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25151  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Bin Laden dead? on: May 02, 2011, 09:07:33 AM
Wonderful news for America! cool cool cool cool cool cool cool cool cool

Many interesting implications to absorb here , , ,
25152  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / OBL dead!?! on: May 02, 2011, 02:26:10 AM
Red Alert: Osama bin Laden Killed
May 2, 2011 | 0249 GMT

The United States has killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and recovered his body, according to numerous media reports May 1 citing U.S. officials. U.S. President Barack Obama is scheduled to make an announcement on the subject. It is not clear precisely how bin Laden was killed or how his body was recovered, but the assertion that he is dead is significant.

Bin Laden had become the symbol of al Qaeda, even though the degree to which he commanded the organization was questionable. The symbolic value of his death is obvious. The United States can claim a great victory. Al Qaeda can proclaim his martyrdom.

It is difficult to understand what this means at this moment, but it permits the Obama administration to claim victory, at least partially, over al Qaeda. It also opens the door for the beginning of a withdrawal from Afghanistan, regardless of the practical impact of bin Laden’s death. The mission in Afghanistan was to defeat al Qaeda, and with his death, a plausible claim can be made that the mission is complete. Again speculatively, it will be interesting to see how this affects U.S. strategy there.

Equally possible is that this will trigger action by al Qaeda in bin Laden’s name. We do not know how viable al Qaeda is or how deeply compromised it was. It is clear that bin Laden’s cover had been sufficiently penetrated to kill him. If bin Laden’s cover was penetrated, then the question becomes how much of the rest of the organization’s cover was penetrated. It is unlikely, however, that al Qaeda is so compromised that it cannot take further action.

At this early hour, the only thing possible is speculation on the consequences of bin Laden’s death, and that speculation is inherently flawed. Still, the importance of his death has its consequences. Certainly one consequence will be a sense of triumph in the United States. To others, this will be another false claim by the United States. For others it will be a call to war. We know little beyond what we have been told, but we know it matters.


Question of Pakistani Cooperation in bin Laden Strike
May 2, 2011 | 0421 GMT
U.S. President Barack Obama announced late May 1 that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is dead and that the body of the jihadist leader is in U.S. custody. Obama said bin Laden was killed in a firefight with U.S. special operations forces in Abbottabad, about 56 kilometers (35 miles) north of Islamabad. Prior to Obama’s announcement, Pakistani intelligence officials were leaking to U.S. media that their assets were involved in the killing of bin Laden. Obama said, “Over the years, I’ve repeatedly made clear that we would take action within Pakistan if we knew where bin Laden was. That is what we’ve done. But it’s important to note that our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding.” Obama said he had called Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and that his team had also spoken to their counterparts. He said Islamabad agreed it is “a good and historic day for both of our nations and going forward its essential for Pakistan to join us in the fight against al Qaeda and its affiliates.”

The detailed version of what led to the hit and the extent of U.S.-Pakistani cooperation in the strike is not yet publicly known, but reports so far claim that bin laden and his son were hiding in a massive compound with heavy security and no communications access when they were attacked. Two key questions thus emerge. How long was the Pakistani government and military-security apparatus aware of bin Laden’s refuge deep in Pakistani territory? Did the United States withhold information from Pakistan until the hit was executed, fearing the operation would be compromised?

Major strains in the U.S.-Pakistani relationship have rested on the fact that the United States is extraordinarily dependent on Pakistan for intelligence on al Qaeda and Taliban targets and that Pakistan in turn relies on that dependency to manage its relationship with the United States. Following the Raymond Davis affair, U.S.-Pakistani relations have been at a particularly low point as the United States has faced increasing urgency in trying to shape an exit strategy from the war in Afghanistan and has encountered significant hurdles in eliciting Pakistani cooperation against high-value targets.

Now that the United States has a critical political victory with which to move forward with an exit from the war in Afghanistan, Pakistan now faces the strategic dilemma of how to maintain the long-term support of its major external power patron in Washington.
25153  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: May 01, 2011, 10:32:37 AM
Amazing foto YA! shocked shocked shocked
25154  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: May 01, 2011, 10:31:19 AM
Looking forward to it.  smiley BTW, I leave tomorrow evening for a seminar in Israel. (First time for this American Jew).  I am very excited!
25155  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: May 01, 2011, 10:27:49 AM
A) Citation on the Petraeus quote?

B)  I'd say the Paks are more pissed that we told them after 911 we would bomb them back to the stone age if they didn't cooperate with us against AQ and the Taliban and that we regularly intrude upon their sovereignty, yet somehow the Jews get blamed  tongue , , ,  Anyone blaming the Taiwanese for troubles in our relations with China?  Anyone blaming the South Koreans for our troubles with the North Koreans?
25156  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: UFC/MMA Thread on: May 01, 2011, 12:52:43 AM
Thanks for those SG.

A couple of quick comments:

Glad to see old gym mate Vlady Matyshenko back in the UFC and scoring with a quick KO.  Great Karate Kid kick from Lyoto!!!  shocked  What up with Steven Seagal?!?  I noticed him sitting there with Spider and that Lyoto gave him props too.  He has a substantial reputation as a major anus, but fighters like Spider and Lyoto can choose with whom they train , , , Bit of a stinker of a fight with GSP and Shields.  No blame to GSP, it looks like he got his cornea scratched in the second round, but WTF was Shields' strategy?

Many good fights tonight-- I gather Chuck Liddell was the matchmaker?
25157  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Encounters of the canine kind on: April 30, 2011, 12:45:23 PM
25158  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101 on: April 30, 2011, 12:43:58 PM
I certainly would not want to see the insanity of US racial laws imposed here.
25159  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Epidemics: Bird Flu, TB, etc on: April 30, 2011, 12:31:09 PM
That was interesting BBG.
25160  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101 on: April 29, 2011, 09:18:53 PM
Interesting case and interesting legal question presented.  My first read is that the facts in the case law can be distinguished from the question presented; I'd certainly be interested to see what is decided on appeal.
25161  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: UFC/MMA Thread on: April 29, 2011, 08:37:28 PM
Is Nordin on Brock's team?
25162  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: April 29, 2011, 04:53:00 PM
Mexican drug cartels continue to war with one another and with the government. While the situation has long been fluid, the past 18 months have seen the Sinaloa Federation rapidly expand at the expense of other groups. The following are key events in the evolution of Mexico’s cartel landscape over the last four and a half years:

(click here to view interactive slideshow)
December 2006: Mexican President Felipe Calderon takes office, promising to fight back against drug cartels. His first two years in office show strong successes against the cartels, with large drug seizures and the capture of several organizations’ leaders. The government’s chief target is the Gulf cartel, the most powerful in Mexico.

December 2008: A two-yearlong campaign by the Calderon government against the Gulf cartel has left it crippled. The cartel’s enforcement arm, Los Zetas, splintered off in spring 2008 and now controls much of what used to be Gulf territory. The government’s success is a double-edged sword, however: The decline of the Gulf cartel has left a large power vacuum, encouraging other organizations — and factions within those organizations — to fight to increase their influence.

December 2009: As the government pressures powerful cartels, the situation in Mexico becomes more volatile and two distinct but interconnected wars begin to emerge: the government’s fight against the cartels, and the cartels’ fights between and among themselves. The geography of cartel influence does not change significantly, though one notable exception to this is the rise of the infamous La Familia Michoacana (LFM), which has captured media attention by marrying drug-trafficking activities to a pseudo-religious ideology.

May 2010: A major rift emerges in the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO) after the death of leader Arturo “El Jefe de Jefes” Beltran Leyva. Two factions emerge, one under Arturo’s brother, Hector, and the other made up of elements of the BLO’s brutal enforcement wing and run by Edgar “La Barbie” Valdez Villarreal.

December 2010: Tensions between the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas also have boiled over into open war in the country’s east, with the Gulf cartel reaching out to its former rivals in Sinaloa as well as LFM to align under the name “New Federation” and pushing Los Zetas from one of their traditional strongholds, Reynosa, though not out of Nuevo Laredo or Monterrey. In its weakened state, Los Zetas began increasing operations outside the normal scope of drug trafficking, such as kidnapping for ransom, and giving rise to a trend that STRATFOR eventually would dub Mexico’s third war: that of the cartels on the Mexican public. Cartel-related violence in the country reaches new heights, with more than 11,000 deaths on record.

April 2011: Violence continues to rise in all parts of the country. The Sinaloa Federation continues to expand its territory north and east, taking over areas formerly under the influence of the Carrillo Fuentes Organization and the Arellano Felix Organization. With the help of Sinaloa, the Gulf cartel has been able to repel offenses from Los Zetas in Reynosa and Matamoros, though the Zetas are proving resilient. LFM appeared to implode in January, but now a large subset of the former LFM seems to have simply rebranded itself as the “Knights Templar.” Its size and capabilities remain unclear.
25163  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Evolution of cartels areas of influence on: April 29, 2011, 04:52:36 PM
Mexican drug cartels continue to war with one another and with the government. While the situation has long been fluid, the past 18 months have seen the Sinaloa Federation rapidly expand at the expense of other groups. The following are key events in the evolution of Mexico’s cartel landscape over the last four and a half years:

(click here to view interactive slideshow)
December 2006: Mexican President Felipe Calderon takes office, promising to fight back against drug cartels. His first two years in office show strong successes against the cartels, with large drug seizures and the capture of several organizations’ leaders. The government’s chief target is the Gulf cartel, the most powerful in Mexico.

December 2008: A two-yearlong campaign by the Calderon government against the Gulf cartel has left it crippled. The cartel’s enforcement arm, Los Zetas, splintered off in spring 2008 and now controls much of what used to be Gulf territory. The government’s success is a double-edged sword, however: The decline of the Gulf cartel has left a large power vacuum, encouraging other organizations — and factions within those organizations — to fight to increase their influence.

December 2009: As the government pressures powerful cartels, the situation in Mexico becomes more volatile and two distinct but interconnected wars begin to emerge: the government’s fight against the cartels, and the cartels’ fights between and among themselves. The geography of cartel influence does not change significantly, though one notable exception to this is the rise of the infamous La Familia Michoacana (LFM), which has captured media attention by marrying drug-trafficking activities to a pseudo-religious ideology.

May 2010: A major rift emerges in the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO) after the death of leader Arturo “El Jefe de Jefes” Beltran Leyva. Two factions emerge, one under Arturo’s brother, Hector, and the other made up of elements of the BLO’s brutal enforcement wing and run by Edgar “La Barbie” Valdez Villarreal.

December 2010: Tensions between the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas also have boiled over into open war in the country’s east, with the Gulf cartel reaching out to its former rivals in Sinaloa as well as LFM to align under the name “New Federation” and pushing Los Zetas from one of their traditional strongholds, Reynosa, though not out of Nuevo Laredo or Monterrey. In its weakened state, Los Zetas began increasing operations outside the normal scope of drug trafficking, such as kidnapping for ransom, and giving rise to a trend that STRATFOR eventually would dub Mexico’s third war: that of the cartels on the Mexican public. Cartel-related violence in the country reaches new heights, with more than 11,000 deaths on record.

April 2011: Violence continues to rise in all parts of the country. The Sinaloa Federation continues to expand its territory north and east, taking over areas formerly under the influence of the Carrillo Fuentes Organization and the Arellano Felix Organization. With the help of Sinaloa, the Gulf cartel has been able to repel offenses from Los Zetas in Reynosa and Matamoros, though the Zetas are proving resilient. LFM appeared to implode in January, but now a large subset of the former LFM seems to have simply rebranded itself as the “Knights Templar.” Its size and capabilities remain unclear.
25164  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glick: Choose! on: April 29, 2011, 04:23:17 PM
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s response to the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority’s peace deal with Hamas would be funny if it weren’t tragic. Immediately after the news broke of the deal Netanyahu announced, “The PA must choose either peace with Israel or peace with Hamas. There is no possibility for peace with both.”

