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24851  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Dem seek to use IRS as political pit bull on: October 11, 2010, 07:33:37 PM
If at first you don't succeed, get some friends in high places to shut your opponents up. That's the latest Washington power play, as Democrats and liberals attack the Chamber of Commerce and independent spending groups in an attempt to stop businesses from participating in politics.

Since the Supreme Court's January decision in Citizens United v. FEC, Democrats in Congress have been trying to pass legislation to repeal the First Amendment for business, though not for unions. Having failed on that score, they're now turning to legal and political threats. Funny how all of this outrage never surfaced when the likes of Peter Lewis of Progressive insurance and George Soros helped to make Democrats financially dominant in 2006 and 2008.

Chairman Max Baucus of the powerful Senate Finance Committee got the threats going last month when he asked Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Douglas Shulman to investigate if certain tax exempt 501(c) groups had violated the law by engaging in too much political campaign activity. Lest there be any confusion about his targets, the Montana Democrat flagged articles focused on GOP-leaning groups, including Americans for Job Security and American Crossroads.

Mr. Baucus was seconded last week by the ostensibly nonpartisan campaign reform groups Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center, which asked the IRS to investigate whether Crossroads is spending too much money on campaigns. Those two outfits swallowed their referee whistle in the last two campaign cycles, but they're all worked up now that Republicans might win more seats. Crossroads GPS, a 501(c)(4) affiliate of American Crossroads supported by Karl Rove, is a target because it has spent millions already in this election cycle.

Last Tuesday, the liberal blog ThinkProgress, run by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, reported that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had collected some $300,000 in annual dues from foreign companies. Since the money went into the Chamber's general fund, the allegation is that it could have been used to pay for political ads, which would violate a ban on foreign companies participating in American elections. The Chamber says it uses no foreign money for its political activities and goes to great lengths to raise separate funds for political purposes.

That didn't stop President Obama from raising the issue in a Maryland speech last week, saying that "groups that receive foreign money are spending huge sums to influence American elections." Within hours of the ThinkProgress report, the bully boys at asked the Department of Justice to launch a criminal investigation of the Chamber. In a letter to the Federal Election Commission, Minnesota Senator Al Franken expressed his profound concern that "foreign corporations are indirectly spending significant sums to influence American elections through third-party groups." From the man who stole his Senate election in a dubious recount, this is rich.

Even Mr. Franken admits in his letter that the Chamber's commingling of funds in its general accounts is not "per se illegal," but apparently he thinks it's fine to unleash federal investigators because the Chamber cash might contribute to the defeat of fellow Democrats.

The outrage over the Chamber is especially amusing considering the role of foreigners in U.S. labor unions. According to the Center for Competitive Politics, close to half of the unions that are members of the AFL-CIO are international. One man's corporate commingling is another's union dues.

Unions and liberal groups are hardly cash poor this year in any case. The Campaign Media Analysis Group looked at the combined spending of candidates, their parties and outside groups and found that Democrats outspent Republicans $47.3 million to $40.8 million in a recent 60-day period.

Democrats claim only to favor "disclosure" of donors, but their legal intimidation attempts are the best argument against disclosure. Liberals want the names of business donors made public so they can become targets of vilification with the goal of intimidating them into silence. A CEO or corporate board is likely to think twice about contributing to a campaign fund if the IRS or prosecutors might come calling. If Democrats can reduce business donations in the next three weeks, they can limit the number of GOP challengers with a chance to win and reduce Democratic Congressional losses.

The strategy got a test drive in Minnesota earlier this year after Target Corporation donated $100,000 cash and $50,000 of in-kind contributions to an independent group that ran ads supporting the primary candidacy of Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. accused the company of being anti-gay, organized a petition, and crafted a TV ad urging shoppers to boycott Target stores. Target made no further donations, and other companies that once showed an interest have since declined to contribute.

Then there's the curious reference to the tax status of Koch Industries by White House chief economist Austan Goolsbee. In a late August conference call with reporters, Mr. Goolsbee cited the closely-held Koch as an example of "really giant firms" that pay no corporate income tax because they file under other tax rules. But how in the world would Mr. Goolsbee know Koch's tax status? Could his knowledge be related to the White House-liberal campaign against Koch for contributing to Americans for Prosperity, a group that is supporting free-market candidates for Congress this year?

In an August 9 speech, Mr. Obama personally trashed Americans for Prosperity, hinting that it was funded by "a big oil company." He had to mean Koch, which makes no secret of its support for Americans for Prosperity.

The White House didn't respond to queries about Mr. Goolsbee's remark for weeks until GOP Senators requested an investigation. The Treasury's inspector general for tax matters has since announced such a probe, and last week White House spokesman Robert Gibbs finally got around to explaining that Mr. Goolsbee's statement "was not in any way based on any review of tax filings" and that he won't use the example again.

We're glad to hear it, but pardon our skepticism given the ferocity of this White House-led campaign against businesses that donate to political campaigns. Faced with electoral repudiation as the public turns against their agenda, Democrats are unleashing government power to silence their political opponents. Instead of piling on, the press corps ought to blow the whistle on this attempt to stifle political speech. This is one more liberal abuse of power that voters should consider as they head to the polls.

24852  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: October 11, 2010, 07:05:21 PM

I submit the proposition that your analysis is disproven by the countries/places where people have esentiallly all they want to eat and most are of proportionate, suitable weight.
24853  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: October 11, 2010, 06:06:13 PM
Indeed -- and it is a "fatal conceit" to think otherwise wink
24854  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / From where's the money? on: October 11, 2010, 05:52:20 PM
24855  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct on: October 11, 2010, 05:41:19 PM
 cheesy  cheesy  cheesy
24856  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: October 11, 2010, 05:24:29 PM
For me, and I think for most fight fans today, Foreman is about what he went through, what he did to change, and what he did to come back-- and take the heavyweight title again (I made money betting on him btw  cool )
24857  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Welcome CanisLatrans! on: October 11, 2010, 05:20:13 PM
Good to have you aboard. smiley
24858  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mauldin 2 on: October 11, 2010, 05:18:51 PM
And then we have a speech from Dallas Fed president Richard Fisher that he gave yesterday at the Minneapolis Economics Club. I highly recommend you take a few minutes to read it in its entirety. It is well-written and thoughtful. We need more men like him on the Fed. (

Let me give you a few paragraphs (all emphasis mine!):

"... In my darkest moments I have begun to wonder if the monetary accommodation we have already engineered might even be working in the wrong places. Far too many of the large corporations I survey that are committing to fixed investment report that the most effective way to deploy cheap money raised in the current bond markets or in the form of loans from banks, beyond buying in stock or expanding dividends, is to invest it abroad where taxes are lower and governments are more eager to please. This would not be of concern if foreign direct investment in the U.S. were offsetting this impulse. This year, however, net direct investment in the U.S. has been running at a pace that would exceed minus $200 billion, meaning outflows of foreign direct investment are exceeding inflows by a healthy margin. We will have to watch the data as it unfolds to see if this is momentary fillip or evidence of a broader trend. But I wonder: If others cotton to the view that the Fed is eager to "open the spigots," might this not add to the uncertainty already created by the fiscal incontinence of Congress and the regulatory and rule-making 'excesses' about which businesses now complain?

"... In performing a cost/benefit analysis of a possible QE2, we will need to bear in mind that one cost that has already been incurred in the process of running an easy money policy has been to drive down the returns earned by savers, especially those who do not have the means or sophistication or the demographic profile to place their money at risk further out in the yield curve or who are wary of the inherent risk of stocks. A great many baby boomers or older cohorts who played by the rules, saved their money and have migrated over time, as prudent investment counselors advise, to short- to intermediate-dated, fixed-income instruments, are earning extremely low nominal and real returns on their savings. Further reductions in rates earned on savings will hardly endear the Fed to this portion of the population. Moreover, driving down bond yields might force increased pension contributions from corporations and state and local governments, decreasing the deployment of monies toward job maintenance in the public sector.

"My reaction to reading that article [what Fisher called that eye-popping headline in yesterday's Wall Street Journal: "Central Banks Open Spigot"] was that it raises the specter of competitive quantitative easing. Such a race would be something of a one-off from competitive devaluation of currencies, a beggar-thy-neighbor phenomenon that always ends in tears. It implies that central banks should carry the load for stymied fiscal authorities - or worse, give in to them - rather than stick within their traditional monetary mandates and let legislative authorities deal with the fiscal mess they have created. It infers that lurking out in the future is a slippery slope of quantitative easing reaching beyond just buying government bonds (and in our case, mortgage-backed securities). It is one thing to stabilize the commercial paper market in a systematic way. Going beyond investment-grade paper, however, opens the door to pressure on a central bank to back financial instruments benefiting specific economic sectors. This inevitably leads to irritation or lobbying for similar treatment from economic sectors not blessed by similar monetary largess.

"In his recent book titled Fault Lines, Raghuram Rajan reminds us that, 'More always seems better to the impatient politician [policymaker]. But any instrument of government policy has its limitations, and what works in small doses can become a nightmare when scaled up, especially when scaled up quickly.... Furthermore, the private sector's objectives are not the government's objectives, and all too often, policies are set without taking this disparity into account. Serious unintended consequences can result.'"

Hear. Oh, hear!

Can Fisher and Hoenig stand athwart the Keynesian tide at the Fed and get it to stop? Or for that matter, can the growing chorus of noted economists and analysts who openly question the need or wisdom of a QE2?

I doubt it. The Keynesian Cowboys are saddling their QE horses and they intend to ride. They have no idea what the end result will be. This is all a guess based on pure theory and models (like the broken money multiplier). And I really question whether the result they hope for is worth the risk of the unintended consequences (more later). As I wrote a few weeks ago:

"If it is because they don't have enough capital, then adding liquidity to the system will not help that. If it is because they don't feel they have creditworthy customers, do we really want banks to lower their standards? Isn't that what got us into trouble last time? If it is because businesses don't want to borrow all that much because of the uncertain times, will easy money make that any better? As someone said, 'I don't need more credit, I just need more customers.'"

How much of an impact would $2 trillion in QE give us? Not much, according to former Fed governor Larry Meyer, who, according to Morgan Stanley, "... maintains a large-scale macro-econometric model of the US economy that is widely used in the private sector and in public policy-making circles. These types of models are good for running 'what if?' simulations. Meyer estimates that a $2 trillion asset purchase program would: 1) lower Treasury yields by 50bp; 2) increase GDP growth by 0.3pp in 2011 and 0.4pp in 2012; and 3) lower the unemployment rate by 0.3pp by the end of 2011 and 0.5pp by the end of 2012. However, Meyer admits that these may be 'high-end estimates'.

"Some probability of a resumption of asset purchases is already priced in, and thus a full 50bp response in Treasuries is unlikely. Moreover, a model such as Meyer's is based on normal historical relationships and therefore assumes that the typical transmission mechanisms are working. For example, a drop in Treasury yields would lower borrowing costs for consumers and businesses, helping to stimulate consumption, business investment and housing. But there is good reason to believe that the transmission mechanism is at least partially broken at present, and thus the pass-through benefit to the economy associated with a small decline in Treasury yields (relative to current levels) would likely be infinitesimal." (Morgan Stanley)

It is clear, at least from the speeches I read, that if the economy continues to sputter and looks like it may fall into recession, that the need to DO SOMETHING will overwhelm all caution. Not trying the last tool in the box if the economy is rolling over is just not something that will be considered by those of the Keynesian persuasion. Never mind that Congress is getting ready to raise taxes (and has already done so in the case of Obamacare, to the tune of almost 1% of GDP!); in the face of a slowing economy, the Fed is going to step in and try to do something.

Let me be clear. We do NOT have a monetary problem. And whatever solutions we need are not monetary. This is on Congress and the Administration. The Fed needs to step aside.

Let Us Count the Unintended Consequences
Is there a chance that it could work? The short answer is, "Yes, but I doubt it." The whole purpose of QE2 is to try and get consumers and businesses spending. For a Keynesian, it is all about stimulating final consumer demand. That is tough in a world coming out of a credit crisis, where consumers are wanting to deleverage.

But what if they push a few trillion into the economy and it shows up in the stock market? Or the market just feels good that "Daddy" is doing something and runs up on its own? Can that change consumer sentiment? Will we feel like spending more? Could that be the catalyst? Maybe, but I doubt it. But you can bet your last trillion they are going to try.

