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25051  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: July 08, 2011, 05:26:41 PM
That belongs in the Gun thread.
25052  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU on: July 08, 2011, 05:25:01 PM

July 8, 2011


In the first of a special edition of Agenda on world pressure points, STRATFOR CEO
Dr. George Friedman examines the tricky relationship between the United States and
Iran. He argues the risk of Iranian hegemony in the Persian Gulf is a more pressing
issue than Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology.
Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

Colin: The great Satan and the axis of evil, several years ago the leaders of the
United States and Iran traded these insults about each other and its relations with
Tehran tend to be one of the most worrisome for the United States State Department,
made worse of course by Iran's nuclear ambitions and its territorial goals as
Americans leave Iraq.
Welcome to Agenda with George Friedman. George what is it about Iran that worries us
the most? Is it its steady move towards having nuclear weapons or the prospect of
Iranian hegemony in the Persian Gulf?

George: Clearly the issue is the changing balance of power in the Persian Gulf and
the possibility, if not of hegemony by Iran, then certainly increased power. The
withdrawal of the United States from Iraq has opened the possibility of Iranian
influence growing dramatically or even domination of Iraq. The events in Bahrain
where Iranian inspired demonstrators tried to topple the government and Saudi Arabia
intervened, the presence of Shiites throughout the Arabian Peninsula and the absence
of the United States, all taken together, have created a situation where Iran is
going to be the largest conventional military force in the Persian Gulf region. And
that would change the balance of power dramatically.

Colin: In other words, a serious problem.

George: The change in the balance of power is not necessarily a serious problem so
long as Iran and the United States and Europe, for example, reach some sort of
accommodation. Under the current circumstances, in which the West is hostile to
Iran, Europe differently than the United States, but still hostile. The growing
power of Iran over what constitutes a massive outflow of oil to the world opens the
possibility of the Iranians being able to interfere with that flow and profoundly
affecting Western economies. Right now the United States, in particular, is aligned
with Saudi Arabia, and it is through Saudi Arabia that it guarantees the flow of oil
to the west. Should Saudi Arabia become relatively weaker compared to Iran and Iran
plays a greater role in this, then the relationship between the United States,
between Europe and Iran becomes critical. Under the current configuration of
relationships, any growth of power in Iran threatens the interests of the United
States and Europe.

Colin: Turning to the nuclear issue how far is Iran from acquiring operable nuclear

George: Here is what we know so far about the nuclear weapons. First, Iran has not
detonated a test. How far they are from detonating a test is unclear but the
distance between a testable nuclear device and deliverable nuclear weapon is
substantial. A nuclear weapon, it has to be small enough to sit on top of a rocket,
for example, rugged enough to withstand the incredible stresses of launch, entry
into a vacuum of space, high and low temperatures in space, re-entry and must be
able to work. That's a very complex thing; it's not easy to do. It is not easy but
relatively easier to simply detonate a test weapon but to go from there to a
deliverable nuclear device that is reliable, since it had better explode on contact
or there are consequences for the Iranians, that's even harder and it requires much
more than simply being able to enrich uranium. There are many other technologies
involved, most importantly quality assurance, making certain that each part works as
it does, testing and so on. And I suspect that is going to take the Iranians quite a
bit of time if they can do it all. I don't regard the Iranian nuclear program as
necessarily the extraordinary game-changer that others do. The real game-changer in
the Persian Gulf is the existing Iranian military force and its ability to operate
against any combination of forces native to the area if the United States leaves.
The nuclear program is a wonderful negotiating device which compels the West to sit
down and talk to them and they are in a position of strength it appears, but it is
far more than that than a military weapon. It is a psychological weapon, a political
weapon and in that sense it is almost irrelevant whether it ever exists.

Colin: Let's talk about the chasm between the United States and Iran. Does the
United States have any kind of strategy to bridge it?

George: Washington is of two minds on Iran. One is the ongoing belief that existed
since 1979 that Iran's government would face a popular uprising that will topple it
and there's always been this belief that it would happen. Washington and the media
got tremendously excited in 2009 during what was called the Green Revolution, which
STRATFOR's position was that it was a pretty isolated, relatively minor affair that
would be fairly easily put down by the government as it was. But there's still the
ongoing belief that there is tremendous dissatisfaction in Iran that would translate
itself to revolutionary action. The other idea is that there are political tensions
in the Iranian elite that will tear them apart. Well it will certainly be stressful
but there are stresses in the British government, within the American government. I
don't see the stresses in Iran even between institutions such as the presidency and
the supreme leader as leading to the same result. I think to a very great extent
that this fixation on internal evolutions in Iran has paralyzed American strategic

Colin: So what you're really saying, George, is there is no strategy.

George: Well there is a strategy, I think it is a wrongheaded strategy but it's also
a strategy that allows the United States not to make any fundamental decisions. The
fundamental decision the United States has about Iran is the three. First, go to war
-- very dangerous. Second, negotiate with Iran -- politically very difficult.
Thirdly, hope for the best -- some sort of evolution in Iran. The American
predilection to hope for the best relieves any American administration of the need
to take unpleasant actions from negotiations to war and so it suits everybody's mind
to think that shortly you will have destabilization.

Colin: What could the Iranians do realistically; they are not going to give up their
nuclear weapons?

George: I don't really think the Iranians care about their nuclear weapon. To Iran,
the most important thing is the decision of the United States to withdrawal from
Iraq. Their historic fear has been another war with Iraq. That’s gone because of
what the United States did. Remember they lost a million casualties during the war
of the 1980s. They don't want that again, well that's gone. The Iranians are at an
extraordinary point in their history. For the first time in a very long time, it
appears that there will be a drawdown of a global presence in the region. This opens
the door for tremendous Iranian opportunities and I think one of the things that's
going on inside of Iran is a tussle, if you will, in the elite of just how much risk
to take. It's not clear who wants to take more or less risk but you're facing a
situation where Iran could emerge with its historical dream intact: the dominant
power in the Persian Gulf. And this is not simply an Islamic dream. This was the
Shah's dream; this was his father's dream. This has been the ongoing Persian dream
for a very long time. It's at hand, it's not a certainty but that is what they are
really focusing on: to be able to define the politics of the Persian Gulf, the oil
revenues of the Persian Gulf, the governments of the Persian Gulf, I mean this is
the real opportunity and I think the nuclear weapons is very much a side issue for

Colin: Of course the United States was a participant in trying to help the Shah
achieve his dream. You would think there would be a greater upside in resolving the
conflict. Is there a chance, any chance, of that point being reached?

George: Remember that the United States in the 1960s and 70s had a dual strategy.
One was the support of Saudi Arabia; the other was the support of Iran. Although
there were tensions between the two countries many times, it fairly well worked.
The United States obviously didn't have support of the Iranians but the United
States actually, since 1979 and the release of the hostages at the embassy, did
fairly well with them. The Iranians blocked the Soviets as they hoped. Iranians were
hostile to the Taliban takeover in Iran, in Afghanistan I should say, there was a
lot of cooperation under the table between the two countries, not because they liked
each other because they had common interests. Out of that comes the fact that there
is a possibility of some sort of alignment, but the United States has to make a
historic decision. I don't think at this point it can be both aligned with Iran and
Saudi Arabia, and the decision the United States really has to make is whether or
not it is going to bet on the Saudis or the Iranians. The Saudis have been the
historic allies of the United States but frankly they are not particularly congenial
to either American culture or sometimes to American interests. The Iranians are
hostile to both but they have a great deal more power and potential are a more
reliable ally. So the United States faces a historic choice between Iran and Saudi
Arabia. Thus far, the administration has made it very clear that it stands with the
Saudis against the Iranians and that's understandable. But then it will really have
to decide what to do as Iran becomes relatively more powerful, the United States
weaker in the region, precisely what does it intend to do to contain Iranian power.

