps to explain why nongovernmental organizations have played only muted roles in the Arab uprisings.

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A less powerful business sector also hindered democracy. The Middle East reached the industrial era with an atomistic private sector unequipped to compete with giant enterprises that had come to dominate the global economy. Until then, Arab businesses consisted exclusively of small, short-lived enterprises established under Islamic partnership law. This was a byproduct of Islam’s egalitarian inheritance system, which aimed to spread wealth. Successful enterprises were typically dissolved when a partner died, and to avoid the consequent losses Arab businessmen kept their enterprises both small and transitory.


Arab businesses had less political clout than their counterparts in Western Europe, where huge, established companies contributed to civil society directly as a political force against arbitrary government. They also did so indirectly by supporting social causes. For example, during industrialization, major European businesses financed political campaigns, including the mass education and antislavery movements.

Since the late 19th century, commercial codes transplanted from abroad have enabled Arabs to form large, durable enterprises like major banks, telecommunications giants and retail chains. Still, Arab companies tend to be smaller relative to global norms, which limits their power vis-à-vis the state. Although large Western corporations have been known to suppress political competition and restrict individual rights, in Arab countries it is the paucity of large private companies that poses the greater obstacle to democracy.

Despite these handicaps, there is some cause for optimism when it comes to democratization in the Middle East. The Arab world does not have to start from scratch. A panoply of private organizations are already present, though mainly in embryonic form. And if the current turmoil produces regimes more tolerant of grassroots politics and diversity of opinion, more associations able to defend individual freedoms will surely arise.

Moreover, the cornerstones of a modern economy are in place and widely accepted. Economic features at odds with Shariah, like banks and corporations, were adopted sufficiently long ago to become part of local culture. Their usefulness makes them appealing even to Islamists who find fault with other features of modernity.

Over the last 150 years, the Arab world has achieved structural economic transformations that took Europe a millennium. Its economic progress, whatever the shortcomings, has been remarkable. If political progress has lagged, this is partly because forming strong nongovernmental organizations takes time. Within a generation or two, as the economic transformations of the past century-and-a-half continue to change the way citizens interact with organizations, insurmountable pressure for democracy may yet arise even in those corners of the Arab world where civil society is weakest.

A stronger civil society alone will not bring about democracy. After all, private organizations can promote illiberal and despotic agendas, as Islamist organizations that denounce political pluralism and personal freedoms demonstrate. But without a strong civil society, dictators will never yield power, except in the face of foreign intervention.

Independent and well-financed private organizations are thus essential to the success of democratic transitions. They are also critical to maintaining democracies, once they have emerged. Indeed, without strong private players willing and able to resist undemocratic forces, nascent Arab democracies could easily slip back into authoritarianism.
24830  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Egypt on: May 29, 2011, 09:53:51 AM

Big piece from Pravda on the Hudson as to where the revolution is headed.  It is an interesting read.  
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/29/magazine/egypts-next-crisis.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha210

Here is the first of 8 pages:

On a recent Wednesday morning, Zakaria Moh­yeldin steered his father’s black Skoda sedan through a thick belt of Cairo traffic and drove northward into the sleepy farmland of the Nile Delta. Mohyeldin, a tall, broad-shouldered 27-year-old with a jutting chin and a thicket of jet-black hair, had just quit his job as a stockbroker trainee. The revolution was almost three months old, and the hard work was just beginning, he told me. Mohyeldin had seen his life transformed during those amazing 18 days: battling police in clouds of tear gas, ferrying food to the protesters in Tahrir Square and cheering in awe as Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s modern-day pharaoh, was cast out in a youth-led revolt. Now he wanted to see what he could do to spread the revolution’s high ideals in Egypt’s agricultural heartland. And he was vaguely contemplating a political career, starting in the village of Kafr Shukr, where his grandfather, a former prime minister, was born.

He parked his car outside his family’s old house, now a weathered brick meeting hall along a dusty road lined with vegetable and fruit stalls. Donkey carts bumped along among the cars, and date palms sheltered the lush green fields beyond. Inside the hall, photographs of his grandfather and other relatives adorned the walls. A group of middle-aged local men in brown and gray galabias stood up and addressed him with the respect due to his family: “Zakaria basha.”
A thickset butcher named Elsayed Shahba proclaimed, “What began in Cairo has echoed across the country.” He described how the town’s new “popular committee” — one of the many makeshift civil-defense forces that formed across Egypt during the revolution — protected the courthouse against a band of marauding criminals. It also warned the local member of Parliament, who belonged to Mubarak’s party, never to show his face there again. And now it was trying to reinvent the local government and its corrupt practices: training the police to treat people with respect, lecturing merchants not to gouge customers, forming subcommittees in every field. By Shahba’s account, it seemed the revolution’s ideals were already in bloom in Kafr Shukr.

But a chicken farmer named Ayman Dahroug dismissed the speech with a scornful gesture. “The truth is, there are no leaders in Kafr Shukr anymore,” he said in a loud, angry voice. “It’s only the Muslim Brotherhood that works here now.” Like others in the room, he seemed deeply anxious about the brotherhood’s rising influence. “They are in Kafr Shukr every day. They set up tents with bread, cooking oil, dried fish,” he said. “When they hear someone is sick, they bring medicines. They are at the level of the people. You say you have a popular committee, but I haven’t even heard of it. It is on Facebook, so what? Zakaria, if you want to do something here, you must be here every day like the brotherhood.”

Two other men nodded uneasily. The brotherhood was buying imported meat at a discount and selling it in town, earning goodwill among the poor, one of them said. “They are more active than ever before,” he added.

A third man, sitting cross-legged on the floor, looked at Mohyeldin pleadingly. “The revolution came, the revolution ended,” he said. “Now I want to know, who do I belong to? Everyone says it’s the revolution of youth, but it’s the revolution of everyone who suffered injustice. Now we want someone who will lead us to something correct, and we can’t find anyone.”

Mohyeldin began asking questions — about the local Islamists, the prices of food, the level of political awareness among the villagers. Each answer provoked a storm of arguments among the men, and stern warnings that the town would fall to pieces if someone did not step in and provide an alternative to the brotherhood. “The void of the Mohyeldin family is dangerous,” said Dahroug, the chicken farmer.

