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27501  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: July 03, 2007, 08:48:41 AM
Deadly Double Standards
July 3, 2007; Page A16

Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt is a U.S. Marine who served in combat in Haditha, Iraq, and whose actions on the battlefield have made him the focus of an investigation. He is charged with committing three counts of unpremeditated murder on Nov. 19, 2005. Recently, I had the distinct honor of testifying for him at an Article 32 Hearing at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

I will not comment on the specifics of his case. But I will offer a few observations about how this country is judging its young warriors for decisions they make in the heat of battle and the effect that judgment may have on our ability to wage war. Lt. Col. Paul Yingling recently gained a lot of media attention for writing that "a private who loses a rifle suffers more consequence than a general who loses a war." Nowhere is that more true than in the administration of justice for decisions made on the battlefield.

The Defense Department's "rules of engagement" allow commanders to make decisions on how to conduct combat operations. They are given wide latitude up front to decide what level of force a specific mission calls for -- whether to conduct a very limited engagement, whether to call in an air strike or conduct other actions that may result in civilian casualties. Their decisions are often informed by whether they are dealing with known enemy combatants or high-value targets. Depending on the number of potential civilian casualties and the type of weapons systems employed, they can order a target to be bombed without fear of legal consequence (assistance payments, called solatia, made when civilians are injured or killed or property is damaged, are not admissions of legal liability or fault). These commanders often have minutes, hours and sometimes days to make decisions. And they're not under hostile fire.

Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in the middle of a deadly firefight, however, often have only a split second to make similar decisions against a determined, civilian-dressed enemy. And the immediate consequence of making the wrong decision can mean getting yourself or someone in your unit killed. It therefore is unconscionable to apply higher standards and expectations to a younger, less-experienced Marine than to a commander in an operations center far from the battlefield. This isn't to say commanders should face tighter legal standards, but rather a call for the same deference for a rifleman who learns only in hindsight that he may have killed civilians.

In civilian law-enforcement settings, the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held that cops who exercise the use of deadly force in the line of duty can't be sued, still less prosecuted, for their actions so long as they acted reasonably under the circumstances. Bad results do not mean bad decisions. Police officers, unlike soldiers, are not forced to raise an affirmative defense of self-defense; rather, the government has the initial burden of proving that the police officer's actions were unreasonable. We should provide at least the same level of deference to our warriors making decisions in a combat zone that we do to cops patrolling the streets of America.

We should also protect our warriors from the caterwauling of those such as the Washington Post reporters who "broke" the Haditha story and from those in the military who are more concerned about maintaining an "appearance of propriety" than in killing our determined enemies. Neither the law nor decency allows for the willful killing of innocent civilians. There need to be, however, allowances for unintended and unfortunate consequences.

When it comes to applying the correct legal standard, those judging the actions of warriors in combat should recognize the tactical realities of an engagement. It may be legally and morally appropriate under certain circumstances to kill "unarmed" individuals, such as those actively acting as lookouts for the emplacement of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) or participating in the network of conspirators building such devices. In a recent Time magazine article a jihadist named Abdallah is quoted saying: "They are not going to defeat me with technology. If they want to get rid of IEDs, they have to kill me and everyone like me." Our young Marines are able and willing to make that happen, if only our leaders will display the moral courage to allow them to do so without fear of prosecution.

We have become our own worst enemy. Sadly, it is not the law that creates these restrictions, but rather an overly-restrictive interpretation of it by some commanders and their lawyers. Hopefully, the military will adopt a self-defense deadly-force policy akin to the FBI's, which reads in part that individual agents will not "be judged in the clear vision of 20-20 hindsight," but rather, based on how a reasonable person would act under situations that are "tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving." I can think of no circumstance more tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving than that faced by our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in the current counterinsurgency fight in Iraq.

Lt. Col. Bolgiano is the author of "Combat Self Defense: Saving America's Warriors from Risk-Averse Commanders and Their Lawyers" (Little White Wolf Books, 2007). His views do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Defense

27502  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: July 4th on: July 03, 2007, 08:45:06 AM
Second post of the morning:


'Wonderfully Spared'
July 3, 2007; Page A17

'You and I have been wonderfully spared," Thomas Jefferson wrote John Adams in 1812. "Of the signers of the Declaration of Independence I see now living not more than half a dozen on your side of the Potomak, and, on this side, myself alone." Jefferson and Adams were not merely signers of the Declaration. Both sat on the committee that drafted the document, and Jefferson wrote it. And while they later became bitter political opponents, they reconciled in their last years.

Adams, the Yankee lawyer, revolutionary, Founding Father and ex-president, was 77 in 1812; Jefferson, the Southern aristocrat, revolutionary, Founder and ex-president, was 69. Both were mentally acute but frail. Jefferson spent three to four hours a day on horseback and could scarcely walk, Adams walked three to four miles a day and could scarcely ride.

John Trumbull's "Declaration of Independence"
They would never see each other again. But from a modest farm in Quincy, Mass., and a plantation in Virginia they corresponded and reminisced about the days when they were "fellow laborers in the same cause, struggling for what is most valuable to man, his right of self-government."

It's easy now, in a nation awash with complaints about what our Founders did not do, what imperfect humans they seem to 21st century eyes, to overlook how startlingly bold their views and actions were in their own day and are, in fact, even today. Who else in 1776 declared, let alone thought it a self-evident truth, that all men were created equal, entitled to inalienable rights, or to any rights at all? How few declare these views today or, glibly declaring them, really intend to treat their countrymen or others as equal, entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

Certainly not America's 20th century enemies, the Nazis and communists; certainly not today's Islamic radicals, who consider infidels unworthy to live and the faithful bound by an ancient and brutal code of law. We are fortunate that the Founders of our nation were enlightened, generous, jealous of their rights and those of their countrymen, and prepared to risk everything to create a free republic.

Breaking with Britain was a risky and distressing venture; could the American colonies go it alone and survive in a world of great European powers? If not, what better empire than the British? It took a year of fighting before the Continental Congress and the states were prepared to declare independence. "We might have been a free and a great people together," Jefferson sighed.

But if we were angry at British treatment, we were also lucky that Britain was our mother country. The British taught us respect for the rights of individuals, for limited government, for the rule of law and how such values could be realized. "An Englishman is the unfittest person on earth to argue another Englishman into slavery," Edmund Burke insisted, pleading our cause before Parliament in March, 1775.

Scores of distinguished British officers refused commissions to fight against us. Some, who were willing, were reluctant to press their advantage over our literally rag-tag army. The British parliament wrangled day after day over the fitful progress of the war. And when it was over and, thanks to French assistance, we had won, Britain was careful in negotiating the peace treaty for fear we would fall under the influence and control of the French or the Spanish. We would fight against Britain again, but over the centuries the common heritage that connects our two peoples has brought us together as close allies.

We were lucky in our generals. Unlike the commanders of nearly all revolutionary armies before and since, George Washington resisted the temptation to seize power. After England's civil war between King Charles I and parliament, Oliver Cromwell, Parliament's leading general, evicted what remained of parliament and made himself "Lord Protector." The great expectations of the French Revolution ended when Napoleon Bonaparte staged a coup against the republican government and later crowned himself emperor.

Not only do victorious generals have a nasty habit of taking over, but once an army becomes entangled in politics it is extraordinarily difficult to remove it from public affairs. Numerous modern countries have tried to control their armies and failed.

Washington prevented a coup by his officers; and when the war was over, he bid a moving farewell to his men and staff before appearing before Congress to resign his commission: "Having now finished the work assigned to me, I retire from the great theatre of Action . . . and take my leave of all the employments of public life." Then he hurried off to spend Christmas with Martha and their family. Although it sounds sentimental, trite even, it happened that way.

In their correspondence, Adams wrote Jefferson that the future would "depend on the Union" and asked how that Union was to be preserved. "The Union is still to me an Object of as much Anxiety as ever Independence was," he confided.

He was right to worry. The union has always been difficult, from the first fears that the 13 separate states would behave as competing countries or bickering groups, through a brutal and painful civil war whose wounds have yet to entirely heal, to a vast, modern land whose residents, taking for granted the blessings bestowed upon them, are deeply divided and quick to vilify each other.

More tragically, some seem to enjoy vilifying America, everything it has been and stands for, seeking and finding fatal shortcomings. Adams and Jefferson were not blind to those shortcomings. "We think ourselves possessed or at least we boast that we are so of Liberty of conscience on all subjects and of the right of free inquiry and private judgment, in all cases and yet," Adams admitted, "how far are we from these exalted privileges in fact." Recent moments of real unity after 9/11, when members of Congress stood together on the steps of the Capitol and sang "God Bless America," have been fleeting.

In 1825 Jefferson wrote to congratulate Adams on the election of his son John Quincy to the presidency -- an election so close it was decided in the House of Representatives. "So deeply are the principles of order, and of obedience to law impressed on the minds of our citizens generally that I am persuaded there will be as immediate an acquiescence in the will of the majority," Jefferson assured him, "as if Mr. Adams had been the choice of every man." He closed: "Nights of rest to you and days of tranquility are the wishes I tender you with my affect[iona]te respects."

On July 4 the following year, as the nation celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, its two frail signers died within hours of each other. Their cause, "struggling for what is most valuable to man, his right of self-government," continues in the nation they launched, still fraught with aspirations and anxieties, flaws and divisions but, one hopes, with the ability to reconcile as they did, to work together for the joint venture.

Ms. Malcolm teaches legal history at George Mason University School of Law and is the author of several books, including "Stepchild of the Revolution: A Slave Child in Revolutionary America," forthcoming from Yale University Press.

27503  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: July 4th on: July 03, 2007, 08:29:40 AM
Escape From New York
Even Gen. Washington didn't win every battle.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

In 1776 Lt. Col. Thomas Knowlton seemed to be precisely the kind of military officer the American military needed to win the Revolution. He was a veteran of the French and Indian War two decades earlier. He proved to be a supreme leader of men in combat outside Boston. And he was tapped by Gen. George Washington to start a new elite military unit--Knowlton's Rangers--that was capable of operating behind enemy lines.

On Sept. 16, 1776, in a skirmish in northern Manhattan now known as the Battle of Harlem Heights, Knowlton was preparing a surprise attack against crack British troops when his unit's position was given away. Knowlton knew what was at stake. That summer the British had landed some 34,000 troops in Staten Island--an invasion about the size of the U.S. surge in Iraq over the last few months--and ferried them into what is now Brooklyn. Using diversionary tactics and a night march, the British outflanked Washington's army in late August, trapping it against the East River. The American Army and the Revolution might have been crushed on the spot.

Realizing his peril, Washington slipped his troops out of Brooklyn and across the East River into Manhattan in the dead of night and then retreated up the island into Harlem. In mid-September, with the British bearing down on him, Washington was desperate to escape from New York. Knowlton's forces had stumbled across advance British units, briefly retreated and then re-engaged as part of a larger military maneuver. When he lost the element of surprise, Knowlton might have opted to pull back. But he led an attack instead and was killed. Today he is remembered in an award handed out by the Military Intelligence Corps Association to those who distinguish themselves in the service of army intelligence.

It is often remarked that in deciding to rebel against the most powerful European empire in the world, the Founding Fathers risked losing everything. What is too often forgotten is that many of those who joined the rebellion did lose everything. About 40 miles north of where Col. Knowlton fell rest the remains of another often-forgotten skirmish of the Revolution. Inside what is now Bear Mountain State Park, not far from West Point, fortifications were built to stop the British from gaining control of the Hudson River and with it the ability to split New England and eastern New York from the rest of the country, which might have allowed the British to pacify less rebellious Southern states.
American soldiers had stretched a large chain across the Hudson, built fortifications and waited. A year after Washington was driven from New York City, the British launched an ambitious campaign. Gen. John Burgoyne was dispatched to move south from Canada and link up with other British forces, some of whom would sail up the Hudson. In October 1777, the king's army arrived in the Hudson Valley, assaulted the fortifications and, with a final bayonet charge, defeated the Americans. They then broke the chain.

Those who defended the redoubt that still stands today held off waves of British soldiers before finally being defeated. And their gallantry wasn't in vain. By forcing the British to take the valley by force, the Americans set in motion a series of events that would help win the war. Burgoyne didn't receive the support he needed and ended up, after dragging his forces through miles of wilderness to the outskirts of Albany, defeated at Saratoga, N.Y. He surrendered his army of some 6,000 men, a stunning defeat for the British that convinced the French to enter the war.

Today it seems that every soldier killed in action and every minor skirmish involving American troops is front-page news. But 231 years after the Declaration of Independence was ratified by the Continental Congress, we seem to have lost sight of the everyday heroics and sacrifices that made this republic possible. The Revolutionary War took eight years to win, with many defeats and setbacks along the way. We owe those who stuck with it and made those sacrifices more than we know.

Mr. Miniter is assistant editor of His column appears Tuesdays.
27504  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: July 03, 2007, 08:20:02 AM
NY Times

Expressing frustration with the lack of a federal immigration law overhaul, Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona signed a bill yesterday providing what are thought to be the toughest state sanctions in the country against employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants.

Ms. Napolitano, a Democrat, called the bill flawed and suggested that the Arizona Legislature reconvene to repair problems with it, but she nevertheless moved forward “because Congress has failed miserably,” she wrote in a statement.

The bill requires employers to verify the legal status of their employees. If they fail to do so, they risk having their business licenses suspended. A second offense could result in the “business death penalty,” a permanent revocation of the state business license, effectively preventing a business from operating in the state.

Ms. Napolitano said she was concerned, among other problems, that under the law hospitals and nursing homes could end up shuttered because of hiring one illegal immigrant. She also said the bill did not provide enough money for the state attorney general to investigate complaints.

Although federal law already makes it a crime to hire illegal workers, supporters of the Arizona bill have said enforcement is lax.

Ms. Napolitano sent a letter to Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Arizona and the majority leader, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, saying Congressional inaction on immigration was forcing states to act.

Ms. Napolitano’s decision had been anxiously awaited in Arizona, the state where more people cross illegally into the United States than any other.

Last year, Ms. Napolitano vetoed an employer-sanctions bill, saying that its language was flawed and that it would not achieve its goals.
27505  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia on: July 03, 2007, 08:18:17 AM
NY Times
Published: July 3, 2007

KENNEBUNKPORT, Me., July 2 — Announcing that he was “here to play,” President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said Monday that after two days of meetings with President Bush, he was ready to expand on his proposal for a shared missile-defense system with the United States, a step he said would take American-Russian relations to “an entirely new level” of cooperation.

Video: News Conference With Bush and PutinBut the system he described would be mostly under Russian control and built on Russian terms. And, even as Mr. Putin portrayed the proposal as a compromise, it represented a continued rejection of an American plan to base a missile-defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland, which Mr. Bush says is necessary to combat potential new threats from nations seeking nuclear weapons, like Iran.

Mr. Putin sees that system as a potential threat to Russia, and he proposed that his alternative system be developed jointly by the NATO-Russia Council, a cooperative formed in 2002.

The proposal surprised the Americans and seemed likely to lead to still more haggling after a set of meetings here that had been portrayed mostly as an attempt to smooth over differences both sides consider to be the most daunting since Mr. Bush took office.

Mr. Putin’s new plan would continue to include a site in Azerbaijan that he proposed last month as an alternative to the American system and that the Americans have described as insufficient. But Mr. Putin said he was prepared to modernize the Azerbaijan radar and include another early-detection system in southern Russia, along with information-sharing sites in Moscow and Brussels.

“In this case, there would be no need to place any more facilities in Europe — I mean, these facilities in Czech Republic and the missile base in Poland,” Mr. Putin said as he and Mr. Bush fielded questions after their meetings.

American and NATO officials have said that the Azerbaijan site is less useful than those selected for Poland and the Czech Republic because it is too close to Iran to intercept missiles fired from there.

Mr. Bush indicated that Mr. Putin’s new plan did not at first glance satisfy his concerns. “I think it’s innovative, I think it’s strategic,” Mr. Bush said. “But as I told Vladimir, I think that the Czech Republic and Poland need to be an integral part of the system.”

Speaking later, Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, said Mr. Putin’s new proposal was a good sign that he was willing to work with the United States and NATO to create a missile-defense system.

Mr. Bush had never before met as president with a foreign leader here at Walker’s Point, the serene seaside vacation property of his parents.

The location was a reminder of the presidency of Mr. Bush’s father, during which the cold war ended and Russia and the United States heralded a new era of cooperation. Mr. Putin’s discussion of a strategic defense partnership would have been unimaginable at the start of the senior Bush’s term.

But the subtext of disagreement about the system was a reminder of the new complications between the United States and Russia as they continue to jockey for global position. So, too, were jabs by Mr. Putin at Mr. Bush for questions about the intelligence leading up to the Iraq war, and the issue of torture, raised recently by the CNN host Larry King, among others, while interviewing George J. Tenet, the former C.I.A. director.

“If you remember how Larry King tortured the former C.I.A. director, you would also understand that there are some other problems and issues, as well, in this world,” Mr. Putin said in a reflection of his reported frustration with what he views as American lecturing on democracy. “We have common problems.”

Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin initially approached reporters with an air of stiff determination that dissipated when they discussed their morning fishing trip, during which Mr. Putin caught a striped bass — Mr. Bush and his father caught no fish in three outings this visit.

The leaders did not announce any breakthroughs on independence for Kosovo, though Mr. Hadley said the United States and Russia would announce this week that they had finalized the details of a pact on sharing nuclear materials that they agreed on last year.

They also did not announce any agreement on new sanctions against Iran for its uranium enrichment program, with Mr. Bush saying he and Mr. Putin agreed that they needed to send a forceful message together, but with Mr. Putin pointing to possible new signs of Iranian cooperation with international inspectors.

But neither side expected Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin to announce any big breakthroughs. The radar proposal, however, did come as a surprise to the Americans, who were caught off guard last month when Mr. Putin first announced his Azerbaijan plan.

Late Sunday night, Mr. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, said there would be no surprise announcements from Kennebunkport.

Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, a private research group in Washington, called the new proposal “a minor modification” of that earlier plan, saying it appeared to have similar shortcomings.

But other experts said it was still a positive sign that Mr. Putin was engaged and looking for alternatives. “We’re beyond the point where Putin shows up and says, ‘Over my dead body,’ ” said Julianne Smith, a Europe expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

The Americans said the whole point of inviting Mr. Putin here was to bring the leaders together in a way that would discourage that sort of loggerheads from either side. And in that respect both sides said the trip went well.

Chatting with reporters, the first President Bush said Mr. Putin rode around on a Segway standing vehicle — which Mr. Bush once famously fell off here — and that the Bushes gave it to him as a gift.

Then there was the fishing. Though Mr. Putin showed up his hosts, he was gracious: “That was a team effort, and we let it go to the captain,” he said, later correcting himself to say they threw the fish back.

Nicholas Kulish contributed reporting from New York.
27506  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Thank allah for bad jihadi driving and poorly built bombs..... on: July 03, 2007, 08:13:46 AM
A second post from the NY Times:

Published: July 3, 2007

NEWCASTLE-UNDER-LYME, England, July 2 — Mohammed Asha, the Jordanian-trained doctor who has been arrested, though not charged, in the terrorism plots in the Britain last week, was proud of his career accomplishments but fretful about his welcome in English society, friends and acquaintances in Jordan and Britain said Monday.

Medical Workers Emerge as Focus in British Inquiry (July 3, 2007) In this town in the English Midlands where Dr. Asha settled, Simon Plant, 34, recalled in an interview that when Dr. Asha and his wife were interested in renting a modest red brick three-bedroom house last year on a cul-de-sac named Sunningdale Grove, Dr. Asha had a pressing question on his mind. “He seemed very concerned about racism in the area,” Mr. Plant said.

Mr. Plant said that it soon became apparent to him that Dr. Asha’s wife, who was arrested with him on the nearby M6 highway late on Saturday, had experienced racism in the community where the family had lived in Shrewsbury in Shropshire. “It was weighing on him,” he said.

Mr. Plant remembered telling the doctor that race was not an issue in his community, where Dr. Asha, his wife and young son moved in August of last year, renting the Plant home for about $1,000 per month.

He said that the Ashas were model tenants, but that Dr. Asha, a Palestinian with Jordanian citizenship, had something of a condescending manner. “He got a slight attitude,” said Mr. Plant, an elevator engineer. “He had a sense of self-importance about being a doctor. You could definitely feel it.”

It was widely reported Monday that a second doctor was also arrested in the case.

Dr. Asha, 26, whose specialty is neurosurgery, recently started work at the North Staffordshire Hospital in Stoke-on-Trent. According to the General Medical Council in Britain, Mohammed Jamil Abdelqader Asha completed his medical studies in Jordan in 2004. His limited registration allowed him to work for the National Health Service under supervision. Until last July, he worked as a doctor at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and the Princess Royal Hospital, both in Telford.

Neighbors said the family was insular, but in the last few weeks two men who appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent had started staying with the Ashas at the house.

Chris Shaw, a postal worker who delivered mail to the Asha family, said he was struck that over the last three months or so, Dr. Asha started receiving more packages and certified mail than usual.

“He would just sign for it and go back inside the house without saying much,” Mr. Shaw recalled. He added that Dr. Asha seemed bright, educated, courteous and European in his style of dress.

Not far from the Sunningdale Grove house on Monday, law enforcement authorities were searching a second home in Newcastle under-Lyme on Priam Close. Authorities initially searched the residence on Saturday night.

Mr. Plant said Dr. Asha often dressed in traditional Muslim attire, as did his wife, who would retreat upstairs whenever Mr. Plant came to tend to a maintenance problem.

Others recalled that Dr. Asha alternated between wearing Muslim garb and Western clothing, like white dress shirts and suit pants.

Dr. Asha and his wife, who wore a hijab to cover her head, stood out in a closely knit community that does not have much of a Muslim population.

As for the home where the family lived for nearly a year — where medical books were scattered about — authorities were stripping the inside paneling and tearing up the drains as part of their investigation. No evidence has emerged publicly against Dr. Asha and no details have been released as to what his role in any plot was presumed to be. A person close to the investigation said Mrs. Asha seemed peripheral to any plot.

In the Middle East, his life seemed set for a different trajectory. “He was brilliant, a genius,” said Dr. Azmi Mufazhal, who taught him immunology during his third year, and who got to know him over three years as assistant dean of the Jordan University Medical School. “He would know his subject so well that his questioning often sounded like an interrogation.”

He was so focused on his work that Dr. Mahafzal said he once encouraged his student to drop the books and go out and have fun.

Dr. Asha was born in Saudi Arabia. In 1991, his family moved to Amman, Jordan, where his father said he thought his children had a chance at a better education. In Amman, they lived in a squalid neighborhood where Islamists own the streets.

Mohammed Asha was interested in science from a young age and was an aggressive competitor. Teachers and friends said that in school, Dr. Asha would stop at nothing to get to the top.

He married Marwa Younis after medical school at 23, and they moved to England where he studied on a British government fellowship.

In an interview on Monday at his home in Amman, Jamil Asha, 55, Dr. Asha’s father, dismissed as preposterous the idea that his son could be a terrorist. He insisted that his son had been accused of exactly the opposite of what he had aspired to: saving lives and helping people. “He couldn’t be further from any of this,” Mr. Asha said.

Mr. Asha said he talked to his son almost weekly and last spoke to him on Thursday when he called his parents to discuss a planned trip home. He sounded happy, his father said.

Mohammed Asha, they said, was religious but not extremist. Unlike many other medical students at the school, he had no political affiliation and rarely took part in political rallies on campus, Dr. Mufazhal said. Instead, he eschewed politics for his studies and family life.

But he also had something of a temper, and rarely took criticism well, a trait that some teachers worried would get him into trouble some day. He was articulate and frank, some said, but thin-skinned.

None of that, however, would make him a militant, they insisted. “He’s not the kind of guy who would risk his future like that,” Dr. Mufazhal said. “He had one ambition, which was to be a distinguished physician.”

Serge F. Kovaleski reported from Newcastle-Under-Lyme, and Hassan M. Fattah from Amman, Jordan.
27507  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Thank allah for bad jihadi driving and poorly built bombs..... on: July 03, 2007, 08:09:32 AM
Today's NY Times:

LONDON, Tuesday, July 3 — British police officials investigating the failed car bombings in London and Glasgow focused Monday on suspects in the medical profession, including a doctor from Jordan, another from Iraq, and medical workers or students. As many as five of the seven people arrested so far in Britain appear to have such links.

Skip to next paragraph
Timeline: Car Bomb Plots

A Surgeon’s Trajectory Takes an Unlikely Swerve (July 3, 2007)
Security Is Tightened Across London and at All British Airports (July 3, 2007) The inquiry also spread to Australia, where the Australian attorney general, Philip Ruddock, said Tuesday that the police in Brisbane had arrested a foreign resident of the country who had been employed there at a hospital.

