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25151  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: March 06, 2010, 08:18:22 PM
Oy vey   rolleyes

Good thing we have such a coherent strategy to deal with all this , , ,
25152  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Conditioning on: March 06, 2010, 03:46:27 PM
Thursday:  3.3 miles with 50 pounds

Today, another 3.3 miles with 50 pounds.

Average pulse mile 1: 97
AP #2: 103
AP #3: 111

5.30 minutes per 1.1 miles

The original plan was to go 4.4 miles but with only one day's rest the muscles of my upper back we saying it was enough for the day. My next session will have two days rest so I will bump it up to 4.4 miles then.

I do like the way the weight vest is teaching me things about posture and gait. Today I was noticing that carrying the vest was easier the more I opened the thoracic region of the spine (think scapula down, rhomboids activated, pec minor released, thumbs parallel, heart chakra open) In conjunction with maintaining each foot on the ground longer subtly improves hip alignment and counter swinging the shoulders (e.g. right shoulder forward on left step) diminishes heel strike. Now the hips roll nicely and I start opening up the hip flexors.

Still my pace is slow (about 5.40 per 1.1 miles).  Someone advised me to have longer strides.  For me this seems to really increase heel strike. Am I doing something wrong?
25153  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Viejito con huevos y cuchillo contra ladron on: March 06, 2010, 03:29:13 PM

25154  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: March 06, 2010, 10:48:37 AM
25155  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: WHERE IS THE FOOTWORK!?! on: March 06, 2010, 10:47:54 AM
I was in the Octagon when I was a judge at UFC X. I agree, there is plenty of room for good footwork.  OTOH the cage at King of the Cage was really quite small.  Footwork always applies at any and all ranges, but its relevance can be real brief in tighter ranges-- though no the less important for its brevity.
25156  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: March 06, 2010, 05:27:44 AM
While teaching at Fort Polk I received a nasty cut on my finger tip that needed four stitches.  I went to the hospital on base.  Things were not busy at all, but it took six hours to get it taken care of.
25157  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Conditioning on: March 06, 2010, 05:24:28 AM
I have already experienced in a small way the changes in the center of gravity.  You make a good point about training to get used to this.  Maybe I will begin with some lateral lunges , , ,
25158  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: WHERE IS THE FOOTWORK!?! on: March 06, 2010, 05:20:56 AM

IMHO there are some fighters who use elements of the triangular footwork, e.g. the inside tooth for Dean "the king of mean" Jardine does this with a cross rather often.  There also was a fighter (UFC 81?) who REALLY looked to me like he had been watching our Kali Tudo 1-- even Joe Rogan noticed something was "different/unusual" about his footwork and how he was hard to hit.  Shogun Rua uses something very much like what we call a Zirconia (see e.g. his KO of Liddell, and against Machida)
25159  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: WHERE IS THE FOOTWORK!?! on: March 05, 2010, 10:35:20 PM

Not sure of your meaning here.  Do you mean DB fights?  What do you mean by "too much" mobility?
25160  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Conditioning on: March 05, 2010, 10:33:52 PM
Maxx:  Yes, it is-- I redacted it when I posted it because I didn't know at the time that it was public info that it was SF.

R:  In addition to the aerobic conditioning, I need to prep my ability to carry weight on my upper body, and do hills for a goodly number of miles.
25161  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on: March 05, 2010, 02:52:27 PM
Very good to see reconciliation broken down like that  cool


'Every argument has been made. Everything that there is to say about health care has been said, and just about everybody has said it," President Obama declared yesterday as he urged Democrats to steamroll his plan through Congress. What hasn't been heard, however, is even a shred of White House honesty about the true costs of ObamaCare, or its fiscal consequences.

Nearby, we reprint Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan's remarks at the health summit last week, which methodically dismantle the falsehoods—there is no other way of putting it—that Mr. Obama has used to sell "reform" and repeated again yesterday. No one in the political class has even tried to refute Mr. Ryan's arguments, though he made them directly to the President and his allies, no doubt because they are irrefutable. If Democrats are willing to ignore overwhelming public opposition to ObamaCare and pass it anyway, then what's a trifling dispute over a couple of trillion dollars?

At his press conference yesterday, Mr. Obama claimed that "my proposal would bring down the cost of health care for millions—families, businesses and the federal government." He said it is "fully paid for" and "brings down our deficit by up to $1 trillion over the next two decades." Never before has a vast new entitlement been sold on the basis of fiscal responsibility, and one reason ObamaCare is so unpopular is that Americans understand the contradiction between untold new government subsidies and claims of spending restraint. They know a Big Con when they hear one.

Mr. Obama's fiscal assertions are possible only because of the fraudulent accounting and budget gimmicks that Democrats spent months calibrating. Readers can find the gory details in Mr. Ryan's pre-emptive rebuttal nearby, though one of the most egregious deceptions is that the bill counts 10 years of taxes but only six years of spending.

The real cost over a decade is about $2.3 trillion on paper, Mr. Ryan estimates, and even that is a lowball estimate considering how many people will flood to "free" health care and how many businesses will be induced to drop coverage. Mr. Obama claimed yesterday that the plan will cost "about $100 billion per year," but in fact the costs ramp up each year the program exists. The far more likely deficits are $460 billion over the first 10 years, and $1.4 trillion over the next 10.
What Mr. Ryan calls "probably the most cynical gimmick" deserves special attention, which is known in Washington as the "doc fix." Next month Medicare physician payments are scheduled to be cut by 22% and deeper thereafter, though Congress is sure to postpone the reductions as it always does. Failing to account for this inevitability takes nearly a quarter-trillion dollars off the ObamaCare books and by itself wipes out the "savings" that the White House continues to take credit for.

Some in the liberal cheering section now claim that this Medicare ruse isn't Mr. Obama's problem because it was first promised by Republicans and Bill Clinton in 1997. But then why did Democrats include the "doc fix" in all early versions of the bill to buy the support of the American Medical Association, only to dump this pricey item later when hiding it would make it easier to fake-reduce the deficit?

The President was (miraculously) struck dumb by Mr. Ryan's critique, and in his response drifted off into an irrelevant tangent about Medicare Advantage, while California Democrat Xavier Becerra claimed "you essentially said you can't trust the Congressional Budget Office." But Mr. Ryan was careful to note that he didn't doubt the professionalism of CBO, only the truthfulness of the Democratic gimmicks that the budget gnomes are asked to score.

Yesterday Mr. Obama again invoked the "nonpartisan, independent" authority of CBO, which misses the reality that if you feed the agency phony premises, you are going to get phony results at the other end.

The President also claimed the reason his plan is in trouble, and the reason Democrats must abuse the Senate's rules to ram this plan into law, is that "many Republicans in Congress just have a fundamental disagreement over whether we should have more or less oversight of insurance companies." So most of Mr. Obama's first year in office has been paralyzed over nothing more than minor regulatory hair-splitting. This is so preposterous that the President can't possibly believe it.

Congress's spring break begins on March 29, and Democratic leaders plan on jamming this monster through Congress before then. Americans have to hope that enough rank-and-file Democrats aren't as deaf to fiscal honesty as this President.
25162  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: March 05, 2010, 10:19:05 AM
Reconciliation is still the buzzword on Capitol Hill as Democrat "leaders" Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi try to figure out how to ram ObamaCare down our throats. Not that they see it that way; as House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer put it, "That's not ramming something through with a majority. It is doing what democracy calls for." Well, this isn't a democracy, it's a republic: and the Founders set it up that way for a reason.

Accompanied by his teleprompter, Barack Obama began a renewed push for a vote on the health care bill by Easter when he met a group of people wearing lab coats in the Rose Garden on Wednesday (and he accused Rep. Eric Cantor of using a "prop" by bringing the 2,400-page bill itself to last week's health care summit). Obama claimed that "new and improved" legislation "incorporates the best ideas from Democrats and Republicans." As we said Tuesday, however, the problem isn't whether the bill is "bipartisan." A few Republican ideas sprinkled in won't fix it. The problem, at its core, is that a plan for Congress to take over one-sixth of the U.S. economy is unconstitutional.

In the face of all evidence, the teleprompter continued, "I don't believe we should give government bureaucrats or insurance company bureaucrats more control over health care in America." Huh? Giving government bureaucrats control over health care in America is precisely what Obama is proposing to do.

For all the talk about reconciliation in the Senate, the House vote may be the more important one. The Associated Press reports, "The House passed health overhaul legislation by a narrow 220-215 vote in November, but since then several Democrats have defected or left the House. To avoid a filibuster in the Senate that Democrats can't defeat, Obama is now pushing the House to approve the Senate's version of the bill, along with a package of changes to fix elements of the Senate bill that House Democrats don't like, including a special Medicaid deal for Nebraska and a tax on high-value insurance plans that is opposed by organized labor."

If Pelosi is able to strong-arm the Senate bill through the House with a bare majority, Senate reconciliation becomes moot. With three vacancies, Democrats need just 217 votes for passage, and there are a handful of Democrats who voted "no" in November who now say they're undecided. On the other hand, 12 pro-life Democrats, led by Bart Stupak of Michigan, say they're prepared to switch sides and scuttle ObamaCare if sufficient protections against abortion funding aren't put in place. The Senate bill doesn't meet their benchmark.

Never underestimate this president's lack of shame, though -- or his penchant for Chicago-style politics. For example, Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) voted against ObamaCare in November, but he is now "undecided." So on Wednesday, Obama nominated Jim's brother Scott to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Offering jobs for playing the White House way is nothing new, and Scott Matheson is, to be fair, a well-credentialed nominee. However, even the appearance of selling judgeships for health care votes would give pause to a more honorable president.

As for leftist sentiment, perhaps MSNBC host Ed Schultz best summed it up this week, saying, "mall government has never gotten anybody any health care."

"The Republicans have a choice," Schultz declared. "Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way. ... We have people in need and they need to be helped."

Memo to Ed: If government would get out of the way, those people might be able to help themselves, as our Founders intended. Democrats aren't about to let that happen because it really isn't about helping those in need.
25163  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fisher Ames, 1789 on: March 05, 2010, 09:59:29 AM
"We are not to consider ourselves, while here, as at church or school, to listen to the harangues of speculative piety; we are here to talk of the political interests committed to our charge." --Fisher Ames, speech in the United States House of Representatives, 1789
25164  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: March 05, 2010, 09:58:54 AM
Which is why little girls in Afpakia going to school and their teachers are often killed or have acid thrown in their faces.  For the fcukers who do this, they need to be militarily assisted into meeting their 72 virgins and people need to see that this is what happens to such fcukers.
25165  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: March 04, 2010, 10:28:47 PM
Q: What’s the difference between Obama and Hitler?
A: Hitler wrote his own book.

Q: What’s another difference between Obama and Hitler?
A: Hitler got the Olympics to come to his country.

Q: What’s the main problem with Barack Obama jokes?
A: His followers don’t think they’re funny and everyone else doesn’t think they’re jokes.

Q: Why does Barack Obama oppose the Second Amendment?
A: It stands between him and the First.

Q: What’s the difference between Rahm Emanuel and a carp?
A: One is a scum sucking bottom feeder and the other is a fish.

Q: What does Barack Obama call lunch with a convicted felon?
A: A fund raiser.

Q: What’s the difference between Obama’s cabinet and a penitentiary?
A: One’s full of tax evaders, blackmailers and threats to society. The other is for prisoners.

Q: What do you call the US after four years of Obama and the Liberal congress?
A: An Obama-nation.

Q: Why doesn’t Obama pray?
A: It’s impossible to read the teleprompter with your eyes closed.
25166  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison on General Welfare clause in 1792 on: March 04, 2010, 06:25:01 PM
"If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions." --James Madison, letter to Edmund Pendleton, 1792
25167  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Guns and Privileges & Immunities in the context of McDonald on: March 04, 2010, 06:07:35 PM
Bringing this rather deep discussion over from BBG's post in the legal issues thread:
Reason Magazine

Guns for All, Privileges or Immunities for None

The hearings in McDonald v. Chicago promise an unrevolutionary victory—but still an important one

Brian Doherty | March 4, 2010

Justice Antonin Scalia delivered the big laugh line of the hour at Tuesday’s Supreme Court hearings in McDonald v. Chicago. That case’s outcome will decide whether the Second Amendment rights vindicated in 2008’s D.C. v. Heller apply to states and localities. Scalia amused the crowd by asking a question that has perplexed some legal scholars and gun activists both for and against McDonald lawyer Alan Gura’s general goal of applying Second Amendment protections to all levels of American government.

To get the joke, such as it was, you first need the background about what was at stake. The Bill of Rights was originally interpreted to bind only the federal government. The framers of the 14th Amendment intended to change that, and bind the states as well in respecting Americans’ rights. This was in 1868, when recently freed slaves had their rights to work, own property, and bear arms widely abused and unprotected by state and local governments.

The history of the 14th Amendment's passage indicates that a certain part of the amendment was meant to bear the interpretive burden of applying—“incorporating” in the legal lingo—the Bill of Rights (and other restrictions on government power) to the states. That was the Privileges or Immunities Clause: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.”

Since a controversial 1873 Supreme Court decision in a set of cases regarding a slaughterhouse monopoly in Louisiana, known as the Slaughterhouse Cases, the Privileges or Immunities Clause has been pretty much interpreted out of existence. The Supreme Court has instead used the vaguer and less textually sensible “due process of law" provision of the same amendment to incorporate certain rights against the states. Using that tool, the Court over the past century has already incorporated most of the Bill of Rights on the states, and some unenumerated rights as well. Gura elected to reverse this trend by arguing for incorporation of the Second Amendment on privileges or immunities grounds.

So Scalia asked Gura early in his 20 minutes of argument time on Tuesday: “Mr. Gura, do you think it is at all easier to bring the Second Amendment under the Privileges and Immunities Clause than it is to bring it under our established law of substantive due…process?... Why are you asking us to overrule 150, 140 years of prior law, when—when you can reach your result under substantive due—I mean, you know, unless you are bucking for a—a place on some law school faculty…?”

Scalia, reputedly a constitutional originalist, flashed some ugly colors with that laugh-provoking comment: He’d rather go with the easy precedential flow—even given a substantive due process argument that he openly admits he thinks is wrong but which he’s “acquiesced” to—then vindicate the actual intentions of the framers of a very important constitutional amendment.

Gura undoubtedly went for a daring gambit on privileges or immunities (in addition to, not at the expense of, the more traditionally successful due process argument). He did so, first, because he thought it was the correct argument based on constitutional language and history. But he, and many other legal scholars, was also excited because a revival of privileges or immunities could give courts new power to restrict states and localities from violating other rights much on the minds of the 14th Amendment’s framers.

Gura quoted some of them, from the 1866 Civil Rights Act: “To make and enforce contracts…to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold and convey real and personal property.” A properly grounded application of the privileges or immunities clause could help vindicate the sort of economic liberties considered out of fashion and meaningless in the higher courts since the early 20th century days of the Lochner case.

While nothing is certain until the decision (or decisions) come down later in the year, the general consensus is that Gura has at least the same five justices who revived the Second Amendment in Heller prepared to apply it to the states via the Due Process Clause. This includes Scalia, despite his expressed doubts about the validity of due process incorporation in general. Thus, Gura and the McDonald team win.

Gura cast his mission so ambitiously, though, that he may have created an unfortunate public relations problem for his team. His impending victory might be spun as a defeat. There were elements in the gun-rights community, including the National Rifle Association (NRA) (who won argument time for their advocate Paul Clement at the hearings even though McDonald was not their case), who thought Gura reached for too risky a victory for economic and other liberties when he should have kept his eye on the Second Amendment ball. The NRA’s Clement kept it simple, insisting before the court that “Under this court's existing jurisprudence, the case for incorporating the Second Amendment through the Due Process Clause is remarkably straightforward. The Second Amendment, like the First and the Fourth, protects a fundamental preexisting right that is guaranteed to the people” and thus should be incorporated against the states just as those other amendments were.