Netanyahu’s statement is funny because it is completely absurd. The PA has chosen.

The PA made the choice in 2000 when it rejected Israel’s offer of peace and Palestinian statehood and joined forces with Hamas to wage a terror war against Israel.

The PA made the choice in 2005 again when it responded to Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza with a tenfold increase in the number of rockets and missiles it fired on Israeli civilian targets in the Negev.

The Palestinians made the choice in 2006, when they elected Hamas to rule over them.

They made the choice in March 2007 when Fatah and Hamas signed their first unity deal.

The PA made the choice in 2008 when Abbas rejected then-prime minister Ehud Olmert’s offer of statehood and peace.

The PA made the choice in 2010 when it refused to reinstate peace negotiations with Netanyahu; began peace negotiations with Hamas; and escalated its plan to establish an independent state without peace with Israel.

Now the PA has again made the choice by signing the newest peace deal with Hamas.

In a real sense, Netanyahu’s call for the PA to choose is the political equivalent of a man telling his wife she must choose between him and her lover, after she has left home, shacked up and had five children with her new man.

It is a pathetic joke.

But worse than a pathetic joke, it is a national tragedy. It is a tragedy that after more than a decade of the PA choosing war with Israel and peace with Hamas, Israel’s leaders are still incapable of accepting reality and walking away. It is a tragedy that Israel’s leaders cannot find the courage to say the joke of the peace process is really a deadly serious war process whose end is Israel’s destruction, and that Israel is done with playing along.

There are many reasons that Netanyahu is incapable of stating the truth and ending the 18- year policy nightmare in which Israel is an active partner in its own demise. One of the main reasons is that like his predecessors, Netanyahu has come to believe the myth that Israel’s international standing is totally dependent on its being perceived as trying to make peace with the Palestinians.

According to this myth – which has been the central pillar of Israel’s foreign policy and domestic politics since Yitzhak Rabin first accepted the PLO as a legitimate actor in 1993 – it doesn’t matter how obvious it is that the Palestinians are uninterested in peaceful coexistence with Israel.

It doesn’t matter how openly they wage their war to destroy Israel. Irrespective of the nakedness of Palestinian bad faith, seven successive governments have adopted the view that the only thing that stands between Israel and international pariah status is its leaders’ ability to persuade the so-called international community that Israel is serious about appeasing the Palestinians.

For the past several months, this profoundly neurotic perception of Israel’s options has fed our leaders’ hysterical response to the Palestinians’ plan to unilaterally declare independence.

The Palestinian plan itself discredits the idea that they are interested in anything other than destroying Israel. The plan is to get the UN to recognize a Palestinian state in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and Gaza outside the framework of a peace treaty with Israel. The PA will first attempt to get the Security Council to endorse an independent “Palestine.” If the Obama administration vetoes the move, then the PA will ask the General Assembly to take action. Given the makeup of the General Assembly, it is all but certain that the Palestinians will get their resolution.

The question is, does this matter? Everyone from Defense Minister Ehud Barak to hard-left, post-Zionist retreads like Shulamit Aloni and Avrum Burg says it does. They tell us that if this passes, Israel will face international opprobrium if its citizens or military personnel so much as breathe in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem without Palestinian permission.

These prophets of doom warn that Israel has but one hope for saving itself from diplomatic death: Netanyahu must stand before the world and pledge to give Israel’s heartland and capital to the Palestinians.

And according to helpful Obama administration officials, everything revolves around Netanyahu’s ability to convince the EU-3 – British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel – that he is serious about appeasing the Palestinians. If he doesn’t offer up Israel’s crown jewels in his speech before the US Congress next month, administration officials warn that the EU powers will go with the Palestinians.

And if they go with the Palestinians, well, things could get ugly for Israel.

Happily, these warnings are completely ridiculous. UN General Assembly resolutions have no legal weight. Even if every General Assembly member except Israel votes in favor of a resolution recognizing “Palestine,” all the Palestinians will have achieved is another non-binding resolution, with no force of law, asserting the same thing that thousands of UN resolutions already assert. Namely, it will claim falsely that Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and Gaza are Palestinian territory to which Israel has no right. Israel will be free to ignore this resolution, just as it has been free to ignore its predecessors.

The threat of international isolation is also wildly exaggerated. Today, Israel is more diplomatically isolated than it has been at any time in its 63-year history. With the Obama administration treating the construction of homes for Jews in Jerusalem as a greater affront to the cause of world peace than the wholesale massacre of hundreds of Iranian and Syrian protesters by regime goons, Israel has never faced a more hostile international climate. And yet, despite its frosty reception from the White House to Whitehall, life in Israel has never been better.

According to the latest data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics, Israel’s economy grew 7.8 percent in the last quarter of 2010.

International trade is rising steeply. In the first quarter of 2011, exports rose 27.3%. They grew 19.9% in the final quarter of last year. Imports rose 34.7% between January and March, and 38.9% in the last quarter of 2010.

The Israel-bashing EU remains Israel’s largest trading partner. And even as Turkey embraced Hamas and Iran as allies, its trade with Israel reached an all time high last year.

These trade data expose a truth that the doom and gloomers are unwilling to notice: For the vast majority of Israelis the threat of international isolation is empty.

The same people telling us to commit suicide now lest we face the firing squad in September would also have us believe that the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is the single greatest threat to the economy. But that lie was put paid this month with the demise of the Australian town of Marrickville’s BDS-inspired boycott.

Last December, the anti-Israel coalition running the town council voted to institute a trade, sports and academic boycott against Israel. Two weeks ago the council was forced to cancel its decision after it learned that it would cost $3.4 million to institute it. Cheaper Israeli products and services would have to be replaced with more expensive non-Israeli ones.

Both Israel’s booming foreign trade and the swift demise of the Marrickville boycott movement demonstrate that the specter of international isolation in the event that Israel extricates itself from the Palestinian peace process charade is nothing more than a bluff. The notion that Israel will be worse off it Netanyahu admits that Abbas has again chosen war against the Jews over peace with us has no credibility.

So what is preventing Netanyahu and his colleagues in the government from acknowledging this happy truth? Two factors are at play here. The first is our inability to understand power politics. Our leaders believe that the likes of Sarkozy, Cameron and Merkel are serious when they tell us that Israel needs to prove it is serious about peace in order to enable them to vote against a Palestinian statehood resolution at the UN. But they are not serious. Nothing that Israel does will have any impact on their votes.

When the Europeans forge their policies towards Israel they are moved by one thing only: the US.

Since 1967, the Europeans have consistently been more pro-Palestinian than the US. Now, with the Obama administration demonstrating unprecedented hostility towards Israel, there is no way that the Europeans will suddenly shift to Israel’s side. So when European leaders tell Israelis that we need to convince them we are serious about peace, they aren’t being serious. They are looking for an excuse to be even more hostile. If Israel offers the store to Abbas, then the likes of Cameron, Merkel and Sarkozy will not only recognize “Palestine” at the UN, (because after all, they cannot be expected to be more pro-Israel than the Israeli government that just surrendered), they will recognize Hamas. Because that’s the next step.

It would seem that Israel’s leaders should have gotten wise to this game years ago. And the fact that they haven’t can be blamed on the second factor keeping their sanity in check: the Israeli Left. The only group of Israelis directly impacted by the BDS movement is the Israeli Left. Its members – from university lecturers to anti-Zionist has-been politicians, artists, actors and hack writers – are the only members of Israeli society who have a personal stake in a decision by their leftist counterparts in the US or Europe or Australia or any other pretty vacation/sabbatical spots to boycott Israelis.

And because the movement threatens them, they have taken it upon themselves to scare the rest of us into taking this ridiculous charade seriously. So it was that last week a group of washed-up radicals gathered in Tel Aviv outside the hall where David Ben-Gurion proclaimed Israeli independence, and declared the independence of “Palestine.” They knew their followers in the media would make a big deal of their agitprop and use it as another means of demoralizing the public into believing we can do nothing but embrace our enemies’ cause against our country.

The time has come for the vast majority of Israelis who aren’t interested in the Nobel Prize for Literature or a sabbatical at Berkeley or the University of Trondheim to call a spade a spade. The BDS haters have no leverage. A degree from Bar-Ilan is more valuable than a degree from Oxford. And no matter how much these people hate Israel, they will continue to buy our technologies and contract our researchers, because Cambridge is no longer capable of producing the same quality of scholarship as the Technion.

And it is well past time for our leaders to stop playing this fool’s game. We don’t need anyone’s favors. Abbas has made his choice.

Now it is time for Netanyahu to choose.
25165  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / TUF on: April 29, 2011, 03:15:34 PM
Anyone following TUF this season?  I may have missed an episode or two, but impressions so far:

Brock Lesnar is a clueless d*ck. cheesy  Wuzzup with repeated calling his team "chicken excrement"?  Erick Paulson is the real trainer for his team.

Junior Dos Santos seems alright, though it looks like he is about to seriously lose patience with his team's wrestling coach for repeated violations of not staying in his lane.  

Not really impressed with the fighters or the fighting so far.

I would have scored this week's fight a draw after two rounds.  The "losing" fighter needs to seriously work on his response to the boxing blast.

Gnarly broken finger this week.
25166  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Baston y daga, espada y daga on: April 29, 2011, 03:10:10 PM
There should be some B&D at the upcoming DB Tribal Gathering.  wink
25167  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Help please on: April 29, 2011, 03:08:42 PM
Woof All:

I'm looking for leads on good sources of data concerning just how much impact a human skull/brain can safely take. 

Football/hockey/Army helmet mfgrs?  Medical research?

Crafty Dog
25168  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: 6/25-28/11 Guro Crafty & Peyton Quinn at RMCAT in CO? on: April 29, 2011, 03:06:02 PM
Its looking like this is too close geographically and temporally to my Memphis seminar.  Peyton and I are now talking about early October.
25169  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Israel May 6-7 on: April 29, 2011, 03:04:47 PM
Leaving on Monday.  I get to spend a day in Madrid waiting for my connecting flight to Israel.
25170  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: April 29, 2011, 03:03:20 PM
Prayers for a friend on his way to Afghanistan
25171  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Reporter banned , , , for reporting on: April 29, 2011, 02:58:46 PM
25172  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post: The Enemies List on: April 29, 2011, 01:33:27 PM
From the Left: The Enemies List
The Obama administration, fearful of the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling in favor of free speech, is looking to change the rules of the campaign game for 2012. The administration is demanding that potential federal contractors make known any political donations over $5,000 made by the contracting company or its executives. Government contractors are already required to disclose political contributions to candidates, but this order will expand that to include independent groups, a category in which conservatives outspent liberals in the last election cycle.

The implications are obvious: If a company wants to win a federal contract while Obama is in the White House, it had better have a campaign donation record that reflects greater support for Democrats. Leftists attempted to rig the corporate donation game in 2010 with the Disclose Act, but it failed to pass. Now the White House is again extra-constitutionally taking matters into its own hands with the same intent -- reduce the overall dollar amount received in donations by independent conservative groups. Federal labor unions don't have to worry, though. The SEIU, AFL-CIO and other groups that brought Obama some $200 million worth of support in 2008 are conveniently exempted from the new disclosure rules in the executive order. Perhaps they slipped the president's mind.

25173  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Birther Blather on: April 29, 2011, 01:24:47 PM
"There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily." --George Washington

Government & Politics
The Birther Blather

The Obama birth certificate"I can't spend all of my time with my birth certificate plastered on my forehead." --Barack Hussein Obama in August 2010

Of course, Obama never spent any time with his birth certificate plastered to his forehead, the subterfuge has been part of a successful political charade.

Since Obama's election, we have received some complaints that Mark Alexander has never devoted an essay to the controversy concerning Obama's birth certificate or nationality. The issue has received the mention it deserved in our analysis (not much) but mostly it has been featured in our humor section (e.g., Jay Leno's quip, "Obama's overseas trip has been such a disaster that people in Kenya now claim that he has an American birth certificate.").

