Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race
on: June 20, 2007, 11:37:35 AM
WSJ's Political Journal:
Money Talks, Even If It Doesn't Run
In the end he may not run, but New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg certainly roiled political waters yesterday with his announcement he was leaving the Republican Party to register as an Independent.
For the next seven months you can expect a lot of teasing from Team Bloomberg as he evaluates whether or not to run. He will likely make up his mind after the Tsunami Tuesday primaries next Feb. 5, when both major party nominees are likely to be known.
"If John McCain gets beaten to the right -- which is possible in a conservative Republican primary -- and if Democrats elect someone through a primary who Democrats generally view as unelectable, there's a large segment of the American electorate that is looking for something different," Bloomberg strategist Kevin Sheekey told Politico.com last year, in a clear reference to Hillary Clinton as the "unelectable" Democrat. Mr. Sheekey is apparently convinced there are enough alienated voters to make up "36% of the vote in enough states to give you an electoral win." Money, of course, wouldn't be a problem -- Mr. Bloomberg has hinted to friends he could easily spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a presidential race.
In reality, winning a majority of the Electoral College is tricky for an independent under the best of circumstances, a consideration that ultimately may convince Mr. Bloomberg to keep his billions in his pocket. If he does run, whom does he hurt most?
The biggest ding would be to Democrats, who would suddenly find themselves having to defend safe blue territories such as New York and California (86 electoral votes between them). Other states that lean Democratic, such as New Jersey and Connecticut, would also be in play. For their part, Republicans would be forced to compete more intensely in a few states they usually carry, such as Florida (chock full of New York migrants). But it's unlikely Mr. Bloomberg would have much appeal in the South or Midwest GOP strongholds. "How much of a cultural fit can a five-foot, seven-inch culturally liberal Jew from New York City with a Boston accent be in Kansas City?" asks one GOP consultant.
That said, Mr. Bloomberg will no doubt enjoy the next seven months as the entire national press corps speculates on his possible moves and provides him with endless media coverage. Mr. Bloomberg may end up getting all the attention he wants without having to spend his fortune running for president.
-- John Fund
Et Tu, Bloomie?
Yesterday wasn't a good day for GOP frontrunner Rudy Giuliani. First came word that President Bush was appointing former Iowa Congressman Jim Nussle as his new budget director, replacing the retiring Rob Portman. Mr. Nussle had been the top strategist for Mr. Giuliani in the key Iowa caucuses but now will be sidelined from politics.
Then came word that Thomas Ravenel, South Carolina's state treasurer and the campaign chairman for Mr. Giuliani in that key early primary state, has been suspended from office and indicted by a federal grand jury on distribution of cocaine charges.
To top everything off, the surprise move to register as an Independent by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a man Mr. Giuliani campaigned for in 2001, couldn't have been good news for Team Rudy. Should Mr. Bloomberg run for president, it is almost certain he would diminish Mr. Guiliani's contention that he could win the White House for the GOP by putting states such as New York into play.
A new Quinnipiac Poll makes it unclear just how much of a chance Mr. Giuliani would have in the state both he and Hillary Clinton call home. It shows Senator Clinton with a solid 52% to 37% lead against Mr. Giuliani in a two-way race. With Mr. Bloomberg thrown into the mix, Mrs. Clinton leads by 43% to 29% with 16% opting for Mr. Bloomberg as an independent. Most ominously, Mr. Bloomberg actually ties Mr. Giuliani among key independent voters -- each man gets 23%.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Journey into Islam
on: June 20, 2007, 10:38:54 AM
June 20, 2007
Journey into Islam
By Tony Blankley
I have just finished reading a deeply disheartening book by my friend
Professor Akbar Ahmed. Dr. Ahmed is the former Pakistani high commissioner
to Britain and member of the faculties of Harvard, Princeton and Cambridge,
current chair of Islamic Studies at American University -- and is in the
front ranks of what we Westerners call the moderate Muslims, who we are
counting on to win the hearts and minds of the others.
I first met Professor Ahmed shortly after Sept. 11. He, his friends and I
broke bread several times and discussed the condition of Islam and the West.
He graciously agreed to share a stage with me at the National Press Club to
debate with me the merits of my book, "The West's Last Chance: Will We Win
the Clash of Civilization?" As my book was very harshly received by many
Muslims around the world, I don't doubt that Dr. Ahmed shared that stage
with me at some risk at least to his reputation -- if not more.
We even considered doing a weekly cable TV show on the clash of civilization
from our different (but respectful) points of view -- although nothing came
of it. Dr. Ahmed is a worldly man of letters who profoundly believes that
collective good can be accomplished by individual acts of good conscience --
that each of us (Muslim, Christian, Jew, Hindu) must connect with others and
live out our convictions for our common humanity in the face of tribalism,
religion and other dividing forces. Thus, his reach out to me, a fiery
American nationalist TV commentator and editor to find if not complete
common ground, at least common friendship.
His new book, "Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization," is thus
particularly heartbreaking for me. As a trained anthropologist, he took
three of his students on a six-month journey around the Muslim world to
investigate what Muslims are thinking.
His conclusion: Due to both misjudgments by the United States and
regrettable developments in Muslim attitudes, "The poisons are spreading so
rapidly that without immediate remedial action, no antidote may ever be
found." And Dr. Ahmed has always been an optimist.
He divides Muslim attitudes into three categories named after Indian Muslim
cities that have historically championed them: Ajmer, Aligarh and Deoband.
Ajmer represents peaceful Sufi mysticism, Aligarth represents the instinct
to modernize without corrupting Islam, Deoband represents non-fatalistic,
practical, action-oriented orthodox Islam. It traces to Ibn Taymiyya, a
14th-Century thinker who lived when Islam was reeling from the Mongol
invasions. He rejected Islam's prior easy, open acceptance of non-Muslims.
In short, Dr. Ahmed is an Aligarth. As a young man he was one of new
Pakistan's best and brightest, led by Pakistan's founding father and first
president, Dr. Jinnah. They hoped to build a modern democracy, overcome
tribalism and the more obscurantist aspects of Islam while still being "good
Muslims." The Deobands are the Bin Ladens and all the other Muslims we fear
Even one or two years ago, I think Dr. Ahmed was reasonably hopeful that his
views had a fighting chance around the Islamic world. So, my jaw dropped
when I got to page 192 of his new book and he described his thoughts while
in Pakistan last year on his investigative journey: "The progressive and
active Aligarth model had become enfeebled and in danger of being overtaken
by the Deoband model ... I felt like a warrior in the midst of the fray who
knew the odds were against him but never quite realized that his side had
already lost the war."
He likewise reported from Indonesia -- invariably characterized as
practicing a more moderate form of Islam. There, too, his report was
crushingly negative. Meeting with people from presidents to cab drivers,
from elite professors to students from modest schools (Dr. Ahmed holds a
respected place in the Muslim firmament around the globe), reports that 50
percent want Shariah law, support the Bali terrorist bombing, oppose women
in politics, support stoning adulterers to death. Indonesia's secular legal
system and tolerant pluralist society is being "infiltrated by Deoband
thinking ... Dwindling moderates and growing extremists are a dangerous
Although I dissent from several of Dr. Ahmed's characterizations of the Bush
Administration, Washington policymakers and journalists should read this
book because it delivers a terrible message of warning both to those who say
things aren't as bad as Bush says, and we can rely on the moderate voices of
Islam -- with a little assist from the West -- winning; and for those who
argue for aggressive American action to show our strength to the Muslims
(because, in Bin Laden's words, they follow the strong horse).
To the first group he says that the "moderate" voice is in near hopeless
retreat across the Muslim world. Don't count on them. To the second group he
says, whatever Bush's intentions, our aggression only strengthens our
I think he knows his solution is forlorn: "Although the planet's societies
are running against time ... [we must] transcend race, tribe and religion
and cherish our common humanity, every individual must become the message."
Let us pray.
But for those of us who don't expect the milk of human kindness to suddenly
start flowing, it behooves us to read Professor Ahmed's honest assessment of
the real state of Muslim world attitudes and coldly re-assess our various
policy prescriptions in its light.
These are grim times, but we must resist indulging ourselves in hopeful
fantasies. Every piece of our national security calculations must be
realistically assessed against the available facts. What is working, what
isn't, what to do?
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Crimes using knives
on: June 20, 2007, 10:33:55 AM
Not a knife, but it is an item that cuts, so I post it here.
A study in "the Three Ss":
Bar fight charge is attempted murder
Man is “critical” after incident early Sunday.
By Jeff Wiehe email@example.com
Stapleton: Was reportedly in fight at another bar
Allen County prosecutors say a Fort Wayne man used a broken beer bottle to attack Charles A. Minnix early Sunday morning, stabbing the 42-year-old in the neck, arm, chest and hand during a fight outside Country Spirits bar on Arcola Road.
After medics airlifted the critically injured South Whitley man to a local hospital, doctors put him on a ventilator. He had emergency surgery to repair his punctured lung and stop arterial bleeding.
David Lee Stapleton, 45, of the 5300 block of Stonehedge Boulevard, was arrested at his apartment shortly after the attack and charged with aggravated battery. Thursday, the charge was raised to attempted murder, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Stapleton posted $10,000 bond after his intial arrest Sunday morning, but was rearrested during a court appearance the next day and given $25,000 bond. He posted that, too, and as of this morning he had not been arrested for the attempted murder warrant, according to lockup records.
The fight apparently began when Minnix began to ask bar patrons for money to put into the jukebox, according to an Allen County Sheriff’s Department report. He and Stapleton began to argue sometime before 2:45 a.m., and a bartender told police she heard Stapleton say to Minnix, “You want a piece of me?”
Stapleton — who witnesses said in the report had been in an altercation earlier that night at another bar — apparently wanted to use a pool cue against Minnix, but bar patrons wrestled it away from him and got the two to go outside. There, Stapleton broke a beer bottle and began jabbing at Minnix and another man trying to break up the fight.
According to a probable-cause affidavit, Stapleton stabbed Minnix in the arm before bystanders separated them. Then Stapleton somehow got to Minnix again and stabbed him in the throat. He also cut another man who was trying to break the two apart, the sheriff’s report said. That man suffered only a minor laceration to his arm.
Witnesses dragged Minnix back into the bar. They locked Stapleton out, and an affidavit said he tried to get back in, yelling and swearing. Several witnesses said he threatened to kill Minnix.
Stapleton left with a woman, according to the sheriff’s report.
Police arrived at the bar to find large amounts of blood outside the door and on the front wall, as well as a blood trail to where Stapleton’s car had been parked, the sheriff’s report said. Officers also found a broken beer bottle covered in blood in a trash barrel outside the bar.
Officers waited for Stapleton at his apartment, where he arrived about 45 minutes after the fight. When police arrested him, he had blood on his hands. He was treated at St. Joseph Hospital before police took him to Lockup.http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/fortwayne/news/local/17374237.htm
DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Bolivia
on: June 20, 2007, 10:24:53 AM
BOLIVIA: A group of university students with torches, sticks, rocks and dynamite demonstrated in Sucre, Bolivia, late June 19. Police used tear gas to prevent the students from reaching the Constitutional Assembly. The students were protesting a proposed article in the assembly that would grant government control over universities -- a measure that ruling Movement Toward Socialism party already has said it will no longer support.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues
on: June 20, 2007, 09:18:58 AM
That's pretty funny Buzz.
Changing subjects, Nature Conservancy is a fine group, which seeks market oriented solutions. As I read this editorial I am reminded that I need to renew my membership:
Published: June 20, 2007
The steady march of major timber companies to new locations in the southern United States and overseas has exposed millions of acres to development, ratcheting up the already fierce pressures on the nation’s dwindling supply of open space. With most federal open-space programs cut to the bone, the task of preserving these lands for future generations has fallen increasingly to private groups.
Given their relatively limited resources, any victory they achieve is cause for cheers. And cheer we do this week for the Nature Conservancy’s purchase — with financing from the Open Space Institute and other groups — from a paper company of 161,000 acres of hardwood forests, mountain peaks, lakes and streams in New York’s Adirondacks.
The deal secures for posterity the last big piece of privately owned timberland in the Adirondacks. It caps a series of transactions stretching back to the early 1990s that altogether have protected hundreds of thousands of Adirondack backcountry acres that might otherwise have been lost to second homes. The transaction is also significant because it will allow selective logging to continue for 20 years, helping to preserve jobs at a local paper mill.
To cover the $110 million price, the Nature Conservancy is going to need more than just cheering. Some of the money could come from private fund-raising, and some by selling part of the timberland back to a company that would harvest the land sustainably but keep out residential development.
We also urge Gov. Eliot Spitzer to step forward, as his predecessor George Pataki did on similar occasions in the past. The state could buy some of the land outright, adding it to the New York State Forest Preserve. It could also buy the development rights from the Nature Conservancy through a conservation easement — rights, of course, it would never use.
