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26751  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / IBD editorial on: August 26, 2010, 12:57:38 PM
IBD Editorial

 The Killing Fields Of Caracas

Socialism: Quick, what's the murder capital of the world: Kabul? Juarez? Try Caracas, Venezuela, a city whose dictator, Hugo Chavez, has made murder a means of extending his control.

The silent protest at Monday night's Miss Universe Pageant in Las Vegas was invisible to nearly everyone — except Venezuelans. On her final catwalk, the ranking Miss Universe, Stefania Fernandez, suddenly whipped out a Venezuelan flag in a patriotic but protocol-breaking gesture.

Fernandez waved her flag for the same reason Americans waved theirs after 9/11 — to convey resolution amid distress. Her flag had seven stars, significant because Chavez had arbitrarily added an eighth, making any use of a difficult-to-find seven-star banner an act of defiance.

Fernandez's countrymen went wild with joy on bulletin boards and Facebook, showing just how worried they are about their country. Their greatest fear is violent crime.

Ever since Chavez became president in 1999, Venezuelan cities have become hellholes in which murder rates have more than quadrupled. At 233 per 100,000, or one murder every 90 minutes, the rate in Caracas now tops that of every war zone in the world, according to an official National Statistics Institute study released Wednesday.

In fact, crime is the defining fact of life in today's Venezuela. About 96% of all murder victims are poor and lower-middle class, the very people Chavez claims to represent. "Don't venture into barrios at any time of the day, let alone at night," warns the Lonely Planet guide to Venezuela to hardy adventure travelers.

By contrast, the murder rate in cartel-haunted Juarez, Mexico, is 133 per 100,000, with Mexico's overall rate 8 per 100,000, about the same as Wichita, Kan. Colombia, fighting a narcoterror war since 1964, has an overall rate of 37 per 100,000, slightly higher than Baltimore at 36.9. The overall U.S. rate is 5.4.

Make no mistake, a murder rate like Caracas' is a crime against humanity. The absence of personal security renders all other human rights moot. By coincidence, that's just what Chavez seeks to eliminate as he turns his country into a Cuba-style socialist state. Instead of Castroite firing squads or Stalinesque gulags, Chavez outsources the dirty work of socialism to criminals while throwing dissidents in jail and threatening to censor newspapers.

He may try to suppress the Dante-like photos of corpses piled high at the Caracas morgue from the El Nacional newspaper, but the hard fact is that Chavez is responsible for what's going on.
26752  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Whoa! on: August 26, 2010, 11:35:04 AM

Suspected members of a drug trafficking cartel set up several roadblocks in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, after armed men entered a juvenile holding facility in Escobedo, Milenio reported Aug. 26. Roadblocks were reported on the highway to Miguel Aleman, in San Nicolas and on the Lopez Mateo Avenue. At least one roadblock has been cleared by police.
If I read this correctly, the impunity is such that in order to facilitate the mission the narcos set up roadblocks while invading a govt. facility to spring their captured comrades , , ,  shocked
26753  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: August 26, 2010, 09:44:02 AM
Wow.  Even Letterman is turning on BO:
26754  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ebonics? on: August 26, 2010, 08:51:28 AM

Associated Press
ATLANTA — Federal agents are seeking to hire Ebonics translators to help interpret wiretapped conversations involving targets of undercover drug investigations. The Drug Enforcement Administration recently sent memos asking companies that provide translation services to help it find nine translators in the Southeast who are fluent in Ebonics, Special Agent Michael Sanders said Monday.

Ebonics, which is also known as African American Vernacular English, has been described by the psychologist who coined the term as the combination of English vocabulary with African language structure. Some DEA agents already help translate Ebonics, Sanders said. But he said wasn't sure if the agency has ever hired outside Ebonics experts as contractors.

"They saw a need for this in a couple of their investigations," he said. "And when you see a need — it may not be needed now — but we want the contractors to provide us with nine people just in case."

The DEA's decision, first reported by The Smoking Gun, evokes memories of the debate sparked in 1996 when the Oakland, Calif., school board suggested that black English was a separate language. Although the board later dropped the suggestion amid criticism, it set off a national discussion over whether Ebonics is a language, a dialect or neither.

The search for translators covers a wide swath of the Southeast, including offices in Atlanta, Washington, New Orleans, Miami and the Caribbean, said Sanders. He said he's uncertain why other regions aren't hiring Ebonics translators, but said there are ongoing investigations in the Southeast that need dedicated Ebonics translators. Linguists said Ebonics can be trickier than it seems, partly because the vocabulary evolves so quickly.

"A lot of times people think you're just dealing with a few slang words, and that you can finesse your way around it," said John Rickford, a Stanford University linguistics professor. "And it's not — it's a big vocabulary. You'll have some significant differences" from English.

Critics worry that the DEA's actions could set a precedent.

"Hiring translators for languages that are of questionable merit to begin with is just going in the wrong direction," said Aloysius Hogan, the government relations director of English First, a national lobbying group that promotes the use of English. "I'm not aware of Ebonics training schools or tests. I don't know how they'd establish that someone speaks Ebonics," he said. "I support the concept of pursuing drug dealers if they're using code words, but this is definitely going in the wrong direction."

H. Samy Alim, a Stanford linguistics professor who specializes in black language and hip-hop culture, said he thought the hiring effort was a joke when he first heard about it, but that it highlights a serious issue.

"It seems ironic that schools that are serving and educating black children have not recognized the legitimacy of this language. Yet the authorities and the police are recognizing that this is a language that they don't understand," he said. "It really tells us a lot about where we are socially in terms of recognizing African-American speech."

Rickford said that hiring Ebonics experts could come in handy for the DEA, but he said it's hard to determine whether a prospective employee can speak it well enough to translate since there are no standardized tests. He said the ideal candidate would be a native speaker who also has had some linguistics training.

Finding the right translators could be the difference between a successful investigation or a failed one, said Sanders. While he said many listeners can get the gist of what Ebonics speakers are saying, it could take an expert to define it in court.

"You can maybe get a general idea of what they're saying, but you have to understand that this has to hold up in court," he said. "You need someone to say, 'I know what they mean when they say 'ballin' or 'pinching pennies.'"
26755  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: How to cut government spending on: August 26, 2010, 08:42:39 AM
26756  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: August 25, 2010, 09:31:53 PM
Muy interesante.

Me parece que el cuidadano Mexicano se encuentra con una pregunta profunda.  ?Como debe responder como un hombre libre hecho por Dios?  Los derechos humanos son la herencia de cada persona por el hecho de ser creado por dios.  (Hablo correctamentamenete si digo "Son su indole"?)

Tipicamente, cuando un pueblo libre presta parte de sus derechos/potencias para crear un estado, se incluye el derecho protegerlos.  Por su parte el pueblo recibe la responsibilidad de respetar a las leyes.

?Esta' Mexico hoy en dia en una situacion cuando el derecho humano de defenderse, brindado por Dios, supera la obligacion moral y spiritual de respetar a la autoridad?   ?Ya es tiempo irse armado a persar de lo que diga la le? 

Espero que Uds puedan entender mi espanol.
26757  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Inventing Moderate Islam on: August 25, 2010, 01:34:23 PM

Andrew C. McCarthy

Archive    |    Log In

August 24, 2010 4:00 A.M.

Inventing Moderate Islam
It can’t be done without confronting mainstream Islam and its sharia agenda.

‘Secularism can never enjoy a general acceptance in an Islamic society.” The writer was not one of those sulfurous Islamophobes decried by CAIR and the professional Left. Quite the opposite: It was Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual guide and a favorite of the Saudi royal family. He made this assertion in his book, How the Imported Solutions Disastrously Affected Our Ummah, an excerpt of which was published by the Saudi Gazette just a couple of months ago.

This was Qaradawi the “progressive” Muslim intellectual, much loved by Georgetown University’s burgeoning Islamic-studies programs. Like Harvard, Georgetown has been purchased into submission by tens of millions of Saudi petrodollars. In its resulting ardor to put Americans at ease about Islam, the university somehow manages to look beyond Qaradawi’s fatwas calling for the killing of American troops in Iraq and for suicide bombings in Israel. Qaradawi, they tell us, is a “moderate.” In fact, as Robert Spencer quips, if you were to say Islam and secularism cannot co-exist, John Esposito, Georgetown’s apologist-in-chief, would call you an Islamophobe; but when Qaradawi says it, no problem — according to Esposito, he’s a “reformist.”

And he’s not just any reformist. Another Qaradawi fan, Feisal Rauf, the similarly “moderate” imam behind the Ground Zero mosque project, tells us Qaradawi is also “the most well-known legal authority in the whole Muslim world today.”

Rauf is undoubtedly right about that. So it is worth letting it sink in that this most influential of Islam’s voices, this promoter of the Islamic enclaves the Brotherhood is forging throughout the West, is convinced that Islamic societies can never accept secularism. After all, secularism is nothing less than the framework by which the West defends religious freedom but denies legal and political authority to religious creeds.

It is also worth understanding why Qaradawi says Islam and secularism cannot co-exist. The excerpt from his book continues:

As Islam is a comprehensive system of worship (Ibadah) and legislation (Shari’ah), the acceptance of secularism means abandonment of Shari’ah, a denial of the divine guidance and a rejection of Allah’s injunctions. It is indeed a false claim that Shari’ah is not proper to the requirements of the present age. The acceptance of a legislation formulated by humans means a preference of the humans’ limited knowledge and experiences to the divine guidance: “Say! Do you know better than Allah?” (Qur’an, 2:140) For this reason, the call for secularism among Muslims is atheism and a rejection of Islam. Its acceptance as a basis for rule in place of Shari’ah is downright apostasy.

Apostasy is an explosive accusation. On another occasion, Sheikh Qaradawi explained that “Muslim jurists are unanimous that apostates must be punished.” He further acknowledged that the consensus view of these jurists, including the principal schools of both Sunni and Shiite jurisprudence, is “that apostates must be executed.”

Qaradawi’s own view is more nuanced, as he explained to the Egyptian press in 2005. This, I suppose, is where his vaunted reformist streak comes in. For private apostasy, in which a Muslim makes a secret, personal decision to renounce tenets of Islam and quietly goes his separate way without causing a stir, the sheikh believes ostracism by the Islamic community is a sufficient penalty, with the understanding that Allah will condemn the apostate to eternal damnation at the time of his choosing. For public apostasy, however, Qaradawi stands with the overwhelming weight of Islamic authority: “The punishment . . .  is execution.”

The sad fact, the fact no one wants to deal with but which the Ground Zero mosque debate has forced to the fore, is that Qaradawi is a moderate. So is Feisal Rauf, who endorses the Qaradawi position — the mainstream Islamic position — that sharia is a nonnegotiable requirement. Rauf wins the coveted “moderate” designation because he strains, at least when speaking for Western consumption, to paper over the incompatibility between sharia societies and Western societies.

Qaradawi and Rauf are “moderates” because we’ve abandoned reason. Our opinion elites are happy to paper over the gulf between “reformist” Islam and the “reformist” approval of mass-murder attacks. That’s why it matters not a whit to them that Imam Rauf refuses to renounce Hamas: If you’re going to give a pass to Qaradawi, the guy who actively promotes Hamas terrorists, how can you complain about a guy who merely refuses to condemn the terrorists?

When we are rational, we have confidence in our own frame of reference. We judge what is moderate based on a detached, commonsense understanding of what “moderate” means. We’re not rigging the outcome; we just want to know where we stand.