“I have quit my job in Cairo,” Mohyeldin said at last. “Now I am prepared to come live here all the time.”
24831  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / NYTimes: Fake police on: May 29, 2011, 09:47:22 AM
In Florida, Criminals Pose as Police More Frequently and for More Violent Ends
By DON VAN NATTA Jr.
 
MIAMI — A black BMW flashing red and blue lights suddenly filled Alexandria Armeley’s rearview mirror one evening last month. At a stoplight, the BMW’s driver pulled up next to her, waved a gold badge and told her “I’m a cop.”

 
But Ms. Armeley was suspicious. Before she pulled over, she called her stepfather, Alex Hernandez, a police detective in Biscayne Park, Fla., who warned her that the man was probably not a police officer. Speed away, he told her.

A terrified Ms. Armeley took off and was chased by the BMW for several miles through southern Miami-Dade County. Detective Hernandez had jumped in his car to help and eventually caught up to them.

So the real officer arrested the fake officer, whose name is Daniel A. Barros. Asked why he had tried to pull over Ms. Armeley, a 23-year-old college student, Mr. Barros, 22, told officers, “She was speeding.”

The BMW 7 Series car, outfitted with police lights and a siren, was “lit up like a Christmas tree,” Detective Hernandez recalled about the midnight encounter. “There are a lot of guys walking around with phony badges, but this guy had the whole works. Who knows what he would have done if he had gotten my stepdaughter to stop?”

Mr. Barros is facing several charges in the case, including impersonating an officer.

As long as police officers have worn uniforms and carried badges, criminals have dressed like them to try to win the trust of potential victims. Now the impersonators are far more sophisticated, according to nearly a dozen city police chiefs and detectives across the country.

In South Florida, seemingly an incubator of law-breaking innovation, police impersonators have become better organized and, most troubling to law enforcement officials, more violent. The practice is so common that the Miami-Dade Police Department has a Police Impersonator Unit.

Since the unit was established in 2007, it has arrested or had encounters with more than 80 phony officers in Miami-Dade County, and the frequency has increased in recent months, said Lt. Daniel Villanueva, who heads the unit.

“It’s definitely a trend,” Lieutenant Villanueva said. “They use the guise of being a police officer to knock on a door, and the victim lowers their guard for just a second. At that point, it’s too late.”

He added that part of the problem was that it was easy for civilians to buy “police products,” like fake badges, handcuffs and uniforms. “The states need to lock this down and make impersonating a police officer a more serious crime because we’re seeing more people using these types of these things to commit more serious crimes,” he said.

Detective Javier J. Baez of the Miami-Dade Police Department said, “These types of crimes here in Miami typically have a nexus to drugs.”

Increasingly, fake police officers are pulling off crimes together, the authorities say.

One evening three weeks ago, three men in police uniforms knocked on the door of a home in southwest Miami-Dade County.

When the home’s owner, Jose Montoya, opened the door, the men barged in and yelled, “Police, police! Get down, get down!” The men tied up Mr. Montoya, his wife and their toddler and then spent hours ransacking the house, the authorities said. They beat up Mr. Montoya, who was treated at a nearby hospital, and stole cash, jewelry and several weapons, the police said.

Before leaving, the robbers warned Mr. Montoya and his family not to call the police, the authorities said, or they would return and kill them.

Some police impersonators commit violent crimes like home invasions, car-jackings, rapes and, rarely, murders.

Last summer, a Tampa man impersonating an undercover officer used a badge and a siren to pull over a 28-year-old woman and rape her. In January, the man, Luis Harris, 31, was convicted of sexual battery, grand theft, kidnapping and impersonating a police officer, among other charges. A judge sentenced Mr. Harris to life in prison

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

Page 2 of 2)



Other police impersonators, police chiefs and detectives say, masquerade as officers for more benign reasons, like trying to scare or impress someone. “Usually,” Detective Baez said, “the wannabe cop outfits their vehicles with police lights and fake insignias to fulfill some psychological need.”

This happened in Chicago when a 14-year-old boy named Vincent Richardson donned police garb and walked into the Third District precinct during morning roll call in January 2009. Officers handed him a radio and told him to ride along with a female officer. The teenager even helped make an arrest.

“After four or five hours, she asks, ‘Who is this guy?’ ” recalled Jody P. Weis, who was the Chicago police superintendent at the time. “He’s in a uniform, he has a goofy badge, he doesn’t have a weapon and he’s a high school kid. It was so embarrassing.” (The embarrassment did not end there for Mr. Weis, who said he had recommended against punishing the teenager in juvenile court because no harm had been done. Three months later, the boy was arrested and charged with stealing a car. Last week, he was arrested on several weapons charges.)

Impersonating an officer is a misdemeanor in some states, though it is a felony in Florida. The charge’s severity, and punishment, increases if a criminal charged with posing as a police officer commits a felony. Several chiefs and detectives say the crime is not taken seriously enough by the justice system and the public. Often, the crime goes unreported, the police say.

“Unfortunately, there is not a lot of downside for a criminal to impersonate a police officer,” said Commissioner Edward Davis of the Boston Police Department. “You can charge them with impersonating a police officer, but that’s not a very serious crime. The way the law views this crime, it’s as an innocent or silly prank. But it has become a much more serious crime than it is perceived by the public.”

Detective Hernandez, of Biscayne Park, Fla., said: “People minimize it. They just let it go. They won’t think about how dangerous this potentially can be. They just don’t see it.”

Some law enforcement officials said the public did not take these types of episodes seriously because of the types of cases often highlighted by the news media. People charged with impersonating police officers are often portrayed as befuddled, hapless and harmless.

In March, a motocross champion was arrested in Orlando, Fla., and charged with impersonating a police officer. The man, James Stewart Jr., 25, tried to stop another car using red and blue lights, the Florida Highway Patrol said. The car that he tried to stop contained two off-duty troopers.

Last October in Boca Raton, Fla., Andrew Novotak, in his white Crown Victoria with flashing green lights, pulled over motorists and quizzed them about whether they had been drinking alcohol, the police said.