From Maine to California, groups like the Nature Conservancy, the Conservation Fund and the Trust for Public Land are engaged in a continuing, and financially creative, battle to keep the developers at bay and keep large ecosystems intact. This week’s deal gives them, and all of us, heart.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues
on: June 20, 2007, 09:06:46 AM
Published: June 20, 2007
McALLEN, Tex., June 15 — Antonio N. Zavaleta, a vice president and professor of anthropology at the University of Texas branch in Brownsville, saw a slight problem in the route of a border fence that federal officials displayed at a community meeting earlier this month.
Dr Antonio N. Zavaleta, a vice president of the University of Texas branch in Brownsville, at the site of the planned fence, which would split the university. “Would the students need to show a passport?” he asked.
“Part of our university,” Dr. Zavaleta said, “would be on the Mexican side of the fence.”
What about traffic between classes, he wondered. “Would the students need to show a passport?”
He was not the only one who was startled. Local leaders throughout South Texas have been voicing puzzlement and alarm at the implications of the barrier, which Congress has authorized the Department of Homeland Security to construct along 370 miles of the United States-Mexico border, including 153 miles in Texas, by December 2008.
Some of the gravest concern involves the effect on wildlife in the 90,000 acres of national refuges in South Texas, where bumper stickers read “No Border Wall” and a group of naturalists, Los Caminos del Rio, has been staging ecotourism forays into a long-closed sanctuary to draw attention to endangered habitats.
Customs and Border Protection officials say that the path of the fence is far from settled and that they are discussing it with local officials.
But maps like the one shown in Brownsville on June 4 by Chief David Aguilar of the Border Patrol put the route along a levee built inland to hold back flooding on the Rio Grande. That location, some here say, would in effect cede to Mexico the land on the other side of the fence up to the official international border, the middle of the Rio Grande.
In Brownsville, Dr. Zavaleta said, that path would cut off not only the International Technology, Education and Commerce campus of the University of Texas and Texas Southmost College, which is in a former shopping center about a mile from the main campus, but also its golf course and a national historic site, Fort Brown, where an upright cannon marks an opening skirmish of the Mexican War.
Even the heavily trafficked bridge between Brownsville and Matamoros, Mexico, would be on the Mexican side of the fence, Dr. Zavaleta said.
He said Chief Aguilar had seemed taken aback by the observations and agreed to review the route.
“Nothing has been finalized yet,” said Xavier Rios, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection. “To say something will be cut off is way premature.”
Mr. Rios added that the fence would have many access points to allow monitored passage.
But in Laredo, where Mayor Raul G. Salinas, a former officer for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has complained of being bypassed, a city spokeswoman, Xochitl Mora Garcia, said that after promising to consult with local officials, federal authorities recently invited contract proposals for construction of the fence.
“What they’re saying and doing are two different things,” Ms. Garcia said.
In Brownsville, the district clerk, Aurora De La Garza, and a county commissioner, Sofia Benavides — who emerged from a hurricane-planning visit to the Mexican consulate at the university campus that would be isolated — derided officials in Washington as not understanding family ties across the border.
“This is a relationship that cannot be broken by a fence,” Ms. Benavides said.
Representative Henry Cuellar, the South Texas Democrat who has been organizing local forums to air grievances, said the Homeland Security Department had become more responsive.
“They may have started off on the wrong foot,” Mr. Cuellar said, “but they’re trying to work with the locals now.”
On Friday, the House passed a bill, now before the Senate, appropriating $37 billion for the Homeland Security Department with a provision, insisted on by Mr. Cuellar and others, requiring federal officials to consult with local communities about the fence, which could cost $2 billion to $49 billion.
Supporters say a fence is crucial to shoring up the nation’s southern border. Critics say that a 10-foot-high wall in San Diego is already being scaled by illegal immigrants using ladders, and that technology alone — a virtual fence — could provide much of the same security.
Furthermore, congested areas like Laredo, where development extends to the Rio Grande amid tightly intertwined commercial and social ties to its sister city across the border, Nuevo Laredo, do not lend themselves to a fence.
In an unusual step in the booming border crossroads city of McAllen, the federal Fish and Wildlife Service has taken a role in the debate, providing a rare permit to Los Caminos del Rio (Ways of the River), to run scheduled biking and kayaking outings into the long-restricted Lower Rio Grande National Wildlife Refuge. Members have to announce their visits ahead of time to tip off the Border Patrol and assure protection from the human smugglers who infest the refuge — like, for example, the three jumpy fellows who had just crossed the river from Mexico the other evening to stash a bag of dry clothes for nightfall.
“Don’t mess with us or we’ll both get messed up,” warned one (or words to that effect).
Eric Ellman, executive director of the 17-year-old Los Caminos group, said the strategy was akin to that devised in New York City at the height of the 1970s crime wave.
“Legal activity will displace illegal activity,” Mr. Ellman said, maintaining that the presence of ecotourists would make the refuge less appealing to illegal immigrants and drug smugglers.
Bryan R. Wynton, the refuge manager, said he was concerned that a fence could prove ruinous to wildlife relying on the river. “It pretty much destroys 20 years of efforts,” he said.
But Mr. Wynton added, “I’m smart enough to know national security is going to trump fish and wildlife management any day, but that doesn’t mean I need to throw in the towel.”
A morning spent biking and kayaking the refuge with about a dozen members of Los Caminos showcased the diversity of the wildlife. As Lori Humphreys, executive secretary of the group, led the group with an S.U.V. full of gear, and Mel Piñeda, a consultant, followed in a pickup loaded with kayaks, a herd of javelinas bolted into the mesquite. A turkey buzzard circled overhead along with menacing-looking tarantula wasps that lay their eggs inside tarantulas also in evidence from a dried carcass at the side of the road.
Sue Thompson, a local farmer and a member of the North American Butterfly Association, with its own reserve nearby, said she had seen smugglers in the refuge driving up to unload boxes of drugs ferried across the Rio Grande.
Just the evening before, on a run-through of the next morning’s nature tour, Mr. Piñeda stumbled across the three men huddling on the shore of the river waiting for dark with their bag of dry clothes.
On the Mexican side, families frolicked in the water, and Mr. Piñeda shouted across, asking what they thought of the wall. “It’s an insult,” one man shouted back, adding, “We’ll make tunnels.”
As nightfall came, Napoleon Garza, an armed local caretaker who was patrolling the reserve against feral hogs, warned the visitors to leave.
“There’s a lot of dope being run across here,” he said.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The Shadow goes
on: June 20, 2007, 09:01:37 AM
The Shadow Goes
By MARGARET WERTHEIM
Published: June 20, 2007
ON Thursday, on the summer solstice, the Sun will celebrate the year’s lazy months by resting on the horizon. The word solstice derives from the Latin “sol” (sun) and “sistere” (to stand still). The day marks the sun’s highest point in the sky, the moment when our shadows shrink to their shortest length of the year. How strange to think that these mundane friends, our ever-present familiars, can actually go faster than the sun’s rays.
I remarked on this recently to my husband as we sat on the porch with our shadows pooling by our chairs. Nothing can go faster than light, he insisted, expressing what is surely the most widely known law of physics, ingrained into us by a thousand “Nova” programs.
That is the point, I explained: Nothing can go faster than light. A shadow isn’t a thing. It’s a non-thing. It’s the absence of light.
Special relativity dictates that we cannot move anything more quickly than the particles of light known as photons, but no law says you can’t do nothing faster than light. Physicists have known this for a long time, even if they generally do not mention it on PBS documentaries.
My husband looked troubled, as did my sister and some friends I regaled with the story that evening. Like the warp drive on “Star Trek,” faster-than-light travel is supposed to be a science-fiction fantasy. Isn’t it?
They are right about the travel: According to relativity, no physical substance can exceed the speed of light because it would take infinite energy to accelerate anything to such a velocity.
Yet the laws of physics pertain only to that which is. That which isn’t is not bound by relativity’s restraint. From the point of view of relativity, a shadow (having no mass) is a non-thing, an existential void.
It’s quite easy to conjure up a faster-than-light shadow, at least in theory. Build a great klieg light, a superstrong version of the ones set up at the Academy Awards. Now paste a piece of black paper onto the klieg’s glass so there is a shadow in the middle of the beam, like the signal used to summon Batman. And we are going to mount our light in space and broadcast the Bat-call to the cosmos.
The key to our trick is to rotate the klieg. As the light turns, the bat shadow sweeps across the sky. Round and round it goes, projecting into the void. Just as the rim of a bicycle wheel moves faster than its hub, so too, away from the source our bat shadow will fly faster and faster, a consequence of the geometry that guarantees the rim of a really big wheel moves faster than a co-rotating small wheel.
At a great enough distance from the source, our shadow bat will go so fast it will exceed the speed of light. This does not violate relativity because a shadow carries no energy. Literally nothing is transferred. Our shadow bat can go 10 times the speed of light or 100 times faster without breaking any of physics’ sacred rules.
My sister leapt to the heart of this apparent paradox: Why isn’t the light itself traveling faster than the speed of light? Isn’t it also rotating in space? Actually, no. The bulbs that produce the light are spinning, but the light particles leave the source at 186,000 miles a second, the vaunted “speed of light.” Once emitted, the photons continue to travel at this speed directly away from the source. Only the shadow revolves around the great circle. The critical point is that no object, no substance, defies light.
My husband was right to object that you’d need one spectacular klieg to produce a detectable shadow thousands of miles out in space. Still, the theory is sound.
The anthropologist Mary Douglas noted that all systems of categorizing break down somewhere, unable to incorporate certain forms. By standing beyond relativity’s injunction, shadows suggest the limits of all classification schemes, a tension that even modern science cannot completely resolve.
In the terms recognized by relativity, shadows are non-things. Yet before the invention of clocks, shadows were the most important means for telling time. Weightless and without energy, shadows can nonetheless convey information — though they cannot, despite our giant klieg, be used for faster-than-light communication. That’s because the shadow’s location cannot be detected until the light, moving at its ponderous relativistic pace, arrives.
“Here there be monsters,” said the medieval maps, signaling the limits of reason’s reach. As a map of being, physics is flanked by the monsters of non-being whose outlines we glimpse in the paradoxes of quantum mechanics and in the zooming arc of a shadow bat going faster than light.
In Christian theology we are told, “God is that which nothing is greater than.” The scientific corollary might be, “Light is that which nothing is faster than” — a statement true both in spirit and fact.
Margaret Wertheim, the director of the Institute for Figuring, a science and mathematics education organization, is writing a book on physics and the imagination.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: June 2007 Gathering
on: June 20, 2007, 08:59:45 AM
Jeff sent us an additional pair of S-knives for the explicit purpose of our using them at this Gathering.
Also, I'd like to remind people to think in terms of 2x2 knife fights, stick vs. knife, etc. Who will be fighting double stick? Haven't seen any mention of staff fights , , ,
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mil-blogs: Michael Yon and others (support our troops)
on: June 19, 2007, 09:36:29 PM
Major offensive in al Qaeda's so-called capital of the Islamic State of Iraq
The Diyala Campaign is underway. As part of major offensive operations throughout the belts regions of Baghdad, Iraqi and U.S. forces have launched a large scale operation in the city of Baqubah, the provincial capital of Diyala. Dubbed Operation Arrowhead Ripper, the offensive is massive. This is a division sized operation of "approximately 10,000 Soldiers, with a full complement of attack helicopters, close air support, Strykers and Bradley Fighting Vehicles."
Over 30 al Qaeda operatives have been killed since the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division kicked off the operation with a "quick-strike nighttime air assault."
Elements of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, and the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, are operating in Baqubah, along with the 2nd Brigade of the 5th Iraqi Army Division. American forces are in the lead of the assault, with the Iraqi Army in support. The 2-5 Iraqi Army Brigade killed four al Qaeda after receiving sniper fire, and captured 2 others.
The New York Times, which incorrectly reported the operation as consisting of 2,000 U.S. troops, reported that the western portion of the city of Baqubah has been sealed off with ground and air units as troops pursue the 300 to 500 Qaeda believed to be operating in the area.
The 1920 Revolution Brigades, which turned on al Qaeda in Diyala and cleared the city of Buhriz with U.S. assistance, is actively working along side Iraqi Army units in Baqubah. "The Iraqi forces were joined by some members of the 1920s Revolutionary Brigade, a Sunni Arab group with units that have recently repudiated a longstanding alliance with Al Qaeda, and witnesses said the two groups were welcomed by the residents," note the Times.
Map of southern Diyala. Click map to view.
Back in May, we noted Diyala has become the main hub of al Qaeda's operations. Al Qaeda in Iraq made Baqubah the capital of its rump Islamic State of Iraq last year. Since the inception of the Baghdad Security Plan in mid-February, the security situation, which was deteriorating after U.S. forces pulled back last fall, has markedly worsened. Al Qaeda has prepared fighting positions, supply bases, IED traps, bomb rigged buildings, and training camps in the province.