If we were in that objective frame of mind, we would easily see that a freedom culture requires separation of the spiritual from the secular. We would also see that sharia — with dictates that contradict liberty and equality while sanctioning cruel punishments and holy war — is not moderate. Consequently, no one who advocates sharia can be a moderate, no matter how well-meaning he may be, no matter how heartfelt may be his conviction that this is God’s will, and no matter how much higher on the food chain he may be than Osama bin Laden.

Instead, abandoning reason, we have deep-sixed our own frame of reference and substituted mainstream Islam’s. If that backward compass is to be our guide, then sure, Qaradawi and Rauf are moderates. But know this: When you capitulate to the authority and influence of Qaradawi and Rauf, you kill meaningful Islamic reform.

There is no moderate Islam in the mainstream of Muslim life, not in the doctrinal sense. There are millions of moderate Muslims who crave reform. Yet the fact that they seek real reform, rather than what Georgetown is content to call reform, means they are trying to invent something that does not currently exist.

Real reform can also be found in some Muslim sects. The Ahmadi, for example, hold some unorthodox views and reject violent jihad. Witness what happens: They are brutally persecuted by Muslims in Pakistan, as well as in Indonesia and other purported hubs of moderation.

Meanwhile, individual Muslim reformers are branded apostates, meaning not only that they are discredited, but that their lives are threatened as well. The signal to other Muslims is clear: Follow the reformers and experience the same fury. As Qaradawi put it in the 2005 interview, public apostates are “the gravest danger” to Islamic society; therefore, Muslims must snuff them out, lest their reforms “spread like wildfire in a field of thorns.”

Today, “moderate Islam” is an illusion. There is hardly a spark, much less a wildfire. Making moderation real will take more than wishing upon a star. It calls for a gut check, a willingness to face down not just al-Qaeda but the Qaradawis and their sharia campaign. It means saying: Not here.

— Andrew C. McCarthy, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, is the author, most recently, of The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.
26758  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: on: August 25, 2010, 01:02:50 PM
The Foundation
"We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt." --Thomas Jefferson

Editorial Exegesis

Obama's fiscal plan"Speaking last Wednesday in Columbus, Ohio, President Obama asked, 'How do we, over the long term, get control of our deficit?' Good question. Here's the answer suggested by last Thursday's semi-annual budget summary from the Congressional Budget Office: Stop spending so much. CBO's mid-year review largely reinforces the bad news we already knew -- to wit, that spending has exploded since Democrats took over Congress in 2007, first with the acquiescence of George W. Bush and then into hyperdrive after Mr. Obama entered the White House. To appreciate the magnitude of this spending blowout, compare CBO's budget 'baseline' estimate in January 2008 with the baseline it released Thursday. The baseline predicts future spending based on the law at the time. ... In a mere 31 months Congress has added more than $4.4 trillion to the 10-year spending baseline. ... As recently as 2005, total federal spending was only $2.47 trillion. Keep that $4.4 trillion in mind the next time you hear Mr. Obama or Speaker Nancy Pelosi say they 'inherited' this budget mess. Let's assume the recession that Mr. Obama inherited -- Mrs. Pelosi was already in power -- was responsible for causing $1 trillion or so in deficit spending. That still doesn't explain why the annual deficit of roughly $1.4 trillion will be nearly as high in fiscal 2010, after a year of economic growth, as it was in 2009. Or why CBO says the deficit will still be nearly $1.1 trillion in 2011 even if all of the Bush-era tax cuts are repealed. The deficit is barely declining because of the lackluster economic recovery, which continues to yield too little revenue, and especially because of the record levels of spending passed by the Democratic Congress and eagerly signed by Mr. Obama." --The Wall Street Journal

26759  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Putting on the brakes on: August 25, 2010, 08:26:48 AM
If Republicans take control of one or both houses of Congress this fall, many will have been elected with a promise to "repeal and replace" ObamaCare. But what are their options, really? There likely will be an initial showdown, but President Obama will surely veto any challenge to the law, and it would be hard to imagine mustering the votes to overturn it.

Information is the key weapon. Republicans can use congressional hearings to explain what ObamaCare is doing to the economy and the health sector. Their strongest cases would be built around jobs, the cost of health care, and the rising deficit.

If evidence shows that looming mandates on employers are crippling job-creation, they should be repealed. If health costs are rising, as they inevitably will be, Congress needs to hold hearings to investigate the causes and explain why the offending taxes and regulations must be repealed.

View Full Image

Chad Crowe
 .Here are six key strategies that a Republican Congress could employ to put on the brakes:

• Defund it. House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio has vowed to choke off funding for implementation of the legislation, starting with parts that are especially egregious such as the "army of new IRS agents" needed to police compliance.

While Republicans could target the most damaging provisions of the legislation and tie their defunding measures to appropriations legislation that the president wants and needs to sign, they'd better be ready for battles. When former House Speaker Newt Gingrich lost a stand-down with President Clinton over closing down the government in 1996, it was widely seen as a setback for GOP efforts to scale back big government.

• Dismantle it. To focus committee action and floor votes, Republicans can look for provisions in the law that Democrats are on record as opposing. For example, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D., N.D.) has said that the new federal program to fund long-term care—the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act, or CLASS Act—is "a Ponzi scheme of the first order, the kind of thing that Bernie Madoff would have been proud of." Mr. Conrad and five of his Democratic colleagues sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) before the legislation passed opposing the program and expressing "grave concerns" about its fiscal sustainability.

Other highly unpopular provisions include the requirement that all businesses must file 1099 forms with the IRS to report any purchases totaling more than $600 in a year. This is designed to raise about $17 billion over 10 years from tax cheats. Rep. Dan Lungren (R., Calif.) was the first to introduce legislation to repeal this gigantic paperwork burden. Many Democrats in vulnerable districts who voted for the health law are also anxious to repeal this provision, which the National Federation of Independent Business says will impact 40 million businesses.

• Delay it. Republicans can also vote to postpone cuts to the popular Medicare Advantage program, postpone mandates requiring that individuals and businesses purchase and provide health insurance, and delay imposition of the $500 billion in taxes required by the law. Mr. Obama wouldn't likely sign such legislation, but the debate would shine a light on problems that haven't received nearly enough attention.

• Disapprove regulations. The Congressional Review Act of 1996 (CRA) gives Congress the authority to overturn regulations issued by federal agencies if both houses approve, with a two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto. This would be difficult to pull off. But proposing a resolution of disapproval under the CRA gives Republicans a platform to express strong disagreement and bring attention to especially egregious rules.

The current congressional majority wants to gut the CRA, and the House passed a bill that would eliminate the requirement that federal agencies submit their rules to Congress before they can take effect. The Senate has not yet acted, but this measure should be on the Republicans' watch list for the rest of the year.

• Direct oversight and investigation. Other aspects of ObamaCare are ripe for public hearings. For example, rules dictating how much insurance companies must spend on direct medical benefits are already hugely controversial—even before they have been issued. Businesses are also aghast at the narrow openings they have to protect their current health plans from onerous federal regulation. Republicans could summon many witnesses to testify about the impact of this regulatory straightjacket.

Congress also must keep a careful eye on the evolving cost estimates and deficits. Former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin estimates that the cost of the subsidies for private insurance could rise to $1.4 trillion —triple the $450 billion assumed by the current CBO. This is because the legislation creates strong incentives for businesses to drop coverage and dump their employees into federally subsidized insurance. Congress has a responsibility to protect taxpayers from what surely will be exploding costs.

Republicans also will want to call Donald Berwick, head of the powerful Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, to testify before Congress and detail his regulatory agenda for implementing the health-care law. He escaped that duty earlier this year when the White House avoided his Senate confirmation by giving him a controversial recess appointment.

• Delegate to the states. Congress should encourage states to press forward with their own innovative programs. For example, Gov. Mitch Daniels's popular and fiscally responsible Healthy Indiana Plan expands coverage to the uninsured using a health savings account model. And the lightly regulated Utah Health Exchange provides a marketplace for individuals and small businesses to purchase affordable, portable health insurance. Both are threatened by ObamaCare. The more that states are marching forward with reform that suits the needs and pocketbooks of their citizens, the easier it will be for Congress to repeal ObamaCare and start over.

Americans intuitively understand that government can't pay for huge new entitlement programs and the expansion of Medicaid with imagined cuts to Medicare, while still improving Medicare's long-term solvency. They also know that job creation is flat and that employers' fear of ever-rising health benefit costs is part of the problem. They need to hear the evidence that their fears are valid.

The real wallop of ObamaCare will come in 2014, when most of the spending begins and businesses and individuals are hit with intrusive and expensive mandates. The main job of Republicans, should they capture Congress, will be to slow down implementation of the law and explain to the American people the damage it will do—and already is doing—to our economy. If the White House changes hands in 2012, they can be ready to start with a clean slate and begin a step-by-step approach to sensible reform.

Ms. Turner is president of the Galen Institute.
26760  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gilder interview on: August 25, 2010, 07:48:44 AM
George Gilder on Austrian Finance, Internet Technology and the Virtues of Supply-Side Economics

George Gilder

The Daily Bell is pleased to present an exclusive interview with George Gilder (left).

Introduction: George Gilder is Chairman of George Gilder Fund Management, LLC and host of the Gilder Telecosm Forum. He is also a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute where he directs Discovery's program on high technology and public policy, and the former Editor in Chief of the Gilder Technology Report (published by Forbes Inc., 1996-2007). Mr. Gilder pioneered the formulation of supply-side economics when he served as Chairman of the Lehrman Institute's Economic Roundtable, as Program Director for the Manhattan Institute, and as a frequent contributor to A.B. Laffer's economic reports and the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal. In the 1980s he also consulted leaders of America's high technology businesses. According to a study of presidential speeches, Mr. Gilder was President Reagan's most frequently quoted living author. In 1986, President Reagan gave George Gilder the White House Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence. Mr. Gilder hosts the web's premier technology investment discussion forum, the Gilder Telecosm Forum, and co-hosts (with Steve Forbes) the annual Gilder/Forbes Telecosm Conference.

Daily Bell: Can you give us some background on your life – where you grew up and what your interests were?

George Gilder: I grew up on a dairy farm in the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts, where my prime interests were cows, birds, sports, and girls.

Daily Bell: How did you become involved in free-market thinking?

George Gilder: I didn't. I got interested in human creativity and the conditions that foster it. It is enterprise that causes free markets, not free markets that summon enterprise. Adam Smith was wrong in his assertion that the extent of the division of labor is determined by the extent of the market. It is the other way around. The extent of the division of labor - the creativity of entrepreneurs - determines the extent of the market.

Daily Bell: Who were your big influences?

George Gilder: Jean Baptiste Say of Say's Law – supply creates its own demand – introduced to me by Thomas Sowell, who devoted his thesis to the subject. Supply-side economics is not a mere elaboration of free market theory. It is a new theory, founded by Say. It says markets are mere effects of enterprise.

Now from my studies of communications technology and Claude Shannon, I am intrigued with information theory and its concept of information entropy, which registers unexpected bits. Creativity always comes as a surprise to us. No information is transmitted unless it is unexpected. In this sense, Entropy is another word for "news."

I believe that information entropy also represents entrepreneurial "profit" (the unexpected component of returns; the expected component is the interest rate). Entrepreneurial economics is the economics of entropy. My former colleague Bret Swanson has an excellent website

The key rule of information theory is that it takes a low entropy carrier (no surprises) to bear high entropy information. That is why information gravitates to the electromagnetic spectrum, with its predictable waves guaranteed by the speed of light. And that is why creative enterprise gravitates to countries with stable currencies attuned to gold and the rule of law (no surprises).

Daily Bell: Explain your views on feminism and affirmative action as a young man.

George Gilder: I always valued the differences between the sexes as crucial to life and love.

Daily Bell: Have your views evolved since then?

George Gilder: Just grown stronger as the evidence from biology has mounted.