When the police questioned him, Mr. Novotak was wearing a police badge and carrying a loaded gun. He also had a German shepherd in his back seat, which he insisted was a police-trained dog. After arresting him, officers said they smelled alcohol on his breath. He was charged with impersonating an officer and driving under the influence.
24832  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Rest in Peace on: May 29, 2011, 09:46:45 AM
I saw a report that said he was 62, which is odd because he was a year behind me (and I am 58) when I attended Fieldston HS (until I was thrown out for political activism, but that's another story)  Fieldston was a private school that was about 90% Jewish with substantial diversity scholarships.    One of Gil's friends told me that Gil was stirring up a lot of trouble until finally his mom was called in.  In a big meeting the various teachers told her of their problems with Gil.  She looked back at them and said "When I have problems with Gil at home, do I call you?"
24833  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / POTH: Criminals pretending to be police on: May 29, 2011, 09:42:09 AM
In Florida, Criminals Pose as Police More Frequently and for More Violent Ends
By DON VAN NATTA Jr.
 
MIAMI — A black BMW flashing red and blue lights suddenly filled Alexandria Armeley’s rearview mirror one evening last month. At a stoplight, the BMW’s driver pulled up next to her, waved a gold badge and told her “I’m a cop.”

 
But Ms. Armeley was suspicious. Before she pulled over, she called her stepfather, Alex Hernandez, a police detective in Biscayne Park, Fla., who warned her that the man was probably not a police officer. Speed away, he told her.

A terrified Ms. Armeley took off and was chased by the BMW for several miles through southern Miami-Dade County. Detective Hernandez had jumped in his car to help and eventually caught up to them.

So the real officer arrested the fake officer, whose name is Daniel A. Barros. Asked why he had tried to pull over Ms. Armeley, a 23-year-old college student, Mr. Barros, 22, told officers, “She was speeding.”

The BMW 7 Series car, outfitted with police lights and a siren, was “lit up like a Christmas tree,” Detective Hernandez recalled about the midnight encounter. “There are a lot of guys walking around with phony badges, but this guy had the whole works. Who knows what he would have done if he had gotten my stepdaughter to stop?”

Mr. Barros is facing several charges in the case, including impersonating an officer.

As long as police officers have worn uniforms and carried badges, criminals have dressed like them to try to win the trust of potential victims. Now the impersonators are far more sophisticated, according to nearly a dozen city police chiefs and detectives across the country.

In South Florida, seemingly an incubator of law-breaking innovation, police impersonators have become better organized and, most troubling to law enforcement officials, more violent. The practice is so common that the Miami-Dade Police Department has a Police Impersonator Unit.

Since the unit was established in 2007, it has arrested or had encounters with more than 80 phony officers in Miami-Dade County, and the frequency has increased in recent months, said Lt. Daniel Villanueva, who heads the unit.

“It’s definitely a trend,” Lieutenant Villanueva said. “They use the guise of being a police officer to knock on a door, and the victim lowers their guard for just a second. At that point, it’s too late.”

He added that part of the problem was that it was easy for civilians to buy “police products,” like fake badges, handcuffs and uniforms. “The states need to lock this down and make impersonating a police officer a more serious crime because we’re seeing more people using these types of these things to commit more serious crimes,” he said.

Detective Javier J. Baez of the Miami-Dade Police Department said, “These types of crimes here in Miami typically have a nexus to drugs.”

Increasingly, fake police officers are pulling off crimes together, the authorities say.

One evening three weeks ago, three men in police uniforms knocked on the door of a home in southwest Miami-Dade County.

When the home’s owner, Jose Montoya, opened the door, the men barged in and yelled, “Police, police! Get down, get down!” The men tied up Mr. Montoya, his wife and their toddler and then spent hours ransacking the house, the authorities said. They beat up Mr. Montoya, who was treated at a nearby hospital, and stole cash, jewelry and several weapons, the police said.

Before leaving, the robbers warned Mr. Montoya and his family not to call the police, the authorities said, or they would return and kill them.

Some police impersonators commit violent crimes like home invasions, car-jackings, rapes and, rarely, murders.

Last summer, a Tampa man impersonating an undercover officer used a badge and a siren to pull over a 28-year-old woman and rape her. In January, the man, Luis Harris, 31, was convicted of sexual battery, grand theft, kidnapping and impersonating a police officer, among other charges. A judge sentenced Mr. Harris to life in prison

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

Page 2 of 2)



Other police impersonators, police chiefs and detectives say, masquerade as officers for more benign reasons, like trying to scare or impress someone. “Usually,” Detective Baez said, “the wannabe cop outfits their vehicles with police lights and fake insignias to fulfill some psychological need.”

This happened in Chicago when a 14-year-old boy named Vincent Richardson donned police garb and walked into the Third District precinct during morning roll call in January 2009. Officers handed him a radio and told him to ride along with a female officer. The teenager even helped make an arrest.

“After four or five hours, she asks, ‘Who is this guy?’ ” recalled Jody P. Weis, who was the Chicago police superintendent at the time. “He’s in a uniform, he has a goofy badge, he doesn’t have a weapon and he’s a high school kid. It was so embarrassing.” (The embarrassment did not end there for Mr. Weis, who said he had recommended against punishing the teenager in juvenile court because no harm had been done. Three months later, the boy was arrested and charged with stealing a car. Last week, he was arrested on several weapons charges.)

Impersonating an officer is a misdemeanor in some states, though it is a felony in Florida. The charge’s severity, and punishment, increases if a criminal charged with posing as a police officer commits a felony. Several chiefs and detectives say the crime is not taken seriously enough by the justice system and the public. Often, the crime goes unreported, the police say.

“Unfortunately, there is not a lot of downside for a criminal to impersonate a police officer,” said Commissioner Edward Davis of the Boston Police Department. “You can charge them with impersonating a police officer, but that’s not a very serious crime. The way the law views this crime, it’s as an innocent or silly prank. But it has become a much more serious crime than it is perceived by the public.”

Detective Hernandez, of Biscayne Park, Fla., said: “People minimize it. They just let it go. They won’t think about how dangerous this potentially can be. They just don’t see it.”

