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25051  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 15, 2007, 10:18:03 AM
Now that we've read that about Romney, here's Hillary's Health Care:     


Thirteen years after Hillary Rodham Clinton's plan for health care went down to disastrous defeat, she is back with a new proposal that again seeks to cover all Americans but reflects some lessons learned.

 COMPARING THE PLANS

 
• Chart: What the candidates are proposing.
• Complete coverage: Campaign 2008The Democratic presidential candidate is set to unveil her new approach in Iowa Monday, and she will include a requirement that everyone get health insurance. A big difference from last time: She's proposing to build on the existing system of insuring Americans -- a mix of private coverage and government-subsidized care -- not remake it altogether.

Still, Mrs. Clinton's plan, described by people familiar with it, would involve sweeping change. It would create new federal subsidies to aid those who couldn't afford the required health coverage. And it would impose new mandates on large employers to provide health coverage or help pay for it.

That will surely trigger sharp criticism from conservatives branding her plan government-dictated "HillaryCare" and comparing it to the unwieldy overhaul she proposed 13 years ago during her husband's presidency. Yet she may find Americans more receptive to an expanded federal role in health care, as the national mood has changed since the 1990s and states have experimented with universal-coverage plans.

The number of people without insurance has risen to 47 million from 39.7 million in 1993, and insurance premiums have doubled for those with coverage.

Mrs. Clinton's two principal rivals for the Democratic nomination, John Edwards and Barack Obama, both have comprehensive plans that, like Sen. Clinton's, build on action in the states and place mandates on employers. Republicans Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani also have detailed their more market-oriented approaches. Mr. Romney would rely on the states to lead change; Mr. Giuliani wants changes to the federal tax code that would make it easier to buy coverage on the open market.

But no candidate has been as closely watched on the issue as Mrs. Clinton. Health care and Iraq are likely to be the two central issues that define how the New York senator's candidacy is perceived by voters and key constituencies from labor to business.

On the presidential campaign trail, Sen. Clinton regularly mentions her scars from the 1993 effort, saying it gave her the experience to get the job done this time. Aides say she is diligently implementing battle lessons.

Chief among them: Assure people who already like their coverage that they can keep it, and that her plan still offers something for them. To that end, she first offered detailed proposals on reducing health-care costs and improving quality, before moving on to address how she would expand coverage to those who don't have it.

Officials at the Clinton campaign declined to discuss details of the proposal Sen. Clinton is scheduled to release Monday. While people familiar with it said the outline is in place, details could change over the weekend.

Sen. Clinton has telegraphed that, unlike last time, she would be willing to compromise to get a deal. She regularly cites the importance of developing consensus. In recent months, she has met with dozens of executives at large corporations to talk about health care, hoping to forestall a backlash during her campaign and, if she wins, her presidency.

Robert Galvin, director of global health care for General Electric Co., met with her in a small group a few months ago. He says she hit a "home run" in understanding business and its concerns. "I saw in there someone who came out of a tough experience in the '90s wiser, more patient, and with a real understanding of the complexities and how every stakeholder had to have some win," says Mr. Galvin.

 
The Clinton 2007 health plan is likely to be less threatening to the insurance industry, which helped kill her earlier plan. Mrs. Clinton's rhetoric denouncing the industry remains sharp -- but her plan is less so.

Last time, she proposed caps on premiums to hold down costs and a system under which insurance companies would be required to bid for regional business. This time, insurance companies would be required to sell a policy to anyone who applied and would be barred from charging sick people more. But they wouldn't face limits on how much they could charge for premiums generally.

The most significant element of the Clinton plan is expected to be a new requirement for all Americans to have insurance. That disturbs some liberals, who worry that low-income families won't be able to afford it, as well as some conservatives, who object to such a sweeping government mandate. But many health-policy experts say it's essential that everyone be in the insurance system so that healthy people with low medical costs can balance out the sick.

Sen. Edwards, too, has proposed an individual mandate; Sen. Obama has not. Gov. Romney supported the mandate when he was governor of Massachusetts but has not endorsed it nationally.

To help people get insurance, Sen. Clinton would establish federal subsidies for lower-income Americans and create new pools where individuals and small businesses could shop for private health plans.

She is also likely to require that some employers, likely large ones, either cover their workers or help pay the cost of their coverage elsewhere. That will be controversial with employers that don't provide insurance, though likely welcomed by those that do. Exempting small business could eliminate opposition from small-business owners, who helped lead the effort to kill the 1993 plan.

Sen. Clinton also supports expansion of the joint federal-state Children's Health Insurance Program. Conservatives led by President Bush oppose that, saying it's a step toward government-run insurance for all, in what has become something of a proxy for the larger health-coverage debate.

Politically, analysts say the health issue cuts both ways for Sen. Clinton. Polls suggest Americans trust her more than any presidential candidate of either party when it comes to health. A July Gallup poll found that 65% of all voters had a great deal or a fair amount of confidence that she would do the "right thing" for the health-care system. Among Democrats, the figure was 91%.

"People see her as very committed to health care and making sure people in this country have coverage," says Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster who worked for opponents of the original Clinton plan and now works for Republican presidential candidate John McCain. Still, he said, Mrs. Clinton is vulnerable among swing voters and Republicans, particularly if she produces a health plan that is seen as too complicated or too government-driven.

In certain circles, her name is synonymous with big, government-run health. Republicans regularly deride health care proposals they don't like as "HillaryCare." A summary of Mr. Romney's health care plan, posted on his Web site, contains the word "Hillary" 23 times, attacks her 1993 plan as "socialized medicine" and is headlined, "The Romney Vision: Conservative, Market-Based Health Care Vs. Hillarycare."

Sen. Clinton says she has learned her lessons. For one, in 1993 the White House got too mired in the details, delivering to Congress a 1,342-page bill for consideration. By giving so many specifics, the Clintons gave opponents with special interests easy fodder to kill the plan, while the public was bewildered.

By contrast, her aides speak admiringly of President Bush's approach on many domestic issues: put out general principles, negotiate the details with Congress and, more often that not, declare victory when a bill reaches his desk.

At one stage, Mrs. Clinton's aides considered not presenting a specific plan for covering the uninsured, noting that many Americans thought she had one already. But pressure from other candidates and from the powerful Service Employers International Union persuaded her to come forward. Messrs. Obama and Edwards had criticized her for sticking to generalities even as they offered specifics.

Aides say Sen. Clinton knows that the White House erred last time in failing to woo Congress, meaning her plan had few champions on Capitol Hill. In her later White House years, Mrs. Clinton learned to work more effectively with Congress and saw some successes, such as bipartisan passage of the Children's Health Insurance Program.

Since winning election to the Senate in 2000, Mrs. Clinton has worked with Republicans on a range of health issues. She allied with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on health benefits for veterans, although he had served as a manager of the effort to impeach her husband. She has even exchanged warm words on health with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who helped lead the effort to torpedo her 1993 plan.
 
25052  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 15, 2007, 09:59:49 AM
Concerning Hillary, I think Rudy may be the best to take her on-- his skills as a DA will serve him well in nailing down her evasions of truth and the law.

======
Bringing the Market to Health Care
By JOHN F. COGAN and R. GLENN HUBBARD
September 15, 2007

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney's recent health-care reform proposals, which rely on free-market principles and federalism, will go a long way to fixing our health-care system's woes.

The centerpiece of Mr. Romney's plan is to attack the tax code's discrimination against cost-effective private insurance. He proposes to allow individuals to deduct out-of-pocket health-care expenditures from their taxable income, allow individuals who purchase health insurance premiums on their own -- rather than through their employer -- to deduct health insurance premiums, and to expand Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) by eliminating the requirement that a qualifying health plan contain a high deductible.

Virtually all observers have argued that the U.S. tax preference for employer-provided health insurance encourages overconsumption of health services. First, it creates a large financial incentive for workers to purchase as much medical care as they can through their employer's insurance plan. In practice, workers do so by enrolling in health plans with high-premiums, but low-deductibles and coinsurance payments. Such plans, by making the purchase of health-care services appear to be less costly than they really are, create a "moral hazard" that leads to overconsumption of health-care services. Second, the tax preference makes health care look cheaper compared to all other goods and services.

The tax preference's impact has been profound. It is the principal reason why nine out of every 10 private health-care plans in the U.S. are purchased through an employer. It is the principal reason why six out of every seven dollars of health-care spending is made by someone other than the person receiving the care. And, it is a key reason for the U.S. health-care system's excessive cost and waste.

Many economists (including us) have emphasized the large benefits to health care of revoking the tax preference. Yet elected officials have repeatedly failed to enact the change because of strong political opposition.

Over the past 30 years, Congress has instead opted for a second best policy. On a piecemeal basis, Congress has gradually leveled the "tax playing-field" between employer insurance and out-of-pocket expenses by expanding the tax preference to out-of-pocket expenses rather than by eliminating the preference for employer provided insurance.

In 1978, Congress created Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) to allow health expenditures to be nontaxable to the employee. In 1996, Congress created Medical Savings Accounts to allow a limited number of employees of small businesses to set aside funds tax-free for their out-of-pocket expenses.

In 2002, Treasury regulations established Health Reimbursement Accounts to allow employees to use pre-tax dollars for medical expenses without the annual use-it-or-lose-it provision of FSAs. And in 2003, Congress replaced Medical Savings Accounts with far more attractive Health Savings Accounts. HSAs allow employers and individuals with high-deductible health plans to set aside money tax-free to pay their current or future out-of-pocket expenses.

Mr. Romney's proposal to allow individuals to deduct out of pocket medical expenses is a significant advance in this 30-year progression to a level tax playing field between out-of-pocket expenses and insurance. And a more level tax playing field would encourage individuals to choose health plans with lower premiums and higher copayments for their routine health-care purchases. With more "skin in the game," individuals would exert more control over their choice of health-care services. The health-care savings would be large. We estimate that a proposal such as Romney's would reduce private health-care spending by 6%.

Some critics have argued that allowing out-of-pocket expenses to be tax-deductible will raise, not lower, health-care spending because the policy will make the price of direct medical-care purchases cheaper relative to all other goods and services. As our empirical analysis with Daniel Kessler demonstrates, the critics are wrong. The cost-reducing impact on health-care expenditures of individuals shifting into health plans with higher copayments swamps by a large margin the cost-increasing impact of making out-of-pocket purchases cheaper.

The benefits don't stop with reducing the growth in health costs. As employer premiums decline, the savings will accrue to workers in the form of higher money wages. In competitive labor markets, workers -- not employers and not insurance companies -- bear the burden of paying for employer-provided health-insurance premiums. Although employers might write the check for premiums, workers ultimately pay by foregoing money wages.

We estimate that making out-of-pocket expenses tax deductible, combined with Mr. Romney's other proposals, will reduce the average premium of employer-provided family health plans by around $2,300 per year. Workers' wages will rise by this amount on average. To be sure, higher out-of-pocket expenses will offset part of this increase -- $1,000 of it. But workers will still experience a net increase of $1,300 in (taxable) income. Mainly because of this economic effect, we estimate that the U.S. Treasury's revenue loss will be modest -- about $10 billion per year.

Mr. Romney's proposal also allows persons who purchase health insurance on their own to deduct their premium payments. This tax deduction will make insurance significantly less costly for unemployed persons and workers in firms that don't offer insurance coverage. Because both out-of-pocket spending and individually purchased health insurance would be deductible, a person in a 15% tax bracket who purchases a $2,000 health-insurance plan and who has an additional $700 in out-of-pocket expenses would realize a tax savings of $405 -- a 20% reduction in the effective cost of the insurance plan. The lower cost provides significant incentive for currently uninsured individuals to buy at least catastrophic insurance.

Some health-policy experts have questioned why Mr. Romney would seek tax changes beyond those embodied in Health Savings Accounts. Indeed, HSAs are one of the most important health-care policy innovations in decades. If they are to achieve their potential, they must be made more attractive to a broader segment of the population. A key deterrent to choosing an HSA has been the requirement that an individual must be enrolled in a high-deductible health-care plan. The requirement, $1,100 for individuals and $2,200 for families, is simply too high for many consumers.

It is also unnecessary. Mr. Romney's proposal to eliminate the "high deductible" requirement will allow individuals to establish an HSA regardless of their health plan's deductible. Eliminating the high deductible requirement will maintain the cost-reducing benefits of HSAs. Evidence from the RAND Experiment indicates that most of the expenditure-reducing effects of health-plan deductibles occur at low levels of deductibles.

The key to reducing the U.S. health-care system's excessive cost without damaging its ability to innovate is to allow competitive market forces to operate. These forces have worked in every other market to keep costs low and improve quality. There is no reason why they won't work in health care. Attacking the tax code's bias against efficient and cost-effective health insurance is fundamental to creating an economically sound health-care system.

Mr. Cogan, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, was deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Reagan. Mr. Hubbard, dean of Columbia Business School, was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush. They are both advisers to the Romney campaign.
25053  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: September 15, 2007, 09:50:15 AM
I find controlling our border and putting an end to illegal immigration to be vital national interests.  Still there is more to the story than that:

Hispanics and the GOP
How to lose elections in one Lou Dobbs lesson.

Saturday, September 15, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Between 1996 and 2004, the Republican share of the Hispanic vote doubled to more than 40%, only to fall in last year's midterm election to less than 30%. The most recent polls show Hispanics breaking for Democrats over Republicans by 51% to 21%. What gives?

To understand this remarkable erosion of Latino support for Republicans, look no further than the most recent Presidential debates. While GOP candidates debated the urgency of erecting a fence from California to Texas along the Mexican border, Democrats debated in Spanish on Univision.

To reverse current trends, the GOP need not resort to ethnic pandering, which is the left's métier. But Republicans would help their cause tremendously if the party at the very least adopted a welcoming stance toward Latino newcomers. People aren't going to listen to your message unless they believe you care about them. Ronald Reagan didn't regularly receive a third of the Hispanic vote by sounding like Mitt Romney or Fred Thompson on immigration.

Tone matters in politics, and getting people to vote for you is easier when you're not likening them to Islamic terrorists, or implying that Latino men are hard-wired for gang-banging. Unlike blacks, who have hewed to Democrats in large majorities for decades, Latinos are proven swing voters, and Republican energies would be better employed trying to win them over instead of trying to capitalize on ethnic polarization to win GOP primaries.

There's precedent here. In the mid-1990s after California Governor Pete Wilson embraced Proposition 187, which denied education and health-care benefits to the children of illegal aliens, Latino support for Republicans fell to 25% from 53%, and GOP support among Asians and women declined as well.





Some conservatives insist that it's only the illegal aliens who have earned their wrath, but when the target of scorn is the mother or brother or cousin of someone here lawfully, that becomes a difference without much of a distinction politically. Moreover, Tom Tancredo, the pied piper of restrictionists in Congress, wants a "time out" on all legal immigration, and Hispanic voters are wise to the fact that it's not because he thinks there are too many Italians in the U.S. Republican pols may decide to follow Mr. Tancredo, Lou Dobbs, Fox News populists and obsessive bloggers down this path, but it's likely to lead to political defeat.
Hispanics are now about 8% of the electorate, but they're projected to become 20% by 2020 and one-quarter of the total U.S. population by 2050. The political reality is that going forward Hispanics will have to play a bigger and bigger role in keeping the GOP competitive nationally. It's hard to see how Republicans have any hope of building a permanent majority if Hispanics start voting for Democrats in the percentages that blacks already do.

Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona all boast heavy Latino populations and are states that a GOP Presidential candidate probably has to carry unless he can pick up states on the West coast or in the Northeast that Republicans haven't won since the 1980s. President Bush won Nevada, Colorado and Arizona twice. Al Gore won New Mexico in 2000, but it switched to Mr. Bush in 2004 in part because the President did well among the state's large Hispanic population.





Which brings us to a final, somewhat ironic, point about these political and demographic trends. Republican strategists, led by Karl Rove, Ken Mehlman and Matthew Dowd, took note of what was happening long before their Democratic counterparts. As recently as 2004, Democrats still viewed Latinos as voters they could take for granted. The assumption was that, as with blacks, perfunctory appeals to past discrimination would suffice to win them over. John Kerry ran no significant campaign in Hispanic communities and rarely traveled to the Southwest.
But it turns out that 50% of Hispanic voters are foreign-born and grew up speaking Spanish, not nursing racial grievances. That's an increase from 20% in 1988, and most of Mr. Bush's gains among Hispanics in 2004 came from this cohort. The point is that Republican principles--economic or cultural--are not lost on Hispanics, who are hardly wedded to one party, even if some conservatives insist this vote is lost to them. And it's no coincidence the 2008 Democratic convention will be in Colorado, where Hispanics are 19% of the population.

President Bush proved that the GOP could make significant inroads with Latinos, and smart Governors like Rick Perry in Texas and Jeb Bush in Florida have also shown the political wisdom of avoiding anti-immigration appeals. It's unfortunate that other Republicans, including most of Mr. Bush's would-be successors, seem so eager to help the Democrats make up lost ground.

WSJ
25054  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!) on: September 15, 2007, 09:30:38 AM
Al Qaeda Offers Bounty for Murder of Swedish Cartoonist
Saturday , September 15, 2007



ADVERTISEMENT
CAIRO, Egypt —

The leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq offered money for the murder of a Swedish cartoonist and his editor who recently produced images deemed insulting to Islam, according to a statement carried by Islamist Web sites Saturday.