Daily Bell: Do you see differences between the Austrians like FA Hayek and the Fresh Water school of Milton Friedman?

George Gilder: Yes. The Austrians stress entrepreneurial creativity over free markets. When I went to China in the 1990s with Milton Friedman, he urged the Chinese to "take control over their money supply" as if the communists needed any further recommendations for "controls." I urged them to "let a billion flowers bloom." As I have said, there can be no free markets without free entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are not tools of the market, they are creators of new tools. The entrepreneur precedes the market. Without him, there is no market. The computerized markets of the quants careened to a predictable crash.

Daily Bell: Did you at the time you were writing Wealth and Poverty, a great book in our opinion.

George Gilder: Yes, I always preferred the Austrians for their stress on entrepreneurial creativity, but even the Austrians, beyond Von Mises, fell for the temptation of seeing entrepreneurs as products of "the free market" rather than its creator.

Daily Bell: Would you define yourself today - Republican, Conservative, Libertarian?

George Gilder: Yes.

Daily Bell: What do you think of the growing movement of Austrian economics?

George Gilder: Ever since Ludwig von Mises, the Austrians have been supreme in economics. But as far as I know no one has excelled the master.

Daily Bell: What do you think of Murray Rothbard?

George Gilder: Murray always struck me as a brilliant dogmatist, letting the ideal always trump the possible advance and allowing his hatred of bureaucracy to blur his ability to distinguish between totalitarianism and mere political muddle, between the Soviet Union and the United States, for relevant examples.

Daily Bell: What do you think of the Internet?

George Gilder: I have written several books on the Internet, beginning with Life After Television in 1990, which predicted "worldwide webs of glass and light." I think the Internet is now close to the end, because TCP-IP has become a cumbersome obstacle to communications in an age when video is the dominant form of traffic and thus the governing determinant of optimal technology. The new network will resemble a broadband synchronous version of the old telephone network, optimized for video. The current Internet, as Henry Gau has said, resembles an old telegraph system patched and upgraded for video.

Daily Bell: Is the Internet a force for freedom?

George Gilder: Yes. Communication is a form of freedom.

Daily Bell: How has your opinion of technology evolved over the years?

George Gilder: I have strengthened my view that government financed science and technology (such as global warming or "alternative" energy) are nearly always reactionary.

Daily Bell: Why did you stop writing about free-markets when you were such an eloquent proponent? Your voice has been missed.

George Gilder: I never stopped, but I wrote more about the fruits of enterprise and creativity than about the perfection of "free markets" themselves. Like "perfect competition," a cant of "free markets" has become an excuse for oppressive regulations and controls. As markets are never finally free or competition ever perfect, critics can always find reasons for new beadles and bureaucrats. Ostensible advocates of free markets, such as Paul Romer, end up denying the existence of real entrepreneurial invention (de novo) by depicting it as the mere materialist "reassembly of chemical elements."

Even Austrians depict the entrepreneur as a mere "scout of opportunities" or "arbitrageur" rather than as a creator of radical novelties based on imagination and original inspiration. They see the entrepreneur as a tool of markets rather than a creator of markets. Creation is a real thing in the world. Treating it as some kind of material process is arrant reductionism which leads to the notion that computer based financial markets are ideal. As we have seen in the recent financial crash, markets cannot function without human creativity and judgment.

Daily Bell: What do you think technology is capable of?

George Gilder: Empowerment of capitalists to defend themselves without retreat to Galt's Gulch.

Daily Bell: How is it going to change the future?

George Gilder: Enable global individualism and enterprise.

Daily Bell: Will it have a political impact? Is it?

George Gilder: Technological progress renders totalitarianism impotent. Only freedom can enable innovation and empower progress. Despots impoverish themselves.

Daily Bell: Where do you stand on fiat money versus a gold and silver standard?

George Gilder: Although I do not believe a restoration of the old gold standard is possible or desirable, I believe that gold is the monetary element and provides an extremely valuable gauge of the appropriate monetary policy. Ignoring the price of gold is perilous for any nation, such as the U.S. Gold will prevail over blind monetarism.

Daily Bell: What do you think of Congressman Ron Paul?

George Gilder: Like many movement libertarians, he always prefers the quixotic ideal (radical spending cuts) to the feasible improvement of lower tax rates. By opposing defense spending and American power he has become a shill for the enemies of capitalism and freedom.

Daily Bell: What do you think of the Tea Party movement?

George Gilder: A fully beneficial force as long as they stress tax cuts rather than spending cuts. Lower tax rates are good in themselves. Lower spending always ends up focusing on defense.

The chief damage of the new health care "reform" will come from the 16,500 new Internal Revenue Service Agents, each with $600K, assigned to enforce it. To focus on spending is wrong. It is coercive taxation that is the problem. It destroys capitalism.

Daily Bell: What do you think of the European Union and the move toward globalism generally. A good thing?

George Gilder: Global capitalism is good. Global socialism and bureaucracy is evil.

Daily Bell: Is America in good shape these days? Are you encouraged or discouraged?

George Gilder: America is in relatively bad shape. But it is showing strong signs of a revulsion against the ascendant socialism.

Daily Bell: What are some of the most influential books and web sites you can recommend to our readers?

George Gilder: Panic: the betrayal of capitalism by Andrew Redleaf and Richard Vigilante is the definitive account of the financial crash. Bret Swanson's EntropyEconomics website is excellent.

Daily Bell: Please recommend further reading from your own oeuvre as well.

George Gilder: My new book, The Israel Test, explains how anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are chiefly forms of anti-capitalism.

Daily Bell: Thank you for your time and insights.

George Gilder is a provocative writer with a formidable intellect. The arc of his literary career is broad and glittering, and his arrival on the national scene was a literary event. He was an original thinker from the beginning, attracting attention for his plain-speaking about male/female relationships and then, before it was fashionable, the necessity for free-markets in a Western world that was trending toward socialism. Many read his 1981 bestseller Wealth and Poverty and were favorably influenced by his arguments for freedom and free-markets. The book was timely and erudite - a pleasure to read. (One can see even from the interview above that George Gilder is an artist with words.)

Anyway, the whole idea of supply-side economics, which George Gilder helped pioneer as Chairman of the Lehrman Institute's Economic Roundtable, was a sociopolitical revelation. It could be realistically implemented and supported ideologically by US conservatives of the day. It also worked. In fact, every time taxes have been cut (in the U.S.) an energetic economy has been the result. By cutting taxes, a government can actually gain revenue – because entrepreneurs work harder – which is something the Obama administration should remember as it begins to arm revenue officers with rifles to facilitate further collections.

But the major point of enlightenment as regards this interview – from our viewpoint – is the statement made about libertarian congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex). Now from our point of view, Ron Paul is a man with a cast of mind similar to George Gilder's. Gilder, however, doesn't see it that way. He seems somewhat skeptical of Ron Paul.

"Like many movement libertarians, he always prefers the quixotic ideal (radical spending cuts) to the feasible improvement of lower tax rates," Gilder states in the interview above. And then he adds of Ron Paul, that, "by opposing defense spending and American power he has become a shill for the enemies of capitalism and freedom."

He also states in answer to the next question about the impact of the US Tea Party movement, "[They are] a fully beneficial force as long as they stress tax cuts rather than spending cuts. Lower tax rates are good in themselves. Lower spending always ends up focusing on defense."

We can see from the above perspective that George Gilder believes in a robust defense posture and an expenditure (one assumes from his answers) roughly analogous to trillions being spent now by the Pentagon. Not only that, but he seems to imply that the Reagan era focus on CUTTING TAXES versus CUTTING SPENDING was a purposeful one at the highest levels – a way of presenting one's free-market bona fides without chopping expenditures. In fact, Reagan ended up increasing government, which was certainly not his stated intention.

Now leaving aside the issue of military spending – a contentious one to be sure (given America's serial, global wars) – what George Gilder is telling us is that supply-side economics allowed the Reagan era Republican party to promote free-markets without running the danger of encouraging military spending cuts. In other words, government could continue to grow at the federal level even though it was implementing free-market solutions.

This is an astonishing perspective and one that we had not fully contemplated. Perhaps we've simply not read the right articles or books, but we've believed all along that supply-side economics was proposed as a libertarian solution to the problem of OUT OF CONTROL government. In fact, we are informed herein, it was proposed as a libertarian-style alternative that allowed government to CONTINUE to grow – or so George Gilder seems to explain. (Maybe we have missed something in our analysis or misunderstood him, in which case we apologize.)

Armed with acute insights, George Gilder makes other provocative statements in this interview, and we won't presume on the reader's time to point them out. They are evident enough and are cast forth as sparks, in our view, from a brilliant mind. He is certainly not a man equipped to endorse common wisdom, though his track record shows us that he is fully capable of anticipating society's most profound transformations.

Finally, we will not pretend that this interview reveals an entirely candid George Gilder. He was obviously somewhat guarded and occasionally monosyllabic, or nearly so. But we were pleased, nonetheless, to elicit his fascinating responses on any terms and wish to state he was most gracious to give us even a little of his valuable time.
26761  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers Open Gathering Sept 19, 2010 on: August 24, 2010, 09:32:05 PM
Howl of Greeting:

The rhythm of the seasons is with us and its time for the "Summer Dog
Brothers Gathering of the Pack". On behalf of the Council of Elders of the
Dog Brothers, Dog Brothers Inc. hereby cordially invites all people of good
spirit to its "Dog Brothers Open Gathering of the Pack" at 11:00 AM on
Sunday, September 19, 2010 at:

Gokor Chivichyan's Hayastan MMA Academy
7299 Atoll Ave
North Hollywood, CA 91605,+CA+91605&hl=en&geocode=&mra=ls&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=53.564699,135.263672&ie=UTF8&ll=34.200809,-118.419431&spn=0.006904,0.016512&z=17

This is not far from last year's location so similar hotel arrangements
should apply.

I am very happy with the fight area-- in my opinion it is the best indoor
fight area we have ever had.  Two sides of the fight area are padded walls,
one side is a cagefight type fence, and the fourth side is a waist high
version thereof.  Fighters, please note that Gokor takes VERY seriously the
cleanliness and condition of his fight area.  Therefore ONLY wrestling shoes
(white soled preferred) or bare feet will be allowed.  You will be required
to remove them before exiting the fight area and put them back on upon
returning to it, so bringing sandals of some sort along may be a good idea.

The viewing experience is also the best indoor experience we have ever had.
There will be bleachers on two sides of the fight area and a balcony over
looking from a third side.  The donation at the door will be $15.  Please
remember that this will be a good opportunity to pick up our DVDs, sticks,
clothing (including the new "Kali Tudo" MMA shorts and rash guards) and
other items at special prices.

Concerning parking:   The Hayastan Academy's parking lot is relatively small,
so most of you will be parking on surface streets.  On a Sunday morning this
should present no problem, but please plan your time accordingly.

The Magic Words:

The MAGIC WORDS: "No judges, no referees, no trophies. One rule only: Be
friends at the end of the day. This means our goal is that no one spends the
night in the hospital. Our goal is that everyone leaves with the IQ with
which they came. No suing no one for no reason for nothing no how no
way!Real Contact Stickfighting is Dangerous and only you are responsible for
you, so protect yourself at all times. All copyright belongs to Dog Brothers
Inc. CA law applies."


For example, sticks, and fights for that matter, may go flying into the
crowd. Parents should consider things like this in deciding whether a child
is old enough to bring along and/or deciding on from where to observe the
event. If a stick or a fight comes careening your way know that the fight
has right of way-- it is on you to get out of the way! If you are sitting in
or near the front row, we will not make fun of you if you wear protective

WILL BE ALLOWED.  In God we trust, everyone else NO DUAL PURPOSE
CAMERAS. If you see someone cheating, please let us know!!!  We are very
appreciative when you help look out for us!