Some law enforcement officials said the public did not take these types of episodes seriously because of the types of cases often highlighted by the news media. People charged with impersonating police officers are often portrayed as befuddled, hapless and harmless.

In March, a motocross champion was arrested in Orlando, Fla., and charged with impersonating a police officer. The man, James Stewart Jr., 25, tried to stop another car using red and blue lights, the Florida Highway Patrol said. The car that he tried to stop contained two off-duty troopers.

Last October in Boca Raton, Fla., Andrew Novotak, in his white Crown Victoria with flashing green lights, pulled over motorists and quizzed them about whether they had been drinking alcohol, the police said.

When the police questioned him, Mr. Novotak was wearing a police badge and carrying a loaded gun. He also had a German shepherd in his back seat, which he insisted was a police-trained dog. After arresting him, officers said they smelled alcohol on his breath. He was charged with impersonating an officer and driving under the influence.
24834  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Americans & Euros well-liked in rebel zone on: May 29, 2011, 09:37:14 AM
BENGHAZI, Libya — Frustrated by the gridlocked traffic, the young man in fatigues was leaning on the horn of his old Chevrolet Impala, the one with the front and rear windshields shot out. The shrillness of the pointless noise made a foreigner in the car next to him wince.

What popular Arab movement has ever flown the flags of not only the United States, but the European Union and France?
Then came one of those Free Libya moments.

“Sorry, sorry,” the horn-blower called apologetically, in English. The young man riding shotgun, also in fatigues and carrying a Kalashnikov, grinned sheepishly and apologized as well. Then he saluted, bringing his wounded right hand into view, a giant mitten of a bandage on it, blood soaking through in places.

“Thank you, thank you,” he said. “America No. 1.”

Americans and, for that matter, all Westerners are treated hereabouts with a warmth and gratitude rarely seen in any Muslim country — even those with 100,000 American troops — in probably half a century or more. People smile and go out of their way to say hello to them, and are almost shockingly courteous. It is that oddest of oddities, an Arab war zone where foreign joggers are regarded, not with hostility or even that sympathetic puzzlement reserved for the insane, but with a friendly wave or a toot on the horn.

Here, even taxi drivers do not rip off foreign visitors, and when a taxi cannot be found, some passing driver will soon volunteer a ride, and will be likely to refuse any offer of payment. A big problem for non-Arabic speaking journalists who visit is trying to find a translator who will accept payment for his or her services. The rebels’ press office has signed up all the English translators it could find, and ordered them to work for free.

In some restaurants, they seem almost reluctant to accept a foreigner’s money. It is a society chronically short of change, so a lot of the coffee bars will just say skip it, and serve up an espresso for whatever loose change is handy, if any. Espresso is one of the welcome surprises of Libya, and while no one would confuse it with Tre Scalini, it is pretty good for a region where the standard stuff is either instant Nescafe or Turkish coffee so thick that a toothpick is needed afterwards.

The pizza, too, is respectable, especially at Pisa Pizza in Benghazi, where the pies are about a yard in diameter. Proof that Italian colonialism accomplished something after all.

In other parts of the Mideast, one refrains from advertising American nationality, if only just in case. This is a part of the world where, other than outside American embassies, the Stars and Stripes are most often spotted ablaze and stomped upon.

Here, crowds of chanting youth fly it proudly, alongside their own new flag, a tricolor with red, black and green horizontal stripes and a crescent and star in the center. (It was widely and quickly adopted by the rebels to replace the Qaddafi government’s hated green flag, an unadorned panel so plain that it has been derided as a putting green.) What popular Arab street movement has ever flown the flags of not only the United States, but the European Union, NATO, Italy, France and Qatar, all at once?

Many Libyan parents with newborn girls are reportedly naming them Susan, in honor of Susan E. Rice, the Obama administration’s ambassador to the United Nations, for her vote in the Security Council in favor of establishing the no-fly zone. French visitors find an even warmer reception, and accolades to President Nicolas Sarkozy are graffitied on walls everywhere.

It may be a long time before any other Muslim press officer tells an American journalist, as Col. Ahmed Bani, the spokesman for the Libyan rebel military, did recently, “You are a mujahedeen and journalism is your jihad!” (The exclamation mark was his.)

So it is easy to let the guard drop, especially since the last time anyone was killed by Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces in Benghazi was March 19, when they made their final attempt on the city before NATO fighter-bombers put an end to that.

Now the loyalists are far from the city — the eastern front is 100 miles south of here — and NATO controls the skies. Can they all really be gone, though? While the rebels talk constantly about the danger of a Fifth Column of Qaddafi supporters, it is hard to imagine, so universal is the apparent acclaim for Free Libya.

Still, it may explain why the rebels’ Transitional National Council has so far refused to reveal the identities of most of its members. (This is a big issue for the United States, which has not recognized the rebels, at least in part out of concern over who its leaders really are.)

The Qaddafi government must have had some supporters, even here in the alienated east. In every town and city, there are row after row of new apartment buildings, with units that were in effect given away by the government to families in exchange for only token mortgage payments. While people here deride those blocks as “made in China” for their apparent poor quality of construction, free homes have got to win some enduring support, somewhere.

Perhaps such residual loyalty explains the bullet that whizzed just over one foreign jogger’s head, on the seafront Corniche early on a recent morning, a single shot on an otherwise quiet day. The sound of the rifle’s report came a second later, as it would with a high-velocity round. Whoever fired it was not about to show himself, at least not yet.
24835  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: May 29, 2011, 09:29:16 AM
I often use my wife as my own polling survey.  Last night I showed her the Bret Baier interview of Paul Ryan from Thursday.  She liked him a lot.  Several of her comments indicated to me that women would respond well to him.
24836  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH propaganda on: May 29, 2011, 09:27:06 AM
MIAMI — Less than 18 months before the next presidential election, Republican-controlled statehouses around the country are rewriting voting laws to require photo identification at the polls, reduce the number of days of early voting or tighten registration rules.

