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25151  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NJ's Christie on: August 05, 2011, 02:44:23 PM
A hyperventilating tone here, but interesting nonetheless:

25152  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: August 05, 2011, 01:08:19 PM
What poll is that?  I've seen that Baraq has dropped from 48 to 40% in the last few months , , ,  I'd also be curious to cross check the data from other polls regarding the Tea Party
25153  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: August 05, 2011, 12:50:39 PM
IMHO the matter of people getting kicked out of their insurance due e.g. to a job loss and while having what then becomes a pre-existing condition is a genuine problem. 

If we could REPLACE what we have now with a simple base plan that would then put this whole matter to rest, off the top of my head that would be a reasonable compromise.  The problem is that with progressives if you give an inch they come back looking for a mile see e.g. "Don't ask, don't tell" or "civil unions".
25154  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Tao of Sex on: August 05, 2011, 12:45:31 PM
"he thought it was important to marry kids quickly, by 18 or 19. He thought it was a failing of western culture that people think you have to build your fortune before you are married - that you should build it together."

That is not a stupid thought-- though it presents questions about choosing unwisely and either having to live with it or divorce (which I gather can be rather easy for the man to do in Islam) or in the case of Islam, marry an additional wife or three.

25155  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Tao of Sex on: August 05, 2011, 11:55:32 AM
Although I think the preceding piece makes a fair and profound point, it also misses another point, equally fair and profound:

The human animal hits puberty at an increasingly early age.  I lack the knowledge to say precisely what the average age is, but for the purpose of this conversation lets start by saying 14.   So, if someone waits to marry until after college and establishing a career, they can easily be looking at 10 years or considerably more before marrying and having children.   Is it realistic, is it healthy to go for over ten years without sex?
25156  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: Bull or Bullish-2 on: August 05, 2011, 11:47:54 AM
Data Watch

Non-farm payrolls increased 117,000 in July and revisions to May/June added 56,000
To view this article, Click Here

Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
 Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist

Date: 8/5/2011

Non-farm payrolls increased 117,000 in July and revisions to May/June added 56,000,
generating a net gain of 173,000, more than doubling the consensus expected gain of

Private sector payrolls increased 154,000 in July. Revisions to May/June added
49,000, bringing the net gain to 203,000.  July gains were led by professional &
business services (+34,000), health care (+31,000), retail (+26,000) and
manufacturing (+24,000). Government payrolls declined 37,000.

The unemployment rate declined to 9.1% in July (9.092% unrounded) from 9.2% in June
(9.182% unrounded).

Average weekly earnings – cash earnings, excluding benefits – increased
0.4% in July and are up 2.6% versus a year ago.

Implications:  Private-sector payrolls rebounded sharply in today’s report,
rising 203,000 including upward revisions to May and June. Part of the rebound is
due to the auto sector, with jobs at automakers and autos/parts sellers increasing
17,000 in July. Hiring was solid elsewhere in the manufacturing sector, and at
retailers, and private health companies. In the past year private payrolls have
increased 150,000 per month. We think this trend will accelerate in the second half
as the economy recovers from Japan-related disruptions. Another strong part of
today’s report was that average hourly wages increased 0.4% in July and are up
at a 3.5% annual rate in the past three months. Some short-sellers may focus on the
fact that payrolls declined 1.23 million when not seasonally-adjusted. But
that’s a highly misleading number. The drop is almost all due to state/local
public school teachers, which fell 1.26 million. Not seasonally-adjusted
private-sector payrolls fell only 4,000, which for July is stronger than in nine of
the past eleven years. The only legitimately negative part of today’s report
was that household employment, an alternative measure of jobs, declined 38,000 and
is up only 63,000 per month in the past year. Usually this measure of jobs leads
payrolls in recoveries. It may be lagging this time as smaller firms are more likely
to remain credit constrained than their larger counterparts. In other recent news,
new claims for unemployment benefits dipped 1,000 last week to 400,000. The
four-week moving average fell to 408,000 versus 440,000 in May. Continuing claims
for regular state benefits increased 10,000 to 3.73 million.
25157  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The Tao of Sex on: August 05, 2011, 05:18:33 AM
I kick this thread off with an essay that expresses values that I most certainly did not live as a single man and as a single man I would have laughed at it, but the older I get , , ,

Body language
The body has a language of its own, and the sexual revolution is founded upon a lie.

Recently in Public Discourse, I challenged readers to defend the sexual revolution on the grounds that it has conduced to the common good. No one took up that challenge. It would be, I suppose, rather like asking someone to defend the forced collectivization of farms in the Ukraine, while speaking to ten thousand people in Kiev. It is not going to happen.

Still, I might have given the impression that the sexual revolution is to be rejected on utilitarian grounds. Since I believe that utilitarianism is a serpent that consumes itself—that it is a disutility to believe in it—I’d like now to base my opposition on something far more fundamental than, say, the harm of wrecked families and bursting prisons. The sexual revolution is a house built upon sand. It is founded upon a lie.

Let us consider the one form of sexual behavior that almost nobody defended before the sexual revolution, and that almost nobody opposes now: fornication. A few pastors may take the sin seriously, but mostly we all shrug and say, “Everyone’s going to do it, so there’s no sense making a fuss over it.” And yet what we are talking about is deeply destructive, because it is fundamentally mendacious. When we lie, we harm not only those we deceive. We harm ourselves. If we continue in this deception, we become hardened liars, in the end perhaps deceiving no one but ourselves. The thief knows he is stealing. The liar ceases to know that he is lying, and is trapped in the emptiness of unmeaning. The thief crucified at the side of Jesus knew he was a thief, and repented. The liars walking freely below no longer recognized their lies, and did not repent.

How is fornication a lie? The body has a language of its own. Although in one culture to nod means “no” while in another it means “yes,” the meanings we express with our bodies are not entirely arbitrary—indeed, are in some ways not arbitrary at all. The smile, the laugh, the embrace, the bow, the kiss, are universal. When Judas approached Jesus, that he kissed Him made his treachery all the more despicable; it was a betrayal, sealed with a sign of intimate friendship. When the boys in Huckleberry Finn prick their fingers to mingle blood with blood, we know they are engaging in a boyish but also solemn ritual of kinship. If a certain boy—say, Tom Sawyer’s sissified brother Sid—were to engage in it while withholding his allegiance, thinking, “This is an interesting thing to do for now, and we’ll see where it leads,” he would be making a mockery of the rite. He would be lying.

I know someone who at age nineteen was deeply lonely. He had always been awkward around girls, and unsure of his body. During his first year away at college, he fell in love with a beautiful young woman. She had been raised without any religious faith, and without any sexual scruples. He lost his virginity then. He knew, in the back of his mind, that he and she could not possibly raise any child that might be conceived; and he was too intelligent to believe that contraception could be entirely reliable. He also knew, again in the back of his mind, that he wanted to marry her, but that she probably would not want to marry him. He knew that his parents would not approve of what he was doing. Yet it felt good, and for a time he was not lonely, or at least he did not feel his loneliness so keenly.

What the naked body “says” when man and woman expose themselves to one another, not as patients to a doctor but as lovers, can be paraphrased thus: “This is all of me. I am entirely yours. I am giving you what is most intimately mine. You are seeing me, and touching me, as no one else now can. I love you.” Then the act of intercourse itself, the marital act—what does it say? What must it say, whether we will or no?