We will continue starting the knife fights with a handshake and the knives
undrawn and analogous ideas. Concerning the knife fighting, there is a
relevant thread at We
will have some "Shocknife" knives on hand and so it looks like we will be
able to have electric knife vs. electric knife fights (as long as they last!). In
lieu of the shock knives, aluminum blades are encouraged.  Perhaps this
will help induce more realistic behavior during the knife fights!

We encourage you to fight knife versus stick-- the stick versus electric
knife is always exciting. Stick vs. knife has been one of perennial
questions of the FMA, so let's continue the research! Also, please feel free
to hide a knife on your person and surprise your opponent with it during the
stickfights. Remember that you may fight with weapons other than a stick if
you can find someone willing to go against you.  Please consider staff,
double stick, and anything else. At the most recent Euro Gathering we had a
Three Section Staff enter the fray.  In order to more deeply explore certain
variables, fighters may agree to "no grappling" rules. In staff and other
heavy weapon fights the fighters may wear wrestling type ear guards under
the fencing masks.

As always, there is no charge for fighters but FIGHTERS MUST PRE-
REGISTER, even if they have fought before--  no handing in registrations

The Fighter's Registration form can be found on the website
and MUST be filled out whether you have fought before or not.

For all Fighter Registration matters, please contact Cindy at 310-540-6853. You are not registered until your name
appears on the list of registered fighters on the website!!!

The Adventure continues!!! "Higher Consciousness through Harder Contact" (c)

Crafty Dog
Guiding Force of the Dog Brothers
President/Dog Brothers Inc.
26762  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: August 24, 2010, 07:39:54 AM
The greatest adventure of all  GF!
26763  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: August 24, 2010, 07:28:36 AM
Una pregunta muy profunda.

Las soluciones personales son un aspecto a la pregunta.  ?Mauricio, te parece buena idea comenzar un hilo al respeto?

Otro aspecto a la pregunta son las soluciones a nivel social. Por ejemplo las dos que se me occuren son:

a) Legalizar las drogas, con reglamentos razonables.

La corrupcion esta' basada en las tremendas utilidades creadas por "La guerra a las drogas".  Si las drogas fueren legal, las utilidades serian mucho menor y la necesidad de controlar/intimdar las autoridades nulo.

b) Reconocer el derecho humano que nos brinda Dios que cada persona tiene la derecha de defensa propia.  Por lo cual, cada persona tiene derecho a armas.

No es mi pais, ?Que opinan Uds?
26764  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Registered Fighters for the Sept 2010 Gathering on: August 24, 2010, 07:19:50 AM
Larry Brown
26765  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy on: August 23, 2010, 06:16:01 PM
So, "privacy is dead and I should just get over it"?
26766  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy on: August 23, 2010, 05:20:53 PM
Duh.  I get that.  My point is that American Airlines also gets it and my personal ID data is just that more "out there", thus facilitating ID theft.
26767  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Why sharks circle before attacking on: August 23, 2010, 05:19:32 PM
 Why Sharks Circle You before Attacking

Two great white sharks swimming in the ocean spied survivors of a sunken ship. "Follow me son" the father shark said to the son shark and they swam to the mass of people.

"First we swim around them a few times with just the tip of our fins showing." And they did.

"Well done, son! Now we swim around them a few times with all of our fins showing." And they did.

"Now we eat everybody."
And they did.

When they were both gorged, the son asked, “Dad, why didn't we just eat them all at first? Why did we swim around and around them?"

His wise father replied, "Because they taste better without the shit inside!"

Now you know the rest of the story.

26768  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: El Fire Hydrant: (Noticias) on: August 23, 2010, 12:51:45 PM
Ya estoy de nuevo en mi hogar.  !La Aventura continua!
26769  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: August 23, 2010, 12:49:49 PM
26770  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: August 23, 2010, 11:39:03 AM
NYPD's comments to me were made off-line.  I posted them here with his permission as a way of fomenting the discussion.  No offense or disrespect by me to Doug was intended-- as I emailed him the other day.
26771  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: ACTION items on: August 23, 2010, 11:35:54 AM
Today, right now:

Gun rights in USA Today poll
26772  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Last man of his tribe in Brazil on: August 23, 2010, 08:27:42 AM
The Most Isolated Man on the Planet
He's alone in the Brazilian Amazon, but for how long?
By Monte Reel
Posted Friday, Aug. 20, 2010, at 7:08 AM ET

The most isolated man on the planet will spend tonight inside a leafy palm-thatch hut in the Brazilian Amazon. As always, insects will darn the air. Spider monkeys will patrol the treetops. Wild pigs will root in the undergrowth. And the man will remain a quietly anonymous fixture of the landscape, camouflaged to the point of near invisibility.

That description relies on a few unknowable assumptions, obviously, but they're relatively safe. The man's isolation has been so well-established—and is so mind-bendingly extreme—that portraying him silently enduring another moment of utter solitude is a practical guarantee of reportorial accuracy.

He's an Indian, and Brazilian officials have concluded that he's the last survivor of an uncontacted tribe. They first became aware of his existence nearly 15 years ago and for a decade launched numerous expeditions to track him, to ensure his safety, and to try to establish peaceful contact with him. In 2007, with ranching and logging closing in quickly on all sides, government officials declared a 31-square-mile area around him off-limits to trespassing and development.

It's meant to be a safe zone. He's still in there. Alone.

History offers few examples of people who can rival his solitude in terms of duration and degree. The one that comes closest is the "Lone Woman of San Nicolas"—an Indian woman first spotted by an otter hunter in 1853, completely alone on an island off the coast of California. Catholic priests who sent a boat to fetch her determined that she had been alone for as long as 18 years, the last survivor of her tribe. But the details of her survival were never really fleshed out. She died just weeks after being "rescued."

Certainly other last tribesmen and -women have succumbed unobserved throughout history, the world unaware of their passing. But what makes the man in Brazil unique is not merely the extent of his solitude or the fact that the government is aware of his existence. It's the way they've responded to it.

Advanced societies invariably have subsumed whatever indigenous populations they've encountered, determining those tribes' fates for them. But Brazil is in the middle of an experiment. If peaceful contact is established with the lone Indian, they want it to be his choice. They've dubbed this the "Policy of No Contact." After years of often-tragic attempts to assimilate into modern life the people who still inhabit the few remaining wild places on the planet, the policy is a step in a totally different direction. The case of the lone Indian represents its most challenging test.

A few Brazilians first heard of the lone Indian in 1996, when loggers in the western state of Rondônia began spreading a rumor: A wild man was in the forest, and he seemed to be alone. Government field agents specializing in isolated tribes soon found one of his huts—a tiny shelter of palm thatch, with a mysterious hole dug in the center of the floor. As they continued to search for whoever had built that hut, they discovered that the man was on the run, moving from shelter to shelter, abandoning each hut as soon as loggers—or the agents—got close. No other tribes in the region were known to live like he did, digging holes inside of huts—more than five feet deep, rectangular, serving no apparent purpose. He didn't seem to be stray castaway from a documented tribe.

Eventually, the agents found the man. He was unclothed, appeared to be in his mid-30s (he's now in his late 40, give or take a few years), and always armed with a bow-and-arrow. Their encounters fell into a well-worn pattern: tense standoffs, ending in frustration or tragedy. On one occasion, the Indian delivered a clear message to one agent who pushed the attempts at contact too far: an arrow to the chest.

Peaceful contact proved elusive, but those encounters helped the agents stitch together a profile of a man with a calamitous past. In one jungle clearing they found the bulldozed ruins of several huts, each featuring the exact same kind of hole—14 in all—that the lone Indian customarily dug inside his dwellings. They concluded that it had been the site of his village, and that it had been destroyed by land-hungry settlers in early 1996.

Those kinds of clashes aren't unheard of: Brazil's 1988 Constitution gave Indians the legal right to the land they have traditionally occupied, which created a powerful incentive for settlers to chase uncontacted tribes off of any properties they might be eyeing for development. Just months before the agents began tracking the lone Indian, they made peaceful first contact with two other tribes that lived in the same region. One tribe, the Akuntsu, had been reduced to just six members. The rest of the tribe, explained the chief, had been killed during a raid by men with guns and chainsaws.

If you go to Rondônia today, none of the local landowners will claim any knowledge of these anecdotal massacres. But most aren't afraid to loudly voice their disdain over the creation of reserves for such small tribes. They will say that it's absurd to save 31 square miles of land for the benefit of just one man, when a productive ranch potentially could provide food for thousands.

That argument wilts under scrutiny, in part because thousands of square miles of already-cleared forest throughout the Amazon remain barren wastelands, undeveloped. The only economic model in which increased production absolutely depends on increased clearing is a strictly local one. The question of who'd benefit from clearing the land versus preserving it boils down to two people: the individual developer and the lone Indian.

The government agents know this, which is why they view the protection of the lone tribesman as a question human rights, not economics.

He eats mostly wild game, which he either hunts with his bow-and-arrow or traps in spiked-bottom pitfalls. He grows a few crops around his huts, including corn and manioc, and often collects honey from hives that stingless bees construct in the hollows of tree trunks. Some of the markings he makes on trees have suggested to indigenous experts that he maintains a spiritual life, which they've speculated might help him survive the psychological of being, to a certain extent, the last man standing in a world of one.

But how long can his isolation last? I get Facebook updates telling me what people half a world away are eating for breakfast. Corporations and governments are pushing deeper and farther than ever in search of bankable resources. How can it be that no one has flushed this man out already? In 2010, can anyone realistically live off the grid?

Some Brazilians believe that the rapid spread of technology itself might protect his solitude, not threaten it. The agents who have worked on the lone Indian's case since 1996 believe that the wider the story of the man's isolation spreads—something that's easier than ever now—the safer he'll be from the sort of stealthy, anonymous raids by local land-grabbers that have decimated tribes in the past. Technologies like Google Earth and other mapping programs can assist in monitoring the boundaries of his territory. Instead of launching intrusive expeditions into the tribal territories to verify the Indians' safety, Brazilian officials have announced they will experiment with heat-seeking sensors that can be attached to airplanes flying high enough to cause no disruption on the ground.

I first heard of the lone Indian a little more than five years ago, when I was the South America correspondent for the Washington Post and was interviewing a man who headed the federal department responsible for protecting isolated tribes in the Amazon. He mentioned the man as an aside, giving me a rundown of the latest attempt to force contact with him—the expedition that ended with an agent getting shot in the chest with an arrow.

I traced a huge star and three exclamation points in the margin of my notebook as he moved onto another subject. Those flags—don't forget to come back to this!—were pointless, because I couldn't stop thinking about the lone man and those daredevil expeditions to contact him.

Now, what I keep coming back to is a little different: the lone man and the unprecedented restraint the agents are showing in choosing not to repeat history.

Like Slate on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

Monte Reel is the author of The Last of the Tribe: The Epic Quest To Save a Lone Man in the Amazon.
26773  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Sundry on: August 23, 2010, 08:08:30 AM

"His person, you know, was fine, his stature exactly what one would wish, his deportment easy, erect and noble." --Thomas Jefferson, on George Washington in a letter to Dr. Walter Jones, 1814

"His temper was excellent, and he generally observed decorum in debate. On one or two occasions I have seen him angry, and his anger was terrible; those who witnessed it, were not disposed to rouse it again." --Thomas Jefferson, on Patrick Henry, 1824

"Every person seems to acknowledge his greatness. He blends together the profound politician with the scholar." --William Pierce, on James Madison, 1787
26774  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy on: August 23, 2010, 08:04:57 AM
That is a separate point I think.  My host could not even buy my ticket without giving my birthdate-- which is now in American Airlines computer records.
26775  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: August 23, 2010, 07:40:05 AM
It was gently brought to me attention that for over a year our records have failed to mention

Marcus "Giri Dog" Schilling of Switzerland.