 
Republican legislators say the new rules, which have advanced in 13 states in the past two months, offer a practical way to weed out fraudulent votes and preserve the integrity of the ballot box. Democrats say the changes have little to do with fraud prevention and more to do with placing obstacles in the way of possible Democratic voters, including young people and minorities.
Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Gov. Rick Perry of Texas signed laws last week that would require each voter to show an official, valid photo ID to cast a ballot, joining Kansas and South Carolina.

In Florida, which already had a photo law, Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill this month to tighten restrictions on third-party voter registration organizations — prompting the League of Women Voters to say it would cease registering voters in the state — and to shorten the number of early voting days. Twelve states now require photo identification to vote.

The battleground states of Ohio and Pennsylvania are among those moving ahead on voter ID bills, part of a trend that seems likely to intensify the kind of pitched partisan jousting over voting that has cropped up in recent presidential races.

When voters in predominantly black neighborhoods in Florida saw their votes challenged in the contested Bush-Gore election of 2000, Democrats made charges of disenfranchisement. (What Pravda on the Hudson forgets to mention here is that-- if I have this right-- the previous mayoralty election in Miami was voided due to vote fraud.) In 2008 Acorn, a group organizing minority and low-income communities, became a particular target, with Republicans asserting that Acorn was trying to steal the election with large voter-registration drives, some of which were found to be seriously flawed.

Democrats, who point to scant evidence of voter-impersonation fraud,  say the unified Republican push for photo identification cards carries echoes of the Jim Crow laws — with their poll taxes and literacy tests — that inhibited black voters in the South from Reconstruction through the 1960s. Election experts say minorities, poor people and students — who tend to skew Democratic — are among those least likely to have valid driver’s licenses, the most prevalent form of identification. Older people, another group less likely to have licenses, are swing voters.

Republicans argue that the requirements are commonplace.

“If you have to show a picture ID to buy Sudafed, if you have to show a picture ID to get on an airplane, you should show a picture ID when you vote,” Gov. Nikki Haley said this month when she signed the bill into law in South Carolina, using a common refrain among Republicans.

Changes to voter law tend to flow and ebb with election cycles as both Democrats and Republicans scramble to gain the upper hand when they hold power. The 2010 midterm election was a boon to Republicans, who now control 59 chambers of state legislatures and 29 governorships. In some states, like Florida and Texas, Republicans hold overwhelming majorities. This has allowed the bills to move forward.

Republicans have tried for years to get photo identification requirements and other changes through legislatures, said Daniel Tokaji, a law professor at Ohio State University and an expert in election law. Similar bills were introduced over the past decade, but were largely derailed in the aftermath of a political battle over the Bush administration’s firing of several United States attorneys whom Republicans had criticized for failing to aggressively investigate voter fraud.

“That’s what really killed the momentum of more states’ enacting voter ID laws,” Mr. Tokaji said. “Now with the last elections, with the strong Republican majorities in a lot of states, we’re seeing a rejuvenation of the effort.”

Republicans say that large jumps in the immigrant population have also prompted them to act to safeguard elections.

“Over the last 20 years, we have seen Florida grow quite rapidly, and we have such a mix of populations,” said State Representative Dennis K. Baxley, the Florida Republican who wrote the law to tighten third-party registration here. “When we fail to protect every ballot, we disenfranchise people who participate legitimately.”

Taken together, the state-by-state changes are likely to have an impact on close elections, Mr. Tokaji said.

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

Page 2 of 2)



“Remarkably, most of these significant changes are going under the radar,” he added. “A lot of voters are going to be surprised and dismayed when they go to their polling place and find that the rules have changed.”

Most of the measures would require people to show a form of official, valid identification to vote. While driver’s licenses are the most common form, voters can also request free photo IDs from the Department of Motor Vehicles or use a passport or military identification, among other things.
But Democrats say thousands of people in each state do not have these. The extra step, they add, will discourage some voters who will have to pay to retrieve documents, like birth certificates, for proof to obtain a free card. If voters do not have the proper identification on Election Day, they can cast provisional ballots in most states but must return several days later to a local board of elections office with an ID.

A few state bills and laws also shave the number of early voting days, a move that Democrats say would impact Democratic voters once again. In the 2008 presidential election, a majority of those who cast early votes did so for President Obama. In Florida, the number of days is reduced but the number of hours remains the same.

Democrats point to state figures showing that there are few proven cases of voter impersonation (This is rather disingenuous; isn't the real issue phony registrations?) and question why budget-conscious Republicans would want to spend taxpayer dollars on a problem that is isolated.

“There is not one documented case that has been presented to us, and we had numerous hearings,” said race-baiting scum bag and State Senator Brad Hutto of South Carolina, a Democrat. “Republicans have to have some reason to do this because it doesn’t sound good to say, ‘We don’t want Latinos or African-Americans voting.’ ” 

But Republicans counter that detecting and proving voter impersonation is tricky under current law precisely because few states require photo identification. Plus, they add, there is no evidence that the requirement reduces minority participation. In Georgia, where photo IDs became a requirement in 2007, minorities voted in record numbers in 2008 and 2010.

Turnout among Hispanic voters jumped 140 percent in the state in 2008 and 42 percent among blacks compared with 2004, a change attributed in part to President Obama’s candidacy. Two years later, in the midterm election, turnout also rose among Hispanics and African-Americans, according to data from the Georgia secretary of state.

But with the presidential election campaign season already under way, Democrats say they are taking no chances. The Democratic Governors Association started a Voter Protection Project this month to educate voters and encourage them to speak out against the measures. It also began running online advertisements.
24837  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: May 28, 2011, 10:54:28 PM
Thanks for this BD.  This is a subject not often addressed; nice treatment here.
24838  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glick: Netanyahu's triumph on: May 28, 2011, 11:17:33 AM

Caroline Glick   
Lessons of Netanyahu’s Triumph

 
 
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was hoping to avoid his clash with US President Barack Obama this week in Washington.

Four days before his showdown at the White House with the American leader, Netanyahu addressed the Knesset. His speech was the most dovish he had ever given. In it, he set out the parameters of the land concessions he is willing to make to the Palestinians, in the event they ever decide that they are interested in negotiating a final peace.