In a half hour audio file entitled "They plotted yet God too was plotting," Abu Omar al-Baghdadi also named the other insurgent groups in Iraq that Al Qaeda was fighting and promised new attacks, particularly against the minority Yazidi sect.

"We are calling for the assassination of cartoonist Lars Vilks who dared insult our Prophet, peace be upon him, and we announce a reward during this generous month of Ramadan of $100,000 for the one who kills this criminal," the transcript on the Web site said.

The Al Qaeda leader upped the reward for Vilks' death to $150,000 if he was "slaughtered like a lamb" and offered $50,000 for the killing of the editor of Nerikes Allehanda, the Swedish paper that printed Vilks' cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad with a dog's body on Aug. 19.

Vilks said from Sweden he believed the matter of his cartoons had been blown out of proportion.

"We have a real problem here," Vilks told The Associated Press by telephone. "We can only hope that Muslims in Europe and in the Western world choose to distance themselves from this and support the idea of freedom of expression."

Ulf Johansson, editor in chief of Nerikes Allehanda, said he took the bounty "more seriously" than other threats he had received. "This is more explicit. It's not every day somebody puts a price on your head."

Johansson said he had contacted the police and that they had already started work on the threat.

Aside from a few scattered protests and condemnations by Muslim countries, the reaction to the cartoon has been muted, in contrast to last year's fiery protests that erupted in several Muslim countries after a Danish newspaper published 12 cartoons of Muhammad that were reprinted in a range of Western media.

In an attempt to defuse the tensions caused by the cartoon in both Sweden and abroad, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt last week invited 22 Sweden-based ambassadors from Muslim countries to talk about the sketch.

Reinfeldt expressed regret at the hurt it may have caused, but said that according to Swedish law it is not up to politicians to punish the free press.

Al-Baghdadi added in his message that if the "crusader state of Sweden" didn't apologize, his organization would also attack major companies.

"We know how to force you to retreat and apologize and if you don't, wait for us to strike the economy of your giant companies including Ericsson, Scania, Volvo, Ikea, and Electrolux," he said.

No photo has ever appeared of al-Baghdadi, whom the U.S. describes as a fictitious character used to give an Iraqi face to an organization dominated by foreigners.

The U.S. has said that under interrogation, a top Al-Qaeda member revealed that al-Baghdadi's speeches are read by an actor.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq in the past has carried out operations in Jordan and may have links to militant groups in Lebanon, but is not known to have any kind of presence in Europe.
25055  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: September 15, 2007, 09:01:35 AM
The Times of India -Breaking news, views. reviews, cricket from across India
 
Musharraf set to do a Lalu on Pakistan
15 Sep 2007, 0000 hrs IST, Chidanand Rajghatta,TNN

SMS NEWS to 58888 for latest updates
 WASHINGTON: Lalu Prasad Yadav's wild popularity in Pakistan is the stuff of political lore, but Pakistanis might not have bargained for the Bihari leader's buccaneering brand of proxy politics at home.

Military ruler Pervez Musharraf is all set to do a Lalu on the hapless nation, foisting his wife Sehba as a proxy presidential candidate to get around the constitutional and judicial hurdles he faces.

Under a formula hammered out under Uncle Sam's watchful eyes, Sehba Musharraf will be a cover candidate for Musharraf in the upcoming Presidential poll, with or without Benazir Bhutto running for Prime Minister.

The military government will also allow exiled prime minister Nawaz Sharief's wife Kulsoom Nawaz to return to Pakistan and run for election if she wishes maintaining that she is not bound by the exile arrangement that has kept her husband and his brother out of the country.

That would give the exercise a modicum of respectability, while promoting the image of Pakistan as a moderate Islamic society that allows women a role in the affairs of the state.

It will also mean Pakistan emulating Bangladesh, where two women -- Begum Hasina Sheikh and Begum Khaleda Zia -- have been locked in a familial power struggle for more than a decade.

The family project -- which will come into effect only if Musharraf himself is unable to get elected --has the imprimatur of the U.S which wants a firm handle on what is now acknowledged as the world's most dangerous and unstable state without having to deal with the uncertainties of democracy.

While Musharraf will continue to be the power behind the Sehba-Benazir dispensation which is in the offing, the power behind Musharraf will be the United States, which incidentally is home to Musharraf's son Bilal, who recently graduated from Stanford, and his brother Naveed, who lives in Chicago.

The mastermind of this Made-in-USA arrangement is said to be former intelligence czar and Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, who is credited with managing delicate regime changes in Latin America.

Negroponte and his state department colleague, Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher, were very much in the picture in Islamabad when the Musharraf regime forcibly deported Nawaz Sharief with help from Bush ally, the House of Saud, in contravention of a Supreme Court ruling.

Washington has repeatedly winked at Musharraf's political, constitutional and judicial transgressions, describing them as Pakistan internal matter, while paying lip service to democracy and free elections.

In effect, while Musharraf does a Lalu on his country, Negroponte is doing a Honduras on Pakistan.

As the US ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985, Negroponte propped up a military government led by Policarpo Paz García as a bulwark against the leftist Sandinista government of Nicaragua, which had close ties to both Cuba and the Soviet Union.

Political crackdowns and human rights exercise by the Garcia regime reported in the U.S media and observed by American lawmakers and activists were glossed over in Washington's ''larger'' interests, an argument that is being advanced in the Pakistan's case too vis-a-vis the war on terror.
 
25056  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: September 15, 2007, 08:55:07 AM
GM:

I'd love to read the "The American Male: Threat or Menace" piece!  If you have it handy, would you be so kind as to email it to me?
25057  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why we fight on: September 15, 2007, 08:49:09 AM
I've read George Friedman's "America's Secret War" and as my postings here amply attest, subscribe to his Stratfor-- which I find to be outstanding.  My reading of those of them on point to this issue is that there has been some success to getting the House of Saud to get tough(er) on AQ in SA.

Completely agreed on the Bush administration's communication skills and its tone deafness!  Could part of the problem be that if we were to articulate our true reasons that it would present serious political problems for those whom we seek to have as allies?
25058  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: September 15, 2007, 08:43:56 AM
That was a very interesting read GM.  Thank you for taking the time to post it.
25059  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Pensar en positivo. on: September 15, 2007, 08:23:03 AM
Sumamente importante el tema aqui.

Yo quisiera anadir un pequeno cuento judio aqui sobre el tema de autoengano mencionado arriba por Ceclio:

Habia un hombre que obedecia todas las reglas de la religion.  Y cuando rezaba, pidio a Dios que el ganara la loteria.  Pasaba varios anos pidiendo a Dios que el ganara la loteria.  Al fin, el se harto' del proceso, se enojo' con Dios y le dijo 

"!Dios!  !Yo quiero saber!  Yo he obedecia todas las reglas que Ud. ha ordenado, y he rezaba por anos para ganar la loteria pero no he ganado la loteria y yo quiero saber ?por que'?"

Contesto' Dios "!Hombre! !Ayudame!  Compre un boleto."

Osea, nuestras acciones tienen que ser consistentes con los deseos de nuestras palabras.  Como dice Cecilio "Pensar positivamente es más que un pensamiento positivo. Debe estar fundamentado en la práctica y dominio de tácticas y técnicas de supervivencia."

Espero que se pueda entender mi espanol.
25060  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: September 15, 2007, 01:34:08 AM
Why do you think it will be after the election, instead of before?
25061  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why we fight on: September 15, 2007, 01:32:55 AM
What do you think of the recently articulated Korean example, i.e. that with agreement of the Iraqi govt. we seek to leave troops there for a long time?

How do we articulate this to the American people?  Was this part of our strategy all along?  If so, why is this news to so many of us now?
25062  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: September 15, 2007, 01:30:02 AM
Rog:

"I'm not a lawyer, but as I understand it, international law is very clear about "aggressive war" (attacking a sovereign nation that hasn't attacked you) being a big no-no.  We either accept the authority of international law or we don't, but I don't see it as even debatable that we violated it."

While in law school, I studied "international law", was on the Board of Directors of the Society of International law for the school, and received the Parker Award for International Law.  None of which means diddly I know, but at least membership in the Soc. for Intl Law got me a 10 day trip to Cuba during the brief period at the end of the Carter years when it was legal to do so.  My one year in law, in Washington DC, was for a firm that billed itself as an international law firm.

What I carried away from this was that a lot of it was utterly meaningless and really more a matter of Conflict of Laws i.e. a determination of whose law applies. 

For example, one case on which I briefly worked was about a client whom had a ship seized in Iran shortly before the Khomeni Revolution.  Jurisdiction in US Federal Court was obtained and proceedings began.  Then the Khomeni govt. nationalized the company that had seized our client's ship.  Not recognizing the jurisdication of US federal court, it stopped showing up and we won a default judgement on the merits.  All that remained was a determination of damages.  Then the US-Iranian Claims tribunal was set up for all pending disputes between the US, its citizens, and Iran and its citizens.  Question presented:  Did the Claims tribunal have to accept the US federal court default decision and rule only on damages, or did it the case get litigated de novo?

Concerning our decision to go into Iraq being illegal or not, IMHO President Bush committed an error in going back to the UN after receiving Resolution 1441, which I would argue empowered us to go in as a legal matter.  As a political matter though, the President thought it better to go back for ,  , , re-approval.

IMHO there really is no coherent thing such as international law.  When has the UN gotten upset for the French going into west Africa, or NATO into Serbia-Croatia?  I don't recall any General Assembly votes on any of that or other similar cases.  OTOH it was a big deal when Saddam invaded Kuwait.  OTOH it wasn't a big deal when the Arabs tried wiping out Israel.  OTOH , , , well you get the idea.
25063  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Internet and related technology on: September 15, 2007, 01:07:20 AM
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070913112659.htm

Scientists Use 'Dark Web' To Snag Extremists And Terrorists Online

Science Daily — Terrorists and extremists have set up shop on the Internet, using it to recruit new members, spread propaganda and plan attacks across the world. The size and scope of these dark corners of the Web are vast and disturbing. But in a non-descript building in Tucson, a team of computational scientists are using the cutting-edge technology and novel new approaches to track their moves online, providing an invaluable tool in the global war on terror.

Funded by the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies, Hsinchun Chen and his Artificial Intelligence Lab at the University of Arizona have created the Dark Web project, which aims to systematically collect and analyze all terrorist-generated content on the Web.
This is no small undertaking. The speed, ubiquity, and potential anonymity of Internet media--email, web sites, and Internet forums--make them ideal communication channels for militant groups and terrorist organizations. As a result, terrorists groups and their followers have created a vast presence on the Internet. A recent report estimates that there are more than 5,000 Web sites created and maintained by known international terrorist groups, including Al-Qaeda, the Iraqi insurgencies, and many home-grown terrorist cells in Europe. Many of these sites are produced in multiple languages and can be hidden within innocuous-looking Web sites.
Because of its vital role in coordinating terror activities, analyzing Web content has become increasingly important to the intelligence agencies and research communities that monitor these groups, yet the sheer amount of material to be analyzed is so great that it can quickly overwhelm traditional methods of monitoring and surveillance.
This is where the Dark Web project comes in. Using advanced techniques such as Web spidering, link analysis, content analysis, authorship analysis, sentiment analysis and multimedia analysis, Chen and his team can find, catalogue and analyze extremist activities online. According to Chen, scenarios involving vast amounts of information and data points are ideal challenges for computational scientists, who use the power of advanced computers and applications to find patterns and connections where humans can not.
One of the tools developed by Dark Web is a technique called Writeprint, which automatically extracts thousands of multilingual, structural, and semantic features to determine who is creating 'anonymous' content online. Writeprint can look at a posting on an online bulletin board, for example, and compare it with writings found elsewhere on the Internet. By analyzing these certain features, it can determine with more than 95 percent accuracy if the author has produced other content in the past. The system can then alert analysts when the same author produces new content, as well as where on the Internet the content is being copied, linked to or discussed.
Dark Web also uses complex tracking software called Web spiders to search discussion threads and other content to find the corners of the Internet where terrorist activities are taking place. But according to Chen, sometimes the terrorists fight back.
"They can put booby-traps in their Web forums," Chen explains, "and the spider can bring back viruses to our machines." This online cat-and-mouse game means Dark Web must be constantly vigilant against these and other counter-measures deployed by the terrorists.
Despite the risks, Dark Web is producing tangible results in the global war on terror. The project team recently completed a study of online stories and videos designed to help train terrorists in how to build improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Understanding what information is being spread about IED methods and where in the world it is being downloaded can improve countermeasures that are developed to thwart them.
Dark Web is also a major research testbed for understanding the propaganda, ideology, communication, fundraising, command and control, and recruitment and training of terrorist groups. The Dark Web team has used the tools at their disposal to explore the content and impact of materials relating to "virtual imams" on the Internet, as well as terrorist training and weapons manuals.
Dark Web's capabilities are also being used to study the online presence of extremist groups and other social movement organizations. Chen sees applications for this Web mining approach for other academic fields.
"What we are doing is using this to study societal change," Chen says. "Evidence of this change is appearing online, and computational science can help other disciplines better understand this change."

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by National Science Foundation.
25064  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: September 14, 2007, 06:56:32 PM
Going to be interesting to see how that plays out!

Here's this:

Security chief says terrorists have been arrested on border
By Jeff Carlton / Associated Press
Article Launched: 09/12/2007 07:09:01 PM MDT


DALLAS -- Texas' top homeland security official said today that terrorists with ties to Hezbollah, Hamas and al-Qaida have been arrested crossing the Texas border with Mexico in recent years.
"Has there ever been anyone linked to terrorism arrested?" Texas Homeland Security Director Steve McCraw said in a speech to the North Texas Crime Commission. "Yes, there was."

His remarks appear to be among the most specific on the topic of terrorism arrests along the Texas-Mexico border. Local and elected officials have alluded to this happening but have been short on details.

Leticia Zamarripa, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in El Paso, said Wednesday she was unaware of any border arrests of people with terrorist ties. An ICE spokeswoman in San Antonio did not return phone messages left by The Associated Press. U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Lloyd M. Easterling was unable to comment.

However, McCraw's remarks are similar to those made recently by National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell, who last month told the El Paso Times that a small number of people with known links to terrorist organizations have been caught crossing the border.

McCraw identified the most notable figure captured as Farida Goolam Mahomed Ahmed, who was arrested in July 2004 at the McAllen airport. She carried $7,300 in various currencies and a South African passport with pages missing. Federal officials later learned she waded across the Rio Grande.

After her arrest, U.S.


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Customs and Border Protection issued a release saying she was wanted for questioning about the bombing of a U.S. Consulate office, jibing with similar statements from a U.S. congressman.
But the department quickly retracted the terrorism connection, calling it "inaccurate on several levels." Michael Shelby, then the U.S. attorney in Houston, said in January 2005 that any suggestion Ahmed was involved in terrorism "is in error."

According to federal court records, Ahmed pleaded guilty to improper entry by an alien, making a false statement and false use of a passport. She was sentenced to time served and deported to South Africa. Other details of the case were sealed.

But on Wednesday, McCraw described Ahmed as having ties to an insurgent group in Pakistan and whose specialty was smuggling Afghanis and other foreign nationals across the border.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Michael Friel could not confirm details about Ahmed on Wednesday.

McCraw also said that since March 2006, 347 people from what he called "terrorism-related countries" have been arrested crossing the border in Texas. The number of Iraqis captured at the border has tripled since last year, he said.

"A porous border without question is a national security threat," he said.

Terrorism isn't the only concern for homeland security officials in Texas, McCraw said. The state's size, population and geography make it susceptible to all sorts of disasters, both natural and man-made. Emergency responders must also be prepared for natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and wildfires, he said.

The state has made significant strides in emergency planning since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and Hurricane Rita, McCraw said. Plans include cooperating with large private companies, including grocery stores, Wal-Mart and the oil industry, to help the state respond during disasters.

"This is not a shot at FEMA, but we can't depend on FEMA to protect Texas," McCraw said. "The governor's mandate has made it clear: If those buses don't come, we better have our own buses. If that food doesn't come,we better have our own food. If that water doesn't come, we better have our own water to take care of Texas."



25065  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why we fight on: September 14, 2007, 06:55:36 PM
GM:

Let's keep on track with the mission of this thread.  What do you think of President Bush's speech yesterday?

M.
25066  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why we fight on: September 14, 2007, 04:33:37 PM
Woof Rog:

Given the concept of this particular thread, it makes most sense to me for it to be for people strategizing in favor of our success in these things, not opposing it.  By all means please continue to carry on in the other threads.

Marc

=========

Woof All:
---

From Jihadwatch

"Many U.S. Muslim groups viewed as moderate by the Justice Department and other government agencies secretly are linked to the pro-terrorist Muslim Brotherhood"

At last the truth -- the truth we have repeated here for years -- is coming out. "Inside the Ring," by Bill Gertz in the Washington Times (thanks to Matthew):
The international Sunni jihadist group Muslim Brotherhood set up numerous U.S. front groups since the 1990s that should be regarded as hostile and a threat to the United States, a Pentagon Joint Staff analyst said.

Stephen Caughlin, a lawyer and military intelligence specialist on the Joint Staff, stated in a Sept. 7 memorandum that many U.S. Muslim groups viewed as moderate by the Justice Department and other government agencies secretly are linked to the pro-terrorist Muslim Brotherhood. The groups also are engaged in influence and deception operations designed to mask their true aims, he said.