Alexander responded to the issue early on, noting that he believed Obama was born in Hawaii, and the birth certificate controversy was one facet of Obama's campaign strategy to divide up opposition resources. In other words, it was a ploy to divert the political capital of some well-meaning Obama detractors, and lead them to focus on the question of where Obama was born, rather than much more important questions about his qualifications to be president.

Alexander noted that at some point, Obama would release his original birth certificate, thus discrediting the so-called "birthers." By extension, and by design, this undermines the credibility of other legitimate concerns about Obama, first and foremost, his socialist agenda for the "fundamental transformation" of our nation.

Apparently this week, Obama's handlers determined they had squeezed all the political juice out of this issue, now that Jerome Corsi's book was out and Donald Trump released his birth certificate. (Was Trump actually born in this galaxy?) Finally, Obama did what any humble and respectable candidate should have done the first day the question was asked -- he released his long form birth certificate. Of course, "humble and respectable" are not characteristics of Obama's Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

For the record, we were as interested as any conservatives should be about the constitutional question of Obama's eligibility to run for president, but understood that even if definitive evidence was produced that Obama was born in Kenya, the question then becomes a statutory debate about eligibility based on the fact that at the time of his birth, his American mother was below the statutory age for recognition of her child as a U.S. citizen.

Further, it was clear two years ago that no matter what form of birth certificate Obama released and when, it would still be seen as a fraud by those claiming he was born in Kenya, and make no difference one way or the other to his sycophantic lemmings.

We still demand that Obama release other information that presidential candidates should release -- transcripts, passport and travel information, etc., but don't expect to see that information in this election cycle.

Finally, we offer this advice to grassroots conservatives: Caveat Emptor! Beware of organizations like WorldNetDaily and other "conservative news" sources, which build readership by hyping issues such as Obama's nationality in order to sell advertising. Many of those controversial stories are based on 10 percent substance and 90 percent fragrance. Hyping political issues serves only their self-interest, and distracts from serious concerns about Obama and his cadres of Leftists, which is precisely what Obama wants.

25174  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: April 29, 2011, 10:54:24 AM
Yes, thank you.
25175  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: April 29, 2011, 10:53:45 AM
My wife gave me a post-it sticky pad cool  Lets post future comments about this campaign on The Way forward for the American Creed thread.
25176  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: April 29, 2011, 10:48:01 AM
I saw , , , what's his name, the black businessman/radio commentator , , , on Bret Baier last night.  Good interview, also the footage of him showed him tactfully getting in President Bill Clinton's face about Hillary Care-- which shows he has been politically involved for quite some time now.  I look forward to some excellent contributions in the debates from him.
25177  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Who says econ isn't funny? on: April 29, 2011, 01:34:46 AM

Keynes vs. Hayek
Round One

Round Two (this is the current one)
25178  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB Tribal Gathering Fighter List on: April 28, 2011, 04:05:53 PM
I am really looking forward to this fight. Gong Fu brings some very good skills to bear with the 3 section staff.
25179  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: April 28, 2011, 10:15:07 AM

I like it  grin
25180  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / What lucky people do differently on: April 28, 2011, 10:13:07 AM
What Lucky People Do Different (sic)

Today’s guest contributor is former Wall Street Journal and Fortune writer, Erik Calonius. Erik collaborated with Dan Ariely on Predictably Irrational and he has a new book out from Penguin Portfolio, Ten Steps Ahead: What Separates Successful Business Visionaries from the Rest of  Us.


A few years ago I was standing in the garage where Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started Apple Computer. I had an excellent guide that autumn morning: Steve Jobs himself. He was showing me where his desk sat in the cramped space; where Woz had his workbench; where they piled the boxes of freshly built Apple I’s.

“Look at this,” he exclaimed, pointing to the far wall. In the corner was a full-page newspaper ad for the Apple I computer, circa 1980. The headline read: What Is A Personal Computer?

Today we certainly know what a personal computer is. We can thank Jobs and the Woz for that.  And thanks to Steve, we also know what an iPod is, what an iPhone is, what an iPad is–not to mention what a Mac is. Thanks, Steve.

The thing we don’t know today concerns Steve himself. Whether this icon in the black turtleneck will overcome his health problems. That question, of course, spills over into the question about Apple Corp itself–whether Apple will thrive—or even endure for long—when Steve Jobs some day leaves. There’s huge speculation about it in the stock market now, evident in the dips and swings of Apple stock over the past few years in reaction to Steve’s continuing battle against pancreatic cancer.

But there’s another other issue at play in Steve’s illness, and Jonathan, I think you raised it your recent post, Dust in the Wind. The post showed a red dumpster beneath your apartment window, where the life’s possession of elderly widows and widowers are dumped on a regular basis when they pass away.  “This is what’s left of someone’s life,” you wrote. “Not the experiences, but the stuff.” Your readers obviously understood the existential question you were raising. So did I: my mother passed a few years ago, and one of the most traumatic events of my life was filling three dumpsters to the top with her stuff following two weekends of estate sales.

Recently I stumbled upon a Stanford graduation address that answers that question surprisingly well. And it’s from Steve Jobs himself. The speech was given in 2005, less than a year after he found out he had cancer. I think that’s why Steve’s remarks were unusually candid and personal.

This is what he said:

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool that I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.  Because almost everything—all external expectations all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.  Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

That’s a blunt confession, especially delivered to an assembly of fresh-faced college graduates. But Jobs offered some prescriptive advice.

“For the past 33 years I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

Great thought. But how do you “change something?” How do you take the image of your face in the mirror—or the sight of the dumpster down in the street—and change your own life?

Recently I came upon a fascinating study by Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire. Wiseman surveyed a number of people and, through a series of questionnaires and interviews, determined which of them considered themselves lucky—or unlucky. He then performed an intriguing experiment: He gave both the “lucky” and the “unlucky” people a newspaper and asked them to look through it and tell him how many photographs were inside. He found that on average the unlucky people took two minutes to count all the photographs, whereas the lucky ones determined the number in a few seconds.

How could the “lucky” people do this? Because they found a message on the second page that read, “Stop counting. There are 43 photographs in this newspaper.” So why didn’t the unlucky people see it? Because they were so intent on counting all the photographs that they missed the message. Wiseman noted,

“Unlucky people miss chance opportunities because they are too focused on looking for something else. They go to parties intent on finding their perfect partner, and so miss opportunities to make good friends. They look through the newspaper determined to find certain job advertisements and, as a result, miss other types of jobs. Lucky people are more relaxed and open, and therefore see what is there, rather than just what they are looking for.”

I think Steve Jobs would agree wholeheartedly with this. In fact, in his Stanford address he described how he dropped out of Reed College after a mere six months. After that, he said he hung around the campus, slept on the floor in a friend’s room, walked seven miles across town on Sunday nights for a good meal at the Hare Krishna Temple, and took a few classes, whatever he wanted.  It sounds like a waste—like Jobs should have been “counting the photographs” in life rather than meandering about. But as you can imagine, it isn’t true. Says Jobs:

“Reed College at the time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class and learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, and about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great.”

Here’s the kicker:

“If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, “ Jobs explained, “the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionately spaced ones. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them.”

He added,

“Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

So that’s what Jobs means by “changing something.” Not a decision to do this or that, but an emotional choice to keep your mind open. To stop counting the “photographs.” To look around.  To open your eyes and bring real life–raw, untamed and full of promise—into your world.

When we see a dumpster full of stuff, maybe that’s the thought we need to keep in mind. Possessions, after all, are not always a comfort. Sometimes they are a cage.
25181  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Right to defend on: April 28, 2011, 08:14:32 AM
Tzvi Freeman: Any Jew alive on the face of this planet today is a walking miracle. Our mere existence today is wondrous, plucked from the fire at the last moment again and again, with no natural explanation that will suffice.  Each of us alive today is a child of martyrs and miracles.

AB wrote: "And second of all, the horrors of Marxism here werent really horrors at all, and most certainly they werent Marxists horrors. I beleive you refer to Yugoslavia. All recent studies and polls show that a vast majority of people said life back then was a lot more lax, less stresfull, happier and freer. Almost 0% crime rate, no unemployment, free health care with one of the best surgeons and doctors in central europe, a solid school system, sure work after graduation, economical vertical mobility, great national spirit and cameradery..."

As GM has already clarified, his comments were directed to the entirety of Marxism, the over twenty million killed by Stalin et al, the 50-70 million killed by Mao, etc.  I would add a simple comment based upon my personal experience.  When I was 11 years old my family and I (liberal NYC Jews btw so we were not predisposed to a negative experience) went into what was then northern Yugoslavia for several days.  The oppression and fear in the air was palpable.  As you know, last year I was in Slovenia which seemed to me to be a fine, wonderful place.  Also, I went to Cuba for ten days in 1981, shortly before the Port Mariel exodus.  I speak Spanish at an adult level, and Latin America was my region of specialization for my degree in International Relations from U. of PA-- the point being I did go in with some education and the ability to talk to people independently of government provided guides.  Again, oppression in the air, and empty stomachs in a fertile tropical island.  As for your description of central Europe, I have a hard time squaring that with the fact of the Berlin Wall and Soviet and East German guards shooting people trying to escape.

AB wrote "So in short I cannot honestly answer you to the question : does Israel have a right to exist?  Does Israel have a right to self-defense? I mean of course from the basic context, there is no doubt that it does, but my pitch is, that the problem is WAY more layered and structured than this basic question."

I find your response here quite remarkable.  It is PRECISELY as simple as whether Israel has a right to exist and to defend itself or not!!!  Annale slice and layer all you want to concerning the etymology of the terms Palistine/Palestinian, Iran/Aryan, Jihad/Kampf but the simple facts are

a) that there are major strands of Jewish hatred in the Arab world today based upon portions of Islam;
b) that this hatred precedes the creation of Israel;
c) that almost as many Jews came to Israel to escape oppression in the Arab (and Aryan Iranian) world as came from Europe;
d) that the ASIs (Arabs Surrounding Israel) have tried to wipe it out various times;
e) that there are many, many ASIs currently dedicated to the destruction of Israel
f) Iran is building missiles and nukes that will give it the ability to wipe Israel out in a flash
g) that Israel gave the Sinai back to Egypt after it accepted Israel's right to exist
h) that this option was on the table for many years for the West Bank, though at this point many Israelis have decided to move on and keep land from which their security and survival has been attacked innumerable times and
i) those who would make peace and do business with Israel are killed
j) the rights of Arabs in Israel are far, far greater than the rights of Jews in Arab coutntries.

PS:  I have looked in vain for your statement of your guiding philosophy "Annales Marxism" was it?  I would like to read up on this a bit.  This is what I have found so far-- is this it?
25182  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Long term flux on: April 28, 2011, 06:42:35 AM
The Middle East in Long-Term Flux

There are days when disparate events in multiple countries offer key insights into the trajectory of the wider region. Tuesday was one of them. A number of significant developments took place in the Middle East – a region that in the past four months has become far more turbulent than it has been in the last decade. Let us start with Egypt, where the provisional military authority appears to be considering a radical foreign policy move in re-establishing ties with Iran. It is too early to say whether such a rapprochement will materialize, but the country’s interim premier, Essam Sharaf, who is on a tour of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), sought to reassure his Persian Gulf Arab hosts that revived Egyptian-Iranian ties would not undermine their security. Having successfully dealt with popular unrest at home, the military of Egypt appears to be on a path to reassert Cairo onto the regional scene, and revitalizing relations with an emergent Iran is likely a key aspect of this strategy.