Over 2,000 hardened al Qaeda fighters fled Baghdad and are operating in Diyala. An American intelligence official and a U.S. military officer informed us that al Qaeda is operating along the lines of Hezbollah's military structure in Lebanon. Al Qaeda attacks in the region proved this, as a series of assaults along the Iranian border and elsewhere in the province bore the hallmark of a well led, well trained fighting unit.
The fighting in Diyala will be hard. Al Qaeda is organized in small military units with infantry, mortars, anti-tank and anti-aircraft teams, as well as suicide and IED cells and the accompanying logistical nodes. Al Qaeda has been conducting a terror campaign to remove tribal leaders and others who oppose them, while waging a campaign of intimidation designed to cow the local population.
The Diyala Campaign has been a long time coming. The 10,000 U.S. troops and supporting Iraqi units won't sit pat in Baqubah, but will reach out to strike at other al Qaeda bases in the troubled province. These areas include Khalis, Muqdadiyah and a host of small towns up and down the Diyala River Valley and along the Iranian border where al Qaeda has established bases, training camps and logistical nodes.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq
on: June 19, 2007, 07:59:18 PM
Iraq: A New Offensive in Diyala
In one of the largest operations since the Iraq war began in 2003, the U.S. military led some 10,000 coalition troops into Diyala province June 19 as part of an offensive against al Qaeda. Building on successes in Anbar province, the United States is attempting to take the fight to the jihadists. But, like the U.S. troop surge, this offensive will not be short-lived, and success is far from assured.
Operation Arrowhead Ripper, led by the U.S. Army's third Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 2nd Infantry Division, began early June 19 in Diyala province. Some 10,000 coalition troops are involved in the offensive against al Qaeda, other foreign jihadist groups and their local supporters. The focus of the operation is the city of Baqubah, where Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. airstrike in June 2006, and which is home to all the major sectarian groups in Iraq. The operation will attempt to shut down jihadist operations there and establish some semblance of security. But the United States still cannot impose a military solution in Iraq; it can only attempt to make the security landscape conducive to political negotiations on the litany of Iraq's intractable issues.
During the last six months, many militant elements have been driven into Diyala, and U.S. fatalities in the province have seen a very distinct increase since January. Coalition efforts to talk with Sunni tribal leaders in Anbar province -- the traditional support base of al Qaeda in Iraq and Sunni jihadist elements -- have seen recent success. Sunni tribal militias' opposition to al Qaeda has been building for some time, but struggles within the larger Sunni camp and pressure from security operations in Baghdad proper have gradually pushed the jihadists from Anbar province into Diyala. Coalition troops have simply followed the jihadists; a U.S. Stryker battalion has been operating in eastern Baqubah for several months, and more than 2,000 Kurdish peshmerga fighters were deployed to Baqubah the week of June 10 to assist with U.S. security operations already under way.
Though the coalition met with some success in working with Anbar's Sunni tribal leaders against jihadists, Diyala's population -- 40 percent Sunni Arab, 35 percent Shiite Arab and 20 percent Kurdish -- is much more diverse than Anbar's. Diyala is one of three provinces that will be heavily contested in the Kirkuk referendum, which -- according to Iraq's constitution -- is to take place before the end of 2007. However, volatile resistance from Iraq's Sunni and Shiite factions likely will scupper the timeline. In the midst of these delicate sectarian tensions, however, last week's peshmerga deployment was particularly unsettling for Diyala's Arab population, since it gives the Kurds more armed influence in the province just as the United States attempts to deal with Shiite extremism within the leadership of Diyala's Iraqi National Police units (a move that was key to successes in Anbar province and Tal Afar). But given the influence of both Kurds and Shia in Diyala right now, the province's Sunni factions will be more difficult to split from their well-armed al Qaeda allies than the Sunnis in Anbar.
However, the U.S. ability to shift 10,000 coalition soldiers into a major operation outside Baghdad in the midst of a major security crackdown is the mark of significant operational flexibility. This flexibility will allow the United States to keep pressure on the jihadists and thus (it is hoped) impede their ability to plan complex operations and maintain the supply lines necessary to build explosives, such as those used in the recent spate of bridge bombings. Thus far, neither the recent bridge bombings nor jihadists' attempts to supplement their bombs with chlorine gas have proven particularly effective. However, the latest bombing of the revered Shiite al-Askariyah shrine June 13 and the June 19 bombing of the Khillani mosque in Baghdad serve as reminders that al Qaeda is still capable of stoking the fire of sectarian tension in Iraq.
In Diyala, however, both the foreign jihadists and their domestic allies are beginning to feel cornered, with few places left to hide. They face hostile Kurdish majorities to the north in As Sulaymaniyah, Iranian and Iraqi Shiite majorities to the east and south (especially in Wasit, where they have been unable to establish a long-term presence), growing Sunni nationalist and tribal hostility to the west in Salah ad Din and Anbar and a strong-handed security operation in Baghdad. Meanwhile, the coalition is turning up the heat elsewhere; elements of the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division began sweeping through other Sunni strongholds south of Baghdad in Babil province the weekend of June 16-17.
Of course, the jihadists in Iraq are not going to simply go away. They have proven to be a resilient and innovative opponent for Iraq's government and the U.S. military, and some will escape the latest coalition operation. The United States will attempt to impede the most destabilizing and violent jihadist attacks. Meanwhile, Washington's negotiations with Tehran will continue, and Iraq will remain fragile.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Watch Egypt
on: June 19, 2007, 05:33:47 PM
GEOPOLITICAL INTELLIGENCE REPORT
The Geopolitics of the Palestinians
By George Friedman
Last week, an important thing happened in the Middle East. Hamas, a radical Islamist political group, forcibly seized control of Gaza from rival Fatah, an essentially secular Palestinian group. The West Bank, meanwhile, remains more or less under the control of Fatah, which dominates the Palestinian National Authority in that region. Therefore, for the first time, the two distinct Palestinian territories -- the Gaza Strip and the West Bank -- no longer are under a single Palestinian authority.
Hamas has been increasing its influence among the Palestinians for years, and it got a major boost by winning the most recent election. It now has claimed exclusive control over Gaza, its historical stronghold and power base. It is not clear whether Hamas will try to take control of the West Bank as well, or whether it would succeed if it did make such a play. The West Bank is a different region with a very different dynamic. What is certain, for the moment at least, is that these regions are divided under two factions, and therefore have the potential to become two different Palestinian states.
In a way, this makes more sense than the previous arrangement. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip are physically separated from one another by Israel. Travel from one part of the Palestinian territories to the other relies on Israel's willingness to permit it -- which is not always forthcoming. As a result, the Palestinian territories are divided into two areas that have limited contact.
The war between the Philistines and the Hebrews is described in the books of Samuel. The Philistines controlled the coastal lowlands of the Levant, the east coast of the Mediterranean. They had advanced technologies, such as the ability to smelt bronze, and they conducted international trade up and down the Levant and within the eastern Mediterranean. The Hebrews, unable to engage the Philistines in direct combat, retreated into the hills to the east of the coast, in Judea, the area now called the West Bank.
The Philistines were part of a geographical entity that ran from Gaza north to Turkey. The Hebrews were part of the interior that connected north to Syria, south into the Arabian deserts and east across the Jordan. The Philistines were unable to pursue the Hebrews in the interior, and the Hebrews -- until David -- were unable to dislodge the Philistines from the coast. Two distinct entities existed.
Today, Gaza is tied to the coastal system, which Israel and Lebanon now occupy. Gaza is the link between the Levantine coast and Egypt. The West Bank is not a coastal entity but a region whose ties are to the Arabian Peninsula, Jordan and Syria. The point is that Gaza and the West Bank are very distinct geographical entities that see the world in very different ways.
Gaza, its links to the north cut by the Israelis, historically has been oriented toward the Egyptians, who occupied the region until 1967. The Egyptians influenced the region by creating the Palestine Liberation Organization, while Egypt's dissident Muslim Brotherhood helped influence the creation of Hamas in 1987. The West Bank, part of Jordan until 1967, is larger and more complex in its social organization, and it really represented the center of gravity of Palestinian nationalism under Fatah. Gaza and the West Bank were always separate entities, and the recent action by Hamas has driven home that point.
Hamas' victory in Gaza means much more to the Palestinians and Egyptians than it does to the Israelis -- at least in the shorter term. The fear in Israel now is that Gaza, under Hamas, will become more aggressive in carrying out terrorist attacks in Israel. Hamas certainly has an ideology that argues for this, and it is altogether possible that the group will become more antagonistic. However, it appears to us that Hamas already was capable of carrying out as many attacks as it wished before taking complete control. Moreover, by increasing attacks now, Hamas -- which always has been able to deny responsibility for these incidents -- would lose the element of deniability. Having taken control of Gaza, regardless of whether it carries out attacks, it would have failed to prevent them. Hamas' leadership is more vulnerable now than ever before.
Let's consider the strategic position of the Palestinians. Their primary weapon against Israel remains what it always has been: random attacks against civilian targets designed to destabilize Israel. The problem with this strategy is obvious. Using terrorism against Americans in Iraq is potentially effective as a strategy. If the Americans cannot stand the level of casualties being imposed, they have the option of leaving Iraq. Although leaving might pose serious problems to U.S. regional and global interests, it would not affect the continued existence of the United States. Therefore, the insurgents potentially could find a threshold that would force the United States to fold.
The Israelis cannot leave Israel. Assume for the moment that the Palestinians could impose 1,000 civilian casualties a year. There are about 5 million Jews in Israel. That would be about 0.02 percent casualties. The Israelis are not going to leave Israel at that casualty rate, or at a rate a thousand times greater. Unlike the Americans, for whom Iraq is a subsidiary interest, Israel is Israel's central interest. Israel is not going to capitulate to the Palestinians over terrorism attacks.
The Israelis could be convinced to make political concessions in shaping a Palestinian state. For example, they might concede more land or more autonomy in order to stop the attacks. That might have been attractive to Fatah, but Hamas explicitly rejects the existence of Israel and therefore gives the Israelis no reason to make concessions. That means that while attacks might be psychologically satisfying to Hamas, they would be substantially less effective than the attacks that were carried out while Fatah was driving the negotiations. Bargaining with Hamas gets Israel nothing.
One of the uses of terrorism is to trigger an Israeli response, which in turn can be used to drive a wedge between Israel and the West. Fatah has been historically skillful at using the cycle of violence to its political advantage. Hamas, however, is handicapped in two ways: First, its position on Israel is perceived as much less reasonable than Fatah's. Second, Hamas is increasingly being viewed as a jihadist movement, and, as such, its strength threatens European and U.S. interests.
Although Israel does not want terrorist attacks, such attacks do not represent a threat to the survival of the state. To be cold-blooded, they are an irritant, not a strategic threat. The only thing that could threaten the survival of Israel, apart from a nuclear barrage, would be a shift in position of neighboring states. Right now, Israel has peace treaties with both Egypt and Jordan, and an adequately working relationship with Syria. With Egypt and Jordan out of the game, Syria does not represent a threat. Israel is strategically secure.
The single most important neighbor Israel has is Egypt. When energized, it is the center of gravity of the Arab world. Under former President Gamal Abdul Nasser, Egypt drove Arab hostility to Israel. Once Anwar Sadat reversed Nasser's strategy on Israel, the Jewish state was basically secure. Other Arab nations could not threaten it unless Egypt was part of the equation. And for nearly 30 years, Egypt has not been part of the equation. But if Egypt were to reverse its position, Israel would, over time, find itself much less comfortable. Though Saudi Arabia has recently overshadowed Egypt's role in the Arab world, the Egyptians can always opt back into a strong leadership position and use their strength to threaten Israel. This becomes especially important as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's health fails and questions are raised about whether his successors will be able to maintain control of the country while the Muslim Brotherhood spearheads a campaign to demand political reform.
As we have said, Gaza is part of the Mediterranean coastal system. Egypt controlled Gaza until 1967 and retained influence there afterward, but not in the West Bank. Hamas also was influenced by Egypt, but not by Mubarak's government. Hamas was an outgrowth of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which the Mubarak regime has done a fairly good job of containing, primarily through force. But there also is a significant paradox in Hamas' relations with Egypt. The Mubarak regime, particularly through its intelligence chief (and prospective Mubarak successor) Omar Suleiman, has good working relations with Hamas, despite being tough on the Muslim Brotherhood.
This is the threat to Israel. Hamas has ties to Egypt and resonates with Egyptians, as well as with Saudis. Its members are religious Sunnis. If the creation of an Islamist Palestinian state in Gaza succeeds, the most important blowback might be in Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood -- which is currently lying very low -- could be rekindled. Mubarak is growing old, and he hopes to be succeeded by his son. The credibility of the regime is limited, to say the least.
Hamas is unlikely to take over the West Bank -- and, even if it did, it still would make no strategic difference. Increased terrorist attacks against Israel's population would achieve less than the attacks that occurred while Fatah was negotiating. They could happen, but they would lead nowhere. Hamas' long-term strategy -- indeed, the only hope of the Palestinians who not prepared to accept a compromise with Israel -- is for Egypt to change its tune toward Israel, which could very well involve energizing Islamist forces in Egypt and bringing about the fall of the Mubarak regime. That is the key to any solution for Hamas.