Among other things, Netanyahu spoke for the first time about “settlement blocs,” and so signaled that he would be willing to evacuate the more isolated Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. He also spoke of a longterm military presence in the Jordan Valley rather than Israeli sovereignty along the militarily vital plain.

Both strategically and ideologically, Netanyahu’s speech constituted a massive concession to Obama. The premier had good reason to believe that his speech would preempt any US demand for further Israeli concessions during his visit to Washington.

Alas, it was not to be. Instead of welcoming Netanyahu’s unprecedented concessions, Obama dismissed them as insufficient as he blindsided Netanyahu last Thursday with his speech at the State Department. There, just hours before Netanyahu was scheduled to fly off to meet him in the Oval Office, Obama adopted the Palestinian negotiating position by calling for Israel to accept that future negotiations will be based on the indefensible – indeed suicidal – 1949 armistice lines.

So, just as he was about to board his plane, Netanyahu realized that his mission in the US capital had changed. His job wasn’t to go along to get along. His job was to stop Obama from driving Israel’s relations with the US off a cliff.

Netanyahu was no longer going to Washington to explain where Israel will stand aside. He was going to Washington to explain what Israel stands for. Obama threw down the gauntlet. Netanyahu needed to pick it up by rallying both the Israeli people to his side and rallying the American people to Israel’s side. Both goals, he realized, could only be accomplished by presenting his vision of what Israel is and what it stands for.

And Netanyahu did his job. He did his job brilliantly.

Israel today is the target of an ever escalating campaign to demonize and delegitimize it. Just this week we learned that a dozen towns in Scotland have decided to ban Israeli books from their public libraries. One Scottish town has decided to post signs calling for its residents to boycott Israeli products and put a distinguishing mark (yellow star, perhaps?) on all Israeli products sold in local stores to warn residents away from them.

Israelis shake their heads and wonder, what did we do to the Scots? In San Francisco, there is a proposition on the ballot for the fall elections to ban circumcision.

The proposition would make it a criminal offense to carry out the oldest Jewish religious ritual. Offenders will be punished by up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.

Israelis shake their heads and wonder, what did we do to the people of San Francisco? It seems that everywhere we look we are told that we have no right to exist. From Ramallah to Gaza, to Egypt, to Scotland, Norway, and San Francisco, we are told that we are evil and had better give up the store. And then Obama took to the stage on Thursday and told us that we have to surrender our ability to defend ourselves in order to make room for a Palestinian state run by terrorists committed to our destruction.

But then Netanyahu arrived in Washington and said, “Enough already, we’ve had quite enough of this dangerous nonsense.”

And we felt things we haven’t felt for a long time. We felt empowered. We felt we had a voice. We felt proud. We felt we had a leader.

We felt relieved.

The American people, whose overwhelming support for Israel was demonstrated by their representatives in both houses of the Congress on Tuesday, also felt empowered, proud and relieved. Because not only did Netanyahu eloquently remind them of why they stand with Israel, he reminded them of why everyone who truly loves freedom stands with America.

It is true that the American lawmakers who interrupted Netanyahu’s remarks dozens of times to applaud wanted to use his presence in their chamber to send a message of solidarity to the people of Israel. But during the course of his speech, it became apparent that it wasn’t just their desire to show solidarity that made them stand and applaud so many times. Netanyahu managed to relieve them as well.

Since he assumed office, Obama has been traveling the world apologizing for America’s world leadership. He has been lecturing the American people about the need to subordinate America’s national interests to global organizations like the United Nations that are controlled by dictatorships which despise them.

Suddenly, here was an allied leader reminding them of why America is a great nation that leads the world by right, not by historical coincidence.

It is not coincidental that many American and Israeli observers have described Netanyahu’s speech as “Churchillian.” Winston Churchill’s leadership was a classic example of democratic leadership. And Netanyahu is Churchill’s most fervent pupil. The democratic leadership model requires a leader to set out his vision of where his country must go and convince the public to follow him.

That is what Churchill did. And that is what Netanyahu did this week. And like Churchill in June 1940, Netanyahu’s success this week was dazzling.

Just how dazzling was make clear by a Haaretz poll of the Israeli public conducted after Netanyahu’s speech before the Congress.

The poll found that Netanyahu’s approval ratings increased an astounding 13 percentage points, from 38 to 51 percent in one week. Two-thirds of the Israelis who watched his speech said it made them proud.

As for the US response, the fact that leading Democrats on Capitol Hill, House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, felt it necessary to distance themselves from Obama’s statements about Israel’s final borders makes clear that Netanyahu successfully rallied the American public to Israel’s side.

This point was also brought home with Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s interesting request to Republicans during their joint meeting with Netanyahu. In front of the Israeli leader, Wasserman Schultz asked her Republican counterparts not to use support for Israel as a campaign issue. Her request makes clear that following Netanyahu’s brilliant triumph in Washington, Democrats realize that the president’s poor treatment of Israel is an issue that will harm them politically if the Republicans decide to make it an issue in next year’s elections.

While the democratic model of leadership is certainly the model that the founders of most democratic societies have in mind when they establish their democratic orders, it is not the only leadership model that guides leaders in democratic societies. This week, as Netanyahu demonstrated the strength of the democratic leadership model, two other leadership models were also on prominent display. The first was demonstrated by Obama. The second was exhibited by opposition leader Tzipi Livni.

Obama’s leadership model is the model of subversive leadership. Subversive leaders in democracies do not tell their citizens where they wish to lead their societies. They hide their goals from their citizens, because they understand that their citizens do not share their goals. Then once they achieve their unspoken goals, they present their people with a fait accompli and announce that only they are competent to shepherd their societies through the radical shift they undertook behind the public’s back.

Before Obama, the clearest example of subversive leadership was Shimon Peres. As foreign minister under Yitzhak Rabin, Peres negotiated his deal with the PLO behind the public’s back, and behind Rabin’s back – and against their clear opposition. Then he presented the deal that no one supported as a fait accompli.

And as the architect of the deal that put the PLO terror forces on the outskirts of Israel’s major cities, Peres argued that only he could be trusted to implement the deal he had crafted.

