Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Well-armed People
on: June 10, 2005, 07:29:57 AM
I hadn't run into the Odin argument before , , ,
What would Odin say about GUN CONTROL?
Stephen A. McNallen
The right to keep and bear arms is one of the most passionately debated issues on the American political stage. Patriots, gun owners, liberals, the media, hunters - a dozen different factions are wrangling back and forth to determine what the role of firearms will be in the future of this country.
We who follow the way of the warrior have an interest in this debate. Guns represent the weapons technology of our era, and, however much we might hearken back to the gleaming blades of an earlier century, we owe it to ourselves to follow the back-and-forth of this controversy.
The Second Amendment to the Constitution is the main line of defense against gun-grabbers, of course. But our involvement with weapons, and their essential role in preserving freedom and honor, goes back far into the dim mists of history - to a time when the Constitution and the nation it came to represent was undreamed of.
In ancient Europe, weapons had a religious character. Odin, father of the Gods in the Norse myths, carried a great spear named Gungnir. He wandered around the world, disguised in his floppy hat and long cloak, giving magical swords to his favored heroes. With these, they were expected to perform great deeds on the battlefield and, when their lives were done, to join Odin in Valhalla. There, with other great souls, the hero would prepare for the ultimate conflict of Ragnarok.
There is some evidence that the fallen warrior's weapon would accompany him into the afterlife. He was buried with it, of course, but that's not all - in some graves, the sword has been heated and twisted out of shape, as though it was being "killed" so that its spirit could accompany that of its owner into the Otherworld. Besides, he would no doubt need it as he walked the dangerous, ordeal-ridden "Hel-road" that leads to the realm of the Gods.
In Germanic society, however, weapons weren't just present at the end of life. They played a role in its beginning, as well. A new-born infant would be offered a taste of salt from the tip of a sword as its welcome into the world. Later, when he grew into manhood, the youth would be given his first shield and blade (whether sword, or axe, or spear) on the day he was initiated into the tribal assembly. This panoply represented his duty to defend his kin, as well as his rights as a freeman - even then, the link between weapons and freedom was understood. This folkway carried over into the Middle Ages, when a man about to be knighted stood prayerful vigil over his arms and armor throughout the night.
Oaths were sworn on weapons, and the steel might be called upon to turn against its owner if the words which were spoken over it were not true.
In the lore of the Vikings, Odin himself tells his followers to be armed. As the poem called the Havamal warns us,
A wayfarer should not walk unarmed,
But have his weapons to hand:
He never knows when he may need a spear,
Or what menace meet on the road.
But it wasn't just the Norsemen who idolized their weaponry; the ancient Celts shared this sentiment. The Iceni, as a typical British tribe, possessed certain weapons which were held to be particularly sacred. The Romans decided to confiscate them to prevent an uprising - thereby bringing about the very thing they were hoping to avert. Under their fiery queen, the red-haired Boudicca, the Iceni rose in revolt and almost ended the Roman occupation of the British Isles.
Such a preoccupation with instruments of destruction, some might say, is now out of date. After all, we live in a kinder, gentler world than that of the ancient Teutonic and Celtic tribes. We're civilized now. Death doesn't threaten our daily lives, and if danger does appear, we call the police.
One problem with this viewpoint is that the police often don't come, or they don't come in time to do any good. You could get killed many times over, with a gratuitous rape thrown in for good measure, between the time your fingers dial 911 and the time a squad car pulls up in front of your house. The cops are outnumbered, outgunned, and generally out of the scenario. In real life, you're on your own.
While we're at it, let's look at the idea that our world is less violent than that of, say, the Vikings. According to M.I. Steblin-Kamenskij in his book The Saga Mind, we have a record of acts of violence in Iceland over a period of several centuries. At the height of the heroic age in that Viking colony, when every freeman carried a sword or axe or spear, the per capita murder rate was a lot less than in most urban areas in America today! We live in an extremely violent time, and the prognosis is for more of the same.
Advocates of gun control might argue reluctantly that even if times haven't changed, technology has. Guns are not swords. Any religious or cultural arguments made for edged weapons are irrelevant in an age of semi-automatic rifles and pistols. In putting forth this idea, however, they forget several facts.
For one thing, the role of the individual weapon has remained unchanged. It ultimately does not matter if the device that deters attack on an innocent person is a knife, a battle-axe, a 9mm Browning pistol, or one of the dreaded "assault rifles." The goal is to keep the would-be mugger, rapist, or murderer at bay. Since the assailant may be equipped with modern arms, the potential victim must be likewise prepared. Secondly, from the days of King Olaf to the present, weapons in the hands of individuals have been a safeguard against tyrannical rulers. This is just as true for us as it was for the farmers who defended freedom in old Norway. However, the sharpest sword is no match for the guns of even a very third-rate army at the close of the twentieth century; logic and common sense compels free citizens to have firearms - and not muzzle loaders, either! Finally, there is precedent for declaring guns to be the spiritual equivalent of ancient blades; the Japanese acknowledged rifles as the successors to the samurai swords of old, during the Second World War.
When you take a good look at history, you see that the right to possess arms is not something that appeared miraculously in colonial America. This is a folkway with its roots lost in European prehistory, and those roots are as much spiritual as they are governmental. Ultimately, bearing arms is a religious right, and thus cannot be abrogated by any state.
To make this really clear, think back to that old movie, The Vikings. In this epic, Ragnar (Ernest Borgnine) is about to be fed to the wolves. He asks for the right to die "like a Viking," with a sword in his hand, lest he not be admitted to Valhalla. Now, there's a bit of modern myth-making here; the rules for entrance to Odin's hall are not laid out nearly so exactly in any of the sources that scholars know. But the spirit of Ragnar's request remains valid. We do know that Valhalla was not for the lowly or common. The early Danish hero Biarki, speaking of Odin, says that
War springs from the nobly born; famous pedigrees are the makers of war. For the perilous deeds which chiefs attempt are not to be done by the ventures of common men...No dim and lowly race, no low-born dead, no base souls are Pluto's [Read: Odin's] prey, but he weaves the dooms of the mighty, and fills Phlegethon [Valhalla] with noble shapes.
Slaves shall never sit at Odin's table, or quaff the mead poured by valkyrie's hands. And throughout history, one trait more than any other has been the hallmark of slaves: They are forbidden weapons.
The conceit of the twentieth century is that we have done away with slavery. But make no mistake, anyone disarmed by the state is a slave, no matter how free he is to frequent the shopping malls, or how new the car that sits in his garage. I cannot speak for Odin, but I believe that no man or woman who turns in his or her gun to the government will ever look on the faces of the blest in Valhalla. Surrender your "assault rifle," and be doomed to the cold and murk of Hel's home; you have no place among heroes.
Outmoded philosophy? I think not. The nature of tyranny has not changed in a thousand years, nor has the liberty-loving heart that resists it. And I am confident that admittance standards for Valhalla have not been "dumbed down."
All of this would be theoretical if the heroic religion of the Vikings and their European cousins was extinct. But that religion, called Asatru, survives today and still speaks uncompromisingly for the spirit of our ancestors. Would-be dictators will meet the opposition of dedicated men and women who will not give up their rights in the face of either fashion or force.
As this article shows, the right to arms is far older than the American Constitution. It is planted deep in the bedrock of ancient European culture and religion. Will we let today's slave masters hew down the Teutonic oak of freedom with an axe stolen from a freeman's hands? Will we allow them to shoot it in half with guns pried from the fingers of dead heroes? Never! For we of Asatru, the bearing of arms is not just custom, not just a legal right, but a matter of the troth that binds us to our Gods. Tyrants, beware!
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Geo Political matters
on: June 10, 2005, 07:20:40 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Friday, June 10, 2005
The European crisis rolls on. The focus has shifted away from France to
Germany, where rumors abounded earlier in the week that Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder would resign prior to the September elections. His personal popularity, which had been the mainstay of his government, has now slumped, and he appears to be a political liability. Members of the left wing of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) would like him to move on so they could take control of the party. In their view, if they are to lose the election, they will be in a far stronger position in opposition if they abandon the market reforms that Schroeder introduced under Agenda 2010, his blueprint for economic and social change in Germany.
Schroeder said Thursday that he would not resign, repeating his intentions
to move for a confidence vote on his government July 1. The vote would not be tied to any particular piece of legislation, but would be a general vote on the government itself. This would prevent the SPD left from voting against him on the pretext of simply opposing a piece of legislation. To vote against him, the left would now have to confront him directly.
Schroeder calculates that that would be much tougher to do. In other words, he is giving every indication that he intends to lead the SPD in the next election. That means that he will be caught between opposition from his own left and the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) toward his policies. Schroeder is in a tough spot, and it is hard to see how he will survive.
The CDU is led by Angela Merkel. The way things currently shape up, she is likely to be the next chancellor of Germany. Merkel, who comes from the former East Germany, differs with Schroeder and the SPD in one critical respect: She is probably the most pro-American major politician in Germany. Shaped by her experiences under the communists, her perspective on the United States is more like that of Central European countries than with the German left. She viewed the United States as the main counter to the Soviet Union and continues to view Washington through that lens rather than through the lens of the Schroeder-Chirac axis. To the contrary, she has serious doubts about the wisdom of Gaullism. Merkel does not believe that Germany's primary relationship must be with France, but rather in having a broader set of relationships in which the United States constitutes a main pillar, deeply involved in Europe.
In other words, Merkel does not want to play Chirac's game of unifying
Europe with a Paris-Berlin axis at the center, and using that unified Europe as a vehicle for challenging the United States. If the vote in France
represented a blow against the concept of a European federation, the
election of Merkel would be a blow against the idea that Europe should
counterbalance the United States. Or, put simply, if Merkel wins, the
geopolitics of Gaullism will be smashed.
A Merkel victory would preserve a Europe in which the EU is primarily an
economic framework, foreign policy is carried out by individual states, and defense policy is formulated in the context of a NATO led by the United States. This would be precisely the outcome the United States would want. Washington does not want to see European economic integration halt, but does not want to see it lead to political integration either. It is comfortable in bilateral relations with Europe but wants to see NATO as a means of dominating European defense policy. Merkel is Washington's candidate.
It's a long way to the election, but unless someone finds a serious skeleton in Merkel's closet -- and everyone has already looked -- or Schroeder pulls out a miracle, by October Europe will look exactly like Jacques Chirac didn't want it to look and exactly like George W. Bush did. Bush did little to achieve this, of course. It was mostly Chirac's hard work that led to this situation. But ironies aside, it is time to think about a world in which there is no talk of "Europe" but lots of talk about European economics and NATO defense policies -- and lots of bilateral visits between Berlin and Washington.
It is interesting to wonder what Beijing and Moscow are thinking right now. The United States keeps improving its position. It really isn't that Chirac is dumb -- he isn't. It is that he played the best hand he could and, in the end, because of Europe's economy and history, it simply wasn't good enough. The center of gravity of the idea of Europe -- the Paris-Berlin axis -- is collapsing because of the weakness of its own foundations.
And if this happens, the United States -- once again -- scoops up the
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Weird and/or silly
on: June 09, 2005, 11:23:41 PM
"MARCH 25--Richard Simmons was arrested yesterday and charged with assaulting a Harley Davidson salesman during a confrontation at a Phoenix airport. No, that is not a joke. The 54-year-old fitness guru (5' 7", 155 pounds) laid the smackdown on one Chris Farney, a 23-year-old Mesa man (6' 1" and 255 pounds) who happens to cage wrestle in his spare time. According to the below Phoenix Police Department report, when Farney spotted Simmons (whose real first name is Milton) walking through the Sky Harbor International Airport, he said, "Look, Richard Simmons. Drop your bags, let's rock to the 50's." Farney told cops he was referring to an old Simmons workout tape. The diminutive star responded by walking over to the strapping Farney and saying, "It's not nice to make fun of people with issues." He then slapped Farney's face. The motorcycle salesman, who was not injured, called cops, who cited an "emotional" and repentant Simmons for assault. "
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Rants
on: June 07, 2005, 09:59:53 PM
THE GEOPOLITICAL INTELLIGENCE REPORT
The Motives of Deep Throat
June 07, 2005 17 56 GMT
By George Friedman
The United States (or at least its Baby Boomers) has been gripped by the
revelation that the fabled Deep Throat, the person who provided the
legendary Woodward and Bernstein the guidance needed to cover the Watergate scandal, was Mark Felt, a senior official in the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In spite of the claims of some, Felt was never high on the
list of suspects. The assumption was always that Deep Throat was a member of the White House staff, simply because he knew so much about the details of the workings of the Nixon White House. A secondary theory that floated around was that Deep Throat was someone from the CIA -- that the CIA, for some unclear reason, wanted to bring Nixon down.
The revelation that Deep Throat was a senior FBI official -- in fact, so
senior that he was effectively J. Edgar Hoover's heir at the FBI -- is full
of historical significance. Even more, it has significant implications
today, when U.S. intelligence and security forces are playing a dramatically enhanced role in American life, and when the question of the relationship between the constitutional life of the republic and the requirements of national security is at a cyclical pitch. If Felt is Deep Throat, then the history and implications of this revelation need to be considered.
This has absolutely nothing to do with the question of Nixon's guilt. It has
been proven beyond doubt that Nixon was guilty of covering up the Watergate burglary, a felony that required impeachment, even if presidents before him had committed comparable crimes. It is not proven, but we are morally certain, that Nixon knew about and possibly demanded the break-in both at the Democratic National Committee headquarters and in Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office. There are too many hints of this in the famous Nixon White House tapes -- and in the existence of an 18-minute gap inserted into one tape -- to doubt that. Nixon was guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors.
None of this, however, has anything to do with Mark Felt's motives in
leading Woodward and Bernstein to water and teaching them the fundamentals of drinking. Felt's motives are important regardless of whether Nixon was guilty because they tell us something about what was going on in the FBI at the time and how the FBI operated. That is what has to be thought through now.
Felt's position has been simply presented. He is portrayed as a patriot who was appalled by the activities of the Nixon White House. Having had Patrick Gray slipped in above him for the top Bureau job, Felt believed that resorting to the normal procedures of law enforcement was not an option. Gray, a Nixon appointee and loyalist, would have isolated or fired Felt if he tried that route, keeping Felt away from grand juries and the normal process of the legal system. The only course of action for Felt was, according to this theory, to leak information to the press. His selection of Woodward and Bernstein for the prize was happenstance. Felt needed national coverage, and that was provided by the Washington Post. Felt claimed a passing acquaintanceship with Bob Woodward, a very young and inexperienced reporter, and this became a convenient channel. In short, Felt was protecting the republic by the only means possible.
Let's consider who Felt was for a moment. He rose in the ranks of the FBI to serve as the No. 3 official, ranking behind only J. Edgar Hoover and
Hoover's significant other, Clyde Tolson. He reached that position for two
reasons: He was competent and, of greater significance, he was absolutely loyal to Hoover. Hoover was obsessed with loyalty and conformity. He expected his agents, even in the junior ranks, to conform to the standards of the FBI in matters ranging from dress to demeanor. Felt did not rise to be the No. 2 of the Hoover-Tolson team by being either a free-thinker or a gadfly. The most important thing to understand about Felt was that he was Hoover's man.
As Hoover's man, he had a front row seat to Hoover's operational principles. He had to have known of Hoover's wire taps and the uses to which they were put. Hoover collected information on everyone, including presidents. It is well known at this point that Hoover collected information on John F. Kennedy's sexual activities before and during his tenure as president -- as he had with Martin Luther King -- and had used that information to retain his job.
Hoover stayed as head of the FBI for decades because he played a brutal and unprincipled game in Washington. He systematically collected derogatory information on Washington officials, tracking their careers for years. He used that information to control the behavior of officials and influential private citizens. Sometimes it was simply to protect his own position, sometimes it was to promote policies that he supported. At times, particularly later in his life, Hoover appeared to be exercising power for the sheer pleasure of its exercise.
One of Hoover's favorite tactics was the careful and devastating leak.
Hoover knew how to work the press better than just about anyone in
Washington. He used the press to build up his reputation as a crime fighter and to burnish the FBI's reputation. Reporters knew that maintaining good lines of communication with the FBI could make careers, while challenging the FBI could break them. In one famous case, Hoover leaked information to Life magazine that claimed that bodies were buried in the basement of a congressman who had angered Hoover. The rumor was that the congressman got Hoover to force Life to retract the story when the congressman threatened to go public about Hoover's homosexual relationship with Clyde Tolson. That part may or may not be true, but we know that the story was retracted.
In most Washington insider cases, Hoover was not interested in the grand
jury route. The information he collected frequently was less concerned with criminal behavior than embarrassing revelations. What Hoover wanted to do was shape the behavior of people to suit him. It was the threat of revelation -- coupled with judicious leaks to the press, proving that Hoover was prepared to go all the way with it -- that did the trick. Hoover perfected the devastating leak -- and Mark Felt did not rise to power in the FBI by failing to learn that lesson or by following ethical codes other than J. Edgar Hoover's.
The first point that is obvious is that Felt wanted to be director of the
FBI. When Hoover died and Tolson resigned, he expected to replace Hoover. When Nixon appointed Gray, it is clear from his book that Felt felt betrayed and angry. Gray was an outsider who, in his view, was loyal to the president and not to the Bureau. Now, forgetting for the moment that the president was Nixon, this raises the interesting question of whether the primary loyalty of a director of the FBI -- or any other security or intelligence organization -- ought to be to the organization he serves or to the president who appoints him. There are arguments on both sides, but when you take Nixon out of the equation, the elected president would seem to have prima facie status in the equation. Loyalty to an institution, not superseded by loyalty to democratic institutions, would appear to be
dangerous for a security force and a republic. On the other hand, insulation from politics might protect the organization, keeping it from being used as a political instrument. The question is complex. Felt chose to side with the institution.
One can debate the nature of the FBI. Felt himself admitted he was a
disgruntled employee. We can infer his loyalty to Hoover. What we have,
therefore, is a disgruntled FBI employee -- bitter at being passed over for
promotion, angry at having the legacy of his patron dismantled and running a covert operation against the White House. Within days of the Watergate Hotel break-in, Deep Throat -- Felt -- was telling Woodward of the role of E. Howard Hunt. That meant that Felt knew what had happened. He could not have known what had happened had he not inherited Hoover's mechanisms for monitoring the White House. It is clear that Gray was not given that mechanism, and it is clear that Gray didn't know about it -- since Nixon didn't know about it. But Felt did know about it. What the mechanism was, whether electronic eavesdropping or informants in the White House or some other means, is unclear, so we will refer to it as "the mechanism." What is clear is that Felt, without the knowledge of his director, was running an operation that had to precede the break-in. Hoover died in May 1972; the Watergate break-in occurred in August 1972. Felt did not have time to set up his own operation in the White House. He had clearly taken over Hoover's.