Although many are focusing on the rise of Iran's influence in Gaza, putting aside the rhetoric, Iran is a minor player in the Israeli-Palestinian equation. Even Syria, despite hosting Hamas' exiled leadership, carries little weight when it comes to posing a strategic threat to Israel. But Egypt carries enormous weight. If an Islamist rising occurred in Egypt and a regime was installed that could energize the Egyptian public against Israel, then that would reflect a strategic threat to the survival of the Israeli state. It would not be an immediate threat -- it would take a generation to turn Egypt into a military power -- but it would ultimately represent a threat.
Only a disciplined and hostile Egypt could serve as the cornerstone of an anti-Israel coalition. Hamas, by asserting itself in Gaza -- especially if it can resist the Israeli army -- could strike the chord in Egypt that Fatah has been unable to strike for almost 30 years.
That is the importance of the creation of a separate Gaza entity; it complicates Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and probably makes them impossible. And this in and of itself works in Israel's favor, since it has no need to even entertain negotiations with the Palestinians as long as the Palestinians continue dividing themselves. If Hamas were to make significant inroads in the West Bank, it would make things more difficult for Israel, as well as for Jordan. But with or without the West Bank, Hamas has the potential -- not the certainty, just the potential -- to reach west along the Mediterranean coast and influence events in Egypt. And that is the key for Hamas.
There are probably a dozen reasons why Hamas made the move it did, most of them trivial and limited to local problems. But the strategic consequence of an independent, Islamist Gaza is that it can act both as a symbol and as a catalyst for change in Egypt, something that was difficult as long as Hamas was entangled with the West Bank. This probably was not planned, but it is certainly the most important consequence -- intended or not -- of the Gaza affair.
Two things must be monitored: first, whether there is reconciliation between Gaza and the West Bank and, if so, on what sort of terms; second, what the Egyptian Islamists led by the Muslim Brotherhood do now that Hamas, their own creation, has taken control of Gaza, a region once controlled by the Egyptians.
Egypt is the place to watch.
© Copyright 2007 Strategic Forecasting Inc. All rights reserved.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / That'll teach ya
on: June 19, 2007, 02:31:30 PM
Interesting facts in that case Argyll, thanks.
Here's one to make the blood boil a bit:
'You're fired,' man hears after saving a woman's life
The 24-year-old grabbed a gun before going to help his neighbor who had been shot.
By Jim Schoettler, The Times-Union
When a neighbor screamed she'd been shot, Colin Bruley grabbed his shotgun, found the victim and began treating her bloodied right le contextual_ad_head g.
Tonnetta Lee survived Tuesday's pre-dawn shooting at her Jacksonville apartment, and her sister and a neighbor praised Bruley's actions. But his employers, the same people who own the Arlington complex where Bruley lives, reacted differently. They fired him.
Bruley, a leasing agent at the Oaks at Mill Creek, said he lost his job after being told that brandishing the weapon was a workplace violation, as was failing to notify supervisors after the incident occurred. He'd worked at the Monument Road complex since December and for the owner, Village Green Cos., since 2005.
Bruley said he was too shaken to call his supervisor immediately after the incident, which occurred just before 2 a.m., but planned to eventually do so. He also said he was acting as a citizen, not an employee, and shouldn't have been punished for trying to protect himself and others. He never fired the shotgun.
"I was expecting work to give me some kind of commendation," said Bruley, 24. "I was totally blown back. It was a crisis that most people don't go through."
Andrea Roebker, the company's director of public relations, said "We're not in a position to discuss any employment issues outside of [with] the employee.
She declined to comment further, citing confidentiality rules.
A complaint Bruley said was given to him by his supervisor Tuesday said he violated several company policies found in an employee handbook. Those procedures were also explained in a recent meeting and an e-mail, the complaint said. One policy prohibits any type of weapons being used in the workplace. The complaint cited him for "gross misconduct."
"Colin demonstrated extremely poor judgment in responding to this situation," the complaint said. "Colin's failure to immediately report this incident ... could have serious ramifications to the property, its associates and residents."
A police report said the shooting followed a domestic quarrel involving Lee, 24, and her boyfriend. Bruley said he was dozing off in his apartment when he heard Lee's screams. He said he then grabbed a 12-gauge shotgun he uses for protection and hunting.
Bruley said he found the woman bleeding heavily. He handed the shotgun to a neighbor, tied a tourniquet around her right leg and waited for police and rescue to arrive.
"I was kind of in a state of shock. I had blood all over my body," Bruley said.
After emergency officials took Lee to the hospital, Bruley returned to his apartment and tried to settle down, eventually falling asleep. He said he could have called his supervisor but didn't think she could do anything at the time. He said he was called into the office about 9:30 a.m., gave his account and then left. He said he was called back that afternoon and told he was fired.
Neighbor Kevin Courson joined Bruley at the crime scene when he saw Bruley had a gun for protection. Courson said he is incensed by the dismissal.
"Here was a guy trying to do a good deed. He wasn't trying to hurt nobody," said Courson, 31.
Erica Jenkins, Lee's sister, said Bruley should still have a job. Lee couldn't be reached to comment despite several messages left with her sister and mother.
"If it wasn't for him ... she could have lost her leg or died," said Jenkins, 19. "He put his life in jeopardy for someone else."
Bruley said he is considering contacting a lawyer about his dismissal, but will first look for another job and possibly another home. He promises he won't shy away from aiding others in need.
"If I'd lose my job again for helping some girl's life ... I'd do it over and over," Bruley firstname.lastname@example.org
, (904) 359-4385
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Conservative case against Ron Paul
on: June 19, 2007, 09:36:10 AM
That page is not opening for me GM. Nonetheless, this is big news.
A friend sent me this:
Someone went through the trouble of summarizing some of Ron Paul
positions. I find it to be an interesting quick read, whether one agrees with the
author or not.
The Conservative Case Against Ron Paul
By John Hawkins
Friday, June 15, 2007
Even though he's not one of the top tier contenders, I thought it might be
worthwhile to go ahead and write a short, but sweet primer that will
explain why so many Republicans have a big problem with Ron Paul. Enjoy!
#1) Ron Paul is a libertarian, not a conservative: I have nothing against
libertarians. To the contrary, I like them and welcome them into the
Republican Party. But, conservatives have even less interest in seeing a
libertarian as the GOP's standard bearer than seeing a moderate as our
party's nominee. In Paul's case, his voting record shows that he is the
least conservative member of Congress running for President on the GOP
side. So, although he is a small government guy, he very poorly represents
conservative opinion on a wide variety of other important issues.
#2) Ron Paul is one of the people spreading the North American Union
conspiracy: If you're so inclined, you can click here for just one example
of Paul talking up a mythical Bush administration merger of the U.S.,
Canada, and Mexico, but you're not missing much if you don't. Reputable
conservatives shouldn't be spreading these crazy conspiracy theories and
the last thing the GOP needs is a conspiracy crank as our nominee in 2008.
#3) Ron Paul encourages "truther" conspiracy nuts: Even though Ron Paul
admits that he does not believe in a 9/11 government conspiracy, he has
been flirting with the wackjobs in the "truther movement," like Alex Jones and
the "Student Scholars for 9/11 Truth." Republican politicians should
either ignore people like them or set them straight, not lend credence to their
bizarre conspiracy theories by acting as if they may have some merit,
which is what Ron Paul has done.
#4) Ron Paul's racial views: From the Houston Chronicle, Texas
congressional candidate Ron Paul's 1992 political newsletter highlighted portrayals of
blacks as inclined toward crime and lacking sense about top political
Under the headline of "Terrorist Update," for instance, Paul reported on
gang crime in Los Angeles and commented, "If you have ever been robbed by
a black teen-aged male, you know how unbelievably fleet-footed they can be."
Paul, a Republican obstetrician from Surfside, said Wednesday he opposes
racism and that his written commentaries about blacks came in the context
of "current events and statistical reports of the time."
..."Given the inefficiencies of what D.C. laughingly calls the `criminal
justice system,' I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black
males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal," Paul said.
...He added, "We don't think a child of 13 should be held responsible as a
man of 23. That's true for most people, but black males age 13 who have
been raised on the streets and who have joined criminal gangs are as big,
strong, tough, scary and culpable as any adult and should be treated as such."
Paul also asserted that "complex embezzling" is conducted exclusively by
non-blacks. "What else do we need to know about the political establishment than that
it refuses to discuss the crimes that terrify Americans on grounds that doing
so is racist? Why isn't that true of complex embezzling, which is 100
percent white and Asian?" he wrote."
Ron Paul has since claimed that although these comments were in his
newsletter, under his name, he didn't write them. Is he telling the truth?
Who knows? Either way, those comments don't say much for Paul.
#5) A lot of Ron Paul's supporters are incredibly irritating: There are,
without question, plenty of decent folks who support Ron Paul. However,
for whatever reason, his supporters as a group are far more annoying than
those of all the other candidates put together. It's like every spammer,
truther, troll, and flake on the net got together under one banner to spam polls
and try to annoy everyone into voting for Ron Paul (which is, I must admit, a
#6) Ron Paul is an isolationist: The last time the United States retreated
to isolationism was after WW1 and the result was WW2. Since then, the
world has become even more interconnected which makes Ron Paul's strategy of
retreating behind the walls of Fortress America even more unworkable than
it was back in the thirties.
#7) Ron Paul wants to immediately cut and run in Iraq: Even if you're an
isolationist like Ron Paul, the reality is that our foreign policy isn't
currently one of isolationism and certain allowances should be made to
deal with that reality. Yet, Paul believes we should immediately retreat from
Al-Qaeda in Iraq and let that entire nation collapse into genocide and
civil war as a result. Maybe, just maybe, Paul's motives are better than those
of liberals like Murtha and Kerry, who want to see us lose a war for
political gain, but the catastrophic results would be exactly the same.
#8) In the single most repulsive moment of the entire Presidential race so
far, Ron Paul excused Al-Qaeda's attack on America with this comment about
9/11: "They attack us because we've been over there. We've been bombing Iraq for
In other words, America deserved to be attacked by Al-Qaeda.
This is the sort of facile comment you'd expect to hear from an
America-hating left winger like Michael Moore or Noam Chomsky, not from a
Republican running for President -- or from any Republican in office for
that matter. If you want to truly realize how foolish that sort of
thinking is, imagine what the reaction would be if we had bombed Egyptian or
Indonesian civilians after 9/11 and then justified it by saying "We
attacked them because those Muslims have been over here."
#9) Ron Paul is the single, least electable major candidate running for
the presidency in either party: Libertarianism simply is not considered to be
a mainstream political philosophy in the United States by most Americans.
That's why the Libertarian candidate in 2004, Michael Badnarik, only
pulled .3% of the vote. Even more notably, Ron Paul only pulled .47% of the vote
when he ran at the top of the Libertarian ticket in 1988. Granted, Paul
would do considerably better than that if he ran at the top of the
Republican Party ticket, but it's hard to imagine his winning more than,
say 35%, of the national vote and a state or two -- even if he were very
In other words, having Ron Paul as the GOP nominee would absolutely
guarantee the Democratic nominee a Reaganesque sweep in the election.
Summary: Is Ron Paul serious about small government, enforcing the
Constitution, and enforcing the borders? Yes, and those are all admirable
qualities. However, he also has a host of enormous flaws that makes him
unqualified to be President and undesirable, even as a Republican
Mr. Hawkins is a professional blogger who runs Conservative Grapevine and
Right Wing News. He also writes a weekly column for Townhall.com and
consults for the Duncan Hunter campaign.http://townhall.com/columnists/JohnHawkins/2007/06/15/the_conservative_case_against_ron_paul
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Red Belt
on: June 19, 2007, 08:29:54 AM
HOLLYWOOD is so behind the curve on cultural trends that most fads are over before the movie biz can figure out how to exploit them. So I guess I shouldn't have been shocked to discover that someone is only now -- after Ultimate Fighting Championship has become a huge ratings champ on Spike TV, made the cover of Sports Illustrated and, most important in terms of zeitgeist cred, been mocked by both the Onion and "The Daily Show" -- making a film about the wild 'n' woolly sport that has gained a chokehold on the elusive 18-to-34 male demographic.
The picture, called "Redbelt," is shooting here in Los Angeles through the end of the month, with much of the filming at the Pyramid in Long Beach. After visiting the set last week, I asked industry-ites to guess the identity of the filmmaker who'd beaten everyone else to the punch, so to speak. An action impresario like Michael Bay? A guy's guy like Michael Mann? A sports-aholic like Mike Tollin?
Wrong, wrong and wrong again. The filmmaker who's plunged headfirst into the brutal world of ultimate fighting is ... David Mamet.