It is doubtful that any QE2 that is enough to really do something in the way of reflating assets will be good for the dollar. Now, cynics might say that is the point, as a falling dollar is supposed to help our exports (and for my international readers, I get it that this is at the expense of other countries). Do we really want to open the first salvo in a race to the currency bottom? If the Fed does it, it gets legitimized everywhere.

(By the way, as I noted a few weeks ago, my call for parity for the euro and the pound is temporarily on hold. Stay tuned. We will get back to it.)

But QE2 also drives up commodity costs. Rising oil prices have the same effect on spending as a tax increase. As do rising food costs, etc.

How does one control inflation by printing money on the order of 10% or more of GDP? Is 3% ok? Do you really want to get to 4% and then have to start taking off the stimulus to get inflation under control, and push us back into recession?

You don't get inflation without a rise in interest rates. What about the increased costs of financing an ever-rising government debt? And aren't higher rates what the Fed is fighting? Talk about confusing the market.

Does the Fed really want us to get our animal spirits back up and go back in and borrow more money? Isn't too much leverage what got us into this problem to begin with? Does the Fed really want to persuade us to go out and buy mispriced assets? Should we buy stocks now in hopes that QE2 somehow finds a transmission mechanism and keeps us from recession? If it doesn't work, then all those buyers will get their heads handed to them, making matters even worse.

What if, as I think likely, the QE money simply makes a round trip back to the Fed balance sheet? Do we go for QE3? At the Barefoot Economic Summit I just attended (see more below), one very well-connected economist said he would start getting interested about QE when it approached $6 trillion. That is the number he thinks would be needed to actually have an effect. It raised a few eyebrows when he told that to David Faber on CNBC.

If the money makes a round trip back to the Fed, the markets will get spooked. All kinds of markets.

The only way I think they do not pursue QE is if the economic data in the next few months suggests the economy is beginning to heal itself. That will make the next few months worth of data more critical than usual. The stock market seems convinced that QE2 will be good for the economy and the markets, and thus bad news will be perversely considered good.

Sadly, if we go down that path I think this is going to end in tears. There are just too many unintended consequences that can reach up and bite us in our collective derrieres. I am not sanguine about 2011. I dearly, truly hope I am wrong. For your sake, gentle reader, and for my seven kids.

24859  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mauldin on: October 11, 2010, 05:17:51 PM
He who makes the most money?  cheesy

The Ride of the Keynesian Cowboys
by John Mauldin
October 8, 2010   

To ease or not to ease? That is the question we will take up this week. And if we do get another round of quantitative easing (QE2), will it make any difference? As I asked last week, what if they threw an inflation party and no one came? We will take as our launching pad today's unemployment numbers, which serve to demonstrate just why the Fed may in fact be ready for some monetary shock and awe.

Teachers Don't Count?
As the jobs report came out a number of headlines trumpeted the "strong" private-sector job growth of 64,000 jobs, trying to soften the overall loss of 95,000 jobs. If you exclude the loss of census workers, the job losses were "only" 18,000. However, for the first time since December of last year, we lost jobs in a month. That is not the right direction.

"Moreover, when you adjust for the slide in the participation rate this cycle, the byproduct of a record number of discouraged workers withdrawing from their job search, the unemployment rate is actually closer to 12% than the 9.6% official posted rate in September, which masks the massive degree of labour market slack in the system. This is underscored by the broad U6 jobless rate measure, which spiked to a five-month high of 17.1% from 16.7% in August." (David Rosenberg)

Let's go to Table A-1 in the BLS website. You find that the total number of "civilian noninstitutional population" has risen by exactly 2 million over the last year to 238,322,000. That is the number of people over 16 available to work. But the actual civilian labor force has only risen by 541,000. Over the last 12 months we have added only about 344,000 jobs, according to the data from the Establishment survey, or just about a month's worth in the good old days.

Here's an interesting note I picked up while looking at employment data by age and education (with seven kids, these things are important to me!). There is a cohort that has seen its employment level rise. That would be men and women over 65. The total number of people over 65 who are employed has risen by 318,000 over the last year, accounting for nearly all the job growth (although one bit of data is from the establishment survey and the other is from the household survey, but that should be close enough for government work).

Think about that. Almost all the job growth has come from those who have reached "retirement age" (whatever that is) continuing to work or going back to work. The unemployment rate for young people 16-19 is 26%. The unemployment rate for black youth is an appalling 49%. (This is not an abstract piece of data. I have two adopted black sons, so this figure means something in the Mauldin household.) Next time you go into malls, Barnes and Nobles, fast food places, notice again the work force. These are the jobs that traditionally went to those starting out.

As my friend Bill Dunkelberg, chief economist of the National Federation of Independent Business, wrote yesterday:

"Officially, the recession ended in June, 2009 according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, historical arbiters of recession and recovery dates. But in July, 2009, Congress raised the minimum wage by over 10% and 580,000 teen jobs were lost in the second half of the year even as GDP posted growth of 4% (annual rate). This was more than double the losses in the first half of the year when GDP declined at a 4% rate and fewer workers were needed. This was one of many policies implemented or proposed by Congress that made no sense as a measure to blunt the impact of the recession. The minimum wage determines the minimum value an unskilled worker must add to a business to justify employment. Congress has made this hurdle higher and more teens find they cannot get over it. This is just one of many barriers to hiring that are institutionalized in our economy, for example restrictions in the stimulus legislation that required union labor on projects."

Let's hear it for unintended consequences.

The Rise of the Temporary Worker
17,000 jobs in the latest survey were from new temporary jobs. I caught this graph from uber data slicer and dicer Greg Weldon ( Notice that part-time workers "for economic reasons" is the highest on record at 9.4 million. My take on this is that part-time workers are no longer a leading indicator but simply a manifestation of the new reality that employers don't want to take on the burden of a full-time employee who may not be needed or who comes with costly benefits under the new regulatory and health-care regimes.


State and local governments shed 39,000 jobs, the largest percentagewise loss since 1982. Those jobs mean something, and as state and local governments lose their stimulus money they will continue to shed jobs as they are forced to work with less revenue. Even after many places have raised taxes, revenues are down 3%. The consumption that government workers contribute to final consumer demand is just as important as that resulting from private jobs.

20% of personal income is now coming from the US government, and wages are flat. If you take into account the tax that is rising energy prices, that means many workers are falling behind the disposable-income curve.

Where Will the Jobs Come From?

Back to Dunk from the NFIB: "The percent of owners with unfilled (hard to fill) openings remained at 11% of all firms, historically a weak showing. Over the next three months, 13 percent plan to reduce employment (up 3 points), and 8 percent plan to create new jobs (unchanged), yielding a seasonally adjusted net -3 percent of owners planning to create new jobs, 4 points worse than August. The urge (based on economic factors) to create new jobs is clearly missing in the current economy and expectations for future business conditions are not supportive of job creation. Plans to create new jobs have lagged other recovery periods significantly.


"Overall, the job creation picture is still bleak. Weak sales and uncertainty about the future continue to hold back any commitments to growth, hiring or capital spending. Economic policies enacted or proposed continue to fail to address the most important players in the economy - the consumer. The President promised to continue to push his agenda for higher energy costs, few believe the health care bill will actually help them, and there is huge uncertainty about a VAT tax and the fate of the "Bush tax cuts". Deficits are at "trauma" level, incomprehensible to the average citizen. No relief, just promises that the consumer sector will be asked to pay more of their income to support government spending. This has left consumer and business owner sentiment in the "dumpster", unwilling to spend or hire."

The employment surveys mentioned above are basically completed by the middle of the month. But yesterday a Gallup poll suggested that unemployment may be headed back to over 10%, and that the latter half of September was weaker than the first half. From the release:

"The rate of those 'underemployed' - mostly part-time workers - increased slightly to 18.8 percent, suggesting that the number of workers employed part-time but seeking full-time work is declining as the unemployment rate increases. Gallup explains 'this may reflect a reduced company demand for new part-time employees.'

"This rate is likely to not be reflected by federal numbers to be released Friday, Gallup says, because the government numbers are based on conditions around the middle of September.

"Nevertheless, Gallup says the trend shows continuing high unemployment which does not help the economy, and could hurt retail sales during the holiday season.

"Gallup concludes by saying, 'The jobs picture could be deteriorating more rapidly than the government's job release suggests.'"

OK, the job picture is terrible. GDP is clearly slowing down. Consumer spending and retails sales are abysmal. Consumer credit creation is visibly falling, down for seven months in a row. Housing construction is not coming back any time soon. Commercial real estate is sick, with mall vacancy rates at almost 10%. Inflation (except in commodity and energy prices) is under 1%. The approximately 3% GDP growth we have seen the last four quarters was almost 2/3 inventory rebuilding, not a sustainable growth source.

It is pretty clear there will not be much more coming from the US government in the way of new stimulus. If you're a Keynesian and in charge of the Fed or Treasury (which is the case), what are you to do?

The Ride of the Keynesian Cowboys
The Fed is basically down to one bullet in its policy gun. It cannot lower rates beyond zero, although it can pull down longer-term rates if it so chooses. But lower rates so far have not been the answer to creating jobs and inflation. All less-subtle instruments of monetary policy have been tried. The final option is massive quantitative easing, the monetization of US government debt. As the saying goes, if all you have is a hammer, all the world looks like a nail. And after the last FOMC meeting, the markets have openly embraced quantitative easing. And for good reason: that is the talk coming from the leadership of the Fed.

Since my friend Greg Weldon has so thoughtfully collected some of the more salient parts of some recent Fed speeches, let's turn the next few paragraphs over to him.

"We note the following quotes, starting with the would-be-hero, maybe-headed-for-monetary-hell, Fed Chairman, Ben Boom-Boom Bernanke himself ...

... "'I do think that additional purchases, although we do not have precise numbers for how big the effects are, I do think they have the ability to ease financial conditions.'

"Next we note commentary that sparked Monday's extension lower in US Treasury Note yields, from New York Fed President William Dudley:

"'Fed action is likely to be warranted unless the economic outlook evolves in a way that makes me more confident that we will see better outcomes for both employment and inflation before too long.'

"Indeed, the Fed will keep pumping, until it sees the proverbial whites-of-their-eyes, as it relates to inflation, and job growth.

"More from Dudley ...

... "'The outlook for US job growth and inflation is unacceptable. We have tools that can provide additional stimulus at costs that do not appear to be prohibitive.'

"Indeed, when we first used the word 'deflation' in the Money Monitor, back in the nineties, and into the first part of the last decade, people scoffed, as this was a word equated to 'monetary blasphemy'... and I might have been 'charged' as a 'heretic' for suggesting that, someday, the Fed would PURSUE INFLATION as a POLICY GOAL.

"Now, the New York Fed President openly states that subdued inflation is ...


"Welcome to the new world order, where deflation is openly discussed, and inflation is, in fact, pursued by the Federal Reserve, as a policy goal."

Greg goes on to quote Chicago Fed president Charles Evans as favoring easing, and you can bet vice-chair Janet Yellen is on board.

But there are voices that question the need for QE2. From the Bill King Report:

"Hoenig Opposes Further Fed Easing, Warns About Prices

"Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank President Thomas Hoenig said the central bank shouldn't expand its balance sheet by purchasing more Treasury securities in an effort to spur economic growth... The Kansas City Fed official repeated his view that the Fed should raise its short-term target rate to 1 percent, then pause to assess the economy's recovery. He also rejected the idea of raising the Fed's informal inflation target above 2 percent because of concern over the possibility of falling prices.

"'I have to tell you it horrifies me,' Hoenig said, responding to an audience question. "It assumes you can fine-tune things like interest rates." 'I have never agreed to' an informal inflation target, he said. 'Two percent inflation over a generation is a big impact.'"
24860  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: October 11, 2010, 05:16:11 PM
Actually, here at home. Cindy's computer is extremely intermittent as well.
24861  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: October 11, 2010, 05:02:41 PM
Glenn Beck recently spoke of a conversation between Moses and God wherein God commanded Moses to accomplish something.

But how?

Use what you have in your hand.

But its only a stick/staff!

Use it.

Something like this.  Anyone have the reference/story?