Felt could not admit that he had penetrated the White House. The No. 2 man at the FBI could have forced a grand jury investigation, but he did not force one because to do so, he would have had to reveal his covert mechanism in the White House. Felt didn't go to a grand jury not because he was boxed in, but because he could not reveal the means whereby he knew precisely what Nixon and his henchmen were up to. It is fascinating that in all the discussion of Felt as Deep Throat, so little attention has been paid to how Felt would have acquired -- and continued to acquire -- such precise intelligence. It has been pointed out that Felt could not have been the only Deep Throat because he could not personally have known all the things he revealed. That is true, unless we assume that Felt was the beneficiary of an intelligence operation run by Hoover for years deep into successive White Houses. If that is the case, then it makes perfect sense that Felt was the one and only Deep Throat.
Woodward and Bernstein, along with Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee,
didn't care, since they were being fed the goods. Nixon did care, and the
leaks further damaged him by triggering wild-goose chases in search of the source. In fact, one of the most important consequences of Felt's leaks was that the White House spasmed and started looking for the leak. It compounded Nixon's paranoia -- he really did have enemies. Indeed, the entire plumbers unit built to stop leaks in the White House has to be re-evaluated from the standpoint of the FBI operation and its leakages. It would be interesting to determine how many of the leaks Nixon was looking for originated with his suspects (people like Henry Kissinger) and how many were the results of Hoover's covert penetration. If we think of Hoover in his last days less as an ideologue and more as a megalomaniac, the notion that he was trying to cripple Nixon is not absurd.
However, what is clear is that the White House was deeply penetrated, and Felt was operating the mechanism of intelligence. It is also clear that Felt decided not to proceed with the legal route but instead to continue Hoover's tradition of controlling his environment by leaking information. For the leak, he chose a major newspaper with a great deal of credibility and two junior reporters sufficiently ambitious not to ask the obvious questions. That they were on the city desk and not the national desk was an added benefit, since they would lack the experience to understand what Felt was up to. Finally, Bradlee -- a close ally of the Kennedys and someone who despised Richard Nixon -- would be expected to fly top cover for the two minor reporters.
What is critical is how Felt managed Woodward and Bernstein. He did not
provide them with the complete story. Rather, he guided them toward the
story. He minimized what he revealed, focusing instead on two things. First, he made certain that they did not miss the main path -- that the scandal involved the senior staff of the White House and possibly the president himself. Second and more important, Felt made certain that the White House could not contain the scandal. Whenever the story began to wane, it was Felt who fed more information to Woodward and Bernstein, keeping the story alive and guiding them toward the heart of the White House -- yet usually without providing explicit information.
One consequence of this was John Dean. Felt, the veteran of many
investigations, knew that the best way to destroy a conspiracy was to
increase the pressure on it. At some point, one of the conspirators would
bolt to save himself. Felt couldn't know which one would bolt, but that
hardly mattered. As the revelations piled up, the pressure grew. At some
point, someone would break. It didn't have to be John Dean -- it could have been any of perhaps a dozen people. But Felt made certain that the pressure was there, treating the White House the way he would treat any criminal conspiracy.
What is most interesting in all of this is what Felt did not provide but had
to have known: Why did the White House order the break-in to Larry O'Brien's office? Why was the break-in carried out with such glaring incompetence? Consider the famous part in which a security guard removes a piece of tape blocking a door lock that had been placed horizontally rather than vertically, only to have it replaced by one of the burglars, leading to their discovery. If Felt had penetrated the White House and Committee to Re-elect the President deeply enough to be Deep Throat, then he had to know the reason for the break-in. And what else did he control in the White House? Were G. Gordon Liddy's people as stupid as they appeared, getting caught with revealing phone numbers on them? Could anyone be that stupid? Why was the break-in ordered, and why did professionals bungle it so badly?
This is the thing that Felt never gave to Woodward and Bernstein and which, therefore, Woodward and Bernstein never were able to explain. Yet Felt had to know it. The event wasn't random, and whatever else could be said about Nixon and his staff, they weren't stupid. They had their reasons, and it is hard to believe that Felt, who seemed to know everything about the conspiracy, didn't know this. We note -- in pure speculation -- that a covert operation not only uncover what is going on, but also can plant information that will trigger an action.
Richard Nixon was a criminal by the simplest definition of the term -- he
broke the law and tried to hide it. His best defense is that other
presidents were also criminals. Possibly, but that doesn't change Nixon's
status. His closest aides were also, in many cases, criminals. Woodward and Bernstein were lottery winners, selected by Felt precisely because they were easy to lead and asked few questions. Felt, the dispossessed heir of J. Edgar Hoover, played out the hand of his master. He used his position to bring down the president. That the president needed to be brought down is true. That he could have been brought down only by Felt's counterconspiracy is dubious.
There are three issues that must be raised here. One, does a senior FBI
official have the right to leak the fruits of a clandestine operation in the
White House to favored reporters in order to bring about a good outcome?
Two, does the press have a responsibility to report not only what is leaked to them but also to inquire about the motive of the leaker? Didn't the public need to know that Deep Throat was a senior FBI official -- and, at the very least, a disgruntled employee? Doesn't the manner in which the truth is known reasonably affect the public perception? Finally, and most important, who will guard the guardians when all have agendas?http://www.stratfor.com
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Homeland Security
on: June 06, 2005, 03:55:52 PM
United States: The Jamaat al-Fuqra Threat
Jun 03, 2005 1738 GMT
Consider, if you will, a group whose members live "free from the decadence of a godless society" in guarded and insular communities in the rural United States. Additionally, consider that some members of this group have been convicted on a variety of weapons, fraud and terrorism charges. Those who assume we are once again addressing right-wing extremists such as the Aryan Nations would be wrong.
Although we do believe that right-wing extremists pose a threat to the
security of the United States, the group we describe does not give its
compounds names like Elohim City, the infamous compound of white
supremacists in Adair County, Okla. Instead they call them Islamburg (N.Y.), Ahmadabad (Va.) and Holy Islamville (S.C.).
The group is Jamaat al-Fuqra -- Arabic for "community of the impoverished" -- founded in the 1980s by Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani, a religious figure from Pakistan who incorporated the group as a tax-exempt organization under the name Muslims of the Americas. Its educational arm, the Quranic Open University, takes American Muslims to Pakistan for training, expecting them to return and instruct others.
Residents of Muslims of the Americas communities keep a low profile, display a benign image and most of all deny the existence of Jamaat al-Fuqra. They claim to be peaceful people who simply are attempting to escape the decadence of American society. Actions by some of the residents, however, belie that claim.
Many of the original al-Fuqra members were converts to Islam, and most were African Americans. However, one of its first members -- and its first
bombmaker -- was Stephen Paul Paster, who converted from Judaism to Islam. Paster was convicted for his role in the 1983 bombing of a Portland, Ore., hotel owned by the Hindu Bhagwan Rajneesh cult from India. He also was tried and acquitted on charges stemming from two other West Coast bombings. Upon his release from prison, Paster moved to Lahore, Pakistan, to join Gilani and other instructors at the Quranic Open University, where he allegedly helps to teach what Gilani calls "advanced training courses in Islamic Military Warfare."
The U.S. government claims that al-Fuqra members were involved in 13
bombings and arsons during the 1980s and 1990s and were responsible for at least 17 homicides. Many of these attacks targeted Indian groups such as the Hare Krishnas, or heterodox Muslim groups such as the Ahmadiyya sect. In 1991, five al-Fuqra members were arrested at a border crossing in Niagara Falls, N.Y., after authorities found their plans to attack an Indian cinema and a Hindu temple in Toronto, Canada. Three of the five later were convicted on charges stemming from the plot.
According to sources, many al-Fuqra members have fought in Afghanistan,
Kashmir, Lebanon, Bosnia and Chechnya. Several members also have been affiliated with the al-Kifah Refugee Center -- popularly known as the
Brooklyn Jihad Office. Group member Clement Hampton-el, for example,
provided weapons training to several people associated with the Brooklyn
Jihad Office. One of those men, El Sayyid Nosair later would use that
training to assassinate the Rabbi Meir Kahane in Manhattan. Hampton-el was convicted along with several other men, including Nosair's cousin, Ibrahim Elgabrowny and Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, also known as The Blind Sheikh, in the 1993 New York Bomb Plot Case, and sentenced to serve 35 years.
More recently, police investigators working on the D.C. sniper case tied
convicted killer John Allen Muhammed to al-Fuqra. Rumors also surfaced that "Shoe Bomber" Richard Reid was connected to the group. Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, in fact, was investigating the Reid/al-Fuqra
connection and was in the process of attempting to interview Gilani when he was abducted and killed.
In addition to Hampton-el, several other members of al-Fuqra are in federal and state prisons on a variety of weapons charges and convictions stemming from worker's compensation, credit card, welfare and driver's license fraud. The group allegedly uses its imprisoned members to recruit other prisoners. Furthermore, it was revealed during Hampton-el's trial that one of the organization's tasks was to recruit American veterans to fight in Afghanistan.
Al-Fuqra members own several security companies, which provide a source of income and security for the group and its compounds, but also offer a plausible explanation for the presence of firing ranges on the properties -- a cover for the paramilitary training that allegedly is conducted at the compounds.
Perhaps most disconcerting is that al-Fuqra's cadre of battle tested
jihadist warriors -- men who refer to themselves as "Soldiers of Allah" and
"Mohammed's Commandos" -- are mostly Americans who legally can obtain U.S. passports and operate in the United States without raising suspicion.
As the United States advances its war on terrorism abroad and takes measures to tighten immigration procedures in order to protect U.S. citizens from foreign militants, it is important that authorities not overlook America's homegrown jihadists.
DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Bienvenidos!
on: June 06, 2005, 03:06:14 PM
!Bienvenidos a todos al nuevo sitio de nuestro foro en Espanol!
Nuestro Webmaster esta' trabajando para llevar las contribuciones del sitio anterior para aqui.
La Aventura continua , , ,
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Crafty Dog at Budo International Expo: NYC TOMORROW (Sat)
on: June 06, 2005, 10:37:37 AM
A fine time. C-DB Russ Iger assisted me in my demo and in my mini-seminar and in stepping above and beyond the call of duty, procurred his grandfather's tux for me (white jacket, black pants in a very James Bond style). Somehow it was a perfect fit in every respect and, , , drum roll please , , , I am now a proud member of the Budo International Hall of Fame. Not too much should be made of this-- truly!!!-- but tis fun none the less.
Unexpected pleasure was running into Carlos Machado who also was inducted into the BI Hall of Fame.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Evolutionary Biology and Psychology
on: June 02, 2005, 11:52:49 PM
As an Ashkenazi Jew
I note the theory that the Ashkenazi are the descendents of the semitic tribes of Israel has been intriguingly challenged by historian Arthur Koestler in his hard-to-find book "The Thirteenth Tribe" which hypothesizes that we came principally from the Khazar Empire. Between the Black and Caspian Seas, it was the Khazar Empire that stopped the northern expansion of Islam at the same time that Charles Martel was stopping it in France. At some point, the rulers of the Khazars converted to Judaism and suggested their people do so as well. AK thinks as the Empire broke down several hundred years later, these Jews, the 13th tribe if you will, are the one who moved into eastern Europe.
A very interesting book. Stating the matter plainly, he is saying that Ashkenazi Jews are Aryans, not Semites.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / MMA Thread
on: June 01, 2005, 01:32:06 PM
This thread is for matters pertaining to MMA.
Jun 1, 12:11 PM EDT
Boston Bans 'Ultimate Fighting' Event
BOSTON (AP) -- City officials have pulled the plug on an "ultimate fighting" event and are threatening to ban the kicking and punching bouts altogether, saying they incite crowds and threaten public safety.
Police and licensing officials blocked a competition planned for this Saturday even though ultimate fighting is legal and is regulated by the Massachusetts Boxing Commission.
"This is not something the city of Boston is going to sanction at this point," said Patricia Malone, head of the city's licensing department.
The fighting is "extremely dangerous" and "incites the crowd. It's definitely a public safety issue," she said.
Ultimate fighting features brawlers inside caged rings. Fights are won by knockout or submission, which usually occurs when a participant is trapped in a dangerous hold. It is legal in most states, but is banned in Illinois and St. Paul, Minn.
"It's basically a mix of 10 styles of fighting that are all legal," said Pat Schultz, 29, a participant from Wareham. "I think the sport might be getting a bad rap from people who don't know about it."
Six hundred tickets were sold for Saturday's event, promoter Mike Varner said. He plans to move the event to a facility in Taunton. "We're licensed. It's regulated. We have insurance," he said.
Ultimate fighting supporters say no one has died in a sanctioned bout. However, at least 10 people have died in "Toughman" amateur boxing matches since that competition started 25 years ago.
Just this weekend, Daniel Quirk, 22, was fatally injured while taking part in a pro wrestling event called Ultimate Championship Wrestling, also in Taunton. Authorities said Quirk, of Shelton, Conn., was outside the ring and attempted to catch another wrestler diving from the top rope. He was knocked off his feet and hit his head on the floor, police said.
? 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Humor
on: June 01, 2005, 11:08:29 AM
Subject: FW: Dictionary For Women's Personal Ads-
Adventurous.......................Slept with everyone
Contagious Smile..................Does a lot of pills
Emotionally Secure......................On medication
Free spirit.........................! ...........Junkie
Friendship first..........................Former slut
New-Age................Body hair in the wrong places
Outgoing........................Loud and Embarrassing
Large frame................................Hugely Fat
Wants Soul mate...............................Stalker
DICTIONARY OF WOMEN'S ENGLISH:
1. Yes = No
2. No = Yes
3. Maybe = No
4. We need = I want..
5. I am sorry = you'll be sorry
6. We need to talk = You're in trouble
7. Sure, go ahead = You better not
8. Do what you want = You ! will pay for this later
9. I am not upset = Of course I am ups et, you moron!
10. You're certainly attentive tonight = Is sex all you ever think about?
DICTIONARY OF MEN'S ENGLISH:
1. I am hungry = I am hungry
2. I am sleepy = I am sleepy
3. I am tired = I am tired
4. Nice dress = Nice cleavage!
5. I love you = Let's have sex now
6. I am bored = Do you want to have sex?
7. May I have this dance? = I'd like to have sex with you
8. Can I call you sometime? = I'd like to have sex with you
9. Do you want to go to a movie? = I'd like to have sex with you
10. Can I take you out to dinner? = I'd like to have sex with you
11. I don't think those shoes go with that outfit = I'm gay
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / KALI TUDO (tm) Article
on: May 31, 2005, 11:14:54 PM
Herewith a semi-polished draft of what I have submitted to Black Belt for their September issue on our subsystem of "Kali Tudo (tm)".
It is probably far longer than what they will actually print.
I may have a couple of days to make amendments, so comments and suggestions will be appreciated.
PS: Note that on the Front Page of the site that there is now a teaser clip for our Kali Tudo (tm) double DVD. Pre-release orders now being taken. Actual release date July 15 or sooner.
Kali Tudo 5.1
Those motivated principally by young male ritual fighting will always be a large percentage of the martial arts world. A very large percentage of them will cease to train as they achieve whatever competitive level that they will and face the prospect of decline.
In contrast, Dog Brothers Martial Arts (DBMA) has as its mission ?To Walk as a Warrior for All Your Days?. In our vision, The Path of the Warrior is a path Of Life, and it is For Life. As such, it must embrace all facets of Aggression -- not only young male ritual hierarchical fighting.
As such DBMA seeks to prepare for the un-ruled and unruly world wherein 360 awareness and unequal and unexpected situations are the criteria. This means that tools, tactics and techniques (?the Three Ts?) that exceed the inherent limitations of hierarchical fighting will be used?which of course presents the perennial question of how to prepare the Three Ts. The hierarchical competitor knows his Three Ts because he uses them on a resisting opponent, but ?secret techniques? and ?too deadly techniques? tend to be an untested techniques?at least as far as the individual being taught them is concerned!
So, what are we who seek to prepare ourselves for the full panoply of Aggression to do? Is there a way to test these skills in the Cage? Indeed, do we have something to offer today?s MMA competitor?
I believe that we can accept the challenge to bring a modified version of Kali Silat to the Cage that will enable us to test ourselves and our ?Three Ts? in a way that allows us to deepen our non-sportive fighting skills. And I believe that today?s MMA competitor, even though he lacks substantial portions of our skill sets, can incorporate some of what we do to his substantial benefit.
Most of us are familiar with many stories of embarrassing and/or sad endings for those who felt that their approach to fighting was ?too deadly? for martial sport. Some of these were seen in the early days of the BJJ triggered UFC revolution. In the context and crucible of the octagonal cage the theories, techniques, training and performance of many martial arts systems and styles were found lacking.
This has led however to the UFC and similar events such as Pride being considered by many as THE legitimate laboratory for what works in unarmed combat. People of this persuasion tend to respect only combat sports systems such as BJJ, Muay Thai, Boxing, Sombo, Greco-Roman, and Wrestling-- the blend of which we may call ?Generic Mixed Martial Arts?.
Those who claim their technique is ?too deadly? for this form of fighting are seen as self-deluded fools who, unwilling to train hard with resisting training partners and hostile opponents, are probably afraid to put themselves to the test? often with good reason. As I once heard one person of this school of thought say, ?If someone tries plucking my eyeball out I?ll neck crank his butt into a wheel chair.? One can often hear something to the effect of ?I can do that biting, eye plucking stuff too, and my delivery system (i.e. my physical animal and its skills) are superior to yours.?
Let?s take a look at this thought process a bit further.
From the beginning of the UFC there have been rules-- and the list has expanded considerably since then, so it is clear there are some techniques that are ?too much?. The following list may not be complete, but if I remember correctly from when I was a judge at UFC 10, the original rules prohibited biting, gouging, eye attacks, small joint locks (toes, fingers) and fishhooks. Since then the list has expanded, and depending on the event typically the prohibited techniques will be some or all of the following: groin strikes, head butts, elbows, elbows to the head, kicks to a man on the ground, kicks to the head of a man on the ground, kicks to the legs of a man on the ground, knees, knees to the head of a man on the ground, strikes to the spine, etc and so forth.
Why is it that these techniques are ?too much?? Although it may seem intuitively obvious (analogous to Supreme Court Justice Potter?s infamous definition of pornography ?I know it when I see it.?) upon reflection, is this really an sufficient criterion? Not really. I think we can be more precise than this.
Aggression has different purposes. A large percentage of those in martial arts are young males looking to compete in ritual hierarchical contests. No surprise here-- in the continuum of a human male?s life-- that is what young males tend to do. (Females compete too, but in general their behavior in this regard is different.)
Social groups are hierarchical groups?contrast ?the anonymous horde? of a school of minnows. Social groups (e.g. a pack of wolves) consist of animals that band together for mutual benefit. To the extent that hierarchical contests damage the loser, the pack/tribe/etc becomes weakened?thus it makes perfect sense that hierarchical contests have rules and limitations.
So where does this leave those of us who have purposes outside of and beyond hierarchical competition?what we in Dog Brothers Martial Arts call ?To Walk as a Warrior for all your days?? We seek to defend our land, women and children?not to engage in fair fights. Thus, precisely what is ?too much? for cage fighting is exactly what interests us!
We need to think about this with clarity because again and again we have seen many who say their techniques are ?too deadly? fail when confronted with a young well-trained cage fighter who, unlike the ?too deadly? practitioner, has experienced using his techniques in the adrenal state upon a resisting opponent.