The seeming connection to medical personnel troubled many Britons used to seeing the profession as a bastion of trustworthiness and benevolence. Many of the staff at the state-run National Health Service hospitals are foreigners. For the public, moreover, the number of health professionals under arrest offered a baffling departure from images of home-grown Islamic terrorists, many with family roots in Pakistan, implicated in previous conspiracies.

The police now are investigating whether the same people were behind the attack in Glasgow and the attempted attack in London, a senior Western official said Monday. They had already described the events as linked in the way they were planned and carried out.

Three people were arrested Monday, including the hospital worker in Australia and two other people at a residential facility attached to the Royal Alexandra Hospital close to Glasgow that has become central to the investigation.

British news reports, relatives and a person close to the investigation identified two of the detained medical doctors as Mohammed Asha, from Jordan, and Bilal Abdullah, from Iraq. A 26-year-old man arrested in Liverpool over the weekend may also have been either a medical student or a doctor, a person close to the investigation said.

Dr. Asha, 26, was arrested late Saturday when police officers in unmarked cars boxed in his car on the M6 highway in northwestern England and forced it to a halt. He was accompanied by his wife, who was also arrested. Contrary to earlier reports identifying him as an Iranian Kurd, Dr. Asha was said by a Jordanian official to be a Jordanian of Palestinian descent.

Dr. Abdullah was seen in amateur recordings as being arrested and led away by the police after two men tried to ram a Jeep Cherokee into the entrance of Glasgow’s airport on Saturday afternoon. British medical records said he qualified in Baghdad in 2004 and had been licensed to practice in British hospitals as a doctor under supervision since August 2006.

The inquiry spread to Australia because the suspect there had been a roommate of one of the detainees in Britain, an Australian official who spoke on condition of anonymity said. Mr. Ruddock, speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, declined to identify the nationality of the 27-year-old man they arrested, but said he had been seized at the request of the British authorities. The suspect had not been on a watch-list, officials who spoke at the news conference said.

The man was arrested at the international airport at Brisbane as he tried to board a flight late Monday with a one-way ticket, Mr. Ruddock said. He was working at the Gold Coast Hospital in Queensland, Mr. Ruddock added.

There were strong indications on Monday that the Scottish police had been on the trail of two of the attackers on Saturday before they rammed the Jeep Cherokee into the entrance doors of Glasgow airport, setting the car alight. Investigators had used both cellphone and highly sophisticated closed circuit television technology on Britain’s highways to trace the men, according to several accounts, including one by a Western law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Law enforcement officials in the United States and Britain said Monday that intelligence agencies investigating the failed attacks had so far discovered no direct link to personnel of Al Qaeda or training camps.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Sunday that “the nature of the threat that we are dealing with is Al Qaeda and people who are related to Al Qaeda.”

But a British security official who spoke on condition of anonymity under government rules said that Mr. Brown, in office for only days, was probably “describing the ideology” of Islamic fundamentalism and that it was “far too early” to speak of a direct link to Qaeda personnel.

A senior Western law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there was “no indication of any outside direction” and “no connection with the United States whatsoever.

“Nothing from phone contacts, nor any other way,” he added. “There has never been any connection of any kind in the U.S.”

Page 2 of 2)

The conspiracy to detonate cars laden with gasoline and gas canisters seemed markedly different in its tactics from some recent terrorism plots in Britain — notably the July 7, 2005, suicide bombing attacks on London’s transportation system — drawing on disaffected young British Muslims, often of Pakistani descent, using homemade explosives.

A British security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the latest attackers may have been forced to rely on a crude and ultimately ineffective cocktail of gas canisters and gasoline because of government and police efforts to curb sales of potentially explosive substances like fertilizer and hydrogen peroxide.

The attack in Glasgow followed the discovery of two cars laden with gasoline, gas canisters and nails in London on Friday.

A senior Western law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said British investigators had been greatly helped by closed circuit television cameras on Britain’s highways that pick up details of every license plate.

As soon as the police had noted the license plate numbers from the cars in central London and from the Jeep that crashed in Glasgow, computers quickly traced the cars’ movements over the past several days.

(MD: This is an extraordinary level of surveilance of which the UK govt is now capable.  Apparently it worked to the good here, but deeply troubling implications remain.)

In addition, evidence emerged on Monday that call records of a cellphone found in one of the abandoned Mercedes sedans in London had led investigators to a house near Glasgow used by at least one of the suspected airport attackers. The discovery was made before the attack.

Daniel Gardiner, who owns the rental agency that leased the house, said the police had contacted his agency early Saturday to ask about the London car bombs. The attack on Glasgow airport took place at around 3:15 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.

In an interview on Monday, Mr. Gardiner said the police had contacted a colleague because his agency’s phone number had appeared on a cellphone found inside one car.

Mr. Gardiner said he was not much help because he was unable to recall when or why his agency had called the number. And he said his office had no record of such a call.

After the airport attack, Mr. Gardiner said, the police contacted him again, asking if he had done business with any of the people in custody. Mr. Gardiner said he confirmed having rented a house at 6 Neuk Crescent in the village of Houston to one suspect in the airport attack.

The leasing agent refused to identify his former client.

The link to hospitals and the medical profession has taken several unexplained twists.

On Monday afternoon, bomb disposal crews detonated at least one car they suspected might be carrying explosives at a doctor’s dormitory outside the Royal Alexandra Hospital, in Paisley, a suburb of Glasgow. One of the men who attacked Glasgow Airport on Saturday is being treated for severe burns at the same hospital.

Although the involvement of foreign medical professionals seemed to be a departure from what is publicly known about the terrorist threat facing Britain, a British security official said law enforcement agencies had in fact monitored other cases involving threats drawing together people of several nationalities.

In Scotland, the Strathclyde police said the arrests Monday of the two men, ages 25 and 28, that occurred in the residential hostel at the Royal Alexandra Hospital followed a night of “intensive police operations.”

British officials said investigators were assessing whether they had rounded up the cell involved in the attack and attempted attack, while one Western official said the British authorities were “pretty confident” that they had rounded up the people behind the plot.

27508  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 03, 2007, 07:56:50 AM
From today's NY Times-- what are the implications here?

BAGHDAD, July 2 — Agents of Iran helped plan a January raid in Shiite holy city of Karbala in Iraq in which five American soldiers were killed by Islamic militants, an American military spokesman said Monday. The charge was the most specific allegation of Iranian involvement in an attack that killed American troops, at a time of rising tensions with Iran over its role in Iraq and its nuclear program.

Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Bergner, the military spokesman here, said an elite unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, a force under the control of Iran’s most powerful religious leaders, had used veterans of the Lebanese Islamic militia group Hezbollah as a “proxy” to train, arm and plan attacks by an array of Shiite militant cells in Iraq.
One high-ranking Hezbollah commander from Lebanon was captured in Basra in March, and after weeks of pretending that he could not hear or speak, he gave American interrogators details of the Iranian role, the general said.

Earlier briefings by the American command on accusations about an Iranian role focused on technical analyses of arms said to have been supplied by Iran to Shiite militias in Iraq, including explosively formed penetrators, an exceptionally lethal form of bomb responsible for killing 170 American soldiers as of February and a substantial number since.

But some critics said the evidence was circumstantial and charged that the Americans appeared to be offering a new rationale for maintaining or increasing the military commitment in Iraq.

The briefings on Monday shifted the focus from the weapons to what General Bergner described as a network of secret militant cells armed, financed and directed by the Iranians. He said the information was drawn from interrogations of three men captured in a raid in Basra on May 20, and from documents found with them.

He identified the three men by name and said one was a Lebanese Hezbollah agent and two were Iraqi Shiites working as agents for the Quds Force, the elite Iranian unit. He did not present transcripts of the interrogations or the seized documents for inspection. The general said the captured men had been deeply involved in organizing Iranian-backed militia cells, including the one that killed the Americans.

It was the first time that the United States had charged that Iranian officials had helped plan operations against American troops in Iraq and had advance knowledge of a specific attack that led to the death of American soldiers. In effect, the United States is charging that Iran has been engaged in a proxy war against American, British and Iraqi forces here in an effort to shore up Iranian Shiite militant allies in Iraq and to raise the cost of the American military presence here.

General Bergner, seemingly keen to avoid a renewal of the criticism that the American command has used the allegations of Iranian interference here to lend momentum to the Bush administration’s war policy, declined to draw any broader political implications, although he did say that American intelligence indicated that “the senior leadership in Iran is aware of this activity.”

A statement by the Iranian Foreign Ministry rejected the American claims, describing them as “fabricated and ridiculous.”

Much of the briefing centered on the captured Hezbollah agent, known to the American command as “Hamid the Mute” because Hamid was part of the false name he gave after his capture and because of the weeks he spent after his capture pretending that he could not speak or hear. The man, identified as Ali Musa Daqduq, was said by General Bergner to be a Lebanese citizen with a 24-year history in Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group based in southern Lebanon.

General Bergner said Mr. Daqduq had previously commanded a Hezbollah special operations unit and “coordinated protection” for Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader. The general said Mr. Daqduq had been sent by Hezbollah to Iran in 2005 with orders to work with the Quds Force, an elite unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, to train “Iraqi extremists.”

In the past year, the general said, Mr. Daqduq made four trips to Iraq, to report on the training and operations of underground militia cells, and to organize them in ways that mirrored Hezbollah’s structure.

“He also helped the Quds Force in training Iraqis inside Iran,” the general said, taking groups of 20 to 60 Iraqis at a time to three camps in the vicinity of Tehran and instructing them in the use of shaped charges, mortars, rockets and “intelligence, sniper and kidnapping operations.”

Page 2 of 2)

The general said the cells had been responsible for much violence. “I think the reality of this is that they’re killing American forces, they’re killing Iraqis, they’re killing Iraqi security forces, and they are disrupting the stability in Iraq,” he said.

Another senior American official said Mr. Daqduq had pretended to be unable to hear or speak, probably to disguise his Lebanese-accented Arabic. Later, the official said, he admitted in notes to his interrogators that he could hear. Finally, he passed a note saying that he could speak but that he would not do so until May 1. Presumably, the temporary silence was intended to give others a chance to get away. On that day, the official said, “he did talk, and he’s been quite talkative ever since.”
The official said the shift had been achieved without harming Mr. Daqduq. “We don’t torture,” the official said. “We follow scrupulously the interrogation techniques in the Army’s new field manual, which forbids torture, and has the force of law.”

The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Mohammad Hosseini Ali Hosseini, said the American attempt to blame the Quds Force for instigating violence in Iraq was part of a wider pattern of baseless allegations. “It has been four and a half years that U.S. officials have sought to cover up the dreadful situation in Iraq, which is a result of their mistakes and wrong strategies, by denigration and blaming others,” he said.

When the Karbala attack was carried out on Jan. 20, American and Iraqi officials said it had been meticulously planned. The attackers carried forged identity cards, wore American-style uniforms and drove vehicles of a kind used by Americans here. One American was killed at the start of the raid, and the other Americans were captured, then shot to death and dumped beside the road.

Some officials speculated at the time that the goal of the raid might have been to exchange the Americans for Iranian officials American forces had seized in Iraq and identified as members of the Quds Force, not diplomats as the Iranians claimed. General Bergner said the evidence of Iranian involvement in the Karbala killings came from interrogations of Qais Khazali, an Iraqi Shiite who oversaw operations of the Iranian-supported cells in Iraq that were under the direction of Mr. Daqduq, and who was seized in the same raid, along with another militant, Laith Khazali, his brother.

Along with the three men, the Americans also seized a 22-page document they had on the Karbala attack, General Bergner said. That document, he said, showed that the Quds Force had gathered detailed information on the activities of American soldiers in Karbala, including shift changes and the defenses at the site where they were seized. The general said other information about attacks by the Iranian-supported groups came from Mr. Daqduq’s personal journal and other documents.

“Both Ali Musa Daqduq and Qais Khazali state that senior leadership within the Quds Force knew of and supported planning for the eventual Karbala attack that killed five coalition soldiers,” General Bergner said.

American officials said one reason for holding the briefing nearly 15 weeks after capturing the three Quds Force agents was that Shiite officials in Baghdad, reluctant to inflame relations with Iran’s ruling Shiite clergy, had resisted having the case against Iran made so publicly. At the same time, a senior American official said, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and other Shiites in the government seemed to have been shaken by the evidence of “the nefarious and lethal” Iranian role the American command had uncovered.

General Bergner said much of the Iranian activity had centered on ties with groups linked to the Mahdi Army, a Shiite militia in Iraq that has mounted countless attacks on Americans and has killed thousands of Iraqi Sunnis. The Shiite cleric who founded the Mahdi Army, Moktada al-Sadr, has longstanding ties with Iran and spent months there this year, apparently fearful of arrest, American commanders have said.

The American command has long said that much of the worst violence by Mahdi Army groups appears to have been carried out by “rogue” groups that Mr. Sadr does not control. General Bergner said the groups under the Quds Force seemed to be in that category.

Another high-ranking American official said that Iranian financing for the Tehran-linked militias — said by General Bergner to amount to $750,000 to $3 million a month — had long been channeled through Mr. Sadr, and that American intelligence was not clear on whether some or all the money was still to him.

“One of the big questions is, ‘Who controls the secret cells, if anyone does?’ ” the official said. “The fact is, it’s hard to tell where the militias end and the secret cells begin. There is a pre-existing relationship between Sadr and the Iranians, but I think the answer is that some of them are out of control.”

27509  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: New All.. on: July 03, 2007, 07:40:07 AM
Woof Steven:

Apologies for not responding to you earlier-- with our Gathering last week and its aftermath this week, we are just starting to catch up on many things.

Anyway, your kind words mean a lot to us and put a wag in our tail.

Crafty Dog
27510  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: July 03, 2007, 02:18:11 AM
I very vaguely remember the Red Lion case from law school.

I think what you are missing is that in practice stations simply avoided controversial subjects. 

There are additional good reasons to oppose the FD, but for the moment I will point out that its logic was that of a time of limited bandwith.  In most markets, there were only 2-3 TV stations and AM radio, so a superficially plausible case could be made for the FD.  Today however we have the internet, Sat Radio and more.  Like so many regulations undertaken by the State, the FD is a solution in search of a problem.

27511  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sanctions on: July 02, 2007, 10:17:33 PM
Today's WSJ:

Making Iran Feel the Pain
July 2, 2007

The international community, led by the U.S. and the U.K., is now developing and debating new economic sanctions against Iran. This third round will be pivotal -- either by significantly increasing the cost to Iran of continuing to engage in illicit and dangerous activities, or by showing the regime that it can outlast whatever symbolic measures are levied against it without fear of being bled financially.

The first two rounds of targeted and graduated sanctions have failed to change Iran's nuclear calculus. Iran's chief nuclear negotiator continues to meet with senior EU officials, most likely to buy time, while Tehran refuses to accede to demands that it freeze its uranium enrichment program.

U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1737 and 1747, passed last December and March respectively, signaled seriousness about using financial measures against Iran. The first declared an international consensus to sanction Iran, and the second to target banks. In particular, Russian and Chinese support for these resolutions shocked Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran saw first-hand the weak U.N. pressure on Saddam Hussein and expected no worse treatment. Mr. Ahmadinejad reportedly predicted that neither Moscow nor Beijing would sign off on these resolutions. Their passage made the country's professional classes, which are proud of Iran's integration in the international system, feel the sting of diplomatic and economic isolation.

The most effective U.N. sanction was against Bank Sepah. Iran's fourth-largest and one of the most important financial institutions was shut out of the international financial system. But the package of measures was noteworthy less for the list of specific individuals and entities sanctioned than for starting a graduated process intended to force the regime to stop its illicit conduct.

For graduated sanctions to be effective, however, each deadline that passes without a change in Iran's behavior must be followed by another, more severe round of sanctions. To date, sanctions have had a primarily psychological impact, producing discontent within the powerful merchant (bazaari) classes and civil servants. Now the teeth must come out. Failure to follow up with tougher sanctions would undermine whatever progress sanctions have had to date.

* * *
So this third round is the moment of truth. The danger is that today's diplomacy produces only more symbolic measures, watered down by multilateral negotiations whose goal is international consensus.

To avoid such failure, this round should fill the gaps left open by the first two U.N. resolutions. Specifically, it can target additional Iranian banks, and focus on companies controlled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, especially those involved in the oil and gas sectors.

The next resolution must also close loopholes like the lack of a mandatory travel ban on designated Iranian officials. It should include a two-way arms embargo banning not only the export of arms from Iran but also the importation of arms to Iran. And it should create a U.N. monitoring team, preferably based in Dubai, to ensure member states comply with the U.N. sanctions regime. It should also add to the U.N. list the 23 Iranian persons and entities subjected to asset forfeiture abroad by the EU but not the U.N. Another useful tool would be to require strict inspections of all Iranian ships and aircraft to prevent violations of the arms ban or the import of banned or dual-use goods intended for Iran's nuclear program.

U.N. sanctions freezing the overseas assets of Bank Sepah were the first significant step toward isolating Iran from the international financial system. Sepah had facilitated the Iranian-North Korean missile procurement business and tried to conceal its role in these transactions.

Several additional Iranian banks are likely candidates to have their funds frozen overseas and slapped with a ban on doing business with them:

• Bank Melli was implicated in the December 2005 U.S. government fine of Dutch bank ABN Amro for violating the Iran/Libya Sanctions Act. Investigators found that Bank Melli used ABN Amro's Dubai office to conceal its role in illegal (under U.S. law) bank transfers to Iran.
• Bank Saderat was shut out of the U.S. financial system last September for its role in financing terrorism, including the transfer of tens of millions of dollars through branches in Europe to Lebanon's Hezbollah and EU-designated Palestinian terrorist groups like Hamas.
• U.S. Treasury officials have also cited the Central Bank of Iran as one of the state-owned banks that ask financial institutions to conceal their involvement in facilitating missile procurement, nuclear programs and terror financing.

Beyond banks, the next sanctions resolution must target the massive military-industrial complex controlled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, an elite paramilitary force. Considered the foundation of President Ahmadinejad's political powerbase, the Guards are also deeply involved in the country's proliferation activities. It also maintains a special branch -- the Qods Force -- responsible for arming, training and supporting terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas and insurgents attacking Coalition and Iraqi forces in Iraq.

The Revolutionary Guards are primarily self-funded, with annual revenues from its businesses empire estimated at $1 billion and expected to rise to $1.5-$2 billion with new projects awarded since Mr. Ahmadinejad came to power. According to the U.S. State Department, the Guards are "taking on an increasingly influential role in Iran's economy, with IRGC-affiliated companies winning important government contracts." Freezing the assets of industries controlled by them, like the behemoth engineering firm Khatam ol-Anbia, would resonate with the merchant class that is already critical of the Guards' exclusive access to no-bid contracts.

Moreover, while the prospect of directly sanctioning Iran's oil industry makes the crude markets jittery, the reality is that international economic sanctions will ultimately only be successful if they impact Iran's lucrative oil and gas industries. Going after Khatam ol-Anbia, which was recently awarded a $2.09 billion contract by the Iranian government to develop parts of the South Pars natural gas field and a $1.3 billion contract to build parts of a pipeline, would be a strong shot across the bow of the Iranian oil industry. Such contracts would be put in jeopardy by U.N. sanctions, since no international company could legally do business with a company like Khatam ol-Anbia.

Referring to the unanimously passed sanctions resolutions, President Ahmadinejad recently warned the international community "not to play with the lion's tail." But Iran, unlike North Korea, is well integrated into the world economy and vulnerable to economic sanctions that shut the regime out of the international financial system. Iran can survive a pesky, symbolic sanctions regime like a lion swatting flies with its tail. The regime couldn't easily ignore sanctions with real teeth.

Mr. Levitt, a senior fellow and director of the Stein Program on Terrorism, Intelligence and Policy at the Washington Institute, is former deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis at the U.S. Treasury Department. He is author of "Hamas: Politics, Charity and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad" (Yale University Press, 2006).
27512  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: July 02, 2007, 10:09:18 PM

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Americans who travel to Mexico are warned not to drink the water. Too bad Mexicans who spend time in Washington at the International Monetary Fund don't get similar advice about the ideological Kool-Aid served there. It might keep them from ingesting bad attitudes about taxes and growth and transporting them back home.

Such musings are hard to resist when pondering the fiscal reform recently proposed by President Felipe Calderón's Minister of Hacienda (Treasury), Agustin Carstens. Mr. Carstens is an extremely able Chicago-trained economist and a renowned negotiator in Mexican politics. Unfortunately, he also spent three years (2003-2006) at the IMF and if this reform -- long on creative ways to make businesses pay more taxes and short on pro-growth incentives -- is any guide, he has more than sipped from its fountain of economic "wisdom."

Americas columnist Mary Anastasia O'Grady says Mexico's tax law doesn't stimulate development.
Let's concede that there is a fundamental divide in development economics today between those who believe that a simple, low, flat tax is the best way to promote prosperity and those who think governments can and should engineer fairness through a progressive tax code. The former view focuses on growth, the latter view -- championed by the IMF -- on socializing the fruits of the productive sector of the economy.

A dozen or so countries have chosen the flat tax with stunning economic success. Ireland, once poor and backward, adopted a flat corporate rate and became the Celtic Tiger. Russia triumphed over a seemingly irreversible culture of tax evasion with a single, low corporate rate and has experienced a sharp increase in revenues. Many Eastern European countries, impoverished by decades of communism, have gone one step further to adopt a true flat tax which covers individuals.

But IMF theology still holds most Latin American policy makers in thrall. It preaches that fiscal balance is sacred and if politicians won't cut spending, then they should raise taxes. The productive sector of the economy -- which includes anyone with money -- must cough up the revenue that bureaucrats and politicians need. Perhaps the most damaging aspect of this dogma is its rejection of "dynamic scoring," or in layman's terms, the positive effects on revenues when simplicity and low rates produce higher levels of economic activity, compliance and investment. In clinging to a static analysis, policy makers are forever forced to go after the private sector with increasing zeal. This frightens capital and is no way to promote growth. Regrettably, Mexico's young Calderón government looks like it is about to fall into this trap.

The proposed reform, which will be debated in Congress this summer, includes policy changes in the areas of federalism and public spending. But it is the tax component that is especially troubling. What is toted as a "single corporate rate," will be, in effect, an alternative minimum tax on consumption administered alongside the old corporate income tax.

The Mexican tax system, like the U.S. tax code, is a mess -- complex and unjust and burdensome to comply with. Rates were brought down during the government of Vicente Fox, who was president from 2000-2006, but the code is rife with loopholes and there are high levels of evasion. In a November report, the Economist Intelligence Unit described the system as "convoluted" and said that "large companies regularly complain that they are disproportionately burdened by the tax system because the authorities find it easier to track their activities than those of smaller firms." The report also noted that the "informal sector, which skirts all tax obligations, is massive and grows larger every year."

Mexico says that it collects taxes equivalent to only about 12% of gross domestic product and that with oil revenues dropping in future years, it will need to get more money from the private sector to avoid fiscal imbalances. It is this thinking that has produced the proposal for a new "single rate" AMT, a young Frankenstein to walk alongside the current monster tax system.

Here's how it works: Businesses calculate their taxes under the old system, with its top marginal rate of 28% and the slew of deductions and exemptions that apply under the current tax law. They then calculate their taxes under the "single rate," which is 19% on revenues minus inputs and capital expenses. Labor is not deductible but there is a credit earned for low-wage labor. The tax paid is the higher of the two.

The idea here is that through the subsidizing of low-wage labor, more low-paying jobs will materialize. Meanwhile, businesses won't be able to use an army of accountants to take advantage of exemptions and whittle tax payments down to nothing. They are now going to be hit with a 19% AMT. For those companies, this is a tax increase and the government hopes revenues will rise.

On one level it is hard not to cheer on Mr. Carstens. Closing the loopholes is a noble goal, and there is no doubt that had he tried to eliminate them through a rewrite of the code, Mexico's powerful special interests would have crushed the attempt. To give the minister his due, his is an effort to get around that problem, and there are those who would argue that, given Mexican politics, this is best that can be accomplished at this time.

Yet it is worth asking whether this is what Mexicans are being offered because the IMF's view of the world now prevails inside Hacienda. Though the reform does away with the 2% asset tax, it does nothing to simplify the code so as to encourage compliance. Instead it adds the AMT consumption-tax calculation, further complicating the filing process. There is no rate cut, which is key to both broadening the base and attracting investment to boost growth. It is also biased against skilled labor, which ends up being taxed twice. There will be plenty of jobs for basket weavers in Chiapas but companies that use skilled labor will now have an incentive to replace people with machines, which they can write off. And since businesses often react to tax increases by voting with their feet or making other adjustments, there is a distinct possibility that the tax increase won't even generate the revenue promised.

The bean counters at the IMF are going to love this reform, but coming from a president that promised to unleash the animal spirits of an entrepreneurial nation, it is a colossal disappointment. If this is the best that the self-proclaimed jobs president can do in the early years of his tenure, get ready for six more years of mediocre growth.