Our apologies for the oversight.


And now we turn to the most recent Gathering.  Please note we count each day of a multi-day Gathering as a separate day as far as meeting the standard goes.

Crafty Dog


New full Dog Brothers are:

Colin "Point Dog" Stewart
Oskar "Spider Dog" Bernal

New Candidate DBs are:

Abu "C- Desert Dog" Dayyeh
Daniel "C-? Dog" Budar
Detlef "C- Sinatra Dog" Thiem
Gerry "C-? Dog" Casey
Heiko "C- Crossover Dog" Zauske
Kai "C- Suicide Dog" Schilling
Stefan "C-? Dog" Ramsauer
Thorsten "C- Lena Dog" Picker

And with a big welcome “wuff” here the new additions to the Tribe:

"Dog" Axel Datschun
"Dog" Benjamin Schlieper
"Dog" Chris Hawker
"Dog" David Lowndes
"Dog" Filippo Pani
"Dog" Ivan Pirozhkov
"Dog" Kai Schwahn
"Dog" Kai Spintig
"Dog" Kostas Tountas
"Dog" Ole Leinz
"Dog" Oliver Zaum
"Dog" Rodolfo Manzano Diaz
"Dog" Sigi Fischer
"Dog" Wiesław Hapke

26776  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Philly taxes blogs on: August 23, 2010, 07:20:33 AM


Pay Up
Got a blog that makes no money? The city wants $300, thank you very much.
by Valerie Rubinsky
Published: August 18, 2010

[ death and taxes ]

For the past three years, Marilyn Bess has operated MS Philly Organic, a small, low-traffic blog that features occasional posts about green living, out of her Manayunk home. Between her blog and infrequent contributions to, over the last few years she says she's made about $50. To Bess, her website is a hobby. To the city of Philadelphia, it's a potential moneymaker, and the city wants its cut.

In May, the city sent Bess a letter demanding that she pay $300, the price of a business privilege license.

"The real kick in the pants is that I don't even have a full-time job, so for the city to tell me to pony up $300 for a business privilege license, pay wage tax, business privilege tax, net profits tax on a handful of money is outrageous," Bess says.

It would be one thing if Bess' website were, well, an actual business, or if the amount of money the city wanted didn't outpace her earnings six-fold. Sure, the city has its rules; and yes, cash-strapped cities can't very well ignore potential sources of income. But at the same time, there must be some room for discretion and common sense.

When Bess pressed her case to officials with the city's now-closed tax amnesty program, she says, "I was told to hire an accountant."

She's not alone. After dutifully reporting even the smallest profits on their tax filings this year, a number — though no one knows exactly what that number is — of Philadelphia bloggers were dispatched letters informing them that they owe $300 for a privilege license, plus taxes on any profits they made.

Even if, as with Sean Barry, that profit is $11 over two years.

Barry's music-oriented blog, Circle of Fits, is hosted on Blogspot; as of this writing, its home page has two ads on it, but because he gets only a fraction of the already low ad revenue — the rest goes to Blogspot — it's far from lucrative.

"Personally, I don't think Circle of Fits is a business," says Barry. "It might be someday if I start selling coffee mugs, key chains or locks of my hair to my fans. I don't think blogs should be taxed unless they are making an immense profit."

The city disagrees. Even though small-time bloggers aren't exactly raking in the dough, the city requires privilege licenses for any business engaged in any "activity for profit," says tax attorney Michael Mandale of Center City law firm Mandale Kaufmann. This applies "whether or not they earned a profit during the preceding year," he adds.

So even if your blog collects a handful of hits a day, as long as there's the potential for it to be lucrative — and, as Mandale points out, most hosting sites set aside space for bloggers to sell advertising — the city thinks you should cut it a check. According to Andrea Mannino of the Philadelphia Department of Revenue, in fact, simply choosing the option to make money from ads — regardless of how much or little money is actually generated — qualifies a blog as a business. The same rules apply to freelance writers. As former City Paper news editor Doron Taussig once lamented [Slant, "Taxed Out," April 28, 2005], the city considers freelancers — which both Bess and Barry are, in addition to their blog work — "businesses," and requires them to pay for a license and pay taxes on their profits, on top of their state and federal taxes.

Mannino says the city doesn't keep track of how many bloggers and small-website owners are affected. But bloggers aren't the only ones upset with the city's tax structure. In June, City Council members Bill Green and Maria Quiñones-Sánchez unveiled a proposal to reform the city's business privilege tax in an effort to make Philly a more attractive place for small businesses. If their bill passes, bloggers will still have to get a privilege license if their sites are designed to make money, but they would no longer have to pay taxes on their first $100,000 in profit. (If bloggers don't want to fork over $300 for a lifetime license, Green suggests they take the city's $50-a-year plan.)

Their bill will be officially introduced in September. "There's a lot of support and interest in this idea," Green says.

Perhaps, but it doesn't change the fact that the city wants some people to pay more in taxes than they earn. "I definitely don't want to see people paying more in taxes and fees than what [we] earn," says Bess. "But I do think the city needs to establish a minimal amount of money that they won't tax, whether you're a bike messenger, microblogger or a freelance typist."
26777  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / "Always wrong, never in doubt" on: August 22, 2010, 08:49:27 PM
Back from the 2008 presidential campaign:

Hat tip to David Gordon for his witty phrase which I use for the subject line.
26778  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Asian Geopolitics on: August 22, 2010, 08:48:37 PM

Thanks for this.

It adds yet another reason to my thinking as to why we should be developing a much stronger relation with India.
26779  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Tea Party pollster on: August 22, 2010, 10:03:17 AM
San Diego, Calif.

You can tell it's a volatile political year when a balding, middle-aged pollster gets a standing ovation from hundreds of state legislators after delivering the news that only 23% of the people in this country believe today's federal government has the consent of the governed.

"Americans don't want to be governed from the left or the right," Scott Rasmussen tells the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conference of 1,500 conservative and moderate legislators. "They want, like the Founding Fathers, to largely govern themselves with Washington in a supporting—but not dominant—role. The tea party movement is today's updated expression of that sentiment."

Mr. Rasmussen tells the crowd gathered around him after his speech that the political and media elites have misread the tea party. He believes this strongly enough that he's teamed up with Doug Schoen—a pollster for both President Bill Clinton and New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg—to publish a new book that will seek to explain the movement's significance. "Mad as Hell" will be out early next month.

Thanks to the shifting tectonic plates of American society, polls have come to dominate our politics as never before, and Mr. Rasmussen is today's leading insurgent pollster. A co-founder of the sports network ESPN as a young man, now, at age 54, he's a key player in the contact sport of politics. His firm, Rasmussen Reports, has replaced live questioners with automated dialers so it can inexpensively survey a large sample of Americans every night about their confidence in the economy and their approval of President Obama. Key Senate and governor's races are polled every two weeks.

Some traditional pollsters argue otherwise, but time has shown that automated telephone technology delivers results that are just as accurate as conventional methods (as well as being far less costly). Mr. Rasmussen correctly predicted the 2004 and 2008 presidential races within a percentage point. In 2009, Mickey Kaus of noted that Mr. Rasmussen's final poll in the New Jersey governor's race was "pretty damn accurate. Polls using conventional human operators tended to show [Democrat Jon] Corzine ahead. They were wrong."

Christopher Serra
Scott Rasmussen
.Early this year, Mr. Rasmussen delivered the first early-warning sign that Scott Brown would change the direction of American politics. A Rasmussen poll showing Mr. Brown surging and only nine points down with two weeks left to go before January's special Senate election in Massachusetts attracted the instant attention of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. "How had this happened? What the bleep was going on?" is how the New York Times characterized his reaction. A Boston Globe poll taken about the same time showed Democrat Martha Coakley with a safe 15-point lead.

Mr. Rasmussen has a partial answer for Mr. Emanuel's question, and it lies in a significant division among the American public that he has tracked for the past few years—a division between what he calls the Mainstream Public and the Political Class.

To figure out where people are, he asks three questions: Whose judgment do you trust more: that of the American people or America's political leaders? Has the federal government become its own special interest group? Do government and big business often work together in ways that hurt consumers and investors? Those who identify with the government on two or more questions are defined as the political class.

Before the financial crisis of late 2008, about a tenth of Americans fell into the political class, while some 53% were classified as in the mainstream public. The rest fell somewhere in the middle. Now the percentage of people identifying with the political class has clearly declined into single digits, while those in the mainstream public have grown slightly. A majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents all agree with the mainstream view on Mr. Rasmussen's three questions. "The major division in this country is no longer between parties but between political elites and the people," Mr. Rasmussen says.

His recent polls show huge gaps between the two groups. While 67% of the political class believes the U.S. is moving in the right direction, a full 84% of mainstream voters believe the nation is moving in the wrong one. The political class overwhelmingly supported the bailouts of the financial and auto industries, the health-care bill, and the Justice Department's decision to sue Arizona over its new immigration law. Those in the mainstream public just as intensely opposed those moves.

The division of Americans into these groups has real significance for the way polls are conducted and how their results are interpreted, according to Mr. Rasmussen. One reason some polls offer misleading results, he says, is that the premise behind questions asked isn't always shared by those queried. "Many pollsters have asked voters whether policy makers should spend more to improve the economy or reduce spending to cut the deficit. But I found that 52% of Americans think more government spending hurts the economy and only 28% think it helps," he says. "The trade-offs pollsters offer voters often don't make sense to them. How you frame the question often obscures the results you get."

Mr. Rasmussen argues that Mr. Obama misread the data from early on in his administration. "People remember from his 2008 campaign that he promised to cut taxes for 95% of all Americans," he says. But Mr. Obama's stimulus package only grudgingly included modest tax cuts as part of an effort to secure Republican votes in Congress. "The week it passed, our poll found 62% of voters wanted more tax cuts and less government spending in the stimulus," he says. "We shouldn't be surprised people now think the stimulus has failed."

President Obama also bungled his message on health-care reform because he misread the polls, says Mr. Rasmussen. "He kept citing Congressional Budget Office projections that his plan would save money and cut the deficit. But our polls showed people didn't trust the elites: 60% thought it would raise the deficit and 81% thought it would cost more than CBO projected."

Democrats pushed the bill through anyway, convinced that voters would warm to it. Yet this past week, key White House allies conceded that hasn't happened. "Many don't believe health-care reform will help the economy," concluded a PowerPoint presentation put together by Families USA, a leading liberal group.

As we sit in a holding room after his speech at the conference, Mr. Rasmussen tells me that understanding the tea party is essential to predicting what the country's political scene will look like. "This will be the third straight election in which people vote against the party in power," he says. "The GOP will benefit from that this year, but 75% of Republicans say their representatives in Congress are out of touch with the party base. Should they win big this November, they will have to move quickly to prove they've learned lessons from the Bush years."

Mr. Rasmussen says it is hugely important to know whether a poll has surveyed all adults, registered voters or likely voters. "I've been criticized by some for only polling likely voters, or 'political junkies,'" he says, "but the people who ultimately vote decide everything."

Identifying the likely voters is particularly important this year because turnout is different in midterm elections than in presidential ones. "Remember John McCain won voters over age 40, and this November's older electorate is likely to have more McCain supporters in it than Obama backers," he says. "The statewide elections in New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts in the last year all saw fewer minorities and younger people vote than in 2008."