Colin: George Friedman, thank you. In next week's Agenda we will look at the United
States relations with Russia. Until then, goodbye.
25053  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: July 08, 2011, 01:36:10 PM
THAT is how to make the case for the economic side of the American Creed.   Clearly we need to keep our eye on this man.  Without knowing more than the little I currently know about him, he seems like an IDEAL VP candidate.  He will eat Biden alive, he will give Reps a shot at the Latino vote (yes, yes, I know the Cubans and the Mexicans are different voting blocks but this guy will know how to handle the immigration issue and neutralize it with the Mex vote and bring them home with cultural conservative issues). 
25054  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: July 08, 2011, 01:21:45 PM
I thought I heard she was having some sort of health issues?  (Cancer?)
25055  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Other Weapons on: July 08, 2011, 01:19:47 PM
Woof all:

This thread is for the discussion of weapons out of the ordinary.

I'd like to kick things off with the Three Section Staff.  In the clip of the 2011 Tribal Gathering (currently on the front page) we can see C-Gong Fu Dog wielding this unusual and challenging to use weapon to good effect.  Today here in Bern I worked with C-GF on his TSS game a bit angry.  It will be interesting to see how things go tomorrow.  wink

The Adventure continues!
Crafty Dog

PS:  C-Mighty Dog:  C-GF gives his thanks for the TSS you gave him.  Methinks you may come to regret this generous deed cheesy
25056  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Swiss Champ on: July 08, 2011, 02:19:14 AM
I brought a nice travelling set with me to Bern |(the board rolls up, classic Staunton design for the pieces) and set it up in open invitation in the dining area at the campground where we are holding the Euro Gg and Training Camp.  A man in his 50s chatted with me briefly to size me up and then he said he had time for  one game.  My play was pretty solid for about 10 moves- I could tell he was good- and then I made one minor mistake and he stomped me with ruthless efficiency.  I asked for another game and he readily agreed.   Now fully aware of his level, I played much better, but the result was the same.  He complimented me (in response to his Queen's pawn opening I had played an off center QB pawn gambit that I developed playing against my son) Shyly, to help assuage my feelings, he let me know he had been a professional player and had been the champion of Switzerland with a ranking of 2300!  We played for about three hours more- or perhaps I should say he coached me for three hours.   Awesome experience!
25057  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fall Dog Brothers Open Gathering of the Pack 9/18/11 on: July 08, 2011, 01:35:55 AM
I love seeing that there will be more double stick and staff fights.
25058  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: July 07, 2011, 11:37:32 AM
Grateful to have three seats on the red eye flight from Philly to Zurich last night so I was able to lay down and sleep for about 4 hours.
25059  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison VA ratifying convention 1788; Hamilton on the Tenth, NY rat'g convention on: July 06, 2011, 06:59:34 AM
"There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." --James Madison, speech at the Virginia Ratifying Convention, 1788

"This balance between the National and State governments ought to be dwelt on with peculiar attention, as it is of the utmost importance. It forms a double security to the people. If one encroaches on their rights they will find a powerful protection in the other. Indeed, they will both be prevented from overpassing their constitutional limits by a certain rivalship, which will ever subsist between them." --Alexander Hamilton, speech to the New York Ratifying Convention, 1788

25060  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: July 05, 2011, 10:59:08 PM
I'm off to Switzerland in 9 hours for one week, but should be able to post here from there.
25061  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fire Hydrant: Howls from Crafty Dog, Rules of the Road, etc on: July 05, 2011, 10:58:24 PM
I'm off to Switzerland in 9 hours for a week, but should be able to post here from there.
25062  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Winning? No more than Charlie Sheen on: July 05, 2011, 10:53:22 PM
America's Troubling Investment Gap
For the first time in decades, America is on net losing, not attracting, growth capital.
By David Malpass And Stephen Moore
In June, President Obama celebrated a rare sliver of good economic news: Foreign investment was up 49% last year over 2009. The president says that this boost in capital shipped to the U.S. by international companies or foreign investors leads to more businesses and higher-paying jobs here at home. He's right.

But this isn't the economic success story that the White House is spinning. The real truth of the recession and limping recovery is that for the first time in decades America is, on net, losing, not attracting, growth capital. That may be the single most important explanation for persistently high unemployment and stagnant wages.

It is true that foreign direct investment rose to $236 billion in 2010 from $159 billion in 2009. But that was still well below the $310 billion invested in 2008. The White House also neglected to disclose that in the first quarter of 2011 foreign investment fell by 51% from the first quarter of last year, according to data released last month from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis. Foreigners of late have not found the U.S. to be a receptive, high-return home for investment.

Much more worrisome is that Americans are taking their investment dollars abroad at a faster pace than foreigners are bringing capital to these shores. In 2010, for example, U.S. investment abroad was $351 billion—$115 billion higher than foreign investment here. Economic recoveries are periods when investment capital usually surges into a country, but since this weakling rebound began in the middle of 2009 the U.S. has lost more than $200 billion in investment capital. That is the equivalent of about two million jobs that don't exist on these shores and are now located in places like China, Germany and India.

This is a recent and dramatic reversal of fortune. Huge net inflows of productive capital into the U.S. in the 1980s and '90s helped finance the 25-year boom in jobs and broad-based prosperity from 1982-2007. Over that period, foreigners invested just over $6 trillion more in the U.S. (in total capital) than Americans invested abroad, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, with most of it going into businesses.

That tidal wave of funds provided the capital to finance new American companies, while increasing the value of other assets, such as real estate. It also underwrote new factories owned by foreign companies like Honda. All of this investment contributed mightily to the 35 million new jobs in the 1980s and '90s. By 2008, the average job created with foreign investment paid $71,000 a year, about 30% above the U.S. average, according to a report issued in June by the White House Council of Economic Advisers, "U.S. Inbound Foreign Direct Investment."

So why did the investors put their money in the U.S. in those years? We'd say it was a combination of low tax rates, a strong dollar, low inflation and other free-market reforms. Capital flows to where it is most highly rewarded, and low marginal tax rates on the returns to capital and business income create a gravitational pull on global funds. A strong and stable currency allows businesses to invest in innovation, employees and productivity rather than inflation hedges. It also encourages investors to wait longer to cash in their profits without worrying about the losses of a depreciating dollar. In the high-tax, high-inflation 1970s, the U.S. was a net exporter of risk-taking capital. As we are now.

That's only part of the story behind the disappointing recovery we now face. To be sure, foreigners still park a huge amount of money in this country, but in the last several years they've shifted their investment toward U.S. Treasury securities and government-guaranteed bonds, and away from the private-sector staples—corporate bonds, intellectual property, ownership of businesses—that create sustainable jobs. Since 2009, foreigners have invested just over $1 trillion in U.S. Treasury bonds, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Some economists argue that investing in low-interest-rate government bonds works fine for America because it allows the government to boost spending on programs—the latest doozies are windmills, high-speed rail and 99 weeks of unemployment benefits. The low interest rates, this argument goes, prove there is no negative "crowding out" from America's near $1.5 trillion deficit.

That misses the point. To produce rapid growth, most capital must be allocated by markets. The effect of $4.5 trillion of borrowing since 2009 is that foreigners and Americans are buying Treasury bills instead of investing in the next Google, Oracle, Wal-Mart or biomedical company. Today, foreigners are financing food stamps and the next bridge to nowhere while Americans are building state-of-the-art production systems abroad. This is the real pernicious "crowding out effect" of the federal government's borrowing.

The free flow of capital across borders is unquestionably a positive sum game for everyone—in the same way free trade is—but the U.S. can only retain its status as a high-wage dynamic economy if we are enticing capital for new operations to these shores. The U.S. is still by far the world leader in the cumulative stock of foreign investment, which now stands at some $3.3 trillion. But the composition of that investment is tilting toward government securities.

Meanwhile, the best related measure of our competitiveness as a nation—the balance of foreign direct investment into the U.S. versus the investment capital going abroad—is a red flag.

Mr. Malpass is president of Encima Global. Mr. Moore is senior economics writer for the Wall Street Journal editorial page.

25063  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The mind boggles . . . on: July 05, 2011, 08:46:58 PM
Pravda on the Hudson:

Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Tuesday, July 5, 2011 -- 7:06 PM EDT

Somali Man Tied to Militants Was Detained Aboard U.S. Navy Ship for Months

A Somali man accused of ties to two Islamist militant groups was captured by the American military in April and interrogated for months aboard a navy ship without being warned of his Miranda rights to remain silent and have a lawyer. On Tuesday, the Obama administration announced that the man had been flown to New York City to face prosecution before a civilian court.

