Dog Brothers Public Forum
Return To Homepage
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
October 20, 2014, 05:36:12 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Search:     Advanced search
Welcome to the Dog Brothers Public Forum.
82946 Posts in 2255 Topics by 1067 Members
Latest Member: Shinobi Dog
* Home Help Search Login Register
  Show Posts
Pages: 1 ... 497 498 [499] 500 501 ... 629
24901  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: May 09, 2008, 08:28:35 PM
Woof All:

This thread was started by Guide Dog on the DBMA Ass'n forum too, and there it has hit the ground running.  If "warm and fuzzy" feels weird, feel free to be humorous.

24902  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Thin Skin on: May 09, 2008, 08:16:59 PM
Membrana Obama
May 9, 2008

(Note: We'll be traveling and thus absent the early part of next week.)

For all the hype about Barack Obama being some new kind of politician, in one respect he is very similar to recent Democratic presidential nominees: He takes criticism very badly, responding to it by getting both defensive and nasty. It is a most unattractive quality.

CNN reports on a case in point:

"This is offensive, and I think it's disappointing," Obama told [Wolf] Blitzer, when asked his thoughts about McCain's comments that the terrorist organization Hamas wants Obama to be president. "Because John McCain always says 'I am not going to run that kind of politics,' and to engage in that kind of smear is unfortunate, particularly because my policy toward Hamas has been no different than his.
"I've said it's a terrorist organization and we should not negotiate with them unless they recognize Israel, renounce violence, and unless they are willing to abide by previous accords between the Palestinians and the Israelis. So for him to toss out comments like that I think is an example of him losing his bearings as he pursues this nomination. We don't need name calling in this debate."
Commentary's Abe Greenwald has the background on the so-called smear:

Jennifer [Rubin, a Commentary blogress] is too modest to mention it, but she played a considerable role in the "smear" to which Obama [yesterday] referred. It was during a blogger conference call on April 25 that she, in fact, asked John McCain to comment on Hamas's preference for Obama above the other presidential candidates. As it happens, I was on that call as well. And it's worth noting the nature of McCain's response to Jennifer. He began his reply by saying, "All I can tell you, Jennifer, is that I think it's very clear who Hamas wants to be the next President of the United States."
Considering the situation, this is about the most delicately phrased response that one could have expected. It was not in the least a smear. Jennifer introduced Hamas's very real preference into the conversation. John McCain essentially chose to let the facts speak for themselves.
As we noted last month, Hamas leader Ahmed Yousef did in fact endorse Obama, in an interview with WABC-AM's John Batchelor. McCain's statement that "it's very clear who Hamas wants to be the next president" is far less of a smear than Obama's characterization of McCain as having "lost his bearings," plainly an attempt to stereotype the septuagenarian McCain as suffering from dementia. No wonder Hillary Clinton does so well among superannuated primary voters.

Obama's perturbability in the face of criticism was also evident in his response to the various comments by Jeremiah Wright*. Sept. 11 was chickens coming home to roost? Hey, we all have uncles who say crazy things. "God damn America"? He meant it in the best possible way. Barack Obama is acting like a politician? That got him angry, although it was almost as indisputably accurate as McCain's statement about Hamas.

One difference between Obama's and McCain's policies toward Hamas, as The Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb points out, is that Obama is eager to meet with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the public face of Iran's revolutionary Islamic regime, which is the terror group's chief patron. The purpose of the meeting is unclear, but Obama seems to suggest that he would somehow charm Ahmadinejad into submission. Can there be any doubt, though, that Ahmadinejad is now taking note of how easily rattled his prospective interlocutor is?

* The man of whom Barack Obama says, "He was never my quote-unquote spiritual adviser," although he served on the Obama campaign's quote-unquote spiritual advisory committee.

Elect Me, I'm Electable
Yesterday we noted Hillary Clinton's unfortunate comment in an interview with USA Today: "There was just an AP article posted that found how Senator Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans is weakening again. . . . I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on."

Peggy Noonan quotes an Obama supporter as saying of Mrs. Clinton's remark, "Even Richard Nixon didn't say white, even with the Southern strategy." We suppose Nixon was a smoother politician than Mrs. Clinton, and using the word "white" was (as we told her yesterday) a mistake. But there is a reason she is speaking in these terms.

The Tampa Tribune's William March reports that Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz released a statement making essentially the same point, although without being explicitly racial about it:

Senator Clinton continues to demonstrate that she has what it takes to win the Presidency . . . while Senator Obama does well in areas and demographic groups that the Democratic nominee will win anyway.
It isn't only Mrs. Clinton's side that is insulting Democratic voters. These remarks are of a piece with Barack Obama's statement about "bitter" working-class Pennsylvanians. Jay Cost of RealClearPolitics had an insightful take on that:

Mr. Obama presumed to explain the behavior of the voters he is courting. We might not know for sure exactly how he was explaining them, but we know that he was trying to. This is something that is best left to political scientists, not candidates. They should never speak of voters in any but the most flattering terms. Otherwise, there is a risk of alienating them. When you analyze people, you are signaling that you are separate from them. You are an "other." What is more, nobody likes to feel that they are being analyzed. The analyst can come across as haughty. "Who the hell does he think he is to explain me?"
Why are they insulting voters? Because at the moment, they are not trying to appeal to voters but to so-called superdelegates, the elected and party officials who will actually decide the Democratic nominee. Both candidates are trying to persuade the superdelegates that they have better prospects in November, and that is why they are referring to the voters in the third person.

In the olden days, of course, these conversations would have taken place in smoke-filled rooms, not in public. Being dragged through this is a fitting punishment for the woman who banned smoking in the White House.
24903  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Emergency Tips and Emergency Medicine on: May 09, 2008, 03:39:51 PM
Man Saves Own Life, Uses Steak Knife for At-Home Tracheotomy

OMAHA, Neb. — An Omaha man struggling to breath used a steak knife to perform an at-home tracheotomy.

Steve Wilder says he thought he was going to die when he awoke one night last week and couldn't breath.

Wilder says he didn't call 911 because he didn't think help would arrive in time. So, the 55-year-old says, he got a steak knife from the kitchen and made a small hole in his throat, allowing air to gush in.

Wilder suffered from throat cancer and related breathing problems several years ago. About that time, he had an episode where he couldn't breath because his air passages swelled shut. He says that's what happened this time around.

Doctors don't expect Wilder to suffer any adverse affects from the tracheotomy once it's healed.
24904  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Rise and Collide on: May 09, 2008, 03:26:24 PM
Rise and Collide
May 9, 2008; Page A15

By Bill Emmott
(Harcourt, 342 pages, $26)

The rise of China is easy to exaggerate and even easier to fear. China is a vast country of 1.3 billion people, governed by menacing authoritarians who are plowing money into its military complex and managing a stunning economic transformation; before long it will dominate Asia, and someday it will threaten America's place in the world. Or at least that is the argument of certain worried pundits these days.

For a striking counterargument – and some much-needed nuance – look no further than Bill Emmott's "Rivals." Mr. Emmott, a former editor of The Economist and a longtime Asia-watcher, acknowledges that China will continue its remarkable rise for years to come. But he thinks that a modernizing India and a resurgent Japan could end up jostling for Far East supremacy, too, pitting "Asians against Asians." A balance-of-power politics could evolve resembling Europe's in the 19th century.

How this transformation will unfold, and whether it will be entirely peaceful, is anyone's guess. But one thing is certain: All three of Asia's emerging giants are being forced to open up at speeds that none is quite comfortable with. China's Communist Party has freed a wide cross-section of its economy, bringing a new prosperity to much of the population. India is shedding its socialist shackles at whatever pace its vibrant, contentious democracy will allow. Japan's dominant political party, notoriously resistant to change, is still struggling to pull the country out of a decade-long economic nosedive; but the push for reform is becoming ever more urgent as Japan's population ages.

In "Rivals," Mr. Emmott mines the past for clues to the future. Start with China: Most analysts conclude that the 21st century will belong to China because the country's economy is now roaring ahead. But its growth rates aren't unprecedented. Like China today, Japan by the 1970s had reached a high investment-to-GDP ratio (roughly 40%) and enjoyed double-digit, export-led industrial growth. South Korea followed a similar path. By those measure, Mr. Emmott says, China's growth is "excellent, but not exceptional."

China also faces some bumps in the road, not least of which is rising inflation – a problem that Japan once also faced. Capital inflows are pushing up wages and expanding the monetary base, which is in turn inflating asset bubbles in stocks and property. Something has got to give. "The longer a change in economic policy and direction is delayed," Mr. Emmott writes, "the bigger the risk that mere adjustment turns into something more dramatic."

India's trajectory, meanwhile, most closely follows China's – at least at the moment. With the liberalizing of India's economy, its investment and savings have grown along with its standard of living. In 2006, India's exports of goods and services, as a percentage of GDP, had risen to a point that they were "roughly the same as China's in 1996," Mr. Emmott notes. The common view of India – as a land dominated by extremes of wealth and poverty – is simply out of date; in fact, India's income inequality is about the same as Britain's. The question now is whether the government will speed up India's growth by upgrading its shoddy infrastructure and liberalizing its energy industries so that domestic producers can make adequate returns and afford to increase output.

Japan's future is harder to forecast. The crash of the 1990s was bad, though hardly of Depression-like dimensions. That it was not worse, Mr. Emmott says, has a lot to do with Japan's free flow of trade and capital and its fiscal surplus. Oddly (for a writer long affiliated with the laissez-faire Economist magazine), Mr. Emmott praises the Japanese government for its Keynesian interventions in the 1990s. Huge spending programs, he claims, "helped prevent an economic drama from becoming a disaster." Perhaps. But they also prevented Japan from embracing low taxes and liberalizing its markets – surely a speedier means to growth and widespread prosperity.

Mr. Emmott notes that Japan, for all the exporting it does, isn't really a "globalized country." Its trade with the outside world, measured by imports plus exports as a percentage of GDP, is dwarfed by China's. And its level of English proficiency – now essential for global players – is low. If anything, Mr. Emmott says, "Japan needs to emulate America in the 1990s, when the 'new economy' " – that is, the Internet revolution – "brought a sharp and unexpected jump in U.S. productivity." Without doing something "dramatic" to kickstart growth, he argues, Japan's leaders will simply be "managing the country's relative decline," eclipsed by India and China.

Of course, the future of Asia's economies depends in part on the future of its regional politics. India has rocky relationships with its neighbors – and some of them, including Nepal, Pakistan and Burma, are led by unstable regimes. China, meanwhile, has border disputes with Bhutan and India, not to mention disputes over sovereignty with Tibet and Taiwan. Japan has only recently moved to mend ties with South Korea's new leadership. But a nuclear-armed North Korea remains the biggest menace. Mr. Emmott believes that, if "regime change" comes about in North Korea, it will be of the homegrown variety and not imposed from the outside. The result may be "a risky moment," as China, South Korea and factions within North Korea vie for power.

In economics and business, Mr. Emmott notes, competition generally has "overwhelmingly positive results." But "in politics, we cannot be so sure." To separate the two spheres so sharply, though, seems forced, at best. China's economic prosperity increasingly relies on its integration with its rivals and with the rest of the world – a trend that may someday change the way the country is governed, for the better. That is a future to welcome, not to fear.

Ms. Kissel is editor of The Wall Street Journal Asia's editorial page.
24905  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Empty hand questions. on: May 09, 2008, 01:38:39 PM

Why, right here  grin


Not sure why you would think the thread was for DBs only, but these forums are for everyone of good spirit (see Rules of the Road thread at the top of this forum for details) so please dive right in.

24906  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: May 09, 2008, 12:28:55 PM

Pay Me to Go

Why is she still running? That's what Democrats are asking about Hillary Clinton in the wake of her disappointing performance in Tuesday's primaries.

One explanation is that something could always turn up once again to knock Mr. Obama off-stride, just as happened with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Mr. Obama's infamous "bitter" comments. Another possible reason is that she can't afford to leave the race. So far, Mrs. Clinton has loaned over $11 million of her own money into the campaign and still has substantial debts, including $4.5 million to her former chief strategist Mark Penn.

A little-known provision of the McCain-Feingold election law makes her exit a difficult question. If she hopes to get paid back for the money she lent her campaign, she can only accept repayment until the date of the Democratic convention in August. After that she can only accept a maximum of $250,000 from contributors.

"If she wants to be repaid, she'd have to move on that between now and the national convention," former Federal Election Commission chairman Michael Toner told U.S. News & World Report. The longer Mrs. Clinton stays in the race, the greater the chance she can still find some donors who have not already given her the maximum contribution allowed by law. Should she drop out, her chances of raising money from anyone effectively become zero.

There's also the chance of negotiating her exit from the race with Barack Obama, whose campaign is so flush with cash he doesn't know how to spend it all. Mr. Obama could offer to appear at fundraisers on her behalf to retire her campaign debt as well as suggest to his donors that they write a check to her campaign.

Perhaps the resolution of the endless Democratic primary struggle is close at hand. It may take only a few phone calls between the two camps for Mrs. Clinton to suddenly discover her long-suppressed desire for party unity.

-- John Fund

She Don't Need No Stinkin' Economists

Why didn't we think of that?

Campaigning in Indiana on Monday, Hillary Clinton proposed to fix the problem of high oil prices once and for all -- by breaking up OPEC. "We're going to go right at OPEC," she promised a crowd. "They can no longer be a cartel . . ."

Maybe she'll stop the tide from coming in next. Mrs. Clinton ignores a salient fact: OPEC isn't nearly as powerful as it sometimes pretends to be -- and as its critics like to declaim. We would never have seen $15 oil a decade ago. Five years ago, OPEC established a policy of maintaining the world price of oil in a $10 band around $25 a barrel. See how well that worked out.

But Mrs. Clinton's real innovation lies elsewhere -- in breaking with the tradition of politicians seeking validation for their economic nostrums from economic experts. Indeed, she dismissed the very idea of needing approval from the pointy-headed, saying, "I'm not going to put my lot in with economists." Mrs. Clinton was defending specifically her gas-tax holiday proposal, which virtually all economists judge to be worthless. But her handy "just say no" strategy when it comes to carping experts is something budding demagogues everywhere will want to note.

-- Brian M. Carney

Quote of the Day I

"There's only one remaining chapter in this fascinating spectacle. Negotiating the terms of Hillary's surrender. After which we will have six months of watching her enthusiastically stumping the country for Obama, denying with utter conviction Republican charges that he is the out of touch, latte-sipping elitist she warned Democrats against so urgently in the last, late leg of her doomed campaign" -- Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer.

Quote of the Day II

"We cannot win with eggheads and African Americans. That's the Dukakis coalition which carried ten states" -- former Bill Clinton campaign adviser Paul Begala, on CNN arguing that Barack Obama needs to win back the white working-class voters who rejected him for Hillary Clinton.

It's Morning in London

The most satisfying part of the news that London ousted Labour Party Mayor Ken Livingstone in favor of Conservative Boris Johnson is that the list of notables honored by the city will now change dramatically. Mayor Livingstone, known as "Red Ken" for his avowedly socialist beliefs, had announced plans to honor the 50th anniversary of Communist Cuba's revolution on January 1, 2009 with a week-long series of street parties and a celebration of Fidel Castro's life in Trafalgar Square. With the election of Mr. Johnson, a staunch anti-Communist, you can bet that party is heading for the dustbin of history.

The political earthquake that swept Mr. Johnson into office with 53% of the vote can be compared to the voter revolts of the 1990s that led New York and Los Angeles to elect Republican mayors. Mr. Johnson ran on a campaign of getting tougher on crime, withdrawing free transit rights from people who abuse them, and giving better value for the high taxes Londoners pay. He also called for peeling away the excesses of multiculturalism that had Mr. Livingstone simultaneously passing out grants to lesbian dance collectives while he defended a local Muslim cleric, Yusuf al-Quaradawi, who supported wife-beating and the execution of gays.

Mr. Johnson will now share with Tory leader David Cameron the spotlight as the two most prominent Conservative politicians in Britain. Should he govern London successfully, it will be a further blow to the Labour government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, which backed Mr. Livingstone to no avail and on the same night as Mr. Johnson won was badly beaten in local elections across Britain.

While it will be Mr. Cameron who will lead the Tories into battle in the next general election in 2010, observers have already noted that at age 44 the new mayor of London could have a prominent role in British politics for years to come -- perhaps even on the national stage someday.

24907  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: BO's faulty tax argument on: May 09, 2008, 12:10:10 PM
The author fails to discuss BO's approach to capital gains taxes wherein he admits he would raise rates even though it would yield less revenues, but I post it anyway because I think his point about bracket creep a worthy one.

Obama's Faulty Tax Argument
May 9, 2008; Page A17

As the presidential campaign heats up, a key issue is whether to extend the 2001 and 2003 income tax cuts, which expire in 2011. John McCain wants to make the tax cuts permanent. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton want to let the rates rise.

Opponents of the tax cuts point to spending programs that could be financed by the extra revenues. Chief among these is Social Security. Sen. Obama's Web site, for example, argues that "extending the Bush tax cuts will cost three times as much as what is needed to fix Social Security's solvency over the next 75 years."

Such statements imply that if we return to the seemingly modest tax rates of the 1990s, we could fund the $4.3 trillion Social Security deficit, and so much more. As Mr. Obama recently told Fox News, "I would roll back the Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans back to the level they were under Bill Clinton, when I don't remember rich people feeling oppressed."

This argument seems compelling, but it is misguided. In reality, repealing the tax cuts would raise taxes far above Clinton-era levels. Due to quirks in the tax code, average taxes would be almost 25% higher than during the 1990s.

Mr. Obama's claim that the lost revenue from the income-tax cuts exceeds the Social Security shortfall derives from an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The Center's conclusions have been widely cited, but rely on dubious assumptions.

The basic methodology is simple: Compare the income-tax revenues if the tax cuts expire to revenues if the tax cuts are extended. The Center measures the difference in revenue 10 years from now – to match the government's 10-year budget measurement period – then extends the difference over 75 years to make it comparable to the 75-year Social Security shortfall.

To account for the effects of inflation and economic growth, analysts compare tax revenues to the size of the economy. The Congressional Budget Office projects that if the tax cuts expire, income-tax receipts in 2018 will be 1.5% higher relative to gross domestic product than if the cuts are made permanent. By comparison, Social Security's 75-year shortfall is just 0.6% of GDP.

So Social Security is a costly problem, but the tax cuts cost much more. Open and shut case, right?

Not exactly. Tax revenues would skyrocket if the tax cuts expire, due to "bracket creep." Average incomes are higher today than in the 1990s, but income-tax brackets aren't adjusted for the growth of earnings. As a result, Americans will shift into higher tax brackets and pay a greater share of their incomes in taxes.

