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27101  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jungian Psychology on: September 20, 2009, 06:23:37 AM

The Holy Grail of the Unconscious
By SARA CORBETT
Published: September 16, 2009
This is a story about a nearly 100-year-old book, bound in red leather, which has spent the last quarter century secreted away in a bank vault in Switzerland. The book is big and heavy and its spine is etched with gold letters that say “Liber Novus,” which is Latin for “New Book.” Its pages are made from thick cream-colored parchment and filled with paintings of otherworldly creatures and handwritten dialogues with gods and devils. If you didn’t know the book’s vintage, you might confuse it for a lost medieval tome.


And yet between the book’s heavy covers, a very modern story unfolds. It goes as follows: Man skids into midlife and loses his soul. Man goes looking for soul. After a lot of instructive hardship and adventure — taking place entirely in his head — he finds it again.

Some people feel that nobody should read the book, and some feel that everybody should read it. The truth is, nobody really knows. Most of what has been said about the book — what it is, what it means — is the product of guesswork, because from the time it was begun in 1914 in a smallish town in Switzerland, it seems that only about two dozen people have managed to read or even have much of a look at it.

Of those who did see it, at least one person, an educated Englishwoman who was allowed to read some of the book in the 1920s, thought it held infinite wisdom — “There are people in my country who would read it from cover to cover without stopping to breathe scarcely,” she wrote — while another, a well-known literary type who glimpsed it shortly after, deemed it both fascinating and worrisome, concluding that it was the work of a psychotic.

So for the better part of the past century, despite the fact that it is thought to be the pivotal work of one of the era’s great thinkers, the book has existed mostly just as a rumor, cosseted behind the skeins of its own legend — revered and puzzled over only from a great distance.

Which is why one rainy November night in 2007, I boarded a flight in Boston and rode the clouds until I woke up in Zurich, pulling up to the airport gate at about the same hour that the main branch of the United Bank of Switzerland, located on the city’s swanky Bahnhofstrasse, across from Tommy Hilfiger and close to Cartier, was opening its doors for the day. A change was under way: the book, which had spent the past 23 years locked inside a safe deposit box in one of the bank’s underground vaults, was just then being wrapped in black cloth and loaded into a discreet-looking padded suitcase on wheels. It was then rolled past the guards, out into the sunlight and clear, cold air, where it was loaded into a waiting car and whisked away.

THIS COULD SOUND, I realize, like the start of a spy novel or a Hollywood bank caper, but it is rather a story about genius and madness, as well as possession and obsession, with one object — this old, unusual book — skating among those things. Also, there are a lot of Jungians involved, a species of thinkers who subscribe to the theories of Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist and author of the big red leather book. And Jungians, almost by definition, tend to get enthused anytime something previously hidden reveals itself, when whatever’s been underground finally makes it to the surface.

Carl Jung founded the field of analytical psychology and, along with Sigmund Freud, was responsible for popularizing the idea that a person’s interior life merited not just attention but dedicated exploration — a notion that has since propelled tens of millions of people into psychotherapy. Freud, who started as Jung’s mentor and later became his rival, generally viewed the unconscious mind as a warehouse for repressed desires, which could then be codified and pathologized and treated. Jung, over time, came to see the psyche as an inherently more spiritual and fluid place, an ocean that could be fished for enlightenment and healing.

Whether or not he would have wanted it this way, Jung — who regarded himself as a scientist — is today remembered more as a countercultural icon, a proponent of spirituality outside religion and the ultimate champion of dreamers and seekers everywhere, which has earned him both posthumous respect and posthumous ridicule. Jung’s ideas laid the foundation for the widely used Myers-Briggs personality test and influenced the creation of Alcoholics Anonymous. His central tenets — the existence of a collective unconscious and the power of archetypes — have seeped into the larger domain of New Age thinking while remaining more at the fringes of mainstream psychology.

A big man with wire-rimmed glasses, a booming laugh and a penchant for the experimental, Jung was interested in the psychological aspects of séances, of astrology, of witchcraft. He could be jocular and also impatient. He was a dynamic speaker, an empathic listener. He had a famously magnetic appeal with women. Working at Zurich’s Burghölzli psychiatric hospital, Jung listened intently to the ravings of schizophrenics, believing they held clues to both personal and universal truths. At home, in his spare time, he pored over Dante, Goethe, Swedenborg and Nietzsche. He began to study mythology and world cultures, applying what he learned to the live feed from the unconscious — claiming that dreams offered a rich and symbolic narrative coming from the depths of the psyche. Somewhere along the way, he started to view the human soul — not just the mind and the body — as requiring specific care and development, an idea that pushed him into a province long occupied by poets and priests but not so much by medical doctors and empirical scientists.

===================
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: September 20, 2009
An article on Page 34 this weekend about Carl Jung and a book he wrote about struggling with his own demons misspells the name of a street in Zurich where, before it was published, the book was held for years in a bank safe-deposit box, and a correction in this space on Saturday also misspelled the name. It is Bahnhofstrasse, not Banhofstrasse or Banhoffstrasse. The article also misstates the location of Bollingen, the town where Jung built a stone tower as a summer residence. While it is on the north shore of Lake Zurich, it is south of the Jung family home in Küsnacht.
===================



Page 2 of 10)



Jung soon found himself in opposition not just to Freud but also to most of his field, the psychiatrists who constituted the dominant culture at the time, speaking the clinical language of symptom and diagnosis behind the deadbolts of asylum wards. Separation was not easy. As his convictions began to crystallize, Jung, who was at that point an outwardly successful and ambitious man with a young family, a thriving private practice and a big, elegant house on the shores of Lake Zurich, felt his own psyche starting to teeter and slide, until finally he was dumped into what would become a life-altering crisis.





What happened next to Carl Jung has become, among Jungians and other scholars, the topic of enduring legend and controversy. It has been characterized variously as a creative illness, a descent into the underworld, a bout with insanity, a narcissistic self-deification, a transcendence, a midlife breakdown and an inner disturbance mirroring the upheaval of World War I. Whatever the case, in 1913, Jung, who was then 38, got lost in the soup of his own psyche. He was haunted by troubling visions and heard inner voices. Grappling with the horror of some of what he saw, he worried in moments that he was, in his own words, “menaced by a psychosis” or “doing a schizophrenia.”

He later would compare this period of his life — this “confrontation with the unconscious,” as he called it — to a mescaline experiment. He described his visions as coming in an “incessant stream.” He likened them to rocks falling on his head, to thunderstorms, to molten lava. “I often had to cling to the table,” he recalled, “so as not to fall apart.”

Had he been a psychiatric patient, Jung might well have been told he had a nervous disorder and encouraged to ignore the circus going on in his head. But as a psychiatrist, and one with a decidedly maverick streak, he tried instead to tear down the wall between his rational self and his psyche. For about six years, Jung worked to prevent his conscious mind from blocking out what his unconscious mind wanted to show him. Between appointments with patients, after dinner with his wife and children, whenever there was a spare hour or two, Jung sat in a book-lined office on the second floor of his home and actually induced hallucinations — what he called “active imaginations.” “In order to grasp the fantasies which were stirring in me ‘underground,’ ” Jung wrote later in his book “Memories, Dreams, Reflections,” “I knew that I had to let myself plummet down into them.” He found himself in a liminal place, as full of creative abundance as it was of potential ruin, believing it to be the same borderlands traveled by both lunatics and great artists.

Jung recorded it all. First taking notes in a series of small, black journals, he then expounded upon and analyzed his fantasies, writing in a regal, prophetic tone in the big red-leather book. The book detailed an unabashedly psychedelic voyage through his own mind, a vaguely Homeric progression of encounters with strange people taking place in a curious, shifting dreamscape. Writing in German, he filled 205 oversize pages with elaborate calligraphy and with richly hued, staggeringly detailed paintings.

What he wrote did not belong to his previous canon of dispassionate, academic essays on psychiatry. Nor was it a straightforward diary. It did not mention his wife, or his children, or his colleagues, nor for that matter did it use any psychiatric language at all. Instead, the book was a kind of phantasmagoric morality play, driven by Jung’s own wish not just to chart a course out of the mangrove swamp of his inner world but also to take some of its riches with him. It was this last part — the idea that a person might move beneficially between the poles of the rational and irrational, the light and the dark, the conscious and the unconscious — that provided the germ for his later work and for what analytical psychology would become.

The book tells the story of Jung trying to face down his own demons as they emerged from the shadows. The results are humiliating, sometimes unsavory. In it, Jung travels the land of the dead, falls in love with a woman he later realizes is his sister, gets squeezed by a giant serpent and, in one terrifying moment, eats the liver of a little child. (“I swallow with desperate efforts — it is impossible — once again and once again — I almost faint — it is done.”) At one point, even the devil criticizes Jung as hateful.

He worked on his red book — and he called it just that, the Red Book — on and off for about 16 years, long after his personal crisis had passed, but he never managed to finish it. He actively fretted over it, wondering whether to have it published and face ridicule from his scientifically oriented peers or to put it in a drawer and forget it. Regarding the significance of what the book contained, however, Jung was unequivocal. “All my works, all my creative activity,” he would recall later, “has come from those initial fantasies and dreams.”

Jung evidently kept the Red Book locked in a cupboard in his house in the Zurich suburb of Küsnacht. When he died in 1961, he left no specific instructions about what to do with it. His son, Franz, an architect and the third of Jung’s five children, took over running the house and chose to leave the book, with its strange musings and elaborate paintings, where it was. Later, in 1984, the family transferred it to the bank, where since then it has fulminated as both an asset and a liability.

=============

Published: September 16, 2009
(Page 3 of 10)



Anytime someone did ask to see the Red Book, family members said, without hesitation and sometimes without decorum, no. The book was private, they asserted, an intensely personal work. In 1989, an American analyst named Stephen Martin, who was then the editor of a Jungian journal and now directs a Jungian nonprofit foundation, visited Jung’s son (his other four children were daughters) and inquired about the Red Book. The question was met with a vehemence that surprised him. “Franz Jung, an otherwise genial and gracious man, reacted sharply, nearly with anger,” Martin later wrote in his foundation’s newsletter, saying “in no uncertain terms” that Martin could not “see the Red Book, nor could he ever imagine that it would be published.”

And yet, Carl Jung’s secret Red Book — scanned, translated and footnoted — will be in stores early next month, published by W. W. Norton and billed as the “most influential unpublished work in the history of psychology.” Surely it is a victory for someone, but it is too early yet to say for whom.

STEPHEN MARTIN IS a compact, bearded man of 57. He has a buoyant, irreverent wit and what feels like a fully intact sense of wonder. If you happen to have a conversation with him anytime before, say, 10 a.m., he will ask his first question — “How did you sleep?” — and likely follow it with a second one — “Did you dream?” Because for Martin, as it is for all Jungian analysts, dreaming offers a barometric reading of the psyche. At his house in a leafy suburb of Philadelphia, Martin keeps five thick books filled with notations on and interpretations of all the dreams he had while studying to be an analyst 30 years ago in Zurich, under the tutelage of a Swiss analyst then in her 70s named Liliane Frey-Rohn. These days, Martin stores his dreams on his computer, but his dream life is — as he says everybody’s dream life should be — as involving as ever.

Even as some of his peers in the Jungian world are cautious about regarding Carl Jung as a sage — a history of anti-Semitic remarks and his sometimes patriarchal views of women have caused some to distance themselves — Martin is unapologetically reverential. He keeps Jung’s 20 volumes of collected works on a shelf at home. He rereads “Memories, Dreams, Reflections” at least twice a year. Many years ago, when one of his daughters interviewed him as part of a school project and asked what his religion was, Martin, a nonobservant Jew, answered, “Oh, honey, I’m a Jungian.”

The first time I met him, at the train station in Ardmore, Pa., Martin shook my hand and thoughtfully took my suitcase. “Come,” he said. “I’ll take you to see the holy hankie.” We then walked several blocks to the office where Martin sees clients. The room was cozy and cavelike, with a thick rug and walls painted a deep, handsome shade of blue. There was a Mission-style sofa and two upholstered chairs and an espresso machine in one corner.

Several mounted vintage posters of Zurich hung on the walls, along with framed photographs of Carl Jung, looking wise and white-haired, and Liliane Frey-Rohn, a round-faced woman smiling maternally from behind a pair of severe glasses.

Martin tenderly lifted several first-edition books by Jung from a shelf, opening them so I could see how they had been inscribed to Frey-Rohn, who later bequeathed them to Martin. Finally, we found ourselves standing in front of a square frame hung on the room’s far wall, another gift from his former analyst and the centerpiece of Martin’s Jung arcana. Inside the frame was a delicate linen square, its crispness worn away by age — a folded handkerchief with the letters “CGJ” embroidered neatly in one corner in gray. Martin pointed. “There you have it,” he said with exaggerated pomp, “the holy hankie, the sacred nasal shroud of C. G. Jung.”

=============

27102  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gen. Petraeus on: September 20, 2009, 05:58:03 AM
Gen. David Petraeus writing in the Times of London:


In Afghanistan, security is the principal concern, although there are numerous other challenges as well, with governmental legitimacy prominent among them. Clearly, the security trend in Afghanistan has been a downward spiral, with levels of violence at record highs in recent weeks.

At a time when the challenges loom so large, it is important to remember why we are there. That is to ensure that al-Qaeda and other transnational extremist groups are not able to re-establish sanctuaries in Afghanistan like those they had during Taliban rule there before 9/11.

General Stan McChrystal, the Commander of Nato's International Security Assistance Force, who has spent most of his career since 9/11 leading the U.S.'s most elite counterterrorist element, the Joint Special Operations Command, is employing a comprehensive, counterinsurgency campaign. He is the first to recognize not just the extraordinary capabilities but also the limitations of counterterrorism forces in Afghanistan.

In addition to our military operations we are helping the Afghan Government to combat the corruption that has undermined the legitimacy of certain Afghan institutions. We are also working hard to accelerate the development of the Afghan security forces. And we are working to disrupt narcotics trafficking by promoting agricultural alternatives and developing the infrastructure to help Afghan farmers to get their products to market.

But we need to be realistic in recognizing that the campaign will require a sustained, substantial commitment. Many tough tasks loom before us—including resolution of the way ahead after the recent election, which obviously has been marred by allegations of fraud. The challenges in Afghanistan clearly are significant. But the stakes are high. And, while the situation unquestionably is, as General McChrystal has observed, serious, the mission is, as he has affirmed, still doable. In truth, it is, I think, accurate to observe that, as in Iraq in 2007, everything in Afghanistan is hard, and it is hard all the time.
===========

Stratfor
The Trials of a Strategy in Afghanistan
U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA said Wednesday that the formulation of a strategy for Afghanistan was an ongoing effort, and that no announcement was imminent on whether more troops would be deployed. In short, the White House continues to struggle with the deeply intractable nature of the mission in Afghanistan.

The challenges of Afghanistan — rugged geography, highly localized loyalties, traditions of governance, warlordism, poor infrastructure — are compounded by the interrelated challenge of Pakistan. Not only do Taliban and foreign fighters receive support and sanctuary across the border, but the Pakistani Taliban has become a problem in its own right. Matters recently have been further complicated by a marked decline in popular support in the West for efforts in Afghanistan, as well as widespread allegations of fraud in the recent presidential election, which would appear to have returned Hamid Karzai to power.

Nevertheless, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, is pushing forward aggressively with more counterinsurgency-focused tactics and is attempting to squeeze more combat power into the existing force. He is expected to issue a formal request for additional troops soon.