24862  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: October 11, 2010, 04:53:09 PM

I travel a fair amount and notice that the US is a seriously fatter country than anyway else I go.   Switzerland has lots of red meat, cheese, carbs, and sweet in its diet but hardly ever will you see someone there of the gargantuan proportions see so often in the US, let alone the epidemic % of obese people we have here.  The Swiss have plenty of money too, so its not a question of we eat too much if we have enough money to do so.

In short, sorry, but I'm not buying your line of thought.  smiley

24863  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fire Hydrant: Howls from Crafty Dog, Rules of the Road, etc on: October 11, 2010, 04:40:44 PM
Have had no internet connection for two days, and don't know how long this connection right now will last.
24864  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: October 11, 2010, 04:40:00 PM
Have had no internet connection for two days, and don't know how long this connection right now will last.
24865  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our man in Iraq returns-7 on: October 09, 2010, 10:25:33 PM
So my partner and I are coming out of the embassy the other day, a little bit ahead of this American officer (LTC) wearing a U.N. blue beret.  Turns out his car is parked across the street right next to ours.  My partner and I start our comprehensive search for sticky bombs.  Now you can just tell that this guy has never searched his car, but he wants the chick he is with to think he's all fly like that, and proceeds to conduct 20-seconds of the most lame ass search I have ever seen.  Not once did his eyes go lower than the level of his already visible gut.
Does putting on a sky blue beret, in and of itself, just make you a straight up pussy?
24866  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: October 09, 2010, 05:38:38 PM

I'm not sure we are reading this the same way.  If I understand you correctly, you are discussing a signature at the closing.

If I understand correctly the issue presented concerns robo-signatures as part of the foreclosure process.
24867  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2010 Elections; 2012 Presidential on: October 09, 2010, 05:36:31 PM
What is Pence's background/experience/story?
24868  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: talent is what the unskilled call skill on: October 09, 2010, 01:42:11 PM
At the opposite end of spectrum from the "tabla rasa" folks are those that tend to see things as genetically determined.  Such people tend to quit easily in the face of frustation; such people tend to avoid situations where they might look bad, whereas people who believe that work/training/studying make a difference tend to take on challenges transcend them.

The book "Social Theories" by Carol Dweck, which was recommended to me by Chris Gizzi, is an excellent discussion of this.
24869  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Stretching on: October 09, 2010, 01:37:46 PM
I went to one of those "hot" yoga classes (Bikram?).  I thought the progression of positions not particularly well thought out, but , , , the scenery was hot!  evil
24870  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Cuba on: October 09, 2010, 10:42:09 AM
Parece que hoy es el anniversario de la muerte de Che!  grin
24871  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Awful, awfuler, awfulest on: October 09, 2010, 10:40:26 AM
Awful, Awfuler, Awfulest
Published: October 8, 2010

I recently wrote a column on the pressing question of which state is having the most terrible election this year. Nevada won. Immediately, there were outcries from voters who believed their state had been unfairly overlooked on the dreadfulness meter.

“How could you leave out Connecticut?”

“Give credit where it is due for top honors to KENTUCKY.”

“Dang! Feeling a bit left out here in Massachusetts.”

“What about Maine?”

A reader from Missouri demanded consideration for his state, where Representative Roy Blunt, father of former Gov. Matt Blunt, is running against Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, sister of Representative Russ Carnahan, whose father was a governor and mother a senator. “There probably hasn’t been an election in Missouri in 30 years in which a Blunt or Carnahan wasn’t on the ballot,” he complained.

And you know what? That seems to be true. Thirteen Blunt candidacies and thirteen Carnahan ones since 1980. While extreme boredom is not nearly enough to get a state into the awful-election finals, Missouri, you do need to think about getting a little variety.

Several readers from Maine pointed out that their Republican candidate for governor, Paul LePage, has homes in both Maine and Florida, each of which got tax breaks as the family’s principal residence.

“If elected (he leads in polls) will he be governor of both states?” one correspondent demanded.

No, gentle reader. Florida has its own governor’s race, where the leading candidate is a wealthy businessman who made history when his company was fined $1.7 billion for fraudulent Medicare billing. It has enough on its hands. On the plus side, Florida might soon be able to bill itself as The Place Where Other States’ Officials Stash Their Loved Ones. West Virginia’s Republican candidate for the Senate, John Raese, has a house in Palm Beach where his wife lives with the kids, who attend local schools.

Raese is a very rich guy. (“I made money the old-fashioned way. I inherited it,” he told an interviewer.) His $2.9 million, 7,000-square-foot crash pad has made numerous appearances in Democratic campaign literature, which always notes that the driveway is paved in pink marble. Raese rejoined that it is “peach-colored tile” that he didn’t even pick himself, leading a West Virginia union leader to say that the coal miners felt “great sympathy and understanding for multimillionaires who were steered in a wrong direction by their interior designers.”

The presence of one outrageous candidate in a race is not nearly enough to make it the worst election in the country given all the competition we have this year. Here in New York, the Republican candidate for governor, Carl Paladino, seems incapable of discussing anything, including the state budget, without making a reference to his opponent Andrew Cuomo’s sex life.

Cuomo has barely said a word since the campaign began. We would be looking forward to the upcoming gubernatorial debate, except there will be so many minor candidates on the stage that it will be hard to pick him out. And when I tell you that one of the debaters is going to be a woman who claims to have supplied former Gov. Eliot Spitzer with prostitutes, you will understand that I am setting the bar for Worst Election winner very, very high.

Nevada won the contest because it has a high-profile race for the Senate in which voters seem to find both candidates so loathsome that neither incumbent Harry Reid nor his Republican opponent, Sharron Angle, wants to come out and campaign. The voters were tired of Reid, the powerful Senate majority leader, even before he attempted to run for re-election while his son was the Democratic gubernatorial nominee. Too many Reids! Really, Harry, if you wanted to pull something like this, you could have moved to Missouri.

Angle did make an appearance last week at a rally of Tea Party supporters in Mesquite, where she responded to a question about “Muslims wanting to take over the United States” by decrying the fact that Dearborn, Mich., and Frankford, Tex., were governed under Islamic law, called Sharia. Which, of course, they are not.

The Associated Press, which reported on this event, noted that while Dearborn does at least have “a thriving Muslim community,” it was not clear why Angle picked on Frankford, Tex., which did not seem to have many Muslims, and also went out of existence around 1975.

Nevada, you are the winner, and we appreciate the way you make the rest of us feel better about our own political woes.

“Wow! Texas did not make the list. Things are looking up,” wrote a grateful Texan.

“I can’t tell if this is a sign we’re improving or the rest of the country is going to hell,” wrote another.
24872  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: October 09, 2010, 10:35:34 AM

Also, some very interesting cases are likely to come up for title insurance , , ,  shocked
24873  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / and throw away the key on: October 09, 2010, 10:34:26 AM
Don’t Try Terrorists, Lock Them UpBy JACK GOLDSMITH
Published: October 8, 2010

David Suter
THE Obama administration wants to show that federal courts can handle trials of Guantánamo Bay detainees, and had therefore placed high hopes in the prosecution of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, accused in the 1998 bombings of American embassies in East Africa. On Wednesday a federal judge, Lewis Kaplan of the United States District Court in Manhattan, made the government’s case much harder when he excluded the testimony of the government’s central witness because the government learned about the witness through interrogating Mr. Ghailani at a secret overseas prison run by the C.I.A.

Some, mostly liberals and civil libertarians, applauded the ruling, saying it showed that the rule of law is being restored. But many conservatives denounced it as proof that high-level terrorists cannot reliably be prosecuted in civilian courts and should instead be tried by military commissions.

The real lesson of the ruling, however, is that prosecution in either criminal court or a tribunal is the wrong approach. The administration should instead embrace what has been the main mechanism for terrorist incapacitation since 9/11: military detention without charge or trial.

Military detention was once legally controversial but now is not. District and appellate judges have repeatedly ruled — most recently on Thursday — that Congress, in its September 2001 authorization of force, empowered the president to detain members of Al Qaeda, the Taliban and associated forces until the end of the military conflict.

Because the enemy in this indefinite war wears no uniform, courts have rightly insisted on high legal and evidentiary standards — much higher than what the Geneva Conventions require — to justify detention. And many detainees in cases that did not meet these standards have been released.

Still, while it is more difficult than ever to keep someone like Mr. Ghailani in military detention, it is far easier to detain him than to convict him in a civilian trial or a military commission. Military detention proceedings have relatively forgiving evidence rules and aren’t constrained by constitutional trial rules like the right to a jury and to confront witnesses. There is little doubt that Mr. Ghailani could be held in military detention until the conflict with Al Qaeda ends.

Why, then, does the Obama administration seek to prosecute him in federal court? One answer might be that trials permit punishment, including the death penalty. But the Justice Department is not seeking the death penalty against Mr. Ghailani. Another answer is that trials “give vent to the outrage” over attacks on civilians, as Judge Kaplan has put it. This justification for the trial is diminished, however, by the passage of 12 years since the crimes were committed.

The final answer, and the one that largely motivates the Obama administration, is that trials are perceived to be more legitimate than detention, especially among civil libertarians and foreign allies.

Military commissions have secured frustratingly few convictions. The only high-profile commission trial now underway — that of Omar Khadr, a Canadian who was 15 at the time he was detained — has been delayed for months. Commissions do not work because they raise scores of unresolved legal issues like the proper rules of evidence and whether material support and conspiracy, usually the main charges, can be brought in a tribunal since they may not be law-of-war violations.

Civilian trials in federal court, by contrast, often do work. Hundreds of terrorism-related cases in federal court have resulted in convictions since 9/11; this week, the would-be Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, was sentenced to life in prison after a guilty plea.

But Mr. Ghailani and his fellow detainees at Guantánamo Bay are a different matter. The Ghailani case shows why the administration has been so hesitant to pursue criminal trials for them: the demanding standards of civilian justice make it very hard to convict when the defendant contests the charges and the government must rely on classified information and evidence produced by aggressive interrogations.

A further problem with high-stakes terrorism trials is that the government cannot afford to let the defendant go. Attorney General Eric Holder has made clear that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the 9/11 plotter, would be held indefinitely in military detention even if acquitted at trial. Judge Kaplan said more or less the same about Mr. Ghailani this week. A conviction in a trial publicly guaranteed not to result in the defendant’s release will not be seen as a beacon of legitimacy.

The government’s reliance on detention as a backstop to trials shows that it is the foundation for incapacitating high-level terrorists in this war. The administration would save money and time, avoid political headaches and better preserve intelligence sources and methods if it simply dropped its attempts to prosecute high-level terrorists and relied exclusively on military detention instead.

Jack Goldsmith, a former assistant attorney general in the George W. Bush administration, is a professor at Harvard Law School and a member of the Hoover Institution’s Task Force on National Security and Law.
24874  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Foreclosure moratorium on: October 09, 2010, 10:16:18 AM
Talk about a financial scandal. A consumer borrows money to buy a house, doesn't make the mortgage payments, and then loses the house in foreclosure—only to learn that the wrong guy at the bank signed the foreclosure paperwork. Can you imagine? The affidavit was supposed to be signed by the nameless, faceless employee in the back office who reviewed the file, not the other nameless, faceless employee who sits in the front.

The result is the same, but politicians understand the pain that results when the anonymous paper pusher who kicks you out of your home is not the anonymous paper pusher who is supposed to kick you out of your home. Welcome to Washington's financial crisis of the week.

In the 23 states that require judicial foreclosures, lenders seeking to seize property from a delinquent borrower must file a summary judgment motion in court. Typically, this document must be signed in the presence of a notary by a "witness" who has reviewed the relevant documents and confirmed that the borrower is in default and the lender owns the mortgage.

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Associated Press
 .Recently GMAC Mortgage, whose parent Ally Financial is majority-owned by the U.S. government, suspended foreclosures in those 23 states after acknowledging that in some cases notaries may not have been present and the signers may have relied upon others to review the documents instead of doing it themselves. Bank of America and J.P. Morgan Chase then halted their own foreclosures in those 23 states to ensure they are following the letter of the law, and yesterday BofA announced its moratorium is now nationwide.

We're not aware of a single case so far of a substantive error. Out of tens of thousands of potentially affected borrowers, we're still waiting for the first victim claiming that he was current on his mortgage when the bank seized the home. Even if such victims exist, the proper policy is to make them whole, not to let 100,000 other people keep homes for which they haven't paid.