Given his frequent television appearances and the fact that his firm's website gets over a million hits a day in the weeks leading up to an election, I express surprise that people don't know much about Scott Rasmussen. "I'm a lot less important than the numbers I present," he says in an attempt to deflect attention from himself.

But Mr. Rasmussen has an interesting entrepreneurial story. He grew up in Massachusetts and New Jersey, the son of a sports broadcaster. Absorbed with hockey in high school, he joined his father in working for the New England Whalers. They would often bemoan that they couldn't get the team's games on broadcast stations. In 1978, trapped in a traffic jam on the way to the Jersey shore, they came up with the idea of an all-sports network on cable TV.

Using $9,000 charged to a credit card, they created the Entertainment Sports Programming Network, or ESPN. They soon scored a major investor in Getty Oil and launched in 1979. Within a few years, they had millions of viewers. Mr. Rasmussen was 22 years old.

The family sold its ESPN interest in 1984, and Mr. Rasmussen became interested in polling after taking a class at the University of Connecticut. He conducted his first poll in the late 1980s, but his business didn't take off until he embraced automated polling in the mid-1990s. With the exception of Gallup, he probably asks more Americans more questions today than any other organization.

With success has come criticism. Mr. Rasmussen has been attacked for alleged bias towards Republicans. He .rejects such complaints, noting that because he focuses on likely voters his survey sample often includes more Republicans. "The key is whether I've been accurate," he says, noting that he was bitterly attacked by Republicans in 2006 and 2008 for showing several longtime GOP senators in trouble early on. Many of them lost.

As for his own politics, he is coy other than admitting he has a healthy suspicion of the political class he devotes so much time to studying. "If I root for anyone to win, it's for our polls," he laughs. "If a Republican is ahead by two points, I want the Republican by two. If a Democrat is ahead by two, I want the Democrat by two."

This November, he'll be up late analyzing the data and hoping the Party of Rasmussen brings home the win.

Mr. Fund is a columnist for
26780  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: August 22, 2010, 09:34:33 AM
Amen, , , with some exceptions though e.g. the California Corrections Officers Union.
26781  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / They say its my birthday , , , that they want on: August 22, 2010, 09:32:49 AM
A seminar host is looking to book my flight, but the Airline company wants my birth date.  WTF?  Isn't that something I am supposed to keep rather close to the vest for reasons of making identity theft harder?

What can I do here?
26782  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What the world looks like in Pakistan on: August 22, 2010, 09:12:10 AM
Newspaper wonders if we cause the floods , , ,
26783  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: August 22, 2010, 09:06:49 AM
Those seem like fair points to me.
26784  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: August 22, 2010, 09:03:41 AM
Grateful for my new Indian Club DVDs and my workout yesterday based around the first one.  Grateful for a fine time at the movies with my son (The Expendables smiley ) Grateful for my first full night's sleep since coming back across the 9 times zones from Switzerland.
26785  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: August 21, 2010, 07:02:09 PM
A very well seasoned NYPD friend responded to me thusly-- in unvarnished cop candor.  With his permission I post here:


I don't like to discuss the job on public forums, but in a private correspondence I will tell you that macdoug or whatever his name is does not know what he's talking about.

If you're kid is sick u want the best dr money can buy. Not someone making minimum wage. So way should it be any different with someone who protects your life, or has the ability to take your life. The first 5 years I was on the job I would put my life on the line, then come home and decide what bill I was going to skip.

Bottom line you can't compare this to civillian work. Overtime usually means putting it on the line fighting with crackheads to make an arrest.   If you get it u earned it. Second, most jobs if you make a mistake you might get fired. Here a mistake could mean death or prison.

When I first came on, people in the private sector would make fun of you. Now they're jealous because they feel we have job security. Trust me, we don't. 

Anyway people like this make me laugh. Thanks for the info.
26786  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: August 21, 2010, 11:30:19 AM
NYC has a far, far higher cost of living than elsewhere.
26787  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our man in Iraq on: August 21, 2010, 11:29:09 AM
Our man soon to return to Iraq reports:

This is the type of information that is more meaningful to me than the proclamations of western journalists:

Security in Karbala “confusing” due to security forces “reluctance” – source
August 21, 2010 - 10:13:48

KARBALA: Security situation in Karbala province is “confusing” due to security forces “reluctance,” the head of the Karbala Provincial Council said on Saturday.
“Criminal and terror acts currently taking place in Karbala are due to the weak performance of security services,” Mohammed Hameed al-Mosawi told the press.
He explained that security commands in Karbala do not control the performance and work of their personnel.
The holy city of Karbala lies 110 km southwest of Karbala.

Bomb hits US PRT in Nasseriya
August 21, 2010 - 09:20:56

THI-QAR: A roadside bomb on Saturday dawn hit a convoy of the U.S. Provincial Reconstruction Team (P.R.T) northwestern the al-Nasseriya city, causing no casualties or damage.
“The attack occurred at the al-Chibiesh Intersection, northwestern al-Nassiriya,” a local provincial source told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.
He noted that the blast caused no casualties or damage.
Nassiriya, the capital city of Thi-Qar province, lies 380 km south of Baghdad.

U.S. patrol came under attack by thermal bomb in Kirkuk
August 20, 2010 - 12:14:29

KIRKUK: A U.S. vehicle patrol was attacked on Friday by a thermal bomb in central Kirkuk, without casualties, according to a senior security source.
“Unknown gunmen threw a thermal bomb on Friday afternoon (Aug. 20) on a U.S. vehicle patrol in al-Khadraa neighborhood, central Kirkuk,” Brigadier Sarhad Qader told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.
“The forces was distributing food and aids to poor families in al-Khadraa neighborhood,” he added.
“Policemen cordoned off the region and started to search it, where they arrested two suspects,” the officer noted.
SH (P)

3 judges injured in blast in Diala
August 17, 2010 - 10:11:22

DIALA: Three judges were wounded on Tuesday when a roadside bomb hit their civilian vehicle southwest of Baaquba city.
“The blast occurred at the major street in Baladroz district, 45 km southwest of Baaquba,” a local provincial source told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.
In addition to the three judges, a policeman was also wounded as he was with the judges in the same vehicle.
“The four injuries are serious, and were all admitted to hospital,” the source added.
He explained that the four victims were on their way to work at the Diala Court in central Baaquba when the bomb hit their vehicle.
The source accused the al-Qaida organization and banned political parties of targeting the three judges.
Baaquba, the capital city of Diala province, lies 57 km northeast of Baghdad.
26788  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Dr Hayek and Mr. Keynes on: August 20, 2010, 07:12:24 PM
Dr. Keynes Killed the Patient
By Michael Pento
A morbidly obese gentleman labored into Dr. Hayek's office suffering from severe chest pain. The patient also complained that he was unable to consume his usual 10,000 calorie-per-day diet; in fact, he was feeling so sick that he could barely scarf down 9,000 calories. He noted that his love for food remained as strong as ever, but his body just wasn't keeping up with his demands.

After having a thorough look at the patient, the good doctor could not find anything wrong outside of the patient's extreme portliness. After a moment of reflection, he delivered to his patient a troubling diagnosis. He explained that the chest pain stemmed from the strain the patient's 500lb body was putting on his heart, and that the lack of appetite was his body's attempt to protect itself from this imbalance. Dr. Hayek's prescription was simple: the patient had to dramatically reduce his consumption while undertaking a moderate exercise program, with the goal of losing 250lbs as quickly and safely as possible. Dr. Hayek was aware that it would be a physically painful and emotionally difficult process for the man, but it was the only way to avert a life of suffering - or even a heart attack.

Unfortunately, our patient rebelled against such an austere program. He had grown very fond of his high-calorie and high-fat diet and didn't think that now, when he was already depressed from dealing with all these ailments, was a good time to deny himself the few pleasures he had left. In his opinion, the doc's prescription was just too simplistic. He thought there just had to be a way to have his cake and eat it - frequently. So, he waddled out of Dr. Hayek's office as fast as he could, shouting over his shoulder: "I'm getting a second opinion!"

The overweight gentleman sauntered across the street, where he found the office of Dr. Keynes. He told the new doctor about his acute chest pain and lack of appetite, and complained about the previous doctor's "heartless" prescription. After a cursory examination, Dr. Keynes rendered his diagnosis: the patient's condition did not stem from the fact that his gigantic frame was causing undo strain on his heart; instead, the doctor concluded, the patient's chest pain was merely causing a temporary lack of hunger.

Furthermore, Dr. Keynes argued, the stress of cutting weight at the present time would certainly prove detrimental to the man's already weak heart. Therefore, his prescription was for the 500lb man to each as much as possible, as quickly as possible. Anything less might cause the man to suffer a heart attack, he noted. Now the doctor did concede that, at some point in the distant future, it might be a good idea for the man to shed a few pounds. But for the present, the most import thing to do would be to consume as much as he could stomach.

The patient left Dr. Keynes' office with a broad smile. After gorging at an all-you-can-eat buffet, he momentarily forgot about his chest pain. It looked like he had found his solution; except, a week later, he died.

The Hubris of Government

The allegory above discusses the dangers of quackery, whether medical or economic. Right now, economic quackery - in the form of Keynesianism - has overtaken Washington.

American consumers are trying their best to deleverage. In terms of the story, the patient is actually trying to lose weight. But the government is blocking deleveraging and trying to boost consumption. They are forcing food down the patient's throat. According to the Flow of Funds Report, households reduced debt at a 2.4% annualized rate ($330 billion) during Q1 of 2010. Meanwhile, the federal government was piling on debt at an 18.5% annual rate ($1.44 trillion). Since every dollar of government debt is a promise to tax the private sector in the future with interest, this public spending spree effectively negated the Herculean efforts of the private sector to return to a sustainable path.

That's where the arrogance of Washington is really apparent. Scores of millions of American consumers have made the decision that reducing their debt burden is in their best interests right now. But a few hundred individuals in government believe they know better than the collective wisdom of the entire free market. By leveraging up the public sector, they have used their power to confiscate our savings. In short, they are forbidding us from following the common sense path to fiscal health.

Unlike their forbears, modern-day Keynesians do not argue just for mollification in the rate of deleveraging. They seek to significantly increase debt levels in an effort to boost the aggregate demand in the economy. Apparently, only once the mythical recovery takes hold due to government spending, printing, and borrowing does a discussion of deficits become appropriate.

The US has persisted under this theory for close to a century, though with a declining quality of life. Unfortunately, the patient has now gone critical. Curiously, the world has yet to fully recognize our precarious condition, even as they provide us with life support. Washington is now entirely dependent on the reserve currency status of the dollar and the continued hibernation of bond vigilantes. Without these supports, the United States would face complete economic arrest.

Rather than allowing the American people to get back on our feet, Washington is stuffing us with even more debt. It's almost as if the feds are daring our foreign creditors to pull the plug. As a consequence, I predict that just as Dr. Keynes killed his patient, Keynesian economics will kill our economy.
26789  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Day by Day cartoon on: August 20, 2010, 08:31:25 AM
26790  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Door Work, Bouncing, Bodyguarding on: August 20, 2010, 07:26:00 AM
Good find PC. 

Nice work by the reporter following up and getting the details.  In case the URL goes dead some day, here it is, minus the fotos and clips:

Special to MSNBC
updated 8/16/2010 3:01:39 PM ET

BANGKOK — Lee Aldhouse of Britain and American Dashawn Longfellow both had a passion for Muay Thai, the Thai martial art of kickboxing. But it was in a bar, not a fighting ring, where their lives intersected — with a deadly result.

The fateful encounter between foreigners on the Thai southern resort island of Phuket left Longfellow dead and Aldhouse, who authorities say killed him, apparently on the run.