“Ultimately, the question is not how many more troops McChrystal can get in the next six months, but how much the United States can accomplish in Afghanistan with fewer and fewer troops in the coming years.”
McChrystal is laying the groundwork for an extended counterinsurgency effort. In this effort, more troops certainly would help in a tactical sense, but the numbers under discussion — likely a few brigades at best — are far from what would be necessary to impose a military reality. In any event, U.S. troop numbers are going to have to rise simply to keep International Security Assistance Force levels constant in the coming years, as European states and Canada begin following through on their plans to withdraw.

Without sufficient troops to bring about a military reality, the objective of a temporary surge is to establish a semblance of security and change perceptions enough to permit political accommodation (as was the case with the Iraq surge in 2007). However, if political accommodation in Iraq seemed complicated, consider the complexity of Afghanistan’s challenges.

U.S. Central Command chief Gen. David Petraeus has acknowledged that the Americans lack the situational awareness and nuanced understanding needed even to identify potentially reconcilable elements of the Taliban. Even if some clarity is achieved, there is little incentive for most fighters to come to the table when their own fortunes are on the rise.

The lack of prospects in Afghanistan for the kind of remarkable turnaround that took place in the last few years in Iraq (though the durability of even that turnaround is increasingly suspect) forces the question of how durable the American commitment will be in Afghanistan. U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has pointed out that truly turning things around there is a challenge of a decade or more.

Ultimately, the question is not how many more troops McChrystal can get in the next six months, but how much the United States can accomplish in Afghanistan with fewer and fewer troops in the coming years. Indeed, the underlying issue is not simply one of eroding political support, but the disconnect between the Afghanistan mission and the lengthy list of American geopolitical challenges elsewhere in the world.

The White House has problems enough without Afghanistan — and we’re not talking about health care reform (though domestic issues are absorbing a considerable amount of the administration’s bandwidth, and that will not change with the mid-term elections in 2010). Washington continues to deal with the consequences of an invasion that took place eight years ago. Meanwhile, Russia has resurged on the global scene, Iran has become a front-burner problem and the world has experienced the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The problem with Afghanistan is that it is detracting the administration from dealing effectively with these issues.

The balancing act continues.
27103  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: States Rights on: September 19, 2009, 09:23:35 PM
BBG:

Exactly so.  We search for Truth around here.
27104  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: September 20, 2009 Gathering on: September 19, 2009, 09:22:20 PM
Chris Sperling
27105  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: September 20, 2009 Gathering on: September 19, 2009, 06:54:01 PM
C-Sun Dog  cool

Frankfurter  cool
27106  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers Team Kali Tudo on: September 19, 2009, 02:25:33 PM
No class on Monday the 21st.  We resume on the 28th.
27107  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: September 20, 2009 Gathering on: September 19, 2009, 02:24:55 PM
Brian/Porn Star Dog!

Where are you these days?
27108  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A French soldier's view on: September 19, 2009, 12:59:05 PM
A French Infantryman's View of American Soldiers
Nov 26 Written by: host
11/26/2008 10:46 PM   

Subject: [warrior$] French view
Date: Fri, 21 Nov 2008 08:28:44 -0600
 
A friend sent this out
 
Military21 Sep 2008 at 13:56 by Jean-Marc Liotier
 
American troops in Afghanistan through the eyes of a French OMLT infantryman
 
The US often hears echoes of worldwide hostility against the application of its foreign policy, but seldom are they reached by the voices of those who experience first hand how close we are to the USA. In spite of contextual political differences and conflicting interests that generate friction, we do share the same fundamental values - and when push comes to shove that is what really counts. Through the eyes of that French OMLT (Operational Mentoring Liaison Teams) infantryman you can see how strong the bond is on the ground. In contrast with the Americans, the French soldiers don't seem to write much online - or maybe the proportion is the same but we just have less people deployed. Whatever the reason, this is a rare and moving testimony which is why I decided to translate it into English, so that American people can catch a glimpse of the way European soldiers see them. Not much high philosophy here, just the first hand impressions of a soldier in contact - but that only makes it more authentic.
 
Here is the original French article, http://omlt3-kdk3.over-blog.com/article-22935665.html
 
and here is my translation :
 
"We have shared our daily life with two US units for quite a while - they are the first and fourth companies of a prestigious infantry battalion whose name I will withhold for the sake of military secrecy. To the common man it is a unit just like any other. But we live with them and got to know them, and we henceforth know that we have the honor to live with one of the most renowned units of the US Army - one that the movies brought to the public as series showing "ordinary soldiers thrust into extraordinary events". Who are they, those soldiers from abroad, how is their daily life, and what support do they bring to the men of our OMLT every day ? Few of them belong to the Easy Company, the one the TV series focuses on. This one nowadays is named Echo Company, and it has become the support company.
 
They have a terribly strong American accent - from our point of view the language they speak is not even English. How many times did I have to write down what I wanted to say rather than waste precious minutes trying various pronunciations of a seemingly common word? Whatever state they are from, no two accents are alike and they even admit that in some crisis situations they have difficulties understanding each other.

Heavily built, fed at the earliest age with Gatorade, proteins and creatine (Heh. More like Waffle House and McDonalds) - they are all heads and shoulders taller than us and their muscles remind us of Rambo. Our frames are amusingly skinny to them - we are wimps, even the strongest of us - and because of that they often mistake us for Afghans.
 
Here we discover America as it is often depicted : their values are taken to their paroxysm, often amplified by promiscuity and the loneliness of this outpost in the middle of that Afghan valley. Honor, motherland - everything here reminds of that : the American flag floating in the wind above the outpost, just like the one on the post parcels. Even if recruits often originate from the hearth of American cities and gang territory, no one here has any goal other than to hold high and proud the star spangled banner. Each man knows he can count on the support of a whole people who provides them through the mail all that an American could miss in such a remote front-line location : books, chewing gums, razorblades, Gatorade, toothpaste etc. in such way that every man is aware of how much the American people backs him in his difficult mission. And that is a first shock to our preconceptions : the American soldier is no individualist. The team, the group, the combat team are the focus of all his attention.
 
And they are impressive warriors ! We have not come across bad ones, as strange at it may seem to you when you know how critical French people can be. Even if some of them are a bit on the heavy side, all of them provide us everyday with lessons in infantry know-how. Beyond the wearing of a combat kit that never seem to discomfort them (helmet strap, helmet, combat goggles, rifles etc.) the long hours of watch at the outpost never seem to annoy them in the slightest. On the one square meter wooden tower above the perimeter wall they stand the five consecutive hours in full battle rattle and night vision goggles on top, their sight unmoving in the directions of likely danger. No distractions, no pauses, they are like statues nights and days. At night, all movements are performed in the dark - only a handful of subdued red lights indicate the occasional presence of a soldier on the move. Same with the vehicles whose lights are covered - everything happens in pitch dark even filling the fuel tanks with the Japy pump.
 
And combat ? If you have seen Rambo you have seen it all - always coming to the rescue when one of our teams gets in trouble, and always in the shortest delay. That is one of their tricks : they switch  from T-shirt and sandals to combat ready in three minutes. Arriving in contact with the enemy, the way they fight is simple and disconcerting : they just charge ! They disembark and assault in stride, they bomb first and ask questions later - which cuts any pussyfooting short.
 
(This is the main area where I'd like to comment. Anyone with a passing knowledge of Kipling knows the lines from Chant Pagan: 'If your officer's dead and the sergeants look white/remember it's ruin to run from a fight./So take open order, lie down, sit tight/And wait for supports like a soldier./ This, in fact, is the basic philosophy of both British and Continental soldiers. 'In the absence of orders, take a defensive position.' Indeed, virtually every army in the world. The American soldier and Marine, however, are imbued from early in their training with the ethos: In the Absence of Orders: Attack! Where other forces, for good or ill, will wait for precise orders and plans to respond to an attack or any other 'incident', the American force will simply go, counting on firepower and SOP to carry the day.
 
This is one of the great strengths of the American force in combat and it is something that even our closest allies, such as the Brits and Aussies (that latter being closer by the way) find repeatedly surprising. No wonder is surprises the hell out of our enemies.)
 
We seldom hear any harsh word, and from 5 AM onwards the camp chores are performed in beautiful order and always with excellent spirit. A passing American helicopter stops near a stranded vehicle just to check that everything is alright; an American combat team will rush to support ours before even knowing how dangerous the mission is - from what we have been given to witness, the American soldier is a beautiful and worthy heir to those who liberated France and Europe.
 
To those who bestow us with the honor of sharing their combat outposts and who everyday give proof of their military excellence, to those who pay the daily tribute of America's army's deployment on Afghan soil, to those we owned this article, ourselves hoping that we will always remain worthy of them and to always continue hearing them say that we are all the same band of brothers".
 
 
 
Much of this the various veterans reading will go 'Well, duh. Of course we do our 'camp chores' and stand our posts in good order. There's a reason for them and if we didn't we'd get our heads handed to us eventually. And, yeah, we're in shape. Makes battle easier. The more you sweat, the less you bleed.'
 
What is hard for most people to comprehend is that that attitude represented only the most elite units of the past. Current everyday conventional boring 'leg infantry' units exceed the PT levels and training levels of most Special Forces during the Vietnam War. They exceed both of those as well as IQ and educational levels of: Waffen SS, WWII Rangers, WWII Airborne and British 'Commando' units during WWII. Their per-unit combat-functionality is essentially unmeasurable because it has to be compared to something and there's nothing comparable in industrial period combat history.
 
This group is so much better than 'The Greatest Generation' at war that WWII vets who really get a close look at how good these kids are stand in absolute awe.
 
So much of 'The scum of the earth, enlisted for drink.'
 
Everyone complains about the quality of 'the new guys.' Don't. The screw-ups of this modern generation are head and shoulders above the 'high-medium' of any past group. Including mine.
 
This is 'The Greatest Generation' of soldiers.
 
They may never be equalled.
 
I wish to hell this would actually get reprinted in the NYT.

 
John

27109  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: States Rights on: September 19, 2009, 10:16:04 AM
Amen to that.

That said, the fact that States Rights have been used in the name of that profound wrong, does not mean that States Rights are not part of our Consitutional framework.
27110  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty Saturday class on: September 19, 2009, 10:09:56 AM
Good thing you posted!  Since the beginning of September, starting time is 14:00!
27111  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: September 18, 2009, 12:48:54 PM
Summary
Despite the scrapping of current U.S. plans for placing ground-based interceptors in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic, American ballistic missile defense efforts will continue in Europe, according to U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Just what those efforts will look like is still uncertain.


Ballistic Missile Defense

In a press conference Sept. 17 announcing the scrapping of current U.S. plans for placing ballistic missile defense (BMD) installations in Poland and the Czech Republic, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright spent most of the press conference talking about the future of BMD in Europe — and insisting that U.S. BMD efforts were not dead.

The announcement marked the confluence of changes already under way in the architecture of the U.S. BMD system, some potential alternative deployments down the road and political equivocation. As part of this shift, Gates and Cartwright insisted that the nature and timetable of the threat of Iranian long-range ballistic missiles had changed, allowing for some adjustment of the technologies and timetables necessary to address the threat. (With Iran’s successful satellite launch earlier in the year, it is difficult to see how the threat has been pushed very far into the future.)

The original system slated for Poland and the Czech Republic was the ground-based midcourse defense (GMD) system, which is already deployed in Alaska and California. An early BMD system, it was fielded aggressively by the George W. Bush administration out of concern over the long-range ballistic missile threat posed by North Korea. The rationale was expediency: It was considered the only reasonably mature system capable of the necessary range and altitude that could be fielded immediately — and even then its deployment was accelerated. Despite being plagued by test failures, it was a version of GMD that the Bush White House also believed would be the most expedient choice for fielding a limited defense against an emerging long-range missile threat from Iran.





(click here to enlarge image)
But even before the Sept. 17 announcement, the situation had begun to shift. There were delays in Washington, Warsaw and Prague alike in nailing down the details. As time slipped by and ground was not broken on the installations in Poland and the Czech Republic, the potential benefits of GMD in terms of expediency began to erode. Competing technologies like the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) matured faster and proved more robust and reliable, and improvements and follow-on systems inched closer to fruition. Indeed, Gates has taken a different approach to BMD than his predecessor (former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was a key proponent of the aggressive fielding of GMD), and the new Obama administration has allowed him to push forward with a new approach.


Photo by Chris Bishop/U.S. Navy via Getty Images
A Standard Missile Three (SM-3) is launched from the guided missile cruiser USS Shiloh in June, 2006Indeed, the Gates Pentagon may well have wished to scrap the GMD system slated for Poland even if it had not become so controversial. And many of the changes in the architecture of U.S. BMD efforts announced Sept. 17 had already been put in motion.

For example, BMD-capable, Aegis-equipped cruisers and destroyers armed with the SM-3 have long been postulated as an alternative to the Poland-based interceptors and Czech-based X-band radar. Indeed, though almost all U.S. BMD-capable warships are currently stationed in the Pacific, funds have already been allocated to upgrade more Atlantic-based ships to carry the SM-3. Gates has suggested that these warships could begin to patrol north and south of Europe as soon as 2011, though whether there would be a continuous at-sea presence is just one of a number of decisions yet to be made.

Another consideration was the potential deployment to Poland of an American Patriot air defense battery. Warsaw had originally hoped to see a Patriot battery deployed alongside the GMD interceptors (unlike GMD, Patriot missiles would actually be capable of defending Polish territory). Now the Poles are concerned that instead of a permanently stationed Patriot battery, they may see only U.S. troops conducting transitory training exercises with the Patriot, perhaps even with inert rather than actual interceptors. Gen. Cartwright said during the press conference that training deployments with the Patriot would precede any operational deployments, although there are no formal agreements on even the proposed training exercises, much less a sense of whether Washington will follow through on the deployment of Patriots in a more permanent way anytime soon.

The press conference was characterized by this sort of equivocation. A series of ideas divided into phases were announced in a very concrete way, as Gates and Cartwright tried to make it clear that U.S. BMD efforts in Europe would continue — that this was a shift in the hardware and scheme of maneuver, not the overall mission. But much like the limbo that the GMD system has been in for two years now, nothing has been decided (at least from all indications). When it comes to ground-based BMD systems in Europe, whatever might come next is still subject to change.

Gates raised the prospect of a still-to-be-developed ground-based version of the SM-3 that might be stationed in several unnamed locations in Europe, along with mobile X-band BMD radars system currently stationed in Israel. He insisted that Poland and the Czech Republic would be among the first countries the United States would talk to when the Pentagon considered the deployment of these land-based SM-3s in the 2015 timeframe.

While the conversion of the SM-3 to a ground-based system and its integration with other BMD radar systems should not pose any major technical hurdles, a lot can happen in six years’ time. One of the possibilities is the development of a deployable land-based SM-3, along with the fielding of Block 2 versions of the missile now under development that are larger and more capable. This would mean not only that the SM-3s the United States might deploy on land in Europe would be able to cover more ground from fewer locations but also that sea-based SM-3s would be able to cover more territory from the sea.