In an indictment unsealed in the Southern District of New York, Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame was charged with nine counts related to accusations that he provided support to the Somalia-based Al Shabaab and the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Mr. Warsame was captured on April 19, and a plane carrying him arrived in New York City around midnight Monday night, officials said.

Read More:
25064  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: July 05, 2011, 08:16:06 PM

Thanks for that.  I am using it for return fire with the person who sent it to me  grin
25065  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Chavez returns to V. on: July 05, 2011, 04:08:09 PM
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made a surprise return to Caracas early Monday morning just in time for his country’s bicentennial celebrations on Tuesday. Chavez’s medical condition appears to be quite serious and his extended recovery will continue to fuel speculation over the future stability of the regime.

Chavez appeared in his military fatigues on Monday to deliver a speech from the balcony of the Miraflores Palace. This 30-minute speech — along with the 15-minute speech he gave January 30th from Cuba — were pretty uncharacteristic for the usually loquacious and charismatic president. In both speeches, Chavez appeared a lot thinner, a lot weaker. He was reading from a script in both instances. Overall, he appeared to be in pretty bad medical shape, yet does not appear to be in a life-threatening condition by any means.

Chavez has admitted publicly that he has been treated for a cancerous tumor, but that that recovery will take time. Specifically, Chavez said in his speech Monday that “I should not be here very long, and you all know the reasons why.” That was an indication that this recovery is going to take some more time and that that time could be spent in Cuba.

It was very revealing that Chavez was both capable and sufficiently motivated to make an appearance on July 5th for the bicentennial celebrations. This is a highly symbolic event for the head of state and there was a lot riding on Chavez’s appearance, especially as speculation has run rampant on whether the president’s medical condition would cut his political career short. Chavez, of course, wanted to short-circuit a lot of that speculation and remind his allies and adversaries alike that he very much remains in the political picture.

What’s been most revealing about this whole episode is just how little trust Chavez has placed in his inner circle. By design, Chavez is the main pillar of the regime and he’s done an extremely good job of keeping his friends close and his enemies even closer. Close ideological allies like the president’s brother Adan, or Vice-President Elias Jaua, simply don’t have that support within the regime or outside to sustain themselves independent of Chavez. The same goes for military elites like the head of Venezuela’s strategic operational command, Gen. Henry Rangel Silva.

We expect that Chavez will be making some changes to his Cabinet very soon to manage the internal rifts within this regime. This is something I like to refer to as “rats in the bag management.” If you have a bag of rats and you shake them up enough you can prevent any one rat from gnawing their way out of the bag. When Chavez shakes up his Cabinet this time around, we expect him to keep potential rivals like Gen. Silva extremely close, while boosting more trusted allies like Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro to manage day-to-day affairs.

Based on what we’ve seen so far, we expect that Chavez will be able to manage his regime pretty tightly, even during his medical leave. But given the apparent seriousness of his medical condition, and the potential for relapse in the lead-up to the 2012 presidential election, this also serves as a very good opportunity to identify those regime elites that Chavez has to worry about most in trying to manage the day-to-day affairs of the state most importantly and trying to manage any potential rivals within his inner circle.

25066  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA in the Philippines on: July 05, 2011, 10:26:55 AM
Woof MK:

Delighted to have you here and thank you for your question.  I am off for the gym on my last day in town before a one week trip, so it is a busy day for me but I will try later to flesh out what has already been said by other posters.

Crafty Dog
25067  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Movies/TV of interest on: July 05, 2011, 10:25:07 AM
I found most of the actors in Game of Thrones completely unbelievable as fighting men, and laughed at the perfection of some of the clothing-- e.g. natty fine Italian looking leather for a medieval knight type, but somehow the show drew my wife and then me in; I loved the seeing some beautiful women's bodies grin  I thought the character of the Dwarf was very interesting and very well done by the actor in question. 
25068  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy, Big Brother (State and Corporate) & the 4th Amendment on: July 04, 2011, 11:52:20 PM
 cool cool cool
25069  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our Founding Fathers on: July 04, 2011, 11:51:22 PM
25070  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fall Dog Brothers Open Gathering of the Pack 9/18/11 on: July 04, 2011, 11:48:19 PM

No worries if he does; I will show you what to do  grin
25071  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: July 04, 2011, 11:46:38 PM
So, what was the point of this post?

Remember all the howling over Bush's "illegal war"? To quote Glenn Reynolds "They told me if I voted for McCain, there would be endless wars without congressional oversight, and they were right!""
25072  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy, Big Brother (State and Corporate) & the 4th Amendment on: July 04, 2011, 06:44:54 PM
The point being addressed here is the "Well, if you have nothing to hide argument".  May I take your response to mean that you agree that the argument is unsound?
25073  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy, Big Brother (State and Corporate) & the 4th Amendment on: July 04, 2011, 06:12:49 PM
"**Would someone who walks naked in public areas have a right of privacy that prevents them from being photographed? Or is there a requirement that if one wishes to assert privacy rights, that one actually takes steps to preserve that privacy?"

The problem arises when the government shoves a camera down your pants or up your anus.

More precisely, the point being made here is different than the straw man you attack.  The point is that people do and should have a right to privacy-- and that the "well if you have nothing to hide" argument is unsound.

25074  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism, socialism: on: July 04, 2011, 06:09:41 PM
We're drifting a bit afield here, e.g. Blagojevich more properly belongs in the Corruption thread, ditto the fund raising in the WH issue.  The subject at hand is whether the ignoring the debt ceiling is C'l or a fascist type above-the-law action.
25075  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / If its not a duck and it doesn't quack like a duck, its not about duck hunting on: July 04, 2011, 05:57:45 PM
25076  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: July 04, 2011, 05:55:56 PM
Are you saying you have a problem with what happened here?
25077  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A letter from GB on: July 04, 2011, 01:11:10 PM
Hello America,

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, filled with endings and beginnings. I ended my show on cable news and I have launched a new digital network – GBTV. I have been traveling the country and the globe in support of Israel and planning my upcoming event there, Restoring Courage. My team and I have launched new websites, books and businesses. I haven’t stopped, I haven’t had the chance. Until today.
Today is an important day in our country's history – probably the most important. But what lessons can we take away from the 4th of July? Like so many national holidays, we barely have a moment to think about what the day really means. Sure, it’s the day we declared our independence from Britain – but it’s much more than that. It was the beginning of the great American experiment.
When those 56 men gathered to declare our Independence on July 4th, 1776 they weren’t just saying no to British rule – they were saying no to all rulers. They were declaring the beginning of the great American experiment, which sought to answer the question “Can man rule himself?”
Even with all the hardships and troubles facing America, I still believe the answer is “YES”! And I say that as emphatically and enthusiastically as I possibly can. Man CAN rule himself – and we are going to prove it together!
If you’re reading this then you probably know a lot about what I am working on – but ultimately my goal is to prove that we have not failed in the goals set forth by our Founders so many years ago on July 4th. Everything I’ve been working on has been done with the intention on giving you the tools, the history, and the information you need to be self-reliant.
Last Thursday, GBTV subscribers got to see me announce the latest piece, a non-profit initiative that I am calling “Mercury One.” It will focus on putting Americans like you into action – helping one another without government interference or tax dollar support. Together we will fix America – one town, one person, one entrepreneur at a time.
This Fourth of July – remember the importance of what our Founders started all those years ago. Remember the great American experiment!
Laos Deo,

25078  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Why privacy matters even if you have nothing to hide on: July 04, 2011, 08:50:03 AM

May 15, 2011

Why Privacy Matters Even if You Have 'Nothing to Hide'
Enlarge ImageBy Daniel J. Solove

When the government gathers or analyzes personal information, many people say they're not worried. "I've got nothing to hide," they declare. "Only if you're doing something wrong should you worry, and then you don't deserve to keep it private."

The nothing-to-hide argument pervades discussions about privacy. The data-security expert Bruce Schneier calls it the "most common retort against privacy advocates." The legal scholar Geoffrey Stone refers to it as an "all-too-common refrain." In its most compelling form, it is an argument that the privacy interest is generally minimal, thus making the contest with security concerns a foreordained victory for security.