Egypt, being far removed from the Persian Gulf region, does not have the same concerns about Iran that its fellow Sunni Arab states on the Arabian Peninsula do. It can therefore afford to have ties with the clerical regime. The Egyptians are also watching how the GCC states are unable to effectively deal with a rising Tehran and are thus seeing the need to become involved in the issue. However, unlike the Khaleeji Arabs, they do not think confrontation is the way forward. Establishing ties with Iran also allows Egypt to undercut Syria, which thus far is the only Arab state to have close relations with the Persian Islamist state.

“Iran wants to dispense with the unfinished business of Iraq, allowing it to focus on the other side of the Persian Gulf where turmoil in places like Bahrain offers potential opportunities of historic proportions.”
Meanwhile, Syria faces growing public agitation and its future looks uncertain. Damascus is caught in a dilemma — its use of force to quell the popular demonstrations has only aggravated matters. Placating the masses through reforms is also risky for the future well-being of the regime. Faced with bad options, it has largely focused on using force to try and neutralize the opposition — a move that has its northern neighbor, Turkey, concerned about turmoil on its southern borders (turmoil that could easily spread to Lebanon). This is why on Tuesday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that he will send a delegation to the Syrian capital to try to help defuse the situation.

Growing instability in Syria, however, is beginning to be an issue for the Turks. In Iraq, the Turks have long been caught in the middle of an intensifying U.S.-Iranian struggle. And on Tuesday, that struggle took an interesting turn with reports that the Iraqi prime minister is considering ways in which his government could allow American troops to remain in his country while not upsetting his patrons in Iran. It will be difficult to strike such a compromise given that Iran is anxiously waiting for the withdrawal of American forces from its western neighbor so it can move to consolidate its influence there unencumbered.

Iran wants to dispense with the unfinished business of Iraq, allowing it to focus on the other side of the Persian Gulf, where turmoil in places like Bahrain offers potential opportunities of historic proportions. While its arch regional nemesis, Saudi Arabia, seems to have things under control in the Shiite-majority Arab island kingdom for now, the situation there is not tenable given that the demographics work in favor of Iran. A more immediate concern for the Saudis in relation to the Arabian Peninsula is the serious potential for a meltdown of the Yemeni state.

Riyadh and its GCC allies have been working overtime trying to broker a deal in Yemen whereby beleaguered President Ali Abdullah Saleh can step down and hand over power to a transitional coalition government. On Tuesday, it was announced that the deal is supposed to be signed next Monday in the Saudi capital. Given the complex fault lines separating the various players in the largely tribal country, the chances of Yemen undergoing an orderly transfer of power remain low. In fact, because of the complexity and number of actors involved in the process, the likelihood of civil war remains high.

Ultimately, the prospects of turmoil on the Arabian Peninsula and Levant remain high. Egypt, Turkey and Iran – to varying degrees – could benefit in the long term. In the short term, we are looking at a slow but steady spread of instability throughout the region, rendering it precarious for years to come.

25183  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Poltical Privacy under attack by BO. on: April 27, 2011, 02:27:51 PM
Suppose that during the civil rights movement segregationist governors ordered all state contractors to disclose their political donations in an attempt to expose civil rights supporters to harassment and retaliation. The Supreme Court would have had none of it.

In NAACP v. Alabama (1958), the court barred Alabama from forcing the NAACP to disclose its members. Those justices would have struck down a similar effort to force the release of the NAACP's financial supporters. They would have rightly viewed it as an infringement of the constitutional right to free association and free speech.

Today President Obama is ignoring the lessons of the civil rights era he claims to revere. According to a draft executive order leaked last week, Mr. Obama plans to require any company seeking a federal contract to disclose its executives' political contributions over $5,000—not just to candidates, but to any group that might make "independent expenditure" or "electioneering communication" advertisements.

If a small businesswoman wants to sell paper clips to the Defense Department, Mr. Obama would force her to reveal contributions to groups such as Planned Parenthood or the National Rifle Association. These donations are obviously irrelevant to whether she made the most reliable bid at the lowest price. The only purpose of the executive order is to dangle the specter of retaliation (by losing her contracts) and harassment (from political opponents).

It would be comforting if this order had been some aberration produced from somewhere deep in the bowels of the federal bureaucracy. Unfortunately, it was not. This order represents the latest salvo in the Obama administration's war on the First Amendment rights of its political opponents.

The conflict goes back to January 2010, with the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The court held as unconstitutional the McCain-Feingold Act's limits on the political spending of corporations, unions and other groups. Mr. Obama struck back, claiming that the decision "strikes at our democracy itself." He trotted out the usual suspects—"big oil, Wall Street banks, health-insurance companies and other powerful interests"—as the winners. He promised that the White House would "talk with bipartisan congressional leaders to develop a forceful response to this decision."

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Getty Images
 .There was no bipartisanship, but there was certainly a forceful response. Democrats proposed the Disclose Act, which would have muzzled political speech by prohibiting federal contractors from making contributions to federal candidates or parties. Though the act failed to overcome a filibuster last year in the Senate, its supporters remain undeterred.

Having failed to undo Citizens United by legislation, Mr. Obama apparently believes that he can veto the Supreme Court by naked presidential fiat. But before the administration barrels through with this attempt to suppress corporate political activity, it would do well to revisit NAACP v. Alabama.

The court declared that the privacy of group membership and political activity were critical to the "effective advocacy of both public and private points of view, particularly controversial ones." Privacy can be critical for free speech. "Inviolability of privacy in group association may in many circumstances be indispensable to preservation of freedom of association, particularly where a group espouses dissident beliefs," Justice John Marshall Harlan wrote for a unanimous court.

The court went on to recite a litany of potential retaliation—"economic reprisal, loss of employment, threat of physical coercion, and other manifestations of public hostility"—that could deter people from publicly supporting the NAACP. It did not matter, the justices observed, that the harassment would likely come from "private community pressures." What mattered is that such pressure would be prompted by "the initial exertion of state power."

Our era of instant mass communication exponentially multiplies this threat. Supporters of California's Proposition 8, which bars gay marriage, have faced relentless harassment after a federal court refused to bar the disclosure of their identities in 2009. Opponents promptly created a website that used the Prop 8 list to create a map of donors' homes. Widespread intimidation followed: Some Prop 8 supporters were fired from their jobs, and several of their businesses were boycotted.

Mr. Obama's executive order threatens to replicate the Prop 8 experience on a nationwide scale. In fact, it requires the release of contractors' political contributions in a publicly available electronic database to be posted online as soon as possible. It shouldn't matter here that disclosure would be the price for doing business with the government. In B oy Scouts of America v. Dale (2000), the Supreme Court made it clear that a group did not have to give up its right to associate in exchange for some government benefit.

Civil libertarians and liberals have so far been mum in the face of Mr. Obama's executive order. They're likely justifying their silence on the basis that businesses—not unions—will suffer. But if the president succeeds in reducing the free-speech rights of business today, it will be far easier to limit the same rights of other Americans tomorrow.

Imagine the outcry we'll hear from self-described First Amendment supporters when every professor applying for a government research grant has to disclose his political donations.

Mr. Marston is a lawyer and former U.S. attorney in Philadelphia. Mr. Yoo, a law professor at the University of California Berkeley and a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, served in the George W. Bush Justice Department.

25184  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ/Joffe: In case Andraz does not have enough to which to respond :-) on: April 27, 2011, 02:06:17 PM

In politics, shoddy theories never die. In the Middle East, one of the oldest is that Palestine is the "core" regional issue. This zombie should have been interred at the beginning of the Arab Spring, which has highlighted the real core conflict: the oppressed vs. their oppressors. But the dead keep walking.

"The plight of the Palestinians has been a root cause of unrest and conflict in the region," insisted Turkish President Abdullah Gul in the New York Times last week. "Whether these [recent] uprisings lead to democracy and peace or to tyranny and conflict will depend on forging a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace." Naturally, "the U.S. has a long overdue responsibility" to forge that peace.

Writing in the Financial Times, former U.S. National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft intoned: "The nature of the new Middle East cannot be known until the festering sore of the occupied territories is removed." Read: The fate of democracy hinges on Palestine.

So do "Iran's hegemonic ambitions," he insinuated. This is why Tehran reaches for the bomb? Syria, too, will remain a threat "as long as there is no regional peace agreement." The Assad regime is slaughtering its own people for the sake of Palestine? And unless Riyadh "saw the U.S. as moving in a serious manner" on Palestine, Mr. Scowcroft warned, the Saudis might really sour on their great protector from across the sea. So when they sent troops into Bahrain, were they heading for Jerusalem by way of Manama?

Shoddy political theories—ideologies, really—never die because they are immune to the facts. The most glaring is this: These revolutions have unfolded without the usual anti-American and anti-Israeli screaming. It's not that the demonstrators had run out of Stars and Stripes to trample, or were too concerned about the environment to burn Benjamin Netanyahu in effigy. It's that their targets were Hosni Mubarak, Zine el Abidine Ben-Ali, Moammar Gadhafi and the others—no stooges of Zionism they. In Benghazi, the slogan was: "America is our friend!"

The men and women of the Arab Spring are not risking their lives for a "core" issue, but for the freedom of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Syria. And of Iran, as the Green revolutionaries did in Tehran in 2009.

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Syrian anti-government protesters march during a demonstration in Banias, Syria, on April 17.
.Every "Palestine-first" doctrine in the end comes down to that fiendish "Arab Street": The restless monster must be fed with Israeli concessions lest he rise and sweep away our good friends—all those dictators and despots who pretended to stand between us and Armageddon. Free Palestine, the dogma goes, and even Iran and Syria will turn from rabid to responsible. The truth is that the American and Israeli flags were handed out for burning by those regimes themselves.

This is how our good friends have stayed in power: Divert attention and energy from oppression and misery at home by rousing the masses against the enemy abroad. How can we have free elections, runs a classic line, as long as they despoil our sacred Islamic lands? This is why anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism are as rampant among our Saudi and Egyptian allies as among the hostile leaders of Iran and Syria.

The Palestinians do deserve their own state. But the Palestine-first strategy reverses cause and effect. It is not the core conflict that feeds the despotism; it is the despots who fan the conflict, even as they fondle their U.S.-made F-16s and quietly work with Israel. Their peoples are the victims of this power ploy, not its drivers. This is what the demonstrators of Tahrir Square and the rebels of Benghazi have told us with their silence on the Palestine issue.

So Palestine has nothing to do with it? It does, though not in the ways insisted by Messrs. Gul and Scowcroft. The sounds of silence carry a different message: "It's democracy, stupid!" Freedom does not need the enemy at the gate. Despots do, which is why they happily let the Palestinian sore fester for generations.

Israel, which has reacted in utter confusion to the fall of Mubarak, might listen up as well. If democracies don't have to "busy giddy minds with foreign quarrels," as Shakespeare has it in Henry IV, then Israel's reformed neighbors might at last be ready for real, not just cold peace. Mr. Mubarak was not. Nor is Mr. Assad of Syria, who has refused every Israeli offer to hand back the Golan Heights. If you rule at the head of a tiny Alawite minority, why take the Heights and give away a conflict that keeps you in power? Peace at home—justice, jobs and consent—makes for peace abroad.

Still, don't hold your breath. Yes, democracy is where history is going, but it is a long, perilous journey even from Tunis to Tripoli, let alone all the way to Tehran.

Mr. Joffe is senior fellow at the Freeman-Spogli Institute for International Studies and a fellow at the Hoover Institution, both at Stanford.

25185  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / RH Lee 1786 ; James Madison 1824 on: April 27, 2011, 10:47:32 AM

"It is certainly true that a popular government cannot flourish without virtue in the people." --Richard Henry Lee, letter to Colonel Martin Pickett, 1786

"I entirely concur in the propriety of resorting to the sense in which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the nation. In that sense alone it is the legitimate Constitution. And if that is not the guide in expounding it, there may be no security." --James Madison, letter to Henry Lee, 1824
25186  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: April 27, 2011, 10:22:54 AM
Trump is an alpha male, Obama , , , what's this phrase his people have been using recently?  Obama "leads from (or is it "with his") behind."

