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25901  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Street Weapons on: October 11, 2008, 06:21:32 PM
Where can I get one? cheesy
25902  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Europe's Islamic Legacy challenged on: October 11, 2008, 08:07:04 AM
The West’s Islamic legacy challenged
A French scholar has sparked a controversy by challenging the conventional wisdom that we emerged from the Dark Ages guided by Muslim teachers.
Sylvain Gouguenheim | Aristote au Mont saint-Michel – Les Racines grecques de l’Europe chrétienne | Seuil, Paris | 2008 | 280 pages

In France, historians writing about the cultural formation of Christian Europe throughout the Middle Ages do so at their own peril, as Sylvain Gouguenheim, professor of Medieval History at the École normale supérieure de Lyon (ENS-L), recently discovered. Because his latest book argues that the contribution of Islam to the cultural and intellectual development of Europe has been largely overemphasized, a petition was drawn up last spring by faculty colleagues lamenting its “ideological positions [inconsistent with] the pedagogical serenity and the scientific reputation of the ENS-L”.

The controversy quickly spilled into the French press with various specialists of the Middle Ages debating the book’s merits and demerits for weeks on end. Although Le Figaro (moderate right) and Le Monde (left) both published positive reviews, other publications such as Libération (far left) and Télérama (Catholic progressive) accused Gouguenheim of pursuing a “repugnant objective, that of annihilating the very notion of Arabian identity”. This led some world known authorities on the Middle-Ages, notably Rémi Brague and Jacques Le Goff, to take Gouguenheim’s defense. The book was also hotly debated on French television.

To understand why the controversy arose in the first place, one must bear in mind that there are currently three schools of thought about the relationship between Greece, the Islamic world and Medieval Europe.

The first school is premised on the notion of the “Dark Ages”, a period allegedly running from about 400 AD to 1200 AD (or earlier, depending on various historians) during which almost any form of learning would have ceased to exist except in monasteries. It holds: a) that the works of Greek philosophers, doctors and mathematicians would have first been discovered by the Arab-Muslim world beginning in the 9th century, thus giving rise to an “Islamic Enlightenment” fostered by the Abbasid Dynasty; b) that, thanks to the translation of these works from Arabic into Latin, Greek knowledge would have then penetrated into Christian Europe beginning in the 12th century; and c) that the West grew out of its “darkness” largely as a result of this “Islamic Enlightenment” and is therefore culturally indebted to the Islamic World. (1)

While this school held sway until the early 1950s, it was gradually overtaken in recent decades by a second school, one that might be termed the “self-development” view, which holds that Western civilization essentially grew out of a synthesis of Greek philosophy, Roman law and the Christian faith. Although it admits of some limited cultural influence exerted by the Islamic world on the West, it emphasizes the autonomy of Western cultural development based on a self-directed assimilation of our Greek heritage.

The third school argues that the notion of a vital continuity, whether directly from Greece to Europe, or indirectly from Greece to Arabia to Europe, is highly debatable and that, indeed, the very concept of “cultural roots” on which historians have traditionally relied should be called into question.(2)

Because the relatively new “self-development” view of the Middle Ages has been increasingly challenged in recent years by upholders of the first and third schools mentioned above, Gouguenheim has undertaken to buttress it and to respond to the arguments of its challengers. His book is essentially a synthesis of scholarly works published in the last 40 years (the bibliography includes more than 250 books and articles) by well-known French, British, Italian and American historians who contributed to the “self-development” interpretation of the Middle Ages.

So what does Gougenheim’s synthesis tell us? Four things.

First, Greek thought never really impregnated the Islamic world because the latter carefully subjected all “foreign” knowledge to an “Islamic filter” designed to determine its consistency with Muslim beliefs. Consequently, what Islamic scholars retained from Greece was limited “to that which did not contradict the teaching of the Koran”. This created major problems, notably with respect to Aristotle’s Physics and Metaphysics. More specifically, the Greek concept of causality was deemed incompatible with the Koranic understanding of God’s omnipotence, which it seemed to limit. And although some scholars like Al-Farabi, Al-Andalusi, Avicenna and Averroes were genuinely receptive to Greek influences, they were unable to reconcile Aristotelian metaphysical concepts with the content of Islamic revelation.

Moreover, Islamic works that did reflect Greek influence were usually not well received. Averroes’ books were burnt (only Latin translations of his commentaries on Aristotle have survived, all of his commentaries in Arabic having been lost or destroyed) and his disciples were found only among Jews and Christians. While the Koran may well offer its adherents a rational view of the world, Muslim rationalism has very little in common with Western rationalism. The notion of kalâm, sometimes translated as “Islamic philosophy”, was understood by the famous Muslim theologian Al-Ghazali as a means of “protecting the faith against the disruptions of innovators” and was, therefore, alien to the Greek concept of philosophy.

Finally, Muslim scholars were quick to realize that Aristotle’s political theories were inapplicable in a Muslim state, where politics, law and religion are closely intertwined. This explains why the Greco-Roman legal system was never envisaged, even by Averroes, as a source of juridical thinking in the Islamic world.

Second, Greek knowledge became accessible to the Islamic world thanks to the work of Eastern Christian scholars who translated Greek works into their own Syriac language, and then from Syriac into Arabic. More importantly, however, Islamic civilization is itself culturally indebted to early Christian scholars. For example, because the translation of Greek documents into Arabic raised major problems occasioned by the total absence of scientific terms in that language, it became incumbent on Christian Melkite translators to develop most of the Arabic scientific vocabulary. They were responsible in particular for translating into Arabic 139 medical books by Galen and Hippocratus and 43 books by Rufus of Ephesis. Also of interest is the fact, attested by several Muslim writers, that the Arabic “coufic” writing was developed by Christian missionaries in the 6th Century.

Third, Islam did not pass on its intellectual heritage to the West. The knowledge acquired by the West is the product of its own discoveries. The West benefited from the translations done at the request of abbots and bishops by clerics familiar with the Greek language, like Jacques de Venise who, after studying several years in Byzantium, spent the rest of his life translating Aristotle and other Greek philosophers at the monastery of Mont Saint-Michel, in Brittany. The West also benefited from a constant relationship with Byzantium, where Greek was the everyday language and Byzantine scholars were quite familiar with the Greek heritage. Thus, most of the knowledge discovered or transmitted throughout the period extending from the 8th to the 12th centuries resulted, not from Islam, but from the intellectual appetite of European Church elites. This explains the first Western Renaissance, known as the Carolingian Renaissance, which took place at the turn of the 9th Century.

Fourth, far from having been a “dark” or “barbarian” age, the period from the 8th to the 12th century, from Charlemagne to Peter Abelard, was characterized by the gradual assimilation of Greek philosophy and science and by an exceptional intellectual dynamism. It is throughout this period that Europe acquired the frame of mind of Greek and Roman antiquity and developed an understanding of the world and of science which became a specific character of Western civilization. The period set the stage for the 13th century, which witnessed a new intellectual “take-off” that manifested itself in the philosophical and theological works of Bonaventure, Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas, as well as in the scientific works of Roger Bacon, Campanus de Novare and Pierre de Marincourt.

Anyone interested in understanding the cultural roots of Western civilization will benefit greatly from reading Gouguenheim’s book. It provides overwhelming evidence in support of the notion that the Islamic world and the West reacted very differently to Greek knowledge, with the former remaining relatively impermeable to its influence and the latter making it very much its own. No one who reads Guggenheim can fail to realize how true remains the contention that Western civilization was built on the combined heritage of Athens, Rome and Jerusalem.

Finally, one is hard put to find any evidence in this book in support of the view that it is ideologically biased. The grievances against the author call to mind Matthew 7:3 – “Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye but fail to notice the beam in your own eye?”

Richard Bastien is director of the Catholic Civil Rights League for the National Capital Area in Canada and a contributor to Égards, a French language journal of ideas.


(1) This is the view held by historians such as R.-R. Menocal (The Arabic Role in Medieval Literary History: A Forgotten Heritage), A. de Libera (Penser au Moyen Âge), A. Miquel (L’Islam et sa civilisation) and R. Mantran (L’Expansion musulmane).
25903  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYT: NATO agrees to take aim at Drug Trade on: October 11, 2008, 06:45:12 AM
This also seems significant to me and seeks address a point I have been making-- of course its significance it could turn out to be that it is meaningless or counterproductive rolleyes :

NATO Agrees to Take Aim at Afghan Drug Trade
Published: October 10, 2008
NY Times

BUDAPEST — NATO defense ministers agreed Friday to allow troops operating in Afghanistan to attack drug lords and their networks supporting the escalating insurgency in the country.

The United States has identified opium trafficking in Afghanistan as a primary target in the battle against the Taliban, but many poor farmers who toil in the poppy fields, above, depend on it.

Times Topics: Afghanistan
 The agreement came after strong pressure from the United States, which has identified opium trafficking in Afghanistan — the source of more than 90 percent of the world’s heroin supplies — as a primary target in the stepped-up battle against the Taliban insurgency that American commanders have begun mapping out in recent weeks.

But the accord also accommodates objections from some of the 26 NATO nations that contribute troops to the 50,000-strong NATO force. Attacks on drug “facilities and facilitators supporting the insurgency” are to occur only if the NATO and Afghan troops involved have the authorization of their own governments, a provision that will allow dissenting nations to opt out of counternarcotics strikes.

The compromise appeared to satisfy the two American officials who pushed the case for the new policy at a meeting here, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Gen. John Craddock, the supreme NATO commander. Afterward, Mr. Gates said that the accord would allow “some to do things that others did not want to do,” and added, “It’s better than nothing.”

On the drug policy, the United States once again ran into a problem that has beset the Afghan war: the widely-differing levels of commitment by its NATO partners, some of whom have committed troops to the effort, but have insisted that they remain in areas of Afghanistan where insurgent threats are low. Reluctance to widening the NATO mandate to include attacks on drug networks has come from Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain, among other nations.

Their fear has been that attacks on drug lords, laboratories and supply networks will further alienate ordinary Afghans who have grown wary or hostile toward NATO troops, undercutting efforts to curb the insurgency and increasing threats to NATO troops.

The drug trade is estimated to account for about half of Afghanistan’s meager economy, and some of the nation’s poorest people, including farmers who toil in the poppy fields, are dependent on incomes that flow directly or indirectly from narcotics. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, in a recent survey on the 2008 opium yield in Afghanistan, estimated that the average income for the 500,000 families involved in the opium harvest amounted to nearly $2,000.

There have also been concerns that attacks on drug networks will depend heavily on intelligence supplied by Afghans, which has often proved unreliable, contributing to the deaths of civilians in attacks. Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, under pressure from NATO members to rid his government of the corruption and incompetence they say are hampering the war effort, has been increasingly shrill in recent months in his criticism of the civilian toll taken by NATO military action, particularly American airstrikes.

Mr. Karzai has also opposed the forceful eradication of poppy crops, something that did not appear to be sanctioned by the new NATO mandate. Mr. Karzai has argued that other measures, including crop substitution and public education programs, along with foreign aid that provides jobs, are the most effective ways of cutting opium production without the violence likely to be provoked by crop eradication.

But American commanders have concluded that gaining the upper hand in the fight against the resurgent Taliban will require depriving the insurgents of income from the drug trade, which the top American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David D. McKiernan, estimated at a Washington briefing last week to be a minimum of $100 million.

Despite the misgivings among some NATO allies, the American push for a NATO mandate that includes attacks on drug networks fueling the insurgency has been backed by the Afghan government, which reiterated the sentiment at the Budapest meeting.

The need for more aggressive action against the drug lords has also been pressed by the United Nations drug agency. In its August report, authored by its executive director, Antonio Maria Costa of Italy, it noted the “inextricable link between drugs and conflict,” and without referring to or sanctioning military action, said that something needed to be done.

Beyond that, the American commanders have been supported by Britain, whose 8,000 troops in Afghanistan are second only in numbers, among NATO nations, to the 33,000 American troops. British support is particularly significant, since most of the British troops are concentrated in Helmand Province in the southwest, the heartland of the opium trade and one of the most intensive battlefields of the insurgency. United Nations figures estimate that Helmand alone accounts for more than 50 percent of the country’s opium production.

According to the recent United Nations survey, 98 percent of Afghanistan’s opium comes from seven provinces in the southwest, with no opium at all produced in half of the country’s 34 provinces. The bulk of the NATO troops operating in the southwest come from the United States, Britain, Canada and Denmark, and it is those nations that are likely to be most affected by the new NATO mandate.

Together with the United States, Britain and Canada have already taken the heaviest casualties among the NATO nations fighting the Taliban and Al Qaeda, with NATO troops who have died in the seven-year war now approaching 1,000, including more than 600 Americans.

Judy Dempsey reported from Budapest, and John F. Burns from Kabul, Afghanistan
25904  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: October 10, 2008, 10:45:46 PM
Grateful for a very full and very enjoyable day of teaching privates here in Bloomington.
25905  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: October 10, 2008, 10:44:17 PM
Woof Gentlemen:

I am far less orderly and organized than my Swiss DB Lonely Dog  embarassed This is the perfect place to bring this to my attention.  I am in Bloomington IL for a seminar at the moment, but will attend to this when I get back to LA.

Crafty Dog
25906  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: October 10, 2008, 10:39:31 PM

As usual you make good points, but for me you seem to have a blind spot for what it is that concerns, BBG, JDN, and me.  Please allow me to take another try at communicating one aspect of it (of course I do not speak for BBG or JDN, but I suspect there is overlap with their positions and mine):

Yes the private sector data mines, but the private sector does not have the ability to get violent with or oppress me.  The State does.  For example, Amazon knows a lot about my reading habits, but I would much rather that the government not keep track of what I read.  This is not because I am a nefarious individual, it is because the State might decide to harass me (e.g. an IRS investigation not because of anything I've done or not done, but in order to drag me down).  We have already seen the Hilbillary Clintons do this IMHO.  I would rather that the coming minions of His Glibness not be keeping track of me and my thoughts.
25907  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: October 10, 2008, 10:20:43 PM
Off the top of my head, it occurs to me to note that we may be losing in Afg.  As I have opined here several times recently we have no coherent strategy that I can discern.  Thus negotiating with them arguably is a sign of defeat-- as it arguably would be with Iran.  Please note that I personally have not taken a position here.

Here is Stratfor's take on things:

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said on Thursday that the United States would be prepared for a reconciliation with the Taliban if the Afghan government chose to pursue talks to end the war. He made the statement at a NATO conference in Budapest. According to Gates, “There has to be ultimately, and I’ll underscore ultimately, reconciliation as part of the political outcome to this. That’s ultimately the exit strategy for all of us.” Gates made it clear that reconciling with the Taliban does not mean reconciling with al Qaeda, which is something that the United States would never do.

The United States thus has taken the first critical step in moving toward a political resolution to the Afghan war. By distinguishing the Taliban from al Qaeda, Gates is distinguishing between domestic Afghan forces who might share values with al Qaeda, but who did not participate in the 9/11 attacks. This is not only an important distinction, it is a vital one. The Taliban organization was allied with al Qaeda but distinct from it: One was an Afghan movement, the other an internationalist movement. Now it has to be understood that the Taliban gave al Qaeda sanctuary and enabled it to launch its global operations from Afghanistan. However, the Taliban and al Qaeda are technically different organizations, and the Taliban were not directly involved in the 9/11 operation.

This is an important distinction for the United States to make in order to justify a necessary reversal in its policy in Afghanistan. The United States does not have the force to defeat the Taliban, nor is the future makeup of the Afghan government a matter of fundamental national interest for the United States. What is important is that the Taliban movement not enable further attacks by al Qaeda. If it were to agree to that, the United States could secure its interests in Afghanistan and leave, while allowing the Afghan government to make what deal it can make with the Taliban.