Documents entered into evidence in the federal terrorism trial in Dallas of the Holy Land Foundation, a charity charged with illegally funding the Palestinian Hamas terrorist group, reveal new security threats from a network of more than 29 U.S. Muslim groups.

"These documents are beginning to define the structure and outline of domestic jihad threat entities, associated nongovernmental organizations and potential terrorist or insurgent support systems," Mr. Caughlin said.

Specifically, a 1991 Muslim Brotherhood memorandum "describes aspects of the global jihad's strategic information warfare campaign and indications of its structure, reach and activities," Mr. Caughlin said.

The Muslim Brotherhood memo on organizing Muslims in North America said that all members "must understand their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within, and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands and the hands of believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions."

Mr. Caughlin said in his memo that "consequently, outreach strategies must be adjusted in the face of credible information that seeming Islamic humanitarian or professional nongovernmental organizations may be part of the global jihad with potential for being part of the terrorist or insurgent support system," he said.

Mr. Caughlin said the 1991 memorandum identifies the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) as part of the Muslim Brotherhood. The ISNA, one of more than 300 unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation trial, recently became a subject of controversy among officials who opposed the Justice Department's participation in a conference held last month, despite opposition from two members of Congress.
In August, Rep. Peter Hoekstra, Michigan Republican, and Rep. Sue Myrick, North Carolina Republican, wrote to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to oppose the Justice Department's attendance at the ISNA conference in Chicago as a "grave mistake" because it would legitimize a group with "extremist origins."

The Justice Department said in response that its participation at the Labor Day weekend meeting was part of "outreach efforts ... to educate the public about how the department works to protect religious freedom, voting rights, economic opportunity, and many other rights."

Mr. Caughlin warned in his memo that such outreach "can cause those responsible for its success to so narrowly focus on the outreach relationship that they miss the surrounding events and lose perspective."

"This could undermine unity of effort in homeland security, lead to potential for embarrassment for the [U.S. government] and legitimize threat organizations by providing them domestic sanctuary."

No war of Ideas

Sen. Joe Lieberman pressed senior U.S. intelligence and security officials this week on what the Bush administration is doing to counter the ideology of Islamic extremism domestically and internationally.

The answer from the top officials: Not much.

Mr. Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said during a hearing Monday that a war of ideas is needed to counter Islamic extremists.
"Because this is a war, but it is ultimately a war against, and with, an ideology that is inimical to our own values of freedom and tolerance and diversity," the Connecticut independent said.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III revealed during the hearing that the FBI has no counterideology response other than its "outreach" to Muslim-American communities so they "understand the FBI" and address "the radicalization issue," he said.

Asked whether the FBI has a responsibility to wage a battle of ideas within U.S. Muslim-American communities, Mr. Mueller said: "You put that where I would say no, that it would not be our responsibility for any religion to engage in the war of ideas."

The FBI's responsibility, he said, is "to explain that once one goes over the line and it becomes not a war of ideas but a criminal offense, this is what you can expect, and to elicit the support of those in whatever religious community to assist us in assuring that those who cross that line are appropriately investigated and convicted."

The comment shows that despite the creation of a dedicated FBI intelligence-gathering branch, the bureau remains limited to investigation and law enforcement.

Retired Vice Adm. Scott Redd, head of the National Counterterrorism Center who has a strategic operational role in countering terrorism, said one of the "four pillars" of the U.S. war strategy is the "war of ideas," but he noted that there is no "home office" for that effort in the United States.
Retired Vice Adm. Mike McConnell, director of national intelligence, said the intelligence community does not conduct any battle of ideas against terrorists in the United States unless there is a foreign connection.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff also said nothing is being done domestically to battle Islamist extremist ideas. The department's incident management team, he said, is focused on civil rights or civil liberties — not fighting terrorists' ideology.
25067  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: September 14, 2007, 03:13:59 PM

http://www.heritage.org:80/Research/Immigration/bg2069.cfm
September 13, 2007
A Sleeper Amnesty: Time to Wake Up from the DREAM Act
by Kris W. Kobach, D.Phil., J.D.
Backgrounder #2069

Just three months after the Senate immigration bill met its well-deserved end, amnesty advocates in the U.S. Congress resumed their efforts. Recently, Senator Richard Durbin (D–IL) announced on the Senate floor his intention to offer the Development, Relief, and Edu­cation for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act as an amend­ment to the defense authorization bill.

The DREAM Act (S. 774) is a nightmare. It is a mas­sive amnesty that extends to the millions of illegal aliens who entered the United States before the age of 16. The illegal alien who applies for this amnesty is immediately rewarded with "conditional" lawful per­manent resident (green card) status, which can be converted to a non-conditional green card in short order. The alien can then use his newly acquired status to seek green cards for the parents who brought him in illegally in the first place. In this way, it is also a back­door amnesty for the millions of illegal aliens who brought their children with them to the United States.

What is less well known about the DREAM Act is that it also allows illegal aliens to receive in-state tuition rates at public universities, discriminating against U.S. citizens from out of state and law-abiding foreign students. It repeals a 1996 federal law that pro­hibits any state from offering in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens unless the state also offers in-state tuition rates to all U.S. citizens.

On its own, the DREAM Act never stood a chance of passing. Every scientific opinion poll on the subject has shown over 70 percent opposition to giving in-state tuition benefits to illegal aliens.

Not surprisingly, the DREAM Act languished in committee for five years after it was first introduced in 2001—until the opportunity arose to hitch it to the Senate's "comprehensive" immigration bills of 2006 and 2007.

To understand just what an insult to the rule of law the DREAM Act is, it is important to look at the history behind it.

A Brief History of the In-State Tuition Debate
In September 1996, Congress passed the land­mark Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA). Led by Lamar Smith (R– TX) in the House of Representatives and Alan Simp­son (R–WY) in the Senate, Congress significantly toughened the nation's immigration laws. To his credit, President Bill Clinton signed the bill into law.

Open-borders advocates in some states—most notably California—had already raised the possibil­ity of offering in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens who attend public universities. To prevent such a development, the IIRIRA's sponsors inserted a clearly worded provision that prohibited any state from doing so unless it provided the same dis­counted tuition to all U.S. citizens:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an alien who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible on the basis of residence within a State (or a polit­ical subdivision) for any postsecondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such a benefit (in no less an amount, dura­tion, and scope) without regard to whether the citizen or national is such a resident.

Members of Congress reasoned that no state would be interested in giving up the extra revenue from out-of-state students, so this provision would ensure that illegal aliens would not be rewarded with a taxpayer-subsidized college education. The IIRIRA's proponents never imagined that some states might simply disobey federal law.

States Subsidizing the College Education of Illegal Aliens
However, that is precisely what happened. In 1999, radical liberals in the California legislature pushed ahead with their plan to have taxpayers sub­sidize the college education of illegal aliens.

Assemblyman Marco Firebaugh (D) sponsored a bill that would have made illegal aliens who had resided in California for three years during high school eligible for in-state tuition rates at California community colleges and universities. In August 2000, the California legislature passed his bill. However, Democrat Governor Gray Davis vetoed the bill in September 2000, stating clearly in his veto message that the bill would violate federal law:

ndocumented aliens are ineligible to receive postsecondary education benefits based on state residence…. IIRIRA would require that all out-of-state legal residents be eligible for this same benefit. Based on Fall 1998 enrollment figures…this legisla­tion could result in a revenue loss of over $63.7 million to the state.

Undeterred, Firebaugh introduced his bill again, and the California legislature passed it again. In 2002, facing flagging poll numbers and desperate to rally Hispanic voters to his cause, Governor Davis signed the bill.

Meanwhile, similar interests in Texas had suc­ceeded in enacting their own version of the bill. Since then, interest groups lobbying for illegal aliens have introduced similar legislation in most of the other states. The majority of state legislatures had the good sense to reject the idea, but eight states fol­lowed the examples of California and Texas, includ­ing some states in the heart of "red" America. Today, the 10 states that offer in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens are: California, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Washington. (The legislatures of Maryland and Connecticut passed similar bills in 2007, but the governors of those states rightly vetoed the bills.)

In most of these 10 states, the law was passed under cover of darkness because public opinion was strongly against subsidizing the college educa­tion of illegal aliens at taxpayer expense. The gover­nors even declined to hold press conferences or signing ceremonies heralding the new laws.

Not surprisingly, when voters themselves decide the question, a very different result occurs. In November 2006, Arizona voters passed Proposition 300, which expressly barred Arizona universities from offering in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens— 71.4 percent voted in favor.

The American people realize the injustice of giving illegal aliens a taxpayer-subsidized education when out-of-state U.S. citizens and law-abiding foreign students have to pay the full cost of their education.

This strong public sentiment against giving ille­gal aliens access to in-state tuition rates is powerful enough to swing the results of an election. In Nebraska, the last of the 10 states to pass the law, that is exactly what happened. During the 2006 session, Nebraska's unicameral legislature passed an in-state tuition bill for illegal aliens. Governor Dave Heineman vetoed the bill because it violated federal law and was bad policy. In mid-April the legislature, which included an unusually large number of lame-duck Senators, overrode his veto by a vote of 30 to 19.

The veto would become an issue in the 2006 Republican gubernatorial primary. Heineman's opponent was the legendary University of Nebraska football coach and sitting U.S. Representative Tom Osborne, a political demigod in the Cornhusker State. Osborne had never received less than 82 percent of the vote in any election. Heineman, on the other hand, had not yet won a gubernatorial election. He became governor in 2005 when Gov­ernor Mike Johanns resigned to become U.S. Secre­tary of Agriculture.

Few believed that Heineman had a chance of winning the primary. He was behind in all of the polls. But then Coach Osborne fumbled. During a debate, he stated that he favored the idea of giving subsidized tuition to illegal aliens. Heineman seized the opportunity, and highlighted this difference of opinion between the candidates in his political ads. The voters reacted negatively to Osborn's position, and Heineman surged ahead in the final weeks of the race. He beat Osborn by 50 percent to 44 per­cent in the primary election on May 9, 2006. After the vote, both candidates said that the in-state tuition issue had been decisive.

State-Subsidized Lawbreaking
In all 10 states, the in-state tuition laws make for shockingly bad policy.

First, providing in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens amounts to giving them a taxpayer-financed education. In contrast, out-of-state students pay the full cost of their education. This gift to illegal aliens costs taxpayers a great deal of money at a time when tuition rates are rising across the country. For exam­ple,  in California, a lawsuit on the matter has re­vealed the staggering cost to the taxpayer: The state pays more than $100 million annually to subsidize the college education of thousands of illegal aliens.

Second, these states are encouraging aliens to vio­late federal immigration law. Indeed, in some of the states, breaking federal law is an express prerequi­site to receive the benefit of in-state tuition rates. Those states expressly deny in-state tuition to legal aliens who have valid student visas. And in all 10 states, an alien is eligible for in-state tuition rates only if he remains in the state in violation of federal law and evades federal law enforcement. In this way states are directly rewarding this illegal behavior.

This situation is comparable to a state passing a law that rewards residents with state tax credits for cheating on their federal income taxes. These states are providing direct financial subsidies to those who violate federal law.

Third, not only are such laws unfair to aliens who follow the law, but they are slaps in the faces of law-abiding American citizens. For example, a student from Missouri who attends Kansas University and has always played by the rules and obeyed the law is charged three times the tuition charged to an alien whose very presence in the country is a violation of federal criminal law.

This gift to illegal aliens comes at a time when millions of U.S. citizens have had to mortgage their future to attend college. During 2002–2007, college costs rose 35 percent after adjusting for inflation. Two-thirds of college students now graduate with debt, and the amount of debt averages $19,200. In a world of scarce education resources, U.S. citizens should be first in line to receive a break on college costs—not aliens who break federal law.

Even if a good argument could be made for giv­ing in-state tuition benefits to illegal aliens, the bot­tom line is that the policy violates federal law. These 10 states have brazenly cast aside the constraints imposed by Congress and the U.S. Constitution.

Pending Lawsuits
In July 2004, a group of U.S. citizen students from out of state filed suit in federal district court in Kansas to enjoin the state from providing in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens.They pointed out that Kansas is clearly violating federal law, as well as vio­lating the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Con­stitution by discriminating against them in favor of illegal aliens.

The district judge did not render any decision on the central questions of the case. Instead, he avoided the issues entirely by ruling that the plain­tiffs lacked a private right of action to bring their statutory challenge and lacked standing to bring their Equal Protection challenge. The case is cur­rently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

Meanwhile, in December 2005, another group of U.S. citizen students filed a class-action suit in a California state court.They too maintain that the state is violating federal law and the U.S. Constitu­tion. Pursuant to a California civil rights statute, they are also seeking damages to compensate them for the extra tuition that they have paid above that charged to illegal aliens.

The DREAM Act Amnesty
Now, just when it looks as if U.S. citizens might vindicate their rights under federal law and the way­ward states might be held accountable, Senator Durbin and his pro-amnesty allies are seeking to offer the offending states a pardon.

The DREAM Act grants an unusual reprieve to the 10 states that have ignored federal law. The Act retroactively repeals the 1996 federal law that the 10 states violated, making it as though the provi­sions in the 1996 law never existed.

On top of this insult to the rule of law, the DREAM Act includes a massive amnesty, as noted above. This amnesty opens a wide path to citizen­ship for any alien who entered the country before the age of 16 and has been in the country for at least five years. The guiding notion seems to be "The longer you have violated federal law, the better."

Beyond that, all the alien needs is a high school diploma or a GED earned in the United States. If he can persuade an institution of higher education in the United States—any community college, technical school, or college—to admit him, that will suffice. Any illegal alien who meets these con­ditions (or who can produce fraudulent papers indicating that he meets the conditions) gets immediate legal status in the form of a "condi­tional" green card good for six years, according to Section 4(a)(1).

It is important to recognize just how sweeping this amnesty is.

There is no upper age limit. Any illegal alien can walk into a U.S. Customs and Immigration Ser­vices office and declare that he is eligible. For example, a 45 year old can claim that he illegally entered the United States 30 years ago at the age of 15. There is no requirement that the alien prove that he entered the United States at the claimed time by providing particular documents. The DREAM Act's Section 4(a) merely requires him to "demonstrate" that he is eligible—which in practice could mean simply making a sworn statement to that effect. Thus, it is an invitation for just about every illegal alien to fraudulently claim the amnesty.


The alien then has six years to adjust his status from a conditional green card holder to a non-conditional one. To do so, he need only complete two years of study at an institution of higher edu­cation. If the alien has already completed two years of study, he can convert to non-conditional status immediately (and use his green card as a platform to bring in family members). As an alternative to two years of study, he can enlist in the U.S. military and spend two years there. This provision allows Senator Durbin to claim that the DREAM Act is somehow germane to a defense authorization bill.


An illegal alien who applies for the DREAM Act amnesty gets to count his years under "condi­tional" green card status toward the five years needed for citizenship. (Section 5(e)) On top of that, the illegal alien could claim "retroactive benefits" and start the clock running the day that the DREAM Act is enacted. (Section 6) In combi­nation, these two provisions put illegal aliens on a high-speed track to U.S. citizenship—moving from illegal alien to U.S. citizen in as little as five years. Lawfully present aliens, meanwhile, must follow a slower path to citizenship.


It would be absurdly easy for just about any ille­gal alien—even one who does not qualify for the amnesty—to evade the law. According to Section 4(f) of the DREAM Act, once an alien files an application—any application, no matter how ridiculous—the federal government is prohib­ited from deporting him. Moreover, with few exceptions, federal officers are prohibited from either using information from the application to deport the alien or sharing that information with another federal agency, under threat of up to $10,000 fine. Thus, an alien's admission that he has violated federal immigration law cannot be used against him—even if he never had any chance of qualifying for the DREAM Act amnesty in the first place.
The DREAM Act also makes the illegal aliens eli­gible for federal student loans and federal work-study programs—another benefit that law-abiding foreign students cannot receive—all at taxpayer expense. A consistent theme emerges: Illegal aliens are treated much more favorably than aliens who fol­low the law. There is no penalty for illegal behavior.

Conclusion
In addition to being a dream for those who have broken the law, the DREAM Act raises an even larger issue regarding the relationship between states and the federal government. The 10 states have created a 21st century version of the nullification move­ment—defying federal law simply because they do not like it. In so doing, they have challenged the basic structure of the republic. The DREAM Act would pardon this offense and, in so doing, encour­age states to defy other federal law in the future.

One thing that we have learned in the struggle to enforce our nation's immigration laws is that states cannot be allowed to undermine the efforts of the federal government to enforce the law. Only if all levels of government are working in concert to uphold the rule of law can it be fully restored.

Kris W. Kobach is Professor of Law at the Univer­sity of Missouri-Kansas City and a Visiting Fellow at The Heritage Foundation. He served as counsel and chief adviser on immigration law to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft from 2001 to 2003. He is representing the U.S. citizen plaintiffs in the Kansas and California law­suits described in this paper, and has published a longer article explaining this issue, as well as the legal argu­ments involved, in the New York University Journal of Legislation and Public Policy, vol. 10, no. 3 (2006-07).


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
[1] 8 U.S.C. § 1623.


[2] Gray Davis, veto message to California Assembly on AB 1197, September 29, 2000, at info.sen.ca.gov/pub/99-00/bill/asm/ab_1151-
1200/ab_1197_vt_20000929.html (August 10, 2006).

[3] See Day v. Sebelius, 376 F. Supp. 2d 1022 (2005).