As the Pentagon insisted during the press conference, the United States is certainly not giving up on BMD in Europe. Some 18 U.S. warships equipped with the SM-3 already boast the most capable and deployable BMD interceptor that the world has ever seen (one that also has proven utility in a satellite role). The SM-3 and other mobile systems like the terminal high altitude area defense (or THAAD) in the pipeline will mean that the U.S. BMD network will be increasingly mobile. But while providing coverage to Europe remains a stated goal, the picture Gates and Cartwright painted of future plans for BMD basing in Europe was not well defined at all. And 2015 is a long way off — especially with the relationship between Washington and Moscow so susceptible to rapid change.
27112  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: September 18, 2009, 11:16:58 AM
A doctor friend writes:

I have decided to offer a Mea Culpa for my part of the healthcare spending debacle.  The government made me do it.

 

A general explanation of some of the high costs of medical care.
Example:  65 yr old male with difficulty voiding

 
1990 treatment course.

 
Office visit for initial assessment.
Urine flow rate and cystoscopy to assess for obstruction ($500).
Transurethral Resection of the Prostate was least invasive treatment available and was used for almost everyone.  95% success rate with 3 day hospital stay and 90 f/u for surgical fee of $1500 in 1990 dollars.
Pt was happy and urologist was gratified.
Patient returned to PCP for follow up as the Urologist’s work was done.

 

 

2009 treatment course.

Office visit for initial assessment.
PSA, prostate symptom score, flow rate and US postvoid residual determined ($250).
Pt started on alpha blocker($50/mo).
F/U in 2 weeks for prostate symptom score and flow rate ($200).  Partial improvement noted.
Pt started on finasteride or avodart ($50-$100/mo).
F/U in 3 months for PSA, prostate symptom score, flow rate and PVR ($250).
Still some symptoms.
Cystoscopy performed.  Evidence of obstruction is noted ($250).
Pt is offered minimally invasive treatment with microwave or radiofrequency ablation therapy ($3800).
F/U at 6 months for PSA, prostate symptom score, flow rate and PVR ($250).
Pt not happy with persistent irritative symptoms and inability to get off of medications.
Urodynamics performed ($1200).  Obstruction confirmed.
Transurethral resection is performed for $700 in 2009 dollars.  95% success rate.  Pt is happy and system is broke.

The alternate scenario is that the patient gets acceptable results with medical therapy and returns for q6month office visits ($100-$250) with the urologist on top of the PCP visits for the next 15 years ($3000-$8000 total) with periodic reassessment with symptom scores, PVR’s, flow rates, Urinalysis and PSA’s on top of the ongoing cost of his one or two medications.

 For probably 80% of the male patients that I see for obstructive voiding symptoms, a Transurethral resection of the prostate will provide excellent relief of symptoms with relatively few severe side effects.  Incontinence 1%, Impotence in 5-10% (this is an older populations that is prone to ED anyway and  90% retrograde ejaculation (clean sheets and who cares)
 

Minimally invasive and medical therapy often increases costs without necessarily providing better outcomes or a reduction in complications.

 

The change in treatment has been driven by patient choice,  industry marketing and physician’s desire to maintain revenue.  A TURP in 1990 was reimbursed by Medicare at $1500.  A TURP (which takes an hour of my time during the procedure with 1-2 postop hospital visits of 15 minutes plus travel time) in 2009 is reimbursed by Medicare is $700 and included 90 days of follow up care.  A flow rate (pee in a device that measures the rate) reimburses $150.  Urodynamics which is a functional test that is the best evaluation for voiding dysfunction is reimbursed at $1200 and is done in my office by a tech under my supervision.  Minimally invasive therapy with microwave or radiofrequency ablation (which takes about an hour in my office) is reimbursed at $3800 in my office with a net after equipment and disposable costs of about $1200.

 

This pattern in urology is repeated in many fields.  Cardiac surgery is better than cardiac stenting and the bar for performing the procedure is much higher so additional surgical procedures are not offered as cavalierly as additional cath stent procedures.

 

If TURP reimbursement had remained high enough, medical and minimally invasive therapy for BPH would have never taken off, because every urologist really knows that a TURP is by far the most efficient and effective way to take care of bladder outlet obstruction but the economics don’t favor it anymore, and I have tuition to pay.

 

If you find yourself in a situation where you have a hard time peeing and you want it taken care of, just tell your urologist that you just want it taken care of and have them do a TURP.  95% of my patients will tell you that they wish they had had it done long ago.
27113  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton 1788 on: September 18, 2009, 11:10:16 AM
"I trust that the proposed Constitution afford a genuine specimen of representative government and republican government; and that it will answer, in an eminent degree, all the beneficial purposes of society." --Alexander Hamilton, speech to the New York Ratifying Convention, 1788
27114  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: September 18, 2009, 11:05:23 AM
"Automatic millions of new Democrat voters."

Actually, that is TENS of millions of new Democrat voters.
27115  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: September 18, 2009, 03:04:25 AM
Rachel:

Have you ever read Carl Jung's "Answer to Job"?  I've recently started it.   Very deep.
27116  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Epidemics: Bird Flu, TB, etc on: September 17, 2009, 08:24:59 PM
Never heard of Stratfor before?  Hah!  He needs to spend more time around here  cheesy
27117  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: September 20, 2009 Gathering on: September 17, 2009, 08:22:53 PM
Brian Alagao of the NoHo Clan has sent his form in.

Also, it looks like Master of Arms James Stacey may not be available, so we are looking for someone to run the equipment bag, etc.

27118  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: DBMA DVD en espanol on: September 17, 2009, 04:13:28 PM
Hola Blanca:

M. debe estar llegando muy pronto.  Estoy seguro que tendremos mucho orgullo de el.
27119  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: September 20, 2009 Gathering on: September 17, 2009, 04:11:36 PM
Woof Dog Rene:

Please do come if convenient.
27120  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Obama to allies: Drop Dead on: September 17, 2009, 03:48:06 PM
Lets continue this at

http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1864.0
27121  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Indonesia on: September 17, 2009, 01:50:13 PM
Indonesian Police Kill Alleged Terror Mastermind

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
September 18, 2009

Indonesian Police Kill Alleged Terror Mastermind

By PETER GELLING and MARK McDONALD
JAKARTA, Indonesia


In a dramatic conclusion to a two-month national manhunt, the Indonesian police said that one of Southeast Asia’s most-wanted terrorists was among four men killed during a six-hour shootout early Thursday between counterterrorism commandos and a militant cell in central Java.

The police said that although they were still awaiting DNA results, fingerprints from one of the bodies matched those of the Malaysian-born Noordin Muhammad Top, 41, whom law enforcement officials blame for bombing attacks last July on the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta.

Those bombings killed seven people, six of them foreigners, in addition to the two bombers. More than 50 people were wounded.

He is also blamed for the first Marriott hotel bombing in 2003, a bombing of the Australian Embassy in 2004 and the 2005 bombings on the Indonesian island of Bali.

“We are sure Noordin M. Top has been killed,” the national police chief, Bambang Hendarso Danuri, said at a news conference. “In this holy month of Ramadan, the country of Indonesia has been blessed.”

The police said they were acting on a tip given to them by two suspects arrested only hours before the raid began. Those militants directed the police to the house in the central Javanese city of Solo, where they said they believed several terrorists were hiding. The police did not know beforehand, however, whether Mr. Noordin was among them.

“It’s a gift,” Mr. Danuri said.

Mr. Danuri also said that Bagus Budi Pranato, allegedly involved in the July hotel bombings, was also killed in the raid.

Mr. Pranato, also called Urwah, was known as one of Mr. Noordin’s closest associates and worked with him in the lead-up to the Australian Embassy bombing in 2004. The police arrested Mr. Pranato two months before that bombing, but he was released from detention in April 2007. A report by the private International Crisis Group said Mr. Pranato seemed “to have almost immediately re-established contact” with Mr. Noordin upon his release.

The two other men killed were Adib Susilo, who owned the house, and Aji, who police said was a protégé of Azahari Husin, a master bombmaker from Malaysia who came to Indonesia alongside Mr. Noordin but was killed by the Indonesian police during a raid on his house in 2005.

In addition to the four men who were killed, three others were arrested during the six-hour siege on the small house in Solo. The police said that about four hours into the assault, there was a large explosion from inside the house, possibly a suicide bomb, which may have contributed to the deaths of Mr. Noordin and his associates.

Sorting through the leveled house, the police said they found 200 kilograms, or 440 pounds, of explosives, an M-16 machine gun with bullets, a laptop computer and documents. Those documents revealed connections between Indonesian militant groups and Al Qaeda, Mr. Danuri said, but he did not elaborate.

Mr. Noordin had enjoyed legendary status in militant circles for managing to elude capture for so many years. The police said they were minutes away from catching him on several occasions, including in August, when they thought they had trapped Mr. Noordin in a farmhouse in central Java. After a 16-hour firefight, however, the police recovered one body, and it was not that of Mr. Noordin.

Forensic tests later revealed that it had been Ibrohim, an Indonesian militant who the police believe helped carry out the July attacks under Mr. Noordin’s tutelage. Mr. Ibrohim had been working as a florist at both the Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels before the bombings.

Mr. Noordin was once a senior leader and fund-raiser with the regional terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah. He broke away from the group in 2002, when support for violent attacks was waning among Jemaah Islamiyah members.

In a video in 2005 he claimed to be Al Qaeda’s representative in Southeast Asia, calling himself “Al Qaeda for the Malay archipelago.”

The police said that Mr. Noordin, known as a charismatic recruiter, had been actively seeking out support right up to his death.

The arrests and raids conducted after the July bombings revealed a much larger network of support for Mr. Noordin than most analysts had thought possible, given how successful Indonesia’s counterterrorism forces seemed to have been in arresting, killing or converting Islamic militants.

“His network is proving to be larger and more sophisticated than previously thought,” wrote Sidney Jones in a recent report released by the International Crisis Group, where she is a senior analyst. “As more information comes to light, it looks increasingly likely that Noordin sought and received Middle Eastern funding. While the extent of foreign involvement remains unclear, recruitment in Indonesia has proved disturbingly easy.”

Ms. Jones said the Jihadist ideology remained confined to a tiny fraction of the country, but that fringe is able to draw on a wide variety of sources for recruitment, including several dozen Islamic boarding schools, various radical, but not necessarily violent, groups, an active Islamic publishing industry and impressionable youths.

“It is important that we realize that this isn’t over,” said a senior counter-terrorism official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. “To the best of our knowledge there are still people out there who have been trained by Top and others.”

“Symbolically his death is important. But it doesn’t mean we can rest,” he added.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/18/wo...ef=global-home
27122  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Energy Sprawl on: September 17, 2009, 10:26:29 AM
Energy 'Sprawl' and the Green Economy
We're about to destroy the environment in the name of saving it

 Text  .By LAMAR ALEXANDER

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recently announced plans to cover 1,000 square miles of land in Nevada, Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah with solar collectors to generate electricity. He's also talking about generating 20% of our electricity from wind. This would require building about 186,000 50-story wind turbines that would cover an area the size of West Virginia not to mention 19,000 new miles of high-voltage transmission lines.

Is the federal government showing any concern about this massive intrusion into the natural landscape? Not at all. I fear we are going to destroy the environment in the name of saving the environment.

The House of Representatives has passed climate legislation that started out as an attempt to reduce carbon emissions. It has morphed into an engine for raising revenues by selling carbon dioxide emission allowances and promoting "renewable" energy.

The bill requires electric utilities to get 20% of their power mostly from wind and solar by 2020. These renewable energy sources are receiving huge subsidies all to supposedly create jobs and hurry us down the road to an America running on wind and sunshine described in President Barack Obama's Inaugural Address.

Yet all this assumes renewable energy is a free lunch a benign, "sustainable" way of running the country with minimal impact on the environment. That assumption experienced a rude awakening on Aug. 26, when The Nature Conservancy published a paper titled "Energy Sprawl or Energy Efficiency: Climate Policy Impacts on Natural Habitat for the United States of America." The report by this venerable environmental organization posed a simple question: How much land is required for the different energy sources that power the country? The answers deserve far greater public attention.

By far nuclear energy is the least land-intensive; it requires only one square mile to produce one million megawatt-hours per year, enough electricity for about 90,000 homes. Geothermal energy, which taps the natural heat of the earth, requires three square miles. The most landscape-consuming are biofuels ethanol and biodiesel which require up to 500 square miles to produce the same amount of energy.

Coal, on the other hand, requires four square miles, mainly for mining and extraction. Solar thermal heating a fluid with large arrays of mirrors and using it to power a turbine takes six. Natural gas needs eight and petroleum needs 18. Wind farms require over 30 square miles.

This "sprawl" has been missing from our energy discussions. In my home state of Tennessee, we just celebrated the 75th Anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Yet there are serious proposals by energy developers to cover mountains all along the Appalachian chain, from Maine to Georgia, with 50-story wind turbines because the wind blows strongest across mountaintops.

Let's put this into perspective: We could line 300 miles of mountaintops from Chattanooga, Tenn., to Bristol, Va., with wind turbines and still produce only one-quarter the electricity we get from one reactor on one square mile at the Tennessee Valley Authority's Watts Bar Nuclear Plant.

The 1,000 square-mile solar project proposed by Mr. Salazar would generate, on a continuous basis, 35,000 megawatts of electricity. You could get the same output from 30 new nuclear reactors that would fit comfortably onto existing nuclear sites. And this doesn't count the thousands of miles of transmission lines that will be needed to carry the newly generated solar power to population centers.

There's one more consideration. Solar collectors must be washed down once a month or they collect too much dirt to be effective. They also need to be cooled by water. Where amid the desert and scrub land will we find all that water? No wonder the Wildlife Conservancy and other environmentalists are already opposing solar projects on Western lands.

Renewable energy is not a free lunch. It is an unprecedented assault on the American landscape. Before we find ourselves engulfed in energy sprawl, it's imperative we take a closer look at nuclear power.

Mr. Alexander is a Republican senator from Tennessee and a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
27123  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud (ACORN et al), corruption etc. on: September 17, 2009, 10:22:09 AM
By JAMES TARANTO
The Acorn scandal continues to mushroom. Yesterday BigGovernment.com published videos from a fourth Acorn office visit by freelance investigators James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles. As Johnny Carson used to say, it's weird, wild stuff. The woman manning the Acorn office in San Bernardino, Calif., Tresa Kaelke, responds to the pair's requests for help setting up a child-prostitution ring by claiming to be an ex-prostitute herself. "Heidi Fleiss is my hero!" she exclaims.

When Giles claims her former pimp abused her, Kaelke tells of having been abused by an ex-husband--then confesses to his premeditated murder. San Bernardino's finest are looking into the claim: "Investigators have been in contact with the involved party's known former husbands, who are alive and well." Thus her claims "do not appear to be factual." Politico's Ben Smith interprets this as meaning that the confession was "a joke" and writes that according to Acorn, this "demonstrates that the employee there was playing along with the outlandish visitors, not actually indulging them."

Smith is writing rather sloppily here, since indulging and playing along are more or less the same thing. In any case, another Acornite gave a somewhat different, but highly entertaining, explanation to the San Bernardino Sun:

At ACORN's office Tuesday, office supervisor Christina Spach told reporters she was not authorized to comment and that an official spokesperson would comment later in the day.
"Just to be clear, ACORN in not [sic] in the prostitution business," Spach said.
Spach said she did not wish to be quoted, but did confirm that Kaelke is an ACORN employee. She would not permit reporters to speak to Kaelke and said ACORN employees do not typically make statements to the media, instead relying on their members to articulate the group's positions and activities.
In a subsequent telephone conversation on Tuesday, Spach said Kaelke pretended to cooperate with O'Keefe and Giles because she feared for her safety.
"She was in an office all by herself," Spach said. "She felt unsafe in their company."
Spach, who identified herself as Kaelke's supervisor, said Kaelke lied to the undercover bloggers because she was afraid and wanted to "come across as a strong individual."
"It was a defense mechanism," Spach said.
Think about it: When you feel threatened, isn't "Heidi Fleiss is my hero" the first thing you blurt out?