There are two problems with the idea. First, why should the United States trust the Taliban to keep their distance from al Qaeda? Second, why should the Taliban agree to any deal with the United States? The United States is not going to defeat them militarily, and from their point of view, time is on their side, since the Americans can’t remain in Afghanistan permanently. These would seem to kill any chance for the deal to get off the ground.

However, there is a key element to consider. The Taliban movement is not a homogenous organization. It has many elements, and some are more rigidly committed to the jihadist cause than others. Some might be very interested in the possibilities that could open up to them as major elements of an Afghan government, controlling important regions for their own use. Certainly, there are elements in the Taliban group that would reject any reconciliation, but the members of the group are sufficiently divided that it might be possible to split the organization and turn factions against each other. There might be factions that have no use for al Qaeda, and they might well be interested in the benefits of reconciliation.

This is, of course, the essence of U.S. Gen. David Petraeus’ strategy in Iraq. First, make a small increase in forces and use that as a psychological tool to demonstrate U.S. commitment to the country. Then enter into relations with the most hardened enemies of the United States — the Sunni insurgents — who then turn on the foreign jihadists calling themselves al Qaeda. At the same time, introduce them into the Baghdad government and slowly begin tiptoeing to the exits.

So, in Afghanistan, we have discussions of increased forces, coupled with indications of a willingness to reconcile with the Taliban. This splits the factions — and the faction wanting a deal turns on the faction opposing it. The former enters into Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government, and the United States heads for the exits. And Karzai is left trying to figure out what happened to him.

The real question is whether the United States has enough credibility to attract any faction and whether the faction it attracts is stronger than the faction it doesn’t. The problem is that the Americans have no way to defeat the Taliban with available forces — and the Taliban knows it. However, the United States might be able to shift expectations by increasing forces and massively increasing air operations. The pain the American forces inflict on some factions of the Taliban might be enough to persuade them to split.

The primary virtue of this strategy is that it is the only strategy that has the potential of working. The other option is an extended war without a clear and attainable end. It is interesting that Gates made his statement about reconciliation with the Taliban while U.S. presidential candidates Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain have spoken of their commitment to fight this war in Afghanistan. Since the ground truth is the same for them as for the Bush administration, Gates just made either of their lives easier by opening the door to this strategy. Obama or McCain will be able to claim that he was merely following established policy when he sits down with the Taliban. Then there is also a chance that some in the Taliban would like to make a deal with an administration looking for a legacy, rather than a new one that is unpredictable.

Gates’ statement was a major event, but not necessarily a promising one.

Tell Stratfor What You Think
25908  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / J. Adams on: October 10, 2008, 08:28:35 AM
"[D]emocracy will soon degenerate into an anarchy, such an anarchy
that every man will do what is right in his own eyes and no man's
life or property or reputation or liberty will be secure, and every
one of these will soon mould itself into a system of subordination
of all the moral virtues and intellectual abilities, all the powers
of wealth, beauty, wit and science, to the wanton pleasures, the
capricious will, and the execrable cruelty of one or a very few."

-- John Adams (An Essay on Man's Lust for Power, 29 August 1763)

Reference: Original Intent, Barton (338); original The Papers of
John Adams, Taylor, ed., vol. 1 (83)

25909  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: BO the Magician on: October 10, 2008, 08:23:01 AM
And now, America, we introduce the Great Obama! The world's most gifted political magician! A thing of wonder. A thing of awe. Just watch him defy politics, economics, even gravity! (And hold your applause until the end, please.)

To kick off our show tonight, Mr. Obama will give 95% of American working families a tax cut, even though 40% of Americans today don't pay income taxes! How can our star enact such mathemagic? How can he "cut" zero? Abracadabra! It's called a "refundable tax credit." It involves the federal government taking money from those who do pay taxes, and writing checks to those who don't. Yes, yes, in the real world this is known as "welfare," but please try not to ruin the show.

Ken FallinFor his next trick, the Great Obama will jumpstart the economy, and he'll do it by raising taxes on the very businesses that are today adrift in a financial tsunami! That will include all those among the top 1% of taxpayers who are in fact small-business owners, and the nation's biggest employers who currently pay some of the highest corporate tax rates in the developed world. Mr. Obama will, with a flick of his fingers, show them how to create more jobs with less money. It's simple, really. He has a wand.

Next up, Mr. Obama will re-regulate the economy, with no ill effects whatsoever! You may have heard that for the past 40 years most politicians believed deregulation was good for the U.S. economy. You might have even heard that much of today's financial mess tracks to loose money policy, or Fannie and Freddie excesses. Our magician will show the fault was instead with our failure to clamp down on innovation and risk-taking, and will fix this with new, all-encompassing rules. Presto!

Did someone in the audience just shout "Sarbanes Oxley?" Usher, can you remove that man? Thank you. Mr. Obama will now demonstrate how he gives Americans the "choice" of a "voluntary" government health plan, designed in such a way as to crowd out the private market and eliminate all other choice! Don't worry people: You won't have to join, until you do. Mr. Obama will follow this with a demonstration of how his plan will differ from our failing Medicare program. Oops, sorry, folks. The Great Obama just reminded me it is time for an intermission. Maybe we'll get to that marvel later.

We're back now. And just watch the Great Obama perform a feat never yet managed in all history. He will create that enormous new government health program, spend billions to transform our energy economy, provide financial assistance to former Soviet satellites, invest in infrastructure, increase education spending, provide job training assistance, and give 95% of Americans a tax (ahem) cut -- all without raising the deficit a single penny! And he'll do it in the middle of a financial crisis. And with falling tax revenues! Voila!

Moving along to a little ventriloquism. Study his mouth carefully, folks: It looks like he's saying "I'll stop the special interests," when in fact the words coming out are "Welcome to Washington, friends!" Wind and solar companies, ethanol makers, tort lawyers, unions, community organizers -- all are welcome to feed at the public trough and to request special favors. From now on "special interests" will only refer to universally despised, if utterly crucial, economic players. Say, oil companies. Hocus Pocus!

And for tonight's finale, the Great Obama will uphold America's "moral" obligation to "stop genocide" by abandoning Iraq! While teleported to the region, he will simultaneously convince Iranian leaders to peacefully abandon their nuclear pursuits (even as he does not sit down with them), fix Afghanistan with a strategy that does not resemble the Iraqi surge, and (drumroll!) pull Osama bin Laden out of his hat!


You can clap now. (Applause. Cheers.) We'd like to thank a few people in the audience. Namely, Republican presidential nominee John McCain, who has so admirably restrained himself from running up on stage to debunk any of these illusions and spoil everyone's fun.

We know he's in a bit of a box, having initially blamed today's financial crisis on corporate "greed," and thus made it that much harder to call for a corporate tax cut, or warn against excessive regulation. Still, there were some pretty big openings up here this evening, and he let them alone! We'd also like to thank Mr. McCain for keeping all the focus on himself these past weeks. It has helped the Great Obama to just get on with the show.

As for that show, we'd love to invite you all back for next week's performance, when the Great Obama will thrill with new, amazing exploits. He will respect your Second Amendment rights even as he regulates firearms! He will renegotiate Nafta, even as he supports free trade! He will . . .

Write to

25910  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / MILF, Army, non-Muslim Civilians fighting on: October 10, 2008, 07:49:44 AM
25911  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / UK Self-Defense Law on: October 10, 2008, 01:03:41 AM
Brit Gardener Ordered To Remove Barbed Wire to Protect Thieves


Gardener ordered to take down barbed wire to protect thieves

A gardener who fenced off his allotment patch with a single strand of barbed wire to protect it from thieves has been ordered to take it down in case intruders hurt themselves.

Last Updated: 2:53PM BST 09 Oct 2008

Bill Malcolm, 61, was told to "remove it on health and safety grounds" by the local council, which owns the allotments.

He erected the deterrent after thieves struck three times in four months, stealing more than £300 worth of spades, forks, hoes and wrecking his potato patch in the process.

But officials instructed Mr Malcolm to remove the waist-high wire from his plot at Round Hill Allotments in Marlbrook, Worcs.

He said: "It's an absolutely ridiculous situation, all I wanted was to protect my property but the wire had to go in case a thief scratched himself.

"The council said they were unhappy about the precautions I had made but my response was to tell them that only someone climbing over on to my allotment could possibly hurt themselves.

"They shouldn't be trespassing in the first place but the council apologised and said they didn't want to be sued by a wounded thief.

"I told them to let the thief sue me so at least that way I would know who was breaking into my allotment but everything I said fell on deaf ears.

"It seems as though they are so wrapped up in red tape, they are unable to help me.

"The barbed wire was a single strand and ringing my property only. It was just three foot high and wasn't as though I'd dug a moat filled with piranha and erected six foot iron railings."

A spokesman for Bromsgrove District Council responded: "With regard to the barbed wire, when this is identified on site, we are obliged to request its removal or remove it on health and safety grounds to the general public, as this is a liability issue. This is a requirement enforced by our health and safety department."

She advised allotment tenants with security concerns to contact the local police.

Judge orders court to apologise to gardener prosecuted for having a scythe

Last updated at 6:18 PM on 09th October 2008

As a professional gardener, they are the essential tools of Peter Drew's trade.

But in the eyes of the police, the scythe, axes and knives found inside the back of his van were something far more sinister.

And despite Mr Drew's desperate attempts to explain that he needed them for horticultural reasons, he was arrested - and charged with carrying an offensive weapon.

Mr Drew, 49, then endured eight months of court appearances and the threat of a trial hanging over his head.

But last week the judge threw the case out of court moments before a trial was due to begin and demanded a public apology to Mr Drew from the prosecution.

He blasted the Crown Prosecution Service for wasting jurors' time and for putting Mr Drew through the 'trauma' of a doomed prosecution.

After Mr Drew produced references from customers - including several solicitors - Judge Paul Darlow ordered prosecution barrister, Philip Lee, to issue a public apology to Mr Drew at Truro Crown Court in Cornwall and asked the CPS to do the same.

Speaking at the hearing, Judge Darlow said: 'I want to find out why we've got to the start of the trial and the CPS are suddenly saying 'Oops'.

'I don't think the CPS can escape criticism or blame if they leave it to the last minute to make up their minds.

'We despair of trying to run these courts in any sort of efficient way.

'Try telling this to jurors who come from their jobs and their homes, quite apart from any trial and trauma that Mr Drew has been through, by knowing that in October he would be in front of a jury.'

The judge went on: 'I think some sort of public apology to Mr Drew from the court would not go amiss.'

Phillip Lee, prosecuting, responded: 'On behalf of the CPS I apologise that it has taken this long.

'Some decisions are very obvious and some less so. I wouldn't say this was an obvious decision.'

After the brief hearing Mr Drew, of Heamoor near Penzance, Cornwall, described his ordeal as a 'nightmare'.

He said: 'The whole thing knocked me for six - I've lived in Heamoor all my life and when the case was reported in the papers, people were asking me what it was all about and I didn't want to say anything because the case was still going on.

'I'm disgusted, really. Now I just want to clear my name so everyone knows I haven't been carrying knives illegally.'

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said Peter Drew was found with a bread knife and a machete behind the sun visor of his van.

Officers also discovered two axes in driver's door pocket and a scythe in the passenger footwell.

He said: 'Officers searched Mr Drew's van and found various bladed items, including an axe and a bread knife.

'The items were in the side pockets, the footwell and behind the sun visor.

'An officer might assume a professional gardener would keep his tools in a bag in the back of the van.

'He explained that the knives were for business purposes but the officers felt this was for the courts to decide.

'Mr Drew was summonsed to magistrates court and offered no plea and the matter was referred to crown court.

'He produced evidence that the knives were used for pruning and the CPS accepted his explanation before proceedings began.'
25912  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Seminar: 10/11-12 Guro Crafty in Bloomington IL on: October 10, 2008, 12:50:42 AM
Arrived in Bloomington and have been put in a wonderful B&B built in 1869 with a baby grand piano that is in tune cool With no one else in the house tonight I have been having a fine time.

Scott has visions of chess revenge on Saturday night , , , sounds like he's been playing , , , cheesy
25913  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Syria masses on Leb border on: October 09, 2008, 11:07:49 AM
Syria downplays troop buildup on Lebanese border
Damascas says it's merely beefing up border security. But the US issued Syria a strong warning, and Israeli troops are on alert.
By Jonathan Adams
Syria this week continued to mass troops on its border with northern and eastern Lebanon. But officials from both countries dismissed US and Israeli concerns about the buildup as alarmist hype.

Damascus claims it is merely beefing up border security to prevent smuggling and the infiltration of Islamic extremists from northern Lebanon. But some fear Syria wants to use the threat of Sunni Islamic terrorism as a pretext for reentering Lebanon. Syria withdrew its troops from its neighbor in 2005 under intense international pressure.

Last month, Syria's president publicly warned that northern Lebanon had become a haven for Sunni militants who aim to destabilize his country. That warning came before back-to-back car bombings in Damascus (Sept. 27, blamed on Sunni extremists) and in northern Lebanon's Tripoli (Sept. 29) that killed at least 22.

Gulf News, a Dubai-based daily, reported Wednesday that the Lebanese foreign minister had downplayed concerns about the military ramp-up.

The deployment of thousands of Syrian troops along the Lebanese frontier isn't a threat to Beirut and the move should be seen in the context of Damascus's need to safeguard its interests, the Lebanese foreign minister said on Tuesday. "The troop deployment doesn't constitute a source of concern for us as long as they [troops] remain within Syrian territory," Lebanese Foreign Minister Fawzi Sallough told Gulf News.

Last month the Lebanese Army said Syria had massed nearly 10,000 troops on the border. Syria insists their deployment along the border numbers only in the hundreds.

Lebanon's The Daily Star cited a report by Agence France-Presse (AFP) that quoted a Syrian official defending the buildup.

"These measures are aimed to control the border, only from Syrian territory, and we have no other intentions," a Syrian official told AFP on condition of anonymity. "Syria has in effect boosted its security measures with a few hundred [extra] soldiers, and the spy satellites know the truth," the official said. "Our aim is to control the border, combat smuggling and stop saboteurs from crossing these borders," the official said, adding that the issue had been raised during Lebanese President Michel Sleiman's visit to Damascus in August.

On Monday, the US State Department expressed concern that Syria might have designs on Lebanon, and warned against any Syrian incursion. Reuters reported spokesman Robert Wood saying:

"The recent terrorist attacks that took place in Tripoli (Lebanon) and Damascus should not serve as a pretext for, you know, further Syrian military engagement or, should not be used to interfere in Lebanese internal affairs," Wood told reporters. "Obviously we're concerned about this type of activity along the border and that it not lead to any further interference on the part of Syria into Lebanon's internal affairs," Wood said.

Those comments came as the US and Lebanon set up a joint military commission to improve defense ties, according to the Associated Press (AP).

The National Post, a Canadian daily, reported that Israeli officials are also nervous about Syrian intentions.

...Israel placed its armed forces in the Golan Heights on an increased alert on Tuesday and ordered the air force and emergency first aid teams on standby in case of attacks by Syria or Hezbollah. The Israeli alerts came as the country prepared to shut down for 25 hours starting Wednesday afternoon to observe Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), the most solemn and important of Jewish holidays.

The AP noted that Syria-Lebanon ties have actually warmed recently.

...Ties have improved considerably in recent months after Lebanon formed a unity government that includes Syria's ally, the Shiite militant group Hezbollah. Syria has agreed to establish formal diplomatic ties with Lebanon for the first time since the countries' creation in the 1940s and promised to officially delineate their borders, a longtime Lebanese demand. Syria also views Lebanon's new president favorably and many doubt it would undermine him with a military incursion.