Trump has what it takes temperamentally to spank a Meredith Veira and the rest of the Pravda press and to speak up FOR the United States.  Its just that he stands for himself more than anything else and as expression thereof has a long history of positions whose only principle seems to be his own self-interest.

I saw Pawlenty interviewed last night on Bret Baier Report.  Good job.
25187  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / At long last long form revealed on: April 27, 2011, 10:17:57 AM
Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Wed, April 27, 2011 -- 9:24 AM ET

White House Releases Long Form of President Obama's Hawaii Birth Certificate

President Obama posted a copy of his "long form" birth
certificate, hoping to finally end a long-simmering
conspiracy theory among some conservatives that he was not
born in the United States and was not a legitimate president.

The birth certificate, which is posted online at the White
House website, shows conclusively that Mr. Obama was born in
Honolulu, Hawaii, and is signed by state officials and his

Read More:

25188  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The conversation continues , , , on: April 27, 2011, 10:16:36 AM
AB said: "In the Modern era, apart from a few natural disasters, the only reason for Jews immigrating (emmigrating?) from "Arab countries“ is because of the Ottoman restrictions on Zionist land acquisition and immigration. Settler numbers prior to that are marginal, compared to the Aliyah migrations from Europe."

I'm not sure I understand here.  Concerning "Ottoman restrictions on Zionist land acquistion":  Wouldn't it be more accurate here to say "Jewish" than to say "Zionist"?  Did the Ottoman Empire allow Jews who were not Zionists to acquire land? I find that doubtful.  What then is the point/purpose for saying "Zionist" instead of saying "Jewish"? Is it to avoid having to acknowledge an example of the oppressive nature of dhimmitude throughout much/most/all the Ottoman Empire especially in the Arab regions?

Anyway, the point is tangential to the one that I was seeking to make:  That upon the creation of the Jewish State of Israel by the United Nations there was massive Jewish emmigration from the oppressive nature of dhimmitude in Arab lands to Israel and that the numbers involved rival the numbers coming from Europe.  I apologize for not being the scholar that you are in these matters Andrew and so lack citations, but my intended underlying point is to undercut the assertion sometimes made that Israel's creation is due simply to Europe dumping its Jews on the Arabs.

AB said "About the killings, and terror attacks etc. I post this table from 2008, about the „effectiveness“ of the Palestinian war machine "

Although wikipedia is adequate for many kinds of citations, for others, particularly controversial issues such as the one we are discussing here, IMHO it is less than definitive.  Just as we have cited in this thread how youtube is systematically removing material supportive of the Israel and Jews (due to intimidation?) given what I understand to be the nature of how Wikipedia works, it seems to me that the same forces can be at work.  As one of GM's posts point out (accurately and fairly in my opinion) there are widely believed falsehoods against Israel out there about many things and and I am not ready to grant the accuracy of numbers skewed as heavily as these are.   Indeed in one of your citations, the ratio is more like 3-1 instead of the numbers here.

That said, I agree that more Palestinians have been killed by the IDF than Israelis have been killed by Palestinians, a datum which is cited by some as an indication of , , , I'm not sure what-- moral virtue (!) on the part of the Palestinians?   The logic eludes me.  Does Israel have to wait for the efficacy of rockets launched from Gaza and suicidal kills to rise to higher death levels before acting to abate these attacks from an entity led by a democratically elected group (Hamas) formally dedicated to the destruction of Israel?  Does not Israel have a right of self-defense?!?

I said: "Yet despite all their genocidal attacks on the Jews, good people such as yourself do not hold the Palestinians to blame for the natural consequences of their actions.  Indeed you speak of the Jews surrounding the Arabs/Palestinians!?!

AB responded:  "I will not comment on the video links, I do not consider this type of argumenting viable for such a seriously delicate topic. Likewise I can return the favor with the link to the Massada2000 website and the s.h.i.t. list, and give you a counter argument for the frightenly imbecilic zionistic groups, but where would that lead us ?"

I have heard of Zionist groups that Israeli friends tell me go too far, but they are stuff of the internet, not on official state TV of Israel as the Palestian clips I posted are on official West Bank TV-- so my reponse is that the comparison you seek to make is not valid.

Then there is the matter of "Who started it?"  If we were to look at WW2 post D-day, the Allies certainly were imposing more casualties than they were receiving-- yet no one (I hope!) would use that datum to suggest that they were the aggressors (Russia excepted!!!)  

The starting point needs to be that the the Arabs Surrounding Israel (hereinafter ASIs be they Lebanese, Syrian, Jordanian, West Bankers, Gazans, Egyptians) have sought to wipe out Israel-- which was created by the United Nations.  Israel has defended itself-- righteously and effectively.  THAT IS A GOOD THING.  As is the case when aggressors lose wars, they sometimes lose land from which they launched their attacks. Those who accepted Israel's right to exist (Egypt) got their land back.  Those who persisted in trying to wipe out Israel didn't.  After years of murderous, indeed evil deliberate targeting of Jewish women and children, yes some Jewish groups have concluded that peace is not possible and that efforts at peace will be met with taquiya in preparation for the day when pretenses can be dropped and so hard-core, hard-line thought can be found, though the overwhelming majority of Israelis would be delighted to have genuine partners in peace.

AB said "You saw them purely as terrorists, I posted that, as a balance check to the other side, whereas in reality my personal opinions on the whole matter are very mixed, and quite frankly, not appropriate for this portion of the forum."

Well, that certainly is an intriguing dangle!  And as the host here, I give you the green light to say what your personal feelings are.

Next: Thank you for this citation

AB said "I'm writing my ass off here, thinking and argumenting my point, but for you linking articles and sources that support your view on things is a self suficient argument in a debate.Actually I would rather call shoving other peoples opinions down your collegues throats,  indoctrination."

Well, you are not the first person around here to have commented on GM's propensity to post articles without personal commentary of his own! smiley  Indeed, on occasion I have been amongst those so commenting smiley  That said, I can also see the point of not wanting to get in the way of the expression of a journalist or writer who addresses the questions raised in an authoritative manner and in the case at hand here I think the articles GM cites are quite on point and well-reasoned; indeed I invite you to address the points they make or to share quality pieces which do address the points in question.

I'd also like to remind all of us (ahem GM, AB, and , , , um , , , me  smiley ) that this is by its nature a subject subjected to intense emotions and that in some cases we come from different cultures which may or may not have subtly different understandings as to what constitutes good manners in communication.  Let us avoid making snarky comments please and let us avoid getting irked by snarky comments.  We have the raw material here for some really good conversation which can help each and everyone of us move forward in our understandings.

Concerning the discussion of Solway, from my point of view (and perhaps in search of simplicity I achieve merely the simplistic) about Palestine/Palestinians etc. I confess that on a certain level the significance of what I perceive to be the essence of AB's point eludes me; it seems to me on a par with arguing that the UN should have created not one but two Israels, one for Ashkenazi Jews and one for Sephardic.  Certainly, as GM points out, the Kurds have a far stronger claim to deserving a separate nation (instead of being divided amongst Iraq, Turkey, Syria, and Iran) than the particular subset of Arabs currently residing in the West Bank (thanks to AB's interesting commentary I am no longer sure whether I should be calling them Palestinians or not smiley ) but there does not seem to be much interest in that , , ,

AB wrote: "When reading about Hitler and his ideology and propaganda et al. You have to be very careful, since he is an epitome of „picking what you like from all around and stuff it into one big neat pile of WTF“. At one point in his „career“ he became obsessed with finding the pure race, and traveled almost off world to find his agenda. From aryans in Iran to Tibet. Now as some may know he was obsessed with Nietzsche, although he read it in a completely oppurtunistic manner. Nietzche on the other hand had a thing (to put it bluntly ) for Zoroaster/Zarathustra the prophet. Through this prism he started to plow around Iran to find the „aryan“ he read so largely about in Zoroaster texts, sadly little did he know that this „aryan“ meant something totally other to what his version of „aryan“ was all about. The reason why alot of Iranians/Persians got excited about the book was, since it was promoted as a book that promotes the domination of the aryan race, the aryan ideology. Needless to say, the aryan race in that or any other context doesnt exist, and what they read about, and were so excited about was not their Aryan, but that of the NSDAP."

I'm not clear on the point here.  Perhaps GM and I are misled by propaganda.  In my case I have come into this conversation with the understanding that the analysis offered by GM's article is correct.  Are you saying that the government of Persia, which coincidentally was in bed at the time with the Nazis, changed its name to Iran for reasons not having to do with the Aryan racial theories of Hitler?  If so, what were those reasons?

AB said to GM "I find your oversimplifications of the matters in this case, strongly disconcerting."  

I confess to having a similar line of thought, though GM beat me to expressing it smiley  The explanation of our oversimplications may be rather , , , simple.  We are Americans and we are working with what we know! Certainly we would be in over our heads concerning the history of the various regions/republics/countries of what used to by Yugoslavia (oddly enough, I know a little bit due to a US legal decision about whether to grant political asylum to one "Artukovic" in the aftermath of WW2 due to his actions in Serbo-Croatia) but given the vicious Jew hatred of Iran's current regime (including its determination to completely wipe Israel out) and the connections of its prior government with the Nazis, it seems to me that it was not a strange leap of logic to infer Jew hatred from Iranian participation in the Waffen SS.

Next:  As I Jew of course I am quite aware of vast stretches of terrible Christian behavior towards Jews.  Indeed it was not until I was 8 years old that the Pope forgave me for killing Christ.  As a somewhat educated man I am aware of a historical period many centuries ago wherein Jews were treated decently in parts of the Muslim world, certainly far better than we were treated in the Christian world.  But what interests me in the world today is the reality of the world today.  In most of the Christian world as a Jew I am safe (questionable: Russia, parts of eastern Europe, and increasingly the rest of Europe-- but is Europe really Christian or Secular Humanist now? , , , but I digress).  Certainly, the issue is quite different in the Arab world!!!  I certainly hope I do not need to expound further on this point!!!

Which brings me back to the starting point-- your idea that the "Palestians"/Arabs surrounding Israel are surrounded by the Jews (!) (who, if they were wise would allow them a way out,?) instead of the other way around.  To the north is Hezbollah, armed by Iran (led by a man dedicated to the erradication of Israel) with some 50,000 plus rockets that cover a large % of Israel, to the northeast is Syria, which more than once in my lifetime has sought to invade and obliterate Israel but now is surprised that Israel holds and is reluctant to give back the Golan Heights before Syria recognizes Israel's right to exist, to the east is the West Bank, a land abandoned by Jordan rather than continue to deal with Arafat and the PLO and a land which continues to violate its promises in the Oslo Accords to recognize Israel's right to exist (yet its school books and military emblems continue to show "from river to sea") and to its south-west is Gaza, headed by democractically elected Hamas which is dedicated to the erradication of Israel.  Then there is Egypt, which got Sinai back after recognizing Israel-- though the durability of that peace is now in deep question.

AB, does Israel have a right to exist?  Does Israel have a right to self-defense?
25189  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Jon Stewart: Congress's final FU to 911 responders on: April 27, 2011, 07:52:37 AM
25190  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: April 26, 2011, 03:56:30 PM
I think you are correct about 50% for stocks, but IIRC, oil futures are 5%. 

The mathematical implications need no expounding here from me.

This is why I keep raising this point in wonderment at its lack of mention elsewhere , , ,

25191  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Monetary reform must be part of the package on: April 26, 2011, 12:51:43 PM
No man in America is a match for House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan on the federal budget. No congressman in my lifetime has been more determined to cut government spending. No one is better informed for the task he has set himself. Nor has anyone developed a more comprehensive plan to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, the federal budget deficit than the House Budget Resolution submitted by Mr. Ryan on April 5.

