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25551  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: March 30, 2010, 08:07:19 AM
For "Prgressivism" post here:
25552  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / part two on: March 30, 2010, 08:02:16 AM


While Iran is the main trafficking route for Afghan-produced opiates, Pakistan is the most common first stop for drugs out of Afghanistan. The long border between the two countries is virtually impossible to control, and smuggling across the border is very common, especially for the Taliban. Indeed, opiate production and smuggling through Pakistan has provided essential support to the Afghan Taliban, which raised an estimated $450 million to $600 million between 2005 and 2008, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.

Drugs enter the country along the northwest Afghan-Pakistani border and then take several paths across Pakistan. One is from southern Afghanistan across the border to the city of Quetta, which is an important transit point for Afghan opiates and a center of Afghan Taliban activity. About a quarter of the opiates that enter Pakistan are then taken into Iran through Balochistan province. Another important route is south through the Indus valley toward Karachi, a port city on the Arabian Sea and a key hub for organized crime in Pakistan. Once they leave the port of Karachi, the largest port in the region, drugs can be moved all over the world. Shipments of drugs are usually hidden in cargo containers, or they can be smuggled aboard commercial airliners. Afghan opiates moving through Pakistan also make their way to India and China, although Myanmar supplies most of the opiates to these markets.

Central Asia

Opiates moving north out of Afghanistan into Central Asia follow numerous routes. According to the United Nations, Tajikistan reported the most seizures in 2008, but tracking drug seizures does not necessarily indicate where most of the drugs are going. It does show where drug trafficking is the most volatile, where competing actors (including the government) are battling for turf and stealing each other’s shipments. Afghan opiates are certainly trafficked north from Afghanistan through Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, but most of the northbound product goes through Turkmenistan along the northern route to Russia.

(click here to enlarge image)

In many ways, this route is the most efficient one out of Afghanistan. Turkmenistan borders western Afghanistan, where some of the major opium-producing provinces are, so it is the shortest route north, linked to Afghanistan’s northern trafficking route out of Herat. Also, the terrain between western Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, consisting for the most part of hilly desert that is very difficult to monitor, is relatively easy to traverse undetected. Uzbekistan’s border with Afghanistan is relatively flat, but it is disconnected from Afghanistan’s poppy-cultivating areas and defined in part by a river that is difficult to cross. Tajikistan also serves as a border crossing, since its western border with Afghanistan provides access (albeit through routes that are far from ideal) into Central Asia. Eastern Tajikistan, however, is covered in rugged mountains and very lightly populated, making the efficient trafficking of anything very difficult. Finally, traffickers in southern Turkmenistan have the benefit of working under the protection of the Mary clan, the largest of five major clans that dominate Turkmenistan’s political landscape. Occupying Turkmenistan’s Mary region, the clan is largely blocked from having any kind of real power in the government, but it has been given control of the lucrative drug trade in Turkmenistan in order to ensure its loyalty.

(click here to enlarge image)

Crossing the border from Afghanistan to Turkmenistan is the trickiest part of the Central Asian journey. Avoiding government checkpoints is relatively easy, since the border is an uninhabited desert and traffickers can simply drive across in most places. However, they do face the threat of roaming bandits in search of profitable targets to rob — such as heroin smugglers. For this reason, traffickers are constantly changing their routes, taking advantage of a roughly 90-mile-wide and 130-mile-long desert corridor in southwestern Turkmenistan between the Iranian border and the Murghab River that is crisscrossed by a network of jeep paths created to evade bandits. Once traffickers get through this desert, they enter the protection of the Mary clan, which provides secure trafficking north to the Kazakh border.

From there, drugs pass through Kazakhstan and farther north to Russian consumer markets, hitting regional distribution hubs along the way to Moscow. Russian organized-crime groups (primarily the Moscow Mob) and elements within the Federal Security Service provide cover to traffickers along this route (for a price, of course).


The majority of Afghan opiates go to three main markets: Iran, Russia and Europe. Together they account for the consumption of about 66 percent of Afghan opiates. Iran is the main consumer of the unrefined opium, accounting for 42 percent of the world’s total, while heroin is more common in Russia and Europe, accounting for 21 percent and 26 percent of the world’s total, respectively. In the 1990s Russia was more of a transit market than a consumption market for opiates. This began to change in the late 1990s, when the rate of heroin use in Russia rose rapidly. Between 1998 and 1999, the number of Russian users increased 400 percent, absorbing much of the product that used to go on to other markets. As wealth in Russia (i.e., Moscow and St. Petersburg) rose over the past decade, the Russian consumer market helped absorb even more of the product flow. Recently, Afghan opiates also have begun to supply Chinese consumers and may now account for as much as 25 percent of that market. The United States, a huge market for illicit opiates, is low on the list because most of the heroin consumed there is produced in Colombia and Mexico.

Russia has largely become a consumer market for Afghan opiates, with southern land routes through Iran and Turkey and maritime routes taking over most of the supply to Europe. The significance of this is that countries along the southern trafficking routes, such as Pakistan, Iran and Turkey, are benefiting more from the financial gains of opiate trafficking while Russia is suffering more from the social strains of opiate use. Russia is estimated to have as many as 2.5 million consumers of illicit opiates, and the Russian government recently estimated that Russians spend $17 billion annually on Afghan opiates.

So it does make sense that post-Soviet Russia is starting to lobby for opium-crop eradication in Afghanistan. But it will not happen overnight. Winning hearts and minds is a painstaking process, and weaning farmers from a lucrative cash crop will take time. Popular support for the U.S./NATO mission has become a valuable currency in Afghanistan, as valuable as opium profits are to the growers and traffickers, and some kind of balance must be struck between the two. In the coming years, with the U.S. and NATO on watch, interdiction of traffickers may well take precedence over destroying the poppy fields of struggling Afghan farmers.
25553  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: The Opium Trade on: March 30, 2010, 08:01:27 AM
As the U.S. drawdown from Iraq continues, the renewed focus on stabilizing Afghanistan includes a new counterinsurgency strategy. Along with more restrictive rules of engagement comes a less urgent insistence on opium-poppy eradication — this in a country that produces more than 90 percent of the world’s opium supply. The transition to other cash crops is still part of the long-term solution, but it will take time to determine the best approach. Meanwhile, opium production will remain a primary livelihood for thousands of rural Afghans. And there are plenty of other players — from the Taliban and certain members of the Afghan government to the Iranian military and the Moscow Mob — who have a vested interest in the enterprise.

At a NATO conference in Brussels March 24, NATO spokesman James Appathurai rejected suggestions from Russian counternarcotics director Victor Ivanov that an opium crop eradication program be implemented in Afghanistan. Over the past 20 years, Russia has gone from being a trans-shipment route for heroin to a major consumer of heroin, the second largest market in the world behind Europe. Such a development has dramatic effects on public health and social stability in a country already facing dire demographic challenges, so it makes sense that Russia would take an interest in eliminating the source of the drugs.

However, opium cultivation has become a main source of income for thousands of rural Afghans, and as we recently saw in the NATO-led push into southern Afghanistan’s Helmand province, making peace with the locals by not interfering with their livelihood is a higher priority than eradicating their opium poppies. Right now, as a new counterinsurgency strategy takes shape in Afghanistan, Russian counternarcotics officials are unlikely to get much cooperation from NATO when it comes to the destruction of crops. That will likely come in time. The Russians may find more immediate cooperation in interdicting opiate trafficking in Afghanistan, which is largely managed by militant factions opposing NATO forces.

Afghanistan is at the center of the global trade in illicit opiates, with more than 90 percent of the world’s opium supply originating there. (The country also is a huge cultivator of marijuana, which is a significant cash crop but not as significant as opium.) Despite the fact that opium poppies can be grown in a variety of climates and soil conditions, its production is so concentrated in Afghanistan and countries like it because the cultivation of opium poppies can thrive only in regions with limited government control. Within Afghanistan, the cultivation of poppies is concentrated in the south and west of the country, with Helmand province alone accounting for more than half of Afghanistan’s total production. These are also the regions of the country where Afghan government control is the weakest and Taliban control is the strongest.

Besides Afghanistan, the other big opium producers are Myanmar, Pakistan, Laos and Mexico, but these countries make up only a fraction of overall production. Southeast Asia previously dominated opium production during the 1970s and most of the 1980s, while Afghanistan’s opium was consumed regionally. It was not until the mid-1990s that Afghanistan went from being one of several large opium-growing countries to producing more than 50 percent of the world’s supply. As Afghanistan’s importance in the global opiate trade has grown, so has the value of trafficking routes out of the country. When Southeast Asian opium dominated the world market, Thailand and China were the main routes through which the product reached the consumer. Now, with Afghanistan producing most of the world’s opium, Iran, Pakistan and Central Asia are the most important transit countries.

The trafficking of opiates out of Afghanistan to outside consumer markets is a highly lucrative business. The annual global market for illicit opiates is estimated to be about $65 billion, which, to put it in context, is roughly equal to the gross domestic product (GDP) of Croatia. In 2009, according to U.N. estimates, the opiate trade accounted for $2.3 billion of the Afghan economy, or about 19 percent of the country’s GDP. The flow of drugs in one direction and money in the other is of strategic significance because it provides financial support for regional players, some of whom are militant groups like al Qaeda and the Taliban. Because production is centralized in Afghanistan, actors immediately surrounding Afghanistan control routes to and profits from the primary consumer markets in Iran, Russia and Europe.