Eighteen years and 2,000 Israeli terror victims later, Israel still hasn’t figured out how to extricate itself from his subversive legacy. And he is president.

Today, Obama recognizes that the American public doesn’t share his antipathy towards Israel, and so as he adopts policies antithetical to Israel’s security, he waxes poetic about his commitment to Israel’s security. So far his policies have led to the near disintegration of Israel’s peace with Egypt, the establishment of a Fatah-Hamas unity government in the Palestinian Authority, and to Iran’s steady, all but unimpeded progress towards the atom bomb.

As for Livni, her model is leadership from behind. Although Obama’s advisers claimed that this is his model of leadership, it actually is Livni’s model. A leader who leads from behind is a follower. She sees where her voters are and she goes there.

In Livni’s case, her supporters are on the Left and their main spokesman is the media. Both the Left and the media oppose everything that Netanyahu does and everything he is. And so, as Livni sees things, her job as the head of the opposition is to give voice to their views.

As Netanyahu stared Obama down in the Oval Office and reminded Israelis and Americans alike why we have a special relationship, Livni was telling audiences in Washington and Israel that Netanyahu is a warmonger who will lead us to devastation if we don’t elect her to replace him soon. With Obama adopting the Palestinians’ negotiating positions and with Fatah embracing Hamas rather than honestly admitting that all hope for peace is dead for the duration, Livni said that Netanyahu is leading us to war by defending the country.

Netanyahu’s extraordinary leadership this week has shown that when used well, the democratic model of leadership trumps all other models. He also showed us that he has the capacity to be the leader of our times.

In the coming weeks and months, the threats to Israel will surely only increase. And with these escalating threats will come also the escalating need for strong and certain leadership.

Netanyahu should realize what his astounding success means for him as well as for Israel.

The people of Israel and our many friends around the world will continue to stand behind him proudly if he continues to lead us as well and wonderfully as he did this week. And we will admire him. And we will thank him.
24839  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: May 28, 2011, 11:08:19 AM
Well, inspired by GM's different tone yesterday and a good night's sleep, I will take a stab at it:

With laws concerning violence, theft, and fraud, we don't really have a choice for they are what in the American Creed is called "natural law".  OTOH, with prohibition laws, just as with the prohibition against alcohol and its repeal, we do have a choice based upon our perception of the empirical results.

With the drugs involved in the WoD's prohibitions, IMHO it is not necessarily one size fits all.  Just as there is a choice whether and if so how much to drink, so too with pot.  OTOH a fair case can be made that as a practical matter the nature of some drugs bypasses man's free will.

Does this help GM?
Marc
24840  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kudlow: Eric Cantor's 5% on: May 28, 2011, 10:59:03 AM
Woof All:

Of course this could have been posted in the 2012 campaign thread, but I post it here; deeper even than Presidential politics is whether this country continues to believe in the free market.

Marc
============================

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor turned the policy temperature down on austerity this week by rolling out a strong economic-growth agenda. Headlined by a 25 percent top tax rate for individuals and business, the Cantor package includes regulatory relief, free trade, and patent protection for entrepreneurs. It’s job creation and the economy, stupid.

Sounds Reaganesque? Well, Eric Cantor has a lot of Reagan blood in him. Back in 1980, while Cantor was still in high school, his father was the Virginia state treasurer of the Ronald Reagan presidential campaign. So the apple never falls far from the tree.

In fact, it looks like Cantor is restoring the supply-side incentive model of economic growth. Forget tax-the-rich class warfare. Throw out wild-eyed government-spending stimulus and dollar-depreciating Fed money-pumping. Make it pay more after tax to work, produce, and invest. Go for a growth spurt, something the economy badly needs. And -- my thought -- crown such a growth strategy with a stable King Dollar re-linked to gold.

When I interviewed Cantor this week, he made it clear that faster economic growth was crucial to holding down spending, deficits, and debt. As scored by the CBO, every 1 percent of faster growth lowers the budget gap by nearly $3 trillion from lower spending and higher revenues. “Grow the economy,” Cantor said. “It will help us manage-down the deficit and it will help get people back to work.”

This is not to say that spending cuts and structural entitlement reforms aren’t necessary. They are. But it is to argue that lately the GOP has forgotten the growth component that is so essential to spending restraint and deficit reduction.

The GOP should say: In return for substantial federal-spending cuts, we’re gonna more than make it up to you with large tax cuts. You will win. Big government will lose.

I suggested to Cantor that the GOP adopt a 5 percent national growth target, which President John F. Kennedy had when he launched his across-the-board tax cuts in the early 1960s. “That is a fantastic goal,” he told me.

Cantor’s growth plan is very timely as the U.S. economy is once again sputtering. In what is already one of the weakest post-recession recoveries in the postwar era, first-quarter GDP came in at a tepid 1.8 percent. Many economists believe the second quarter will be no better.

And consider this: Between 1947 and 2000, average real economic growth registered 3.4 percent yearly -- an excellent prosperity baseline. Yet over the past ten years -- amidst boom-bust Fed policy, a collapsing dollar, and soaring gold -- the stock market on balance hasn’t moved as the economy has averaged only 1.7 percent annually. Because of the ongoing slump, actual real GDP growth from the early 2000s through the first quarter of 2011 has dropped nearly 17 percent below the long-run historical trend. That translates to a massive output gap of $2.7 trillion.

In order to close that gap in five years the economy would have to grow 7.3 percent annually (roughly Reagan’s two-year recovery rate in 1983-84). To close the gap in ten years, the economy would have to grow near 5.3 percent annually.

Alright, so why not establish a national economic growth target of over 5 percent? That might wipe out the current spirit of economic pessimism and decline.

A 5 percent growth target might give some hope to the roughly 15 million unemployed. Or the 12 to 15 million homeowners who can’t meet their mortgages, are in foreclosure, or have upside-down property values. Or the disappointed investors who haven’t made any real cash in ten years. Or the families who are suffering from rising gas and food prices.

A 5 percent growth target might wipe out the sense that we can’t seem to right the economic ship.

For all these reasons, according to the polls, jobs and the economy are the number one political issue today. Entitlements are going to have to be fixed. But that day of reckoning is nearly 20 years away. Right now folks want work and income to pay the bills.