The nothing-to-hide argument is everywhere. In Britain, for example, the government has installed millions of public-surveillance cameras in cities and towns, which are watched by officials via closed-circuit television. In a campaign slogan for the program, the government declares: "If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear." Variations of nothing-to-hide arguments frequently appear in blogs, letters to the editor, television news interviews, and other forums. One blogger in the United States, in reference to profiling people for national-security purposes, declares: "I don't mind people wanting to find out things about me, I've got nothing to hide! Which is why I support [the government's] efforts to find terrorists by monitoring our phone calls!"

The argument is not of recent vintage. One of the characters in Henry James's 1888 novel, The Reverberator, muses: "If these people had done bad things they ought to be ashamed of themselves and he couldn't pity them, and if they hadn't done them there was no need of making such a rumpus about other people knowing."

I encountered the nothing-to-hide argument so frequently in news interviews, discussions, and the like that I decided to probe the issue. I asked the readers of my blog, Concurring Opinions, whether there are good responses to the nothing-to-hide argument. I received a torrent of comments:

My response is "So do you have curtains?" or "Can I see your credit-card bills for the last year?"
So my response to the "If you have nothing to hide ... " argument is simply, "I don't need to justify my position. You need to justify yours. Come back with a warrant."
I don't have anything to hide. But I don't have anything I feel like showing you, either.
If you have nothing to hide, then you don't have a life.
Show me yours and I'll show you mine.
It's not about having anything to hide, it's about things not being anyone else's business.
Bottom line, Joe Stalin would [have] loved it. Why should anyone have to say more?
On the surface, it seems easy to dismiss the nothing-to-hide argument. Everybody probably has something to hide from somebody. As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn declared, "Everyone is guilty of something or has something to conceal. All one has to do is look hard enough to find what it is." Likewise, in Friedrich Dürrenmatt's novella "Traps," which involves a seemingly innocent man put on trial by a group of retired lawyers in a mock-trial game, the man inquires what his crime shall be. "An altogether minor matter," replies the prosecutor. "A crime can always be found."

One can usually think of something that even the most open person would want to hide. As a commenter to my blog post noted, "If you have nothing to hide, then that quite literally means you are willing to let me photograph you naked? And I get full rights to that photograph—so I can show it to your neighbors?" The Canadian privacy expert David Flaherty expresses a similar idea when he argues: "There is no sentient human being in the Western world who has little or no regard for his or her personal privacy; those who would attempt such claims cannot withstand even a few minutes' questioning about intimate aspects of their lives without capitulating to the intrusiveness of certain subject matters."

But such responses attack the nothing-to-hide argument only in its most extreme form, which isn't particularly strong. In a less extreme form, the nothing-to-hide argument refers not to all personal information but only to the type of data the government is likely to collect. Retorts to the nothing-to-hide argument about exposing people's naked bodies or their deepest secrets are relevant only if the government is likely to gather this kind of information. In many instances, hardly anyone will see the information, and it won't be disclosed to the public. Thus, some might argue, the privacy interest is minimal, and the security interest in preventing terrorism is much more important. In this less extreme form, the nothing-to-hide argument is a formidable one. However, it stems from certain faulty assumptions about privacy and its value.

To evaluate the nothing-to-hide argument, we should begin by looking at how its adherents understand privacy. Nearly every law or policy involving privacy depends upon a particular understanding of what privacy is. The way problems are conceived has a tremendous impact on the legal and policy solutions used to solve them. As the philosopher John Dewey observed, "A problem well put is half-solved."

Most attempts to understand privacy do so by attempting to locate its essence—its core characteristics or the common denominator that links together the various things we classify under the rubric of "privacy." Privacy, however, is too complex a concept to be reduced to a singular essence. It is a plurality of different things that do not share any one element but nevertheless bear a resemblance to one another. For example, privacy can be invaded by the disclosure of your deepest secrets. It might also be invaded if you're watched by a peeping Tom, even if no secrets are ever revealed. With the disclosure of secrets, the harm is that your concealed information is spread to others. With the peeping Tom, the harm is that you're being watched. You'd probably find that creepy regardless of whether the peeper finds out anything sensitive or discloses any information to others. There are many other forms of invasion of privacy, such as blackmail and the improper use of your personal data. Your privacy can also be invaded if the government compiles an extensive dossier about you.

Privacy, in other words, involves so many things that it is impossible to reduce them all to one simple idea. And we need not do so.

In many cases, privacy issues never get balanced against conflicting interests, because courts, legislators, and others fail to recognize that privacy is implicated. People don't acknowledge certain problems, because those problems don't fit into a particular one-size-fits-all conception of privacy. Regardless of whether we call something a "privacy" problem, it still remains a problem, and problems shouldn't be ignored. We should pay attention to all of the different problems that spark our desire to protect privacy.

To describe the problems created by the collection and use of personal data, many commentators use a metaphor based on George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. Orwell depicted a harrowing totalitarian society ruled by a government called Big Brother that watches its citizens obsessively and demands strict discipline. The Orwell metaphor, which focuses on the harms of surveillance (such as inhibition and social control), might be apt to describe government monitoring of citizens. But much of the data gathered in computer databases, such as one's race, birth date, gender, address, or marital status, isn't particularly sensitive. Many people don't care about concealing the hotels they stay at, the cars they own, or the kind of beverages they drink. Frequently, though not always, people wouldn't be inhibited or embarrassed if others knew this information.

Another metaphor better captures the problems: Franz Kafka's The Trial. Kafka's novel centers around a man who is arrested but not informed why. He desperately tries to find out what triggered his arrest and what's in store for him. He finds out that a mysterious court system has a dossier on him and is investigating him, but he's unable to learn much more. The Trial depicts a bureaucracy with inscrutable purposes that uses people's information to make important decisions about them, yet denies the people the ability to participate in how their information is used.

The problems portrayed by the Kafkaesque metaphor are of a different sort than the problems caused by surveillance. They often do not result in inhibition. Instead they are problems of information processing—the storage, use, or analysis of data—rather than of information collection. They affect the power relationships between people and the institutions of the modern state. They not only frustrate the individual by creating a sense of helplessness and powerlessness, but also affect social structure by altering the kind of relationships people have with the institutions that make important decisions about their lives.

Legal and policy solutions focus too much on the problems under the Orwellian metaphor—those of surveillance—and aren't adequately addressing the Kafkaesque problems—those of information processing. The difficulty is that commentators are trying to conceive of the problems caused by databases in terms of surveillance when, in fact, those problems are different.

Commentators often attempt to refute the nothing-to-hide argument by pointing to things people want to hide. But the problem with the nothing-to-hide argument is the underlying assumption that privacy is about hiding bad things. By accepting this assumption, we concede far too much ground and invite an unproductive discussion about information that people would very likely want to hide. As the computer-security specialist Schneier aptly notes, the nothing-to-hide argument stems from a faulty "premise that privacy is about hiding a wrong." Surveillance, for example, can inhibit such lawful activities as free speech, free association, and other First Amendment rights essential for democracy.

The deeper problem with the nothing-to-hide argument is that it myopically views privacy as a form of secrecy. In contrast, understanding privacy as a plurality of related issues demonstrates that the disclosure of bad things is just one among many difficulties caused by government security measures. To return to my discussion of literary metaphors, the problems are not just Orwellian but Kafkaesque. Government information-gathering programs are problematic even if no information that people want to hide is uncovered. In The Trial, the problem is not inhibited behavior but rather a suffocating powerlessness and vulnerability created by the court system's use of personal data and its denial to the protagonist of any knowledge of or participation in the process. The harms are bureaucratic ones—indifference, error, abuse, frustration, and lack of transparency and accountability.

One such harm, for example, which I call aggregation, emerges from the fusion of small bits of seemingly innocuous data. When combined, the information becomes much more telling. By joining pieces of information we might not take pains to guard, the government can glean information about us that we might indeed wish to conceal. For example, suppose you bought a book about cancer. This purchase isn't very revealing on its own, for it indicates just an interest in the disease. Suppose you bought a wig. The purchase of a wig, by itself, could be for a number of reasons. But combine those two pieces of information, and now the inference can be made that you have cancer and are undergoing chemotherapy. That might be a fact you wouldn't mind sharing, but you'd certainly want to have the choice.