[4] See Stuart Silverstein, "Out-of-State Students Sue over Tuition: Plaintiffs Are Challenging California Practices That Require Them to Pay Higher College Costs Than Some Illegal Immigrants," Los Angeles Times, December 15, 2005, p. B3.
 
25068  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: September 14, 2007, 03:00:00 PM

The debate continues:
======================

From www.christianaction.org:

(The Blotter) When Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was strapped down to the water-board, he felt humiliated — not by the treatment but by the fact that a woman, a red-headed CIA supervisor, was allowed to witness the spectacle, a former intelligence officer told ABC News.
The al Qaeda mastermind, known as KSM, stubbornly held out for about two minutes — far longer than any of the other “high-value” terror targets who were subjected to the technique, the harshest from a list of six techniques approved for use by the CIA and Bush administration lawyers, sources said.
Then KSM started talking, in idiomatic English he learned as a high school foreign exchange student and polished at a North Carolina college in the 1980s, sources said.
“It was an extraordinary amount of time for him to hold out,” one former CIA officer told ABCNews.com. “A red-headed female supervisor was in the room when he was being water-boarded. It was humiliating to him. So he held out.”
“Then he started talking, and he never stopped,” this former officer said. KSM was never water-boarded again, and in hours and hours of conversation with his interrogators, often over a cup of tea, he poured out his soul and the murderous deeds he committed.
“He was sitting across the table from his interrogator, and he just blurted out, ‘I killed Daniel Pearl. I killed him Hahal (slit his throat in a ritual fashion).’ There was no water-boarding, no belly slapping; just two guys sitting across the table having a cup of tea.”
Water-boarding consists of strapping an individual to an inclined board with the person’s head slightly lower than the feet and pouring water over the face to simulate drowning. It triggers a gag reflex and can make a person believe death is near. Water-boarding has been denounced as “torture” by human rights groups and many U.S. officials, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who likened it to a mock execution.
But what if that one episode of water-boarding KSM had not occurred? It is a question at the center of the debate over the harshest technique in the CIA’s repertoire that has raged for three years now, a time frame, intelligence officials note, in which the technique has not been used.
Would the agency have eventually worn KSM down? Would the confessions have poured forth about Daniel Pearl’s beheading, about his role in the 1995 plot by his nephew, master bomber Ramzi Yousef, to assassinate Pope John Paul II during a visit to Manila, and detailed information about his role as mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks?
In the case of 9/11, U.S. intelligence officials were in the dark as to how exactly it was plotted because at the time KSM brought the idea to Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda terrorist leader had just stopped using mobile telephones after media reports raised suspicions they were monitored by U.S. intelligence.
“If one water-board session got him to talk, you could have gotten him to talk (without it), given time and patience,” said Brad Garrett, an ABC News consultant and former FBI agent. Garrett has 30 years of experience interrogating terrorists such as Yousef, the Pakistani man who killed two CIA employees at the gates to the agency’s Langley, Va. headquarters in 1994 and hundreds of violent criminals.
“If in fact it’s true that they water-boarded him once and then he started talking and provided reliable information, then he falls under the category of the small minority of people on whom it works. But torture seldom works. Most people start talking…to get the pain to stop,” Garrett said.
But in many cases, the harsh intelligence techniques led to questionable confessions and downright lies, say officers with firsthand knowledge of the program. That included statements that al Qaeda was building dirty bombs.
“It is true that the person who was saying the nuke stuff said it under pressure. The analysts believed it was not true; it did not conform to other information,” one former intelligence officer told ABC News.
As these targets were subjected to the increasingly harsh interrogation methods — in some cases including water-boarding — KSM sat in his cell in Poland, writing poetry in English, writing letters to the president and to the head of the CIA, and debating the merits of Christianity and Islam with his captor.
“Using torture says that we aren’t any better than countries that historically tortured people. What are we telling the world about the United States?” Garrett, who has lectured on the subject of interrogation and torture and the perception of a nation, asked.
And just yesterday, an intelligence source told ABC News that the dapper man behind the most successful terror plot against America was not rumpled and disheveled when he was apprehended. He was as well-kept as ever.
But the CIA, conscious of the propaganda value of appearance, messed his hair and pulled his shirt from his pants, leaving us with the image of KSM we have today, and according to days of NSA intercepts, leaving his fellow al Qaeda terrorists chagrined over the changes to their esteemed colleague.
25069  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: September 14, 2007, 02:54:26 PM
The Trans-Atlantic Militant Connection
Authorities on both sides of the Atlantic arrested a total of four people Sept. 12 in connection with a plot to stage jihadist attacks against Austria and Germany. Earlier in the month, Danish authorities arrested eight people on suspicion of plotting attacks in Denmark, and a day later German authorities arrested three people on suspicion of plotting to attack U.S. and Uzbek targets in Germany. Counterterrorism officials in Europe and the United States believe the plots in Germany and Denmark are related.

This latest wave of arrests demonstrates the interconnection between militant cells in Europe and North America -- and serves as a warning on the increasing militant activity on European soil.

On Sept. 12, two men and a woman were arrested in Vienna, Austria, for allegedly posting a video on an Islamist Web site threatening attacks against Germany and Austria because of those countries' support for the NATO mission in Afghanistan. The three allegedly are associated with the Global Islamic Media Front, a media outlet known for spreading al Qaeda messages on the Internet. The outlet also reportedly has links to the Army of Islam, the militant group linked to the kidnapping of British reporter Alan Johnston in Gaza in March.

Working with Austrian authorities, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested Said Namouh, a Moroccan, in connection with the alleged plot and charged him with conspiring to detonate an explosive device. Canadian authorities said the plot was not directed at targets inside Canada, but that it was linked to the Austrian plot. The Global Islamic Media Front reportedly has other members in Canada, indicating that more arrests could follow after Canadian and Austrian investigators examine evidence found at Namouh's apartment. Namouh, who was taken into custody near Montreal, allegedly had communicated with the suspected militants in Austria over the Internet.





On Sept. 4, Danish counterterrorism forces in Copenhagen arrested eight people -- six Danish citizens and two foreigners with Danish residence permits -- on suspicion of plotting militant attacks against targets in Denmark. Less than a day later, German authorities raided several locations in Germany and arrested three people, including two Germans who had converted to Islam, on suspicion of plotting to attack U.S. and Uzbek military, civilian and diplomatic targets in Germany.

This spike in activity -- three cells arrested within 10 days -- highlights Europe's increasingly precarious security situation. Every year since 2004 there has been a major attack, failed attack or thwarted plot targeting a European city. Countries such as Spain, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom have had frequent incidents of militant activity, but other countries are feeling the heat as well. Although there have been militant elements present in Germany, Denmark and Austria, overall they had not been actively engaged in plotting serious attacks.

Germany, in particular, has seen an increase in the danger, beginning in summer 2006 when an attack targeting passenger trains failed in western Germany due to poorly constructed bombs. Although the plot that was thwarted Sept. 7 probably would have failed anyway, it was much larger in scope than past attempts, indicating that Germany's local cells are getting more ambitious.

The jihadists despise Europe as much as, if not more than, they do the United States, and they have made it clear that they intend to stage an attack on European soil. In addition to the threat from the Muslim immigrant community, the German example demonstrates the ongoing threat from within -- in the form of disassociated Europeans or longtime residents who convert to Islam and end up in one of these cells. The jihadists' poor tradecraft could be Europe's saving grace at the moment, as this failing appears to be one of the major reasons Europe has not experienced a major attack since the London bombings of 2005.

The arrest in Canada is another example of how grassroots jihadist cells in Europe can be linked to cells across the Atlantic. In June 2006, U.S., British and Canadian authorities uncovered a plot to attack targets in the United States and Canada. In addition to a European link, both the Canadian and U.S. cells had links to militant communities in South Asia.

By taking advantage of the well-developed communication links across the Atlantic, the relative ease of travel between Europe and North America, and contacts between immigrant communities on both continents as well as in the Middle East and South Asia, Europe's jihadist problem could easily become North America's problem, too.
Contact Us
25070  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Stock Market on: September 14, 2007, 02:46:51 PM
I know so very well what you mean!!! tongue 

FWIW here's this from GG in today's newletter on LNOP:
============

George Gilder, Gilder Telecosm Forum (9/9/07):  People everywhere want to know. What are the limits of EZchip (LNOP)?

The Linley Group defines EZ's limits as some portion of the $700M Carrier Ethernet market, particularly the demand for metro ethernet switches. Yet the NPU performs generic functions of routing, switching and managing traffic for Internet Protocol packets and Ethernet frames, which are by no means restricted to metro slots. These functions have to be performed everywhere the Internet reaches, from entertainment rooms to Googleplex datacenters, from telco central offices to enterprise local area networks, from surveillance devices to satellite links, from automobiles to airplanes, from storage area networks to medical centers. The current carrier switches are merely the first of the markets to emerge, but they do not begin to represent the limits for EZchips.
25071  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Did Sweden apologize on: September 14, 2007, 01:11:13 PM
http://www.arabnews.com/?page=1&section=0&article=101170&d=14&m=9&y=2007

 
Sweden Did Not Apologize on Behalf of Paper: Envoy
Siraj Wahab, Arab News
 
JEDDAH, 14 September 2007 — Sweden yesterday denied that its ambassador to Saudi Arabia apologized to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) for the publication of a caricature of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in a Swedish newspaper.

According to a statement released to the media on Wednesday by the Jeddah-based organization, it was stated that the Swedish ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Jan Thesleff, met OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu on Tuesday in Jeddah and “offered his deepest apologies for the controversy created by the publishing of the hurtful depiction.”

The Swedish Foreign Ministry, however, immediately denied that the ambassador had made any apology, saying he had only expressed regret.

“The ambassador repeated his regret at the controversy created by the publication, but not for the publication itself,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anna Bjorkander was quoted as saying by The Local newspaper of Sweden.

Bjorkander described the OIC’s interpretation of the meeting as a “misunderstanding.”

She told the Swedish newspaper that Thesleff was dissatisfied that the OIC had said he had apologized, but did not plan to demand that the organization change its statement. “He said he is not satisfied with the use of the word ‘apologize,’” Bjorkander said.

The publication of the caricature in the Swedish newspaper, Nerikes Allehanda, on Aug. 18 sparked anger in the Muslim world, with Egypt, Pakistan and Iran lodging formal protests with the Swedish government.

During his meeting with the Swedish ambassador, the OIC chief had conveyed his “concerns that this kind of irresponsible and provocative incitement in the name of defending freedom of expression was leading the international community toward more confrontation and division.”

Ihsanoglu strongly condemned the newspaper for publishing the blasphemous caricature saying it was an irresponsible and despicable act with malicious and provocative intentions in the name of freedom of expression.

“The caricature was intended solely to insult and arouse the sentiments of Muslims of the world,” he said.

“The international community was well aware of the serious impact of such publications that were globally felt during the controversy created by the publication of similar cartoons in a Danish newspaper last year,” he said.

The Swedish ambassador informed Ihsanoglu that his government had taken careful and serious note of his statement and acted in a proactive manner at an early stage. “Sweden feels that the best possible action to resolve the crisis is to choose the path of dialogue,” he said and pointed out that Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt had taken immediate steps by offering his personal regrets to the Muslim community in Sweden.

“Sweden is a country where people of different faiths can live together side by side,” the Swedish prime minister said in his statement late last month. “The foundation of this, our social model, is mutual respect and understanding, but also a desire for joint repudiation of offensive acts as well as acts of violence or aggression.”

While expressing regret, the Swedish prime minister pointed out that Sweden’s social model is based on the premise that politicians must not pass judgment on freedom of the press and expression.

Ihsanoglu welcomed the prime minister’s statement. However, he felt, there was a need for a legal mechanism for stopping the recurrence of such extreme provocation.

He said by intentionally offending the sentiments of 1.3 billion Muslims, these caricaturists were leading the international community toward more confrontation and division and providing extremist and deviant ideologies with valuable ammunition.
 
25072  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 14, 2007, 11:37:41 AM
"The danger [Hillary Clinton] runs is that in attempting to appease the left wing of her party she becomes unacceptable to the majority of Americans once they understand what she said she'd do. She is actually much more centrist than MoveOn.org. She is much tougher on military affairs than [her party's] Left. She is more rational, and I have very great respect for her as a hardworking professional. No Republican should think she is going to be easy to beat. But I have watched her now for a year be gradually pulled to the left. Her husband was too clever to do that" -- Newt Gingrich, in an interview with National Journal.
25073  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: September 14, 2007, 11:15:24 AM
Profiles of valor: Marine Corps Res. Sgt. Hunter
Marine Corps Reserve Sergeant Jeff Hunter has twice faced death to save injured comrades. In May 2005, insurgents ambushed then-Corporal Hunter’s platoon as it embarked on a dawn assault in Haditha. When Hunter’s squad leader entered a nearby house to stop the insurgents who were attacking from within, he was shot in the chest. Seeing his fallen leader, Hunter rushed into the house under shield of his own M16, reached his squad leader, and, positioning his own body between the injured Marine and the enemy, carried his comrade out of the house. Hunter then led his troops in successfully clearing the house of insurgents, killing one and capturing three.

Two months later, in a long and intense battle, insurgents shot one of Hunter’s Marines. After shooting the two insurgents from the shelter of a low wall, Hunter attempted to rescue the fallen Marine. Heavy gunfire, however, stopped his two attempts. Hunter then sprinted directly through the line of fire to an M1A1 tank located across the street. He used the tank to fire upon and neutralize the enemy’s position, and his platoon was able to reach and recover the mortally wounded Marine.

For his valor, Sgt. Hunter was awarded the Silver Star. Although Hunter claims of his actions, “I honestly don’t believe I did anything all that heroic,” America believes differently.
25074  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / If you have a weak heart, you better sit down on: September 14, 2007, 11:04:19 AM
stratfor.com

FRANCE: France is considering more fully participating in NATO, French Defense Minister Herve Morin said. France lacks influence in the military structure and misses opportunities to hold command positions because of its sideline status, Morin said. He also criticized France for appearing opposed to NATO's continuing evolution. NATO officials said they have not as yet held formal talks with France over full NATO re-entry.
25075  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 14, 2007, 10:38:21 AM
North Korea and Syria
September 14, 2007; Page A12
A nuclear-armed North Korea is dangerous enough. A North Korea that shares its nuclear technology with other bad actors is worse -- especially if the partner-state is known to be cozy with terrorists. The potential nexus between WMD and terrorism is the biggest threat to the security of the U.S. and its allies.

So reports this week in the New York Times, the Washington Post and elsewhere that North Korea may be cooperating with Syria on some sort of nuclear facility are worth taking seriously. Syria has close ties with Iran and provides sanctuary within its borders for Hezbollah, a group that the National Intelligence Estimate released in July warns may be prepared to launch terrorist attacks against the U.S. Pyongyang has a long, well-documented history of sharing missile technology with Syria, and it is all too believable that sharing nuclear knowhow could be next.

Israel is said to be the primary source of the intelligence on a North Korean-Syrian nuclear connection. But neither Israel nor the Bush Administration has commented officially on this or another mysterious event -- Israel's flyover and apparent raid last week on targets inside Syria. Given the Administration's experience with prewar intelligence on WMD in Iraq, it's understandable that it would want to have solid evidence before going public.

Meanwhile, however, the six-party talks on the dismantling of North Korea's nuclear program have picked up steam, with Pyongyang promising to dismantle its facilities by the end of the year and the U.S. pledging to consider such goodies as fuel aid and removing North Korea from its list of terror-sponsoring states. U.S., Russian and Chinese inspectors turned up at the Yongbyon nuclear facility this week.

If North Korea is moving its nuclear facilities to Syria -- or "merely" proliferating -- it would undermine everything at the heart of that agreement, as well as cross a long-stated American red line that Pyongyang not proliferate. Even if it is unsure of the full implications of the intelligence, the Administration has an obligation not to proceed with a nuclear deal until Pyongyang and Damascus come clean.
WSJ
25076  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: September 14, 2007, 10:17:33 AM
Women Drivers
September 14, 2007; Page A12
'Cats and dogs in the developed world have more rights than Arab women," says Wajeha al-Huwaider, the Saudi writer and human rights activist. With that in mind, she has co-founded, along with Fawzia al-Uyyouni, the League of Demanders of Women's Right to Drive Cars in Saudi Arabia.

Don't laugh; such a movement will strike many as quixotic considering the current status of women in the desert kingdom. In Saudi Arabia, the fairer sex can't work, travel, study, marry or see a doctor without the permission of a male "legal guardian." Strict dress codes are enforced by the vice police. Dissent, by men or women, isn't tolerated. Ms. al-Huwaider says she is taking one step at a time.

The league is now collecting signatures for a petition to be delivered to King Abdullah on September 23, the country's national holiday. Published on the liberal Arab Web site Aafaq last week, the petition demands that the King "return that which has been stolen from women: the right to (free) movement through the use of cars," according to a translation by MEMRI media research institute. As of this writing, the petition has collected 220 signatures. Those are 220 brave people.

There have been small signs of recent progress for women in Saudi Arabia, especially in the workplace. King Abdullah issued a decree last year saying women should be encouraged to work in all fields; and an increasing number of workplaces, including in government, are establishing separate sections for female employees. A year ago women were admitted to law school for the first time. Now if only they were free to drive themselves to school or work.

WSJ
25077  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 14, 2007, 09:07:08 AM
Although this piece is from today's NY Slimes, the thoughts of men such as Gen Abizaid are worth knowing.