Opiates are the family of refined narcotics to which heroin, morphine, codeine and other often-abused substances belong. Opiates such as morphine were developed in the 19th century for medicinal purposes and are still widely used (although much more restricted) today. Heroin is processed in a way that allows faster absorption into the system, making it a more potent form of morphine. Both, along with other related drugs, are refined from opium, a naturally occurring product of the opium poppy plant.

Opium is produced by slitting the seed pod of opium poppies to extract the sap. The sap oozes out as a thick brown-black gum which is then formed into bricks that are sold to traffickers and distributors. The poppy growing season in Afghanistan runs from planting in December to harvest in April. But the growing season does not greatly affect the times of the year that the drugs are trafficked, since Afghan farmers and traffickers have built up an opium stockpile of approximately 12,000 tons, which is enough to supply about two years worth of global demand. Only 10 percent of this stockpile is in the hands of Afghan farmers, with the rest under the control of traffickers and militants both in Afghanistan and along the trafficking routes. This stockpile buffers against extreme market fluctuations by providing a steady stream of product that evens out the spike in supply during harvesting season, and it also serves a safety net in case of seizures or crop destruction. This suggests a fairly high level of planning and organization among those trafficking opiates.

After the opium is collected by farmers it is usually sold to traffickers, who will often refine the opium further before moving it out of Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, this system is well organized, with farmers and traffickers often having agreements that run for several years. About 60 percent of the opium produced in Afghanistan is processed into heroin and, to a lesser extent, morphine, before being moved out of the country. Refining also takes place all along the transit route from Afghanistan, especially in Iran and Russia, but it makes sense to refine the opium as close to the production site as possible. Refining opium into heroin and morphine gives traffickers a number of advantages over trafficking unrefined opium as a commodity. Heroin and morphine are more compact (10 kilograms of opium produce one kilogram of heroin), which makes it more efficient to transport. And one kilogram of heroin can fetch upward of 100 times more than a kilogram of opium, making it more cost effective to transport.

The technology required to convert opium to heroin is very basic, requiring little more than a container to heat the opium in and some chemicals. However, some of the chemicals needed are difficult to acquire, acetic anhydride being the most important, and these have to be smuggled into Afghanistan. Anti-drug authorities have made a concerted effort to target the precursor trade, and this has made acquiring these chemicals in the necessary quantities (more than 13,000 tons a year) in Afghanistan difficult. However, refining in Afghanistan is still very common, and one sign of this has been the recent anthrax deaths of heroin users in Europe. The infected users were likely consuming heroin cut with ground-up goat bones, which is more prevalent in Afghanistan than the more commonly used sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and is known to host anthrax spores.

Trafficking Routes

Illicit opiates are moved out of Afghanistan through three main routes. About 40 percent of Afghanistan’s opiates travel through Iran to reach their end markets, while 30 percent goes through Pakistan and 25 percent through central Asia, with the last 5 percent having an indeterminate route. Afghan opiates are trafficked all over the world, but the most important end markets are Russia, Europe and Iran.


Iran’s land bridge connecting south Asia to the Middle East and Anatolian Peninsula has long been a trafficking route for all sorts of products, both licit and illicit. In 2007, more than 80 percent of the world’s opium seizures and 28 percent of its heroin seizures were made in Iran. Since 1979 more than 3,600 police officers and soldiers have been killed in violence between the Iranian government and drug traffickers. Before Afghanistan became the world’s leading opium-producing country, Iran was primarily a consumer of illicit opiates; trafficking through the country was very limited. This began to change as Afghanistan’s importance in opium cultivation rose in the 1990s and Iran became the main route through which Afghan opiates reach the wealthy consumer markets in Europe (Iran is still a substantial consumer of opiates, particularly unrefined opium). Those opiates that are trafficked through Iran continue onward to Turkey and Azerbaijan, with the Turkish route being the most important, accounting for approximately 80 percent of the opiates consumed in Europe.

Afghan opiates enter Iran via three main routes: by land from Afghanistan, by land from Pakistan and by sea from Pakistan, with small amounts coming over the border to Turkmenistan. Within Iran the product is moved toward the northwestern regions of the country and on to Europe and Russia along two main routes. Drugs that come directly from Afghanistan are moved north of the Dasht-e-Kavir desert toward Tehran, and then on to Turkey or Azerbaijan. Most of what is smuggled in from Pakistan is moved south of the Kavir-e-Lut desert and then on toward Esfahan and Tehran. What is brought in by sea goes mainly to the ports of Bandar Abbas and Chabahar, before moving northwest with the rest of the flow. While opiates trafficked through Iran do go in other directions — mainly toward the Arabian Peninsula and into Iraq — most are bound for consumer markets in Europe or are consumed domestically. Once in Iran, the drugs are moved mainly by car and truck. Drug seizures are fairly common throughout Iran, but especially on the borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan, along the northern and central corridors, and in Tehran.

Cross-border ethnic links are important to the smuggling of Afghan drugs in all of the countries of the region. This is particularly true in southeastern Iran, where the Baloch ethnic group is heavily involved in the drug trade. There are significant populations of Balochis in Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and they move with relative ease between these countries. Government control over this border region is weak and traffickers move around in heavily armed groups with little fear of the authorities. Most of the drugs that cross the border in this region are transported by large, well-armed and motorized convoys. This is in contrast to the northern route, where drugs are more often brought over on foot or by camel or donkey — and frequently in the stomachs of these animals — before being loading into vehicles for transit across Iran.

One reason that we know of Balochi involvement in drug trafficking between southwest Pakistan and Iran is that the Iranian government is anxious to associate militant separatist groups in the region with drug trafficking, and the Balochs in southern Iran are among the most active separatists in the country. News reports of raids and seizures along Iran’s border with Pakistan tend to play up this aspect of the trade.

Little is known about the groups that are moving Afghan drugs through Iran, but given the substantial value of the drugs and the logistical management needed to ensure a steady flow of product, these groups seem to know what they are doing. The system must be organized at a higher level, and with the absence of official blame being placed on a nationwide organized-crime network, it is very likely that the Iranian government is involved. STRATFOR sources in Iran indicate that individual Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and military commanders oversee the flow of drugs through their regions, receiving a lucrative income in a country beset by multiple economic problems due to sanctions and the threat of more to come.

Given the value of opiates passing through Iran, estimated to be worth about $20 billion once they reach the street (approximately 5 percent of Iran’s GDP), it is hard to believe that a state whose geography predisposes it to land trade would fight so hard to keep the financial boon linked to opiates out of the system. Seizures are still made across the country, but these are more likely triggered by traffickers who refuse to cooperate with the authorities managing the trade. In recent months Iranians have also been arrested for drug smuggling in a number of Southeast Asian countries, suggesting an expanded geographical scope for Iranian drug traffickers.

25554  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spring 2010 DB Tribal Gathering on: March 28, 2010, 09:43:03 PM
Woof All:

The situation in Temecula is that my brother's house is in foreclosure and no longer functionally available to us.  We can still use the land, but the house has no water (e.g. toilets of no use) etc.

OTOH I have scouted at least three good locations in the Hermosa area and am thinking that we should hold the Gathering there.  If we have to move from one location, we have others as backups.  Much greener, much nicer area, and much closer to the airport ( miles vs. 100 miles)

25555  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Toronto: March 27-28, 2010 on: March 28, 2010, 09:38:40 PM
And good times they were!  Lots of Kali Tudo, DLO, and Stickgrappling.

The Adventure continues!
25556  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: How long does it take various knife wounds to incapacitate? on: March 28, 2010, 09:37:34 PM
Woof Kase:

Care to offer a synopsis?
25557  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: March 28, 2010, 06:21:22 PM
I agree.
25558  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: March 28, 2010, 06:19:24 PM
I will need to think more about Will's analysis here-- it is intriguing.

Even if it is correct, the political problem remains: demographics.  Without Latino birthrates, US population would decline; Latinos are an ever increasing % of US citizenry.  They tend to vote strongly Democrat.  Groups that tend to vote Republican tend to be aging and in decline, both in absolute numbers and as a % of the population.  The Republican party is already fairly irrelevant in the northeast of the US and with demographic trends in place will become a shrinking minority.  THIS was Bush-Rove-McCain's impetus in supporting amnesty-- to remain competitive for the Latino vote.

25559  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: March 28, 2010, 06:11:34 PM
Grateful for a fine weekend with a fine group here in Toronto. The Adventure continues!
25560  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: U.S. Census 2010 on: March 28, 2010, 07:40:04 AM
Ten years ago, for race I answered "human" for my family and me.  When that "friendly stranger" showed up at my door, I sent her packing.

This time around, again I have answered "human".
25561  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: March 28, 2010, 07:35:58 AM
Wating for the fight I thought Mir too relaxed, and Carsen perhaps too worried cheesy  I thought Carsen showed excellent knees to the thighs up against the fence.

Who was that a-hole who kepty applying the heel hook after his opponent tapped and the ref starting pulling him off!? angry  VERY wrong  angry angry angry  I want to know his name so I can cheer when karma bites him in the ass. evil

PS:  Good times watching the crowd at the bar here in Toronto cheer its man on.

25562  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Conditioning on: March 27, 2010, 07:11:38 PM
Woof Rarick:

Tail wags for the kind words of encouragement.