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27513  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: July 02, 2007, 10:03:55 PM
Voting Rights Turnabout
A victory for disfranchised Mississippi voters--and they happen to be white.

Monday, July 2, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Last week a federal district judge found direct evidence that the political machine in Noxubee County, Miss., had discriminated against voters with the intent to infringe their rights and that "these abuses have been racially motivated."

Among the abuses catalogued by Judge Tom Lee were the paying of notaries public to visit voters and illegally mark their absentee ballots, manipulation of the registration rolls, importation of illegal candidates to run for county office, and publication of a list of voters, classified by race, who might have their ballots challenged. The judge criticized state political officials for being "remiss" in addressing the abuses. The U.S. Justice Department, which sued Noxubee officials under the Voting Rights Act, has called conditions there "the most extreme case of racial exclusion seen by the [department's] Voting Section in decades."

Explosive stuff, so why haven't you heard about it? Because the Noxubee case doesn't fit the media stereotype for voting rights abuses. The local political machine is run by Ike Brown, a twice-convicted felon. Mr. Brown is black, and the voters who were discriminated against were white.

Judge Lee concluded that Mr. Brown retained his power "by whatever means were necessary." According to the judge, Mr. Brown believed that "blacks, being the majority race in Noxubee County, should hold all elected offices, to the exclusion of whites." (Whites are 30% of the county's 12,500 people, but only two of the 26 elected county officials.) Judge Lee also criticized top officials of the state Democratic Party for "failing to take action to rectify [Mr. Brown's] abuses."

Last month a memorial service was held in Philadelphia, Miss., about 50 miles southwest of Noxubee, for three civil rights workers who were murdered while trying to register black voters during the "Freedom Summer" of 1964. Their deaths helped spur Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which swept away poll taxes and other impediments to black voting. Ever since then, a consistent media story line has been built around fears that the South's racist past will return to squash black political aspirations.
But the reality isn't so simple. While voter suppression by whites still goes on and must be curbed, so too does incompetence by election officials that calls into question the validity of elections, along with outright voter fraud. The right to vote includes the right not to have one's vote diluted by someone who shouldn't be voting, votes twice or doesn't even exist. Yet mild measures to increase the integrity of the ballot box, such as photo ID laws or efforts to better police absentee ballots are routinely attacked as attempts to restore Jim Crow voting procedures.

Just look at the coverage of the Justice Department's botched removal of seven U.S. attorneys. Congressional Democrats have gone into overdrive to prove the Justice Department canned them for their failure to pursue voter fraud cases, which it felt should be given a higher priority. The confirmation hearing for Hans von Spakovsky, a sitting member of the Federal Election Commission, has drawn bitter opposition because some former Justice Department officials make strained claims he pushed for laws requiring voters to show a photo ID as a means to suppress black voter turnout. He is also accused of derailing two investigations into possible voter discrimination and causing enforcement of voting rights cases to plummet. In fact, the Bush administration filed 35 voting rights cases in its first five years, as opposed to only 25 by the Clinton administration in its last five years.

Critics of the Bush Justice Department bitterly complain that its priorities have shifted away from traditional voting rights enforcement and have questioned if Justice should be filing "reverse discrimination" voting rights cases like Noxubee. Joseph Rich, the chief of Justice's voting section until he resigned in 2005 to join the liberal Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, has said he thinks the Noxubee case had merit but wonders if it was "really a question of priority" for a department with limited resources. "The Civil Rights Division's core mission is to fight racial discrimination," Mr. Rich told "That doesn't seem to be happening in this administration."

In reality, what the old civil rights establishment seems to be most upset about is a shift of priorities. They note the Bush administration has so far only filed two complaints on behalf of black voters, compared with eight filed by the Clinton administration during its last six years. Liberals note that of the voting rights cases the Bush administration has filed so far, seven have been on behalf of Hispanics. But Hispanics are now the largest minority in the country, and it's hardly surprising that more cases would arise involving a population that includes many new citizens unfamiliar with how to combat voter discrimination.

Judge Lee's ruling shows that there was extensive evidence of voter fraud in Noxubee County. More than 20% of the county's ballots were routinely cast by absentee voters, despite requirements that everyone have a valid excuse to obtain one. A major reason for their proliferation was that Mr. Brown, in his capacity as head of the Noxubee County Democratic Executive Committee, would pay notaries public to complete absentee ballots for voters, sometimes without their knowledge or consent. According to Judge Lee, Mr. Brown and his allies then "put in place a nearly all black force of poll workers and managers, over whom they had effective influence and control, and who, under Brown's direction, ignored or rejected proper challenges to the ballots of black voters."
During the 2003 primary election, witnesses testified that Mr. Brown personally left the local sheriff's office (where he had set up shop across the hall from where ballots were counted) to tell poll workers to "count every vote, count them every one right now." Kevin Jones, the incumbent superintendent of education, who is black, confirmed that Mr. Brown told poll workers to count the votes and that they complied.

Mr. Brown also went through the absentee ballots in other precincts the night before the Aug. 26, 2003, runoff and put Post-it notes on some ballots with instructions indicating they should be rejected. Judge Lee found that "witnesses who saw the yellow stickers maintained that every sticker seen was on the ballot of a white voter."

The boss left nothing to chance. Witnesses testified that on the day of the runoff, as voters cast ballots in person at polling stations, poll workers walked up unsolicited to black voters "taking their ballots and marking them without consulting the voters." Terry Grassaree, the chief deputy sheriff for the county, threatened Samuel Heard, a candidate for sheriff against Mr. Grassaree's boss, that "I'll put your ass in jail" after Mr. Heard complained about illegal distribution of campaign literature at the polls.

Mr. Brown sounded like Huey Long when he explained his actions. "This isn't Mississippi state law you're dealing with," he told Libby Abrams, a poll watcher for Mr. Heard, Ms. Abrams testified. "This is Ike Brown's law." When Ms. Abrams responded that she planned to have four poll watchers on hand as votes were counted, Mr. Brown told her "Fine, fine, have as many as you want. I'll send the police on around to arrest you."
Mr. Brown also published a list of 174 names of voters he claimed were illegally voting in Democratic primaries while they intended to support Republicans in the fall election, and suggested he would challenge them. He said he planned a crusade to "root out disloyal Democratic elected officials and voters," including Larry Tate, a black county supervisor who had angered Boss Brown by supporting Sen. Thad Cochran and Rep. Chip Pickering, both Republicans.

The defense Mr. Brown mounted against all these charges was that he had acted legally and was motivated solely by a desire to elect Democrats. He called the Justice Department's lawsuit an example of "persecuting the victim" and noted the irony that after the white establishment had oppressed blacks for 135 years federal officials had the "preposterous" effrontery to challenge blacks who had achieved political control of Noxubee County only a dozen years ago.

Judge Lee had none of it. "If the same facts were presented to the court on behalf of the rights of black voters, this court would find that [the Voting Rights Act] was violated," he wrote. As part of his ruling, he gave lawyers on both sides 30 days to file briefs in the civil matter laying out how they will end the election abuses. Defendants who violate his order could face contempt of court and fines.

It's unclear how much Mr. Brown plans to comply. He isn't returning phone calls from reporters. He may not be intimidated by the prospect of fines, having served time in federal prison a decade ago for tax fraud. Last year he refused to sign a consent decree in which county officials promised not to harass or intimidate white voters, fill out absentee ballots for voters, or coach them.

Mr. Brown also contends that Judge Lee's order may be moot because of last month's ruling by another federal judge in a lawsuit filed by state Democratic Party officials. They, like Mr. Brown, were upset by Republicans voting in the Democratic primary under Mississippi's open primary law. "They come over and vote in the Democratic primary and it's for the white candidates and then in the general election they run and vote for Republicans," complained Ellis Turnage, the attorney for the Democratic Party. The Democrats asserted that state law guarantees them the "freedom not to associate" with interlopers in their primary.
District Judge Allen Pepper, a Clinton appointee recommended by Sen. Trent Lott, agreed, but he handed the Democrats a Pyrrhic victory by ordering the state to create closed primaries--but also to require photo ID at the polls. Democrats who have long used incendiary rhetoric to block approval of a photo ID law are howling.

The irony of their complaint wasn't lost on Marty Wiseman, director of the Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University. He noted that "Democrats, many of whom fought long and hard during the bad old days to open up Mississippi's closed political system, are attempting to make their own case for 'freedom not to associate.' " Secretary of State Eric Clark, a Democrat, said his party made a "serious mistake" in filing the lawsuit. "I believe in opening doors to voting and not in closing doors," he said.

But should Judge Pepper's order stand, it may have the salutary effect of finally cleaning up Mississippi's election records, which the Greenwood Commonwealth, the largest newspaper in the Delta, notes "still has people on the rolls from the 1960s who haven't voted in decades, yet federal rules make it almost impossible to purge their names." That is an invitation to voter fraud and manipulation à la Ike Brown.

Despite abundant evidence that protective measures such as photo ID and tighter controls on absentee ballots aren't designed to suppress voter turnout, the civil rights establishment continues to resist against any effort to improve ballot integrity. Yet as former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young has noted, showing ID is a daily fact of life in America now, and getting such IDs in the hands of poor people would help them enter the mainstream of American life. A poll by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News last year found Americans backing a photo ID law by 80% to 7%, with two-thirds support among both blacks and Hispanics.

At the conclusion of his ruling in the Noxubee case, Judge Lee cited the ruling of the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Welch v. McKenzie, a 1985 case in which the court held that "the right to vote includes the right to have one's ballot counted. This includes the right to not have one's ballot diluted by the casting of illegal ballots or weighting of one ballot more than another."
Half century ago the issues involved were literally black and white. Now they are murkier and more nuanced. Not all villains in voting rights cases are white. I've interviewed Democratic candidates from St. Louis to Detroit to Newark who acknowledge that many of our voting systems are so underfunded and sloppy as to invite either rampant incompetence or outright fraud. The Justice Department's victory in Noxubee County isn't a win for one race over another, it's a signal that some rethinking of old stereotypes is in order.

27514  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 02, 2007, 09:37:24 PM

TURKEY/U.S.: Turkey will not seek U.S. permission to invade Iraq should it consider its national security at risk, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said in an interview with Today's Zaman. Gul added it is the responsibility of the United States to rein in the Kurdistan Workers' Party in Iraq. Turkey will not seek to delay its national elections even if it does get drawn into a war, Gul said.

27515  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 02, 2007, 09:36:22 PM
PAKISTAN: Pakistani students of the madrassa affiliated with Islamabad's Red Mosque are fortifying their positions using barbed wire and have closed down a road adjacent to the mosque facility, GEO News reported. They are reportedly using walkie-talkies to coordinate their preparations for a possible operation. Authorities have asked residents in the vicinity to relocate for a few days, and the Environment Ministry building and a girls' school have also been asked to close in anticipation of the operation.

PAKISTAN: Pakistan's Supreme Court suspended the law license of Chaudhry Akhtar Ali, a government lawyer representing President Gen. Pervez Musharraf in his case against the country's dismissed chief justice. The court also asked the Intelligence Bureau to make sure the Supreme Court and its judges' residences are free of electronic bugging devices, barred intelligence agency personnel from entering the Supreme Court or high court offices or seeking any documents from the courts, and ordered court officials not to surrender any documents to intelligence agency workers.
27516  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: July 02, 2007, 03:38:59 PM
Political Journal of the WSJ:

Goon Squad

The Democratic Party oak has grown, in part, from Acorn, a feisty, union-backed activist group that last year registered 600,000 low-income and minority voters and helped propel Democrats to victory in several states. Today, in recognition of Acorn's power, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich are attending the group's presidential forum in Philadelphia.

You'd think Acorn's shadowy methods, which last year led four of its Kansas City, Mo. workers to be indicted and plead guilty to submitting false voter registrations, would give Democratic candidates pause. But instead the Senate Judiciary Committee has gone into overdrive to hold oversight hearings questioning the Bush Justice Department's decision to file the indictments just before the 2004 election.

Regardless of the timing of Justice's decision, something is clearly rotten with Acorn. Prosecutors in King County, Washington (Seattle) may soon charge Acorn workers in another voter registration scandal in 2006. The group also engaged in questionable practices during the state's disputed 2004 governor's race, which was finally awarded to the Democrat by just 139 votes -- far fewer than the number of votes proven to have been cast illegally.

Dan Donohoe, a spokesman for King County's prosecutor, said a decision on an indictment should come this month. "We're dealing with possible criminal charges with regard to fraudulent registrations," he told McClatchy Newspapers. Several Acorn employees apparently filled out multiple registration forms in similar handwriting. After suspicions were raised, King County elections workers sampled 400 of the Acorn registrations. According to McClatchy: "Only two had valid phone numbers, and in both cases the people reached by phone had not done the registrations, elections staffers said."

The case has even prompted mild-mannered Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed to urge action. Last October, he contacted the King County Prosecutor by email and called attention to the voter-registration violations: "Many cases, like this, have been referred to Prosecutors and ignored. I'd appreciate it if you would have your office go after this. We need to show that we're tough on voter fraud. Right?" The next day, Mr. Reed sent another email to the state's elections director pressing his case: "We need some good examples of being touch (sic) on voter fraud to help regain some confidence and trust in the system."

For his part, Acorn leader Wade Rathke dismisses criticism of his group's activities as "major league political harassment . . . crazy words." Today, he will be lining up his troops as Hillary Clinton gives marching orders on how the left can win the 2008 election. Here's hoping that someone keeps an eye on Acorn as it prepares yet another blitzkrieg electoral effort next year.

-- John Fund


Mitt Romney finds himself engaged in crisis management over a previous episode of crisis management. As described last week in a Boston Globe profile, Mr. Romney demonstrated his leadership skills by placing Seamus, the family dog, in a cage and strapping it to the roof of the Romney station wagon for a 1983 family vacation to Ontario. When Seamus committed a mishap that dribbled down over the car windows, Mr. Romney calmly paused and hosed the car down before proceeding with the trip, according to the Globe's account.

At a campaign stop in Pittsburgh last Thursday, Mr. Romney tackled the swelling controversy head-on, telling an audience that Seamus "enjoyed" riding atop the car and "scrambled up there every time we went on trips." He added: "PETA is not happy that my dog likes fresh air."

PETA, otherwise known as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, had accused the former Massachusetts governor of dog "torture." Bloggers also have latched onto the story. Time magazine's Ana Marie Cox adjudicates: "The details of the event are more than unseemly -- they may, in fact, be illegal."

Mr. Romney's campaign probably will not mind the media preoccupation with Seamus if it causes reporters to overlook his forthcoming fundraising results. The campaign quietly told supporters last week to expect his second-quarter numbers to show a decline when released in the next few days. Mr. Romney whupped the Republican field during the first quarter, but attributed the latest drop to more days spent on the campaign trail in the second-quarter. He also let supporters know he had dipped into his own riches to write another multi-million-dollar check to his own campaign. That howl you're hearing from Romney headquarters may have more to do with the polls and cost of campaigning than with media fascination with Seamus-gate.

-- Taylor Buley

Adios, Amigos

This past weekend, every major Democratic candidate attended a gathering sponsored by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials for a Democratic presidential candidate forum. And the Republican forum? Cancelled. Only Rep. Duncan Hunter of California agreed to show.

The move is one of many recent Republican maneuverings to distance themselves from an appearance of having a weak stance on the immigration issue. Blame the techo-populists of talk radio and the blogosphere who sunk the Senate's immigration bill. Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, for example, recently voted to kill the bill that they themselves had co-authored.

"The Republican candidates have blown off Hispanics in Florida," noted state Rep. Juan Zapata, a Republican who helped bring the NALEO event to the state. Added state Rep. Julio Robaina, also a Republican: "I'm somewhat offended because this is about Hispanics, not about politics."

True, NALEO may be a predominantly pro-big government organization, but Republican Hispanophobia is a major miscalculation. The event is the nation's largest gathering of Hispanic elected officials, local party representatives and event organizers. Not to mention it was held at the all-American venue of Walt Disney World. Meanwhile, the GOP abandoned the field to a parade of Democratic hopefuls, including Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards, who decried the idea of a border fence ("crazy!" said Mr. Edwards) -- and implied at every opportunity that the GOP was simply anti-Hispanic.

John Bueno, NALEO's outgoing president, told National Public Radio: "Latino voters are getting smarter, they're getting more organized and there's going to be repercussions, I think, coming form the Latino voters for elected officials that are not listening to them."

-- Taylor Buley

Quote of the Day

"[An] epic moment in Democratic politics came May 21 when Florida Republican Gov. Charlie Crist signed legislation moving the Sunshine State's presidential primary to next Jan. 29.... Florida has put virtually all Democrats not named Hillary in a difficult spot. Because the Democratic vote in Florida is concentrated in just four major media markets (Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Orlando and Tampa-St. Petersburg), a full-scale primary campaign in the state can be waged for as little as $7 million, which is less than Howard Dean spent on the 2004 Iowa caucuses. But it will be difficult for any Democrat to compete with Clinton in Florida -- even Barack Obama, who may be able to outspend her -- because of her strengths among older and Jewish voters, two demographic groups that tend to vote heavily in Florida primaries" -- Walter Shapiro, Washington bureau chief for
27517  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Palo Canario on: July 01, 2007, 05:45:51 PM
Alfonso Acosta interviene en lo siguiente:

!Si hija ha crecido mucho!
27518  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Can someone direct me to "How To Join" on: July 01, 2007, 05:30:50 PM
NO!!!  grin

Fencing mask.
Street hockey gloves or less
cup recommended
Elbow and kn fee pads recommended, but may not have hard bubbles (e.g. not of the skateboarding type) Wrestling type are ideal.

That's it.

Guro C.
27519  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: World Trade Center Tower 7 on: July 01, 2007, 08:01:27 AM
Dog Brian:

First, I want to thank you for your excellent internet composure.

Second, I would like to say that we share many of the same concerns about the trajectory of our country.

Third, and this is said with love, IMO unfotunately you have mingled some profoundly unsound and inaccurate fringe nonsense into your thinking.

The Adventure continues,
27520  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mil-blogs: Michael Yon and others (support our troops) on: July 01, 2007, 07:57:19 AM
The latest from MY.  As always, a must read.
27521  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: June 30, 2007, 11:34:20 PM

Buchanan and Gheen.  Gheen makes some good points including about the Prez's Constitutional duty to enforce the laws.
27522  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cheney part two on: June 30, 2007, 11:08:15 PM
According to Mora, Waxman returned from the meeting with the message that his draft was "unacceptable to the vice president's office." Another defense official, who made notes of Waxman's report, said Cheney's lawyer ridiculed the vagueness of the Geneva ban on "outrages upon personal dignity," saying it would leave U.S. troops timid in the face of unpredictable legal risk. When Waxman replied that the official White House policy was far more opaque, according to the report, Addington accused him of trying to replace the president's decision with his own.

"The impact of that meeting is that Directive 2310 died," Mora said.

'Total Indifference to Public Opinion'
Over the next 12 months, Congress and the Supreme Court imposed many of the restrictions that Cheney had squelched.

"The irony with the Cheney crowd pushing the envelope on presidential power is that the president has now ended up with lesser powers than he would have had if they had made less extravagant, monarchical claims," said Bruce Fein, an associate deputy attorney general under President Ronald Reagan.

Flanigan, a founding member of that crowd, said he still believes that Addington and Yoo were right in their "application of generally accepted constitutional principles." But he acknowledged that many battles ended badly. "The Supreme Court," Flanigan said, "decided to change the rules."

Even so, Cheney's losses were not always as they appeared.

On Oct. 5, 2005, the Senate voted 90 to 9 in favor of McCain's Detainee Treatment Act, which included the Geneva language [Read the bill]. It was, by any measure, a rebuke to Cheney. Bush signed the bill into law. "Well, I don't win all the arguments," Cheney told the Wall Street Journal.

Yet he and Addington found a roundabout path to the exceptions they sought for the CIA, as allies in Congress made little-noticed adjustments to the bill.

The final measure confined only the Defense Department to the list of interrogation techniques specified in a new Army field manual. No techniques were specified for CIA officers, who were forbidden only in general terms to employ "cruel" or "inhuman" methods. Crucially, the new law said those words would be interpreted in light of U.S. constitutional law. That made a big difference to Cheney.

The Supreme Court has defined cruelty as an act that "shocks the conscience" under the circumstances. Addington suggested, according to another government lawyer, that harsh methods would be far less shocking under circumstances involving a mass-casualty terrorist threat. Cheney may have alluded to that advice in an interview with ABC's "Nightline" on Dec. 18, 2005, saying that "what shocks the conscience" is to some extent "in the eye of the beholder."

Eager to put detainee scandals behind them, Bush's advisers spent days composing a statement in which the president would declare support for the veto-proof bill on detainee treatment. Hours before Bush signed it into law on Dec. 30, 2005, Cheney's lawyer intercepted the accompanying statement "and just literally takes his red pen all the way through it," according to an official with firsthand knowledge.

Addington substituted a single sentence. Bush, he wrote, would interpret the law "in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as Commander in Chief."

Cheney's office had used that technique often. Like his boss, Addington disdained what he called "interagency treaties," one official said. He had no qualms about discarding language "agreed between Cabinet secretaries," the official said.

Top officials from the CIA, and the Justice, State and Defense departments unanimously opposed the substitution, according to two officials. John B. Bellinger III, the ranking national security lawyer at the White House, warned that Congress would view Addington's statement as a "stick in the eye" after weeks of consensus-building by national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley.

None of that mattered. With Cheney's weight behind it, White House counsel Harriet E. Miers sent Addington's version to Bush for his signature.

"The only person in Washington who cares less about his public image than David Addington is Dick Cheney," said a former White House ally. "What both of them miss is that ..... in times of war, a prerequisite for success is people having confidence in their leadership. This is the great failure of the administration -- a complete and total indifference to public opinion."

'Almost Everything' Cheney Wanted
On June 29, 2006, the Supreme Court struck its sharpest blow to the house that Cheney built, ruling 5 to 3 that the president had no lawful power to try alleged terrorists in military commissions [Read the opinion]. The tribunal order that Cheney brought to Bush's private dining room, and the game plan Cheney's lawyer wrote to defend it, fetched condemnation on disparate legal grounds. The majority relied, as Addington's critics foresaw, on Justice Kennedy's vote.

Not only did the court leave the president beholden to Congress for the authority to charge and punish terrorists, but it rejected a claim of implicit legislative consent that Bush was using elsewhere to justify electronic surveillance without a warrant. And not only did it find that Geneva's Common Article 3 protects "unlawful enemy combatants," but it also said that those protections -- including humane treatment and the right to a trial by "a regularly constituted court" -- were enforceable by federal judges in the United States.

The court's decision, in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, was widely seen as a calamity for Cheney's war plan against al-Qaeda. As the Bush administration formed its response, the vice president's position appeared to decline further still.

White House strategists agreed that they had to submit legislation to undo the damage of the Hamdan case. Cheney and Addington, according to a former official with firsthand knowledge, favored a one-page bill. Their proposal would simply have stated that the Geneva Conventions confer no right of access to U.S. courts, stripped U.S. courts of jurisdiction over foreign nationals declared to be enemy combatants and affirmed the president's authority to create military commissions exactly as he had already done. Bush chose to spend the fall of 2006 negotiating a much more complex bill that became the Military Commissions Act.

The White House proposal, said Joshua B. Bolten, the chief of staff, "did not come out exactly as the vice president would have wanted."

In another reversal for Cheney, Bush acknowledged publicly on Sept. 6 that the CIA maintained secret prisons overseas for senior al-Qaeda detainees, a subject on which he had held his silence since The Post disclosed them late in 2005. The president announced that he had emptied the "black sites" and transferred their prisoners to Guantanamo Bay to be tried.

The same week, almost exactly a year after the vice president's office shelved Waxman's Pentagon plan, Waxman's successor dusted it off. DOD Directive 2310.01E, the Department of Defense Detainee Program, included the verbatim text of Geneva's Common Article 3 and described it, as Waxman had, as "a minimum standard for the care and treatment of all detainees." [Read the directive] The new Army field manual, published with the directive, said that interrogators were forbidden to employ a long list of techniques that had been used against suspected terrorists since Sept. 11, 2001 -- including stripping, hooding, inflicting pain and forcing the performance of sex acts.

For all the apparent setbacks, close observers said, Cheney has preserved his top-priority tools in the "war on terror." After a private meeting with Cheney, one of them said, Bush decided not to promise that there would be no more black sites -- and seven months later, the White House acknowledged that secret detention had resumed.

The Military Commissions Act, passed by strong majorities of the Senate and House on Sept. 28 and 29, 2006, gave "the office of the vice president almost everything it wanted," said Yoo, who maintained his contact with Addington after returning to a tenured position at Berkeley.

The new law withstood its first Supreme Court challenge on April 2. It exempts CIA case officers and other government employees from prosecution for past war crimes or torture. Once again, an apparently technical provision held great importance to Cheney and his allies.