A thought:  I find it hard to think that I am the only person to think of this, but in that much of the Shiite-Sunni problem has its roots in the acts of Sunnis when they supported AQ and the acts of AQ against Shiites, doesn't it make sense to say that the Sunnis turning on AQ, (besides being a powerful message throughout the Arab and Muslim world- which seems to me super important) is a pre-requisite for and lays the foundation for Sunnis and Shiia being able to work things out?
================

Why Officers Differ on Troop Reduction
By DAVID S. CLOUD
Published: September 14, 2007
WASHINGTON, Sept. 13 — The view of the way forward in Iraq that President Bush articulated on Thursday night was the same one that Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, has outlined in Washington all week.

The Reach of War

 » It holds that the military effort there is showing signs of success, that too fast a withdrawal would be foolhardy, and that while the future will be difficult and full of setbacks, it is possible to envision that the American strategy will pay off in the future.

But that vision, which defers a firm decision on steeper reductions in the force, remains deeply unpopular to some current and retired officers, who say the White House and its battlefield commander are continuing to strain the troops, with little prospect of long-term success.

It is the second time in 10 months that Mr. Bush has opted for higher troop levels in Iraq than are favored by some of his senior military advisers. Among those who supported a smaller troop increase than the one Mr. Bush ordered last January were members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Now, some of his advisers would prefer setting a faster timetable for drawing the force back down.

Some even suggest that Mr. Bush’s portrayal of the strategy as relying heavily on recommendations from General Petraeus has been more than a little disingenuous, given that it was unlikely that a battlefield commander would repudiate his own plans.

“This approach can work for brief periods in many places, but it’s not a good long-term solution,” said Douglas A. Macgregor, a retired Army colonel and a critic of the Bush administration’s handling of Iraq. He called General Petraeus’s testimony “another deceitful attempt on the part of the generals and their political masters to extend our stay in the country long enough until Bush leaves office.”

General Petraeus told lawmakers during two days of Congressional testimony this week that his plan for reducing the American presence in Iraq by five combat brigades through mid-July was “fully supported” by Adm. William J. Fallon, the chief of Central Command and the senior American commander in the Middle East, as well as by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The general said, “There has been no recommendation I am aware of that would have laid out by any of those individuals a more rapid withdrawal.”

He acknowledged though that he and other top-ranking officers had begun “discussions about the pace of the mission transition,” a debate that remains unresolved and is likely to flare up again early next year, during a promised further review of additional troop cuts.

Among active-duty officers, the voices of skepticism about Mr. Bush’s approach have been more muted, but they have been significant. The officers who have pushed for deeper cuts have questioned whether his timetable — a drawdown to 15 combat brigades next July, from 20 now — would allow the Army to meet its minimum goal of giving soldiers at least a year at home for every year they are deployed.

Even before General Petraeus appeared before Congress this week, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Army chief of staff, last week questioned the significance of what his colleague had achieved.

General Casey, who was General Petraeus’s predecessor as the top commander in Iraq, said that while the decision to send additional forces had produced a “tactical effect” and brought “a temporary and local impact on the security situation,” the “$64,000 question” was “whether the opportunities created by the military could be taken advantage of by the Iraqi political leadership.”

“I think a smaller force will cause Iraqis to do more faster,” General Casey added, speaking at a breakfast sponsored by Government Executive magazine.

Advisers close to General Petraeus say General Casey’s comments were hardly those of a disinterested observer, given that he was effectively dismissed from his post in Iraq as conditions worsened during his tenure.

But his critique goes beyond deeper. He and others on the Joint Chiefs of Staff contend that the current force levels in Iraq cannot be sustained, given the current size of the Army.

Among Mr. Bush’s other senior military advisers, differences about how deep the cuts should go appeared to have been set aside with the decision to postpone further decisions until next spring.

Admiral Fallon was said by some officers to believe that only by giving the Iraqi government a clearer sense that the American troop commitment was limited would the Iraqis take steps aimed at achieving reconciliation.

He also worries about having enough forces in reserve to handle contingencies outside Iraq and in Afghanistan.

Adm. Michael G. Mullen, the current chief of naval operations, who takes over as chairman of the Joint Chiefs next month, has also raised concerns about force levels, though he also cautions against a withdrawal before the current strategy is allowed to work.

The deeper doubts voiced by General Casey about the prospects for Iraqi reconciliation are shared by the retired general John P. Abizaid, who led the Central Command until January.

“It was clear that putting additional troops in would gain temporary security,” General Abizaid said in a rare interview on Tuesday with The Associated Press.

“What was not clear to me was what we were going to do diplomatically, economically, politically and informationally to make sure that we moved forward in a way that wasn’t just temporary.”
25078  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: September 14, 2007, 08:54:32 AM
"It must be observed that our revenues are raised almost wholly
on imported goods."

-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to Gouverneur Morris, 1793)

Reference: The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Memorial Edition,
9:198

“Love your neighbor as yourself and your country more than yourself.” —Thomas Jefferson

 
25079  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 13, 2007, 10:19:55 PM
I suspect Turkey's calculus re the Kurds trumps most things.  AQ is a Arab Sunni phenomenon and the Turks are not Arabs (Are they Sunni? Don't know)  I'm guessing they don't care much for Syria and its friendship with Iranian Shia either cheesy
25080  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: September 13, 2007, 10:17:37 PM
Russia: A New Development in Naval Propulsion
Summary

An "accidental" news story on a local Russian municipality's Web site that has now been removed offers some intriguing possibilities for the future of Russian submarines.

Analysis

Details of a potential new "top-secret" Russian submarine were "accidentally" released by the municipal government of Sarov on Sept. 6. The story, published on the municipality's Web site, was removed Sept. 11, the day before Russian daily Kommersant (a paper friendly to the Kremlin) published the story. The Russian navy has denied any knowledge of the Project 20120 submarine. Politics and media faux pas aside, if true, the details of this new submarine could indicate an advance in Russian air-independent propulsion (AIP).

AIP is actually a series of technologies that seek to extend the submerged endurance of conventionally powered patrol submarines. From World War I to the present, conventional submarines have relied on a diesel-electric power plant. The diesel engine allows the boat to move efficiently on the surface or near the surface with a "snorkel" that cycles fresh air through the engine compartment. But to function quietly and without a snorkel running to the surface, the submarine switches to electrical power provided by a large bank of batteries. At slow speeds, a well-built and well-run patrol sub can be exceptionally quiet -- but its submerged endurance also is generally limited to less than a week.

Having seen two world wars and one Cold War, the diesel-electric system has been stretched more or less to its limits. Countries that have the technology and know-how have replaced it with nuclear propulsion. Some refinements continue to be made (for example, with Russia's latest -- and much more public -- conventional submarine, the St. Petersburg), but the limits of the method are apparent.




Both Germany and Sweden have already fielded combined diesel-electric and AIP systems. The German system uses hydrogen fuel cells while the Swedish Stirling design uses a closed-cycle diesel engine fed with liquid oxygen. These systems can be used to either run at a slow cruise of 5 to 6 knots or to charge the batteries. Both systems have more than doubled submerged endurance without the need for snorkeling; the German Bundeswehr U32 conducted a two-week transit using AIP in April 2006, and the Stirling system could have even longer endurance.





Russia has long been exploring AIP, and Rosoboronexport, the Russian arms export monopoly, has advertised "electrochemical" AIP as available for "follow-on installation" on its latest subs. But the mysterious Sarov news release could indicate that Russia has progressed further than many thought -- and in a different direction entirely -- with its own AIP system.





Sarov was once the secretive closed city Arzamas-16, also known as the Russian Los Alamos for its role in the Soviet nuclear weapons program. Though nuclear submarine construction is well-established at the Sevmash shipyards in Severodvinsk, Sarov could be a site for further research into the use of radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs).

RTGs use the heat of radioactive decay from radioisotopes like plutonium-238 and strontium-90 to generate electricity. They are much simpler than full-fledged naval reactors and have been used to power remote lighthouses and weather stations as well as deep space probes unable to rely on solar energy.

However, there are technological hurdles that must be overcome. RTGs have been used predominantly in situations where wattage was not the limiting factor. Modern RTGs used on NASA probes produce hundreds of watts and are about the size and weight of a 120-pound person. But to use both German and Swedish systems as a benchmark, a magnitude of 200 to 300 kilowatts is necessary for AIP. Though much of this distance can be overcome by designing an RTG specifically for this purpose and then fitting multiple RTGs to the submarine, there is still a technological gap the Russians would have had to overcome.

The point is not how an RTG-based AIP would stack up against the German or Swedish methods; rather, the point is that an RTG is rather uniquely fitted to the Russian knowledge base -- and the Sarov locale.

Though not earth-shattering, a successful AIP uniquely suited to the Russian defense industry is a potentially significant development for the next generation of Russian patrol subs -- both for domestic coastal defense and export abroad.

stratfor.com
25081  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 13, 2007, 05:39:04 PM
Very interesting , , ,

TURKEY: Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida reported that Turkey played a key role in providing intelligence to Israel in the apparent Israeli air force (IAF) flyover into Syrian airspace Sept. 6. The report claimed not only that Turkey provided detailed information on potential Syrian targets for the IAF, but also that the Turkish army authorized the IAF to use its airspace in the operation. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Al-Jarida that Turkish intelligence did not coordinate the alleged cooperation with any Turkish public official.

Stratfor.com
25082  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: September 13, 2007, 05:22:19 PM
Now THAT would be exciting.  I saw Erik at R1 back in August and he had dropped a considerable amount of unnecessary weight.  Indeed one might think he was looking rather fit , , ,
25083  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: November 18, 2007 Dog Bros Gathering of the Pack on: September 13, 2007, 05:20:49 PM
I think if you will go back you will see that it is pads with plastic bubbles that are not allowed.  Wrestling type elbow/knee guards continue to be fine.
25084  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: A Father's Question on: September 13, 2007, 05:19:27 PM
Woof All:

One practical suggestion that I have received is to cite the statutory declarations in CA of the right to self-defense.  In other words, the school's declared policy is a violation of state law-- or so my lawyers will say when we sue to school should it ever fcuk with my son's right of self-defense.

Now I mull over whether and if so how to bring this to the school's attention.

TAC!
CD
25085  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Care Economics on: September 13, 2007, 02:06:09 PM
Sick Sob Stories
By JOHN STOSSEL
September 13, 2007; Page A16

In Michael Moore's movie "Sicko," a widow named Julie Pierce tells a tearful story: Her husband died of kidney cancer after their health-insurance company denied payment for a bone-marrow transplant that might have saved his life. Ms. Pierce's rage is palpable as she repeats the word her insurers used in response to her husband's request. "They denied it," she sneers. "Said it was 'experimental.'"

Viewers of the documentary are meant to understand that "experimental" is health-insurance code for "expensive," and that Ms. Pierce's husband was left to die for the sake of profit. According to Mr. Moore's movie, "Any payment for a claim is referred to as a medical loss," and when a claim is denied, "it's a savings to the company."

But Mr. Moore is so busy following the money that he doesn't take the time to follow the science. Treating cancer patients with bone-marrow transplants has a dubious history.

Twenty years ago, many oncologists believed that bone-marrow transplants, along with high doses of chemotherapy, might offer a cure for breast cancer. Insurance companies refused to pay, calling the treatment experimental and unproven. Breast-cancer sufferers went to court: In one case, a jury awarded $77 million to the family of a woman who was denied payment for the treatment. Wives and mothers told heart-rending stories in newspapers and on TV. Politicians quickly moved to guarantee the treatment to all breast-cancer patients. Ten state legislatures mandated that every insurance policy cover bone-marrow transplantation for breast-cancer patients. Amid the media circus and political self-congratulation, the question of whether bone-marrow transplants are medically effective faded into the background.

The sad truth is that the treatment isn't effective. When researchers released the results of their clinical trials to the American Society of Clinical Oncology in 1999, they showed that the treatment offered no benefit. Worse, it often killed women faster than their cancer, and caused them unnecessary pain. At a time when their health was at its greatest risk, more than 30,000 women were exposed to an invasive, harmful and ultimately useless treatment that the National Institutes of Health no longer recommends. But only one state legislature has repealed its law requiring insurance companies to pay for the treatment. Some doctors believe bone-marrow transplants might help kidney cancer patients, and the NIH is conducting clinical trials to find out. Until the treatment has been shown to do more good than harm, insurers are reluctant to pay for it.

Mr. Moore claims that because private insurance companies are driven by profit, they will always deny care to deserving patients. For this reason, he argues, profit-making health-insurance companies should be abolished, our health- care dollars turned over to the government, and the U.S. should institute a health-care system like the ones in Canada, Britain or France. But does Mr. Moore think, even for a second, that any of the government systems he touts in his movie would have provided a bone-marrow transplant to Ms. Pierce's husband? Fat chance.

When government is in charge of health care, the result is not that everyone gets access to experimental treatments, but that people get less of the care that is absolutely necessary. At any given time, just under a million Canadians are on waiting lists to receive care, and one in eight British patients must wait more than a year for hospital treatment. Canadian Karen Jepp, who gave birth to quadruplets last month, had to fly to Montana for the delivery: neonatal units in her own country had no room.

Rationing in Britain is so severe that one hospital recently tried saving money by not changing bed-sheets between patients. Instead of washing sheets, the staff was encouraged to just turn them over, British papers report. The wait for an appointment with a dentist is so long that people are using pliers to pull out their own rotting teeth.

Patients in countries with government-run health care can't get timely access to many basic medical treatments, never mind experimental treatments. That's why, if you suffer from cancer, you're better off in the U.S., which is home to the newest treatments and where patients have access to the best diagnostic equipment. People diagnosed with cancer in America have a better chance of living a full life than people in countries with socialized systems. Among women diagnosed with breast cancer, only one-quarter die in the U.S., compared to one-third in France and nearly half in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Moore thinks that profit is the enemy and government is the answer. The opposite is true. Profit is what has created the amazing scientific innovations that the U.S. offers to the world. If government takes over, innovation slows, health care is rationed, and spending is controlled by politicians more influenced by the sob story of the moment than by medical science.

Mr. Stossel is co-anchor of "20/20." ABC News will air his TV special on health care at 10 p.m. EST Friday.

WSJ
25086  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: September 13, 2007, 01:52:27 PM
HELP CA DEFEAT THE MICROSTAMP BILL - See the EASY CALL Instructions!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Please call the governor's office re: that Microstamp Bill. I just did this!

EASY TO DO - Please give $.10 and 1 minute of your TIME!

And if you are out of state, remember, there are other states looking to impose similar state (and federal) legislation, so feel free to call in and post your opinions too

CALL Gov's Sac number (916-445-2841)

Press 1 - for English
Press 2 - for Voice your opinion on Assembly Bills
Press 1 - for Micro Stamping Bill (AB1471)
Press 2 to OPPOSE the gun control bill.
25087  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: September 13, 2007, 01:49:49 PM
The World According to Univision
By LESLIE SANCHEZ
September 13, 2007; Page A17

John Edwards has not taken a definitive position on abortion. Hillary Clinton's position on the issue is that "she will fight for the defense of children." And Barack Obama wants taxes to be "as low as possible."

Each of these statements is misleading, at best. Mr. Edwards and Mrs. Clinton support "a woman's right to choose" and Mr. Obama wants to repeal the Bush tax cuts. But on Univision, a Spanish-language TV network with an average prime-time audience of about 3.5 million viewers, these and other slanted statements about the presidential candidates are commonplace.

These statements appeared on Univision's Web site, but like much of the network's reporting, were missed by the mainstream media because they appeared only in Spanish. I have taken an extensive look at Univision and found that these are a tiny fraction of the biased views of American politics regularly presented by the network.

This is something all of us need to be concerned about. Earlier this week, Democrats participated in a Univision-sponsored presidential debate held in south Florida. The candidates used the forum to reach out to Hispanic voters and many Democrats have noted that only one Republican -- Sen. John McCain -- has agreed to participate in a similar debate for GOP candidates originally scheduled for this coming Sunday. Their aim is to portray Republicans as biased against Hispanics.

But context matters. Faced with an onslaught of biased reporting, Republicans are right to have reservations about Univision. They should, however, engage the network, as it is far too important to be ignored. Late last month, Nielsen began comparing Univision to other broadcast networks in a single viewer sample, and found that it is the most-watched TV network (ahead of Fox, ABC, CBS and NBC) for viewers 18-34.

If their views were presented fairly, it's likely that Republicans would connect with Hispanic voters. That may be why the network's news coverage often downplays issues that make Hispanics dislike Democrats (abortion, same-sex marriage, taxes) and sensationalizes the immigration issue as a way of demonizing Republicans -- even those who are not anti-immigrant.

Rudy Giuliani, who is attacked by some for making New York a "sanctuary city" for illegal immigrants during his time as mayor, was blasted as anti-inmigrante in a recent op-ed by star reporter Maria Elena Salinas on Univision's Web site. Apparently the mayor earned the label because he was tough on crime and supports border security, notwithstanding the fact that he carried 43% of New York City's Hispanic vote (a bloc that tends to be heavily Democratic) when he ran for re-election in 1997.

Republicans must engage and demand fairness from Univision, rather than let it propagandize the most conservative segment of the Hispanic population -- the 40% who may speak English, but who are "Spanish-dominant" and consume their news in their native language. According to a July 2006 study of previous elections by the New Democratic Network, English-speaking Hispanics are more reliably Democratic, and "the movement towards Bush has come from the Spanish-dominant, as they have gone from 82%-18% Clinton-Dole in 1996 to 52%-48% Kerry-Bush."