Going back to the tax rates of the 1990s doesn't mean that households will pay 1990s taxes. Because the tax brackets haven't risen along with incomes, average taxes would be significantly higher, and grow each year.

If the tax cuts expire, income-tax revenues by 2018 will rise to 10.8% of the total economy from 8.7% today – an increase of 24%. Compared to the average over the last 50 years, allowing the rates to rise would increase tax revenues by 32%.

Believe it or not, income taxes will rise even if the tax cuts remain in place, because the revenue-increasing effects of bracket creep more than offset the lower rates. With the lower rates, total income-tax revenues will increase to 9.3% of GDP by 2018. This level is 7% higher than today, and 13% above the 1957-2007 average. Thus even with the tax cuts, revenues will increase by more than enough to fix Social Security.

So even if the tax cuts are made permanent, future Americans will pay a greater share of their incomes to the government than in the past. But for some in Washington, that's not enough.

Not surprisingly, neither party highlights these rising tax receipts. They undercut liberal arguments that the government is starved of revenue. And they render conservative claims for the tax cuts unimpressive. ("Vote GOP: A smaller tax increase than the other guys!")

The next president will face difficult choices regarding how much to collect in taxes, and how much to spend on entitlements like Social Security. Future citizens may decide that paying higher taxes is worthwhile. But in any event, the misleading tax cuts vs. Social Security argument should not guide policy makers on this issue.

Mr. Biggs, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., is the former principal deputy commissioner at the Social Security Administration.
24908  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Captive 220 on: May 09, 2008, 12:04:09 PM
'Captive 220'
May 9, 2008; Page A16
It's a fair bet that no high-powered American law firm will lend a caring hand to the relatives of the seven Iraqis murdered last month by a suicide bomber named Abdullah Salih Al Ajmi and two accomplices. That's too bad, seeing as how Ajmi was himself a beneficiary of some of that high-powered legal help.

Ajmi is a Kuwaiti who was 29 when he blew himself up in the northern city of Mosul in April. But before that he had spent more than three years as an enemy combatant at Guantanamo, where he was known as "Captive 220." He was taken prisoner at Tora Bora, Afghanistan, after the fall of the Taliban, in whose service he had reportedly spent eight months. While in detention, he told interrogators that his intention was "to kill as many Americans" as he possibly could.

In April 2002, a group of Kuwaiti families retained the law firm of Shearman & Sterling to represent the Kuwaitis held at Guantanamo, including Ajmi. (An attorney at Shearman tells us the firm donated its fees to charity.) Ajmi was one of 12 Kuwaiti petitioners in whose favor the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2004 in Rasul v. Bush, which held that the detainees were entitled to a habeas corpus hearing.

At the time, we wrote that Rasul had "opened the door to a flood of litigation. . . . This pretty much guarantees that the 600 or so Guantanamo detainees will bring 600 or so habeas corpus cases – perhaps in 600 or so different courtrooms, with 600 or so different judges demanding 600 or so different standards of what evidence constitutes a threat to the United States."

The Pentagon seems to have understood this point only too well, because in November 2005 it released Ajmi into Kuwaiti custody before he could have his hearing. A Kuwaiti court later acquitted Ajmi of terrorism charges, and last month the Kuwaiti government issued Ajmi and his accomplices with passports, which they used to travel to Mosul via Syria.

Ajmi's story is hardly unique. Some 500 detainees have been released from Guantanamo over the years, mostly into foreign custody. Another 65 of the remaining 270 detainees are also slated to go. Yet of all the prisoners released, the Pentagon is confident that only 38 pose no security threat. So much for the notion that the Gitmo detainees consist mostly of wrong-time, wrong-place innocents caught up in an American maw.

The Defense Intelligence Agency reported on May 1 that at least 36 former Guantanamo inmates have "returned to the fight." They include Maulavi Abdul Ghaffar, who was released after eight months in Gitmo and later became the Taliban's regional commander in Uruzgan and Helmand provinces. He was killed by Afghan security forces in September 2004.

Another former detainee, Abdullah Mahsud, was released from Guantanamo in March 2004. He later kidnapped two Chinese engineers in Pakistan (one of whom was shot during a rescue operation). In July 2007 he blew himself up as Pakistani police sought to apprehend him.

Ajmi's case now brings the DIA number to 37. It's worth noting that these are only the known cases. It is worth noting, too, that people like Ajmi were among those the Defense Department thought it would be relatively safe to free, or at least not worth the hassle and expense of the litigation brought about by cases like Rasul.

All this should give some pause to those – John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton among them – calling for closing Guantanamo. The prison is helping to save lives by keeping dangerous men from returning to the fight against our soldiers.

Stranger still are those who argue that people like Ajmi were somehow a creation of Guantanamo. They might want to have a chat with a detainee named Mohammed Ismail, who told the press after his release from Gitmo that his American captors "were very nice to me, giving me English lessons." Ismail was recaptured four months later while attacking an American military position in Kandahar.

Our liberal friends argue that the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay have hurt America's image in the world, and that's true. Then again, Ajmi and others show that there are also lethal consequences to the legal war that liberals are waging on the war on terror. Liberals claim they are only fighting for "due process," but they are doing so for foreign enemies who want to kill innocents and don't deserve such protections. Mosul is one result.
24909  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: May 09, 2008, 12:01:38 PM
The Clinton Divorce
May 9, 2008; Page A16
No, we don't mean Bill and Hillary. We mean the separation now under way between the Clintons and the Democratic Party. Like all divorces after lengthy unions, this one is painful and has had its moments of reconciliation, but after Tuesday a split looks inevitable. The long co-dependency is over.

Truth be told, this was always a marriage more of convenience than love. The party's progressives never did like Bill Clinton's New Democrat ways, but after Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis they needed his epic political gifts to win back the White House. They hated him for their loss of Congress in 1994, but they tolerated Dick Morris and welfare reform to keep the presidency in 1996.

The price was that they had to put their ethics in a blind Clinton trust. Whitewater and the missing billing records, Webb Hubbell, cattle futures and "Red" Bone, the Lincoln Bedroom, Johnny Chung and the overseas fund-raising scandals, Paula Jones and lying under oath, Monica and the meaning of "is." Democrats, or all of them this side of Joe Lieberman and Pat Moynihan, defended the Clintons through it all. Everything was dismissed as a product of the "Republican attack machine," an invention of the "Clinton haters," or "just about sex."

Democrats and the media did make a fleeting attempt at liberation when Bill Clinton left office after 2000 amid the tawdry pardons. Barney Frank, the most fervent of the Clinton defenders throughout the 1990s, even called the pardons a "betrayal" and "contemptuous." More than a few Democrats also noticed that George W. Bush's main campaign theme in 2000 was restoring "dignity" and "honor" to the Oval Office, and that Al Gore had somehow lost despite two-thirds of voters saying the U.S. was moving in the right direction.

But Hillary Clinton had also won a Senate seat that year, and she had presidential ambitions of her own. So the trial separation was brief. Democrats acquiesced as the first couple put their own money man, Terry McAuliffe, in charge of the Democratic National Committee. As the Bush years rolled on and John Kerry lost, they watched Hillary build her machine and plot a Clinton restoration. They watched, too, as the New York Senator did her own triangulating on Iraq, first voting for it, then supporting it before turning against it as the election neared. Party regulars fell in line behind her, and her nomination was said to be "inevitable."

Then something astonishing happened. A new star emerged in Barack Obama, a man who had Bill Clinton's political talent but Hillary's liberal convictions. He had charisma, a flair for raising money, and he held out the chance of a 2008 Democratic landslide. Something more than a return to the trench warfare of the 1990s seemed possible – perhaps the revival of a liberal majority, circa 1965.

More remarkable still, Democrats supporting Mr. Obama had a revelation about Clintonian mores. David Geffen, channeling William Safire, declared that "everybody in politics lies," but the Clintons "do it with such ease, it's troubling." Ted Kennedy was shocked to see the Clintons play the race card in South Carolina. The media discovered their secrecy over tax records and Clinton Foundation donors, while columnists were appalled to hear her assail Mr. Obama for his associations with radical bomber William Ayers. Listen closely and you could almost hear Bob Dole asking, "Where's the outrage?"

By the time Mrs. Clinton made her famous claim about dodging Bosnian sniper fire, Democrats and their media friends no longer called it a mere gaffe, as they once might have. This time the remark was said to be emblematic of her entire political career. The same folks who had believed her about Whitewater and the rest now claimed she never tells the truth about anything.

As the scales suddenly fell from liberal eyes, the most striking statistic was the one in this week's North Carolina exit poll. Asked if they considered Mrs. Clinton "honest and trustworthy," no fewer than 50% of Democratic primary voters said she was not. In Indiana, the figure was merely 45%.

Slowly but surely, these Prisoners of Bill and Hill are now walking away, urging Mrs. Clinton to leave the race. Chuck Schumer damns her with faint support by saying any decision is up to her. Columnists from the New York Times, which endorsed her when she looked inevitable, now demand that she exit so as not to help John McCain. With Mr. Obama to ride, they no longer need the Arkansas interlopers.

If the Clintons play to their historic form, they will ignore all this for as long as they can. They will fight on, hoping that something else turns up about Mr. Obama before the convention. Or they'll try to play the Michigan and Florida cards. Or they'll unleash Harold Ickes on the superdelegates and suggest that if Mr. Obama loses in November she'll be back in 2012 and her revenge will be, well, Clintonian.

The difference between now and the 1990s, however, is that this time the Clinton foes aren't the "vast right-wing conspiracy." This time the conspirators are fellow Democrats. It took 10 years, but you might say Democrats have finally voted to impeach.
24910  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Noonan on: May 09, 2008, 11:58:29 AM
Damsel of Distress
May 9, 2008
This is an amazing story. The Democratic Party has a winner. It has a nominee. You know this because he has the most votes and the most elected delegates, and there's no way, mathematically, his opponent can get past him. Even after the worst two weeks of his campaign, he blew past her by 14 in North Carolina and came within two in Indiana.

Martin Kozlowski 
He's got this thing. And the Democratic Party, after this long and brutal slog, should be dancing in the streets. Party elders should be coming out on the balcony in full array, in full regalia, and telling the crowd, "Habemus nominatum": "We have a nominee." And the crowd below should be cheering, "Viva Obamus! Viva nominatum!"

Instead, you know where they are, the party elders. They are in a Democratic club on Capitol Hill, slump-shouldered at the bar, having a drink and then two, in a state of what might be called depressed horror. "What are they doing to the party?" they wail. "Why are they doing this?"

You know who they are talking about.

The Democratic Party can't celebrate the triumph of Barack Obama because the Democratic Party is busy having a breakdown. You could call it a breakdown over the issues of race and gender, but its real source is simply Hillary Clinton. Whose entire campaign at this point is about exploiting race and gender.

Here's the first place an outsider could see the tensions that have taken hold: on CNN Tuesday night, in the famous Brazile-Begala smackdown. Paul Begala wore the smile of the 1990s, the one in which there is no connection between the shape of the mouth and what the mouth says. All is mask. Donna Brazile was having none of it.

Mr. Begala more or less accused the Obama people of not caring about white voters: "[If] there's a new Democratic Party that somehow doesn't need or want white working-class people and Latinos, well, count me out." And: "We cannot win with eggheads and African Americans." That, he said, was the old, losing, Dukakis coalition.

"Paul, baby," Ms. Brazile, who is undeclared, began her response, "we need to not divide and polarize the Democratic Party. . . . So stop the divisions. Stop trying to split us into these groups, Paul, because you and I know . . . how Democrats win, and to simply suggest that Hillary's coalition is better than Obama's, Obama's is better than Hillary's -- no. We have a big party, Paul." And: "Just don't divide me and tell me I cannot stand in Hillary's camp because I'm black, and I can't stand in Obama's camp because I'm female. Because I'm both. . . . Don't start with me, baby." Finally: "It's our party, Paul. Don't say my party. It's our party. Because it's time that we bring the party back together, Paul."

In case you didn't get what was behind that exchange, Mrs. Clinton spent this week making it clear. In a jaw-dropping interview in USA Today on Thursday, she said, "I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on." As evidence she cited an Associated Press report that, she said, "found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."

White Americans? Hard-working white Americans? "Even Richard Nixon didn't say white," an Obama supporter said, "even with the Southern strategy."

If John McCain said, "I got the white vote, baby!" his candidacy would be over. And rising in highest indignation against him would be the old Democratic Party.

To play the race card as Mrs. Clinton has, to highlight and encourage a sense that we are crudely divided as a nation, to make your argument a brute and cynical "the black guy can't win but the white girl can" is -- well, so vulgar, so cynical, so cold, that once again a Clinton is making us turn off the television in case the children walk by.
24911  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Kali Tudo on: May 09, 2008, 11:33:19 AM
Woof CFR:

Try this thread:

The Adventure continues,
Crafty Dog
24912  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / DSC Awarded on: May 09, 2008, 11:30:11 AM
Bragg Soldier Awarded DSC
May 01, 2008
Associated Press
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - A Special Forces Soldier who crawled 200 feet while being fired upon to save a wounded colleague, then led a group of besieged Soldiers to safety, received the Army's second-highest award for valor April 30.   Master Sgt. Brendan O'Connor received the Distinguished Service Cross in a ceremony April 30 at Fort Bragg for his actions in Afghanistan. The award is second in achievement only to the Medal of Honor.

"He made a conscious decision to do whatever it took to get to our wounded Soldiers," said Maj. Sheffield Ford, the team's commander during the June 2006 battle in southern Afghanistan.

O'Connor, 47, doesn't believe he is a hero. He said that police officers and firefighters are courageous every day and that he was only completing his mission.

"I am being recognized for a moment of courage," said O'Connor, whose wife and four children attended the ceremony. "I firmly believe other Soldiers in my place would have done the same thing."

With his Special Forces team surrounded by Taliban fighters, O'Connor volunteered to lead a relief force to rescue two wounded colleagues. He got to the edge of a field, but intense Taliban machine-gun fire made him turn back. After shedding his body armor so he could press himself flat in a ditch, he crawled the last 200 feet to the wounded Soldiers. Taliban fire was so close that it sheared off the blades of tall grass around the ditch as he crawled. Finally reaching the two wounded Soldiers, he stabilized them and led the relief force back to safety.

Admiral Eric T. Olson, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, and Lt. Gen. Robert W. Wagner, commanding general of the Army Special Operations Command, presented the award to O'Connor.

Olson, who recounted the battle in his speech, described O'Connor's actions as legendary.

"Master Sgt. O'Connor exemplifies the spirit and ethos of these warriors," Olson said. "We stand in quiet awe and in the deepest admiration."

The ceremony marked only the second time the award has been presented to a Soldier for actions in Afghanistan.

O'Connor is assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group. The unit is based at Fort Bragg, home to the Army's Special Operations Command and the 82nd Airborne Division.

© Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
24913  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Communicating with the Muslim World on: May 09, 2008, 11:26:38 AM
I had a fair amount of inner chatter over which thread in which to post this.  If it is PC (and a pretty fair case can be made that it is), then it belongs in the PC thread.  That said, the claim is made that this will facilitate effective communication with the Muslim world (and hinder it here amongst us Infidels) so I post it here:

U.S. aims to unlink Islamic, terrorism

May 7, 2008

U.S. officials are being advised in internal government documents to avoid referring publicly to al Qaeda and other terrorist groups as Islamic or Muslim, and not to use terms like jihad or mujahedeen, which "unintentionally legitimize" terrorism.

"There' s a growing consensus [in the Bush administration] that we need to move away from that language," said a former senior administration official who was involved until recently in policy debates on the issue.

Instead, in two documents circulated last month by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), the multiagency center charged with strategic coordination of the U.S. war on terror, officials are urged to use terms such as violent extremists, totalitarian and death cult to characterize al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

"Avoid labeling everything 'Muslim.' It reinforces the 'U.S. vs. Islam' framework that al Qaeda promotes," according to "Words that Work and Words that Don't: A Guide for Counter-Terrorism Communication," produced last month by the center.

"You have a large percentage of the world' s population that subscribes to this religion," the former official said. "Unintentionally alienating them is not a judicious move."

The documents, first reported by the Associated Press, were posted online last week by the Investigative Project on Terrorism.

They highlight developments in the Bush administration' s strategy for its war on terror that have been fiercely criticized by some who have been its closest allies on the issue, and apparently are being ignored by the presumptive Republican Party presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Some commentators noted after President Bush' s State of the Union speech in January that Mr. McCain had stopped using the term Islamic terrorism, instead referring — as the NCTC guide recommends — to "terrorists and extremists — evil men who despise freedom, despise America, and aim to subject millions to their violent rule."

But in a recent interview with The Washington Times, a McCain aide said the senator would continue to use the term Islamic terrorism.

Daniel Sutherland, who runs the Department of Homeland Security Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, insisted that the avoidance of the term Islam in conjunction with terrorism "is in no way an exercise in political correctness. ... We are not watering down what we say."

"There are some terms which al Qaeda wants us to use because they are helpful to them," he said.

The "Words That Work" guide notes, "Although the al Qaeda network exploits religious sentiments and tries to use religion to justify its actions, we should treat it as an illegitimate political organization, both terrorist and criminal."

Instead of calling terrorist groups Muslim or Islamic, the guide suggests using words like totalitarian, terrorist or violent extremist — "widely understood terms that define our enemies appropriately and simultaneously deny them any level of legitimacy."

By employing the language the extremists use about themselves, the guide says, officials can inadvertently help legitimize them in the eyes of Muslims.

"Never use the terms 'jihadist' or 'mujahedeen' ... to describe the terrorists," the guide says. "A mujahed, a holy warrior, is a positive characterization in the context of a just war.

In Arabic, jihad means 'striving in the path of God' and is used in many contexts beyond warfare. Calling our enemies jihadis and their movement a global jihad unintentionally legitimizes their actions."

A longer document produced by Mr. Sutherland' s office and also circulated by the NCTC compiles advice from Islamic community leaders and religious professionals in the United States about terminology officials should use and avoid.

"Terminology to Define the Terrorists: Recommendations from American Muslims," says officials should use "terms such as 'death cult,' 'cult-like,' 'sectarian cult,' and 'violent cultists' to describe the ideology and methodology of al Qaeda and other terrorist groups."

It also recommends eschewing the terms Islamist or Islamism — the advocacy of a political system based on Islam — "because the general public, including overseas audiences, may not appreciate the academic distinction between Islamism and Islam."

The use of the term may be accurate, the document says, but "it may not be strategic for [U.S. government] officials to use the term."
24914  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / J. Adams: Moral example for children on: May 09, 2008, 11:10:24 AM
"The foundation of national morality must be laid in private
families. . . . How is it possible that Children can have any
just Sense of the sacred Obligations of Morality or Religion if,
from their earliest Infancy, they learn their Mothers live in
habitual Infidelity to their fathers, and their fathers in as
constant Infidelity to their Mothers?"