In their zeal to find and prosecute the great bank defendant, state Attorneys General aren't waiting to see if anyone within their borders was actually harmed. In a civil suit, Ohio's Attorney General Richard Cordray has even charged an Ally employee with fraud for signing the documents without reading them. In a Journal interview, Mr. Cordray compared the employee to Nazis at Nuremberg who claimed they were just following orders.

As far as we know, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hasn't compared any bank employees to Nazis, but this week she demanded an investigation by the Department of Justice. The next day Attorney General Eric Holder announced that his Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force is examining the issue. But even if one believes this is more than a technicality, the issue is whether the banks violated state laws, not federal ones.

On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid jumped into the fray by demanding a halt to all foreclosures in Nevada, though Nevada is not one of the 23 states affected and therefore presents not even a theoretical violation of the law. The same day, Representative Edolphus Towns (D., N.Y.) demanded a national foreclosure moratorium, which Mr. Reid then endorsed on Friday. Even normally sober Republican Senator Richard Shelby has called for a federal probe of bank regulators.

Yes, the same crew (Mr. Shelby excepted) that ran roughshod over its own transparency rules—not to mention the established customs of the House and Senate—to restructure American medicine is now appalled that some paperwork at private businesses may have been incorrectly processed. To be clear, bank employees appear guilty of sloppy work, and problems in the back office should be corrected, but freezing activity in a $2.8 trillion financial market is the last thing this economy needs and is in no way proportional to the problems reported so far.

Now President Obama is refusing to sign a previously noncontroversial measure to have states recognize notarized documents from other states. Among other things, the bill would have streamlined the process of moving people out of homes they can't afford and therefore would have helped to allow housing markets to clear and begin to heal. Allowing supply to meet demand in housing must not be one of the "progressive agendas" that Mr. Obama recently told Rolling Stone he is committed to advancing.

If evidence emerges of policies or actions that wrongly threw people out of their homes, by all means investigate and prosecute violations of law. But allowing people to live in homes without paying for them is not cost-free. That cost will be borne directly by investors in mortgage-backed securities and mortgage servicing companies, and ultimately by American taxpayers, who now stand behind 90% of new mortgages, thanks to guarantees by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration.

The bigger damage here is to the housing market, which desperately needs to find a bottom by clearing excess inventory and working through foreclosures as rapidly as possible. The moratoriums further politicize the housing market and further delay a housing recovery. In an economy and a financial system engulfed in Washington-created uncertainty, the political class has decided to create still more.
24875  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Barney Frank on: October 09, 2010, 10:13:06 AM

Fall River, Mass.

'I don't consider myself a tea party candidate," Sean Bielat tells me over dinner. "I don't know what it means." But an hour later Mr. Bielat, Rep. Barney Frank's Republican challenger, receives a hero's welcome at the Spindle City Tea Party, a gathering of nearly 200 citizen- activists in this economically depressed mill town. As he approaches the stage, they stand, applauding and chanting "Go, Sean, go!"

What he tells them is consistent with this reporter's view of the tea party: "I'm starting to think that people want to take this country back—that people no longer believe that the government has the answers for our betterment, that the government can tell them how they should use their money. People believe that they have the power to create their own opportunity, if only they are given the chance. . . . There is so much wrong in Washington, I almost don't know where to start."

Mr. Bielat holds some views that this crowd would find uncongenial. For one, he favors raising the "cap" on wages subject to the Social Security payroll tax—a glaring exception to his opposition to tax hikes. Another comes up during the tea party event, when a portly man with a white beard asks him: "Will you introduce legislation creating term limits in the federal government?"

The crowd applauds the question, and Mr. Bielat tries to duck it. He points out that the event isn't supposed to be a Q&A and offers to speak with the man one-on-one later. "I think people are interested to know," the man persists, and others shout in assent.

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Associated Press
The longtime incumbent calls on help from Bill Clinton.
.Mr. Bielat relents—and responds with aplomb. "The answer's no. Here's why. I think that there's a real advantage to us bearing the responsibility of ensuring that there's turnover in the Congress. I think there's real advantage for us ensuring that we don't allow congressional staffers, who aren't elected, to have power because they stay there for generations. So I do understand the arguments for term limits. I personally oppose term limits." It's clear that he hasn't convinced everybody, but about half the crowd applauds. Not bad for a 35-year-old first-time candidate.

A native of Rochester, N.Y., Mr. Bielat caught the "political bug" as a teenager, when he did a stint as a House page. After earning a master's in public policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, he went to work as a consultant at McKinsey & Co. and an executive for iRobot Corp., a defense contractor based in Bedford, Mass. He's also a new father; his wife gave birth to their son, Theodore, over the summer.

Before Harvard, Mr. Bielat served four years as an officer in the Marines. He's still a major in the reserves, but he left active duty in 2002 and hasn't served in combat. I ask if that is a source of regret, and he says yes: "I disagreed with us going into Iraq, but all my Marines were there, all my friends were there. I wanted to be there. Instead I was sitting at Harvard, watching it on TV."

Mr. Bielat's varied résumé is quite a contrast with that of Mr. Frank, who is twice the challenger's age yet has spent more than half his adult life in Congress. "Of his 45 years of work experience, 44 have been either in political office or working for somebody in political office," Mr. Bielat says of the incumbent. "The other one was teaching at the Harvard Kennedy School." (No, Mr. Bielat did not have the congressman as a professor.)

Can he win? In a district that gave 63% of its vote to Barack Obama, Mr. Frank has to be reckoned the heavy favorite. But Mr. Bielat's quest does not look quite as quixotic as it did last October, when he quit his job at iRobot to pursue it.

Then, Massachusetts had the biggest single-party congressional delegation in the country: 12 Democrats and no Republicans. By the time Mr. Bielat made his candidacy official in February, the numbers had improved to 11 to 1 with Scott Brown's election to the Senate the preceding month.

Mr. Brown narrowly outpolled Democrat Martha Coakley in the district, which is politically more diverse than the Massachusetts stereotype. In addition to the ultraliberal Boston suburbs of Brookline and Newton—where Mr. Bielat and Mr. Frank, respectively, live—it includes more conservative outer suburbs and the blue-collar area just east of Rhode Island, beset by unemployment (13.3% in Fall River) and rife with Reagan Democrats.

Mr. Bielat says Mr. Frank "hasn't been tested. His support isn't nearly as strong as people assume, because he hasn't had a real opponent since 1982." Last month Mr. Bielat released an internal poll showing Mr. Frank ahead by only 10 points, 48% to 38%.

Mr. Frank dismissed the survey, but his own actions suggest he is worried. Two weeks ago Bill Clinton traveled to the district to stump for Mr. Frank—a visit that backfired, to hear Mr. Bielat tell it: "The minute I heard that he was bringing Bill Clinton to campaign, I shouted for joy, because it said a lot about the state of this campaign. . . . I don't think Bill Clinton being here won him a whole lot of votes. It got me a lot of money and coverage." Mr. Bielat raised some $400,000 just in the two weeks after the Sept. 14 primary.

Mr. Bielat notes that Mr. Frank has "pretty steadily maintained a 10-to-1 advantage" in funding. But some of that money has helped Mr. Bielat's name recognition. In the car on the way to dinner, we heard Mr. Frank's first radio ad of the campaign, which attacks Mr. Bielat by name for opposing the eponymous Dodd-Frank "financial reform" law. Mr. Bielat laughed and said he's grateful to the incumbent for letting voters know who he is.

Mr. Taranto, a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board, writes the Best of the Web Today column for
24876  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Refugees in AZ on: October 09, 2010, 10:08:50 AM
PHOENIX — Here in Arizona, illegal immigrants get the boot. But refugees get the welcome mat.

Victor Acevedo migrated illegally to Arizona and is now awaiting deportation back to Mexico. Through a new law that gained widespread attention this year, the state is known for being particularly tough on illegal immigrants.

Even as officials rage at what they have called the “invasion” of illegal immigrants, mostly Mexicans, Arizona has welcomed thousands of legal immigrants from such grief-torn lands as Somalia, Myanmar and Iraq, and is known for treating them unusually well.

Indeed, the scorched expanse of the Phoenix valley can seem like a giant resettlement lab. Bosnians trim the watered lawns of the Arizona Biltmore, and Karenni speakers have their own prenatal class at St. Joseph’s hospital. A Sudanese goat farmer is thriving in a desert slaughterhouse built with a micro-enterprise loan. (He is glad to demonstrate his skill in turning goats to goat meat.)

Hai Doo, a laundry worker from Myanmar, got grants to buy his first home. Yasoda Bhattarai, a new mother from Bhutan, credits 10 weeks of free hospital care for saving her daughter, who was born with tuberculosis. “Whenever people ask me about Phoenix, I tell them it is the best place,” she said.

Only three states accepted more refugees on a per capita basis over the past six years. Arizona took nearly twice as many refugees per capita as its liberal neighbor, California, and more than twice as many per capita as New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

“In the degree of welcome and receptivity we see, I would certainly put Arizona at the top,” said Robert Carey, a vice president at the International Rescue Committee, which resettles refugees in a dozen states.

The work contrasts with the state’s renown as the scourge of illegal immigrants, whom critics blame for driving up crime, stealing jobs and burdening hospitals and schools.

“We’re not anti-immigrant — never have been,” said State Senator Russell Pearce, a Republican who is a leading critic of illegal immigration. “But we expect people to follow the law.”

Mr. Pearce sponsored a new law that would give the police greater power to question people about their immigration status. The Obama administration has sued, arguing the law usurps federal power and encourages racial profiling.

Numerically, the groups do not compare; Arizona took in about 4,700 refugees last year, but is thought to have about 375,000 illegal immigrants. Refugees are not economic migrants but survivors of war and persecution whom the United States admits for humanitarian and foreign policy reasons. In fleeing violence, many refugees themselves illegally crossed borders overseas.

Refugee groups in Arizona sometimes feel caught in the political crossfire, wanting to emphasize that their clients are legal immigrants without taking sides in the larger war.

“We don’t want to be in the position of saying one group is good and another is bad,” said Robin Dunn Marcos, who runs the rescue group’s Phoenix office.

Arizona first drew refugees because the cost of living is low, and until the recession the state had lots of entry-level jobs open to non-English speakers, like housekeeping and lawn care. Early success, with Bosnians and Kosovars in the late 1990s and later with war orphans from Sudan, helped build local support.

Efforts intensified after the hiring in 2002 of a new state coordinator, Charles Shipman, who is married to a former Cambodian refugee and known for his advocacy. In recent years, Arizona has taken more than three times as many refugees as it did when he arrived.

Mr. Shipman quickly spotted a shortage of interpreters for a population ever more ethnically diverse. He commissioned a study that found language barriers “quite troubling.” The rescue group then used it to win a private grant to start an interpreting service. It now operates in 14 languages, including Kirundi (Burundi), Tigrinya (Ethiopia) and Hakka (China).

As the recession took hold, Mr. Shipman led a charge to prevent homelessness among newly arrived refugees. In part at his prompting, the federal government let Arizona shift some federal money into rent relief and urged other states to follow.

That benefited Harith Khalid Aziz, an Iraqi refugee with a master’s degree, who was earning little as a part-time clerk in a grocery. With a wife and a young son, he said it was “a horrible feeling” to fear eviction.

A few months’ aid sustained him until he found a better job. In Arizona, even “if you are not from the same race, they welcome you,” he said. “The U.S. is built on this.”


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Last year, the federal government admitted about 75,000 refugees, out of 10.5 million worldwide, and it covers most resettlement costs. State officials administer the money and help decide how many refugees they can take; private agencies do the casework, helping find housing and jobs.

The Biltmore not only hired refugees but donated used furniture to them. The private Tesseract School (tuition: $19,000 a year), established a scholarship just for refugees. When the rescue group encouraged clients to farm, Hickman’s Eggs donated 60 tons of chicken manure.  Hai Doo, the laundry worker from the former Burma, thought the home ownership program was too good to be true. Matching grants converted his $5,000 in savings into a $24,000 down payment on a house. Most of the money came from the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, which is required to spend some of its profits on housing aid.
“I never thought I would get help like this,” he said.

The flip side of the Arizona story includes the Maricopa County sheriff, Joe Arpaio, who courts a national following by advertising his toughness toward illegal immigrants. (“The rumor is I could run for president,” he said in a recent interview.)