Before moving on in this discussion, we also need to note that this point can be overstated. We need to remember that we have seen reflexes honed in the adrenal state of combat sport, disastrously manifest in the adrenal state outside of the ritual space. This is sometimes forgotten.
These disastrous manifestations may appear in unorganized (as versus ritual) male hierarchical fights: open guard makes much more sense when one is wearing a cup on the mat or in the cage than in the parking lot outside the night club where someone can vigorously step on your genitals. Releasing a triangle choke can get your femoral artery or genitals bitten. A takedown to side control for ground-and-pound may mean that your attacker can hold on to you long enough for his friends to arrive.
Cage reflexes can also manifest in matters of judgment. For example there is the recent case of a kickboxing champion in CA whose car was sideswiped in front of his gym by a hit-and-run driver. Understandably angry at the misdeed and confident in his superiority, he ran out of his gym while in his MT shorts and chased down the fleeing car and caught up with it at a red light at the corner-- whereupon he was promptly shot and killed by the driver-- who was a thief who had stolen the car.
Yet with all that said, it seems to me that we have still danced around the underlying question presented.
In my humble opinion we of the Kali Silat persuasion need to have a facet to our Art that accepts that challenge of the cage while doing so in a way that furthers our purposes as warriors on a lifelong path as well as generating success in young male hierarchical fights. If the ?delivery platform? we test and hone in the crucible of the cage is consistent with the idioms of movement, the tactics, the tools and the training for weaponry, then we are ahead of the game in a subtle and powerful way when it comes to ?walking as a warrior for all our days.?
In Dog Brothers Martial Arts we call our sub-system for this ?Kali Tudo ??.
The meaning of the name is a pun/rhyme on the Brazilian Portuguese term ?Vale Tudo? which is usually translated as ?Anything goes.? If we look at the Latin roots of the Vale Tudo we may recognize that the English words of common ancestry are ?Valid Total?.
In the Portuguese pronunciation of ?Vale? the ?e? is pronounced like ?e? in ?hey? whereas the in the American pronunciation it is pronounced like the ?ee? in ?seek?.
In the American pronunciation of ?Kali?, the ?i? is also pronounced like the ?ee? in ?seek?. Thus the rhyme is created between the American pronunciation of Vale Tudo and our sub-system ?Kali Tudo ??.
Kali Tudo does not seek to replace what is in the cage right now. The fighters of today are outstanding and what they do is not to be dismissed lightly. I would note in passing though that much more than is commonly appreciated, much of what is in the cage right now has strong southeast Asian influence. Muay Thai is but a ring sport branch from the tree of the Thai military weaponry system of Krabi Krabong which comes to us in DBMA through the teachings of Guro Inosanto and Ajarn Arlan ?Salty Dog? Sanford.
The contribution of the Filipino Art of Panantukan to boxing is quite substantial. Indeed some believe that the shift from the palm up structure of the John L. Sullivan era to the palm down and evasive head movements of the modern era date to the interaction of the US soldiers and the Filipino people in the aftermath of our suppression of the Filipino independence movement after the Spanish-American War of 1898. This is a matter for another day. Those interested may peruse the many points of view in http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=206&start=0
The principal systems upon which we draw are Inosanto Blend Kali and other FMA systems, Inosanto Maphilindo Silat and other Silats, Krabi Krabong, Burmese Bando, and Machado Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. We also draw upon what we see currently happening in the cage.
Those familiar with this list of influences will note that with the exception of the Machado BJJ, all fall within the concept of the Majapahit Empire as described by Grand Tuhon Leo Gaje of Pekiti Tirsia and Guro Inosanto.
What are the distinctive features of our approach?
1) Even as we seek success in the Cage, we seek to minimize the installation of behaviors unsuitable for 360 degrees. We seek to maximize skills, tactics, tools and techniques suitable for the 360 degrees of the street.
2) Following the Kali principal of zoning away from the rear hand, we pay particular attention to fighting in striking range to unmatched lead. (This can apply to clinch range as well.) Thus in order to be able to fight both right lead and left lead fighters, we pay considerable attention to bilateralism. This serves us well in 360 degree situations as well due to the battlefield tactical options thus enabled.
3) This matter of bilateralism enables, indeed calls for, triangular footwork. When a fighter?s skill set is indifferent to which side is forward he may freely shift between the two and this more than doubles the number of triangles possible (Triangles that maintain right lead, triangles that maintain left lead, and triangles that change leads) In our system these skills are developed during our approach to Siniwali (double stick) training.
4) Striking skills ARE based upon our approach to weaponry?both siniwali and knife. Punching is only one of several striking modalities. Trapping most certainly is part of the mix. At the simplest level this means at two (and occasionally three) hits per shift of body weight in contrast to the one hit per shift of body weight of boxing. Furthermore, the nature of these strikes makes them more usable during clinch and ground game?often to surprisingly instantaneous results.
5) The integration of these strikes with bilateral triangular footwork, developed during our approach to weaponry, yields an approach quite different to what is currently seen. Indeed, it can often look quite freaky. It is applied in principally in four ways ways. In addition to the already mentioned clinch and ground ranges, this approach has considerable merit in maintaining a fight in striking range. In the cage this can force an opponent to overextend himself in his efforts to close the distance. In the street, the art and science of keeping someone from entangling you can be a matter of life and death. The remaining category is in aggressive attacks that are both triangular and crashing at the same time. .
6) It is precisely the present absence of triangular striking crash combinations in cagefighting today that explains the current difficulties in applying Kali Silat in the closer ranges. Conversely, its presence enables it. Kali Silat works.
7) Young male hierarchical competition is a secondary motivation?although in my humble opinion we have plenty to offer a young MMA fighter, even one without Kali Silat skills. That said, our principal motivation is to install real time, real world skills in the adrenal state that will prepare us to ?Walk as a Warrior for all our Days?. Our subsystem of Kali Tudo ? is but a step in that process.
Kali Silat does require some training methods distinct from those of generic MMA. Currently many people deride this training as ?dead patterns?. This can be, and often is, true when the training stops at this point in the process.
But just how does one train a Silat takedown that calls for ripping the medial miniscus of the knee safely upon a resisting opponent?
IMHO part of the answer lays in what Guro Inosanto calls "cooperative quarter lever" technical training wherein the correct leverage is identified but applied only a little bit in order to facilitate the development of the understanding of the application AND DANGERS of Kali Silat. Part of the answer lies in BJJ/submission type training. And part of the answer lies in working with training partners who have done both quarter lever training BJJ/submission type training.
In other words, both need to have an understanding of the risks/consequences of Silat techniques, a sense of what uncooperative people feel like, AND the ability to roll and/or strike at partial intensity without accelerating-- as the Machado Brothers say, ?leaving one?s ego at the door.?
Not only is this type of training highly effective in installing these dangerous skills for real time application, it also is relatively safe and quite fun.
The same process described here for learning and training Silat leverage also applies to Kali Silat striking.
This conception of training methodology is essential to manifest Kali Silat in the cage.
Why have we not seen Kali and Silat in cagefighting/NHB/MMA?
My answer is that we have not seen it yet, but we will?very soon. I will go further and predict that it will change the fighting-- as have other systems that have come before it.
When I was a flag carrying fighter for the Dog Brothers twice a year at time and place certain I was available to all comers and put my ideas to the test. I did this until I was 48 years old. I am now 52 and am past the age when I can plausibly step into the Cage.
Still I test myself and these ideas in sparring at Rico Chiapparelli?s R1 Gym, a world class MMA facility. I thank the fine fighters there for matching my diminished level of physicality so that I may continue to play and research. In addition to Rico, I thank Frank Trigg and Vladymir Matyushenko for their help.
The three men I have worked most in our ?Kali Tudo? are Chris Gizzi, DBMA Lakan Guro ?Dog? Jeff Brown, and DBMA Guro Benjamin ?Lonely Dog? Rittiner. Although in my opinion Chris (who you see in the photos in this article) has the physical gifts and the understanding of this material to take it all the way, Chris has decided to stay with his roots in football (he was a standout linebacker for the Green Bay Packers) and now trains pro football players and other elite athletes as well as mere mortals.
Jeff, in addition to being a Lakan Guro in DBMA is also highly ranked in Silat under Herman Suwanda (with considerable training in Indonesia) and in Silat and Kali under Guro Inosanto, in Bando under GM Gyi, and others. He competes in Bando kickboxing and BJJ. I think Jeff expresses Kali Tudo very well
So too does DBMA Guro Lonely Dog. Rico has graciously complemented him on his quality participation in hard sparring at R1 using this material.
These three men can be seen with me in our double disc DVD of ?Kali Tudo ?? which principally covers the portion of the subsystem dedicated to triangular crashing striking combinations.
Allow me to flesh out my prediction that Kali Silat will alter the course of Cagefighting.
My thinking in this regard began with my experience in Dog Brothers Real Contact Stickfighting when I started BJJ with the Machado Brothers in the summer of 1990 and others in our tribe began shortly thereafter. At that time (Pre UFC) most of the martial arts world was blissfully unaware of the realities of grappling in the context of fighting, particularly so in the mostly FMA world of ?Dog Brothers Real Contact Stickfighting?. )
In most of the Filipino Arts in America the received wisdom was, and is, that in the presence of the skilled use of weapons (either impact or cutting) grappling was pretty much a non-issue. Yet in the context of our fighting, we found otherwise. It is true that in many of our fights grappling range was created due to the increased survivability of head shots due to the fencing masks we use, but in my considered opinion we developed many fighters capable of consistently closing to grappling without taking any shots to the head and in the naivete of that era even moderate blue belt level skills produced results that were nearly magical. This is not surprising. Our opponents at that time were unfamiliar with the structure and its dynamics that we were using?just as I believe will happen as we begin to apply Kali Silat in the cage.
This is not a rare dynamic. We have seen this pattern of new and unfamiliar structures changing the fighting repeatedly in the UFC too.
In the beginning, those who entered the event prepared only by training and fighting focused on various forms of striking tested by ritual hierarchical contests with rules designed to isolate striking tended to do quite poorly. They were unfamiliar with the structures of grappling and their dynamics.
Naturally in response to these experiences people did not stand still! Most everyone learned the basics of BJJ?and sought weak links in its structures to exploit with the strong links of other structures.
For example some people looked to shootfighting and Sambo for their leg locks to counter BJJ?s guard game and it was the turn of some BJJ fighters to be surprised as their knees, ankles, and feet were locked.
Another example would be that in the beginning of the BJJ revolution against non-grappling strikers, BJJ fighters could create almost any sort of tangled mess to drag the fight to the ground and then win it there. But then wrestlers such as Greco-Roman man Randy Couture came on the scene?and the BJJ people lacked the skills to bring such men down. Often the result was that either or both looked to use Muay Thai type skills in the clinch?even though fighters trained exclusively in Muay Thai had not fared well previously.
Although those trained solely in BJJ often could not bring down the wrestlers, the wrestlers often could bring down the BJJ fighters into highly unfavorable positions for a ?ground and pound? game that made good use of the grapplers? good base and balance.
Trained by boxing trainer Eddie Stanky, Vitor Belfort brought in sport boxing to excellent effect. Even though most of his early wins were with boxing hands, I think it fair to say that his foundational skills in BJJ Vale Tudo and the attendant understanding of range gave him an understanding of how to use boxing in the context of cagefighting.
Yet then we saw Randy Couture?s ?dirty boxing? (something the Filipino art of Panantukan has taken to a very high level) neutralize Belfort?s sport boxing.
In short, in the Cage we have seen new structures and dynamics come in with dominating results again and again. In a similar manner we have seen again and again that over time there will be responses that neutralize and/or counter these structures and dynamics. Advantage is transitory. Indeed as I write, the current UFC Champ Chuck Liddell won his belt with boxing strikes over superb grappler and great champion Randy Couture. How the wheel has turned from the early UFC!
Closing on a more personal note, recently I showed a rough edit of our Kali Tudo DVDs to Top Dog for his thoughts on it. One of the things he said to me was ?This almost feels like you are letting out a secret.?
I do confess to sharing his feeling in this regard.
So why do I do it?
I must confess what provoked me into starting my journey into KT was a bit like the plot line of many a Chop Socky movie: ?You can?t say that about our teacher!? The attacks by some on his teachings concerning sticks??dead patterns!? they said, I felt were well answered by the performance of the Dog Brothers?no teacher has produced more, either directly or through his students such as me.
?But what of the FMA claim that the unarmed motions are just like armed motions?? these people persisted.
This question I acknowledged did not have the answer (YET!) that the weaponry question did.
As I thought about it, it certainly made no sense to ask someone to use the weaponry motions while unarmed if they couldn?t use the weaponry motions when armed! Thus, it seemed to me that I was, despite my modest physical gifts, due to my training in the Art and my 140 or so Dog Brothers stickfights, in a position to step forward to respond to this challenge.
And so I have. It is the Dog Brother way, the Tao of the Dog if you will, to search for Truth.
The Adventure continues, , , ,
Marc ?Crafty Dog? Denny
Guiding Force of the Dog Brothers
Founder and Head Instructor of Dog Brothers Martial Arts.
For a sidebar to the article:
What some people say about Guro Crafty:
Rico Chiapparelli: (2x World Wrestling Champion, world class MMA coach)
Awareness of and through movement is essential in any
fighting situation. "Kali Tudo" is an interesting
perspective on real fighting that I have seen applied
in hard training sessions and combat.
Marc's intstructions are clear and educational, that
along with the various live, training and technical
video shots, make the DVD quite entertaining.
Expression of truth comes in many forms, all forms are
Frank Trigg (noted UFC and Pride competitor)
It is amazing to see a master of his expertise always trying to increase educational curve by trying to learn new things on a daily basis. His fighting tactics, although unconventional and unorthodox to the untrained eye, are deeply rooted in the true spirit of the warrior. We dig having him at the R1 Gym.
John Renken (Pride, Pancrase, and Shooto;
IFC Lightweight champion
Hook n Shoot Absolute Champion
SFC Middleweight Champion
Extreme Challenge 14 Lightweight Champion
Hook n Shoot Middleweight Champion
Fight Zone Middleweight Champion)
The material on unmatched leads in his Kali Tudo ? DVDs alone is worth the price of admission. My last five opponents were southpaws and I sure wish I knew then what I learned in these DVDs! Even though I am not a Kali guy, I found many things of great applicability to my MMA game. Also, Marc is a gas to train with!
Rik "Captain America" Stardy Jr.
Head Instructor of the RealJitsu Academy
Head of Security for The Rave and Eagles Ballroom
"I have 23 years of martial arts experience (including being an apprentice instructor under Rorion Gracie), I've done different types of competitions and worked on and off for 13 years in nightclub security. So I have plenty of real life fighting experience under my belt and feel that I know what I'm Talking about. I have studied under some "world renowned" instructors often walking away thinking 1. I have just wasted time and money 2. I could have bitch slapped that guy to death. THIS WAS NOT THE CASE WITH GURO DENNY!!!!!!!! I just recently spent $XXXX to study with him for the weekend AND IT WAS WORTH IT!!! If you are interested in studying a reality/weapons based art, my first, second and third recommendation would be Guro Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny. The synergy of his teaching is the fact that he is not only a great martial artist and fighter but also a gifted and patient instructor. I was also pleasantly suprised at how very functional his Kali Tudo is. I will be a life long student of Guro Denny's.
Robert W. Young
Editor Black Belt Magazine
Marc ?Crafty Dog? Denny is the epitome of the martial arts ideal. He appreciates the hard work of the past masters, yet isn?t blinded by devotion. Instead he always seeks to test what he has learned from the past in the crucible of today?s full contact arena. It is the way the evolution of the martial arts was meant to be.
I want to take a moment to HIGHLY recommend Guro Crafty's Kali Tudo DVDs. They 'bridge the gap' between stickfighting and empty hands, between theory and reality, and between Mixed Martial Arts and the Southeast Asian weapon arts. Kali Tudo will make life a lot easier for you and a lot harder for your sparring partners!
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / grandfathers speak
on: May 31, 2005, 11:06:17 PM
The Grandfathers DVD is done. The box cover is done. The only thing holding back its actual release it that we have to have three DVDs to give to the duplication house at the same time to keep costs down. At the moment we have Grandfathers, the conversion of POWER from the first series, and have finished the master of the double disc Kali Tudo (tm). As soon as we finish the box cover for it, we should be ready to roll.
The DVD of "The Grandfathers Speak" contains an additional 30 minutes of footage based upon an interview I did with GM Leo Giron about his experiences in WW2.
Editor Ron "Night Owl" Gabriel has done a stellar job on this mixing in extraordinary footage you probably have never seen.
I admit to misting up on the ending of it.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Homeland Security
on: May 31, 2005, 03:25:03 PM
The FBI Sting and Two New Militant Suspects May 31, 2005 1735 GMT
Following a two-year sting operation, the FBI has arrested two men it says
were conspiring to join al Qaeda and provide material support to the
jihadist network. Agents apprehended Tarik Ibn Osman Shah on May 27 inNew York City and Florida doctor Rafiq Sabir a day later near Boca Raton, Fla. Shah and Sabir "allegedly agreed to provide training in martial arts and hand-to-hand combat to al Qaeda members and associates, while Sabir allegedly agreed to provide medial assistance to wounded jihadists in Saudi Arabia," according to a joint statement issued May 29 by the FBI and federal prosecutors.
The FBI claims the men pledged allegiance to al Qaeda during a May 20
meeting in New York City with a person they believed was recruiting them
into al Qaeda, but who actually was an undercover FBI agent.
Information released about Shah allegedly reveals a connection to the
so-called Virginia Jihad Network, an informal network centered around Falls Church, Va., that has been the common denominator in many arrests related to conspiracy to commit or support terrorist acts. According to federal prosecutors, Shah had the names and phone numbers of individuals who had attended terrorist training camps in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Among these names was Seifullah Chapman, a member of the Virginia Jihad Network who was convicted in Virginia in March 2004 for providing material support to a Pakistan-based terrorist group.
Several people associated with the Virginia Jihad Network have been arrested on charges of conspiring to support terrorist groups, of participating in terrorist activities or of encouraging others to take part in militant activities against the United States. Among these are Masoud Khan, who was sentenced to life in prison in June 2004 under the Neutrality Act for conspiring to support terrorists; Ali al-Timimi, an Islamist ideologue convicted in April 2004 for urging his followers to travel to Afghanistan to resist the U.S.-led invasion; and Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, who was indicted in February for providing support to al Qaeda, including "material support and resources" in a plot to assassinate U.S. President George W. Bush. Like Shah and Sabir, all three are U.S. citizens who were living in the United States.
If the FBI case against Shah and Sabir is upheld in court, it could reveal
that the two lacked the operational skills required to successfully commit a
terrorist act on U.S. soil, but that they could have been useful to al Qaeda
in other ways -- such as providing valuable logistic and financial support
for the planning and staging phases of a terrorist attack. Furthermore, as
U.S. citizens already living in the country, they could have operated in the
open without attracting undue attention.