A celebrated playwright, opinionated essayist and fiercely independent filmmaker, Mamet was introduced to the sport several years ago by several enthusiasts, notably Mordecai Finley, Mamet's rabbi and a longtime jujitsu practitioner who has a part in the film as one of the undercard fighters. Fascinated by the sport, which blends the brawn of boxing and agility of kick-boxing with the art of jujitsu and the head-banging of wrestling, Mamet wrote a story that revolves around many of his favorite themes -- honor, deception and betrayal -- set in the world of mixed martial arts.
"Like everyone, I grew up with boxing, but everyone seems sick to death of it -- it's all about whether Mike Tyson was going to bite someone's ear off or not," Mamet said during a break between scenes last week. "I'm interested in going backstage into this new world, especially since everyone loves backstage movies. You could say that the story is a lot like a story about Hollywood -- it's all about honor and corruption."
Mamet grins. "In a lot of ways, it's an American samurai film. I think it's a script Kurosawa would've liked."
Mamet's script focuses on a jujitsu master, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor ("Children of Men"), who after years of refusing to fight must sacrifice his purity by going into the ring to protect his honor. The film is populated with top fighters, including Ultimate Fighting Championship legend Randy Couture, Enson Inoue and Ray Mancini, as well as John Machado, who runs a Brazilian jujitsu training school in L.A. But it also features such acting talent as Emily Mortimer and Tim Allen, as well as Mamet regulars Joe Mantegna and Ricky Jay, who plays a fight promoter who delivers such Mamet gems as "Everything in life -- the money's in the rematch."
Mamet pitched the story all over town. To his surprise, everyone passed. "I was a little dumbfounded," he admits. "I told them, 'Crunch the numbers. Look at the UFC's pay-TV ratings. See how big Randy Couture and some of the UFC stars are.' God willing, I think a lot of people are going to be surprised at how well this will do."
Looking for a buyer, Mamet went to Michael Barker and Tom Bernard, the heads of Sony Pictures Classics, the art-house specialists best known for championing foreign films from the likes of Pedro Almodóvar and Zhang Yimou. "With them, at least you're talking to the two guys who can say yes," Mamet explains. "They didn't even ask to see the script. They said, 'We'll see you at the opening.' "
Still, that's quite a culture clash, a mixed-martial arts film being financed by the guys whose business model usually involves winning Oscars with exotic foreign films. But from Sony Classic's point of view, the movie is a good bet. For $7 million, they not only get a classic Mamet drama but also one rooted in a pop culture phenomenon.
Created in the early 1990s, Ultimate Fighting Championship events were initially more sordid brawling than sport, famously dismissed by Sen. John McCain of Arizona in 1996 as "human cockfighting." The UFC was purchased in 2001 by Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta with the aid of Dana White, an ex-gym owner who is now the sport's colorful impresario. With a host of new rules and the creation of weight classes, the UFC took off, thanks in part to a weekly Spike TV reality show, "The Ultimate Fighter," which often attracts a bigger young male audience than the NBA or Major League Baseball.
The UFC is represented by the Endeavor Talent Agency, which has helped the UFC put together TV deals with HBO and ESPN. But Hollywood has been a tougher nut to crack. Initially wary of the sport because of its extreme violence, the studios have only just begun to notice the sport's passionate following among men, just as the studios have been painfully slow to react to other pop subcultures, including hip-hop, skateboarding and street racing.
White spoke derisively about Hollywood's risk-averse attitude toward ultimate fighting, saying, "They are the last in line when anything new comes along." He got early interest from several prominent producers. "But we kind of pulled back. They wanted to use the brand, and we never came to a deal. If we do a movie, we want it done right."
The UFC at one point commissioned a script itself, hiring "15 Minutes" writer-director John Herzfeld for a project that would've been released by Lionsgate. White says, "We got cold feet and pulled out" over control issues. Studio executives say they've seen a number of spec scripts, but none that captured the world in an inspired way, the way "8 Mile" did with hip-hop. "Too much of what we've seen have been 'Rocky'-style stories, which felt too clichéd," says Moritz.
Studio execs who heard Mamet's pitch said they shied away because they still felt they were getting a Mamet movie, for them a product with limited box-office appeal. Only now, with the sport booming, are projects taking shape. Universal is developing a film while New Line is close to a deal with director Gavin O'Connor ("Miracle") for a script about two friends pursuing a mixed martial-arts title fight.
"For me, there's a great story that could put a microscope on the fighters' lives and capture their humanity as well as the brutality of the sport," says O'Connor, who produced an HBO documentary, "The Smashing Machine," that chronicled the struggles of fighter Mark Kerr. "But Hollywood has been very cautious. They're never ahead of the curve. They only jump on the bandwagon when something is already successful."
An ultimate fighting movie will never work if it airbrushes away the rough edges of the sport. Mamet's "Redbelt" script certainly doesn't. As Ricky Jay's fight promoter puts it: "Any two guys fighting for money. No way the fight is fair."
What seems to especially interest Mamet is the eternal conflict between art and business. In "Redbelt," the artist is Ejiofor's character, a loner who trains off-duty cops and bouncers in the art of self-defense but refuses to fight himself. As one of his friends puts it: "He can't stand the sight of money."
This is hardly the way of the new world of sport-tainment, where athleticism is often overshadowed by performance enhancement drugs and endorsement deals. Watching Mamet direct a scene one day, John Machado -- whose uncle was the founder of Brazilian jujitsu -- pondered the movie's themes, which hit especially close to home for him since he has chosen to teach instead of to fight.
"This movie could have a big impact, because it shows the love you must have for the art," he says. "My character is a businessman, so I'm part of the conflict in the movie -- and in real life. How much do you do to sell yourself without selling out?"
Perhaps that's why the studios are so late to the party with ultimate fighting. How to sell yourself without selling out is one of those questions Hollywood has never figured out how to answer.
"The Big Picture" runs every Tuesday in Calendar. E-mail questions or criticism to email@example.com
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq
on: June 18, 2007, 09:33:38 PM
Thanks for that Doug.
Here's Stratfor's assessment:
Iraq: Sectarian Concerns and the High-Stake U.S.-Iranian Talks
June 18, 2007 19 00 GMT
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has criticized the U.S. backing of Sunni militias engaged in fighting jihadists. Al-Maliki's comments highlight the concerns that the Iraqi Shia and Iran have about the Sunnis' potential empowerment as an outcome of the ongoing U.S.-Iranian talks on Iraq. However, these concerns are unlikely to derail the talks, given what is at stake for all the players involved.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Baghdad disagrees with Washington's moves to arm and equip Sunni tribal militias engaged in fighting al Qaeda. In an interview published in the June 17-23 issue of Newsweek, al-Maliki said the Iraqi government is not against backing tribes in the fight against al Qaeda and its allies, but that Baghdad wants assurances about the tribal elements' credentials before such support is granted. Al-Maliki added that certain U.S. commanders are making mistakes because they do not know the tribes' backgrounds and are contributing to the proliferation of militias in the country.
Around the time of the May 4 meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, the Iranians and Americans reached an understanding that Tehran would take responsibility for cleaning up the state of affairs within the Iraqi Shiite community while the United States would do the same with the Sunnis. The Iranians have moved to rein in radical Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army movement and "Iraqize" Tehran's main Iraqi Shiite proxy, the Iraqi Islamic Supreme Council, led by Abdel Aziz al-Hakim.
All this is meant to prepare the Sunnis, the Shia, Washington and Tehran for a final deal. But the Iranians do not like the idea of U.S. unilateral actions in their area of responsibility, especially regarding the Mehdi Army. Tehran also does not want to let the Bush administration dominate the process of cleaning out Sunnidom, because Tehran knows Washington is interested not only in neutralizing the jihadists but also in building a robust Sunni community to counterbalance the Shia (and, by extension, Iran).
Al-Maliki's remarks constitute a diplomatic and politically correct way for the Iraqi Shia and their Persian patrons to let Washington know they are displeased with the U.S. approach to preparing the Sunnis for a deal that will eventually emerge from the now-public U.S.-Iranian negotiations. The Shia realize that Sunni political and militant actors must be brought into the mainstream in order to contain the insurgency and give the Shiite-dominated government stability, but they want to retain political oversight over -- and military superiority in -- the process so the Shia will be able to approve of the Sunnis that enter the mainstream. In fact, the Shia also would prefer greater authority in dealing with jihadists and Baathists.
Al-Maliki is correct in saying the Bush administration's actions will increase the number of armed groups in an already militia-rich environment, particularly since the United States has added an armed group to the Sunni side of the equation, where the number of militant groups already is growing. For the Shia, who already are trying to limit the number of former regime elements (i.e., Baathists) being brought back into the system by the Bush administration, the U.S. actions are a major problem. Not only does U.S. backing improve the Sunnis' military capabilities, but it also could improve the Sunnis' collective bargaining position against the Shia. The Shia would love to see jihadist war-making capabilities destroyed, but not if it means empowering mainstream Sunnis.
Incidentally, the Iranians are not alone in their concern about the U.S. backing of tribal militias. Many Sunni political actors have expressed their reservations as well. These include Sunni nationalist insurgent groups, the main Sunni political blocs in parliament and the Sunni religious establishment. These groups fear they will lose power to tribal leaders who have agreed to fight the jihadists in return for a seat at the table. In other words, the U.S. move has created problems both between Sunnis and Shia and within the Sunni community itself, even though the intent is to get the two sectarian communities to agree on a power-sharing mechanism.
Meanwhile, the Kurds are highly concerned about the prospect of a Shiite-Sunni accommodation because this would translate into a unified Arab position against them and threaten Kurdish interests -- particularly their bid for maximum regional autonomy.
That said, these problems will not derail the U.S.-Iranian negotiations or those at the intra-Iraqi level, because both the United States and Iran are playing with busted flushes and, for the Iraqis, it is an existential issue.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science
on: June 18, 2007, 09:29:19 PM
U.S.: The Real Reason Behind Ballistic Missile Defense
June 18, 2007 14 45 GMT
The U.S. ballistic missile defense system slated for Poland and the Czech Republic has been continually touted as intended to counter long-range Iranian missiles -- which is true -- but it is also entirely consistent with long-term U.S. strategy.
Washington has spent the last six months trying to convince the world that the expansion of the nascent U.S. ballistic missile defense (BMD) system into Europe poses no threat to Russia's strategic deterrent, but rather is only intended to counter Iran and other Middle Eastern threats. The U.S. claims are accurate -- for now.
In 1998, the world was stunned when North Korea launched a Taepodong-1 that very nearly put its payload into orbit. Through force of willpower, persistence and innovation, North Korean engineers effectively built an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with little more than Scud missile technology (which essentially is little more than World War II-era German V-2 technology). That launch provided a signpost for the future of strategic security since, if North Korea could do it in 1998, almost any nation in the world might be in a position to threaten the continental United States in the next 50 years.
Washington has now placed a rudimentary ground-based midcourse defense (GMD) system in Alaska to counter the North Korean threat. The same system is slated for deployment in Poland and the Czech Republic to counter a similar threat from Iran in the near future.
Such a BMD system accomplishes three things:
1. It protects the United States from a small-scale rogue missile launch from very specific regions of the world.
2. It undermines the use of a yet-to-exist Iranian or North Korean ICBM as a negotiating tool.
3. It deters the development of such systems (which represent a huge national investment for countries like Iran and North Korea).
While the U.S. plan is all well and good, is it worth the price? There is certainly an economic argument in favor of BMD. If the system stopped a nuclear missile from striking a large U.S. city, then the costs of development (already at some $110 billion since former President Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative) would pale in comparison to post-nuclear-strike reconstruction costs.
But building a crude nuclear device is difficult enough. The specialized materials and technical skill required to miniaturize a weapon and harden it against the strain of launch, the cold of space and the heat of re-entry is prohibitive for all but a handful of nations. If BMD is to be understood as a defense against nuclear terrorism, then there are far more likely scenarios to be considered, and the massive investment would be better spent elsewhere -- such as on port security, where a much more rudimentary device could be slipped into the United States.
The true utility of BMD is measured by its congruence with the five imperatives that have dominated U.S. strategy for the better part of two centuries:
1. maintaining control over North America
2. securing strategic depth for the continental United States
3. controlling sea approaches to North America
4. dominating the oceans
5. keeping Eurasia divided
BMD is not just consistent with one of these themes; it is the logical outgrowth of three of them, and has contributed incidentally to a fourth (e.g., rivalries within Eurasia). At the end of the 19th century, Rear Adm. Alfred Thayer Mahan advocated the foundational importance to U.S. geopolitical security of a strong Navy. Now as in Mahan's time, the U.S. Navy provides North America the buffer that has been the foundation of U.S. geopolitical security and stability since the mid-1900s. BMD will help secure the same strategic depth for the continental U.S. and extend control of the sea approaches and dominance of the ocean into space.
So while Iran tries to cobble together a few more centrifuges and Russia rattles its saber, Washington is extending its technological military dominance across and above the same oceans that have protected it for the better part of two centuries -- and building the foundations for a far more capable BMD system. Follow-on technology will dramatically improve what is now a barely-functional system. It can become more robust, flexible and mobile. Specific land-based sites will eventually become more or less irrelevant.