Since I last posted on this thread I have done 6.16 miles with 40 lbs at 3 MPH and a 5 trip day at Bluff Cove with 40 lbs plus some lesser workouts.  Although I may be losing a bit by doing a seminar this weekend (I am in Toronto as I type) this week I will seek to test myself a bit for level ground distance with 40 lbs.
25563  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Toronto: March 27-28, 2010 on: March 27, 2010, 07:18:22 AM
Woof from Toronto:

Looking forward to good times!
25564  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: March 26, 2010, 12:00:18 PM
Yon is reader supported.  Best thing is to set up a monthly payment so that he can budget accordingly.
25565  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Toronto on: March 26, 2010, 11:56:54 AM
Off to Toronto until Monday night.
25566  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dogs Best Friend: on: March 26, 2010, 08:42:34 AM
Woof Kaju:

I leave in a few hours for Toronto and rreturn Monday night and will try to figure out next week how to post some pictures of Zapata and/or Moro.

25567  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / M. Yon: The Scent of Weakness on: March 25, 2010, 10:41:16 AM

Yon's track record in this is quite strong.

Kandahar Province, Afghanistan
25 March 2010

Dogs have been trained to carry bombs to attack enemies for decades.  The Soviets and others have used dogs as low-tech smart bombs.  Yet canine platoons likely would rebel if they caught scent they were being duped to die.

Today, more sophisticated people employ men (mostly) to deliver bombs in Afghanistan.  Gullible souls are selected, conditioned, trained and deployed.  Malleable minds are identified then loaded with psychic software that uses their minds to create a vision.  Evil persons of superior intellect identify the raw material—that raw material might be an engineer from a stable family—and trains them to fetch myths.

Suicide attackers have murdered countless thousands of people around the world.  They go by various names, such as Kamikaze, Black Tiger, and Martyr.

The attackers are not all men.  Some are Tigresses.  My friend Alex Perry met a wannabe Black Tigress in Sri Lanka.  She was 18.  Alex described the girl in Time Magazine:

“But asked when she hoped to achieve her dream of being a suicide bomber, she grinned, squirmed and buried her face in her arms. "She's already written her application," said her commander, Lt. Col. Dewarsara Banu, smiling at her charge's shyness. "But there's still no reply." "Why hasn't there been a reply?" whined Samandi, looking up with the one eye, her left, that survived a shot to the head and fiddling with the capsule of cyanide powder around her neck. "I want this. I want to be a Black Tiger. I want to blast myself for freedom."

How Sri Lanka's Rebels Build a Suicide Bomber.

Many people are persuaded by cult artifices into any sort of behavior, including ritual suicide and murder.  It’s crucial to understand that many suicide-murders are part of a religious ceremony.  The attack is the climax of the ceremony.  This is neither complicated, nor subtle.

Suicide murders are merely a small fraction of cult behaviors.  Cults often do not revolve around religions.  Communist cadres once fanned across the globe, teaching that capitalism must die on a global scale for communism to reach its imagined grandeur.  Yet even as communist countries have failed across the world, true believers intoned the conviction that “real communism” had never been tried, and if it were, it would fulfill its promises.  This “willing suspension of disbelief” demonstrates an important aspect often organic to cults: when cult prophecies are proven wrong, we might expect the cult to disintegrate in face of the evidence.  Yet instead of disintegrating, powerful cults often refortify, strengthen, and redouble recruitment.  Failure can cause them to grow.

Some cult leaders are true believers while others are true deceivers.  From the outside, cults often can be easy to spot, though the hardest cult to see is the one you are in.

We face an increasing number of suicide murders here in the “Muslim world”—in places where suicide attacks were previously unheard of.  Some people are coerced into suicide, such as the unfortunate women who were raped and defiled in Iraq, then shamed and coerced into suicide for the sake of  “honor.”  Or the case of a young Libyan, captured by soldiers from a unit I was with in Iraq.  The Libyan was thankful for his capture: Iraqis were trying to force him to wear a suicide bomb.

Others are “brainwashed” and reloaded with brainware whose program creates suicide murderers.

A few weeks ago, on the morning of March 1st, just close by Kandahar Airfield, a suicide murderer waited in ambush.  An American convoy from the 82nd Airborne was crossing the Tarnak River Bridge when the man detonated his car bomb, sending a heavily armored American MRAP off the bridge.  At 0735, the boom thundered across Kandahar Airfield.  I felt the explosion and turned around to look for a mushroom.  The sound was vigorous enough that I thought we may have been hit on base.  There it was: the orange mushroom cloud of dust gathered and could be seen floating away.  It was off base in the direction of Highway 4 to Kandahar.

American Soldier Ian Gelig and several Afghans were killed.  It’s difficult to know how many locals are killed and wounded in attacks; often they die later or are never taken to hospitals.

Soldiers from 5/2 Stryker Brigade Combat team were planning to conduct a mission that morning that required crossing the now badly damaged bridge.  Our mission was cancelled, as were many other missions for the next couple days.  In addition to killing Ian Gelig, the single attacker impacted the flow of the war in this crucial battle space.

Nearly two weeks later, on Saturday 13 March, I was preparing to go on another mission with 5/2 SBCT soldiers.  Shortly before our departure, just up the road in Kandahar City, a serious attack unfolded at night, including three or four suicide attackers.  About 35 people were killed and roughly another 50 wounded.  Again, our mission was cancelled because the roads were closed, though by morning we took helicopters and bypassed the incident.  Turns out, the enemy was disappointed with their attack.  About half the attacks apparently did not go off, while American and Afghan forces responded more quickly than the enemy had expected and limited the damage.  According to intelligence, the Taliban are extremely paranoid.  Taliban leadership suspected there had been an inside informant.  They planned to conduct a purge.  Meanwhile, I got one report from the ground that Afghans believed most of the casualties were caused by Afghan police who are said to have fired wildly during the attack.  One man told me that an Afghan position randomly fired his 12.7mm DsHK machine gun across the city.  (These guns are so large they can rip a man in two.)  Whether the allegation is true or false is not known by me, though it stands alone as a bullet in the information war.

Ground Sign

On 8 April 2006, I was driving with a friend from Lashkar Gah to Camp Bastion when shortly after we left the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) at Lash, a suicide attacker struck.  We escaped entirely, hearing about the attack later.  Some days later, we drove back to Lash.  On 13 April, a second suicide attack happened at the same place, shaking the building while I was writing a dispatch about how the war was going sour.

These were the first two suicide attacks in Lashkar Gah.

(A couple more suicide attackers were killed in that same close area in Lash while I was writing this dispatch in neighboring Kandahar.)

Lone Wolf suicide murders occur, but the context of these first two bombings in Lashkar Gah indicated that a system was in place, and the suicide bombers were not terribly expensive to buy.  If those suicide bombers were expensive or hard to come by, the commander likely would have saved them for special missions of high specific significance.  Yet the targets of the two attacks were small and tactical, of little specific significance.  Why would a commander waste “smart ammo” on tactical targets?   Perhaps the “price” of the ammo—whether through coercion or bribery—must be reasonable, and he can buy more.

One intelligence report indicates that a certain Mullah paid cash and wheat seed to the father of Shafiqullah Rahman and Mohammed Hashim who detonated suicide car bombs on 11 November and 19 November 2009.

Suicide attackers come in different “grades.”  Some are illiterate, unsophisticated people, unsuited for complex targeting.  A plotter could not expect to select an illiterate village boy from the hinterlands of Zabul Province to move to Florida, obtain a place to live and begin flight training to crash airplanes into buildings.

Just days before 9/11, in Afghanistan, attackers passed themselves off as international journalists and managed to kill Ahmad Shah Massoud.  A couple days later, on 9/11, hijackers attacked the United States.  The killers were polyglots who combined savvy with international experience to wage complex attacks, such as was seen in Mumbai, India.  Another sophisticated international suicide attack occurred in Afghanistan in December 2009, killing seven CIA agents.

More locally, within a short distance of this keyboard, suicide attackers who are spent on random convoys or “common targets” probably tend to be simple folk.  Many suicide attackers in Afghanistan are believed to be street children or young people from dirt-poor villages, for instance from Zabul Province.  Most are thought to be young, uneducated and impoverished.  These unfortunates are believed to be conditioned in madrassas in Pakistan, and in fact our intelligence people believe that there might be three madrassas in one particular town, where suicide bombers are conditioned and shipped straight into Kandahar Province.

IEDs are by far our biggest threat here, yet suicide attacks are also deadly while generating more press.  Also, IEDs generally only affect people who go where the IEDs are, while suicide murderers are known to hijack “random” airplanes far away from the perceived battlefield.  Most victims of the suicide murderers we face are other Muslims.  This was also true in Iraq where murderers would attack mosques or funeral processions, as an example.

In both Iraq and Afghanistan, civilian casualties cause the people to turn against the side perpetrating the casualties.  This photo was taken after a suicide bombing in Mosul, Iraq, in May 2005.  The neighborhood had been pro-insurgent.  After this bomb in the midst of children, the neighborhood turned against the terrorists.  The little girl’s name was Farah.  She died shortly after this moment.

There was a time when Americans seemed to view suicide attacks as a sign of the complete conviction of the enemy, an immutable dedication to their cause that many people found terrifying and cause for soul-searching.  “What could we have done to provoke such anger?” Yet with time, American views of suicide attacks have matured and become more grounded.  Firstly, Americans in particular are far less afraid of suicide attackers and extremely unlikely to capitulate with anyone who attacks on American soil.  Suicide attackers hit American soil.  In Iraq and Afghanistan, they have become commonplace.  Secondly, most importantly, wild use of suicide attackers is seen not as evidence that we are attacking the “wrong people” whose dedication to their cause is unstoppable, but as concrete evidence that we are attacking the right people and that they should be destroyed.  Japanese Kamikaze attacks are ingrained in the psyche of generations of Americans born post-World War II.  Despite enemy demonstrations of absolute conviction, our military is today stationed peacefully in Japan.