If the two are proven guilty, the case will demonstrate FBI improvements in surveillance and infiltration of jihadist cells in the United States -- and
the bureau's ability to gain intelligence from the arrests. Although the
meeting between the two and the undercover agent allegedly took place May 20, the men were not arrested until a full week later, after they had
returned to their homes. By apprehending the two at their homes, federal
agents gained access to potentially crucial evidence and intelligence, such
as address books and computer files. This could lead to further action
against alleged U.S.-based jihadists.
These arrests also demonstrate FBI interest in the Virginia Jihad Network.
FBI telephone taps or reviews of phone records allowed under the Foreign
Surveillance Intelligence Act likely tipped off agents as to Shah and
Sabir's alleged commitment to the jihadist cause -- and an undercover agent was assigned to perform the sting.
Another more disturbing revelation coming from Shah's arrest is a possible
connection between jihadists and Black Muslims in the United States. Shah is the son of "Lieutenant X," a former top aid of Malcolm X.
If Shah and Sabir are found guilty of conspiring to support al Qaeda, it
would prove there still are U.S. citizens in the United States who are
willing to support and participate in terrorist groups. In any case, more
arrests are likely to follow.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Frank Trigg on VH1 tonight
on: May 30, 2005, 03:21:47 PM
Comments from the Mixed Martial Arts Underground:
First off LOL!
This has probably been talked about to death on here, but I am avoiding the site so no dumbass drops a Bushido spoiler on me.
I thought the guy was happily married?
I did a double take a first when I saw him, then when she comented on his ears I took a harder look and was sure. I think he has a solid chance because most of those goons are like 20 years old and immature as hell. WTF is he doing on that show anyway? Does he really want to be that wrinkled ole road whores boy toy or is he just trying to break into the spotlight?
well, the more reality tv show coverage you have in america, the more people know your name and face which is good for your popularity as a fighter.
I watched it for like 5 minutes last night. I was hoping one of those fag boys would pic a fight with him.
wtf is kept?
Its a VH1 reality show where a bunch of guys compete to win Jerry Hall. ( Mick Jaggers x wife)
she's a nasty old hag. you couldn't pay me enough to snuggle up to her. wtf with trigg on that show? He's really just a soft puppy dog.
I don't have the attention span to watch more then 5 minutes of that crap. Is Jerry Hall American?
she's from texas originally, I think.
She's a nasty american broad pretending to be british with nasty british teeth.
You guys should help the man realize his dream and vote for him: http://www.vh1.com/shows/dyn/kept/87177/episode.jhtml
Jerry was a big model from Texas in the 70's then was married to Mick Jagger for a while.
That show was terrible, I was just hoping Trigg would do something obnoxious to make a mockery of it all.
He's smart, he's just doing it for the exposure for himself. He should really play up the UFC angle more
Reality TV any more is just a bunch of losers attention whoring to try to get famous
"She's a nasty american broad pretending to be british with nasty british teeth."
It seemed like she was almost putting on a fake English accent at times. It was awful.
I guess he is divorced.
i couldn't believe it when i saw him...
Trigg explained this all in an interview. He thinks Jerry is an old hag and is simply trying to get his name and clothing line on national tv...job well done Frank!
"I was hoping one of those fag boys would pic a fight with him. "
Dude.. is this trigg on the show? http://www.vh1.com/sitewide/flipbooks/img/shows/kept/flipbooks_kept/sharp_dressed_men/11.jpg
"That show was terrible, I was just hoping Trigg would do something obnoxious to make a mockery of it all. "
I saw it last night, fairly entertaining. I hope Trigg gets into it with another contenstant.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / An Untold Triumph
on: May 29, 2005, 06:34:02 AM
AN UNTOLD TRIUMPH SELECTED FOR NATIONAL PRIMETIME BROADCAST ON PBS
HONOLULU/WASHINGTON D.C. - The filmmakers of the award-winning
documentary, AN UNTOLD TRIUMPH, which tells the story of the U.S.
Army's 1st and 2nd Filipino Infantry Regiments, have just received
word that PBS has accepted the film for its national primetime
PBS has scheduled the documentary to air on Memorial Day, May 30,
2005 at 10:00 PM following a repeat broadcast of the American
Experience program "Bataan Rescue." AN UNTOLD TRIUMPH includes a
retelling of the Bataan Death March from the Filipino soldier's
and, in a somewhat related vein:
Japanese Trying to Contact WWII Soldiers
By OLIVER TEVES, Associated Press Writer 44 minutes ago
Japanese diplomats pressed ahead Saturday with efforts to contact two
World War II soldiers reportedly living in the southern Philippines
since they were separated from their division six decades ago.
The men -- who would be in their 80s -- were said to have been
separated from the 30th Division of the Imperial Japanese Army and then
stayed in the remote mountains on Mindanao island for fear of being
court-martialed in Japan.
The astonishing claim that World War II holdouts may still be alive has
attracted huge interest in Japan, where veterans are marking the 60th
anniversary of the war's end.
But the Japanese government urged caution, saying the report came from
somebody who had not seen the men himself. Efforts to contact the pair
also were complicated by the fact that the area in which they
supposedly were found is notorious for ransom kidnappings and attacks
by Muslim separatists, who have waged war for three decades. Communist
rebels also are active there.
Tokyo first learned of the former soldiers in January, from a Japanese
trader on Mindanao who has been trying since Friday to arrange a
meeting so officials could try to confirm the men's' identities,
Japanese Embassy spokesman Shuhei Ogawa said.
But Ogawa stressed that the trader had not seen the men and was relying
on a Filipino contact, who himself got word of the mystery soldiers from
yet another Filipino.
"You should know this type of information comes in all the time," he
said. "We really have no idea if these two people exist."
He said the diplomats who traveled to General Santos city, 600 miles
south of Manila, were still "trying to work out (the details of) a meeting."
On Sunday, they will be joined by an official from the Japanese Health
Ministry, which is in charge of keeping records of former soldiers who
survived as well as recovering the remains of those killed during the war.
According to Japan's Kyodo News agency, the two missing soldiers might
be Yoshio Yamakawa, 87, and Tsuzuki Nakauchi, 85.
The Philippines, then a U.S. colony, was a major battleground in the
Pacific. The Japanese occupation is remembered as brutal for its
massacres of civilians and deaths of hundreds of thousands of U.S. and
Filipino soldiers. After the United States retook the islands from the
Japanese, the country became independent in 1946.
According to Japanese government records, the men could have been part
of a unit of 16,000 soldiers on Mindanao, of which only about 3,000
were believed to have survived the war.
Japan's financial daily Nihon Keizai reported problems negotiating
their free passage through jungles controlled by armed groups. Prime
Minister Junichiro Koizumi's spokesman, Yu Kameoka, also said that
large crowds, including about 100 Japanese journalists, apparently gave
the men pause.
The Japanese invaded the Philippines on Dec. 20, 1941. Years after the
war ended, there were signs in the Philippines warning about Japanese
soldiers still in the hills.
A few surrendered as late as 1948. In March 1974, intelligence officer
Lt. Hiroo Onoda came out of hiding on northern Lubang island, but he
refused to give up until the Japanese government flew in his former
commander to formally inform him the war was over.
The last of the three known former Japanese soldiers to surrender, in
December 1974, was Taiwanese national Teruo Nakamura, who fought for
the Japanese army on Indonesia's Morotai island. He returned to Taiwan
at age 57.
In 1972, Shoichi Yokoi, who had hid for 27 years in the jungles of the
Pacific island of Guam without knowing the war had ended, also returned
to Japan. He died at age 82 in 1997.
Rumors of other soldiers hiding out have surfaced but were never
The Yomiuri newspaper, Japan's largest, reported Saturday that the two
missing soldiers currently sought were first seen in August by a
Japanese lumber businessman, who relayed "the near-unbelievable tale of
their survival" to a veterans' association, which then sent members to
the island to contact them.
The two former soldiers reportedly said they feared being
court-martialed and executed if they returned to Japan, Yomiuri said,
adding the association tried to allay their concerns by sending them
old magazines that reported Onoda's case.
Meanwhile, the convergence of Japanese reporters on the bustling port
city of General Santos raised security concerns in the volatile area,
and the embassy warned them not to venture out in search of the men or
follow anyone offering to guide them. Philippine police issued a
Associated Press reporter Kenji Hall in Tokyo contributed to this report.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3
on: May 28, 2005, 12:01:57 AM
'No god but God': The War Within Islam
By MAX RODENBECK
THESE are rough times for Islam. It is not simply that frictions have intensified lately between Muslims and followers of other faiths. There is trouble, and perhaps even greater trouble, brewing inside the Abode of Peace itself, the notional Islamic ummah or nation that comprises a fifth of humanity.
News reports reveal glimpses of such trouble -- for instance, in the form of flaring strife between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in places like Iraq and Pakistan. Yet the greater tensions, while similarly rooted in the distant past, are less visible to the wider world. The rapid expansion of literacy among Muslims in the past half-century, and of access to new means of communication in the last decade, have created a tremendous momentum for change. Furious debates rage on the Internet, for example, about issues like the true meaning of jihad, or how to interpret and apply Islamic law, or how Muslim minorities should engage with the societies they live in.
What is unfolding, Reza Aslan argues in his wise and passionate book, ''No god but God,'' is nothing less than a struggle over who will ultimately define the sweeping ''Islamic Reformation'' that he believes is already well under way across much of the Muslim world. The West, he says, is ''merely a bystander -- an unwary yet complicit casualty of a rivalry that is raging in Islam over who will write the next chapter in its story.''
Amid the surge of Western interest in Islam since 9/11, other quiet voices have argued similarly that the historical process we are witnessing is less a clash of civilizations than a working out of suppressed internal conflicts. Aslan's contribution to this line of thought is threefold. He traces the dogmatic splits in Islam to their historical origins. He provides a speculative but well-reasoned look at how Muslim beliefs are likely to evolve. And he does all this beautifully, in a book that manages to be both an incisive, scholarly primer in Muslim history and an engaging personal exploration.
Aslan does not shy from controversy. Conservative Muslims will certainly challenge some of his bold assertions -- among them, that there is scant support in authentic Islamic tradition for the veiling of women; that laws are created by people, not God; and that, as he puts it, ''the notion that historical context should play no role in the interpretation of the Koran -- that what applied to Muhammad's community applies to all Muslim communities for all time -- is simply an untenable position in every sense.''
Yet even the most hidebound traditionalists would find it hard to refute the main thrust of his argument, which is that the original message of Islam, egalitarian, inclusive, progressive and liberating, has been twisted and diminished over time. Aslan is at his best in trying to explain and recapture what was initially inspiring about Islam and what remains powerful -- things that can be hard for outsiders to see these days because of what some do in the name of their faith.
By carefully drawing in the social and political setting from which Islam emerged, Aslan presents a persuasive case for viewing the religion as very much a product of its age. He notes the appearance in the region of Mecca, during the prophet's youth, of religious fashions like iconoclasm and the fusing of faiths into one embracing doctrine, ideas that were to become central to Muhammad's message. Not just outsiders but Muslims themselves need reminding that during Islam's first centuries, the Torah was often read alongside the Koran. Both Muslims and their detractors also often forget that the Koran calls specifically on Jews, Christians and Muslims to ''come to an agreement on the things we hold in common.''
Aslan's wish to emphasize the tolerant, merciful side of Islam can lead to pitfalls. It is not particularly comforting to learn that when the prophet triumphantly returned to Mecca, the city of his birth that had rejected him, there were no forced conversions and ''only'' six men and four women were put to the sword. The killing and enslavement of Jewish tribes at Medina receives a similarly light gloss, although Aslan may be right to point out that their ''Jewishness'' may have been rather vaguely defined.
Whatever the case, he is clearly correct in stating that the more damaging influences on the faith were yet to come. Over the 14 centuries that followed Muhammad's 22 years of revelation, Muslim kings and scholars distorted its tenets to serve their own narrow interests, and then cast these accretions in stone. Not only were the words of the Koran reinterpreted, but so were the hundreds of thousands of traditions and sayings collected by the prophet's contemporaries. As one example, Muhammad's comment that the ''feebleminded'' should not inherit was taken by some to mean that women should be excluded from inheritance, despite the clear Koranic injunction to grant women half the portion of male inheritors.
Immediately after Islam's glorious early years of expansion, a great intellectual clash pitted rigid literalists against more rationalist interpreters. That the rationalists essentially lost is a subject of lament for Muslim modernists, particularly Western-educated intellectuals like Aslan, an Iranian-American scholar of comparative religion. His arguments for reintroducing rationalism, for accepting the utility of secularization and for contextualizing the historical understanding of the faith all put him in distinguished company among contemporary Muslims.
The Syrian reformist Muhammad Shahrour, for instance, proposes an elegant solution to the question of how to apply the controversial corporal punishments specified by most understandings of Islamic law, or Shariah. Instead of taking what some see as God's rules literally, he suggests that things like hand-chopping should be viewed as the maximum possible penalty. Anything more severe would contravene Islam, but it would be up to a secular, elected legislature to determine what lesser level of severity to apply.
Sadly, the dominant voices in Islam are still those that see the faith not simply as a path of moral guidance but as a rigidly prescriptive and exclusive rule book. Ferment is certainly in the air. If the Osama bin Ladens of the world have achieved one thing, it is to force Muslims to confront some of their demons. Even archconservative Saudi Arabia is slowly evolving. In April, its top religious authority declared that forcing a woman to marry against her will was an imprisonable offense. A full-blown ''reformation'' in the heartlands of Islam, however, is still a long way off.
Max Rodenbeck is the Middle East correspondent for The Economist.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gender issues thread
on: May 26, 2005, 11:19:13 AM
From today's LEFT Angeles Times:
Lawmakers Retreat on Women in Combat
By John Hendren, Times Staff Writer
WASHINGTON ? In a major reversal, congressional Republicans on Wednesday abandoned an effort to limit the role of women in combat and instead instructed the Pentagon to keep Congress informed about the status of women deployed in war zones.
The compromise, part of a $490.7-billion defense spending bill for 2006, marked a retreat from a campaign by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-El Cajon), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and other Republicans to restrict the role of women in the military.
That plan raised hackles across Washington, drawing the opposition of Army Secretary Francis Harvey, the American Civil Liberties Union and lawmakers of both parties.
Commanders feared that any new restrictions on women in combat would make it more difficult to fill the ranks at a time when wars on two fronts have dampened enthusiasm among young Americans to enlist and have left the Army missing its recruiting targets.
Democrats on Capitol Hill derided it as a sexist effort to carve into law a special ? and reduced ? status for women in uniform.
"At a time when our armed forces are overstretched, we shouldn't be turning away people who want to serve their country," said Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher (D-Walnut Creek).
Invoking the names of two female soldiers captured by Iraqi insurgents and later freed, she added, "This step is a slap in the face to the Jessica Lynches and Shoshana Johnsons of our military, who served our nation ably and nobly."
The measure on women in combat was stripped from the defense bill that authorized $441.6 billion in regular defense spending plus $49.1 billion in emergency budget authority to support costs related to the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The overall bill, approved on a 390-39 vote, would provide a 3.1% pay raise to military personnel and authorize 10,000 more Army soldiers and 1,000 more Marines. The bill also includes $3.4 billion for the Army's next generation of combat vehicles and weapons systems, and $7.9 billion for ballistic missile defense. Those numbers could change when the Senate takes up its version of the defense bill.
As of Wednesday, 35 women were among the 1,649 American troops who had been killed in Iraq, and six female troops had been killed in Afghanistan.
Another 279 women in Iraq and three in Afghanistan had been injured. Women comprise 22,020, or nearly 10%, of the 232,974 U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and surrounding regions.
In his proposal on women in combat, Hunter sought to codify a 1994 Pentagon policy that barred women from serving in most direct combat roles in armor, artillery, infantry and Special Forces units. It allowed them to serve in the military police and, since last year, in combat support jobs.
The policy, based on Cold War-era concepts of warfare, was rendered partly moot by insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan who do not distinguish between troops on front lines and those on theoretically safer missions elsewhere, such as escorting cargo convoys.
Women now serve as gunners atop Humvees on perilous Iraqi streets. Hunter was particularly concerned that women were allowed to serve in armored Stryker vehicles that are used in combat situations.
In proposing stricter laws, Hunter said he feared that the Pentagon was violating the 1994 rules and placing women at risk. Hunter agreed to the compromise Wednesday after meeting Tuesday with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, although Pentagon officials stopped short of saying that Rumsfeld opposed Hunter's earlier legislative wording.
The final measure would require the Pentagon to give Congress 60 days' notice ? instead of the previous 30 days ? before changing the role of female troops. The compromise was approved by a vote of 428 to 1.
"It has always been our intent to inject Congress into any policy changes that the Department of Defense may propose regarding the assignment of women to units such as infantry, armor and artillery," Hunter said. "This provision does that."
Rumsfeld, apparently satisfied, wrote Hunter on Wednesday, saying, "I do not anticipate any shift in present department policies, nor in the quality and scope of opportunities available to military women."
The battle to oppose the measure was led by Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.), the only female veteran in Congress.
"In the history of this country, there has never been a law limiting the assignment of women in the Army, and we will not do so now," Wilson said.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politically (In)correct
on: May 26, 2005, 11:17:30 AM
Author Charged With Defaming Islam
From Times Wire Reports
A judge ordered author Oriana Fallaci to face trial on charges of defaming Islam.
The case arose after Muslim activist Adel Smith alleged that parts of Fallaci's book, "The Strength of Reason," are offensive to Islam, such as a passage that calls Islam "a pool ? that never purifies," said Smith's attorney, Matteo Nicoli.
Fallaci, in her 70s, said she is accused of violating a law barring "outrage to religion." No date has been set for the trial in the northern town of Bergamo.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gender issues thread
on: May 26, 2005, 12:40:24 AM
No Women In Combat Passes House
May 19, 2005
WASHINGTON - Women in the military would be barred from serving in direct ground combat roles, under a House bill that sets Defense Department policy and spending plans for the upcoming budget year.
The House Armed Services Committee approved the overall measure early Thursday on a 61-1 vote. The same committee in the Senate passed a different version last week. The House and Senate are to vote on their respective bills next week.
President Bush requested $442 billion for defense for the budget year that begins Oct. 1, excluding money to pay for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The House bill, like the Senate's version, envisions creating a $50 billion fund for the conflicts for next year - but provides no money for it.
The measure also calls for increasing the military by 10,000 Army soldiers and 1,000 Marines, boosting pay grades for uniformed personnel by 3.1 percent and permanently providing all Reserve and Guard members access to military health care services.
In a nearly 15-hourlong committee hearing, the most contentious issue was the role of women in combat.
The language would put into law a Pentagon policy from 1994 that prohibits female troops in all four service branches from serving in units below brigade level whose primary mission is direct ground combat.
"Many Americans feel that women in combat or combat support positions is not a bridge we want to cross at this point," said Rep. John McHugh, R-N.Y., who sponsored the amendment.
It also allows the Pentagon to further exclude women from units in other instances, while requiring defense officials to notify Congress when opening up positions to women. The amendment replaced narrower language in the bill that applied only to the Army and banned women from some combat support positions.
The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps currently operate under a 10-year-old policy that prohibits women from "direct combat on the ground" but allows the services discretion to open some jobs to women in combat as needed.