The brilliance of Mr. Cantor’s effort is his attempt to move the GOP back to the economic-growth high ground. It is our most urgent priority.
24841  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Rest in Peace on: May 28, 2011, 10:36:11 AM
I had not heard.  Details?
24842  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Fruity fruit flies go straighten up and go straight on: May 27, 2011, 08:03:20 PM
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,316316,00.html


By Robert Roy Britt


While several studies find homosexuality in humans and other animals is biological rather than learned, a question remains over whether it's a hard-wired phenomenon or one that can be altered.

A new study finds that both drugs and genetic manipulation can turn the homosexual behavior of fruit flies on and off within a matter of hours.

• Click here to visit FOXNews.com's Natural Science Center.

While the genetic finding supports the thinking that homosexuality is hard-wired, the drug finding surprisingly suggests it's not that simple. In fact, homosexuality in the fruit flies seems to be regulated by how they interpret the scent of another.

Dramatic result

Homosexuality is widespread in the animal world. But scientists have long debated whether, in humans a "gay gene" exists.

Previous research in humans has suggested that how we interpret scents given off by another person might impact our sexuality.  In the new work, University of Illinois at Chicago researcher David Featherstone and coworkers discovered a gene in fruit flies they call "genderblind," or GB. A mutation in GB turns flies bisexual.  GB transports the neurotransmitter glutamate to brain cells. Altering levels of glutamate change the strength of nerve cell junctions, called synapses, which play a key role in human and animal behavior.

Post-doctoral researcher Yael Grosjean found that all male fruit flies with a mutation in their GB gene courted other males.

"It was very dramatic," Featherstone said. "The GB mutant males treated other males exactly the same way normal male flies would treat a female. They even attempted copulation."

Overreaction

Other genes are known to alter sexual orientation, but most just control whether the brain develops as genetically male or female. It's not known why a male brain does male things and a female brain acts in female ways, Featherstone and his colleagues say.

"Based on our previous work, we reasoned that GB mutants might show homosexual behavior because their glutamatergic synapses were altered in some way," Featherstone said. "Homosexual courtship might be sort of an 'overreaction' to sexual stimuli."

To test this, the researchers genetically altered synapse strength, independent of GB. They also gave flies drugs to alter synapse strength. As predicted, they were able to turn fly homosexuality on and off, within hours.

"It was amazing. I never thought we'd be able to do that sort of thing, because sexual orientation is supposed to be hard-wired," Featherstone said. "This fundamentally changes how we think about this behavior."

Sense of smell

The team figured fly brains maintain two sensory circuits: one to trigger heterosexual behavior and one for homosexual. When GB suppresses glutamatergic synapses, the homosexual circuit is blocked, the thinking goes.

So they did more tests. As expected, without GB to suppress synapse strength, the flies no longer interpreted smells the same way. The smells in question come in the form of pheromones, chemicals that affect sexual behavior in much of the animal kingdom.

It is not known, however, to what extent human attraction is affected by pheromones. A study in 2005 found that when smelling a chemical from testosterone, portions of the human brains active in sexual activity were turned on in gay men and straight women, but not in straight men.

But at least among fruit flies, "pheromones are powerful sexual stimuli," Featherstone said. "As it turns out, the GB mutant flies were perceiving pheromones differently. Specifically, the GB mutant males were no longer recognizing male pheromones as a repulsive stimulus."

The research was published online today by the journal Nature Neuroscience.

24843  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / SWAT team kills , , , on: May 27, 2011, 07:50:00 PM
http://www.kgun9.com/story/14621212/marine-killed-by-swat-was-acting-in-defense-says-family?redirected=true&config=H264

 cry cry cry
24844  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GB on Michele Bachman on: May 27, 2011, 05:10:14 PM


http://www.theblaze.com/stories/bachmann-reveals-plans-presidential-announcement-in-iowa-next-month/
24845  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GB on SP on: May 27, 2011, 05:07:57 PM


http://www.glennbeck.com/2011/05/27/palin-2012-just-got-more-likely/
24846  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: May 27, 2011, 04:48:04 PM
The world is a wonder, isn't it?  cheesy

"4. Dissect Pakistan into three smaller states -- Baluchistan for the Baluchi separatists including the city of Quetta, Pashtunistan for the Pashtun separatists covering the Pashtun tribal areas including Peshawar and the border areas, and Pakistan proper including Lahore and the Karachi areas. The ongoing domestic dissent in the Pashtun and Baluchi areas are rooted in the exploitative and discriminatory practices of the ruling class of Pakistan -- the Lahore elite -- who have alienated those groups.
5. Create a strong civilian government in Pakistan by dismantling the ISI, reducing Pakistan's military prowess and supporting the educated and secular population. Pakistan has a strong judiciary and press at this time. A strong civilian government is needed to implement democratic institutions and processes."

More followers of the YA-Crafty Doctrine  grin
24847  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: May 27, 2011, 04:44:58 PM
I would quibble a bit with the broad brush with which the word "exploit" is applied there.    While hiring illegals certainly can and often is done with such motives and in such a manner, it can also be:

a) willingess to work for less means work that is unprofitable at wages that include governmentally imposed costs gets done.

b) there is a work ethic in many illegals not found in many native-born Americans

c) there are cultural values found in many illegals not found in many native-born Americans.  For example, there is a respect to the importance of warm maternal care to young children found in many Latina nannies not commonly found in modern Jerry Springer feminist Americans , , ,

24848  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: May 27, 2011, 04:37:38 PM
Sorry to be slow but I'm still struggling here to follow what you are saying.  If you are not saying that legalizing/decriminalizing pot would lead to the exploitation of children and/or human trafficking, then why aren't you for decriminalizing/legalizing pot?
24849  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: May 27, 2011, 02:15:57 PM
Would you also post that in the Legal Issues thread as well please?
24850  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Gurkhas and their Kukris on: May 27, 2011, 02:13:09 PM
http://www.deathvalleymag.com/2010/10/16/civilian-contractors-the-nepali-gurkha-in-international-security-contracting/#more-5428
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