The Christian Science Monitor reported last month on worsening sectarian violence in northern Lebanon. There, Sunni Muslim fundamentalists are pitted against a small Shiite group that's close to the Syrian government. Sunni jihadists that oppose the Syrian regime regularly pass between northern Lebanon and Syria, the report said.

Since May, Sunni militants in northern Lebanon have clashed with the small Alawite community, which has close links to the Syrian regime. A reconciliation agreement reached earlier this month has quelled fighting for now, but north Lebanon remains tense.

In a 2005 report, the International Crisis Group noted a reason Damascus would want to keep a hand in Lebanese affairs, despite its withdrawal:

Seen from the angle of Lebanon's fractious groups – whether in the opposition or loyal to Damascus – the end of Syria's presence means re-opening issues suppressed since the close of the civil war, from sectarian relations and the distribution of power through to Hizbollah and Palestinian refugees. All these are combustible elements that disgruntled Lebanese and outside actors will be tempted to exploit. In a country awash with weapons, accustomed to being a theatre for proxy wars between Arabs, Palestinian and Israelis, and on the verge of a major redistribution of power and resources, the means and motivations for violence abound.
Lebanese media has reported that Syria is massing still more troops on the Syrian-Lebanese border. The move is part of a Syrian effort to rebuild its position in Lebanon.

Related Special Topic Page
Israel, Syria and Lebanon: A Tangled Web
Syria is reportedly massing more troops along the Lebanese border, according to various Lebanese news agencies. The Arab daily Al Hayat reported Oct. 8 that the Syrian army had deployed tanks to the border town of Al Qaa along Lebanon’s eastern Bekaa Valley. Eyewitness reports from the area said the Syrian army has dug trenches and erected earthen barriers. The reported troop buildup comes in the wake of an additional Syrian massing of 10,000 troops on the northern Syrian-Lebanese border near the Lebanese city of Tripoli, which began more than two weeks ago.

As Stratfor previously has discussed, the Syrian government is signaling Lebanon and the international community that it is prepared to reassert Syria’s physical presence in its western neighbor. Part of the Syrian plan is to use its covert assets and militant proxies in northern Lebanon to instigate clashes in Tripoli, thereby justifying a Syrian military intervention. Damascus’ show of force has set off alarm bells in Saudi Arabia and among Lebanon’s anti-Syrian March 14 coalition, which greatly fears having the Syrians re-assume the powerbroker status that they held in Lebanon prior to the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.

But no group is perhaps more scared by the sight of Syrian forces on the border than Hezbollah, which has seen its relationship with Syria disintegrate following the February assassination of Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyah. This latest Syrian military buildup is quite significantly on the edge of Hezbollah’s main stronghold, the Bekaa Valley.

So far, Hezbollah has remained silent on the matter. The group cannot endorse Syrian efforts to enter Lebanon because it knows it will soon be victimized by the Syrians. Conversely, it cannot condemn Syrian efforts because the falling-out between Damascus and the Shiite militant groups has not yet fully come out in the public domain.

Syrian tanks are in close proximity to Al Qaa, a Maronite village from which Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea draws many recruits. Deploying troops next to this village not only undermines Hezbollah security, it also points to Syrian fears that Lebanese forces may be planning an offensive against the Mirada militia of Suleiman Franjiyye, who is one of Syria’s closest allies in Lebanon.

Syria continues to assert that the troop buildup is simply its way of watching out for its own security, particularly in the wake of a Sept. 27 car bombing in Damascus and recent clashes in Tripoli (even though many of the clashes in Tripoli have been instigated by perpetrators on the payroll of Syrian intelligence). Damascus intends to show the world that Syria, as well as the Lebanese army, is a victim of terrorism from Lebanon. As the militant threat in Lebanon appears to grow larger (with the aid of the Syrians), Syria will gradually build a case for intervention, much as it did in 1975, after which Syria eventually received a green light from the Israelis and the Americans to enter Lebanon in 1976. Though the general fear in the region is that Syria is on the verge of rolling troops into Lebanon, sources in the region claim that Syria plans to take its time, gradually build a case for intervention and reclaim its position in Lebanon by spring 2009.

In the meantime, Syria can also see what comes out of peace talks with Israel once the Israeli government sorts out its political issues at home. Without a doubt, Syria’s moves have Iran on edge, as Tehran’s main militant proxy in the Levant is under threat. The United States has been the most vocal in its opposition to the Syrian military buildup, revealing an apparent divide between Israel and the United States over the merits of having the Syrians “impose stability” in Lebanon. Whereas Israel is more inclined toward negotiations with Damascus to secure Israel’s northern frontier and contain the threat from Hezbollah, the U.S. administration is much more reluctant to have Syria re-empowered in Lebanon.

The Syrians may be on a longer timetable than previously expected, but that will do little to calm the fears of those in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iran and the United States who want to keep Syrian influence curtailed. Without having made any big, overt moves into Lebanon yet, the Syrians have not run a major risk of provoking these powers into acting against Damascus. Instead, Damascus is more focused on preparing the world for what it sees as an inevitable Syrian return to Lebanon.

25914  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: October 09, 2008, 09:49:05 AM

"We established however some, although not all its
[self-government] important principles . The constitutions of most
of our States assert, that all power is inherent in the people;
that they may exercise it by themselves, in all cases to which they
think themselves competent, (as in electing their functionaries
executive and legislative, and deciding by a jury of themselves,
in all judiciary cases in which any fact is involved,) or they
may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it
is their right and duty to be at all times armed."

-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to John Cartwright, 1824)

Reference: The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Memorial Edition,
25915  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: October 09, 2008, 12:10:45 AM
Good find SB Mig.   cry cheesy

25916  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rove spins on: October 09, 2008, 12:05:47 AM
Voters Haven't Decided Yet
Now it's up to the candidates to drive home their message.By KARL ROVEArticle
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Tuesday night's presidential debate was good entertainment. Both candidates were animated and loose throughout a wide-ranging discussion. Sen. Barack Obama did well in Sen. John McCain's favorite format. Mr. McCain was more focused and sharp than in the first debate, though the cameras above him made his balding pate more prominent.

APTom Brokaw was often a distraction: Did he really need over a hundred words -- including the name "Sherard Cowper-Coles" -- to ask about Afghanistan?

Mr. McCain's advocates were cheered by him advancing the theme that Mr. Obama lacks a record of accomplishment or bipartisanship in the Senate. Mr. McCain also described how Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac constituted "the match that started this forest fire" that's engulfed our economy, and nailed Mr. Obama and Democrats for being AWOL on GSE reform.

Mr. McCain was most effective on taxes and spending. He argued now is not the time to raise taxes and hit Mr. Obama's proposal to hike small business taxes: three out of four filers in the top 5% report small-business income. Mr. McCain called for a spending freeze and attacked earmarks, including Mr. Obama's $3 million for a Chicago planetarium's "overhead projector." Mr. Obama weakly replied earmarks were only $18 billion.

Advocates of Mr. Obama, on the other hand, saw him scoring points on style and connecting with questioners. He patiently explained to one how the Wall Street rescue package would help him and his neighbors on Main Street. He had the night's emotional high point when he talked about his dying mother fighting her insurer over whether her cancer was a pre-existing condition. He called for dramatic change and tied Mr. McCain to the Bush administration, though not too often to be obnoxious.

Mr. Obama also offered his villain responsible for the current crisis: "the deregulation of the financial system." Many voters will accept Mr. Obama's designation, despite it being both wrong and a slap at President Bill Clinton, who signed the 1999 deregulation legislation that Mr. Obama seems to object to, and Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin and Undersecretary Larry Summers, who helped fashion it. What do these Obama advisers think of being blamed for the credit-market meltdown?

What about swing voters? There are probably more undecided and persuadable voters open to switching their choice than in any election since 1968.

About Karl Rove
Karl Rove served as Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush from 2000–2007 and Deputy Chief of Staff from 2004–2007. At the White House he oversaw the Offices of Strategic Initiatives, Political Affairs, Public Liaison, and Intergovernmental Affairs and was Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, coordinating the White House policy making process.

Before Karl became known as "The Architect" of President Bush's 2000 and 2004 campaigns, he was president of Karl Rove + Company, an Austin-based public affairs firm that worked for Republican candidates, nonpartisan causes, and nonprofit groups. His clients included over 75 Republican U.S. Senate, Congressional and gubernatorial candidates in 24 states, as well as the Moderate Party of Sweden.

Karl writes a weekly op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, is a Newsweek columnist and is now writing a book to be published by Simon & Schuster. Email the author at or visit him on the web at
For those open to Mr. McCain, it is unclear how they will respond to his plan to order the Treasury secretary "to immediately buy up the bad home loan mortgages in America and renegotiate at the new value of those homes." It came across as both impulsive and badly explained. No experts were ready to defend it. No explanatory paper was flung at journalists. Nor were surrogates like Mitt Romney briefed. But the campaign did admit it borrowed the idea from Hillary Clinton.

 shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked  cry cry cry

While it was good Mr. McCain engaged on health-care reform, his explanations were not crisp or powerful. And he failed to defend his proposed corporate tax cut. Why not say America has the world's second-highest corporate tax rate, putting the U.S. at a disadvantage in creating jobs?

For those leaning to Mr. Obama, there was no evidence of bipartisanship. There was no talk of accomplishments. Did he really think it was smart to answer Mr. McCain on Fannie by dismissing the GSE reform bill and pointing to a letter he wrote? In the Senate, is the pen mightier than legislation? And Mr. Obama's say-one-thing, do-another approach was apparent. Blast Mr. McCain for talking up the economy, then say, "I am confident about the American economy." Blame Mr. McCain for the credit meltdown, and end the assault with "you're not interested in hearing politicians pointing fingers." Say "only a few percent of small businesses" will get taxed when 663,000 small enterprises are in the top 5%.

There were no knockouts. What matters now is how well the candidates prosecute the themes they have laid out in the election's remaining 26 days. Interest is high. People are paying more attention than usual.

Each faces a big challenge. Mr. McCain's is that events have tilted the field towards Mr. Obama. To win, Mr. McCain must demonstrate he stands for responsible conservative change, while portraying Mr. Obama as an out-of-the-mainstream liberal not ready to be president.

Mr. Obama's test is that voters haven't shaken deep concerns about his lack of qualifications. Having accomplished virtually nothing in his three years in the Senate except to win the Democratic nomination, Mr. Obama must show he is up to the job. Voters like him, conditions favor him, yet he has not closed the sale. He may be approaching the finish line with that mixture of lassitude and insouciance he displayed in the spring against Mrs. Clinton.

But here's a warning sign for Mr. Obama. Of recent candidates, only Michael Dukakis in 1988 has had a larger percentage of voters tell pollsters they believe he lacks the necessary qualifications to be president.

Mr. Rove is a former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.
25917  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Women fighters at DB Gathering on: October 08, 2008, 11:31:49 PM
Freedom of choice applies to us in the audience too  cheesy

Thought Experiment:  Imagine a woman fight in this context:
25918  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Scott Grannis blog on: October 08, 2008, 11:29:03 PM
I recommend Scott Grannis in the very highest terms.
25919  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Is BO a natural born American citizen? on: October 08, 2008, 05:22:59 PM
Wait! There's more!

By Jon Christian Dryer
October 3, 2008

On September 29, 2008 US District Court Judge R. Barclay Surrick, the
federal magistrate for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled in the
matter of Philip J. Berg vs Barack Hussein Obama, et al as the world was
distracted by the $700 billion subprime mortgage crisis. Obama signed a
breathe of relief as the mainstream media chose to ignore the question:
"Can Senator Barack Hussein Obama legally seek the office of President of the
United States?"

The flap began in June when National Review's Jim Geraghty raised the
question and asked the Obama Campaign to release a copy of his birth
certificate in order to prove that he actually was born in the United
States. (Reports had previously surfaced claiming that Obama's Kenyan
grandmother, Sarah Hussein Obama, told reporters that Obama was not born
in Hawaii, but in Kenya. She reportedly told reporters that when her son,
Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. returned to Kenya he was accompanied by a
pregnant white wife who was close to term.)

 Obama's family did not take to Stanley Ann Dunham Obama well according to
Sarah Obama because she was white. Shortly after she arrived in Kenya
Stanley Ann decided to return to Hawaii because she did not like how
Muslim men treated their wives in Kenya. However, because she was near term the
airline would not let her fly until after the birth of her baby. Obama's
grandmother said the baby was born in Kenya and that shortly after Barack
Hussein Obama, Jr. was born, Stanley Ann returned to Hawaii.

 Purportedly, when she arrived back in Hawaii, Stanley Anne registered her
son's live birth as an event which had just happened-in Hawaii. This
supposition is based on the appearance, shortly after Nov. 6, 2007, of a
Hawaiian birth certificate that was issued, as a duplicate birth
certificate, by the State of Hawaii to a US Senator who requested it.

 While the Internet screamed that the birth certificate, which appeared on
the Obama Campaign's "Fight The Smears" website and was also downloaded
and used by far left blogger Markos Zuniga on his website, Daily Kos, it was
not an electronic image concocted by Daily KOs as was hypothesized by a
self-described cyvbersleuth who uses the cyber pseudonym Techdude. It was
the real McCoy-even if it was issued as a political favor to a prospective
Democratic presidential candidate by a Democrat official in Hawaii. The
county clerk who issued the document, which purports to be a copy of an
original document, was date stamped "Nov. 6, 2007" on the reverse side of
the birth certificate in blue ink which bled through and is visible on the
front of the electronic image.> 

 Attorney Philip J. Berg, the former head of the Montgomery County.
Pennsylvania Democratic Party and a former member of the Democratic State
Convention and, reportedly a Hillary Clinton supporter, wanted to learn
the truth from the myriad of rumors that also suggested that Sen. Obama may
also have been a citizen of Indonesia. The only consistent part of the story
was Stanley Ann returning to Hawaii to claim he had been in the United States
and was a US citizen. In his ruling, Judge Surrick noted that the
"...cause came before the United States District Court Judge, Honorable R. Barclay
Surrick on defendant Barack Hussein Obama and the Democratic National
Committee's motion to dismiss." The order continued, "Having reviewed the
motion and plaintiff's opposition to said motion and for good cause shown,
it is hereby ordered that the motion to dismiss pursuant to F.R.C.P.
12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) is denied. It is further order of this court that
the following discovery is to be turned over to plaintiff within three (3)

1. Obama's "vault" version (certified copy of his "original" long version)
birth certificate; and

2. a certified copy of Obama's Certificate of Citizenship;

3. a certified copy of Obama's oath of allegiance."

In his original filing, Berg specifically asked for those three items.
Berg told the court that " the time Plaintiff's complaint was filed,
Plaintiff was requesting protections from the court in order to stop Obama
from being nominated by the DNC as the Democratic Presidential Nominee as
Obama is not eligible to serve as President of the United States. However,
Obama was nominated by the DNC...For that reason, Plaintiff must amend his
complaint and will be amending this complaint to file a First Amendment

 Berg argued that he felt it was the role of the Federal Election
Commission to ensure that presidential and congressional candidates are eligible to
hold the positions for which they were seeking, and that those candidates
run a fair and legitimate campaign. "In vetting the presidential
candidate," Berg argued, "the DNC and the FEC are required to ensure the eligibility
requirements pursuant to our Constitution are met and the Presidential
nominee, if elected, is qualified and eligible to serve pursuant to our
United States Constitution. In order to be eligible to run for the Office
of President of the United States, you must be a "natural born" citizen.