Government officials continue responding to the Acorn revelations. The New York Post reports that Andrew Cuomo, New York's state attorney general, "yesterday launched an investigation into pork-barrel grants given to ACORN by state lawmakers, as City Council Speaker Christine Quinn froze all city funding earmarked for the scandal-scared [sic] community-activism organization"--this in response to the third released set of videos, from Acorn's Brooklyn office.

The Wall Street Journal urges the U.S. Justice Department to undertake a criminal investigation of Acorn. This column echoes that call, although we wonder if the Obama administration is compromised here. The president, who as a candidate touted his background as a "community organizer," has extensive ties to Acorn. In February 2008, the Acorn Political Action Committee endorsed Obama over Hillary Clinton, and Obama's campaign Web site, Organizing for America, boasted of the candidate's support for the group:

When Obama met with ACORN leaders in November, he reminded them of his history with ACORN and his beginnings in Illinois as a Project Vote organizer, a nonprofit focused on voter rights and education. Senator Obama said, "I come out of a grassroots organizing background. That's what I did for three and half years before I went to law school. That's the reason I moved to Chicago was to organize. So this is something that I know personally, the work you do, the importance of it. I've been fighting alongside ACORN on issues you care about my entire career. Even before I was an elected official, when I ran Project Vote voter registration drive in Illinois, ACORN was smack dab in the middle of it, and we appreciate your work."
And in August 2008, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that the Obama campaign paid more than $800,000 to an Acorn "offshoot" for "get out the vote" projects.

Obama worked for Acorn and Acorn worked for Obama. That doesn't mean the president is implicated in any wrongdoing, but it suggests at least that the worse things get for Acorn, the more embarrassing it is for him. If the Justice Department fails to prosecute, it invariably would raise suspicions of political favoritism. This column does not care for special prosecutors, but the case for appointing one would seem to be stronger here than usual.
27124  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Its so easy , , , on: September 17, 2009, 10:05:45 AM
Last update - 08:32 17/09/2009     
 
 
Father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb tells just how easy it is 
 
By Yossi Melman 
 
Tags: Israel news   
 
 
 
 

About five weeks ago, Dr. Abdul Khader Khan granted an extensive interview to a Pakistan television station. The frank interview attracted the attention of media outlets and research institutes the world over, but until now, its details have not been published in Israel.

Dr. Khan is a national hero in his country. He is the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb. He is also the world's leading proliferator of nuclear technology, equipment and know-how. In the 1960s, he studied in Holland, where he learned how to enrich uranium with centrifuges. After India exploded a nuclear device in 1974, then prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto charged him with the secret task of developing nuclear weapons.

Khan stole the centrifuge blueprints from Holland and smuggled them to Pakistan. In the 1990s, after he finished arming Pakistan with nuclear weapons, he resigned from the civil service and began to "tend to his own backyard." He established a private company and traveled to the Middle East.
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There, he first offered his knowledge to Algeria, Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia, but was turned away. Iran and Libya, however, accepted his offer and paid him millions of dollars. He established a smuggling network that provided equipment and technology to Iran and Libya, and apparently to North Korea as well.

When Iran has a nuclear bomb, it will be mainly thanks to Khan. "He appeared on our radar," former Mossad chief Shabtai Shavit admitted to me about two and a half years ago. "But we didn't attribute the proper importance to it. That was one of our worst failures. We should have assassinated him."

When his deeds and those of his smuggling network were exposed, he was arrested in Pakistan and interrogated at length. Under pressure from the Bush administration, then Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf was forced to order him placed under house arrest, which lasted about five years. However, he was recently released.

"Nobody sought me out," Khan told the interviewer. "After the Indian nuclear test in 1974, which caused hysteria in Pakistan, I thought I had to speak to Bhutto and tell him about my ability to create a bomb. I had first-hand experience with the technology and I knew how it worked. Pakistan's technology infrastructure was nonexistent. Bhutto asked me to supervise the work."

Whose decision was it to produce the bomb?

"Bhutto's."

Where did the money come from?

"The program was not expensive. Our annual budget was $20 million to $25 million and included purchasing land, building the [centrifuge] facility in Kauta, hiring scientists and purchasing materials abroad. The overall budget over 25 years was less than half a billion dollars."

When did you develop the centrifuges?

"On April 6, 1978, we succeeded for the first time in enriching uranium."

Was this enriched uranium weapons grade?

"No, it was a low level of enrichment. But it was sufficient to make us understand that we were capable of enriching uranium."

When did you begin to believe that you had fissile material for nuclear weapons?

"We achieved 90 percent enrichment in early 1983."

And when was the bomb ready?

"In December 1984, I wrote a letter to General Zia [then president of Pakistan] and told him that the bomb was ready and we could test it with a week's advance warning."

Why did you decide at the time not to carry out a test and detonate the bomb?

"We were allies of the United States in the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. We asked Zia and his people to approve the test. But they explained that it would have harsh consequences. Because the U.S. turned a blind eye to our nuclear program so that we would support the war in Afghanistan, an opportunity was created to continue developing the program. They said the tests could be carried out at some later date."

And that's what happened. Only in 1998 did Pakistan carry out nuclear tests, in response to India's nuclear tests.

How did you set up the acquisitions network?

"Because I lived in Europe for 15 years, I was very familiar with the industry and the suppliers there. I had all their addresses. When I arrived in Pakistan, I began to purchase equipment from them. Then we started to purchase the same equipment via other countries, like Kuwait, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, the UAE and Singapore. They [the West] couldn't keep up with us. We were always one step ahead of them."

When did you begin to produce the delivery systems?

"We planned them back in 1981, even before the bomb was ready. But General Zia did not allow us to produce them because of the war in Afghanistan. It happened only in 1988 - with the first government of Benazir Bhutto [Zulifkar's daughter]."

From whom did you acquire the missile know-how?

"From China." Later, he said, from North Korea too.

And what about Iran?

"Iran was interested in obtaining nuclear technology. And because Iran is an important Islamic country, we wanted it to have the technology. The Western countries pressured us on this issue, and it wasn't fair. If Iran can have nuclear technology, we will have a strong regional bloc that will repel international pressures. Iran's nuclear capability will neutralize Israel's power. We advised Iran to make contact with the suppliers and to purchase the equipment from them."

Are those the same as your suppliers?

"Yes. They were told that the suppliers are very reliable. The Iranian representatives met with them in Dubai."

What about Libya?

"Libya purchased the equipment from the same suppliers, who were responsible for supplying Pakistan, Iran and Libya via the same third party in Dubai."

Who was he?

"It was a company with which we made contact when we couldn't get equipment in Europe. They were Muslims from Sri Lanka."

The conclusion that emerges from the interview is that a country determined to obtain nuclear weapons will do so, even if it has poor technological infrastructure. There are enough suppliers who will secretly provide what is required. It is not overly expensive to produce nuclear weapons. It took Pakistan nine years.

Iran's situation is similar to Pakistan's. It began to enrich uranium in 2002, and today it already knows how to do it and has the quantity necessary to produce fissile material. The Iranians also already have missiles for launching a bomb.
27125  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: September 20, 2009 Gathering on: September 17, 2009, 08:54:07 AM
Raymond Roth of Fontana CA received
27126  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our side screws up on: September 17, 2009, 08:42:53 AM
Bloggers said this photo showed a gargantuan crowd at Saturday's "tea party" protest. But it apparently was taken in 1997 at a Promise Keepers rally.

In the competitive world of Washington protests, crowd size is often a matter of dispute. Organizers usually boast of huge crowds, while police and the news media offer much smaller estimates.

So supporters of Saturday’s “tea party” protests against President Barack Obama were quick to highlight their big turnout. To bolster countless claims on blogs and Facebook, many posted a photograph that showed a gargantuan crowd sprawling from Capitol Hill down the National Mall to the Washington Monument.

But it turns out the photo is more than 10 years old, apparently taken during a 1997 Promise Keepers rally.

On Saturday, estimates about the crowd spread quickly through the conservative blogosphere. Many writers, including author Michelle Malkin, pegged the number of people between 1 million and 2 million. Those reports were largely based on information from people in the crowd.

Malkin, for example, updated her blog at 12:34 p.m. noting that, “Police estimate 1.2 million in attendance. ABC News reporting crowd at 2 million,” and she cited a Twitter post from Tabitha Hale, writer of Pink Elephant Pundit, who was in Washington for the protest.

Many bloggers said the media was unfairly reporting much smaller numbers, and many included the photo.

“I have no doubt that Washington Democrats are well aware of how many people turned out, even as their media outlets try to downplay the event,” said Power Line, a conservative blog that linked to the photograph from Say Anything, another conservative Web site.

“ 'Media’ estimates range from 60,000 to 500,000 to around 2 million (yes, 2,000,000),” wrote John G. Winder for the conservative blog Cypress Times. “Those estimates, the language employed, and the visuals chosen for use in reporting the rally and representing the people gathered, vary greatly based solely on bias.”

In the mainstream media, crowd estimates varied.

The New York Times reported that “thousands” of protesters “filled the west lawn of the Capitol and spilled onto the National Mall,” while Fox News wrote that “tens of thousands” marched on Washington. CNN said “reporters at the scene described the massive crowd as reaching the tens of thousands.”

Pete Piringer, public affairs officer for the D.C. Fire and Emergency Department, said the local government no longer provides official crowd estimates because they can become politicized. But the day of the rally, Piringer unofficially told one reporter that he thought between 60,000 and 75,000 people had shown up.

“It was in no way an official estimate,” he said.

We asked Piringer whether there were enough protesters to fill the National Mall, as depicted in the photograph.

“It was an impressive crowd,” he said. But after marching down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol, the crowd “only filled the Capitol grounds, maybe up to Third Street,” he said.

Yet the photograph so widely posted showed the crowd sprawling all the way to the Washington Monument, which is bordered by 15th and and 17th Streets.

There’s another problem with the photograph: It doesn’t include the National Museum of the American Indian, a building located at the corner of Fourth Street and Independence Avenue that opened on Sept. 14, 2004. (Looking at the photograph, the building should be in the upper right hand corner of the National Mall, next to the Air and Space Museum.) That means the picture was taken before the museum opened exactly five years ago. So clearly the photo doesn’t show the “tea party” crowd from the Sept. 12 protest.

Also worth noting are the cranes in front of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. According to Randall Kremer, the museum’s director of public affairs, “The last time cranes were in front was in the 1990s when the IMAX theater was being built.”

It appears that the photo was actually taken in 1997 at a rally for Promise Keepers, a group for Christian men. According to the group’s Web site, nearly 1 million people attended the event. Photos of the Oct. 4, 1997, event that were posted on various Web sites in 2003, 2008 and earlier this year show either the same picture or a similar photo that has identical tents and what appear to be TV screens in the same locations.

Conservative bloggers who originally posted the picture have backed down.

Malkin, like some of her conservative cohorts, retracted the number she had attributed to ABC when the network chastised FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe, whose organization arranged the event, for inaccurately telling the crowd that the news organization had reported the crowd at 1 million to 1.5 million people.

Malkin linked to the ABC story on her site, and changed her blog post headline to “Celebrating the 9/12 rallies; Turnout estimated at 2 million; Update: How many?; FreedomWorks in error.”

Say Anything updated its original post to say that the picture was “of the wrong rally.” An accurate photo “clearly shows that (the rally) didn’t take place on the mall nearly as extensively as the image I mistakenly posted does.” Power Line took the picture down all together.

But because mistakes can still live forever on the Internet and many people who saw the photo on Facebook were unaware it was found to be the wrong picture, we decided to still rate it on the Truth-O-Meter. And Pants on Fire it is.

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2009/sep/14/blog-posting/blogger-claim-photo-shows-millions-tea-party-prote/
27127  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton 1802 on: September 17, 2009, 08:26:03 AM
"[T]he present Constitution is the standard to which we are to cling. Under its banners, bona fide must we combat our political foes." --Alexander Hamilton, letter to James Bayard, 1802
27128  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: September 16, 2009, 08:53:37 PM
 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
According to Webster's 1828 dictionary, "regulate" means "[t]o put in good order; as, to regulate the disordered state of a nation or its finances."

"Militia" means "[t]he body of soldiers in a state enrolled for discipline, but not engaged in actual service except for emergencies; as distinguished from regular troops, whose sole occupation is war or military service. The militia of a country aer the able bodied men organized into companies, regiments, and brigades, with officers of all grades, and required by law to attend military exercises on certain days only, but at other times left to pursue their usual occupations."

At the time the articles of confederation and the constitution were adopted, it was universally accepted that a full time military was extremely dangerous to liberty. They referred to a full time military as a "standing army" or a "regular army."

The phrase "well regulated militia" appears in Article VI of the Articles of Confederation. According to that Article, "every state shall always keep up a well regulated and disciplined militia, sufficiently armed and accoutred, and shall provide and constantly have ready for use, in public stores, a due number of field pieces and tents, and a proper quantity of arms, ammunition, and camp equipage."

The Anti-federalists opposed adopting the constitution because they feared it gave the federal government the ability to destroy the militia and create a standing army.

Patrick Henry put this pretty well: "My great objection to [the constitution] is, that it does not leave us the means of defending our rights; or, of waging war against tyrants: It is urged by some Gentlemen, that this new plan will bring us an acquisition of strength, an army, and the militia of the States: This is an idea extremely ridiculous: Gentlemen cannot be in earnest. This acquisition will trample on your fallen liberty ... Have we the means of resisting disciplined armies, when our only defence, the militia is put into the hands of Congress? ... The Honorable Gentlemen who presides, told us, that to prevent abuses in our Government, we will assemble in Convention, recall our delegated powers, and punish our servants for abusing the trust reposed in them. Oh, Sir, we should have fine times indeed, if to punish tyrants, it were only sufficient to assemble the people. Your arms wherewith you could defend yourselves are gone ... Did you ever read of any revolution in any nation, brought about by the punishment of those in power, inflicted by those who had no power at all? You read of a riot act in a country which is called one of the freest in the world, where a few neighbors cannot assemble without the risk of being shot by a hired soldiery, the engines of despotism. We may see such an act in America. A standing army we shall have also, to execute the execrable commands of tyranny."
27129  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: September 16, 2009, 05:35:48 PM
Reads rather plausibly to me , , ,
27130  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington, 1795 on: September 16, 2009, 10:32:18 AM
"[W]e ought to deprecate the hazard attending ardent and susceptible minds, from being too strongly, and too early prepossessed in favor of other political systems, before they are capable of appreciating their own." --George Washington, letter to the Commissioners of the District of Columbia, 1795
27131  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: September 20, 2009 Gathering on: September 16, 2009, 10:15:54 AM
I'll check the mailbox again today.    An additional option is to fax them in in or send them as an attached file to an email.
27132  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues on: September 16, 2009, 08:34:44 AM
A friend from India comments:

In India, the buzz is that Mr. Ombaba wants to force non NPT signatory states to sign the CTBT. Expect India to do a thermonuclear fusion test, before signing the CTBT. This would have implications for Israel too. Israel would be forced to bomb Iran, before signing the treaty. Both these events have geostrategic implications.
27133  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues on: September 15, 2009, 10:50:05 PM
Here's another take.  What do we make of this?
=================

Obama’s UN Gambit: King of the Universe and the Polls
He’ll chair a Security Council meeting — and pander to rogue states

By Anne Bayefsky

Looking for a quick and easy boost in the polls, President Obama has decided to go to the one place where merit bears no relationship to adulation: the United Nations. On September 24, the president will take the unprecedented step of presiding over a meeting of the UN Security Council.