In his half hour before the justices, Chicago’s counsel James Feldman maintained that, since guns can hurt people, localities’ power to protect public safety should allow them to regulate guns as much as they want. Not wanting to re-argue Heller (unlike Justice Steven Breyer, who is still obsessed with the militia clause as presumptively dominating the purpose of the Second Amendment, contra Heller), Feldman asserted that a fundamental right to self-defense might exist, but that right was not infringed fundamentally by the banning of any specific variety of weapon, as Chicago did with handguns. Scalia wondered why Feldman seemed to think an unwritten right to self-defense existed that states should honor when he didn’t think that the written right to keep and bear arms had to be thusly honored.

The confused and random jumble of issues and concerns that flowed out in the hour at the Court shows that, while using due process may be the easiest way out for lazy justices who don’t want to think freshly or step outside a middle-of-the-road consensus, the inherent vagueness of due process makes actual legal reasoning hard—unnecessarily so, given the clearer set of historical concerns about privileges or immunities that were on the minds of the Republicans who pushed the 14th Amendment in the late 1860s.

The absurdity of legal reasoning unmoored from the historical understanding of liberty rights was apotheosized in Breyer’s reference to a "Madison Chart,” in which we decide on how much judicial respect various rights would be granted by imagining James Madison ranking their importance on a chart. Breyer avers, apparently consulting Madison’s shade, that guns for the militia would be listed high on the chart, high above guns to shoot burglars. (Jokes about the “Madison Chart” ought to be law school staples down the line.)

The various justice's particular and often eccentric concerns further muddied any discernible lines of logic at the hearing. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg took a poorly conceived swipe at any originalist understanding of what rights the Privileges or Immunities Clause might guarantee by stressing the claim that women didn’t have the right to own property or have occupations separate from their husbands in 1868. (Meaning they wouldn’t now either if Gura won on privileges or immunities grounds?) Both she and Justice Anthony Kennedy tried to dredge a precise answer from Gura as to exactly what rights were protected by his conception of the clause, which he wouldn’t and couldn’t do. That the Constitution was designed to protect the people’s liberties through limiting government’s power and not listing citizens’ rights is not an idea much at the front of the justices’ minds.

Justice John Paul Stevens made it clear again and again that even if incorporated against the states, a Second Amendment right could and even ought to be restricted to the narrowest version of Heller: commonly used weapons for self-defense in the home. Even Scalia made it clear that he doesn’t think state level restrictions on concealed carry would necessarily be in danger under an incorporated Second Amendment, and both Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Kennedy made it clear that an incorporated Second Amendment does not mean a Second Amendment whose reach was as wide as the gun rights community might like. Roberts spelled it out like this: The Second Amendment “is still going to be subject to the political process if the Court determines that it is incorporated in the Due Process Clause. All the arguments [Chicago’s lawyer Feldman made] against incorporation it seems to me are arguments you should make in favor of regulation under the Second Amendment. We haven't said anything about what the content of the Second Amendment is beyond what was said in Heller.”

That’s worth remembering as we wait for the decision and its aftermath. In the usual media scrum outside the courtroom as the hearings let out, the Brady Center’s Paul Helmke was OK with losing complete bans on commonly used weapons such as Chicago’s, but insisted most (though he denied many even existed) local gun regulations are sensible public safety measures and would certainly survive future legal challenges even if Gura wins. The NRA’s Paul Clement cagily refused to say what sort of lawsuits the NRA might file challenging other state gun regulations in the event of a McDonald victory.

The future of gun rights, then, is brighter than before, though not as bright as the most tenacious defenders of self-defense rights might like. But what of the future of the Privileges or Immunities Clause? It seems as if the clause arose, goosed by Gura, from a grave that Slaughterhouse had sealed it in, only to promptly have a stake driven through its heart and its head chopped off and then shoved back in to the grave by the decidedly unfriendly approach of the justices. In the pre-hearing debate over whether privileges or immunities had a chance in McDonald, the very fact the court took up Gura’s case as opposed to a simpler due process case from the NRA also up for consideration led some to assume the Court must have wanted a chance to seriously rethink the issue. The evidence from Tuesday morning showed no sign of such interest in privileges or immunities.

However, at a Hill briefing by three privileges or immunities scholars and advocates on Wednesday—Clark Neily of the Institute for Justice, Ilya Shapiro of the Cato Institute, and Timothy Sandefur of the Pacific Legal Foundation—the mood was still defiant, not defeated.

To roughly summarize a set of arguments I heard this week in interviews and at that briefing on the future of privileges or immunities, just as Progressive-era legal doctrinal victories such as “rational review” evolved over generations to overtake the profession, a rising group of younger litigators and legal scholars are united in agreeing that Slaughterhouse was an embarrassment and must go. And scholars and advocates from different sides of the political spectrum, for different reasons, are eager to see privileges or immunities arguments become an active part of the arsenal for courts and lawyers. (Some progressives see in it a stronger chance to cram various welfare rights into the Constitution, though more libertarian fans of the clause think the clearer historical record makes the clause a weaker, not stronger, tool than due process by which to work such legal mischief.)

But no matter what the consensus is, a privileges or immunities victory will eventually have to be won in the Supreme Court, and in my read there is at best one person on the current Court who would vote for it. Justice Clarence Thomas, silent as always in this week’s hearings, has in the past expressed an interest in rethinking privileges or immunities. There’s a strong expectation on the part of some privileges or immunities fans that Thomas will write a concurring opinion uniting in the holding that the Second Amendment is incorporated, but with a separate set of privileges or immunities-based reasoning that could become a rallying flag for future arguments about the clause’s continued value. However, what sort of case might be on the horizon to bring it back before the court is unclear. What seems clear is that at least four justices have to go and be replaced by jurists friendly to the abandoned clause for it to become a meaningful part of American jurisprudence. We will have the privileges or immunities fight with us for a long time to come.

On the night of the hearings, I stepped outside the constitutional debate, and glimpsed the heart of why such high-level abstractions matter—the reason why the Supreme Court was even listening to these arguments. Cases have plaintiffs, and plaintiffs are people. At a reception sponsored by one of the case’s institutional plaintiffs, the Second Amendment Foundation, I met the lead plaintiff, Otis McDonald.

Otis McDonald will be the man—as a plaintiff—who vindicated the rights of every American who doesn’t live in a federal enclave to, at the very least, have adequate means to try to protect their lives, families, and property from violent danger. He’ll go down in the history books, to be sure, this 76-year-old man with a wife and eight kids.

He’s black, which is appropriate for both public relations and for history. It ties the arguments Gura made on McDonald's behalf to why the 14th Amendment exists: to guarantee that people of his color would have the liberties and protections white Americans of the time were supposed to have enjoyed. As Gura declared right at the start of his presentation to the Court, “In 1868, our nation made a promise to the McDonald family that they and their descendants would henceforth be American citizens, and with American citizenship came the guarantee enshrined in our Constitution that no State could make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of American citizenship.”

Let me tell you something else about Otis McDonald: If you are lucky enough to meet the guy, you’re going to love him. Really. In about a half hour of conversation, both one-on-one and in a small group, the guy was devastatingly charming, in a completely unstudied way. He’s compelling and convincing and real, telling quotidian stories about being late for planes and late-night fishing; and equally so when getting historical and cosmic about the arc of his life and the role he knows he’s playing in his country’s history. One minute laughing and light, the other giving a sincerely tear-jerking account of the pride and gratitude he feels toward everyone else, especially the younger generation, advancing the scholarship and advocacy of his and his fellow Americans’ rights. After that half hour, I was on this guy’s side, just as a fellow human being. And a dream client for a civil rights case like this to boot, as the lawyers present agreed enthusiastically.

That the city of Chicago prevents this man from making the best choice available to him to protect himself and his family from the very real threats that surround him is, simply and with no constitutional history or theory required, wrong. It is a wrong that Gura's arguments on Tuesday will likely right. And while libertarian legal scholars (and some leftist ones) may feel dejected that Gura failed to win the Court over to the wisdom of overturning Slaughterhouse, McDonald, his fellow plaintiffs, and the rest of Chicago will because of his efforts be able to exercise a core human right unmolested. That is great news, news whose importance should not be clouded by the specifics of how it was won.

Senior Editor Brian Doherty is author of This is Burning Man (BenBella), Radicals for Capitalism (PublicAffairs) and Gun Control on Trial (Cato Institute).
25168  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: March 04, 2010, 04:58:52 PM
Back in the 1980s, when the editorial page of the WSJ was a serious place (quite unlike now in the Murdoch era) one of the powerful themes powerfully pursued was the fact that the incumbent re-election rate of the House was 98%  shocked shocked shocked

We see this here in CA quite vividly.  Back when Gov. S______r had testicles, he tried an initiative for honest apportionment of districts, which for reasons beyond my ken, failed utterly.
25169  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The right prescription on: March 04, 2010, 11:58:19 AM
The Right Prescription
Obamacare: Still a Threat to Your Life
By Peter Ferrara on 3.3.10 @ 6:08AM

The true reality of last week's health care summit, what was really going on between the lines, was ugly and scary. I have been deeply involved in these health care debates for almost 30 years, ever since I co-authored the first paper published on Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) with John Goodman in 1981. What the health summit made clear to me is that the Democrats do not understand what the Republicans are talking about on health care. Indeed, they have no idea what the American people are talking about either, or why growing majorities of us oppose what they are trying to do.

But it gets even worse. The health summit made clear that the Democrats do not understand what they themselves are doing on health care. They have been misled and manipulated by left-wing ideologues.

Why Your Life Is At Risk

Let me reveal my personal stake in this health care debate. My life is at risk. So is yours, as well as the lives of our children, our parents, and everyone else in our families. For the thorough government takeover of health care in America the Democrats are feverishly pursuing, and the outdated socialized medicine policies from other countries they are so religiously committed to adopting, would trash the very ability of the system to provide the health care many of us are likely to need in coming years to extend our lives, and to maintain our basic quality of life.

The decimation of our health care system under Obamacare begins with government mandates, regulations, bureaucracies, and controls. The House and Senate health care bills that President Obama and the Democrats refuse to take off the table create close to 100 new health care bureaucracies, boards, commissions and programs. This is the government takeover of health care.

These new authorities arrogate to the government the power to decide "what works" in health care, and what doesn't. The code words they use include "best practices" -- a government bureaucracy in Washington is going to decide what are the "best practices" in providing health care for you and your children, not you and your doctor. Another code phrase is "reward doctors for quality not quantity." Government bureaucracies in Washington do not know how to do this. But they will make a huge mess out of your health care in trying to.

These government bureaucracies will also have the power to cut off your health care when they decide it is no longer worth the money. We have already seen a glimpse of this in the declaration by a bureaucracy, to be expanded with more powers under Obamacare, that women over 72 should not have mammograms. What they are saying here is that if you are over 72 and get breast cancer, they don't want to know about it. Just take the painkiller and go home, to paraphrase President Obama. They believe they can buy more votes taking the money for your care and spending it somewhere else. This is called "cost effectiveness."

The destruction of the health care system is then expanded through the payment system. Among the code words here are "pay for performance" and "accountable care." This is how the bureaucracy will enforce its dictates concerning what works and what doesn't, best practices, cost effectiveness, and termination of health care no longer deemed worthy. Doctors and hospitals will be rewarded through payments if they follow the centralized bureaucracy's dictates; they will be penalized with reduced payments if they don't. You will never know what happened to you. The doctor is not going to tell you, "I could have saved your daughter's life with this new treatment, but that is not yet a best practice according to the government."

Health care obliteration then continues by constricting the payments overall to doctors, hospitals, specialists, surgeons, health care innovators, and other health providers. This is where the $500 billion in Medicare cuts come in, which is $800 billion in the first 10 years of full implementation under Obamacare. Seniors will soon find out that constricted payments mean constricted services, because President Obama has already begun cutting payments under Medicare, particularly for cancer and heart specialists, treatments, and diagnostics. But this is just part of the constricted payments to the entire health system under Obamacare, which is how President Obama thinks he will bring the cost curve down. The sad truth is that the only cost control in Obamacare involves health care rationing, which means denying you health care. Those union orchestrated sad sacks marching in the streets chanting for "health care" are suckers.

The final component ultimately leaving us with Potemkin Village health care is the effect of all of this on investment incentives. Nobody is going to invest the capital necessary to develop the new, life-saving health care treatments and technologies and miracle cure drugs, and build the new facilities and purchase the new equipment to provide them, with the constricted payments of Obamacare as their reward. That money will instead join the capital fleeing to build new factories providing good jobs in the increasingly booming economies of Brazil, India, and China.

We can begin to see these effects of Obamacare in Massachusetts, which adopted some of the Obamacare policies a few years ago. As John Goodman writes in his Health Alert ("Scaling the Summit") for February 26, "As a result, the waiting times to see a new doctor in Boston are twice as long as in any other U.S. city. And there are still as many people going to emergency rooms for care in Massachusetts today as there were before the Massachusetts health plan was adopted."

But none of the supporters of Obamacare -- the bloggers, the talk show hosts, the literal clowns like Bill Maher, Jon Stewart and Wanda Sykes that now get media coverage to lecture us on public policy -- understand any of this. They have their heads firmly and deeply stuck in the sand, and insist it is all made up. And as for Democrat members of Congress, they don't have a clue.

Fighting for Their Lives

But when their own lives are at risk, suddenly they can understand it quite well. Consider the case of Danny Williams, age 60, Premier of Newfoundland, Canada, who secretly snuck into the U.S. for his own heart surgery. After his surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami, Williams told reporters, "This was my heart, my choice, and my health. I did not sign away my right to get the best possible health care for myself when I entered politics."

Why Williams felt he had to come to America was further illuminated by the recent heart surgery of former President Bill Clinton. As Dr. Marc Siegel explained in the New York Post,

Clinton, of course, got the best of care -- a cardiac stent (a tiny metal cylinder) coated with a drug to help keep his artery open. Recent studies in the New England Journal of Medicine and elsewhere have shown that these drug-eluting stents are more effective than bare metal ones. But they cost two-to-four times more -- and the technology is relatively new. That combination has left government run health-care systems slow to adopt them….Per capita, our neighbors to the north receive only half as many coronary [operations]. And only 30% of the stents placed in Canada are drug-eluting, compared to a whopping 80% in the United States. So a Canadian cardiac patient is less than a quarter as likely as an American to be outfitted with the kind of state-of-the-art stent that Clinton had. In Canada, land of single payer health insurance, you're also less likely to get the stent as soon as the need is clear.

Wanda Sykes owes Sarah Palin an apology.

Why Your Country Is at Risk

The Health Care Summit highlighted another issue that too many of us too easily conceded. House Republican Budget Chief Paul Ryan articulately exposed Obamacare as increasing the deficit by $460 billion over the first 10 years, and $1.4 trillion over the second 10 years. That is with half a trillion in tax increases, and half a trillion in Medicare cuts, over the first 10 years alone.

One of the chief tricks to hide these deficits is to provide for reversing some of the draconian cuts for doctors and hospitals in a separate bill scored as increasing the deficit by $371 billion. The Obamacare legislation also counts on raiding $52 billion in Social Security revenues. Still another trick to claim deficit neutrality is to count the 10 years of tax increases and Medicare cuts against only 6 years of increased Obamacare spending.

While we can't pay for all the entitlement programs we already have, Obamacare adds a new entitlement providing handouts to help pay for health insurance for families with incomes as high as $88,000 a year. That is why the true 10 year cost for Obamacare is really $2.3 trillion, as Ryan explained.