Another potential problem with the government's harvest of personal data is one I call exclusion. Exclusion occurs when people are prevented from having knowledge about how information about them is being used, and when they are barred from accessing and correcting errors in that data. Many government national-security measures involve maintaining a huge database of information that individuals cannot access. Indeed, because they involve national security, the very existence of these programs is often kept secret. This kind of information processing, which blocks subjects' knowledge and involvement, is a kind of due-process problem. It is a structural problem, involving the way people are treated by government institutions and creating a power imbalance between people and the government. To what extent should government officials have such a significant power over citizens? This issue isn't about what information people want to hide but about the power and the structure of government.

A related problem involves secondary use. Secondary use is the exploitation of data obtained for one purpose for an unrelated purpose without the subject's consent. How long will personal data be stored? How will the information be used? What could it be used for in the future? The potential uses of any piece of personal information are vast. Without limits on or accountability for how that information is used, it is hard for people to assess the dangers of the data's being in the government's control.

Yet another problem with government gathering and use of personal data is distortion. Although personal information can reveal quite a lot about people's personalities and activities, it often fails to reflect the whole person. It can paint a distorted picture, especially since records are reductive—they often capture information in a standardized format with many details omitted.

For example, suppose government officials learn that a person has bought a number of books on how to manufacture methamphetamine. That information makes them suspect that he's building a meth lab. What is missing from the records is the full story: The person is writing a novel about a character who makes meth. When he bought the books, he didn't consider how suspicious the purchase might appear to government officials, and his records didn't reveal the reason for the purchases. Should he have to worry about government scrutiny of all his purchases and actions? Should he have to be concerned that he'll wind up on a suspicious-persons list? Even if he isn't doing anything wrong, he may want to keep his records away from government officials who might make faulty inferences from them. He might not want to have to worry about how everything he does will be perceived by officials nervously monitoring for criminal activity. He might not want to have a computer flag him as suspicious because he has an unusual pattern of behavior.

The nothing-to-hide argument focuses on just one or two particular kinds of privacy problems—the disclosure of personal information or surveillance—while ignoring the others. It assumes a particular view about what privacy entails, to the exclusion of other perspectives.

It is important to distinguish here between two ways of justifying a national-security program that demands access to personal information. The first way is not to recognize a problem. This is how the nothing-to-hide argument works—it denies even the existence of a problem. The second is to acknowledge the problems but contend that the benefits of the program outweigh the privacy sacrifice. The first justification influences the second, because the low value given to privacy is based upon a narrow view of the problem. And the key misunderstanding is that the nothing-to-hide argument views privacy in this troublingly particular, partial way.

Investigating the nothing-to-hide argument a little more deeply, we find that it looks for a singular and visceral kind of injury. Ironically, this underlying conception of injury is sometimes shared by those advocating for greater privacy protections. For example, the University of South Carolina law professor Ann Bartow argues that in order to have a real resonance, privacy problems must "negatively impact the lives of living, breathing human beings beyond simply provoking feelings of unease." She says that privacy needs more "dead bodies," and that privacy's "lack of blood and death, or at least of broken bones and buckets of money, distances privacy harms from other [types of harm]."

Bartow's objection is actually consistent with the nothing-to-hide argument. Those advancing the nothing-to-hide argument have in mind a particular kind of appalling privacy harm, one in which privacy is violated only when something deeply embarrassing or discrediting is revealed. Like Bartow, proponents of the nothing-to-hide argument demand a dead-bodies type of harm.

Bartow is certainly right that people respond much more strongly to blood and death than to more-abstract concerns. But if this is the standard to recognize a problem, then few privacy problems will be recognized. Privacy is not a horror movie, most privacy problems don't result in dead bodies, and demanding evidence of palpable harms will be difficult in many cases.

Privacy is often threatened not by a single egregious act but by the slow accretion of a series of relatively minor acts. In this respect, privacy problems resemble certain environmental harms, which occur over time through a series of small acts by different actors. Although society is more likely to respond to a major oil spill, gradual pollution by a multitude of actors often creates worse problems.

Privacy is rarely lost in one fell swoop. It is usually eroded over time, little bits dissolving almost imperceptibly until we finally begin to notice how much is gone. When the government starts monitoring the phone numbers people call, many may shrug their shoulders and say, "Ah, it's just numbers, that's all." Then the government might start monitoring some phone calls. "It's just a few phone calls, nothing more." The government might install more video cameras in public places. "So what? Some more cameras watching in a few more places. No big deal." The increase in cameras might lead to a more elaborate network of video surveillance. Satellite surveillance might be added to help track people's movements. The government might start analyzing people's bank rec ords. "It's just my deposits and some of the bills I pay—no problem." The government may then start combing through credit-card records, then expand to Internet-service providers' records, health records, employment records, and more. Each step may seem incremental, but after a while, the government will be watching and knowing everything about us.

"My life's an open book," people might say. "I've got nothing to hide." But now the government has large dossiers of everyone's activities, interests, reading habits, finances, and health. What if the government leaks the information to the public? What if the government mistakenly determines that based on your pattern of activities, you're likely to engage in a criminal act? What if it denies you the right to fly? What if the government thinks your financial transactions look odd—even if you've done nothing wrong—and freezes your accounts? What if the government doesn't protect your information with adequate security, and an identity thief obtains it and uses it to defraud you? Even if you have nothing to hide, the government can cause you a lot of harm.

"But the government doesn't want to hurt me," some might argue. In many cases, that's true, but the government can also harm people inadvertently, due to errors or carelessness.

When the nothing-to-hide argument is unpacked, and its underlying assumptions examined and challenged, we can see how it shifts the debate to its terms, then draws power from its unfair advantage. The nothing-to-hide argument speaks to some problems but not to others. It represents a singular and narrow way of conceiving of privacy, and it wins by excluding consideration of the other problems often raised with government security measures. When engaged directly, the nothing-to-hide argument can ensnare, for it forces the debate to focus on its narrow understanding of privacy. But when confronted with the plurality of privacy problems implicated by government data collection and use beyond surveillance and disclosure, the nothing-to-hide argument, in the end, has nothing to say.

Daniel J. Solove is a professor of law at George Washington University. This essay is an excerpt from his new book, Nothing to Hide: The False Tradeoff Between Privacy and Security, published this month by Yale University Press.

25079  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / John Jay: Federalist 4; Jefferson on credit 1813; Hamilton 1775 on: July 04, 2011, 08:36:27 AM
"But the safety of the people of America against dangers from foreign force depends not only on their forbearing to give just causes of war to other nations, but also on their placing and continuing themselves in such a situation as not to invite hostility or insult; for it need not be observed that there are pretended as well as just causes of war." --John Jay, Federalist No. 4

"It is a wise rule and should be fundamental in a government disposed to cherish its credit, and at the same time to restrain the use of it within the limits of its faculties, 'never to borrow a dollar without laying a tax in the same instant for paying the interest annually, and the principal within a given term; and to consider that tax as pledged to the creditors on the public faith.'" --Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Wayles Eppes, 1813

"The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for, among old parchments, or musty records. They are written, as with a sun beam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power." --Alexander Hamilton, The Farmer Refuted, 1775

"As our president bears no resemblance to a king so we shall see the Senate has no similitude to nobles. First, not being hereditary, their collective knowledge, wisdom, and virtue are not precarious. For by these qualities alone are they to obtain their offices, and they will have none of the peculiar qualities and vices of those men who possess power merely because their father held it before them." --Tench Coxe, An American Citizen, No. 2, 1787

"Liberty is a word which, according as it is used, comprehends the most good and the most evil of any in the world. Justly understood it is sacred next to those which we appropriate in divine adoration; but in the mouths of some it means anything, which enervate a necessary government; excite a jealousy of the rulers who are our own choice, and keep society in confusion for want of a power sufficiently concentered to promote good." --Oliver Ellsworth, A Landholder, No. III, 1787

25080  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Conspiracy theory on: July 04, 2011, 12:07:40 AM
No idea as to the validity of this source or its conclusions, but I have noted various times previously about how low the margin requirements are for oil futures , , ,


The Contango Game: How Koch Industries Manipulates The Oil Market For Profit
By Lee Fang on Apr 13, 2011 at 11:55 am

In recent weeks, gas prices around the country have surged to levels unseen since the 2008 oil spike. However, market fundamentals are not driving the nearly $4.00/gallon gas prices. In fact, under the Obama administration, oil production is at record highs and there is adequate global supply of crude. As Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) commissioner Bart Chilton has explained, rampant oil speculation, which is at its highest level on record right now, is to blame for current prices.