This is the act that spans the generations. The man gives of himself, something of his inmost being, the very blood that courses in his veins, from his father and mother and their parents before them. The woman receives that gift, taking it into herself, to be united with her own blood, from her father and mother and their parents in turn. It is nonsense to pretend otherwise. Indeed, the man and the woman who are fornicating while taking contraceptive steps know quite well that they are doing what brought themselves into being, because otherwise they would not strap on the barrier or swallow the pill. They are attempting to reduce an act that is transtemporal to something pleasurable for the moment.

And yet, somehow, they cannot even persuade themselves. I recall, at one of those useless meetings that my alma mater held for freshmen, we were supposed to discuss the morality of sex. There wasn’t much discussion, and there wasn’t much morality. The students concluded that as long as the sex wasn’t “mechanical,” that is, as long as it involved some real feeling, it was all right. Then one granny-glassed bearded freshman spoke up. “I don’t see anything wrong with mechanical sex,” he said. “It can be fun for both parties.” People looked at him with disapproval, but no one had anything to say, and the meeting ended.

Well, machines do not have sexual intercourse. Even the cool, abstracted actions the young man recommended could not be engaged in coolly and abstractedly. One must feign passion, even if one does not feel it. One must pretend to be making love, not like. One must appear at least to be giving all. One must be nude, even if not naked—unclothed, even while burying one’s intentions and feelings under a mountain of blankets, along with the meaning of the act, which is not simply dependent upon intentions and feelings in any case.

It will not do to say, “As long as people are honest with one another, fornication is all right.” The point is that they cannot be honest with one another in that situation. The supposed honesty of detachment, or deferral, or temporizing, or mutual hedonism, only embroils them in a deeper lie. The body in the act of generation says, whether we like it or not, “I am reaching out to the future, to a time when there will be no turning back.” The body, naked to behold in love, says, “There is nothing of mine that I do not offer as yours. We complete one another, man and woman.” Such affirmations transcend the division between the private and the public. They are therefore only made in honesty by people who are married—who have acknowledged publicly that they belong forever to one another and to the children they may conceive by the marital act.

No one but a sadist could say, “I feel no love for you, but am using your body as a convenient receptacle, for the sake of the pleasure. Afterwards I dearly hope you will not trouble me with your continued presence.” Is that too strong? What about this? “I like you very much, and yet I have no intention of spending the rest of my life with you, or even the rest of this year.” Or this? “Let’s pretend we are married, but let’s not actually get married, because I might change my mind about you.” Or this? “I am bored, and you are here.” Or this? “You are very good looking, and we will get married, maybe, someday, not too soon, and if we do conceive a child, we’ll deal with it then, I don’t know how.” Or this? “I don’t love you, but maybe if we do this a few times I can fool myself into thinking so.” Or this? “I want to love you, but I know you are too selfish to love me in return, or I’m not worthy of your attention, so I’ll do what you like, and hope.” Or this? “I am drunk, so nothing of what I do or say means anything.”

We do not say these things aloud, because to be candid in this way is to admit deception. It is to admit not that we think highly of sexual intercourse, but that we think little of it. It becomes trivial to us, though we dare not say so. What happens, then, to people who make a practice of lying to the people they are lying intimately with? We do not feel pity for those we deceive. We feel contempt. Our hearts are hardened. We look upon the frequent results of the fornicative lie—a passionate attachment to ourselves on the part of the deceived, or children—as affronts to our freedom. We resent them. After years of deceiving and being deceived, we conclude that people are not to be trusted; we become not prudent but circumspect, not wise but cynical, not strong but callous.

“If you’re not with the one you love,” they sang at Woodstock, cheering the evil of fornication, “love the one you’re with.” A lie on both ends, that, and cold to the core.

Anthony Esolen is Professor of English at Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island, and the author of Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child and Ironies of Faith. He has translated Tasso’s Gerusalemme liberata and Dante’s The Divine Comedy. This article was first published in Public Discourse and is reproduced with permission.

Copyright 2011 the Witherspoon Institute. All rights reserved.
25158  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: August 05, 2011, 04:34:13 AM
25159  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education/Parenting on: August 05, 2011, 04:33:12 AM
Forward  smiley
25160  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pakistan's conundrum with the Taliban negotiations on: August 05, 2011, 04:31:52 AM

August 5, 2011


On Wednesday, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman
said a political settlement in Afghanistan was not possible without assistance from
Pakistan. Separately, Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Javid Ludin said Kabul wanted
Islamabad to bring the senior leadership of the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating
table. Both statements were made in Islamabad on the sidelines of a meeting of the
three countries.

These remarks represent the first time that either Washington or Kabul has openly
and directly sought Pakistani help in the efforts to negotiate with the Afghan
jihadist movement. Thus far, the Americans and Afghans have only demanded that the
Pakistanis crack down on Afghan Taliban operating in their territory. Pakistan has
long awaited the time when the U.S. government would engage in this policy shift.

"Any American search for Pakistani involvement in the Afghan reconciliation efforts
cannot be separated from this wider atmosphere of tensions."

From Islamabad's point of view, it made no sense for the Americans to keep pressing
Pakistan to use force against the Taliban when the Americans themselves would
eventually have to seek a political settlement. The Pakistanis have questioned why
they should have to fight the Afghan Taliban and lose their leverage over the
Islamist insurgents, especially while Islamabad fights its own Taliban rebels.
Therefore, Pakistan is likely pleased that the Americans have finally sought its
involvement in efforts to talk to the Afghan Taliban.
Islamabad, however, cannot be completely confident that things are moving in its
preferred direction. The United States seeks Pakistani assistance in the
reconciliation efforts toward the Taliban at a time when the American-Pakistani
relationship is mired in unprecedented tensions. The U.S. drive toward unilateral
military and intelligence capabilities in Pakistan has fostered mutual mistrust and
Any American search for Pakistani involvement in the Afghan reconciliation efforts
cannot be separated from this wider atmosphere of tensions. While Washington may
have decided to involve Islamabad in the Afghan political settlement process, there
remains a disagreement over the definition of who among the Taliban is capable of
reconciliation. Though Kabul has asked Pakistan to encourage top Taliban leaders
toward the bargaining table, it is unlikely that the likes of Taliban chief Mullah
Mohammad Omar or the most prominent regional Taliban commander, Sirajuddin Haqqani
(both have enjoyed complex relations with al Qaeda), will be acceptable to
Washington as negotiating partners.
Also, the degree of influence Pakistan holds over senior Afghan Taliban leaders is
questionable. Over the past decade, the fragmentation and metamorphosis of the
Taliban phenomenon on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border have led to a waning
of Pakistani influence over the Pashtun jihadist landscape. The insurgency inside
Pakistan has weakened Islamabad's position; it remains to be seen to what degree
Islamabad can deliver vis-à-vis the Afghan Taliban.
This waning could explain why the Pakistanis have openly said that they do not seek
a Taliban comeback in Afghanistan and Islamabad. Islamabad has been trying to
diversify its sphere of influence in its western neighbor, working to improve its
relationship with the regime of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. With relations with
Kabul still uncertain and Pashtun influence perhaps softening, Pakistan may find it
difficult to nudge the Taliban toward a power-sharing deal with the Karzai regime.