 "There appears to be no question that Defendant Obama's mother, Stanley
Ann Dunham, was a US citizen. It is also undisputed, however, that his father,
Barack Obama, Sr., was a citizen of Kenya. Obama's parents, according to
divorce recorded, were married on or about February 2, 1961.

 "Defendant Obama claims he was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. on August 4, 1961
and it is uncertain in which hospital he claims to have been born. Obama's
grandmother on his father's side, his half-brother and half-sister all
claim Obama was born not in Hawaii but in Kenya. reports reflect that Obama's
mother traveled to Kenya during her pregnancy; however, she was prevented
from boarding a flight from Kenya to Hawaii. at her late stage of
pregnancy (which apparently are normal restrictions, to avoid births during
flights). By these reports, Stanley Ann Dunham Obama gave birth to Obama in Kenya,
after which she flew home and registered Obama's birth. There are records
of a "registry of birth" for Obama, on or about August 8, 1961 in the public
records office in Hawaii."
 Berg's investigators revealed that Obama's own half-sister Maya
Soetoro-with whom he was raised-seemed not to know where her own brother was born. In
the Nov., 2004 interview by the Rainbow Newsletter Maya Soetoro said Obama was
born on Aug. 4, 1961 at Queens Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. In
February, 2008 Maya was interviewed by the Star Bulletin. This time she
told reporters that Obama was born on August 4, 1961 at the Kaliolani Medical
Center for Women and Children. On June 9, 2008 Wayne Madsen, a journalist
with Online Journal published an article in which he said a research team
went to Mombassa, Kenya and located a Certificate registering the live
birth of Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. to his father, a Kenyan citizen and his
mother, a US citizen.

Berg's argument to the court was that under the US Nationality Act of
1940, Section 317 (b), a minor child follows the naturalization and citizenship
status of his or her custodial parent. In Obama's case, Berg argued, a
minor child follows the naturalization and citizenship status of his or her
custodial father. Obama's Indonesian stepfather, Lolo Soetora signed a
statement acknowledging Obama as his son, giving Obama natural Indonesian
citizenship, which explains the name "Barry Soetoro" and his citizenship
listed as Indonesian. Loss of US citizenship, under US law in effect in
1967 required that foreign citizenship be achieved through "application."
Which,  according to Berg, is precisely what happened to Obama when his mother
married Soetoro and the family moved to Indonesia.>

When Obama and his mother moved to Indonesia, Obama had already been
enrolled in school-something that could not have happened under Indonesian
law if Soetoro had not signed an acknowledgment (the application)
affirming that Obama was his son, it deemed his son to an Indonesian State citizen.
(Citizenship of Republic of Indonesia, Law No. 9 of 1992 dated 31 mar.
1992, Indonesia Civil Code):"...State children of Indonesia include: (viii)
children who are born outside of legal marriage from foreign State citizen
mother who are acknowledged by father who is Indonesian State citizen as
his children and that acknowledgment is made prior to children reaching 18
years of age or prior to marriage; Republic of Indonesia Constitution, 1945."
Furthermore, under Indonesian law, if a resident Indonesian citizen
married a foreigner-in this case, Lolo Soetoro marrying Stanley Ann Obama-she was
required to renounce her US citizenship.>

 In his lawsuit, Berg demanded a copy of Obama's Certificate of
Citizenship, a document Obama must have applied for to regain his citizenship-which was
lost in Indonesia. He will have that document only if the proper paperwork
was filed with the US State Department when Obama returned to Hawaii in
1971 since that is the only way Obama could regain his US "natural born"

Berg is convinced that Obama was never naturalized in the United States
after his return. Obama returned to his maternal grandparents in Hawaii
without his mother. Since she is the only one who could have filed for the
reinstatement of his citizenship, it is unlikely it ever happened. If it
did, his Certificate of Citizenship would affirm his right to seek the
office of President. Without it, Barack Obama is just another resident
alien who can't legally hold his seat in the US Senate.

 C 2008 Jon C. Ryter - All Rights Reserved
25920  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: October 08, 2008, 03:33:20 PM
The Suri of Ethiopia-- this is the tribe seen in RCSFg-1: Power.
25921  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / California on: October 08, 2008, 02:48:06 PM
You know you're from California if:

1. Your coworker has 8 body piercings and none are visible.

2. You make over $300,000 and still can't afford a house..

3. You take a bus and are shocked at two people carrying on a conversation in English.

4. Your child's 3rd-grade teacher has purple hair, a nose ring, and is named Flower..

5. You can't remember . . is pot illegal?

6. You've been to a baby shower that has two mothers and a sperm donor.

7. You have a very strong opinion about where your coffee beans are grown, and you can taste the difference between Sumatran and Ethiopian.

8. You can't remember . . is pot illegal?

9. A really great parking space can totally move you to tears.

10. Gas costs $1.00 per gallon more than anywhere else in the U.S.

11. Unlike back home, the guy sitting in Starbucks at 8:30 a.m. wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses who looks like George Clooney really IS George Clooney

12. Your car insurance costs as much as your house payment.

13. You can't remember . . is pot illegal?

14. It's barely sprinkling rain and there's a report on every news station: 'STORM WATCH.'

15. You pass an elementary school playground and the children are all busy with their cellphones or Ipods.

16. It's barely sprinkling rain outside, so you leave for work an hour early to avoid all the weather-related accidents.

17. HEY!!!! Is pot illegal?Huh

18. Both you AND your dog have therapists, psychics, personal trainers and cosmetic surgeons.

19. The Terminator is your governor.

20. If you drive illegally, they take your driver's license. If you're here illegally, they want to give you one.
25922  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: October 08, 2008, 02:04:28 PM
For someone running as the tribune of "change," Barack Obama showed again in last night's debate that he sure is comfortable with the status quo on health care. He continued his recent assaults on John McCain's health reform even though it is precisely the kind of plan that someone of Mr. Obama's professed convictions ought to support.

APThe attacks include swing-state TV spots and Joe Biden's multiple distortions, though the most over-the-top come from the candidate himself. Over the weekend, Mr. Obama called the McCain plan "radical," "out of line with our basic values" and, in case he wasn't clear, "catastrophic for your health care." Since Mr. McCain offered only a once-over-lightly defense of his plan, allow us to give it a try.

Perhaps Mr. Obama is so agitated because Mr. McCain's proposal is highly progressive. The Republican wants to readjust the subsidies that Congress channels into health coverage for business so that lower- and middle-wage workers aren't shortchanged, as they are now. Currently, people who get insurance through their employers pay no income or payroll taxes on the value of the benefit. This is revenue the government forgoes to encourage certain behavior. If those losses were direct spending, the tax exemption would have cost more than $246 billion in 2007.

But all that money props up only employer-provided insurance. For reasons of historical accident and lobbying clout, individuals who buy policies get no tax benefits and pay with after-tax dollars. Mr. McCain is proposing to make the tax benefits available to everyone, regardless of how they purchase their insurance.

He would offer a refundable tax credit of $5,000 for families, $2,500 for individuals, and the benefit isn't dependent on where people work or what they earn. Some would stick with their current job-based coverage. Given the option, others -- especially the uninsured, armed with new health dollars -- would decide to buy coverage on their own. That in turn would stimulate a market for more affordable insurance.

Mr. Obama doesn't want to let people make this choice. He even claims it would amount to "taxing your health-care benefits for the first time in history," which is a wild distortion. His point seems to be that because companies wouldn't have to pay for health care, they could raise wages and thus taxes would also increase for workers on those higher incomes. But doesn't Mr. Obama want higher wages?

All in all, workers would come out ahead with the McCain plan. According to the left-leaning Tax Policy Center, the average taxpayer would see his tax bill drop by $1,241 in 2009. On average, lower-wage workers have more limited coverage as part of their compensation, mostly from small- or medium-size businesses. But the more generous the employer health plan, the more the tax subsidies increase. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, the current employer benefit is only worth between $600 and $3,000 for people making under $100,000. The upper-income brackets save between $4,000 and $5,000.

The most affluent -- i.e., the top quintile of earners -- would be slightly worse off after 2013 under the McCain plan, though they'd still have plenty of options. Even as he routinely promises to raise taxes on "the rich," Mr. Obama is leaping to their unlikely defense here only to frighten everyone else. The McCain plan is fairer than the status quo, which subsidizes the most expensive employer (and union) insurance plans.

But don't take our word for it. Mr. Obama's chief economic adviser agrees with the McCain critique of the current system, or at least he once did. "This massive program of tax breaks is ineffective and regressive, wasting money on those who have health insurance while doing little for those who can barely afford it and nothing at all for those without it," wrote Jason Furman in 2006 in the journal Democracy. Before he joined the Obama campaign, Mr. Furman championed a health reform that relied on many of the same tax tools as Mr. McCain's.


In contrast to Mr. McCain, the Obama plan is all about expanding government health care. Mr. Obama is proposing a "public option" that is similar to Medicare but open to everyone of any age. With this new taxpayer-funded entitlement, private insurers would be crowded out as the government gradually paid all of the country's health-care costs.

Yet according to the Congressional Budget Office, federal spending on Medicare and Medicaid already takes up 4% of GDP today and will rise to an unsustainable 9% over the next two decades. Mr. Obama wants to add even more costs to this taxpayer balance sheet. The inevitable result as spending explodes would be price controls and rationing.

On choice, portability, quality and especially equity, the McCain health plan is far superior to Mr. Obama's. The Democrat is merely offering Canada on the installment plan.

Please add your comments to the Opinion Journal forum.
25923  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Cool training Vids on: October 08, 2008, 12:52:44 PM
Woof Dog Dan:

Great to see you here!  That first clip was great, I dunno wtf that second one was though  cheesy
25924  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: October 08, 2008, 12:47:53 PM
Pathetic unprincipled populist pandering by McCain as he tries to poach on BO's natural turf.  It is no coincidence that he is diving in the polls.
25925  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iceland on: October 08, 2008, 12:42:48 PM
Geopolitical Diary: A Russian Financial Power Play in Iceland
October 8, 2008 | 0120 GMT
The Russians are coming. Only this time they are invited and by Icelanders of all people.

Icelandic Prime Minister Geir Haarde confirmed Tuesday that indeed the NATO member state and staunch U.S. ally against the Soviet Union during the Cold War had asked for a $5.43 billion (4 billion euro) loan from its “new friend” Moscow and that it did so because it found no aid coming from its Western allies. Iceland’s economy has been devastated by the global credit crunch that destroyed its banking sector and currency. Icelandic banks have been either nationalized or propped up by the state, but the krona (Iceland’s currency) is falling precipitously. The Russian loan may have staved off a speculative run on the krona that ultimately saves the country from complete bankruptcy.

It was hard not to notice the bitter and wounded tone of Haarde, particularly when explaining why Reykjavik turned to Moscow for help in the face of rejection from his country’s equally financially stressed Western allies. That tone may soon be repeated by a number of countries as the financial crisis picks off the weakest and shakiest economies, a tone that will certainly be welcomed by the Kremlin looking to extend its influence globally.

Of course, the game of handing out money to allies in exchange for influence is not new to Moscow. The Soviet Union based its foreign policy in large part on buying allies (particularly in the Middle East and Africa), a strategy that to an extent helped bankrupt Moscow and bring the Cold War to an end. Thus far, post-Soviet Russia has been extremely careful and frugal — even the Iceland financial package is a loan and not a grant — in part because of its experiences and lessons from the Soviet era and in part because there was not any money to be shared with potential allies in the aftermath of the Soviet collapse.

Recently, however, that frugality has changed dramatically. Rising commodity prices have allowed Russia to build a massive $750 billion reserve fund and its energy and metals behemoths (and their oligarchs) to amass fortunes and power that could easily be mobilized to serve the Kremlin’s interests. While it is true that the Russian stock market recently plunged to lows not seen since the Ruble Crisis of 1998, drawing calls from analysts around the world that Russian economy is in tatters, the relevance of equity markets to the Russian economy is not altogether clear. The stock market was created to bring in foreign investment, but with the Russian coffers swollen with energy money the Kremlin is not too worried — for the moment — about the flight of foreign capital.

Russia is therefore well positioned to use its vast reserves to play the key role of a creditor nation during the woeful time of a global credit crunch — a position of great power. And Iceland is not the only country vulnerable to the financial crisis.

Ukraine, Greece, Slovakia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Austria, Romania and Hungary are some of the other countries that, for whatever reason, may be extremely vulnerable and of particular interest to Russia. These all have a particularly troubling combination of high public debt, a government budget deficit and a high government tax dependency. While predicting endangered economies is not an exact science, it is safe to argue that during a global credit crunch these economies would be put under extreme pressure to fund their budgets. For Moscow, the goal would be to aid countries where Russian capital intervention would both irk the West and advance its position in overall Russia-West brinkmanship. Furthermore, Russia would want to target countries where a few billion dollars would go a long way.

Countries with close ties to the West are ideal. For example, a financial package given to a country like Greece — which has an enormous public debt and high budget deficit and is therefore particularly endangered — would certainly be a useful strategic poke at the West. It is important to underscore that the Russian intention in these situations would not be to lure Athens or Reykjavik to allow a Russian military base or to abandon its alliances with the West. The idea would be to turn significant players in the West’s clique from skepticism toward Russia to a genuine appreciation for its generosity. The more members of NATO and the European Union that are indebted — both literally and figuratively — to the Kremlin for their financial survival, the more the proverbial window of opportunity will be cracked open for Moscow to act globally and in its periphery.

Russia of course has to play this strategy very carefully. The current state of affairs, in which Russia is the creditor nation and the West is either not unified (the European Union) or self-centered (the United States) will not last long. Russia’s upper hand in terms of liquidity is a transitory situation and the Kremlin knows it. It therefore will have to choose its battles carefully, placing strategic roadblocks in places where the West will have to take time to unwind Russian influence once the financial crisis is over, thus delaying the moment when the West focuses its attention fully on the Kremlin.
25926  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor on: October 08, 2008, 12:14:30 PM
Mexico Security Memo: Oct. 6, 2008
Stratfor Today » October 6, 2008 | 2034 GMT
Related Special Topic Page
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels
More Murders in Tijuana

Tijuana saw a dramatic increase in violence over the past week. A total of 64 people were killed in cartel-related violence in the northwestern border city between Sept. 26 and Oct. 5, making the week the most violent for Tijuana in recent memory. Tijuana was the deadliest city in Mexico during the first quarter of 2008, with firefights and kidnappings a common occurrence. But this past summer was a relatively quiet one for Tijuana, perhaps because of military deployments there in May or because of an agreement between the warring factions.

The latest round of murders was particularly public and gruesome. Bodies with signs of torture were stacked next to a primary school and most had their tongues cut out. Later in the week, six bodies were discovered elsewhere in the city dissolving in barrels of sulfuric acid. Nearly every body was accompanied by a message to “El Ingeniero,” or Fernando Sanchez Arellano, the leader of the fractured Arellano Felix Organization (AFO). The Baja state attorney general’s office says members of the Sinaloa federation are behind the killings.

Fractured and weakened by arrests, the AFO is not in a position to hold the lucrative Tijuana plaza. Just to the north lie San Diego and Los Angeles, California, the two cities that drive the huge cocaine market in southern California. With the AFO weakened, it appears that the Sinaloa federation has been able to poach on its territory.

Sinaloa’s presence in Tijuana is nothing new. Its battles with members of the AFO earlier this spring are what led to military deployments there in May. Although it is too soon to tell, Sinaloa may be mounting a fresh offensive in Tijuana after concentrating on the city of Juarez during the summer. This is notable because Juarez has been relatively quiet for the past couple of weeks. Although murders still occur there every few days, this is not nearly as frequent as in some weeks in the summer, when 30 to 40 murders was the norm.