Filibuster Falsehoods

The ugly in the health care summit was the transparent trap President Obama and the Democrats laid for the Republicans. Obama was not the least bit interested in anything the Republicans had to say. He filibustered for 119 minutes of the summit, talking more than all the rest of the Democrats combined at 114 minutes. The Republicans were allowed only 110 minutes to speak altogether.

And as we have seen over and over on health care, much if not most of what President Obama had to say during his filibuster was just not true. The most embarrassing was the exchange with Sen. Lamar Alexander over whether Obamacare would cause health insurance premiums to rise. After Alexander cited CBO as saying they would, Obama imperiously disputed him as "not factually accurate," and then launched into a confused and convoluted argument as to why CBO had really said health insurance premiums would be going down. "But they didn't say that the actual premiums would be going up," Obama insisted. "What they said was they'd be going down by 14 percent to 20 percent." He insisted that he was sure he was right, and that he had gone over and over this with CBO, challenging Alexander to resolve the issue publicly "before we leave today" because "this is an example of where we've got to get our facts straight."

And so it was resolved before they left that day when Sen. Jon Kyl read from the CBO report saying that premiums would indeed rise under Obamacare, and Rep. Eric Cantor tried to explain to President Obama, "We just can't afford this. This government can't afford it, businesses can't afford it." Obama then retreated to saying, well, the premiums would be higher because his plan mandated richer benefits. But that is a concession that premiums would, in fact, be rising, not a demonstration that they would be falling. In fact, premiums will soar by much more than CBO admits, as much as 100% to 200% for young workers, as mathematically demonstrated in studies by WellPoint and others, which Obama and the Democrats have refused to even consider. Yes, the whole point is that premiums would be rising because of the benefits that the Democrats would mandate. And what the public and the critics have been telling them is that we can't afford those increases, and that in many cases the same can be achieved by different means.

President Obama and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius perpetrated another falsehood in criticizing high risk pools, which, when done right, provide a safety net for the uninsured who have become too sick to buy insurance anywhere else. When you concentrate all the high cost risks in one pool, Sebelius insisted, then costs in that pool become very high, and it becomes too expensive for people. But the risk pools are all subsidized by tax funds precisely because those covered by the pool can't be expected to pay all the costs themselves. The point many conservatives and Republicans have been trying to make is that rather than trying to force these high cost uninsured onto the same insurance as everyone else, and massively increasing everyone's premiums as a result, provide them their own risk pool charging no more than they can afford, and subsidize remaining costs so that the pool is a real safety net ensuring that no one need lack essential health coverage and care. Experience shows this can be done at modest cost.

But the greatest ignorance of the day was reflected when President Obama said that a "high deductible plan" is "basically not health insurance." High deductible health plans are the only real insurance, spreading the risk of the high costs affecting only a few in any one year among the entire pool. It is the retro low deductible plans, covering routine yearly expenses that most incur, that are not health insurance, but prepaid health care involving enormously counterproductive incentives and unnecessary costs. Understanding this is essential to solving the health cost problem, but, again, Obama and the Democrats have no clue.

Instead, they repeated the canard that Health Savings Accounts are not workable for the poor, when the truth is they benefit the poor the most. An HSA includes a savings account that can be used to pay for expenses below the deductible. The poor are most in need of the savings they can keep if they don't waste money unnecessarily on health care. What Democrats don't like about HSAs is that they put the patient rather than the government in charge.

Those Who Live by the Reconciliation, Die by the Reconciliation

What was really going on at the summit was reflected in the persistent, obviously pre-arranged, transparently false theme among the Democrats that, hey, you know, we are not really that far apart, there is really a lot of agreement. That was meant to set the Republicans up so the Democrats could say afterward that the Republicans refused to support Obamacare simply for partisan, political reasons, or because they really were in the pocket of industry, and so the Democrats are justified in ramming it through without them, through reconciliation. That was the real point and goal of the summit.

That didn't work because the Republicans were surprisingly good in articulating their reasons for opposing the legislation, and those reasons resonated strongly with the American people. By giving the Republicans such a high profile forum to express these reasons and their far more common sense alternatives, the summit backfired into yet another disastrous loss for Obamacare.

Reconciliation is a process solely for enacting budgetary measures to reduce the deficit, not sweeping, historic reforms involving adoption of the costliest new entitlement in history. Proceeding with President Obama's health care overhaul through reconciliation would flout Congressional rules way beyond any historical precedent.

But what is adopted by reconciliation can and will be repealed by reconciliation, setting a precedent for future entitlement reforms using the same process.

Letter to the Editor

StumbleUpon| Digg| Reddit| Twitter| Facebook

Peter Ferrara is director of entitlement and budget policy at the Institute for Policy Innovation, a policy advisor to the Heartland Institute, and general counsel of the American Civil Rights Union. He served in the White House Office of Policy Development under President Reagan, and as Associate Deputy Attorney General of the United States under the first President Bush. He is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School.

25170  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: ACTION items on: March 04, 2010, 11:55:42 AM
Crunch time!!! At the very least, be sure to get off your butt and sign this petition.  Better yet, call/write your Congressman!
25171  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Diet on: March 04, 2010, 10:11:18 AM
My daughter is so empathetic that she will only buy potted flowers for Mom, not ones that have been cut.   My wife emphatically warns against this path for us , , , oh well , , ,  smiley
25172  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: March 03, 2010, 08:05:53 PM
"There are bound to be bad guys infiltrating the ranks of the ANA and ANP.  There really is no "black & white" in Afghanistan.  Just a whole lot of gray.  The vetting process for these guys is minimal at best.  In my personal opinion, it's not the TB/AQ that are the major underlying cause for the apparent incompetence and inability of Afghan forces to perform independently and without help from outsiders.  The real problem is actual incompetence at every level throughout the ANA an ANP.  The vast majority have next to no education and a lot of them don't care as long as they get a paycheck however little the pay may be.  And it is very little compared to what the bad guys pay their Holy Soldiers.  Lack of discipline is another major consideration.  Discipline can be thought of as the lube that keeps the gears of the military machine turning smoothly.  Without it the machine breaks.  Lack of pride in the true sense.  Somebody needs to instill in these men a true, deeply rooted sense of worth in these guys.  It seems to me that the majority of them place no real value or importance on what their mission is, Afghanistan as a nation, and themselves as soldiers.  When an American  recruit makes it through basic training or boot camp, they're pissing red, white and blue.  Afghans on the other hand aren't exactly pissing their national colors (red, black & green) though.   Considering all this, the TB/AQ that do exist within the ranks have an easy job and there really is no way around it.  We just have to wait until someone from an opposing tribe rats them out..."

I am truly delighted to have this conversation with you, so I communicate effectively that I am not arguing with you/your experience but rather testing my ideas with you precisely out of respect.

That said, given what you say-- does President Obama's strategy make any sense at all? 

As best as I can tell it is to build a coherent army out of what you just describe (fully consistent with my armchair readings btw) an army that will allow us to begin to leave by , , , when? , , , spring/summer 2011? 

 Do I have this right and if so, does it make any sense?

25173  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Too much, too soon on: March 03, 2010, 08:39:30 AM
From Britain:


Too much, too soon
As possibly one of its last acts as government, British Labour bids to make sex education compulsory.
Sex education. The very words strike a note of gloom. Long, long ago, back in the 1950s when schoolgirl pregnancies were a rarity, and anyone who gave children contraceptives and urged them to enjoy “safe sex” would have been arrested, things looked different.

In those days, there was a feeling that, with the advent of television and greater prosperity, with young people enjoying more freedom than had been the case in centuries past, and with a general sense of social change in the air, it might be useful to ensure that the young were well informed about the facts of human reproduction. In this way, greater freedom would not spell social chaos; with knowledge and with suitable moral guidance, the young could enjoy wholesome relationships and understand why it was important to remain chaste.

The accepted wisdom was that sexual experimentation among young people arose out of ignorance: girls did not know how babies happened, and were too shy or embarrassed to discuss such things with their parents. Now things would change; health officials drew up plans. All were agreed on one thing: information about sexual and reproductive matters would come with clear moral guidance and, indeed, the whole scheme was seen primarily in that context.

But things did not work out as planned. Other voices took over as commercial and ideological forces got involved. Golly, how different things are in 2010. We have now had massive schemes of propaganda on sexual issues pushed at the young for decades. Schools arrange talks and brochures, demonstrations and films about contraception and abortion, making official links with abortion providers and with clinics which give youngsters contraceptives without parental knowledge or consent. Posters urge youngsters to consider whether or not they are lesbian or homosexual, and how to feel good about it if they decide they are.

The result? The teenage pregnancy rate has soared, and the problem of sexually-transmitted diseases among the young is now so huge that supermarkets and youth clubs have joined health centres and schools in giving information about how to obtain medical help for these potentially lethal illnesses.

Fewer and fewer young people are marrying. Of those who do, many divorce – especially if they have been living together beforehand. Many people in their twenties, attempting marriage, have had multiple sexual partners. Many girls bring to marriage a background of more than one abortion, with its consequent physical and psychological damage. Almost half of all births are now out of wedlock. Children born to unmarried couples have only a slim chance of remaining in contact with both parents by the time they reach puberty as most such relationships break up before then.
And into this grisly scene the government is bringing – yes, you’ve guessed it – more sex education. Under legislation now in Parliament (Children Schools and Families Bill), sex and relationships education will be a compulsory part of the statutory National Curriculum. Parents will continue to have the right to withdraw their children from these classes, but only up to the age of 15. After that they must attend classes which include information on “how and where to obtain information about health and sex advice” -- to wit, your local family planning/abortion clinic. This is to ensure they get at least 12 months of amoral, utilitarian sex education before finishing compulsory schooling.

However, there is no opt-out at any stage for schools. Faith schools -- which constitute a third of all schools in Britain -- will have to teach a curriculum that starts with talking to five-year-olds about bodily changes, teaches “different relationships” (of which marriage is only one) from the age of seven, and everything else from the age of 11 -- including same-sex relationships, contraception and abortion.

Since the government announced its latest plan in November, the excellent Family Education Trust has produced a a devastating critique in its detailed report, Too Much,Too Soon. Increasingly, informed and professional voices are raised about the sexualising of the young and there is discussion about the links between this and the rising tide of teenage drunkenness, violence, and suicide.  Ironically, the government itself has just released a report warning Britons about the sexualisation of children -- as if it had nothing to do with its own awful agenda.

In response to outrage from many parents and family groups the minister in charge of this draconian bill, Ed Balls, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (yes, this government department really does seem to believe that it is in charge of children and families as well as schools) has insisted that faith schools will still be able to teach the sex content within “the tenets of their faith”. Last week an amendment to this effect was passed in the Commons -- the result of a deal with religious authorities, notably the Catholic Education Service of England and Wales (CES), which seems to regard it as a positive coup.

But there are many sceptics. Jewish columnist Melanie Phillips has taken a liberal rabbi to task for defending the compromise, which she calls “demonstrably absurd”. The Telegraph’s Catholic blogger Damian Thompson has called for the CES to be wound up, and The Catholic Herald says that it demonstrates the need for Catholics to “take drastic action to confront moral relativism in our schools”.

On the other hand the National Secular Society, in tune with much of the press, has portrayed the amendment as a massive concession, saying that the government has “once more bowed to pressure from the Catholic church, betraying the children in faith schools who have a right to objective and balanced sex education."
This, despite Mr Balls’ repeated insistence that there is to be "no watering down" of the government’s scheme. "There's no opt-out for any faith school from teaching the full, broad, balanced curriculum on sex education," he says. "Catholic schools can say to their pupils that, as a religion, we believe contraception is wrong, but what they can't do is say they are not going to teach about contraception."

Meanwhile the CES is emphatic that the character of education in Catholic schools will remain clear: “The teaching of all aspects of the curriculum in Catholic schools reflects their religious ethos. In the same way, the SRE in Catholic schools will be rooted in the Catholic Church’s teaching of the profound respect for the dignity of all human persons," it says. This is unconvincing, to say the least. Already – and this is shameful – some Catholic schools promote access to abortion information and use standard leaflets to ensure that children are given material about contraception.

With a general election coming up this year, this ought to be a major issue. What next? Thank goodness for one clear voice – the Cardinal Archbishop of Edinburgh, Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien, has hit out at the government’s “systematic and unrelenting attack on family values”. He points to the “soaring toll” of abortions, and to the government’s record on forcing all adoption agencies to accept allocating children to homosexual couples, as examples of government anti-family attitudes.

Ordinary Christians – and people of all faiths and none who are concerned about the tragic brokenness of modern British society – look to religious leaders for a voice. Can we hear more voices like that of Cardinal O’Brien, please? And can we ask what a Catholic Education Service is for, if it is not to promote Catholic beliefs and values in education?
Sooner or later, there will be a turnaround in the official policies on sex education. The sheer social chaos that has resulted – and will worsen rapidly in the next few years – from the policies of recent decades will ensure this. We need to speed up the process, and we need people of faith to help in that. At present, the future looks bleak.

Joanna Bogle writes from London.

25174  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A piece of good news on: March 03, 2010, 08:30:22 AM
Good follow through on that BBG.  No doubt the MSM will be all over this  rolleyes

Speaking of corruption, , ,

Representative Charles B. Rangel Says He Is Stepping Down Temporarily as House Ways and Means Committee Chairman

Caught in a swirl of ethics inquiries, Representative Charles
B. Rangel said on Wednesday that he would temporarily step
aside as leader of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Read More:
25175  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: March 03, 2010, 08:28:34 AM
Frankly, I think Glenn Beck is showing the way.  Did you catch his show on Monday and yesterday?

PS: Not familiar with Levin and Reagan's son in order to comment. Hannity is both an ass and a mental mediocrity, and Limbaugh , , , well too little content to time ratio for me to be bothered.
25176  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: March 03, 2010, 08:24:31 AM
I'm not entirely clear here-- is VDH being sarcastic when he uses the term "assasination" here?  Why would targetting and killing an enemy in a war be an "assassination"? 

Anyway, I'd like to suggest that this interesting post would better belong in the "Legal Issues created by the War on Islamic Fascism". 
25177  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rand Paul on: March 03, 2010, 08:18:58 AM
PC or anyone:

What can you tell us about Rand Paul and his candidacy in KY?
25178  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: March 03, 2010, 08:18:11 AM
PC:  I'll be asking you about Rand Paul on the Politics thread.
25179  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Glen Beck on: March 03, 2010, 08:16:10 AM
Monday's shows I thought quite good, and last night's show outstanding.
25180  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Conditioning on: March 03, 2010, 08:15:00 AM

Here is a routine someone recommended to me:

_______________ preparatory training program. This program is physically and mentally

demanding. To accomplish physical-related goals set by ----, applicants must be in good physical

condition upon arrival at ---------. Soldiers attending the ---- Program will perform physical

tasks that will require them to climb obstacles (by use of a rope) 20 to 30 feet high, swim while

in uniform, and travel great distances cross-country while carrying a rucksack with a minimum of

50 pounds. The ---- Program requires upper and lower body strength and physical endurance

to accomplish daily physical-oriented goals on a continuous basis for 24 days. Below is a recommended

5-week PT program consisting of realistic physical and mental goals relative to physical

requirements set by the ---------- ---- committee (if you have time, work out more than 5

weeks prior to arrival).

4-3. Stages of physical fitness. Attaining physical fitness is not an overnight process; the body

must go through three stages:

a. The first is the toughening stage, which lasts about 2 weeks. During this time the body

goes through a soreness and recovery period. When a muscle with poor blood supply (such as a

weak muscle) is exercised, the waste products produced by the exercise collect faster than the

blood can remove them. This acid waste builds up in the muscle tissue and irritates the nerve in

the muscle fiber causing soreness. As the exercise continues, the body is able to circulate the

blood more rapidly through the muscles and remove the waste material, which causes soreness to


b. The slow improvement stage is second stage in attaining physical fitness. As the body

passes through the toughening stage and continues into the slow improvement stage, the volume

of blood circulating in the muscle increases and the body functions more efficiently. In the first few

weeks the improvement is rapid, but as a higher level of skill and conditioning is reached, the

improvement becomes less noticeable. The body reaches its maximum level of performance between

6 and 10 weeks. The intensity of the program and individual differences account for the

variance in time.

c. The sustaining stage is the third stage during which physical fitness is maintained. It is

necessary to continue exercising at approximately the same intensity to retain the condition developed.