Both men came to Thailand to learn Muay Thai and both drifted away from training. Friends and associates say they got drawn into the culture of drinking and bars that is inherent in the tourist-filled island of Phuket.

Longfellow, the 23-year-old former U.S. marine who Aldhouse allegedly stabbed to death early Saturday morning, is a decorated war hero who had served with distinction in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

He told friends he was spending time in Phuket to rehabilitate from a shrapnel injury to his arm received in Afghanistan.

Aldhouse, 28, is from England and arrived in Phuket in 2006 to train at Rawai Muay Thai. He had a number of Muay Thai fights for the gym but was eventually asked to leave after allegedly assaulting his English girlfriend, according to the owner of the Rawai Muay Thai facility.

Longfellow arrived in Phuket earlier this year with the intention of spending a year training at Rawai Muay Thai. Just like Aldhouse he was asked to leave the gym although the circumstances were entirely amicable.

Diana Campillo, the owner of Rawai Muay Thai, remembers Longfellow specifically.
"Dashawn was actually here on a year visa. I remember writing the application letter for him on the understanding that he would train for a year but he came and met this girl and wanted to be with her and drink. He was staying at the camp but he was drinking almost every night and he wouldn’t really train," Campillo said.

"Eventually we had to say to him, ‘If you are not serious about training you should stay some place else, don’t stay at the camp.’ So we asked them to leave and Dashawn went and trained somewhere else,” she said.

Aldhouse’s departure from Rawai Muay Thai four years earlier had been much more acrimonious. Danny Avison was working for the camp at the time and made a video of Aldhouse fighting a much smaller Thai opponent, which can be seen at right.
Avison said the Englishman, whose nickname was "the Pit Bull," was involved in a number of violent incidents.

“He came here with an English girl in 2006. He was massive ... and said he had been working as a bouncer in Spain. In his first fight for Rawai Muay Thai he knocked the guy down and then dived on him and tried to bite his ear off you can see it on YouTube. He assaulted the girl that he came with and our trainers were very angry about it and he had to leave the gym.”

Aldhouse fought in Phuket as recently as March 2009 defeating another Thai opponent and you can see the video here.

However, Aldhouse does not appear to have trained regularly or fought for over a year and there is some mystery as to how, with no obvious source of income, he was able to continue to afford to live in Thailand.

Aldhouse's first encounter with Longfellow occurred at the Freedom Bar, where the Marine's former girlfriend worked.

Longfellow told friends that he had seen enough violence in Iraq and Afghanistan and supposedly attempted to diffuse the situation when Aldhouse challenged him shouting, ‘You may be big but I am crazy,' witnesses said. Aldhouse allegedly punched Longfellow in the face in order to provoke him and a scuffle broke out which was quickly broken up.

While Longfellow and his girlfriend drove to their nearby home to tend to his wounds, Aldhouse went to a convenience story and stole a knife. According to media report, Aldhouse confronted Longfellow again outside his apartment and the Purple Heart recipient was fatally stabbed. His girlfriend tried to resuscitate him but he was dead before the ambulance arrived.

James Goyder is a freelance journalist and photographer from the U.K. who is based in Phuket, Thailand.

26791  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Michael Yon: White House insists on losing the war on: August 19, 2010, 07:30:02 PM
Michael Yon White House Insists on Losing WarAFP: White House says Afghan deadline 'non-negotiable'
MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin — The White House said Monday that July 2011 was a "non-negotiable" deadline for starting a US withdrawal from Afghanistan, while insisting that President Barack Obama and his top general in Kabul were on the same page.
26792  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Registered Fighters for the Sept 2010 Gathering on: August 19, 2010, 02:50:32 PM
Chimmed Kunzang is on the official list.

At the moment it shows 14 fighters.
26793  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sounds good to me , , , on: August 19, 2010, 12:34:31 PM
My savy friend Rick N. writes:

"I think that Nicholas Taleb had the best idea for working out the housing debacle.  The creditor banks must exchange the now unsecured part of their debt for equity in the devalued real estate.  Re-write the loan balances and payments based upon the current market values and let the owners and the banks share in any future gains in proportion to the amount of the write-down versus the original mortgage balance.  Don’t subsidize the banks with federal aid for the write-down but don’t require them to post more capital on their books.  Reduce the individuals’ cost bases to the new amount and let capital gains be calculated from the lower amount.  This should help reduce the demand for money and permit excess liquidity to be withdrawn over time."

Some other savy responses:

The banks cannot write down the balances of the loans to current market values.  To do so would be to immediately cause reserve issues, and the FDIC would have to walk in and close the banks.  That would happen to every bank in the country.  You cannot just say that the banks don't have to worry about the lack of capital reserves in this case.  Heck, they are all insolvent anyway.

Then, the government would have to "bail-out" the banks with trillions of dollars of taxpayer money.  You know what that means.

What about all the homeowners who are not underwater with their properties?  Even in California, only 1 in 4 are underwater.  So, the other homeowners get screwed.

Then, what about the privately securitized loans?  That amounts to at least 40% of the loans.  Would they be required to do the same?  Write down to fair market value?  Then each investor would lose their money.  The remaining Trusts would become insolvent.

What about the Contracts Clause in the US Constitution?  A forced write-down by the government would be unconstitutional. 

One can simply say that this and that should be done, but the realities are much different.

The only way that the Housing Crisis will  end is for the government to get out of the way and let the foreclosures continue.  Let the private sector approach the banks, using people who understand how to save banks with new capitalization and then selling off the bad loans for 25-30 cents on the dollar.

Get it over fast, instead of this drip, drip, drip.

Remember the Chrysler Bond Holders got ¼ of what the unsecured debtor the UWA. Contracts schmontracts, this bunch of redistributionist doesn’t give a rat’s ass for contract law.


What about the Contracts Clause in the US Constitution?  A forced write-down by the government would be unconstitutional.


Then, the government would have to "bail-out" the banks with trillions of dollars of taxpayer money."

That may be what our idiots in Washington would do, but it's not what they "have" to do and not what they should do. According to Hussman's arithmetic, in most cases corporate bond holders wouldn't even be totally wiped out in a normal restructuring -- and depositors would lose nothing. This bailing out of bankers has been done not for the sake of "us," but for the sake of the bailed out bankers.

Pat, you are so right when you say this problem has to be resolved by the private sector. All of this interest rate manipulation, government purchases of Fannie and Fredie, leveraged bank purchases of Treasuries, federal guarantees of this and that ... it's all distorting pricing throughout the economy and wrecking havoc with the distribution of capital and the entire productive system. Nothing is going to work quite right until our government disengages itself in a significant way. If, instead, the government continues to double up on its bet we can start to worry about a serious calamity.

Rick, I don't much like Taleb's suggestions as you are presenting them simply because it is yet another "central planning" solution. If the banks can and want to renegotiate mortgages, they are free to do that in the context of free exchange -- we don't need some kind of national policy decision on that point. This whole debacle has been caused, from top to bottom, by bad ideas implemented by government.

To use Bass's tired cliche, everything the government and the Fed have done so far has only "kicked the problem down the road." Nothing is getting straightened out, in fact many problems are being exacerbated. Sure, some prices have adjusted in apparently the right direction (house prices have fallen, for example) but these new prices are determined by the myriad of distortional policies in place, not by free people entering into voluntary exchanges on unfettered markets.


Neither Taleb nor I advocate a governmentally forced work-out.  It should be voluntary and done under the provisions of each contract that permit amendments with the written mutual consent of the parties.  Work-outs like this are done all of the time when debt is swapped for equity.  That does not violate the Constitution’s contract clause.  In fact, to the extent that government subsidies create a different incentive, one could argue that the subsidies themselves and the GSE’s themselves effectively violate the contracts clause.


The reserve issue is governmental regulation.  The equity in the secured assets provides an offset to the lost value of the loan.  And, what is the alternative?  Kicking the can further down the road?


PS: I’m curious about why every responder so far has assumed that Taleb’s proposed solution was “governmental” or “central planning.”  The only governmental involvement would be waivers by the banking regulators of any reserve capital requirements.  Everything else in the proposal is an appeal for a mutually agreed upon debt-for-equity swap between debtor and creditor as the best way for both parties to deleverage

26794  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Strat 8/16 on: August 19, 2010, 10:25:48 AM
Mexico Security Memo: Aug. 16, 2010
August 16, 2010 | 2123 GMT
PRINT Text Resize:   

Televisa Grenade Attacks
Members of Los Zetas attacked the local television affiliates of the Televisa media company in Matamoros, Tamaulipas state, and Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, late Aug. 14 and early Aug. 15. The attackers used hand grenades in the Monterrey attack and 40 mm grenade launchers in Matamoros. The attacks reportedly caused minor damage to both buildings and injuries in Monterrey, where paramedics examined two people who received superficial wounds inside the Televisa station.

The Televisa Matamoros station, located on the corner of Manuel Cavazos Lerma Boulevard and Calle Fresno in the Paseo Residencial colony, was attacked first, at around 9 p.m. local time Aug. 14. An unknown number of armed men reportedly fired upon the building with a grenade launcher from a nearby pedestrian bridge. A grenade detonated near the second story of the building, causing minor damage to building’s facade. The Televisa Monterrey building, located on Calle Albino Esparza, was attacked at approximately 1:15 a.m. local time Aug. 15. A member of Los Zetas traveling in a pickup truck reportedly threw a fragmentation hand grenade as the truck passed near the building’s entrance. The grenade detonated under a Toyota Tacoma that was parked along the street, causing significant damage to the Tacoma and minor structural damage to the front of the Televisa building. The windows were blown out of a photography studio across the street from the Televisa Monterrey building.

This is the third known attack on the Televisa Monterrey building that Los Zetas have conducted in the past two years. The same facilities were attacked with gunfire and a fragmentation grenade the night of Oct. 12, 2008 — the same night of an attack on the U.S. Consulate. Then on Jan. 6, 2009, the same tactics were employed in another attack on the Televisa building, though a narcomanta was left at the scene saying in Spanish, “Stop reporting on us. Also report on narco officials. This is a warning.”

The morning of Aug. 14, members of the Mexican military reportedly shot and killed the leader of Los Zetas in Monterrey, known only as “El Sonrics,” and three other members of Los Zetas in a car chase and firefight in southern Monterrey, though there has been no official confirmation of the incident. (El Sonrics is thought to have taken over as leader of Los Zetas in Monterrey after Hector “El Tori” Luna Luna and his brother, Esteban “El Chachis” Luna Luna, were captured by Mexican military forces in June and July, respectively.) As the firefight reportedly began, up to 13 major intersections in the Monterrey metropolitan area reportedly were blocked off by members of Los Zetas, who had hijacked vehicles and positioned them in the middle of the intersections. This is a common tactic that Los Zetas use when a high-value member of the organization is under pressure or has been captured by Mexican security officials. It is currently unclear if El Sonrics’ reported death is directly related to the attacks on the Televisa Monterrey and Matamoros locations, but Televisa’s coverage of the firefight earlier in the day could have provoked a retaliatory attack from Los Zetas.

Televisa is the largest media conglomerate in Latin America outside of Brazil. It has perhaps the largest viewing audience throughout Mexico and therefore shapes the perception of millions of Mexican citizens. This degree of influence makes Televisa an obvious target as criminal groups seek to manipulate the coverage of organized crime-related incidents. Televisa has been the focus of several organized crime-related attacks; most recently, a Televisa news crew was kidnapped in Durango state July 26 by members of the Sinaloa cartel under orders from its leader, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, to force the crew to broadcast prepared messages, photographs and videos from the Sinaloa cartel. The crew was rescued by a Federal Police operation July 31. The July 26 kidnapping and these recent attacks in Monterrey and Matamoros underscore a recognition by the cartels of the amount of influence Televisa coverage on their activities has and their willingness to attempt to influence and coerce certain aspects of that coverage.