Opening up a second front in Tijuana raises the question of the future of Juarez. While the violence there will undoubtedly continue, if Sinaloa is shifting its focus to a weakened Tijuana, it could signal that some kind of deal has been struck in Juarez. Stratfor received information at the end of September indicating that the situation in

Juarez would be resolved in a very bloody fashion. While large-scale violence did not materialize, the resolution might have.

Argentine Arrests in Paraguay
On Oct. 1, Jesus Martinez Espinoza, the presumed leader of a Sinaloa cartel cell in Argentina, was arrested on charges of passport falsification and possession of ephedrine, along with two other Mexican nationals, in a hotel in Asunción, Paraguay. Martinez Espinosa was wanted in Argentina for leading a group of Mexican drug traffickers that reportedly operates several methamphetamine labs in Buenos Aires. According to Argentine press reports, Mexican nationals with ties to the Sinaloa cartel have begun to take over the local methamphetamine market in Buenos Aires. The high-profile murder of a Buenos Aires pharmacist who reportedly supplied the Mexican nationals with Indian ephedrine (a precursor ingredient to methamphetamine) brought a lot of media attention to the issue, prompting the Argentine government to act.

Over the past two months, the Argentine government has led a crackdown on the distribution and production of synthetic drugs throughout the country, and especially in Buenos Aires. The vast majority of those arrested have been Mexican nationals. According to investigators in Paraguay, it looks as though synthetic drugs are manufactured in Argentina, smuggled across the border into Paraguay then shipped to Mexico for ultimate distribution in the United States.

The connection between the Mexican nationals in Argentina and the Sinaloa cartel remains unclear. There are conflicting reports about whether the Mexicans are under direct orders from the senior Sinaloa leadership or if they are just a franchise backed financially by the Sinaloa cartel. Either way the presence of Mexican nationals actively involved in the synthetic drug market in Argentina further indicates that Mexican drug traffickers are spreading their involvement over the continent. The murder of the pharmacist was a way of making their presence known.

(click to view map)

Sept. 29
Catalino Ortuño Duarte, a Party of the Democratic Revolution candidate for the Guerrero state congress, was shot in the back and killed as he was travelling through the village of El Naranjo in Guerrero State.
The Mexican Chamber of Commerce threatened not to pay taxes to Ciudad Juarez because city authorities are unable to ensure the security of organized trade. The Mexican Chamber of Commerce also began negotiations with the FBI to advise local businesses on security measures.
Eighteen people were killed in Tijuana, and the bodies of 12 victims were dumped in a vacant lot next to a primary school.
The counselor of the National Chamber of Road Freight in Veracruz state reported that over the past three years assaults on the state and federal highways in the state have risen 25 percent.
Two 17-year-olds were shot to death in Zapopan, Guadalajara state, when their red Corvette was intercepted by three assailants in a silver Suburban.
The Mexican navy seized a shrimp boat carrying four tons of cocaine in the Gulf of Tehuantepec. The boat, which left from Mazatlan, Sinaloa, was being escorted by an unknown number of speed boats which fled the area when the navy appeared.
A gun fight between two rival groups of drug traffickers in Cajeme, Sonora state, left three dead.
Sept. 30
The secretary of public security in Tijuana announced the seizure of 19 firearms, four vehicles and several uniforms that had been stolen from various Mexican law enforcement agencies.
Six bodies were found dissolving in three different barrels of sulfuric acid in Tijuana. Two other bodies were discovered in barrels of acid later in the day.
Thirty armed commandos stormed a private airstrip in Navolato, Sinaloa state, subdued a local policeman who was guarding the airstrip and stole five Cessna airplanes that reportedly had been seized by the Mexican military in counternarcotics operations earlier in the year.
The attorney general of Guatemala said Guatemala is in favor of the Mexican prosecution of Daniel Perez Rojas, reportedly the number two of Los Zetas, and that Guatemala supports his extradition, which has been requested by Mexican authorities.
Oct. 1
Argentine police conducted some 11 raids on various hotels in Buenos Aires, searching for eight Mexican nationals involved in trafficking ephedrine.
The bodies of two males reported missing Sept. 26 were found on the La Costerita highway with several bullet wounds and signs of torture.
Federal agents arrested eight suspected members of the Gulf cartel at a restaurant in the Juarez colony of Mexico City.
President Felipe Calderon sent a reform package to the Mexican congress in an attempt to overhaul the country’s security apparatus.
Oct. 2
Paraguayan authorities arrested three Mexican citizens and seized five kilos of ephedrine at the Silvio Pettirossi International Airport.
Ten people were murdered in Chihuahua state, four in Ciudad Juarez. The death toll in Ciudad Juarez alone for the year stands at 1,075, with more than 1,400 people killed in Chihuahua state during the same period.
A police officer was shot four times in Navolato, Sinaloa state, but his life was spared thanks to his bullet proof vest.
Eight bodies were dumped in a vacant lot in an industrial Park in Tijuana, Baja California state. The bodies showed signs of torture and their faces were wrapped in duct tape.
A group of armed men set fire to five buildings and kidnapped two people in the northern part of Chihuahua state.
One person was killed and one injured as a group of gunmen attempted to kidnap a father and his son in the San Pedro municipality of Nuevo Leon.
Oct. 3
The manager of a television station in Juarez, Chihuahua state, was detained by the military for driving an armored truck.
Three people were killed in attacks in Culiacan, Sinaloa state.
Four bodies were discovered near Vicente Guerrero, Durango state, near the border with Zacatecas.
Five bodies were discovered in the Guadalupe Victoria colony of Tijuana, two of which had been decapitated.
Oct. 4
The mayor of Ixtapan, Mexico state, a common weekend getaway for Mexico City residents, was executed. Los Zetas are the lead suspects.
Narcomessages appeared in Oaxaca offering rewards for the capture of Jesus Mendez Vargas and Enrique Tlacaltel and saying that members of La Familia participated in the Sept. 15 grenade attacks in Morelia, Michoacan.
Eight bodies were discovered in various parts of Tijuana, two of which had been decapitated. Narcomessages were found nearby.
Oct. 5
Some 7.2 million pills of pseudoephedrine were seized at the airport in Guadalajara, Jalisco state, in a shipment from Calcutta, India.
Víctor Manuel Álvarez, a lieutenant in the Beltran Leyva Organizations, will be extradited to the United States on charges of possession with intent to distribute five kilograms of cocaine.
Two men were killed in Sonora at different locations. One was shot to death in Nogales by two gunmen and the other was gunned down in Hermosillo as he was driving his jeep.
A 30-year-old man was gunned down in his Chevrolet truck as he was driving down the Boulevard Insurgentes in Tijuana. The man was accompanied by a woman who was wounded and transported to a local hospital.
25927  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: October 08, 2008, 11:43:26 AM
October 8, 2008

In today's Political Diary

The 'Voter Registration' Racket
McCain Is an Unguided Missile
The Housing Skit Is Back - Minus the Incitement to Homicide
Looking on the Bright Side of President Obama

A Smelly Acorn

Members of the left-wing activist group ACORN had a quick and predictable response to yesterday's raid of their Nevada offices by authorities investigating a possible massive voter registration fraud scheme.

The Las Vegas Sun reports that ACORN volunteer Frank Beaty immediately claimed the raid, which removed computers and files from the group's offices, was a conspiracy designed to prevent the registration of new voters. ACORN's national chief Bertha Lewis called the raid "a stunt that serves no useful purpose other than [to] discredit our work registering Nevadans and distracting us from the important work ahead of getting every eligible vote to the polls."

Reverting to the rhetoric of the 1960s voting rights struggle in the South may be politically useful, but it bears precious little resemblance to the reality of ACORN today. The group has constantly faced charges it mistreats its employees and even broke up their internal efforts to unionize their workplace.

Clark County Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax told the Sun that ACORN has been registering voters in Las Vegas since January and "we started having problems with them almost immediately." His staff met with ACORN and was offered promises that fraudulent registrations would no longer be turned in. "But those controls weren't sufficient," Mr. Lomax said.

Indeed, the more his office and that of Nevada's Secretary of State looked into ACORN's effort, the more worried they became. Jason Anderson rose to the rank of supervisor in ACORN even though he was a convicted felon. Other employees had served time for identity theft. Another former inmate who worked for ACORN told authorities his co-workers were "lazy crack heads."

ACORN's activities are under investigation or suspicion in a dozen states, with one of its workers indicted just last week in Wisconsin. Perhaps the Nevada raid will spur authorities elsewhere to dig down and conclude their investigations by Election Day -- before ACORN can do even more damage to the integrity of the vote.

-- John Fund

Maverick Without a Cause

When she was introduced as John McCain's running mate in Ohio six weeks ago, Gov. Sarah Palin hit on one of the most powerful themes Republicans have going this year when she said, "Join our cause." As a reformer from Alaska who unseated a governor of her own party, she was joining the ticket, she said, not just for a big job, but to help John McCain "reform" the Republican Party and the government in Washington. To many conservatives and independents across the country, she seemed the change agent they've been waiting for since Ronald Reagan.

But Sen. McCain showed little evidence in yesterday's debate of understanding why his Veep candidate is drawing crowds of 20,000 or why she ever had the potential to change the dynamics of this presidential race. In Nashville last night, Mr. McCain repeatedly asked voters to look at his record to see that he has reached across the aisle to work with Sens. Joe Lieberman, Russ Feingold and Ted Kennedy -- a litany of the most liberal Democrats. That's fine as far as it goes. It may even swing a few independents who are uncomfortable with Barack Obama and might vote for a Republican if he's willing to outsource large sections of domestic policy to Democratic senators.

But without a guiding set of principles to explain when and why Mr. McCain bucks his own party, "the maverick" gives the impression that he's flying by the seat of his pants. To win back the old Reagan Democrats while also reassembling the Republican coalition that has kept the GOP in power for decades, Mr. McCain needs a coherent set of principles that guide his actions and that voters can rally behind -- such as shrinking government, flattening the tax burden and reforming the federal policies that have contributed to America's health care and housing woes.

Mr. McCain needs a Maverick Manifesto -- and he didn't have one last night. If the last two debates are really his last chance to change the dynamic of the race, it may soon be over.

-- Brendan Miniter

NBC Explains Itself

NBC's "Saturday Night Live" has lampooned everyone over the years. Just two weeks ago it descended into tastelessness by implying that Todd Palin had committed incest. An actor portraying a New York Times reporter was shown ruminating about Palin scandals: "What about the husband? You know he's doing those daughters. I mean, come on. It's Alaska."

As raw as that was, it was passed off as humor and defended by NBC. But the network's reaction was quite different after last Saturday night's sketch dumping responsibility for the housing meltdown on the political fecklessness of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Finance Committee Chairman Barney Frank. Financier George Soros and mortgage investors Herb and Marion Sandler were depicted as benefiting from the subprime boom and its subsequent collapse. The Sandlers were given especially brutal treatment over their $24 billion sale of subprime mortgages to Wachovia Bank, which helped precipitate that institution's collapse. A caption underneath the couple's name indicated they were "people who should be shot."

NBC yanked the video off its Web site sometime early Monday. It appears NBC acted because it feared a lawsuit from the Sandlers, who are prominent funders of such left-wing groups as Air America and While no legal threat was received from the couple, Mr. Sandler did tell the Associated Press the skit was "crap."

Apparently, NBC acted preemptively to appease the Sandlers. It explains that the sketch did not meet its "standards." It has now reinstated the missing sketch on its Web site, having removed the "people who should be shot" line as well as a reference to "allegations of corruption" against the couple.

Veteran Hollywood journalist Nikki Finke says "NBC surely could have handled this better." While broadly accepting its explanation, she notes that "today's action may or may not silence critics like conservative commentator Michelle Malkin."

In my view, NBC may have acted appropriately, but its hasty response to liberal outrage over the sketch is likely to have a chilling effect on the network's future satire of leading liberals -- especially if Barack Obama is elected president.

-- John Fund

Candidates and Crisis

Anybody who knows markets probably went to bed last night wondering if today would be the day things really come unglued. By now, the wealth wiped out in the market collapse is already twice as big as the underlying housing losses, and the income losses to workers and investors, if the economy tanks, will be many times the losses in unreceived mortgage payments. We're at the place now where the politics of the housing meltdown could be far worse for the economy than the housing meltdown.

If you assume John McCain and Barack Obama are both idiot squirrels, at least one found the relevant nut last night. John McCain harped on the word "confidence" several times. Now if he could just have weaved the word into a coherent narrative of where we are in the financial crisis and how we get out. But he didn't.

Yet the cool deliberation with which Mr. Obama says whatever will get him where he's going -- last night it was the accusation "deregulation" repeated over and over -- is reassuring in its own way. Where's the evidence that he would be the least bit bound by anything he said during the campaign -- on taxes, regulation, health care or anything else? His dispassion in hitting his talking points is the dispassion of the truly noncommittal.

He wants to win and he wants to be reelected. Plus, he will have been elected without the help of Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Congress -- or, rather, despite them (Congress has a 9% favorable rating). Presumably he won't feel obligated to deliver their wish list. He wants Bill Clinton's presidency (he's already got Bill Clinton's economic advisers) without the intern baggage or other compulsive aspects.

Now Mr. McCain -- he's the one you might have to worry about. A one-term president, he might actually have some weird agenda that "honor" compels him to pursue. At least, that's the best argument we can think of for President Obama -- admittedly not much to weigh against the Halloween horror of one-party Democratic rule at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

-- Holman W. Jenkins Jr.

25928  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: October 08, 2008, 10:50:41 AM


Obama's Real Problem With Ayers
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Tuesday, October 07, 2008 4:20 PM PT

Election '08: At an education forum in Venezuela, Bill Ayers showed the real issue is not his terrorist past. It's the socialist revolutionary agenda that he and Barack Obama want to impose on the nation's schools.


Read More: Election 2008


Still more evidence of how the media are in the tank for Obama was evident in Tom Brokaw's description of Ayers on Sunday's "Meet The Press."

"School reformer" is how Brokaw identified the co-founder of the Weather Underground, the radical organization that, among other activities, bombed government buildings, banks, police departments and military bases in the early 1970s.

Yeah, right: Ayers is a school reformer in the same sense, as City Journal's Sol Stern put it, as Joe Stalin was an agricultural reformer.

An idea of what Ayers has in mind for America's schools was provided in his own words not 40 years ago when Obama was eight years old, but less than two years ago in November 2006 at the World Education Forum in Caracas hosted by dictator Hugo Chavez.

With Chavez at his side, Ayers voiced his support for "the political educational reforms under way here in Venezuela under the leadership of President Chavez. We share the belief that education is the motor-force of revolution. . . . I look forward to seeing how . . . all of you continue to overcome the failures of capitalist education as you seek to create something truly new and deeply humane."

Ayers told the great humanitarian Chavez: "Teaching invites transformations, it urges revolutions large and small. La educacion es revolucion." It is that form of socialist revolution that Ayers, and Obama, have worked to bring to America.

Ayers, now a tenured Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Illinois, Chicago, works to educate teachers in socialist revolutionary ideology, urging that it be passed on to impressionable students.

As Stern points out, "Ayers and his education school comrades are explicit about the need to indoctrinate public school children in the belief that America is a racist, militarist country and that the capitalist system is inherently unfair and oppressive."

If Ayers was just another nutty professor, we'd be lucky. But he wields great influence in academic circles and has had Obama's ear. He's the author or editor of 15 books. Chicago's current mayor, Richard M. Daley, has employed Ayers as a teacher trainer for Chicago's public schools and consulted him on the city's education-reform plans.