4-4. Physical workouts. Physical workouts should be conducted a minimum of 4 days a week;

work out hard one day, easy the next. A hard and easy workout concept will allow maximum effort

for overloading both the muscle groups and cardiorespiratory system; it will also prevent injury and

stagnation in the program. For example: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday--Hard workouts (overloading

of muscles) (Saturday used for extra long workouts). Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday--

Easy workouts. This is the time to practice swimming and work on overall fitness; sprints, pull-ups,

push-ups, and especially stretching.

a. Prior to each workout, 10 to 15 minutes should be devoted to performing stretching exercises.

Additionally, the ----------- Surgeon recommends a well-balanced diet be incorporated

with this recommended PT program and that daily fluid (water) intake be increased.



b. Week 1. (Only hard workout days are listed here. Make up your own workouts on your

“easy” days.)

(1) Day 1: See what you can do. Do the best you can do.

(a) APFT (maximum performance in all events, see what you can do).

(b) One hundred-meter swim (nonstop, any stroke, do not touch the side or bottom of the


(c) Forced march with 30-pound rucksack, 3 miles in 45 minutes (along a road) or 1 hour if

cross-country. (Wear well broken-in boots with thick socks.)

(2) Day 2:

(a) Three sets of push-ups (maximum repetitions in one-half minute period).

(b) Three-mile run (moderate 8- to 9-minute mile pace).

(c) Rope climb or three sets of pull-ups (as many as you can do).

(d) Forced march with 30-pound rucksack, 5 miles in 1 hour and 15 minutes (along a road) or

1 hour and 40 minutes (cross-country).

(3) Day 3: Forced march with 30-pound rucksack, 5 miles in 1 hour and 15 minutes (along

the road) or 1 hour and 40 minutes (cross-country).

c. Week 2.

(1) Day 1: Repeat of day 3, week 1 (forced march), extend distance to 8 miles with 35-

pound rucksack in 2 hours (along a road) or 2 hours and 40 minutes (cross-country).

(2) Day 2:

(a) Three sets of push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups (maximum repetitions in 35-second period three


(b) Run 5 miles (moderate 8- to 9-minute mile pace).

(c) Three sets of squats with 35-pound rucksack (50 each set). Go down only to the point

where the upper and lower leg forms a 90-degree bend at knee.

(3) Day 3: Forced march with 35-pound rucksack, 10 miles in 3 hours (along a road) or 4

hours (cross-country).

d. Week 3.

(1) Day 1:

(a) Four sets of push-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups (maximum repetitions in 40-second period).

(b) Run 4 miles (fast to moderate 7- to 8-minute mile pace.)



(c) Four sets of squats with 40-pound rucksack.

(2) Day 2: Forced march 12 miles with 40-pound rucksack in 4 hours (along a road) or 4

hours and 40 minutes (cross-country).

(3) Day 3:

(a) Four sets of push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups (maximum repetitions in 45-second period).

(b) Run 6 miles (fast to moderate 7- to 8-minute pace).

(c) Four sets of squats with 40-pound rucksack.

e. Week 4.

(1) Day 1: Forced march 14 miles with 50-pound rucksack in 4 hours (along a road) or 4

hours and 40 minutes (cross-country).

(2) Day 2:

(a) Four sets of push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups (maximum repetitions in 1-minute period).

(b) Run 6 miles (fast to moderate 7- to 8-minute mile pace).

(c) Four sets of squats with 50-pound rucksack.

(3) Day 3: Forced march 18 miles with 50-pound rucksack in 4 hours and 45 minutes (along

a road) or 6 hours (cross-country).

f. Week 5.

(1) Day 1:

(a) Run 3 miles (fast 6- to 7-minute mile pace).

(b) Five hundred-meter swim (nonstop, any stroke, but not on your back).

(2) Day 2: APFT. You should be able to achieve a score of at least 240 (minimum of 70

points in any one event) in the 17 to 21 year age limit. If not, work out harder.

(3) Day 3: Forced march 18 miles with 50-pound rucksack in 4 hours and 30 minutes (along

a road) or 6 hours (cross-country).

4-5. Considerations.

a. For forced marches, select boots that are comfortable and well broken-in (not worn out).

Wear lightweight fatigues and thick socks (not newly issued socks). Army issue boots are excellent

if fitted properly.

b. Utilize map and compass techniques whenever possible during forced march cross-country


c. Insoles specifically designed to absorb shock will reduce injuries.



d. Practice proper rucksack marching and walking techniques:

(1) Weight of body must be kept directly over feet, and sole of shoe must be flat on ground

taking small steps at a steady pace.

(2) Knees must be locked on every step in order to rest muscles of the legs (especially when

going uphill).

(3) When walking cross-country, step over and around obstacles; never step on them.

(4) When traveling up steep slopes, always traverse them; climb in zigzag pattern rather

than straight up.

(5) When descending steep slopes, keep the back straight and knees bent to take up shock

of each step. Dig in with heels on each step.

(6) Practice walking as fast as you can with rucksack. Do not run with a rucksack. When

testing, you may have to trot to maintain time, but try not to do this during training, it may injure you.

(7) A good rucksack pace is accomplished by continuous movement with short breaks (5

minutes) every 6 to 8 miles.

( If you cannot ruckmarch, then do squats with your rucksack. (One hundred repetitions,

five times or until muscles fatigue.)

e. On each day (not listed in training program) conduct less strenuous workouts such as

biking and short or slow runs. To complement push-up workouts, weight lifting exercises should

be included (for development of upper body strength) in easy day workout schedule. Swim as

often as you can (500 meters or more).

f. Once a high level of physical fitness is attained, a maintenance workout program should be

applied using the hard and easy workout concept. Once in shape, stay in shape. Do not stop this

5-week program. If you have met all the goals, then modify program by increasing distance and

weight and decreasing times. Be smart, don’t injure yourself.
25181  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF on: March 03, 2010, 08:11:19 AM
Can't read it-- too small.
25182  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Rabbits on: March 03, 2010, 08:08:27 AM
RABBITS are supposed to be easy to kill. The French dispatch them with a sharp knife to the throat. A farmer in upstate New York swears that a swift smack with the side of the hand works. Others prefer a quick twist of the neck.

It didn’t seem so easy at the rabbit-killing seminar held in a parking lot behind Roberta’s restaurant in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn in November.
The idea was to place the rabbit on its belly on straw-covered asphalt, press a broomstick across the back of its neck and swiftly yank up the rear legs. Done right, it’s a quiet and quick end. But it takes a little skill and a lot of fortitude, which some of the novices lacked.

Nine people had paid $100 each to learn how to raise, kill and butcher the animals. One was a woman hoping to start a farm in the Bronx. Another was considering a move to family land in Montana. A couple dressed in black had traveled from the Upper East Side with their knives and cutting boards in an Abercrombie & Fitch bag.

Sharleen Johnson, who rode a bus in from Boston, wanted to raise livestock in her backyard.

“This is my gateway animal,” she said.

In an age when diners scoop marrow from roasted beef shins and dissect the feet of pigs raised by people they’ve met, rabbit certainly seems like the right meat at the right time.

American rabbit is typically raised on smaller farms, not in some giant industrial rabbit complex. The meat is lean and healthy, and makes an interesting break from chicken. For people learning to butcher at home, a rabbit is less daunting to cut up than a pig or a goat. And those who are truly obsessed with knowing where their food comes from can raise it themselves.

Still, it’s a rabbit, the animal entire generations know as the star of children’s books and Saturday-morning cartoons, and as a classroom mascot.

Buttermilk Channel in Brooklyn had rabbit on some menus shortly after it opened in late 2008. But after a table of guests walked out, it came off. Now the only rabbit served at the restaurant is disguised in a country terrine.

“It seems to me that the more you can make rabbit not look like rabbit, the easier it is to sell people on it,” said the restaurant’s owner, Doug Crowell.

But not everybody is squeamish. Some restaurant chefs are lining up for well-raised rabbits from small farms, using the meat in coconut chili braises, liver pâtés and even upscale sliders inspired by White Castle.

“Every time I put it on the menu it flies out the door,” said Chris Kronner of Bar Tartine in San Francisco.

Rabbit is also becoming popular among those with an interest in raising farm animals but without much space or experience. Sure, rabbits can be fragile. They get scared and have heart attacks. Heat or the cold can knock them off. They can be bad parents, abandoning their babies or worse.

But they breed like, well, you know. That means they produce a lot of meat for not much money. And they’re clean and quiet — especially welcome traits in the suburbs.

“I always say rabbits are the new chickens,” said Novella Carpenter, who built a farm on an abandoned lot in a poor section of Oakland, Calif., and turned her experience into a book called “Farm City.”

“You can pay more, which is the Slow Food method,” she said. “Or you can do it yourself. Which is my method.”

Ms. Carpenter believes anyone who is thinking of raising rabbits should kill one first. That is one reason she, along with Samin Nosrat, a Bay Area cooking teacher, conducted the Brooklyn class.

The seminars were part of a larger East-West rabbit cultural exchange organized by the magazine Meatpaper. It was built around a series of rabbit dinners at Bar Tartine last month and at Diner in Brooklyn last November.

As the pre-slaughter lecture in Brooklyn began, Ms. Carpenter prepared students for the moment.

“Today is a somber day because we are going to be killing rabbits,” she said. “But I am always psyched after slaughter because I’m like, now I’m going to eat.”

The rabbit events appealed to the kind of adventurous cook who signs up for weekend sausage-making classes, in part because rabbits are an especially good way to learn basic home butchery.

“They have the same muscle structure as a pig,” Mr. Kronner said. “For someone who hasn’t broken down a large animal, a rabbit is a great place to start.”

The classes and dinners also attracted those seeking a slower way of living.


Page 2 of 2)

“American palates are expanding and looking backwards, and rabbit is a big part of that, ” said Sasha Wizansky, the editor in chief of Meatpaper, who first suggested the bicoastal food exchange.

Still, arguing that the country is in the middle of a rabbit renaissance might be overstating it. Rabbit never really had a strong first act to begin with.
It has always been something of a crisis meat in America. Poor rural dwellers who moved to the city and European immigrants looking to assimilate found other animals to eat as soon as they could (the French notwithstanding).

And although rabbit consumption spiked during World War II, when the United States government encouraged people to raise them for meat, it never translated to the supermarket. When the French food revolution changed American dining in the 1960s, rabbit in mustard sauce would turn up at the occasional dinner party or restaurant. But the country never quite got past the pets-or-meat problem.

Ever since the Victorians began keeping them as pets, the relationship between the rabbit and the table has been uneasy.

“It’s this weird association with Easter,” said Sean Rembold, the chef at Diner and at its sibling restaurant next door, Marlow & Sons.

Chefs have to tap-dance between customers who are excited to eat rabbit and those who find the mere idea intolerable. And despite its reputation as a staple in frugal times, rabbit isn’t cheap these days. A seven-pound live rabbit might weigh four pounds cleaned and cost a restaurant $25 to $30. D’Artagnan sells a whole fryer rabbit for $36.99 on its Web site.

Chefs searching for local, fresh rabbit can’t always find enough. In the Bay Area, cooks wait for a call from Mark Pasternak of Devil’s Gulch Ranch in Marin County. Along with his wife, a rabbit veterinarian named Myriam Kaplan-Pasternak, he raises the most coveted rabbits in Northern California.

They are such believers in the economic and health benefits of eating rabbit that they travel regularly to Haiti to teach families to raise rabbits on foraged food. The Pasternaks and their two daughters were in Haiti during the recent earthquake, when they turned their attention from rabbits to rescue.

Mr. Pasternak began growing rabbits about 12 years ago for his mother-in-law, who is from France. She brought a French chef to dinner and word leaked out to Bay Area cooks. Soon, Mr. Pasternak was selling rabbit to Chez Panisse and the French Laundry.

“I went from two to 2,000 in no time,” he said. Not that he butchers 2,000 rabbits every week. Usually, it’s about 100. But he is preparing to quadruple the number of breeding rabbits he keeps, making chefs in the Bay Area happy.

“I turn down two, three, four restaurants every single week,” Mr. Pasternak said. “I get calls from all over the country, but I discourage shipping the rabbits. You don’t need me shipping rabbit back to New York.”

Some chefs in Manhattan turn to John Fazio, who sells his rabbits with most organs intact to restaurants like Savoy and Marlow & Sons and to a few Italian markets on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.

Mr. Fazio started raising rabbits near his home in Modena, N.Y., 80 miles north of Manhattan, after an accident left him unable to make a living as a truck driver. A couple of years ago, a chef at Cookshop in Chelsea started ordering them. Others followed. Now he sells 300 to 400 a week.

He slaughters to order. And he has a signature.

“If they don’t have a rabbit with a head on it, they don’t have a rabbit from me,” he said.

Both he and Mr. Pasternak raise a mix of New Zealands and Californians, the two most popular meat breeds. New Zealands are longer and thinner but produce more babies. Californians are a little meatier. Mr. Pasternak adds in some tri-colored Rex rabbits, which are used in the fur trade and have a good temperament.

In the kitchen, rabbit can be a challenge. The bones are tinier and more fragile than those of chickens, making splintering a constant concern. The meat sticks and clings in an endless number of small nooks and crannies.

Like chickens, rabbits have parts that cook differently. But it’s hard to roast the whole animal at the same temperature without making some meat too dry or tough.

The hind legs especially almost always need a moist, slow braise. For frying, plenty of cooks like to give them a good soak in buttermilk or a light brine.

The saddle, or center portion of the rabbit, is a different story. The meat can be fried, but it can be dry. So it helps to apply a bit more finesse.

“Treat the loins like pork tenderloins and wrap them in pancetta,” Mr. Rembold said. “It’s a great home cook trick. It’s like a chicken breast.”

For a salad of bitter greens and rabbit he served at the Brooklyn rabbit dinners, Mr. Rembold removed the legs, sautéed the rest of the rabbit whole, then removed and sliced the meat to toss with frisée and a mustard dressing.

To make the most of all bits of the rabbit, Mr. Rembold suggests a sausage made with a medium grind mixed with some fatback or chicken skin to enrich the lean meat. Ms. Nosrat likes to use up all the scraps and legs in a long-simmered ragù.

Angelina Lippert, the woman who took an Abercrombie & Fitch bag and her boyfriend to the class in Brooklyn, brought home the legs of the rabbit they killed and braised them with almonds, apples, Calvados and cream. The saddle, kidneys and heart went into a rolled roast with garlic, sage and rosemary.

The killing itself was a little more intense than she had expected, she said.

“When I was the first person to volunteer to break the neck, it all seemed so easy and emotionless that I didn’t realize until after I’d done it that I was shaking,” she said.

But she recovered quickly. After all, there was a rabbit to dress.

Ms. Lippert still has the pelt, the head and the feet. They’re in her freezer, awaiting the taxidermist. But she doesn’t have the boyfriend.