Currently, the public knows very little about the oil speculation industry because a conservative majority on the CFTC has refused to implement a mandate from the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill to curb abuses. Meanwhile, Republicans are pushing steep cuts to the CFTC, hampering any new rules on oil speculation that may be released later this summer. Fortunately, both the Securities and Exchange Commission and the CFTC have so far survived the latest round of budget cuts.

While much of the attention on oil speculators has rested on the backs of investors and commodity traders, the petrochemical conglomerate Koch Industries occupies a unique role in manipulating the oil market. Koch has little business in the extraction process. Instead, Koch focuses on shipping crude oil, refining it, distributing it to retailers — then speculating on the future price. With control of every part of the market, Koch is able to bet on future prices with superior information. As Yasha Levine notes, Koch along with Enron pioneered a number of complex financial products to leverage its privileged position in the energy industry.

In 2008, Koch called attention to itself for “contango” oil market manipulation. A commodity market is said to be in contango when future prices are expected to rise, that is, when demand is expected to outstrip supply. Big banks and companies like Koch employ a contango strategy by buying up oil and storing it in massive containers both on land and offshore to lock in the oil for sale later at a set price. In December of 2008, Koch leased “four supertankers to hold oil in the U.S. Gulf Coast to take advantage of rising prices in the months ahead.” Writing about Koch’s contango efforts to artificially drive down supply, Fortune magazine writer Jon Birger noted they could be raising “gasoline prices by anywhere from 20 to 40 cents a gallon” at the time. Speaking with the Business Times, Koch executive David Chang even boasted that falling crude prices in 2008 provided an opportunity remove oil from the market for future delivery:

CHANG: The drop in crude oil prices from more than US$145 per barrel in July 2008 to less than US$35 per barrel in December 2008 has presented opportunities for companies such as ours. In the physical business, purchases of crude oil from producers and storing offshore in tankers allow us to benefit from the contango market where crude prices are higher for future delivery than for prompt delivery.

A recent presentation from Koch Supply & Trading, the Koch unit devoted to selling financial products, confirms that Koch has taken advantage of a lax regulatory environment to aggressively trade on future oil prices. “The return of speculators to Oil, the ‘macro trade’ is alive and well,” reads slide 36:

Koch Supply & Trading Risk Management

The slideshow, given to an industry association for oil speculators, describes Koch as the “world’s top five crude oil traders and actively trades about 50 types of crude oil around the world.” Notably, Koch “has trading operations in London, Geneva, Singapore, Houston, New York, Wichita, Rotterdam, and Mumbai.”

As a recent Center for Public Integrity report uncovered, Koch lobbied aggressively against Obama’s financial reform bill, particularly on provisions related to transparency in the energy trading market. Is Koch again buying up supply in expectation of higher crude prices during the summer or beyond — as many analysts have predicted? No one knows, especially when the energy speculation and trading industry currently operates with virtually no regulation.

25081  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: A American Seder for Indendence Day, July 4, 1776 on: July 04, 2011, 12:04:06 AM
As the 4th of July is upon us, let us take a moment and reflect upon some words of some men who knew a thing or two about True Patriotism.

"This Republic was not established by Cowards, and Cowards shall not preserve it." Samuel Adams
"A Man with a Gun is a Citizen, a Man without is a Subject."  Paul Revere
"Great Danger lies in the Notion you can reason with Evil."  General Patton
"A Government Big Enough to give you everything you could ever dream of is strong enough to take everything you have."  Thomas Jefferson
"A People that Value it's Privleges above its' Principals shall soon lose both."
President Eisenhower, 1953
"If you want Peace, Prepare for War." Cicero
Have a Great 4th and take some time today to reflect upon these words and Remember our Men and Women in Uniform all over the World who put their lives on the line everyday so we can Celebrate our Independence!!!
25082  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Bat Fight on: July 03, 2011, 11:56:55 PM
25083  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fall Dog Brothers Open Gathering of the Pack 9/18/11 on: July 03, 2011, 11:53:23 PM
And I look forward to seeing it. 

Do you remember The Cherry's Parable?
25084  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: European “Gathering of the Pack” 2011 on: July 03, 2011, 11:52:28 PM

It just might  grin
25085  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: July 03, 2011, 11:50:59 PM
Works for me.

Thanks Kostas.
25086  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / "Interesting" is another word for LAWLESS. on: July 03, 2011, 11:50:10 PM
Oy fg vey JDN , , ,
25087  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Baraq advised to bypass Congress on Debit Limit!?! on: July 03, 2011, 07:29:01 PM

Cornyn: Obama Bypassing Congress on Debt Limit is 'Crazy Talk'

Published July 03, 2011

Schools and universities across the country on Friday will celebrate the signing of the U.S. Constitution, a portion of which is seen here. But plans to commemorate the day at many federal agencies contacted by remain unclear.

Sen. John Cornyn warned President Obama on Sunday to not even consider interpreting the Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment to bypass Congress and raise the debt limit without its approval.

"That's crazy talk. It's not acceptable for Congress and the president not to do their job and to say somehow the president has the authority then to basically do this by himself," Cornyn, R-Texas, a former judge on the Texas Supreme Court, told "Fox News Sunday."

The proposal that Obama re-interpret Section 4 of the Fourteenth Amendment to justify raising the $14.3 trillion debt limit has been gaining traction in Democratic circles since Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner told reporters that the Constitution's language could support the president's raising the limit without congressional approval.

'The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for the payments of pension and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion' -- this is the important thing -- 'shall not be questioned,' " Geithner read during a discussion hosted by Politico in May.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and others on Capitol Hill reportedly acknowledged that the idea is percolating, and had been presented to the president.

"It's certainly worth exploring. I think it needs a little more exploration and study," he said during a conference call with reporters held Friday.

Without addressing efforts to invoke the Constitution, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said Sunday the president and congressional negotiators shouldn't even be discussing a debt deal privately.

"Congress is the constitutional place for this to be decided," said Sessions, who is the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee.

Asked during a press conference Wednesday whether the debt limit was constitutional, the president glossed over the question, saying, "I'm not a Supreme Court justice, so I'm not going to put my constitutional law professor hat on here."

Read more:

25088  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: European “Gathering of the Pack” 2011 on: July 03, 2011, 02:58:24 PM
As I've gotten older, the 12-14 hour flight to Switzerland had gotten tougher on my hips, so I have had to evolve some special pre-flight workouts to prepare.  Very pleased with today's session.
25089  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fall Dog Brothers Open Gathering of the Pack 9/18/11 on: July 03, 2011, 02:55:44 PM
Keep in mind that he will be fighting in the Euro Gg and , , , he has asked me to help him evolve his three section staff game  evil
25090  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gaffney: The Tipping Point- Embracing the Muslim Brotherhood on: July 03, 2011, 11:21:20 AM
The Tipping Point: Embracing the Muslim Brotherhood
Frank j. gaffney, jr.
The Obama administration chose the eve of the holiday marking our Nation's birth to acknowledge publicly behavior in which it has long been stealthily engaged to the United States' extreme detriment:  Its officials now admit that they are embracing the Muslim Brotherhood (MB or Ikhwan in Arabic).  That would be the same international Islamist organization that has the destruction of the United States, Israel and all other parts of the Free World as its explicit objective.
On Thursday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to downplay the momentousness of this major policy shift by portraying it during a stopover in Budapest as follows:  "The Obama administration is continuing the approach of limited contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood that have existed on and off for about five or six years."  In fact, as former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy points out in a characteristically brilliant, and scathing, dissection of this announcement, Team Obama's official, open legitimation of the Brotherhood marks a dramatic break from the U.S. government's historical refusal to deal formally with the Ikhwan.
To understand why the Obama administration's embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood is so ominous, consider three insights into the organization's nature and ambitions:
First, here's the MB's creed:  "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope."  (Source: Husain Haqqani and Hillel Fradkin, "Islamist Parties: Going Back to the Origins.")
Second, here's the Ikwhan's mission in America:
"A kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within, sabotaging its miserable house with their [i.e., Americans'] hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions." (Source: Muslim Brotherhood's "Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goals of the Group," entered into evidence by the Department of Justice in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation terrorism-finance trial. Archived at the NEFA Foundation.)               
Third, here are excerpts from the Muslim Brotherhood's "phased plan" for accomplishing that mission:
Phase One: Discreet and secret establishment of leadership.
Phase Two: Phase of gradual appearance on the public scene and exercising and utilizing various public activities. It greatly succeeded in implementing this stage. It also succeeded in achieving a great deal of its important goals, such as infiltrating various sectors of the Government.     
Phase Three:  Escalation phase, prior to conflict and confrontation with the rulers, through utilizing mass media. Currently in progress.
Phase Four:  Open public confrontation with the Government through exercising the political pressure approach. It is aggressively implementing the above-mentioned approach. Training on the use of weapons domestically and overseas in anticipation of zero-hour. It has noticeable activities in this regard.
Phase Five:  Seizing power to establish their Islamic Nation under which all parties and Islamic groups are united. (Source: Undated Muslim Brotherhood Paper entitled, "Phases of the World Underground Movement Plan." Archived at Shariah: The Threat to America.)
In short, the Muslim Brotherhood is deadly serious about waging what it calls "civilization jihad" against the United States and other freedom-loving nations in order to secure their submission to the Islamic totalitarian political-military-legal doctrine called shariah.  The MB's goal in this country is to replace our Constitution with theirs, namely the Koran.  And they regard this task as one commanded by none other than Allah.  (For more details on the nature, ambitions and modus operandi of the Ikhwan, see the Team B II Report, Shariah: The Threat to America).  To this end, as Andy McCarthy notes in the aforementioned essay, the MB's senior official, Supreme Guide Muhammad Badi, has effectively declared war on the United States.
Were there any doubt that legitimacy is what the Ikhwan is taking away from this gambit, consider this assessment from an expert in Islamic groups, Ammar Ali Hassan, cited by Associated Press:  "...The Brotherhood will likely try to float ‘conditions' or ‘reservations' on any dialogue to avoid a perception that it is allowing the U.S. to meddle in Egypt's internal affairs. But in the end, the talks will give a boost to the group, he said, by easing worries some in the Brotherhood and the public have of a backlash if the Brotherhood becomes the dominant player in Egypt. ‘Now the Muslim Brotherhood will not have to worry [about] moving forward toward taking over power,' Hassan said."         
Unfortunately, the U.S. government's dangerous outreach to the Ikhwan is not confined to Egypt but is systematically practiced inside the United States, as well.  For example:
Muslim-American organizations identified in court by the U.S. government - and, in many cases, by the Muslim Brotherhood itself - as MB fronts are routinely cultivated by federal, state and local officials. Representatives of homeland security, Pentagon, intelligence and law enforcement agencies frequently meet with and attend functions sponsored by such groups.
MB-associated individuals are sent as our country's "goodwill ambassadors" to foreign Muslim nations and communities. MB-favored initiatives to insinuate shariah into the United States - notably, the Ground Zero Mosque and shariah-compliant finance, conscientious objector status for Muslim servicemen and stifling of free speech in accordance with shariah "blasphemy" laws - are endorsed and/or enabled by official institutions.
A blind eye is turned to the presence across the country of shariah-adherent mosques that incubate jihadism. A peer-reviewed study published last month in Middle East Quarterly determined that 81% of a random sample of 100 mosques exhibited such qualities - constituting an infrastructure for recruitment, indoctrination and training consistent with the Brotherhood's phased plan.
Under both Republican and Democratic administrations, individuals with family and other ties to the Muslim Brotherhood have actually given senior government positions. The most recent of these to come to light is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Deputy Chief of Staff, Huma Abedin (who also happens to be former Rep. Anthony Weiner's wife).
It seems a safe bet that, as Team Obama legitimates Muslim Brotherhood organizations and groups overseas, it will feel ever less constrained about further empowering their counterparts in the United States.  If so, the MB will come to exercise even greater influence over what our government does and does not do about the threat posed by shariah, both abroad and here.
The absolutely predictable effect will be to undermine U.S. interests and allies in the Middle East and further catalyze the Brotherhood's campaign to insinuate shariah in the United States and, ultimately, to supplant the Constitution with Islamic law.  Consequently, the Obama administration's efforts to "engage" the Muslim Brotherhood are not just reckless.  They are wholly incompatible with the President's oath to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States" and the similar commitment made by his subordinates.
These officials' now-open embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood constitutes a geo-strategic tipping point, one that must catalyze an urgent national debate on this question:  Does such conduct violate their oath of office by endangering the Constitution they have undertaken to uphold?
At a minimum, such a debate would afford a much-needed opportunity to examine alternatives to the administration's present course - as well as the real risks associated with that its intensifying pursuit.  For instance, one of the most astute American authorities on the Middle East in general and the Muslim Brotherhood in particular, Dr. Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute, wrote in a posting at The American blog yesterday:
"Rather than embrace the Brotherhood, the Obama administration should be seeking to ensure that the group cannot dominate Egypt. Most analysts agree that the Muslim Brotherhood is by far the best organized group in Egypt, but that it only enjoys perhaps 25 or 30 percent support. The secular opposition remains weak and fractured. If the Obama administration wishes to remain engaged in Egypt's future and shape the best possible outcome for both U.S. national security and the Egyptian people, it should be pushing for electoral reform to change Egypt's dysfunctional system to a proportional representation model in which the secular majority can form a coalition to check a Muslim Brotherhood minority for which true democracy is anathema."
The same goes for the enemy within.  Instead of relying upon - let alone hiring - Muslim Brotherhood operatives and associates, the United States government should be shutting down their fronts, shariah-adherent, jihad-incubating "community centers" and insidious influence operations in America.  By recognizing these enterprises for what they are, namely vehicles for fulfilling the seditious goals of the MB's civilization jihad, they can and must be treated as prosecutable subversive enterprises, not protected religious ones under the U.S. Constitution.
Let the debate begin.

This article can be found here:
25091  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our man fomerly in Iraq comments on: July 03, 2011, 10:04:22 AM

I highlighted a section below, which I found to be the biggest problem there as regards training and standing up Iraqi security forces.  Long term mentoring.  Or the lack thereof.  This is not a couple of years project.  Change is slow, but of the places I went to the ones that had come the longest way were those where the day in/day out, leadership by example mentoring process was of a longer duration.  Too often we trained them and then expected they would like suddenly change their thousands of years culture to suddenly be like us.  Because some fat, cigar in the mouth gringo trainer yelling at them told them this was the way they should be.

> But Iraqi and American commanders worry that this crucial military legacy of
> the war may be at risk now that American forces are withdrawing this year
> under an agreement between the countries.
25092  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pravda on the Hudson: Reinstating gun rights on: July 03, 2011, 09:25:56 AM

A major piece on restoring gun rights to people who rights were terminated due to mental illness.

Yes, it is POTH, but it does seem like some people who should not have their rights restored are getting their rights restored.
25093  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Iraqis hope US SOC sticks around on: July 03, 2011, 09:18:44 AM
BAGHDAD — In darkness and dressed in black, the American and Iraqi Special Operations commandos navigated the dense urban neighborhood here in the capital and approached a house they believed to be a hide-out for two brothers suspected of carrying out assassinations and car-bomb attacks. As the Iraqis bashed in the door, the sound of glass shattering and screams pierced the nighttime stillness.

The Americans, having spent years taking the lead on such missions, waited outside until the house was secure.
The important thing, an American sergeant said after the raid was completed, is that the Iraqis took the lead on this mission. He spoke on the condition that he be identified only by rank to comply with the ground rules allowing a reporter access to an Army Special Forces unit. “They are the ones doing the dirty work,” he said.