The United States appears to have finally moved toward involving Pakistan in its
talks with the Taliban. However, it will be awhile before the appropriate conditions
(in which substantive talks could take place) can be created.
25161  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China vs. Islam on: August 05, 2011, 04:30:46 AM
So, you are advocating brutal ruthlessness within the US?
25162  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: KALI TUDO (tm) Article on: August 05, 2011, 04:20:38 AM
25163  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China vs. Islam on: August 04, 2011, 08:07:15 PM

"Still remaining is that somehow you continuously give the impression to people of above average IQ, above average education, above average reading skills, and greatly overlapping POVs that you are advocating that we do things in the US the Chinese way or some analog thereof.  Why is that?"
25164  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury does not flinch on: August 04, 2011, 07:02:34 PM
Research Reports
            Dow Down 500, But Fundamentals Still Strong To view this article, Click

            Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist

            Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist

            Date: 8/4/2011
            Major stock market indices are down 4-5% today as investors move into
panic mode.  There is no single piece of news driving the sell-off;
rather the market seems to be gathering downward momentum on its own.
Selling is creating more selling.
            Like 1987, the sell-off does not appear to be driven by fundamental
factors.  In fact, the fundamentals suggest the market is undervalued
and getting more so as it drops.  Many investors assume (or wonder) if
the sell-off is indicating deep economic problems.  However, there is no
evidence that this is true.
            The Federal Reserve is still running a very accommodative monetary
policy.  Money supply data shows no contraction – M1 is up 13.8%
and M2 is up 8.3% at an annual rate over the past thirteen weeks.  The
Fed is holding the funds rate near zero, while nominal GDP is rising
near a 4% annual rate recently and “core” inflation is at
3%.  In other words, interest rates are very low in comparison.
            If you are worried about a cut in government spending –
don’t be.  Federal spending in 2011 is still rising and according
to the OMB and CBO it will rise each and every year over the next 10
years.  If you are worried about the size of government and think the
budget deal was terrible – you shouldn’t.  Supertanker
America is turning and government spending as a share of GDP is
scheduled to fall by about 2% of GDP over the next 10 years.
            Corporate earnings are rising rapidly.  According to Bob Carey, First
Trust’s Chief Investment Officer, with about 80 companies left to
report, S&P 500 earnings are up 20% over last year and the S&P
500 P-E ratio (on forward earnings) is roughly 12.  The market is cheap.
            Economic data are not tanking.   Initial claims are at 400,000 (down
from 478,000 at the end of April).  Car and truck sales were up 6.9% in
July (over June) and chain-store retail sales were up 4.6% in July (from
last year) versus 2.8% year-over-year growth in July 2010.  Taken
together, retail sales appear to have increased by about 0.7% in July
even though gasoline prices fell.
            Yes, the ISM manufacturing index was just 50.9 in July, but that is the
24th consecutive month above 50 and is consistent with 2% or more real
GDP growth.  Finally, the ADP employment report showed 114,000 new
private sector jobs in July, which was the 18th consecutive monthly
gain.  In other words, there is absolutely no evidence of a recession at
this point.
            This leaves us at perhaps the best explanation for the decline: European
debt problems, specifically Italy.  It is clear that hot money is moving
as investors worry about money market funds and bank solvency.  The euro
is falling, European bond yields are rising, US Treasury yields are
plummeting and gold is up.  Italy says that it does not face imminent
default, but the market acts as if it may.
            European countries have spent themselves into a corner, but correcting
this mistake will be good for long-term growth, not bad.  While some
financial institutions may take losses, government debt itself is water
under the bridge.  It’s a sunk cost.  As a result, it has little
effect on the economy unless losses create financial contagion.  With
mark-to-market accounting now fixed to allow cash flow to be used to
value assets, the odds of contagion are minimized and the cost of
immunizing America from contagion would be small when compared to 2008.
            In the end, the sell-off looks as if it is more of a technical
correction in the market, not a fundamental change in direction.  This
does not mean that it will end soon.  Corrections run their course and
then end.  We wish we could trade each and every move in the market, but
we can’t and we don’t know anyone who can.  We are
investors, and the market is more undervalued right now than it was when
it opened for trading this morning.
25165  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, et al, cf Yemen) on: August 04, 2011, 06:46:05 PM
 cry cry cry

With the world in such good and stable shape I guess we can cut the US military $500b rolleyes
25166  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China vs. Islam on: August 04, 2011, 06:43:44 PM
"I take that as a badge of honor."

It is.  cheesy

Now please deal the the question presented without asking questions.  grin
25167  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: August 04, 2011, 06:41:38 PM
As if that weren't enough, I saw a WSJ editorial today which explained that the purported Medicare cuts that will be paired with the $500B cuts of the US military in the event that the SuperCommittee does not come up with something passed by Congress and signed by Baraq will be in purported payments to PROVIDERS, NOT BENEFITS.  i.e. the law of supply and demand will be repealed and the health care system will be commanded to offer the same level of service for less money.  This is regularly done, AND UNDONE already.  (Perhaps our docs here can help flesh this out?) Bottom line:

a) BO gets past the 2012 election
b) the Bush tax rates will expire (as best as I can tell) but this will not be called a tax increase
c) Medicare will not be cut
d) the Reps will have to allow additional tax increases or allow the military to be decimated

We are so fuct  cry angry
25168  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: August 04, 2011, 06:33:42 PM
Indeed!  I will be interested to see how he responds.
25169  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: August 04, 2011, 06:32:53 PM
 cheesy cheesy cheesy

Hence my reaction upon realizing I had posted an article of Bircher origin.

That fact that I found the article agreeable of course is worth noting, but the fact also remains that I continue to find the Bircher brand quite problematic.
25170  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China vs. Islam on: August 04, 2011, 06:19:32 PM
GM, we Jews have a tradition of answering questions with questions.  You are now under serious consideration for being nominated to the status of "honorary Jew"  cheesy

This is a nice way of saying you are still ducking the question. grin


Just saw your post #148.

Still remaining is that somehow you continuously give the impression to people of above average IQ, above average education, above average reading skills, and greatly overlapping POVs that you are advocating that we do things in the US the Chinese way or some analog thereof.  Why is that?
25171  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: August 04, 2011, 06:12:02 PM
Thank you for that very informative read PC.
25172  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar & other currencies, & Gold/Silver on: August 04, 2011, 06:00:53 PM
Switzerland, Japan, and Germany (i.e. pre-Euro) had this problem in the late 70s due to the Carter-Blumenthal economic policies.
25173  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: August 04, 2011, 05:58:19 PM

I just came back from a very pleasant day hanging out with a good friend to see the Dow dived 500 today.  Uh oh , , ,
25174  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: August 04, 2011, 05:53:35 PM
FWIW I Regard as a highly unreliable site and generally do not read anything that comes from there.  Surprised to see a true scholar like you surfing there BD. smiley
25175  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education/Parenting on: August 04, 2011, 05:50:07 PM
CW:  If you want to get snarky with someone, please do it via PM.  Thank you.
25176  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fall Dog Brothers Open Gathering of the Pack 9/18/11 on: August 04, 2011, 05:44:18 PM

Pretty Kitty will be returning around the 15th and will probably need a few days to settle in.
25177  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Security, Surveillance issues on: August 03, 2011, 11:21:26 PM
GM: Genuine question:  Is this not the natural evolution of what you advocate?  Or?
25178  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China vs. Islam on: August 03, 2011, 08:52:34 AM
Put that way, we are in agreement but if I may, I think you need to appreciate that that you started out by giving the distinct impression that we should do things domestically the way the Chinese do.   I trust we are in agreement that there is/was/can be an American Creed approach to civilizational confidence from which the Chinese model differs quite a bit-- yes?
25179  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: August 03, 2011, 07:53:22 AM
Obama's defeat.
25180  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China vs. Islam on: August 03, 2011, 07:52:25 AM

"I try to explain things in a manner that might make sense to someone who thinks that war is like a stickfighting contest where you are friends at the end of the day."