Without repealing the War Crimes Act, which imposes criminal penalties for grave breaches of Geneva's humane-treatment standards, Congress said the president, not the Supreme Court, has final authority to decide what the standards mean -- and whether they even apply.

'I'd Like to Close Guantanamo'
Air Force Two touched down in Sydney this past Feb. 24. Cheney had come to discuss Iraq. Prime Minister John Howard brought the conversation around to an Australian citizen who had unexpectedly become a political threat.

Under pressure at home, Howard said he told Cheney that there must be a trial "with no further delay" for David Hicks, 31, who was beginning his sixth year at the U.S. naval prison at Guantanamo Bay. Five days later, Hicks was indicted as a war criminal. On March 26, he pleaded guilty to providing "material support" for terrorism.

At every stage since his capture, as he changed taxis at the Afghan-Pakistan border, Hicks had crossed a legal landscape that Cheney did more than anyone to reshape. He was Detainee 002 at Guantanamo Bay, arriving on opening day at an asserted no man's land beyond the reach of sovereign law. Interrogators questioned him under guidelines that gave legal cover to the infliction of pain and fear -- and, according to an affidavit filed by British lawyer Steven Grosz, Hicks was subjected to beatings, sodomy with a foreign object, sensory deprivation, disorienting drugs and prolonged shackling in painful positions.

Enlarge PhotoAnkle cuffs are seen locked to the floor of an interrogation room at Guantanamo Bay. The new legal framework for interrogations was designed to leave room for cruelty. More Cheney photos...The U.S. government denied those claims, and before accepting Hicks's guilty plea it required him to affirm that he had "never been illegally treated." But the tribunal's rules, written under principles Cheney advanced, would have allowed the Australian's conviction with evidence obtained entirely by "cruel, inhuman or degrading" techniques.

Shortly after Cheney returned from Australia, the Hicks case died with a whimper. The U.S. government abruptly shifted its stance in plea negotiations, dropping the sentence it offered from 20 years in prison to nine months if Hicks would say that he was guilty.

Only the dramatic shift to lenience, said Joshua Dratel, one of three defense lawyers, resolved the case in time to return Hicks to Australia before Howard faces reelection late this year. The deal, negotiated without the knowledge of the chief prosecutor, Air Force Col. Morris Davis, was supervised by Susan J. Crawford, the convening authority over military commissions. Crawford received her three previous government jobs from then-Defense Secretary Cheney -- she was appointed as his special adviser, Pentagon inspector general and then judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.

Yet the tactical retreat on Hicks, according to Bush administration officials, diverted attention from the continuity of U.S. policy on detainees.

A year after Bush announced at a news conference that "I'd like to close Guantanamo," the camp remains open and has been expanded. Senior officials said Cheney, with few allies left, has turned back strong efforts -- by Rice, England, new Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and former Bush speechwriter Mike Gerson, among others -- to give the president what he said he wants.

Cheney and his aides "didn't circumvent the process," one participant said. "They were just very effective in using it."

'This is a Dangerous World'
More than a year after Congress passed McCain-sponsored restrictions on the questioning of suspected terrorists, the Bush administration is still debating how far the CIA's interrogators may go in their effort to break down resistant detainees. Two officials said the vice president has deadlocked the debate.

Bush said last September that he would "work with" Congress to review "an alternative set of procedures" for "tough" -- but, he said, lawful -- interrogation. He did not promise to submit legislation or to report particulars to any oversight committee, and he has not done so.

Two questions remain, officials said. One involves techniques to be authorized now. The other is whether any technique should be explicitly forbidden.

According to participants in the debate, the vice president stands by the view that Bush need not honor any of the new judicial and legislative restrictions. His lawyer, they said, has recently restated Cheney's argument that when courts and Congress "purport to" limit the commander in chief's warmaking authority, he has the constitutional prerogative to disregard them.

If Cheney advocates a return to waterboarding, they said, they have not heard him say so. But his office has fought fiercely against an executive order or CIA directive that would make the technique illegal.

"That's just the vice president," said Gerson, the former speechwriter, referring to Cheney's October remark that "a dunk in the water" for terrorists -- a radio interviewer's term -- is "a no-brainer for me."

Gerson added: "It's principled. He's deeply conscious that this is a dangerous world, and he wants this president and future presidents to be able to deal with that. He feels very strongly about these things, and it's his great virtue and his weakness."

Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.
27523  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cheney on: June 30, 2007, 11:07:13 PM
Pushing the Envelope on Presidential Power
Web Q&A:
» Reporter Barton Gellman, was online on Monday, June 25, to answer readers' questions about the Cheney series. Read the Q&A transcript.

By Barton Gellman and Jo Becker
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, June 25, 2007

Shortly after the first accused terrorists reached the U.S. naval prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on Jan. 11, 2002, a delegation from CIA headquarters arrived in the Situation Room. The agency presented a delicate problem to White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales, a man with next to no experience on the subject. Vice President Cheney's lawyer, who had a great deal of experience, sat nearby.

The meeting marked "the first time that the issue of interrogations comes up" among top-ranking White House officials, recalled John C. Yoo, who represented the Justice Department. "The CIA guys said, 'We're going to have some real difficulties getting actionable intelligence from detainees'" if interrogators confined themselves to treatment allowed by the Geneva Conventions.

From that moment, well before previous accounts have suggested, Cheney turned his attention to the practical business of crushing a captive's will to resist. The vice president's office played a central role in shattering limits on coercion of prisoners in U.S. custody, commissioning and defending legal opinions that the Bush administration has since portrayed as the initiatives, months later, of lower-ranking officials.

Enlarge PhotoThe vice president's office pushed a policy of robust interrogation that made its way to the U.S. naval prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, above, and Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. More Cheney photos...Cheney and his allies, according to more than two dozen current and former officials, pioneered a novel distinction between forbidden "torture" and permitted use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading" methods of questioning. They did not originate every idea to rewrite or reinterpret the law, but fresh accounts from participants show that they translated muscular theories, from Yoo and others, into the operational language of government.

A backlash beginning in 2004, after reports of abuse leaked out of Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and Guantanamo Bay, brought what appeared to be sharp reversals in courts and Congress -- for Cheney's claims of executive supremacy and for his unyielding defense of what he called "robust interrogation."

But a more careful look at the results suggests that Cheney won far more than he lost. Many of the harsh measures he championed, and some of the broadest principles undergirding them, have survived intact but out of public view.

Presidential Power
Dick Cheney's views on executive supremacy -- like many of his core beliefs about foreign policy and defense -- have held remarkably steady over the years. More »The vice president's unseen victories attest to traits that are often ascribed to him but are hard to demonstrate from the public record: thoroughgoing secrecy, persistence of focus, tactical flexibility in service of fixed aims and close knowledge of the power map of government. On critical decisions for more than six years, Cheney has often controlled the pivot points -- tipping the outcome when he could, engineering stalemate when he could not and reopening debates that rivals thought were resolved.

"Once he's taken a position, I think that's it," said James A. Baker III, who has shared a hunting tent with Cheney more than once and worked with him under three presidents. "He has been pretty damn good at accumulating power, extraordinarily effective and adept at exercising power."

'At Any Time and in Any Place'
David S. Addington, Cheney's general counsel, set the new legal agenda in a blunt memorandum shortly after the CIA delegation returned to Langley. Geneva's "strict limits on questioning of enemy prisoners," he wrote on Jan. 25, 2002, hobbled efforts "to quickly obtain information from captured terrorists."

No longer was the vice president focused on procedural rights, such as access to lawyers and courts. The subject now was more elemental: How much suffering could U.S. personnel inflict on an enemy to make him talk? Cheney's lawyer feared that future prosecutors, with motives "difficult to predict," might bring criminal charges against interrogators or Bush administration officials.

Geneva rules forbade not only torture but also, in equally categorical terms, the use of "violence," "cruel treatment" or "humiliating and degrading treatment" against a detainee "at any time and in any place whatsoever." The War Crimes Act of 1996 made any grave breach of those restrictions a U.S. felony [Read the act]. The best defense against such a charge, Addington wrote, would combine a broad presidential directive for humane treatment, in general, with an assertion of unrestricted authority to make exceptions.

The vice president's counsel proposed that President Bush issue a carefully ambiguous directive. Detainees would be treated "humanely and, to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the principles of" the Geneva Conventions. When Bush issued his public decision two weeks later, on Feb. 7, 2002, he adopted Addington's formula -- with all its room for maneuver -- verbatim.

In a radio interview last fall, Cheney said, "We don't torture." What he did not acknowledge, according to Alberto J. Mora, who served then as the Bush-appointed Navy general counsel, was that the new legal framework was designed specifically to avoid a ban on cruelty. In international law, Mora said, cruelty is defined as "the imposition of severe physical or mental pain or suffering." He added: "Torture is an extreme version of cruelty."

How extreme? Yoo was summoned again to the White House in the early spring of 2002. This time the question was urgent. The CIA had captured Abu Zubaida, then believed to be a top al-Qaeda operative, on March 28, 2002. Case officers wanted to know "what the legal limits of interrogation are," Yoo said.

This previously unreported meeting sheds light on the origins of one of the Bush administration's most controversial claims. The Justice Department delivered a classified opinion on Aug. 1, 2002, stating that the U.S. law against torture "prohibits only the worst forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" and therefore permits many others. [Read the opinion] Distributed under the signature of Assistant Attorney General Jay S. Bybee, the opinion also narrowed the definition of "torture" to mean only suffering "equivalent in intensity" to the pain of "organ failure ..... or even death."

When news accounts unearthed that opinion nearly two years later, the White House repudiated its contents. Some officials described it as hypothetical, without disclosing that the opinion was written in response to specific questions from the CIA. Administration officials attributed authorship to Yoo, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley who had come to serve in the Office of Legal Counsel.

But the "torture memo," as it became widely known, was not Yoo's work alone. In an interview, Yoo said that Addington, as well as Gonzales and deputy White House counsel Timothy E. Flanigan, contributed to the analysis.

The vice president's lawyer advocated what was considered the memo's most radical claim: that the president may authorize any interrogation method, even if it crosses the line into torture. U.S. and treaty laws forbidding any person to "commit torture," that passage stated, "do not apply" to the commander in chief, because Congress "may no more regulate the President's ability to detain and interrogate enemy combatants than it may regulate his ability to direct troop movements on the battlefield."

That same day, Aug. 1, 2002, Yoo signed off on a second secret opinion, the contents of which have never been made public. According to a source with direct knowledge, that opinion approved as lawful a long list of interrogation techniques proposed by the CIA -- including waterboarding, a form of near-drowning that the U.S. government has prosecuted as a war crime since at least 1901. The opinion drew the line against one request: threatening to bury a prisoner alive.

Yoo said for the first time in an interview that he verbally warned lawyers for the president, Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that it would be a risky policy to permit military interrogators to use the harshest techniques, because the armed services, vastly larger than the CIA, could overuse the tools or exceed the limits. "I always thought that only the CIA should do this, but people at the White House and at DOD felt differently," Yoo said. The migration of those techniques from the CIA to the military, and from Guantanamo Bay to Abu Ghraib, aroused worldwide condemnation when abuse by U.S. troops was exposed.

Through is spokeswoman, Tasia Scolinos, Gonzales declined a request for an interview about his time in the White House counsel's office and his interactions with Cheney. The vice president's spokeswoman, Lea Anne McBride, declined to comment on Yoo's recollection.

Enlarge PhotoCheney and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice confer in February 2002, around the time that detainee interrogation limits were being discussed. Rice wouldn't learn about the 'torture memo' until June 2004. More Cheney photos...On June 8, 2004, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell learned of the two-year-old torture memo for the first time from an article in The Washington Post [Read the article]. According to a former White House official with firsthand knowledge, they confronted Gonzales together in his office.

Rice "very angrily said there would be no more secret opinions on international and national security law," the official said, adding that she threatened to take the matter to the president if Gonzales kept them out of the loop again. Powell remarked admiringly, as they emerged, that Rice dressed down the president's lawyer "in full Nurse Ratched mode," a reference to the head nurse of the mental hospital in the 1975 film "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

Neither of them took their objections to Cheney, the official said, a much more dangerous course.

'His Client, the Vice President'
In the summer and fall of 2002, some of the Bush administration's leading lawyers began to warn that Cheney and his Pentagon allies had set the government on a path for defeat in court. As the judicial branch took up challenges to the president's assertion of wartime power, Justice Department lawyers increasingly found themselves defending what they believed to be losing positions -- directed by the vice president and his staff. One of the uneasy lawyers was Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson , a conservative stalwart whose wife, Barbara, had died on Sept. 11, 2001 when the hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. Olson shared Cheney's robust view of executive authority, but his job was to win cases. Two that particularly worried him involved U.S. citizens -- Jose Padilla and Yaser Esam Hamdi -- who had been declared enemy combatants and denied access to lawyers.

Federal courts, Olson argued, would not go along with that. But the CIA and military interrogators opposed any outside contact, fearing relief from the isolation and dependence that they relied upon to break the will of suspected terrorists.

Flanigan said that Addington's personal views leaned more toward Olson than against him, but that Addington beat back the proposal to grant detainees access to lawyers, "because that was the position of his client, the vice president."

Decision time came in a heated meeting in Gonzales's corner office on the West Wing's second floor, according to four officials with direct knowledge, none of whom agreed to be quoted by name about confidential legal deliberations. Olson was backed by associate White House counsel Bradford A. Berenson , a former law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.

Berenson told colleagues that the court's swing voter would never accept absolute presidential discretion to declare a U.S. citizen an enemy and lock him up without giving him an opportunity to be represented and heard. Another former Kennedy clerk, White House lawyer Brett Kavanaugh, had made the same argument earlier.

Addington accused Berenson of surrendering executive power on a fool's prophecy about an inscrutable court. Berenson accused Addington of "know-nothingness."

Gonzales listened quietly as the Justice Department and his own staff lined up against Addington. Then he decided in favor of Cheney's lawyer.

John D. Ashcroft, who was attorney general at the time, declined to discuss details of the dispute but said the vice president's views "carried a great deal of weight. He was the E.F. Hutton in the room. When he talked, everybody would listen." Cheney, he said, "compelled people to think carefully about whatever he mentioned."

When a U.S. District Court ruled several months later that Padilla had a right to counsel, Cheney's office insisted on sending Olson's deputy, Paul Clement, on what Justice Department lawyers called "a suicide mission": to tell Judge Michael B. Mukasey that he had erred so grossly that he should retract his decision. Mukasey derided the government's "pinched legalism" and added acidly that his order was "not a suggestion or request."

Cheney's strategy fared worse in the Supreme Court, where two cases arrived for oral argument alongside Padilla's on April 28, 2004.

For months, Olson and his Justice Department colleagues had pleaded for modest shifts that would shore up the government's position. Hamdi, the American, had languished in a Navy brig for two and a half years with out a hearing or a lawyer. Shafiq Rasul, a British citizen at Guantanamo Bay, had been held even longer. Olson could make Cheney's argument that courts had no jurisdiction, but he wanted to "show them that you at least have some system of due process in place" to ensure against wrongful detention, according to a senior Justice Department official who closely followed the debates.

Addington, the vice president's counsel fought and won again. He argued that any declaration of binding rules would restrict the freedom of future presidents and open the door to further lawsuits. On June 28, 2004, the Supreme Court ruled 8 to 1 in the Hamdi case that detainees must have a lawyer and an opportunity to challenge their status as enemy combatants before a "neutral decision maker." The Rasul decision, the same day, held 6 to 3 that Guantanamo Bay is not beyond the reach of federal law.

Eleven days later, Olson stepped down as solicitor general. His deputy succeeded him. What came next was a reminder that it does not pay to cross swords with the vice president.

Ashcroft, with support from Gonzales, proposed a lawyer named Patrick Philbin for deputy solicitor general. Philbin was among the authors of the post-Sept. 11 legal revolution, devising arguments to defend Cheney's military commissions and the denial of habeas corpus rights at Guantanamo Bay. But he had tangled with the vice president's office now and then, objecting to the private legal channel between Addington and Yoo and raising questions about domestic surveillance by the National Security Agency.

Cheney's lawyer passed word that Philbin was an unsatisfactory choice. The attorney general and White House counsel abandoned their candidate.

"OVP plays hardball," said a high-ranking former official who followed the episode, referring to the office of the vice president. "No one would defend Philbin."

'Administration Policy'
Rumsfeld, Cheney's longtime friend and mentor, gathered his senior subordinates at the Pentagon in the summer of 2005. He warned them to steer clear of Senate Republicans John McCain, John W. Warner and Lindsay O. Graham, who were drafting a bill to govern the handling of terrorism suspects.

"Rumsfeld made clear, emphatically, that the vice president had the lead on this issue," said a former Pentagon official with direct knowledge.

Enlarge PhotoDefense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, a longtime Cheney mentor, tours Abu Ghraib in May 2004. In 2005, he made it clear that Cheney 'has the lead on this issue,' said a Pentagon official, referring to the treatment of detainees More Cheney photos...Though his fingerprints were not apparent, Cheney had already staked out a categorical position for the president. It came in a last-minute insert to a "statement of administration policy" by the Office of Management and Budget, where Nancy Dorn, Cheney's former chief of legislative affairs, was deputy director. Without normal staff clearance, according to two Bush administration officials, the vice president's lawyer added a paragraph -- just before publication on July 21, 2005 -- to the OMB's authoritative guidance on the 2006 defense spending bill [Read the document].

"The Administration strongly opposes" any amendment to "regulate the detention, treatment or trial of terrorists captured in the war on terror," the statement said. Before most Bush administration officials even became aware that the subject was under White House review, Addington wrote that "the President's senior advisers would recommend that he veto" any such bill.

Among those taken unawares was Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon R. England. More than a year had passed since Bush expressed "deep disgust" over the abuse photographed at Abu Ghraib, and England told aides it was past time to issue clear rules for U.S. troops.

In late August 2005, England called a meeting of nearly three dozen Pentagon officials, including the vice chief and top uniformed lawyer for each military branch. Matthew Waxman, the deputy assistant secretary for detainee affairs, set the agenda.

Waxman said that the president's broadly stated order of Feb. 7, 2002 -- which called for humane treatment, "subject to military necessity" -- had left U.S. forces unsure about how to behave. The Defense Department, he said, should clarify its bedrock legal requirements with a directive incorporating the language of Geneva's Common Article 3 [Read Common Article 3]. That was exactly the language -- prohibiting cruel, violent, humiliating and degrading treatment -- that Cheney had spent three years expunging from U.S. policy.

"Every vice chief came out strongly in favor, as did every JAG," or judge advocate general, recalled Mora, who was Navy general counsel at the time.

William J. Haynes II, a close friend of Addington's who served as Rumsfeld's general counsel, was one of two holdouts in the room. The other was Stephen A. Cambone, Rumsfeld's undersecretary for intelligence.  Waxman, believing his opponents isolated, circulated a draft of DOD Directive 2310. Within a few days, Addington and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, invited Waxman for a visit.
27524  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: June 30, 2007, 06:36:22 AM
Mary Anastasia O'Grady del Wall Street Journal habla en ingles del politica fiscal de Calderon:
27525  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: June 30, 2007, 06:18:21 AM
Of Tax Cuts and Terror
New York's former mayor makes his case to be Reagan's heir.

Saturday, June 30, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

"I think the American people in November 2008 are going to select the person they think is strongest to defend America against Islamic terrorism. And it is not going to focus on--as some of the media wants it--just Iraq. I think Americans are smarter than that."

Thus did Rudy Giuliani summarize the rationale for his presidential campaign at a meeting this week with the editorial board of the Journal. Next year's election will be about national security, not about Iraq narrowly defined.

In an hour-long conversation in our offices in lower Manhattan, the former New York City mayor sat facing away from the view of Ground Zero below, but 9/11 was very much in the front of his mind. A few minutes into the interview, he paused midsentence, gestured over his shoulder and looked down at his hands. "Coming down here just fills me with memories," he offered. "I can't come here without thinking about what happened that day."

Mr. Giuliani has been accused of playing the 9/11 card for political gain, and he did not shy from discussing his role after the terrorist attacks on that day and its effect on his worldview. But he defied the caricature of a man who intends to beat the 9/11 drum all the way to the White House.

His views on foreign and domestic policy were cogent and delivered with the take-it-or-leave-it confidence that is as refreshing to his backers as it is infuriating to his opponents, both now and when he was mayor. "Leadership," he told us, "is first figuring out what's right, and then explaining it to people, as opposed to first having people explain to you what's right, and then just saying what they want to hear."

Mr. Giuliani is often referred to as a "moderate" Republican, which is true if it means simply that he doesn't follow the party line on certain issues, such as abortion. But there is very little else about him that qualifies for the label. "I am," he told us, "by all objective measures the most fiscally conservative candidate in the race." On domestic policy, he says he wants to shrink the government's share of the economy and increase the private sector's. Tax rates "should be lower" and our health-care system ought to be "move[d] away from the paternalistic model" that we have now.

This is not big-government conservatism. George W. Bush, he tells us, "was not good on spending," although he adds that Congress wasn't very good on spending, either. "I think that it's one of the primary reasons [the Republicans] lost Congress in 2006."

When it comes to the war on terror, "defending America" means "remaining on offense." More particularly, it means "using the Patriot Act, electronic surveillance and interrogation techniques that are legal but aggressive." Of Guantanamo Bay, he says, "I don't think we should close Guantanamo."

These, then, are the talking points. But in order to discover whether there was more to his national-security credentials than merely being "America's mayor" on 9/11, we pressed him on how a President Giuliani would handle a current foreign-policy crisis such as Iran. His answer revealed a discursive style that was on display throughout the meeting, and which can only be demonstrated by quoting from his reply at some length.
He started by explaining how he understands the problem, before getting around to how it ought to be handled: "Well, I think that if we've learned any lessons from the history of the 20th century, one of the lessons we should learn is [to] stop trying to psychoanalyze people and take them at their word.

"If we had taken Hitler at his word, Stalin at his word, I think we would have made much sounder decisions and saved a lot more lives. I don't know why we have to think that [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad doesn't mean what he says. Therefore, the more cautious, prudent way to react to it is, he means what he says.

"The second thing is . . . we shouldn't be surprised that he's emerged in Iran. Iran has been like that since the Ayatollah took over. So, they are an irresponsible regime."

With that by way of preamble, he answered the question: "America's approach should begin with the clear statement that we will not allow him to become a nuclear power. And everybody should know that, including your allies, that that's not a solution American will tolerate, because it would be too dangerous for us to put nuclear weapons in the hands of people who say the things he says and have done the things they've done."

OK, but it's one thing to say we will "not allow" a nuclear Iran, it's another to be prepared to do something about it. Does not allowing him to become a nuclear power include taking military action against Iran, if necessary? The answer comes quickly: "Whatever is necessary."

So, what are the odds that we can avoid military confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program? "It all depends on their evaluation of the American president. If they think that they have an American president that's going to be ambiguous and worry about this stuff--kind of a John Kerry type who is going to worry what Europe thinks--they're going to be more likely to take advantage of it."

Call it peace through strength. "If," on the other hand, "they believe that an American president will utilize any steps necessary to stop them from becoming nuclear, there is a much better chance that the sanctions will work, because you have leverage--and in a strange way, I think that a much better chance the sanctions will work because our allies, or semi-allies [like Russia and China], will have an incentive for making them work, because they don't want that [military action] to happen."

Asked whether he thinks the Bush administration is doing enough to address the Iranian situation, he says he "probably would prefer somewhat stronger language. What I really want to know is what's the bottom line--and I don't know the answer to that." He argues that, in this case, making the administration's bottom line public and explicit would help bring the Iranians around because they could no longer delude themselves that they might get away with going nuclear without paying a high price.

So much for Iran. How does Mr. Giuliani rate the current administration's handling of Iraq? "The plan for how to stabilize Iraq certainly wasn't a good one. And then there wasn't a quick enough reaction to the facts on the ground that showed you that it wasn't a good one. So I kind of look at that as, if you come into office and it's still there, you've got to try to straighten it out and you have to try to learn from it in the future." He's not a cut-and-run man, in other words.

The current fashion in Iraq war criticism is to say that America can't make any headway unless the Iraqis come to a political accommodation with each other, so America should step aside until that is accomplished. Mr. Giuliani looks at it through the lens of his time as mayor, and believes that America has to provide security before anything like a functioning society or government can emerge.

"Maybe having been a mayor I can see some of this better. By that I mean, if you've got to create a democracy, democracy is only a theory that doesn't mean very much when people live in fear. I used to say that about crime in New York, that the most important civil right is being safe. . . . It doesn't matter if you have other civil rights if you can't go out at night. . . . So if you're going to create an election in Iraq when the infrastructure of that society has crumbled--which means people can't go to work, people can't go out, more people are being killed than used to be the case, right in front of you--then democracy is a theory down the road, but your life has disintegrated. I don't think we saw our responsibility clearly enough at the beginning to keep up the infrastructure of Iraq."