"We're not taking away a single prerogative that the services now have," McHugh said.
Democrats opposed the amendment, saying it would tie the hands of commanders who need flexibility during wartime. They accused Republicans of rushing through legislation without knowing the consequences or getting input from the military.
"We are changing the dynamic of what has been the policy of this country for the last 10 years," said Rep. Vic Snyder, D-Ark.
Added Rep. Ike Skelton of Missouri, the committee's leading Democrat: "There seems to be a solution in search of a problem."
The issue arose last week, when Republicans, at the behest of Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., added a provision that would have banned women from being assigned to "forward support companies."
Those units provide infantry, armor and artillery units with equipment, ammunition, maintenance and other supplies in combat zones. The Army started allowing women to staff such support posts last year and says it is complying with the 1994 policy.
Some Republicans aren't so sure. "The Army is confused. They're all over the place on this one," Hunter said.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Wednesday the Army is working with Congress and battlefield commanders "to find an appropriate way that's consistent with our country's view on that subject."
He said the Army's attempt to reorganize and an asymmetrical front line on the battlefield muddies the issue.
Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., cast the lone dissenting vote on the overall bill.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Recipes for padded weapons?
on: May 26, 2005, 12:04:13 AM
For those of you beginning to appreciate just how much time and work can go into padded sticks, you may wish to take another look at the Actionflex that we sell here on the website
Yeah they're expensive, but we think they are really good.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3
on: May 25, 2005, 03:06:36 PM
I don't see this one as a matter of WW3 or WW4 for that matter-- geopolitical matters certainly, but not war.
The amount of business between the US and China increases dramatically on a daily basis and I suspect that there will be a lot of people on BOTH sides of the Pacific who would regard war between us as a helluva silly way to screw up making money.
Not that this doesn't bear watching, but I am certainly not feeling apocalyptic about this one yet.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Rants
on: May 25, 2005, 12:15:56 AM
Leaving the left
I can no longer abide the simpering voices of self-styled progressives -- people who once championed solidarity
Sunday, May 22, 2005
Nightfall, Jan. 30. Eight-million Iraqi voters have finished risking their lives to endorse freedom and defy fascism. Three things happen in rapid succession. The right cheers. The left demurs. I walk away from a long-term intimate relationship. I'm separating not from a person but a cause: the political philosophy that for more than three decades has shaped my character and consciousness, my sense of self and community, even my sense of cosmos.
I'm leaving the left -- more precisely, the American cultural left and what it has become during our time together.
I choose this day for my departure because I can no longer abide the simpering voices of self-styled progressives -- people who once championed solidarity with oppressed populations everywhere -- reciting all the ways Iraq's democratic experiment might yet implode.
My estrangement hasn't happened overnight. Out of the corner of my eye I watched what was coming for more than three decades, yet refused to truly see. Now it's all too obvious. Leading voices in America's "peace" movement are actually cheering against self-determination for a long-suffering Third World country because they hate George W. Bush more than they love freedom.
Like many others who came of age politically in the 1960s, I became adept at not taking the measure of the left's mounting incoherence. To face it directly posed the danger that I would have to describe it accurately, first to myself and then to others. That could only give aid and comfort to Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and all the other Usual Suspects the left so regularly employs to keep from seeing its own reflection in the mirror.
Now, I find myself in a swirling metamorphosis. Think Kafka, without the bug. Think Kuhnian paradigm shift, without the buzz. Every anomaly that didn't fit my perceptual set is suddenly back, all the more glaring for so long ignored. The insistent inner voice I learned to suppress now has my rapt attention. "Something strange -- something approaching pathological -- something entirely of its own making -- has the left in its grip," the voice whispers. "How did this happen?" The Iraqi election is my tipping point. The time has come to walk in a different direction -- just as I did many years before.
I grew up in a northwest Ohio town where conservative was a polite term for reactionary. When Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of Mississippi "sweltering in the heat of oppression," he could have been describing my community, where blacks knew to keep their heads down, and animosity toward Catholics and Jews was unapologetic. Liberal and conservative, like left and right, wouldn't be part of my lexicon for a while, but when King proclaimed, "I have a dream," I instinctively cast my lot with those I later found out were liberals (then synonymous with "the left" and "progressive thought").
The people on the other side were dedicated to preserving my hometown's backward-looking status quo. This was all that my 10-year-old psyche needed to know. The knowledge carried me for a long time. Mythologies are helpful that way.
I began my activist career championing the 1968 presidential candidacies of Robert Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy, because both promised to end America's misadventure in Vietnam. I marched for peace and farm worker justice, lobbied for women's right to choose and environmental protections, signed up with George McGovern in 1972 and got elected as the youngest delegate ever to a Democratic convention.
Eventually I joined the staff of U.S. Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, D-Ohio. In short, I became a card-carrying liberal, although I never actually got a card. (Bookkeeping has never been the left's strong suit.) All my commitments centered on belief in equal opportunity, due process, respect for the dignity of the individual and solidarity with people in trouble. To my mind, Americans who had joined the resistance to Franco's fascist dystopia captured the progressive spirit at its finest.
A turning point came at a dinner party on the day Ronald Reagan famously described the Soviet Union as the pre-eminent source of evil in the modern world. The general tenor of the evening was that Reagan's use of the word "evil" had moved the world closer to annihilation. There was a palpable sense that we might not make it to dessert.
When I casually offered that the surviving relatives of the more than 20 million people murdered on orders of Joseph Stalin might not find "evil'" too strong a word, the room took on a collective bemused smile of the sort you might expect if someone had casually mentioned taking up child molestation for sport.
My progressive companions had a point. It was rude to bring a word like "gulag" to the dinner table.
I look back on that experience as the beginning of my departure from a left already well on its way to losing its bearings. Two decades later, I watched with astonishment as leading left intellectuals launched a telethon- like body count of civilian deaths caused by American soldiers in Afghanistan. Their premise was straightforward, almost giddily so: When the number of civilian Afghani deaths surpassed the carnage of Sept. 11, the war would be unjust, irrespective of other considerations.
Stated simply: The force wielded by democracies in self-defense was declared morally equivalent to the nihilistic aggression perpetuated by Muslim fanatics.
Susan Sontag cleared her throat for the "courage" of the al Qaeda pilots. Norman Mailer pronounced the dead of Sept. 11 comparable to "automobile statistics." The events of that day were likely premeditated by the White House, Gore Vidal insinuated. Noam Chomsky insisted that al Qaeda at its most atrocious generated no terror greater than American foreign policy on a mediocre day.
All of this came back to me as I watched the left's anemic, smirking response to Iraq's election in January. Didn't many of these same people stand up in the sixties for self-rule for oppressed people and against fascism in any guise? Yes, and to their lasting credit. But many had since made clear that they had also changed their minds about the virtues of King's call for equal of opportunity.
These days the postmodern left demands that government and private institutions guarantee equality of outcomes. Any racial or gender "disparities" are to be considered evidence of culpable bias, regardless of factors such as personal motivation, training, and skill. This goal is neither liberal nor progressive; but it is what the left has chosen. In a very real sense it may be the last card held by a movement increasingly ensnared in resentful questing for group-specific rights and the subordination of citizenship to group identity. There's a word for this: pathetic.
I smile when friends tell me I've "moved right." I laugh out loud at what now passes for progressive on the main lines of the cultural left.
In the name of "diversity," the University of Arizona has forbidden discrimination based on "individual style." The University of Connecticut has banned "inappropriately directed laughter." Brown University, sensing unacceptable gray areas, warns that harassment "may be intentional or unintentional and still constitute harassment." (Yes, we're talking "subconscious harassment" here. We're watching your thoughts ...).
Wait, it gets better. When actor Bill Cosby called on black parents to explain to their kids why they are not likely to get into medical school speaking English like "Why you ain't" and "Where you is," Jesse Jackson countered that the time was not yet right to "level the playing field." Why not? Because "drunk people can't do that ... illiterate people can't do that."
When self-styled pragmatic feminist Camille Paglia mocked young coeds who believe "I should be able to get drunk at a fraternity party and go upstairs to a guy's room without anything happening," Susan Estrich spoke up for gender- focused feminists who "would argue that so long as women are powerless relative to men, viewing 'yes' as a sign of true consent is misguided."
I'll admit my politics have shifted in recent years, as have America's political landscape and cultural horizon. Who would have guessed that the U.S. senator with today's best voting record on human rights would be not Ted Kennedy or Barbara Boxer but Kansas Republican Sam Brownback?
He is also by most measures one of the most conservative senators. Brownback speaks openly about how his horror at the genocide in the Sudan is shaped by his Christian faith, as King did when he insisted on justice for "all of God's children."
My larger point is rather simple. Just as a body needs different medicines at different times for different reasons, this also holds for the body politic.
In the sixties, America correctly focused on bringing down walls that prevented equal access and due process. It was time to walk the Founders' talk -- and we did. With barriers to opportunity no longer written into law, today the body politic is crying for different remedies.
America must now focus on creating healthy, self-actualizing individuals committed to taking responsibility for their lives, developing their talents, honing their skills and intellects, fostering emotional and moral intelligence, all in all contributing to the advancement of the human condition.
At the heart of authentic liberalism lies the recognition, in the words of John Gardner, "that the ever renewing society will be a free society (whose] capacity for renewal depends on the individuals who make it up." A continuously renewing society, Gardner believed, is one that seeks to "foster innovative, versatile, and self-renewing men and women and give them room to breathe."
One aspect of my politics hasn't changed a bit. I became a liberal in the first place to break from the repressive group orthodoxies of my reactionary hometown.
This past January, my liberalism was in full throttle when I bid the cultural left goodbye to escape a new version of that oppressiveness. I departed with new clarity about the brilliance of liberal democracy and the value system it entails; the quest for freedom as an intrinsically human affair; and the dangers of demands for conformity and adherence to any point of view through silence, fear, or coercion.
True, it took a while to see what was right before my eyes. A certain misplaced loyalty kept me from grasping that a view of individuals as morally capable of and responsible for making the principle decisions that shape their lives is decisively at odds with the contemporary left's entrance-level view of people as passive and helpless victims of powerful external forces, hence political wards who require the continuous shepherding of caretaker elites.
Leftists who no longer speak of the duties of citizens, but only of the rights of clients, cannot be expected to grasp the importance (not least to our survival) of fostering in the Middle East the crucial developmental advances that gave rise to our own capacity for pluralism, self-reflection, and equality. A left averse to making common cause with competent, self- determining individuals -- people who guide their lives on the basis of received values, everyday moral understandings, traditional wisdom, and plain common sense -- is a faction that deserves the marginalization it has pursued with such tenacity for so many years.
All of which is why I have come to believe, and gladly join with others who have discovered for themselves, that the single most important thing a genuinely liberal person can do now is walk away from the house the left has built. The renewal of any tradition that deserves the name "progressive" becomes more likely with each step in a better direction.
Keith Thompson is a Petaluma writer and the author of "Angels and Aliens" and "To Be a Man." His work is at www.thompsonatlarge.com
. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Page C - 1
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Humor
on: May 24, 2005, 06:29:06 PM
A lawyer and a blonde are sitting next to each other on a
long flight from LA to NY. The lawyer leans over to her and
asks if she would like to play a fun game. The blonde just
wants to take a nap, so she politely declines and rolls over
to the window to catch a few winks.
The lawyer persists and explains that the game is really
easy and a lot of fun. He explains: "I ask you a question,
and if you don't know the answer, you pay me $5, and
Again, she politely declines and tries to get some sleep.
The lawyer, now somewhat agitated, says, "Okay, if you don't
know the answer you pay me $5, and if I don't know the
answer, I will pay you $50" figuring that since she is a
blonde that he will easily win the match.
This catches the blonde's attention and, figuring that there
will be no end to this torment unless she plays, she agrees
to the game.
The lawyer asks the first question: "What's the distance
from the earth to the moon?"
The blonde doesn't say a word, reaches into her purse, pulls
out a five-dollar bill and hands it to the lawyer.
Now, it's the blonde's turn. She asks the lawyer: "What goes
up a hill with three legs, and comes down with four?"
The lawyer looks at her with a puzzled look.
He takes out his laptop computer and searches all his
references. He taps into the digital cellphone via wireless
connection to his modem port and searches the Net and the
Library of Congress. Frustrated, he sends E-mail to all his
co-workers, friends, clients, and suppliers that he knows.
And then some. All to no avail. After over an hour, he wakes
the blonde and hands her $50. The blonde politely takes the
$50 and turns away to get back to sleep.
The lawyer, who is more than a little miffed, wakes the
blonde and asks, "Well, so what IS the answer?"
Without a word, the blonde reaches into her purse, hands the
lawyer $5, and goes back to sleep.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3
on: May 24, 2005, 01:18:09 PM
Al Qaeda Arrests and the Hunt for Osama bin Laden
May 23, 2005 1852 GMT
The May 2 capture of senior al Qaeda leader Abu Farj al-Libi in Pakistan set off a chain reaction of militant arrests in the country -- suggesting the
net is closing in on al Qaeda's top leadership -- including Osama bin Laden.
Within days of al-Libi's arrest, Pakistani forces captured 14 other al Qaeda
suspects near the border with Afghanistan. Then, on May 18, Pakistani police in Lahore arrested Maulvi Mohammed Sadiq, who allegedly provided logistical and financial support for al Qaeda operations.
Meanwhile, as the al Qaeda network unravels in Pakistan, arrests also are
being made in the Middle East and Europe. Amar al-Zubaydi, also known as Abu Abbas, a key aid to al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was captured May 5 in Iraq. On May 18, authorities in northern Italy arrested three suspects with links to al Qaeda. Italian police said the suspects also are accused of dealing in false documents and drug trafficking.
Three days later, German police arrested a Palestinian living in Marburg.
The suspect, identified only as Ismail Abu S., reportedly is linked to al
Qaeda. He is the brother of Yasser Abu S., whose January arrest allegedly
foiled a plan for Yasser to fake his death in Germany and then travel to
Iraq to carry out a suicide attack against U.S. troops there. The insurance
payoff for the faked death was to be used to fund further al Qaeda
activities, according to German police.
Fraud investigations in the United States, Europe and Asia have led to the
arrest of several other al Qaeda members who allegedly have been using money laundering and document fraud to finance the network.
Several factors are working against al Qaeda at the moment. First, the close interpersonal relationships among the leadership -- which until now had spawned a loyalty that ensured operational security and personal protection-- are now becoming a detriment, as captured militants reveal details about others, as in al-Libi case has shown. Second, Pakistani intelligence officials cite a rift between al Qaeda's Arab and non-Arab members as a factor in many of the recent arrests. Captured Chechen, Uzbek and Tajik militants, officials say, have been giving up information about their Arab colleagues, which has enabled U.S. and Pakistani counterterrorism forces to close in on them.
Also, Pakistan has been changing its tone about bin Laden. Some officials
are openly saying his capture is imminent -- and even are acknowledging
cooperating with the United States in hunting him. Pakistani military
spokesperson Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan said May 22 on Dubai-based ARY
television that projectiles fired by the U.S. military in Afghanistan during
offensive operations against militants had landed in Pakistani territory.
Sultan clarified that the U.S. military command in Afghanistan had notified
Islamabad in advance of the operation and of the possibility that the
projectiles would end up on Pakistani soil. In the not-so-distant past,
Islamabad would have been reluctant to acknowledge the extent of its
cooperation with Washington for fear of agitating the sizable segment of its
population that sympathizes with al Qaeda.
Perhaps most significant in the hunt for bin Laden is the U.S. State
Department program Rewards for Justice. Many of the biggest names in
international terrorism have been arrested after being informed on under
this program. Bin Laden's capture likely will be a direct result of this
program, as more high-value targets are arrested and the concentric circles of confidants around him shrink.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Weird and/or silly
on: May 24, 2005, 01:03:26 AM
Lion Mutilates 42 Midgets in Cambodian Ring-Fight
An African Lion much like this is responsible for the death of 28 Cambodian Midgets
Spectators cheered as entire Cambodian Midget Fighting League squared off against African Lion
Tickets had been sold-out three weeks before the much anticipated fight, which took place in the city of K?mp?ng Chhn?ng.
The fight was slated when an angry fan contested Yang Sihamoni, President of the CMFL, claiming that one lion could defeat his entire league of 42 fighters.
Sihamoni takes great pride in the league he helped create, as was conveyed in his recent advertising campaign for the CMFL that stated his midgets will "... take on anything; man, beast, or machine."
This campaign is believed to be what sparked the undisclosed fan to challenge the entire league to fight a lion; a challenge that Sihamoni readily accepted.
An African Lion (Panthera Leo) was shipped to centrally located K?mp?ng Chhn?ng especially for the event, which took place last Saturday, April 30, 2005 in the city?s coliseum.
The Cambodian Government allowed the fight to take place, under the condition that they receive a 50% commission on each ticket sold, and that no cameras would be allowed in the arena.
The fight was called in only 12 minutes, after which 28 fighters were declared dead, while the other 14 suffered severe injuries including broken bones and lost limbs, rendering them unable to fight back.
Sihamoni was quoted before the fight stating that he felt since his fighters out-numbered the lion 42 to 1, that they ?? could out-wit and out-muscle [it].?
Unfortunately, he was wrong.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Rants
on: May 20, 2005, 11:14:18 PM
Related to the 'nuclear option' debate below is the question of which nominees are 'extremists', in a negative sense.
What Sens. Schumer and Reid call extremists are exactly the type of jurists that candidate Bush said he would appoint. Almost 55 Senators share a similar view. By definition, a nominee chosen by an elected President and favored by a majority of senators is not far out of the mainstream, but the critics might be (IMO).
This controversial speech is cited by both sides of the Janice Rogers Brown confirmation argument. She seems to favor a market economy over a big government, collectivist system. http://www.constitution.org/col/jrb/00420_jrb_fedsoc.htm
"A Whiter Shade of Pale": Sense and Nonsense
The Pursuit of Perfection in Law and Politics
Speech of Janice Rogers Brown,
Associate Justice, California Supreme Court
The Federalist Society
University of Chicago Law School
April 20, 2000, Thursday
Thank you. I want to thank Mr. Schlangen (fondly known as Charlie to my secretary) for extending the invitation and the Federalist Society both for giving me my first opportunity to visit the City of Chicago and for being, as Mr. Schlangen assured me in his letter of invitation, "a rare bastion (nay beacon) of conservative and libertarian thought." That latter notion made your invitation well-nigh irresistible. There are so few true conservatives left in America that we probably should be included on the endangered species list. That would serve two purposes: Demonstrating the great compassion of our government and relegating us to some remote wetlands habitat where ? out of sight and out of mind ? we will cease being a dissonance in collectivist concerto of the liberal body politic.
In truth, they need not banish us to the gulag. We are not much of a threat, lacking even a coherent language in which to state our premise. [I should pause here to explain the source of the title to this discussion. Unless you are a very old law student, you probably never heard of "A Whiter Shade of Pale."] "A Whiter Shade of Pale" is an old (circa 1967) Procol Harum song, full of nonsensical lyrics, but powerfully evocative nonetheless. Here's a sample:
"We skipped the light fandango
turned cartwheels cross the floor
I was feeling kinda seasick
but the crowd called out for more.