Is that a fair description of the POVs that BD and I were bringing to the conversation to the conversation with you and why it took so many restatements of essentially the same question?  C'mon, , , ,

Anyway,  BD over to you on GMs question.
25181  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Indonesia on: August 03, 2011, 07:45:17 AM
Who is Robert Kaplan?  When was the book written?
25182  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: The Clusterfcuk continues , , , on: August 03, 2011, 12:35:16 AM

August 3, 2011


Four days after the announcement of the mysterious death of Libyan rebel military
leader Abdel Fattah Younis, several stories have emerged seeking to explain how he
and two of his aides were killed. Of these numerous tales, two narratives persist.
One holds that he was killed by elements of a fifth column loyal to Libyan leader
Moammar Gadhafi; the other maintains that Younis was executed by an eastern militia
acting outside the control of the National Transitional Council (NTC). What exactly
transpired may never be known, but the effect of Younis' killing on how the National
Transitional Council is perceived is the same regardless. The rebels that the West
has been counting on to replace the Gadhafi regime apparently cannot even control
their base territory in eastern Libya, let alone govern the entire country.

"The decision to frame the National Transitional Council as an optimal replacement
to the Gadhafi regime was made in haste, when policymakers had very little
information on the identity of the rebel forces."

It is known that Younis was recalled from the front line near the eastern coastal
town of Marsa el Brega sometime in the middle of last week. It is also known that on
July 28, NTC leader Mustafa Abdel-Jalil officially announced that Younis had been
killed. Since then, Abdel-Jalil has changed the details of the official story. First
he claimed that Younis was killed by an “armed gang” while en route to Benghazi to
be questioned regarding “military matters.” Abdel-Jalil then stated July 30 that
Younis had actually been ambushed after he met with NTC officials in Benghazi.
Abdel-Jalil, who like Younis is a former minister in Gadhafi’s government, has said
he does not know the exact reasons Younis was recalled in the first place. However,
it has been widely speculated that Younis, the former interior minister who defected
in the early days of the rebellion, was suspected of playing a double game and was
in contact with the Tripoli regime.

Three days after Younis’ death was announced, an NTC official stated that rebel
forces in Benghazi had engaged in a five-hour firefight with members of a fifth
column which had heretofore been feigning loyalty to the National Transitional
Council. Though NTC official Mahmoud Shammam said the event had nothing to do with
Younis’ death, it lends credence to the fifth column theory. However, allegations by
several other NTC officials create another possibility. If Younis really was killed
by one of two armed militias known to work autonomously of the rebel council, then
the notion that the National Transitional Council is the sole legitimate
representative of the Libyan people -- or even just the eastern Libyan people --
immediately comes into question. To make matters worse, evidence that these militias
are composed of Islamists (namely, former members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting
Group) who had reason to seek revenge on Younis for his actions as interior
minister, generates an entirely new set of worries for those that had placed so much
faith in the rebels.

The decision to frame the National Transitional Council as an optimal replacement to
the Gadhafi regime was made in haste, when policymakers had very little information
on the identity of the rebel forces. Not everyone rushed to formally recognize the
body -- France was the notable exception -- but a de facto recognition effectively
occurred the moment NATO began bombing the country in the unspoken name of regime

There were early expressions of doubt about the nature of the opposition --
especially the “flickers of intelligence" statement by NATO Supreme Allied Commander
in Europe U.S. Adm. James Stavridis, who said in March that elements of al Qaeda and
Hezbollah were perhaps present among the rebel ranks . Nevertheless, the countries
that pushed for the air campaign felt that anything was better than Gadhafi. This,
after all, was a war ostensibly motivated by a desire to protect civilians. It was a
humanitarian war that eventually assumed an overt policy designed to force the
Libyan leader from power.

NATO planes have now bombed Libya for more than four months, and Gadhafi remains in
power despite all the claims that he is on the verge of defeat. It is always
possible that his regime may collapse, but the confidence among those that have led
the air campaign is waning, regardless of what their public statements may claim.
Countries that really think a military victory is at hand do not openly talk about
seeking a negotiated settlement with the enemy, nor do they budge on their demand
that the target be required to exit the country as part of any agreement. France,
the United States and the United Kingdom have all done so.

With London's recognition July 27 of the National Transitional Council as the sole
legitimate representative of the Libyan people, there are few Western countries left
that have not yet recognized the rebel council. The Czechs represent a rare case of
open skepticism. While Prague has appointed a “flying ambassador” to Benghazi,
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarenzberg said July 29, “I may find them nice, but I will
not officially recognize [the rebels] until they get control of the whole country."

This sentiment may end up being the historical lesson of the Libyan war, which ranks
high on the list of countries in the region where the Arab Spring has failed to
bring about a true revolution. It would be untrue to say that no changes have
occurred in the Middle East and North Africa since the fall of Zine El Abidine Ben
Ali in Tunisia. The Yemeni president is lucky to be alive and living in Saudi
Arabia, and he may not return to Yemen at all. Egypt may still be run by the
military, but Mubarak is gone thanks in part to the actions of the protesters,
(although, they have since lost momentum). The Khalifas in Bahrain weathered the
storm quite well, but the unrest in the Persian Gulf island kingdom (and the manner
in which the United States responded) has led indirectly to a potential
rapprochement between age old rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia. The Alawites in Syria
have maintained power but could very well have laid the foundation for their demise
in the long term.

Libya, though, is the only country in which there was an armed intervention by the
West. There were many reasons Libya was the one place in which the protection of
civilians was officially deemed worthy of such a measure. Three outposts of rebel
control have been created in Cyrenaica, Misurata and the Nafusa Mountains, and one
wonders what the West will do next. The idea that rebel fighters could take Tripoli
on their own was dismissed as unrealistic long ago. The strategy of bombing, waiting
for the regime to implode and pushing for a negotiated settlement (just in case) has
been adopted in its stead. But Younis’ death has created a whole new set of
questions, the most fundamental of which is this: who exactly will govern Libya if
Gadhafi is forced to step down?
25183  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: August 03, 2011, 12:27:19 AM
Worth noting that as the Deficit Continuance Bill was passed into law today, the market dove more than 264 points, to close well below 12,000.  Good thing the DCB was passed to reassure the market! rolleyes
25184  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: August 03, 2011, 12:24:31 AM
Tail wags for the recognition.

BTW I often struggle to concisely explain BLB.  I like the "If you freeze spending, that would be called a $9.5T cut" approach.  Not bad!

BTW here this from Senator Rand Paul.  Some important details to be noted in here e.g. how it is now easier for Baraq to raise the debt ceiling.

Open Letter: Why I Oppose the Debt Ceiling Compromise
Published on 01 August 2011 by admin in Press Releases
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Sen. Rand Paul issued an open letter on the subject of the
debt ceiling compromise facing the Senate. Below is that letter.

To paraphrase Jim DeMint: When you’re speeding toward the edge of a cliff, you don’t
set the cruise control. You stop the car.

The current deal to raise the debt ceiling doesn’t stop us from going over the
fiscal cliff. At best, it slows us from going over it at 80 mph to going over it at
60 mph.

This plan never balances. The President called for a “balanced approach.” But the
American people are calling for a balanced budget.

This deal does nothing to fix the overreaches of both parties over the past few
years: Obamacare, TARP, trillion-dollar wars, runaway entitlement spending. They are
all cemented into place with this deal, and their legacy will be trillions of
dollars in new debt.

The deal that is pending before us now:

· Adds at least $7 trillion to our debt over the next 10 years. The deal purports to
“cut” $2.5 trillion, but the “cut” is from a baseline that adds $10 trillion to the
debt. This deal, even if all targets are met and the Super Committee wields its
mandate – the BEST case scenario is still $7 trillion more in debt over the next 10
years. That is sickening.

· Never, ever balances.