Overuse of suicide attackers does not appear to cause Americans to cower, but to evoke Americans to want to kill the perpetrator.

Al Qaeda in Iraq was partially but significantly undone by overuse of suicide attackers.  The Taliban is marching down the same path, but top-tier Taliban are smarter than al Qaeda and are trying to avert backlash.

Savage behavior continues to turn people against the Taliban.  Realizing this, Mullah Omar and his Taliban issued a code of conduct in 2009: “Rules and Regulations for Mujahidin.”

Item 41:

Make sure you meet these 4 conditions in conducting suicide attacks:

A-Before he goes for the mission, he should be very educated in his mission.
B-Suicide attacks should be done always against high ranking people.
C-Try your best to avoid killing local people.
D-Unless they have special permission from higher authority, every suicide attack must be approved by higher authority.

In 2009, one report indicated there were 148 suicide bombings or attempts in Afghanistan.  Suicide murders continue to occur a short drive from here that are not meeting the above requirements.  Taliban continue to hit all manner of targets, and regularly slaughter non-combatant men, women and children.

Within a week subsequent to the publication of this dispatch, suicide murderers will likely kill innocent people here.  The Taliban’s efforts at repackaging themselves as kinder, gentler mass-murderers is failing.  Their suicide bombing campaign is backfiring.  The Taliban are losing their cool.  Something is in the air.  The enemy remains very deadly, yet the scent of their weakness is growing stronger while our people close the in.
25568  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: March 25, 2010, 10:34:37 AM
Now apparently the Obama team is planning to go for amnesty for the 11-20 million illegal aliens and future Democrat voters and the 30-50 million family members now in their home countries that they will be able to anchor in the coming decades angry

Oh, and by the way, these 11-20 million illegal and soon to be amnestied new Democratic voters, a goodly % of whom will wind up on Medicaid, are not part of the budgetary calculations of the new Health Law , , ,
25569  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: March 25, 2010, 10:25:23 AM
See the clip in my entry of March 21 as to a reason I have stayed this long.
25570  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton, 1788 to NY Ratifying Convention on: March 25, 2010, 10:23:27 AM
"I trust that the proposed Constitution afford a genuine specimen of representative government and republican government; and that it will  answer, in an eminent degree, all the beneficial purposes of society." --Alexander Hamilton, speech to the New York Ratifying Convention, 1788
25571  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Why California is doomed on: March 24, 2010, 10:21:44 PM
March 9, 2010

Why California Is Doomed
By Charles Hugh Smith   

California is doomed for two simple but profound reasons: the cost structure is too high for most businesses to survive, and a boom-dependent economy.
The dysfunctions crippling California would easily fill a volume: a dysfunctional Legislature that has been gerrymandered to protect virtually every seat; a dysfunctional proposition system which enables special interests to craft Protected Fiefdoms via the ballot box; recalcitrant public unions who don't see anything wrong with public servants getting 90% of top-pay in pensions while still earning big bucks as "contract employees," an enormous population of undocumented workers who pay only sales taxes, and whose employers pay no payroll taxes, either-- and that just scratches the surface.
I want to highlight two systemic, structural causes for California's impending bankruptcy as a state and as an "economy": a crushingly high costs structure and an economy entirely dependent on the next boom.
I know this sounds too simplistic to be meaningful, but I think there is much truth in this statement: Costs are too high because the guy before you paid too much.
In other words, you can't afford the $500,000 mortgage on the $625,000 house you bought in 2008 because the guy before you paid $550,000 for a house which sold for $140,000 in 1997.
These numbers are drawn from reality: our friends bought a small home in a desirable suburb in the San Francisco Bay Area for $140,000 in 1997. Yes, it was a fixer-upper and yes, our friends completely remodeled it. The fair value of the house after renovation was probably in the $175,000 to $190,000 range, tops.
They sold the house in 2005 for $550,000, and that buyer unloaded the house in 2008 for $625,000.
This represents approximately $235,000 of actual value (the $175,000 adjusted for inflation from 1997 to 2010 as per the BLS inflation calculator) and $390,000 of "credit-bubble" excess.
Yet that "bubble valuation" is an actual cost now that somebody borrowed money to pay that grossly inflated price. This mechanism is absolutely key to understanding the California economy's fundamental insolvency: the apartment rent is high because the landlord overpaid, the office rent is high because the landlord overpaid, the house is too high because the previous owner overpaid and his/her lender ponied up the mortgage based on bubble valuations.
You can see the bubble in this chart of median home prices in California:

It even explains why Napa Valley is going bust, as a story submitted by frequent contributor U. Doran called "Vineyard Defaults Surge as Bargain Wines Hurt Napa Valley" reveals.
Wine costs are partly driven by the fact that the last guy grossly overpaid for vineyard land. Now the lenders are scrambling, but it's all too late; bubbles burst, and sadly for the lenders and those who bought at the top of the bubble, there will be no boom to save them.
Hunkering down and awaiting the next boom is a strategy as old as the state itself. When the easily plucked gold in the Sierra Nevada ran out, the economy based on supplying distant mining camps died right along with hundreds of those camps.
But then the Comstock Lode of silver was discovered in Nevada, and California--especially San Francisco--was bailed out by a veritable flood of fresh wealth pouring out of the mines.
More recently, the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 90s gutted the defense industry which had been a mainstay of the California economy since World War II. That "depression" lowered real estate values and caused many bankruptcies, personal and business alike.
But then the biotech and personal computer/software revolution took hold (the Macintosh took off as the laser printer revolutionized desktop publishing, etc.) and the next boom was under way. Tax revenues skyrocketed and Silicon Valley was the envy of the world, sparking wannabe "incubators of wealth" from New York (Silicon Alley) to Malaysia and beyond.
While no boom runs white-hot forever, the residents of California have come to expect a new bubble/boom to arise to fuel rising tax revenues and real estate valuations. Just as the PC revolution peaked (1995's "Start Me Up" Windows launch (as the bumper sticker had it, "Mac 1985, Windows 1995"), then the Internet boom started, triggering a frenzy of overinvestment and bubblicious valuations.
After that bubble burst in 2001, hot-spots in San Francisco and the valley lost some luster, and about 120,000 workers lost their jobs and left Northern California. But once again, a new wave of web-enabled businesses arose: Netflix, the Google juggernaut, Apple reclaimed the crown of global device/software integration innovation, Twitter, etc. etc.
But the current Web 2.0 boom is not generating a flood of new wealth which spreads over the landscape. Twitter has about 100 employees and might double to 200. Apple employs a few thousand people in Cupertino but all its manufacturing is done elsewhere.
What nobody seems to notice is that Web 2.0 is all about leveraging automated software. You don't need 10,000 people to run Twitter or Facebook.
And as I noted yesterday, these Web 2.0 businesses based on advertising revenues are inherently limited to the pool of available advertisers whose adverts are actually generating revenues. You can't reinflate a trillion dollars of real estate with 200 employees.
California is now the world capital of Denial. Everyone from the State legislature to union officials to realtors to small business owners are hanging on, refusing to face the fact that there will be no boom to save them and the state. To survive one more year, they're borrowing money, hiding debts and real valuations, monkeying with the books and playing accounting tricks, borrowing from next year's revenues, selling bonds--anything to maintain the artifice of solvency for 2010 so the next boom (conveniently scheduled for 2011) will lift real estate values, create hundreds of thousands of high-paying jobs and launch entire new industries.
Welcome to the Golden State of Denial. Without another global bubble--for California is a global economy--then California is doomed to insolvency at every level, public and private.
A return to historical levels of real estate valuations will bankrupt every lender and every owner with debts based on bubble valuations. State and local governments are thus doubly doomed, as their property tax revenues dry up and payroll taxes dwindle along with the job count.
California's entire cost structure is based on bubble/boom valuations and the vast tax revenues generated by those bubbles/booms.
The problem in California is everything costs too much: auto insurance costs more, gasoline costs more, taxes are near the top, especially on those households who make more than $100,000 a year, sales taxes are basically 10%, workers compensation insurance, business licenses, vehicle taxes, State Park admission/parking fees, rent, housing, and on and on.
The state and all its local governments have grown fat on endless bubbles and booms, and are now refusing to face the long lean years ahead. California is like the pilgrim who gets saved by a miracle at every turn. The economic miracles can't run out, because we've always been saved before.
As the disclaimer puts it: past performance is not a guide to future performance.
In some ways, California's dependence on bubbles and booms mirrors the nation as a whole; as with so many things, California has just extended the fantasy further.