Univision isn't alone. Bias is a problem throughout Spanish media. In South Carolina, Rep. Bob Inglis, a Republican and supporter of the failed comprehensive immigration reform bill, was surprised to see a December 2005 headline in El Periodico Latino that, when translated, read: "BAD NEWS FOR IMMIGRANTS: Congressman Inglis will support President Bush's position on immigration." Of course, the Bush plan was the most pro-immigration proposal on the table.

Univision is the largest and most important part of the Spanish-language media, yet it features some of the most unbalanced political news coverage on television and it continues its leftward drift. Marcela Salazar, a former staffer for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was hired recently as the producer on Univision's new political show, "Al Punto," which is hosted by two left-wing journalists. A Democratic friend of mine, who works as a strategist for a Democratic presidential campaign, told me last week: "She'll do us a lot of good there."

As a group, Latinos are more pro-life and more supportive of traditional family values than non-Hispanic whites, less likely to divorce and three times as likely to have started a business in the past decade. Given that all of these are strong Republican identifiers, GOP strategists are asking themselves why they vote so lopsidedly Democratic.

The answer rests, in part, in the bias in the Spanish-language media. Republicans should counteract that by participating in Univision's debate, if only so they can speak over the heads of biased reporters and directly to the network's audience.

Ms. Sanchez, director of the White House Initiative on Hispanic Education from 2001-2003, is author of "Los Republicanos: Why Hispanics and Republicans Need Each Other" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).
WSJ
25088  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why we fight on: September 13, 2007, 11:16:37 AM
Humor is good.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-rxJWoG-4I
25089  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia on: September 13, 2007, 08:05:08 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Putin's Most Recent Surprise Move

Russian President Vladimir Putin nominated Viktor Zubkov as prime minister on Wednesday, catching many off guard following leaks that First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov would replace acting Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov. Ivanov -- widely seen as a front-runner to replace Putin as president in March 2008 -- was expected to take the post as a stepping stone to the top of the Russian leadership, just as former President Boris Yeltsin anointed Putin his successor by naming him prime minister in January 2000.

But Putin, always a master at keeping people off balance, instead promoted Zubkov, chairman of the Finance Ministry's financial monitoring committee, Rosfinmonitoring. Zubkov and Putin have worked together since the president's days in St. Petersburg in the early 1990s, and after he was called to Moscow, Zubkov was instrumental in Putin's early assault on Russia's oligarchs.

Perhaps not coincidentally, there is a close connection between Zubkov -- who apparently supplanted Ivanov -- and Anatoly Serdyukov, the civilian tax official who replaced Ivanov as defense minister in the February Cabinet reshuffle. It was Serdyukov who took over Zubkov's position in St. Petersburg when the latter was initially called to Moscow, and Serdyukov is also married to Zubkov's daughter.

The surprise appointment of Zubkov as prime minister, like Ivanov's unexpected replacement with Serdyukov, reflects a key principle of Putin's leadership style: Always keep people guessing. Suddenly, the rising star of Ivanov seems somewhat dimmer, and it is anybody's guess who will succeed Putin. The Kremlinologists are going crazy. But the frothing waves on the surface of the Russian political sea distract from the deeper current.

The story of Russia in the near two decades since the Cold War ended is one of precipitous and disastrous economic, political, military and demographic decline. This led to the perception by most (including some in Russia) that the country could be ignored and was no longer an influential global power. Putin's own rise to power was unexpected and created a certain amount of confusion and chaos -- leaving those at home and abroad scrambling to discover just who this new Russian leader was. This uncertainty gave Putin some room to maneuver, since no one was quite sure what he would do.

Putin's goal since taking power has been to reverse the crisis of confidence in Russia and restore the country to the status and "respect" that he (and many Russians) feels it deserves. As Putin settled into his new role, he began taking on the very legs of Russian power that had helped bring him to power and maintain the old system. He attacked the oligarchs, picking them off one by one. He reasserted Russia's power inside its own borders, launching a major offensive against the Chechens. And he began tampering with the energy industry, then the defense industry and the military.

Each time Putin moved, it shook the system, creating uncertainties and insecurities among the entrenched interests and overseas observers. This element of surprise worked to Putin's advantage, keeping opponents and allies alike off balance and leaving the president with the initiative, rather than the response.

Underneath this froth and noise, Putin has relentlessly pursued his core goal -- restoring Russia's "Great Power" status. This has required a significant reshuffling of the domestic deck, and we can now clearly see Russia's efforts in the international arena -- from resumed long-range bomber flights along the European and Pacific coastlines to the very public testing of the "father of all bombs," a much larger version of the United States' Massive Ordnance Air Blast (the "mother of all bombs" meant to inspire shock and awe in the Afghan battlefields and beyond).

These efforts were all designed to obfuscate and distract international observers. All the while, Putin is acting on what he sees as Russia's geopolitical imperatives. As Kremlinologists scramble to decipher the meaning of Zubkov's appointment, they are missing the more significant reality: Russia is back, and it no longer accepts its decline into obscurity. If Zubkov was a surprise, there are many more -- and much more significant ones -- yet in store.
stratfor.com
25090  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: September 13, 2007, 07:27:03 AM
"Wish not so much to live long as to live well."

-- Benjamin Franklin (Poor Richard's Almanack, June 1746)

Reference: Franklin: Writings, Lemay, Library of America (1209)
25091  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: September 12, 2007, 11:45:16 PM
From the Halls of Malibu to the Shores of Kennedy
by Ann Coulter

Democrats claim Gen. David Petraeus' report to Congress on the surge was a put-up job with a pre-ordained conclusion. As if their response wasn't.

Democrats yearn for America to be defeated on the battlefield and oppose any use of the military -- except when they can find individual malcontents in the military willing to denounce the war and call for a humiliating retreat.

It's been the same naysaying from these people since before we even invaded Iraq -- despite the fact that their representatives in Congress voted in favor of that war.

Mark Bowden, author of "Black Hawk Down," warned Americans in the Aug. 30, 2002, Los Angeles Times of 60,000 to 100,000 dead American troops if we invaded Iraq -- comparing an Iraq war to Vietnam and a Russian battle in Chechnya. He said Iraqis would fight the Americans "tenaciously" and raised the prospect of Saddam using weapons of mass destruction against our troops, an attack on Israel "and possibly in the United States."

On Sept. 14, 2002, The New York Times' Frank Rich warned of another al-Qaida attack in the U.S. if we invaded Iraq, noting that since "major al-Qaida attacks are planned well in advance and have historically been separated by intervals of 12 to 24 months, we will find out how much we've been distracted soon enough."

This week makes it six years since a major al-Qaida attack. I guess we weren't distracted. But it looks like al-Qaida has been.

Weeks before the invasion, in March 2003, the Times' Nicholas Kristof warned in a couple of columns that if we invaded Iraq, "the Turks, Kurds, Iraqis and Americans will all end up fighting over the oil fields of Kirkuk or Mosul." He said: "The world has turned its back on the Kurds more times than I can count, and there are signs that we're planning to betray them again." He announced that "the United States is perceived as the world's newest Libya."

The day after we invaded, Kristof cited a Muslim scholar for the proposition that if Iraqis felt defeated, they would embrace Islamic fundamentalism.

We took Baghdad in about 17 days flat with amazingly few casualties. There were no al-Qaida attacks in America, no attacks on Israel, no invasion by Turkey, no attacks on our troops with chemical weapons, no ayatollahs running Iraq. We didn't turn our back on the Kurds. There were certainly not 100,000 dead American troops.

But liberals soon began raising yet more pointless quibbles. For most of 2003, they said the war was a failure because we hadn't captured Saddam Hussein. Then we captured Saddam, and Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean complained that "the capture of Saddam has not made America safer." (On the other hand, Howard Dean's failure to be elected president definitely made America safer.)

Next, liberals said the war was a failure because we hadn't captured Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Then we killed al-Zarqawi and a half-dozen of his aides in an air raid. Then they said the war was a failure because ... you get the picture.

The Democrats' current talking point is that "there can be no military solution in Iraq without a political solution." But back when we were imposing a political solution, Democrats' talking point was that there could be no political solution without a military solution.

They said the first Iraqi election, scheduled for January 2005, wouldn't happen because there was no "security."

Noted Middle East peace and security expert Jimmy Carter told NBC's "Today" show in September 2004 that he was confident the elections would not take place. "I personally do not believe they're going to be ready for the election in January ... because there's no security there," he said.

At the first presidential debate in September 2004, Sen. John Kerry used his closing statement to criticize the scheduled Iraqi elections saying: "They can't have an election right now. The president's not getting the job done."

About the same time, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said he doubted there would be elections in January, saying, "You cannot have credible elections if the security conditions continue as they are now" -- although he may have been referring here to a possible vote of the U.N. Security Council.

In October 2004, Nicholas Lemann wrote in The New Yorker that "it may not be safe enough there for the scheduled elections to be held in January."

Days before the first election in Iraq in January 2005, The New York Times began an article on the election this way:

"Hejaz Hazim, a computer engineer who could not find a job in computers and now cleans clothes, slammed his iron into a dress shirt the other day and let off a burst of steam about the coming election.

"'This election is bogus,' Mr. Hazim said. 'There is no drinking water in this city. There is no security. Why should I vote?'"

If there's a more artful articulation of the time-honored linkage between drinking water and voting, I have yet to hear it.

And then, as scheduled, in January 2005, millions of citizens in a country that has never had a free election risked their lives to cast ballots in a free democratic election. They've voted twice more since then.

Now our forces are killing lots of al-Qaida jihadists, preventing another terrorist attack on U.S. soil, and giving democracy in Iraq a chance -- and Democrats say we are "losing" this war. I think that's a direct quote from their leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, but it may have been the Osama bin Laden tape released this week. I always get those two confused.

OK, they knew what Petraeus was going to say. But we knew what the Democrats were going to say. If liberals are not traitors, their only fallback argument at this point is that they're really stupid.
25092  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Why we fight on: September 12, 2007, 11:41:17 PM
Woof All:

A recurring theme in several of our threads having to do with WW3 and its various theaters (Iraq, Afg-Pak, the American Homeland, Europe, etc) is our apparently poor ability to articulate to ourselves the nature of the struggle and our strategy.

This thread is for discussing and resolving exactly this.

I will begin with the name "The War on Terror".  WOT is, IMHO, a remarkably stupid, indeed cowardly name for this war.  We do not war with a technique!  We war with a world-wide movement of religious fascists who seek to bring us down and impose their understanding of Islam on the whole world.  I know that some are ill at ease with the term Islamo-fascism, but IMHO the name is an accurate description of our enemies.

We search for Truth.  Let the conversation begin.

TAC!
Marc
25093  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 12, 2007, 08:56:16 PM
Israel, Syria: Threats and Incursions
Summary

The alleged Sept. 6 incursion into Syrian airspace by the Israeli air force was related to nuclear facilities, Israeli media have reported. Though this speculation will continue in the Israeli press, the nuclear angle to the incursion is unlikely.

Analysis

Israeli media have been reporting that the alleged Sept. 6 Israeli air force (IAF) incursion into Syria had the photo reconnaissance of nuclear sites as its objective.

Though these reports and the remaining evidence create more questions than they answer, this hypothesis is not compelling. The conventional threat to Israel posed by Syria looms much larger, and though Israel must be vigilant to the Syrian threat -- whether nuclear or conventional -- the Jewish state has good reason to proceed with restraint.

Despite its status in U.S. eyes as a second-tier "Axis of Evil" state, Syria does not have a nuclear program that comes close to North Korea's or even Iran's program. It continues to focus on civilian research, particularly the production of radioisotopes for medical purposes. Though connections to Iranian and North Korean know-how could accelerate the Syrian program, Syria lacks the finances and resources to commit to an advanced nuclear program -- not to mention the standoff distance needed to conceal anything of that scale from the Mossad.

Thus, whether the incursion was a photo reconnaissance, offensive strike or some other sort of mission, reports of the nuclear angle fail to convince. The rudimentary state of Syria's nuclear program (even taking into account all the unknowns) means Damascus has not crossed the sort of redline that would warrant the attention of what, by Syrian reports, appears to have been at least four Israeli aircraft.

Syria's conventional capabilities are no match for Israel's, and any significant move toward a more robust nuclear program would ensure a swift and strong Israeli military response -- one Damascus has neither the desire to incur nor the ability to repel.

Syria's use of militant proxies against Israel, however, cannot be ruled out, given that Syrian diplomatic objections to the alleged incursion largely have been ignored. Interestingly, both the resumption of Qassam rocket attacks against Israel and the worst Qassam rocket strike in the Jewish state's history (in which dozens of Israel Defense Forces troops were injured) took place Sept. 11.

Israel can strike Syrian targets with impunity. But during the 2006 conflict with Hezbollah (which Syria helped arm) in southern Lebanon, Israel only went so far as to buzz Syrian President Bashar al Assad's summer residence -- so a strike would represent a significant escalation (although not an unprecedented step) for the IAF.

Giving Israel cause for restraint, the al Assad government is stable and is something Israel can manage. Israel does not want regime change in Damascus because the resulting power vacuum would create the risk of an Islamist regime more aggressively opposed to Israel -- something the Jewish state lacks the bandwidth to deal with at present.





The Syrian missile program, on the other hand, is comparatively far more advanced than its nuclear program and represents a much more tangible threat to Israel -- especially given concerns that missiles could be passed to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Sources indicate that the IAF mission probably was linked to a recent missile import from North Korea, which has a long-standing missile export history, especially with Syria and Iran.

Longer-range systems would allow Syria to place its missiles further from the reach of the IAF. Already, both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are in range of Syria's longer-range Scud missile variants, even from the vicinity of Tal al-Abiad and Dayr az Zawr. But Israel has long lived with the threat of Scud missiles pointed in its direction, so as with Syria's nuclear program, some other threshold would have to be crossed to warrant an Israeli strike, such as concerns about radically improved guidance systems.

The Israeli-Syrian drama is playing out against the backdrop of continued threats of a military confrontation between Iran and the United States. Tehran has made it clear that its response to any U.S. attack would involve strikes against Israel (no matter the Jewish state's level of involvement). Thus, Israel sees the need for increased vigilance against the potential for Iran and Iranian weapons (perhaps stationed in eastern Syria, where the alleged IAF incursion took place) to strike the heart of the Jewish state.
stratfor.com
25094  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: September 12, 2007, 05:58:32 PM
 
 
   
     
   
 
 

 
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Diagnosis: Critical
September 12, 2007; Page A18
It's been reported in these columns and elsewhere that the dysfunctional U.S. immigration system contributes to labor shortages in agriculture. Less well-known is that low green card quotas have also left the U.S. with an undersupply of nurses that threatens patient care.

"The ageing U.S. population and low domestic production of nurses in the U.S. has created a nursing shortage that carries deadly consequences," says a new study by Stuart Anderson of the National Foundation for American Policy. "[A] shortage of nurses at U.S. hospitals is leading to increased death and illness for Americans."

Estimates of the looming shortage vary. The Bureau of Labor Statistics and Department of Health and Human Services project that more than a million new and replacement nurses will be needed over the next decade. Health analysts David Auerbach, Peter Buerhaus and Douglas Staiger cite a lower but still substantial 340,000, though even that "is three times larger than the size of the current shortage when it was at its peak in 2001." All agree that the coming retirement of 77 million baby boomers means something will have to give.

Wage increases in recent years have attracted more people to nursing. In California, annual average salaries for full-time registered nurses grew to $69,000 in 2006 from $52,000 in 2000, a 32% gain. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nationwide mean salary for registered nurses today is nearly $60,000. Better pay alone, however, won't solve the problem, or at least not anytime soon.

Despite more interest in the profession, faculty shortages and inadequate facilities have prevented nursing programs from expanding enrollment. More than 70% of schools responding to a 2006 American Association of College Nursing survey listed faculty shortages as a reason for not accepting all qualified applicants. In 2005 nursing schools rejected 147,000 qualified applicants, citing lack of classroom space and clinical placement sites for students.

When growers can't find field hands, food rots and businesses lose money. But when hospitals can't find nurses, patient care suffers. "The effectiveness of nurse surveillance is influenced by the number of registered nurses available to assess patients on an ongoing basis," concluded a 2002 Journal of the American Medical Association study. The study -- which looked at general, orthopedic and vascular surgery patients at hospitals -- found a 31% increase in patient mortality when a nurse's workload rose to eight from four patients.

"Given that even optimistic projections of raising wages and increasing domestic nurse production assumes a continued shortage of a decade or more," writes Mr. Anderson, "policymakers concerned about the impact of the nursing shortage on patient deaths and illnesses must consider relaxing current immigration quotas."

The long-term solution here is to increase nursing faculty and teaching facilities. But in the short run, Congress could help enormously by easing the limit on foreign nurses allowed entry to the U.S. That's what lawmakers did in 2005 when they allocated 50,000 extra green cards with a priority for foreign nurses. They were used up in 18 months. About 4% of U.S. registered nurses are foreign-trained, which means many hospitals couldn't function without them.

More such green cards are needed now, before hospital understaffing contributes to more preventable illness and death.