· The Super Committee’s mandate is to add $7 trillion in new debt. Let’s be clear:
$2.5 trillion in reductions off a nearly $10 trillion,10-year debt is still $7
trillion in debt. The Super Committee limits the Constitutional check of the
filibuster by expediting passage of bills with a simple majority. The Super
Committee is not precluded from any issue therefore the filibuster could be rendered
most. In addition, the plan harms the possible passage of a Balanced Budget
Amendment. Since the goal is never to balance, having the BBA as a “trigger” ensures
that the Committee will simply report its $7 trillion in new debt and never move to
a BBA vote.

· Cuts too slowly. Even if you believe cutting $2.5 trillion out of $10 trillion is
a good compromise, surely we can start cutting quickly, say $200 billion-$300
billion per year, right? Wrong. This plan so badly backloads the alleged savings
that the cuts are simply meaningless. Why do we believe that the goal of $2.5
trillion over 10 years (that’s an average of $250 billion per year) will EVER be met
if the first two years cuts are $20 billion and $50 billion. There is simply no path
in this bill even to the meager savings they are alleging will take place.

Buried in the details of this bill there also appears to be the automatic Debt
increase as proposed a few weeks ago. Second half of the debt ceiling is increased
by President automatically and can only be stopped by two-thirds of Congress. This
shifts the Constitutional check on borrowing from Congress to the President and
makes it easier to raise the debt ceiling. This would cede debt ceiling to the
President, and none of the triggers in this deal include withholding the second
limit increase.

Debt agencies have clearly stated the type of so-called cuts envisioned in this plan
result in our AAA bond rating being downgraded. Ironically then, the only way to
avoid our debt from downgrading and the resulting economic problems that stem from
that is for this bill or the resulting Super Committee to fail, so that a Balanced
Budget Amendment can save our country.

This plan does not solve our problem. Not even close. I cannot abide the destruction
of our economy, therefore I vigorously oppose this deal and I urge my colleagues and
the American people to do the same.


Rand Paul, M.D.

U.S. Senator
25185  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: August 03, 2011, 12:18:03 AM
I continue to post Wesbury because of his strong track record, credentials, and quality supply side analysis AND because this forum (most certainly including me!) definitely needs to be reminded of the bullish case.

That said, in the next month or so, his projections are going to be put to the test in a very definitive manner.

25186  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia-- Europe on: August 03, 2011, 12:14:57 AM
Ummm , , , wouldn't that be better placed in the Russia-US thread or the Cognitive Dissonance thread?

Anyway, you are right  embarassed embarassed embarassed
25187  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: August 03, 2011, 12:11:34 AM
Woof All:

This forum's north star is pro-Freedom, pro-US Constitution, pro-American Creed.

That said, we are not interested in an echo chamber-- as is evidenced by some of the people who come to play here (e.g. a Communist Euro Professor)

However, what is required of EVERYONE here is that they be lucid.

Who defines "lucid"?

In that this is my house, I do.

Life is to subtle and too complicated for me to assay a definitive definition, but I will give an example of what lucid is not.  Lucid is not anything having to do with "Truther-ism".

25188  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Shifting Military to Foreign Polich on: August 02, 2011, 11:56:34 PM

August 2, 2011


Analyst Kamran Bokhari examines how the resignations of four Turkish generals signal
the changing role of Turkey's military from  the dominant domestic political actor
to the foreign policy tool of the civilian government.

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

Turkey's civilian government has gained the upper hand in its power struggle with
the country's military after four top generals of the Turkish armed forces tendered
their resignations last Friday. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is at
a point where it would like to put the domestic balance of power to rest so as to be
able to use the military for its assertive foreign policy agenda. However, it will
be many years before the civilian government in Ankara will be able to do so,
because it's a long process to go from the military having dominance over the
political system to a civilian government using the military on the foreign policy
Initially, when the top four generals of the Turkish armed forces – the air chief,
the army chief, the naval chief, and the joint chief – all tendered their
resignations collectively, it appeared that we were at the cusp of yet another and
much more fierce civil-military tug-of-war in Ankara. But the way in which the
civilian government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan handled the situation and
the fact that there has not been a backlash from the military establishment shows
that civilians are finally gaining the upper hand in what has been a decades-long
struggle between the men in uniform and the civilians in Turkey.
From the point of view of the ruling party, with the military seemingly under
civilian control, the AKP will want to move from the domestic arena to the foreign
policy front. And on that foreign policy front, the AKP has already been pursuing an
assertive agenda in terms of trying to bring the country back onto the world stage,
at least in terms of the regions that Turkey straddles: the Caucasus, Southeastern
Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia.
The intent and desire of the AKP is one thing, but the reality is that it takes a
long time to prepare a military to become an instrument of an assertive foreign
policy agenda. In the case of Turkey, it is much more difficult because this is a
military that was heavily geared towards securing or being the guardian of the
country's secular foundations, and now it has to move from that role to one in
which: a) It respects the constitutional government in Ankara and pledges loyalty to
it; and b) Serves the agenda of that government onto the foreign policy front. And
that requires a lot steps and a lot of changes that will take time – if not decades,
at least several years.
More Videos -
25189  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: Bullish or Bullshite? on: August 02, 2011, 01:02:35 PM
Personal income increased 0.1% in June, while personal consumption fell 0.2% To view
this article, Click Here

Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
 Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist

Date: 8/2/2011

Personal income increased 0.1% in June, slightly less than the consensus expected.
Personal consumption fell 0.2% versus a consensus expected gain of 0.2%. In the past
year, personal income is up 5.0% while spending is up 4.4%.
Disposable personal income (income after taxes) was up 0.1% in June and is up 3.7%
versus a year ago. The gain in June was led by interest and dividend income, which
was up 4.6% from a year ago.
The overall PCE deflator (consumer inflation) fell 0.2% in June but is up 2.6%
versus a year ago. The “core” PCE deflator, which excludes food and
energy, was up 0.1% in June and is up 1.3% since last year.
After adjusting for inflation, “real” consumption was unchanged in June
but is up 1.8% versus a year ago.
Implications:  Income and spending both came in below expectations in June, in part
due to a steep (and what now appears to have been a temporary) drop in commodity
prices. “Real” (inflation-adjusted) personal income was up a solid 0.3%
in June. Real personal spending was unchanged but will be one of the last greatly
affected by the supply-chain disruptions from Japan. Later today automakers will
report on car and light truck sales in July and those figures should show a rebound
that will boost the consumer spending data a month from now. Although overall
consumption prices declined in July due to commodities, the Federal Reserve
can’t see the report as vindication. “Core” consumption prices,
which exclude food and energy, increased 0.1% in June and are up at a 2.2% annual
rate in the past three months. That is above the Fed’s target of 2%. The Fed
must be confused about how core inflation could be rising when the unemployment rate
is above 9% and capacity utilization in the industrial sector is below 80%. In their
worldview, core inflation should only be rising when resources are constrained, and
we’re not even close to that environment in their thinking. Over the long run,
we think consumer spending should strengthen for a number of reasons. Consumer
balance sheets are healthier and financial obligations (monthly payments like
mortgages, rent, car loans/leases, as well as other debt service), are the smallest
share of disposable income since 1994. Meanwhile, the underlying trend in worker
income continues in a favorable direction, with real private-sector earnings (wages,
salaries, and small business profits) up 2.1% in the past year.
25190  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China vs. Islam on: August 02, 2011, 01:01:35 PM
So, you are advocating that domestically we do it like the Chinese do?
25191  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: August 02, 2011, 12:59:34 PM
To me it is a wonderment that his numbers are as high as they are.  Also remember that a goodly percentage of his negatives (25% IIRC) come from disappointed progressives.   Note too the approval numbers of Congress are WAY lower than Baraq's.
25192  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Should/will we stay or go? on: August 02, 2011, 05:57:00 AM
US troops must have legal immunity to stay in Iraq
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen speaks to reporters at a news conference in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011. The top U.S. military officer says American troops must be given protection from legal prosecution as part of any agreement to keep them in Iraq beyond the end of the year. (AP Photo - Maya Alleruzzo)
From Associated Press
August 02, 2011 5:24 AM EDT
BAGHDAD (AP) — The top U.S. military officer said Tuesday that American troops must be given immunity from prosecution as part of any agreement to keep them in Iraq beyond the end of the year and that this protection must be approved by Iraq's parliament.