Charles Hugh Smith is a novelist, commentator, and author of Of Two Minds, Survival+: Structuring Prosperity for Yourself and the Nation, and Survival+ The Primer
25572  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: March 24, 2010, 08:16:54 PM
This most certainly is true.  We have seen many fraudulent claims of hateful behavior, and have seen complete silence when hateful or violent behavior comes from the Left e.g. the SEIU thugs beating up that black man who was a Tea Partier.
25573  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: March 24, 2010, 03:03:52 PM
This most certainly is not the way forward.

 angry angry angry
25574  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our Man formerly in Iraq on: March 24, 2010, 07:41:13 AM
forwards this to me:

Link to a decent article about how the Sadrists did pretty well in the recent Iraqi election, at the expense of the Kurds.  To the point that, because of the relative neck and neck tie between the two major parties, the Sadrists may well be the bloc that tips the scales in favor of a coalition that can prevail.
There is mention several times about how the Sadrists essentially game the system quite effectively with the people in order to achieve their political goals, yet certainly haven't surrendered their military arm. 
25575  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Patrick Henry, 1775 on: March 24, 2010, 06:47:11 AM
"Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" --Patrick Henry, Speech to the Virginia Convention, March 23, 1775
25576  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / John Adams 1776; Jefferson resource on: March 24, 2010, 06:31:44 AM
"A constitution founded on these principles introduces knowledge among the people, and inspires them with a conscious dignity becoming  freemen; a general emulation takes place, which causes good humor, sociability, good manners, and good morals to be general. That elevation of sentiment inspired by such a government, makes the common people brave and enterprising. That ambition which is inspired by it makes them sober, industrious, and frugal." --John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776

All things Thomas Jefferson
25577  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Prager: Civil War on: March 24, 2010, 12:51:54 AM

It's a Civil War: What We Do Now
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
A terrible thing happened to America on Sunday, March 21, 2010.

The country took its biggest step ever down a road diametrically opposed to its original intent of keeping the state small so that the individual can be free and great.

Therefore, in this unprecedented crisis of values, this is what needs to be done:

1. Know and teach America's core values.

We got to this point solely because over the past few generations, Americans have forgotten the values that have made America distinctive and great. Even the "Greatest Generation" failed to communicate them.

In a nutshell, they are what I call the American Trinity: "In God we trust," "Liberty" and "E Pluribus Unum." The left has successfully made war on all three -- substituting secularism for God and religion in as much of American life as possible; substituting equality (of result) for liberty; and multiculturalism is the opposite of "E Pluribus Unum."

People who do not understand American ideals -- especially small government -- now dominate our schools, our entertainment media and our news media.

(My own contribution here is a video titled, "The American Trinity" at Please view it and forward it.)

2. Recognize that we are fighting the left, not liberals.

Conservatives and centrists are no longer fighting liberals. We are fighting the left.

Liberalism believed in American exceptionalism; the left not only does not believe in it, the left opposes it. President Obama, when asked if he believes in American exceptionalism, replied, "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism, and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism."

Liberalism believed in creating wealth; the left is interested in redistributing it.

Liberalism believed in a strong defense. The left believes in cutting defense and a strong United Nations.

3. Democrats should be referred to as Social Democrats. This is not meant to be cute, let alone as a slur. But calling Democrats Social Democrats is an effective way of reminding Americans that there is no longer any difference between what is now known as the Democratic Party and the Social Democratic parties of Europe. When the Democratic Party returns to its roots as a liberal, not a left-wing, party, we will happily resume calling the party by its original name. However, since no Democrat can cite a significant difference between the Democratic Party and the SD parties, there is no good reason not to use the more accurate nomenclature.

4. Work tirelessly to repeal the bill.

We must single-mindedly work to repeal the government health plan. We all know that it is difficult to repeal entitlements because they are like drugs and it is very difficult to wean people off drugs. But it is not impossible. We need to warn our fellow Americans that entitlements will do to America what drugs eventually do to addicts.

All Republicans must run for office on the "repeal" issue. Even when they lose, the difference between right and left, between Republicans and Social Democrats will have been made clear; and clarity is our best friend.

5. Our motto: "The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen."

I used this phrase in addressing the Republican members of Congress. It has become widely used, including by Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., on the House floor during the Congressional debate on Sunday. It encapsulates this epic battle of American values versus leftist values. Every movement needs a motto. I nominate this.

6. Do not let other matters distract.

Neither Republicans nor conservatives are united on every issue facing America. Immigration is one example. But we are united on the big government vs. free individual issue, which, more than anything else, has defined America. If we allow any other domestic issue to divide us, we will lose.

And here's why: If Americans forget what America stands for, it won't help us if there is not one illegal immigrant here. And if we do remember what it means to be American, we can handle anything.

7. Acknowledge that we are in a non-violent civil war.

I write the words "civil war" with an ache in my heart. But we are in one.

Thank God this civil war is non-violent. But the fact is that the left and the rest of the country share almost no values. The American value system and the leftist value system are irreconcilable. If the left wins, America's values lose. If American values prevail, the left loses.

After Sunday's vote, for the first time in American history, one could no longer confidently believe that the American system will prevail. And if we don't fight for it, we don't deserve it.
25578  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Britain's National Health Service on: March 24, 2010, 12:02:35 AM
The Fix Is In
Why Britain’s National Health Service spends so much and does so little
22 March 2010

Americans would do well to ponder a recent admission by a former British minister in the Blair government. On March 2, the Guardianreported that the ex-minister, now Lord Warner, said that while spending on Britain’s National Health Service had increased by 60 percent under the Labour government, its output had decreased by 4 percent. No doubt the spending of a Soviet-style organization like the NHS is more easily measurable than its output, but the former minister’s remark certainly accords with the experiences of many citizens, who see no dramatic improvement in the service as a result of such vastly increased outlays. On the contrary, while the service has taken on 400,000 new staff members—that is to say, one-fifth of all new jobs created in Britain during the period—continuity of medical care has been all but extinguished. Nobody now expects to see the same doctor on successive occasions, in the hospital or anywhere else.

The ex-minister admitted that most of the extra money—which by now must equal a decent proportion of the total national debt—had been simply wasted. (The same might be said, of course, of the increased outlays put toward state education.) But his explanation for this state of affairs was superficial and self-exculpating, to say the least: he said that the NHS received more money than it knew what to do with because of managerial inexperience. “It was like giving a starving man foie gras and caviar,” he said.

As it happens, the NHS knew exactly what to do with the money: give it to its staff, new and old. British doctors, for example, are now the second-highest-paid in the world, though not necessarily the happiest. They have accepted the money on condition that they also accept—as quietly as mice—increasing government interference in their work. When you go to a family doctor in Britain, he is more likely to do what the government thinks he ought to do and will pay him a bonus for doing than what he thinks is right. This is sinister, even when what the government thinks is right happens to be right.

There is a possible explanation other than managerial inexperience for the waste, namely that the waste was intended and desired: indeed, that it was the principal object of the spending. Experience has long shown that further spending by state-monopoly suppliers of services (if services is quite the word I seek) benefits not the consumers but the providers. And they—ever more numerous—naturally vote for their own providers, the politicians. Thus the NHS has become an enormously expensive method of ballot-stuffing. Personally, I would rather have outright electoral fraud. It would be less expensive and slightly more honest.

Just before the last election, the chief executive of one of the hospitals in which I once worked was overheard saying, “My job is to make sure that the government is reelected.” (The government’s job, in turn, was to make sure that she remained chief executive.) She also explained that the hospital could expect no increase in its government funding, unlike other hospitals—because it was located in an area in which most people voted for the government anyway.

Theodore Dalrymple's most recent book is The New Vichy Syndrome.
25579  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: March 23, 2010, 05:34:09 PM
Some of these are petty, but plenty are not.

From IBD

20 Ways ObamaCare Will Take Away Our Freedoms
By David Hogberg Posted 03/21/2010 03:24 PM ET

If some reports are to be believed, the Democrats will pass the Senate health care bill with some reconciliation changes later today. Thus, it is worthwhile to take a comprehensive look at the freedoms we will lose.

Of course, the bill is supposed to provide us with security. But it will result in skyrocketing insurance costs and physicians leaving the field in droves, making it harder to afford and find medical care. We may be about to live Benjamin Franklin’s adage, “People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.”

The sections described below are taken from HR 3590 as agreed to by the Senate and from the reconciliation bill as displayed by the Rules Committee.

1. You are young and don’t want health insurance? You are starting up a small business and need to minimize expenses, and one way to do that is to forego health insurance? Tough. You have to pay $750 annually for the “privilege.” (Section 1501)

2. You are young and healthy and want to pay for insurance that reflects that status? Tough. You’ll have to pay for premiums that cover not only you, but also the guy who smokes three packs a day, drink a gallon of whiskey and eats chicken fat off the floor. That’s because insurance companies will no longer be able to underwrite on the basis of a person’s health status. (Section 2701).

3. You would like to pay less in premiums by buying insurance with lifetime or annual limits on coverage? Tough. Health insurers will no longer be able to offer such policies, even if that is what customers prefer. (Section 2711).

4. Think you’d like a policy that is cheaper because it doesn’t cover preventive care or requires cost-sharing for such care? Tough. Health insurers will no longer be able to offer policies that do not cover preventive services or offer them with cost-sharing, even if that’s what the customer wants. (Section 2712).

5. You are an employer and you would like to offer coverage that doesn’t allow your employers’ slacker children to stay on the policy until age 26? Tough. (Section 2714).

6. You must buy a policy that covers ambulatory patient services, emergency services, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment; prescription drugs; rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices; laboratory services; preventive and wellness services; chronic disease management; and pediatric services, including oral and vision care.
You’re a single guy without children? Tough, your policy must cover pediatric services. You’re a woman who can’t have children? Tough, your policy must cover maternity services. You’re a teetotaler? Tough, your policy must cover substance abuse treatment. (Add your own violation of personal freedom here.) (Section 1302).

7. Do you want a plan with lots of cost-sharing and low premiums? Well, the best you can do is a “Bronze plan,” which has benefits that provide benefits that are actuarially equivalent to 60% of the full actuarial value of the benefits provided under the plan. Anything lower than that, tough. (Section 1302 (d)(1)(A))

8. You are an employer in the small-group insurance market and you’d like to offer policies with deductibles higher than $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for families? Tough. (Section 1302 (c) (2) (A).