No American president has ever attempted to acquire the image of King of the Universe by officiating at a meeting of the UN’s highest body. But Obama apparently believes that being flanked by council-member heads of state like Col. Moammar Qaddafi — who is expected to be seated five seats to Obama’s right — will cast a sufficiently blinding spell on the American taxpayer that the perilous state of the nation’s economy, the health-care fiasco, and a summer of “post-racial” scapegoating will pale by comparison.

After all, who among us is not for world peace?

Unfortunately, however, the move represents one of the most dangerous diplomatic ploys this country has ever seen. The president didn’t just decide to chair a rare council summit; he also set the September 24 agenda — as is the prerogative of the state holding the gavel for the month. His choice, in the words of American UN Ambassador Susan Rice, speaking on September 2 at her first press briefing since the United States assumed the council presidency, is this: “The session will be focused on nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament broadly, and not on any specific countries.”




This seemingly innocuous language has two profoundly disturbing features. First, UN documents indicate that the Security Council is currently dealing with over 100 issues. While “non-proliferation” is mentioned, “disarmament” is not. Similarly, a UN Secretariat compilation “forecasting the Council’s program of work” for the month of September — based on prior activities and requests — lists non-proliferation specifically in relation to Iran and North Korea and does not list disarmament. But in light of Obama’s wishes, a tailor-made subheading will likely be adopted under the existing entry “maintenance of international peace and security.” The new item will insist on simultaneous consideration of nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament and make no mention of particular states.

This is no trivial technicality. The linguistic formula, which Obama’s confrere Qaddafi will undoubtedly exploit, shamelessly panders to Arab and Muslim states. It is a familiar recipe for stonewalling efforts to prevent Iran or other Muslim and Arab states from acquiring nuclear weapons until Israel is disarmed or Israel’s (unofficial) nuclear capacity is exposed and neutralized. It is also a frequent tool of those whose real goal is to stymie America’s defenses.

Second, Obama’s agenda preference indicates that he is dead-set against chairing a session on the non-proliferation issues already on the council’s plate — those that name Iran and North Korea. This stretches his “beer summit” technique to the global scale. Naming names, or identifying the actual threats to world peace, would evidently interfere with the spectacle of proclaiming affection for world peace in the abstract. The problem is that this feel-good experience will feel best of all to Iran, which has interpreted Obama’s penchant for form over substance to be a critical weakness. As a Tehran newspaper close to the regime snickered in July: “Their strategy consists of begging us to talk with them.”

At Ambassador Rice’s news briefing, she gave “an overview of the principal important meetings” to be held in September on her watch. After finishing the list of subjects without mentioning Iran or North Korea, she added: “So those are the highlights. We also have . . . three sanctions regimes that are up for regular review, chaired by the heads of the sanctions committees. We have Sudan, Iran and North Korea, and these are, I expect, likely to be uneventful and routine considerations of these various regimes.”

Even hard-boiled UN correspondents were surprised. Rice was asked to explain how the recent capture by the United Arab Emirates of containers of ammunition en route to Iran from North Korea could be construed as “uneventful and routine.” Her answer highlights the administration’s delinquency: “We are simply receiving . . . a regularly scheduled update. . . . This is not an opportunity to review or revisit the nature of either of those regimes.”

A brutalized Iranian population, yearning for democracy, has repeatedly been met by nothing but sad faces from this administration. An Iranian president installed by treachery has been legitimized by American recognition of his government, a decision that has sidelined other eminently justifiable alternatives. The leaders of this state sponsor of terrorism aim to annihilate the Jewish state and are on the verge of acquiring the means to do so. But instead of making the isolation and delegitimation of Iran the top priority for America’s turn at the council presidency, the Obama administration has taken Iran off the table at precisely the time when top decision-makers will be present.

The administration’s zeal for the front-page photo-op on September 25’s New York Times has now become a scramble to manufacture an “outcome” for the session. The president’s idea for a glorious finish was described by Ambassador Rice as some kind of joint statement declaring in part “that we are united in support for effective steps to ensure nuclear nonproliferation.”

Such a result would be breathtaking — for the audacity of claiming exactly the opposite of what it really represents. Even allied council members France and the United Kingdom are reported to be very unhappy with Obama’s no-names strategy for his September rollout.

Far from bolstering his flagging image, the president’s group-hug theory of diplomacy deserves the disdain of anyone who can separate rhetoric from reality.

— Anne Bayefsky is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and executive director of Human Rights Voices.
 
 
 
.To wit: Section 9 of the Constitution says:
No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.)
 
27134  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: September 20, 2009 Gathering on: September 15, 2009, 06:56:17 PM
Excellent news Pappy Dog.

Forms just received from Thomas Nowara of LA, CA and Raymond Roth of Fontana, CA
27135  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Prager on: September 15, 2009, 01:36:53 PM
The Left Is Right -- Taxes Are a Moral Issue
Tuesday, September 15, 2009

One principle that all those on the left hold is that taxes constitute more than an economic issue; they are, first and foremost, a moral one. Economists on the left may argue for higher taxes on economic grounds but they and we know that at bottom, higher taxes, especially "taxing the rich," is what they believe morality demands.



For example, there are obviously only two possible ways to reduce government deficits: reduce spending or increase taxes (or some combination of both). The left advocates the later; the right advocates the former. Left-wing spokesmen, such as New York Times economics columnist and Princeton University professor of economics Paul Krugman, may offer economic arguments for raising taxes in order to lower government deficits, but their real motivations are moral: reducing economic inequality (by redistributing income) and expanding government (because government is the most effective way to help all citizens).

Now, as it happens, not only is there is nothing wrong with being animated by moral concerns -- we should all be. The problem with the left's advocacy of higher taxes is not that it is rooted in moral concerns. The problem -- actually the two problems -- are these:

First, higher taxes are rarely morally defensible. In fact, on purely moral grounds -- in other words, even if they did effectively reduce the deficit without paying an economic price for doing so -- they are usually not moral. More on this below.

Second, higher taxes are usually economically counterproductive. This does not matter to the left, however, because economic growth is not what most interests the left. Since Karl Marx, the left has always been far more interested in economic equality than in economic growth. It is true that liberals such as John F. Kennedy were more concerned with economic growth than with economic equality -- which is why he advocated lowering taxes -- but for much of the last century, unlike today, there was a major difference between liberal and left.

Now to return to the moral arguments, my difference with the left is not that I oppose morality dictating economic policy. I believe, in fact, that virtually all social policies should be rooted in moral concerns. My difference with the left is that I am convinced that moral considerations dictate lower, not higher, taxes.

It is too bad that libertarians and conservatives rarely take on the left on moral grounds because the left's moral foundations are as weak as their economic foundations.

The very notion of an income tax is morally debatable. On what moral grounds can the state force a citizen essentially at gunpoint to give away his legally and morally earned money? Why isn't taxation a form of legalized stealing? The obvious answer is that common sense dictates that citizens have the moral right, even the moral obligation, to vote to give money to, at the very least, enable a government to fund a police force, sustain a national defense, and help those incapable of helping themselves or of being helped by others.

But at some point beyond that, taxation becomes nothing more than legalized stealing. Obviously, people will differ over where exactly that point is, but no rational person disputes that such a point exists. No one could argue that a 100 percent tax -- even if it paid for every need every member of the society had -- was moral and not simply a form of theft.

So moral problem No.1 with taxation is the morality of forcing other people -- under threat of violence -- to give their money away.

A second moral problem is having some people give at a greater percentage rate than others. The biblical notion of tithing, for example, is entirely universal -- everyone gave a tenth what he had. No one was forced to give half while others gave a tenth.

A third moral problem is allowing those who pay no tax (such as the federal income tax) to vote on how much others will be forced to pay. It is quite difficult to morally defend the fact that about half of Americans pay no federal income tax, yet they determine how much the other half will be forced to pay.

A fourth moral problem is that the higher the taxes, the more decent people become cheaters. One of the leading religious ethicists of our time, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, author of two volumes of Jewish ethical law, told me years ago when he lived in Israel during the height of its socialism with its correspondingly high taxes that he witnessed the finest citizens, religious and secular alike, having to cheat on taxes or be rendered impoverished. I have never forgotten that.

I know no one in America today -- and I know extraordinarily honest and generous people, liberal and conservative -- who does not in some way "cheat" on taxes -- as, for example, reporting expenses as business expenses that are not really so. I place the word cheat within quotation marks because not all cheating is illegal. Some people figure out how to avoid paying what the law demands through completely legal, but ethically questionable, means.

At a certain level of taxation, virtually every honest person is reduced to cheating either legally or illegally.

A fifth moral problem is that the higher the tax rate, the lower the charity rate. This is universally true. The more people give to the state, the less they give to their neighbor -- and even to members of their family -- in need.

And sixth and only finally because of the limitations in size of a single column, the higher the taxes, the less people are inclined to work hard. Why should they? At a given point, people just conclude that work is for suckers.

And I haven't even begun to discuss the economic failings of higher taxes.

So, next time someone on the left advocates higher taxes, remember two things: He or she is coming from a moral, not an economic, position. And the moral case against higher taxes is far more powerful than the moral case for them.

27136  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Football on: September 15, 2009, 10:46:11 AM
DBMA has as its mission statement "Walk as a Warrior for all your days" and in this regard, football is something we look to to inform our sense of multiple players operating in 360 contexts, our sense of contact, footwork, and more.  My thanks to Chris Gizzi for opening my eyes in this.

==================

By CHARLES SIEBERT
Football, for allof its brute force and ferocity, is a game of guile and gamesmanship. This is especially true today, when the space in which the sport is played has been foreshortened by the size and speed of the athletes playing it, and outcomes are increasingly decided as much by the quality of a team's game plan as they are by the level of play. Football has essentially become hour-long sessions of high-speed, crash-helmet chess, and more fun to watch because of it. Even the biggest and most heavily favored juggernauts can on any given day be suddenly undone by a group of scrappy upstarts with a wealth of passion and a well-wrought stratagem: some riotous, rhythm-ruining array of timely defensive blitzing packages, or a stunningly inventive attack formation such as the new "Wildcat" offense.

The NFL, with its dizzying speeds and hard hitting—to say nothing of its preponderance of high-salaried stars—has long had a way of tempering the more fanciful, free-wheeling schemes of high school and college ball. And yet all that seemed to change last year, when the then-struggling Miami Dolphins overwhelmed the mighty New England Patriots in game three of the season with a sudden, whirlwind display of Wildcat wizardry. Six times in the course of that game, the Patriots' defenders suddenly found themselves standing opposite an odd-looking offensive alignment. Rather than the traditional front line of a guard, a tackle, and a tight end on either side of the center, the Dolphins now had a guard, two tackles and a tight end all stacked on one side. More disturbing still, standing a few yards behind the center, awaiting the snap in the quarterback's traditional "shotgun" position, were two running backs, the dual run-and-pass threat of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. As for the Dolphins' quarterback, Chad Pennington, he was positioned up on the overstacked side of the line, just outside the tight end, now an entirely misplaced and therefore unknown proposition.

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Sports Illustrated/Getty Images
 
The Miami Dolphins used the overstacked ‘Wildcat’ formation against the New England Patriots, Nov. 23, 2008.
.This is the most subversive, the nearly mutinous aspect of the Wildcat, and the very essence of its explosive potential: the way in which it wholly bypasses the quarterback, the traditional pillar and field general of the offense. Among the things that a defense likes to see when an offense lines up opposite them before the start of play is the quarterback at his traditional post, either directly under center or a few yards behind center in the "shotgun." This gives the defense an edge, some would say an 11-on-10 advantage. Because, unless the quarterback is that exceptional dual run-or-pass threat in the mold of Vince Young or Michael Vick, or the 2008 champion University of Florida's Tim Tebow, then a defense can focus less on him and more on the action that he, through either a hand-off or a pass, is about to set in motion.

The most fixed figure in an offense, the middleman, the interlocutor of each play, the quarterback is the guy through whom a defense—via the lean of his body or the direction of his gaze—often gets the best fix on where a play is going. By removing the quarterback from his predictable hand-off, passing-machine role and enfolding him into the larger offensive mix, the Wildcat makes him one more variable for the defense to consider, and thus neutralizes their tacit one-man edge. The Wildcat is, in effect, a classic instance of eliminating the middleman and cutting, or snapping, directly to the chase. That could be a straight run behind a phalanx of blockers, or a hand-off to another back or roving flanker or "wingback," who was set in motion behind the line before the snap. Or it could be just pulling up and passing the ball down field to an open receiver, possibly even to the quarterback—a dizzying array of options that tends to slow a defense down, give them pause.

 
Collegiate Images/Getty Images
 
George Gipp of Notre Dame, shown here in 1920, was one of the multipurpose ‘wingbacks’ who gave the early ‘Single-wing’ formation its name.
.In chess, even in speed chess, one has time to ponder a response to a new formation. In football, even the slightest hesitation equals loss. In fact, before the Patriots' vaunted defense was able to get a read on what was going on around them that day, the Dolphins would score four touchdowns with the Wildcat (three rushing and one on a pass from Brown), abruptly ending the Patriots' 21-game regular-season winning streak with a 38-13 drubbing. Over the next 11 games, the Dolphins went on to average seven yards per play from the "Wildcat" and qualified for the playoffs. They have since acquired West Virginia's multitasking quarterback, Pat White, in the draft, a potentially lethal move that has teams around the league including the Eagles (with the newly acquired Michael Vick), the Baltimore Ravens, the Atlanta Falcons, the New York Jets and even the New England Patriots dreaming up Wildcat packages of their own.

There's something at once sleekly high-tech and decidedly throwback, nearly sandlot, about the Wildcat: an elaborate and well-honed version of that basic backyard-pick-up-game ethos of "let's just get as many of the best players on the field as we can and then wing it." Winging it is, after all, increasingly difficult to do within any organized field of endeavor. But this is especially so within the parameters of a football field. While nuns may not fret their convent's narrow room, as Wordsworth wrote in his famous sonnet about the paradoxically liberating powers of the sonnet form's strictures on the imagination, offensive coordinators are forever scratching about for ways to pry open and fly the confines of a 100-yard gridiron.

In this regard, the Wildcat is an inspired bit of football poetry, affirming as it does that there are still an infinite number of new ways to re-imagine inherently finite spaces. And when one considers the growing number of big, fast, multidimensional, run-and-throw style quarterbacks that high schools and colleges are now churning out—to the extent that some pro scouts are lamenting the imminent extinction of the classic drop-back, field-general style—then the Wildcat formation begins to look less like a passing fancy and more like something permanent.

Still, for all the talk of the Wildcat representing football's future, it is, in fact, a direct derivative (some would say a near carbon copy) of an early offense formation known as the "Single-wing," which might well have faded into extinction if not for a few high school coaches who kept it percolating in their playbooks. One of the game's very first attempts to fly its own inherent confines, the "Single-wing" was the brainchild of the University of Pittsburgh's Glenn Scobey "Pop" Warner, the father of modern football, and it was advanced by football inventors like Notre Dame's Knute Rockne, and Warner's protégé at Pitt, Jock Sutherland.