The comments by Joint Chiefs chairman Adm. Mike Mullen could make it more difficult for the troops to stay here.

Mullen and other U.S. officials have been pushing Iraq to decide whether they would want additional American forces to stay in the country past their Dec. 31 departure date, and the immunity issue has been one of the key sticking points.

"An agreement, which would include privileges and immunities for our American men and women in uniform will need to go through the COR," said Mullen, referring to the Council of Representatives as Iraq's parliament is known.

Washington has offered to let up to 10,000 U.S. troops stay and continue training Iraqi forces on tanks, fighter jets and other military equipment.

Mullen told reporters in Baghdad that Iraq's president and prime minister have promised to quickly consider the offer, and stressed that time is running out.

U.S. officials have said repeatedly that they need to know soon whether Iraq wants them to stay longer so they can figure out which of their forces must stay and which must go. Right now, about 46,000 American forces remain in country, and this fall their departure will begin ramping up.

"A significant part of this is just a physics problem. You get to a point in time where you just can't turn back and all the troops must leave. That's why it's so important to make the decision absolutely as soon as possible," he said.

But Iraqi lawmakers and government officials have been leery about taking a public stand on whether they want American forces to stay or go.

U.S. troops are still unpopular with many Iraqis who are tired of eight years of war. One of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's top allies, anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, has made it his mission to drive American forces from the country, leaving the prime minister in a tough position.

Neighboring Iran is also lobbying for American forces to leave Iraq. The U.S. says Iran is behind a campaign of violence against American forces that began back in March and is intended to make it appear Shiite militias are driving the Americans from the country.

Mullen accused Iran of supplying the militias with arms and interfering with Iraq's internal affairs.

"These are hardly the acts of a friend. It is clear that Tehran seeks a weak Iraq and an Iraq more dependent upon and more beholden to a Persian worldview," he said.

Mullen credited U.S. and Iraqi forces with bringing down the violence in recent weeks by going after Shiite militias, something Iraq's Shiite leadership has been reluctant to do in the past.

Mullen met Monday night with al-Maliki and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. He said they know a decision must come soon but acknowledged that they face "internal challenges, associated with reaching this decision."

"They're very aware of the urgency of the issue," said Mullen. "It was apparent to me in meeting with both the prime minister and the president that they're anxious to resolve and reconcile those differences. but that's really up to them."

Al-Maliki said in a statement on his website late Monday that he hoped Iraqi political blocs would be able to reach a consensus Tuesday night when they are expected to meet.

The Shiite prime minister stressed that regardless of the decision on U.S. troops that he wanted Washington and Baghdad to continue cooperation, especially in the area of air defense.

Iraq is unable to provide for its own air sovereignty. Over the weekend al-Maliki announced that Iraq would purchase 36 F-16 fighter planes from the U.S., which is a jump from the 18 that Baghdad initially planned to buy.

But even after the purchase goes through it would take years of training for the Iraqi Air Force to be able to protect its air space.
25193  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China vs. Islam on: August 02, 2011, 05:51:50 AM
Over to you GM  smiley
25194  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Baraq's alphabet on: August 02, 2011, 05:50:36 AM

Snapshots from President Obama's efforts to improve America's standing in the world, 923 days into his administration:

A is for the Arab world, and our standing in it: This year, Zogby International found that 5% of Egyptians had a favorable view of the U.S. In 2008, when George W. Bush was president, it was 9%.

B is for the federal budget deficit, which is estimated to come in at around 11% of GDP in 2011, up from about 3% in 2008.

C is for China's military budget. For 2012, Beijing plans to increase spending on defense by 12.7%. The Obama administration, by contrast, proposed Pentagon cuts in April averaging out to $40 billion per year over the next decade, and Congress may soon cut a lot more.

D is for—what else—the federal debt, which grew to $14.3 trillion this month from $10.7 trillion at the end of 2008. D is also for the dollar, which has lost almost half its value against gold since Aug. 2008.

E is for energy. The average retail price of a gallon of gas hovered near the $1.80 mark when Mr. Obama was inaugurated. It has since more than doubled. E is also for ethanol, the non-wonder fuel the U.S. continues to subsidize to the tune of $5 billion a year.

View Full Image

Getty Images
F is for free trade. Bill Clinton signed Nafta in 1994, which facilitates $1.6 trillion in the trade of goods and services between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. George W. Bush midwifed more than a dozen FTAs, from Australia to Singapore to Morocco to Bahrain. Number of FTA's signed by the current president: zero.

G is for Guantanamo, which remains open, and for Gadhafi, who remains in power, and for Greece, which offers a vision of America's future if we don't reform our entitlement state.

H is for Hillary Clinton, who—I can't believe I'm writing this—would have made a better president than Mr. Obama.

I is for Israel, a Middle Eastern country the president claims to support even as he routinely disses its prime minister, seeks to shrink its borders and—why not?—divide its capital.

J is for jobs. In November 2008, president-elect Obama promised he would create 2.5 million jobs by 2011. By October 2010 the economy had shed 3.3 million jobs.

K is for Karzai, Hamid, Afghanistan's feckless leader. Still, the Obama administration probably did itself no favors by publicly dumping on the man, leading him to seek new best friends in Tehran.

L is for Laden, Osama bin. The president's greatest triumph, which will forever put him one notch—if only one notch—above Jimmy Carter.

M is for Mexico, a country that manages 5.4% unemployment and 4.2% annual growth even as it fights a war against the drug cartels.

N is for NATO, once a pillar of Western security, which Mr. Obama is in the process of destroying through his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan and his refusal to give NATO the push it needs to win in Libya.

O is for ObamaCare, which goes far to explain B, D, J as well as the Greek part of G.

P is for Pyongyang, whose ruler the administration is once again attempting to engage in the six-party talks. This is after the Kim regime welcomed Mr. Obama's plea for a nuclear-free world by testing a nuclear bomb, torpedoing a South Korean ship, shelling a South Korean village, and unveiling a state-of-the-art uranium enrichment facility.

Q is for QE2, the most disastrous experiment in monetary policy since Fed Chairman William Miller's low-interest rate policy crashed the dollar in 1978.

R is for the reset with Russia, the principal result of which is an arms-control treaty that brings us to parity in strategic nuclear weapons, leaves us behind in the tactical category, and ill-equips us for the challenge of a proliferating world.

S is for shovel-ready. Enough said.

T is for taxes, which Mr. Obama would like to see raised for "millionaires and billionaires"—curiously defined as people making $200K and up.

U is for Iran's uranium enrichment. When Mr. Obama came to office promising to extend his hand to the mullahs, Iran had enriched 1,000 kilos of uranium. Today they have produced more than 4,000 kilos.

V is for Venezuela, a country whose extensive subterranean links to Iran the administration has consistently downplayed.

W is for the Dubya, whose presidency now looks like a model of spending restraint.