9. If you are a large employer (defined as at least 101 employees) and you do not want to provide health insurance to your employee, then you will pay a $750 fine per employee (It could be $2,000 to $3,000 under the reconciliation changes). Think you know how to better spend that money? Tough. (Section 1513).
10. You are an employer who offers health flexible spending arrangements and your employees want to deduct more than $2,500 from their salaries for it? Sorry, can’t do that. (Section 9005 (i)).

11. If you are a physician and you don’t want the government looking over your shoulder? Tough. The Secretary of Health and Human Services is authorized to use your claims data to issue you reports that measure the resources you use, provide information on the quality of care you provide, and compare the resources you use to those used by other physicians. Of course, this will all be just for informational purposes. It’s not like the government will ever use it to intervene in your practice and patients’ care. Of course not. (Section 3003 (i))

12. If you are a physician and you want to own your own hospital, you must be an owner and have a “Medicare provider agreement” by Feb. 1, 2010. (Dec. 31, 2010 in the reconciliation changes.) If you didn’t have those by then, you are out of luck. (Section 6001 (i) (1) (A)).

13. If you are a physician owner and you want to expand your hospital? Well, you can’t (Section 6001 (i) (1) (B). Unless, it is located in a country where, over the last five years, population growth has been 150% of what it has been in the state (Section 6601 (i) (3) ( E)). And then you cannot increase your capacity by more than 200% (Section 6001 (i) (3) (C)).

14. You are a health insurer and you want to raise premiums to meet costs? Well, if that increase is deemed “unreasonable” by the Secretary of Health and Human Services it will be subject to review and can be denied. (Section 1003)

15. The government will extract a fee of $2.3 billion annually from the pharmaceutical industry. If you are a pharmaceutical company what you will pay depends on the ratio of the number of brand-name drugs you sell to the total number of brand-name drugs sold in the U.S. So, if you sell 10% of the brand-name drugs in the U.S., what you pay will be 10% multiplied by $2.3 billion, or $230,000,000. (Under reconciliation, it starts at $2.55 billion, jumps to $3 billion in 2012, then to $3.5 billion in 2017 and $4.2 billion in 2018, before settling at $2.8 billion in 2019 (Section 1404)). Think you, as a pharmaceutical executive, know how to better use that money, say for research and development? Tough. (Section 9008 (b)).

16. The government will extract a fee of $2 billion annually from medical device makers. If you are a medical device maker what you will pay depends on your share of medical device sales in the U.S. So, if you sell 10% of the medical devices in the U.S., what you pay will be 10% multiplied by $2 billion, or $200,000,000. Think you, as a medical device maker, know how to better use that money, say for R&D? Tough. (Section 9009 (b)).
The reconciliation package turns that into a 2.9% excise tax for medical device makers. Think you, as a medical device maker, know how to better use that money, say for research and development? Tough. (Section 1405).

17. The government will extract a fee of $6.7 billion annually from insurance companies. If you are an insurer, what you will pay depends on your share of net premiums plus 200% of your administrative costs. So, if your net premiums and administrative costs are equal to 10% of the total, you will pay 10% of $6.7 billion, or $670,000,000. In the reconciliation bill, the fee will start at $8 billion in 2014, $11.3 billion in 2015, $1.9 billion in 2017, and $14.3 billion in 2018 (Section 1406).Think you, as an insurance executive, know how to better spend that money? Tough.(Section 9010 (b) (1) (A and B).)

18. If an insurance company board or its stockholders think the CEO is worth more than $500,000 in deferred compensation? Tough.(Section 9014).

19. You will have to pay an additional 0.5% payroll tax on any dollar you make over $250,000 if you file a joint return and $200,000 if you file an individual return. What? You think you know how to spend the money you earned better than the government? Tough. (Section 9015).
That amount will rise to a 3.8% tax if reconciliation passes. It will also apply to investment income, estates, and trusts. You think you know how to spend the money you earned better than the government? Like you need to ask. (Section 1402).

20. If you go for cosmetic surgery, you will pay an additional 5% tax on the cost of the procedure. Think you know how to spend that money you earned better than the government? Tough. (Section 9017).

25580  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Seattle, Sept 11-12, 2010 on: March 23, 2010, 05:33:32 PM
It now appears that there is some additional interest in the area and that I may be there longer.
25581  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More on CAIR on: March 23, 2010, 05:25:22 PM
In Defense Of The Constitution
News & Analysis
March 23, 2010

     CAIR:  Legitimacy Questioned

     Several Oklahoma state lawmakers recently faced questions over their announced attendance at the Council on American-Islamic Relations Oklahoma chapter's annual banquet (CAIR-OK). CAIR sent an email touting the attendance of Lt. Gov. Jari Askins, Attorney General Drew Edmondson, Department of Corrections Director Justin Jones, two state senators and seven state representatives.  The email featured photos of several people including State Rep. Richard Morrissette and Attorney General Drew Edmondson.   

     Morrissette and Edmondson later said they would not attend the CAIR event after learning of CAIR's disreputable background.  While this was good news for those who support the marginalizing of Islamist hate groups generally, and CAIR in particular, there are questions that Oklahoma’s politicians should be called upon to answer.

• Did any state officials bother to do even a cursory check on CAIR’s background before accepting invitations from CAIR?  Considering the threat of terror present in the country today, it would appear that people on some official’s staff are dropped the ball.

• If a background check was done on CAIR before accepting an invitation, who did the check and what was the result(s)?  Was Oklahoma law enforcement consulted?  If so, what was its opinion(s)?

• State Rep. Richard Morrissette says he was not intending to attend CAIR’s event and that after learning more about the issue he informed CAIR he was disassociating himself from the group.  The question he should answer is if he was not intending to attend, why did CAIR feel free to use his photo and imply he would attend?  In addition, Morrissette should explain what was his opinion of CAIR before his attendance became public?  What specific information about CAIR made him change his mind?

• Attorney General Drew Edmondson, candidate for Governor, also opted out from attending. Why did CAIR feel empowered to use his photograph?  How does AG Edmondson feel knowing that a Muslim Brotherhood front group created to support Hamas was using him as a shill to feign legitimacy? Why isn’t the AG, the top lawman in Oklahoma, better informed about CAIR?  Shouldn’t Oklahoma's AG be better informed of the threat of radical Islam and Islamist supporting terrorist groups?  The AG has a lot of explaining to do if he wants to be Governor.

     Kevin Calvey, a former state representative and candidate for U.S. Congress says it is inappropriate for elected officials to attend any CAIR event.  He notes court action and FBI evidence exposing CAIR's ties to Hamas.  Calvey has personally attended protests denouncing CAIR and turned down meeting with Razi Hashmi, the executive director of CAIR Oklahoma’s chapter unless Hashmi denounced CAIR.  In a bleating response to Calvey's challenge, Hashmi insisted that CAIR is all about "building bridges" and "defending civil rights" of Muslims. “Having me denounce CAIR, that’s out of the question,” ... “I’d never do that.”

     If it weren’t such a tragedy it’d be comedic that CAIR claims to be “building bridges” when their brothers in Hamas are working so hard to come up with new ways to kill Jews, Americans, and anyone else who disagrees with their perverted religious ideology.

     Razi Hashmi and his fellow Islamofascists at CAIR should never have legitimacy conferred on them or any group they associate with.  Doing so gives aid and comfort to the very people that are working so hard to destroy our country from within.

     CAIR and their fellow travelers must be shunned and exposed. The evidence against them is overwhelming and clear. Our political leadership, regardless of party, should be standing in the vanguard setting the example for the rest of us.

     Or they should get out of the way of those who will.

Andrew Whitehead

Story Links
25582  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / POTH article on legal challenges to Health measure on: March 23, 2010, 08:03:12 AM
Health Measure’s Opponents Plan Legal Challenges
Published: March 22, 2010

Officials in a dozen states who oppose the health care bill say they hope to block it in court by arguing that requiring people to buy health insurance is an unprecedented intrusion by the federal government into people’s lives — the equivalent of going a step beyond simply regulating automobiles to requiring people to buy a car. They add that the bill would rewrite the relationship between federal and state government, and they plan to make their argument in court as soon as the legislation becomes law.

“We plan to file the moment Obama signs the bill,” Greg Abbott, the Texas attorney general, wrote on his Facebook page.

But constitutional scholars suggest that such cases would likely amount to no more than a speed bump for health care legislation. The reason, they say, is that Congress has framed the mandate as a tax, which it has well-established powers to create. And Congress’s sweeping authority to regulate the nation’s economy, they add, has been clear since the 1930s.

“The attack on this bill,” said Jack M. Balkin, a professor of constitutional law at Yale University, “is not merely an attack on the substance of this particular measure. It’s also a challenge to understandings that come with the New Deal.”

Florida’s attorney general, Bill McCollum, is leading the effort to block the new bill, saying that it “violates the U.S. Constitution and infringes on each state’s sovereignty.”

Mr. McCollum pledged to fight alongside attorneys general from Alabama, Nebraska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington. Louisiana announced it would join the suit as well, and Virginia, which has passed a law barring government mandates to buy health insurance, has said it will also file suit.

Their arguments in court are likely to focus on the scope of the mandate and the intrusion of the federal government into state affairs, said David B. Rivkin Jr., a lawyer advising Florida who served in the Justice Department under President Ronald Reagan and the first President George Bush.