It's too soon to ask any candidate what they would do about Iraq if elected--we know too little about what the state of play will be in January 2009. But when asked what his response is to those Republicans who are concerned that continuing to support the war will cost them seats in the Senate in November 2008, his answer is concise: "I'd tell them that getting this right is much more important than winning Senate seats."

On the home front, it's no surprise that Mr. Giuliani, a law-enforcement man for decades, believes we need the Patriot Act, the NSA wiretapping program and the rest of the war-fighting architecture that has been built up under President Bush. But when you dig a little deeper, Mr. Giuliani, a public servant nearly all of his adult life, sounds a lot more like the CEO president that George Bush was billed as than Mr. Bush has proved to be. He seems to think less in terms of "initiatives" than in terms of quantification, analysis and information. "I'd want an evaluation about how accurate are we [in identifying threats]. Are we 70%, 80%, 90% accurate? Can we sit down, and do we have on paper the leading groups? Do we have the primary actors? Are we evaluating whether our intelligence is improving? How effective are we being in finding them?"
This focus on methods carries more weight coming from Mr. Giuliani because of the results he achieved using it to bring down crime in New York City. Identify the problem, quantify it, isolate it and fight it. He admits that, as a private citizen, he doesn't have enough information about how much of this we're doing right now. But it's illustrative of his way of thinking about problems that what he thinks we need are metrics by which to measure all these things.

Likewise on government reform. He announced in a speech earlier this week that he would plan to replace only half of the 300,000 civil servants due to retire over the next decade. In his visit to the Journal's offices, he said he'd like to see every government agency try to identify ways to be more efficient every year. "You task them with--sort of like [former GE CEO] Jack Welch's approach, to always get rid of the bottom 10%--you task them every year to find 5%, 10% in savings, or 15% or 20% .  . . It's to save money, but it's also a discipline that has them going to their agency and figure out what is not efficient--what isn't working. We haven't done that since Reagan."

Mr. Giuliani likes to quantify. In place of a platform, he has 12 "commitments," which he has printed up on a card (they are also on his campaign Web site). He freely admits that, political reality being what it is, he would consider it a victory to "achieve seven or eight of them."

Mr. Giuliani invoked Ronald Reagan's name repeatedly, and always as a model. There is an element of political calculation in that--Mr. Giuliani is trying to reassure the so-called cultural conservatives that if they liked Reagan, they'll love Rudy. But can he overcome the perception that he's a culturally liberal, pro-choice New Yorker who's to the left of his own party on a number of issues? He says that his differences with the party on cultural issues are "sometimes exaggerated for political purposes."

On Roe v. Wade, he says, astutely, "I don't answer that because I wouldn't want a judge to have to answer that. I don't consider it a litmus test." But he may give the pro-life crowd jitters when he adds, "I think a conservative strict constructionist judge could come to either conclusion." He suggests that the real test should be intellectual honesty, and to that end he cites D.C. Circuit Appeals Court Judge Larry Silberman's recent opinion on the Second Amendment, affirming a constitutional right to bear arms. This is a nice piece of political turnabout--to respond to a question about his stance on abortion by citing favorably the most important pro-gun-rights decision in recent history.

To return to the subject at hand, we ask him who on the Supreme Court now meets his standards for intellectual honesty. "[Samuel] Alito, [John] Roberts--I would have appointed either one of them," he offers. He's said as much before. But he continues: "[Antonin] Scalia clearly does [meet the standard], and [Clarence] Thomas. I would have appointed any one of the four of them."

Speaking of justice, Mr. Giuliani has been more circumspect than some of his rivals on whether he would pardon I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. And he repeated again that he wouldn't pardon Mr. Libby "right now." On the other hand, Mr. Giuliani advanced a pretty good argument that he should never have been tried. "Perjury has to be material--it has to relate to what you're investigating," he offered. "If someone goes in front of a grand jury and tells a lie about an insignificant fact, it's a lie but it isn't perjury. There's all kinds of lying that isn't criminal . . . If the investigation is about a non-crime, when you know who did it, how could anything be material to it?" That sounds an awful lot like an argument for a pardon, even if Mr. Giuliani seems to think the time may not be right.
There's no denying that Mr. Giuliani's campaign is built around the war on terror--or, as he prefers to call it, "the terrorists' war on us." He views the 2008 election as a turning point in the conflict, and, naturally, thinks he's the man to steer things in the right direction.

"I think that the president we elect in 2008 will determine how long it takes to prevail against the terrorists," Mr. Giuliani says. "If you select somebody that is going to go back on defense, it's going to take a much longer time and there are going to be more casualties. If you select a president that's going to remain on offense, and even improve on it, it isn't going to be easy, but it's going to mean less casualties, faster." It's not an easy or comforting message, but Mr. Giuliani is not in the comforting business. Whether it's a message the country wants to hear is something the voters will let us know.

Mr. Carney is a member of the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal. A full transcript of the interview is available here.
27526  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iran out of Gas on: June 30, 2007, 06:04:24 AM
A bit of a different take on the situation in Iran from an investment newsletter:

by John Mauldin
June 29, 2007   
In this issue:
Iran Out of Gas
When an Enemy Is Self-Destructing, Stand Aside
, , ,

Iran Out of Gas

But before we touch on the credit world, I want to briefly look at a development in the oil markets which I find intriguing. Dr. Woody Brock, in a recent paper on oil prices, wrote a rather interesting sentence, to wit, that Iran would not have net oil to export in 2014. I found that rather remarkable. Woody is very serious and sober-minded even for an economist, not given to rash analysis, but this was certainly a new idea to me. I knew they were importing most of their gasoline, as they do not have a great deal of refining capacity. As it turns out, there is much more to the story.

I have said for years that I expect Iran to be the new friend of the US sometime next decade, as the regime is not popular and the country is growing younger. (Think China, once an implacable enemy.) I thought that the impetus would be the lack of freedom and knowledge of how the world is better off coming from the internet, but it turns out that it may be a desire for more freedom combined with economic problems which help bring about regime change, much as in Russia last century.

How could a country with the third (or second, depending on which source you quote) largest oil reserves in the world not be churning out ever more black gold? The answer, as it almost always is for such problems, turns out to be governmental and not economic in nature. Let's start out with a few facts.

Oil provides more than 70% of the revenues of the government of Iran. The rise in oil prices has been a bonanza for the regime, allowing them to subsidize all sorts of welfare programs at home and mischief abroad. And one of the chief subsidies is gasoline prices.

Gasoline costs about $.34 cents a gallon in Iran, or 9 cents a liter. You can fill up your Honda Civic for $4.49. In the US it costs almost $40 (The price has risen since the chart below was made). In neighboring Turkey it costs almost $95. Look at the two charts below from the recent Foreign Policy Magazine. Notice that Iran is spending 38% of its national budget (almost 15% of GDP!) on gasoline subsidies!

Chart two:

And this situation is likely to get worse. Let's look at a rather remarkable peer-reviewed study done for the National Academy of Sciences by Roger Stern of Johns Hopkins University late last year. Stern's analysis is somewhat political, in that he is critical of current US Iranian policy, but this is just one of several studies which show the same thing (

"A more probable scenario is that, absent some change in Irani policy ... [we will see] exports declining to zero by 2014-2015. Energy subsidies, hostility to foreign investment, and inefficiencies of its state-planned economy underlie Iran's problem, which has no relation to 'peak oil.' "

Iran earns about $50 billion a year in oil exports. The decline is estimated at 10-12% annually. In less than five years, exports could be halved and then disappear by 2015, predicted Stern.

Of course, you can go to a dozen web sites, mostly Iranian, which demonstrate that Iranian production will be double (or pick a number) by that time. The problem is, they all assume rather large sums of investment in the Iranian oil fields. Two projects which are "counted on" to be producing oil in 2008 have yet to be funded or started, as negotiations have broken down. Iran seems incapable of getting a deal actually done with a willing partner.

Part of this is a caused by the Iranian constitution, which does not allow for foreign ownership of oil reserves or fields. Instead, they try to negotiate to pay for investing in oil production. Called a buyback, any investment in an oil field is turned into sovereign Iranian government debt with a return of 15-17%. This is a very unpopular program at home, coming under much criticism from local government officials. Any deal that gets close to getting done comes under attack from lawmakers as being too good for foreign investors, so nothing is getting done.

Why not just fund the development themselves? They could, but the mullahs have elected to spend the money now rather than make investments which will not produce revenues for 4-6 years or more. They are investing around half the money needed just to maintain production, around $3 billion a year.

Let's look at a quote from Mohammed Hadi Nejad-Hosseinian, Iran's deputy oil minister for international affairs: "If the government does not control the consumption of oil products in Iran ... and at the same time, if the projects for increasing the capacity of the oil and protection of the oil wells will not happen, within 10 years, there will not be any oil for export." That's from their guy, not a Western academic.

When an Enemy is Self-Destructing, Stand Aside

Iran produced over 6 billion barrels of oil before the revolution in 1979. They now produce around 4 billion barrels a year. They are currently producing about 5% below their quota, which shows they are at their limits under current capacity. And production at their old fields is waning. The world recovery rate is about 35% from oil fields. Iran's is an abnormally low 24-27%. Normally, you pump natural gas back into an aging field (called reinjection) in order to get higher yields. Iran has enormous reserves of natural gas. Seems like there should be a solution.

However, if the National Iranian Oil Company (NOIC) sells it natural gas outside of Iran, it turns a profit. If it sells it in the country, then it can only get the lower, dramatically subsidized price. Guess which it chooses. Even so, internal natural gas demand is growing by 9% a year.

Not surprisingly, at 34 cents a gallon gasoline demand is rising 10% a year. This week, the government moved to ration supplies to about 22 gallons a month, which does not go far in the large cars preferred by younger Iranians. There have been riots, with people chanting "Death to Ahmadinejad." They take their right to plenty of cheap gas seriously. There is also widespread smuggling. Ten barrels of gasoline (easily hauled in a pickup) taken into Turkey yields about $3,000 in profit in a country with about that much GDP per person. Let's end with this section from Stern:

"Our survey suggests that Iran's petroleum sector is unlikely to attract investment sufficient to maintain oil exports. Maintaining exports would require foreign investment to increase when it appears to be declining. Other factors contributing to export decline are also intensifying. Demand growth for subsidized petroleum compounds from an ever-larger base. Growth rates for gasoline (11-12%), gas (9%), and electric power (7-8%) are especially problematic. Oil recovery rates have declined, and, with no remedy in sight for the gas reinjection shortage, this decline may accelerate.

"Depletion rates have increased, and, if investment does not increase, depletion will accelerate. If the regime actually proceeds with LNG exports, oil export decline will accelerate for lack of reinjection gas. In summary, the regime has been incapable of maximizing profit, minimizing cost, or constraining explosive demand for subsidized petroleum products. These failures have very substantial economic consequences.

"Despite mismanagement, the Islamic Republic's real oil revenues are nearly their highest ever as rising price compensates for stagnant energy production and declining oil exports. Despite high price, however, population growth has resulted in a 44% decline of real oil revenue per capita since the 1980 price peak. Moreover, virtually all revenue growth has been applied to pet projects, loss-making industries, etc. If price were to decline, political power sustained by the quadrupling of government spending since 1999 may not be sustainable. Yet we found no evidence that Iran plans fiscal retrenchment or any scheme to sustain oil investment.

"Rather, the government promises 'to put oil revenues on every table,' as if monopoly rents were not already the entree. Backing this promise is a welfare state built on the Soviet model widely understood as a formula for long-run economic suicide. This includes the 5-year plans, misallocation of resources, loss-making state enterprises, subsidized consumption, corruption, and oil export dependence that doomed the Soviet experiment. Therefore, the regime's ability to contend with the export decline we project seems limited."

Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of mullahs. If gasoline subsidies are 40% of the national budget now, what will they be in 7 years at a growth of 10% a year? Can rationing work? No, but it can slow the economy.

Stern concludes that Iran may need nuclear power as their energy supply is dwindling. I find this conclusion rather preposterous, since if they wanted more energy, all they would have to do is allow foreign investment or invest more of their own money in their own fields. If the developed world will simply apply firm sanctions, Iran will have to reconsider its nuclear program, as their ability to finance mischief will erode as the mullahs divert their resources to domestic needs in order to maintain their dwindling popularity.

The cost of their current policies cannot be lost on the youth and educated people of the country. There is almost 14% unemployment among college graduates. Iran looks to me like Russia did in 1988. They were in the process of self-destruction, although few recognized it at the time. Iran is a matter of time. 
27527  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: June 30, 2007, 05:54:18 AM

When possible please lets remember to use existing threads instead of starting a new one.

27528  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: June 30, 2007, 01:08:31 AM
The problem is that no one would agree on what is "fair".  The problem is the government imposing speech.

" I'm not sure how the "market" in the most liberal area of the country somehow decided that more than 60% of it's AM talk radio should consist of hard core right-wing shows."

That's the mystery of it all grin  That you (or I) do not understand it is irrelevant.  To think that we can is what Hayek called "the fatal conceit".

In this case you don't know how what is unfair and unbalanced would be decided; you don't who would decide it; and you don't know who gets to choose who gets represent the other side-- or even that there will only be two sides!-- and you want to put the government in charge anyway.


27529  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Nature on: June 29, 2007, 08:46:52 PM
The June 25th entry on David Gordon's blog has an awesome clip of a tiger ambushing an elephant with human riders.
27530  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering on: June 29, 2007, 03:37:04 PM
Fred "C-____ Dog" Hernandez.  ( BTW Fred is well into his 50s cool )
27531  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Evolutionary biology/psychology on: June 29, 2007, 01:54:59 PM
By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, AP Science Writer
Mon Jun 25, 5:00 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Researchers studying Neanderthal DNA say it should be possible to construct a complete genome of the ancient hominid despite the degradation of the DNA over time.  There is also hope for reconstructing the genome of the mammoth and cave bear, according to a research team led by Svante Paabo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. Their findings are published in this week's online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Debate has raged for years about whether there is any relationship between Neanderthals and modern humans. Some researchers believe that Neanderthals were simply replaced by early modern humans, while others argue the two groups may have interbred.

Sequencing the genome of Neanderthals, who lived in Europe until about 30,000 years ago, could shed some light on that question.  In studies of Neanderthals, cave bear and mammoth, a majority of the DNA recovered was that of microorganisms that colonized the tissues after death, the researchers said.  But they were able to identify some DNA from the original animal, and Paabo and his colleagues were able to determine how it broke down over time. They also developed procedures to prevent contamination by the DNA of humans working with the material.

"We are confident that it will be technically feasible to achieve a reliable Neanderthal genome sequence," Paabo and his researchers reported.

They said problem of damaged areas in some DNA could be overcome by using a sufficient amount of Neanderthal DNA from different individuals, so the whole genome can be determined.

"The contamination and degradation of DNA has been a serious issue for the last 10 years," observed Erik Trinkaus, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis. "This is a serious attempt to deal with that issue and that's welcome.  I'm not sure they have completely solved the problem, but they've made a big step in that direction," said Trinkaus, who was not involved in the research.

Anthropologist Richard Potts of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, called the work "a very significant technical study of DNA decay."

The researchers "have tried to answer important questions about the potential to sequence ancient DNA," said Potts, who was not part of the research.

Milford Wolpoff, a University of Michigan Anthropologist, said creating a complete Neanderthal genome is a great goal.

But it is "sample intensive," he said, and he isn't sure enough DNA is available to complete the work. Curators don't like to see their specimens ground up, he said.

The research was funded by the Max Planck Society and the National Institutes of Health.
27532  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Care Economics on: June 29, 2007, 01:23:52 PM
Socialized Medicine Showdown
It's time for some GOP spine on health care.

Friday, June 29, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

While most of Congress scrapped over immigration this week, a small band of Republicans doggedly toiled behind the scenes on quite a different subject. National Economic Council Director Al Hubbard and health secretary Mike Leavitt shuttled to and from the Hill; Senators hashed out the topic at a steering committee lunch; congressmen canvassed members, wrote and wrote legislation. Even President Bush gave a speech on the subject, exhorting his party to get it together.

The result--if Republicans know what's good for them--may be a broad new GOP health-care vision, a free-market reform to replace today's faltering employer-based system. The party has circled this for years, throwing out free-market ideas here and there, yet never proved unified (or brave) enough to get behind one bold, top-to-bottom reform. Democrats are now forcing their hand.

The setting is the upcoming debate over the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or Schip, a brawl that could well determine the future direction of U.S. health care. Democrats see expanding Schip as the first step toward socialized medicine. If Republicans fail to meet that challenge with their own more compelling plan for market-based, consumer-driven reform, it may prove the beginning of the end of today's private model.

If that sounds dramatic, consider the Democrats' strategy. The left still bears the wounds of HillaryCare, and knows that even with spiraling health-care costs, the nation still has little appetite for an abrupt shift to all-government care. So they've developed a craftier approach, one that takes longer but gets them to the same end.

The new plot is to enact national health care one citizen at a time, slowly expanding the reach of existing government programs until they encompass the population.

Schip is the first step. The program, with its $25 billion budget, was originally designed to provide insurance to only the poorest children. Democrats want to throw an additional $60 billion at it, expanding Schip's rolls by three million. They would expand eligibility so much that as many as half joining would drop private insurance to do so. Even adults could sign up.
Next: Even as Democrats work to expand Schip to cover older Americans, they'd expand Medicare to cover younger Americans. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell is said to have recently floated the idea of allowing the struggling Big Three auto makers to enroll workers in Medicare at the age of 55, or 10 years early. Consider this a pilot program for dropping Medicare's age limit overall and instantly subjecting tens of millions more Baby Boomers to the government's tender care.

Democrats will meanwhile argue the only way to pay for Schip and other expanded programs is to gut Medicare Advantage and similar free-market reforms. See how clever? Swallow up ever more Americans into federal programs, banish any last vestiges of popular market plans, and voilà! It is Hillarycare! Only nobody ever had to use the dreaded word!

Republicans beat back the original HillaryCare by warning about Canadian waiting lines, but a negative message alone won't do this time. Our third-party-payer system, while still stacks better than France, is nonetheless collapsing--and Americans know it. Republicans can't simply be against socialized care, while not being for anything else. The left also chose its first battle wisely, with a program for "the children." The GOP's only Schip response so far has been to grouse about cost. And it's realizing a message of "We're for the children, just not as much as them," isn't a political winner.

This week's backroom talks--led by health-care innovators Tom Coburn and Jim DeMint in the Senate, and Paul Ryan and Jim McCrery in the House--were therefore about getting beyond Schip. The goal: a system that eliminates today's corporate subsidy and gives the money to individuals, cutting costs and reducing the number of uninsured. The political message: Dems want to put a few million more under government control for $60 billion, Republicans want to put 300 million in charge of their own care at zero extra cost.

The good news is that after 10 years of tinkering, Republicans have laid the foundation for bigger reform, from Health Savings Accounts to tort liability reform. The more intense policy debate this week instead focused on the biggie: how to revamp the tax code to get that money to individuals. On one side are tax wonks, among them Sen. Jon Kyl, who prefer giving every American a tax deduction--as President Bush has advocated. They argue it does the least damage to the tax code, and is less of a handout. On the other side are health-care wonks, among them Sen. Coburn, who prefer a refundable tax credit. They argue it does more to help with the uninsured, and is coincidentally a better political sell.

By the end of this week, the architects were coalescing around a tax-credit approach, on the belief it will attract the most GOP support. In a signal of White House approval, President Bush deliberately noted in his speech Wednesday that a tax credit would have a "similar outcome" to his deduction plan, and that he was "open to further discussion." Word was that Republican leaders were also climbing on board, with all concerned hoping to debut something big in coming weeks.
The challenge then will be to get the rest of the party to overcome its nervelessness on health care. The ringleaders of today's effort admit they may have to do a Sen. Phil Gramm, who in 1993 led by example, singlehandedly tearing into HillaryCare, proving his position a winner with voters, and pulling his colleagues in line.

They'll need to roll up their sleeves. Most Republicans don't understand health care, so don't want to talk about it; many grimace at voting down money for "kids"; quite a few face tough elections and would rather not jump into an unknown debate. Reformers also aren't getting cover from should-be allies. Insurers and lobby groups like PHRMA--who ought to understand that a bigger Schip is a threat to their long-term business--are instead focused on short-term profits and PR images. Republican governors--who'd be huge beneficiaries of an individualized market--seem to only care about keeping federal dollars flowing into state coffers.

Democrats will hail a Schip victory as an example of how they can help Americans on their top concern of health care. They want to ride it to the White House and to bigger congressional majorities, making it that much easier to institute incremental national health care. If Republicans don't unify now, they might not get a better chance.

Ms. Strassel is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board, based in Washington. Her column appears Fridays.
27533  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / July 4th on: June 29, 2007, 01:20:15 PM
I suppose I could have posted this Peggy Noonan piece on the immigration thread, but somehow it seems more fitting to open a thread dedicated to July 4th.

On Letting Go
How we become American.

Friday, June 29, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Happy Fourth of July. To mark this Wednesday's holiday, I share a small moment that happened a year ago in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. I was at a wake for an old family friend named Anthony Coppola, a retired security guard who'd been my uncle Johnny's best friend from childhood. All the old neighborhood people were there from Clinton Avenue and from other streets in Brooklyn, and Anthony's sisters Tessie and Angie and Gloria invited a priest in to say some prayers. About a hundred of us sat in chairs in a little side chapel in the funeral home.

The priest, a jolly young man with a full face and thick black hair, said he was new in the parish, from South America. He made a humorous, offhand reference to the fact that he was talking to longtime Americans who'd been here for ages. This made the friends and family of Anthony Coppola look at each other and smile. We were Italian, Irish, everything else. Our parents had been the first Americans born here, or our grandparents had. We had all grown up with two things, a burly conviction that we were American and an inner knowledge that we were also something else. I think we experienced this as a plus, a double gift, though I don't remember anyone saying that. When Anthony's mother or her friend, my grandmother, talked about Italy or Ireland, they called it "the old country." Which suggested there was a new one, and that we were new in it.

But this young priest, this new immigrant, he looked at us and thought we were from the Mayflower. As far as he was concerned--as far as he could tell--we were old Yankee stock. We were the establishment. As the pitcher in "Bang the Drum Slowly" says, "This handed me a laugh."

This is the way it goes in America. You start as the Outsider and wind up the Insider, or at least being viewed as such by the newest Outsiders. We are a nation of still-startling social fluidity. Anyone can become "American," but they have to want to first.

It has had me thinking a lot about how people become American.

I don't know that when my grandfather Patrick Byrne and his sisters, Etta and Mary Jane, who had lived on a hardscrabble little farm in Donegal, on the west coast of Ireland, felt about America when they got here. I don't know if they were "loyal to America." I think they were loyal to their decision to come to America. In for a penny, in for a pound. They had made their decision. Now they had to prove to themselves it was the right one. I remember asking Etta what she'd heard about America before she got here. She said, "The streets were paved with gold." All the immigrants of the late 19th and early 20th century used that phrase.
When I was in college in the 1970s, I got a semester abroad my junior year, and I took a boat from England to Ireland and made my way back to Donegal. This was approximately 55 years after my grandfather and his sisters had left. There I met an old man who'd been my grandfather's boyhood friend. He lived by himself in a shack on a hill and was grateful the cousins I'd found had sent me to him. He told me he'd been there the day my grandfather, then a young man, left. He said the lorry came down the lane and stopped for my grandfather, and that his father said goodbye. He said, "Go now, and never come back to hungry Ireland again."

My grandfather had his struggles here but never again went home. He'd cast his lot. That's an important point in the immigrant experience, when you cast your lot, when you make your decision. It makes you let go of something. And it makes you hold on to something. The thing you hold on to is the new country. In succeeding generations of your family the holding on becomes a habit and then a patriotism, a love. You realize America is more than the place where the streets were paved with gold. It has history, meaning, tradition. Suddenly that's what you treasure.

A problem with newer immigrants now is that for some it's no longer necessary to make The Decision. They don't always have to cast their lot. There are so many ways not to let go of the old country now, from choosing to believe that America is only about money, to technology that encourages you to stay in constant touch with the land you left, to TV stations that broadcast in the old language. If you're an immigrant now, you don't have to let go. Which means you don't have to fully join, to enmesh. Your psychic investment in America doesn't have to be full. It can be provisional, temporary. Or underdeveloped, or not developed at all.

And this may have implications down the road, and I suspect people whose families have been here a long time are concerned about it. It's one of the reasons so many Americans want a pause, a stopping of the flow, a time for the new ones to settle down and settle in. It's why they oppose the mischief of the Masters of the Universe, as they're being called, in Washington, who make believe they cannot close our borders while they claim they can competently micromanage all other aspects of immigration.