“He ended up leaving me for a vegetarian,” she said.
25183  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: March 02, 2010, 01:54:12 PM
Romney brings a lot to the table, and I liked his concession speech, but as a matter of politics (and some substance) the following concern me:

1) His Ken doll image, and his poll-driven campaign , , , until he was the only alternative to McCain.
2) His version of Obama care in MA pre-dating Obama (I could be wrong on this, but my impression is his candidacy would kill the HC issue for his party)
3) His patrician birth, like Bush's, makes him temperamentally incapable of dealing with race-baiting, class-baiting, and other typical Dem tactics.  Like Bush, I fear he will become a "compassionate conservative".
25184  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Conditioning on: March 02, 2010, 12:59:45 PM
Woof All:

I began preparing for a tracking course in 8 weeks.  The course will entail wearing about 45 pounds for many miles over very uneven terrain, so I have begun acclimating myself to hiking with weight.  Thanks to my wife helping me find my weight vest yesterday, today I was able to use my weight vest.

I did only 3.3 miles, all barefooting in my Vibram VSOs.

Mile 1: natural
 Mile 2: 25 lbs.
Mile 3: 50 lbs:

I wear a watch with a pulsemeter and was surprised at how little the weight affected my pulse.

The Adventure continues!
25185  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor on: March 02, 2010, 10:08:28 AM
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and President Barack Obama are debating the final details of the latest U.S. Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), which informs a broad spectrum of Pentagon plans, March 1. Though the fundamental strategic balance is unlikely to change, the NPR and the ongoing negotiations with Russia over a replacement for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty will bear considerable watching.


U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is meeting with President Barack Obama on March 1 to discuss final options for the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). The NPR has seen several delays and was previously slated to be released alongside the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review and Ballistic Missile Defense Review on Feb. 1. Now expected to be released mid-March, the NPR is almost certainly largely complete, with the final issues being hammered out between the state and defense departments and the White House.

There reportedly has been some disagreement between the Pentagon and the White House over the review, centered on a draft that the White House criticized as too much of a continuation of the status quo. The precise details of what Gates and Obama are discussing March 1 are currently unclear, but it appears to be the White House’s intention to press the Pentagon on wording about the circumstances under which the United States might consider using nuclear weapons and on warhead reductions. Though the exact scale of those reductions remains unclear, the White House appears to be pushing for more of a seminal document and less of the status quo. But large reductions will have to come from somewhere other than the operationally deployed arsenal.

The operationally deployed arsenal is thought to have already been reduced to below 2,200 strategic warheads in conformity with the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), signed in Moscow in 2002. The bulk of any further reductions in the arsenal are expected to come mostly from weapons held in reserve in storage. While the exact size and composition of the operationally deployed strategic deterrent and reserve stockpile poses some technical questions, most of the fat has already been trimmed from the operationally deployed arsenal, and large reductions beyond the 1,700-2,200 warheads stipulated by SORT seem unlikely at this point.

The 1,700-2,200 figure supposedly originated in the Pentagon in the first place, representing a figure the military felt comfortable with. Negotiations with Moscow on a replacement for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which lapsed in December 2009, are taking place concurrently with the NPR discussions. Further reductions in the size of the U.S. arsenal per the NPR are unlikely to impress Moscow, which is happy with a largely symbolic reduction below the SORT-stipulated numbers. Negotiators on the START replacement already reportedly have settled on around 1,600 operationally deployed warheads — a figure both the Pentagon and the Kremlin likely are comfortable with.

Russia is watching the U.S. NPR process closely, but not for a shift on warhead numbers. Issues likely to be in the final NPR — continued emphasis on ballistic missile defenses (BMD), which Russia opposes; Russia’s perception of the precise language of the circumstances under which Washington will consider using nuclear weapons and increasing emphasis on non-nuclear deterrence capabilities that, in the Kremlin’s eyes, would alter the strategic balance — will affect START negotiations as well. Russia is not simply waiting on the NPR to put ink to paper; there remain important areas of disagreement, like the U.S. BMD systems specifically slated for former Warsaw Pact countries and the availability of test and telemetry data on new weapon systems (which Russia is developing, but the United States is not).

And yet the NPR is also something of a non-issue. At the end of the day, the United States will retain the most robust and reliable nuclear deterrent in the world, and publicly released nuclear doctrine aside, will retain the ability to use nuclear weapons at its discretion when its national interests are threatened.

Both the United States and Russia have an interest in sustaining a bilateral, long-term nuclear arms control regime. The NPR will support that, and despite some points to still be settled, a START replacement is likely to be inked eventually as well.
25186  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: March 02, 2010, 10:06:00 AM
OTOH this sounds encouraging:

Special Forces Assassins Infiltrate Taliban Stronghold in Afghanistan

Sunday , February 07, 2010

American and British forces poised to assault the Taliban stronghold of Marjah, in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province, have begun targeting insurgent leaders for assassination, The Sunday Times reported.

Special forces have been infiltrating the town on "kinetic" missions — jargon for armed attacks.

"Special forces guys have been going in on assassination missions with the aim of decapitating the Taliban force," a military source told the Sunday Times.

At U.S. Marine base Camp Leatherneck and the adjoining British base of Camp Bastion, troops and munitions have been airlifted in by night to avoid enemy rockets. In a break from traditional military secrecy, American, British and Afghan commanders have revealed that Marjah, the last town in Helmand under Taliban control, will in fact be the site of fighting in the near future.

Though Operation Moshtarak —Operation Together — has been widely publicized by top military leaders, the timeline for the offensive has not been revealed.

The success of the planned campaign depends on how quickly troops and civilian development workers can get public services up and running once the Taliban have been driven away, the top U.S. and NATO commander said Sunday.

The military has widely publicized the upcoming offensive in Marjah — the biggest Taliban-held community in the south — although the precise date for the attack in Helmand province remains classified.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal said the element of surprise is not as important as letting Marjah's estimated 80,000 residents know that an Afghan government is on its way to replace Taliban overlords and drug traffickers.

"We're trying to create a situation where we communicate to them that when the government re-establishes security, they'll have choices," McChrystal said.

Establishing functioning government has been messy even in the relatively safe parts of Afghanistan. NATO forces and international diplomats have to balance the need to increase security with the desire to build up Afghan institutions that have too-often been corrupt or ineffective.

Click here for more from the Sunday Times.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
25187  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: March 02, 2010, 08:12:29 AM
Agreed 100% on the trauma potential of knives small too. 

I forget if I have mentioned it here on this forum, but the idea to use a hanging piece of meet in what was then a video, was my suggestion to Paul Vunak back in , , , 1985 IIRC.
25188  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Franklin on: March 02, 2010, 08:09:31 AM
"It is very imprudent to deprive America of any of her privileges. If her commerce and friendship are of any importance to you, they are to be  had on no other terms than leaving her in the full enjoyment of her rights." --Benjamin Franklin, Political Observances
25189  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: March 01, 2010, 11:41:28 PM

Correct me if I am wrong--and unlike me, you are not armchair-- but this piece completely dances around stating openly that the ANA is utterly riddled by Taliban-AQ agents and that we really have no way around this. 

25190  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / McDonald-- issues presented on: March 01, 2010, 07:39:15 PM
Pasting here BBG's post today in the Legal Issues thread-- see there also his second post on the Justice who wrote the Miller decision. 

Using Guns to Protect Liberty

Posted by Ilya Shapiro

Tomorrow the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in McDonald v. Chicago — the Second Amendment case with implications far beyond gun rights.  The Court is quite likely to extend the right to keep and bear arms to the states and thereby invalidate the Chicago handgun ban at issue, but the way in which it does so could revolutionize constitutional law.

In response to the oppression of freed slaves and abolitionists in southern and border states after the Civil War, the Fourteenth Amendment’s drafters sought to protect individual rights from infringement by state and local governments.  The amendment’s Due Process Clause and Privileges or Immunities Clause provided overlapping but distinct protections for these rights.  The Court decided in the 1873 Slaughter-House Cases, however, that the Privileges or Immunities Clause only protected Americans’ rights as national, not state, citizens.  This reactionary holding eviscerated the clause, rendering it powerless to protect individual rights from state interference.

McDonald provides the Court an opportunity to overturn the Slaughter-House Cases and finally restore the Privileges or Immunities Clause to its proper role as a check against government intrusion on individual rights.  Doing so would secure Americans’ natural rights, such as the freedom of contract and the right to earn an honest living, without enabling judges to invent constitutional rights to health care or welfare payments.  For a more detailed discussion of McDonald’s potential implications, and how the Court should rule, see my recent op-ed here.

I will also be participating in several public events this week on McDonald, the Fourteenth Amendment, and firearm regulation.  Today at 4:00 p.m., I will be speaking at a Cato policy forum, which will be broadcast live on C-SPAN and which you may watch online here.  Tomorrow at 3:30 p.m., I will participate in a post-argument discussion of McDonald at the Georgetown University Law Center, which event is cosponsored by the Federalist Society and the Georgetown Journal of Law and Public Policy (where Josh Blackman and I recently published a lengthy article on the subject).  And on Wednesday at noon, I will be participating in a Cato Capitol Hill briefing on McDonald and the future of gun rights at the Rayburn House Office Building, room B-340 (more information here).
25191  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The true meaning and measure of GDP on: March 01, 2010, 07:32:05 PM
25192  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: March 01, 2010, 07:29:18 PM
Second post of the day-- the post is by BBG, but I think it better belongs in this thread:

The real Arab stuff-What are realistic, moderate Arabic-speaking rulers thinking? [about Obama]
Jerusalem Post ^ | 3-1-10 | BARRY RUBIN

Hussain Abdul Hussain gets it. He’s one of the most interesting Arab journalists who also write in English. In his latest article “Lonely Obama vs. popular Iran”, published in the Huffington Post, he points out what the most realistic people and more moderate rulers in the Arabic-speaking world are thinking.

Theme one: Popularity isn’t so important in the Middle East. “A common perception is that under President Barack Obama, America’s image has improved, and perhaps its friends have increased. But such claims are unfounded, as the opposite proves to be true. International relations, however, are about interests, not sweet talk. As [George W.] Bush went out recruiting allies, and making enemies, Obama lost America’s friends while failing to win over enemies.”

Theme two: What is important is that allies believe you will support and protect them. Obama isn’t doing that. Example A, Iraq. “After losing more than 4,300 troops in battle and spending [a huge amount of money] since 2003, America today cannot find a single politician or group that would express gratitude to Americans for ridding Iraq of its ruthless tyrant Saddam Hussein, and allowing these politicians to speak out freely. On the contrary, shy of making their excellent backdoor ties with Washington known since they fear Obama will depart Iraq and never look back, Iraqi politicians started expressing dissatisfaction with the United States in public.”

Example B, Lebanon. Before Obama took office, more than one-third of the entire population – most of them Sunni Muslims – demonstrated against Hizbullah and Syrian occupation. And the Druse leader Walid Jumblatt said on televisionthat he was proud to be part of America’s plan to spread democracy in the Middle East. But “by the time Obama had made it to the White House, support of America’s allies in Lebanon waned since Obama was determined to appease their foes in Syria and Iran. [Said] Hariri [leader of the moderate forces] and Jumblatt [his former close ally] were forced to abandon their fight for Lebanon’s democracy and freedom” and seek to make a deal with Syria and Hizbullah instead.

Example C, Iran. The people revolted against the autocratic regime and staged mass demonstrations, “but Obama’s Washington was busy sending one letter of appeasement after another to Iran’s tyrants, and accordingly failed to side with the Green Revolution for democracy and freedom. When Obama did show support for the Green movement, it was too little and too late.”

AMONG THOSE worried about a similar lack of US support are Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the small Gulf states, the three North African states, most of Lebanon and those Turks who don’t want to live under an Islamist regime.

Theme three: Iran helps its allies. Hence, Iran has more allies, while the US has fewer. Iran is going up; the US is going down. “Now compare America’s friends around the Middle East to Iran’s cronies, and you can immediately understand why Washington is in trouble, both diplomatically and on a popular level, while Iran is confident as it marches toward producing a nuclear weapon and expanding its influence across the Middle East.”

Iranian ally A, Hizbullah: “Since 1981, Iran has been funding its Lebanese ally Hizbullah, never defaulting on any of its pledged payments. Hizbullah went from an embryonic group into a state within a state, boasting a membership of several thousands and maintaining a private army, schools, hospitals, orphanages, satellite TV and a number of other facilities that have won it the hearts of Lebanon’s Shi’ites, and have given Hizbullah an absolute command over them.”

Iranian ally B, Syria: “Iran has maintained a flow of cash and political support toward Syria for a similar amount of time. Obama has been begging Syria to switch sides and abandon Iran. Judging by the mishaps that always seem to befall America’s friends with time, Syria does not seem likely to change, but is rather playing an Obama administration desperate for whatever it can claim as success in its foreign policy.”

As if to prove the point, immediately after a big American delegation visited Damascus to restore full relations and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Congress that US policy is seeking to detach Syria from its alliance with Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Syria and the two leaders made strong anti-American statements while pledging eternal partnership.

Here’s the headline in the London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat: “Syria and Iran defy Clinton in show of unity.”

And in the Syrian government’s newspaper Tishrin a column explained that if the US wanted a deal with Iran and Syria to achieve peace in the region that would have to include Israel’s elimination.

Iranian ally C, Iraqi insurgents: “In Iraq, Iran does not only fund and train militias and violent groups, but it also funds electoral campaigns of Iraqi politicians, loyal media groups and political parties, thus expanding its influence over Iraq exponentially. Spending billions more than Iran in Iraq, America has seen its money spent to no or little effect.”

And here’s the bottom line: “The comparison between Iran and Obama’s America is simple. While Teheran never let down an ally, offering them consistent financial and political support, Washington’s support of its allies around the world has always been intermittent, due to changes with administrations and an ever swinging mood among American voters, pundits and analysts.

“So while Iran has created a mini-Islamic republic in Lebanon, and is on its way to doing the same in Iraq, America has failed in keeping friends or maintaining influence both in Lebanon and in Iraq.

“And while Teheran brutally suppressed a growing peaceful revolution for change inside Iran, Washington’s pacifism did not win any favors with the Iranian regime, or with its opponents in the Green Revolution.

“While Iran knows how to make friends, Obama’s America has become an expert in losing them.”

Yes! That’s what it’s all about. You know, it’s an interesting point. Obama and company says we should listen to Muslim and Arab voices.

Okay, but which ones? Not, as they are doing, to the apologists for radicalism and the purveyors of conventional nonsense (all that matters is the Arab-Israeli conflict, America should just make concessions, you need to understand how Islamism isn’t a threat, etc.). If you want to know what a dozen Arab governments think and fear – and Israelis, too – this is the real stuff.

The writer is Director at the Global Research in International Affairs Center (GLORIA) ( and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs Journal (MERIA). He blogs at The Rubin Report (
25193  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Thinking the unthinkable on: March 01, 2010, 03:16:06 PM
Thinking About the Unthinkable: A U.S.-Iranian Deal
March 1, 2010

By George Friedman

The United States apparently has reached the point where it must either accept that Iran will develop nuclear weapons at some point if it wishes, or take military action to prevent this. There is a third strategy, however: Washington can seek to redefine the Iranian question.

As we have no idea what leaders on either side are thinking, exploring this represents an exercise in geopolitical theory. Let’s begin with the two apparent stark choices.

Diplomacy vs. the Military Option
The diplomatic approach consists of creating a broad coalition prepared to impose what have been called crippling sanctions on Iran. Effective sanctions must be so painful that they compel the target to change its behavior. In Tehran’s case, this could only consist of blocking Iran’s imports of gasoline. Iran imports 35 percent of the gasoline it consumes. It is not clear that a gasoline embargo would be crippling, but it is the only embargo that might work. All other forms of sanctions against Iran would be mere gestures designed to give the impression that something is being done.

The Chinese will not participate in any gasoline embargo. Beijing gets 11 percent of its oil from Iran, and it has made it clear it will continue to deliver gasoline to Iran. Moscow’s position is that Russia might consider sanctions down the road, but it hasn’t specified when, and it hasn’t specified what. The Russians are more than content seeing the U.S. bogged down in the Middle East and so are not inclined to solve American problems in the region. With the Chinese and Russians unlikely to embargo gasoline, these sanctions won’t create significant pain for Iran. Since all other sanctions are gestures, the diplomatic approach is therefore unlikely to work.