After the ploddingly crushing rugby-like scrums and somewhat oxymoronically named "Flying Wedges" of yore were outlawed, in the interest of safety, back in 1905, Warner took advantage of new rules allowing, among other things, the forward pass and arrived at a scheme that should by now sound familiar: an unbalanced offensive line with a quarterback positioned just behind one of the strong-side tackles, a pair of running backs waiting in the quarterback's shotgun position to take the snap from center, and off beyond the strong-side end, the roving, multipurpose "wingback," who gave the Single-wing its name. The best athletes of their day, wingbacks are now the stuff of football legend: George Gipp of Notre Dame, Michigan's Tom Harmon, Nile Kinnick of Iowa and Western Reserve's Steve Belichick, father of New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

The Single-wing would dominate college football right up through the 1940s and then gradually yield to newer formations. As the forward pass and freer substitution rules became ever more prominent in pro offenses of the 1950s and '60s, formations began to accommodate and codify the quarterback's emergent field-general stature, placing him directly under center and the running backs behind him in a "T" or "I" formation. The "T" and the "I" soon morphed into the "Wishbone" and from there into more widely dispersed formations, designed to make use of every inch and angle of football's blank page—offenses that, in name alone, "Flexbone," "Triple Option," "Veer," and "Spread," suggest the evolution of some huge, flightless bird struggling to free itself from the confines of its own proscribed shell.

College and high school have long been the Petri dishes of football innovation, and it is there that the Wildcat's recent emergence can be traced. In a 1998 article for Scholastic Coach and Athletic Director magazine, a high-school football coach and Yale graduate named Hugh Wyatt wrote of a direct-snap, single-wing style formation that he named the "Wildcat," after the mascot of the school where he coached at the time. Seven years later, Gus Malzahn, the offensive coordinator for the Arkansas Razorbacks, implemented a single-wing style package that he'd used successfully coaching high school ball. Conspiring with Razorback running back coach Danny Nutt to get their best players on the field at the same time, he put the multidimensional running back Darren McFadden, now of the Oakland Raiders, in the quarterback position and fellow running back Felix Jones at wingback. The Wildcat was soon spreading like wildfire.

An estimated 80% of high school and college teams are expected to be featuring the formation this season, including, of course, Arkansas, Tulsa (where Gus Malzahn now coaches) and Ole Miss (coached by Danny Nutt's brother Houston), as well as Alabama, Michigan State and Minnesota. And when Gus Malzahn's replacement at Arkansas, David Lee, moved on to become the quarterback coach of the Miami Dolphins in 2008, the Wildcat was soon baring its claws in the pros—appearing as a bizarre and uncontainable creature to a stunned New England Patriot defense but wholly recognizable to an astute football historian like Bill Belichick.

"Call it what you want," the Patriots' coach would tell Sports Illustrated after the Patriots-Dolphins game. "But that's single-wing style football."

Corrections & Amplifications: Football star Steve Belichick attended Western Reserve University, a forerunner of today's Case Western Reserve University. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said he played for Case Western Reserve.


27137  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Armstrong vs. Dawkins on: September 15, 2009, 10:37:53 AM
Man vs. God


We commissioned Karen Armstrong and Richard Dawkins to respond independently to the question "Where does evolution leave God?" Neither knew what the other would say. Here are the results.

Karen Armstrong says we need God to grasp the wonder of our existence
Richard Dawkins has been right all along, of course—at least in one important respect. Evolution has indeed dealt a blow to the idea of a benign creator, literally conceived. It tells us that there is no Intelligence controlling the cosmos, and that life itself is the result of a blind process of natural selection, in which innumerable species failed to survive. The fossil record reveals a natural history of pain, death and racial extinction, so if there was a divine plan, it was cruel, callously prodigal and wasteful. Human beings were not the pinnacle of a purposeful creation; like everything else, they evolved by trial and error and God had no direct hand in their making. No wonder so many fundamentalist Christians find their faith shaken to the core.

 
Nippon Television Network
 .Richard Dawkins argues that evolution leaves God with nothing to do .But Darwin may have done religion—and God—a favor by revealing a flaw in modern Western faith. Despite our scientific and technological brilliance, our understanding of God is often remarkably undeveloped—even primitive. In the past, many of the most influential Jewish, Christian and Muslim thinkers understood that what we call "God" is merely a symbol that points beyond itself to an indescribable transcendence, whose existence cannot be proved but is only intuited by means of spiritual exercises and a compassionate lifestyle that enable us to cultivate new capacities of mind and heart.

But by the end of the 17th century, instead of looking through the symbol to "the God beyond God," Christians were transforming it into hard fact. Sir Isaac Newton had claimed that his cosmic system proved beyond doubt the existence of an intelligent, omniscient and omnipotent creator, who was obviously "very well skilled in Mechanicks and Geometry." Enthralled by the prospect of such cast-iron certainty, churchmen started to develop a scientifically-based theology that eventually made Newton's Mechanick and, later, William Paley's Intelligent Designer essential to Western Christianity.

But the Great Mechanick was little more than an idol, the kind of human projection that theology, at its best, was supposed to avoid. God had been essential to Newtonian physics but it was not long before other scientists were able to dispense with the God-hypothesis and, finally, Darwin showed that there could be no proof for God's existence. This would not have been a disaster had not Christians become so dependent upon their scientific religion that they had lost the older habits of thought and were left without other resource.

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WSJ Illustration
 .Symbolism was essential to premodern religion, because it was only possible to speak about the ultimate reality—God, Tao, Brahman or Nirvana—analogically, since it lay beyond the reach of words. Jews and Christians both developed audaciously innovative and figurative methods of reading the Bible, and every statement of the Quran is called an ayah ("parable"). St Augustine (354-430), a major authority for both Catholics and Protestants, insisted that if a biblical text contradicted reputable science, it must be interpreted allegorically. This remained standard practice in the West until the 17th century, when in an effort to emulate the exact scientific method, Christians began to read scripture with a literalness that is without parallel in religious history.

Most cultures believed that there were two recognized ways of arriving at truth. The Greeks called them mythos and logos. Both were essential and neither was superior to the other; they were not in conflict but complementary, each with its own sphere of competence. Logos ("reason") was the pragmatic mode of thought that enabled us to function effectively in the world and had, therefore, to correspond accurately to external reality. But it could not assuage human grief or find ultimate meaning in life's struggle. For that people turned to mythos, stories that made no pretensions to historical accuracy but should rather be seen as an early form of psychology; if translated into ritual or ethical action, a good myth showed you how to cope with mortality, discover an inner source of strength, and endure pain and sorrow with serenity.

In the ancient world, a cosmology was not regarded as factual but was primarily therapeutic; it was recited when people needed an infusion of that mysterious power that had—somehow—brought something out of primal nothingness: at a sickbed, a coronation or during a political crisis. Some cosmologies taught people how to unlock their own creativity, others made them aware of the struggle required to maintain social and political order. The Genesis creation hymn, written during the Israelites' exile in Babylonia in the 6th century BC, was a gentle polemic against Babylonian religion. Its vision of an ordered universe where everything had its place was probably consoling to a displaced people, though—as we can see in the Bible—some of the exiles preferred a more aggressive cosmology.

There can never be a definitive version of a myth, because it refers to the more imponderable aspects of life. To remain effective, it must respond to contemporary circumstance. In the 16th century, when Jews were being expelled from one region of Europe after another, the mystic Isaac Luria constructed an entirely new creation myth that bore no resemblance to the Genesis story. But instead of being reviled for contradicting the Bible, it inspired a mass-movement among Jews, because it was such a telling description of the arbitrary world they now lived in; backed up with special rituals, it also helped them face up to their pain and discover a source of strength.

Religion was not supposed to provide explanations that lay within the competence of reason but to help us live creatively with realities for which there are no easy solutions and find an interior haven of peace; today, however, many have opted for unsustainable certainty instead. But can we respond religiously to evolutionary theory? Can we use it to recover a more authentic notion of God?

Darwin made it clear once again that—as Maimonides, Avicenna, Aquinas and Eckhart had already pointed out—we cannot regard God simply as a divine personality, who single-handedly created the world. This could direct our attention away from the idols of certainty and back to the "God beyond God." The best theology is a spiritual exercise, akin to poetry. Religion is not an exact science but a kind of art form that, like music or painting, introduces us to a mode of knowledge that is different from the purely rational and which cannot easily be put into words. At its best, it holds us in an attitude of wonder, which is, perhaps, not unlike the awe that Mr. Dawkins experiences—and has helped me to appreciate —when he contemplates the marvels of natural selection.

But what of the pain and waste that Darwin unveiled? All the major traditions insist that the faithful meditate on the ubiquitous suffering that is an inescapable part of life; because, if we do not acknowledge this uncomfortable fact, the compassion that lies at the heart of faith is impossible. The almost unbearable spectacle of the myriad species passing painfully into oblivion is not unlike some classic Buddhist meditations on the First Noble Truth ("Existence is suffering"), the indispensable prerequisite for the transcendent enlightenment that some call Nirvana—and others call God.

—Ms. Armstrong is the author of numerous books on theology and religious affairs. The latest, "The Case for God," will be published by Knopf later this month.
Richard Dawkins argues that evolution leaves God with nothing to do
Before 1859 it would have seemed natural to agree with the Reverend William Paley, in "Natural Theology," that the creation of life was God's greatest work. Especially (vanity might add) human life. Today we'd amend the statement: Evolution is the universe's greatest work. Evolution is the creator of life, and life is arguably the most surprising and most beautiful production that the laws of physics have ever generated. Evolution, to quote a T-shirt sent me by an anonymous well-wisher, is the greatest show on earth, the only game in town.

Indeed, evolution is probably the greatest show in the entire universe. Most scientists' hunch is that there are independently evolved life forms dotted around planetary islands throughout the universe—though sadly too thinly scattered to encounter one another. And if there is life elsewhere, it is something stronger than a hunch to say that it will turn out to be Darwinian life. The argument in favor of alien life's existing at all is weaker than the argument that—if it exists at all—it will be Darwinian life. But it is also possible that we really are alone in the universe, in which case Earth, with its greatest show, is the most remarkable planet in the universe.

 
Bettmann/CORBIS
 
Charles Darwin
.What is so special about life? It never violates the laws of physics. Nothing does (if anything did, physicists would just have to formulate new laws—it's happened often enough in the history of science). But although life never violates the laws of physics, it pushes them into unexpected avenues that stagger the imagination. If we didn't know about life we wouldn't believe it was possible—except, of course, that there'd then be nobody around to do the disbelieving!

The laws of physics, before Darwinian evolution bursts out from their midst, can make rocks and sand, gas clouds and stars, whirlpools and waves, whirlpool-shaped galaxies and light that travels as waves while behaving like particles. It is an interesting, fascinating and, in many ways, deeply mysterious universe. But now, enter life. Look, through the eyes of a physicist, at a bounding kangaroo, a swooping bat, a leaping dolphin, a soaring Coast Redwood. There never was a rock that bounded like a kangaroo, never a pebble that crawled like a beetle seeking a mate, never a sand grain that swam like a water flea. Not once do any of these creatures disobey one jot or tittle of the laws of physics. Far from violating the laws of thermodynamics (as is often ignorantly alleged) they are relentlessly driven by them. Far from violating the laws of motion, animals exploit them to their advantage as they walk, run, dodge and jink, leap and fly, pounce on prey or spring to safety.

Never once are the laws of physics violated, yet life emerges into uncharted territory. And how is the trick done? The answer is a process that, although variable in its wondrous detail, is sufficiently uniform to deserve one single name: Darwinian evolution, the nonrandom survival of randomly varying coded information. We know, as certainly as we know anything in science, that this is the process that has generated life on our own planet. And my bet, as I said, is that the same process is in operation wherever life may be found, anywhere in the universe.

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WSJ Illustration
 .What if the greatest show on earth is not the greatest show in the universe? What if there are life forms on other planets that have evolved so far beyond our level of intelligence and creativity that we should regard them as gods, were we ever so fortunate (or unfortunate?) as to meet them? Would they indeed be gods? Wouldn't we be tempted to fall on our knees and worship them, as a medieval peasant might if suddenly confronted with such miracles as a Boeing 747, a mobile telephone or Google Earth? But, however god-like the aliens might seem, they would not be gods, and for one very important reason. They did not create the universe; it created them, just as it created us. Making the universe is the one thing no intelligence, however superhuman, could do, because an intelligence is complex—statistically improbable —and therefore had to emerge, by gradual degrees, from simpler beginnings: from a lifeless universe—the miracle-free zone that is physics.

To midwife such emergence is the singular achievement of Darwinian evolution. It starts with primeval simplicity and fosters, by slow, explicable degrees, the emergence of complexity: seemingly limitless complexity—certainly up to our human level of complexity and very probably way beyond. There may be worlds on which superhuman life thrives, superhuman to a level that our imaginations cannot grasp. But superhuman does not mean supernatural. Darwinian evolution is the only process we know that is ultimately capable of generating anything as complicated as creative intelligences. Once it has done so, of course, those intelligences can create other complex things: works of art and music, advanced technology, computers, the Internet and who knows what in the future? Darwinian evolution may not be the only such generative process in the universe. There may be other "cranes" (Daniel Dennett's term, which he opposes to "skyhooks") that we have not yet discovered or imagined. But, however wonderful and however different from Darwinian evolution those putative cranes may be, they cannot be magic. They will share with Darwinian evolution the facility to raise up complexity, as an emergent property, out of simplicity, while never violating natural law.

Where does that leave God? The kindest thing to say is that it leaves him with nothing to do, and no achievements that might attract our praise, our worship or our fear. Evolution is God's redundancy notice, his pink slip. But we have to go further. A complex creative intelligence with nothing to do is not just redundant. A divine designer is all but ruled out by the consideration that he must at least as complex as the entities he was wheeled out to explain. God is not dead. He was never alive in the first place.

Now, there is a certain class of sophisticated modern theologian who will say something like this: "Good heavens, of course we are not so naive or simplistic as to care whether God exists. Existence is such a 19th-century preoccupation! It doesn't matter whether God exists in a scientific sense. What matters is whether he exists for you or for me. If God is real for you, who cares whether science has made him redundant? Such arrogance! Such elitism."

Well, if that's what floats your canoe, you'll be paddling it up a very lonely creek. The mainstream belief of the world's peoples is very clear. They believe in God, and that means they believe he exists in objective reality, just as surely as the Rock of Gibraltar exists. If sophisticated theologians or postmodern relativists think they are rescuing God from the redundancy scrap-heap by downplaying the importance of existence, they should think again. Tell the congregation of a church or mosque that existence is too vulgar an attribute to fasten onto their God, and they will brand you an atheist. They'll be right.

—Mr. Dawkins is the author of "The Selfish Gene," "The Ancestor's Tale," "The God Delusion." His latest book, "The Greatest Show on Earth," will be published by Free Press on Sept. 22.
27138  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pushing Israel/outsourcing to Israel on: September 15, 2009, 10:17:25 AM
second post of the day

Events are fast pushing Israel toward a pre-emptive military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, probably by next spring. That strike could well fail. Or it could succeed at the price of oil at $300 a barrel, a Middle East war, and American servicemen caught in between. So why is the Obama administration doing everything it can to speed the war process along?

At July's G-8 summit in Italy, Iran was given a September deadline to start negotiations over its nuclear programs. Last week, Iran gave its answer: No.