It happens that I know how my grandfather's sister Mary Jane became an American. She left a paper trail. She kept a common-place book, a sort of diary with clippings and mementos. She kept it throughout the 1920s, when she was still new here. I found it after she'd died. It's a big brown book with cardboard covers and delicate pages. In the front, in the first half, there are newspaper clippings about events in Ireland, and sentimental poems. "I am going back to Glenties . . ."
But about halfway through, the content changes. There is a newspaper clipping about something called "Thanksgiving." There are newspaper photos of parades down Fifth Avenue. And suddenly, near the end, there are patriotic poems. One had this refrain: "So it's home again and home again, America for me./ My heart is turning home again, and there I long to be./ In the land of youth and freedom beyond the ocean bars/ Where the air is full of sunlight, and the flag is full of stars."

Years later, when I worked for Ronald Reagan, those words found their way into one of his speeches, a nod from me to someone who'd made her decision, cast her lot, and changed my life.

I think I remember the last time I told that story. I think it was to a young Mexican-American woman who was a speechwriter for Bill Clinton. I think she completely understood.

God bless our beloved country on the 231st anniversary of its birth.

Ms. Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and author of "John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father" (Penguin, 2005), which you can order from the OpinionJournal bookstore. Her column appears Fridays on
27534  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: June 29, 2007, 12:50:31 PM
June 29, 2007

In today's Political Diary:

Roiling Up Whitewater
Seeking Radio Silence
'Partisan' Is Anyone You Disagree With (Quote of the Day I)
Fairness Indoctrination (Quote of the Day II)
Only His Friends Call Him 'Knuckles'
Whitewater: A Scandal About Nothing?

It's been more than a decade since Mark Fabiani served as a top spinmeister for the Clinton administration, adroitly batting away questions from reporters on the "scandal beat," which covered far more than Monica Lewinsky. There was also the Whitewater land deal, Travelgate, Filegate and Attorney General Janet Reno's sudden firing of every U.S. Attorney in the country in a single day.

Now Mr. Fabiani is chief counsel for the San Diego Chargers, and is deep into trying to secure a new stadium for that football team. But reporters have suddenly been reminded of his old role by a new biography of Hillary Clinton by Carl Bernstein, one of the famous Washington Post reporters who uncovered Watergate. Mr. Fabiani, who evidently spoke at length with Mr. Bernstein for "Women in Charge," appears to be the source for some fascinating revelations about his time protecting the Clintons from scandal probes.

Contrary to all the assertions that the Whitewater land deal was a silly story, Mr. Fabiani's private view was that notwithstanding "the Clintons' protestations to the contrary, it was a reasonable issue to explore in a presidential campaign. [The] governor of a state who had regulatory authority over a savings and loan was in business with the owner of the savings and loan.... And the owner of the savings and loan was probably carrying more than his share of the costs of the business, the piece of [Whitewater] land owned jointly with the Clintons."

Later in the book, Mr. Fabiani says there was a "serious fear" that First Lady Hillary Clinton would be indicted. One of Hillary's lawyers told Mr. Bernstein that Ms. Clinton had "run everything" in the aftermath of the suicide of White House Deputy Counsel Vince Foster, her former law partner. "Then she had denied it. You could see her... getting so intimately involved in... how you handle [Foster's] office, and what you are going to do with the documents, and who's going to search the office. You can see her jumping into this."

Mr. Fabiani left the Clintons' employ shortly after the 1996 presidential election because, as Mr. Bernstein put it, he was "deeply disturbed" about White House senior aide Bruce Lindsey's handling of investigations into the 1996 Clinton-Gore fundraising scandals, which involved illegal foreign money. Mr. Fabiani is reported in the book to have been worried about Mr. Lindsey's use of "continuing false characterizations" with respect to one part of the scandal and the "seeming expectation" that he would "lie as well" about other parts.

As Chris Reed of the San Diego Union-Tribune put it in his blog, "this is fascinating stuff to political junkies, and very relevant given Hillary's good shot at the White House." Indeed, focus groups frequently point out that one of the major obstacles to a Hillary campaign is the general sense of many voters that they'd rather not relive the roller-coaster experience of the Clinton White House. The first ride was quite enough, thank you.

-- John Fund

 A Subject Made for Talk Radio

"There's nothing fair about the Fairness Doctrine," is how Rep. Mike Pence, an Indiana Republican and former talk-show host, put it yesterday before the House voted 309 to 115 in favor of his bill to block any future president or the Federal Communications Commission from reinstating the 1949 Fairness Doctrine, the regulation that for some four decades stifled discussion of controversial issues on the airwaves by requiring broadcast stations to provide "equal time" for opposing commentary.

Democrats, many of whom are sympathetic to muzzling conservative talk radio, were spooked by the power of hosts such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity to make their lives miserable. Even Democratic Rep. David Obey put on a brave face as he rose to support the Pence bill. "Rush and Sean are just about as important in the scheme of things as Paris Hilton," he told the House. "I would hate to see them gain an ounce of credibility by being forced by a government agency or anybody else to moderate their views enough that they might become modestly influential or respected."

Mr. Obey is, of course, fooling himself. It was precisely the fear of populist talk radio that compelled over half of Democrats in the House to back the Pence bill rather than court the anger of the airwaves.

If Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell doesn't duplicate the Pence bill in the Senate, he'll be missing a great political opportunity. The Senate is a hotbed of pro-Fairness Doctrine sentiment. In recent days, John Kerry, Dick Durbin of Illinois and Dianne Feinstein of California have all touted its revival. "In my view, talk radio tends to be one-sided. It also tends to be dwelling in hyperbole. It's explosive. It pushes people to, I think, extreme views without a lot of information," Ms. Feinstein recently said.

In the language of politicalspeak used by most Members of Congress, what Ms. Feinstein was really saying is that talk radio has gotten too powerful and it's time radio hosts were sent a warning that it's incumbents in Congress who write the rules that determine whether they can stay in business or not.

Mr. Pence's successful effort is just the latest embarrassment the Democratic House majority has suffered at the hands of the Republican minority. "Republicans sure know how to be an effective minority better than the Democrats did," complained Democratic Rep. Zack Space of Ohio.

For now, the Fairness Mongers and their Democratic Congressional allies are clearly on the defensive.

-- John Fund
Quote of the Day I

"The partisanship scolds are extremely vague about which chunk of Americans is being left out by the growing extremism in Washington. It is true that some broadly popular views are underrepresented in national politics. A detailed political typology released by the Pew Center in 2005 showed that Democratic voters are not as socially liberal as their leaders and Republican voters are not nearly as economically conservative. So there is a sizable base of socially traditionalist, economically populist voters to be had. Unfortunately, the partisanship scolds invariably cater to exactly the opposite demographic: elites who favor free trade, open immigration, cutting entitlements, and social tolerance" -- Jonathan Chait, writing in the New Republic on the severe limits of Michael Bloomberg's potential popularity as an independent presidential candidate running against "partisanship."

Quote of the Day II

"I think that [former Clinton White House Chief of Staff] John Podesta's group, the Center for American Progress, produced that report, entitled 'The Structural Imbalance of American Talk Radio,' that set the stage for a number of extremely prominent, powerful people to step forward and begin to make the intellectual case to return the Fairness Doctrine. Should, you know, quite frankly, a Democrat take control of the White House, the FCC in a Democrat administration could simply do this by a change in regulations" -- Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, in an interview on Fox's Hannity & Colmes show, on the origins of the new Democratic effort to quiet talk radio by reinstating the Fairness Doctrine.

Nice Nussle

When Iowa Republican Jim Nussle was chairman of the House Budget Committee a few years ago, he earned a reputation as a political brawler. A few colleagues even gave him the nickname "knuckles." Now that President Bush has tapped him to be the new White House budget director, that reputation is being turned on him. House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey immediately criticized the nominee, comparing him unfavorably to outgoing Budget Director Rob Portman. The White House has "gone from someone who liked to work things out to someone who is actually confrontational," Mr. Obey complained. "It's an act of absolute confrontation."

We know Mr. Nussle a bit. He's not the political bruiser that some now accuse him of being, but certainly knows the ins and outs of the federal budget. He also knows how ridiculous federal spending priorities can be. In his time as budget chairman, he led a brave but failing effort to nick 1% off non-defense spending in every federal department, took a risky stab at entitlement reform while others shied away, and ferreted out some egregious cases of Medicare waste and fraud.

President Bush is still paying a price for not vetoing a single spending bill and developing a reputation for being too indulgent of Congress's spending habits. If bringing in Mr. Nussle is an indication that Mr. Bush intends to knock a few heads on Capitol Hill, he'll likely draw applause from outside the Beltway.

-- Brendan Miniter

27535  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: June 29, 2007, 12:43:04 PM
Opinion Journal of the WSJ:

 A Subject Made for Talk Radio

"There's nothing fair about the Fairness Doctrine," is how Rep. Mike Pence, an Indiana Republican and former talk-show host, put it yesterday before the House voted 309 to 115 in favor of his bill to block any future president or the Federal Communications Commission from reinstating the 1949 Fairness Doctrine, the regulation that for some four decades stifled discussion of controversial issues on the airwaves by requiring broadcast stations to provide "equal time" for opposing commentary.

Democrats, many of whom are sympathetic to muzzling conservative talk radio, were spooked by the power of hosts such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity to make their lives miserable. Even Democratic Rep. David Obey put on a brave face as he rose to support the Pence bill. "Rush and Sean are just about as important in the scheme of things as Paris Hilton," he told the House. "I would hate to see them gain an ounce of credibility by being forced by a government agency or anybody else to moderate their views enough that they might become modestly influential or respected."

Mr. Obey is, of course, fooling himself. It was precisely the fear of populist talk radio that compelled over half of Democrats in the House to back the Pence bill rather than court the anger of the airwaves.

If Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell doesn't duplicate the Pence bill in the Senate, he'll be missing a great political opportunity. The Senate is a hotbed of pro-Fairness Doctrine sentiment. In recent days, John Kerry, Dick Durbin of Illinois and Dianne Feinstein of California have all touted its revival. "In my view, talk radio tends to be one-sided. It also tends to be dwelling in hyperbole. It's explosive. It pushes people to, I think, extreme views without a lot of information," Ms. Feinstein recently said.

In the language of politicalspeak used by most Members of Congress, what Ms. Feinstein was really saying is that talk radio has gotten too powerful and it's time radio hosts were sent a warning that it's incumbents in Congress who write the rules that determine whether they can stay in business or not.

Mr. Pence's successful effort is just the latest embarrassment the Democratic House majority has suffered at the hands of the Republican minority. "Republicans sure know how to be an effective minority better than the Democrats did," complained Democratic Rep. Zack Space of Ohio.

For now, the Fairness Mongers and their Democratic Congressional allies are clearly on the defensive.

-- John Fund
27536  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: June 29, 2007, 12:25:24 PM

TURKEY: Turkey is prepared to attack Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said. Gul said Turkey has comprehensive plans to invade northern Iraq, but will not occupy foreign territory. Gul added that an army invasion of Iraq would require parliamentary approval, but said airstrikes against Kurdish rebel positions in Iraq would not.
27537  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Theory on: June 29, 2007, 12:19:20 PM

The roots of liberty— “The unanimous Declaration...”
The roots of liberty and American government run deep—back to the year 1164 in Clarendon, England. At that time, the idea of democratic republicanism and the liberal state could hardly be imagined. The student of English history will remember this as the place and date of the Constitutions of Clarendon, which struck the decisive blow in the battle over royal prerogatives between Henry II, King of England, and Thomas a Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Installed as a puppet, Becket had found true faith and refused to bow to the whims of a tyrannical king. Becket’s refusal to sign and submit to the Constitutions of Clarendon forced him into exile and, ultimately, led to his assassination at the hands of Henry’s knights—hardly a picture of democratic process.

Clarendon has been remembered as a loss of rights for the church, a triumph of the secular over the sacred. However true this interpretation of events may be, Clarendon’s significance for the movement toward the modern liberal state is equally important. With Clarendon, the English church would no longer be able to use excommunication to enforce its temporal demands over the subjects of the crown. Rather, trial by jury began to remove arbitrary justice from the hands of bishops and kings alike, replaced by justice dispensed under a code of law administered by fellow citizens. Despite Henry’s dubious intentions, Clarendon begins to delineate the modern relationship between church and state: Civil law, not Rome, would hereafter govern temporal affairs.

Half a century later, in 1215, the next major leap forward in modern liberal governance would be ushered in with Magna Carta, the “Great Charter,” issued by King John of England at the demand of his rebellious barons. Magna Carta was reissued several times and comes to us in its final form, issued in 1297 by Edward I, John’s grandson. Though the context for Magna Carta is a very different one, it is nonetheless an important corrective to the abuses of Clarendon, establishing the inviolable freedom of the Church of England from the English crown. If Clarendon protected the state from the church, Magna Carta protected the church from the intrusions of the state.

Far from limited to church-state relations, Magna Carta formalized the fundamental rights enjoyed by all citizens of the modern liberal state. Among others, Magna Carta codified the following: rights of inheritance, property rights, protections for debtors, the rights of localities to a degree of self-government, trade rights, retributive justice (designing punishments to fit the crime, as opposed to one punishment for all crimes), protections for citizens from the abuses of domestic authorities, requirements of witnesses to establish guilt, and the right to trial by one’s peers. Most important, however, was the heart of Magna Carta, which established the objective rule of law over and above the subjective rule of the king. Rex Lex (“The king is law”) was slowly being replaced by Lex Rex (“The law is king”). With Magna Carta, the king was bound under the law by a national covenant—a declaration of mutual obligations of the ruler and those ruled to one another.

John Locke would articulate this contractual vision of a government of laws existing to protect the liberties of its citizens in his Second Treatise on Government (1690). The context for Locke’s thought was the Glorious Revolution (1688) and the English Bill of Rights (1689), in which William and Mary of Orange affirmed the limits of government, protecting the liberties of its citizens and correcting the gross abuse of royal power under James II.

It is in this setting that Locke summarizes the purpose of the state. In Chapter 9 of his Second Treatise, “Of the Ends of Political Society and Government,” Locke writes on the preservation of property, concluding that men come together and subject themselves to laws. Governments exist to judge and enforce this rule of law. In this way men voluntarily covenant together to form governments, each surrendering some freedom in order to preserve the liberty of all. The one (the state) and the many (its members) thus mutually serve the cause of liberty.

When the Stamp Act was passed for the American colonies in 1765, when courts of admiralty enforced justice without trial by jury and a standing army held in the colonies during a time of peace, the purpose of government to guarantee the liberties of its citizens was foremost in the minds of many colonists.

The First Continental Congress met in October 1774 to seek redress for the colonies’ grievances. Their Declaration and Resolves laid claim to the rights that had evolved over the centuries, from Clarendon to the English Bill of Rights. The colonies are entitled, Congress declared, to “life, liberty and property,” and “they have never ceded to any foreign power whatever, a right to dispose of either without their consent.”

When the British crown and parliament refused to recognize the equal rights of the colonists as British citizens, the Americans seized upon another essential feature of the idea of government as covenant: If a government ceases to exist under its obligations to its citizens as the preserver of liberty, then the contract is broken and the citizens reserve the right to abjure that delinquent government. In other words, government is by consent of the governed.

Over the course of America’s struggle for independence, this theme would be rearticulated and expanded upon by some of the colonies’ greatest minds: Virginia’s Declaration of Rights, Thomas Jefferson’s Lockean forerunner to the colonies’ Declaration of Independence; Patrick Henry’s Resolutions of the Stamp Act (1765) and his later cry of, “Give me liberty or give me death!” (1775); Thomas Paine’s Common Sense (1776) and The Rights of Man (1792); and Samuel Adams’ speech at the statehouse in Philadelphia (1776), to name a few. Government is a covenant, they said, and a covenant cannot be broken without consequence.

Later, these Patriots would turn from justifications for their declaration of independence from the old government to articulations of what should replace it. The 12 years between the institution of the Articles of Confederation (1777), which maintained the maximal autonomy of the individual states, and the ratification and implementation of the United States Constitution (1789), which would turn a confederation of states into a federal republic, where punctuated by heated debate about the sustenance of liberty under any unified government.

Having thrown off one tyrannical government, federalists, who advocated a strong central government, and anti-federalists, who advocated states’ rights, were sharply divided as to the powers of the new government. Which model would better guarantee the objective of a government existing to preserve the liberties of its citizens?

The federalists won that debate, but two centuries later, it is clear that many of the elements of a “tyrannical government” have re-emerged, as predicted by anti-federalist protagonist Thomas Jefferson. Most notably, Jefferson warned that the judiciary would become a “despotic branch” and that the Constitution would be “a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary which they may twist and shape into any form they please.”

Indeed, the despotic branch has twisted and shaped our government’s foundational document into what in now called in common parlance, a “Living Constitution”, effectively undermining “Constitutional eisegesis”—the constructionist interpretation of the Constitution as written and ratified.

If the Constitution can be amended by judicial diktat rather than as prescribed by law, then we are a nation governed by men rather than the law, and the consequences are dire.

Where does that leave us today? Few who serve in the Executive, Legislative or Judicial branches of our national government honor their oaths to “support and defend” our Constitution.

Of course, the Constitution is subordinate to the Declaration of Independence. The Constitution’s author, James Madison, wrote Thomas Jefferson on 8 February 1825 these words concerning the supremacy of the Declaration of Independence over our nation’s Constitution: “On the distinctive principles of the Government... of the U. States, the best guides are to be found in... The Declaration of Independence, as the fundamental Act of Union of these States.”

The Declaration elucidates “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It also records “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government...”

Liberty is elusive, and awaits its next great leap forward.
27538  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Origin of Cats on: June 29, 2007, 08:28:47 AM
NY Times

Some 10,000 years ago, somewhere in the Near East, an audacious wildcat crept into one of the crude villages of early human settlers, the first to domesticate wheat and barley. There she felt safe from her many predators in the region, such as hyenas and larger cats.

The Near Eastern Origin of Cat Domestication (Science)

The rodents that infested the settlers’ homes and granaries were sufficient prey. Seeing that she was earning her keep, the settlers tolerated her, and their children greeted her kittens with delight.

At least five females of the wildcat subspecies known as Felis silvestris lybica accomplished this delicate transition from forest to village. And from these five matriarchs all the world’s 600 million house cats are descended.

A scientific basis for this scenario has been established by Carlos A. Driscoll of the National Cancer Institute and his colleagues. He spent more than six years collecting species of wildcat in places as far apart as Scotland, Israel, Namibia and Mongolia. He then analyzed the DNA of the wildcats and of many house cats and fancy cats.

Five subspecies of wildcat are distributed across the Old World. They are known as the European wildcat, the Near Eastern wildcat, the Southern African wildcat, the Central Asian wildcat and the Chinese desert cat. Their patterns of DNA fall into five clusters. The DNA of all house cats and fancy cats falls within the Near Eastern wildcat cluster, making clear that this subspecies is their ancestor, Dr. Driscoll and his colleagues said in a report published Thursday on the Web site of the journal Science.

The wildcat DNA closest to that of house cats came from 15 individuals collected in the deserts of Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, the researchers say. The house cats in the study fell into five lineages, based on analysis of their mitochondrial DNA, a type that is passed down through the female line. Since the oldest archaeological site with a cat burial is about 9,500 years old, the geneticists suggest that the founders of the five lineages lived around this time and were the first cats to be domesticated.

Wheat, rye and barley had been domesticated in the Near East by 10,000 years ago, so it seems likely that the granaries of early Neolithic villages harbored mice and rats, and that the settlers welcomed the cats’ help in controlling them.

Unlike other domestic animals, which were tamed by people, cats probably domesticated themselves, which could account for the haughty independence of their descendants. “The cats were adapting themselves to a new environment, so the push for domestication came from the cat side, not the human side,” Dr. Driscoll said.

Cats are “indicators of human cultural adolescence,” he remarked, since they entered human experience as people were making the difficult transition from hunting and gathering, their way of life for millions of years, to settled communities.

Until recently the cat was commonly believed to have been domesticated in ancient Egypt, where it was a cult animal. But three years ago a group of French archaeologists led by Jean-Denis Vigne discovered the remains of an 8-month-old cat buried with its human owner at a Neolithic site in Cyprus. The Mediterranean island was settled by farmers from Turkey who brought their domesticated animals with them, presumably including cats, because there is no evidence of native wildcats in Cyprus.

The date of the burial far precedes Egyptian civilization. Together with the new genetic evidence, it places the domestication of the cat in a different context, the beginnings of agriculture in the Near East, and probably in the villages of the Fertile Crescent, the belt of land that stretches up through the countries of the eastern Mediterranean and down through what is now Iraq.

Dr. Stephen O’Brien, an expert on the genetics of the cat family and a co-author of the Science report, described the domestication of the cat as “the beginning of one of the major experiments in biological history” because the number of house cats in the world now exceeds half a billion while most of the 36 other species of cat, and many wildcats, are now threatened with extinction.

So a valuable outcome of the new study is the discovery of genetic markers in the DNA that distinguish native wildcats from the house cats and feral domestic cats with which they often interbreed. In Britain and other countries, true wildcats may be highly protected by law.

David Macdonald of Oxford University, a co-author of the report, has spent 10 years trying to preserve the Scottish wildcat, of which only 400 or so remain. “We can use some of the genetic markers to talk to conservation agencies like the Scottish Natural Heritage,” he said.
27539  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The Power of Word on: June 29, 2007, 07:27:14 AM
The Power of Word
by Crafty Dog

Scientific Progress is achieved by REDUCING the number of principles
necessary to explain the physical world.  Spiritual Progress is this process
applied to the discernment of the essential principles by which to live.

Taking an understanding taken from The Church of Religious Science
and putting it into my own words: To the extent that a religion is true,
it can be reduced to a body of principles/rules which can be applied
scientifically.  An interesting thought this!

Of course, these principles/rules are never the exclusive purview of any one
group or discipline-- quite the contrary-- so it is no surprise that the
Pope should recently have stated that the God must be a god of Reason.
The Church of Religious Science and the Catholic Church may come from
different parts of the religious spectrum, but it seems they seek the same

In the story of my people, at the time of the creation of the Covenant, God
gave us the 10 Commandments.   Seems reasonable to think that the our God
thought these rules real important, as did later on the God of the

And, as time goes by, I begin to realize that I am still working on them.

So lets look at one of them, the one that speaks of not taking the Lord's
name in vain:

In Genesis, before the beginning there was nothing.  Into that nothingness
came the word of God. On each of the first six days, this is what happened:
"And God SAID let there be , , , , and it was so."  To create, God had only
to speak-- the Power of Word, the Crystallization of Thought.   Using his
word, he made us in his image and breathed the breath of life into us and
told us, once fruitful, to multiply.  By receiving the breath of life from
the Creator, we become part of the Creator.


This I think is the true meaning of the Commandment commonly translated
from the original ancient Hebrew though the Greek, the Latin, the various
permutations of English into "Thou shall not take God's name in vain."  It
is not that God cares whether we cuss, it is that we should take care to
we put the Power of our Word.

I would add an additional point: THIS WORD MUST BE EXPRESSED
IN POSITIVES, NOT NEGATIVES.  For example, God does not say
"No more darkness".  He says what he DOES want: "Let there be , , ,"
Similarly in our lives the idea is to express ourselves positively.  For
example, to say "Remember to , , ," instead of "Don't forget to , , ,"

To apply this to everything in one's life is a transformational experience.

One example of the creative power of word is Prayer.  Many people doubt
prayer.  They are good people; they pray for something; and then it doesn't

There is an old Jewish parable about this of the man who follows all the
detailed rules of the Torah.  He's a good man.  For many years he regularly
prays to God to win the lottery.  No lottery.  Finally he gets mad and
demands of God why, after his good life and his respect for God's rules,
does not God grant his prayer to win the lottery.

God answers, "Help me out. Buy a ticket."

We note in passing the idea that in this parable Man can and does argue
with God, but that is a discussion for another day.  For our purpose here,
the moral of this tale is that "Our Action must be Aligned with
our Prayer and our Word to Create its Reality".

copyright 2007 Dog Brothers Inc.
27540  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: June 29, 2007, 07:25:28 AM
The carrying of a small disc would seem to solve the problem without the risks.

I agree with you that this is an area of grave concern.  Already we are photographed in much of the public space with nary a bleat of concern and a complete absence of coalescence of coherent response.

Tangent: "Stalked by organized crime"? shocked  You have me intrigued.  If you would rather email me, please use
27541  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Energy issues on: June 29, 2007, 07:19:39 AM

Global Market Brief: Biofuels Pushing Energy Firms 'Beyond Petroleum'
June 28, 2007 19 30  GMT

The June 22 passage of significant biofuel mandates in a U.S. Senate energy package is one of many factors suggesting the oil industry will move closer to matching the rhetoric of certain oil companies' claims that they are not part of an "oil industry" but an "energy industry." Throughout the past decade, energy companies -- most notably BP and Royal Dutch/Shell -- have forayed into the alternative fuel/energy sector. However, they have remained oil companies first and foremost, no matter how "beyond petroleum" BP claims to be. Oil will still be the backbone of the energy industry's operations, but unless a major impediment to biofuel production develops, oil will no longer be the only significant component of vehicle fuel worldwide. Economic and regulatory circumstances could, for the first time, compel some oil supermajors to truly move beyond petroleum and into a more robust fuel mix.