WSJ
25095  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 12, 2007, 05:56:21 PM
Following up on my previous post, the WSJ says it better than I do:

-----------

Petraeus Takes the Beltway
Political progress--in Iraq and the U.S--follows military success.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

So the two men best qualified to give an honest and comprehensive account of events in Iraq have marched through Congress to say--and show--that the surge is working and America's goals are still within reach. Yet it's a sign of the U.S. political debate that their evidence of progress seemed to make the headlines in none of our leading news sources yesterday.

Instead, the "news" seems to be that General David Petraeus has recommended that some 5,000 U.S. troops can rotate out of Iraq by the end of this year, and that U.S. forces might be able to return to pre-surge levels by next July if progress continues. That's no small matter, but it obscures the larger message of the testimony by the General and Ambassador Ryan Crocker. To wit: The U.S. is gaining ground in Iraq--often in the least expected of ways.


 

Consider some excerpts from Mr. Crocker's testimony. The Iraqi government puts its cell phone spectrum up for auction: It nets a better-than-expected sum of nearly $4 billion. At a recent conference in Dubai, "hundreds of Iraqi businessmen met an equal number of foreign investors newly interested in acquiring shares of business in Iraq." Iraqi oil is now flowing out of the country via Turkish pipelines, and the International Monetary Fund predicts economic growth for Iraq of 6% this year.
In the vicinity of Abu Ghraib, 1,700 men--many of them former Sunni insurgents--have joined the Shiite-dominated Iraqi Security Forces. The Iraqi government is quietly offering jobs or retirement packages to thousands of former soldiers, many of them one-time members of the Baath Party. Significantly, it is doing so without taking the politically sensitive steps of declaring a general amnesty or enacting legislation on de-Baathification.

As Mr. Crocker notes, these developments "are neither measured in benchmarks nor visible to those far from Baghdad." It's a point that seems to have been missed by Democrats on the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, as well as by such Republicans as John Warner and Dick Lugar. Their collective view seems to be that Iraq is a lost cause because the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has failed to achieve "national reconciliation," on the grounds that a series of legislative benchmarks have still not been met.

We don't know anyone who opposes "national reconciliation," though perhaps only on Capitol Hill would it be measured by the quantity of legislation passed rather than the quality of life for ordinary Iraqis. (In the U.S., these measures tend to be inversely correlated.) Yet "reconciliation" isn't something that precedes basic security. It follows from it.

In his testimony, General Petraeus noted that violent civilian deaths have declined by 45% in Iraq and 70% in Baghdad. Car and suicide bombings are down by nearly 50% since March, another astonishing turnabout. Here, too, the good news comes from the least expected of places: Anbar province, where Sunni tribal leaders and many former insurgents have realized their best interests lie with the U.S. and a democratic Iraqi government in which they have a say, and not with al Qaeda. Critics claim this realization has nothing to do with the surge, but surely the tribal sheikhs would not risk fighting al Qaeda unless they believed the U.S. and Iraqi government had shown the will to stay and prevail.

Progress in Anbar would also have been harder had Mr. Maliki not agreed to allow the arming of Sunni tribal leaders, despite the danger that could pose to Shiite power. Mr. Maliki has also shown political courage by allowing the U.S. to go after the Mahdi Army of Moqtada al-Sadr, who only last year helped the prime minister get his job. Mr. Sadr recently agreed to a unilateral ceasefire after some of his men attacked Shiite worshippers in Karbala. Like al Qaeda in Iraq, he too may have overplayed his hand, and one reason for the surge to continue is to give General Petraeus time to further degrade Mahdi elements. This will leave the Iraqi Security Force in a stronger position to keep order after the surge.

One element that's still missing is the non-interference of Iraq's neighbors in its affairs. With Democratic Presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich paying court this week in Damascus, it was especially useful to hear General Petraeus describe Syria's role in Iraq as "malign" and provide specific details of Iran's killing of U.S. soldiers and Iraqi government leaders. Our own sources say Iranian-backed forces are now responsible for 70% of U.S. casualties. The problem of Iran in Iraq is worth another editorial, but as the surge continues President Bush is going to have to get far more serious about proving to Tehran that there really are "consequences" for killing Americans. So far Mr. Bush has shown the opposite.


 

As for U.S. politics, the lesson of the last few months is that the way to gain ground on Capitol Hill is not with the promise of troop withdrawals. As our experience in Vietnam showed, such withdrawals quickly become a Congressional addiction. All Americans want fewer troops in Iraq; most Americans also want that drawdown to be honorable and victorious. The way to stop, or slow, the calls for too-rapid withdrawal is to succeed in making further military and political progress in Iraq.
The success of the surge so far has bought Mr. Bush more time and support to press the initiative in Baghdad and the larger Middle East. He owes it to General Petraeus and U.S. troops to exploit this opening on every front--including Syria and Iran.
25096  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cultural Contradictions of Libertarianism on: September 12, 2007, 05:40:50 PM
Part Two

At a time when many others in the big tent of American conservatism are in the dumps, such upbeat assessments are rare. Messrs. Doherty and Lindsey are positively Reaganesque in their optimism, and the movement of which they are a part has undoubtedly made a real contribution to the policy debate in recent years. Lindsey's Cato Institute, the premier think tank of libertarianism, continues to publish its valuable free-market reports and books. Libertarian bloggers have established a substantial readership, and some of them, like Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit and the law professors who write The Volokh Conspiracy, have become prominent (and notably sane) voices in the world of online political commentary.
More important perhaps, today's libertarian movement has been open to the sort of internal disagreements that are a sign of a healthy, maturing philosophy. Differences over the Iraq war are a striking example. Historically, libertarians have been programmatically antiwar, in part because of their opposition to coercion in all its forms but also because war increases the power and reach of the state. Today, by contrast, a number of libertarians, including the Georgetown law professor Randy Barnett in a recent Wall Street Journal article, make the case for more flexible thinking about dealing with the threat of Islamism, and some have been supporters of the Bush administration's efforts in Iraq.

Even on social and cultural questions, where libertarians have often tangled with tradition-minded conservatives, Mr. Lindsey is on to something in his talk of a "libertarian synthesis" combining self-expression and self-restraint. If the country was slouching toward Gomorrah for a while, it has at the very least straightened up a bit. Many of the indicators of social meltdown that received alarmed attention in the 1980s and early '90s--high crime rates, "children having children," teen drug use, rampant divorce--have improved lately.

But they have not improved nearly as much as one might wish--and it is difficult to separate the reasons for our abiding social disarray from the trends that Messrs. Doherty and Lindsey praise and for which libertarians bear a measure of responsibility. Despite Mr. Lindsey's protestations to the contrary, libertarianism has supported, always implicitly and often with an enthusiastic hurrah, the "Aquarian" excesses that he now decries. Many of the movement's devotees were deeply involved in the radicalism of the 1960s.

Nor should this come as a surprise. After all, the libertarian vision of personal morality--described by Mr. Doherty as "People ought to be free to do whatever the hell they want, mostly, as long as they aren't hurting anyone else"--is not far removed from "if it feels good, do it," the cri de coeur of the Aquarians. To be sure, part of the libertarian entanglement with the radicalism of the 1960s stemmed from the movement's opposition to both the Vietnam War and the draft, which Milton Friedman likened to slavery. But libertarians were also drawn to the left's revolutionary social posture.

Murray Rothbard, for example, became a fan of Che Guevara and the Black Panther leader H. Rap Brown. Karl Hess, a libertarian/anarchist said to have written Barry Goldwater's famous lines about "extremism in the defense of liberty," was an equal-opportunity revolutionary; during the 60s, he symbolized his move to the New Left by donning a Castro-style beard and jacket. And many young libertarians spent the decade moving back and forth between the right-wing Young Americans for Freedom and the left-wing Students for a Democratic Society.

The point in rehearsing this history is not to play gotcha; many good people did and thought things during those days that they would prefer not to remember (assuming, as the joke has it, they can remember). Rather, it is to suggest that when one's moral compass consists of nothing more than doing "whatever the hell you want" and avoiding physical harm to anyone else's person or property, it is very easy to get lost.

The civil-rights movement is an instructive case. Mr. Lindsey includes it in his list of libertarian victories, but it is a perfect example of the inability of libertarians to find a political and moral framework suitable to the big questions of American public life. If people ought to be able to do what they want, then certainly hating blacks--either by oneself or in the company of like-minded souls--is nobody else's business, including the federal government's. To the extent that libertarians are remembered at all for their role in the civil-rights era, it is not for marching on Selma but rather for their enthusiastic support of states' rights and the freedom of white racists to associate with one another.

Libertarianism was complicit, too, in the vociferous attack during the 1960s on the bourgeois family. After all, blood relationships are involuntary, and parents with any interest in rearing and educating their children are unlikely to look for guidance in "Atlas Shrugged." Ayn Rand was predictably wary of kinship ties and, like radical feminists, saw the family as a soul-killing prison. Rothbard struggled with the vexing question of how to square the biological fact of the dependency of the young with the libertarian devotion to freedom. His conclusion was that parents should not be legally bound to feed or educate their children, and children should have an absolute right to leave home at any time. Today, libertarians support the loosest of divorce laws, and many wonder why the state should be involved in the marriage business at all, a question that has come to the fore in the debate over gay marriage.

As a common-sense moderate, Brink Lindsey implicitly rejects such radical views of personal autonomy while at the same time dismissing their ill effects. "A strong work ethic and belief in personal responsibility, a continued commitment to the two-parent family as the best way of raising children, and a robust patriotism," he writes, "all survived the Aquarian challenge." But this assessment is far too sanguine. Today, a record 37% of American children are born to single mothers, and the number appears to be on the rise. Most of these children will be either poor or very limited in their ability to move up the economic ladder.

Mr. Lindsey must know this, but to dwell on it would cast a shadow over the sunny prospect he describes. Worse, it would compel him to confront what we might call the cultural contradictions of libertarianism.


 

On the one hand, libertarians make a fetish of freedom; it is their totalizing goal. On the other hand, libertarians depend on the family--an institution that, in crucial respects, is unfree--to produce the sort of people best suited to life in a free-market system (not to mention future members of their own movement). The complex, dynamic economy that libertarians have done so much to expand needs highly advanced human capital--that is, individuals of great moral, cognitive and emotional sophistication. Reams of social-science research prove that these qualities are best produced in traditional families with married parents.
Family breakdown, by contrast, limits the accumulation of such human capital. Worse, divorce and out-of-wedlock childbearing leave the door wide open for big government. Dysfunctional families create an increased demand for state-funded food, housing and medical subsidies, which libertarians reject on principle. And in courts all over the country, judges who preside over the manifold disputes occasioned by broken families are forced to be more intrusive than the worst mother-in-law: They decide who should have primary custody, who gets a child on Christmas or summer holidays, whether a child should take piano lessons, go to Hebrew school, move to California, or speak to her grandmother on the phone. It is a libertarian's worst nightmare.

A libertarian, according to Brian Doherty, "has to believe" that "the instincts and abilities for liberty . . . are innate," that we possess "an ability to fend for ourselves in the Randian sense and to form spontaneous orders of fellowship and cooperation in the Hayekian sense." But this view of the relationship between the individual and society is profoundly and demonstrably false, especially when applied to the family.

Children do not come into the world respecting private property. They do not emerge from the womb ready to navigate the economic and moral complexities of an "age of abundance." The only way they learn such things is through a long process of intensive socialization--a process that we now know, thanks to the failed experiments begun by the Aquarians and implicitly supported by libertarians, usually requires intact families and decent schools.

Libertarianism did not have to take this unfortunate turn. Ludwig von Mises himself warned that the attempt (of socialists) to undermine the family was a ploy to strengthen the state. Hayek, too, grasped the family's role in upholding the free market. Coming of age in Europe around the time of World War I, he stressed the state's inefficiency but also warned, more generally, of the limits of human reason. "Hayek's economics was rooted in man's ignorance," Mr. Doherty writes; so were his political views, which included both an enthusiasm for freedom and a Burkean respect for customs and institutions.

It is difficult to say why this aspect of libertarianism has faded away, but the sociologist Seymour Martin Lipset once provided a partial answer. In Europe and elsewhere, he observed, modern radicals have tended to be of a Marxist, collectivist bent; in America, with its peculiar Lockean legacy and Jeffersonian ideals, radicals have gone to the other extreme, searching for absolute freedom. It is a quest that has left little room for the confining demands of family and other unchosen social bonds.

Libertarians come in many flavors, of course, but they share certain enthusiasms beyond free-market economics. They are often great consumers of science fiction, with an avid interest in space travel. And they have an almost unlimited enthusiasm for biotechnology, especially for advances that might allow us to manipulate our natures and extend our lives. Taken together, these elements constitute what might be called the libertarian dream--the dream of shaping your own meaning, liberated from family, from the past, from tradition, from biology, and perhaps even from the earth itself.

Such utopian ambitions are difficult to satisfy or even contain in the mundane world of American politics. For some time to come, they are likely to make libertarianism the natural home of assorted cranks and crazies, and thus to continue to provide fodder for its at least partly deserved caricature.

Ms. Hymowitz is a contributing editor of City Journal. This article appears in the September issue of Commentary.


25097  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Cultural Contradictions of Libertarianism on: September 12, 2007, 05:40:06 PM
Woof All:

I find this long piece to be important enough to give it its own thread.

TAC,
Marc
------------------------

Freedom Fetishists
The cultural contradictions of libertarianism.

BY KAY S. HYMOWITZ
Wednesday, September 12, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

More than perhaps any other American political group, libertarians have suffered the blows of caricature. For many people, the term evokes an image of a scraggly misfit living in the woods with his gun collection, a few marijuana plants, some dogeared Ayn Rand titles, and a battered pickup truck plastered with bumper stickers reading "Taxes = Theft" and "FDR Was A Pinko."

The stereotype is not entirely unfair. Even some of those who proudly call themselves libertarians recognize that their philosophy of personal freedom and minimal government can be a powerful magnet for the unhinged. Nor has recent political history done much to rehabilitate libertarianism's image as an outlier.

The Libertarian Party's paltry membership has never reached much beyond the 250,000 mark, and polling numbers for Ron Paul, the libertarian candidate the Republican presidential nomination, remain pitiable. Worse, despite Bill Clinton's declaration that "the era of big government is over," antistatist ideas like school vouchers and privatized Social Security accounts continue to be greeted with widespread skepticism, while massive new programs like the Medicare prescription-drug benefit continue to win the support of re-election-minded incumbents. A recent New York Times survey found increasing support for government-run health care, and both parties are showing signs of a populist resurgence, with demands for new economic and trade regulation.

And yet, judging by their output in recent years, libertarians are in a fine mood--and not because they are in denial. However distant the country may be from their laissez-faire ideal, free-market principles now drive the American economy to a degree unimaginable a generation ago. Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, who as a young economist sat at the knee of the libertarian guru Ayn Rand, presided in the 1990s over one of the most prosperous stretches in American history, with the support, no less, of a Democratic president. When the avowedly libertarian economist Milton Friedman died last November, he was lauded just about everywhere, and even given respectful treatment in places like the New York Review of Books.

Nor have libertarian victories been limited to the economic arena. Americans are increasingly laissez-faire in their attitudes toward sex, divorce, drugs and gay marriage. In the personal sphere as in the world of business and finance, freedom has become the guiding principle, especially for the young. As the motto of Reason magazine, the movement's flagship publication, trumpets: "Free minds and free markets."

The diverse origins of libertarianism and its recent accomplishments are the subjects, respectively, of two new books by capable advocates of the creed. "Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement" by Brian Doherty is (as its subtitle suggests) an appreciation of even the most gnarled branches of the ideological family tree. Brink Lindsey's "The Age of Abundance: How Prosperity Transformed America's Politics and Culture" is, by contrast, a broad survey of the social and cultural changes sparked by the free market's triumph in postwar America. Perhaps because of their differences, however, the two books are neatly complementary. Together they make clear why libertarianism has yet to find a secure place in the American mainstream.


 

Anemic though its following has been over the years, libertarianism is a quintessentially American philosophy. As Mr. Doherty, a senior editor at Reason, writes in his massive, lively history, "Libertarianism is all in Jefferson. Read your Declaration of Independence." For Jefferson, citizens are the bearers of inalienable rights, and the purpose of government is to protect those rights. Libertarians see this bargain as the essence of public life--and any departure from it, especially in the name of some grander idea of justice, as a violation of the social compact. Among the many colorful libertarian trailblazers described by Mr. Doherty is Lysander Spooner, a 19th-century radical who compared the government to a highwayman pointing a gun at your head and demanding "your money or your life." Spooner poured his energies into establishing a privately run postal service (a project still dear to many libertarians).
Closer to our own day, the decisive influences on libertarianism were the free-market economists Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) and his disciple Friedrich Hayek (1899-1992). Though both were Austrian by birth and education, they eventually landed in America, where they continued to develop their powerful (and now vindicated) critique of socialist economics. As Doherty emphasizes, both thinkers rejected central planning largely on the grounds that human beings are not very good at predicting the future. Socialism was bound to fail, they argued, because it did not take into account the evolving preferences (or "subjective valuations") of individuals. It was a grossly inefficient, necessarily coercive system for meeting human needs.

Doherty disabuses readers of the idea that libertarianism is exclusively concerned with economics. As he emphasizes, it has a political and moral dimension as well, "a vision of a radical and just future." According to many of the thinkers he profiles, liberty is essential to the initiative and self-sufficiency that make ethical behavior possible. Doherty devotes considerable attention, for example, to the mid-20th-century anarchist Murray Rothbard, sometimes called "Mr. Libertarian." Rothbard was one of the first observers to stress the now-familiar point that government action on behalf of the poor and minorities would undermine the responsibility and self-discipline they needed for advancement.