The military option has its own risks. First, its success depends on the quality of intelligence on Iran’s nuclear facilities and on the degree of hardening of those targets. Second, it requires successful air attacks. Third, it requires battle damage assessments that tell the attacker whether the strike succeeded. Fourth, it requires follow-on raids to destroy facilities that remain functional. And fifth, attacks must do more than simply set back Iran’s program a few months or even years: If the risk of a nuclear Iran is great enough to justify the risks of war, the outcome must be decisive.

Each point in this process is a potential failure point. Given the multiplicity of these points — which includes others not mentioned — failure may not be an option, but it is certainly possible.

But even if the attacks succeed, the question of what would happen the day after the attacks remains. Iran has its own counters. It has a superbly effective terrorist organization, Hezbollah, at its disposal. It has sufficient influence in Iraq to destabilize that country and force the United States to keep forces in Iraq badly needed elsewhere. And it has the ability to use mines and missiles to attempt to close the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf shipping lanes for some period — driving global oil prices through the roof while the global economy is struggling to stabilize itself. Iran’s position on its nuclear program is rooted in the awareness that while it might not have assured options in the event of a military strike, it has counters that create complex and unacceptable risks. Iran therefore does not believe the United States will strike or permit Israel to strike, as the consequences would be unacceptable.

To recap, the United States either can accept a nuclear Iran or risk an attack that might fail outright, impose only a minor delay on Iran’s nuclear program or trigger extremely painful responses even if it succeeds. When neither choice is acceptable, it is necessary to find a third choice.

Redefining the Iranian Problem
As long as the problem of Iran is defined in terms of its nuclear program, the United States is in an impossible place. Therefore, the Iranian problem must be redefined. One attempt at redefinition involves hope for an uprising against the current regime. We will not repeat our views on this in depth, but in short, we do not regard these demonstrations to be a serious threat to the regime. Tehran has handily crushed them, and even if they did succeed, we do not believe they would produce a regime any more accommodating toward the United States. The idea of waiting for a revolution is more useful as a justification for inaction — and accepting a nuclear Iran — than it is as a strategic alternative.

At this moment, Iran is the most powerful regional military force in the Persian Gulf. Unless the United States permanently stations substantial military forces in the region, there is no military force able to block Iran. Turkey is more powerful than Iran, but it is far from the Persian Gulf and focused on other matters at the moment, and it doesn’t want to take on Iran militarily — at least not for a very long time. At the very least, this means the United States cannot withdraw from Iraq. Baghdad is too weak to block Iran from the Arabian Peninsula, and the Iraqi government has elements friendly toward Iran.

Historically, regional stability depended on the Iraqi-Iranian balance of power. When it tottered in 1990, the result was the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The United States did not push into Iraq in 1991 because it did not want to upset the regional balance of power by creating a vacuum in Iraq. Rather, U.S. strategy was to re-establish the Iranian-Iraqi balance of power to the greatest extent possible, as the alternative was basing large numbers of U.S. troops in the region.

The decision to invade Iraq in 2003 assumed that once the Baathist regime was destroyed the United States would rapidly create a strong Iraqi government that would balance Iran. The core mistake in this thinking lay in failing to recognize that the new Iraqi government would be filled with Shiites, many of whom regarded Iran as a friendly power. Rather than balancing Iran, Iraq could well become an Iranian satellite. The Iranians strongly encouraged the American invasion precisely because they wanted to create a situation where Iraq moved toward Iran’s orbit. When this in fact began happening, the Americans had no choice but an extended occupation of Iraq, a trap both the Bush and Obama administrations have sought to escape.

It is difficult to define Iran’s influence in Iraq at this point. But at a minimum, while Iran may not be able to impose a pro-Iranian state on Iraq, it has sufficient influence to block the creation of any strong Iraqi government either through direct influence in the government or by creating destabilizing violence in Iraq. In other words, Iran can prevent Iraq from emerging as a counterweight to Iran, and Iran has every reason to do this. Indeed, it is doing just this.

The Fundamental U.S.-Iranian Issue
Iraq, not nuclear weapons, is the fundamental issue between Iran and the United States. Iran wants to see a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq so Iran can assume its place as the dominant military power in the Persian Gulf. The United States wants to withdraw from Iraq because it faces challenges in Afghanistan — where it will also need Iranian cooperation — and elsewhere. Committing forces to Iraq for an extended period of time while fighting in Afghanistan leaves the United States exposed globally. Events involving China or Russia — such as the 2008 war in Georgia — would see the United States without a counter. The alternative would be a withdrawal from Afghanistan or a massive increase in U.S. armed forces. The former is not going to happen any time soon, and the latter is an economic impossibility.

Therefore, the United States must find a way to counterbalance Iran without an open-ended deployment in Iraq and without expecting the re-emergence of Iraqi power, because Iran is not going to allow the latter to happen. The nuclear issue is simply an element of this broader geopolitical problem, as it adds another element to the Iranian tool kit. It is not a stand-alone issue.

The United States has an interesting strategy in redefining problems that involves creating extraordinarily alliances with mortal ideological and geopolitical enemies to achieve strategic U.S. goals. First consider Franklin Roosevelt’s alliance with Stalinist Russia to block Nazi Germany. He pursued this alliance despite massive political outrage not only from isolationists but also from institutions like the Roman Catholic Church that regarded the Soviets as the epitome of evil.

Now consider Richard Nixon’s decision to align with China at a time when the Chinese were supplying weapons to North Vietnam that were killing American troops. Moreover, Mao — who had said he did not fear nuclear war as China could absorb a few hundred million deaths — was considered, with reason, quite mad. Nevertheless, Nixon, as anti-Communist and anti-Chinese a figure as existed in American politics, understood that an alliance (and despite the lack of a formal treaty, alliance it was) with China was essential to counterbalance the Soviet Union at a time when American power was still being sapped in Vietnam.

Roosevelt and Nixon both faced impossible strategic situations unless they were prepared to redefine the strategic equation dramatically and accept the need for alliance with countries that had previously been regarded as strategic and moral threats. American history is filled with opportunistic alliances designed to solve impossible strategic dilemmas. The Stalin and Mao cases represent stunning alliances with prior enemies designed to block a third power seen as more dangerous.

It is said that Ahmadinejad is crazy. It was also said that Mao and Stalin were crazy, in both cases with much justification. Ahmadinejad has said many strange things and issued numerous threats. But when Roosevelt ignored what Stalin said and Nixon ignored what Mao said, they each discovered that Stalin’s and Mao’s actions were far more rational and predictable than their rhetoric. Similarly, what the Iranians say and what they do are quite different.

U.S. vs. Iranian Interests
Consider the American interest. First, it must maintain the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz. The United States cannot tolerate interruptions, and that limits the risks it can take. Second, it must try to keep any one power from controlling all of the oil in the Persian Gulf, as that would give such a country too much long-term power within the global system. Third, while the United States is involved in a war with elements of the Sunni Muslim world, it must reduce the forces devoted to that war. Fourth, it must deal with the Iranian problem directly. Europe will go as far as sanctions but no further, while the Russians and Chinese won’t even go that far yet. Fifth, it must prevent an Israeli strike on Iran for the same reasons it must avoid a strike itself, as the day after any Israeli strike will be left to the United States to manage.

Now consider the Iranian interest. First, it must guarantee regime survival. It sees the United States as dangerous and unpredictable. In less than 10 years, it has found itself with American troops on both its eastern and western borders. Second, it must guarantee that Iraq will never again be a threat to Iran. Third, it must increase its authority within the Muslim world against Sunni Muslims, whom it regards as rivals and sometimes as threats.

Now consider the overlaps. The United States is in a war against some (not all) Sunnis. These are Iran’s enemies, too. Iran does not want U.S. troops along its eastern and western borders. In point of fact, the United States does not want this either. The United States does not want any interruption of oil flow through Hormuz. Iran much prefers profiting from those flows to interrupting them. Finally, the Iranians understand that it is the United States alone that is Iran’s existential threat. If Iran can solve the American problem its regime survival is assured. The United States understands, or should, that resurrecting the Iraqi counterweight to Iran is not an option: It is either U.S. forces in Iraq or accepting Iran’s unconstrained role.

Therefore, as an exercise in geopolitical theory, consider the following. Washington’s current options are unacceptable. By redefining the issue in terms of dealing with the consequences of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, there are three areas of mutual interest. First, both powers have serious quarrels with Sunni Islam. Second, both powers want to see a reduction in U.S. forces in the region. Third, both countries have an interest in assuring the flow of oil, one to use the oil, the other to profit from it to increase its regional power.

The strategic problem is, of course, Iranian power in the Persian Gulf. The Chinese model is worth considering here. China issued bellicose rhetoric before and after Nixon’s and Kissinger’s visits. But whatever it did internally, it was not a major risk-taker in its foreign policy. China’s relationship with the United States was of critical importance to China. Beijing fully understood the value of this relationship, and while it might continue to rail about imperialism, it was exceedingly careful not to undermine this core interest.

The major risk of the third strategy is that Iran will overstep its bounds and seek to occupy the oil-producing countries of the Persian Gulf. Certainly, this would be tempting, but it would bring a rapid American intervention. The United States would not block indirect Iranian influence, however, from financial participation in regional projects to more significant roles for the Shia in Arabian states. Washington’s limits for Iranian power are readily defined and enforced when exceeded.

The great losers in the third strategy, of course, would be the Sunnis in the Arabian Peninsula. But Iraq aside, they are incapable of defending themselves, and the United States has no long-term interest in their economic and political relations. So long as the oil flows, and no single power directly controls the entire region, the United States does not have a stake in this issue.

Israel would also be enraged. It sees ongoing American-Iranian hostility as a given. And it wants the United States to eliminate the Iranian nuclear threat. But eliminating this threat is not an option given the risks, so the choice is a nuclear Iran outside some structured relationship with the United States or within it. The choice that Israel might want, a U.S.-Iranian conflict, is unlikely. Israel can no more drive American strategy than can Saudi Arabia.

From the American standpoint, an understanding with Iran would have the advantage of solving an increasingly knotty problem. In the long run, it would also have the advantage of being a self-containing relationship. Turkey is much more powerful than Iran and is emerging from its century-long shell. Its relations with the United States are delicate. The United States would infuriate the Turks by doing this deal, forcing them to become more active faster. They would thus emerge in Iraq as a counterbalance to Iran. But Turkey’s anger at the United States would serve U.S. interests. The Iranian position in Iraq would be temporary, and the United States would not have to break its word as Turkey eventually would eliminate Iranian influence in Iraq.

Ultimately, the greatest shock of such a maneuver on both sides would be political. The U.S.-Soviet agreement shocked Americans deeply, the Soviets less so because Stalin’s pact with Hitler had already stunned them. The Nixon-Mao entente shocked all sides. It was utterly unthinkable at the time, but once people on both sides thought about it, it was manageable.

Such a maneuver would be particularly difficult for U.S. President Barack Obama, as it would be widely interpreted as another example of weakness rather than as a ruthless and cunning move. A military strike would enhance his political standing, while an apparently cynical deal would undermine it. Ahmadinejad could sell such a deal domestically much more easily. In any event, the choices now are a nuclear Iran, extended airstrikes with all their attendant consequences, or something else. This is what something else might look like and how it would fit in with American strategic tradition.

25194  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post on: March 01, 2010, 11:15:33 AM
The Foundation
"There is a certain enthusiasm in liberty, that makes human nature rise above itself, in acts of bravery and heroism." --Alexander Hamilton

Opinion in Brief
"Americans cherish their independence. One interesting aspect of the spontaneous tea party movement is the constant invocation of the Founders and the prominence of the 'Don't Tread on Me' flag. ... Americans tend to see themselves as independent doers, not dependent victims. They don't like to be told, especially by those with fancy academic pedigrees, that they are helpless and in need of government aid. That's why the politically popular American big government programs -- Social Security, Medicare, veterans' benefits, student loans -- all make a connection between effort and reward. You get a benefit because you've worked for it. In contrast, Americans have loathed and rejected big government programs with no nexus between effort and reward. Welfare was begun in the 1930s to help widows with children, whose plight, as Russell Baker's memoir 'Growing Up' showed, was often dismal. But when welfare became a mass program to subsidize mothers who didn't work and to excuse fathers from responsibility for their actions, it became wildly unpopular. Bill Clinton recognized this when he signed welfare reform in 1996. ... Barack Obama, who has chosen to live his adult life in university precincts, sees ... Americans generally as victims who need his help, people who would be better off dependent on government than on their own. Most American voters don't want to see themselves that way and resent this condescension." --political analyst Michael Barone

Political Futures
"When Republicans regain a majority in the House and Senate -- either this fall, as seems increasingly likely, or in the election following -- they must learn from their previous mistakes when they last held power. In addition to focusing on overturning whatever health insurance 'reform' proposal this Congress eventually passes (by a veto override, or a lawsuit challenging the measure's constitutionality), a Republican congressional majority must help large numbers of the public unlearn the factual errors they have been taught to accept. From 'climate change,' to the notion that government is a guarantor through 'entitlement' programs of a minimal outcome in life, to the forgotten idea given to us by the Founders that Liberty is the most precious gift there is, the country needs a history lesson based on truth, experience and provable facts. ... A Republican majority should turn the nation's attention away from Washington. A Republican majority must teach us again that 'you can do it,' like so many of our fathers did when the training wheels came off and we learned we could fly down the sidewalk without assistance. America doesn't need restructuring. It needs revival; revival of the principles that made us strong and great; revival of the moral foundation that proved to be our real strength and allowed us to conquer our demons and become independent, not dependent on government. This is the message most Americans want to hear and need to hear. Will the Republicans deliver it?" --columnist Cal Thomas

The Gipper
"Perhaps you and I have lived with this miracle too long to be properly appreciative. Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again. Knowing this, it is hard to explain those who even today would question the people's capacity for self-rule. Will they answer this: if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?" --Ronald Reagan

Re: The Left
"The reason massive Democratic majorities in Congress aren't enough to pass socialist health care is AMERICANS DON'T WANT SOCIALIZED MEDICINE! In fact, you might say that the nation is in a boiling cauldron of rage against it. Consequently, a lot of Democrats are suddenly having second thoughts about vast new government commissions regulating every aspect of Americans' medical care. Obama isn't stupid -- he's not seriously trying to get a health care bill passed. The whole purpose of this public 'summit' with the minority party is to muddy up the Republicans before the November elections. You know, the elections Democrats are going to lose because of this whole health care thing. Right now, Americans are hopping mad, swinging a stick and hoping to hit anyone who so much as thinks about nationalizing health care. If they could, Americans would cut the power to the Capitol, throw everyone out and try to deport them. ... But the Democrats think it's a good strategy to call the Republicans 'The Party of No.' When it comes to Obamacare, Americans don't want a party of 'No,' they want a party of 'Hell, No!' or, as Rahm Emanuel might say, '*&^%$#@ No!' ... Complaining that Republicans are 'obstructionists' is not a damaging charge when most Americans are dying to obstruct the Democrats with a 2-by-4. While you're at it, Democrats, why not call the GOP the 'Party of Brave Patriots'?" --columnist Ann Coulter

"Filibusters are devices for registering intensity rather than mere numbers. Besides, has a filibuster ever prevented eventual enactment of anything significant that an American majority has desired, strongly and protractedly? Liberals say filibusters confuse and frustrate the public. But most ideas incubated in the political cauldron of grasping factions are deplorable. Therefore, serving the public involves -- mostly involves -- saying 'No.' The Bill of Rights effectively pronounces the lovely word 'no' regarding many possible government undertakings -- establishment of religion, unreasonable searches and seizures, etc. The fiction that government is 'paralyzed' by partisanship is regularly refuted. ... Liberals are deeply disappointed with the public, which fails to fathom the excellence of their agenda. But their real complaint is with the government's structure. And with the nature of the politics this structure presupposes in a continental nation wary of government and replete with rival factions." --columnist George Will