The current debate therefore is extremely shortsighted. In the long term, BMD is about one thing: space. Poland and the Czech Republic are about to be equipped with the rudimentary technological precursor to a series of systems that are truly the technological beginnings of the full-fledged national missile defense shield Reagan once envisioned. These incremental steps -- of which nascent BMD systems extending across both the Atlantic and Pacific are only an early instance -- will attempt to solidify for the U.S. military the same dominance of space that it now enjoys on the planet's blue water, and in so doing extend Mahan's vision of North American continental security from the steam-powered warship to the anti-satellite weapon.
And therein lies the true leap. BMD is not just about missiles; it is about the technology and sensors necessary to dominate space. The U.S. Air Force already has a claim to that dominance of space. But it is currently a fragile dominance -- perhaps less fragile than open sources would suggest, but far more fragile than most realize. Space-based assets are a keystone of the Pentagon's technological superiority. The United States has been so successful in this realm, in fact, that it is becoming a cornerstone of U.S. economic prosperity. This dependence creates a potentially significant vulnerability, however, meaning the ability to counter an anti-satellite weapon launched via missile is of direct relevance to the next generation of BMD technology.
BMD is also about the capability to deny the utility of space to adversaries (in accordance with the official 2004 Air Force Counterspace Operations doctrine). The difference between intercepting a ballistic missile warhead 500 miles above the earth and hitting a satellite at the same altitude is simple: It is harder to hit the ballistic missile warhead.
Thus, the debate about placing a BMD radar in the Czech Republic, and the distinction between Poland and Azerbaijan, is immaterial in the long run. The United States is pushing ahead with the technological development and operational deployment necessary to build the knowledge base and technical capacity to take these next steps toward not only defending itself in space, but also fighting there
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security
on: June 18, 2007, 08:20:08 PM
Exclusive: Suicide Bomb Teams Sent to U.S., Europe
June 18, 2007 4:45 PM
Brian Ross Reports:
Large teams of newly trained suicide bombers are being sent to the United States and Europe, according to evidence contained on a new videotape obtained by the Blotter on ABCNews.com.
Teams assigned to carry out attacks in the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Germany were introduced at an al Qaeda/Taliban training camp graduation ceremony held June 9.
A Pakistani journalist was invited to attend and take pictures as some 300 recruits, including boys as young as 12, were supposedly sent off on their suicide missions.
Photos: Inside an al Qaeda/Taliban 'Graduation'
The tape shows Taliban military commander Mansoor Dadullah, whose brother was killed by the U.S. last month, introducing and congratulating each team as they stood.
"These Americans, Canadians, British and Germans come here to Afghanistan from faraway places," Dadullah says on the tape. "Why shouldn't we go after them?"
The leader of the team assigned to attack Great Britain spoke in English.
"So let me say something about why we are going, along with my team, for a suicide attack in Britain," he said. "Whether my colleagues, companions and Muslim brothers die today or tonight, every drop of our blood will invigorate the Muslim (unintelligible)."
Video: Watch the Taliban's 'Graduation' Ceremony
U.S. intelligence officials described the event as another example of "an aggressive and sophisticated propaganda campaign."
Others take it very seriously.
"It doesn't take too many who are willing to actually do it and be able to slip through the net and get into the United States or England and cause a lot of damage," said ABC News consultant Richard Clarke, the former White House counterterrorism official.
Watch Brian Ross' full report on "World News With Charles Gibson."
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People
on: June 18, 2007, 05:12:56 PM
"Compromise" bill represents the most far-reaching gun ban in
Gun Owners of America E-Mail Alert
8001 Forbes Place, Suite 102, Springfield, VA 22151
Phone: 703-321-8585 / FAX: 703-321-8408http://www.gunowners.org
Monday, June 18, 2007
The Associated Press got it right last week when it stated that, "The
House Wednesday passed what could become the first major federal gun
control law in over a decade."
It's true. The McCarthy bill that passed will DRAMATICALLY expand
the dragnet that is currently used to disqualify law-abiding gun
buyers. So much so, that hundreds of thousands of honest citizens
who want to buy a gun will one day walk into a gun store and be
shocked when they're told they're a prohibited purchaser, having been
lumped into the same category as murderers and rapists.
This underscores the problems that have existed all along with the
Brady Law. At the time it was passed, some people foolishly thought,
"No big deal. I'm not a bad guy. This law won't affect me."
But what happens when good guys' names get thrown into the bad guys'
list? That is exactly what has happened, and no one should think
that the attempts to expand the gun control noose are going to end
with the McCarthy bill (HR 2640).
Speaking to the CNN audience on June 13, head of the Brady Campaign,
Paul Helmke, stated that, "We're hopeful that now that the NRA has
come around to our point of view in terms of strengthening the Brady
background checks, that now we can take the next step after this bill
passes [to impose additional gun control]."
Get it? The McCarthy bill is just a first step.
The remainder of this alert will explain, in layman's terms, the
problems with what passed on Wednesday. Please understand that GOA's
legal department has spent hours analyzing the McCarthy bill, in
addition to looking at existing federal regulations and BATFE
interpretations. (If you want the lawyerly perspective, then please
go to http://www.gunowners.org/netb.htm
for an extensive analysis.)
So what does HR 2640 do? Well, as stated already, this is one of the
most far-reaching gun bans in years. For the first time in history,
this bill takes a giant step towards banning one-fourth of returning
military veterans from ever owning a gun again.
In 2000, President Clinton added between 80,000 - 90,000 names of
military veterans -- who were suffering from Post Traumatic Stress
(PTS) -- into the NICS background check system. These were vets who
were having nightmares; they had the shakes. So Clinton disqualified
them from buying or owning guns.
For seven years, GOA has been arguing that what Clinton did was
illegitimate. But if this McCarthy bill gets enacted into law, a
future Hillary Clinton administration would actually have the law on
her side to ban a quarter of all military veterans (that's the number
of veterans who have Post Traumatic Stress) from owning guns.
Now, the supporters of the McCarthy bill claim that military veterans
-- who have been denied their Second Amendment rights -- could get
their rights restored. But this is a very nebulous promise.
The reason is that Section 101(c)(1)(C) of the bill provides
explicitly that a psychiatrist or psychologist diagnosis is enough to
ban a person for ever owning a gun as long as it's predicated on a
microscopic risk that a person could be a danger to himself or
others. (Please be sure to read the NOTE below for more details on
How many psychiatrists are going to deny that a veteran suffering
from PTS doesn't possess a MICROSCOPIC RISK that he could be a danger
to himself or others?
And even if they can clear the psychiatrist hurdle, we're still
looking at thousands of dollars for lawyers, court fees, etc. And
then, when veterans have done everything they can possibly do to
clear their name, there is still the Schumer amendment in federal law
which prevents the BATFE from restoring the rights of individuals who
are barred from purchasing firearms. If that amendment is not
repealed, then it doesn't matter if your state stops sending your
name for inclusion in the FBI's NICS system... you are still going to
be a disqualified purchaser when you try to buy a gun.
So get the irony. Senator Schumer is the one who is leading the
charge in the Senate to pass the McCarthy bill, and he is
"generously" offering military veterans the opportunity to clear
their names, even though it's been HIS AMENDMENT that has prevented
honest gun owners from getting their rights back under a similar
procedure created in 1986!
But there's still another irony. Before this bill, it was very
debatable (in legal terms) whether the military vets with PTS should
have been added into the NICS system... and yet many of them were --
even though there was NO statutory authority to do so. Before this
bill, there were provisions in the law to get one's name cleared, and
yet Schumer made it impossible for these military vets to do so.
Now, the McCarthy bill (combined with federal regulations) makes it
unmistakably clear that military vets with Post Traumatic Stress
SHOULD BE ADDED as prohibited persons on the basis of a
Are these vets now going to find it any easier to get their names
cleared (when the law says they should be on the list) if they were
finding it difficult to do so before (when the law said they
Add to this the Schumer amendment (mentioned above). The McCarthy
bill does nothing to repeal the Schumer amendment, which means that
military veterans with PTS are going to find it impossible to get
their rights restored!
Do you see how Congress is slowly (and quietly) sweeping more and
more innocent people into the same category as murderers and rapists?
First, anti-gun politicians get a toe hold by getting innocuous
sounding language into the federal code. Then they come back years
later to twist those words into the most contorted way possible.
Consider the facts. In 1968, Congress laid out several criteria for
banning Americans from owning guns -- a person can't be a felon, a
drug user, an illegal alien, etc. Well, one of the criteria which
will disqualify you from owning or buying a gun is if you are
"adjudicated as a mental defective." Now, in 1968, that term
referred to a person who was judged not guilty of a crime by reason
Well, that was 1968. By 2000, President Bill Clinton had stretched
that definition to mean a military veteran who has had a lawful
authority (like a shrink) decree that a person has PTS. Can you see
how politicians love to stretch the meaning of words in the law...
especially when it comes to banning guns?
After all, who would have thought when the original Brady law was
passed in 1993, that it would be used to keep people with outstanding
traffic tickets from buying guns; or couples with marriage problems
from buying guns; or military vets with nightmares from buying guns?
(See footnotes below.)
So if you thought the Brady Law would never affect you because you're
a "good guy," then think again. Military vets are in trouble,
are your kids who are battling Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).
Everything that has been mentioned above regarding military veterans,
could also apply to these kids.
Do you have a child in the IDEA program -- a.k.a., Individuals with
Disability Education Act -- who has been diagnosed with ADD and
thought to be susceptible to playground fights? Guess what? That
child can be banned for life from ever owning a gun as an adult. The
key to understanding this new gun ban expansion centers on a shrink's
determination that a person is a risk to himself or others.
You see, legislators claim they want to specifically prevent a future
Seung-Hui Cho from ever buying a gun and shooting up a school. And
since Cho had been deemed as a potential danger to himself or others,
that has become the new standard for banning guns.
But realize what this does. In the name of stopping an infinitesimal
fraction of potential bad apples from owning firearms, legislators
are expanding the dragnet to sweep ALL KINDS of good guys into a
permanent ban. It also ignores the fact that bad guys get illegal
guns ALL THE TIME, despite the gun laws!
So back to your kid who might have ADD. The BATFE, in an open letter
(dated May 9, 2007), said the diagnosis that a person is a potential
risk doesn't have to be based on the fact that the person poses a
"substantial" risk. It just has to be "ANY" risk.
Just any risk, no matter how slight to the other kids on the
playground, is all that is needed to qualify the kid on Ritalin -- or
a vet suffering PTS, or a husband (going through a divorce) who's
been ordered to go through an anger management program, etc. -- for a
LIFETIME gun ban.
This is the slippery slope that gun control poses. And this is the
reason HR 2640 must be defeated. Even as we debate this bill, the
Frank Lautenbergs in Congress are trying to expand the NICS system
with the names of people who are on a so-called "government watch
list" (S. 1237).
While this "government watch list" supposedly applies to suspected
terrorists, the fact is that government bureaucrats can add ANY gun
owner's name to this list without due process, without any hearing,
or trial by jury, etc. That's where the background check system is
headed... if we don't rise up together and cut off the monster's head
NOTE: Please realize that a cursory reading of this bill is not
sufficient to grasp the full threat that it poses. To read this bill
properly, you have to not only read it thoroughly, but look at
federal regulations and BATF interpretations as well. For example,
where we cite Section 101(c)(1)(C) above as making it explicitly
clear that the diagnosis from a psychologist or psychiatrist is
enough to ban a person from owning a gun, realize that you have to
look at Section 101, while also going to federal regulations via
Section 3 of the bill.
Section 3(2) of the bill states that every interpretation that the
BATFE has made in respect to mental capacity would become statutory
law. And so what does the federal code say? Well, at 27 CFR 478.11,
it explicitly states that a person can be deemed to be "adjudicated
as a mental defective" by a court or by any "OTHER LAWFUL
(like a shrink), as long as the individual poses a risk to self or
others (or can't manage his own affairs). And in its open letter of
May 9, 2007, BATFE makes it clear that this "danger" doesn't
be "imminent" or "substantial," but can include
"any danger" at all.
How many shrinks are going to say that a veteran suffering from PTS
doesn't pose at least an infinitesimal risk of hurting someone else?
(1) The Brady law has been used to illegitimately deny firearms to
people who have outstanding traffic tickets (seehttp://www.gunowners.org/ne0706.pdf
(2) Because of the Lautenberg gun ban, couples with marriage problems
or parents who have used corporal punishment to discipline their
children have been prohibited from owning guns for life (seehttp://www.gunowners.org/news/nws9806.htm
(3) Several articles have pointed to the fact that military vets with
PTS have been added to the NICS system (see http://tinyurl.com/ytalxl
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Newt's 10 point solution
on: June 18, 2007, 05:09:51 PM
Ten Simple, Direct Steps to a Legal American Immigration System
1: Keep the 1986 Simpson-Mazzoli commitment and control the border. In The Reagan Diaries (HarperCollins, May 22, 2007), President Ronald Reagan wrote that he was going to sign the Simpson-Mazzoli bill because "it's high time we regained control of our borders and [this] bill will do this." For national security reasons, it is vital we regain control of our border. Congress should pass a narrowly written emergency border bill to finish the necessary fence in less than a year and to have complete border control within two years.