-- John Adams (Diary, 2 June 1778)

Reference: The Works of John Adams, C.F. Adams, ed., vol. 3 (171)
24915  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: May 08, 2008, 10:18:08 PM
German Court Rules Muslim Girl Can't Skip Swimming Lessons

Thursday , May 08, 2008

A German court on Wednesday ruled that a Muslim student cannot skip co-ed swimming lessons because her religion prohibits form-fitting clothes that do not cover her body, The Local reported.

The 12-year-old girl’s parents sued a school in the northern city of Remscheid after it refused to let the girl skip the lessons. The court sided with the school, saying that the state’s responsibility to educate the girl outweighed an infringement on her religious freedom.

Last year the girl’s parents rejected an offer from the school saying she could swim in leggings and a T-shirt. They argued that her body still would be visible through wet clothes, The Local reported.

The court concluded that because the swim lessons take place in water, there would be very little time that her body would be seen.
The parents’ attorney said the family will appeal the decision.

Click here to read more on this story from The Local.

German Court Rules Christian Girl Can't Skip Sharia Law Thursdays

Thursday , May 08, 2012
A German court on Wednesday ruled that a Christian student cannot skip Sharia Law Thursdays where all of the female students must dress in Burkas and pray towards Mecco 5 times a day in an effort to teach all non-muslim children religious diversity and tolerance, despite the fact her religion prohitbs worshipping false gods, The Local reported.

The 12-year-old girl’s parents sued a school in the northern city of Remscheid after it refused to let the girl skip the lessons. The court sided with the school, saying that the state’s responsibility to educate the girl outweighed an infringement on her religious freedom.

Muslim students, of course, still do not have to learn about Christianity or Judaism, because those religions are offensive to muslims, and they could burn in Allah's Fires if they should emulate Infidels.

(Requesting URL on this one)
24916  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: May 08, 2008, 10:11:40 PM
May 8, 2008

Acting Head of Mexico’s Police Killed

Filed at 3:31 p.m. ET

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Mexico's acting federal police chief was shot dead Thursday outside his home -- a brazen attack that comes as drug traffickers increasingly lash back at a nationwide crackdown on organized crime.

Edgar Millan Gomez was shot 10 times after he opened the door to his Mexico City apartment complex, where at least one gunman was waiting for him before dawn, the Public Safety Department said. Two bodyguards were also wounded. Millan died hours later in a hospital.

President Felipe Calderon's government said Millan played a vital role in the country's battle against organized crime and denounced ''this cowardly killing of an exemplary official.''  Millan, 41, was named acting chief of the federal police March 1 after his superior was promoted to a deputy Cabinet position, said a police official who was not authorized to give his name.  The official said police were investigating and had not yet determined a motive for the pre-dawn attack. One suspect with a record of car theft was arrested.

Mexico has suffered a wave of organized crime and drug-related violence in which more than 2,500 people died last year alone.  Since taking office in 2006, Calderon has sent more than 24,000 soldiers to drug hotspots, and Millan was in charge of coordinating operations between the federal police and those troops.

Cartels have responded fiercely to the nationwide offensive, killing soldiers and federal police in unprecedented attacks. But until recently, most of those killings took place in northern Mexico where drug gangs rule large areas of territory. Now criminals appear to be getting more brash with daring slayings in the capital.

George Grayson, a Mexico expert at the College of William & Mary in Virginia, said Millan's death ''shows the increasing audacity of the cartels.''

''This happened in Mexico City where people like Millan tend to be quite cautious, often sleeping in different houses on different nights, and who have their own security patrols,'' he said. ''When you can get someone like this, no one is safe.''

Millan was the second top federal police official killed in less than a week in Mexico City. A Mexican federal police intelligence analyst was killed on May 2 in an apparent armed robbery attempt outside his home.

In January, police in Mexico City arrested three men with assault rifles and grenade launchers who were allegedly planning to assassinate Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, a top prosecutor who oversees the extradition of drug traffickers.

Millan was involved in solving a number of high-profiling kidnappings.  In 2000, he helped capture one of Mexico's most feared kidnappers, Andres Caletri, and disband two notorious abduction rings. In 2001, he was named head of anti-kidnapping operations for the Federal Agency of Investigation, Mexico's version of the FBI.  Under his direction, agents captured five suspects involved in the abduction of Ruben Omar Romano, the coach of Mexico's Cruz Azul soccer team in 2005.
Top policeman shot dead in Mexico
A senior Mexican police official has been gunned down in the capital, Mexico City, officials have said.
Edgar Millan Gomez was in charge of co-ordinating national police operations against drugs traffickers.
He was shot nine times outside his home early on Thursday and died later in hospital, officials said. Two of his bodyguards were wounded in the attack.
Police are investigating if the attack was drug-related. Several top policemen have been killed in the past week.
Police said a group of gunmen had attacked Mr Millan.
"They were hunting him," a spokesman for the security ministry told Reuters news agency.
Police have arrested a 34-year-old man in connection with the attack.
Lucrative trafficking routes
Mexico has seen a surge in drug-related killings recently. Last year, 2,500 people were killed; so far this year, 1,100 people have been killed.
Two other senior police officers were killed in Mexico City in separate incidents last week.
And earlier this week, a senior officer in Ciudad Juarez - across the border from the United States - was ambushed as he left police headquarters.
President Felipe Calderon has sent nearly 30,000 soldiers and federal police to fight Mexico's powerful drug cartels since he took office in 2006.
The drugs cartels have fought back by attacking security forces. They are also fighting with each other to control lucrative trafficking routes.
Story from BBC NEWS:
24917  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: May 08, 2008, 01:02:09 PM

How Obama Won the Cable TV Primary

Broadcasters on cable TV shows used to pride themselves on their efforts to be objective or at least not overt in their biases. But much has changed as the cable TV news universe has been morphed into a fierce competition with the emergence of ratings leader Fox News, which clearly appeals to a conservative-leaning audience. CNN, the old ratings favorite, still leans left but has made efforts at balance. MSNBC, on the other hand, seems to be seeking out more and more liberal-minded viewers.

But not all liberals are created equal, which has resulted in frequent complaints from Hillary Clinton supporters that the network is biased against her in the current primary fights. Last night, Hardball host Chris Matthews added fuel to that fire when he appeared for a speech at Harvard's Institute of Politics.

According to attendees, Mr. Matthews heaped praise upon Mr. Obama during his talk. So much so that during the Q&A, he was asked by an audience member if MSNBC officially backed the Illinois Senator. "Well, it's not official," Mr. Matthews replied in a burst of candor. He then launched into a rambling answer that appeared aimed at partially retracting his admission and ended with the assertion that all of his bosses at MSNBC had backed the Iraq war.

But MSNBC does not have much of a defense. During Tuesday night's primary coverage, the pro-Obama spin was so obvious that the political tipsheet Hotline joked that MSNBC's enthusiasm level for the Obama campaign registered somewhere between Richard Simmons and the "American Idol" girl who cried over Sanjaya.

The storyline of the 2008 election has been dramatically influenced by the favoritism shown Mr. Obama in certain media circles. John Harris, editor of, has said he was forced to put certain reporters sent to cover Mr. Obama through a rehab program after they returned to the office. Back in January, NBC News anchor Brian Williams noted that Lee Cowan, the reporter NBC had sent to cover Mr. Obama, had told him that "it is hard to stay objective covering this guy."

Some media reevaluations of Mr. Obama are now taking place, fueled in part by revelations such as the Rev. Jeremiah Wright that are hard to ignore. But the simple truth is that Mr. Obama has had a free media ride for so long that he effectively wrapped up the Democratic nomination before any of his political weaknesses were generally known.

As Hillary Clinton wrestles with a way to continue her underdog fight against Mr. Obama, she is said to be seething about the kid-glove coverage he was accorded for so long. What she forgets is that back in 1992, when Bill Clinton and she were the new kids on the political block, they too benefited from glowing coverage that pushed off close analysis of their many problems until after 1992 election was over.

-- John Fund

Continuing the Jones Act

The Jones family has represented a Congressional district in North Carolina for 40 out of the last 42 years, with Democrat Walter Jones Sr. leaving office in 1992 and his son Walter Jr. taking over two years later -- though, in a twist, this younger Jones was elected as a Republican.

And a rare kind of Republican too. In recent years, he has aligned himself with the Ron Paul school of Republicanism, and voted against many Bush administration foreign policy priorities. An original supporter of the Iraq war, the younger Mr. Jones started voting against the war in 2005 and had warm words for Mr. Paul during the latter's presidential bid.

That brought him a vigorous challenge in Tuesday's GOP primary from Joe McLaughlin, a conservative local official who said Mr. Jones was consorting with the far left and undermining U.S. troops who are stationed in the strongly pro-military district. The race "is not even about Walter Jones. It's about the future of the Republican Party in the 3rd District. And if he wins, it's virtually the end of the party," Mr. McLaughlin claimed.

But beating an incumbent is always an uphill struggle, and Rep. Jones was able to outspend his challenger some five to one. In the end, Mr. McLaughlin's apocalyptic warnings did not resonate with district voters who had known the Jones family for decades. The congressman won 60% of the vote on Tuesday.

No doubt his victory does not mean his constituents share his anti-war views. But it does mean that if a congressman has built up enough credibility on other issues, voters will often forgive him for going against them so long as it appears to them to be a principled stand.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day I

"There are various exit strategies right now. Number one would be, go out on a win. So, stay in until West Virginia, where Sen. Clinton is likely the winner, and Kentucky on May 20, and after that, bow out.... But the big one, Charlie -- and this is what some people close to the Clintons are talking about: Is there a way to negotiate a settlement with Barack Obama to have Sen. Clinton on the ticket...? Can he get over the bitterness of this campaign? Can he be convinced that it's the strongest ticket? Third, of course, would Sen. Clinton take it? I think if it was offered in the right way, yes" -- ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, last night reporting that Hillary Clinton is angling for the No. 2 spot on an Obama ticket.

Quote of the Day II

"Most of all, [Hillary Clinton] was too late in understanding how much the Democratic Party's mania for 'fairness,' as mandated by liberals like her, has, by forbidding winner-take-all primaries, made it nearly impossible for her to overcome Obama's early lead in delegates.... If even, say, Texas, California and Ohio were permitted to have winner-take-all primaries (as 48 states have winner-take-all allocation of their electoral votes), Clinton would have been more than 400 delegates ahead of Obama before Tuesday and today would be at her ancestral home in New York planning to return some of its furniture to the White House next January" -- syndicated columnist George F. Will.

Healing the Breach with Hispanics

The fast-growing Hispanic population in America has also proved a growing political problem for the Republican Party. The GOP's share of the Hispanic vote plummeted after the last Republican Congress's angry debate on immigration reform. That episode, which quickly focused on fence-building and deportations, created a portion of the electorate that now holds the Republican Party in increasing contempt.

Exit polls from the 2004 election show Hispanic voters favored Democratic candidates in Congressional elections by 55%-44% margin. Two years later, that margin more than doubled, with Hispanics favoring Democratic candidates by 62%-37%. In some states, several enforcement-only hardliners lost what had been Republican districts to more moderate Democratic challengers. In Arizona alone, Rep. J.D. Hayworth lost his seat to Democrat Harry Mitchell, while State Senator Gabrielle Giffords, also a Democrat, won an open seat previously held by a senior Republican when she beat an anti-illegal immigration activist.

This year, GOP strategists have warned that their party is in danger of categorically ruling out competing among Hispanic voters for perhaps a generation to come.

At least one state Republican Party is trying to engage Hispanic voters before it's too late. This weekend, the Florida GOP will host a Hispanic Leadership Council Conference featuring keynote addresses from Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, Rep. Luis Fortuno of Puerto Rico, and home-state Senator Mel Martinez -- three of the leading Hispanic voices in the party today.

"The Hispanic vote and the African American vote is the future of the Republican Party," Florida party chair Jim Greer says (Mr. Greer held a similar event aimed at African American voters late last year). To get the groups involved, he adds: "We ensure that they have a seat at the table, and wherever [the Republican Party has] failed in the past, we correct that."

It is a help to the GOP that John McCain is the party's standard-bearer in this year's presidential contest. Mr. McCain is far more moderate on immigration issues than most of his primary rivals were, several of whom proposed steps just short of outright deportation of undocumented aliens. And while Mr. McCain has recently backed off his support for a comprehensive approach that would include a guest-worker program, telling conservative voters in his own base that he understands their concerns about rewarding illegal behavior, his legislative and political record could prove more appealing to Hispanic voters, or at least less damaging to the party's chances with those voters, than anything his erstwhile rivals could have offered.

If Mr. Greer's efforts to woo Hispanic voters works (and he says the Hispanic constituency is "critically important" to a successful GOP presidential campaign in Florida), the idea could be exported to other states in time for Congressional elections in 2010. But if others choose the route of ex-Rep. Hayworth and the immigration hardliners, the damage to party's reputation with Hispanic voters could be severe and long lasting.

24918  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Michael Yon on: May 08, 2008, 11:31:03 AM
Some folks have asked if I plan to do book signings in stores. None are planned because I need to take care of business here before heading back to the war, but I have been making dozens of media appearances and many more are scheduled this month.  The big issue at hand is the launch of my book Moment of Truth in Iraq.  Doesn't do any good to spend all that time on the battlefields if I do not take time to convey the facts to folks at home.
I'll try to sign one more gigantic stack of Moment of Truth before heading back to the war, but for those folks who were buying signed copies for Christmas presents, now is the best time as we still have about a thousand signed copies. is fully stocked and has the lowest current price--$17.97 as I type this.

Moment of Truth is available at all Barnes & Noble stores and at at a reduced price.  Please click the link and enter your zip code to check availability of Moment of Truth in Iraq at nearby stores. This function maps nearby stores with copies in stock.
Great to be back in America but sure comes with a lot of work before heading back to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Next time you see a service member in an airport, please say "thank you" to him or her.  Those simple words go a long, long way.  Back in the war, I often have heard combat soldiers saying how good it made them feel when someone in an airport simply said "thank you" and kept on walking.  Very powerful words.  They hugely appreciate those words.
Your correspondent,
Michael Yon
24919  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Wilson: Law and Liberty on: May 08, 2008, 10:33:54 AM
"Without liberty, law loses its nature and its name, and becomes
oppression. Without law, liberty also loses its nature and its
name, and becomes licentiousness."

-- James Wilson (Of the Study of the Law in the United States,
Circa 1790)

Reference: The Works of James Wilson, Andrews, ed., vol. 1 (7)
24920  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Case Study: knifing victim testimony on: May 08, 2008, 08:20:49 AM

I mean, I didn't know it at the time, but I had my guts hanging out of my stomach, my temple was slashed.
I was basically fighting for my life, and I was just in that fighting mode, I remember jumping into his car and kneeing him in his face.
That's when my friend said, Mike, stop; you've been stabbed, and I looked up in my stomach and --
Q   Explain to us, how is it that after this clash, you ended up in the front seat of this vehicle?
A   I can't tell you how I got in his vehicle.  I don't remember that.  I really don't.  All I remember is that I was in that fighting mode.
No law, nothing was in my head that was -- you know what I mean.  At that point, I was in a fighting mode.  Some one has got to stop me at that point.
Q   But you do remember going towards the driver's side of the vehicle driven by this male and going towards that door?
A   Yes, yes.
Q   Did you enter the vehicle?
A   I didn't enter it.  I didn't -- like, I reached in there and grabbed his head.
Q   You did?
Well, explain to us, to the best of your recollection, how is it that this male that was driving this vehicle proceeded from between the two of your vehicles towards the front door of his vehicle?
A   I can't tell you that.  I don't know.
Q   Did you see him do that?
A   See him do what; go to his car?
Q   Go to his car after the clash.
A   I mean, I couldn't give you an honest answer.  I don't remember.  I mean, I do remember, somehow, he had his legs out of the car; and I do remember going there and grabbing his head and kneeing his face, and I remember that's what ended the fight.
That's when my friend said, Mike, stop fighting.  You're hurt.  Because I didn't feel any of that.
Q   Any other reason in your mind why you went towards the front door of his vehicle?
A   Like I said, I was in fight mode.  I wasn't thinking clearly.  That's the only explanation I have.
I mean, I was bleeding to death.
I wasn't in my right -- if I could do it all over again, I wouldn't have followed him.  I would have pulled over and let him go, but you know, that's not what happened.
I didn't do everything text book right, but like I said, it was just instincts.  I couldn't help it.
Q   So, you're guts were hanging out of your stomach; were you intestines actually hanging out of your stomach?
A   Yes.  My friend was holding in my stomach for me.
Q   Who was?
A   My friend in the car was holding in my stomach for me so they wouldn't lay on the car seat.
Q   Before this clash took place between these two vehicles, did you make any gestures towards the vehicle driven by the male?
A   Before anything happened?
Q   Before, you testified there was a clash, and a clash occurred between he vehicle driven by the male and the vehicle driven by your wife.
A   Right.
Q   That was the first physical contact.
A   Yes.
Q   Before that occurred that evening on that day, did you make any gestures towards the vehicle that was driven by this male?
A   No, sir.  If I did, I might have a reason -- I might understand why it was he swerved.  That's why I can't understand what the point of that swerve was.
As soon as I looked over at him, he swerved.  I can't understand what caused him to do that. 
Q   Did anybody in you vehicle make any gestures towards the male before the clash occurred?
A   Not that I'm aware of.  I didn't see any.
THE COURT:  When you say clash, you're talking about the vehicle swerving behavior, and not the person's clashing?
MR. TELUK:  I'm referring to the actual clash between the male and Mr. Daniel.  That's the clash I'm referring to.
THE COURT:  Okay.  I'm going to ask you to rephrase the question, please.
MR. TELUK:  I'll rephrase the question.
BY MR. TELUK:           
Q   That evening, that day, did you or anybody inside your vehicle, make any gestures towards the vehicle that was driven by that male?
A   Not that I saw, no.
Q   Before that clash occurred between yourself and the male in that vehicle, did you say anything, or did anybody in you vehicle say anything to anybody in the vehicle that was driven by the male?
A   No, there was no words.
Q   You testified that you pretty much lost it that evening?
A   After I had my temple cut and my guts cut out of my stomach, yeah; I lost it.  I didn't necessarily know that that was happening, but there was something inside of me.
Apparently, that was it, because I've never felt like that in my life.
Q   Well, did you lose it before this clash occurred?
A   No, not like I did when I got cut.
Q   So, you do admit you lost it before the clashing occurred?
A   No, that's not what I just said.
Q   Well, how would you characterize your statement that you believe you lost it before this clash occurred?
A   Say that again, please.
Q   You testified on direct examination that you pretty much lost it that evening or that night.
That was your testimony; right?
A   Not -- that's not what caused me to get out of the car.
Q   Well, listen to the question, please.
You testified on direct examination that that evening or that night, you pretty much lost it.
That's what you said; correct?
A   At a certain point in time, yeah.
Q   You said that?
A   Yes.
Q   I'm asking you, what did you mean by that statement?
A   By losing it?
Q   Yes.
A   I mean, just going off.  I mean, I had blood coming out of my head. 
MS. ASHWORTH:  Your Honor, I'm going to object at this point as asked and answered.
If he wants to put it into context when that statement was made, then maybe the witness can clarify it, but without any other information, I think he's testified over and over again what he meant and what happened to the best of his recollection.   
MR. TELUK:  I'm going to rephrase the question.
THE COURT:  I'm going to overrule the objection.  I think you're going to follow that question to try to elicit further information.  Go ahead.
Q   Besides what you testified up to this point in time, you testified that that evening, you pretty much lost it.
A   I don't know what you mean by that evening.  I mean, I told you I lost it after I got stabbed eight times.
Q   Was that when you lost it?
A   Yeah.  When I kneed him in his face, I lost it.  I shouldn't have done that.
Q   You shouldn't have done what?
A   I shouldn't have followed him in his car and kneed him in his face.  That's what I meant by losing it.
Q   Okay.
A   I could have got back in my car and went to the hospital.
Q   And from the time this vehicle driven by this male swerved into the vehicle that had been driven by your wife, you were consistently angry; correct?
A   Yeah, I was very angry.  I didn't lose it.  I was angry.  I wanted to see him get arrested.
Q   You wanted to do him some harm that day; correct, before the clash occurred?
A   Yeah, I wanted to see him get put back behind a cop car.
Q   You wanted to fight with him before the clash occurred; isn't that true?
A   A fist fight?
Q   Yes.
A   I didn't want to fight.  If I could have sat there and called the police and had the police come -- my -- it was stupid to do that. 
It was stupid to follow him and try to act like a cop myself to help a cop get him.  That was dumb, but that's what I did.
I had no intention of stopping and getting out.  I got put with a split second decision and I made my decision.
Q   And you started the fight; yes or no?
A   No, I didn't start the fight.
Q   Did this male in the vehicle start the fight?
A   I would say so.
Q   Tell us why you believe he started the fight.
A   Well, he came up beside my car full of my family and swerved me off the road for no reason.
I think that's enough to start a fight, wouldn't you?
Q   Any other reason?
A   Getting out of his car and making threatening gestures to my car.  That'd be a reason.
Q   What threatening gestures did he make?
A   Swinging his door open and getting out like he's going to fight.  I've got my three year old daughter.  I have no idea what this guy's going to do.
Q   Any other threatening gestures?
A   No.
MR. TELUK:  I have no further questions.
24921  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Case Study: knifing victim testimony on: May 08, 2008, 08:20:04 AM