Just last month, Ayers was elected vice-president for curriculum for the 25,000-member American Educational Research Association. AERA is the nation's largest organization of education-school professors and researchers.

In a recent interview on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor," Obama upgraded Ayers' status from "a guy who lives in my neighborhood" to "somebody who worked on education issues in Chicago that I know."

Actually, Obama knew him quite well, having worked together on a school "reform" project called the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.

In the 1990s, Ayers was instrumental in starting the Annenberg Challenge, securing a $50 million grant to reform the Chicago Public Schools, part of a national initiative funded by the late Ambassador Walter Annenberg.

Obama was given the Annenberg board chairmanship only months before his first run for office. He ran the fiscal arm that distributed grants to schools and raised matching funds.

Ayers participated in a second entity known as the Chicago School Reform Collaborative, the operational arm that worked with grant recipients.

During Obama's tenure as Annenberg board chairman, Ayers' own education projects received substantial funding.

One of Ayers' descriptions for a course called "Improving Learning Environments" says a prospective K-12 teacher needs to "be aware of the social and moral universe we inhabit and . . . be a teacher capable of hope and struggle, outrage and action, teaching for social justice and liberation."

John McCain needs to repeatedly point out the stealth socialism of Ayers' education agenda and Obama's complicity in it. Otherwise, we may one day see Ayers as Obama's secretary of education.

25929  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Derivaties on: October 08, 2008, 09:01:04 AM
Briefing: Wall Street’s hidden time bombs

The WEEK magazine (link embedded) offers a brief, but excellent, primer on the derivative securities that caused, and cause, the maelstrom on Wall Street.

Briefing: Wall Street’s hidden time bombs

The financial meltdown engulfing Wall Street would not have happened without the advent of complex financial contracts known as derivatives. Why were they created, and why were so many supposedly smart people fooled?

What is a derivative?

In a very real sense, it’s a bet. A derivative is a contract in which an investor agrees to pay for either a commodity or financial instrument at a set price today, in return for the right to take profits if that asset’s value rises. Some derivatives, such as stock options and commodities futures, have been used for years and are considered completely benign. A farmer, for example, can agree to sell a ton of wheat he’ll harvest in three months to a major grain buyer for $1,000. That deal enables the farmer to lock in the price of wheat as he’s growing it. In exchange for that guarantee, the grain buyer gets an assurance he’ll have a steady supply of grain while also safeguarding against future price increases. Both sides, in other words, reduce risk and future uncertainties. But in recent years, a new, highly toxic form of financial derivative has spread like wildfire throughout the financial system, ultimately laying waste to some of Wall Street’s oldest and most prestigious firms.

What are these new derivatives?

They’re called credit derivatives, and were designed to serve as a kind of insurance against borrowers defaulting on their debts. Credit derivatives first appeared on the scene in the boom of the 1990s, but really became popular in the early 2000s, when Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan sought to stave off a post-9/11 recession by slashing interest rates from 6.5 percent to 1 percent. Money became very easy to borrow, and tens of millions of people bought homes or took out second mortgages, many of which were offered to financially shaky buyers at “subprime’’ rates. Those mortgages were then bundled into securities, and firms such as Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch created credit derivatives to protect investors in case the securities defaulted.

Why were these securities so popular?

They provided above-market rates of return, and because these complex instruments were so poorly understood, they seemed more solid—and less risky—than they really were. Investors thought that they were getting AAA-rated securities. The sellers—caught up in the assumption that housing prices would continue to rise indefinitely—also thought they were safe from losses. Each security involved hundreds or thousands of individual mortgages, chopped into pieces, so that the risk of default appeared small. And by selling them, investment banks and brokerage firms made hundreds of millions in upfront fees and premium payments. That’s why global insurance giant AIG also jumped into the derivatives game. “It is hard for us, without being flippant, to see us losing even one dollar in any of those transactions,” Joseph Cassano, then AIG’s head of credit derivatives, declared last year, expressing a common sentiment.

Was everyone so clueless?

No. Concern about financial derivatives first surfaced in the late 1990s, and congressional Democrats launched a drive to bring them under federal oversight. The effort was beaten back by Republicans led by then­–Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas, who pushed through a law that explicitly exempted financial derivatives from federal regulation. By 2003, the pace of derivatives trading had exploded, leading Warren Buffett, one of the world’s most successful investors, to call derivatives “financial weapons of mass destruction.”

Why was Buffett alarmed?

Because the well-being of the entire global financial system rested in part on a hidden world of multitrillion-dollar bets that financial regulators couldn’t control or even monitor. Indeed, since 2000, credit default swaps became one of Wall Street’s most popular products, with firms such as AIG, Lehman Brothers, and Bear Stearns selling swaps covering trillions of dollars in bonds. At Cassano’s urging, AIG became the biggest player in the field, selling protection on $527 billion in bonds.

So what went wrong?

Home prices started to fall and interest rates started to rise. When rates rose, many subprime borrowers with adjustable-rate mortgages found themselves unable to make their monthly payments. They also couldn’t sell, because the demand for houses began to crash. Very quickly, as defaults mounted, the derivatives that had made so many bankers and investors rich lost their value. In turn, firms such as AIG and Lehman, which had guaranteed these securities, couldn’t meet their debts. It was a worst-case scenario, causing the collapse of many banks and investment firms. Despite the federal government’s rescue efforts, many financial executives worry that further damage is yet to come, because of bad debt hidden in other banks’ derivative holdings. “It’s not the corpses you can see that scare you,” says one Wall Street banker. “It’s the corpses you can’t see that could pop out at any time.”

Can derivatives be brought under control?

Washington and Wall Street are struggling to find a way. One of the most popular ideas is to set up a clearinghouse for all financial derivatives trades. Regulators would monitor the clearinghouse to be sure that no market player took on more risk than it could afford. And firms would have to keep money on deposit to show that they could honor their guarantees. The question now is whether safeguards can be put in place before another AIG-style meltdown unfolds. “If it all goes horribly wrong, it will not be just Wall Street that suffers,” says veteran investor Michael Panzer, who has warned against derivatives for years. “Those seeking a mortgage, a college education, a job, or even day-to-day sustenance will be left wanting.”

The derivatives in your portfolio
If some of your savings are in a mutual fund, you’re probably an investor in derivatives. Many bond funds, including the nine most widely held funds, use derivatives both to protect against losses and to increase returns, because these swaps can appreciate in value when the prospects for a company and the overall economy improve. Funds aren’t required to disclose derivatives holdings, although those that make them a major part of their strategy typically do so. To see if your fund holds derivatives, check its prospectus and the listing of holdings contained in Securities and Exchange Commission form NQ. Those forms can be accessed at If you’re still unsure about your fund’s holdings and don’t want to take the chance, financial advisors say, don’t hesitate to switch to an ultra-safe government bond fund. “Don’t be complacent,” says financial advisor Lawrence Glazer. “If you are uncomfortable with something, don’t be afraid to make a change.”
25930  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Newt on: October 08, 2008, 08:49:07 AM
It would appear that McCain's populist pandering on the economic crisis has doomed his campaign and has doomed America to a President Obama leading an unrestrained Dem Congress.

We are fcuked.

October 7, 2008
Vol. 3, No. 41
Where We Find Ourselves This October:
The Bush-Paulson Economy is a Failure
Obama and the Left Would Be Worse
Can McCain Offer a Path to Economic Growth and Prosperity? By Newt Gingrich 
America this October is like a patient who has barely avoided a massive heart attack. We have no strategy for recovery, no strategy for economic growth, and no strategy for holding accountable those who have created this mess.

We're also far from out of danger. If we do not create an economic recovery program, we will be facing another bailout next year.
To put it another way: We can mop up water all we want but if we don't fix the leak we will simply have to keep mopping. Similarly, we can pass a bailout, but if we don't fix the economy we will have more and more bailouts.

America Must Get Back to the Fundamentals to Be Healthy Again
If we don't develop an energy abundance plan, we will continue to send $500 billion or more a year overseas and our economy will continue to weaken.

If we don't focus on making it easier for small business and for entrepreneurial startups, we won't have the new jobs to replace the old ones that are fading away under the pressures of science, technology and the world market.

If we don't get government spending, government regulations, government bureaucracy and government-mandated litigation under control, our economy will continue to weaken and we will be hit with rising inflation.

America has to get back to the fundamentals to become healthy again.

The Bush-Paulson Economic Strategy Has Been a Disaster
The Bush-Paulson strategy has been a disaster and has made things more difficult.

This spring, the $152 billion stimulus bill was wasted money. It should have been invested in science, technology, energy, infrastructure and pro-jobs, pro-savings tax cuts.

Imagine repealing the business killing Sarbanes-Oxley bill, eliminating the capital gains tax, going to 100 percent annual expensing for small businesses, and other practical steps to create jobs and generate wealth to mop up the bad debts.

Imagine half of the $152 billion invested in clean coal, biofuels, solar power, wind power, nuclear power, natural gas vehicles, hydrogen vehicles and drilling for oil and natural gas. Imagine the other half being invested in the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and in a space-based air traffic control system that would increase capacity in the Northeast by 40 percent. That would have been a long-term investment strategy instead of a wasted stimulus package.

Amazingly, the Housing Bailout Contained $500 Million for Radical, Anti-Free Market Groups
To give you a sense of how failed the current strategy has been, consider this: This summer a $300 billion housing bailout was passed with a $500 million a year payment to a radical, anti-free market group called ACORN and other left-wing organizing groups.

ACORN is a left-wing, political extortion racket. It's currently busy bussing people to vote early in Ohio and elsewhere - these are your tax dollars at work. You get taxed to send a left-wing group money to use to elect left-wing predatory politicians to raise your taxes to give more money to groups who help them get elected, etc.

It was suicidal for a Republican president to sign that housing bailout bill and any bill that contains funding for groups so radically opposed to the values and interests of the vast majority of Americans.

The Paulson Bailout a "Paradigm Shift" Toward Big Government and Big Cronyism
The Paulson bailout was initially bad and made worse by the Congressional Democrats. Then, John McCain and the House Republicans moved the bill from terrible to merely bad.

Still, lobbyists are already lining up to get their piece of the Paulson pie. They see a goldmine of new government regulation and involvement in private industry for them to exploit for their clients. One lobbyist told the Hill newspaper: "This will ripple through every piece of major legislation we are looking at next Congress. This is a paradigm shift."

Too Little Too Late: The SEC Moves Away From Mark-to-Market Accounting
Finally, the Bush Administration resisted for months modifying the mark-to-market accounting system which has been the source of many unnecessary bankruptcies.

The need to abandon the mark-to-market rule was the focus of my speech last Tuesday morning at the National Press Club. By Tuesday afternoon, to its credit, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) admitted the mark-to-market rule needed to be revised and announced a substantial change in its application. If the SEC had done this three months ago, it might have avoided $500 billion of the $700 billion in bad debt that Paulson wants to bail out with your money.

But If Bush-Paulson is Bad, Obama-Frank-Dodd-Pelosi-Reid Will Be Worse

Clearly, by any reasonable standard, the Bush-Paulson stewardship of the economy has failed.  But the Barack Obama-Barney Frank-Chris Dodd-Nancy Pelosi-Harry Reid-left-wing policies of big government, high taxes, more litigation, and insider deals for their left-wing special interests will be even worse.

We've heard a lot about predatory lenders in this current economic crisis. They deserve their share of the blame. But it's time to introduce a new term that gets us closer to the real roots of this crisis: Predatory politicians.  Predatory politicians are much more dangerous than predatory lenders. Predatory politicians have the power of the government to coerce you.  Government under Obama, Frank, Dodd, Pelosi and Reid will be government by and for predatory politicians. It will make dealing with predatory lenders seems like a walk in the park.

McCain and Palin Should Sound the Call Against Predatory Politicians

The elite media has desperately sought to avoid the guilt of the left for the current crisis. But this is a topic Senator McCain and Governor Palin should spend at least one-third of their time on for the next four weeks.

For more information on predatory politicians and their role in the making of the economic crisis, see my paper "Predatory Politicans, Destructive Leftwing Politics and the Roots of the Housing Crisis."

And if McCain and Palin find themselves in need of arguments against the left's all-purpose excuse that a lack of government regulation is all that is behind the economic crisis, they should read this conversation with Warren Buffet. The government had a 200-employee agency whose sole job was to watch over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and yet Fannie and Freddie still managed to bring the economy to its knees.

The Questions Senator Obama Needs to Answer

Senator Obama is intimately tied to corruption, left-wing radicalism, and predatory politicians. But the elite media has done everything it could to avoid asking the key questions. For a list of the questions Senator Obama needs to answer before we can judge his fitness for office, see my paper "Why is Barack Obama Afraid to Answer These Questions?" Senator McCain and Governor Palin should spend another third of their time asking Obama and the elite media to answer these questions.

They could use the same technique that Senator Richard Russell used in 1936 to defeat populist Georgia Governor Gene Talmadge. Russell literally posted a list of questions on the podium in Macon and told the crowd "Don't let him leave until he answers them." It was the psychological turning point of that campaign because Talmadge refused to answer and the people knew it.

If everywhere Obama and Biden went for the next 28 days they were faced with these questions they would rapidly lose popular legitimacy.

The McCain Crisis: Danger and Opportunity
Senator McCain now faces the crisis of his career.

He is behind. He will not catch up on a state-by-state basis.  He will either win the argument in the national media, suddenly growing stronger in many states or he will lose the national debate and gradually decline further in a number of states.

The Danger For McCain
If Senator McCain is not prepared to separate himself from the Bush-Paulson economic program, he has no opportunity to win.

The country is deeply fed up with the Bush presidency and angry about the Paulson bailout. If McCain is confused or uncertain about how bad this economic performance is, he will never get the country to listen to him.

The Opportunity for McCain
Just as Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan (as well as the House Republicans in 1994 with the Contract with America) created a large argument which led to a decisive result, so McCain has an opportunity to reach beyond the daily attacks and clever tactics and spend the last 28 days of this campaign making a large argument over America's future.

If McCain is prepared to declare that it is time for a fundamental change away from the failure of Bush-Paulson and away from the leftism of Obama (a "clean rupture" as French President Nicolas Sarkozy described it in breaking with President Jacques Chirac (watch my video on Sarkozy here) or "bold colors with no pale pastels" as Reagan described it in breaking with President Ford in 1976), then he has a huge opportunity on three levels:

First, small business and free markets are better than bureaucrats and socialism.

We know this as a matter of American values and polling confirms it. The margin isn't even close; it's about 70 -20 or better. Clinton pollster Doug Schoen and Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway recently did a survey for American Solutions which proves the American people hold the government responsible for much of our current economic pain. On other key issues like energy and taxes, the Platform of the American People proves that McCain could build a big majority.

Second, the vast majority of the American people are deeply fed up with the corruption, dishonesty, and arrogance of Washington and of many of their state capitals.

A candidate with the courage to tell the truth about Franklin Raines, Chris Dodd, Barney Frank, the Carter and Clinton-era pressures for bad loans, the ACORN pressure for bad loans (trained in Chicago by Barack Obama in his community organizer days) would have an enormous response from a country which is sick of predatory politicians, arrogant bureaucrats, and elitist reporters.

In short, the elites would be enraged but the American people would be enthusiastic.

Third, there are huge groups of Americans eager to have someone address their concerns and offer them hope.

Millions of small business owners would like a program that cut spending in Washington and taxes on their businesses and reduced regulations and red tape.  Millions of drivers would like an energy program that offered them hope. They believe in drilling here and drilling now.  Every person who uses electricity is eager for a determined effort to develop clean coal.  Millions of retirees or soon to be retirees would like a program that would strengthen the economy and increase the value of their investments.  Entrepreneurs and venture capitalists would fight for a program that abolished Sarbanes-Oxley, eliminated the capital gains tax, and expanded H-1B visas for talented workers.