Instead, what Tehran offered was a five-page document that was the diplomatic equivalent of a giant kiss-off. It begins by lamenting the "ungodly ways of thinking prevailing in global relations" and proceeds to offer comprehensive talks on a variety of subjects: democracy, human rights, disarmament, terrorism, "respect for the rights of nations," and other areas where Iran is a paragon. Conspicuously absent from the document is any mention of Iran's nuclear program, now at the so-called breakout point, which both Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his boss Ali Khamenei insist is not up for discussion.

What's an American president to do in the face of this nonstarter of a document? What else, but pretend it isn't a nonstarter. Talks begin Oct. 1.

All this only helps persuade Israel's skittish leadership that when President Obama calls a nuclear-armed Iran "unacceptable," he means it approximately in the same way a parent does when fecklessly reprimanding his misbehaving teenager. That impression is strengthened by Mr. Obama's decision to drop Iran from the agenda when he chairs a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Sept. 24; by Defense Secretary Robert Gates publicly opposing military strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities; and by Russia's announcement that it will not support any further sanctions on Iran.

In sum, the conclusion among Israelis is that the Obama administration won't lift a finger to stop Iran, much less will the "international community." So Israel has pursued a different strategy, in effect seeking to goad the U.S. into stopping, or at least delaying, an Israeli attack by imposing stiff sanctions and perhaps even launching military strikes of its own.

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Associated Press
 
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
.Thus, unlike Israel's air strike against Iraq's reactor in 1981 or Syria's in 2007, both of which were planned in the utmost secrecy, the Israelis have gone out of their way to advertise their fears, purposes and capabilities. They have sent warships through the Suez Canal in broad daylight and conducted widely publicized air-combat exercises at long range. They have also been unusually forthcoming in their briefings with reporters, expressing confidence at every turn that Israel can get the job done.

The problem, however, is that the administration isn't taking the bait, and one has to wonder why. Perhaps it thinks its diplomacy will work, or that it has the luxury of time, or that it can talk the Israelis out of attacking. Alternatively, it might actually want Israel to attack without inviting the perception that it has colluded with it. Or maybe it isn't really paying attention.

But Israel is paying attention. And the longer the U.S. delays playing hardball with Iran, the sooner Israel is likely to strike. A report published today by the Bipartisan Policy Center, and signed by Democrat Chuck Robb, Republican Dan Coats, and retired Gen. Charles Ward, notes that by next year Iran will "be able to produce a weapon's worth of highly enriched uranium . . . in less than two months." No less critical in determining Israel's timetable is the anticipated delivery to Iran of Russian S-300 anti-aircraft batteries: Israel will almost certainly strike before those deliveries are made, no matter whether an Iranian bomb is two months or two years away.

Such a strike may well be in Israel's best interests, though that depends entirely on whether the strike succeeds. It is certainly in America's supreme interest that Iran not acquire a genuine nuclear capability, whether of the actual or break-out variety. That goes also for the Middle East generally, which doesn't need the nuclear arms race an Iranian capability would inevitably provoke.

Then again, it is not in the U.S. interest that Israel be the instrument of Iran's disarmament. For starters, its ability to do so is iffy: Israeli strategists are quietly putting it about that even a successful attack may have to be repeated a few years down the road as Iran reconstitutes its capacity. For another thing, Iran could respond to such a strike not only against Israel itself, but also U.S targets in Iraq and the Persian Gulf.

But most importantly, it is an abdication of a superpower's responsibility to outsource matters of war and peace to another state, however closely allied. President Obama has now ceded the driver's seat on Iran policy to Prime Minister Netanyahu. He would do better to take the wheel again, keeping in mind that Iran is beyond the reach of his eloquence, and keeping in mind, too, that very useful Roman adage, Si vis pacem, para bellum.
27139  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: September 20, 2009 Gathering on: September 15, 2009, 10:10:16 AM
Registered Fighter list as of this morning

1) Nick "Pappy Dog" Papadakis
N. Hollywood, CA

2) Dean “Kaju Dog” Webster
Lemoore, CA

3) Richard “Seeing Eye Dog” Estepa
Oxnard, CA

4) Mike “War Dog” Barredo
Palm Springs, CA

5) Steve “Iron Dog” Shelburn
Modest, CA

6) Brian “Guide Dog” Stoops
Chino Hills, CA
(may be unable to show, but we keep him on the list just in case)

7) Mat “Boo Dog” Booe
Castaic, CA

Cool Erik “Tennessee Dog” Bryant
Sherman Oaks, CA

9) Greg "Cyborg Dog" Brown
Boston, MA

10) “Dog” Rene Cocolo
Toronto, CANADA

11) “Dog” Randall Scott Gregory
Brattleboro, Vermont

12) “Dog” Ryan Gruhn
State College, PA

13) “Dog” Kase Wright
Corpus Cristi, TX

14) “Dog” Michael Norrel
State College, PA

15) “Cat” Linda Matsumi
Los Gatos, CA

16) Ryan Achenbach
Milwalkie, OR

17) Peter Andrada
San Jose, Ca

18) Jason Barker
Pacific Palisades, CA

19) Mike Getten
Pacific Palisades, CA

20) Jeremiah Hagan
Los Angeles, CA

21) Kyle Kabala
Glendora, CA

22) Chhi’med Kunzang
Kila, MT

23) Steve Lawson
Carolina Beach, NC

24) Howie Mandel
Philadelphia, PA

25) Dante Mapanao
Huntington Beach, CA

26) Ivaylo Penev
Sunnyvale, CA

27) Jeff Peters
McLean, VA

28) Mauricio Sanchez Reyes
Mexico City, Mexico

29) Josh Scott
San Diego, CA

30) Jonathan Weaver
State College, PA

31) Devin Wilkey
Phoenix, AZ

32) Mark Houston
Moreno Valley CA

33) Mark O'Delll
Moreno Valley CA
27140  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Interstate Commerce on: September 15, 2009, 09:55:08 AM
By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO
Last week, I asked South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn, the third-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, where in the Constitution it authorizes the federal government to regulate the delivery of health care. He replied: "There's nothing in the Constitution that says that the federal government has anything to do with most of the stuff we do." Then he shot back: "How about [you] show me where in the Constitution it prohibits the federal government from doing this?"

Rep. Clyburn, like many of his colleagues, seems to have conveniently forgotten that the federal government has only specific enumerated powers. He also seems to have overlooked the Ninth and 10th Amendments, which limit Congress's powers only to those granted in the Constitution.

One of those powers—the power "to regulate" interstate commerce—is the favorite hook on which Congress hangs its hat in order to justify the regulation of anything it wants to control.

Unfortunately, a notoriously tendentious New Deal-era Supreme Court decision has given Congress a green light to use the Commerce Clause to regulate noncommercial, and even purely local, private behavior. In Wickard v. Filburn (1942), the Supreme Court held that a farmer who grew wheat just for the consumption of his own family violated federal agricultural guidelines enacted pursuant to the Commerce Clause. Though the wheat did not move across state lines—indeed, it never left his farm—the Court held that if other similarly situated farmers were permitted to do the same it, might have an aggregate effect on interstate commerce.

James Madison, who argued that to regulate meant to keep regular, would have shuddered at such circular reasoning. Madison's understanding was the commonly held one in 1789, since the principle reason for the Constitutional Convention was to establish a central government that would prevent ruinous state-imposed tariffs that favored in-state businesses. It would do so by assuring that commerce between the states was kept "regular."

The Supreme Court finally came to its senses when it invalidated a congressional ban on illegal guns within 1,000 feet of public schools. In United States v. Lopez (1995), the Court ruled that the Commerce Clause may only be used by Congress to regulate human activity that is truly commercial at its core and that has not traditionally been regulated by the states. The movement of illegal guns from one state to another, the Court ruled, was criminal and not commercial at its core, and school safety has historically been a state function.

Applying these principles to President Barack Obama's health-care proposal, it's clear that his plan is unconstitutional at its core. The practice of medicine consists of the delivery of intimate services to the human body. In almost all instances, the delivery of medical services occurs in one place and does not move across interstate lines. One goes to a physician not to engage in commercial activity, as the Framers of the Constitution understood, but to improve one's health. And the practice of medicine, much like public school safety, has been regulated by states for the past century.

The same Congress that wants to tell family farmers what to grow in their backyards has declined "to keep regular" the commercial sale of insurance policies. It has permitted all 50 states to erect the type of barriers that the Commerce Clause was written precisely to tear down. Insurers are barred from selling policies to people in another state.

That's right: Congress refuses to keep commerce regular when the commercial activity is the sale of insurance, but claims it can regulate the removal of a person's appendix because that constitutes interstate commerce.

What we have here is raw abuse of power by the federal government for political purposes. The president and his colleagues want to reward their supporters with "free" health care that the rest of us will end up paying for. Their only restraint on their exercise of Commerce Clause power is whatever they can get away with. They aren't upholding the Constitution—they are evading it.

Mr. Napolitano, who served on the bench of the Superior Court of New Jersey between 1987 and 1995, is the senior judicial analyst at the Fox News Channel. His latest book is "Dred Scott's Revenge: A Legal History of Race and Freedom in America" (Nelson, 2009).

27141  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madam, I'm Adam on: September 15, 2009, 07:44:51 AM
New Clues to Sex Anomalies in How Y Chromosomes Are Copied

NY Times
By NICHOLAS WADE
Published: September 14, 2009
The first words ever spoken, so fable holds, were a palindrome and an introduction: “Madam, I’m Adam.”


A few years ago palindromes — phrases that read the same backward as forward — turned out to be an essential protective feature of Adam’s Y, the male-determining chromosome that all living men have inherited from a single individual who lived some 60,000 years ago. Each man carries a Y from his father and an X chromosome from his mother. Women have two X chromosomes, one from each parent.

The new twist in the story is the discovery that the palindrome system has a simple weakness, one that explains a wide range of sex anomalies from feminization to sex reversal similar to Turner’s syndrome, the condition of women who carry only one X chromosome.

The palindromes were discovered in 2003 when the Y chromosome’s sequence of bases, represented by the familiar letters G, C, T and A, was first worked out by David C. Page of the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Mass., and colleagues at the DNA sequencing center at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

They came as a total surprise but one that immediately explained a serious evolutionary puzzle, that of how the genes on the Y chromosome are protected from crippling mutations.

Unlike the other chromosomes, which can repair one another because they come in pairs, one from each parent, the Y has no evident backup system. Nature has prevented it from recombining with its partner, the X, except at its very tips, lest its male-determining gene should sneak into the X and cause genetic chaos.

Discovery of the palindromes explained how the Y chromosome has managed over evolutionary time to discard bad genes: it recombines with itself. Its essential genes are embedded in a series of eight giant palindromes, some up to three million DNA units in length. Each palindrome readily folds like a hairpin, bringing its two arms together. The cell’s DNA control machinery detects any difference between the two arms and can convert a mutation back to the correct sequence, saving the Y’s genes from mutational decay.

After Dr. Page discovered the palindromes, he wondered whether the system had weaknesses that might explain the male sex chromosome anomalies that are a major object of his studies. In the current issue of Cell, with Julian Lange and others, he describes what they call the “Achilles’ heel” of the Y chromosome and the wide variety of sexual disorders that it leads to.

The danger of the palindrome protection system occurs when a cell has duplicated all its chromosomes prior to cell division, and each pair is held together at a site called the centromere. Soon, the centromere will split, with each half and its chromosome tugged to opposite sides of the dividing cell.

Before the split, however, a serious error can occur. Palindromes on one Y chromosome can occasionally reach over and form a fatal attraction with the counterpart palindrome on its neighbor. The two Y’s fuse at the point of joining, and everything from the juncture to the end of the chromosome is lost

The double-Y’s so generated come in a range of lengths, depending on which of the palindromes makes the unintended liaison. Like other chromosomes, the Y has a left arm and a right arm with the centromere in between. The male-determining gene lies close to the end of the left arm. If the palindromes at the very end of the right arm make the join, a very long double-Y results in which the two centromeres are widely separated. But if the joining palindromes are just to the right of the centromere, a short double-Y is formed in which the two centromeres lie close together.

Dr. Page detected among his patients both short and long double-Y’s and those of all lengths in between. He and his colleagues then noticed a surprising difference in the patients’ sexual appearance that depended on the length between the centromeres of their double-Y’s.

The patients in whom the distance between the Y’s two centromeres is short are males. But the greater the distance between the centromeres, the more likely the patients are to be anatomically feminized. A few of the patients were so feminized that they had the symptoms of Turner’s syndrome, a condition in which women are born with a single X chromosome.

The explanation for this spectrum of results, in Dr. Page’s view, lies in how the double-Y’s are treated in dividing cells and in the consequences for determining the sex of the fetus.

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(Page 2 of 2)



When the centromeres are close together, they are seen as one and dragged to one side of the dividing cell. As long as the Y’s male-determining gene is active in the cells of the fetal sex tissue, or gonad, the gonads will turn into testes whose hormones will masculinize the rest of the body.


But when the centromeres lie far apart, chromosomal chaos results. During cell division, both centromeres are recognized by the cell division machinery, and in the tug of war the double-Y chromosome may sometimes survive and sometimes be broken and lost to the cell.

Such individuals can carry a mixture of cells, some of which carry a double-Y and some of which carry no Y chromosome. In the fetal gonads, that mixture of cells produces people of intermediate sex. In many of these cases the patients had been raised as female but had testicular tissue on one side of the body and ovarian tissue on the other.

In the extreme version of this process, the distribution of cells may be such that none of the fetal gonad cells possess a Y chromosome, even though other cells in the body may do so. Dr. Page and his colleagues found five of the feminized patients had symptoms typical of Turner’s syndrome. The patients had been brought to Dr. Page’s attention because their blood cells contained Y chromosomes. Evidently by the luck of the draw, the blood cell lineage had retained Y chromosomes but the all important fetal gonad cells had been denied them.

In 75 percent of women with Turner’s syndrome, the single X comes from the mother. “Since they are females, everyone imagines it’s Dad’s X that is missing,” Dr. Page said. “But it could easily be Dad’s Y.”

That the degree of feminization parallels the distance between the two centromeres of the double Y chromosome is “a fantastic experiment of nature,” Dr. Page said. Despite having studied the Y chromosome for nearly 30 years, he has learned that it is always full of surprises.

“I continue to see the Y as an infinitely rich national park where we go to see unusual things, and we are never disappointed,” he said.

Dr. Cynthia Morton, editor of the American Journal of Human Genetics, said the new explanation of Turner’s syndrome was plausible. “It’s another beautiful David Page contribution to the science of genetics,” Dr. Morton said.
27142  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Crisis Suspended? on: September 15, 2009, 07:10:57 AM
I wonder if Stratfor should be considering the possiblity that our President is a clueless kitty?
====================

Iran: Crisis Suspended?
IT APPEARS THAT — FOR NOW, AT LEAST — A CRISIS OVER IRAN perhaps has been delayed. Still, a number of things are not sitting right as we re-examine the situation.

To review, the P-5+1 group (the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia and China and Germany) set a Sept. 25 deadline for Iran to enter into serious negotiations over its nuclear program. Several days later, Israel — the country most threatened by a potentially nuclear-capable Iran — deliberately made public an agreement that it had cut with Washington: Either the West would get Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions by the end of September through diplomacy or “crippling sanctions,” or Israel’s military option would be taken into serious consideration. For Israel, this deadline certainly meant something.