“This really goes to the heart of the constitutional architecture that the framers have devised” between the government and its citizens, Mr. Rivkin said. He also said that it would represent “a qualitatively unprecedented expansion of federal authority at the expense of the states.”

Whatever people feel about the worthiness of the bill’s goals, “the Constitution does matter,” he added.

Prof. Randy E. Barnett, who teaches constitutional law at Georgetown University Law Center and has been critical of the bill, said a constitutional challenge to the individual requirement to purchase insurance is a “a serious argument that might have success.”

Still, Professor Barnett was careful not to predict that the opponents of the bill would block the legislation completely. He said that even if a court were to strike down the requirement to buy insurance, such a ruling would still be likely to leave other elements of the law in place. Professor Balkin of Yale said the mandate did not run afoul of the Constitution because Congress had carefully structured it as a tax — and taxes are fully within its power.

“People have to pay taxes all the time,” he said. “This is not new.”

Courts generally defer to Congress’s taxation decisions and definitions so long as they constitute a “genuine revenue-raising device,” Professor Balkin said, and so the health insurance mandate is likely to pass muster.

The broad extent of the government’s power to regulate interstate commerce has been recognized since the Roosevelt administration. In fact, courts have backed Congress’s ability to regulate under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, even when the issues might not seem, at first blush, to even involve interstate commerce at all. That is why Roscoe Filburn, a small farmer in Ohio, had to destroy wheat that exceeded production quotas in a 1942 case, even though he was growing the wheat for his own use and had no intention to sell it.  And in 2005, the Supreme Court ruled that Congress could prohibit medical marijuana, despite some state laws that allow it. The people who had filed suit argued that they had not bought the marijuana, but the Supreme Court said the Commerce Clause still applied.

“In both cases, the Supreme Court said the cumulative effect of your attempt not to participate in the market has an effect on markets — and we can regulate it,” Professor Balkin said.

Erwin Chemerinsky, a constitutional scholar and dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law, said the argument that people should have the right not to buy health care was “rhetorically appealing” because of its paean to personal freedom. But “individual freedom not to purchase health care, I think, has no basis in Constitutional law.”

In fact, Professor Chemerinsky added, “there is no case law, post 1937, that would support an individual’s right not to buy health care if the government wants to mandate it.”

Congress has often taken actions that impinge on personal freedom for a national purpose, he noted, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which required hotels and restaurants to serve minorities.

“If the court stays true to its Commerce Clause jurisprudence of the last 15 years,” Professor Chemerinsky said, “I think this will be upheld.”
25583  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: March 23, 2010, 06:15:55 AM
I now realize who Carwin is.  Whoa!  shocked
25584  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Did Thomas Jefferson get stoned? on: March 23, 2010, 06:10:50 AM

Did Thomas Jefferson get stoned?

"1806 July "I remember seeing in your greenhouse a plant of a couple of feet
height in a pot the fragrance of which (from its gummy bud if I recollect
rightly) was peculiarly agreeable to me..." (Jefferson to W.Hamilton,
Betts, Garden Book, 323)"
25585  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: March 23, 2010, 06:10:10 AM
Obama and Clinton both want to use the firepower of the Mexican cartels to justify sabotaging American gun rights through international treaties-- as if the kinds of guns they use were available to US citizens!  No automatics at my store!  No grenade launchers either!  And who originally created and trained the Zetas?  The US government!  But I digress , , ,

They also want to use the drug wars in Mexico to justify enabling more immigration and work visas for Mexicans; the better to have more amnesty to create tens of millions of new voters for the Progressive agenda.

On a lighter note, here's this.  Did Thomas Jefferson get stoned?

"1806 July "I remember seeing in your greenhouse a plant of a couple of feet
height in a pot the fragrance of which (from its gummy bud if I recollect
rightly) was peculiarly agreeable to me..." (Jefferson to W.Hamilton,
Betts, Garden Book, 323)"
25586  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF on: March 22, 2010, 08:32:41 PM
Do you know why gorillas have such big nostrils?

They have big fingers.
How many flies does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

Two, but nobody knows how they got in there in the first place
25587  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: How long does it take various knife wounds to incapacitate? on: March 22, 2010, 06:57:32 PM
Good teaching question Kaju:

To kick things off, this grasshopper will assay an answer.  The precision of my anatomical knowledge is de minimis, so please forgive me if I am wide of the mark.

I once heard someone say that a tennis ball, baseball, grenade? (pin still in, duh) could be put in the armpit and then the arm belted around the waist.  Drivel or practical?  huh


Are you saying there are tourniquets built into that shirt and those pants?
25588  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Head Count for the Tribal Gathering on: March 22, 2010, 06:49:22 PM
Woof All:

Even if you have already posted already in the other thread, please post here if you are coming:

1: Crafty Dog: Ringmaster

2: Lonely Dog

3: Guide Dog

4: Doc Kaju as EMT

"HCTHC" (c)
25589  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spring 2010 DB Tribal Gathering on: March 22, 2010, 06:15:38 PM
A Howl to the Tribe:

Please post here and/or in the DBMAA forum if you are coming. 

Woof Kaju:

It would be my pleasure. cool  Please email me and we will get things rolling.
25590  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: March 22, 2010, 04:12:13 PM
"If you think health care is expensive now, just wait until the government makes it free."

PJ O'Rourke
25591  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post on: March 22, 2010, 11:09:31 AM
The Foundation
"Human beings will generally exercise power when they can get it, and they will exercise it most undoubtedly in popular governments under pretense of public safety." --Daniel Webster

Toward the Nationalization of Health Care

The Pied PiperWith Senate and House passage of Barack Hussein Obama's so-called "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," liberals have now sealed the deal to nationalize the American health care system -- almost 17 percent of the U.S. economy. Passage of this measure completes the "triple crown" of the Left's Socialist agenda: Social Security, Medicare and now health care. One may conclude that nationalized health care, like Social Security and Medicare before it, will soon be bankrupt. (See how your Senator and Representative voted.)

There is no provision in the United States Constitution giving the central government the authority to nationalize health care, but liberals have never let the Constitution stand in the way of their incremental efforts to socialize the U.S. economy.

Remarks by the leaders of both House Republicans and Democrats demonstrate that neither Party's leadership has sufficient regard for First Principles, for Constitutional Rule of Law.

Most Republicans give it scant lip service, while virtually all Democrats reject Rule of Law outright.

In his remarks about the legislation, Republican Leader John Boehner did mention the Constitution, but repeated the same worn refrains about what the American people want.

"Today, this body, this institution, enshrined in the first article of the Constitution by our Founding Fathers as a sign of the importance they placed on this House, should be looking with pride on this legislation and our work. But it is not so. ... When we came here, we each swore an oath to uphold and abide by the Constitution as representatives of the people. But the process here is broken. The institution is broken. And as a result, this bill is not what the American people need, nor what our constituents want. ... We have failed to listen to America. And we have failed to reflect the will of our constituents."

No, Mr. Boehner. You did not take an oath to support and defend the "will of our constituents."

In her remarks about the legislation, Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not, of course, mention the Constitution, but she did offer this adulterated view of First Principles, an outright prevarication: "In [passing this legislation], we will honor the vows of our Founders, who in the Declaration of Independence said that we are 'endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.' This legislation will lead to healthier lives, more liberty to pursue hopes and dreams and happiness for the American people."

This assertion is an affront to everything our Founders embodied in our national documents of incorporation, and Pelosi, et al., know that.

Pelosi added, "You will be joining those who established Medicare and Social Security... This is an American proposal that honors the tradition of our country."

Nails in the coffin!

For his part, Obama remarked, "At a time when the pundits said it was no longer possible, we rose above the weight of our politics. We proved that this government, a government of the people and by the people, still works for the people. ... This isn't radical reform, but it is major reform. This is what change looks like. ... This represents another stone firmly laid at the foundation of the American Dream."

That would be a tombstone, a grave marker for American liberty.

The Gipper
"For many years now, you and I have been shushed like children and told there are no simple answers to the complex problems which are beyond our comprehension. Well, the truth is, there are simple answers, they just are not easy ones. The time has come for us to decide whether collectively we can afford everything and anything we think of simply because we think of it. The time has come to run a check to see if all the services government provides were in answer to demands or were just goodies dreamed up for our supposed betterment. The time has come to match outgo to income, instead of always doing it the other way around." --Ronald Reagan

Political Futures
"House Democrats last night passed President Obama's federal takeover of the U.S. health-care system, and the ticker tape media parade is already underway. So this hour of liberal political victory is a good time to adapt the 'Pottery Barn' rule that Colin Powell once invoked on Iraq: You break it, you own it. This week's votes don't end our health-care debates. By making medical care a subsidiary of Washington, they guarantee such debates will never end. And by ramming the vote through Congress on a narrow partisan majority, and against so much popular opposition, Democrats have taken responsibility for what comes next -- to insurance premiums, government spending, doctor shortages and the quality of care. They are now the rulers of American medicine. ... While the passage of ObamaCare marks a liberal triumph, its impact will play out over many years. We fought this bill so vigorously because we have studied government health care in other countries, and the results include much higher taxes, slower economic growth and worse medical care. As for the politics, the first verdict arrives in November." --The Wall Street Journal