Mr. Arpaio conducts frequent raids on immigrant neighborhoods, stopping people for minor infractions and reviewing their immigration status. He says these raids have netted hundreds of illegal immigrants. Critics say they spread fear and harass legal residents. Victor Acevedo, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, said he was stopped in January after failing to use his turn signal and was found with a small amount of marijuana. He is now awaiting deportation in one of Mr. Arpaio’s famed prison tents, dressed in the standard outfit: black stripes and pink underwear.

In a tent-side interview in 107-degree heat, Mr. Acevedo, 29, said he came nine years ago for a “better livelihood,” found a landscaping job, married an American and had two American-born sons. He was deported in 2008 but returned a year later to be with his family.

“We’re here illegally, but we’re still human beings,” he said.

Refugees seem slow to sympathize. The two groups often compete for jobs or housing, and some refugees say Latino gangs have preyed on them.

The United States “stands for law and order,” said Wissam Salman, 35, a hotel housekeeper from Iraq. “If they don’t look for these people it will be a disaster.”

Ibrahim Swara-Dahab, the Sudanese goat farmer, agrees.

“I have some problems with the Mexican people; they stole my goats,” he said. “If they don’t have documents, they should go back to their country.”

Mr. Swara-Dahab acknowledged that he, too, crossed a border illegally when he fled to Kenya but called that a matter of life and death. “Here, the situation is different,” he said. “You need documents.”
24877  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: October 09, 2010, 09:57:56 AM

That may well turn out to be the case, but I would like to suggest that this article has a simple, primal fundamental flaw (gee, from POTH, who would have thought? cheesy )  It does not consider the option of GROWTH. 

Serious amounts of money now sit on the sidelines due to uncertainty and stupidity emanating from the White House and Congress.   A not insignificant portion of our deficit spending is due to fed revenues contracting due to economic contraction.  If we start getting the government out of the way (e.g. no tax increases-- and maybe even tax rate cuts such as cutting corp tax to levels of other advanced countries, blocking the implementation of Obamacare, stopping the madness of massive deficits, start drilling for oil and gas, etc etc) I think we will be amazed at what will happen.

The November elections are of historic significance-- as will be what the new Congress does and does not do.  If the elections fall short (and they might) and/or the Republicans fall short (and they might!) then the article will be right.

24878  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Che Guevarra on: October 09, 2010, 09:44:47 AM
en ingles;_guerrilla_doofus_and_murdering_coward/page/full/
24879  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela on: October 09, 2010, 09:33:13 AM
The article goes on to discuss that it looks like Iran is getting Venezuelan uranium and more.
24880  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kudlow on: October 09, 2010, 09:22:07 AM
Friday's unemployment report for September, the last before the election, brought more bad news for the Barack Obama Democrats.

Noteworthy is the fact that stocks rallied a bit on the lackluster and tepid jobs numbers, pushing through the 11,000 mark. But more and more, it seems bad economic news illustrating the failure of Obamanomics becomes good news for stocks on the expectation of a GOP tsunami in November.

The unemployment rate itself held at 9.6 percent. It's been over 9.5 percent for 14 straight months. Meanwhile, the marginally unemployed -- or the so-called impairment rate (U-6) -- jumped to 17.1 percent from 16.7 percent.

These headlines are political poison for Democrats. Voters are going to keep asking, What exactly did we get for a $1 trillion stimulus-spending package that puts us deeper in hock?

Overall, nonfarm payrolls fell 95,000 for September, largely from a drop in census workers and state and local government employees. Private payrolls increased 64,000, only a third of what's necessary to sustainably reduce unemployment.

Average hourly wages were flat, as was the workweek.

Looking back, the jobs story was much stronger in the first four months of the year through April. But job creation has slowed markedly since then, along with the overall economy.

The household survey, which picks up small businesses, is the better story. This report has grown by 1.6 million jobs year-to-date (adjusted for census workers), or 178,000 per month. And in the payroll survey, corporate jobs have increased 863,000 in the private sector, coming to 96,000 per month. Yet both surveys must grow over 200,000 per month in order to truly dent stubbornly high unemployment.

There is no double-dip recession here. The recovery is probably advancing at about a 2 percent to 3 percent rate. But that's a sluggish pace at best. We should be growing at least twice as fast.

Precisely because of the obvious failure of the Obama stimulus-spending program to adequately create jobs, the Federal Reserve is moving toward re-priming the pump. It's the addition of yet another bad policy of dollar destruction to the first mistake of massive spending.

Think of it this way: The Fed is probably going to add another $1 trillion of new cash to the financial system. But as all those new dollars are created, the dollar excess sinks the greenback exchange rate. And that means investors will take the new money the Fed creates and drain it out of the U.S. financial system into more reliable currencies. Go figure Ben Bernanke's logic.

The same thing happened between 2002 and 2006. The Fed was too loose for too long, the dollar fell too far, and all that cash fled the country, thereby undermining the George W. Bush tax cuts.

Meanwhile, with today's rapid rise in gold and commodity prices, a new inflation tax will be imposed on consumers and businesses. Bad for growth. Oil has jumped to $83 a barrel, and gas at the retail pump is heading toward $3 a gallon.

And on top of all this, a world currency and trade war beckons. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is rapidly escalating the China-bashing rhetoric, as he blames the Chinese yuan for American economic woes. Shades of the 1930s. Neither the Treasury nor the Fed seems interested in defending the dollar's world-reserve-currency status, or U.S. global economic leadership. And no one in official Washington seems interested in global-currency stability backed by a golden anchor.

But here's the real problem. New numbers from the Congressional Budget Office show a 9 percent increase in federal budget spending for fiscal 2010. That's about six-times the inflation rate. Astronomical.

Federal spending is now 25 percent of gross domestic product, way past the historical norm of 20 percent. And the budget gap is $1.3 trillion. So how can you blame investors or businesses for asking this simple question: How high are my taxes going to go to finance all this?

Until this question is answered to their satisfaction, the job-creating engines will remain dormant. Obamacare is a massive tax and regulatory threat. And so is the spending and deficit problem. The Fed can pour all the new money it wants into the economy, but it cannot change any of this.

Then again, the elections can.
24881  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Estudio: pistola defiende contra ataque por cuchillo on: October 08, 2010, 08:05:08 PM
No hay de que hombre smiley  Como decimos aca' "Another episode of 'As the Stick Twirls!'"  cheesy
24882  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: We the unorganized militia on: October 08, 2010, 08:00:52 PM
Well, the Israeli people aren't sheeple. cool
24883  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Are you ready for Mumbai style attack here? on: October 08, 2010, 06:52:50 PM
24884  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sufism on: October 08, 2010, 05:59:55 PM
I saw today that the Islamo-fascists in Pakistan have bombed a Sufi mosque yet again.

This got me to thinking about the various times I have run across indications that Sufism (Sufiiism?) is a tolerant strand of Islam-- which is why the Islamo-fascists do not tolerate it and regard it as apostasy.

Anyway, the purpose of this post here is to call upon the considerable intellectual capabilities of this board to be on the lookout for worthy discussions of Sufi-ism and whether Sufis can be allies in Civilization's war with the Barbarians of Islamo-fascism.
24885  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: October 08, 2010, 05:55:31 PM
"apothegmatic"?   Anyone have the URL of a good dictionary?

Matt Ridley is an interesting guy with a very strong background in evolutionary biology/psychology see e.g. "The Red Queen" (an excellent discussion of the Darwinian logic and consequences of the existence of sex to reproduce) and "Nature via Nurture" which sits still unread on my shelf.
24886  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: October 08, 2010, 05:33:10 PM
Eating less calories and more real food is always an option too  cheesy
24887  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Stretching on: October 08, 2010, 05:31:00 PM
1) There are MANY different kinds of yoga, and they can operate according to very distinctive underlying concepts, so IMHO the term yoga is so vague that for our purposes here it is insufficiently precise in its meaning.

2) Squats and bridges make perfect sense to me for lower back pain.  As I have written in varying levels of detail previously  IMHO most lower back pain is due to shortened hip flexors and weakened peak contraction of hip extensors.  )This is why forward bending to "stretch" the back is usually uttterly useless except as a short term palliative.) By strengthening the latter, squats and bridges trigger release of the fomer; or as is said in the "Crafty Dog Self Help Principals":  "Where a muscle is tight, in that range of motion the complementary muscles are weak"

In my experience yoga that taps into this principal is effective, whereas yoga that does not is not effective.
24888  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GB's health on: October 08, 2010, 05:07:16 PM
October 8, 2010 - 11:46 ET

Glenn Beck is seen here on GlennBeck.TV, a feature available exclusively to Glenn Beck Insider Extreme members. Learn more...

GLENN: Today I want to talk to you about something. I want to talk to you about a portion of my life that I want to share with you because I think it's going to lead me in different places. I don't necessarily mean physical, but mentally I think this is going to be a spiritual journey. It is going to be a physical journey. It is going to be a mental journey. And I would like to, I'd like to be able to share it with you and the things that I have learned, and you'll be able also to see why I'm going the places that I am and what I am doing.

Next week on Monday and Tuesday, I am going to take time off. I'm going out West to have some testing done. I have told you before that I have been losing feeling in my hands and my feet and I have been feeling tingling in my hands and my feet, and it's traveling up my arms and it's just a very bizarre sensation. It almost feels like I'm wearing gloves at times because I was talking to my kids the other day about fingerprints and I couldn't, I couldn't feel my fingerprints and it was bizarre. And I thought if that was only true, man, I could be like a master thief. So it's been very it's been strange. I've told you also that I have been diagnosed with macular dystrophy, which means that I love this diagnosis I could be totally fine with eyesight for the rest of my life, or I could be blind within a year. The macular dystrophy has not progressed at all in the two months since it's been diagnosed, but there's something else that has also been going on. And if you're a long time listener, you might be even be able to tell it I can just by listening to my voice now. There is something wrong with my voice, and we're not sure what it is. I went in and had some testing done and there's nothing like sticking scopes through your nose and then having doctors look through the scopes in your nose. And they're passing the scope back and forth going, look at this, doctor, what do you think this is? And I'm like, what do you guys see? What are you looking at? What do you see? Show it to me. And I'll tell you more about this next week. But there's just some things that are happening, and we don't know what they are yet. And they're doing all kinds of testing. They're going to be doing CAT scans and MREs or MRIs and PET scans and they're going to be doing blood work like crazy. And the thing that they said to me, I've seen five different doctors and I've got an incredible group of doctors who are, I think only one of them really hates me, and I have the other four watching that one. But they're looking one of them said to me the other night, we have to do all of these blood tests because we have to look for toxins and poisons, and that word stuck out to me. And it's not poison like you know, it's like lead paint. And I'm like, no, I haven't been eating lead chips. And that word stuck out to me.

Night before last I was laying in bed next to my wife and she put her hand on my back and she said to me, what are you doing? Honey, go to sleep. She said that to me at 3:00 in the morning. I had been reading a couple of books, as I'm so far behind in my reading. But I had closed one of these books, as I'm doing research and I'm trying to understand more. And I had closed one of these books about an hour before and I said, I just to myself I just can't look at this anymore. Then I said a prayer, and as I was praying, I noticed that I wasn't praying as hard for healing as I should, which led me to the first conversation I had with a neurologist who said to me, well, we don't know what this is. He said, but we're investigating here, here, and here. And I said, could this be brought on by stress? Could this be brought on because I'm just, you know and he said, no, not this. He said, you know, that's not making it better. And I said, so should I maybe should I stop? And he said, no, you're okay. I was disappointed. And the other day I thought about it and I thought, I can't even pray and cry out to the Lord. I have cried out to the Lord a lot in the last four years. I couldn't cry out to him for that. That got me to thinking. A house divided against itself cannot stand. People will say about me, they have written about me. In fact, the New York Times just did their big piece and they said, I don't think Glenn Beck even knows who he is. In some ways that is true. I know who I am. I am just like you. A son of a father in heaven that loves me, and I try to serve him. But that is, that is something that I have never even come close to mastering and worked my whole life. I am a guy who's trying to be better every day. I know who I am. But when they wrote that, it is so true because I don't know where I'm supposed to end up. I don't know how to do this.