Q   What happened next?
A   All I can remember was him getting out of the car.  My emotions were running so high, because my adrenaline was pumping.  You know, I've got my daughter in the back seat.
I seen him get out of his car, and that was it.  I didn't think about nothing else.  I got out.  I wanted to protect my family, because this guy is crazy.  He swerved at us like that for no reason.
Q   How do you describe how this person got out the car?
A   He just, basically, ripped his door off it's hinges getting out.  You know, I just saw the door fling open.
Q   Was that on the driver's side or the passenger's?
A   Driver's.
Q   Do you remember what the person looked like that got out of the car?
A   Not at all.
Q   Not at all?
A   No.
Q   So, you can't identify the person as being here in the courtroom?
A   No, I really can't.
Q   So, you saw, what you said, the door fly off the hinges --
A   I'm just saying he pushed it open real hard like he was getting out to fight.  
Q   Where was the driver of that car when you got out of your car?
A   The driver of his car?
He was the driver.
Q   Right; where was he when you decided to get out of your car?
A   Coming towards my car.
Q   But where?
Between his driver's side and where you met him --
A   I mean, as soon as I seen him get out and approach my car, I got out.  So, he didn't even make it past his car yet.
Q   And you got out of the passenger side of your car?
A   Uh-huh.
Q   What happened next?
A   It was just a clash.  No words, it was a clash.
Q   Do you remember what happened?
Can you tell the Court what happened?
A   All I remember is just -- I mean, I can't remember exactly what happened.  I remember we clashed and just started fighting.
I had no idea, I mean, nothing was going on.  I thought it was just a fist fight, and when my friends realized that all that blood was coming from me, they decided it was time to get out and help me out, and --
Q   Did you see any weapon?
A   I never saw it.  Never.
Q   Did you notice any blood?
A   On my head.  I figured it was a grazing punch.  I never thought it was a knife.
Q   Okay.
Where in relation to the cars did this fight take place?        
A   I'm not exactly sure, but if I had to make a guess, I'd say in the middle somewhere.
Q   Okay.
What did you do after that?
A   After what?
Q   After this fight.
Did you get back in your car, or did you --
A   Well, that's when Justin was like, Mike, stop fighting; because I, I mean, I pretty much lost it.
He said look at your stomach, and I pulled my shirt up an my guts were hanging out of my stomach, and that's when I realized I needed to go to the hospital.
I ran back to my car, and Justin flew back there, somehow, and we rushed to the hospital.
Q   What injuries did you sustain as a result of this fight?
A   I got stabbed and lacerated eight times.  I got stabbed in the triceps, I got slashed in my temple, I got my guts cut out of my stomach, I got poked in the chest, poked in the back, slashed in my right arm.
Q   What treatment did you receive at the hospital?
A   What do you mean by that?
Q   What treatment, what did they do to you, and what hospital did you go to?
A   The first one I went to was Potomac Hospital.
Q   Okay.
What happened there?
A   It was kind of a blur at that point because I was losing so much blood.
All I remember was walking into the hospital with blood everywhere, and they threw me on a table, stripped my clothes off, there was like, eight doctors around me, and that was it.  I blacked out.
Q   Where did you wake up?
A   I woke up in ICU in Fairfax.
Q   How long were you in the intensive care unit?
A   Without knowing exactly, I'd say two or three days.
Q   Do you have scars as a result of this fight?
A   Very bad scars.
Q   I'd ask you to show the judge your scars.
A   All of them, or just --
THE COURT:  Do I need to see this, for preliminary hearing purposes?
THE COURT:  All right.
Q   Do you have any permanent injuries as a result of this?
A   Yeah.
Q   What is that?
A   I have nerve damage in my left arm where he stabbed me in the triceps.  I can't squeeze with my left hand.
Q   Were you able to do that before this?
A   Oh, yeah.  Strong as an ox before this.
Q   What are you unable to squeeze?
You're able to move your hand?
A   Yeah, I just don't have any pressure to squeeze it.
Q   Please answer any questions that Mr. Teluk has for you.
   * * * * *
Q   Then, at a certain point in time, you decided to exit the vehicle driven by your wife; right?
A   Yes.
Q   Why did you exit that vehicle?
A   Because I had my three-year-old daughter in the back seat, I had my wife sitting next to me, I didn't know if this guy had a gun, I didn't know if he was going to come force us out of the -- I had no idea what he was going to do.
Out of nowhere, he came and swerved at my car, so at this point in time, I didn't what this guy's intentions were.
So, at that point in time, I had no second thoughts about getting out of my car and defending my family, and that's just what was going through my head.
Q   Any other reason you exited the vehicle at that point in time?
A   Any other reason why, other than to protect my family?
Q   Yes.
A   No.
Q   Now, at that point in time, both vehicles are stopped; right?
A   Yes.
Q   You're in the passenger side; correct?
A   Right.
Q   The driver of this vehicle is in front of your vehicle; correct?
A   Yes.
Q   He's on the driver's side; right?
A   Yes.
Q   Any other reason why you believed you had to exit your vehicle to protect you family?
A   What do you mean by that?
Q   Well, you said you exited your vehicle; right?
A   Right.
Q   Because you didn't know what this person was going to do?
A   Right.
Q   This person when you exit your vehicle; where is this other person?
A   On the way to my car.
Q   Okay; what is he doing?
A   I really don't know.  If I don't know what he looks like -- I mean, there's a lot of things that's a blur.
At that point in time, I felt in danger for my family.
Q   Any other reason that you testify to that you felt either you or you family was in danger, other than what you testified to?
A   No.
Q   All right.
So this male gets out of the car; correct?
A   Uh-huh.
Q   Does he say anything o you?
A   No.
Q   Does he do anything unusual to lead you to believe that --
A   He almost swerved my family off the road for no reason.  That was kind of unusual.
Q   That's the only reason you wanted to protect your family at that point in time?
A   I didn't know what was going on.
Q   I understand that.
Now, you exited your vehicle after he exited his vehicle, or vise-versa?
A   Say that again.
Q   You exited the vehicle before or after he exited his vehicle?
A   After he exited his.
Q   All right; and where was he in relationship to the driver's side door of his vehicle, where was he in relationship to that driver's side door when you exited your vehicle?
A   You mean the time I exited?
Q   Yes.
A   He was getting out of his car.
Q   He was just getting out of his car?
A   Uh-huh.
Q   He was not at the front of your vehicle; he was just getting out of his car?
A   No, he wasn't banging on my window or nothing, telling me to get out.  I just -- it was an instant reaction that I had.
I just got out.  It was the only thing I could think to do.  I didn't have ten minutes to sit there and think about what was the best thing to do legally.
It was an animal instinct.  I had my three-year-old daughter behind me.  That means everything to me.  It was a split second decision.  It might have been the wrong one.  That's what I decided to do.      
Q   He's not yelling at you or screaming at you, or anything like that; right?
A   No.
Q   So what did you do next after you exited the passenger side door of your vehicle?
A   I ran right into him and started fighting.
Q   You started the fight?
A   No, I didn't start the fight.
Q   But you just said you started fighting.
A   Yes, that's the intention I had getting out of the car, was to fight to protect my family.
Q   So, how did you start the fight?
A   How did I start the fight?
Q   Yes.
A   How did I start the physical altercation, you mean?
I jumped out and I clashed into him.  I felt like I needed to that to prevent this guy -- I have no idea what the hell he's doing with my family, I had no idea what his intentions were.
My animal instincts told me to get out and keep him away from my car, keep him away from my daughter behind me.
Q   So you said you clashed into him?
A   Yes.
Q   C-L-A-S-H-E-D; is that the word you used; clashed?
A   Yeah.
Q   How did you clash into him?
A   I don't -- I can't explain it.  If I knew if I threw him a three piece combo or knee, I'd tell you that.  That's why I say clash.  I don't remember it.  I just remember this (indicating).  That's all I remember.
Q   Did you run towards him?
A   Yes.
Q   He wasn't running towards you when you ran towards him; is that correct?
A   Yes, he was running towards me.  It was a mutual -- I mean as far as that goes, he clashed into me.  It was like this (indicating).
It was a clash.  It wasn't like I attacked him.  It was a clash.
Q   Where did this clash take place?
A   Between both of our cars.
Q   Do you recall which portion of your body clashed with his body?
A   No.  Other wise, I'd say something other than clash.  I don't remember.  If I did, I'd say something, but all I remember in my head is a clash.
Q   Do you know how long this clashing occurred?
A   No.  I remember a clash, and we broke up and squared up.
Q   I'm sorry, you broke up and what?
A   When we first hit, it was a clash.  I don't remember what happened, and then we broke back up, and
we both squared up, and we were both fighting.
So, as far as I know, it's a boxing match after we broke up after the first clash.  You know, he took a swing.
All this blood came from my head.  I figured, he grazed me with a fist or something like that busted my head open.
I had no idea I was getting stabbed.  So, I kept fighting.  After I started bleeding, I really started fighting as hard as I could.
Q   The clash took place between the rear of your vehicle and the front of your vehicle; correct?
Is that a fair characterization?
A   Yeah.  I mean, I almost died that night.  I can't tell you exactly what happened.  I'm giving you the best I can remember.
Q   I understand, and isn't it true that after this clash occurred, this male proceeded towards the front door of his vehicle?
A   Do what?
Q   You proceeded towards the driver's door of his vehicle?
A   After we clashed?
Q   Yes.
A   Absolutely not.
Q   Why do you disagree with that statement?
A   Because we squared up when we broke up off of that clash.
Q   After you squared up, what happened then?
A   I just remember throwing fist in a normal fistfight, and --
Q   You do remember hitting him with you fist; correct?
A   Yes, I do.
Q   How many times did you hit him with your fist?
A   I couldn't tell you an exact number, but I hit him a few times.
Q   At least five?
A   That's fair.
Q   Would at least ten be fair?
A   Maybe.  Like I said, I mean, it was blur.  I got my temple sliced open and I was losing blood so fast.       I mean, it's kind of hard to remember something that's going on.
Q   Did he strike you with his fists?
A   He struck me with the knife, and I didn't even know he was doing the knife, so I can't tell you what he did.
I mean --
Q   Do you recall how many times he hit you with his fist, if he hit you at all?
A   No.  I didn't know any of that.  I didn't know what he was doing.  All I was worried about was I'm going to do.
Q   Do you recall any other physical contact between you and this mail that was driving this car?
A   Other than the fight?
Q   Other than what you testified to?
A   Yeah.
Q   What other physical contact do you remember?
A   You mean after we broke up?
Q   All right.  Besides --
A   I remember jumping into his car when the fight was -- because I got in a fight mode, and I pretty much lost it.  
24922  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Another Coyote attack on: May 08, 2008, 08:18:36 AM
California 2-Year-Old Dragged From Yard by Coyote in Third Such Attack in Five Days

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A coyote grabbed a 2-year-old girl by the head and tried to drag her from the front yard of her mountain home in the third incident of a coyote threatening a small child in Southern California in five days, authorities said.

The coyote attacked the girl around noon Tuesday when her mother, Melissa Rowley, went inside the home for a moment to put away a camera, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said in an incident report.

Rowley came out of the house and saw the coyote dragging her daughter towards a street. She ran towards her daughter, and the animal released the girl and ran away, said sheriff's spokeswoman Arden Wiltshire.

Rowley took her daughter to a hospital where the toddler was treated for several punctures to the head and neck area, and a laceration on her mouth. She was then flown to Loma Linda University Hospital for further treatment, although her injuries were not life-threatening.

State Fish and Game wardens and county animal control authorities set traps for the coyote and were monitoring the neighborhood high in the San Bernardino Mountains about 65 miles miles northeast of Los Angeles.
On Friday, a nanny pulled a 2-year-old girl from the jaws of a coyote at Alterra Park in Chino Hills, a San Bernardino County community about 30 miles east of Los Angeles. The girl suffered puncture wounds to her buttocks and was treated at a hospital.

A coyote came after another toddler in the same park Sunday. The child's father kicked and chased the coyote away.

Alterra Park is near Chino Hills State Park, a natural open space of thousands of acres spanning nearly 31 miles.
24923  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Vetoing the Verifyers on: May 08, 2008, 07:51:47 AM
Vetoing the Verifiers
May 8, 2008; Page A14
The State Department is justifying its decision to let North Korea renege on its pledge to give a "complete declaration of its nuclear programs" by promising a strict verification regime. So why is Foggy Bottom cutting its own verification experts out of the loop?

The State Department's systematic exclusion of its own Bureau of Verification, Compliance and Implementation has gone unreported as the North Korean diplomacy proceeds. But it is causing concern on Capitol Hill and has already led to a proposal to require State to submit a report to Congress describing how the U.S. will verify any nuclear deal. Sponsored by Florida Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the legislation passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week with the support of Democratic Chairman Howard Berman.

The mandate of the verification bureau, as described on the State Department's Web site, is to provide oversight "on all matters relating to verification or compliance with international arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament agreements and commitments." It "supports the Secretary" in "developing and implementing robust and rigorous verification and compliance policies."

The verification bureau was created by a Republican Congress in 1999 over the objections of the Clinton Administration and State Department careerists who didn't want agreements subject to additional oversight. The bureau's biggest success to date is Libya, where it played a central role in dismantling the country's WMD programs in 2003. There the bureau worked closely with experts from the Departments of Defense and Energy as well as with Britain and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

North Korea is a different story. The verifiers "have no voice so far," one person close to the process told us. They aren't part of the negotiating teams talking to the North Koreans and they've been excluded from key internal meetings. No one from the verification bureau participated in a recent State Department trip to Pyonygang intended to work out verification issues.

Nor is the verification bureau in charge of monitoring the disabling of the North's nuclear reactor at Yongbyon. One bureau professional took part, but he was invited for his technical expertise; he was not there as a verifier. Paula DeSutter, the assistant secretary who heads the bureau, declined to comment.

Incredibly, the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs is calling the shots – talking to the North Koreans, hand picking experts to work at Yongbyon, and overseeing disablement. Call it the Chris Hill Show. Mr. Hill – the assistant secretary for East Asia – has also made a mockery of the interagency process. The verification bureau's Pentagon counterparts, who were closely involved in the six-party Korean diplomacy until mid-2005, have also been kept in exile.

Now there's talk that the East Asia bureau – not the verification bureau – will also end up monitoring any final six-party agreement. Not only does East Asia lack the technical expertise to verify a nuclear agreement, its staffers would hardly be eager to find violations in an accord negotiated by their superiors. There's even talk State may outsource some of the inspection work to China, which will be chairing a verification group within the six-party group. But China would have no incentive to blow the whistle on its client state.

The fact that Mr. Hill and his boss, Secretary Condoleezza Rice, are marginalizing their own verifiers is further reason to doubt their North Korea deal. The diplomats want to deliver a "success" and are afraid that if the verifiers get a close look, they will expose it as a fraud. Among the uncomfortable questions: Where is all of the plutonium North Korea has produced over the years? What happened to the uranium program that Pyongyang once boasted about but now says does not exist? What exactly did the North proliferate to Syria?

No verification can deliver 100% certainty, and North Korea, with its history of cheating and lying, would be a difficult case under even the most stringent inspection regimes. The disarmament of Libya succeeded because Moammar Gadhafi decided to cooperate. There's zero indication that Kim Jong Il shares that frame of mind.

North Korea's geography offers special challenges too. It's a mountainous country, with caves hiding mobile missile launchers aimed at Seoul. The military has vast underground facilities built with the help of its former Soviet patrons. Will these be open to inspectors? Even assuming that Kim will allow unimpeded and unannounced access – a leap of diplomatic faith – special expertise is needed to decide where to inspect and what to look for.