The Growth of Biofuels

The U.S. Energy Policy Act of 2005 -- which requires that renewable fuels make up 4 billion gallons of the nation's gasoline market starting in 2006 and 7.5 billion gallons by 2012 -- spurred much of the current growth in biofuel research in the United States. The U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources said that, as of 2006, these renewable fuel requirements led to the construction of 34 new ethanol plants and the planned construction of an additional 150. In Europe, carbon regulations tied to energy security concerns and Kyoto Protocol commitments have propelled investments in biofuel research; earlier in 2007, the European Union mandated that biofuels make up at least 10 percent of European liquid fuel by 2020.
To ensure that biofuel development continues, the U.S. Senate passed a comprehensive energy bill June 22 by a 65-27 vote, mandating at least 36 billion gallons a year of domestic ethanol production for vehicle fuels by 2022. The bill increases funding for bioenergy research by 50 percent for 2008 and 2009 and supports the development of biofuel infrastructure and transport. In July, the measure will go to the U.S. House of Representatives, where it will face few hurdles, given biofuel technology's political popularity among rural voters and the growing investment interest in renewable fuels.

U.S. President George W. Bush's endorsement of cellulosic ethanol in his 2006 State of the Union address and his recent plan for reducing domestic gasoline consumption by 20 percent in 10 years have not only brought biofuels to the forefront of the national energy dialogue, but they have also led to direct federal support for biofuel research. In February, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded $385 million for six separate industry biorefinery projects expected to produce at least 130 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol annually. On June 26, DOE pledged to invest $375 million in three bioenergy research centers, to be located in Wisconsin, California and Tennessee, in an effort to speed up cellulosic research.

The auto industry has responded by committing to increase the production of flex-fuel vehicles. In 2006, the CEOs of Ford Motor Co., DaimlerChrysler and General Motors pledged to double the annual production of vehicles that can run on E85 -- a gasoline blend containing 85 percent ethanol -- or biodiesel to 2 million cars and trucks by 2010.

With the likely emergence of a global post-Kyoto agreement on climate change (though likely not within the current Kyoto framework), and the likely passage of carbon reduction strategies in the U.S. Congress in several years, biofuels will grow more attractive a fuel source that produces fewer carbon emissions -- particularly as the biofuel industry develops energy-efficiency advancements.

Industry Response

Government subsidies for biofuel production, likely to be hammered out in the 2008 Farm Bill, will make biofuels more competitive with oil; and, after years of fighting for permission to build new refineries rather than adding capacity at existing facilities, the oil industry is becoming uncertain about the future of the fuel mix and therefore about the future demand for refined oil products. This is not only leading many in the industry to give up on building new refineries, but it is also encouraging even the most reluctant within the industry to devise strategies to incorporate other forms of fuel into their portfolios. In other words, as the concept of supply and demand for transportation fuels radically changes, energy companies will change from primarily oil providers to transportation energy providers.

To take the most recent example, BP, Associated British Foods (ABF) and DuPont announced June 26 a $400 million investment in the construction of a bioethanol plant and a biobutanol demonstration plant. The business coalition is marketing biobutanol, a biofuel more similar to unleaded gasoline and less corrosive to existing pipelines than traditional biofuels, as the "next generation" of biofuels due for introduction in the United Kingdom's transport mix this year. BP also launched the BP Energy Bioscience Institute in partnership with the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, on Feb. 1; BP will provide $500 million over the next 10 years to increase current biofuels' efficiency and develop biofuels from plant matter that does not compete with food crops.

Shell claims to be the largest global distributor of transport biofuels, selling slightly more than 900 million gallons in 2006. Shell has invested significantly in cellulosic ethanol and, in 2006, the company launched a study with Volkswagen and Canadian biotech company Iogen Corp. that claimed this fuel both produces fewer carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions than traditional ethanol and can be cost-competitive with gasoline. Later this year, Shell intends to demonstrate the first biomass-to-liquids plant that converts wood chips, through gasification, into a synthetic fuel that can be combined with diesel for use in diesel engines. Shell claims this technology could reduce CO2 emissions by 90 percent relative to conventional diesel.

While European-based majors have taken the lead in biofuel research and development, U.S. companies are increasing their involvement in the industry. In April, Tyson Foods Inc. and ConocoPhillips announced a partnership to turn animal fat into diesel fuel. The companies call the fuel "renewable diesel." In 2006, Chevron Corp. invested with Galveston Bay Biodiesel to construct a biodiesel production and distribution center and entered into a $400 million partnership with the Georgia Institute of Technology to develop cellulosic biofuels.

Coming Biofuels Challenges

While oil companies are increasingly retooling their portfolios to include biofuels, the move is not without its challenges. As momentum builds for biofuels, the debate will focus on what types of biofuels should be promoted and what type of constraints, if any, should be placed on biofuel production methods. Certain interest groups and legislators are concerned about the unintended consequences of increased industrial agriculture methods to produce biofuels and the moral dilemma of whether to use would-be food crops to power vehicles or to feed the world's hungry. Notably, the new Senate measure on biofuels requires that advanced biofuels not derived from cornstarch (the primary source used in current U.S. ethanol production) make up increasing volumes of the annual 36 billion gallons of biofuels required by 2022 -- from 3 billion gallons in 2016 to 21 billion gallons in 2022. These advanced biofuels include ethanol derived from cellulose and waste material (including vegetative and animal materials), biobutanol and biodiesel.

This provision is designed to spur research into less land-intensive and more energy-efficient biofuels to reduce the unavoidable increase in tension over rising food prices attributable to the increasing diversion of basic crops and cropland to fuel production.

A significant breakthrough in cellulosic ethanol might develop rapidly, or it could be 10 years away. Regardless, before cellulosic ethanol can be widely produced and used, technological advances will have to reduce production costs enough to overcome the likely enormous expenses of transporting cellulosic ethanol. In the meantime, supporters of traditional ethanol will have to temper anger over rising food prices and the negative environmental effects (such as habitat destruction and fertilizer runoff) of increased fuel crop cultivation using conventional biofuel crops in order to establish the biofuel infrastructure necessary to facilitate profitable growth in the biofuel industry and a true transformation of energy companies.
27542  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: June 29, 2007, 06:31:07 AM
And why not have the NY Times be required to give 15% of its space to different points of view?  As for the small detail about whose point of view goes in that 15%, well no doubt the State can handle that , , , rolleyes  The problem is that experience shows that the FD didn't work very well.  It simply caused the stations to lessen the amount of coverage they gave to controversial subjects. 

As Air America showed, the reason talk radio is what it is, is that America wasn't very interested in the message-- and its not my sense of America that the government should intervene in what people listen to.
27543  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering on: June 29, 2007, 06:21:53 AM
That's Dog Tony Caruso  grin

Also, congrats to Bryon "C-Guide Dog" Stoops!
27544  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia on: June 28, 2007, 06:44:31 PM

Russia lays claim to the North Pole - and all its gas, oil, and diamonds

Last updated at 17:15pm on 28th June 2007
Russian leader Vladimir Putin has made an astonishing bid to grab a vast chunk of the Arctic, giving himself claim to its vast potential oil, gas and mineral wealth.
His audacious argument that an underwater Russian ridge is linked to the North Pole is likely to lead to an international outcry.
Some commentators have already observed it is further evidence of growing Russian assertiveness under its authoritarian president.
The Russian media trumpeted the findings of a Moscow scientific mission to the region which boasts "sensational" geological discoveries enabling the Kremlin to make the territorial claim.
Populist newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda - a cheerleader for Putin - printed a map of the North Pole showing a "new addition" to Russia, a triangle five times the size of Britain with twice as much oil as Saudi Arabia.
The six-week mission on a nuclear ice-breaker claimed that the underwater Lomonsov ridge is geologically linked to the Siberian continental platform - and similar in structure.
The detailed findings are likely to be put to the United Nations in a bid to bring it under the Kremlin noose, and provide the bonanza of an estimated 10 billion tonnes of gas and oil deposits as well as significant sources of diamonds, gold, tin, manganese, nickel, lead and platinum.
Under current international law, the countries ringing the Arctic - Russia, Canada, the US, Norway, Denmark (Greenland) - are limited to a 200 mile economic zone around their coastlines.
Currently, a UN convention stipulates that none of these countries can claim jurisdiction of the Arctic seabed because the geological structure does not match that of the surrounding continental shelves.
The region is administered by the International Seabed Authority - the authority now being challenged by Moscow.
A previous attempt to claim the oil and gas resources beyond its 200 miles zone five years ago was rejected - but this time Moscow intends to make a far more serious submission to the U.N. Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.
The head of the government-funded expedition Valery Kaminsky, director of the All-Russian Oceanic Scientific Research Institute, said he has key photographic evidence to prove the geological claims. "These are very interesting facts for the world community," he said.
Yuri Deryabin, head of the Institute of North European Countries, said: "I estimate Russia's chances to gets its piece of the Arctic pie highly enough - but the main battle is just starting." He acknowledged the negotiations would be "complicated".
The claim is likely to provoke an outcry from green groups but there is also Russian opposition.
Sergei Priamikov, of Russia's Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, said the notion was "strange" and warned other countries could make counter claims.
Canada "could say that the Lomonosov ridge is part of the Canadian shelf, which means Russia should in fact belong to Canada, together with the whole of Eurasia", he observed drily.
A diplomatic source said that Russia was "seeking to secure its grip on oil and gas supplies for decades to come. Putin wants a strong Russia, and Western dependence for oil and gas supplies is a key part of his strategy. He no longer cares if his strategy upsets the West".
27545  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CAIR on: June 28, 2007, 06:41:45 PM
In Defense of the Constitution

News & Analysis
014/07  June 27, 2007

CAIR & America's Political Class; Collusion or Confusion?

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) recently posted to its web site several articles trumpeting recent events and the list of distinguished attendees:   

June 17, 2007: Ohio Governor Ted Strickland attended a CAIR event in Columbus honoring CAIR-Ohio's "work":

Governor Strickland addressed the same CAIR-Ohio that defended the "charity" organization KindHearts when it was closed down for investigation by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2006. According to tax filings, KindHearts did fundraising through the notorious Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP).

The IAP was found civilly liable for the terror-murder of an American citizen by Hamas.  Hamas is yet another Islamist terrorist group that enjoys the support of CAIR.  (Is it a coincidence that the Islamic Association for Palestine is also the parent organization of CAIR?)

How is it that a sitting governor of a state that forms part of a union currently fighting a war against Islamist terrorism can sit down with the very self-same group that supports America's enemies with impunity? 
How many sons and daughters of Ohio have given their lives and limbs in the battle against Islamist terror? 
Is Governor Strickland guilty of collusion or confusion?

June 16, 2007: CAIR Minnesota held an event attended by members of the FBI, ACLU, Rep. Keith Ellison, and president of the American Council of the Blind for Minnesota:

CAIR-MN Communications Director Valerie Shirley:

"We thank the Minnesota community for its tremendous support in our first months of operation and hope to work with people of all faiths on future initiatives of benefit to our state and nation"

While making deceptive commentary designed to portray CAIR as something it is not, let's not forget that this is same CAIR that defends the outrageous behaviour of the "Flying Imams":

How many sons and daughters of Minnesota have given their lives and limbs in the battle against Islamist terror?
Is Representative Keith Ellison guilty of collusion or confusion?

June 16, 2007: CAIR New Jersey holds a meeting with "Security Officials" from the FBI, DHS, and State Police:

While many politically oriented law enforcement officials meet with CAIR in the spirit of "Muslim outreach", it should be noted that in the case of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), CAIR's constant promotion of a "relationship" with DHS is wearing thin:

According to the article in the Washington Times:
"The department does not have a formalized relationship with that particular organization .
we do have formalized relations with other community groups with whom we do contracts for training and consultation on matters that are specific to a given community. It is not uncommon for that particular organization to issue a press release attempting to overstate their interaction with the department."

A check reveals that since 2000, CAIR has not been awarded a grant or government contract.

From an MSNBC article we learn: 
"One senior law-enforcement official, who asked not to be identified talking about a sensitive matter, agrees that there is a "split in FBI culture" over the bureau's relationships with CAIR and says that some agents "hold their nose" when it comes to dealing with the group."

So much for the "special relationship"?

(Just who is CAIR trying to impress, their North American members or their Saudi leash olders?)

Is there a pattern here? 

Given CAIR's proven connections to Islamist terrorism and Islamist terrorist groups, and CAIR's recent inclusion on a list of "prominent" U.S. Islamic groups as an "unindicted co-conspirator" in a plot to fund the notorious Islamist terrorist group Hamas; can North Americans be forgiven if they are asking themselves why our so-called "leaders" are pandering to CAIR?

Why do many of our so-called "leaders" give a pass to CAIR? 

Why is the mainstream press so reluctant to give CAIR the sort of investigative attention they give to Paris Hilton's underwear hue? 

Why the disconnect between field agents of the FBI and the FBI's leadership?

Broken Moral Compass?

The simple fact is that many North Americans in leadership roles seem to have lost their sense of what is just; what is right.  Many of our "leaders" have developed a moral compass that has swung so far askew that it can't point to the truth even when they want it to; their needle is clearly broken:

Twenty years ago, would we have tolerated the presence of any invited members of law enforcement at KKK rallies or accepted a Representative of the People attending a rally for the NAZI party as an honored guest speaker? 

Where is our sense of outrage? 

Why are many of our political class willing to pander to CAIR? When not making mealy-mouthed statements calling for "understanding" and "tolerance", they are busy gadding about in search of approval from the very same groups that support the killing and maiming of America's brave warriors who are currently fighting - and dying - to defend our country from the very people they are telling us we must be "tolerant" of !

The time for "understanding" evil is long past. 

The time for "tolerance" in the face of unrestrained Islamist terror is over.

The time for action is now. Calls for "tolerance" should be answered with a resounding "NO!" when it comes to radical Islam and those persons and groups, like CAIR, that clearly support an evil ideology.

There was a time in American communities when those who committed evil were shunned.  People would not speak of them, or to them.  In short, they were 'non-persons' as far as the civilized community was concerned.  The person shunned usually had the good sense to move away.

We recommend CAIR make a move to Gaza.  No doubt CAIR's leadership would be among their own and CAIR's constant carping about everything Islamic would fall on sympathetic ears.

By our silence to the activities of CAIR and other Islamist terrorist supporting groups, are we complicit in their activities?  Do any of us share a little of the blame for CAIR's existence because we refuse to do anything about it?  Do we enable CAIR and other Islamist groups when we continue to re-elect representatives who shake hands and break bread with America's enemies?

How many of our leaders have forgotten the precious legacy handed down by the founders? 

How willingly they trade crass adulation for personal responsibility as they forget they represent America, not Hamas.

Where is America's champion... ?

Andrew Whitehead
27546  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Part Three on: June 28, 2007, 06:35:33 PM
Another powerful political force, the immigration bar association, has won from Congress an elaborate set of due-process rights for criminal aliens that can keep them in the country indefinitely. Federal probation officers in Brooklyn are supervising two illegals—a Jordanian and an Egyptian with Saudi citizenship—who look “ready to blow up the Statue of Liberty,” according to a probation official, but the officers can’t get rid of them. The Jordanian had been caught fencing stolen Social Security and tax-refund checks; now he sells phone cards, which he uses himself to make untraceable calls. The Saudi’s offense: using a fraudulent Social Security number to get employment—a puzzlingly unnecessary scam, since he receives large sums from the Middle East, including from millionaire relatives. But intelligence links him to terrorism, so presumably he worked in order not to draw attention to himself. Currently, he changes his cell phone every month. Ordinarily such a minor offense would not be prosecuted, but the government, fearing that he had terrorist intentions, used whatever it had to put him in prison.

Now, probation officers desperately want to see the duo out of the country, but the two ex-cons have hired lawyers, who are relentlessly fighting their deportation. “Due process allows you to stay for years without an adjudication,” says a probation officer in frustration. “A regular immigration attorney can keep you in the country for three years, a high-priced one for ten.” In the meantime, Brooklyn probation officials are watching the bridges.

Even where immigration officials successfully nab and deport criminal aliens, the reality, says a former federal gang prosecutor, is that “they all come back. They can’t make it in Mexico.” The tens of thousands of illegal farmworkers and dishwashers who overpower U.S. border controls every year carry in their wake thousands of brutal assailants and terrorists who use the same smuggling industry and who benefit from the same irresistible odds: there are so many more of them than the Border Patrol.

For, of course, the government’s inability to keep out criminal aliens is part and parcel of its inability to patrol the border, period. For decades, the INS had as much effect on the migration of millions of illegals as a can tied to the tail of a tiger. And the immigrants themselves, despite the press cliché of hapless aliens living fearfully in the shadows, seemed to regard immigration authorities with all the concern of an elephant for a flea.

Certainly fear of immigration officers is not in evidence among the hundreds of illegal day laborers who hang out on Roosevelt Avenue in Queens, New York, in front of money wire services, travel agencies, immigration-attorney offices, and phone arcades, all catering to the local Hispanic population (as well as to drug dealers and terrorists). “There is no chance of getting caught,” cheerfully explains Rafael, an Ecuadoran. Like the dozen Ecuadorans and Mexicans on his particular corner, Rafael is hoping that an SUV seeking carpenters for $100 a day will show up soon. “We don’t worry, because we’re not doing anything wrong. I know it’s illegal; I need the papers, but here, nobody asks you for papers.”

Even the newly fortified Mexican border, the one spot where the government really tries to prevent illegal immigration, looms as only a minor inconvenience to the day laborers. The odds, they realize, are overwhelmingly in their favor. Miguel, a reserved young carpenter, crossed the border at Tijuana three years ago with 15 others. Border Patrol spotted them, but with six officers to 16 illegals, only five got caught. In illegal border crossings, you get what you pay for, Miguel says. If you try to shave on the fee, the coyotes will abandon you at the first problem. Miguel’s wife was flying into New York from Los Angeles that very day; it had cost him $2,200 to get her across the border. “Because I pay, I don’t worry,” he says complacently.

The only way to dampen illegal immigration and its attendant train of criminals and terrorists—short of an economic revolution in the sending countries or an impregnably militarized border—is to remove the jobs magnet. As long as migrants know they can easily get work, they will find ways to evade border controls. But enforcing laws against illegal labor is among government’s lowest priorities. In 2001, only 124 agents nationwide were trying to find and prosecute the hundreds of thousands of employers and millions of illegal aliens who violate the employment laws, the Associated Press reports.

Even were immigration officials to devote adequate resources to worksite investigations, not much would change, because their legal weapons are so weak. That’s no accident: though it is a crime to hire illegal aliens, a coalition of libertarians, business lobbies, and left-wing advocates has consistently blocked the fraud-proof form of work authorization necessary to enforce that ban. Libertarians have erupted in hysteria at such proposals as a toll-free number to the Social Security Administration for employers to confirm Social Security numbers. Hispanics warn just as stridently that helping employers verify work eligibility would result in discrimination against Hispanics—implicitly conceding that vast numbers of Hispanics work illegally.

The result: hiring practices in illegal-immigrant-saturated industries are a charade. Millions of illegal workers pretend to present valid documents, and thousands of employers pretend to believe them. The law doesn’t require the employer to verify that a worker is actually qualified to work, and as long as the proffered documents are not patently phony—scrawled with red crayon on a matchbook, say—the employer will nearly always be exempt from liability merely by having eyeballed them. To find an employer guilty of violating the ban on hiring illegal aliens, immigration authorities must prove that he knew he was getting fake papers—an almost insurmountable burden. Meanwhile, the market for counterfeit documents has exploded: in one month alone in 1998, immigration authorities seized nearly 2 million of them in Los Angeles, destined for immigrant workers, welfare seekers, criminals, and terrorists.

For illegal workers and employers, there is no downside to the employment charade. If immigration officials ever do try to conduct an industry-wide investigation—which will at least net the illegal employees, if not the employers—local congressmen will almost certainly head it off. An INS inquiry into the Vidalia-onion industry in Georgia was not only aborted by Georgia’s congressional delegation; it actually resulted in a local amnesty for the growers’ illegal workforce. The downside to complying with the spirit of the employment law, on the other hand, is considerable. Ethnic advocacy groups are ready to picket employers who dismiss illegal workers, and employers understandably fear being undercut by less scrupulous competitors.

Of the incalculable changes in American politics, demographics, and culture that the continuing surge of migrants is causing, one of the most profound is the breakdown of the distinction between legal and illegal entry. Everywhere, illegal aliens receive free public education and free medical care at taxpayer expense; 13 states offer them driver’s licenses. States everywhere have been pushed to grant illegal aliens college scholarships and reduced in-state tuition. One hundred banks, over 800 law-enforcement agencies, and dozens of cities accept an identification card created by Mexico to credentialize illegal Mexican aliens in the U.S. The Bush administration has given its blessing to this matricula consular card, over the strong protest of the FBI, which warns that the gaping security loopholes that the card creates make it a boon to money launderers, immigrant smugglers, and terrorists. Border authorities have already caught an Iranian man sneaking across the border this year, Mexican matricula card in hand.

Hispanic advocates have helped blur the distinction between a legal and an illegal resident by asserting that differentiating the two is an act of irrational bigotry. Arrests of illegal aliens inside the border now inevitably spark protests, often led by the Mexican government, that feature signs calling for “no más racismo.” Immigrant advocates use the language of “human rights” to appeal to an authority higher than such trivia as citizenship laws. They attack the term “amnesty” for implicitly acknowledging the validity of borders. Indeed, grouses Illinois congressman Luis Gutierrez, “There’s an implication that somehow you did something wrong and you need to be forgiven.”

Illegal aliens and their advocates speak loudly about what they think the U.S. owes them, not vice versa. “I believe they have a right . . . to work, to drive their kids to school,” said California assemblywoman Sarah Reyes. An immigration agent says that people he stops “get in your face about their rights, because our failure to enforce the law emboldens them.” Taking this idea to its extreme, Joaquín Avila, a UCLA Chicano studies professor and law lecturer, argues that to deny non-citizens the vote, especially in the many California cities where they constitute the majority, is a form of apartheid.

Yet no poll has ever shown that Americans want more open borders. Quite the reverse. By a huge majority—at least 60 percent—they want to rein in immigration, and they endorse an observation that Senator Alan Simpson made 20 years ago: Americans “are fed up with efforts to make them feel that [they] do not have that fundamental right of any people—to decide who will join them and help form the future country in which they and their posterity will live.” But if the elites’ and the advocates’ idea of giving voting rights to non-citizen majorities catches on—and don’t be surprised if it does—Americans could be faced with the ultimate absurdity of people outside the social compact making rules for those inside it.

However the nation ultimately decides to rationalize its chaotic and incoherent immigration system, surely all can agree that, at a minimum, authorities should expel illegal-alien criminals swiftly. Even on the grounds of protecting non-criminal illegal immigrants, we should start by junking sanctuary policies. By stripping cops of what may be their only immediate tool to remove felons from the community, these policies leave law-abiding immigrants prey to crime.

But the non-enforcement of immigration laws in general has an even more destructive effect. In many immigrant communities, assimilation into gangs seems to be outstripping assimilation into civic culture. Toddlers are learning to flash gang signals and hate the police, reports the Los Angeles Times. In New York City, “every high school has its Mexican gang,” and most 12- to 14-year-olds have already joined, claims Ernesto Vega, an illegal 18-year-old Mexican. Such pathologies only worsen when the first lesson that immigrants learn about U.S. law is that Americans don’t bother to enforce it. “Institutionalizing illegal immigration creates a mindset in people that anything goes in the U.S.,” observes Patrick Ortega, the news and public-affairs director of Radio Nueva Vida in southern California. “It creates a new subculture, with a sequela of social ills.” It is broken windows writ large.

For the sake of immigrants and native-born Americans alike, it’s time to decide what our immigration policy is—and enforce it.
27547  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / part two on: June 28, 2007, 06:33:46 PM
The stated reasons for sanctuary policies are that they encourage illegal-alien crime victims and witnesses to cooperate with cops without fear of deportation, and that they encourage illegals to take advantage of city services like health care and education (to whose maintenance few illegals have contributed a single tax dollar, of course). There has never been any empirical verification that sanctuary laws actually accomplish these goals—and no one has ever suggested not enforcing drug laws, say, for fear of intimidating drug-using crime victims. But in any case, this official rationale could be honored by limiting police use of immigration laws to some subset of immigration violators: deported felons, say, or repeat criminal offenders whose immigration status police already know.