The last 24 hours as I've been thinking about the doctors saying we're looking for toxins, we're looking for poisons in your body, I know what they are. For four years I have tried to understand the mind of what I believe are monsters. It started with Walter Lippmann. The first book that I closed and said I can't read this anymore was Walter Lippmann. And it was about how they can breed better people and how there are undesirables. I never finished the book. That was the first one. And for four years I have been trying to understand the minds of people that I think are so misled, and they are the exact opposite of what I have tried to be, what I want to be, what I strive for. But I have done it because I have to, I have to understand it, I have to see what's try to understand to explain what's coming, what's happening. And not for you but for my children.

I believe we can be better people. I believe in the American experiment. But I also believe there are very misguided people, and I have been drinking that poison, which others may not find poison, but I do because it is exact opposite of me. And I have been "That which you gaze upon, you become."
24889  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Estudio: pistola defiende contra ataque por cuchillo on: October 08, 2010, 01:50:56 PM
No worries, but given that he has just deleted my forum there I see no need to mention his here  cheesy
24890  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy on: October 08, 2010, 12:03:20 PM

Although your conversation may be without resolution, for me it most certainly has merit and I hope the two of you will continue.  There is much for the rest of us to learn from it.

The Adventure continues!
24891  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton Federalist 65, 1788 on: October 08, 2010, 12:00:29 PM
GM:  Indeed!


"If mankind were to resolve to agree in no institution of government, until every part of it had been adjusted to the most exact standard of perfection, society would soon become a general scene of anarchy, and the world a desert." --Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 65, 1788
24892  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Venezuela-Columbia-FARC on: October 08, 2010, 11:12:30 AM
There are a number of indications that the Venezuelan government has expanded its cooperation with Colombia to include possible intelligence sharing and restricting the movement of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia rebels in Venezuelan territory. This cooperation will help strengthen a shaky rapprochement between Bogota and Caracas and sheds light on the growing vulnerabilities of the Venezuelan regime.

STRATFOR sources within the Colombian security apparatus recently indicated that during the past two months, the Venezuelan government has taken steps to undermine a safe haven for members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) along Venezuela’s border with Colombia. The sources claim Venezuelan military officials did not encounter substantial resistance when they quietly told the FARC leaders to pack up their camps. Colombia was already making steady progress in its offensive against the FARC, but once FARC members were flushed across the border back into Colombia, the Colombian military had fresh targets and leads to pursue. The most notable recent success for Colombia was the Sept. 22 killing of FARC deputy and senior military commander Victor Julio Suarez Rojas (aka Jorge Briceno and El Mono Jojoy) in a long-planned military operation in the La Macarena region of Meta department in central Colombia. Though it is unclear whether Venezuelan cooperation had anything to do with the operation, Suarez Rojas was apparently concerned about a drop in Venezuelan support in the days leading up to his death.

Prior to the Sept. 22 operation, Suarez Rojas allegedly wrote an e-mail acquired by the Colombian government attempting to elicit support from members of the Union of South American Nations, in which he claimed responsibility on behalf of FARC for an Aug. 12 vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attack on the Radio Caracol headquarters in Bogota. In the e-mail, which was read to the press by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Oct. 2, Suarez Rojas said the FARC’s autonomy in its operations had “angered the Cubans, Chavez and company. For this reason, they are disrespectful and at times joined the ideological struggle of the enemy (i.e. the Colombian government) to fight us.”

If the intercepted e-mail was, in fact, written by the slain FARC commander, the message is highly revealing of the tensions that have been building between the rebel group and the Venezuelan regime. Though Venezuela continues to deny the claims, Colombia has presented evidence that FARC members have for some time operated freely in the porous borderland between Venezuela and Colombia. The Venezuelan armed forces are believed to provide tacit support to these rebels, along with the Cuban advisers present throughout the Venezuelan security apparatus, and the FARC and military together benefit from the rampant drug trade along the border. The Venezuelan government shares a leftist ideology with the FARC that is often cited as the main factor linking the two. But in reality, just as Pakistan has backed Kashmiri militants against India and Iran backs Hezbollah against Israel, Venezuela’s support for the FARC is primarily designed to constrain its main regional adversary — and thus distract Bogota from entertaining any military endeavors that could threaten Venezuela’s territorial integrity, particularly the resource-rich Lake Maracaibo region. Venezuela’s fears of Colombia are also amplified to a large degree by the close defense relationship Bogota shares with Caracas’ other key adversary: the United States.

But a strategy to back the FARC also comes with risks, as Venezuela was reminded in mid-July when Colombia unveiled to the Organization of American States what it called irrefutable photographic evidence of Venezuela harboring FARC rebels. Though Venezuela vehemently denied the claims and painted the Colombian move as a power struggle between then-outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Velez and incoming Santos, there appears to have been real concern among the upper echelons of the Venezuelan regime that Colombia had a smoking gun to justify hot-pursuit operations and preemptive raids against the FARC in Venezuelan territory.

Generally, Venezuela will exploit the threat of a Colombian attack to rally the population around the regime and distract Venezuelans from the domestic economic turmoil and rampant violent crime. This time, however, the Venezuelan government publicly downplayed the threat and apparently made concrete moves to cooperate with the Colombians against the FARC. That decision is revealing of the regime’s insecurity, as it is already afflicted by a deepening economic crisis fueled by rampant corruption schemes in state-owned sectors. Following the Sept. 26 legislative elections in which the ruling party lost its two-thirds supermajority, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is now scrambling to get legislation passed that would augment his executive power before January 2011, when more seats in the National Assembly will be filled by the opposition. Rather than gamble that Colombia would refrain from military action, the Venezuelan government has instead offered its cooperation to keep Bogota at bay.

The extent and sustainability of that cooperation remains unclear, however. Venezuela is exercising caution in how it deals with Colombia for now, but the country’s internal conflicts are expected to grow. The weaker Venezuela becomes, the more anxious it will be about its rivals’ intentions. Moreover, Venezuela will want to avoid inviting a backlash by FARC rebels who are now feeling abandoned by their external patron. The Venezuelan regime will thus try to strike a balance, offering as much cooperation as necessary to keep relations steady with Colombia, while holding on to the FARC card as leverage for rougher days to come.
24893  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: talent is what the unskilled call skill on: October 08, 2010, 10:23:26 AM
I read "Talent is Over-rated" and thought it very good-- though a bit overly relentless in its efforts to refute the existence and role of talent.
24894  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson on: October 08, 2010, 09:59:50 AM
"The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to The Republican Citizens of Washington County, Maryland, 1809
24895  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Euthanasia on: October 08, 2010, 09:08:06 AM
A slippery slope to forced euthanasia?
Pressure for legalising euthanasia has been stepped up in Australia by the pro-euthanasia Greens.

It appears that the party of death never sleeps. Already the Greens have introduced their pro-death bill into Australia’s Federal Parliament. The party's leader, Bob Brown, argued that most Australians support voluntary euthanasia. But I suspect most Australians in fact may not have a clear understanding of just what the euthanasia agenda is all about.
They are certainly not getting the full story from the pro-death lobby. There are many misconceptions and myths out there that need to be dispelled. One is that this will in fact be entirely voluntary, with no pressure or coercion. But this is just wishful thinking.

The truth is the right to die implies a duty to kill. Let me explain. We live in a rights-mad culture. Everyone is demanding a right for this or that. But there are no rights without corresponding duties. An officially sanctioned right must be backed up by the legally enforced means to ensure those rights can be carried out. Thus if society goes down the path of legalised euthanasia, this right to die will lead to its necessary corollary, the duty to kill.

Indeed, once a society has said that its citizens have the right to die, it will be forced to provide the means to do so. If a state says there is a legal right to die, logically, anyone can bring suit to ensure that governments comply. Just as today society tells us a woman has a right to abort her own child, so it provides, via medical aid and tax-payer funding, the means to carry out this activity.

In fact, once legalised, it is possible that doctors may one day face lawsuits if they violate someone’s rights by not killing them. As commentator John Leo puts it: “Imagine doctors purchasing malpractice insurance that covers ‘denial of death’ suits. That day may not be far away.”

And as ethicist Leon Kass reminds us, the “vast majority of candidates who merit mercy killing cannot request it for themselves.” But we can count on the fact that the “lawyers and the doctors (and the cost-containers) will soon rectify this injustice. . . Why, it will be argued, should the comatose or the demented be denied the right to such a ‘dignified death’ or such a ‘treatment’ just because they cannot claim it for themselves?”

For all the talk about choice, about freedom to choose, about giving people options, the legal and social legitimisation for assisted suicide will effectively eliminate one option, namely, staying alive without having to justify one’s existence. With legalised euthanasia, the burden will be upon people to justify being alive - we will have to prove that we ought to be allowed to live.

Lest that sound too far out, consider the words spoken in 1984 by the then Colorado Governor Richard Lamm who said, “Elderly people who are terminally ill have a duty to die and get out of the way.” Or recall the comments made in Australia by the country’s then Australian Governor-General Bill Hayden who, thinking of his own advancement in years, spoke of “unproductive burdens” which we need to be “disencumbered” of via euthanasia.

But as Simon Leys (Pierre Ryckmans) has noted, why is Bill Hayden as a senile, incoherent old man in a wheel chair (one day) any less of value and worth than Bill Hayden was as Governor-General? A society that allows such distinctions is one that has “simply forsaken the very principle of civilisation and crossed the threshold of barbarity”.

Moreover, would Hayden set up a test whereby we determine who is an unproductive burden? Will people be forced to give written evidence as to why they should be allowed to remain alive? After all, in a world of scarcity, such proposals are not all that far off. Indeed, some people are calling for such measures already.

Some people, concerned by what they see as a crisis in over-population, have called for a drastic reduction in population levels.

The tone of debate seems to be becoming increasingly shrill. Many formerly uncommitted public figures and organisations are now speaking out in favour of cutting population levels. In recent times, the Anglican Church of Australia has warned of “catastrophic” consequences of global overpopulation. Sir David Attenborough has pushed for lower population in his documentary: “How many people can live on planet Earth?”. And the previously non-aligned Australian businessman, Dick Smith, produced his own documentary, “Population Puzzle”. Smith commented “This is the most important issue I have ever undertaken in my life. I won’t rest until we have a proper plan in place that informs Australians just how many people we can sustainably support in this country.”

It is clear where such passionate “concern” can lead. In the past a number of Australian commentators have argued for draconian measures to cull population, with some claiming that Australia’s population it should be reduced to less than half its present level. Going back as far as the 1990s, the then Leader of the Australian Democrats John Coulter argued that no Australian family should have more than two children. One city councillor even argued that people who choose to have three children should be compulsorily sterilised and forced to pay the government $200 per fortnight.

It does not take much imagination to see that euthanasia will be enlisted to support such population-reduction goals.

Again, this is not far-fetched. In the past Australia’s Economic Planning Advisory Commission (EPAC) has discussed the rising costs of health care for the elderly and in one publication EPAC actually looked at the issue of euthanasia as one option in the whole discussion. There was no talk about alleviating suffering or being compassionate -- the whole proposal centered on cost-cutting measures.

Indeed, it is estimated that around half of all health care dollars are spent on people in their last six months of life. Thus cost considerations are increasingly becoming a major part of the decision-making process. In a recent case of a brain-dead man on life support, a Monash University medical ethicist said that there would be a high cost involved in maintaining the man, so the economic factor would have to be considered in deciding his fate.

American human rights lawyer Wesley J. Smith drives this point home: “If assisted suicide were ever permitted to become a legitimate and legal part of medical practice, in the end it would be less about ‘choice’ than about profits in the health care system and cutting the costs of health care to government and families. The drugs for assisted suicide only cost about $35 to $40, while it might cost $35,000 to $40,000 (or more) to treat the patient properly. The math is compelling, and contains a warning we dare not ignore.”

In a culture where worth and value tends to be measured by the bottom line, the call for legalised euthanasia will likely also be assessed in those terms. Financial considerations will tend to trump other concerns, including the right to life. All the more reason to never allow euthanasia to be legalized.
24896  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Secularity vs. Secularlism on: October 08, 2010, 08:49:51 AM
Secularity vs secularism: an enlightening distinction
Who invented the secular state? A professor of religious philosophy from the Sorbonne gives a surprising answer.

In the wake of Pope Benedict's warning about atheism while visiting the UK, a debate has broken out about secularism.  Journalist Jerome di Costanzo interviews the arabist and medievalist, Rémi Brague, who sheds much light on the question.