The State Department's verification bureau was created in the spirit of Ronald Reagan's slogan, "trust but verify." The Gipper was referring to the disarmament of the Soviet Union in the 1980s, but his principle applies equally to North Korea today. If Foggy Bottom won't trust its own verifiers enough to make them part of any disarmament deal, then the rest of us shouldn't trust any deal struck by the Bush State Department.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds,
24924  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rove on: May 08, 2008, 07:47:58 AM
It's Obama, Warts and All
May 8, 2008; Page A15

Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama each took a state Tuesday. But the result was a damaging loss for the woman who was once the overwhelming front-runner for the Democratic nomination. Here are some observations on the race:

- Mr. Obama is now the prohibitive favorite. Tuesday night, he took at least 94 delegates to Mrs. Clinton's 75 and leads the former First Lady by 176 delegates in the AP tabulation. He has 1,840 of the 2,025 delegates needed to win. Mr. Obama needs only 185 – or 38% – of the 486 outstanding delegates (217 to be elected in the six remaining contests, and 269 superdelegates yet to endorse a candidate). Mrs. Clinton needs 341, or 70% of those left to be awarded.

Barack Obama arrives at a primary election night rally in North Carolina, May 6, 2008.
Mr. Obama understands this. On Tuesday night, he added a big dollop of general election themes and pre-emptive defenses against coming attacks to his stump speech.

- Mrs. Clinton may battle until June and possibly until the convention in August. There's nothing Mr. Obama can or should do about it. After a long, bitter struggle, losing candidates often look for reasons to feel aggrieved. There is no reason to give her one. No pressure from Mr. Obama or party Chairman Howard Dean is better than pushing her out of the race.

- The Democrats' refusal to seat the Florida and Michigan delegations at their convention is an unresolved problem. If they insist on not seating these delegations, Democrats risk alienating voters in states with 44 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House. And here Mr. Obama is at greater risk than Mrs. Clinton, especially in Florida. He trails John McCain badly in Sunshine State polls today, while Mrs. Clinton leads Mr. McCain there.

- The length of the Democratic contest has been – in some ways – a plus for the party. The AP estimates that more than 3.5 million new voters registered during the competitive primary season. And the hundreds of millions of dollars spent energizing Democratic turnout will leave organization and energy in place for November. Mr. Obama is a better candidate for having been battle tested. And Mr. McCain has to fight hard for attention. He's mentioned in less than 20% of the coverage in recent months, while Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton are talked about in 60% to 70% of the coverage.

- The length of the Democratic contest has been – in some ways – a minus. It has revealed weaknesses in Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton. Mrs. Clinton came across as calculating, contrived, stiff and self-concerned. Mr. Obama is increasingly seen not as the Second Coming, but as a typical liberal Chicago pol with a thin record, little experience, an array of troubling relationships and, to top it off, elitist sensibilities. Nominating him will now test the thesis that only a Democrat running as a moderate can win the White House.

The primary has created a deep fissure in Democratic ranks: blue collar, less affluent, less educated voters versus the white wine crowd of academics and upscale professionals (along with blacks and young people). Mr. Obama runs behind Mrs. Clinton's numbers when matched against Mr. McCain in key industrial battleground states. Less than half of Mrs. Clinton's backers in Indiana and North Carolina say they would support Mr. Obama if he were the nominee. In the most recent Fox News poll, two-and-a-half times as many Democrats break for Mr. McCain (15%) as Republicans defect to Mrs. Clinton (6%) and nearly twice as many Democrats support Mr. McCain (22%) as Republicans back Mr. Obama (13%). These "McCainocrat" defections could hurt badly.

State and local Democrats are realizing the toxicity of their probable national ticket. Democrats running in special congressional races recently in Louisiana and Mississippi positioned themselves as pro-life, pro-gun social conservatives and disavowed Mr. Obama. The Louisiana Democrat won his race on Saturday and said he "has not endorsed any national politician." The Mississippi Democrat is facing a runoff on May 13 and specifically denied that Mr. Obama had endorsed his campaign. Not exactly profiles in unity.

- As much as Mr. Obama's cheerleaders in the media hate it, Rev. Jeremiah Wright remains a large general-election challenge for Mr. Obama. Not only did Mr. Obama admit on "Fox News Sunday" that Mr. Wright was a legitimate issue, voters agree. Mr. Obama's favorable ratings have dropped since Mr. Wright emerged as an issue. More than half of Mrs. Clinton's supporters say it is a meaningful reflection on Mr. Obama's character and judgment.

- This will be a very difficult year for Republicans. The economy's shaky state, an unpopular war, and the natural desire for partisan change after eight years of one party in the White House have helped tilt the balance to the Democrats.

Mr. Obama is significantly weaker today than he was three months ago, but Democrats have the upper hand in November. They're beatable. But it's nonsense to think this year is going to be a replay of George H.W. Bush versus Michael Dukakis or Richard Nixon versus George McGovern.

- Mr. McCain is very competitive. He is the best candidate Republicans could have picked in this environment. With the GOP brand low, his appeal to moderates and independents becomes even more crucial.

My analysis of individual state polls shows that today Mr. McCain would win 241 Electoral College votes to Mr. Obama's 217, with 80 votes in toss-up states where neither candidate has more than a 3% lead. Ironically, Mrs. Clinton now leads Mr. McCain with 251 electoral votes to his 203 with 84 in toss-up states. This is the first time she's led Mr. McCain since I began tracking state-by-state results in early March.

Mr. McCain is realistic enough to know he will fall behind Mr. Obama once the Democratic nomination is settled. He's steeled himself and his team for that moment. And he's comforted by a belief that there will be plenty of time to recapture the lead. Mr. McCain saw Gerald Ford come from 30 points down to lose narrowly to Jimmy Carter in 1976, and watched George H.W. Bush overcome a 17-point deficit in the summer to hammer Michael Dukakis in the fall of 1988.

- The battlegrounds will look familiar. It will be the industrial heartland from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin, minus Indiana (Republican) and Illinois (Democrat); the western edge of the Midwest from Minnesota south to Missouri; Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada in the Rocky Mountains; Florida; and New Hampshire.

Mr. Obama will argue he puts Virginia and North Carolina into play (doubtful), and may make an attempt at winning one or two of Nebraska's electoral votes (it awards its electoral votes by congressional district). Mr. McCain will say he can put New Jersey and Delaware and part of Maine (it splits its vote like Nebraska) in play. But it's doubtful he'll win in Oregon or Washington State, although he believes he can.

- Almost everything we think we know right now will be revised and even overturned during the next six months. This has been a race in which conventional wisdom has often been proven wrong. The improbable or thought-to-be impossible has happened with regularity. It has created a boom market for punditry and opinion offering, and one of the grandest possible spectacles for political junkies in decades. Hold on to your hat. It's going to be one heck of a ride through Nov. 4.

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

24925  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bolton: Bush's NK Nuke Abdication on: May 08, 2008, 07:37:56 AM
Bush's North Korea Nuclear Abdication
May 8, 2008; Page A15

Despite rising Capitol Hill opposition to its North Korea policy, the Bush administration continues to find new and imaginative ways to accommodate Pyongyang's sensitivities. Meanwhile, the administration's Democratic congressional allies are urgently pushing to waive the Glenn Amendment, which bars essentially all U.S. economic and military aid to the North.

The strategic folly here is rooted in the administration's decision to focus on North Korea's plutonium supplies and stop caring what Pyongyang once did or is doing on the enriched-uranium route to nuclear weapons. That could be a fatal mistake.

In 2002, our intelligence community definitively judged that the regime was working on an industrial-scale enrichment program. Since then we have little new information, reducing the confidence level, but not changing the substantive conclusion, that the North Koreans "have and continue to operate a uranium enrichment program" – as Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell testified in February.

For the Bush administration, however, the lack of new data is an excuse to ignore the entire issue of uranium.

On plutonium, the administration seems content to seek vague statements from the North that "account" for the amount of this fissile material we think it has extracted from its Yongbyon reactor's spent fuel rods over the years. Administration briefings reveal little or no interest in how many plutonium weapons exist; whether there are other plutonium-related facilities hidden in North Korea's vast complex of underground facilities; and what the North's weapons-manufacturing capabilities are.

Proliferation? Perhaps the Bush administration's most wondrous act of magic is to make that problem disappear. The State Department argues that North Korea may have proliferated in the past, but that's all behind us. How do we know? The North Koreans have told us.

Since the reactor it helped Syria build on the Euphrates River was pulverized by the Israeli Air Force last September 6, Pyongyang's efforts at and interest in nuclear proliferation may have ceased. Even if true, that should not give us comfort: It took an act of brute military force to bring this about. One need hardly point out that this tactic is not congruent with the administration's current approach to North Korea's nuclear behavior.

More troubling is the administration's apparent treatment of the Syrian reactor as if it were the only proliferation threat in the Middle East. It is not. Iran should be top of mind as well.

It is inconceivable that Syria could work for five years or more building the clone of North Korea's Yongbyon reactor on the Euphrates without, at a minimum, Iranian acquiescence. Quite likely, Iran was involved. Tehran could well be financing Syria's purchase of reactor technology from North Korea. It could also have expected to benefit from the reactor's production of plutonium.

Indeed, Iran had much the same incentive as North Korea to hide its nuclear activities from international scrutiny. What better way to conceal proscribed work from inspectors in North Korea or Iran than to build facilities in Syria?

Iran and North Korea already have a history of cooperation in ballistic missiles – the delivery system which, if perfected, could give their weapons global reach. After the North declared a moratorium on launch testing from the Korean Peninsula in 1999, it simply ramped up cooperation with Iran's aggressive missile research and development program.

The North thus continued to benefit from launch-testing data, prior to breaking its moratorium on July 4, 2006, while also scoring a propaganda victory among the clueless for its apparent renunciation of provocative behavior in Northeast Asia. Outsourcing weapons programs is nothing new for Pyongyang.

Although our intelligence community stated publicly that the Syrian reactor was a cash transaction, its congressional briefings contained little or no supporting evidence that this was so. This is unsurprising. The Israeli raid was based on the hard physical evidence seen on the banks of the Euphrates River, not on scrutiny of documents embodying the deal.

Some friendly advice to our intelligence services: Think joint venture. Think asset diversification.

Hypothetically, what if the deal had North Korea getting a third of the plutonium produced by the Euphrates reactor, Iran a third, and Syria a third? The North benefits by maintaining open access to a plutonium supply even if Yongbyon remains frozen. Iran gets experience in reactor technologies immune from IAEA scrutiny. And Syria takes a major step toward undisclosed nuclear capabilities. Win-win-win, as that entrepreneurial proliferator A.Q. Khan might have said.

Here is the real problem. North Korean nuclear proliferation is quite likely more than a series of one-time transactions that create problems elsewhere in the world. It may very well be integral to its own nuclear weapons program.

The Bush administration can wish away these possibilities and still achieve its deal. But it cannot wish away the underlying reality, the full scope of which we simply do not know. That reality, whatever its reach, will still be there to haunt President Bush's successor and threaten international peace.

Mr. Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations" (Simon & Schuster/Threshold Editions, 2007).

See all of today's editorials and op-eds,
24926  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: May 07, 2008, 10:23:26 PM
Article of Ayers, including recent foto of him standing on US flag:
24927  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: sean sherk vs. bj penn on: May 07, 2008, 07:10:27 PM
BJ's separatist BS for Hawaii irks me  angry angry angry
24928  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Michael Yon's book!!! on: May 07, 2008, 01:45:21 PM
I have just ordered this book and recommend it most highly.
24929  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Soak the Rich on: May 07, 2008, 01:07:34 PM
from a US newspaper (1936)…

Soak the Rich

Father, must I go to work?
No! No! my darling son,
We’re living now on Easy Street
With funds from Washington

We're cared for now by Uncle Sam,
So don't get exercised;
We do not need to care a damn
Because we're subsidized.

But, dad, if he's going to treat us well
and give us all milk and honey,
Please tell me truly, where the hell
He's going to get the money?

Don't worry, child, there is no hitch
about this glorious plan --
He'll get the money from the rich
To help the common man.

But, dad, won't there come a time
if we take all their cash
and they are left without a dime,
when things will go to smash?

Son, you need a lot of seasoning,
you nosey little brat,
you do too damn much reasoning
to be a Democrat.

I Want to be a Consumer
"And what do you mean to be?"
The kind old Bishop said
As he took the boy on his ample knee
And patted his curly head.
"We should all of us choose a calling
To help Society's plan;
Then what do you mean to be, my boy,
When you grow to be a man?"
"I want to be a Consumer,"
The bright-haired lad replied
As he gazed up into the Bishop's face
In innocence open-eyed.
"I've never had aims of a selfish sort,
For that, as I know, is wrong.
I want to be a Consumer, Sir,
And help the world along.
"I want to be a consumer
And work both night and day,
For that is the thing that's needed most,
I've heard Economists say,
I won't just be a Producer,
Like Bobby and James and John;
I want to be a Consumer, Sir,
And help the nation on."
"But what do you want to be?"
The Bishop said again,
"For we all of us have to work," said he,
"As must, I think, be plain.
Are you thinking of studying medicine
Or taking a Bar exam?"
"Why, no!" the bright-haired lad replied
As he helped himself to jam.
"I want to be a Consumer
And live in a useful way;
For that is the thing that's need most,
I've heard Economists say.
There are too many people working
And too many things are made.
I want to be a Consumer, Sir,
And help to further Trade.
"I want to be a Consumer
And do my duty well;
For that is the thing that's needed most,
I've heard Economists tell.
I've made up my mind," the lad was heard,
As he lit a cigar, to say;
"I want to be a Consumer, Sir,
And I want to begin today."

24930  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Emergency Tips and Emergency Medicine on: May 07, 2008, 12:01:32 PM
Could this tragedy have been avoided if someone knew to slam on a tourniquet?

Sergeant's Last Words: 'Tell My Wife I'll Miss Her'
5637 Views 260 Comments Share Flag as inappropriate 
Officer in New Jersey search for the only suspect still at large. (AP)
Philadelphia Inquirer

May 06, 2008

PHILADELPHIA – Nancy Braun was sitting on a couch watching one of her favorite TV shows, Trading Spaces, when gunfire erupted down the street yesterday morning.

“I heard three shots – real loud,” Braun said from a rocking chair on the front porch of her Schiller Street rowhouse. “Then a lady started screaming, ‘A police officer’s been shot!’ “

Braun and her boyfriend, Joe Czarnik, both 43, bolted out of the house and ran to Schiller and Almond Streets, she said. She was not wearing shoes at the time, she said, and ran in her socks.

In the street next to a compact police cruiser, Braun said, she saw Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski. Others were trying to apply pressure to his stomach and an arm.

Keith Petaccio, 45, was at his front door greeting his wife as she came back after walking their dogs.

A police cruiser “flew by,” and Petaccio stepped outside to see what was going on just as the gunfire started, he said. He said he had run to Liczbinski.

Throughout the block as noon approached, chaos ensued.

A woman spun around yelling that a man had put a gun to her head and threatened to kill her. People young and old poured out of houses and onto their porches. One man chased the shooter’s stolen Jeep as it bolted south on Almond Street. Others called 911 on cell phones.

An older man nearby had taken the fallen officer’s radio and was saying, “A police officer is down. He’s shot multiple times. Get an ambulance,” Braun said.

Braun yelled at another neighbor for towels to try to stop the gushing blood. She grabbed four kitchen towels and gave them to those trying to stop the bleeding, she said.

A neighbor tying to help Liczbinski looked up at Braun and said, “His arm is just dangling off.”

Petaccio said he had stayed with Liczbinski talking to him as he tried to save his life.

He said Liczbinski had looked at him and said, “I want you to tell my wife I’ll miss her.”

Joe Farrell was cooking breakfast for his children, he said, when he heard the shots feet from his porch. He yelled at the children to get down on the floor and ran out the door to help.

“They were holding rags on him trying to stop the blood from pumping out,” Farrell said. He said he had helped get Liczbinski into the back of a police car.

Minutes later, swarms of police and detectives arrived. They quickly strung yellow police tape for blocks around the intersection.

“I feel bad for the family and the police,” Braun said. “What they have to go through today, it’s horrible.”

Petaccio said that on Saturdays the neighborhood streets were usually filled with children playing. Yesterday few people were outside when the drama began.

“My heart goes out to his family,” Petaccio said. “I can’t believe it happened.”

Many of the porches in the neighborhood have colorful flowers hanging in baskets or in pots.

By 6 p.m., when most police cars had left and the police tape had been collected, some had placed flowerpots at the curb where Liczbinski fell.

(c) 2008 YellowBrix, Inc.
24931  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tell my wife I'll miss her on: May 07, 2008, 11:58:53 AM
Sergeant's Last Words: 'Tell My Wife I'll Miss Her'
5637 Views 260 Comments Share Flag as inappropriate 
Officer in New Jersey search for the only suspect still at large. (AP)
Philadelphia Inquirer

May 06, 2008

PHILADELPHIA – Nancy Braun was sitting on a couch watching one of her favorite TV shows, Trading Spaces, when gunfire erupted down the street yesterday morning.

“I heard three shots – real loud,” Braun said from a rocking chair on the front porch of her Schiller Street rowhouse. “Then a lady started screaming, ‘A police officer’s been shot!’ “

Braun and her boyfriend, Joe Czarnik, both 43, bolted out of the house and ran to Schiller and Almond Streets, she said. She was not wearing shoes at the time, she said, and ran in her socks.

In the street next to a compact police cruiser, Braun said, she saw Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski. Others were trying to apply pressure to his stomach and an arm.

Keith Petaccio, 45, was at his front door greeting his wife as she came back after walking their dogs.

A police cruiser “flew by,” and Petaccio stepped outside to see what was going on just as the gunfire started, he said. He said he had run to Liczbinski.

Throughout the block as noon approached, chaos ensued.

A woman spun around yelling that a man had put a gun to her head and threatened to kill her. People young and old poured out of houses and onto their porches. One man chased the shooter’s stolen Jeep as it bolted south on Almond Street. Others called 911 on cell phones.

An older man nearby had taken the fallen officer’s radio and was saying, “A police officer is down. He’s shot multiple times. Get an ambulance,” Braun said.

Braun yelled at another neighbor for towels to try to stop the gushing blood. She grabbed four kitchen towels and gave them to those trying to stop the bleeding, she said.

A neighbor tying to help Liczbinski looked up at Braun and said, “His arm is just dangling off.”

Petaccio said he had stayed with Liczbinski talking to him as he tried to save his life.

He said Liczbinski had looked at him and said, “I want you to tell my wife I’ll miss her.”

Joe Farrell was cooking breakfast for his children, he said, when he heard the shots feet from his porch. He yelled at the children to get down on the floor and ran out the door to help.