A bold program of the right changes would rally a massive number of activists and donors to fight for a better future.

"Action This Day"
That was the slogan Winston Churchill used to focus and energize the British Government when he became prime minister in the darkest days of World War II.

If Senator McCain is prepared to be as bold as Winston Churchill and as aggressive as Theodore Roosevelt, this is an election that can be won and might be won by a shocking margin (like Harry Truman in 1948).

The choice is his. As for myself, I know of no other path that will work.

Your friend,

Newt Gingrich 
25931  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: ACORN on: October 08, 2008, 08:38:39 AM
Finally ACORN is getting investigated. AND a dem controlled election board caught it. I just saw on FOX News the investigation has expanded to 9 states. While not old news about ACORN, the news is they are finally being investigated.

Nevada state authorities seized records and computers Tuesday from the Las Vegas office of an organization that tries to get low-income people registered to vote, after fielding complaints of voter fraud.
Bob Walsh, spokesman for the Nevada secretary of state's office, told the raid was prompted by ongoing complaints about "erroneous" registration information being submitted by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, also called ACORN.
The group was submitting the information through a voter sign-up drive known as Project Vote.
"Some of them used nonexistent names, some of them used false addresses and some of them were duplicates of previously filed applications," Walsh said, describing the complaints, which largely came from the registrar in Clark County, Nev.
Secretary of State Ross Miller said the fraudulent registrations included forms for the starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys football team.
"Tony Romo is not registered to vote in the state of Nevada, and anybody trying to pose as Terrell Owens won't be able to cast a ballot on Nov. 4," Miller said.
Walsh said agents from both the secretary of state's office and Nevada attorney general's office conducted the raid at 9:30 a.m. local time, and "took a bunch of stuff." Miller's office reported seizing eight computer hard drives and about 20 boxes of documents.
Bertha Lewis, interim chief organizer for ACORN, released a statement saying the group has for months been turning over any suspicious registration information to elections officials. She said those officials routinely ignored their tips, and called the raid a "stunt."
"When we have identified suspicious applications, we have separated them out and flagged them for election officials. We have zero tolerance for fraudulent registrations. We immediately dismiss employees we suspect of submitting fraudulent registrations," she said. "Today's raid by the secretary of state's office is a stunt that serves no useful purpose other than discredit our work registering Nevadans and distracting us from the important work ahead of getting every eligible voter to the polls."
Neither the group, which hires canvassers to register voters, nor any employees have been charged or arrested for fraud or other crimes, said Miller, a Democrat.
But it's not the first time ACORN's been under investigation for registration irregularities. The raid is the latest of at least nine investigations into possible fraudulent voter registration forms submitted by ACORN -- the probes have involved ACORN workers in Wisconsin, New Mexico, Indiana and other states.
In response to the Las Vegas raid, Republican Nevada Sen. John Ensign and seven other senators penned a letter to the Federal Housing Finance Agency calling for the suspension of taxpayer dollars to "controversial groups like ACORN." The letter referred to contributions that potentially could come from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.
In 2006, ACORN also committed what Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed called the "worse case of election fraud" in the state's history.
In the case, ACORN submitted just over 1,800 new voter registration forms, and all but six of the 1,800 names were fake.
More recently, 27,000 registrations handled by the group from January to July 2008 "went into limbo because they were incomplete, inaccurate, or fraudulent," said James Terry, chief public advocate at the Consumers Rights League.
October 8, 2008

In today's Political Diary

The 'Voter Registration' Racket
McCain Is an Unguided Missile
The Housing Skit Is Back - Minus the Incitement to Homicide
Looking on the Bright Side of President Obama

A Smelly Acorn

Members of the left-wing activist group ACORN had a quick and predictable response to yesterday's raid of their Nevada offices by authorities investigating a possible massive voter registration fraud scheme.

The Las Vegas Sun reports that ACORN volunteer Frank Beaty immediately claimed the raid, which removed computers and files from the group's offices, was a conspiracy designed to prevent the registration of new voters. ACORN's national chief Bertha Lewis called the raid "a stunt that serves no useful purpose other than [to] discredit our work registering Nevadans and distracting us from the important work ahead of getting every eligible vote to the polls."

Reverting to the rhetoric of the 1960s voting rights struggle in the South may be politically useful, but it bears precious little resemblance to the reality of ACORN today. The group has constantly faced charges it mistreats its employees and even broke up their internal efforts to unionize their workplace.

Clark County Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax told the Sun that ACORN has been registering voters in Las Vegas since January and "we started having problems with them almost immediately." His staff met with ACORN and was offered promises that fraudulent registrations would no longer be turned in. "But those controls weren't sufficient," Mr. Lomax said.

Indeed, the more his office and that of Nevada's Secretary of State looked into ACORN's effort, the more worried they became. Jason Anderson rose to the rank of supervisor in ACORN even though he was a convicted felon. Other employees had served time for identity theft. Another former inmate who worked for ACORN told authorities his co-workers were "lazy crack heads."

ACORN's activities are under investigation or suspicion in a dozen states, with one of its workers indicted just last week in Wisconsin. Perhaps the Nevada raid will spur authorities elsewhere to dig down and conclude their investigations by Election Day -- before ACORN can do even more damage to the integrity of the vote.

-- John Fund
25932  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: October 08, 2008, 08:27:20 AM

As best as I can tell, your assessment of McCain's populist pandering is dead on.  angry cry sad


25933  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: April 2009 US Gathering on: October 08, 2008, 08:23:04 AM
Woof All:

April 4-5 it is.

"Higher consciousness through harder contact"
Crafty Dog
25934  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dates of Dog Brothers Gatherings of the Pack on: October 08, 2008, 08:06:05 AM
Woof All:

The Dog Brothers 2009 Tribal Gathering will be April 4-5.

"Higher consciousness through harder contact"(c)
Crafty Dog
25935  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: October 08, 2008, 07:50:52 AM
I just noticed my post of the first and am grateful that I put in tight stops.
25936  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington on: October 08, 2008, 07:45:02 AM

"Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the
great theatre of Action; and bidding an Affectionate farewell to
this August body under whose orders I have so long acted, I here
offer my commission, and take my leave of all the employments of
public life."

-- George Washington (Address to Congress on Resigning his
Commission, 23 December 1783)

Reference: George Washington: A Collection, W.B. Allen, ed. (273)
25937  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 07, 2008, 06:46:32 PM
Palin on Ahmadinejad: 'He Must Be Stopped'
By SARAH PALIN | September 22, 2008
Governor Palin, the Republican nominee for vice president, was scheduled to speak today at a rally in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza to protest the appearance here of President Ahmadinejad of Iran. Her appearance was canceled by rally organizers who sought a nonpolitical event. Following are the remarks Mrs. Palin would have given:


Sarah Palin


I am honored to be with you and with leaders from across this great country — leaders from different faiths and political parties united in a single voice of outrage.

Tomorrow, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will come to New York — to the heart of what he calls the Great Satan — and speak freely in this, a country whose demise he has called for.  Ahmadinejad may choose his words carefully, but underneath all of the rhetoric is an agenda that threatens all who seek a safer and freer world. We gather here today to highlight the Iranian dictator's intentions and to call for action to thwart him.

He must be stopped.

The world must awake to the threat this man poses to all of us. Ahmadinejad denies that the Holocaust ever took place. He dreams of being an agent in a "Final Solution" — the elimination of the Jewish people. He has called Israel a "stinking corpse" that is "on its way to annihilation." Such talk cannot be dismissed as the ravings of a madman — not when Iran just this summer tested long-range Shahab-3 missiles capable of striking Tel Aviv, not when the Iranian nuclear program is nearing completion, and not when Iran sponsors terrorists that threaten and kill innocent people around the world.

The Iranian government wants nuclear weapons. The International Atomic Energy Agency reports that Iran is running at least 3,800 centrifuges and that its uranium enrichment capacity is rapidly improving. According to news reports, U.S. intelligence agencies believe the Iranians may have enough nuclear material to produce a bomb within a year.

The world has condemned these activities. The United Nations Security Council has demanded that Iran suspend its illegal nuclear enrichment activities. It has levied three rounds of sanctions. How has Ahmadinejad responded? With the declaration that the "Iranian nation would not retreat one iota" from its nuclear program.

So, what should we do about this growing threat? First, we must succeed in Iraq. If we fail there, it will jeopardize the democracy the Iraqis have worked so hard to build, and empower the extremists in neighboring Iran. Iran has armed and trained terrorists who have killed our soldiers in Iraq, and it is Iran that would benefit from an American defeat in Iraq.

If we retreat without leaving a stable Iraq, Iran's nuclear ambitions will be bolstered. If Iran acquires nuclear weapons — they could share them tomorrow with the terrorists they finance, arm, and train today. Iranian nuclear weapons would set off a dangerous regional nuclear arms race that would make all of us less safe.

But Iran is not only a regional threat; it threatens the entire world. It is the no. 1 state sponsor of terrorism. It sponsors the world's most vicious terrorist groups, Hamas and Hezbollah. Together, Iran and its terrorists are responsible for the deaths of Americans in Lebanon in the 1980s, in Saudi Arabia in the 1990s, and in Iraq today. They have murdered Iraqis, Lebanese, Palestinians, and other Muslims who have resisted Iran's desire to dominate the region. They have persecuted countless people simply because they are Jewish.

Iran is responsible for attacks not only on Israelis, but on Jews living as far away as Argentina. Anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial are part of Iran's official ideology and murder is part of its official policy. Not even Iranian citizens are safe from their government's threat to those who want to live, work, and worship in peace. Politically-motivated abductions, torture, death by stoning, flogging, and amputations are just some of its state-sanctioned punishments.

It is said that the measure of a country is the treatment of its most vulnerable citizens. By that standard, the Iranian government is both oppressive and barbaric. Under Ahmadinejad's rule, Iranian women are some of the most vulnerable citizens.

If an Iranian woman shows too much hair in public, she risks being beaten or killed.

If she walks down a public street in clothing that violates the state dress code, she could be arrested.

But in the face of this harsh regime, the Iranian women have shown courage. Despite threats to their lives and their families, Iranian women have sought better treatment through the "One Million Signatures Campaign Demanding Changes to Discriminatory Laws." The authorities have reacted with predictable barbarism. Last year, women's rights activist Delaram Ali was sentenced to 20 lashes and 10 months in prison for committing the crime of "propaganda against the system." After international protests, the judiciary reduced her sentence to "only" 10 lashes and 36 months in prison and then temporarily suspended her sentence. She still faces the threat of imprisonment.

Earlier this year, Senator Clinton said that "Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is in the forefront of that" effort. Senator Clinton argued that part of our response must include stronger sanctions, including the designation of the IRGC as a terrorist organization. John McCain and I could not agree more.

Senator Clinton understands the nature of this threat and what we must do to confront it. This is an issue that should unite all Americans. Iran should not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. Period. And in a single voice, we must be loud enough for the whole world to hear: Stop Iran!

Only by working together, across national, religious, and political differences, can we alter this regime's dangerous behavior. Iran has many vulnerabilities, including a regime weakened by sanctions and a population eager to embrace opportunities with the West. We must increase economic pressure to change Iran's behavior.

Tomorrow, Ahmadinejad will come to New York. On our soil, he will exercise the right of freedom of speech — a right he denies his own people. He will share his hateful agenda with the world. Our task is to focus the world on what can be done to stop him.

We must rally the world to press for truly tough sanctions at the U.N. or with our allies if Iran's allies continue to block action in the U.N. We must start with restrictions on Iran's refined petroleum imports.

We must reduce our dependency on foreign oil to weaken Iran's economic influence.

We must target the regime's assets abroad; bank accounts, investments, and trading partners.

President Ahmadinejad should be held accountable for inciting genocide, a crime under international law.

We must sanction Iran's Central Bank and the Revolutionary Guard Corps — which no one should doubt is a terrorist organization.

Together, we can stop Iran's nuclear program.

Senator McCain has made a solemn commitment that I strongly endorse: Never again will we risk another Holocaust. And this is not a wish, a request, or a plea to Israel's enemies. This is a promise that the United States and Israel will honor, against any enemy who cares to test us. It is John McCain's promise and it is my promise.

Thank you.
25938  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Stratfor: The German Question (Deep Read) on: October 07, 2008, 03:45:42 PM
That seems lucid.   smiley

Would you please flesh out how Germany would be "exploited"?
25939  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Women fighters at DB Gathering on: October 07, 2008, 03:33:52 PM
Interesting article.  I certainly respect the skill and character of these women fighters, but overall count me among the sexist on this.  I watched TUF the other night-- have you seen Noguiera's face and ears?
25940  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: October 07, 2008, 08:05:00 AM
I think BBG is right to raise the question of where this may well be headed.
25941  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington's farewell address on: October 07, 2008, 08:03:35 AM

"Tis folly in one Nation to look for disinterested favors from
another; that it must pay with a portion of its Independence
for whatever it may accept under that character; that by such
acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given
equivalents for nominal favours and yet of being reproached with
ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than
to expect, or calculate upon real favours from Nation to Nation.
'Tis an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride
ought to discard."

-- George Washington (Farewell Address, 19 September 1796)

Reference: Washington's Maxims, 71.
25942  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Stratfor: The German Question (Deep Read) on: October 07, 2008, 07:21:45 AM
A discouraging and seemingly well-reasoned conclusion it is-- WHY do you disagree?
25943  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Open Letter to Muslims, Liberals, Democrats, et al on: October 06, 2008, 07:51:59 PM
Is that the URL you intended to post?
25944  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: April 2009 US Gathering on: October 06, 2008, 06:05:57 PM
The 3 day Gg was a one-of thing.  From here forward we anticipate 2 days-- at the Temecula Corral if we can.
25945  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: The German Question (Deep Read) on: October 06, 2008, 05:57:11 PM
The German Question
October 6, 2008

By George Friedman

Related Special Topic Page
The Russian Resurgence
German Chancellor Angela Merkel went to St. Petersburg last week for meetings with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev. The central question on the table was Germany’s position on NATO expansion, particularly with regard to Ukraine and Georgia. Merkel made it clear at a joint press conference that Germany would oppose NATO membership for both of these countries, and that it would even oppose placing the countries on the path to membership. Since NATO operates on the basis of consensus, any member nation can effectively block any candidate from NATO membership.

The fact that Merkel and Germany have chosen this path is of great significance. Merkel acted in full knowledge of the U.S. view on the matter and is prepared to resist any American pressure that might follow. It should be remembered that Merkel might be the most pro-American politician in Germany, and perhaps its most pro-American chancellor in years. Moreover, as an East German, she has a deep unease about the Russians. Reality, however, overrode her personal inclinations. More than other countries, Germany does not want to alienate the United States. But it is in a position to face American pressure should any come.

Energy Dependence and Defense Spending
In one sense, Merkel’s reasons for her stance are simple. Germany is heavily dependent on Russian natural gas. If the supply were cut off, Germany’s situation would be desperate — or at least close enough that the distinction would be academic. Russia might decide it could not afford to cut off natural gas exports, but Merkel is dealing with a fundamental German interest, and risking that for Ukrainian or Georgian membership in NATO is not something she is prepared to do.

She can’t bank on Russian caution in a matter such as this, particularly when the Russians seem to be in an incautious mood. Germany is, of course, looking to alternative sources of energy for the future, and in five years its dependence on Russia might not be nearly as significant. But five years is a long time to hold your breath, and Germany can’t do it.

The German move is not just about natural gas, however. Germany views the U.S. obsession with NATO expansion as simply not in Germany’s interests.