” In spite of Iran’s attitude toward the deadline, U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration announced Sept. 11 that it — along with the other P-5+1 powers — had accepted Tehran’s offer for unconditional talks. “
But Iran treated this deadline like the many deadlines it has circumvented in the past. First, the Iranian regime rejected the very idea of a deadline being imposed upon it. Then, more conciliatory statements were issued expressing the government’s desire to talk. Finally, just a few days before the deadline, Iran ceremoniously presented a proposal that made a mockery of Western demands. Washington made it abundantly clear that the proposal — which spoke of global nuclear disarmament, United Nations reform and everything but Iran’s nuclear program — was unsatisfactory. The Iranians evidently were not taking the deadline seriously.

But a funny thing happened over the weekend. In spite of Iran’s attitude toward the deadline, U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration announced Sept. 11 that it — along with the other P-5+1 powers — had accepted Tehran’s offer for unconditional talks. A day later, Israel — which certainly is not blind to Iran’s maneuvers — also endorsed the decision to proceed with negotiations. In an interview with Reuters, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor, who is also minister of intelligence and atomic energy, talked around the issue of the now-defunct deadline and said that “the time is now” for the world powers to respond to the Iranian nuclear threat. At the same time, Meridor emphasized that he was not referring to military action.

On the surface, it appears that Iran has danced around yet another nuclear deadline. Since it likely will take more than two weeks to organize a meeting between the P-5+1 and Iran, the sanctions deadline has effectively been defused. It’s not clear to us whether Iran actually made concessions behind the scenes to kill this deadline and stave off sanctions, but the speed with which Washington agreed to talk strikes us as odd, especially considering how much the deadline meant to Israel and the manner in which Iran appeared to have blown it off.

Israel must be watched closely in the weeks ahead. Israel’s patience for Iranian maneuvers has run out. Just as importantly, in contrast to the Obama administration, the Israelis know well that Russia is absolutely critical to any plans concerning Iran. Not only do the Russians retain the threat of selling strategic weapons to Tehran — which would complicate any future military operations against Iran’s nuclear facilities — but they have the ability to blow apart the U.S.-led sanctions regime by supplying gasoline to Iran itself, or through former Soviet surrogates like Turkmenistan. Considering how sour relations have become between Russia and the United States, the Israel can clearly see the potential for Moscow to up the ante with Washington by playing its Iran card.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu probably had all this in mind when he flew secretly to Moscow for a 14-hour visit Sept. 7, where he reportedly spoke frankly with Russia’s core leadership. According to STRATFOR sources, Netanyahu was trying to get a read on Moscow’s intentions toward Iran, but Russia’s response was not exactly comforting. Russia’s main dispute is with the United States and its apparent disregard for Moscow’s influence in the former Soviet periphery. Netanyahu apparently was told that if he wants Russia to back off on Iran, Israel will have to stay out of Russia’s way in places like Ukraine and Georgia (which have strong defense relationships with Israel) and also get Israel’s allies in Washington to start taking Russian demands more seriously.

Israel apparently got the message. Speaking on behalf of Netanyahu’s cabinet, in accepting the P-5+1 talks with Iran, Meridor said, “I don’t think Russia has an interest in a nuclear Iran. Maybe they want to be considered as a partner, not to be told what to do. I am not for or against the Russians. I am saying they are important elements. They have an important role in the world. Communism might be dead. Russia is not.”

This view starkly contrasts the message that has been put out by the Obama administration regarding Russian strength. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, in particular, enraged the Kremlin when he essentially wrote off Russia as a power too economically and demographically challenged to pose a real threat to the West any longer. It remains to be seen whether Israel can convince Washington of Russia’s leverage over Iran.

So, we are left with several disjointed realities. The Israelis understand Russian leverage concerning Iran, and they were promised crippling sanctions against Iran by Washington. Instead, Israel appears to be getting another diplomatic song and dance from Iran to buy time for its nuclear program. It would seem, then, that Israeli concerns over Iran’s nuclear program are unlikely to be satisfied anytime soon, or by another round of diplomacy.

There are a lot of moving parts that need to be tracked in this Iran saga, but in such uncertain times — and with so much at stake — potential military maneuvers will bear considerable watching amid the political rhetoric.
27143  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Wilson, 1790 on: September 15, 2009, 06:56:42 AM
Love having you kick in on this thread Freki  cool
============

"Law and liberty cannot rationally become the objects of our love, unless they first become the objects of our knowledge." --James Wilson, Of the Study of the Law in the United States, 1790
27144  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / A good night's sleep can be a challenge on: September 15, 2009, 06:55:08 AM


http://niemann.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/14/good-night-and-tough-luck/?th&emc=th
27145  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Second Amendment Sources on: September 15, 2009, 06:40:39 AM


http://www.madisonbrigade.com/library_ff.htm

==========

http://www.gunscholar.org/

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http://www.davekopel.com/2dAmendment.htm#History_and_Philosopy
27146  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: September 20, 2009 Gathering on: September 14, 2009, 08:11:38 PM
Sheep Dog tells me he is sending in his registration tomorrw!  cool
27147  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: September 14, 2009, 07:43:24 PM
 cool cool cool
27148  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CA Ammo on: September 14, 2009, 06:56:06 PM

CA members, please be aware that our Legislature passed AB962 on Friday.

Among other things, AB962 requires the fingerprinting of ammo purchasers and bans all handgun ammo sales which are not "face-to-face" (i.e. mail-order and internet sales).

In addition to handgun cartridges, AB962 is probably applicable to 'dual-use' handgun/rifle (e.g. .22LR) calibers as well. It may also apply to magazines and bullets, since "ammunition" is defined by existing law as:

"...any bullet, cartridge, magazine, clip, speed loader, autoloader, or projectile capable of being fired from a firearm with deadly consequence."

Please contact Governor Schwarzenegger and politely ask him to veto the bill. If he does not veto the bill within 30 days, it will become law.

For additional information:
http://calnra.com/legs.shtml?year=2009&summary=ab962
http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/s...d.php?t=221473

Contact information for Gov. Schwarzenegger:

Email:
http://gov.ca.gov/interact#email

Phone:
916-445-2841

Fax:
916-558-3160

Mailing Address:
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814

Here are some posts from calguns.net discussing effective talking points:

http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/s...2&postcount=50
http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/s...9&postcount=68
http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/s...9&postcount=71
http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/s...&postcount=111
http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/s...&postcount=136
http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/s...&postcount=164
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/..._sen_comm.html (scroll down to "Fiscal Impact")
27149  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Brit officer makes bayonet kill in Afg on: September 14, 2009, 04:19:52 PM
A British Lieutenant and his bayonet

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent
Published: 9:00PM BST 12 Sep 2009

British officer wins two gallantry awards for fending off Taliban attack with bayonet

A young British officer, Lieutenant James Adamson, who won two gallantry awards while serving in Afghanistan has told how he fended off an enemy attack by bayoneting a Taliban fighter to death.
Lieutenant James Adamson was awarded the Military Cross after killing two insurgents during close quarter combat in Helmand's notorious "Green Zone".

The 24-year-old officer, a member of the 5th battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, revealed that he shouted "have some of this" before shooting dead a gunman who had just emerged from a maize field.
Lt Adamson, who is single and comes from the Isle of Man, was moving between two eight man sections when a group of Taliban fighters attempted a flanking attack

Seconds later and out of ammunition, the lieutenant leapt over a river bank and killed a second insurgent machine-gunner with a single thrust of his bayonet in the man's chest.
The officer was one of 145 members of the armed services who last week received awards in the latest Operational Honours list.
In a graphic description of the intense fighting in Helmand, the officer told of the moment killed the second fighter. He said: "It was a split second decision.
"I either wasted vital seconds changing the magazine on my rifle or went over the top and did it more quickly with the bayonet.
"I took the second option. I jumped up over the bank of the river. He was just over the other side, almost touching distance.
"We caught each other's eye as I went towards him but by then, for him, it was too late. There was no inner monologue going on in my head I was just reacting in the way that I was trained.
"He was alive when it went in – he wasn't alive when it came out – it was that simple."
Recalling his feelings in the moments afterwards Lt Adamson, said: "He was young, with dark hair. He only had kind of whispy hair on his chin, not a proper beard, so he wasn't that old, maybe a teenager.
"Afterwards, when he was dead, I picked up his PKM (Russian-made belt-fed machine gun) machine gun and slung it over my back.
"We then had to wait for more of my men to join us. We thought there could be more Taliban about and we were just watching our arcs of fire, waiting for more to come out of a big field of maize which came right up to the river we had been wading through.
"One of my men, Corporal Billy Carnegie, reached us, looked at the two dead Taliban on the ground and then saw the blood on my bayonet and said "boss what the **** have you been doing?"
The firefight, in July 2008, began during the middle an operation to push the Taliban out of an area close to the town of Musa Qala in northern Helmand.
Lt Adamson's platoon of 25-men, which was leading the assault, had just halted their advance when they were attacked.

He continued: "The Taliban kept on probing us – sending in fighters to attack, first in twos then in fours.
"There was a gap between the two sections and the Taliban realised this and were sending in men to get between the two groups so they could split us up and isolate us.
"Myself and Corporal Fraser 'Hammy' Hamilton were wading nipple deep down a river which connected the two positions. Hammy was ahead when the Taliban fighter with the PKM (Russian machine gun) appeared from a maize field.
"There was an exchange of fire and 'Hammy' fired off his ammunition and then the weight of fire coming from the Taliban forced him under the water.
"The machine-gunner had also gone to ground but was still firing in our direction periodically. I had just caught up when 'Hammy' came up out of the water like a monster of the deep.
"Then another Taliban man came through the maize carrying an AK47. He was only three to four metres away.
"I immediately shot him with a burst from my rifle which was already set on automatic. He went down straight away and I knew I had hit him.
"Hammy said I shouted: 'have some of this' as I shot him but I can't remember that. I fired another burst at the PKM gunner and then that was me out of ammunition as well.
"That was when I decided to use the bayonet on him. It was a case of one second to bayonet him or two seconds to put on a fresh magazine.
"Nothing was really going through my mind but briefly I did think 'if this works out the boys will love it' – as in the rest of the platoon that I commanded.
"The undergrowth is so dense in the 'Green zone' that I often ordered bayonets fixed because you knew the distances between you and the Taliban could be very short. It is also good for morale."
His Military Cross citation read: "Adamson's supreme physical courage, combined with the calm leadership he continued to display after a very close encounter with the Taliban, were of the very highest order.
"His actions also neutralised an enemy flanking attack which could have resulted in casualties for his platoon."
Two weeks earlier Lt Adamson had won a Mention in Dispatches (MID) by leading his men in an ambush against the Taliban in the same area.
It is understood that the young lieutenant is the first member of the armed forces to receive two awards for gallantry during the same operational tour.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...h-bayonet.html
27150  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Fact checking His Glibness on: September 14, 2009, 10:02:12 AM
By SCOTT HARRINGTON
In his speech to Congress last week, President Barack Obama attempted to sell a reform agenda by demonizing the private health-insurance industry, which many people love to hate. He opened the attack by asserting: "More and more Americans pay their premiums, only to discover that their insurance company has dropped their coverage when they get sick, or won't pay the full cost of care. It happens every day."

Clearly, this should never happen to anyone who is in good standing with his insurance company and has abided by the terms of the policy. But the president's examples of people "dropped" by their insurance companies involve the rescission of policies based on misrepresentation or concealment of information in applications for coverage. Private health insurance cannot function if people buy insurance only after they become seriously ill, or if they knowingly conceal health conditions that might affect their policy.


 .Traditional practice, governed by decades of common law, statute and regulation is for insurers to rely in underwriting and pricing on the truthfulness of the information provided by applicants about their health, without conducting a costly investigation of each applicant's health history. Instead, companies engage in a certain degree of ex post auditing—conducting more detailed and costly reviews of a subset of applications following policy issue—including when expensive treatment is sought soon after a policy is issued.

This practice offers substantial cost savings and lower premiums compared to trying to verify every application before issuing a policy, or simply paying all claims, regardless of the accuracy and completeness of the applicant's disclosure. Some states restrict insurer rescission rights to instances where the misrepresented or concealed information is directly related to the illness that produced the claim. Most states do not.

To highlight abusive practices, Mr. Obama referred to an Illinois man who "lost his coverage in the middle of chemotherapy because his insurer found he hadn't reported gallstones that he didn't even know about." The president continued: "They delayed his treatment, and he died because of it."

Although the president has used this example previously, his conclusion is contradicted by the transcript of a June 16 hearing on industry practices before the Subcommittee of Oversight and Investigation of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The deceased's sister testified that the insurer reinstated her brother's coverage following intervention by the Illinois Attorney General's Office. She testified that her brother received a prescribed stem-cell transplant within the desired three- to four-week "window of opportunity" from "one of the most renowned doctors in the whole world on the specific routine," that the procedure "was extremely successful," and that "it extended his life nearly three and a half years."

The president's second example was a Texas woman "about to get a double mastectomy when her insurance company canceled her policy because she forgot to declare a case of acne." He said that "By the time she had her insurance reinstated, her breast cancer more than doubled in size."

The woman's testimony at the June 16 hearing confirms that her surgery was delayed several months. It also suggests that the dermatologist's chart may have described her skin condition as precancerous, that the insurer also took issue with an apparent failure to disclose an earlier problem with an irregular heartbeat, and that she knowingly underreported her weight on the application.

These two cases are presumably among the most egregious identified by Congressional staffers' analysis of 116,000 pages of documents from three large health insurers, which identified a total of about 20,000 rescissions from millions of policies issued by the insurers over a five-year period. Company representatives testified that less than one half of one percent of policies were rescinded (less than 0.1% for one of the companies).

If existing laws and litigation governing rescission are inadequate, there clearly are a variety of ways that the states or federal government could target abuses without adopting the president's agenda for federal control of health insurance, or the creation of a government health insurer.

Later in his speech, the president used Alabama to buttress his call for a government insurer to enhance competition in health insurance. He asserted that 90% of the Alabama health-insurance market is controlled by one insurer, and that high market concentration "makes it easier for insurance companies to treat their customers badly—by cherry-picking the healthiest individuals and trying to drop the sickest; by overcharging small businesses who have no leverage; and by jacking up rates."

In fact, the Birmingham News reported immediately following the speech that the state's largest health insurer, the nonprofit Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, has about a 75% market share. A representative of the company indicated that its "profit" averaged only 0.6% of premiums the past decade, and that its administrative expense ratio is 7% of premiums, the fourth lowest among 39 Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans nationwide.

Similarly, a Dec. 31, 2007, report by the Alabama Department of Insurance indicates that the insurer's ratio of medical-claim costs to premiums for the year was 92%, with an administrative expense ratio (including claims settlement expenses) of 7.5%. Its net income, including investment income, was equivalent to 2% of premiums in that year.

In addition to these consumer friendly numbers, a survey in Consumer Reports this month reported that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama ranked second nationally in customer satisfaction among 41 preferred provider organization health plans. The insurer's apparent efficiency may explain its dominance, as opposed to a lack of competition—especially since there are no obvious barriers to entry or expansion in Alabama faced by large national health insurers such as United Healthcare and Aetna.

Responsible reform requires careful analysis of the underlying causes of problems in health insurance and informed debate over the benefits and costs of targeted remedies. The president's continued demonization of private health insurance in pursuit of his broad agenda of government expansion is inconsistent with that objective.

Mr. Harrington is professor of health-care management and insurance and risk management at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and an adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
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