But Iraqi and American commanders worry that this crucial military legacy of the war may be at risk now that American forces are withdrawing this year under an agreement between the countries. Americans say the Iraqi special operations force, which was deliberately balanced with the country’s main sects and ethnicities, is more capable than the Iraqi Army and may be critical in preventing a resilient insurgency from exploding into a sectarian civil war. Even as few Iraqi politicians are willing to admit publicly that they need American help, Iraqi soldiers say that American troops must stay longer to continue training and advising.

“The Americans need to stay because we don’t have control over our borders,” said Maj. Gen. Fadhel al-Barwari, commander of the Iraq Special Operations Force.

The commandos make up a tightknit community where relationships between Iraqis and Americans are especially strong, having been nurtured over multiple deployments. In some cases the Americans here are on their eighth or ninth rotation. “Would we hope after spending eight years in this country, sharing blood, sweat and tears, dying side by side, working with each other, that we would maintain a relationship?” Col. Scott E. Brower, commander of the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Arabian Peninsula, said in an interview at a base north of Baghdad. “Of course we would.”

The senior Iraqi military leaders have advised Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki that some troops should stay. American officials have said they would agree to a such a request.

Even though combat has officially been declared over, Iraq still looks like a war to the Special Operations units scattered around the country.

“Yeah, anytime a guy’s got a loaded gun and he’s going out at midnight in a helicopter, you’ve got to treat it that way,” said an American Special Forces major. Even so, he said, the risks of such work have diminished greatly. “It’s been awhile since we’ve gotten in a good firefight,” he said.

As the major spoke at a picnic table in Victory Base Complex, the vast American complex near the Baghdad airport, several American helicopters took off nearby, ferrying a team of Iraqi and American Special Forces troops on their way to capture a Shiite militiaman suspected of firing rockets at an American base.

On the recent nighttime raid organized to seize the two brothers, the commandos did not get their men, but they said that a vast majority of their raids ended with the capture of suspects. Shots are rarely fired.

There were about six Iraqis on the mission for each American, who were dressed in the same black fatigues the Iraqis wore. After the house was secured, several team members went to the roof, where an Iraqi commando rooted through a storage bin looking for explosives, repeatedly kicking a plastic cassette player that turned out not to be an improvised explosive device. Others monitored rooftops next door for threats.

Eleven family members were in the house, but not the suspects. As the relatives were questioned, several versions of the brothers’ whereabouts emerged. According to one version, they had left that afternoon. In another, they had not been in the home for a year and a half.

“No bad guys tonight,” said one American soldier, a chief warrant officer.


Page 2 of 2)

No weapons caches or explosives were found either. “Usually they don’t keep the materials in the house,” said the American chief warrant officer, who explained that they were often stored with a neighbor. “With the laws, we can’t search the neighbor’s house,” he said.

American Special Operations units have been training and equipping an Iraqi counterterrorism force almost from the beginning of the war in 2003. General Barwari was made to do push-ups eight years ago by some of the Americans who still advise his unit. Today he lives in a palace once owned by Saddam Hussein, where he shares living space with peacocks, ostriches, pigeons, an alligator and two monkeys. From the palace, he directs near-nightly raids with the help of the Americans.
General Barwari, whose relationship with the American military began in 1991 in northern Iraq, benefited greatly from America’s war here, and in its closing days he frets about what will become of his country without the American troops.

If Americans stay, he said, “He won’t be fighting beside me, but he will give us air support.”

“There are many things we don’t have knowledge about,” he added.

Some of the Iraqi units remain outside the regular military chain of command, and report directly to Mr. Maliki. This has proved to be fodder for the prime minister’s critics who believe he has amassed too much power, and removing the units from his direct control was part of an American-backed power-sharing agreement last year that ended months of political stalemate after parliamentary elections. But that agreement has never been completed and is now threatening to come apart amid political discord. Mr. Maliki has yet to name ministers of defense and the interior, and the counterterrorist units remain under his control.

The American Special Operations advisers worry about what will happen to their Iraqi counterparts without their American relationships — and largess, evident in the Special Operations headquarters on Victory Base. The complex, paid for with $32 million of American money, includes $2 million for an indoor training ground the commandos refer to as the “shoot house.” They note that many of the nighttime missions are carried out with American helicopters.

The American government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars training and arming these forces, yet the exact amount is unknown because the military has not fully accounted for it, according to a report late last year by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, which reported that only $237 million had been directly attributed to support for the Iraqi special forces.

The future of the American military here is a political decision in the hands of the government of Iraq, which must formally ask to modify the security agreement to allow some troops to stay.

The American “S.F. guys always believe we’ll be back,” said the American major.

25094  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: July 03, 2011, 09:01:02 AM
Grateful to have been born in America.
25095  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar, & Gold/Silver on: July 03, 2011, 09:00:13 AM
I would also submit that the 2.1% inflation number is complete and utter bull excrement.
25096  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: A American Seder for Indendence Day, July 4, 1776 on: July 03, 2011, 08:57:15 AM
Amen to that GM.

Now here's a surprise:
25097  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Older Warrior on: July 02, 2011, 08:01:09 PM
You're on! grin
25098  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / North Korea now heads , , , wait for it , , , on: July 02, 2011, 02:41:14 PM
the Nuclear Disarmament Committee.  Sorry no citation, but I'm pretty confident of this one.
25099  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / ICE adds Israel to list on: July 02, 2011, 02:29:03 PM


"As a matter of policy, according to the inspector general’s report, citizens of Israel and other “specially designated countries” are subjected to a special security screening called a “Third Agency Check” (TAC) when they are actually detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the division of the Department of Homeland Security responsible for enforcing the immigration laws. ICE officers are supposed to check all aliens they take into custody against the Terrorist Watchlist, which includes the identities of individuals the U.S. government knows or reasonably suspects to be terrorists. When ICE holds a citizen from a “specially designated country” in its own detention facilities, according to the agency’s standing policy, the individual is also supposed to be run through a TAC. In addition to the Terrorist Watchlist screening, ICE uses a Third Agency Check (TAC) to screen aliens from specially designated countries (SDCs)...The purpose of the additional screening is to determine whether other agencies have an interest in the alien,” says the report."

Israel has a substantial Arab population which is obviously a terrorist threat. The only thing this designation means is that if an Arab Israeli on our terror watchlist gets caught, instead of being handled solely by ICE, other agencies, like State, CIA or FBI, will be notified about the detainee. Why?

“The U.S. does not and never has considered Israel to have links to terrorism, but rather they are a partner in our efforts to combat global terrorism,” Christensen said in a written statement. “Countries may have been included on the list because of the backgrounds of arrestees, not because of the country’s government itself. The United States maintains close intelligence-sharing relationships with many of these countries in order to address security issues within their own borders and in our mutual pursuit of safety and security around the globe,” said Christensen."

The ultimate purpose is to HELP Israel by insuring that if we snag one of their Arab citizens on a terror watchlist, intelligence will be shared. It does NOT mean that Israelis in general are going to be subjected to heightened scrutiny. Please note the obvious fact that Israel HAS NOT ISSUED ANY FORMAL PROTEST. Bibi was more than willing to bitch-slap Obama when he was here; if this was something Israel didn't want, we would have heard about it by now. The website for the Isreali Ministry of Foreign Affairs, complete with up to the minute press releases, is here;


Marc:  By this logic Great Britain and its Copmmonwealth should be on the list too.   Why would North Korea be removed?   Seems like somebody is up to something nefarious. 
25100  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Time Zone changes on: July 02, 2011, 11:28:17 AM
Sometimes I have to cross many time zones.  A month or so ago it was 10 time zones to Israel.  On Wednesday it will be 8 times zones as I travel to Bern, Switzerland.

I have read articles which say that time zone changes becomes harder as we get older.

Many years ago I asked Guro Inosanto how he managed a far, far tougher travel schedule than mine.  Here is a part of his answer:

Yoga headstands:  He felt that blood to the brain was a very good way to get the body to WAKE UP when it was the local time to do so.
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