But experience and the operations of the Federal Reserve system compel me to predict that Mr. Ryan's heroic efforts to balance the budget by 2015 without raising taxes will not end in success—even with a Republican majority in both Houses and a Republican president in 2012.

Why? Because the House Budget Resolution fails to reform the Federal Reserve system that supplies the new money and credit to finance both the budget deficit and the balance-of-payments deficit. So long as the Treasury deficit can be financed with discretionary money and credit—newly created by the Federal Reserve, by the banking system, and by foreign central banks—the federal budget deficit will persist.

It is true that federal deficits will rise more or less with the business cycle, leading previous deficit hawks such as Sens. Phil Gramm and Warren Rudman to believe that if we just reined in federal spending and increased economic growth we'd have a balanced budget. Indeed, for two generations, fiscal conservatives and Democratic and Republican presidents alike have pledged to balance the budget and bring an end to ever-rising government spending.

They, too, were informed, determined and sincere leaders. But they did not succeed because of institutional defects in the monetary system that have never been remedied.

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Chad Crowe
 .President Reagan was aware of the need to reform the monetary system in the 1980s, but circumstances and time permitted only tax-rate reform, deregulation efforts, and rebuilding a strong defense. And so the monetary problem remains.

The problem is simple. Because of the official reserve currency status of the dollar, combined with discretionary new Federal Reserve and foreign central bank credit, the federal government is always able to finance the Treasury deficit, even though net national savings are insufficient for the purpose.

What persistent debtor could resist permanent credit financing? For a government, an individual or an enterprise, "a deficit without tears" leads to the corrupt euphoria of limitless spending. For example, with new credit, the Fed will have bought $600 billion of U.S. Treasurys between November 2010 and June 2011, a rate of purchase that approximates the annualized budget deficit. Commodity, equity and emerging-market inflation are only a few of the volatile consequences of this Fed credit policy.

The solution to the problem is equally simple. First, in order to limit Fed discretion, the dollar must be made convertible to a weight unit of gold by congressional statute—at a price that preserves the level of nominal wages in order to avoid the threat of deflation. Second, the government must at the same time be prohibited from financing its deficit at the Fed or in the banks—both at home or abroad. Third, only in the free market for true savings—undisguised by inflationary new Federal Reserve money and banking system credit—will interest rates signal to voters the consequences of growing federal government deficits.

Unrestricted convertibility of the dollar to gold at the statutory price restricts Federal Reserve creation of excess dollars and the inflation caused by Fed financing of the deficit. This is so because excess dollars in the financial markets, at home or abroad, would lead to redemption of the undesired dollars into gold at the statutory parity price, thus requiring the Fed to reduce the expansion of credit in order to preserve the lawful convertibility parity of the dollar-gold relationship, thereby reducing the threat of inflation.

This monetary reform would provide an indispensable restraint, not only on the Federal Reserve, but also on the global banking system—based as the system now is on the dollar standard and foreign official dollar reserves. Establishing dollar convertibility to a weight unit of gold, and ending the dollar's reserve currency role, constitute the dual institutional mechanisms by which sustained, systemic inflation is ruled out of the integrated world trading system. It would also prevent access to unlimited Fed credit by which to finance ever-growing government.

By adding these monetary reforms to his House Budget Resolution, Mr. Ryan has a chance to succeed where previous deficit hawks have failed. As today's stalwart of a balanced budget, he must now become a monetary-reform statesman if he is to attain his admirable goal of balancing the federal budget by 2015 without raising taxes.

Mr. Lehrman is chairman of The Lehrman Institute.

25192  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: April 26, 2011, 12:32:33 PM
A fair question and one I am unable to answer.  I have no idea what % of oil futures trading is done on margin or how large a % is necessary for it to affect volatility. 

25193  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!) on: April 26, 2011, 12:30:36 PM

I note that CAIR has supported the reinstatement of an MTA (Metro Transit Authority) worker in the NYC/NJ area who lost his job for burning three pages of the Koran.

For most of us here, this is likely to be suspected of theologically blessed deception (taquiya- sp?) but nonetheless it should be noted-- at the very least so we are not thrown off guard when someone uses it as a debating point.
25194  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Hulbert on Dollar vs. Gold on: April 26, 2011, 12:23:44 PM

By Mark Hulbert, MarketWatch
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (MarketWatch) — The dollar’s revenge?

That possibility has many gold bugs worried, since recent strength in gold’s dollar-denominated price appears to have come at the expense of the U.S. dollar. In fact, the correlation has been particularly striking this year: The U.S. Dollar Index /quotes/comstock/11j!i:dxy0 DXY -0.23%   has fallen 6.3% since the end of last year, for example, while gold bullion /quotes/comstock/21e!f:gc\j11 GCJ11 -0.50%   has risen 6.1%.

The gold bugs’ concern isn’t just theoretical, either. Many expect the dollar to stage a comeback as the U.S. Federal Reserve brings its monetary-stimulus program — its second round of quantitative easing, or QE2 — to an end June 30. Indeed, some are anticipating that the rally could begin as soon as later this week, depending on the outcome of the Fed’s meeting. Read more on Fed.

Gold at record highPaul Vigna discusses why gold prices are at a fresh record and silver is flirting with $50 an ounce for the first time since 1980.
But are the gold bugs right to worry about a stronger dollar? That’s what I set out to discover for this column.

I fed into my PC’s statistical package five years’ worth of data for gold bullion and the Dow Jones FXCM Dollar Index (which represents the dollar’s value against a basket of the currencies of the U.S.’ largest trading partners). I was specifically interested in the extent to which changes in the dollar’s value led to changes in gold’s price.

As expected, I found an inverse correlation: Increases in the dollar’s value tended to correspond to decreases in gold’s U.S. dollar price, and vice versa. Crucially, however, I found that the ups and downs of the dollar were only able to explain about a quarter of gold’s gyrations.

(For the statistically minded among you: The r-squared for the correlation was never higher than 0.26, regardless of whether I focused on daily, weekly or monthly changes in the dollar index and gold.)

What this means: Assuming the future is like the past, other factors besides the dollar’s value against other currencies will explain the bulk of what happens to gold in coming sessions.

This somewhat surprising finding is confirmed by another study recently conducted by Ned Davis Research, the quantitative research firm. In that study, the firm focused on commodities generally, not just gold. Joseph Kalish, senior macro strategist for the firm, and John LaForge, Ned Davis’s commodity strategist, found that only about one-third of the S&P GSCI Commodity index’s gain over the past couple of years is due to the weak dollar.

Note carefully that my results, as well as those of Ned Davis Research, don’t mean that currency devaluations generally account for only a quarter (or a third) of the increase in the dollar-denominated price of gold. That conclusion only applies to the U.S. dollar’s value relative to other currencies.

Indeed, it is possible to imagine a hypothetical scenario in which all currencies are debased at precisely the same rate over time. In that case, gold’s U.S. dollar price would still rise, even though the U.S. dollar’s value relative to other currencies would remain more or less constant. (Marc:  My understanding is that this is not a hypothetical, indeed it is precisely what is happening-- other countries debase their currencies so as to maintain some semblance of stability in the exchange rate with the dollar; bottom line is that the Fed exports inflation/currency debasement)

The bottom line? Only a minority of gold’s recent rally can be attributed to weakness in the dollar. That means that, while unexpected dollar strength will likely cause some weakness in gold, such strength is not likely, by itself, to cause gold’s bull market to come to an end.

Mark Hulbert is the founder of Hulbert Financial Digest in Annandale, Va. He has been tracking the advice of more than 160 financial newsletters since 1980. (Marc: My impression is that this is a well regarded newsletter for tracking the comparative results of other newsletters)

25195  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Force Science Exhaustion study on: April 26, 2011, 10:41:18 AM
This study seems relevant in reminding us of the physical fitness component in sudden attack situations:
Just in: Final findings from Force Science exhaustion study

The Force Science research team that explored officer exhaustion through a unique set of experiments in Canada last September has now issued its official findings--first presented in detail in the Force Science Certification Course conducted in Wisconsin this past week (4/18-4/22) and scheduled for integration into future courses--with these significant conclusions:

• Less than 60 seconds of all-out exertion, such as an officer might expend in trying to control a combative offender, can deplete the average LEO's physical reserves and put his life in peril;

• Environmental awareness and memory are also affected adversely, hampering an involved officer's ability to deliver accurate, detailed statements and testimony once a desperate fight is over;

• Even officers in top condition are not immune to the rapid drain of physical prowess and cognitive faculties resulting from sustained hand-to-hand combat.

"The bottom line," says Dr. Bill Lewinski, executive director of the Force Science Institute who headed up the research team, "is this: If an officer can't resolve a struggle very quickly, a tactical withdrawal or swift escalation to a higher level of force may be necessary and justified for personal survival. And investigators and courts need to understand that an officer who doesn't provide details surrounding a major physical conflict is not necessarily being deceptive, malicious, or uncooperative."

TEST DESIGN. Force Science News explained the testing sequence of this research in Transmission #159 [9/24/10] soon after the project launched (click here to read it.) To recap:

Researchers recruited 52 officer volunteers (42 males, 10 females), ranging in age from 23 to 51, with an average of 8 years on the job. All were "familiar with officer safety training involving high aerobic physical engagement," according to Dave Blocksidge, a Force Science Analyst from the London (England) Metropolitan Police, and one of the research team.

"During an initial briefing, all the subjects were told to remain alert and try to absorb and remember as much as they could about what took place," Lewinski says.

First they were given a crime report to read, which included details about the m.o. and descriptions of an armed robbery crew that had attacked 3 locations. Then in a gym used for training by the Winnipeg (Manitoba) Police Service, the officers were paired, with one-half instructed one at a time to launch a full-force physical attack on a 300-lb. hanging water bag and the others (a control group) assigned as "partners" to observe as the action took place. All were fitted with heart-rate monitors and the "physical exerters" also donned VO2 masks to measure oxygen consumption and gas exchange.

The exerters were told to attack the bag with as much ferocity as they could muster, selecting their own "assault movements"--punches, kicks, and/or palm, elbow, and knee strikes. During the attack, a researcher shouted "encouragement" ("Harder! Faster!") on 3 occasions. Once the name of a familiar intersection in Winnipeg was yelled out and another time a random 3-digit number was hollered. Unknown to the participants, all this would prove relevant later in a memory test.

The exerters were to sustain assailing the bag until they no longer had strength to keep going or until they were visibly maxed out ("breathless and struggling to continue") and were told to stop by exercise physiologist Justin Dixon of the London Police, who supervised this part of the experiment.

"In terms of upper-body involvement and energy expended, the bag drill realistically replicated a full-force fight by a moderately trained officer to control a strong, dynamically resisting suspect," Lewinski explains. "Two officers actually collapsed, and the rest were severely taxed as they moved on to the next phase of the test."

That required the exerter to run upstairs and outside to a trailer that a "known felon" was suspected of occupying, a distance of 145 feet. En route, the officer passed a gaudily dressed role-player holding an electric drill, who stared at the exerter intently but said nothing and made no aggressive moves.

Inside the trailer, the officer found a "living room" mocked up with furniture and a variety of visible weapons, including an M16 carbine, a revolver, a sawed-off shotgun, and a large kitchen knife. After a 5-second delay, a "critical target" emerged from another room--"a large, black, middle-aged male," wearing a black t-shirt, blue jeans, and a black bandana. He screamed profanities at the officer, commanding him/her to get out. He was not armed, although several of the weapons were within his easy reach.

The trailer scenario lasted about 15 seconds. After that, the exerter was permitted some "recovery time" while his observer partner ran through the same trailer exercise.

After 3 minutes' rest, Dixon drew a blood sample from each participant to measure lactic acid levels. The officers were also given informational "updates" about the robbery crew.

Then all completed a battery of memory tests administered by Dr. Lorraine Hope, a cognitive psychologist from England's University of Portsmouth. This testing included a review of what exerters and observers could remember about what had happened and a photo lineup in which the officers were asked to pick out the suspect they'd confronted in the trailer.