For the Record
"For those not versed in the arcane rules of the U.S. Senate, reconciliation is not what a divorced couple attempts when they visit Dr. Phil. It is a mechanism for avoiding filibusters on certain budgetary issues. If Democrats can find a way to apply it to health care reform, they could pass a bill with just 51 votes, negating the election of Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown and the loss of the 60-seat supermajority. Reconciliation was established in 1974 to make it easier for Congress to adjust taxes and spending in order to 'reconcile' actual revenues and expenditures with a previously approved budget resolution. Thus, at the end of the year, if Congress found that it was running a budget deficit higher than previously projected, it could quickly raise taxes or cut spending to bring the budget back into line. Debate on such measures was abbreviated to just 20 hours (an eyeblink in Senate terms), and there could be no filibuster. As Robert Byrd, (D-W.V.), one of the original authors of the reconciliation rule, explained, 'Reconciliation was intended to adjust revenue and spending levels in order to reduce deficits ... t was not designed to ... restructure the entire health care system.' He warns that using reconciliation for health care would 'violate the intent and spirit of the budget process, and do serious injury to the Constitutional role of the Senate.' In fact, in 1985, the Senate adopted the 'Byrd rule,' which prohibits the use of reconciliation for any 'extraneous issue' that does not directly change revenues or expenditures. Clearly, large portions of the health care bill, ranging from mandates to insurance regulation to establishing 'exchanges,' do not meet that requirement." --Cato Institute senior fellow Michael D. Tanner

Faith & Family
"One of the major differences between the right and the left concerns the question of authority: To whom do we owe obedience and who is the ultimate moral authority? For the right, the primary moral authority is God (or, for secular conservatives, Judeo-Christian values), followed by parents. Of course, government must also play a role, but it is ultimately accountable to God and it should do nothing to undermine parental authority. For the left, the state and its government are the supreme authorities, while parental and divine authority are seen as impediments to state authority. ... In a nutshell, the left wants to have ever-expanding authority over people's lives through ever-expanding governmental powers. It does so because it regards itself as more enlightened than others. Others are either enemies (the right) or unenlightened masses. It is elected by demonizing its enemies and doling out money and jobs to the masses." --radio talk-show host Dennis Prager

"Personal responsibility is a real problem for those who want to collectivize society and take away our power to make our own decisions, transferring that power to third parties like themselves, who imagine themselves to be so much wiser and nobler than the rest of us. Aimless apologies are just one of the incidental symptoms of an increasing loss of a sense of personal responsibility -- without which a whole society is in jeopardy. The police cannot possibly maintain law and order by themselves. Millions of people can monitor their own behavior better than any third parties can. Cops can cope with that segment of society who have no sense of personal responsibility, but not if that segment becomes a large part of the whole population. Yet increasing numbers of educators and the intelligentsia seem to have devoted themselves to undermining or destroying a sense of personal responsibility and making 'society' responsible instead." --economist Thomas Sowell
25195  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PDVSA in Curacao on: March 01, 2010, 11:11:01 AM
Venezuela: PDVSA Hints at Withdrawal from Curacao Refinery
Stratfor Today » February 27, 2010 | 2318 GMT

View of a state-owned PDVSA gas station in Caracas Venezuelan state oil firm PDVSA may withdraw from the 320,000 barrel-per-day Isla refinery it operates in Curacao in protest of U.S. military “provocations” on the Dutch Caribbean island, Ultimas Noticias newspaper reported Feb. 27, citing an interview with Venezuela’s oil minister Rafael Ramirez. The Isla refinery, which processes sulfur-heavy crude from Venezuela’s Lake Maracaibo, is operated by PDVSA under a lease the firm has with the government of Curacao. PDVSA has long been trying to negotiate the purchase of the refinery from the Curacao government, but PDVSA is also in a severe financial crunch. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s heavy reliance on the state oil firm’s revenues to support his government programs and maintain popular support have stressed PDVSA operations, resulting in a decline in production and strain on Venezuelan refining operations. The Isla refinery in particular has developed into a financial liability for PDVSA since a Curacao court ruling in June 2009 decreed that PDVSA would have to pay roughly $3 million for violations in sulphur dioxide emissions, and $300,000 per day for further violations.

Venezuela is already facing serious refining problems due to mismanagement and a significant drop in foreign investment. Exacerbating matters is a growing electricity crisis that has had a significant impact on crude oil processing. The problems have turned critical enough that Venezuela, despite being a major oil producer and refiner, had to increase fuel purchases from abroad in Sept. 2009 to keep up with domestic demand. The Venezuelan government heavily subsidizes gasoline to maintain political support among the population, a policy that cuts further into PDVSA’s bottom line. Chavez has spoken frequently about the threat of U.S. military invasion of Venezuela, and his oil minister now appears to be using this pretext as a way to alleviate PDVSA’s financial obligations by withdrawing from its contract. The development does not speak well for PDVSA’s financial solvency and thus Venezuela’s overall political stability.
25196  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: ABC, CBS contracting on: March 01, 2010, 07:15:50 AM

ABC News is making no secret about what is behind the sweeping staff cuts it now faces: raw survival instinct. 

“I just looked out at the next five years and was concerned that we could not sustain doing what we were doing,” said David Westin, the president of ABC News, as he explained the decision last week to jettison up to 400 staff members, a quarter of the news staff, in the coming months.

The same compelling motive already instigated strategic retrenchment at ABC’s broadcast competitors. NBC, the one network with a cable news channel, MSNBC — and, not coincidentally, the only network in a sound position of profitability — has drastically pared down its operations over the last few years. So has CBS, which is losing money already and has cut about 70 jobs this year.

But with news available more places than ever, on cable channels and Internet sites, and with revenue challenged by heavy dependence on shrinking advertising dollars, the future for the news divisions at ABC and CBS remains deeply insecure.

“Long term, it’s going to get harder for these guys to exist as they are currently constructed, with the exception of NBC because it can offload the costs on MSNBC,” Michael Nathanson, an industry analyst for Sanford C. Bernstein & Company, said.

The economic problems facing ABC News and CBS News in many ways mirror those faced by newspapers, which have been similarly afflicted by a drop in advertising revenue. The reaction — severe cuts in personnel and other costs — also looks to be the same.

But can you shrink your way to prosperity? Andrew Heyward, the former president of CBS News who is now a news media consultant (NBC News is one client), said of the ABC cuts: “The real issue after this is what is going to drive growth? How do you generate more profit? And this doesn’t address that.”

The easy answer would seem to lie in NBC’s structure, because in contrast to its competitors, that news organization is flush, making an estimated $400 million in profit a year.

“We actually think we have a completely different model,” Steve Capus, the president of NBC News, said. That model: win every significant ratings competition on the broadcast side and rely on MSNBC’s revenue stream of advertising plus cable subscriber fees to subsidize the high costs of news gathering.

The effectiveness of that formula inevitably resurrects predictions that a marriage with a cable news organization is imperative for CBS and ABC. The obvious partner is CNN, and both those networks have been in courtships with it before. To date, the cultural challenges have been insurmountable. CNN, which says last year was its most profitable since its founding in 1980, would seem to have little incentive to rush to the aid of a network. And neither network wants to cede editorial control to CNN.

“If it were easy or obvious, it would have happened by now,” Mr. Heyward said.

But a longtime network news executive, who asked not to be identified because of connections to previous private negotiations involving CNN, said that ABC or CBS was likely to enter into an alliance with a partner like CNN “within the next few years.”

Even Mr. Westin, who said he did not see how a match with CNN “makes sense for us,” conceded: “In general, in business, when there is real decline, consolidation inevitably happens.”

Already, outlines of consolidation are discernible. Several CNN stars contribute to “60 Minutes” on CBS. And CBS executives, mindful that Katie Couric’s contract expires in a little over a year, have talked to Anderson Cooper of CNN about an anchor job, according to two TV veterans informed of the meeting.

In recent months, a handful of ABC News reporters has appeared on the business channel Bloomberg, and the two organizations have tried to jointly hire at least one person, according to two staff members who asked not to be named because they were not authorized by their employers to speak. Those two, and two others, labeled the sharing by ABC and Bloomberg — what one person called flirting — a possible prelude to a broader news-gathering pact.

A Bloomberg spokeswoman said that the company was a client of ABC’s affiliate service and declined to comment on any talks about a broader relationship between the organizations. An ABC spokesman said the current level of cooperation with Bloomberg was “hardly unusual.”

Network news divisions have historically been family jewels for their parent corporations, lending prestige and an aura of public service — as well as a shield against government intrusion. Mr. Heyward called the network evening newscasts a “bastion of serious news coverage at a time when so much of television has become tabloid and trivial.”

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While they have steadily shed viewers, to a cumulative 22 million in 2009, from about 50 million in 1980, the newscasts still amass an audience that dwarfs any show on a cable news channel. In the last five years, the more lucrative network morning shows have also shown declines, Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, said. “What’s occurring in broadcast news is not some sudden crisis. This has been a glacial erosion,” he said.

A survey by the Pew Research Center last year reported that three-quarters of respondents thought the cancellation of the evening newscasts would be an “important loss” to the country. Mr. Rosenstiel said, “None of these news division presidents wants to be the first guy to kill an evening newscast.”
Not that it would be their call. That decision would fall to the networks’ corporate parents. Executives from CBS News and ABC News said the top corporate executives for both networks remained outspoken supporters of the news divisions.

ABC employees were reviewing buyout packages last weekend. Eligible staff members have until March 26 to decide whether to leave. If ABC cannot meet its goal, layoffs will follow.

Mr. Westin said ABC News could no longer afford to support a worldwide staff of about 1,500, with bureaus in cities foreign and domestic, most with traditional TV news work forces: camera operators, sound engineers, tape editors, assignment editors and, of course, correspondents, many with substantial salaries.

More journalists will become jacks-of-all-trades, wielding cameras, microphones and lights, as well as lists of interview questions. More production work will be conducted out of New York. “The ones who fear the most from the cuts are the ones that have a single function,” one ABC staff member said.

Mr. Westin said high-priced and purely cosmetic talent would become an increasingly endangered species. “There have been people in television news — very successful people — who do not write,” he said. “We are going to definitely require more of our journalists.”

Mr. Westin said he did not think the cuts would compromise ABC’s journalism, but not everyone shares his confidence. One veteran ABC News executive said, “Clearly the signal is: It’s not important to create anything new. We simply have to figure out a way to manage it cheaply.”

CBS, similarly, is trying to do the same with less. In an interview after its layoffs in early February, the CBS News president, Sean McManus, said the organization was figuring out how to “utilize our resources in a more efficient way.”

NBC News, meanwhile, remains the envy of the business, largely because of its decision in 1996 to start up a separate cable news channel.

The total work force at NBC News — which includes MSNBC — is 1,100, the size ABC now aspires to be. CBS is believed to have fewer than 1,400 on staff.

So far, Web revenue is a rather small part of the broadcast networks’ bottom lines, although Mr. Westin said ABC’s digital income was “up substantially.”

But if digital revenue cannot offset ad losses, Mr. Heyward suggested there was high ground from the flood if the networks could find a way to make their news stand out.

“The notion of investing more in distinctiveness and less in sameness is critical,” he said. That means more enterprise reporting and less overlapping coverage of news that cable handles, like reporters standing in snow drifts with yardsticks.

But the networks will surely stick it out, he predicted, if only because they do not want to see their competitors win.

“I sometimes compare it to three people in a leaky boat,” Mr. Heyward said. “Each one sees an island shimmering in the distance and starts thinking: I could jump out and swim for the island and maybe I could make it.

“On the other hand, I could drown and make the boat lighter so the other two make it. I think you are going to see everybody staying in the game because everybody knows leaving guarantees a longer lease on life for their competitors.”
25197  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Political Asylum on: March 01, 2010, 07:08:35 AM

MORRISTOWN, Tenn. — On a quiet street in this little town in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains lives a family of refugees who were granted asylum in the United States because they feared persecution in their home country.

The family came to the United States in 2008 from Germany, where children are required to attend an officially recognized school, be it public, private or religious.

The reason for that fear has rarely, if ever, been the basis of an asylum case. The parents, Uwe and Hannelore Romeike, want to home-school their five children, ranging in age from 2 to 12, a practice illegal in their native land, Germany.

Among European countries, Germany is nearly alone in requiring, and enforcing, attendance of children at an officially recognized school. The school can be private or religious, but it must be a school. Exceptions can be made for health reasons but not for principled objections.

But the Romeikes, who are devout Christians, said they wanted their children to learn in a different environment. Mr. Romeike (pronounced ro-MY-kuh), 38, a soft-spoken piano teacher whose young children greet strangers at the front door with a startlingly grown-up politeness, said the unruly behavior of students that was allowed by many teachers had kept his children from learning. The stories in German readers, in which devils, witches and disobedient children are often portrayed as heroes, set bad examples, he said.

“I don’t expect the school to teach about the Bible,” he said, but “part of education should be character-building.”

In Germany, he said, home-schoolers are seen as “fundamentalist religious nuts who don’t want their children to get to know what is going on in the world, who want to protect them from everything.”

“In fact,” he said, sitting on his sofa as his three older children wrote in workbooks at the dining table, “I want my children to learn the truth and to learn about what’s going on in the world so that they can deal with it.”

The reasoning behind the German law, cited by officials and in court cases, is to foster social integration, ensure exposure to people from different backgrounds and prevent what some call “parallel societies.”

“We have had this legal basis ever since the state was founded,” said Thomas Hilsenbeck, a spokesman for the Ministry for Culture, Youth and Sport in the Romeikes’ state, Baden-Württemberg. “This is broadly accepted among the general public.”

The family has been here for some time, having left Germany in 2008. But it was not until Jan. 26 that a federal immigration judge in Memphis granted them political asylum, ruling that they had a reasonable fear of persecution for their beliefs if they returned.

In a harshly worded decision, the judge, Lawrence O. Burman, denounced the German policy, calling it “utterly repellent to everything we believe as Americans,” and expressed shock at the heavy fines and other penalties the government has levied on home-schooling parents, including taking custody of their children.

Describing home-schoolers as a distinct group of people who have a “principled opposition to government policy,” he ruled that the Romeikes would face persecution both because of their religious beliefs and because they were “members of a particular social group,” two standards for granting asylum.

“It is definitely new,” said Prof. Philip G. Schrag, the director of Georgetown Law School’s asylum law program, who added that he had never heard of such a case. “What’s novel about the argument is the nature of the social group.”

But, he said, given the severity of the penalties that German home-schoolers potentially face, the judge’s decision “does not seem far outside the margin.”

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has appealed the decision, Mr. Romeike’s lawyer said Friday. A spokesman for the agency declined to comment, citing the litigation.

The Romeikes had never heard of home schooling when they set out to find an alternative to the local public school in Germany, where their two oldest children — now 11 and 12 — were having trouble with rowdy classmates. The nearby private and religious schools, Mr. Romeike said, were just as bad or even worse.

Then a woman in their church mentioned that some families, though none in the church itself, had taken their children out of school altogether.

“She knew a family, but she didn’t want to mention their name because it wasn’t legal,” Mr. Romeike said.

Months of research followed: the Romeikes read articles, sat in on court cases and talked to other home-schoolers in Germany. Eventually they decided to give it a try. Working with a curriculum from a private Christian correspondence school — one not recognized by the German government — they expected to be punished with moderate fines and otherwise left alone.


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But they soon discovered differently, he said, facing fines eventually totaling over $11,000, threats that they would lose custody of their children and, one morning, a visit by the police, who took the children to school in a police van. Those were among the fines and potential penalties that Judge Burman said rose to the level of persecution.