1) Secularists tend to deny the mediaeval origin of the notion of secularity. From your point of view is it possible to ignore it?

First, a quick glance at the reasons that lead those people to dodge or camouflage this medieval origin could be apposite. Generally speaking, there has been since the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Enlightenment a widespread negative prejudice against whatever is or is supposed to be, medieval. The received wisdom tells us: Good things arose in Modern Times, full stop. The Middle Ages were a period of darkness, fuller stop.

As for the case of secularity, its advocates specifically want, or pretend to, ignore that it appeared in the Middle Ages, a period that was emphatically not secularist. The dividing line drawn between the Church and the State is a Christian invention that began among the Church Fathers, as a reaction against Constantine’s claim to control the Church and further culminated in medieval times. Moreover, this line was drawn by the Church, not by the State. The Holy See’s constant policy from the Investiture Controversy in the late 11th century consisted in sending the State (i.e. the Emperor or the Kings) back to its own merely this worldly—“secular” if you want—task: enforcing peace, justice, good social order. The State, on the other hand, was not merely “secular”, but claimed its share in sacrality. Just think of the adjective: “Holy Roman Empire”. Secularity was a conquest of the Church.   

2) The recent papal visit in Britain has re-awakened the debate about secularity in our society. What exactly is your definition of secularity?

“Secularity” may have many meanings, but it designates in any case a fact, not an ideology or a program of action, unlike “secularism”, which I will deal with presently.

Secularity qualifies a certain realm of things on which unaided human reason can, in principle at least, reach an agreement that enables cooperation towards the common good. Religion can leave alone scientific, technical, political matters, etc. because it could not be of any specific help. Scientists, technicians, politicians, or, for that matter, anglers, plumbers or jellied-eels sellers can become saints if they do their job properly. But Christianity won’t give them many hints on how to ply their trade in their technicalities.

Let me sketch a general rule: for a Christian, subsidiarity as a principle brooks no exception and obtains in the relationship between God and His creatures, too—or even in the first place. The Creator gives each and every creature the means that it needs for it to get its own good by its own exertions. For instance, God does not have to tell men what they should do. Since they were endowed with reason, they possess, at least in principle, the necessary tools for them to choose what is right and avoid what is not. God does not have to tell men what they should eat, how they should dress, where they should spend their holidays, etc. According to Aquinas, the Ten Commandments are nothing more than a reminder of what we should be able to know by ourselves. By this token, “secularity” is a good thing, and it is correct to avoid any interference of “religion” where it is not necessary. On the other hand, it is foolish not to accept its aid where we enter a realm in which religion alone is competent, for instance giving us the power of forgiving, assuaging our fear of death, leading us towards salvation. 

As for secularism as an ideology, I have two definitions. One attaches to the way in which people who define themselves as “secular” look at themselves. The word, together with “agnosticism”, “humanism”, etc., was coined in the Victorian era, when declaring oneself an “atheist” was hardly the thing. Secularism has over the latter word the advantage of a positive ring, whereas a-theism expresses a mere negation: not believing in God. Secularism, then, consists in limiting one’s ken to this-worldly matters, to what the Bible calls ha-‘olam haz-zeh.

But I have another definition up my sleeve. It is at the same time etymological and ironical. “Secular” comes from saeculum, the Latin for “century”, which originally meant the longest duration of human life. Secularity is the attitude of people who think that human hopes can’t exceed one century and therefore—perhaps unwittingly and unwillingly—act so that mankind will last exactly as long... Secularists are unable to explain why it is good that there should be human beings on earth. Since they contend that human life is the product of chance, they can’t tell us why it should be good for us, who can decide consciously to carry on with the experience, to do so. 

3) Benedict XVI said during his visit: "As we reflect on the sobering lessons of atheist extremism of the 20th century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus a reductive vision of a person and his destiny." If so, are atheists potentially totalitarian?

Thank goodness, what is potential does not always become actuality. And all atheists are not prone to totalitarianism. Many even loathed it, nay fought against it. Think of people like George Orwell.

Yet, the assumption gains in plausibility when we shift from individuals to the collective level. A massive fact bears witness to that, namely the massacres of the 20th century. They simply dwarf whatever havoc religion may have wrought in the past. The worst bloodsheds of the last century, and probably of history at large, were not caused by religious faith, on the contrary. Even the so-called “wars of religion” in the 16th century can be chalked up for a large part to the rise of the Modern State under its earliest historical form, i.e. the absolute monarchy. The killing fields of World War I were due to nationalism, to self-idolatry of the national and/or imperial states. World War II was a consequence of nazi ideology, that was, to quote Hitler, “a sober theory of reality grounded on the sharpest scientific knowledge and its expression in thought” (eine kühle Wirklichkeitslehre schärfster wissenschaftlicher Erkenntnisse und ihrer gedanklichen Ausprägung) (Talk in Nuremberg on the Day of the NS-Party, June, 9th 1938). Lenin and his followers understood their version of marxism as “scientific” in nature.

4) In Westminster Hall the Holy Father talked about the necessity to respect the “right of believers to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, but also the legitimate role of religion in the public square”. This comes after the closure of a Catholic adoption agency following Labour’s Sexual Orientation Regulations and is a very practical illustration of the practice of secularity. How should the moral or ethical teaching of the Churches function in the political debate?

I don’t know the details of this story, so that I would rather not comment upon it.
Let me content myself with a general observation: Catholics do not defend something like “Catholic morality”. By the way, I am reluctant to call morality by any adjective whatsoever: Christian, Buddhist, progressive, even secular, etc. Moral rules have obtained since the outset; they vary very little. There are, on the other hand, Christian, Buddhist, etc. interpretations of moral life.

We should endeavour to get a clearer picture of the reasons why Christians—and not only the Pope, even if his voice, for obvious reasons, is more widely heard—have to speak up from time to time. They don’t preach up their own stuff, pro domo. They warn of dangers that menace mankind at large, and they have to do so when they think that some behaviour, be it individual or collective, is lethal for mankind. The supreme rule in those matters is some sort of a duty to rescue.

5) On the other hand, the government has refused to ban the Burqa in the name of this freedom. What do you think about this apparent difference of treatment?

In the name of the individual freedom of women, French government came to the opposite conclusion. Let me emphasize only one point: our idea of what a religion is, hence, of what freedom in religious matters should be, arose many centuries ago, and it was tailored to a definite religion, i.e. Christianity. Our governments have the know-how as far as dealing with Christians is concerned, even when they act against Christians... On the other hand, they are at a loss in front of a religion like Islam that does not clearly distinguish between the public and the private. Hence, they understand wearing the Burqa or, for that matter, any kind of obedience to she Sharia, as a private decision.

As for the precise question, Christianity is the first religion that did not bring new or special commands but contented itself with common, “pagan”, run-of-the-mill morality. The so-called “Christian morals” is none other than the Ten Commandments that are already in the Old Testament (Exodus, 20), and in other cultures. Little wonder, since they are the basic survival kit of mankind. The Burqa is a definite interpretation of Islamic Law, grounded on two verses of the Qur’an asking women to be veiled (XXIV, 31; XXXIII, 59). The problem is that a pious Muslim believes his Holy Book to have been dictated word for word by an omniscient God, who outsoars time and space. If this is the case, you have to obey without further ado. The only loophole left for interpretation will be the precise meaning of the words: how long must be the veil, how opaque, etc.?     

6) In the conclusion of your book Eccentric Culture you preached in favour of a new "Romanity", which you define as a strict separation between the spiritual and the politic and the need for roots from “Natural Law”, could you tell us more? Does Nature remind us of the reasonable way?

I hope I did not preach. I simply pointed out some elements that might help us recover what I called “Romanity”, a stance that might be the key to Europe’s success story. I was given the opportunity to delve more extensively on those legal and political topics in my “The Law of God” (2005). There, I argued that the real question is less the separation between the spiritual and the politic than the one between the spiritual and the whole realm of human action: not only politics, but individual morality, ethics, together with what ancient philosophers called “economy”: relations between husband and wife, parents and children, leaders and subordinates.

The trouble, when we mention “nature” in phrases like “natural law”, is that we more often than not mistake two concepts for one another. For us, “nature” means first what natural sciences like astronomy, physics or biology tell us about what there is. Now, mentioning “natural law” certainly does not mean that we should behave in the same way as natural beings do, still less that we should not try and modify natural processes to our advantage—what technology does every day. The concept of nature that underlies the idea of “natural law” is worlds apart from the first. It is rooted in ancient, particularly Stoic philosophy, so that it has become hardly understandable for our contemporaries, unless they have undergone a philosophical training. Perhaps we should speak in its stead of “rational law”, i.e. a law that can be discovered by human reason. Since reason defines man’s nature, we would save a great deal of the idea by means of a less misleading phrase.

There is at least a way in which nature “reminds us of the reasonable way”, to quote your very apt formula. Natural beings have their own laws—the word being taken here as designating a law of nature. This means that you can’t do anything with them if you want to keep them living. You have to sort of “respect” them, although this word is used here only as a metaphor, or as a prefiguration of what will deserve the name of “respect” between men as free and rational beings.

7) In the same book you want to rediscover the “kindness of the body”– la bonté du corps in French – what do you mean exactly by this kindness?

The French bonté means in common parlance something like “kindness”, “generosity”, etc. I took it as an awkward equivalent of “goodness”, the quality of what is good, an idea for which the French has no proper substantive.

As for the body, we live in a paradoxical situation: At first blush, we are enamoured of it. Just think of what we spend on cosmetics, fitness, now the so-called “wellness”, not to mention plastic surgery, etc. In fact, we select an extremely narrow aspect of the body: it must be young, healthy, attractive and, when it is female, for Pete’s sake not pregnant! Now, Christianity contends that the body is called to an unheard-of destiny, since it is due to experience a resurrection. The body in its whole, our history from A to Z, is reclaimed by God. Interestingly, Pagans like Celsus in the 2nd century or Porphyry in the 3rd criticized Christians by poking fun at their exaggerated “passion for the body”. They conceived of salvation in a Platonic key-tone: it consisted in being salvaged from the body, not saved with it. I must smile when I read Nietzsche’s attack on the Christians as “despising the body”...     

Cool Jacques Maritain thought that “integral humanism’, un-rooted from the natural law, is “anti-human” and a denial of the person. Does this analysis fit with our situation today?

If I were to look for a far-reaching and convincing critique of atheistic humanism, I would not name Maritain. You alluded to the title of a book that he published in 1937. I read it last year and I found it rather disappointing. Father Henri de Lubac did a much better job in his The drama of atheistic humanism, written during the war and published in 1944. He does not try to refute what he calls “exclusive humanism” from the outside. Instead, he shows that its inner logic renders it self-defeating.

Today, what is wrong with exclusive humanism is not only that it can’t do justice to the person. Things have grown far worse: What is menaced is not the status of man as a personal being; it is the very existence of mankind.

In conclusion 2 questions:

9) The National Secular Society says that “supernaturalism is based upon ignorance” and assails it as the historic enemy of progress. For you, is this “historically” true?

Such statements are hopelessly muddled. At the bottom of all that, you find Auguste Comte’s idea that religion can’t explain the world as well as science does. This is very true. But who ever said that explaining the world is what religion is about? The fact that we know more and more things about nature does not prove that there is nothing else than nature.

The use of the word “progress” betrays a naive faith that no believer would share, an identification of what is new with what is good. Atomic weapons, global warming, AIDS are new phenomena. They are not exactly good things.

The common ploy of secular journalists, since the Enlightenment, has consisted of ascribing to themselves the betterment of human condition, thereby neglecting the long-term part played by Christianity in de-legitimizing slave-trade, slavery in general or torture. Think of the Pope’s ban on trial by ordeal in 1215, or of the jesuit von Spee putting a stop on the witch trials. 

10) I know you are a friend of Roger Scruton. In your search for the solution for our Society, does Beauty matter?

Calling me a “friend” of Roger Scruton is an honour that I hardly deserve: If my memory serves me right, I met him only twice, once in Warsaw, and once in Rome. “Admirer” would capture the situation more adequately. Furthermore, I’m afraid I haven’t yet watched the TV program that you are alluding to. Be that as it may, Scruton is probably right in pointing out the importance of Beauty.