Federal Police Hunt ‘La Barbie’
Nearly 300 Mexican Federal Police agents, with support from a helicopter, launched a series of raids on luxury apartment buildings in the Bosque de Las Lomas colony of western Mexico City in search of former Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO) enforcer Edgar “La Barbie” Valdez Villarreal the afternoon of Aug. 9. Valdez, a U.S. citizen, has been locked in a heated battle with former BLO lieutenant and current Cartel Pacifico Sur leader Hector “El H” Beltran Leyva over territory that was under BLO control before the death of BLO leader Arturo Beltran Leyva in December 2009 — primarily in Morelos, Mexico and Guerrero states.

The operation targeting Valdez is similar to other large operations that netted other high-value cartel targets like Teodoro “El Teo” Garcia Simental. The Aug. 9 operation indicates that Mexican intelligence and security forces are closing in on Valdez, and the most wanted U.S. citizen in Mexico could be captured in the very near future. An operation like this likely would not have been organized without ample, time-sensitive, actionable intelligence on Valdez’s exact location. Cartel figures’ organizational rivals often provide such information to authorities, and Valdez has plenty of rivals.

(click here to view interactive map)
Aug. 9

Unidentified gunmen ambushed a prison transport vehicle in Tlaltizapan, Morelos state, killing a prisoner. A guard was killed and another was injured during the attack.
Two dismembered bodies were discovered in trash bags in Amecameca, Mexico state. The victims’ eyes had been taped shut and a message signed with the initials “FM” was discovered near the bodies.
Aug. 10

Police freed a kidnapping victim and arrested two suspected kidnappers from a residence in the Sagitario II neighborhood of Ecatepec, Mexico state.
Police discovered two severed legs believed to belong to a woman’s body floating near a dike in Toluca, Mexico state.
Colima state Gov. Mario Anguiano Moreno said that the deaths of three policemen in Manzanillo, Colima state, could be due to a local power struggle between La Familia Michoacana and the Nuevo Milenio cartel. Anguiano Moreno cited the testimony of suspects in custody to back his claims.
Aug. 11

Soldiers freed four kidnapping victims held in a residence in southern Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state.
Five people were killed on a ranch in Villa Ahumada, Chihuahua state. The victims had all been shot to death, and shell casings of various calibers were found near the bodies.
Unidentified gunmen killed the nephew of former National Action Party leader Manuel Espino in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state. The victim, identified as Hugo Francisco Zamora Ochoa, was killed in a parking lot as he entered his vehicle.
Aug. 12

Unidentified gunmen kidnapped a man and a woman from their residence in the Barrio del Parque neighborhood of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state. The attackers reportedly shot at the house for approximately 30 minutes before leaving with the two victims.
Aug. 13

Police arrested five suspects allegedly linked to the kidnappings of three journalists in Durango state. The suspects, who are allegedly members of the Sinaloa cartel, were arrested in Ciudad Lerdo, Durango state.
Hector Alvarez Sandoval, the lead homicide investigator of the municipal police in Aguascalientes, Aguascalientes state, was assassinated as he sat inside his vehicle outside his home.
Aug. 14

Around 300 Federal Police support agents arrived in Gomez Palacio and Ciudad Lerdo, Durango state, bringing the total number of Federal Police in the Comarca Lagunera region to nearly 500.
Federal Police detained four members of the Los Fabila kidnapping group in simultaneous operations in Guanajuato state.
A brief firefight erupted in north Morelia, Michoacan state, resulting in the death of one man. Reports indicate that the victim was able to wound two of his attackers.
Aug. 15

A group of Los Zetas hit men reportedly killed seven people in the Los Altos region of Jalisco state before returning to Zacatecas state.
U.S. Custom and Border Protection officials seized a total of 136 kilograms (nearly 300 pounds) of cocaine from a Dodge Nitro attempting to cross the Reynosa-Hidalgo International Bridge along the Tamaulipas state-Texas border.
The bodies of six men were found in the back of a pickup truck in the small village of Tierra Alta near the Oaxaca-Veracruz state line. Two of the victims had single gunshot wounds to the back of the head, and the other four were reported to have had several gunshot wounds across their bodies.
26795  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / M1 Garand importation blocked on: August 19, 2010, 09:47:50 AM
Obama bans over 100,000 rifles
David Kopel • August 18, 2010 12:09 am

According to The Korea Times, the Obama administration has blocked efforts by the South Korean government to sell over a hundred thousand surplus M1 Garand and Carbine rifles into the United States market. These self-loading were rifles introduced in 1926 and 1941. As rifles, they are especially well-suited to community defense in an emergency, as in the cases of community defense following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Along with AR-15 type rifles, the M1 rifles are the quintessential firearms of responsible citizenship, precisely the type of firearms which civic responsibility organizations such as the Appleseed Project teach people how to use.

According to a South Korean official, “The U.S. insisted that imports of the aging rifles could cause problems such as firearm accidents. It was also worried the weapons could be smuggled to terrorists, gangs or other people with bad intentions.”

Regarding the second objection, any firearm lawfully imported into the United States would eventually be sold by a Federal Firearm Licensee who, pursuant to the background check system imposed by Congress (and endorsed by the NRA) would have to contact federal or state law enforcement to verify that the gun buyer is not prohibited from possessing firearms. Accordingly, the risk that the South Korean surplus guns might fall into the hands of gangsters or other bad people is exactly the same as with the sale of any other retail firearm in the United States. Notably, neither the M1 Garand nor the M1 carbine are concealable, and the M1 Garand is long, heavy, and bulky. Accordingly, the criminal utility of such guns is relatively low.

The second Obama administration objection is accidents. But in fact, increasing gun density in the United States has been associated with steeply declining rates of gun accidents. In 1948 there were .36 guns per person. (That is, about one gun for every three Americans.) By 2004, there was nearly one gun for every American. In 1948, there were 1.6 fatal gun accidents per 100,000 persons. By 2004, the rate had fallen by 86%, so that there were .22 fatal accidents per 100,000 persons. (For underlying data, see Appendix B of my amicus brief in Heller.)

Legally, it is indisputable that the guns are importable. Being over 50 years old, the rifles are automatically “Curios and Relics” according to federal law. 27 CFR section 478.11. Accordingly, they are by statutory definition importable. 18 USC section 925 (e)(1). Notwithstanding the law, the Obama administration has the ability to pressure the South Korean government to block the sale of the guns.

President Obama was elected on the promise that he supported individual Second Amendment rights. His administration’s thwarting of the import of these American-made rifles is not consistent with that promise.
26796  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: August 19, 2010, 09:37:41 AM
By Tzvi Freeman
Depression, anxiety and pessimism damage the channels of blessing from Above.

The Zohar explains that there is a lower world -- our world -- and there is a higher world. Our world is meant to continuously receive from that higher world, but always according to our personal state of mind.

If we are glowing with joy and vitality, then that world shines upon us in its full glory.

But if it we wallow in depression and anxiety, then we can only receive the metered trickle that squeezes through a constricted channel.

That is why King David said, “Serve G-d with joy!” Because your joy here draws upon you another joy from above.
26797  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Social insecurity: on: August 19, 2010, 09:31:40 AM

Social Insecurity
by Paul Cwik on August 13, 2010

Oh joy, oh joy! It has finally arrived! You wouldn't believe how excited I was to receive a letter from the Social Security Administration. In the letter, they dutifully showed me how much taxable income I have ever made. (Is it me, or is there something really creepy about that?) They showed me how much I have paid in taxes and how much my employer also "paid." Then they showed me how much my payment would be if I retire at full retirement (67 years old — not 62 or 65 like you may have heard) and if I delay "collecting" until I turn 70.

It is no secret that I turn 40 this year. That means I have another 30 years of work in front of me. I have (for fun) just taken an online life-expectancy survey, and it says that I will live until the age of 86. So let's assume that these numbers are correct. I will work for another 30 years and then have 16 years to spend it all.

According to the Social Security Administration, I will receive $2,522 a month during those 16 years. The value of that money when I turn 70 is a present-annuity-value calculation. For the purpose of this example, let's pick an easy interest rate of 5% per year. So the value of the Social Security payments (compounded monthly) for 16 years at annual rate of 5% is $335,444.57. In other words, for me to privately do the same as Social Security, I will need to have $335,444.57 in cash when I turn 70 and deposit it in a security that has a 5% annual return.

To take this example a step further, how much money would I have to set aside each year at an annual compounded rate of 5% to hit this target? Using some "quick math," we see that I would have to set $5,048.91 aside each year. Well, this does not seem too unreasonable. One might think that this is equivalent to putting away the maximum of $5,000/year in an IRA, and one would not be wrong for thinking that way.

Unfortunately, there is a larger point that has been missed. I have already been taxed for all of the previous years that I have worked. The Social Security Administration informs me that I have currently sunk a little more than $80,000 into this governmental pyramid scheme. Setting aside any interest I could have received over the past 21+ years, let's assume that they give me a lump sum payment today of $80,000.

Suppose that I take that $80,000 and put it into a security that gives me an annual return of 5% and I do not add another single cent. How much would I have when I turn 70? $345,752.00! I have already exceeded the target needed for the Social Security Administration to fulfill its "promise" to me.

Alas, I do not think that it will do me any good to write a letter to the Social Security Administration explaining that I have reached my target and that they no longer need to tax me. In fact, the letter states, quite explicitly, that I must maintain my current earning rate to collect the stated numbers. So at this point any additional taxes that come from me are just wealth extractions with no benefit to me.

You may think that this is a bad deal for me, and it is, but it is going to be much worse for those who are younger than I. At least I am still making a positive rate of return, somewhere between 2% and 2.5%.

A person born in 1988 making $30,000/year can expect to receive $1,539/month in the year 2058. The Social Security Administration says that he is expected to live until the ripe old age of 87. So that's another 17 years after retiring at the age of 70. The annuity present value of $1,539/month for 17 years at an annual rate of 5% is $212,938.88. In order to hit that target, he would have to set aside $1,132.50/year in a 5% security. This amount is only 3.775% of his $30,000 annual income.

Social Security and Medicare taxes are 15.3% of his income. If he invested that 15.3% of his income instead, he would be investing $4,590. Supposing that this annual contribution was invested each year for the next 48 years and the principal was collecting 5% interest, instead of the Social Security value of $212,938.88, he would have $863,036.55! That's a little more than four times the return that Social Security is "promising."

Or, to drive the nail home, he is paying $4,590 a year and is getting a future value of only $212,938.88. If he simply took that money and buried it in the dirt, he would have, after 48 years, $220,320! The bottom line is that, for today's 21-year-old, Social Security is a negative return.

Paul Cwik is associate professor of economics at Mount Olive College. See Paul Cwik's article archives.
26798  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Gurkhas and their Kukris on: August 19, 2010, 08:50:16 AM

I like the bend him over with the kick and then split his skull part of the combo, but, NOT that this is an area of any substantial knowledge on my part, but these are the first kukri moves I have seen that stop at centerline.  Given the mass of the tool it makes sense to me that most moves carry through.
26799  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers Open Gathering Sept 19, 2010 on: August 19, 2010, 08:18:26 AM
I need to get the invitation out! 

I am just back from the Euro Gathering.  It will take me a day or three to do so.
26800  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: August 19, 2010, 08:13:15 AM
Looks like "Our man in Iraq" will be going back , , ,.  Our prayers for his safety and the success of his good work, and our gratitude for the reports he will be sending back.

PS:  He sent this to me while I was out of town.
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