“They were holding rags on him trying to stop the blood from pumping out,” Farrell said. He said he had helped get Liczbinski into the back of a police car.

Minutes later, swarms of police and detectives arrived. They quickly strung yellow police tape for blocks around the intersection.

“I feel bad for the family and the police,” Braun said. “What they have to go through today, it’s horrible.”

Petaccio said that on Saturdays the neighborhood streets were usually filled with children playing. Yesterday few people were outside when the drama began.

“My heart goes out to his family,” Petaccio said. “I can’t believe it happened.”

Many of the porches in the neighborhood have colorful flowers hanging in baskets or in pots.

By 6 p.m., when most police cars had left and the police tape had been collected, some had placed flowerpots at the curb where Liczbinski fell.

(c) 2008 YellowBrix, Inc.
24932  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Closest allies on: May 07, 2008, 11:33:29 AM
Israel Is Now America's Closest Ally
May 7, 2008

President George W. Bush will soon make his second visit to Israel in less than six months, this time to celebrate the country's 60th anniversary. The candidates for the presidency, Republican and Democratic alike, have all traveled to Israel and affirmed their commitment to its security. So have hundreds of congressmen.

American engineers, meanwhile, are collaborating with their Israeli counterparts in developing advanced defense systems. American soldiers are learning antiterrorist techniques from the Israeli army.

John McCain visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem, March 2008.
Israel is the only Middle Eastern country where the American flag is rarely (if ever) burned in protest – indeed, some Israelis fly that flag on their own independence day. And avenues in major American cities are named for Yitzhak Rabin and Golda Meir. Arguably, there is no alliance in the world today more durable and multifaceted than that between the United States and Israel.

Yet the bonds between the two countries were not always so strong. For much of Israel's history, America was a distant and not always friendly power.

Consider the period before Israel's founding in 1948, during the British Mandate over Palestine. Though many Americans, Christians as well as Jews, were committed to building the Jewish national home, their government's policy was strictly hands-off. Palestine, in Washington's view, was exclusively Britain's concern, and the Arab-Jewish conflict was a British headache.

Accordingly, the Roosevelt administration raised no objection to Britain's 1939 decision to end Jewish immigration into Palestine, sealing off European Jewry's last escape route from Nazism. The U.S. indifference to Zionism deepened during World War II, when America feared alienating its British allies and angering the Arabs, whose oil had become vital to the war effort. Deferring to British and Arab demands, America confined hundreds of thousands of Holocaust survivors in displaced-persons camps in Europe rather than let them emigrate to Palestine.

America's ambivalence toward Zionism persisted after the war, as the battle against Nazism gave way to the anticommunist struggle. While a sizeable majority of Americans welcomed Israel's creation in May 1948, policy makers in Washington feared that such support would trigger an Arab oil boycott of the West and the Soviet take-over of Europe. Secretary of State George Marshall even warned the president, Harry Truman, that he would not back him for re-election if he recognized the newborn state. An ardent Baptist whose best friend was a Jew, Truman ignored these warnings and made the U.S. the first nation to accord de facto recognition to Israel. But buckling to State and Defense Department pressures, Truman also imposed an arms embargo on Israel during its desperate war of independence. Later, he arm-twisted Israeli leaders to relinquish land to the Arabs and to readmit Palestinian refugees.

Pressure for territorial concessions escalated under Truman's successor, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who also vetoed weapons sales to Israel. His secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, dismissed Israel as "the millstone around our necks," and threatened it with sanctions during the 1956 Suez Crisis. Israel is home to the Middle East's largest memorial to John F. Kennedy, but Kennedy similarly refused to sell tanks and planes to Israel, and warned that America's relationship with the Jewish state would be "seriously jeopardized" by Israel's nuclear program. Lyndon B. Johnson was the first president to invite an Israeli prime minister, Levi Eshkol, to Washington – 16 years after Israel's birth – but he then balked at Eshkol's request for American help against the Arab armies assembling for war in June 1967. "Israel will not be alone unless it decides to go it alone," Johnson replied, implying that the U.S. would not stand beside Israel militarily.

The Six-Day War nevertheless inaugurated a dramatic change in America's attitude toward Israel. Israel's astonishing victory in that conflict instantly transformed the "millstone" into an American asset, a hardy fellow democracy and Cold War ally. Nixon regarded Israel as "the best Soviet stopper in the Mideast," and furnished the weaponry Israel needed to prevail in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter both ran on platforms highly favorable to Israel, and dedicated themselves to the search for Israel-Arab peace. By the end of the 1970s, an inchoate U.S.-Israeli alliance had emerged, sealed by the existence of a potent pro-Israel lobby in Washington and the extension to Israel of billions of dollars of American aid.

But the relationship was hardly friction-free. Israel's reluctance to forfeit territories captured in 1967, and its efforts to settle them, became a perennial source of tension. Presidents Ford and Carter threatened to withhold assistance from Israel unless it made territorial concessions. President George H.W. Bush denied Israel loan guarantees for resettling Russian immigrants in the West Bank. Israel's security policies also jolted the alliance – Ronald Reagan condemned Israel's bombardment of the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981 as well as its siege of Beirut the following year. Americans, in turn, irritated the Israelis with their transfer of sophisticated weapons to Saudi Arabia and their opposition to Israeli arms sales to China.

Such rifts have grown increasingly infrequent, however, and today there are few visible fissures in the U.S.-Israeli front. Yet America has never recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital – imagine if Israel refused to recognize Washington. Powerful interest groups lobby against Israel in Washington while much of American academia and influential segments of the media are staunchly opposed to any association with Israel.

How does the alliance surmount these challenges?

One reason, certainly, is values – the respect for civic rights and the rule of law that is shared by the world's most powerful republic and the Middle East's only stable democracy. There is also Israel's determination to fight terror, and its willingness to share its antiterror expertise. Most fundamentally, though, is the amity between the two countries' peoples. The admiration which the U.S. inspires among Israelis is overwhelmingly reciprocated by Americans, more than 70% of whom, according to recent polls, favor robust ties with the Jewish state.

No doubt further upheavals await the alliance in the future – as Iran approaches nuclear capability, for example. Israel may act more muscularly than some American leaders might warrant. The impending change of U.S. administration will also have an effect. But such vicissitudes are unlikely to cause a major schism in what has proven to be one of history's most resilient, ardent and atypical partnerships.

Mr. Oren, a senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, is the author of "Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present," now available in paperback from Norton.
24933  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Georgia on Russia on: May 07, 2008, 11:32:33 AM
A Georgian Cabinet minister said on Tuesday that his country is very close to war with Russia over Abkhazia, a region in Georgia’s northwest that wants to secede formally from Georgia. A leader of the Abkhazian movement, its foreign minister, said that Abkhazia was ready to hand over military control to the Russians. The Russians are, of course, already in Abkhazia, and announced last week that they have been doubling the number of troops they have there, something the Georgians claim is aggression against Georgia. The Russians claimed that the Georgians were the ones massing troops along the Georgian-Abkhaz border. The White House issued a statement saying that “The Russian government has taken what we would call provocative actions which have increased tensions with Georgia over its separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia,” another breakaway region.

There are three factors driving all of this. First, there is Kosovo. When the United States and Europe imposed — from the Russian point of view — independence on Kosovo, in defiance of Serb or Russian wishes, it was clear that the Russians would have to respond. When they declined to respond in Kosovo itself, their next option was to extend the Kosovo precedent to an area where it would involve an American ally. Georgia was an obvious choice. Like Kosovo, it has regions that want to be independent from a relatively small country. By supporting this process, the Russians impose a quid pro quo on the United States in particular.

Second, during the NATO summit, the United States came out in favor of NATO membership for Georgia (and for Ukraine as well). The Russians took this as both an intentional affront and a threat to their national security. The idea of NATO troops present in Georgia, in an area that Russia considers to be part of its sphere of influence, was unacceptable. It was also something that the Russians had to react to, first for symbolic reasons and second because if the U.S. were to pull off NATO membership at some later point, it would be a serious problem for Russia. The Russians needed to act now, not later.

Third, Russia is, as we have said before, in the process of using the window of opportunity presented by the American commitment to the Islamic world, to assert their sphere of influence. The Caucasus, where Georgia is located, is an area of fundamental importance to the Russians. Georgia is their major challenge in the region and therefore it is the one they need to confront. Moreover, if the Russians manage to solve their Georgian problem, they will have changed the rules of the game in other regions, such as Ukraine. Other countries in the former Soviet space will be much more cautious in their flirtations with the Americans, if the Russians can lean on Georgia with nothing more than a protest from Washington.

This does not mean that war is likely. Unless the Georgians are suicidal, they are not going to fight the Russians. This is 2008, not 1998, and the Russians have the means both to bolster forces as needed and to overwhelm the Georgians. On the other hand, it is unlikely that the Russians want to invade Georgia. It is rugged country and resistance could be fierce, particularly against an occupying force.

The Russians are deliberately intimidating the Georgians and the Georgians are talking up war in the hope of getting help from the West. Unless the French or Germans feel like intervening in force — assuming they can — the United States won’t. It does not need another war on its hands. The Russians are hoping to build a sense of isolation and embattlement among the Georgians, in the hope of forcing a very public capitulation from an American ally.

This is a very important crisis in an important part of the world. It represents a direct challenge by Russia to an American ally and how it ends can define broader relationships on the Russian periphery. The Russian build-up is no accident and the Georgian warnings are not really true but not frivolous either. They are in trouble and they know it. One option the Americans have is to place a small number of troops in Georgia to bolster Georgian morale and serve as a warning to the Russians. That in turn assumes that such a presence won’t be the final straw for the Russians, who outgun any American force that can be deployed.

There are only two reasons why Russia would not seize this opportunity. One, they are even more hampered by their internal clan war than they are letting on. Or two, even now — even when the U.S. tied down in Iraq — they fear that the U.S. retains the military capability to defeat a Russian incursion. The last may seem ridiculous, but remember that the U.S. position during the Cold War was essentially predicated on the nuclear bluff (a much more powerful Moscow has fallen for that before.)

With that said, the one possibility we find unlikely is Russia simply backing off. After Kosovo, they simply cannot afford to do that. We expect that the situation will be solved through negotiations, and expect that both Abkhazia and South Ossetia will wind up seceding formally as well as practically. The question is whether the Russians will be content with that or whether they want regime change in Georgia as well.
24934  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Biofuels backlash on: May 07, 2008, 11:17:13 AM
The Biofuels Backlash
May 7, 2008; Page A18
St. Jude is the patron saint of lost causes, and for 30 years we invoked his name as we opposed ethanol subsidies. So imagine our great, pleasant surprise to see that the world is suddenly awakening to the folly of subsidized biofuels.

All it took was a mere global "food crisis." Last week chief economist Joseph Glauber of the USDA, which has been among Big Ethanol's best friends in Washington, blamed biofuels for increasing prices on corn and soybeans. Mr. Glauber also predicted that corn prices will continue their historic rise because of demand from "expanding use for ethanol."

Even the environmental left, which pushed ethanol for decades as an alternative to gasoline, is coming clean. Lester Brown, one of the original eco-Apostles, wrote in the Washington Post that "it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that food-to-fuel mandates have failed." We knew for sure the tide had turned when Time magazine's recent cover story, "The Clean Energy Myth," described how turning crops into fuel increases both food prices and atmospheric CO2. No one captures elite green wisdom better than Time's Manhattan editors. Can Vanity Fair be far behind?

All we can say is, welcome aboard. Corn ethanol can now join the scare over silicone breast implants and the pesticide Alar as among the greatest scams of the age. But before we move on to the next green miracle cure, it's worth recounting how much damage this ethanol political machine is doing.

To create just one gallon of fuel, ethanol slurps up 1,700 gallons of water, according to Cornell's David Pimentel, and 51 cents of tax credits. And it still can't compete against oil without a protective 54-cents-per-gallon tariff on imports and a federal mandate that forces it into our gas tanks. The record 30 million acres the U.S. will devote to ethanol production this year will consume almost a third of America's corn crop while yielding fuel amounting to less than 3% of petroleum consumption.

In December the Congressional Research Service warned that even devoting every last ear of American-grown corn to ethanol would not create enough "renewable fuel" to meet federal mandates. According to a 2007 OECD report, fossil-fuel production is up to 10,000 times as efficient as biofuel, measured by energy produced per unit of land.

Now scientists are showing that ethanol will exacerbate greenhouse gas emissions. A February report in the journal Science found that "corn-based ethanol, instead of producing a 20% savings, nearly doubles greenhouse emissions over 30 years . . . Biofuels from switchgrass, if grown on U.S. corn lands, increase emissions by 50%." Princeton's Timothy Searchinger and colleagues at Iowa State, of all places, found that markets for biofuel encourage farmers to level forests and convert wilderness into cropland. This is to replace the land diverted from food to fuel.

As usual, Congress is the last to know, but maybe even it is catching on. Credit goes to John McCain, the first presidential candidate in recent memory who has refused to bow before King Ethanol. Onetime ethanol opponent Hillary Clinton announced her support in 2006, as the Iowa caucuses beckoned. In 2006 Barack Obama proposed mandating a staggering 65 billion gallons a year of alternative fuel by 2025, but by this Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" he was suggesting that maybe helping "people get something to eat" was a higher priority than biofuels.

Mr. McCain and 24 other Senators are now urging EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson to consider using his broad waiver authority to eliminate looming biofuel mandates. Otherwise, the law will force us to consume roughly four times the current requirement by 2022. In fact, with some concerned state governments submitting helpful petitions, Mr. Johnson could largely knock out the ethanol mandate regime, at least temporarily.

Over the longer term, however, this shouldn't be entrusted to unelected bureaucrats. The best policy would repeal the biofuel mandates and subsidies enacted in the 2005 and 2007 energy bills. We say repeal because there will be intense lobbying to keep the subsidies, or transfer them from projects that have failed to those that have not yet failed.

Like Suzanne Somers in "American Graffiti," the perfect biofuel is always just out of reach, only a few more billion dollars in subsidies away from commercial viability. But sometimes even massive government aid can't turn science projects into products. The industry's hope continues for cellulosic ethanol, but there's no getting around the fact that biofuels require vegetation to make fuel. Even cellulosic ethanol, while more efficient than corn, will require countless acres of fuel if it is ever going to replace oil. Perhaps some future technology will efficiently extract energy from useless corn stalks and fallen trees. But until that day, Congress's ethanol subsidies are merely force-feeding an industry that is doing far more harm than good.

The results include distorted investment decisions, higher carbon emissions, higher food prices for Americans, and an emerging humanitarian crisis in the developing world. The last thing the poor of Africa and the taxpayers of America need is another scheme to conjure gasoline out of corn and tax credits.
24935  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Guns for Oil on: May 07, 2008, 11:14:15 AM
I so wish Newt were the candidate for the Republicans , , , , anyway, here's this:

Guns for Oil
May 7, 2008; Page A18
Speaking of energy (see here), we can't help but give more attention to a recent press release from some of the Senate's leading liberals. Charles Schumer, Byron Dorgan, Bernie Sanders, Bob Casey and Mary Landrieu are demanding that President Bush tell OPEC nations to increase their oil supplies or risk losing arms deals with the United States. The Senators say U.S. consumers need the price relief that only increased oil production can bring.

Yes, that Senator Schumer and that Senator Dorgan, both of whom voted against increasing U.S. oil production because they couldn't abide drilling across 1% of Alaska's wilderness. Yes, that Senator Casey, who has called for mandatory reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide. At least Senator Landrieu of Louisiana has fought to allow more offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

All of these Senate Democrats are willing to accept greater carbon emissions, as long as we can also outsource jobs in the petroleum industry to Middle Eastern dictatorships. The Senators do aver that "some of us have concerns in general about arming this region to the teeth," but apparently cheap fossil fuel buys a lot of peace of mind.

A special word of concern about Mr. Sanders: He is the only avowed socialist in Congress, but the Vermonter appears to be losing his religion over $122-a-barrel oil. By signing this letter, not only is he officially recognizing the law of supply and demand; he's also proposing a more crassly commercial trade of guns for oil than anything we've ever heard from the most candid realpolitician.

To top it off, the Senator whose Web site proudly proclaims that the first bill he introduced was to combat global warming now wants more fossil fuels ready for burning. We hope his friends are closely watching Mr. Sanders, in case he blows a gasket over all of this cognitive ideological dissonance.
Both Democratic candidates have to face some hard realities in the aftermath of the Indiana and North Carolina primaries.

For Hillary Clinton, it's that Mr. Obama's overwhelming victory in North Carolina now makes it almost impossible for her to take the popular vote lead when the primaries finish on June 3. That, combined with her certain deficit in elected delegates, will make her case to undecided superdelegates a hard sell.

She will also have to confront the fact that a major reason she lost is that, according to yesterday's exit polls, half of the Democratic primary electorate does not think she is honest or trustworthy. It has been 15 years since the Clintons burst onto the national stage and it now appears that all of the scandals involving the First Lady -- Travelgate, Filegate, Whitewater, various presidential pardons and countless others -- have sapped her credibility. No matter how pointed her case about Mr. Obama's electability in the fall, she is too flawed a messenger to fully capitalize on those concerns.

Mr. Obama is going to have to address his continued weakness with white, working-class voters. He won North Carolina on the strength of getting 93% of the black vote, and since blacks made up a third of the electorate in the Tar Heel State, the African-American vote was able to carry him to victory. But he won only 38% of white Democrats and only 42% of independent voters.

In Indiana it was no better. He won half of the vote on the strength of his showing in urban Gary and Indianapolis, but was trounced 65% to 35% among white Democrats and also lost independent voters. The Rev. Wright and Mr. Obama's remarks in San Francisco about rural voters have taken a toll -- two-thirds of Democrats in both states who voted for Mrs. Clinton told exit pollsters they would be dissatisfied with Mr. Obama as the nominee.

In the end, most of those voters will come home to Mr. Obama. But with national polls showing John McCain essentially tied with him, that may not be good enough. Democrats are closer than ever to having a nominee after Mr. Obama's showing last night. But once again they appear to have handed Republicans ammunition to paint that nominee as an out-of-touch liberal.

-- John Fund

In Your Dreams...

That didn't take long.

Within hours of the polls closing in North Carolina and Indiana, a group called began emailing reporters and others to announce the launching of an effort to unite Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on the same ticket -- a so called Democratic "Dream Team."

The Web site is catchy. There is a banner that alternates between "Clinton-Obama" and "Obama-Clinton" and features a hybrid of their campaign logos. Readers are urged to contact superdelegates and press them to insist on a unity ticket.