Let me shed some light on the historical background. A massive fact is that beauty is not the central concept in our relationship with art any longer. It was replaced by other concepts, for instance “interesting”, “moving”, “exciting”, etc. This is a very long process whose inception can be situated in early German romanticism, in the last years of the 18th century, say, with the young Friedrich Schlegel. Contemporary works of art are seldom beautiful, not because artists are incompetent, but because they don’t want to produce beautiful things. The mere fact that one is talking of beauty nowadays has a reactionary ring about it that renders it provocative.

To be sure, we won’t heal the wounds of our societies by building bigger museums or that sort of thing. The deeper issue is the relationship between Beauty, Truth and Being, which verges on metaphysics. Technically speaking, the question is whether “transcendental” properties of things, like the three that I have just mentioned, are convertible into each other. In other words: is Beauty the expression of the deepest nature of what is? Or is it only, on the one hand, a trick, a colourful mask that conceals a cruel Truth—say, struggle for life, will to power, etc — or, on the other hand, something than can give us pleasure by tickling our sentiments?

The point is whether we are still able to recover a sense of the beauty of the world, and that this beauty is not cheating, that it points to an intrinsic goodness of Being. Unless we can do that, we will be at a loss how to answer the question: why should there be anything and not nothing? In the teeth of all appearance, this is not an Academic issue. In the long run, we need a positive answer if the human adventure is to go on.

Rémi Brague is professor of Arabic and Religious philosophy at the Sorbonne. He is the author of The Law of God: The Philosophical History of an Idea. Jerome di Costanzo is a French writer, analyst and journalist now living in Yorkshire. He specialises in politics, religion and philosophy. This interview has been reproduced from under a Creative Commons licence.

24897  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Estudio: pistola defiende contra ataque por cuchillo on: October 07, 2010, 10:25:50 PM
"este video también lo posteó Gabe Suarez en warrior talk."

?Y que'?  Tambien aparece en varios foros.  ?Hay alguien buscando "credito"? rolleyes
24898  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Just a little pregnant with inflation on: October 07, 2010, 07:52:39 PM
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is a student of monetary history, so perhaps he remembers Sumner Slichter. In the 1950s, the Harvard economist made his reputation as the leader of an intellectual band that Time magazine dubbed the "limited inflationists"—the idea that some inflation was good for an economy, and that the Fed should encourage a gradual rise in prices.

In a hearing on Capitol Hill, his views drew a famous rebuke from Fed Chairman William McChesney Martin, but Slichter's ideas gained currency in the 1950s and 1960s and eventually laid the groundwork for the not-so-gradual inflation of the 1970s.

Slichter died in 1959, but he is staging a rebirth at none other than Martin's former home, the Federal Reserve. A galaxy of Fed officials has fanned out to argue for another round of "quantitative easing," or a further expansion of the Fed balance sheet to boost the economy. The "limited inflationists" are once again at America's monetary helm, promising happier days from rising prices while downplaying the costs and risks.

 .In the first QE go-around in spring 2009, financial panic was still in the air and the Fed's justification was to save us from Depression. Today, the panic is over and an economic recovery is underway. So the Fed's new justification is that growth is still too slow, unemployment is still too high and prices aren't rising fast enough.

The Fed's Open Market Committee hinted at the inflation-is-too-low argument in its statement after its September meeting, noting that "Measures of underlying inflation are currently at levels somewhat below those the Committee judges most consistent, over the longer run, with its mandate to promote maximum employment and price stability."

Last week, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans went further and put a specific number on it—inflation below 2% a year is undesirable. He was joined in his case for easier money by the New York and Boston Fed Presidents, among others. The clear message is that a Fed majority has come down on the side of QE2, and markets have concluded that the central bank will return as early as November to buying hundreds of billions of dollars of assets to ensure what Mr. Evans called a need for "negative interest rates." Sumner Slichter rides again.

We hope this experiment in re-inflating the economy works better this time, but mark us down as skeptical. There is no such thing as free money, and a second round of QE carries enormous risks for what looks to us like far too little benefit.

The theory of QE2 is that by buying Treasurys and other assets, the Fed help drive long-term interest rates down even lower than they are already. This in turn will spur more private lending and borrowing and kick-start faster growth. But we're told the Fed's own internal models suggest that a purchase of $500 billion in Treasurys would only reduce the 10-year bond by something like 15 basis points. (The 10-year yield is now 2.38%.) This in turn would increase GDP by 0.2% a year and cut the jobless rate by 0.2%. That's not much bang for a lot of bucks.

The case for QE2 assumes that the problem with the economy is merely a lack of money. But trillions of dollars are already sitting unused on bank and corporate balance sheets. The real problem isn't lack of capital but a capital strike, as businesses refuse to take risks or hire new workers thanks to uncertainty over government policy, including higher taxes and regulatory burdens. More Fed easing in this environment risks "pushing on a string," adding money to little economic effect.

Meanwhile, the costs of QE2 would be real and significant. With Congress spending as much as ever, the Fed would appear to be financing a spendthrift government almost on a dollar-for-dollar basis. This would make it even harder, and take even longer, for the Fed to extricate itself from the market for Treasurys and mortgage securities once it decided to do so. And by firing all of its ammo now amid a recovery, what would the Fed have left if we get another financial panic?

By keeping interest rates artificially low, the Fed is also contributing to a misallocation of capital and perhaps new asset bubbles. Messrs. Bernanke and Evans say they see no signs of inflation, as measured by the lagging indicator of the consumer price index.

But investors are having no trouble bidding up the price of commodities, including oil and gold. A rising price of oil will have its own negative impact on growth, as we know from the experience of $147 oil in mid-2008. A commodity price spike might well erase any benefit from the expected decline of 15 basis points in long-term bond yields.

As the protector of the world's reserve currency, the Fed also risks more global monetary disruption. The mere anticipation of QE2 has already caused Japan to pursue its own purchases of exotic assets, while Britain may do the same, as they and other countries try to avoid sharp rises in their currencies against the dollar. The European Central Bank may well have to follow, as the entire world adopts the "limited inflation" philosophy. In such a world, it's hardly surprising that gold has climbed in price against all major fiat currencies as a remaining store of value.

With such a cost-benefit calculus, why is the Bernanke Fed still plowing ahead with QE2? Our worry is that the motivation is mainly political.

The Board of Governors and Open Market Committee are now dominated by President Obama's appointees and intellectual allies. They know that their great experiment in spending stimulus has failed to spur a durable expansion, and so they are turning in unquiet desperation to the only tool they have left—monetary easing—to rescue their policy. For them, the risks of slow growth and a 9% jobless rate going into 2012 are worse than the danger of asset bubbles or a new burst of inflation.

Which brings us back to Sumner Slichter and the limited inflationists. Amid the political and media interest in their ideas, Fed Chairman Martin appeared before the Senate Finance Committee. "There is no validity whatever in the idea that any inflation, once accepted, can be confined to moderate proportions," the father of the modern Fed thundered, in a warning that would be vindicated after his retirement in 1970. That's a warning as well for the QE Street Band.
24899  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mukasey: Bagram detainee foiled Euro terror plot on: October 07, 2010, 07:49:00 PM
How a Bagram Detainee Foiled the Euro Terror Plot
The plan was disrupted because we were lucky enough to have the key witness in detention. It's a shame we didn't try to extract similar intelligence from Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad.

The terrorism alert issued this week to Americans traveling abroad, and the events that generated it, have put in bold relief yet again dilemmas we face—some self-created—in our ongoing struggle with militant Islamists.

On the surface, the news certainly is not all bad. A German citizen of Afghan descent captured in Afghanistan disclosed a plot to American interrogators at the Bagram Air Field prison. The plan, Ahmed Sidiqi said, was to conduct coordinated attacks on tourists in European cities, and it involved other naturalized German citizens from Afghanistan. U.S. authorities issued a terrorism alert to travelers, and on Monday five of the conspirators, along with three Pakistanis and three others of undisclosed nationality, were killed in a drone strike in North Waziristan.

So far so good. One captured terrorist in military custody since July—at a location that prevents him, at least for the moment, from hauling his captors into a U.S. court—discloses valuable intelligence that appears to have headed off, at least for the moment, an atrocity.

Below the surface, the news is more troubling. Sidiqi and his associates are German citizens; that, and the arrest of a French citizen of Algerian origin as a suspected member of al Qaeda (plus 11 other arrests in southern France), make it plain that Islamist terrorists are succeeding in recruiting people whose passports give them free entry into all the countries of the European Union, and facilitate their travel in general. In 2009 and 2010 alone some 43 American citizens or residents of various backgrounds have been arrested here and abroad for terrorist-related activity, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center's National Security Preparedness Group.

Further, Sidiqi and those of his colleagues killed in the drone strike were recruited at the Taiba mosque in Hamburg, the same mosque attended by Mohammed Atta, the lead plotter among the 9/11 hijackers. And this group was said to have been planning simultaneous attacks of the sort carried out in November 2008 in Mumbai by Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terrorist group based in Pakistan.

Two items are worthy of note. First, the simultaneous attacks: This was a characteristic not only of 9/11 and the attacks on U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, but also of the 1995 plot led by Omar Abdel Rahman, the so-called blind sheikh. That conspiracy meant to detonate near-simultaneous bombs at landmarks around New York, including the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, the George Washington Bridge and the United Nations. In tape-recorded conversations the plotters discussed what they thought would be the especially demoralizing effect on their enemies, and the correspondingly aggrandizing effect on them, of simultaneity.

Second, the Mumbai attack was notable for its ability to rivet the world's attention for an extended period of time. Terrorists cherish that sort of attention.

All of which is to say that the tourist plot is of a piece with what we have faced, whether we were aware of it, for more than two decades. Are we taking the steps necessary to deal with it?

Here again, the news certainly isn't all bad. Our intelligence capabilities have been stepped up considerably in recent years, particularly with regard to electronic surveillance. The laws and regulations necessary to allow the government to use the techniques it needs are in place. And the Obama administration, commendably, has said it will seek legislation compelling service providers to have available the means necessary to permit the government to conduct Internet surveillance when authorized by warrant. In addition, guidelines put in force at the end of 2008 have empowered the FBI to gather intelligence domestically using conventional surveillance techniques and human sources.

Yet in other respects we seem stymied. Look no further than this week's headlines. How do we deal with the people planning simultaneous attacks on tourists—likely to be principally Americans—in Europe?

The government seems to present us only with the choice that we kill them with drones or give them Miranda warnings and access to a 24-karat justice system designed for conventional criminals. There are better ways, including but not limited to military commissions already provided by law but shunned by the administration, or other special- purpose tribunals that can be established by Congress.

Detaining terrorist conspirators for intelligence-gathering purposes—wholly apart from whatever they may be charged with planning or doing—does not appear to be an option for this administration, certainly not if they are apprehended in this country while seeking to detonate a bomb in an airplane over Detroit or in an SUV near Times Square. Those who joined the orgy of self-congratulation after this week's sentencing of Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad might, when they sober up, consider what we did not find out about who sent him and who else may be on the way— because Shahzad was valued more as a defendant than as an intelligence source.

We will not always be so fortunate to have our would-be attackers detained by the military at Bagram. And even such detention may be the subject of further litigation if the Supreme Court agrees to review last spring's appellate decision denying habeas corpus to detainees at Bagram. Yet as recently as World War II this country held tens of thousands of war prisoners here and abroad without a single one of them being allowed to require his custodians to answer to a U.S. court.

For us, today, the lesson is clear. The importance of being able to gather human intelligence has never been more starkly demonstrated than in the capture and questioning of Ahmed Sidiqi, and the resulting drone attack. The former director of the CIA, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, has likened trying to survive on electronic intelligence alone to trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle without looking at the picture on the box. It is human intelligence that provides that picture.

Like Gulliver in the land of the Lilliputians, we seem tied down; unlike Gulliver, we have woven and tied the strings ourselves.

Mr. Mukasey was attorney general of the United States from 2007 to 2009.
24900  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Estudio: pistola defiende contra ataque por cuchillo on: October 07, 2010, 04:34:03 PM

Pues, comienzo yo  smiley

1) Poco comun que alguien intervenga en una situacion tan peligrosa.

2) Ese heroe no tenia tecnica para controlar el cuchillo desde atras.  Por lo cual, cuando el malo se le prestaba la atencion, el heroe estaba en una situacion pesima.  Si no fue por el buen tiro de hombre de la tienda, posiblemente hubiera muerto.
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