2: Announce an immediate shift of Internal Revenue Service resources to audit companies that are deliberately hiring people illegally. We do not have to focus on deporting those who want to work. We need to focus on the Americans who are getting richer by deliberately breaking our laws, hiring people illegally and failing to pay taxes. These people are cheating their own country. We should focus on fining and making it economically impractical for Americans to deliberately encourage law breaking. Economic penalties for knowingly hiring someone who is illegal should rise dramatically with each employer (including subcontractors) conviction, making it simply too expensive to cheat. This will eliminate the magnet of illegal jobs, will begin to diminish the flow of new illegal workers and will lead some illegal workers to return home voluntarily.
3: Outsource to American Express, Visa or MasterCard the job of building a real-time verification system so that honest companies can confirm the legal status of all workers and identify people with forged papers before they hire them as fast as your automatic teller machine identifies you and gives you money in a matter of seconds. We must distinguish between companies that deliberately hire illegal workers and companies that hire people who they believe are legal. It is the government's duty to help this second group of companies by providing a real-time verification system for identifying the legal status of all workers so that it is possible to screen out those with illegal documents. The government should outsource the creation of this system so that it is easy, fast and accurate.
4: Focus deportation efforts on criminals. Those who claim that opponents of the Bush-Kennedy-McCain bill support mass deportations are simply wrong. We want a system in which honest work is available for law-abiding workers and in which the natural attrition of declining job availability will reduce illegal behavior. However, there is one group that should be deported immediately, and the law should be modified to make it easy to do so. Criminals have no future in America. In every major city and increasingly in small cities and even small towns, gangs have become a problem and people feel a rising sense of insecurity. There are at least 30,000 illegal gang members now in the United States. The system should focus on deporting criminals so that people who are here illegally understand that breaking the law will get them deported immediately.
5: Cut off all federal aid to any city, county or state that refuses to investigate if a criminal is here illegally. These so-called "sanctuary cities" are in effect abetting the violation of American law and increasing the risk to honest, law-abiding Americans. They should be cut off from all federal aid if they refuse to help enforce federal law.
6: Offer intensive education in English to anyone who wants to learn English, and make English the official language of government. This will begin to reassert the commitment to assimilation and Americanization that has historically been part of legal immigration to America.
7: Ensure that becoming an American citizen requires passing a test on American history in English and giving up the right to vote in any other country.
8: Within the context of these proven changes, establish an economically driven temporary worker program like the Krieble Foundation proposals. Any temporary worker would have to pass a background check to ensure they are not a criminal, would have to give biometric information (retinal scan and thumbprint) for a special card that would be outsourced to American Express, MasterCard or Visa so it would be harder to defraud and counterfeit, and would have to sign a contract committing them to pay taxes and obey the law or be removed from the United States within two weeks without recourse to long court processes.
9: Create a special open-ended worker visa for high value workers who bring specialized education, entrepreneurial talent or capital that will grow the American economy and make America a more prosperous country.
10: Workers who came here illegally but have a good work relationship and community ties (including family), should have first opportunity to get the new temporary worker visas, but instead of paying penalties, they should be required to go home and get the visa at home. This way they are beginning their new career in America by obeying the law. It is amazing that those who advocate a large fine and the new Z visa, which would be administered in a hopelessly expedited manner, suggest that going home to get a new legal admission to the U.S. is somehow too complicated. If people can break the law by entering the county illegally, they should be able to obey the law and enter America legally.
These 10 steps would lead to a controlled border, a profound revitalization of the core values of American civilization, a renewed respect for the law and an economically driven system of legal temporary workers in an orderly and controllable manner.
This program would work vastly better than the dishonest and hopelessly complex Bush-Kennedy-McCain proposal now being pushed so hard by the establishment against the wishes of most Americans.
Why the Bush-Kennedy-McCain Immigration Bill Is Worse Then You Think
And make no mistake about it: the Bush-McCain-Kennedy immigration bill has to be stopped, once and for all. It was bad to begin with, and the Senate isn't making it any better. And it's not like they haven't had the opportunities. Consider these votes:
An amendment offered by Republican Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota would have closed the gaping hole in our national security created by so-called "sanctuary cities" -- cities in which city policy forbids police from even inquiring about the immigration status of people they arrest. DEFEATED.
An amendment offered by Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas would have denied legal status under the bill to gang members. DEFEATED.
An amendment offered by Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma would have required congressionally approved certification that concrete border security and internal law enforcement measures have taken place before the amnesty and guest-worker provisions of the bill are implemented. DEFEATED.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lawyers
on: June 18, 2007, 02:27:14 PM
The Baghdad Bar
American lawyers more interested in helping terrorists than their own beleaguered colleagues in Iraq.
BY MELANIE KIRKPATRICK
Sunday, June 17, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT
At last count, 46 lawyers have been assassinated in Iraq since the summer of 2003, according to a grim tally compiled by the Iraqi Bar Association. Some of the victims were kidnapped before being murdered; others were gunned down in the street or caught in crossfire. A recent casualty is Abdul-Sahib Abdulla al-Kanani, who was killed on his way to the grocery store in Baghdad on May 20. He leaves behind a wife and five children.
Aswad al-Minshidi, president of the Iraqi Bar Association, recounted this story in a phone call from Baghdad the other day. He is anguished at his association's scant ability to help the murdered lawyers' families, who often have no means of support. "Dear Miss Melanie," he says, "I know when a journalist is killed in Iraq, his or her colleagues around the world provide support and raise their voices in outrage. But where are the voices of outrage of lawyers in other countries when a lawyer is killed for doing his job?"
Where, indeed? Here in the U.S., it would be nice to think that part of the answer is that the lawyers, law firms and legal associations that might provide assistance are ignorant of the need. But part of the answer lies, too, in the different priorities many attorneys have set for themselves. Bar associations churn out papers on Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and the execution of Saddam Hussein. Law firms line up to provide legal services to detainees. Cully Stimson, a deputy assistant secretary of defense, lost his job earlier this year for criticizing American lawyers for such work. The legal establishment's outrage against Mr. Stimson would have been easier to take had it been working even half as hard to help re-establish the rule of law in Iraq.
The legal profession "is the pillar on which any society is built," says Feisal al-Istrabadi, Iraq's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations. "Clearly the insurgents are trying to disrupt our society at every level." The rule of law is a primary target -- and the killings include judges, police officers and recruits, as well as ordinary lawyers. Mr. Minshidi says he and his family have been threatened.
The Iraqi legal system is based on the Napoleonic Code, and in the first half of the 20th century it served as a model for other countries in the region. Mr. Istrabadi, a U.S.-trained attorney who practiced law in Indiana and Illinois from 1988 until 2004, says that after decades of operating under totalitarian rule, the Iraqi legal system is much stronger than he had anticipated. After Saddam's ouster, "we expected to find that judicial system and the legal profession had been politically corrupted by the previous regime . . . but that was not the fact."
Saddam created an alternative judicial system, where political crimes were tried. The code of ethics among the Iraqi bar was so strong, Mr. Istrabadi says, that "Saddam was unable to corrupt the judicial system and was therefore forced to create an extra-judicial system." Iraq has a cadre of "world-class" judges and professors educated in the 1950s and 1960s, he says, but "young law professors have been cut off from the world for two decades or more" and younger attorneys need help.
So far the assistance has been meager. While the American Bar Association and the International Bar Association have operated programs, the focus has been on training judges and prosecutors, and most or all of their efforts have been funded by the U.S. and other governments. A program to refurbish Iraqi law schools, operated by DePaul University College of Law, lost its U.S. AID funding after one year. Mr. Minshidi of the Iraqi Bar Association says he is unaware of any efforts to date by U.S. bar associations, law schools or other non-governmental organizations to help, though he notes that the ABA has invited him to attend its annual meeting in August and the Federalist Society will host a small conference for Iraqi bar leaders this fall.
"There is much to do to establish the rule of law," he says. "So far it has mostly been training judges and prosecutors. Little has been done for law students and lawyers." (A model here could be the Afghan Women Leaders Connect, founded by American businesswomen to assist Afghan women, including lawyers and judges.)
"Where are the great associations of law we hear about?" asks Mr. Minshidi. "Where are the great law firms? . . . Where are the law schools? . . . The help we need is not only the help of the government. We need the help of our brothers in the law."
Ms. Kirkpatrick is a deputy editor of the Journal's editorial page.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Help our troops/our cause:
on: June 18, 2007, 10:40:34 AM
A Wary Veteran Patrols the Daunting Home Front
By FRANCIS X. CLINES
Published: June 18, 2007
“I was kicking down doors, driving Humvees,” is the terse way Rob Timmins summarizes a year in Iraq. His description of his new job — roaming the American home front trying to get Americans to care about other returning soldiers — is more complicated. “The Support Our Troops magnets on people’s cars will eventually come off, and 5, 10 years from now, who will remember the veterans?” asks the 25-year-old Mr. Timmins, outspoken as the Staten Island bartender he used to be.
As outreach director for a nascent veterans group, Mr. Timmins engages the casualty wards at veterans hospitals, addresses public hearings and lobbies Congress, all the while sensing the insufficient traction of his cause. “We live in an MTV-“American Idol” culture where you can change the channel and not have to be engaged in this war,” he says.
There’s only fitful attention to the resettlement problems of more than one million men and women who have been cycling home all too anonymously from two war fronts, wounded and otherwise damaged and not making much noise yet.
Their troubles range from the mushrooming brain traumas from roadside explosions to outdated benefits pegged to the costs and cares of World War II. The veterans’ hospital scandal that uncovered a legion of outpatients foundering in a sea of bureaucracy gave little comfort to Mr. Timmins’s organization, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Sure, the headlines prodded a bit of public attention, he says, but they only hinted at costly problems that will haunt the nation and its casualties long after the war and the Bush administration are finished.
More than 26,000 returning fighters are dealing with war wounds, 45,000 with post-traumatic stress disorder. The government’s backlog of benefit claims reaches to the hundreds of thousands, with the data transition from soldier to veteran status a computer disaster between the Pentagon and Veterans Administration.
Mr. Timmins tries to make the public grasp that troops are being returned to second and third combat tours with untreated mental disorders. At home, there’s homelessness on the rise for veterans who also discover that the G.I. Bill can’t cover the cost of public college. Their unemployment rate is three times the national average. The old veterans’ movie, “The Best Years of Our Lives,” is ready for a grim remake.
And day after day Mr. Timmins has to grind his teeth at how swiftly, how vapidly the occasional news of troubled veterans is bumped aside by a deluge of bulletins about Paris Hilton or some other this-just-in frippery. “It’s staggering, sickening,” he says. “There are days I scream at the television — lives are being taken, families left in heartbreak.”
He half apologizes for being so properly obsessed. He muses that “compassion fatigue” is one of the risks of paying attention to veterans of a failed war now longer and far less glorious than World War II. A once pro-war public would sooner forget about it. “The point is we got to galvanize this generation of veterans now, and not several years from now,” he reminds himself. “Other national themes and issues will quickly follow this war — health care, whatever — and the vets better have a voice in the public dialogue.”
But new veterans typically want to get deeply lost again in civilian life, not organize and beg for their rights. The three-year-old nonprofit group employing Mr. Timmins is one of the stronger veteran groups, and it has signed up 3,200 actual veterans as opposed to the 70,000 donors and other supporters looking for ways to help.
“In this war, you don’t really engage a single enemy, so everybody becomes the enemy,” Mr. Timmins explains, speculating that a warier veteran is returning, branded with the dark battlefield anomie of Iraq. “You have a generation of vets coming home from a fight where everybody was a threat. The mental health challenge is going to be tremendous.”
As he works the home front, the Support Our Troops bumper stickers eat at Mr. Timmins. He concludes lip service is better than nothing, but fantasizes asking bumper-sticker patriots exactly how they support the troops. “I figure they’d fumble, without an answer,” he says. Then again, he hardly looks forward to the day the stickers fade entirely from sight.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!)
on: June 17, 2007, 10:16:26 PM
ROG You asked if it were possible for the truth to be inflammatory or offensive, and I provided you with examples.
MARC Ummm, , , no I did not ask that at all.
ROG Umm... Yes you did.
MARC: Care to provide a quote?
MARC: Concerning the secret detention centers, your point is rational. Concerning divulging our secret program getting our side into Iraqi press it is not and concerning our monitoring the enemy's financial flows, it is not.
ROG: Thank you for acknowledging my point about the detention centers. Monitoring finances (if that's all it was) doesn't seem criminal to me, but I'm less sure about the disinformation campaign in the Iraqi press.
MARC: Actually I haven't agreed with your point, I merely said it is rational-- something which I have said to you before on the DBMAA forum. Concerning monitoring financial flows, since you agree it wasn't criminal of our government to do so, does this mean you agree it was wrong of the NY Times and the LA Times to print about them? Does not an action like this aid and give comfort to our enemies in time of war???