X is for Liu Xiaobo, an example of what a deserving winner of the Nobel Peace Prize looks like. X is also for Xanax, likely to be remembered as the drug of choice of the Obama years.

Y is for Yes, We Can! Unfortunately, it's also for Yemen.

Z is for zero, which is the likelihood that one of the current GOP hopefuls will defeat Mr. Obama in 2012.
25195  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GF on Indonesia on: August 02, 2011, 05:39:24 AM
August 2, 2011


By George Friedman

I am writing this from Indonesia. Actually, that is not altogether a fair statement.
I am at the moment in Bali and just came from Jakarta. The two together do not come
close to being Indonesia. Jakarta, the capital, is a vast city that is striking to
me for its traffic. It takes an enormous amount of time to get anywhere in Jakarta.
Like most cities, it was not built to accommodate cars, and the mix of cars with
motor scooters results in perpetual gridlock. It is also a city of extraordinary
dynamism. There is something happening on almost every street. And in the traffic
jams, you have time to contemplate those streets in detail.

Bali is an island of great beauty, complete with mountains, white beaches, blue
waters and throngs of tourists. Since I am one of those tourists, I will not trouble
you with the usual tourist nonsense of wanting to be in a place where there are no
tourists. The hypocrisy of tourists decrying commercialization is tedious. I am here
for the beaches, and they are expensive. The locals with whom tourists claim to want
to mingle can't come into the resort, and tourists leaving the resort will have
trouble finding locals who are not making a living off the tourists. As always, the
chance of meeting "locals" as tourists usually define them -- people making little
money in picturesque ways -- is not easy.

What is clear in both Jakarta and Bali is that the locals are tired of picturesque
poverty, however much that disappoints the tourists. They want to live better and,
in particular, they want their children to live better. We were driven by a tour
guide to places where we bought what my wife assures me is art (my own taste in art
runs to things in museums and tigers made of velvet). We spent the requisite money
on art at places our guide delivered us to, I assume for suitable compensation.

The guide was interesting. His father was a rice farmer who owned some land, and now
he is a tour guide, which in Bali, I gather, is not a bad job by any means if you
have deals with the hotel (which he undoubtedly has). But it was his children who
fascinated me. He had three sons, two of whom were in universities. The movement
from rice farmer to university student in three generations is not trivial. That it
happened with the leaders Indonesia had during that time is particularly striking,
since by all reasonable measures these leaders have been, until recently, either
rigidly ideological (Sukarno) or breathtakingly self-serving (Sukarno's daughter,

When I looked at some of Indonesia's economic statistics, the underlying reason for
this emerged. Since 1998, when Indonesia had its meltdown, the country's gross
domestic product (GDP) has grown at roughly 5 percent per year, an amount
substantial, consistent and above all sustainable, unlike the 8 and 9 percent growth
rates before the collapse. Indonesia is now the 18th largest economy in the world,
ranking just behind Turkey.

All of that is nice, but for this: Indonesia ranks 109th in per capita GDP.
Indonesia's population is about 237 million. Its fertility rate is only 2.15 births
per woman, just above a stable population -- though being just above stable still
means substantial growth. Indonesia is a poor country, albeit not as poor as it was,
and its GDP continues to rise. Given its stable government and serious efforts to
control corruption, which systemically diverts wealth away from the general
population, this growth can continue. But whether the stability and anti-corruption
efforts of the past six years can continue is an open question, as is the prosperity
in Jakarta, the tourism in Bali (recall the jihadist attacks there in 2002 and 2005)
and whether our guide's third son will receive a college education.

I saw three Indonesias (and I can assure you there are hundreds more). One was the
Indonesia of Jakarta's elite, Westernized and part of the global elite found in most
capitals that is critical for managing any country's rise to some degree of
prosperity. Jakarta's elite will do well from that prosperity, make no mistake, but
they are also indispensable to it. Another Indonesia was the changing one that our
upwardly mobile tour guide saw through his children's eyes. The third was the one in
which a little girl, perhaps four, begged in traffic on the road from the airport in
Bali. I have seen these things in many countries and it is difficult to know what to
make of them yet. For me, going to Indonesia is not the same as going to Eastern
Europe. I know what is lurking under the current there. Indonesia is new for me, and
I will be back. For now, let me describe to you not so much the country of Indonesia
but how I try to learn about a place I know only from books (and even then
relatively little).

Strategic Positions

Nietzsche once said that modern man eats knowledge without hunger. What he meant by
that is that modern man learns without passion and without necessity. I didn't go to
Indonesia without either. What interests me most about Indonesia is not its economy
or its people -- although that might change as I learn more. What interests me now
is Indonesia's strategic position in the world at this point in time.

To determine that position, we must first look at China.  China is building an
aircraft carrier. Now, one aircraft carrier without cruisers, destroyers,
submarines, anti-missile systems, satellite-targeting capabilities, mid-ocean
refueling capabilities and a thousand other things is simply a ship waiting to be
sunk. Nevertheless, it could be the nucleus of something more substantial in the
coming decades (not years).

When I look at a map of China's coast I am constantly struck by how contained China
is. In the north, where the Yellow and East China seas provide access to Shanghai
and Qingdao (the home of China's northern naval fleet), access to the Pacific is
blocked by the line of Japan-Okinawa-Taiwan and the islands between Okinawa and
Japan. Bases there are not the important point. The important point is that the
Chinese naval -- or merchant -- fleet must pass through choke points that can be
controlled by the United States, hundreds of miles to the east. The situation is
even worse for China in the South China Sea, which is completely boxed in by the
line of Taiwan-Philippines-Indonesia-Singapore, and worse still when you consider
the emerging naval cooperation between the United States and Vietnam, which has no
love for the Chinese.

The Chinese are trying to solve this problem by building ports in Pakistan and
Myanmar. They say these are for commercial use, and I believe them. Isolated ports
at such a distance, with tenuous infrastructure connecting them to China and with
sea-lane control not assured, are not very useful. They work in peacetime but not
during war, and it is war, however far-fetched, that navies are built for.

 China's biggest problem is not that it lacks aircraft carriers; it is that it lacks
an amphibious capability. Even if it could, for example, fight its way across the
Formosa Strait to Taiwan (a dubious proposition), it is in no position to supply
the multi-divisional force needed to conquer Taiwan. The Chinese could break the
blockade by seizing Japan, Okinawa or Taiwan, but that isn't going to happen.

What could happen is China working to gain an economic toehold in the Philippines or
Indonesia, and using that economic leverage to support political change in those
countries. A change in the political atmosphere would not by itself permit the
Chinese navy to break into the Pacific or eliminate the American ability to blockade
Chinese merchant ships. The United States doesn't need land bases to control the
passages through either of these countries from a distance.

Rather, what would change the game is if China, having reached an economic entente
with either country, was granted basing privileges there. That would permit the
Chinese to put aircraft and missiles on the islands, engage the U.S. Navy outside
the barrier formed by the archipelagos and force the U.S. Navy back, allowing free

Now, this becomes much more complicated when we consider U.S. countermeasures. China
already has massive anti-ship missiles on its east coast. The weakness of these
missiles is intelligence and reconnaissance. In order to use those missiles the
Chinese have to have a general idea of where their targets are, and ships move
around a lot. That reconnaissance must come from survivable aircraft (planes that
won't be destroyed when they approach the U.S. fleet) and space-based assets --
along with the sophisticated information architecture needed to combine the sensor
with the shooter.

The United States tends to exaggerate the strength of its enemies. This can be a
positive trait because it means extra exertion. In the Cold War, U.S. estimates of
Soviet capabilities outstripped Soviet realities. There are many nightmare scenarios
about China's capabilities circulating, but we suspect that most are overstated.
China's ambitions outstrip its capabilities. Still, you prepare for the worst and
hope for the best.