However, Barack Obama supporters would be forgiven if they viewed the effort with some suspicion. As columnist Salena Zito points out, the site was originally known as Clinton-Obama 08. Founder Adam Parkhomenko admits Hillary was his original preference but now he wants to be more ecumenical.

Anything is possible but one Democratic superdelegate I spoke with is highly skeptical that Mr. Obama could be talked into sharing the ticket with his current rival. "We have seen the Clinton machine in action and it is not pretty," he told me. "If Hillary were the vice president you would have Bill rattling around the West Wing and Obama would need a food taster for four years. No way."

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day I

"A top Democratic source with insight into Bill's and Hillary's states of mind says the Clintons are convinced that a Democratic presidency is all but certain no matter how messy the fight for the nomination. In that scenario -- which the Obama side and some Democratic elders worry is wishful thinking at best, delusional at worst -- there's no downside for Hillary doing whatever it takes for as long as it takes. 'At the end of the day,' a Hillary loyalist who talks regularly to campaign headquarters sighs, 'I think he still wins the nomination.' But not without a bigger -- and longer -- fight than Obama, and many in the party, had hoped for" -- New York Daily News Washington Bureau Chief Thomas DeFrank.

Quote of the Day II

"The view that nature was in some sort of preferred, yet fragile, state of balance before humans came along is arbitrary and philosophical -- even religious. It is entirely possible that there are other, more preferable states of balance in nature which are more robust and less fragile than whatever the state of nature was before we came along. You would think that science is the last place you would find such religious opinions, yet they dominate the worldview of scientists. Natural scientists tend to worship nature, and they then teach others to worship nature, too . . . all under the guise of 'science'" -- University of Alabama climate scientist Roy Spencer, writing in National Review.

Kryptonite for Superdelegates?

Last night, Hillary Clinton eked out a victory in Indiana, which she will likely use to justify continuing on. But her big loss in North Carolina undoubtedly finished off any real hope of swinging the superdelegates behind her campaign. Had she won even a decent sliver of the black vote, demonstrating that her appeal isn't merely the situational one of appealing to white, blue-collar voters who won't vote for Barack Obama, she could have made a case that nominating her wouldn't necessarily split the party in the fall. But that story went out the window when she won a pitiful 9% of the black vote.

The next stop is West Virginia, which holds its presidential contest next week. Mrs. Clinton is expected to win handily there, because white, blue-collar voters dominate the state's electorate. But it won't matter. This is a fight the party's nearly 800 superdelegates will now have to settle -- a denouement party leaders had wanted to avoid, since it smacks of the backroom deals of old.

Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen has floated the idea of holding a mini-superdelegate convention in June, getting the dirty work out of the way before the August convention. But there's another option for the party to avoid the awkwardness of having superdelegates decide on the nominee -- simply strip the superdelegates of their right to vote and allow Mr. Obama to claim the nomination based on his lead in pledged delegates. Connecticut stripped Sen. Joe Lieberman of his superdelegate status earlier this year, as punishment for endorsing John McCain's bid for the White House. There's no reason the other superdelegates couldn't be stripped of their votes as well. Doing so would get a lot of attention and likely win the Democratic National Committee plaudits for its willingness to trust the judgment of voters over party poobahs.

-- Brendan Miniter

24936  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Divided for Obama on: May 07, 2008, 11:10:26 AM
Divided for Obama
May 7, 2008; Page A18
With his victory in North Carolina on Tuesday, Barack Obama took a giant step toward the Democratic presidential nomination. The irony is that he is doing this just when Hillary Clinton has finally exposed his potential weaknesses as a general election candidate.

The Illinois Senator can certainly breathe easier having dodged a loss in North Carolina, where he once held a big lead. As usual, he swept the under-30 crowd as well as the educated, upscale liberals in the central part of the Tar Heel State. He also seems to have fought the economic issue to a draw, suggesting that his opposition to Mrs. Clinton's proposal for a moratorium on the 18.4 cent federal gas tax didn't hurt.

But his victory in North Carolina depended heavily on his overwhelming (91%) share of the black vote, which made up about a third of the primary electorate. Mrs. Clinton won 61% of white Democrats in North Carolina, according to the exit polls, and 65% of white Democrats in Indiana. Mrs. Clinton also broke even among independents. Clearly Mr. Obama's early promise of a transracial, postpartisan coalition has dimmed as the campaign has progressed and voters have learned more about him.

The controversy over his 20-year association with his pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, seems to have hurt in particular. About half of North Carolina Democrats said the Wright issue mattered to them, and they voted decisively for Senator Clinton. The former First Lady won easily among late deciders, which also suggests that Mr. Obama's rocky recent performance has cost him. And the Chicagoan continued his poor showing with rural voters, especially in white Democratic counties in Indiana. These are the voters John McCain will have a chance to get in November.

These are also the data points the Clinton campaign will now press with the superdelegates who will ultimately decide this contest. But the bitter political fact for the New York Senator is that her late-game rally may not matter. To nominate Mrs. Clinton now, party insiders would have to deny the nomination to the first African-American with a serious chance to be President, risking a revolt among their most loyal voting bloc.

The truth is that most Democratic pros are so confident of their November prospects that they believe either Senator will defeat John McCain. Mrs. Clinton also showed her own screaming liability yesterday, with nearly half of all Democrats saying she isn't "honest or trustworthy." This is the residue of the Clinton scandals, and it is one reason so many superdelegates have already begun to break their long co-dependence with Bill and Hillary by declaring for Mr. Obama.

Judging by his victory speech last night, the Illinois rookie has already begun to pivot to a general election strategy. He tried to address his vulnerabilities on national security and cultural values. And he began to recast his personal story as an affirmation of the American dream – in contrast to the image presented by his much-delayed condemnation of Rev. Wright's anti-American conspiracy theories.

One habit of modern Democrats is that they tend to fall in love with candidates who are both unknown and untested. The superdelegates will now have to decide if Mr. Obama is more like the Jimmy Carter of 1976 – or Michael Dukakis.
24937  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / From Detainee to Detonatee on: May 06, 2008, 03:08:12 PM
From Detainee to Detonatee
May 5, 2008

"A Kuwaiti man released from the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay in 2005 has carried out a suicide bombing in Iraq, his cousin told Al Arabiya television on Thursday," Reuters reports from Dubai:

A friend of Abdullah Saleh al-Ajmi in Iraq informed his family that Abdullah carried out the attack in Mosul, his cousin Salem told the Dubai-based television channel.
"We were shocked by the painful news we received this afternoon . . . through a call from one of the friend's of martyr Abdullah in Iraq," said Salem al-Ajmi in a telephone interview aired by Arabiya.
He did not say when the suicide bombing happened.
24938  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Was it a tight fit? on: May 06, 2008, 02:26:03 PM
Philadelphia Inquirer

April 23, 2008

MOORESTOWN, NJ – A South Jersey police officer, in jail after being accused of molesting three children, was charged yesterday with four counts of animal cruelty for having sex with barnyard animals, authorities said.

Patrolman Robert Melia, 38, was suspended last week by the Moorestown Police department after authorities raided his Moorestown home and seized a computer and pornographic materials.

The animal cruelty charges were filed after an examination of the seized materials, authorities said.

An investigation is continuing. Police said they were investigating four incidents involving cows.

 Moorestown, NJ, Patrolman Robert Melia has been charged with having sex with cows.
Melia and Pemberton filmmaker Heather Lewis, 32, were charged April 13 with the sexual assaults of three girls at Melia’s house. The assaults occured on multiple occasions during the last five years, said a spokesman for the Burlington County Prosecutor’s office said.

Melia is being held on $510,000 bail at the Burlington County Jail in Mount Holly. Lewis, who is charged with aggravated sexual assault and criminal sexual contact, is being held on $300,000 bail at the Women’s Detention Center in Pemberton.

(c) 2008 YellowBrix, Inc.
24939  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Pol?tica on: May 06, 2008, 02:23:58 PM
24940  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / 4/29 Casi la mitad sin electricidad on: May 06, 2008, 02:22:40 PM
Casi la mitad de Venezuela sin electricidad

CARACAS (AP) -- Un fuerte apagón de más de una hora se registró la 
tarde del martes en cerca de la mitad del país a consecuencia de una 
falla en el sistema de transmisión de la central hidroeléctrica del 
Guri, que suministra electricidad a todo el país, declaró un 

El servicio eléctrico fue restablecido progresivamente en varios 
puntos de Caracas y otras ciudades del país pasadas las 5 de la tarde 
(21.00 GMT).

Hipólito Izquierdo, presidente de la Corporación Eléctrica Nacional, 
dijo a la televisora estatal que Caracas y varios estados del país 
quedaron sin luz pasadas las 4 de la tarde (20.00 GMT), por una falla 
en las líneas de transmisión que van desde el estado central de 
Guárico hasta el estado costero de Aragua.

Izquierdo acotó que la falla desconectó a las subestaciones y las 
plantas asociadas al sistema troncal del servicio eléctrico nacional.

El funcionario destacó que el apagón fue de gran magnitud y afectó 
entre 40% y 50% del servicio en todo el país.

Los estados que se vieron mayor afectados por esta falla fueron el 
Distrito Capital, Miranda, Aragua, Bolívar, Táchira, Lara, Carabobo, 
Yaracuy, Portuguesa, Falcón y Mérida, reportó la televisora local 

El apagón generó un caos en la capital debido a que los semáforos 
quedaron sin servicio y las líneas del Metro fueron paralizadas, lo 
que generó un fuerte congestionamiento de vehículos.

El presidente de la estatal Electricidad de Caracas, Javier Alvarado, 
declaró a la televisora estatal que la empresa comenzó a restablecer 
el servicio en la capital, y que en las próximas horas espera que 
todos los puntos de la ciudad tengan luz.
24941  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Politica on: May 06, 2008, 02:20:53 PM
La Politica de etanol:
24942  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Grand Truths and Grand Caverns on: May 06, 2008, 02:06:32 PM
From Grand Truths to Grand Caverns
by Alexander Green
Dear Reader,
Two summers ago, I toured Grand Caverns in the Shenandoah Valley.

It is a fabulous example of subterranean beauty. Awestruck, I walked from one room to the next, surrounded by shimmering red and yellow walls, giant stalagmites, and crystal-clear pools from underground streams. Near the end of the tour, I asked our guide – a girl of high-school age who was probably working a summer job – the approximate age of the caverns.

"Less than 6,000 years," she answered.

"6,000 years?" I said, incredulous. "But these caverns must be millions of years old."

"Well, I’m a Pentecostal," she explained. "And since we believe the earth is only 6,000 years old, the caverns can't be any older than that."

"What if you were Presbyterian," I asked with a wink. "How old would the caverns be then?"

She said she didn't understand the question. We left it at that.

I learned later that geologists estimate the caverns were formed more than 400 million years ago, during the Paleozoic era. (In case you were wondering.)

Ah, the age-old conflict between science and religion. Of all the religious wars, this one may be the battiest.

After all, science explains how the world is. Religion offers a vision of how it ought to be. Science tells us how the universe behaves. Religion suggests how we should.

Science has given us computers and vaccines, probed the recesses of the atom and the hinterlands of outer space. It is responsible for everything from anesthesia to supersonic travel to our understanding of quantum mechanics. New theories are tested experimentally every day. Some of them advance our knowledge. Those found wanting are rejected.

"If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong," says the Dalai Lama, "then Buddhism will have to change. In my view, science and Buddhism share a search for truth and for understanding reality. By learning from science about aspects of reality where its understanding may be more advanced, I believe Buddhism enriches its own worldview."

Talk about enlightenment…

I'm not suggesting that science is without shortcomings. You'll notice, for example, that while science can tell us how to build an atomic bomb, it doesn't address the somewhat significant matter of whether to drop it on someone.

Clearly, that's one reason why Einstein remarked that, "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."

Similarly, the late Stephen Jay Gould, an Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and professor of geology at Harvard, argued that science and religion operate in entirely separate realms or, as he called them, "Non-Overlapping Magisteria."

"Science tries to document the factual character of the natural world, and to develop theories that coordinate and explain these facts," says Gould. "Religion, on the other hand, operates in the equally important, but utterly different realm of human purposes, meanings, and values – subjects that the factual domain of science might illuminate, but can never resolve… Science gets the age of rocks, and religion the rock of ages; science studies how the heavens go, religion how to go to heaven."

Some, however, would argue that science is uncovering so much about Nature that it is diminishing the majesty and mystery of life. And while it's true that science has revealed a lot about our natural history, it is safe to assume that it will never explain how everything could have sprung from nothing. That leaves plenty of room for science to co-exist with a genuine sense of spirituality.

After all, scientific principles don't contradict the universal spiritual values of everyday life. I have never heard a physicist or biologist argue against compassion… or forgiveness… or gratitude… or charity.

Moreover, many scientists and philosophers have written lucidly - even poetically - about the glories of creation.

The astronomer Carl Sagan said, "I would suggest that science is, at least in part, informed worship."

Eric Chaisson, author of "Cosmic Dawn," writes that, "Without life, galaxies would twirl and stars would shine, but no one would appreciate the grandeur of it all."

Michael Shermer of Scientific American writes that, "Spirituality is a way of being in the world, a sense of one's place in the cosmos, a relationship to that which extends beyond ourselves."

The Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein proclaimed that, "The mystical is not how the world is, but that it is."

Einstein wrote, "The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed."

And the Austrian philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend declared that a worthwhile life is not one devoted to scientific achievement, but to love. In the first draft of his autobiography, completed just before he died in 1994, he said love is all that matters in life. Without it, he said, "Even the noblest achievements and the most fundamental principles remain pale, empty and dangerous."

Clearly, there is plenty of common ground here. If science and religion oppose one another, perhaps it is only as your thumb opposes your fingers. And together you can use them to grasp the truth about life.

As the German poet and scientist Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe wrote a few hundred years ago, "The highest happiness of man… is to have probed what is knowable and quietly to revere what is unknowable."

Carpe Diem,


24943  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: May 06, 2008, 01:12:27 PM

If Hillary Clinton loses in North Carolina tonight, it will not have been for lack of effort to pander to her audiences.

First, came the accent. Often ridiculed for adopting a Southern twang when south of the Mason-Dixon line, Mrs. Clinton hauled out her best local pronunciation in her campaign stops. "It's time to quit wringin' our hands and start rollin' up our sleeves," she told a crowd at High Point this past weekend. The town's name rolled off her tongue sounding like "Hah Point."

China-bashing, always popular in a state that has lost many textile jobs, was a staple of her stump speech. She claimed China was no longer a trading partner and had become "our trading master." She said Beijing had cheated Americans out of jobs and "sends us back lead-based toys, contaminated pet food and polluted pharmaceuticals. This is going to end when I am president of the United States," she shouted.

Mr. Obama was implausibly portrayed as both out of touch and a tool of the oil companies. "Senator Obama wants you to pay the gas tax this summer instead of trying to get the oil companies to pay it out of their record profits," she told her listeners. She also criticized him for refusing to back her call for a freeze on home foreclosures, a step many economists say would be ruinous to the housing market. His failure, she said, just proved Mr. Obama's unwillingness to "take on the Wall Street bankers and mortgage companies that misled so many people into these sub-prime mortgages."

Team Obama is aghast at the audacity of the Clinton machine's tactics in the Tar Heel State. Buoyed by 92% support from African-American voters, they still expect to win. But if Mr. Obama loses, it will once again prove the potency of good, ol' fashioned demagoguery.

-- John Fund

Hillary and the Bush Voter

Can Hillary Clinton win the Democratic presidential nomination on the back of Bush voters? Today in North Carolina, she may find out.

The Tar Heel State has become a key state for the former First Lady. With a large black population and sandwiched between two southern states Barack Obama has already won handily, her rival was once expected to win by a wide margin. If Mrs. Clinton can pull off an upset, it would transform the dynamics of the Democratic nomination race and immeasurably strengthen her appeal to the superdelegates. Though behind in overall fundraising, Mrs. Clinton has pulled out the stops and is outspending Mr. Obama in North Carolina. She also made the strategic decision to focus her time exclusively there in the campaign’s final days, rather than in Indiana, where Democrats also are voting today.

Any upset, however, would likely depend on mobilizing voters who pulled the lever for George W. Bush four years ago. Under Democratic Party rules, the bulk of the state's delegates will be handed out proportionally based on how the two candidates perform in 13 districts. Congressional Quarterly did a close analysis and found that the former First Lady is running strongest in districts that have a lot of Bush voters, such as the districts that include the Army's Fort Bragg and the Marine Corps' Camp Lejeune. Based on polling, the magazine still expects Mr. Obama to walk away with a slight lead in delegates (40 to 37) -- partly because Democratic Party rules assign fewer delegates to districts that voted heavily for Republican presidential candidates.

But Mr. Obama tends to perform slightly better in polls than he does on Election Day. Another wild card is North Carolina's "open primary," in which the state's 21% of "unaffiliated" voters can vote in either party's primary. Today's outcome may well come down to whether Mrs. Clinton can convince enough conservative Southerners -- who have tended to vote Republican for national office, but who have also voted for Gov. Mike Easley (a Clinton endorser) and other Democrats at the state level -- to turn out for Hillary.

-- Brendan Miniter

Quote of the Day

"[W]hen I hear people say let's bring the troops home and end the war, good God, it's not going to end the war. I think it's going to give you a war of significantly increased proportions. I remember how we reacted to Rwanda. How could we have let that happen? Why didn't we step in? Why didn't we get the international community engaged? Well, you know, what if you have a humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq and it's not a question of why didn't we step in, it's we stepped out. How is that going to affect people?" -- Ryan Crocker, U.S. ambassador to Iraq.

Next Stop, Hamas

Fresh from his presidential campaign and his splashy endorsement of Barack Obama, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has now been to Venezuela to meet with President Hugo Chávez and seek the release of three Americans held hostage by Colombian guerrillas.

Mr. Chávez clearly enjoyed the role he was asked to play as the magnanimous host, empathetic listener and potentially heroic intermediary. For his part, Mr. Richardson undoubtedly relished the chance to continue playing on a global stage, compared to which administering the state of New Mexico must seem unglamorous. Unfortunately, the only thing his trip accomplished was to clarify why the governor's bid for the U.S. presidency flopped.

For starters, Mr. Richardson came off looking ignorant about the realities of Venezuela. Intelligence agencies have long known that the FARC, which is holding the American hostages, makes a good part of its income by running illegal drugs through Venezuela. If Mr. Chávez wants to force the FARC to hand over the hostages, he needs only to threaten to cut off its transit routes.

He won't do that, of course, because he is ideologically, tactically and strategically wedded to the FARC. On his return to the U.S., Mr. Richardson only further advertised his ignorance by explaining to the media that negotiation was "difficult" because "you're dealing with a rebel group that's out in the jungle. You don't know where they are. You don't know what they want."