The room was humming harder
as the ceiling flew away.
When we called out for another drink
the waiter brought a tray."
There is something about this that forcibly reminds me of our current political circus. The last verse is even better.
"If music be the food of love
then laughter is its queen
and likewise if behind is in front
then dirt in truth is clean...."
Sound familiar? Of course Procol Harum had an excuse. These were the 60's after all, and the lyrics were probably drug induced. What's our excuse?
One response might be that we are living in a world where words have lost their meaning. This is certainly not a new phenomenon. It seems to be an inevitable artifact of cultural disintegration. Thucydides lamented the great changes in language and life that succeeded the Pelopennesian War; Clarendon and Burke expressed similar concerns about the political transformations of their own time. It is always a disorienting experience for a member of the old guard when the entire understanding of the old world is uprooted. As James Boyd White expresses it: "n this world no one would see what he sees, respond as he responds, speak as he speaks,"1 and living in that world means surrender to the near certainty of central and fundamental changes within the self. "One cannot maintain forever one's language and judgment against the pressures of a world that works in different ways," for we are shaped by the world in which we live.2
This is a fascinating subject which we do not have time to explore more thoroughly. Suffice it to say that this phenomenon accounts for much of the near hysterical tone of current political discourse. Our problems, however, seem to go even deeper. It is not simply that the same words don't have the same meanings; in our lifetime, words are ceasing to have any meaning. The culture of the word is being extinguished by the culture of the camera. Politicians no longer have positions they have photo-ops. To be or not to be is no longer the question. The question is: how do you feel.
Writing 50 years ago, F.A. Hayek warned us that a centrally planned economy is "The Road to Serfdom."3 He was right, of course; but the intervening years have shown us that there are many other roads to serfdom. In fact, it now appears that human nature is so constituted that, as in the days of empire all roads led to Rome; in the heyday of liberal democracy, all roads lead to slavery. And we no longer find slavery abhorrent. We embrace it. We demand more. Big government is not just the opiate of the masses. It is the opiate. The drug of choice for multinational corporations and single moms; for regulated industries and rugged Midwestern farmers and militant senior citizens.
It is my thesis today that the sheer tenacity of the collectivist impulse ? whether you call it socialism or communism or altruism ? has changed not only the meaning of our words, but the meaning of the Constitution, and the character of our people.
Government is the only enterprise in the world which expands in size when its failures increase. Aaron Wildavsky gives a credible account of this dynamic. Wildavsky notes that the Madisonian world has gone "topsy turvy" as factions, defined as groups "activated by some common interest adverse to the rights of other citizens or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community,"4 have been transformed into sectors of public policy. "Indeed," says Wildavsky, "government now pays citizens to organize, lawyers to sue, and politicians to run for office. Soon enough, if current trends continue, government will become self-contained, generating (apparently spontaneously) the forces to which it responds."5 That explains how, but not why. And certainly not why we are so comfortable with that result.
America's Constitution provided an 18th Century answer to the question of what to do about the status of the individual and the mode of government. Though the founders set out to establish good government "from reflection and choice,"6 they also acknowledged the "limits of reason as applied to constitutional design,"7 and wisely did not seek to invent the world anew on the basis of abstract principle; instead, they chose to rely on habits, customs, and principles derived from human experience and authenticated by tradition.
"The Framers understood that the self-interest which in the private sphere contributes to welfare of society ? both in the sense of material well-being and in the social unity engendered by commerce ? makes man a knave in the public sphere, the sphere of politics and group action. It is self-interest that leads individuals to form factions to try to expropriate the wealth of others through government and that constantly threatens social harmony."8
Collectivism sought to answer a different question: how to achieve cosmic justice ? sometimes referred to as social justice ? a world of social and economic equality. Such an ambitious proposal sees no limit to man's capacity to reason. It presupposes a community can consciously design not only improved political, economic, and social systems but new and improved human beings as well.
The great innovation of this millennium was equality before the law. The greatest fiasco ? the attempt to guarantee equal outcomes for all people. Tom Bethell notes that the security of property ? a security our Constitution sought to ensure ? had to be devalued in order for collectivism to come of age. The founders viewed private property as "the guardian of every other right."9 But, "by 1890 we find Alfred Marshall, the teacher of John Maynard Keynes making the astounding claim that the need for private property reaches no deeper than the qualities of human nature."10 A hundred years later came Milton Friedman's laconic reply: " 'I would say that goes pretty deep.'"11 In between, came the reign of socialism. "Starting with the formation of the Fabian Society and ending with the fall of the Berlin Wall, its ambitious project was the reformation of human nature. Intellectuals visualized a planned life without private property, mediated by the New Man."12 He never arrived. As John McGinnis persuasively argues:
"There is simply a mismatch between collectivism on any large and enduring scale and our evolved nature. As Edward O. Wilson, the world's foremost expert on ants, remarked about Marxism, 'Wonderful theory. Wrong species.'"13
Ayn Rand similarly attributes the collectivist impulse to what she calls the "tribal view of man."14 She notes, "[t]he American philosophy of the Rights of Man was never fully grasped by European intellectuals. Europe's predominant idea of emancipation consisted of changing the concept of man as a slave to the absolute state embodied by the king, to the concept of man as the slave of the absolute state as embodied by 'the people' ? i.e., switching from slavery to a tribal chieftain into slavery to the tribe."15
Democracy and capitalism seem to have triumphed. But, appearances can be deceiving. Instead of celebrating capitalism's virtues, we offer it grudging acceptance, contemptuous tolerance but only for its capacity to feed the insatiable maw of socialism. We do not conclude that socialism suffers from a fundamental and profound flaw. We conclude instead that its ends are worthy of any sacrifice ? including our freedom. Revel notes that Marxism has been "shamed and ridiculed everywhere except American universities" but only after totalitarian systems "reached the limits of their wickedness."16
"Socialism concentrated all the wealth in the hands of an oligarchy in the name of social justice, reduced peoples to misery in the name of shar[ed] resources, to ignorance in the name of science. It created the modern world's most inegalitarian societies in the name of equality, the most vast network of concentration camps ever built [for] the defense of liberty."17
Revel warns: "The totalitarian mind can reappear in some new and unexpected and seemingly innocuous and indeed virtuous form. [?]... t ... will [probably] put itself forward under the cover of a generous doctrine, humanitarian, inspired by a concern for giving the disadvantaged their fair share, against corruption, and pollution, and 'exclusion.'"18
Of course, given the vision of the American Revolution just outlined, you might think none of that can happen here. I have news for you. It already has. The revolution is over. What started in the 1920's; became manifest in 1937; was consolidated in the 1960's; is now either building to a crescendo or getting ready to end with a whimper.
At this moment, it seems likely leviathan will continue to lumber along, picking up ballast and momentum, crushing everything in its path. Some things are apparent. Where government moves in, community retreats, civil society disintegrates, and our ability to control our own destiny atrophies. The result is: families under siege; war in the streets; unapologetic expropriation of property; the precipitous decline of the rule of law; the rapid rise of corruption; the loss of civility and the triumph of deceit. The result is a debased, debauched culture which finds moral depravity entertaining and virtue contemptible.
But what if anything does this have to do with law? Quite a lot, I think. In America, the national conversation will probably always include rhetoric about the rule of law. I have argued that collectivism was (and is) fundamentally incompatible with the vision that undergirded this country's founding. The New Deal, however, inoculated the federal Constitution with a kind of underground collectivist mentality. The Constitution itself was transmuted into a significantly different document. In his famous, all too famous, dissent in Lochner, Justice Holmes wrote that the "constitution is not intended to embody a particular economic theory, whether of paternalism and the organic relation of the citizen to the State or of laissez faire."19 Yes, one of the greatest (certainly one of the most quotable) jurists this nation has ever produced; but in this case, he was simply wrong. That Lochner dissent has troubled me ? has annoyed me ? for a long time and finally I understand why. It's because the framers did draft the
Constitution with a surrounding sense of a particular polity in mind, one based on a definite conception of humanity. In fact as Professor Richard Epstein has said, Holmes's contention is "not true of our [ ] [Constitution], which was organized upon very explicit principles of political theory."20 It could be characterized as a plan for humanity "after the fall."
There is nothing new, of course, in the idea that the framers did not buy into the notion of human perfectibility. And the document they drafted and the nation adopted in 1789 is shot through with provisions that can only be understood against the supposition that humanity's capacity for evil and tyranny is quite as real and quite as great as its capacity for reason and altruism. Indeed, as noted earlier, in politics, the framers may have envisioned the former tendency as the stronger, especially in the wake of the country's experience under the Articles of Confederation. The fear of "factions," of an "encroaching tyranny"; the need for ambition to counter ambition"; all of these concerns identified in the Federalist Papers have stratagems designed to defend against them in the Constitution itself. We needed them, the framers were convinced, because "angels do not govern"; men do.
It was a quite opposite notion of humanity, of its fundamental nature and capacities, that animated the great concurrent event in the West in 1789 ? the revolution in France. Out of that revolutionary holocaust ? intellectually an improbable melding of Rousseau with Descartes ? the powerful notion of abstract human rights was born. At the risk of being skewered by historians of ideas, I want to suggest that the belief in and the impulse toward human perfection, at least in the political life of a nation, is an idea whose arc can be traced from the Enlightenment, through the Terror, to Marx and Engels, to the Revolutions of 1917 and 1937. The latter date marks the triumph of our own socialist revolution. All of these events were manifestations of a particularly skewed view of human nature and the nature of human reason. To the extent the Enlightenment sought to substitute the paradigm of reason for faith, custom or tradition, it failed to provide rational explanation of the significance of human life. It thus
led, in a sort of ultimate irony, to the repudiation of reason and to a full-fledged flight from truth ? what Revel describes as "an almost pathological indifference to the truth."21
There were obviously urgent economic and social reasons driving not only the political culture but the constitutional culture in the mid-1930's ? though it was actually the mistakes of governments (closed borders, high tariffs, and other protectionist measures) that transformed a "momentary breakdown into an international cataclysm."22 The climate of opinion favoring collectivist social and political solutions had a worldwide dimension.
Politically, the belief in human perfectibility is another way of asserting that differences between the few and the many can, over time, be erased. That creed is a critical philosophical proposition underlying the New Deal. What is extraordinary is the way that thesis infiltrated and effected American constitutionalism over the next three-quarters of a century. Its effect was not simply to repudiate, both philosophically and in legal doctrine, the framers' conception of humanity, but to cut away the very ground on which the Constitution rests. Because the only way to come to terms with an enduring Constitution is to believe that the human condition is itself enduring.
For complex reasons, attempts to impose a collectivist political solution in the United States failed. But, the political failure was of little practical concern, in a way that is oddly unappreciated, that same impulse succeeded within the judiciary, especially in the federal high court. The idea of abstract rights, government entitlements as the most significant form of property, is well suited to conditions of economic distress and the emergence of a propertyless class. But the economic convulsions of the late 1920's and early 1930's passed away; the doctrinal underpinnings of West Coast Hotel and the "switch in time" did not. Indeed, over the next half century it consumed much of the classical conception of the Constitution.
So secure were the intellectual underpinnings of the constitutional revolution, so self-evident the ambient cultural values of the policy elite who administered it, that the object of the high court's jurisprudence was largely devoted to the construction of a system for ranking the constitutional weight to be given contending social interests.
In the New Deal/Great Society era, a rule that was the polar opposite of the classical era of American law reigned. A judicial subjectivity whose very purpose was to do away with objective gauges of constitutionality, with universal principles, the better to give the judicial priesthood a free hand to remake the Constitution. After a handful of gross divisions reflecting the hierarchy of the elite's political values had been drawn (personal vs. economic rights, for example), the task was to construct a theoretical system, not of social or cultural norms, but of abstract constitutional weight a given interest merits ? strict or rational basis scrutiny. The rest, the identification of underlying, extraconstitutional values, consisted of judicial tropes and a fortified rhetoric.
Protection of property was a major casualty of the Revolution of 1937. The paradigmatic case, written by that premiere constitutional operative, William O. Douglas, is Williamson v. Lee Optical.23 The court drew a line between personal rights and property rights or economic interests, and applied two different constitutional tests. Rights were reordered and property acquired a second class status.24 If the right asserted was economic, the court held the Legislature could do anything it pleased. Judicial review for alleged constitutional infirmities under the due process clause was virtually nonexistent. On the other hand, if the right was personal and "fundamental," review was intolerably strict. "From the Progressive era to the New Deal, [ ] property was by degrees ostracized from the company of rights.25 Something new, called economic rights, began to supplant the old property rights. This change, which occurred with remarkably little fanfare, was staggeringly significant. With the advent of "economic right
s," the original meaning of rights was effectively destroyed. These new "rights" imposed obligations, not limits, on the state.
It thus became government's job not to protect property but, rather, to regulate and redistribute it. And, the epic proportions of the disaster which has befallen millions of people during the ensuing decades has not altered our fervent commitment to statism. The words of Judge Alex Kozinski, written in 1991, are not very encouraging." 'What we have learned from the experience of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union ... is that you need capitalism to make socialism work.' In other words, capitalism must produce what socialism is to distribute."26 Are the signs and portents any better at the beginning of a new century?
Has the constitutional Zeitgeist that has reigned in the United States since the beginning of the Progressive Era come to its conclusion? And if it has, what will replace it? I wish I knew the answer to these questions. It is true ? in the words of another old song: "There's something happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear."27
The oracles point in all directions at once. Political polls suggest voters no longer desire tax cuts. But, taxpayers who pay the largest proportion of taxes are now a minority of all voters. On the other hand, until last term the Supreme Court held out the promising possibility of a revival of what might be called Lochnerism-lite in a trio of cases ? Nollan, Dolan, and Lucas, Those cases offered a principled but pragmatic means-end standard of scrutiny under the takings clause.
But there are even deeper movements afoot. Tectonic plates are shifting and the resulting cataclysm may make 1937 look tame.
Lionel Tiger, in a provocative new book called The Decline of Males, posits a brilliant and disturbing new paradigm. He notes we used to think of a family as a man, a woman, and a child. Now, a remarkable new family pattern has emerged which he labels "bureaugamy." A new trinity: a woman, a child, and a bureaucrat."28 Professor Tiger contends that most, if not all, of the gender gap that elected Bill Clinton to a second term in 1996 is explained by this phenomenon. According to Tiger, women moved in overwhelming numbers to the Democratic party as the party most likely to implement policies and programs which will support these new reproductive strategies.
Professor Tiger is not critical of these strategies. He views this trend as the triumph of reproduction over production; the triumph of Darwinism over Marxism; and he advocates broad political changes to accommodate it.
Others do not see these changes as quite so benign or culturally neutral. Jacques Barzan finds the Central Western notion of emancipation has been devalued. It has now come to mean that "nothing stands in the way of every wish."29 The result is a decadent age ? an era in which "there are no clear lines of advance"; "when people accept futility and the absurd as normal[,] the culture is decadent."30
Stanley Rosen defines "our present crisis as a fatigue induced by ... accumulated decisions of so many revolutions."31 He finds us, in the spirit of Pascal, knowing "too much to be ignorant and too little to be wise."32
I will close with a story I like a lot. It's a true story. It happened on June 10, 1990. A British Airways jet bound for Malaga, Spain, took off from Birmingham, England. It was expected to be a routine flight. As the jet climbed through the 23,000-foot level, there was a loud bang; the cockpit windshield directly in front of the captain blew out. The sudden decompression sucked Captain Lancaster out of his seatbelt and into the hole left by the windscreen. A steward who happened to be in the cockpit managed to snag the captain's feet as he hurtled past. Another steward rushed onto the flight deck, strapped himself into the captain's chair and, helped by other members of the crew, clung with all his strength to the captain. The slipstream was so fierce, they were unable to drag the pilot back into the plane. His clothing was ripped from his body. With Lancaster plastered against the nose of the jet, the co-pilot donned an oxygen mask and flew the plane to Southampton ?approximately 15 minutes away ? and lande
d safely. The captain had a fractured elbow, wrist and thumb; a mild case of frostbite, but was otherwise unharmed.
We find ourselves, like the captain, in a situation that is hopeless but not yet desperate. The arcs of history, culture, philosophy, and science all seem to be converging on this temporal instant. Familiar arrangements are coming apart; valuable things are torn from our hands, snatched away by the decompression of our fragile ark of culture. But, it is too soon to despair. The collapse of the old system may be the crucible of a new vision. We must get a grip on what we can and hold on. Hold on with all the energy and imagination and ferocity we possess. Hold on even while we accept the darkness. We know not what miracles may happen; what heroic possibilities exist. We may be only moments away from a new dawn.
1 James Boyd White, When Words Lose Their Meaning (Univ. of Chicago Press 1984) p. 4.
3 F. A, Hayek, The Road to Serfdom (Univ. of Chicago Press 1994).
4 Golembiewski & Wildavsky, The Cost of Federalism (1984) Bare Bones: Putting Flesh on the Skeleton of American Federalism 67, 73.
6 Hamilton, The Federalist Papers No. 1 (Rossiter ed. 1961) p. 33.
7 Michael W. Spicer, Public Administration and the Constitution: A Conflict in World Views (March 1, 1994) 24 American R. of Public Admin. 85 [1994 WL 2806423 at *10].
8 John O. McGinnis, The Original Constitution and Our Origins (1996) 19 Harv. J.L.& Pub. Policy 251, 253.
9 Tom Bethell, Property Rights, Prosperity and 1,000 Years of Lessons, The Wall Street J. (Dec. 27, 1999) p. A19.
13 John O. McGinnis, The Original Constitution and Our Origins, supra, 19 Harv. J. L.& Pub. Policy at p. 258.
14 Ayn Rand, Capitalism the Unknown Ideal (New American Lib. 1966) pp. 4-5.
16 Jean Francois Revel, Democracy Against Itself (The Free Press 1993) pp. 250-251.
17 Id. at p. 251.
18 Id. at pp. 250-251.
19 (198 U.S. at p. 75.)
20 Clint Bolick, Unfinished Business (1990) p. 25, quoting Crisis in the Courts (1982) The Manhattan Report on Economic Policy, Vol. V, No. 2, p. 4.
21 Jean Francois Revel, The Flight From Truth (Random House N.Y. 1991) p. xvi.
22 Id. at p. xxxvii.
23 348 U.S. 483.
24 Tom Bethell, The Noblest Triumph (St. Martin's Griffin, N.Y. 1998) p. 175.
25 Id. at p. 176.
26 Alex Kozinski, The Dark Lesson of Utopia (1991) 58 U.Chi. L.R. 575, 576.
27 Buffalo Springfield, For What It's Worth (1966).
28 Lionel Tiger, The Decline of Males (Golden Books, N.Y. 1999) pp. 21, 27.
29 Edward Rothstein, N.Y. Times (April 15, 2000) p. A l7.
31 Stanley Rosen, Rethinking the Enlightenment (1997) 7 Common Knowledge, p. 104.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Rants
on: May 19, 2005, 06:15:33 PM
May 17, 2005, 1:07 p.m.
The Smug Delusion of Base Expectations
Count me out of the Newsweek feeding frenzy.
We're in the grips of a pathology. And it's not media bias.