In this case, the primary battlefield is not yet the passages through the
archipelago. It is the future of our Indonesian driver's third child. If he gets to
go to college, the likelihood of Indonesia succumbing to Chinese deals is limited.
The history of Chinese-Indonesian relations is not particularly good, and little
short of desperation would force an alliance. American Pacific strategy should be
based on making certain that neither Indonesia nor the Philippines is desperate.

A Focus of History

Indonesia has another dimension, of course. It is the largest Muslim country in the
world, and one that has harbored and defeated a significant jihadist terrorist
group. As al Qaeda crumbles, the jihadist movement may endure. The United States has
an ongoing interest in this war and therefore has an interest in Indonesian
stability and its ability to suppress radical Islam inside its borders and, above
all, prevent the emergence of an Indonesian-based al Qaeda with an intercontinental

Thus, Indonesia becomes a geopolitical focus of three forces -- China, Islamists and
the United States. This isn't the first time Indonesia has been a focus of history.
In 1941, Japan launched the attack on Pearl Harbor to paralyze the American fleet
there and facilitate seizing what was then called the Netherlands East Indies for
its supplies of oil and other raw materials. In the first real resource war -- World
War II -- Indonesia was a pivot. Similarly, during the Cold War, the possibility of
a Communist Indonesia was frightening enough to the United States that it ultimately
supported the removal of Sukarno as president. Indonesia has mattered in the past,
and it matters now.

The issue is how to assure a stable Indonesia. If the threat -- however small --
rests in China, so does the solution. Chinese wage rates are surging and Chinese
products are becoming less competitive in the global marketplace. The Chinese have
wanted to move up the economic scale from being an exporter of low-cost industrial
products to being a producer of advanced technologies. As the recent crash of
China's high-speed train shows, China is a long way from achieving that goal.

There is no question that China is losing its export edge in low-grade industrial
products. One of the reasons Western investors liked China was that a single country
and a single set of relationships allowed them to develop production facilities that
could supply them with products. All the other options aside from India, which has
its own problems, can handle only a small fraction of China's output. Indonesia,
with nearly a quarter-billion people still in a low-wage state, can handle more.

The political risk has substantially declined in the last few years. If it continues
to drop, Indonesia will become an attractive alternative to China at a time when
Western companies are looking for alternatives. That would energize Indonesia's
economy and further stabilize the regime. A more stable Indonesian regime would
remove any attraction for an alignment with China and any opportunities for Chinese
or Islamist subversion -- even if, in the latter case, prosperity is not enough to
eliminate it.

When we look at a map, we see the importance of Indonesia. When we look at basic
economic statistics, we see the strength and weakness of Indonesia. When we consider
the role of China in the world economy and its current problems, we see Indonesia's
opportunities. But it comes down to this: If my guide's third son can go to college,
and little girls no longer have to dart into traffic and beg, Indonesia has a strong
future, and that future depends on it becoming the low-cost factory to the world.

Life is more complex than that, of course, but it is the beginning of understanding
the possibilities. In the end, few rational people looking at China in 1975 would
have anticipated China in 2011. That unexpected leap is what Indonesia needs and
what will determine its geopolitical role. But these are my first thoughts on
Indonesia. I will need to come back here many times for any conclusions.

This report may be forwarded or republished on your website with attribution to

Copyright 2011 STRATFOR.
25196  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: August 01, 2011, 11:00:59 PM

I take my friend's meaning to be that the exemption was written with Islam in mind.  Thus the issue presented is not really Muslims or Islam, but the pre-emptive dhimmitude of the authors of the bill (including Baraq as intellectual author?).
25197  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury on the ISM numbers on: August 01, 2011, 07:22:52 PM

The ISM Manufacturing index fell to 50.9 in July from 55.3 in June To view this
article, Click Here

Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
 Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist

Date: 8/1/2011

The ISM Manufacturing index fell to 50.9 in July from 55.3 in June, coming in well
below the consensus expected decline to 54.5. (Levels higher than 50 signal
expansion; levels below 50 signal contraction.)

The major measures of activity all fell in July, but most remained above 50.0,
signaling growth. The supplier deliveries index slipped to 50.4 from 56.3 and the
production index fell to 52.3 from 54.5. The new orders index declined to 49.2 from
51.6 and the employment index fell to 53.5 from 59.9.

The prices paid index declined to a still elevated 59.0 in July from 68.0 in June.

Implications: From time to time, the ISM index is a better measurement of sentiment
among manufacturers than actual levels of activity. We think July – a month
dominated by (misleading) headlines about a potential default on US Treasury
securities – was one of those months. As a result, we do not read much into
the ISM index coming in well below consensus expectations and anticipate a large
rebound next month. Taken at face value, the 50.9 reading on the ISM may be
disappointing, but it still correlates with 2.9% real growth according to officials
at the ISM. News from the auto sector suggests the supply-chain disruptions due to
Japan are dissipating. That was also the message from last week’s large drop
in initial unemployment claims. Auto production will keep rebounding as inventories
are low and getting more cars on lots will generate more sales. In other news this
morning, construction increased 0.2% in June and rose 2.5% including large upward
revisions for prior months.  The revisions were widespread, including home building,
commercial construction, and government projects.  The rise in June was due to
commercial construction, primarily manufacturing facilities, retail shops, and
communications structures.  We did not go into a double-dip at the start of the
year, we are not entering one now, and there is no need for the third round of
quantitative easing.
25198  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dhimmitude in Obamacare? on: August 01, 2011, 07:19:05 PM

A friend writes:
Dhimmitude -- What  does it mean?
Obama used it in the health  care bill.

Now isn't this  interesting? It is used in the health care law.

Dhimmitude -- I had never heard the  word until now.  Type it into Google
and start reading.   Pretty interesting. It's on page 107 of the healthcare
bill.  I  looked this up on Google and yep, it exists..  It is a REAL  word.

Word  of the Day: Dhimmitude

Dhimmitude is the Muslim  system of controlling non-Muslim populations 
conquered through jihad. Specifically, it is the TAXING of  non-Muslims in
exchange for tolerating their presence AND as a  coercive means of converting
conquered remnants to Islam.

ObamaCare  allows the establishment of Dhimmitude and Sharia Muslim diktat
in  the United States .  Muslims are specifically  exempted from the
government mandate to purchase insurance, and also  from the penalty tax for being
uninsured.  Islam considers  insurance to be "gambling", "risk-taking", and
"usury" and is thus  banned. Muslims are specifically granted exemption
based on  this.

How  convenient.  So I, as a Christian, will have crippling IRS  liens
placed against all of my assets, including real estate,  cattle, and even
accounts receivables, and will face hard prison  time because I refuse to buy
insurance or pay the penalty tax.  Meanwhile, Louis Farrakhan will have no such
penalty and will have  100% of his health needs paid for by the de facto
government  insurance.  Non-Muslims will be paying a tax to subsidize  Muslims.
  This is Dhimmitude.

I recommend  sending this onto your contacts.   American citizens need  to
know about it --


Another friend replies:

Click here to see what Snopes appears that there is a
"general exemption" for religious groups, but actual specifics have not
yet been determined.

25199  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China vs. Islam on: August 01, 2011, 07:09:49 PM
Over to you GM  smiley
25200  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: August 01, 2011, 07:05:37 PM
REturning to the subject of the debt farce deal, a key question:  Does the "Read our lips, no new taxes in this deal" apply to the expiration of the Bush Tax Rates?
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