PHYSICAL DECLINE. The heart monitors, face masks, and blood tests all confirmed that exerters reached an intense level of energy output during the bag blitz. Heart rates, for example, leaped from an average resting rate of 73 bpm to an average maximum of 179 for the bag beaters, significantly higher than the modest average rise to 104 bpm for the observers. The exerters' blood lactate levels, reflecting the amount of exertion and affecting muscle function, skyrocketed up to 13 times the normal resting concentration. "It was impressive how committed these officers were to going flat out," Lewinski remarks.

Most dramatic--and alarming--was the speed at which exerters depleted their physical resources. On average, the officers spent 56 seconds hitting the bag, although some either quit or were called out as thoroughly exhausted after as little as 25 seconds. The blows they were able to deliver ranged from a low of 73 to a high of 274. The average was 183. The overwhelming majority of hits were fist punches.

Reviewing time-coded video of the action, researchers were able to count second by second the number of times each participant struck the bag. The average officer peaked at 15 seconds. After that, the frequency of strikes fell in a sharp and steady decline.

"The officers started out strong, driving hard with penetrating hits that visibly moved the heavy bag," Lewinski reports. "But by 30 to 40 seconds, most were significantly weakened. They were not able to breathe properly, their cadence dropped, their strikes scarcely moved the bag if at all, and they were resorting largely to very weak, slowly paced blows that would have had little impact on a combative assailant."

In effect, Blocksidge states in a paper he has written about the research, the exerters "delivering a concerted and sustained physical assault...'punched themselves out' " in a matter of seconds.

Perhaps surprisingly, this seemed true even of officers with a high level of personal fitness and fighting skill. Blocksidge offers this explanation: "Fitter officers delivered faster and more powerful strikes," expending greater effort and thus exhausting their presumably greater reserves in "roughly the same time" as those less fit and skilled.

MEMORY DEFICIT. The officers' exertion proved, for the most part, closely associated with incomplete and faulty memories of what they experienced. The exerters remembered "less visual and auditory information" and made "greater errors in recall" compared to the observing control group, Blocksidge reports.

Exerters and observers were asked to estimate within 90% the number of each type of blow delivered against the heavy bag. Exerters scored significantly better than observers in recalling the number of elbow, knee, and palm strikes they'd made. 89% of exerters, for example, estimated within the accepted accuracy range the number of elbow hits, compared to only 45% of observers.

"However, there were very few elbow, knee, and palm strikes made overall, so they tended to stand out in the exerters' memory," Lewinski explains. "But with the most common hits--punches--it was a far different story." 25% fewer exerters than observers were able to estimate accurately the number of fist blows. "The more exhausted officers were, the less accurate their estimates tended to be," notes researcher Hope.

Observers also were able to recall more by wide margins than exerters about the information that was shouted out during the bag blitz. Likewise, they were more accurate and more detailed in remembering information about the robbery crew.

As to the man with the drill who was encountered en route to the trailer, more than 90% of observers were able to recall at least one descriptive item about him, whereas nearly one-third of exerters did not remember seeing him at all.

Everyone remembered seeing the angry male in the trailer, but observers were able to correctly describe significantly more things about him, while making an average of half as many errors. And during the photo lineup, 54% of the observers correctly identified the suspect, compared to only 27% of the exerters. Typically, the tired officers expressed little certainty about the identifications they did make.

"As exhaustion takes over, cognitive resources tend to diminish," Lewinski explains. "The ability to fully shift attention is inhibited, so even some potentially relevant information tends to get screened out. Ultimately, memory is determined by where the focus of attention was during an event. The exerters were zeroed in on delivering blows during the bag blitz. Afterward, they typically had little cognitive resources left."

During the trailer encounter, however, the exerters were able to register threat cues. Here, in fact, their responses were virtually identical to those of observers. Six observers and 5 exerters remembered seeing no weapons at all. The most weapons noticed were 2, recalled by 4 observers and 5 exerters. However, 16 officers in each category remembered seeing one weapon, usually the largest (the carbine). (After noticing one, the researchers speculate, most officers may simply have quit scanning for more, having confirmed a potential life threat.)

"Fear conditioning through training," Blocksidge writes, apparently "enables simple processing" of threat and danger cues to continue on some level "despite the impact of exhaustion and anxiety." The ability to respond effectively to such cues, however, would be gravely degraded in an exhausted state, Lewinski points out.

IMPLICATIONS. As Lorraine Hope notes, "The legal system puts a great deal of emphasis on witness accounts, particularly those of professional witnesses like police officers." After a violent confrontation, Blocksidge states, "it is commonly believed" that officers are capable of recalling relevant particulars, "such as subject position, number of blows, time sequences, verbal comments, and the position of colleagues.... Policing is quite unique within the cognitive field, since officers are [expected] to operate in a dual-task mode of...taking action whilst remembering...information."

The gap documented by the study between what exerters and observers were able to remember means that in real-world conflicts "substantial aspects of visual details may remain [unnoticed] by active or involved witnesses while being noticed and attended by passive witnesses," Blocksidge writes.

"If investigators and force reviewers don't understand the implications of this study," Lewinski cautions, "an officer's memory errors or omissions after an intense physical struggle may unjustly affect his or her credibility. We think we have a lot of attentional resources working for us at all times, but in reality we don't."

In addition to illuminating memory issues, Lewinski is hopeful that the research findings will underscore the importance of tactical pre-assessment in deciding whether to engage or temporarily back off from potential physical conflict. "Officers need to read situations better before getting physically involved, knowing they have a limited capacity for all-out exertion," he says.

When a struggle does occur, he hopes the findings will help officers, trainers, investigators, and reviewers better appreciate the justification in desperate circumstances for escalating force in order to end a dangerous fight quickly. "The longer physical combat lasts," he explains, "the more at risk an officer is to the dire consequences of exhaustion. Very quickly an officer can reach the point of not having the energy or the ability to physically overcome resistance. Even a few seconds may make a difference between getting a suspect under control or the officer ending up badly hurt or killed."

Sgt. Jason Anderson of Winnipeg Police Service's Safety Unit, who assisted with the experiments, expresses gratitude for the study. He says it provides "data we can bring to court from a scientific organization using scientific methods and give the court the ability to properly assess these situations fairly."

Statistical details from the study, which was funded fully by the Force Science Institute, will be included in a report the research team is preparing for publication in a peer-reviewed professional journal.

Meanwhile, footage shot by a Canadian Discovery Channel film crew is available for viewing, if you want to see how the experiments were conducted. Click here to see that footage and to read additional news reports on the study.

25196  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Syria on: April 26, 2011, 10:22:21 AM
The Syrian regime is obviously having a lot of trouble putting down unrest as crackdowns are intensifying and as protests are spreading. A number of regional stakeholders are meanwhile trying to exploit the regime’s current vulnerabilities in trying to promote their own agendas in the region, particularly as tensions are escalating between Iran and the GCC states in the Persian Gulf region.

The Syrian regime has been employing this me-or-chaos theory. It’s one that’s had a pretty good effect so far. The current regime has been in power since the ‘63 coup and there’s no real viable political alternative to the al Assad regime. At the same time, there are a lot of patronage networks tied to this regime that do not want to see the government go. And the main drivers to these protests have come from the majority Sunni conservative camp. There are a number of players in the region who just don’t know how a majority Sunni regime would conduct their foreign policy. That’s of great concern to a number of players in the region who are concerned by sectarianism spreading not only in Lebanon, where Syria is a major player, but also in Iraq. There is major Kurdish unrest in Syria’s northeast that could spill over into Turkey and also fuel unrest in northern Iraq where protests have also been significant.

Given all these factors, the Saudis, the Turks, the Israelis and the Americans - pretty much anyone with a major stake in Syria - have not been openly advocating for regime change in Syria. They have a lot of reason to worry about the fallout of a regime collapse. At the same time, certain players see an opportunity. The Saudis in particular have been trying long and hard to coerce Syria into joining the Arab consensus and into cutting its ties with Iran and Hezbollah. The urgency of this demand has intensified, especially as tensions have been on the rise between Iran and the GCC states in the Persian Gulf region. Syria has accused a number of the surrounding Sunni Arab states of supporting the protests in its country. The Saudis have responded by saying that Syrian compliance with its demands in cutting relations with Iran and Hezbollah could lead to an easing of domestic pressure.

And therein lies the paradox. Syria could always reject foreign pressure to end its relationship with Iran and Hezbollah, but then it would be giving a reason to these regimes to search for alternatives to the al Assad regime. On the other hand, Syria could comply with these demands and try to sever ties with Iran and Hezbollah. But Iran has built up an insurance policy to such a scenario. Remember Iran has a core interest in maintaining a strong stake in the Levant region with which to threaten Israel, and Syria’s crucial to that agenda.

Syria also derives a lot of leverage from its relationship with Iran. That’s the main reason why the Saudis and others have been throwing cash at the Syrian regime in an attempt to coerce the Syrians out of that relationship. Plus there’s a huge indigenous factor to these protests. There’s no guarantee that Syrian compliance with foreign demands will actually ease the pressure at home. Syria is undoubtedly in a tough spot on a number of fronts. Regime collapse may not be imminent nor assured in the near term especially as the army seems to be holding together, but the regime’s room to maneuver is definitely narrowing by the day.

25197  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: April 26, 2011, 09:31:37 AM
A 5% margin rate (I believe I have this number correct) tends to magnify volatility too.  Why does it seem like I am the only one who notices this?

25198  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / No right to representation for the right on: April 26, 2011, 09:28:05 AM

A major law firm has caved to pressure from militant homosexual activists, and one of America’s top Supreme Court lawyers resigned from that firm rather than abandon principle. That lawyer is former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, and this is a story that everyone who values the rule of law needs to understand.

In 1996, a bipartisan majority of the Republican-controlled Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), signed into law by Democratic President Bill Clinton. The law specifies that for purposes of federal law, marriage is the union of one man and one woman. The law also provides that if any state breaks with 2,000 years of Western civilization by redefining marriage to include homosexual couples, no other state need recognize those unions.

Then some people started redefining marriage. In 2003, Massachusetts became the first state to do the same through an egregious instance of judicial activism. Today, a total of five states out of fifty have same-sex marriage.

Predictably, some activists challenged DOMA in federal court.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has a duty to defend every federal law in court. The only exceptions are for laws that undermine the president’s power (and even then, DOJ sometimes defends it) or for laws where no reasonable argument can be made defending that law.

Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that DOJ would no longer defend DOMA because he and President Barack Obama believe that there is no rational basis for the law. This is shocking, because President Obama is speaking out of both sides of his mouth, saying that he still believes marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

Let’s make sure we have this right: Marriage is between a man and a woman, but any law saying that is so irrational that it cannot be defended in court. It seems President Obama is either schizophrenic or disingenuous.

Thankfully, the U.S. House of Representatives took up the defense of DOMA. To do so, they retained former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement—now a partner at King & Spalding—to defend the law in court.

In response, a militant homosexual-agenda group, the Human Rights Campaign, took the disgraceful action of organizing a nationwide boycott of King & Spalding and tried to discourage graduating law students from working there.

Everyone should have access to a lawyer. The U.S. Constitution empowers the courts to decide whether a law is unconstitutional, but also requires that a court only do so if arguments are presented on both sides. Our constitutional system of government calls for both parties putting their best arguments on the table, so that a judge has everything necessary to arrive at the correct decision.

But leftist zealots evidently don’t care about a court reaching the right decision, calling for punishing anyone who has enough faith in the American legal system to wage an honorable contest in court.

When Ted Olson decided to take a case arguing that the U.S. Constitution includes a right to same-sex marriage which mysteriously went unnoticed by anyone in the country for over 200 years, no reputable group called for boycotting his firm, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher. Nor should they. Gibson Dunn argues for many causes and clients, many of them right.