For the Record
"Never before has the average American been treated to such a live-action view of the sordid politics necessary to push a deeply flawed bill to completion. It was dirty deals, open threats, broken promises and disregard for democracy that pulled ObamaCare to this point, and yesterday the same machinations pushed it across the finish line. ... By the weekend, all the pressure and threats and bribes had left the speaker three to five votes short. Her remaining roadblock was those pro-life members who'd boxed themselves in on abortion, saying they would vote against the Senate bill unless it barred public funding of abortion. Mrs. Pelosi's first instinct was to go around this bloc, getting the votes elsewhere. She couldn't. Into Saturday night, Michigan's Bart Stupak and Mrs. Pelosi wrangled over options. The stalemate? Any change that gave Mr. Stupak what he wanted in law would lose votes from pro-choice members. The solution? Remove it from Congress altogether, having the president instead sign a meaningless executive order affirming that no public money should go to pay for abortions. The order won't change the Senate legal language -- as pro-choice Democrats publicly crowed within minutes of the Stupak deal. Executive orders can be changed or eliminated on a whim. Pro-life groups condemned the order as the vote-getting ruse it was. Nevertheless, Mr. Stupak and several of his colleagues voted yes, paving the way to Mrs. Pelosi's final vote tally of 219." --columnist Kimberley Strassel

"[Barack Obama's] primary goal has always been to gobble up the health care system. The most troubling aspect of the Obamacare debate, however, is not the measure's sweeping and radical aims -- the transformation of one-sixth of the U.S. economy, crippling tax increases, higher premiums, state-sanctioned rationing, longer waiting lines, the erosion of the quality of medical care and the creation of a huge, permanent administrative bureaucracy. Rather, the most alarming aspect is the lengths to which the Democrats are willing to go to achieve their progressive, anti-capitalist agenda. Obamacare is opposed by nearly two-thirds of the public, more than 60 percent of independents and almost all Republicans and conservatives. It has badly fractured the country, dangerously polarizing it along ideological and racial lines. Even a majority of Democrats in the House are deeply reluctant to support it. Numerous states -- from Idaho to Virginia to Texas -- have said they will sue the federal government should Obamacare become law. They will declare themselves exempt from its provisions, tying up the legislation in the courts for years to come. ... Obama is willing to devour his presidency, his party's congressional majority and - most disturbing - our democratic institutional safeguards to enact it. He is a reckless ideologue who is willing to sacrifice the country's stability in pursuit of a socialist utopia." --columnist Jeffrey Kuhner

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Re: The Left
"Democrats consider election losses a small price to pay for health care 'reform.' Predictions range from moderate fall election losses to a bloodbath resulting in a Republican takeover of the House and possibly even the Senate. To this Democrats say, 'So what?' Once health care reform becomes law, that's that. Only a Republican charge with a filibuster-proof Republican supermajority in the Senate could undo it. Besides, President Bill Clinton got re-elected when the Republicans took over the House. ... Some people refuse to see what's best. That's why God created Democrats. Democrats ultimately want a Canadian-style single-payer system. ObamaCare will result in cost overruns, caregivers driven out of business, declining quality, rationing, reduced innovation and bureaucrats determining who gets what, how and when. What then? When the complaints grow loud enough, Democrats will be ready -- with a plan to 'reform' the 'reform.'" --columnist Larry Elder

Reader Comments
"The Constitution requires that Members of Congress take an oath 'to support this Constitution.' The oath is not specified in detail, but the oath currently used says the member will 'support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign or domestic.' The President's oath is specified in the Constitution. He must swear to 'preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.' In my view, the President's oath is more sweeping. He has the highest obligation in the land to defend the Constitution and our Liberty. Our current President seems intent on destroying, not preserving, the Constitution, and as quickly as possible." --Robert

"Health is not a right. It is a personal responsibility. Health care is not a right. It is a commodity. Health insurance is not a right. It is a financial risk management tool. Those who try to equate the Constitutional right of 'life' with health, heath care, health insurance have got it completely wrong. The Constitution does not guarantee that the federal government will provide you with life. Instead it guarantees that the federal government will not take life away from you. Unless the government has done something to your health that resulted in the loss of your life, then you have no claim against the government, or a right to its monies (which come from taxes). If you fail to take personal responsibility for your health (proper diet, exercise, life style, etc.), that ain't the government's fault. Its your fault and you should bear the burden. If, for some bizarre reason, you can find a Constitutional requirement for providing health insurance to every citizen of this nation, then haven't we been violating the Constitution for nearly the first 130+ years of it's existence?" --Mike

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The Last Word
"Liberals keep complaining that Republicans don't have a plan for reforming health care in America. I have a plan! It's a one-page bill creating a free market in health insurance. Let's all pause here for a moment so liberals can Google the term 'free market.' Nearly every problem with health care in this country -- apart from trial lawyers and out-of-date magazines in doctors' waiting rooms -- would be solved by my plan. In the first sentence, Congress will amend the McCarran-Ferguson Act to allow interstate competition in health insurance. We can't have a free market in health insurance until Congress eliminates the antitrust exemption protecting health insurance companies from competition. ... The very next sentence of my bill provides that the exclusive regulator of insurance companies will be the state where the company's home office is. Every insurance company in the country would incorporate in the state with the fewest government mandates.... The third sentence of my bill would prohibit the federal government from regulating insurance companies, except for normal laws and regulations that apply to all companies. Freed from onerous state and federal mandates turning insurance companies into public utilities, insurers would be allowed to offer a whole smorgasbord of insurance plans, finally giving consumers a choice. Instead of Harry Reid deciding whether your insurance plan covers Viagra, this decision would be made by you, the consumer. (I apologize for using the terms 'Harry Reid' and 'Viagra' in the same sentence. I promise that won't happen again.) Instead of insurance companies jumping to the tune of politicians bought by health-care lobbyists, they would jump to tune of hundreds of millions of Americans buying health insurance on the free market. Hypochondriac liberals could still buy the aromatherapy plan and normal people would be able to buy plans that only cover things such as major illness, accidents and disease. ... This would, in effect, transform medical insurance into ... a form of insurance! My bill will solve nearly every problem allegedly addressed by ObamaCare -- and mine entails zero cost to the taxpayer. Indeed, a free market in health insurance would produce major tax savings as layers of government bureaucrats, unnecessary to medical service in America, get fired. ... In addition to saving taxpayer money and providing better health insurance, my plan also saves trees by being 2,199 pages shorter than the Democrats' plan. Feel free to steal it, Republicans!" --columnist Ann Coulter
25592  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton 1802 on: March 22, 2010, 08:57:36 AM
"[T]he present Constitution is the standard to which we are to cling. Under its banners, bona fide must we combat our political foes -- rejecting all changes but through the channel itself provides for amendments." --Alexander Hamilton, letter to James Bayard, 1802
25593  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: March 22, 2010, 08:56:54 AM

I just posted that on the American History thread of our SCH forum.


Following up on my previous post:

"[T]he present Constitution is the standard to which we are to cling. Under its banners, bona fide must we combat our political foes -- rejecting all changes but through the channel itself provides for amendments." --Alexander Hamilton, letter to James Bayard, 1802
25594  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The Stamp Act of 1765 on: March 22, 2010, 08:49:48 AM
With the passage of the Health Bill an apparent certainty, this is a tad ironic.  Hat tip to Freki.

On this day 1765

Great Britain Passes the Stamp Act (1765)
Intended to help pay British debts from the French and Indian War, the Stamp Act established the first direct tax levied on the American colonies. It required all newspapers, pamphlets, legal documents, commercial bills, advertisements, and other papers issued in the colonies to bear a tax stamp. The act was vehemently protested by the colonists, and the Stamp Act Congress—the first significant joint colonial response to any British measure—petitioned for its repeal.
25595  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: March 21, 2010, 11:37:00 PM
Keep the government within the boundaries defined by the Constitution.

25596  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: March 21, 2010, 11:34:26 PM
I was very intrigued to see this fight.  The fight was shaping up nicely when that nasty elbow to the temple or occular socket brought it to an immediate close.

Also interesting was the response to the punch to the eye in an earlier fight.
25597  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Kali Tudo 4: The Dog Leg Game on: March 21, 2010, 11:32:14 PM
Amongst the DLO criteria:

a) As you mention, 360 degree awareness
b) Preventing his weapon access, and enabling yours
c) "consistency across categories" responses to empty hands and contact weapons are essentially the same
d) etc
25598  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DLO 3 on: March 21, 2010, 11:29:30 PM
First shipment of orders went out on Saturday.   grin
25599  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Reality oriented training in Atlanta? on: March 21, 2010, 11:20:59 PM
An internet friend writes:
Okay - then here is my question.  I have no hand-to-hand combat training.  I live in Atlanta and want to get it.  I don't have lots of financial resources or time to be traveling to southern CA and plant myself there to train with you and the Dog Brothers as I would like to do.  What do you recommend? 

To the extent that you can recommend a specific school or instructor, I would greatly appreciate that. 

My goal is to be able to defend myself in a fight with armed attackers should that become necessary.  I think my gun skills are pretty decent, but all the grappling and other stuff you and Gabe talk about in the DLO series, while highly desirable skill sets, are of course impossible to learn just by watching.

Any suggestions?

25600  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spring 2010 DB Tribal Gathering on: March 21, 2010, 07:10:05 PM
Yes.  While out in Moreno Valley yesterday for my "Kali Tudo" seminar, I was able to check out the Temecula option.  It is a go.

I also have "The Tree that Walks" brainstorming his vast databank of memories for little hidey spots up in the hills of Palos Verdes (10-20 minutes south of my house in the South Bay-- which is 10 miles south of LAX.

As was always the case, the thing to do is fly in to LAX.
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