Many of the figures described by Mr. Doherty believe that libertarianism is also good for the social fabric. Capitalism may not lead to the fraternité naively dreamed of by more conventional revolutionaries, but it does expand the circle of human trust beyond the traditional limits of family and tribe; social bonds thrive in an atmosphere of freedom. Indeed, several of Mr. Doherty's subjects (particularly Hayek) argue that government meddling positively discourages the human instinct for association. If politicians and bureaucrats would get out of the way, people would more readily cooperate and support one another. As David Friedman (the anarchist son of Milton) concluded in studying the economics of tipping, people are capable of developing their own rules for distributive justice, and will pay for social goods of their own free will.


 

For Brink Lindsey, vice president for research at the Cato Institute, Americans today are the fortunate heirs of Mises and Hayek. Since World War II, he argues in "The Age of Abundance," the libertarian principles of competition, free trade, and deregulation have given the United States a level of prosperity that would have astounded our ancestors. For most of human history (and, even now, for much of the developing world), the lot of ordinary people has been scarcity, brutal work, and lives cut short by ill health. No more--thanks to the bounty of modern capitalism.
As Mr. Lindsey writes, Americans "live on the far side of a great fault line." On one (now distant) side, there were polio, diphtheria, outhouses, child labor, candlepower, life expectancy of under 50 years, sweatshops and the Great Depression. On our blessed, present-day side, there are miracle drugs, hip replacements, peaches from Chile in winter, Russian caviar in the summer, central air-conditioning, 500 TV channels, master bathrooms with whirlpools, and Dow 14000. Marx predicted that civilization would travel from the "realm of necessity" to the "realm of freedom" (the title of Mr. Lindsey's first chapter). About that much, he was right--but the engine has been bourgeois capitalism, not class struggle.

To critics who say that the market is a nasty rogue, supplying the fortunate with mansions and Cristal Brut while condemning the luckless to rags and scraps, Mr. Lindsey gives no ground. America's late-19th-century Gilded Age, frequently described by the economically naive as an example of "unbridled capitalism," was anything but that. The "robber barons," he writes, were little more than crony capitalists, insiders who manipulated government to squelch competition and keep themselves flush. By contrast, the more authentic free-market practices of the past several decades, Mr. Lindsey argues, have improved the material lives not just of millionaires but of deliverymen, waitresses and teachers.

As for today's poor, they are less likely to suffer from hunger than from obesity, and they are able to afford such luxuries as cable television, washers and dryers, microwaves and cell phones primarily because of deregulated global markets. Instead of laboring in dangerous mines or steel mills, less skilled workers are security guards or restaurant workers. Such jobs are not exactly easy street, but they beat getting black-lung disease or third-degree burns.


 

Mr. Lindsey goes well beyond most libertarians in his claims for the moral benefits of the creed. In his view, it is not simply freedom that improves morals; it is the prosperity that follows in freedom's wake. Wealth allows us to transcend "the cruel dilemma of lifeboat ethics," in which scarcity prevails. Moreover, wealth expands human tolerance and imagination. Drawing upon the psychologist Abraham Maslow's theory of the hierarchy of needs, Mr. Lindsey proposes that once people are confident of their survival and comfort, they feel free to pursue "postmaterialist values." They have the time, energy and ease of mind to try to perfect themselves.
As a practical matter, this means that Americans no longer just take jobs to support their families; they look for meaningful work. They do not just marry the girl next door; they search for their soulmates. They do not just sink quietly into flabby middle age; they jog, go on yoga retreats in Costa Rica, and stock their bedrooms with Viagra and vibrators. Playboy, the decline of the Victorian paterfamilias, permissive childrearing, feminism, the sexual revolution, the fitness boom, gay rights and even the civil-rights revolution--all, in Mr. Lindsey's view, are logical outcomes of the age of abundance. The expanding marketplace has unleashed individual desire from traditional constraints in favor of an "ethos of self-realization and personal fulfillment."

Is Mr. Lindsey, then, just one more defender of everything that falls under the rubric of "the '60s"? Not exactly. He has read his Max Weber and knows that middle-class norms are the indispensable cultural infrastructure of free-market economics; he appreciates the irony that without Protestant self-discipline and respectability, Americans would not be enjoying their Napa Chardonnay and Internet porn. He thus condemns "the wild overshooting of the Aquarian Left," which (in addition to despising capitalism) "trashed . . . legitimate authority and necessary restraints." Indeed, in his view, the rise of the religious right was a predictable, and to some extent even salutary, response to the excesses of the '60s.

Fortunately, by the 1990s, Mr. Lindsey contends, Americans had found a middle ground between the antinomianism of the Aquarian left and the pinched moralizing of the Moral Majority. As he wrote recently in an online discussion of his book:


It turned out that the American Dream retained its vitality even in an age of abundance, because Americans still wanted more--more comforts, more conveniences, more opportunities, and more challenges, all of which were best provided through continued economic development. The strength of this desire, and not the fading hold of old cultural forms, provided the basis for ongoing commitment to middle-class self-restraint--self-restraint as a means to exuberant self-expression.
Americans, in Lindsey's view, have reached a noble synthesis. They are tolerant, open-minded, inclusive--and enthusiastic practitioners of free enterprise. "The culture wars are over," he concludes, "and capitalism won."

 
25098  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / New Russian Bomb on: September 12, 2007, 05:22:06 PM
Nice post Buz. Changing subjects abruptly, the following seems to me to be highly significant.  This much power without the consequences of radiation-- this seems to me to be huge.

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


http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5j...mEEv9JMABhXmVw

Russia Tests Powerful 'Dad of All Bombs'

By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV – 14 hours ago

MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian military has successfully tested what it described as the world's most powerful non-nuclear air-delivered bomb, Russia's state television reported Tuesday.

It was the latest show of Russia's military muscle amid chilly relations with the United States.

Channel One television said the new weapon, nicknamed the "dad of all bombs" is four times more powerful than the U.S. "mother of all bombs."

"The tests have shown that the new air-delivered ordnance is comparable to a nuclear weapon in its efficiency and capability," said Col.-Gen. Alexander Rukshin, a deputy chief of the Russian military's General Staff, said in televised remarks.

Unlike a nuclear weapon, the bomb doesn't hurt the environment, he added.

The statement reflected the Kremlin's efforts to restore Russia's global clout and rebuild the nation's military might while the ties with Washington have been strained over U.S. criticism of Russia's backsliding on democracy, Moscow's vociferous protests of U.S. missile defense plans, and rifts over global crises.

The U.S. Massive Ordnance Air Blast, nicknamed the Mother Of All Bombs, is a large-yield satellite-guided, air-delivered bomb described as the most powerful non-nuclear weapon in history.

Channel One said that while the Russian bomb contains 7.8 tons of high explosives compared to more than 8 tons of explosives in the U.S. bomb, it's four times more powerful because it uses a new, highly efficient type of explosives that the report didn't identify.

While the U.S. bomb is equivalent to 11 tons of TNT, the Russian one is equivalent to 44 tons of regular explosives. The Russian weapon's blast radius is 990 feet, twice as big as that of the U.S. design, the report said.

Like its U.S. predecessor, first tested in 2003, the Russian bomb is a "thermobaric" weapon that explodes in an intense fireball combined with a devastating blast. It explodes in a terrifying nuclear bomb-like mushroom cloud and wreaks destruction through a massive shock wave created by the air burst and high temperature.

Thermobaric weapons work on the same principle that causes blasts in grain elevators and other dusty places — clouds of fine particles are highly explosive. Such explosions produce shock waves that can be directed and amplified in enclosed spaces such as buildings, caves or tunnels.

Channel One said that the temperature in the epicenter of the Russian bomb's explosion is twice as high as that of the U.S. bomb.

The report showed the bomb dropped by parachute from a Tu-160 strategic bomber and exploding in a massive fireball. It featured the debris of apartment buildings and armored vehicles at a test range, as well as the scorched ground from a massive blast.

It didn't give the bomb's military name or say when it was tested.

Rukshin said the new bomb would allow the military to "protect the nation's security and confront international terrorism in any situation and any region."

"We have got a relatively cheap ordnance with a high strike power," Yuri Balyko, head of the Defense Ministry's institute in charge of weapons design, told Channel One.

Booming oil prices have allowed Russia to steadily increase military spending in recent years, and the Kremlin has taken a more assertive posture in global affairs.

Last month, President Vladimir Putin said he ordered the resumption of regular patrols of strategic bombers, which were suspended after the 1991 Soviet breakup.
==============

 While we're on the subject of thermobaric armaments

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

http://www.globalsecurity.org/milita...hermobaric.htm

Thermobaric Explosive

Volumetric weapons include thermobaric and fuel-air explosives (FAE). Both thermobaric and FAE operate on similar technical principles. In the case of FAE, when a shell or projectile containing a fuel in the form of gas, liquid or dustexplodes, the fuel or dust like material is introduced into the air to form acloud. This cloud is then detonated to create a shock wave of extended duration that produces overpressure and expands in all directions. In a thermobaric weapon, the fuel consists of a monopropellant and energetic particles. The monopropellant detonates in a manner simular to TNT while the particles burn rapidly in the surrounding air later in time, resulting an intense fireball and high blast overpressure. The term "thermobaric" is derived from the effects of temperature (the Greek word "therme" means "heat") and pressure (the Greek word "baros" means "pressure") on the target.

Thermobaric munitions have been used by many nations of the world and their proliferation is an indication of how effectively these weapons can be used in urban and complex terrain. The ability of thermobaric weapons to provide massed heat and pressure effects at a single point in time cannot be reproduced by conventional weapons without massive collateral destruction. Thermobaric weapon technologies provide the commander a new choice in protecting the force, and a new offensive weapon that can be used in a mounted or dismounted mode against complex environments.

The USAF and USN are actively pursuing conventional weapons technology to destroy Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical (NBC) and support/storage facilities while retaining or destroying the agents within the structure and minimizing collateral damage including fatalities. Thermobaric weapons use high-temperature incendiaries against chemical and biological facilities. The USN is working on an Inter-Halogen Oxidizer weapon while the USAF is pursuing a solid fuel-air explosive using aluminum particles. Both of these weapons use an incineration technique to defeat and destroy the CB agents within the blast area.

The Thermobaric Weapon Demonstration is a proposed Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD). Under this program, prototype weapons are to be tested under operational conditions for their performance, and leave-behinds are to be delivered to the customer. The program aims to develop a validated means of delivery to/into a tunnel adit [entrance]. Technical risks include the extent to which candidate thermobaric payloads do not perform substantially better than existing high explosives in tunnels.

The Thermobaric [TB] Weapon Demonstration will develop a weapon concept that is based on a new class of solid fuel-air explosive thermobarics.The weapon could be used against a certain type of tunnel targets for a maximum functional kill of the tunnels.

Most of the Hard and/or Deeply Buried Targets (HDBTs), namely tunnels in rock, are so deep that the developmental and current inventory weapons cannot penetrate to sufficient depths to directly destroy critical assets. One of the warfighter's options is to attack the tunnel portals with weapons that penetrate the thinner layer of rock above the portal, or though the exterior doors, resulting in a detonation within the tunnel system. Penetrations through the door systems have the potential to place the warheads deep within the facility. Detonations within a tunnel, even only in a few diameters, have a significant increase in airblast propagation into the facility compared to external detonations. Tunnel layouts range from long, straight tunnels to various types of intersections, expansions, constrictions, chambers, rooms, alcoves, and multiple levels. All of these configurations affect the propagation of airblast.

Air blast propagation within a tunnel system has the potential to cause significant damage to critical equipment and systems. If the critical equipment within a facility can be damaged or destroyed, then the function of the facility can be degraded or destroyed, resulting in a functional kill. Depending on the purpose of the facility and the level of damage, a functional kill can be as permanent as a "structural kill," in which the facility is destroyed in a more traditional manner.

Functional kill from air blast loads is predicated on the ability to accurately determine the blast environment from an internal detonation. The response of critical equipment cannot be calculated without accurate blast loads. Unlike free-field blast loads, a detonation within a tunnel system can have a significant dynamic pressure component. This dynamic pressure component, in conjunction with the overpressure component, makes up the entire pressure-loading history necessary to predict component response.

Thermobaric compositions are fuel rich high explosives that are enhanced through aerobic combustion in the third detonation event. Performance enhancement is primarily achieved by addition of excess metals to the explosive composition. Aluminum and Magnesium are the primary metals of choice. The detonation of Composite Explosives can be viewed as three discrete events merged together. All three explosive events can be tailored to meet system performance needs:

1. The initial anaerobic detonation reaction, microseconds in duration, is primarily a redox reaction of molecular species. The initial detonation reaction defines the system’s high pressure performance characteristics: armor penetrating ability.


2. The post detonation anaerobic combustion reaction, hundreds of microseconds in duration, is primarily a combustion of fuel particles too large for combustion in the initial detonation wave. The post detonation anaerobic reaction define the system’s intermediate pressure performance characteristics: Wall/Bunker Breaching Capability.


3. The post detonation aerobic combustion reaction, milliseconds in duration, is the combustion of fuel rich species as the shock wave mixes with surrounding air. The post detonation aerobic reaction characteristics define the system’s personnel / material defeat capability: Impulse and Thermal Delivery. Aerobic combustion requires mixing with sufficient air to combust excess fuels. The shock wave pressures are less than 10 atmospheres. The majority of aerobic combustion energy is available as heat. Some low pressure shock wave enhancement can also be expected for personnel defeat. Personnel / material defeat with minimum collateral structure damage requires maximum aerobic enhancement and the highest energy practical fuel additives: Boron, Aluminum, Silicon, Titanium, Magnesium, Zirconium, Carbon, or Hydrocarbons.

Thermobaric materials can provide significantly higher total energy output than conventional high explosives. The majority of the additional energy is available as low pressure impulse and heat.
__________________

25099  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 12, 2007, 04:14:44 PM
George Will is not a stupid man, nor a mindlessly negative one.  That said, this piece for me misses quite a bit of the forest.  First and foremost, it does not address Iraq in the larger context of the world wide war with Islamic Fascism (both Sunni and Shiite).  It does not address the issue of Iran and its ambitions, both nuclear and regional.  I do not follow his point when he writes "But these alliances of convenience might be inconvenient when Shiites again become the Sunnis' principal enemy."  He does not address the implications of Mooky Sadr pulling his forces from the field of battle in Baghdad.  And a bright guy like GW surely knows the WMD was only one of the reasons for the war-- and the one chosen to justify it to the UN.  Go back to President Bush's speeches before we went to the UN and you will find much more than that.

The Sunnis are now with us due to a) they had their fill of AQ b) they are worried about the Shia and Iran. 

It is quite an accomplishment for our policy, no less real for the failure of GW and the rest of the chattering class to notice it, that the Arab/Muslim world sees the Iraqi Sunnis turn on AQ.  With that step accomplished and with Mooky Sadr, at least momentarily on the sidelines, can we accomplish something similar with the Shia?  What of the implications of our recent moves with the British to interdict Iran's supplies to its agents in the south?  Can we begin to strangle the nuts/agents of Iran amongst the Iraqi Shia in the south?

I DON'T KNOW-- but I think that in this piece at this moment GW is simply another member of the chattering class of Washington who thinks himself profound because he cleverly filters the intellectual detrius of vapors of our nation's capital.

I close with this from Michael Yon in Iraq.  I have the highest respect for MY and support his presence their financially:

Greetings:

Successes are occurring, and accruing, in Iraq. Al Qaeda is still a powerful enemy, but they cannot be happy with their Iraqi franchise this summer.

Readers of my dispatches have gotten first hand reports of the kinds of positive indicators that General David Petraeus described in his progress report.

The atmosphere is changing in Iraq and I've been posting dispatches and videos that illustrate just how profound this change is in some cases.

I was the first to say Iraq was in civil war, and many readers were angry to hear me say it. Well, I'll be the first to say that I predict some sort of milestone for the war in Iraq will occur early in the next year. It's dangerous to predict like this, but something fundamental has changed in Iraq.

There is one important qualifier: this will only happen if General David Petraeus is supported by our elected officials to implement his proposed plan, without meddling from those same elected officials. Oversight and accountability are not the same thing as backseat driving after siphoning out half of the gas tank.

Please read: Hunting Al Qaeda http://www.michaelyon-online.com/wp/hunting-al-qaeda-part-i-of-iii.htm

v/r
Michael
25100  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 12, 2007, 03:57:35 PM
I haven't had time to post about the brewing brouhaha between Israel and Syria, with commentary by Turkey but from the following Stratfor report it appears that Israel has taken out one of the recently provided Russian anti-aircraft positions in Syria.  The Ruskis have been selling AA capability to Iran too, so I'm guessing there has been some close consultation between Israel and the Pentagon about all this.

  SYRIA: Syria could be planning a military response to the alleged Israeli airstrike in northern Syria on Sept. 6, the Kuwait-based Al Jareeda reported. The report also says a Syrian delegation met recently with top Hezbollah and Hamas officials to draw up a retaliation plan, and that the Syrian army has started drafting reservists in response to Israel's raised alert levels in the north. Israel-based newspaper Al Sinara reported Sept. 12 that the Israeli air force hit a Syrian-Iranian missile base, which was supposedly destroyed.
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