Huh? As the world knows, a captured laptop belonging to slain rebel leader Raul Reyes has already exposed not only the extent of Mr. Chávez's complicity with the Colombian rebels -- he obviously knows how to communicate with them -- but also what FARC is seeking in exchange for the hostages, namely a safe haven inside Venezuela where they can build bombs, store weapons and otherwise plan for attacks on civilians.

Mr. Richardson may want to position himself in U.S. politics as a cool Hispanic statesman with a sophisticated understanding of the region. But after this trip, he's looking like just one more naïve gringo.

-- Mary Anastasia O'Grady

24944  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Support our troops on: May 06, 2008, 11:42:36 AM
May 5, 2008

Dear Employer:

   As the Chairman of the Orange County Veterans Employment Committee (OCVEC), I would like to invite you and your organization to participate in the “Honor a Hero, Hire a Vet” 24th Annual Ultimate Career Fair. The OCVEC, in partnership with the Employment Development Department Veterans’ Program, sponsors this annual event.

We are thrilled once again to be working with the Angel Stadium of Anaheim. The goal of the “Honor a Hero, Hire a Vet” 24th Annual Ultimate Career Fair is to bring together job seekers and employers. We anticipate a substantial number of qualified job seekers of varying backgrounds will attend this well-established employment opportunity event.   

The Fair will be held on Wednesday, May 21st 2008, 9am-1pm at the Anaheim Angel Stadium: 2000 East Gene Autry Way, Anaheim, California 92806. The Fair is open to the general public.  We have accommodations for over 85 employers.
Attached is a registration form for you to complete and return before May 14th. The registration fee of two hundred and fifty dollars ($250.00) is due upon registration. This fee includes: an 8’x 8’ curtained booth, 2 chairs, a 6 foot-table, booth signage, continental breakfast and a delicious sit down luncheon for two. If you have special requests, please make these known on the registration form.

The registration deadline is May 14th. Make your check payable to the OCVEC. We request that you fax a copy of the completed form to our office so that we can reserve a space for you.

   The Orange County Veterans Employment Committee looks forward to having you participate in this annual career fair. Contact a Veterans Representative at (714) 241-4955, if you require additional information.

Dick Akins
Dick Akins
OCVEC Chairman

2450 EAST LINCOLN AVENUE, SUITE 200, ANAHEIM, CA 92806-4272                                                                         
24945  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The First Amendment on: May 06, 2008, 11:29:49 AM
The Reformers Who Ruined Politics
May 6, 2008; Page A22
Nearly halfway to choosing the next President, voters are witnessing an amazing spectacle in addition to the Barack Obama-Hillary Clinton scrum. All three of the contenders are avowed believers in ever more restrictive and convoluted campaign finance laws. They are also proving, with their every decision, why those laws have become a national farce.

With his fund raising headed for the stratosphere, Mr. Obama has transformed himself from earnest reformer to Senator Moneybags willing to renege on his pledge to accept public financing. Mrs. Clinton flirted initially with another donor scandal, and now her big givers are maxed out so even she has to scramble for cash for the later primaries. And John McCain, the caped crusader of reform for more than a decade, has taken to bending rules so he can remain competitive: His campaign pledged his eligibility for federal matching funds as collateral for a bank loan, then declined public funding and its spending limits for the primary season.

* * *
If you don't like how this looks, send your complaints to the three candidates. They were all proponents of fund-raising rules sold as a way to "cleanse" the system. Send your complaints as well to the good-government types who pledge allegiance to the idea that money is the root of political evil. They have had their way since the Watergate era, passing reform after reform.

George Soros
Yet in 2008 the role of money is more important than ever, only by means less accountable and transparent. To run for President nowadays means devoting a large share of your time to creating a fund-raising "machine." Scores of good potential candidates won't run because they can't stomach the endless wheedling required to raise campaign cash in $2,300 chunks.

If the goal was to make campaigning cheaper, that didn't work either. In the early 1990s, a respectable presidential primary campaign needed $20 million. Mr. Obama had raised more than $230 million by the end of March. He's to be congratulated for raising record numbers of small donations over the Internet. But the truth is that small donations still make up a minority of all contributions – 34% – according to the Campaign Finance Institute at George Washington University.

Not that we agree that the virtue of a donation is inversely related to its size. The stakes of a presidential race are high, and those with money and a motive cannot be kept on the sidelines in a free society (if it's to remain a free society). Whether as individuals or through unions or other organized groups, citizens have a First Amendment right to support their candidate – and they will find a way to do so.

Increasingly, they are turning to 527s and other independent political groups not covered under McCain-Feingold's 2002 restrictions. Between 2002 and 2004, spending by 527s more than doubled to $653 million, according to the Center for Public Integrity and the Center for Responsive Politics. At least $177 million of that came from 52 individuals who donated more than $1 million each. Total spending by independent political groups is expected to approach $1 billion by the end of this election.

The King Canutes of reform are outraged. Their answer is to stack new regulations on top of the current malfunctioning regulations they said would solve everything. Fred Wertheimer at Democracy 21, the godfather of this mess going back to the 1970s, now denounces the 527s, which he says create "enormous inequities."

Maybe he's referring to George Soros, his billionaire ally and fellow supporter of McCain-Feingold. Today Mr. Soros and his friends conduct a fleet of liberal 527s so broad that it is nearly untrackable. The reforms that were sold in the name of minimizing the influence of "fat cats" has made one of America's richest men among the most powerful in politics. The very reforms championed by Mr. McCain could help Mr. Soros defeat the Arizonan this year.

Another unsavory result has been deterring nonprofessional candidates from giving political lifers a run for their money. No one can realistically contemplate running for office without a team of lawyers to navigate the campaign laws. This year, to complicate matters further for the benefit of incumbents and insiders, those insiders are politicizing the Federal Election Commission that is supposed to enforce all of these rules. The FEC has been left without a quorum indefinitely, thanks to a Democratic charade over one of President Bush's nominees.

Last year, Mr. Obama placed a hold on the nomination of Hans von Spakovsky, on grounds that he had once supported a voter ID law in Georgia. Last week, a 6-to-3 Supreme Court majority agreed with Mr. von Spakovsky on voter ID. But don't expect that to sway Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who still refuses to confirm Mr. von Spakovsky as part of a traditional FEC nominee group of bipartisan pairs, or even to confirm two other FEC nominees without him. How convenient. Blocking an FEC quorum opens up maneuvering room for Democrats in a year when they have the financial advantage. They can count on their inventive campaign tactics receiving adjudication around, say, 2011.

* * *
The Founding Fathers would have had no trouble detecting the absurdity of having political actors determine what does or doesn't constitute free political speech. The First Amendment was written precisely to deny politicians such control. The Supreme Court has nonetheless upheld the idea of limiting campaign contributions on grounds that it would reduce "corruption." But after 30 years of contrary evidence, the Justices should revisit that fanciful notion. Money is required in modern America to amplify political speech. Attempting to limit or ban money merely gives the advantage to those best able to game the rules, or to the news media that can make nonfinancial "contributions" via endorsements.

If this campaign proves anything, it is that more reform on the post-Watergate model will only compound the McCain-Feingold-Clinton-Obama folly. The rules themselves are the scandal, empowering the powerful and making it harder for voters to judge the indebtedness of candidates to individuals or interest groups.

The better path is more simplicity and transparency, so office seekers can raise whatever amount they can from whomever they want so long as it is reported immediately on the Internet. It's time we reclaimed politics from the reformers who ruined it.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.
24946  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson; Franklin; Washington; Hamilton; and Rush on: May 06, 2008, 10:49:06 AM
"In our private pursuits it is a great advantage that every honest
employment is deemed honorable. I am myself a nail-maker."

-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to Jean Nicolas Démeunier, 29 April

Reference: Jefferson: Writings, Peterson ed., Library of America
"A fine genius in his own country is like gold in the mine."

-- Benjamin Franklin (Poor Richard's Almanack, 1733)

Reference: Franklin: Writings, Lemay, ed., Library of America

“May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us in all our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.” —George Washington

"In disquisitions of every kind there are certain primary truths, or first principles, upon which all subsequent reasoning must depend.” —Alexander Hamilton

“Without religion, I believe that learning does real mischief to the morals and principles of mankind.” —Benjamin Rush

24947  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / New Intel on Iran's nukes? on: May 05, 2008, 11:51:13 PM

UK paper: Breakthrough reached in intel on Iran
Mossad chief Meir Dagan is expected to brief Britain's MI6 head Sir John Scarlett, who is slated to visit Israel later this month, on an intelligence breakthrough regarding the Iranian nuclear program, London's Sunday Times reported.

Concern has been mounting in Israel that Iran's nuclear capability may be far more advanced than was recognized by the US National Intelligence Estimate last December, which reported that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons development program in 2003 in response to international pressure.

A source quoted by the paper on Sunday claimed that the new information was on par with intelligence that led to the discovery and destruction of a partly constructed nuclear reactor in Syria last September.

Israeli officials believe the US will revise its analysis of Iran's program.

"We expect the Americans to amend their report soon," a high-ranking military officer said last week.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni briefed British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Foreign Secretary David Miliband on Israel's findings during talks on the Middle East in London last week. Israeli intelligence officers, en route from Washington where they had been outlining their latest information to American officials, joined Livni for the briefing.

It is believed that if Israel were weighing military action against Iran, it would first seek diplomatic support in London and Washington because of the danger of triggering a wider Middle East conflict.

"We're doing a lot of things about Iran," Defense Minister Ehud Barak said last week. "We say we shouldn't rule out any option. Not ruling out options means action, but the worst thing to do at the moment is to talk [about it]."
24948  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / More on coyote-human interaction on: May 05, 2008, 07:48:53 AM
More on coyote-human interaction
24949  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Peru on: May 05, 2008, 07:47:49 AM
Uno mas en inlges:

Peru Takes the Other Path
May 5, 2008; Page A13

Iquitos, Peru

It's about 90 minutes flying time from Lima to this jungle metropolis of 400,000. But daily life here is light years away from what it is in the Peruvian capital.

After almost two decades of gradual reforms by the central government, Lima is today home to first-world services, globally competitive businesses, shopping malls and an emerging middle class. But here in the hub of the Peruvian Amazon, living standards are all too similar to what they were 30 years ago.

WSJ Americas columnist Mary Anastasia O'Grady says although the Peruvian economy is experiencing growth, it's not uniform throughout the country. She speaks with Kelsey Hubbard about the struggle between modernity and atavistic socialism. (May 2)
The differences between the two cities illustrate one of the biggest challenges for the government of President Alan García, who was once a renowned socialist but now says he embraces democratic capitalism.

Peru has been experiencing fast growth – better than 6% annually – for almost seven years, and it has largely occurred on the coast and in the capital city. But the mountain and jungle regions of the country have not kept up. They remain vulnerable to the siren song of left-wing populism.

This is what makes Peru ground zero in the continental struggle between modernity and atavistic socialism. Hugo Chávez is circling like a vulture in the poorer parts of the county, hoping to pick off a prized Andean nation to add to his collection of revolutionary allies in South America. Meanwhile, reformers are trying to push ahead with deeper liberalization.

The good news is that the white hats have the momentum. If it is true that remote locations like this city are vulnerable to ideological incursions from the authoritarian left, it is also true that much of the rest of the country is beginning to think and act more like Chilean entrepreneurs than Cuban apparatchiks. Understanding why is critical to further progress.

A fundamental change that has won converts to market reforms in the past two decades is price stability. In 1990, inflation reached 7,000%, but over the past six years it has averaged 2.3%. That means that even before any other changes in government policy, every Peruvian has enjoyed a tax cut and a boost to his savings power.

Yet price stability on its own would have left the country well below its potential. Far more impressive is the restructuring of the economy, which has led both to growth and to a more equal distribution of opportunity. While a boom in commodity prices has certainly fueled development of late, Peru is also sprouting entrepreneurs in a variety of nontraditional industries. And these innovators are making their way onto the global stage.


Get the latest information in Spanish from The Wall Street Journal's Americas page.The key reform that has made all this possible is the opening of the economy, which until 1990 had very high tariffs designed to protect local industries.

Peruvian journalist Jaime Althaus documents the effects of the opening in his 2007 book (Spanish only) titled "The Capitalist Revolution in Peru." Far from "deindustrializing" the country, Mr. Althaus argues, trade liberalization has strengthened Peruvian manufacturing. Under high tariffs, the industrial sector served mainly as an auto and electronics assembler, using inputs from abroad. But when protection ended, local manufacturing began to discover its comparative advantages.

There were plenty. High growth rates – averaging 11% a year from 1990-2002 – have occurred in sectors that make china, porcelain, knitted fabrics, plastic products and basic chemicals, to mention a few.

The story of the "cluster" of small metallurgical companies that has emerged in Lima is especially compelling. In recent years, these entrepreneurs have been competitive in bidding for work that was previously dominated by important international firms. They have also become exporting powerhouses.

The agricultural sector on the coast has also revived, in part because private-property rights there (though not in the interior) have replaced the collectivized system of the 1970s. As a result, investment has poured in. Modern farming has put the coast on the map as a global supplier of asparagus, grapes, sweet yellow onions, mangos and organic bananas. All of this has been supported by the deregulation and privatization of key sectors like telecom and banking. And the biggest beneficiaries of openness have been consumers.

So what's the matter with Iquitos? It is not, as you might think, the fact that it is so isolated. Mr. García told me that he believes the real problem is that its most valuable resources – mahogany and cedar – grow on land that has no property rights. There are some long-term concessions, but he says he would like to see many more so that those who harvest the wood have the proper incentives to care for the forests.

See what I mean about the change in thinking? Now if only the president will seize the day, the chavistas from Caracas might begin to look like no more than footnotes in Peruvian history.
24950  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: May 05, 2008, 07:27:50 AM
Obama's Health Care Record
May 5, 2008; Page A15

Laughing gas can be useful during complicated dental procedures, but should every health plan be required to cover it and should health insurance cost more because of it?

Barack Obama thinks so. As a state senator in Illinois, he voted to require that dental anesthesia be covered by every health plan for difficult medical cases. Today, the requirement is one of 43 mandates imposed by Illinois on health insurance, according to the Illinois Division of Insurance. Other mandates require coverage of infertility treatments, drug rehab, "personal injuries" incurred while intoxicated, and other forms of care.

By my count, during Mr. Obama's tenure in the state Senate, 18 different laws came up for a vote and passed that imposed new mandates on private health insurance. Mr. Obama voted for all of them.

As a presidential candidate, Mr. Obama says people lack health insurance because "they can't afford it." He's right. But he is also partly responsible for why health insurance is too expensive. A long list of studies show that mandates like the ones Mr. Obama has championed drive up the cost of insurance for the very people priced out of coverage.

A 2008 study by an insurance-industry supported research organization, the Council for Affordable Health Insurance (CAHI), estimates that mandates increase the cost of basic health coverage by 20% to 50%, depending on the state. Average policies in high-mandate New Jersey cost about $4,000 according to a 2004 insurance survey, much more than the $1,200 charged in low-mandate Wyoming.

CAHI estimates that there are 1,961 state-mandated benefits across the country. It's not just specific products and services that get mandated, but also whole categories of providers like chiropractors and psychologists. By one count, states have enacted about 500 laws mandating coverage for 25 different types of providers.

States also mandate new categories of eligibility that force small businesses to cover additional dependents. One popular measure is the "slacker mandate," which extends coverage to unmarried dependents under the age of 30.

Not all mandates are equally expensive. Drug rehab, for example, increases a plan's premiums by 9% on average, according to America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP). Coverage for psychologists adds 12% to premiums. But in total, in some states mandates increase the cost of insurance from 10% to 20%, according to AHIP.

These increased costs aren't shared equally among all who have health insurance. People who are covered through self-insured employers (usually large corporations) are shielded from state mandates because of the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which prevents states from enacting controls on plans that cross state lines.

The burden of paying for state mandates is usually borne by individuals who buy their own insurance, small employers and others not covered by ERISA. In total, about half of the people who have insurance bear the brunt of the cost of state mandates. And, as it turns out, individuals who do not work for large corporations are much more likely to be uninsured. AHIP calculates that between 20%-25% of uninsured Americans can't afford coverage because of the increased cost of providing mandated care.

It doesn't have to be that way. If insurers were allowed to offer "bare-bones" plans – which would be cheaper because they would cover just essential care – many consumers who are priced out of health insurance now would likely buy these plans instead of living without insurance.

State mandates even hurt those who have insurance because they prompt insurers to cut back on coverage for catastrophic illnesses. This undermines the purpose of insurance by turning policies into prepaid health care rather than security from the economic consequences of serious medical problems. And because many mandates define the duration and scope of specific benefits, they lock in treatment standards that grow outdated as knowledge advances. That can diminish incentives to find more effective ways of delivering medical care.

Why, then, do we have mandates?

For the simple reason that each mandate has a powerful constituency – be it chiropractors, dentists or other groups – who benefit when their services are included on the list of mandated care. These groups pressure lawmakers to expand the list of mandates and, over time, the list grows to be very long and expensive. Often the care that is being mandated is for minor medical problems because small, routine ailments are suffered by more people and therefore have broader political constituencies.

One way to make insurance more affordable is to extend the benefits of the ERISA exemption to people who buy insurance on their own, putting them on a level playing field with those who get coverage through large employers by freeing them from expensive state insurance laws.

Most insurance plans would still cover important health-care items such as prenatal HIV testing or routine colon cancer screening or bone density tests – three additional mandates Mr. Obama helped enact in Illinois. But without government mandates, plans would also have the flexibility to offer lower-priced insurance options.

Better still, Congress could pass legislation that has long languished in the House allowing people to purchase health plans across state lines. People could choose which state regulations to buy into, creating a market for the insurance mandates. This would give states more incentives to fix local problems that have helped make health insurance expensive in the first place. It's a fair bet that there would be an exodus of policyholders from higher-cost, higher-mandate states like New Jersey and even Illinois (which has more expensive mandates than about half of the other states).

Mr. Obama says people need more options to purchase insurance outside the workplace. He also says he can draw on his experience as a state legislator to lead a reform of the kinds of special interests that pursue these mandated benefits. Right now Mr. Obama's health-care proposal, like Hillary Clinton's plan, does the opposite by adding federal regulations on top of state laws.

"My plan emphasizes lowering costs," Mr. Obama says. If that is really what he wants to do, he can start by freeing consumers from forced subsidization of the pricey state mandates. Given a choice between the lower costs he promises and subsidized dental anesthesia he has delivered, some would opt for the affordable health insurance and make do with some extra Novocain.

Dr. Gottlieb is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
Pages: 1 ... 497 498 [499] 500 501 ... 629
Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.19 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!