Mr. Romeike began looking to other countries, but his inability to speak anything other than German or English limited his options. Then, at a conference for home-schoolers in 2007, he saw Mike Donnelly, a lawyer for the Home School Legal Defense Association, a Virginia-based advocacy organization

Long before the Romeikes had begun their fight, lawyers at the association had been discussing the situation in Germany. They had tried litigating cases one by one, usually unsuccessfully.

In 2006, after the European Court of Human Rights declined to hear a petition by home-schooling parents that had failed in German courts, lawyers at the association decided to add a political line of attack to the legal one, both to raise awareness of the German policies and to find some broader solution to the issue.

At a brainstorming session, one of the lawyers, Jim Mason, came up with the idea of petitioning for political asylum.

“I don’t know German law or German courts,” Mr. Mason said, “but I do know American courts.”

Another German home-schooling family had already moved to Morristown, so the Romeikes sold many of their belongings, including their grand piano, and came here too. The court battle lasted over a year, and while the Romeikes’ lawyers said they had expected to succeed, they were surprised by the vigor of the judge’s opinion. So was the German government.

“We’re all surprised because we consider the German educational system as very excellent,” said Lutz Hermann Görgens, the German consul general in Atlanta. He defended Germany’s policy on the grounds of fostering the ability “to peacefully interact with different values and different religions.”

Mr. Romeike said he would like to return to Germany if the laws became more amenable to home schooling. There is still hope, he said, though the political landscape does not look too promising right now.

In the meantime, he added, “it’s a good learning experience.”
25198  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: BO/WH "rethinking" US policy on: March 01, 2010, 07:03:02 AM
WASHINGTON — As President Obama begins making final decisions on a broad new nuclear strategy for the United States, senior aides say he will permanently reduce America’s arsenal by thousands of weapons. But the administration has rejected proposals that the United States declare it would never be the first to use nuclear weapons, aides said.

Mr. Obama’s new strategy — which would annul or reverse several initiatives by the Bush administration — will be contained in a nearly completed document called the Nuclear Posture Review, which all presidents undertake. Aides said Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates will present Mr. Obama with several options on Monday to address unresolved issues in that document, which have been hotly debated within the administration.

First among them is the question of whether, and how, to narrow the circumstances under which the United States will declare it might use nuclear weapons — a key element of nuclear deterrence since the cold war.

Mr. Obama’s decisions on nuclear weapons come as conflicting pressures in his defense policy are intensifying. His critics argue that his embrace of a new movement to eliminate nuclear weapons around the world is naïve and dangerous, especially at a time of new nuclear threats, particularly from Iran and North Korea. But many of his supporters fear that over the past year he has moved too cautiously, and worry that he will retain the existing American policy by leaving open the possibility that the United States might use nuclear weapons in response to a biological or chemical attack, perhaps against a nation that does not possess a nuclear arsenal.

That is one of the central debates Mr. Obama must resolve in the next few weeks, his aides say.

Many elements of the new strategy have already been completed, according to senior administration and military officials who have been involved in more than a half-dozen Situation Room debates about it, and outside strategists consulted by the White House.

As described by those officials, the new strategy commits the United States to developing no new nuclear weapons, including the nuclear bunker-busters advocated by the Bush administration. But Mr. Obama has already announced that he will spend billions of dollars more on updating America’s weapons laboratories to assure the reliability of what he intends to be a much smaller arsenal. Increased confidence in the reliability of American weapons, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said in a speech in February, would make elimination of “redundant” nuclear weapons possible.

“It will be clear in the document that there will be very dramatic reductions — in the thousands — as relates to the stockpile,” according to one senior administration official whom the White House authorized to discuss the issue this weekend. Much of that would come from the retirement of large numbers of weapons now kept in storage.

Other officials, not officially allowed to speak on the issue, say that in back-channel discussions with allies, the administration has also been quietly broaching the question of whether to withdraw American tactical nuclear weapons from Europe, where they provide more political reassurance than actual defense. Those weapons are now believed to be in Germany, Italy, Belgium, Turkey and the Netherlands.

At the same time, the new document will steer the United States toward more non-nuclear defenses. It relies more heavily on missile defense, much of it arrayed within striking distance of the Persian Gulf, focused on the emerging threat from Iran. Mr. Obama’s recently published Quadrennial Defense Review also includes support for a new class of non-nuclear weapons, called “Prompt Global Strike,” that could be fired from the United States and hit a target anywhere in less than an hour.

The idea, officials say, would be to give the president a non-nuclear option for, say, a large strike on the leadership of Al Qaeda in the mountains of Pakistan, or a pre-emptive attack on an impending missile launch from North Korea. But under Mr. Obama’s strategy, the missiles would be based at new sites around the United States that might even be open to inspection, so that Russia and China would know that a missile launched from those sites was not nuclear — to avoid having them place their own nuclear forces on high alert.

But the big question confronting Mr. Obama is how he will describe the purpose of America’s nuclear arsenal. It is far more than just an academic debate.

Some leading Democrats, led by Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, have asked Mr. Obama to declare that the “sole purpose” of the country’s nuclear arsenal is to deter nuclear attack. “We’re under considerable pressure on this one within our own party,” one of Mr. Obama’s national security advisers said recently.

But inside the Pentagon and among many officials in the White House, Mr. Obama has been urged to retain more ambiguous wording — declaring that deterring nuclear attack is the primary purpose of the American arsenal, not the only one. That would leave open the option of using nuclear weapons against foes that might threaten the United States with biological or chemical weapons or transfer nuclear material to terrorists.


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Any compromise wording that leaves in place elements of the Bush-era pre-emption policy, or suggests the United States could use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear adversary, would disappoint many on the left wing of his party, and some arms control advocates.

“Any declaration that deterring a nuclear attack is a ‘primary purpose’ of our arsenal leaves open the possibility that there are other purposes, and it would not reflect any reduced reliance on nuclear weapons,” said Daryl G. Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association. “It wouldn’t be consistent with what the president said in his speech in Prague” a year ago, when he laid out an ambitious vision for moving toward the elimination of nuclear weapons.
Mr. Obama’s base has already complained in recent months that he has failed to break from Bush era national security policy in some fundamental ways. They cite, for example, his stepped-up use of drones to strike suspected terrorists in Pakistan and his failure to close the Guantánamo Bay detention facility by January as Mr. Obama had promised.

While Mr. Obama ended financing last year for a new nuclear warhead sought by the Bush administration, the new strategy goes further. It commits Mr. Obama to developing no new nuclear weapons, including a low-yield, deeply-burrowing nuclear warhead that the Pentagon sought to strike buried targets, like the nuclear facilities in North Korea and Iran. Mr. Obama, officials said, has determined he could not stop other countries from seeking new weapons if the United States was doing the same.

Still, some of Mr. Obama’s critics in his own party say the change is symbolic because he is spending more to improve old weapons.

At the center of the new strategy is a renewed focus on arms control and nonproliferation agreements, which were largely dismissed by the Bush administration. That includes an effort to win passage of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which was defeated during the Clinton administration and faces huge hurdles in the Senate, and revisions of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to close loopholes that critics say have been exploited by Iran and North Korea.

Mr. Obama’s reliance on new, non-nuclear Prompt Global Strike weapons is bound to be contentious. As described by advocates within the Pentagon and in the military, the new weapons could achieve the effects of a nuclear weapon, without turning a conventional war into a nuclear one. As a result, the administration believes it could create a new form of deterrence — a way to contain countries that possess or hope to develop nuclear, biological or chemical weapons, without resorting to a nuclear option.
25199  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / POTH: Jurisdiction of Water Act on: March 01, 2010, 06:55:26 AM
This POTH (NYT) article is written in a highly biased way, but the question remains about the environmental contamination and pollution.

Thousands of the nation’s largest water polluters are outside the Clean Water Act’s reach because the Supreme Court has left uncertain which waterways are protected by that law, according to interviews with regulators.

Toxic Waters
Outside the Law

Articles in this series are examining the worsening pollution in America’s waters and regulators’ responses.

As a result, some businesses are declaring that the law no longer applies to them. And pollution rates are rising.
Companies that have spilled oil, carcinogens and dangerous bacteria into lakes, rivers and other waters are not being prosecuted, according to Environmental Protection Agency regulators working on those cases, who estimate that more than 1,500 major pollution investigations have been discontinued or shelved in the last four years.

The Clean Water Act was intended to end dangerous water pollution by regulating every major polluter. But today, regulators may be unable to prosecute as many as half of the nation’s largest known polluters because officials lack jurisdiction or because proving jurisdiction would be overwhelmingly difficult or time consuming, according to midlevel officials.

“We are, in essence, shutting down our Clean Water programs in some states,” said Douglas F. Mundrick, an E.P.A. lawyer in Atlanta. “This is a huge step backward. When companies figure out the cops can’t operate, they start remembering how much cheaper it is to just dump stuff in a nearby creek.”

“This is a huge deal,” James M. Tierney, the New York State assistant commissioner for water resources, said of the new constraints. “There are whole watersheds that feed into New York’s drinking water supply that are, as of now, unprotected.”

The court rulings causing these problems focused on language in the Clean Water Act that limited it to “the discharge of pollutants into the navigable waters” of the United States. For decades, “navigable waters” was broadly interpreted by regulators to include many large wetlands and streams that connected to major rivers.

But the two decisions suggested that waterways that are entirely within one state, creeks that sometimes go dry, and lakes unconnected to larger water systems may not be “navigable waters” and are therefore not covered by the act — even though pollution from such waterways can make its way into sources of drinking water.

Some argue that such decisions help limit overreaching regulatory efforts.

“There is no doubt in my mind that when Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972 they intended it to have broad regulatory reach, but they did not intend it to be unlimited,” said Don Parrish, the American Farm Bureau Federation’s senior director of regulatory relations, who has lobbied on Clean Water issues.

But for E.P.A. and state regulators, the decisions have created widespread uncertainty. The court did not define which waterways are regulated, and judicial districts have interpreted the court’s decisions differently. As regulators have struggled to guess how various courts will rule, some E.P.A. lawyers have established unwritten internal guidelines to avoid cases in which proving jurisdiction is too difficult, according to interviews with more than two dozen current and former E.P.A. officials.

The decisions “reduce E.P.A.’s ability to do what the law intends — to protect water quality, the environment and public health,” wrote Peter S. Silva, the E.P.A.’s assistant administrator for the Office of Water, in response to questions.

About 117 million Americans get their drinking water from sources fed by waters that are vulnerable to exclusion from the Clean Water Act, according to E.P.A. reports.

The E.P.A. said in a statement that it did not automatically concede that any significant water body was outside the authority of the Clean Water Act. “Jurisdictional determinations must be made on a case-by-case basis,” the agency wrote. Officials added that they believed that even many streams that go dry for long periods were within the act’s jurisdiction.

But midlevel E.P.A. officials said that internal studies indicated that as many as 45 percent of major polluters might be either outside regulatory reach or in areas where proving jurisdiction is overwhelmingly difficult.


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And even in situations in which regulators believe they still have jurisdiction, companies have delayed cases for years by arguing that the ambiguity precludes prosecution. In some instances, regulators have simply dropped enforcement actions.

Outside the Law

In the last two years, some members of Congress have tried to limit the impact of the court decisions by introducing legislation known as the Clean Water Restoration Act. It has been approved by a Senate committee but not yet introduced this session in the House. The legislation tries to resolve these problems by, in part, removing the word “navigable” from the law and restoring regulators’ authority over all waters that were regulated before the Supreme Court decisions.

But a broad coalition of industries has often successfully lobbied to prevent the full Congress from voting on such proposals by telling farmers and small-business owners that the new legislation would permit the government to regulate rain puddles and small ponds and layer new regulations on how they dispose of waste.

“The game plan is to emphasize the scary possibilities,” said one member of the Waters Advocacy Coalition, which has fought the legislation and is supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Association of Home Builders and other groups representing industries affected by the Clean Water Act.

“If you can get Glenn Beck to say that government storm troopers are going to invade your property, farmers in the Midwest will light up their congressmen’s switchboards,” said the coalition member, who asked not to be identified because he thought his descriptions would anger other coalition participants. Mr. Beck, a conservative commentator on Fox News, spoke at length against the Clean Water Restoration Act in December.

The American Land Rights Association, another organization opposed to legislation, wrote last June that people should “Deluge your senators with calls, faxes and e-mails.” A news release the same month from the American Farm Bureau Federation warned that “even rainwater would be regulated.”

“If you erase the word ‘navigable’ from the law, it erases any limitation on the federal government’s reach,” said Mr. Parrish of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “It could be a gutter, a roadside ditch or a rain puddle. But under the new law, the government gets control over it.”

Legislators say these statements are misleading and intended to create panic.

“These claims just aren’t true,” said Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, Democrat of Maryland. He helped push the bill through the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “This bill,” he said, “is solely aimed at restoring the law to what it covered before the Supreme Court decisions.”

The consequences of the Supreme Court decisions are stark. In drier states, some polluters say the act no longer applies to them and are therefore refusing to renew or apply for permits, making it impossible to monitor what they are dumping, say officials.

Cannon Air Force Base near Clovis, N.M., for instance, recently informed E.P.A. officials that it no longer considered itself subject to the act. It dumps wastewater — containing bacteria and human sewage — into a lake on the base.

More than 200 oil spill cases were delayed as of 2008, according to a memorandum written by an E.P.A. official and collected by Congressional investigators. And even as the number of facilities violating the Clean Water Act has steadily increased each year, E.P.A. judicial actions against major polluters have fallen by almost half since the Supreme Court rulings, according to an analysis of E.P.A. data by The New York Times.

The Clean Water Act does not directly deal with drinking water. Rather, it was meant to regulate the polluters that contaminated the waterways that supplied many towns and cities with tap water.

The two Supreme Court decisions at issue — Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. United States Army Corps of Engineers in 2001 and Rapanos v. United States in 2006 — focused on the federal government’s jurisdiction over various wetlands. In both cases, dissenting justices warned that limiting the power of the federal government would weaken its ability to combat water pollution.

“Cases now are lost because the company is discharging into a stream that flows into a river, rather than the river itself,” said David M. Uhlmann, a law professor at the University of Michigan who led the environmental crimes section of the Justice Department during the last administration.

In 2007, for instance, after a pipe manufacturer in Alabama, a division of McWane Inc., was convicted and fined millions of dollars for dumping oil, lead, zinc and other chemicals into a large creek, an appellate court overturned that conviction and fine, ruling that the Supreme Court precedent exempted the waterway from the Clean Water Act. The company eventually settled by agreeing to pay a smaller amount and submit to probation.

Some E.P.A. officials say solutions beyond the Clean Water Restoration Act are available. They argue that the agency’s chief, Lisa P. Jackson, could issue regulations that seek to clarify jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.

Mrs. Jackson has urged Congress to resolve these issues. But she has not issued new regulations.

“E.P.A., with our federal partners, emphasized to Congress in a May 2009 letter that legislation is the best way to restore the Clean Water Act’s effectiveness,” wrote Mr. Silva in a statement to The Times. “E.P.A. and the Army Corps of Engineers will continue to implement our water programs to protect the nation’s waters and the environment as effectively as possible, including consideration of administrative actions to restore the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act.”

In the meantime, both state and federal regulators say they are prevented from protecting important waterways.

“We need something to fix these gaps,” said Mr. Tierney, the New York official. “The Clean Water Act worked for over 30 years, and we’re at risk of losing that if we can’t get a new law.”
25200  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton, Federalist 12 on: March 01, 2010, 06:48:01 AM
"The prosperity of commerce is now perceived and acknowledged by all enlightened statesmen to be the most useful as well as the most productive source of national wealth, and has accordingly become a primary object of its political cares." --Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 12
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