Yet in an instance of craven cowardice, King & Spalding caved to pressure and has withdrawn from the case. Rather than stand by the principle that every issue—especially one unpopular to some—deserves fair consideration in court, the firm’s chairman, Robert Hays, said that the firm was quitting.

Clement—a top Supreme Court lawyer with over fifty cases before the Court—would not cave. Rather than abandon his client, he resigned from King & Spalding. He has now joined Bancroft PLLC, a law firm and policy organization featuring well-respected conservative lawyers and analysts.

And no one can lose sight of his client’s identity: the U.S. House of Representatives. This isn’t some traitor, or depraved serial murderer of children, or terrorist regime. This is the House representing the American people, chosen by We the People.

I don’t even know if Clement is personally pro-marriage. Maybe he’s not. But he took it as his duty to represent our Congress in court. He’s a patriot for answering that call.

People should remember this episode as showing the oppressive nature of some leftists. They scream about freedom when it suits their purpose, only to deny others freedom to even be heard. On this issue, pro-marriage advocates—especially churches and ministries faithful to biblical teaching on marriage—had better take heed. You will be next.

The truth is never afraid of a good debate. At the core of the First Amendment is the idea that people must be free to speak, because the best ideas should win in the end. The Federalist Society was founded upon that premise in hosting debates at law schools, reasoning that on a level playing field, the best ideas should prevail.

Those who oppose debate do so because they fear that they cannot overcome opposition. Those who try to prevent an opponent from having a good lawyer in court fears that the law may not be on their side.

A nation under the rule of law requires top lawyers to take up both sides of legal issues going to court. Solicitor General Paul Clement shows great courage by upholding that principle. Every solicitor general and deputy solicitor general alive today—both Republican and Democrat—should express their support for the brave stand taken by Paul Clement.
25199  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Who could have seen this coming? on: April 26, 2011, 07:38:33 AM
Iraq, Iran and the Next Move
April 26, 2011

By George Friedman

The United States told the Iraqi government last week that if it wants U.S. troops to remain in Iraq beyond the deadline of Dec. 31, 2011, as stipulated by the current Status of Forces Agreement between Washington and Baghdad, it would have to inform the United States quickly. Unless a new agreement is reached soon, the United States will be unable to remain. The implication in the U.S. position is that a complex planning process must be initiated to leave troops there and delays will not allow that process to take place.

What is actually going on is that the United States is urging the Iraqi government to change its mind on U.S. withdrawal, and it would like Iraq to change its mind right now in order to influence some of the events taking place in the Persian Gulf. The Shiite uprising in Bahrain and the Saudi intervention, along with events in Yemen, have created an extremely unstable situation in the region, and the United States is afraid that completing the withdrawal would increase the instability.

The Iranian Rise

The American concern, of course, has to do with Iran. The United States has been unable to block Iranian influence in Iraq’s post-Baathist government. Indeed, the degree to which the Iraqi government is a coherent entity is questionable, and its military and security forces have limited logistical and planning ability and are not capable of territorial defense. The issue is not the intent of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who himself is enigmatic. The problem is that the coalition that governs Iraq is fragmented and still not yet finalized, dominated by Iranian proxies such Muqtada al-Sadr — and it only intermittently controls the operations of the ministries under it, or the military and security forces.

As such, Iraq is vulnerable to the influence of any substantial power, and the most important substantial power following the withdrawal of the United States will be Iran. There has been much discussion of the historic tension between Iraqi Shia and Iranian Shia, all of which is true. But Iran has been systematically building its influence in Iraq among all factions using money, blackmail and ideology delivered by a sophisticated intelligence service. More important, as the United States withdraws, Iraqis, regardless of their feelings toward Iran (those Iraqis who haven’t always felt this way), are clearly sensing that resisting Iran is dangerous and accommodation with Iran is the only solution. They see Iran as the rising power in the region, and that perception is neither unreasonable nor something to which the United States or Saudi Arabia has an easy counter.

The Iraqi government’s response to the American offer has been predictable. While some quietly want the United States to remain, the general response has ranged from dismissal to threats if the United States did not leave. Given that the United States has reportedly offered to leave as many as 20,000 troops in a country that 170,000 American troops could not impose order on, the Iraqi perception is that this is merely a symbolic presence and that endorsing it would get Iraq into trouble with Iran, which has far more than 20,000 troops and ever-present intelligence services. It is not clear that the Iraqis were ever prepared to allow U.S. troops to remain, but 20,000 is enough to enrage Iran and not enough to deal with the consequences.

The American assumption in deciding to leave Iraq — and this goes back to George W. Bush as well as Barack Obama — was that over the course of four years, the United States would be able to leave because it would have created a coherent government and military. The United States underestimated the degree to which fragmentation in Iraq would prevent that outcome and the degree to which Iranian influence would undermine the effort. The United States made a pledge to the American public and a treaty with the Iraqi government to withdraw forces, but the conditions that were expected to develop simply did not.

Not coincidentally, the withdrawal of American forces has coincided with tremendous instability in the region, particularly on the Arabian Peninsula. All around the periphery of Saudi Arabia an arc of instability has emerged. It is not that the Iranians engineered it, but they have certainly taken advantage of it. As a result, Saudi Arabia is in a position where it has had to commit forces in Bahrain, is standing by in Yemen, and is even concerned about internal instability given the rise of both reform-minded and Shiite elements at a time of unprecedented transition given the geriatric state of the country’s top four leaders. Iran has certainly done whatever it could to exacerbate this instability, which fits neatly into the Iraqi situation.

As the United States leaves Iraq, Iran expects to increase its influence there. Iran normally acts cautiously even while engaged in extreme rhetoric. Therefore, it is unlikely to send conventional forces into Iraq. Indeed, it might not be necessary to do so in order to gain a dominant political position. Nor is it inconceivable that the Iranians could decide to act more aggressively. With the United States gone, the risks decline.

Saudi Arabia’s Problem

The country that could possibly counter Iran in Iraq is Saudi Arabia, which has been known to funnel money to Sunni groups there. Its military is no match for Iran’s in a battle for Iraq, and its influence there has been less than Iran’s among most groups. More important, as the Saudis face the crisis on their periphery they are diverted and preoccupied by events to the east and south. The unrest in the region, therefore, increases the sense of isolation of some Iraqis and increases their vulnerability to Iran. Thus, given that Iraq is Iran’s primary national security concern, the events in the Persian Gulf work to Iran’s advantage.

The United States previously had an Iraq question. That question is being answered, and not to the American advantage. Instead, what is emerging is a Saudi Arabian question. Saudi Arabia currently is clearly able to handle unrest within its borders. It has also been able to suppress the Shia in Bahrain — for now, at least. However, its ability to manage its southern periphery with Yemen is being tested, given that the regime in Sanaa was already weakened by multiple insurgencies and is now being forced from office after more than 30 years in power. If the combined pressure of internal unrest, turmoil throughout the region and Iranian manipulation continues, the stress on the Saudis could become substantial.

The basic problem the Saudis face is that they don’t know the limits of their ability (which is not much beyond their financial muscle) to manage the situation. If they miscalculate and overextend, they could find themselves in an untenable position. Therefore, the Saudis must be conservative. They cannot afford miscalculation. From the Saudi point of view, the critical element is a clear sign of long-term American commitment to the regime. American support for the Saudis in Bahrain has been limited, and the United States has not been aggressively trying to manage the situation in Yemen, given its limited ability to shape an outcome there. Coupled with the American position on Iraq, which is that it will remain only if asked — and then only with limited forces — the Saudis are clearly not getting the signals they want from the United States. In fact, what further worsens the Saudi position is that they cannot overtly align with the United States for their security needs. Nevertheless, they also have no other option. Exploiting this Saudi dilemma is a key part of the Iranian strategy.

The smaller countries of the Arabian Peninsula, grouped with Saudi Arabia in the Gulf Cooperation Council, have played the role of mediator in Yemen, but ultimately they lack the force needed by a credible mediator — a potential military option to concentrate the minds of the negotiating parties. For that, they need the United States.

It is in this context that the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, will be visiting Washington on April 26. The UAE is one of the few countries on the Arabian Peninsula that has not experienced significant unrest. As such, it has emerged as one of the politically powerful entities in the region. We obviously cannot know what the UAE is going to ask the United States for, but we would be surprised if it wasn’t for a definitive sign that the United States was prepared to challenge the Iranian rise in the region.

The Saudis will be watching the American response very carefully. Their national strategy has been to uncomfortably rely on the United States. If the United States is seen as unreliable, the Saudis have only two options. One is to hold their position and hope for the best. The other is to reach out and see if some accommodation can be made with Iran. The tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia — religious, cultural, economic and political — are profound. But in the end, the Iranians want to be the dominant power in the Persian Gulf, defining economic, political and military patterns.

On April 18, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s adviser for military affairs, Maj. Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, warned Saudi Arabia that it, too, could be invaded on the same pretext that the kingdom sent forces into Bahrain to suppress a largely Shiite rising there. Then, on April 23, the commander of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jaafari, remarked that Iran’s military might was stronger than that of Saudi Arabia and reminded the United States that its forces in the region were within range of Tehran’s weapons. Again, the Iranians are not about to make any aggressive moves, and such statements are intended to shape perception and force the Saudis to capitulate on the negotiating table.

The Saudis want regime survival above all else. Deciding between facing Iran alone or reaching an unpleasant accommodation, the Saudis have little choice. We would guess that one of the reasons the UAE is reaching out to Obama is to try to convince him of the dire consequences of inaction and to move the United States into a more active role.

A Strategy of Neglect

The Obama administration appears to have adopted an increasingly obvious foreign policy. Rather than simply attempt to control events around the world, the administration appears to have selected a policy of careful neglect. This is not, in itself, a bad strategy. Neglect means that allies and regional powers directly affected by the problem will take responsibility for the problem. Most problems resolve themselves without the need of American intervention. If they don’t, the United States can consider its posture later. Given that the world has become accustomed to the United States as first responder, other countries have simply waited for the American response. We have seen this in Libya, where the United States has tried to play a marginal role. Conceptually, this is not unsound.

The problem is that this will work only when regional powers have the weight to deal with the problem and where the outcome is not crucial to American interests. Again, Libya is an almost perfect example of this. However, the Persian Gulf is an area of enormous interest to the United States because of oil. Absent the United States, the regional forces will not be able to contain Iran. Therefore, applying this strategy to the Persian Gulf creates a situation of extreme risk for the United States.

Re-engagement in Iraq on a level that would deter Iran is not a likely option, not only because of the Iraqi position but also because the United States lacks the force needed to create a substantial deterrence that would not be attacked and worn down by guerrillas. Intruding in the Arabian Peninsula itself is dangerous for a number reasons, ranging from the military challenge to the hostility an American presence could generate. A pure naval and air solution lacks the ability to threaten Iran’s center of gravity, its large ground force.

Therefore, the United States is in a difficult position. It cannot simply decline engagement nor does it have the ability to engage at this moment — and it is this moment that matters. Nor does it have allies outside the region with the resources and appetite for involvement. That leaves the United States with the Saudi option — negotiate with Iran, a subject I’ve written on before. This is not an easy course, nor a recommended one, but when all other options are gone, you go with what you have.

The pressure from Iran is becoming palpable. All of the Arab countries feel it, and whatever their feelings about the Persians, the realities of power are what they are. The UAE has been sent to ask the United States for a solution. It is not clear the United States has one. When we ask why the price of oil is surging, the idea of geopolitical risk does come to mind. It is not a foolish speculation.

25200  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Noah Webster 1788 on: April 26, 2011, 07:35:15 AM
"The virtues of men are of more consequence to society than their abilities; and for this reason, the heart should be cultivated with more assiduity than the head." --Noah Webster, On the Education of Youth in America, 1788
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