Here's the late-breaking news (you'll want to be sitting down for this): The mainstream media is ideologically liberal and instinctually hostile to George W. Bush, U.S. foreign policy, and the American military.
No kidding. Really. If you want to throw the off-switch for the cognitive part of your brain- as many conservatives seem only to happy to do this week- then, by all means, that is the story you want to run with in this latest media scandal.
Newsweek, in reckless pursuit of a scoop that might score the daily double of embarrassing the Bush administration while heaping more disrepute on the Left's favorite punching bag, Guantanamo Bay, falsely reported a martial toilet-flushing of the Koran. Oops, I'm sorry, I mean the Holy Koran- after all, I don't want to be left out of the new, vast right-wing "we can be just as nauseatingly pious as they can" conspiracy.
The false report, according to the New York Times, instigated "the most virulent, widespread anti-American protests" in the Muslim world since...well, since the last virulent, widespread anti-American protests in the Muslim world- particularly in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where at least 17 people have been killed.
That's right. The reason for the carnage is said- again and again, by media critics and government officials- to be a false report of Koran desecration. The prime culprit here is irresponsible journalism.
Is that what we really think?
Here's an actual newsflash- and one, yet again, that should be news to no one: The reason for the carnage here was, and is, militant Islam. Nothing more.
Newsweek merely gave the crazies their excuse du jour. But they didn't need a report of Koran desecration to fly jumbo jets into skyscrapers, to blow up embassies, or to behead hostages taken for the great sin of being Americans or Jews. They didn't need a report of Koran desecration to take to the streets and blame the United States while enthusiastically taking innocent lives. This is what they do.
The outpouring of righteous indignation against Newsweek glides past a far more important point. Yes, we're all sick of media bias. But "Newsweek lied and people died" is about as worthy a slogan as the scurrilous "Bush lied and people died" that it parrots. And when we engage in this kind of mindless demagoguery, we become just another opportunistic plaintiff-- no better than the people all too ready to blame the CIA because Mohammed Atta steered a hijacked civilian airliner into a big building, and to sue the Port Authority because the building had the audacity to collapse from the blow.
What are we saying here? That the problem lies in the falsity of Newsweek's reporting? What if the report had been true? And, if you're being honest with yourself, you cannot say-- based on common sense and even ignoring what we know happened at Abu Ghraib-- that you didn't think it was conceivably possible the report could have been true. Flushing the Koran down a toilet (assuming for argument's sake that our environmentally correct, 3.6-liters-per-flush toilets are capable of such a feat) is a bad thing. But rioting? Seventeen people killed? That's a rational response?
Sorry, but I couldn't care less about Newsweek. I'm more worried about the response and our willful avoidance of its examination. Afghanistan has been an American reconstruction project for nearly four years. Pakistan has been a close American "war on terror" ally for just as long. This is what we're getting from the billions spent, the lives lost, and the grand project of exporting nonjudgmental, sharia-friendly democracy? A killing spree? Over this?
In the affirmative-action context, conservatives have written trenchantly about the "soft bigotry of low expectations" - the promotion of a vile dependency-ethos that says "you don't need to strive for better," as a result of which many people who might, don't. Our cognate sense of the Islamic world has become the smug delusion of base expectations.
Someone alleges a Koran flushing and what do we do? We expect, accept, and silently tolerate militant Muslim savagery and lots of it. We become the hangin' judge for the imbeciles whose negligence "triggered" the violence, but offer no judgment about the societal dysfunction that allows this grade of offense to trigger so cataclysmic a reaction. We hop on our high horses having culled from the Left's playbook the most politically correct palaver about the inviolable sanctity of Holy Islamic scripture (and never you mind those verses about annihilating the infidels - the ones being chanted by the killers). And we suspend disbelief, insisting that things would be just fine in a place like Gaza if we could only set up a democracy - a development which, there, appears poised to empower Hamas, terrorists of the same ilk as those in Afghanistan and Pakistan who see comparatively minor indignities as license to commit murder.
"Minor indignities? How can you say something so callous about a desecration of the Holy Koran?" I say it as a member of the real world, not the world of prissy affectation. I don't know about you, but I inhabit a place where crucifixes immersed in urine and Madonna replicas composed of feces are occasions for government funding, not murderous uprisings. If someone was moved to kill on their account, we'd be targeting the killer, not the exhibiting museum, not the "artists," and surely not Newsweek.
I inhabit a world in which my government seeks accommodation with Saudi Arabia and China and Egypt, places where the practice of Christianity results in imprisonment...or worse; in which Jews have been driven from almost every country in the Middle East, and in which the goal of destroying their country, Israel, is viewed by much of the globe as legitimate foreign policy; and in which being a Christian, an animist, or the wrong kind of Muslim in Sudan is grounds for genocide ? something the vaunted United Nations seems to regard as more of a spectator sport than a cause of action.
In my world, militant Muslims, capitalizing on the respectful deference of others, have been known tactically to desecrate the Koran themselves: by rigging it with explosives, by using it to secrete and convey terrorist messages, and, yes, even by toilet-flushing parts of it for the nuisance value of flooding the bathrooms at Guantanamo Bay. Just as they have used mosques as sanctuaries, as weapons depots, and as snipers' nests.
There's a problem here. But it's not insensitivity, and it's not media bias. Those things are condemnable, but manageable. The real problem here is a culture that either cannot or will not rein in a hate ideology that fuels killing. When we go after Newsweek, we're giving it a pass. Again.
Andrew C. McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
'NEWSWEEK DISSEMBLED, MUSLIMS DISMEMBERED!' By Ann Coulter
Wed May 18, 7:01 PM ET
When ace reporter Michael Isikoff had the scoop of the decade, a thoroughly sourced story about the president of the United States having an affair with an intern and then pressuring her to lie about it under oath, Newsweek decided not to run the story. Matt Drudge scooped Newsweek, followed by The Washington Post.
When Isikoff had a detailed account of Kathleen Willey's nasty sexual encounter with the president in the Oval Office, backed up with eyewitness and documentary evidence, Newsweek decided not to run it. Again, Matt Drudge got the story.
When Isikoff was the first with detailed reporting on Paula Jones' accusations against a sitting president, Isikoff's then-employer The Washington Post -- which owns Newsweek -- decided not to run it. The American Spectator got the story, followed by the Los Angeles Times.
So apparently it's possible for Michael Isikoff to have a story that actually is true, but for his editors not to run it.
Why no pause for reflection when Isikoff had a story about American interrogators at Guantanamo flushing the Quran down the toilet? Why not sit on this story for, say, even half as long as NBC News sat on Lisa Meyers' highly credible account of Bill Clinton raping Juanita Broaddrick?
Newsweek seems to have very different responses to the same reporter's scoops. Who's deciding which of Isikoff's stories to run and which to hold? I note that the ones that Matt Drudge runs have turned out to be more accurate -- and interesting! -- than the ones Newsweek runs. Maybe Newsweek should start running everything past Matt Drudge.
Somehow Newsweek missed the story a few weeks ago about Saudi Arabia arresting 40 Christians for "trying to spread their poisonous religious beliefs." But give the American media a story about American interrogators defacing the Quran, and journalists are so appalled there's no time for fact-checking -- before they dash off to see the latest exhibition of "Piss Christ."
Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas justified Newsweek's decision to run the incendiary anti-U.S. story about the Quran, saying that "similar reports from released detainees" had already run in the foreign press -- "and in the Arab news agency al-Jazeera."
Is there an adult on the editorial board of Newsweek? Al-Jazeera also broadcast a TV miniseries last year based on the "Protocols of the Elders Of Zion." (I didn't see it, but I hear James Brolin was great!) Al-Jazeera has run programs on the intriguing question, "Is Zionism worse than Nazism?" (Take a wild guess where the consensus was on this one.) It runs viewer comments about Jews being descended from pigs and apes. How about that for a Newsweek cover story, Evan? You're covered -- al-Jazeera has already run similar reports!
Ironically, among the reasons Newsweek gave for killing Isikoff's Lewinsky bombshell was that Evan Thomas was worried someone might get hurt. It seems that Lewinsky could be heard on tape saying that if the story came out, "I'll (expletive) kill myself."
But Newsweek couldn't wait a moment to run a story that predictably ginned up Islamic savages into murderous riots in Afghanistan, leaving hundreds injured and 16 dead. Who could have seen that coming? These are people who stone rape victims to death because the family "honor" has been violated and who fly planes into American skyscrapers because -- wait, why did they do that again?
Come to think of it, I'm not sure it's entirely fair to hold Newsweek responsible for inciting violence among people who view ancient Buddhist statues as outrageous provocation -- though I was really looking forward to finally agreeing with Islamic loonies about something. (Bumper sticker idea for liberals: News magazines don't kill people, Muslims do.) But then I wouldn't have sat on the story of the decade because of the empty threats of a drama queen gas-bagging with her friend on the telephone between spoonfuls of Haagen-Dazs.
No matter how I look at it, I can't grasp the editorial judgment that kills Isikoff's stories about a sitting president molesting the help and obstructing justice, while running Isikoff's not particularly newsworthy (or well-sourced) story about Americans desecrating a Quran at Guantanamo.
Even if it were true, why not sit on it? There are a lot of reasons the media withhold even true facts from readers. These include:
A drama queen nitwit exclaimed she'd kill herself. (Evan Thomas' reason for holding the Lewinsky story.)
The need for "more independent reporting." (Newsweek President Richard Smith explaining why Newsweek sat on the Lewinsky story even though the magazine had Lewinsky on tape describing the affair.)
"We were in Havana." (ABC president David Westin explaining why "Nightline" held the Lewinsky story.)
Unavailable for comment. (Michael Oreskes, New York Times Washington bureau chief, in response to why, the day The Washington Post ran the Lewinsky story, the Times ran a staged photo of Clinton meeting with the Israeli president on its front page.)
Protecting the privacy of an alleged rape victim even when the accusation turns out to be false.
Protecting an accused rapist even when the accusation turns out to be true if the perp is a Democratic president most journalists voted for.
Protecting a reporter's source.
How about the media adding to the list of reasons not to run a news item: "Protecting the national interest"? If journalists don't like the ring of that, how about this one: "Protecting ourselves before the American people rise up and lynch us for our relentless anti-American stories."
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DBMA SEMINAR: DAYTON OH This weekend!
on: May 19, 2005, 11:08:32 AM
In a crafty bit of marketing (not) I have neglected to post here on the forum about this seminar until just now.
Guru Jeff Brown hosting.
Dog Jeff is one of the two people I have worked most with our "Kali Tudo" (tm) and so we will probably work that a bit as well as SIW (Short Impact Weapons) vs Empty Hand-- e.g. a palm stick against the neighborhood Tank Abbott.
Always great fun to be with my good friend Jeff.
PS: Tulisan, thanks for spotting the error on the area code-- it is now corrected.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DBMA Camp 5/14-15: Short Impact Weapons
on: May 19, 2005, 11:03:20 AM
Thanks for all the kind words-- they put a wag in my tail.
I love what I do and weekends like this are my idea of a really good time.
Welcome to the DBMAA "isthereadog?". We'll be seeing you over at the Members's site I trust , , ,
Thanks Dog Corey for the kettlebells and the "Thor's hammer". Although i haven't tried the TH yet, I have begun exploring the KB. Indeed I used one as a means of warming up for sparring yesterday at RAW-- very quick and efficient!
Argyll, a pleasure meeting you and thank you for the legal pieces-- very useful to me.
Vigil-- I know what you mean by looking around the gym and realizing that the place is full of people you have seen fight. BTW, Vladamir Matyushenko (along with Coach Rico) are in Brazil at the moment for his fight this weekend. Frank has been very helpful to me-- indeed his unmatched lead striking game is, with his blessing, something we draw upon in our to-be-finished-tomorrow-with-any-luck "Kali Tudo" (tm) double disc DVD
We call the two techniques shown "Triggonometry 101 and 102"
The Adventure continues!
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
on: May 18, 2005, 01:29:13 PM
Jose M. Lopez, 94; Battle of the Bulge Hero Killed 100 German Soldiers
By Myrna Oliver, Times Staff Writer
Jose M. Lopez, the nation's oldest remaining Latino recipient of the Medal of Honor, who earned the award for single-handedly killing more than 100 German soldiers in a skirmish during the World War II Battle of the Bulge, has died. He was 94.
Lopez died Monday of cancer at the San Antonio home of his daughter, Maggie Wickwire. He had lived in San Antonio since 1973.
On Dec. 17, 1944, the 5-foot-5, 130-pound sergeant was on a snowy patch of ground near Krinkelt, Belgium, when he saw that German tanks and infantry were about to overrun his company. He lugged his heavy Browning machine gun into a shallow hole and started firing, first killing 10 enemy soldiers and then another 25. As the Germans kept coming, Lopez changed positions repeatedly, praying to the Virgin of Guadalupe that he be spared. He stopped shooting only when he ran out of ammunition, and killed so many enemy soldiers that officials stopped counting after 100.
"Sgt. Lopez's gallantry and intrepidity, on seemingly suicidal missions in which he killed at least 100 of the enemy," his citation read when President Harry S. Truman presented him the Medal of Honor on June 18, 1945, "were almost solely responsible for allowing Company K to avoid being enveloped, to withdraw successfully and to give other forces coming up in support time to build a line which repelled the enemy drive."
Modest and self-effacing, Lopez told the San Antonio Express-News in 2001, "You learn to protect the line and do the best you can with the ammunition you have, and I did it."
More than a decade ago, the retired sergeant was one of 10 veterans who returned to their World War II battlefields with Bill Moyers to film the 1990 PBS documentary "From D-Day to the Rhine."
Although Lopez candidly discussed his battlefield terror in the documentary, he also told Moyers: "I believe any man would do the same thing."
At war's end, Lopez remained in the Army and went on to serve two combat tours in Korea. After his military career, he worked for the Veterans Administration.
Although military records list Lopez's official birthplace as Mission, Texas, he was born in the mountain village of Santiago Huitlan, Mexico. He acquired the Texas birthplace listing in 1935 when he bought a false birth certificate to join the Merchant Marine. Orphaned at 8, Lopez lived with a teenage uncle in Mexico and at 13 hitchhiked to Brownsville, Texas, where another uncle lived. He spent several of his teen years picking cotton in the Rio Grande Valley and hopping freight trains to find work around the country.
The scrappy youth happened into a professional boxing career when a promoter saw him win a street brawl in Atlanta. From 1927 to 1934 Lopez was a lightweight billed as Kid Mendoza, building a record of 52 wins and only three losses. He retired from the ring after losing to British fighter Jacque Burgess in Melbourne, Australia, telling the San Antonio Express-News decades later, "I just didn't want to fight anymore."
The boxing career instilled in him a lifelong appreciation for fitness, and he continued to work out three times a week until a few months ago.
Lopez spent six years in the Merchant Marine, leaving Hawaii only three days before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
Returning to the mainland, he barely escaped arrest when California authorities mistook him for a Japanese man. The following April, Lopez, then 31, enlisted in the Army at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Evolutionary Biology and Psychology
on: May 18, 2005, 12:46:08 AM
Inventing Our Evolution
We're almost able to build better human beings. But are we ready?
Monday, May 16, 2005; A01
The surge of innovation that has given the world everything from iPods to talking cars is now turning inward, to our own minds and bodies. In an adaptation from his new book, Washington Post staff writer Joel Garreau looks at the impact of the new technology.
Some changes in what it means to be human:
? Matthew Nagel, 25, can move objects with his thoughts. The paralyzed former high school football star, whose spinal cord was severed in a stabbing incident, has a jack coming out of the right side of his skull. Sensors in his brain can read his neurons as they fire. These are connected via computer to a robotic hand. When he thinks about moving his hand, the artificial thumb and forefinger open and close. Researchers hope this technology will, within our lifetimes, allow the wheelchair-bound to walk. The military hopes it will allow pilots to fly jets using their minds.
? Around the country, companies such as Memory Pharmaceuticals, Sention, Helicon Therapeutics, Saegis Pharmaceuticals and Cortex Pharmaceuticals are racing to bring memory-enhancing drugs to market before the end of this decade. If clinical trials continue successfully, these pills could be a bigger pharmaceutical bonanza than Viagra. Not only do they hold the promise of banishing the senior moments of aging baby boomers; they might improve the SAT scores of kids by 200 points or more.
? At the Defense Sciences Office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, programs seek to modify the metabolisms of soldiers so as to allow them to function efficiently without sleep or even food for as much as a week. For shorter periods, they might even be able to survive without oxygen. Another program seeks to allow soldiers to stop bleeding by focusing their thoughts on the wound. Yet another program is investigating ways to allow veterans to regrow blown-off arms and legs, like salamanders.
Traditionally, human technologies have been aimed outward, to control our environment, resulting in, for example, clothing, agriculture, cities and airplanes. Now, however, we have started aiming our technologies inward. We are transforming our minds, our memories, our metabolisms, our personalities and our progeny. Serious people, including some at the National Science Foundation in Arlington, consider such modification of what it means to be human to be a radical evolution -- one that we direct ourselves. They expect it to be in full flower in the next 10 to 20 years.
"The next frontier," says Gregory Stock, director of the Program on Medicine, Technology and Society at the UCLA School of Medicine, "is our own selves."
The process has already begun. Prozac and its ilk modify personality. Viagra alters metabolism. You can see deep change in the basics of biology most clearly, however, wherever you find the keenest competition. Sport is a good example.
"The current doping agony," says John Hoberman, a University of Texas authority on performance drugs, "is a kind of very confused referendum on the future of human enhancement." Some athletes today look grotesque. Curt Schilling, the All-Star pitcher, in 2002 talked to Sports Illustrated about the major leagues. "Guys out there look like Mr. Potato Head, with a head and arms and six or seven body parts that just don't look right."
Steroids are merely a primitive form of human enhancement, however. H. Lee Sweeney of the University of Pennsylvania suggests that the recent Athens Olympics may have been the last without genetically enhanced athletes. His researchers have created super-muscled "Schwarzenegger rats." They're built like steers, with necks wider than their heads. They live longer and recover more quickly from injuries than do their unenhanced comrades. Sweeney sees it as only a matter of time before such technology seeps into the sports world.
Human enhancement is hardly limited to sport. In 2003, President Bush signed a $3.7 billion bill to fund research at the molecular level that could lead to medical robots traveling the human bloodstream to fight cancer or fat cells. At the University of Pennsylvania, ordinary male mouse embryo cells are being transformed into egg cells. If this science works in humans, it could open the way for two gay males to make a baby -- blurring the standard model of parenthood. In 2004, a new technology for the first time allowed women to beat the biological clock. Portions of their ovaries, frozen when they are young and fertile, can be reimplanted in their sixties, seventies or eighties, potentially allowing them to bear children then.
The genetic, robotic and nano-technologies creating such dramatic change are accelerating as quickly as has information technology for the past four decades. The rapid development of all these fields is intertwined.
It was in 1965 that Gordon E. Moore, director of Fairchild's Research and Development Laboratories, noted, in an article for the 35th-anniversary issue of Electronics magazine, that the complexity of "minimum cost semiconductor components" had been doubling every year since the first prototype microchip was produced six years before. And he predicted this doubling would continue every year for the next 10 years.