First, expanding NATO guarantees to Ukraine and Georgia is meaningless. NATO and the United States don’t have the military means to protect Ukraine or Georgia, and incorporating them into the alliance would not increase European security. From a military standpoint, NATO membership for the two former Soviet republics is an empty gesture, while from a political standpoint, Berlin sees it as designed to irritate the Russians for no clear purpose.

Next, were NATO prepared to protect Ukraine and Georgia, all NATO countries including Germany would be forced to increase defense expenditures substantially. This is not something that Germany and the rest of NATO want to do.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Germany spent 1945-1992 being the potential prime battleground of the Cold War. It spent 1992-2008 not being the potential prime battleground. Germany prefers the latter, and it does not intend to be drawn into a new Cold War under any circumstances. This has profound implications for the future of both NATO and U.S.-German relations.

Germany is thus in the midst of a strategic crisis in which it must make some fundamental decisions. To understand the decisions Germany has to make, we need to understand the country’s geopolitical problem and the decisions it has made in the past.

The German Geopolitical Problem
Until 1871, Germany was fragmented into dozens of small states — kingdoms, duchies, principalities, etc. — comprising the remnants of the Holy Roman Empire. The German-speaking world was torn apart by internal tensions and the constant manipulation of foreign powers.

The southeastern part of the German-speaking world, Austria, was the center of the multinational Hapsburg Empire. It was Roman Catholic and was continually intruding into the predominantly Catholic regions of the rest of Germany, particularly Bavaria. The French were constantly poaching in the Rhineland and manipulating the balance of power among the German states. Russia was always looming to the east, where it bordered the major Protestant German power, Prussia. (Poland at the time was divided among Prussia, Russia and Austria-Hungary.) Germany was perpetually the victim of great powers, a condition which Prussia spent the roughly half-century between Waterloo and German unification trying to correct.

To unify Germany, Prussia had to do more than dominate the Germans. It had to fight two wars. The first was in 1866 with the Hapsburg Empire, which Prussia defeated in seven weeks, ending Hapsburg influence in Germany and ultimately reducing Austria-Hungary to Germany’s junior partner. The second war was in 1870-1871, when Prussia led a German coalition that defeated France. That defeat ended French influence in the Rhineland and gave Prussia the space in which to create a modern, unified Germany. Russia, which was pleased to see both Austria-Hungary and France defeated and viewed a united Germany as a buffer against another French invasion, did not try to block unification.

German unification changed the dynamic of Europe. First, it created a large nation in the heart of Europe between France and Russia. United, Germany was economically dynamic, and its growth outstripped that of France and the United Kingdom. Moreover, it became a naval power, developing a substantial force that at some point could challenge British naval hegemony. It became a major exporting power, taking markets from Britain and France. And in looking around for room to maneuver, Germany began looking east toward Russia. In short, Germany was more than a nation — it was a geopolitical problem.

Germany’s strategic problem was that if the French and Russians attacked Germany simultaneously, with Britain blockading its ports, Germany would lose and revert to its pre-1871 chaos. Given French, Russian and British interest in shattering Germany, Germany had to assume that such an attack would come. Therefore, since the Germans could not fight on two fronts simultaneously, they needed to fight a war pre-emptively, attacking France or Russia first, defeating it and then turning their full strength on the other — all before Britain’s naval blockade could begin to hurt. Germany’s only defense was a two-stage offense that was as complex as a ballet, and would be catastrophic if it failed.

In World War I, executing the Schlieffen Plan, the Germans attacked France first while trying to simply block the Russians. The plan was to first occupy the channel coast and Paris before the United Kingdom could get into the game and before Russia could fully mobilize, and then to knock out Russia. The plan failed in 1914 at the First Battle of the Marnes, and rather than lightning victory, Germany got bogged down in a multifront war costing millions of lives and lasting years. Even so, Germany almost won the war of attrition, causing the United States to intervene and deprive Berlin of victory.

In World War II, the Germans had learned their lesson, so instead of trying to pin down Russia, they entered into a treaty with the Soviets. This secured Germany’s rear by dividing Poland with the Soviet Union. The Soviets agreed to the treaty, expecting Adolf Hitler’s forces to attack France and bog down as Germany had in World War I. The Soviets would then roll West after the bloodletting had drained the rest of Europe. The Germans stunned the Russians by defeating France in six weeks and then turning on the Russians. The Russian front turned into an endless bloodletting, and once again the Americans helped deliver the final blow.

The consequence of the war was the division of Germany into three parts — an independent Austria, a Western-occupied West Germany and a Soviet-occupied East Germany. West Germany again faced the Russian problem. Its eastern part was occupied, and West Germany could not possibly defend itself on its own. It found itself integrated into an American-dominated alliance system, NATO, which was designed to block the Soviets. West and East Germany would serve as the primary battleground of any Soviet attack, with Soviet armor facing U.S. armor, airpower and tactical nuclear weapons. For the Germans, the Cold War was probably more dangerous than either of the previous wars. Whatever the war’s outcome, Germany stood a pretty good chance of being annihilated if it took place.

On the upside, the Cold War did settle Franco-German tensions, which were half of Germany’s strategic problem. Indeed, one of the by-products of the Cold War was the emergence of the European Community, which ultimately became the European Union. This saw German economic union and integration with France, which along with NATO’s military integration guaranteed economic growth and the end of any military threat to Germany from the west. For the first time in centuries, the Rhine was not at risk. Germany’s south was secure, and once the Soviet Union collapsed, there was no threat from the east, either.

United and Secure at Last?
For the first time in centuries, Germany was both united and militarily secure. But underneath it all, the Germans retained their primordial fear of being caught between France and Russia. Berlin understood that this was far from a mature reality; it was no more than a theoretical problem at the moment. But the Germans also understand how quickly things can change. On one level, the problem was nothing more than the economic emphasis of the European Union compared to the geopolitical focus of Russia. But on a deeper level, Germany was, as always, caught between the potentially competing demands of Russia and the West. Even if the problem were small now, there were no guarantees that it wouldn’t grow.

This was the context in which Germany viewed the Russo-Georgian war in August. Berlin saw not only the United States moving toward a hostile relationship with Russia, but also the United Kingdom and France going down the same path.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who happened to hold the rotating EU presidency at the time, went to Moscow to negotiate a cease-fire on behalf of the European Union. When the Russians seemed unwilling to comply with the terms negotiated, France became highly critical of Russia and inclined to back some sort of sanctions at the EU summit on Georgia. With the United Kingdom being even more adamant, Germany saw a worst-case scenario looming on the distant horizon: It understood that the pleasant security of the post-Cold War world was at an end, and that it had to craft a new national strategy.

From Germany’s point of view, the re-emergence of Russian influence in the former Soviet Union might be something that could have been blocked in the 1990s, but by 2008, it had become inevitable. The Germans saw that economic relations in the former Soviet Union — and not only energy issues — created a complementary relationship between Russia and its former empire. Between natural affinities and Russian power, a Russian sphere of influence, if not a formal structure, was inevitable. It was an emerging reality that could not be reversed.

France has Poland and Germany between itself and Russia. Britain has that plus the English Channel, and the United States has all that plus the Atlantic Ocean. The farther away from Russia one is, the more comfortable one can be challenging Moscow. But Germany has only Poland as a buffer. For any nation serious about resisting Russian power, the first question is how to assure the security of the Baltic countries, a long-vulnerable salient running north from Poland. The answer would be to station NATO forces in the Baltics and in Poland, and Berlin understood that Germany would be both the logistical base for these forces as well as the likely source of troops. But Germany’s appetite for sending troops to Poland and the Baltics has been satiated. This was not a course Germany wanted to take.

Pondering German History
We suspect that Merkel knew something else; namely, that all the comfortable assumptions about what was possible and impossible — that the Russians wouldn’t dare attack the Baltics — are dubious in the extreme. Nothing in German history would convince any reasonable German that military action to achieve national ends is unthinkable. Nor are the Germans prepared to dismiss the re-emergence of Russian military power. The Germans had been economically and militarily shattered in 1932. By 1938, they were the major power in Europe. As long as their officer corps and technological knowledge base were intact, regeneration could move swiftly.

The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and its military power crumbled. But as was the case in Weimar Germany, the Russian officer corps remained relatively intact and the KGB, the heart of the Soviet state, remained intact if renamed. So did the technological base that made the Soviets a global power. As with Germany after both world wars, Russia was in chaos, but its fragments remained, awaiting reconstruction. The Germans were not about to dismiss Russia’s ability to regenerate — they know their own history too well to do that.

If Germany were to join those who call for NATO expansion, the first step toward a confrontation with Russia would have been taken. The second step would be guaranteeing the security of the Baltics and Poland. America would make the speeches, and Germans would man the line. After spending most of the last century fighting or preparing to fight the Russians, the Germans looked around at the condition of their allies and opted out.

The Germans see their economic commitment as being to the European Union. That binds them to the French, and this is not a bond they can or want to break. But the European Union carries no political or military force in relation to the Russians. Beyond economics, it is a debating society. NATO, as an institution built to resist the Russians, is in an advanced state of decay. To resurrect it, the Germans would have to pay a steep economic price. And if they paid that price, they would be carrying much of the strategic risk.

So while Germany remains committed to its economic relationship with the West, it does not intend to enter into a military commitment against the Russians at this time. If the Americans want to send troops to protect the Baltics and Poland, they are welcome to do so. Germany has no objection — nor do they object to a French or British presence there. Indeed, once such forces were committed, Germany might reconsider its position. But since military deployments in significant numbers are unlikely anytime soon, the Germans view grand U.S. statements about expanded NATO membership as mere bravado by a Washington that is prepared to risk little.

NATO After the German Shift
Therefore, Merkel went to St. Petersburg and told the Russians that Germany does not favor NATO expansion. More than that, the Germans at least implicitly told the Russians that they have a free hand in the former Soviet Union as far as Germany is concerned — an assertion that cost Berlin nothing, since the Russians do enjoy a free hand there. But even more critically, Merkel signaled to the Russians and the West that Germany does not intend to be trapped between Western ambitions and Russian power this time. It does not want to recreate the situation of the two world wars or the Cold War, so Berlin will stay close to France economically and also will accommodate the Russians.

The Germans will thus block NATO’s ambitions, something that represents a dramatic shift in the Western alliance. This shift in fact has been unfolding for quite a while, but it took the Russo-Georgian war to reveal the change.

NATO has no real military power to project to the east, and none can be created without a major German effort, which is not forthcoming. The German shift leaves the Baltic countries exposed and extremely worried, as they should be. It also leaves the Poles in their traditional position of counting on countries far away to guarantee their national security. In 1939, Warsaw counted on the British and French; today, Warsaw depends on the United States. As in 1939, these guarantees are tenuous, but they are all the Poles have.

The United States has the option of placing a nuclear umbrella over the Baltics and Eastern Europe, which would guarantee a nuclear strike on Russia in the event of an attack in either place. While this was the guarantee made to Western Europe in the Cold War, it is unlikely that the United States is prepared for global thermonuclear war over Estonia’s fate. Such a U.S. guarantee to the Baltics and Eastern Europe simply would not represent a credible threat.

The other U.S. option is a major insertion of American forces either by sea through Danish waters or via French and German ports and railways, assuming France or Germany would permit their facilities to be used for such a deployment. But this option is academic at the moment. The United States could not deploy more than symbolic forces even if it wanted to. For the moment, NATO is therefore an entity that issues proclamations, not a functioning military alliance, in spite of (or perhaps because of) deployments in Afghanistan.

Everything in German history has led to this moment. The country is united and wants to be secure. It will not play the role it was forced into during the Cold War, nor will it play geopolitical poker as it did in the first and second world wars. And that means NATO is permanently and profoundly broken. The German question now turns into the Russian question: If Germany is out of the game, what is to be done about Russia?
25946  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: October 06, 2008, 02:29:12 PM
There may be a privacy thread where this could have fit, but this thread seems fine to me so lets carry on here.

What do we think of this gentlemen?
25947  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Chess on: October 06, 2008, 02:26:59 PM
I am quite proud to report that my son has beaten me for the first time cool cool cool
25948  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Biden off his meds on: October 06, 2008, 01:14:12 PM
In the popular media wisdom, Sarah Palin is the neophyte who knows nothing about foreign policy while Joe Biden is the savvy diplomatic pro. Then what are we to make of Mr. Biden's fantastic debate voyage last week when he made factual claims that would have got Mrs. Palin mocked from New York to Los Angeles?

APStart with Lebanon, where Mr. Biden asserted that "When we kicked -- along with France, we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon, I said and Barack said, 'Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don't know -- if you don't, Hezbollah will control it.' Now what's happened? Hezbollah is a legitimate part of the government in the country immediately to the north of Israel."

The U.S. never kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon, and no one else has either. Perhaps Mr. Biden meant to say Syria, except that the U.S. also didn't do that. The Lebanese ousted Syria's military in 2005. As for NATO, Messrs. Biden and Obama may have proposed sending alliance troops in, but if they did that was also a fantasy. The U.S. has had all it can handle trying to convince NATO countries to deploy to Afghanistan.

Speaking of which, Mr. Biden also averred that "Our commanding general in Afghanistan said the surge principle in Iraq will not work in Afghanistan." In trying to correct him, Mrs. Palin mispronounced the general's name -- saying "General McClellan" instead of General David McKiernan. But Mr. Biden's claim was the bigger error, because General McKiernan said that while "Afghanistan is not Iraq," he also said a "sustained commitment" to counterinsurgency would be required. That is consistent with Mr. McCain's point that the "surge principles" of Iraq could work in Afghanistan.

Then there's the Senator's astonishing claim that Mr. Obama "did not say he'd sit down with Ahmadinejad" without preconditions. Yet Mr. Biden himself criticized Mr. Obama on this point in 2007 at the National Press Club: "Would I make a blanket commitment to meet unconditionally with the leaders of each of those countries within the first year I was elected President? Absolutely, positively no."

Or how about his rewriting of Bosnia history to assert that John McCain didn't support President Clinton in the 1990s. "My recommendations on Bosnia, I admit I was the first one to recommend it. They saved tens of thousands of lives. And initially John McCain opposed it along with a lot of other people. But the end result was it worked." Mr. Biden's immodesty aside, Mr. McCain supported Mr. Clinton on Bosnia, as did Bob Dole even as he was running against him for President in 1996 -- in contrast to the way Mr. Biden and Democratic leaders have tried to undermine President Bush on Iraq.

Closer to home, the Delaware blarney stone also invited Americans to join him at "Katie's restaurant" in Wilmington to witness middle-class struggles. Just one problem: Katie's closed in the 1980s. The mistake is more than a memory lapse because it exposes how phony is Mr. Biden's attempt to pose for this campaign as Lunchbucket Joe.

We think the word "lie" is overused in politics today, having become a favorite of the blogosphere and at the New York Times. So we won't say Mr. Biden was deliberately making events up when he made these and other false statements. Perhaps he merely misspoke. In any case, Mrs. Palin may not know as much about the world as Mr. Biden does, but at least most of what she knows is true.
25949  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Quotes of note: on: October 06, 2008, 10:55:47 AM

“A bureaucrat is the most despicable of men, though he is needed as vultures are needed, but one hardly admires vultures whom bureaucrats so strangely resemble. I have yet to meet a bureaucrat who was not petty, dull, almost witless, crafty or stupid, an oppressor or a thief, a holder of little authority in which he delights, as a boy delights in possessing a vicious dog. Who can trust such creatures?” —Marcus Tullius Cicero
25950  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / B. Franklin on: October 06, 2008, 07:56:42 AM
Benjamin Franklin: "If a man empties his purse into his head, no
one can take it from him."
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