The real reason cities prohibit their cops and other employees from immigration reporting and enforcement is, like nearly everything else in immigration policy, the numbers. The immigrant population has grown so large that public officials are terrified of alienating it, even at the expense of ignoring the law and tolerating violence. In 1996, a breathtaking Los Angeles Times exposé on the 18th Street Gang, which included descriptions of innocent bystanders being murdered by laughing cholos (gang members), revealed the rate of illegal-alien membership in the gang. In response to the public outcry, the Los Angeles City Council ordered the police to reexamine Special Order 40. You would have thought it had suggested reconsidering Roe v. Wade. A police commander warned the council: “This is going to open a significant, heated debate.” City Councilwoman Laura Chick put on a brave front: “We mustn’t be afraid,” she declared firmly.

But of course immigrant pandering trumped public safety. Law-abiding residents of gang-infested neighborhoods may live in terror of the tattooed gangbangers dealing drugs, spraying graffiti, and shooting up rivals outside their homes, but such anxiety can never equal a politician’s fear of offending Hispanics. At the start of the reexamination process, LAPD deputy chief John White had argued that allowing the department to work closely with the INS would give cops another tool for getting gang members off the streets. Trying to build a homicide case, say, against an illegal gang member is often futile, he explained, since witnesses fear deadly retaliation if they cooperate with the police. Enforcing an immigration violation would allow the cops to lock up the murderer right now, without putting a witness’s life at risk.

But six months later, Deputy Chief White had changed his tune: “Any broadening of the policy gets us into the immigration business,” he asserted. “It’s a federal law-enforcement issue, not a local law-enforcement issue.” Interim police chief Bayan Lewis told the L.A. Police Commission: “It is not the time. It is not the day to look at Special Order 40.”

Nor will it ever be, as long as immigration numbers continue to grow. After their brief moment of truth in 1996, Los Angeles politicians have only grown more adamant in defense of Special Order 40. After learning that cops in the scandal-plagued Rampart Division had cooperated with the INS to try to uproot murderous gang members from the community, local politicians threw a fit, criticizing district commanders for even allowing INS agents into their station houses. In turn, the LAPD strictly disciplined the offending officers. By now, big-city police chiefs are unfortunately just as determined to defend sanctuary policies as the politicians who appoint them; not so the rank and file, however, who see daily the benefit that an immigration tool would bring.

Immigration politics have similarly harmed New York. Former mayor Rudolph Giuliani sued all the way up to the Supreme Court to defend the city’s sanctuary policy against a 1996 federal law decreeing that cities could not prohibit their employees from cooperating with the INS. Oh yeah? said Giuliani; just watch me. The INS, he claimed, with what turned out to be grotesque irony, only aims to “terrorize people.” Though he lost in court, he remained defiant to the end. On September 5, 2001, his handpicked charter-revision committee ruled that New York could still require that its employees keep immigration information confidential to preserve trust between immigrants and government. Six days later, several visa-overstayers participated in the most devastating attack on the city and the country in history.

New York conveniently forgot the 1996 federal ban on sanctuary laws until a gang of five Mexicans—four of them illegal—abducted and brutally raped a 42-year-old mother of two near some railroad tracks in Queens. The NYPD had already arrested three of the illegal aliens numerous times for such crimes as assault, attempted robbery, criminal trespass, illegal gun possession, and drug offenses. The department had never notified the INS.

Citizen outrage forced Mayor Michael Bloomberg to revisit the city’s sanctuary decree yet again. In May 2003, Bloomberg tweaked the policy minimally to allow city staffers to inquire into immigration status only if it is relevant to the awarding of a government benefit. Though Bloomberg’s new rule said nothing about reporting immigration violations to federal officials, advocates immediately claimed that it did allow such reporting, and the ethnic lobbies went ballistic. “What we’re seeing is the erosion of people’s rights,” thundered Angelo Falcon of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund. After three months of intense agitation by immigrant groups, Bloomberg replaced this innocuous “don’t ask” policy with a “don’t tell” rule even broader than Gotham’s original sanctuary policy. The new rule prohibits city employees from giving other government officials information not just about immigration status but about tax payments, sexual orientation, welfare status, and other matters.

But even were immigrant-saturated cities to discard their sanctuary policies and start enforcing immigration violations where public safety demands it, the resource-starved immigration authorities couldn’t handle the overwhelming additional workload.

The chronic shortage of manpower to oversee, and detention space to house, aliens as they await their deportation hearings (or, following an order of removal from a federal judge, their actual deportation) has forced immigration officials to practice a constant triage. Long ago, the feds stopped trying to find and deport aliens who had “merely” entered the country illegally through stealth or fraudulent documents. Currently, the only types of illegal aliens who run any risk of catching federal attention are those who have been convicted of an “aggravated felony” (a particularly egregious crime) or who have been deported following conviction for an aggravated felony and who have reentered (an offense punishable with 20 years in jail).

That triage has been going on for a long time, as former INS investigator Mike Cutler, who worked with the NYPD catching Brooklyn drug dealers in the 1970s, explains. “If you arrested someone you wanted to detain, you’d go to your boss and start a bidding war,” Cutler recalls. “You’d say: 'My guy ran three blocks, threw a couple of punches, and had six pieces of ID.' The boss would turn to another agent: 'Next! Whaddid your guy do?' 'He ran 18 blocks, pushed over an old lady, and had a gun.' ” But such one-upmanship was usually fruitless. “Without the jail space,” explains Cutler, “it was like the Fish and Wildlife Service; you’d tag their ear and let them go.”

But even when immigration officials actually arrest someone, and even if a judge issues a final deportation order (usually after years of litigation and appeals), they rarely have the manpower to put the alien on a bus or plane and take him across the border. Second alternative: detain him pending removal. Again, inadequate space and staff. In the early 1990s, for example, 15 INS officers were in charge of the deportation of approximately 85,000 aliens (not all of them criminals) in New York City. The agency’s actual response to final orders of removal was what is known as a “run letter”—a notice asking the deportable alien kindly to show up in a month or two to be deported, when the agency might be able to process him. Results: in 2001, 87 percent of deportable aliens who received run letters disappeared, a number that was even higher—94 percent—if they were from terror-sponsoring countries.

To other law-enforcement agencies, the feds’ triage often looks like complete indifference to immigration violations. Testifying to Congress about the Queens rape by illegal Mexicans, New York’s criminal justice coordinator defended the city’s failure to notify the INS after the rapists’ previous arrests on the ground that the agency wouldn’t have responded anyway. “We have time and time again been unable to reach INS on the phone,” John Feinblatt said last February. “When we reach them on the phone, they require that we write a letter. When we write a letter, they require that it be by a superior.”

Criminal aliens also interpret the triage as indifference. John Mullaly a former NYPD homicide detective, estimates that 70 percent of the drug dealers and other criminals in Manhattan’s Washington Heights were illegal. Were Mullaly to threaten an illegal-alien thug in custody that his next stop would be El Salvador unless he cooperated, the criminal would just laugh, knowing that the INS would never show up. The message could not be clearer: this is a culture that can’t enforce its most basic law of entry. If policing’s broken-windows theory is correct, the failure to enforce one set of rules breeds overall contempt for the law.

The sheer number of criminal aliens overwhelmed an innovative program that would allow immigration officials to complete deportation hearings while a criminal was still in state or federal prison, so that upon his release he could be immediately ejected without taking up precious INS detention space. But the process, begun in 1988, immediately bogged down due to the numbers—in 2000, for example, nearly 30 percent of federal prisoners were foreign-born. The agency couldn’t find enough pro bono attorneys to represent such an army of criminal aliens (who have extensive due-process rights in contesting deportation) and so would have to request delay after delay. Or enough immigration judges would not be available. In 1997, the INS simply had no record of a whopping 36 percent of foreign-born inmates who had been released from federal and four state prisons without any review of their deportability. They included 1,198 aggravated felons, 80 of whom were soon re-arrested for new crimes.

Resource starvation is not the only reason for federal inaction. The INS was a creature of immigration politics, and INS district directors came under great pressure from local politicians to divert scarce resources into distribution of such “benefits” as permanent residency, citizenship, and work permits, and away from criminal or other investigations. In the late 1980s, for example, the INS refused to join an FBI task force against Haitian drug trafficking in Miami, fearing criticism for “Haitian-bashing.” In 1997, after Hispanic activists protested a much-publicized raid that netted nearly two dozen illegals, the Border Patrol said that it would no longer join Simi Valley, California, probation officers on home searches of illegal-alien-dominated gangs.

The disastrous Citizenship USA project of 1996 was a luminous case of politics driving the INS to sacrifice enforcement to “benefits.” When, in the early 1990s, the prospect of welfare reform drove immigrants to apply for citizenship in record numbers to preserve their welfare eligibility, the Clinton administration, seeing a political bonanza in hundreds of thousands of new welfare-dependent citizens, ordered the naturalization process radically expedited. Thanks to relentless administration pressure, processing errors in 1996 were 99 percent in New York and 90 percent in Los Angeles, and tens of thousands of aliens with criminal records, including for murder and armed robbery, were naturalized.

27548  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Illegal Alien crime rates on: June 28, 2007, 06:32:07 PM

The Illegal-Alien Crime Wave
Heather Mac Donald

Some of the most violent criminals at large today are illegal aliens. Yet in cities where the crime these aliens commit is highest, the police cannot use the most obvious tool to apprehend them: their immigration status. In Los Angeles, for example, dozens of members of a ruthless Salvadoran prison gang have sneaked back into town after having been deported for such crimes as murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and drug trafficking. Police officers know who they are and know that their mere presence in the country is a felony. Yet should a cop arrest an illegal gangbanger for felonious reentry, it is he who will be treated as a criminal, for violating the LAPD’s rule against enforcing immigration law.

The LAPD’s ban on immigration enforcement mirrors bans in immigrant-saturated cities around the country, from New York and Chicago to San Diego, Austin, and Houston. These “sanctuary policies” generally prohibit city employees, including the cops, from reporting immigration violations to federal authorities.

Such laws testify to the sheer political power of immigrant lobbies, a power so irresistible that police officials shrink from even mentioning the illegal-alien crime wave. “We can’t even talk about it,” says a frustrated LAPD captain. “People are afraid of a backlash from Hispanics.” Another LAPD commander in a predominantly Hispanic, gang-infested district sighs: “I would get a firestorm of criticism if I talked about [enforcing the immigration law against illegals].” Neither captain would speak for attribution.

But however pernicious in themselves, sanctuary rules are a symptom of a much broader disease: the nation’s near-total loss of control over immigration policy. Fifty years ago, immigration policy might have driven immigration numbers, but today the numbers drive policy. The nonstop increase of immigration is reshaping the language and the law to dissolve any distinction between legal and illegal aliens and, ultimately, the very idea of national borders.

It is a measure of how topsy-turvy the immigration environment has become that to ask police officials about the illegal-alien crime problem feels like a gross faux pas, not done in polite company. And a police official asked to violate this powerful taboo will give a strangled response—or, as in the case of a New York deputy commissioner, break off communication altogether. Meanwhile, millions of illegal aliens work, shop, travel, and commit crimes in plain view, utterly secure in their de facto immunity from the immigration law.

I asked the Miami Police Department’s spokesman, Detective Delrish Moss, about his employer’s policy on lawbreaking illegals. In September, the force arrested a Honduran visa violator for seven vicious rapes. The previous year, Miami cops had had the suspect in custody for lewd and lascivious molestation, without checking his immigration status. Had they done so, they would have discovered his visa overstay, a deportable offense, and so could have forestalled the rapes. “We have shied away from unnecessary involvement dealing with immigration issues,” explains Moss, choosing his words carefully, “because of our large immigrant population.”

Police commanders may not want to discuss, much less respond to, the illegal-alien crisis, but its magnitude for law enforcement is startling. Some examples:

• In Los Angeles, 95 percent of all outstanding warrants for homicide (which total 1,200 to 1,500) target illegal aliens. Up to two-thirds of all fugitive felony warrants (17,000) are for illegal aliens.

• A confidential California Department of Justice study reported in 1995 that 60 percent of the 20,000-strong 18th Street Gang in southern California is illegal; police officers say the proportion is actually much greater. The bloody gang collaborates with the Mexican Mafia, the dominant force in California prisons, on complex drug-distribution schemes, extortion, and drive-by assassinations, and commits an assault or robbery every day in L.A. County. The gang has grown dramatically over the last two decades by recruiting recently arrived youngsters, most of them illegal, from Central America and Mexico.

• The leadership of the Columbia Lil’ Cycos gang, which uses murder and racketeering to control the drug market around L.A.’s MacArthur Park, was about 60 percent illegal in 2002, says former assistant U.S. attorney Luis Li. Francisco Martinez, a Mexican Mafia member and an illegal alien, controlled the gang from prison, while serving time for felonious reentry following deportation.

Good luck finding any reference to such facts in official crime analysis. The LAPD and the L.A. city attorney recently requested an injunction against drug trafficking in Hollywood, targeting the 18th Street Gang and the “non–gang members” who sell drugs in Hollywood for the gang. Those non–gang members are virtually all illegal Mexicans, smuggled into the country by a ring organized by 18th Street bigs. The Mexicans pay off their transportation debts to the gang by selling drugs; many soon realize how lucrative that line of work is and stay in the business.

Cops and prosecutors universally know the immigration status of these non-gang “Hollywood dealers,” as the city attorney calls them, but the gang injunction is assiduously silent on the matter. And if a Hollywood officer were to arrest an illegal dealer (known on the street as a “border brother”) for his immigration status, or even notify the Immigration and Naturalization Service (since early 2003, absorbed into the new Department of Homeland Security), he would face severe discipline for violating Special Order 40, the city’s sanctuary policy.

The ordinarily tough-as-nails former LAPD chief Daryl Gates enacted Special Order 40 in 1979—showing that even the most unapologetic law-and-order cop is no match for immigration advocates. The order prohibits officers from “initiating police action where the objective is to discover the alien status of a person”—in other words, the police may not even ask someone they have arrested about his immigration status until after they have filed criminal charges, nor may they arrest someone for immigration violations. They may not notify immigration authorities about an illegal alien picked up for minor violations. Only if they have already booked an illegal alien for a felony or for multiple misdemeanors may they inquire into his status or report him. The bottom line: a cordon sanitaire between local law enforcement and immigration authorities that creates a safe haven for illegal criminals.

L.A.’s sanctuary law and all others like it contradict a key 1990s policing discovery: the Great Chain of Being in criminal behavior. Pick up a law-violator for a “minor” crime, and you might well prevent a major crime: enforcing graffiti and turnstile-jumping laws nabs you murderers and robbers. Enforcing known immigration violations, such as reentry following deportation, against known felons, would be even more productive. LAPD officers recognize illegal deported gang members all the time—flashing gang signs at court hearings for rival gangbangers, hanging out on the corner, or casing a target. These illegal returnees are, simply by being in the country after deportation, committing a felony (in contrast to garden-variety illegals on their first trip to the U.S., say, who are only committing a misdemeanor). “But if I see a deportee from the Mara Salvatrucha [Salvadoran prison] gang crossing the street, I know I can’t touch him,” laments a Los Angeles gang officer. Only if the deported felon has given the officer some other reason to stop him, such as an observed narcotics sale, can the cop accost him—but not for the immigration felony.

Though such a policy puts the community at risk, the department’s top brass brush off such concerns. No big deal if you see deported gangbangers back on the streets, they say. Just put them under surveillance for “real” crimes and arrest them for those. But surveillance is very manpower-intensive. Where there is an immediate ground for getting a violent felon off the street and for questioning him further, it is absurd to demand that the woefully understaffed LAPD ignore it.

27549  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Communicating with the Muslim World on: June 28, 2007, 06:27:20 PM
Second post of the day:

Radical Outreach
Bush coddles American apologists for radical Islam

By Steve Emerson

At Wednesday’s rededication ceremony of the Saudi-funded Islamic Center of Washington, D.C., President Bush missed a perfect opportunity to repudiate apologism for radical Islam, and instead announced his latest plan to get the Muslim world to stop hating America: appoint a special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

Bush praised the OIC, saying, “We admire and thank those Muslims who have denounced what the Secretary General of the OIC called ‘radical fringe elements who pretend that they act in the name of Islam.’” The special envoy’s mission, Bush said, would be to “listen and learn” to OIC ambassadors.

While this may sound nice, it is rooted in complete ignorance of the rampant radicalism, pro-terrorist, and anti-American sentiments routinely found in statements by the OIC and its leaders, including referring to “Islamophobia” — and not the mass slaughter of innocents in the name of Islam — the “worst form of terrorism,” as OIC did last May.

In 2002, the OIC published its “Declaration on International Terrorism.” Therein, the authors stated, amongst other outrageous claims, that there was no such thing as Palestinian terrorism, writing, “We reject any attempt to associate Islamic states or Palestinian and Lebanese resistance with terrorism.” To the OIC, groups like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, and Hezbollah are not terrorists, but “freedom fighters.”

This is just the beginning of a litany of the OIC’s wrongs.In March 2006, OIC General Secretary Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu embraced Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal at a press conference at OIC’s headquarters. Ihsanoglu whitewashed: “With its win, Hamas begins a new stage in the development of the Palestinian issue. We assure that Hamas will deal with all national and international requirements in a practical and logical way.”

At a “special session” of the OIC in August of the same year, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for “the elimination of the Zionist regime,” a statement that OIC failed to condemn. Moreover, the OIC has repeatedly backed Iran’s nuclear ambitions. As Ishanoglu said in April, “All member states of the OIC and I have obviously supported Iran's right to access peaceful nuclear technology,” despite clear indications that the Iranian regime’s uranium-enrichment program is designed chiefly to make nuclear weapons.

And then, there is OIC’s explaining away of the 9/11 attacks, which “expressed the frustration, disappointment, and disillusion that are festering deep in the Muslims’ soul towards the aggressions and discriminations committed by the West.”

These are the people that President Bush feels the need to “listen and learn” from. And the Bush administration’s wishful thinking extends beyond his feelings toward the OIC, to the very location where Bush was giving his speech.

The 2005 Freedom House report on the Saudi-led radicalization of American mosques specifically identifies the Washington Islamic Center as a hotbed of hatred. In the past decade, I personally collected numerous copies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion from the mosque. The Freedom House report chronicles the center’s extremism: imams instructed their students to distance themselves from the West, forbade Muslim students from wearing the traditional cap and gown at during University graduation, and warned that participating in American holidays was the “most dangerous form of imitating the unbelievers, the most destructive and the most prevalent among the Muslims.”

The center’s library included a Saudi text book for 11th graders that described “the role of the Jews in the corruption of the European way of life,” and that Jews used “innocuous-sounding themes as ‘progress and civilization’ or ‘individual freedom’ to destroy Europe.”

There are many more examples in the report. Unfortunately, the President’s lack of awareness is not limited to the OIC and the Washington Islamic Center, but also to the officials of the so-called “moderate” Muslim organizations whom the FBI, Department of Justice, Defense Department, and Department of State routinely invite to meetings and hearings.

In his speech, Bush said, “This enemy falsely claims that America is at war with Muslims and the Muslim faith, when in fact it is these radicals who are Islam's true enemy.” Yet that very talking point is the refuge of America’s supposedly mainstream Muslim organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) and the Islamic Society of North American (ISNA).

In March 2002, in response to an FBI raid of Islamist organizations in Northern Virginia, CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad said, “This is a war against Islam and Muslims… Our administration has the burden of proving otherwise.” In February 2004, MPAC Vice Chairman Aslam Abdullah said, “in the name of the ‘war on terror,’ Islam and Muslims have become a target in America and elsewhere,” and in June 2004 Abdullah accused President Bush of engaging in “a religious and racist agenda and prejudice against Islam, Muslims, and Arabs.” In 2004, Louay Safi, a top ISNA official, went further, writing that the “assertion by ‘world leaders’ that the war on terrorism is not a war on Islam is nothing but a piece of propaganda and disinformation that was meant to appease Western Muslims and to maintain the coalition against terrorism.”

Meanwhile, Bush’s own Justice Department recently formally named CAIR and ISNA as Muslim Brotherhood–front groups, listing them as unindicted co-conspirators in the largest terrorist financing case in U.S. history, against the Holy Land Foundation, an alleged Hamas front group.

In his wrongheaded outreach to the OIC, the president aligns with those who think the West is responsible for Islamic terrorism. Bush himself has said we “abandoned Muslims in the Middle East to tyrants and terrorists.” Yet Wahhabism was born in the 18th century, long before Western colonialism in the Middle East and the resulting appointment of despotic rulers. It was the fascist Muslim Brotherhood that gave birth to terrorist groups like al Qaeda and Hamas, and it is the absence of a reformation that keeps the Muslim world boiling and in regression.

Unfortunately, despite his best intentions, the president gave the wrong speech at the wrong time. Perhaps the most telling indicator of his error was the fact that hours after his speech, CAIR, the un-indicted co-conspirator in the Hamas case in Dallas, congratulated the president on the appointment of a representative to OIC. With friends like these, who needs enemies?

— Steve Emerson is executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism,
National Review Online -

27550  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Communicating with the Muslim World on: June 28, 2007, 06:26:15 PM

Jun 22, 09:40
The Bush Administration's Outreach Program to the Muslim Brotherhood

The New York Sun writes that the Bush administration is quietly laying the groundwork for reaching out to the Muslim Brotherhood. What it doesn’t say is that the Muslim Brotherhood, through its chapter in the United States (CAIR, ISNA et al) have already launched one of the most successful outreach programs of any group in the country.

The U.S. government has formally named these groups as part of the Muslim Brotherhood. They have met recently with senior leaders of the Pentagon, DHS, DOD and have been in the White House across two administrations.

Only the Justice Department’s naming of the groups as unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land case kept these same groups from being the stars at an ill-conceived “outreach” event hosted by AG Alberto Gonzalez.

So outreach to the Brotherhood, especially in this country, is not a new policy at all. Everyone from the FBI to the NSC has been bullied, pushed, cajoled and duped into meeting with them, despite their well-documented ties to terrorism, terrorist organizations and terrorist leaders.

The question to me is not whether to talk to the Muslim Brotherhood, here, in Egypt or its international structure. One can have legitimate reasons for doing so. The question is the underlying premise of the conversations. If we recognize they are a political-religious movement committed to the cause of creating a unified Islamic state across the world, including the United States, and will use any means available to do so-and still think there are strategic interests the dictated discussions-then that is legitimate.

But we are being told repeatedly and erroneously that these groups are our friends and possible allies. And that is simply not true.

Why the pressure now to reach out to the group that is directly, organically tied to Hamas, runs a multi-billion dollar financial empire, and has been the spawning ground of every major salafist jihadi movement and leader?

The drive to legitimize the Muslim Brotherhood is being driven by Robert Leiken and other academics who have forgotten, apparently, any lessons they ever learned during the Cold War. (For a look at Leiken’s shifting positions during that time, particularly his gullibility on the Sandinistas, see Patrick Poole’s American Thinker piece).

I am not going to rehash the arguments raised by Leiken and those of us in response to him. I just want to point out that the entire project of legitimizing the Brotherhood is built on a deliberate misstatement of the truth.

I am rather surprised that Leiken and others with his experience in Central America (my own included), where the Sandinistas, particularly, lied, used front groups and battled to define the language that was used to grossly mislead us all. Leiken admitted to being fooled by them.
As they say, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

The MB, on an international level (individual country chapters vary, but the international structure is running the expansion programs in Europe and the United States) is essentially a front group. It uses people adept at speaking our language, relating to issues we understand and working very hard and successfully to achieve a particular agenda. In this case it is the Islamization of the United States and Europe. They have said this publicly and repeatedly.

They cannot use violence now against the United States, as they themselves say, because they do not have the means to take over by force. Yousef al Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s most influential theologian, has made clear, this clear in his writings:

“We depend on others for military power. Those against whom we want to launch our offensive jihad are the same people who make all sorts of weapons and sell them to us. But for them, we would be unarmed, defenseless and unable to do anything!
That being the case, how can we talk of launching offensives to subject the whole world to our Message, when the only weapons we can muster are those given us by them and when the only arms we can carry are those they agree to sell us.”

A trenchant observation, and honest. It is, however, not a disavowal of violence, merely a recognition that tactically it is impossible for the moment.

Leiken et al of course ignore these writings and rely on the fundamental lie being perpetrated by the Muslim Brotherhood now: That the MB has rejected the Islamist teachings of Sayid Qutb, articulated in “Milestones,” and is instead now embracing Hasan al Hudaybi’s writings in “Preachers not Judges.”

I and others wrote about how preposterous this thesis is, and I won’t rehash it all here. But it is classic double-speak we knew so well in Marxism (takiyya in the Islamist conception). They want to get rid of us. They will engage in any strategy that will advance that goal.

This is what is so disheartening about the current debate, especially when people like former senior FBI officials like Mike Rolince deliberately misstate the facts.

Let’s understand who CAIR, ISNA and the International Muslim Brotherhood are. Then, when we properly define them and their agenda, rather than letting them dictate the terms of the debate, there can be honest discussion about whether outreach is in our strategic interest.
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