Carver Mead, a professor at the California Institute of Technology, would come to christen this claim "Moore's Law."
Over time it has been modified. As the core faith of the entire global computer industry, it is now stated this way: The power of information technology will double every 18 months, for as far as the eye can see.
Sure enough, in 2002, the 27th doubling occurred right on schedule with a billion-transistor chip. A doubling is an amazing thing. It means the next step is as great as all the previous steps put together. Twenty-seven consecutive doublings of anything man-made, an increase of well over 100 million times-- especially in so short a period -- is unprecedented in human history.
This is exponential change. It's a curve that goes straight up.
Optimists say that culture and values can control the impact of these advances.
"You have to make a distinction between the science and the technological applications," says Francis Fukuyama, a member of the President's Council on Bioethics and director of the Human Biotechnology Governance Project. "It's probably true that in terms of the basic science, it's pretty hard to stop that. It's not one guy in a laboratory somewhere. But not everything that is scientifically possible will actually be technologically implemented and used on a large scale. In the case of human cloning, there's an abstract possibility that people will want to do that, but the number of people who are going to want to take the risk is going to be awfully small."
Taboos will play an important role, Fukuyama says. "We could really speed up the whole process of drug improvement if we did not have all the rules on human experimentation. If companies were allowed to use clinical trials in Third World countries, paying a lot of poor people to take risks that you wouldn't take in a developed country, we could speed up technology quickly. But because of the Holocaust -- "
Fukuyama thinks the school of hard knocks will slow down a lot of attempts. "People may in the abstract say that they're willing to take that risk. But the moment you have a deformed baby born as a result of someone trying to do some genetic modification, I think there will be a really big backlash against it."
Today, nonetheless, we are surrounded by the practical effects of this curve of exponential technological change. IBM this year fired up a new machine called Blue Gene/L. It is ultimately expected to be 1,000 times as powerful as Deep Blue, the machine that beat world chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997. "If this computer unlocks the mystery of how proteins fold, it will be an important milestone in the future of medicine and health care," said Paul M. Horn, senior vice president of IBM Research, when the project was announced.
Proteins control all cellular processes in the body. They fold into highly complex, three-dimensional shapes that determine their function. Even the slightest change in the folding process can turn a desirable protein into an agent of disease. Blue Gene/L is intended to investigate how. Thus, breakthroughs in computers today are creating breakthroughs in biology. "One day, you're going to be able to walk into a doctor's office and have a computer analyze a tissue sample, identify the pathogen that ails you, and then instantly prescribe a treatment best suited to your specific illness and individual genetic makeup," Horn said.
What's remarkable, then, is not this computer's speed but our ability to use it to open new vistas in entirely different fields -- in this case, the ability to change how our bodies work at the most basic level. This is possible because at a thousand trillion operations per second, this computer might have something approaching the raw processing power of the human brain.
Nathan Myhrvold, the former technology chief of Microsoft, points out that it cost $12 billion to sequence the first human genome. You will soon be able to get your own done for $10, he expects.
If an implant in a paralyzed man's head can read his thoughts, if genes can be manipulated into better versions of themselves, the line between the engineered and the born begins to blur.
For example, in Silicon Valley, there is a biotech company called Rinat Neuroscience. DARPA provided critical early funding for its "pain vaccine," a substance designed to block intense pain in less than 10 seconds. Its effects last for 30 days. Tests show it doesn't stifle reactions. If you touch a hot stove, your hand will still automatically jerk away. But after that, the torment is greatly reduced. The product works on the inflammatory response that is responsible for the majority of subacute pain. If you get shot, you feel the bullet, but after that, the inflammation and swelling that trigger agony are substantially reduced. The company is deep into animal testing, is preparing reports for scientific conferences, and has now attracted venture capital funding.
Another DARPA program, originally christened Regenesis, started with the observation that if you cut off the tail of a tadpole, the tail will regrow. If you cut off an appendage of an adult frog, however, it won't, because certain genetic signals have been switched off. This process is carried out by a mass of undifferentiated cells called a blastema, also called a regeneration bud. The bud has the capability to develop into an organ or an appendage, if it gets the right signals. Early results in mice indicate that such blastemas might be generated in humans. The program, now called Restorative Injury Repair, is aimed at allowing regrowth of a blown-off hand or a breast removed in a mastectomy. (Instances of amputated fingertips regenerating in children under 12 have long been noted in scientific journals.) "We had it; we lost it; we need to find it again" was Regenesis's original slogan.
Snooze and Lose?
There are three groups of people usually attracted to any new enhancement. In order, they are the sick, the otherwise healthy with a critical need, and the enterprising. This became immediately obvious when a drug called modafinil entered the market earlier this decade. It is intended to shut off the urge to sleep, without the jitter, buzz, euphoria, crash, or potential for paranoid delusion of stimulants such as amphetamines, cocaine or even caffeine.
The FDA originally approved modafinil for narcoleptics who fall asleep frequently and uncontrollably. But this widely available prescription drug, with the trade name Provigil, immediately was tested on healthy young U.S. Army helicopter pilots. It allowed them to stay up safely for almost two days while remaining practically as focused, alert and capable of dealing with complex problems as the well rested. Then, after a good eight hours' sleep, it turned out they could get up and do it again for another 40 hours, before finally catching up on their sleep.
But it's the future of the third group -- the millions who, in the immortal words of Kiss, "wanna rock-and-roll all night and party every day" -- that holds the potential for changing society. Will people feel that they need to routinely control their sleep in order to be competitive? Will unenhanced people get fewer promotions and raises than their modified colleagues? Will this start an arms race over human consciousness?
Consider the case of a little boy born in Germany at the turn of this century. As reported in the New England Journal of Medicine last year, his doctors immediately noticed he had unusually large muscles bulging from his tiny arms and legs. By the time he was 4 1/2 , it was clear that he was extraordinarily strong. Most children his age can lift about one pound with each arm. He could hold a seven-pound dumbbell aloft with each outstretched hand. He is the first human confirmed to have a genetic variation that builds extraordinary muscles. If the effect can be duplicated, it could treat or cure muscle-wasting diseases.
Wyeth Pharmaceuticals is testing a drug designed to do just that as a treatment for the most common form of muscular dystrophy. Will athletes try to exploit the discovery to enhance their abilities?
"Athletes find a way of using just about anything," says Elizabeth M. McNally of the University of Chicago, who wrote an article accompanying the findings in the New England Journal of Medicine. "This, unfortunately, is no exception."
Views of the Future
Ray Kurzweil, an artificial-intelligence pioneer and winner of the National Medal of Technology, shrugs at the controversy over the use of stem cells from human embryos: "All the political energy that has gone into this issue -- it is not even slowing down the most narrow approach." It is simply being pursued outside the United States -- in China, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Scandinavia and Great Britain, where scientists will probably achieve success first, he notes.
In the next couple of decades, Kurzweil predicts, life expectancy will rise to at least 120 years. Most diseases will be prevented or reversed. Drugs will be individually tailored to a person's DNA. Robots smaller than blood cells -- nanobots, as they are called -- will be routinely injected by the millions into people's bloodstreams. They will be used primarily as diagnostic scouts and patrols, so if anything goes wrong in a person's body, it can be caught extremely early.
As James Watson, co-winner of the Nobel Prize for discovering the structure of DNA, famously put it: "No one really has the guts to say it, but if we could make better human beings by knowing how to add genes, why shouldn't we?"
Gregory Stock of UCLA sees this as the inevitable outcome of the decoding of the human genome. "We have spent billions to unravel our biology, not out of idle curiosity, but in the hope of bettering our lives," he said at a 2003 Yale bioethics conference. "We are not about to turn away from this."
Stock sees humanity embracing artificial chromosomes -- rudimentary versions of which already exist. Right now, the human body has 23 chromosome pairs, with the chromosomes numbered 1 through 46. Messing with them is tricky -- you never know when you're going to inadvertently step on unanticipated interactions. By adding a new chromosome pair (Nos. 47 and 48) to the embryo, however, the possibilities appear endless. Stock, in his book "Redesigning Humans: Our Inevitable Genetic Future," describes it as the safest way to substantially modify humans because, he says, it would minimize unintended consequences. On top of that, the chromosome insertion sites could have an off switch activated by an injection if we wanted to stop whatever we'd started. This would give future generations a chance to undo whatever we did.
Stock offers this analysis to counter the argument offered by some bioethicists that inheritable genetic line engineering should be unconditionally banned because future generations harmed by wrongful or unsuccessful modifications would have no control over the matter.
But the very idea of aspiring to such godlike powers is blasphemous to some. "Genetic engineering," writes Michael J. Sandel, a professor of political philosophy at Harvard, is "the ultimate expression of our resolve to see ourselves astride the world, the masters of our nature. But the promise of mastery is flawed. It threatens to banish our appreciation of life as a gift, and to leave us with nothing to affirm or behold outside our own will."
Stock rejects this view. "We should not just accept but embrace the new technologies, because they're filled with promise," he says. Within a few years, he writes, "traditional reproduction may begin to seem antiquated, if not downright irresponsible." His projections, he asserts, are not at all out of touch with reality.
Adapted from the book "Radical Evolution: The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies -- and What It Means to Be Human" by Joel Garreau, to be published May 17 by Doubleday, a division of Random House Inc. ? 2005 by Joel Garreau. Reprinted with permission.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Well-armed People
on: May 16, 2005, 10:40:48 AM
Barking Up the Wrong Tree:
Who Will Help the Helpless?
David Nissen Kahn, M. D.
?2004 All rights reserved.
In a recent article (Myths of the Gun?ght-2, Tactical Operator Newsletter, 8, 2; Nov/Dec 2004), combatives/shooting instructor Gabe Suarez observes, "First of all, Grossman's On Killing to the contrary, it is NOT unnatural for humans to kill each other. Historically, we've been doing it with skill and gusto for ages." And he goes on to explain:
The problem with this facet of the [Grossman's] study is that much of it is based on the study of police actions. [Actually, the work is based on historical analyses of military combat, but the conclusions are still valid.] In case you don't realize, police are NEVER trained to be gunfighters, or trained to call up their level of violence in "official" schools. In fact, most "offcial" schools, as provided by the state, are pure garbage. The officers that DO get further education generally do so on their own (a very small percentage at best). And of those who will have their minds right in a fight (because they are warriors at heart and they've decided beforehand to do so), are an even smaller percentage of that (sic).
As our lawyer friends have it, res ipsa loquitur, the thing speaks for itself. But we-the people who teach and support self-defense and personal security-aren't listening.
The unnaturalness Grossman talks about, the hardwired resistance to killing within one's species, appears real, and he makes a careful, logical case for it. Gabe really doesn't contradict it; in fact, he solidifies Grossman's argument. Untrained-or improperly or inadequately trained-people are much more likely to fail, to freeze or to hesitate when they are confronted with physical force. Grossman's whole point is that proper conditioning, not only physical but mental, is essential to getting desired responses to stimuli. Most people don't fight, much less kill, without conditioning. And that's the key. While we do pretty well with the people we train, we don't attract nearly enough of them. And that's our failure.
Most of the citizens who study any sort of fighting-knife, stick, gun, empty hand, whatever-have already decided that "it" might happen to them. They've confronted themselves and decided that they can hit back, or think they can, and want to. Even so, some people come to the event, whether in training or in real life, and wilt. Mas Ayoob thinks that, sometimes, it's a failure of technique. Maybe so, sometimes; but clearly sometimes it's not. Then it's a failure of will. And that's a failure of attitude and worldview.
Well, then, if supposedly well trained people can fail, what about the "average" person, sliding through daily life without a constructive thought about it. He or she's already given up before the fact. Who's helping him or her? Because they can be helped.
We all recognize that "having a gun just makes you a gun owner." But even having a gun-or any other tool-is a step ahead of most folks. As a bumper sticker reads, "When you buy a drill, you don't want a drill. You want a hole." The great majority of the population isn't able to use the tool, never mind to get the requisite skills, because they don't have the mindset to do it. And they don't have the mindset because they don't see that they need it . . . or, worse and more blameworthy, no one's shown them that getting it is an achievable goal. Or an appropriate one.
That's our fault. We smugly preach to the choir, educating, training and explaining ourselves to each other: we're isolated from the larger community. And, bewilderingly, we're not displeased with that. We've looked at Dave Grossman's well-argued, solid work and taken only part of the message. And we're guilty of failing to squeeze all the juice from what we have taken.
Gabe makes the point again that attitude is everything. Who among us doubts that? Sun Tzu said, "Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win." Well, of course. That's the whole point of all our exercises. But if we continue to keep the knowledge among ourselves, we disserve ourselves as professionals-and we disserve our society as well. We're in a situation akin to scientific investigation: unpublished, unused discoveries are trivial beyond puffng up egos. Especially in this unhealthy 21st Century environment, in which everyone is called to the battle-even though with silly, meaningless, colored coded "threat levels"-it is singularly important for people who know to evangelize people who don't.
Personal security, self-defense, safety must be demystified and made commonplace, acceptable and expected. Knowledgeable people realize that those things may be complex in practice, but they're simple in theory-and that that theory is the foundation of attitude, and that attitude and mental lifestyle are the keys to individual and group well being and survival.
If the face we present to the larger world is only that of the warrior-hard-bitten, grim, cold, disdainful of everyone else-then we surely lose our credibility with the very people we can help. Must help. True enough, much of what there is to be taught is bleak, and the great majority of people will never be joyous, exalted fighters. But so what? If they do the right thing and then spew up their breakfasts, defecate in their underwear and weep, who cares? The good guy isn't dead. The terrorist attack didn't kill awful numbers of people. And we've done a sufficient, professional job. Not every solution is elegant or precise or on script.
We must discard our reassuringly superior, self-congratulatory, dismissive attitude toward the "sheep people" and replace it with studied, sympathetic compassion. Most combatives instructors are busy-especially now-and they simply don't have time to preach to the unbelievers. Or, often, want to. So, some of their disciples must "get out there" and talk to and teach ordinary, everyday people how to think about their world and their security. Some of those people will be converted fully to the faith. And those folks will study the arts and expand the base. That'll be wonderful, and good for them.
But that's not the primary goal. The goal is to make everyone able to see problems and know how to decide what to do. When to run. When to call for help. And, for some, when to fight. Relatively few people will ever be armed citizens; fewer will become warriors; fewer still will be masters of any discipline, and even fewer will study more than one. But such niceties don't matter. We can be satisfied with ourselves and proud of our work if more people just understand and live in Condition Yellow-because most of the time, unglamorous though it is, that's enough. It's enough for warriors; it's enough for everyone else.
If we can achieve that-no matter how partially-we'll have fulfilled our professional obligation, and our moral one, too. Fewer bad things will happen to good people. Fewer people will be afraid of the world. And, eventually, the world will be a nicer, better place to live. That's a reachable goal. But we have to begin. No one else can do it. And no one else will try.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Homeland Security
on: May 14, 2005, 07:24:59 AM
United States: The Questionable Merits of the 'No-Fly' List
May 13, 2005 1653 GMT
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) diverted Air France
flight 332 to Bangor, Maine, on May 12 after authorities discovered that one of the 169 passengers onboard matched a name on the federal government's "no-fly" list. The passenger and two of his family members -- a woman and a young child -- were taken off the Airbus A-330 flight from Paris to Boston at the Bangor International Airport, and the flight continued on to Boston. TSA officials later determined the "person of interest" was not the one on the list and he and his companions were released.
Although the no-fly list is meant to enhance security of air travel, its
effectiveness as a true protective measure is questionable. The list,
enacted in response to the Sept. 11 attacks and maintained by the TSA,
includes names of people suspected of posing "a risk of air piracy or
terrorism or a threat to airline or passenger safety." Passenger manifests
of airline flights are checked against the list and, if matching names are
found, the TSA can order the flight diverted and the individual detained.
Although it initially denied the list's existence, the TSA acknowledged in
October 2002 that it was, indeed, keeping -- and constantly updating -- such a list. The U.S. government declines to say how many names are on the list, but the number reportedly is as high as 31,000.
In April 2004, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a nationwide
class-action lawsuit challenging the no-fly list on behalf of several
people. The suit is based on the argument that innocent travelers whose
names appear on the list are singled out as possible terrorists. According
to FBI documents obtained in 2004 by the American Civil Liberties Union,
more than 350 Americans had been delayed or denied boarding since the list's inception -- and apparently all were false alarms. Once added to the list, people usually are unable to find out why they were identified as a security risk and are unable to get their names removed.
Exacerbating the issue is the problem that the names on the list often are
transliterations into English of names in Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew and other
Middle Eastern, South Asian and African languages. Considering that many
terrorists are militant Islamists, Arab/Muslim names -- in their phonetic
form -- appear frequently. Add to this the fact that many Arab/Muslim names are commonly used -- such as Mohammed, Ahmed and Ali -- and the system raises a red flag if it picks up even one part of the name: first, middle or last. Further complicating the system is the unusual number of birthdates on the first or last day of a given month, which stems from lack of accurate record keeping in some areas of the third world. A person may know the month in which he or she was born, but not the date. Clerks issuing identification cards, then, often assign the birthday as the first or last day of the month. It is no surprise, then, that birthdays often match.
TSA officials said the man detained on the Air France flight had a slightly
different spelling and the exact birthday of someone on the no-fly list.
Without elaborating, the TSA officials said the name in question belonged to a "serious bad actor" with connections to terrorism.
One of the most notable examples of the confusion over names occurred in 2004 when U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy was stopped and questioned at airports five times because the name T. Kennedy appeared on the no-fly list. The phonetically spelled name al Kannadi (The Canadian) apparently was the nom de guerre of an al Qaeda member on the list. It took the senator three weeks and a personal appeal to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge before his name was removed from the list. If a prominent U.S. senator experienced these difficulties, it stands to reason that an ordinary individual with no high-level connections would find it nearly impossible to fix the problem.
Terrorists rarely travel with their real passports and make a point of using
many different aliases. The no-fly list would be effective if terrorists
used passports borrowed from individuals already on the list, such as those identified as having traveled to training camps or other safe havens.
Because the existence of the no-fly list is well known, however, someone
contemplating a terrorist attack likely would create a totally clean
identity, which is not difficult to do. The perpetrator would then "test"
the new document by taking a flight to see if it passed the security check.
The Sept. 11 hijackers took similar reconnaissance flights to observe flight
routes, times and airport/airline security measures.
In the fight against international terrorism, constant vigilance is
necessary -- though repeated false alarms call into question the
effectiveness of the TSA's no-fly list
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Libertarian themes
on: May 14, 2005, 06:58:58 AM
"You simply can not say one illegal substance should be more aggressivly attacked than another.
Wouldn't that be the same as a speeding driver saying GEE officer i was onley ten miles an hour over the limit what about the guy who was doing 130 that just flew by me...... Still guilty. "
Well it sure would make sense to me to say that the guy doing 130 should be more aggressively pursued by the police than the guy 10 over the limit. Indeed most police don't bother to ticket the guy doing 10 over , , ,
Similarly it makes sense to me to note that there is a difference between pot and narcotics like coke and heroin.