Concerning getting favorable articles in the Iraqi press, your choice of words "disinformation campaign" is very revealing about your orientation. One might even get the idea that you were not for our victory, so please correct me if I am wrong.
Regardless, this was an action that our troops took in a theater of war. Please tell us what "law" do you think might apply to this case?!? Why do you not care that the LA Times broke this story thereby destroying the value of a secret military operation in a theater of war???
For me the word treason applies here.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere
on: June 17, 2007, 11:46:45 AM
June 16, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Joe Kaufman (firstname.lastname@example.org
KEITH ELLISON TO SPEAK AT (UNINDICTED CO-CONSPIRATOR) CAIR BANQUET TONIGHT
AMERICANS AGAINST HATE CALLS ON ELLISON TO RESIGN
(Coral Springs, FL) Tonight, June 16, 2007, Congressman Keith Ellison will be a featured speaker at the First Annual Banquet of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Minnesota). This, after CAIR had just been named an “unindicted co-conspirator” in a Hamas financing case put forward by the United States government.
Ellison, less than three weeks ago, was the keynote speaker at the 4th Annual Convention of the Minnesota chapter of the Muslim American Society (MAS-Minnesota). While he spoke, MAS-Minnesota had on its website material discussing waging war against non-Muslims and the murdering of Jews. The material is still located on the group’s site.
Following his appearance, Americans Against Hate (AAH) demanded that Congressman Ellison denounce MAS for its anti-Semitic and anti-Christian statements or resign from office. Ellison has remained silent on the issue.
AAH Chairman Joe Kaufman, stated, “Being that Keith Ellison refuses to denounce the Muslim American Society, and being that he is now going to be speaking at an event sponsored by a group named by the U.S. government as a co-conspirator to Hamas, we have no choice but to call on Keith Ellison to resign from his held office as United States Representative. Congressman Ellison, by openly cavorting with bigoted and pro-terrorist elements in our society, can no longer work for the best interests of our nation.”
Also speaking at the CAIR-Minnesota banquet will be CAIR’s National Executive Director, Nihad Awad, and CAIR’s National Communications Director, Ibrahim Hooper. The event will be taking place at 6:30 pm, at the Central Park Ballroom, in Woodbury, Minnesota.
Joe Kaufman is available for interview. E-mail: email@example.com
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues
on: June 17, 2007, 08:29:16 AM
Don’t Listen to What the Man Says
NY Times editorial
June 17, 2007
If the Supreme Court, with its new conservative majority, wanted to announce that it was getting out of the fairness business, it could hardly have done better than its decision last week in the case of Keith Bowles. The court took away Mr. Bowles’s right to challenge his murder conviction in a ruling that was so wrong and mean-spirited that it seemed like an outtake from MTV’s practical joke show “Punk’d.”
Mr. Bowles, an Ohio inmate, challenged his conviction in federal district court and lost. The court told Mr. Bowles that he had until Feb. 27 to appeal. He filed the appeal on Feb. 26, and was ready to argue why he was wrongly convicted. But it turned out the district court made a mistake. The appeal should have been filed by Feb. 24.
The Supreme Court ruled, 5 to 4, in a majority opinion written by Justice Clarence Thomas, that Mr. Bowles was out of luck, and his appeal was invalid. So much for heeding a federal judge.
The decision was wrong for many reasons. The Supreme Court has made clear in its past rulings that deadlines like this are not make-or-break. Appeals could still be heard, the court recognized in the past, if there were “unique circumstances” that accounted for the delay. Clearly, following an order from a federal judge is such a circumstance.
Courts also have the authority to create an exception to the rules in the interest of fairness. The Supreme Court has recognized that an “equitable exception” should be granted when a party has relied on an order from a federal judge. By refusing to do so now, Justice David Souter argued for the dissenters, the court was saying that “every statement by a federal court is to be tagged with the warning ‘Beware of the judge.’ ”
The four dissenters distilled this case perfectly when they said, “it is intolerable for the judicial system to treat people this way.”
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race
on: June 16, 2007, 06:20:10 PM
I've already stated my areas of agreement and of disagreement with RP.
Do you disagree with him on:
a) Free minds & free markets?
b) Right to keep and bear arms?
c) Lower taxes?
d) Sound currency?
e) Defending our borders, while avoiding a national ID?
Yes you and I disagree with him on important matters regarding Islamo-Fascism's War on the West, but why does that make him a loon?
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race, religion, ethnic origin
on: June 16, 2007, 11:27:22 AM
Let the Segregation Commence
Separatist graduations proliferate at UCLA.
13 June 2007
Commencement weekend is hard to plan at the University of California, Los Angeles. The university now has so many separate identity-group graduations that scheduling them not to conflict with one another is a challenge. The women’s studies graduation and the Chicana/Chicano studies graduation are both set for 10 AM Saturday. The broader Hispanic graduation, “Raza,” is in near-conflict with the black graduation, which starts just an hour later.
Planning was easier before a new crop of ethnic groups pushed for inclusion. Students of Asian heritage were once content with the Asian–Pacific Islanders ceremony. But now there are separate Filipino and Vietnamese commencements, and some talk of a Cambodian one in the future. Years ago, UCLA sponsored an Iranian graduation, but the school’s commencement office couldn’t tell me if the event was still around. The entire Middle East may yet be a fertile source for UCLA commencements.
Not all ethnic and racial graduations are well attended. The 2003 figures at UCLA showed that while 300 of 855 Hispanic students attended, only 170 out of 1,874 Asian-Americans did.
Some students are presumably eligible for four or five graduations. A gay student with a Native American father and a Filipino mother could attend the Asian, Filipino, and American Indian ceremonies, plus the mainstream graduation and the Lavender Graduation for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered students.
Graduates usually wear identity-group markers—a Filipino stole or a Vietnamese sash, for instance, or a rainbow tassel at the Lavender event. Promoters of ethnic and racial graduations often talk about the strong sense of community that they favor. But it is a sense of community based on blood, a dubious and historically dangerous organizing principle.
The organizers also sometimes argue that identity-group graduations make sense for practical reasons. They say that about 3,000 graduating seniors show up for UCLA’s “regular” graduation, making it a massive and impersonal event. At the more intimate identity-group events, foreign-born parents and relatives hear much of the ceremony in their native tongues. The Filipino event is so small—about 100 students— that each grad gets to speak for 30 seconds.
But the core reason for separatist graduations is the obvious one: on campus, assimilation is a hostile force, the domestic version of American imperialism. On many campuses, identity-group training begins with separate freshman orientation programs for nonwhites, who arrive earlier and are encouraged to bond before the first Caucasian freshmen arrive. Some schools have separate orientations for gays as well. Administrations tend to foster separatism by arguing that bias is everywhere, justifying double standards that favor identity groups.
Four years ago Ward Connerly, then a regent of the University of California, tried to pass a resolution to stop funding of ethnic graduations and gay freshman orientations. He changed his mind and asked to withdraw his proposal, but the regents wanted to vote on it and defeated it in committee 6–3.
No major objections to ethnic graduations have emerged since. As in so many areas of American life, the preposterous is now normal.
John Leo is the editor of the Manhattan Institute’s mindingthecampus.com.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pakistan in the Balance
on: June 16, 2007, 11:12:35 AM
Pakistan in the Balance
By NAJAM SETHI
June 16, 2007
LAHORE, Pakistan -- As lawyers, civil society activists and now journalists protest President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's ham-handed ouster of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry last March and his recent crackdown on the press, most Pakistanis are convinced the military strongman is a "goner." Most international commentators see Mr. Musharraf's increasingly repressive measures as a sure sign of his regime unraveling. Others are already calculating the beneficial effects of a likely return to "civilian democracy" sooner rather than later.
Mr. Musharraf has other ideas. Last week he told worried bigwigs of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League party that he might be down but was definitely not out. This storm will pass, he assured them, the next general elections would be held as pledged by the end of this year, and they would win.
So how is the United States' core ally in the war against terror going to fare? Who will replace him if he is ousted, will there be greater or lesser democracy, and would that be good or bad for Pakistan?
The protests aren't sufficient to end Mr. Musharraf's rule. They lack a mass base. There haven't been any prolonged countrywide shutdowns. Traders and businessmen still support Mr. Musharraf. Opposition parties have failed to impress in the numbers game. The two main opposition leaders, former Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, are reluctant to end their exile and return to Pakistan, fearing arrest. Even the most virulent opposition from the Muttahida Majlis Amal (MMA), an alliance of six religious parties who hate Mr. Musharraf because of his support for the U.S. war against terror, is tempered with pragmatism. Its leading political party, Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam, is averse to clashing with the federal government, which could endanger its political rule in two provinces.
All political parties fear that any head-on confrontation with Mr. Musharraf might lead to martial law. As if to reinforce this fact, Mr. Musharraf last week called a meeting of his top military commanders -- who duly warned against the expression of any anti-army sentiment in public or in the media.
The situation could worsen for Mr. Musharraf if the Supreme Court were to reinstall the chief justice and thereby invigorate the pro-democracy movement. Or if the government were to blunder into killing protestors, fueling their anger and swelling their ranks. Or if Ms. Bhutto and Mr. Sharif were to return to the country and succeed in whipping up a storm. Or if Washington were to nod at another general to take over.
But all these scenarios are uncertain. The Supreme Court case may drag on until next year. The government may successfully avoid provoking more violence. Ms. Bhutto and Mr. Sharif might stay away longer. Finally, the U.S. is unlikely to ditch Mr. Musharraf, partly because he is still shoring up the war against terror in Pakistan and partly because there is no guarantee that his military or civilian successor would fare any better in fulfilling this international agenda.
Pakistan's experience with "democratic" governments hasn't been reassuring. Previous administrations under Ms. Bhutto and Mr. Sharif saw corrupt, squabbling politicians drive the economy to bankruptcy. They lost their sheen when they became dynastic, autocratic and repressive. Worse, their political failures no less than those of the military led to the growth of the religious right.
If Mr. Musharraf were to be ousted by the popular forces of "undiluted democracy" in a country that is deeply fissured by regionalism, ethnicity, religious sectarianism, separatism, Talibanism and class struggle, the result could be political anarchy and economic meltdown. There is no single mainstream party strong enough to hold the center and the periphery. Stumbling and squabbling coalition governments would bring democracy into disrepute again. This would only benefit the forces of political Islam, which are the real long-term pretenders to the throne in Pakistan because of their strategy of merging religious ideology, Islamic nationalism and class struggle.
Meanwhile, shorn of all responsibility for its actions after retreating to the barracks, the powerful army would start pulling strings to destabilize and discredit elected governments from behind the scenes, as it has done during every civilian stint in power. Under these circumstances, the gains made under Mr. Musharraf's regime, like the peace initiative with India, economic revival, efforts to stall religious extremism and support for the war against terror -- however insufficient -- would fall by the wayside without generating an alternative sustainable governance paradigm.
One other significant issue needs to be factored into the analysis. In the next five years, many middle-class army officers recruited from the urban areas of Pakistan during the Islamicization years of Gen. Zia ul Haq in the 1980s will become three-star generals. These homespun officers are all imbued with Islamic nationalism, anti-India sentiment and anti-Westernism.
Their anti-Americanism is rooted in the 1990s, when the U.S. cut off all military aid to Pakistan for pursuing its nuclear program. As field officers they compelled Mr. Musharraf not to wage war against "our own people in Waziristan" at the behest of America. They remain unhappy at the ostracism of Pakistan's nuclear hero, A.Q. Khan, by Gen. Musharraf, again at America's behest. And they have personally benefited in terms of perks and privileges from the direct intervention of the army in politics and civilian affairs. If the army is not led in the future by a strong, moderate and cosmopolitan leader, it could institutionally succumb to the collective mindset of Islamic nationalism.
Pakistan's military has historically been part of its problem. But, left to themselves, Pakistan's mainstream democrats, conservative and liberal alike, have not been able to provide the solution. Meanwhile, the country has become seriously ungovernable and the state's writ has progressively broken down in large areas of the nation. Political Islam is seeking to fill these spaces.
What is needed is a transitional power-sharing partnership between the military and political parties on the basis of an agreed moderate and liberal reform agenda -- a sort of truth and national reconciliation process that heals political wounds and charts the road to a new Pakistan. It is a tall order.
Much will depend on whether or not Mr. Musharraf can pull off the next general elections without provoking an effective opposition boycott and further instability. That, in turn, will depend on renewed efforts to diffuse the current judicial crisis and make new political allies. After the elections he will have to take off his uniform and share power with mainstream politicians in order to enlarge the new government's capacity to reform state and society.
In the past, Mr. Musharraf has demonstrated the skills of a commando in blasting his way out of trouble or beating a tactical retreat when the odds were against him. But in recent times he has seemed isolated, arrogant and rigid. Which Mr. Musharraf will prevail? What will Pakistan look like with or without him in the near future? The conclusions are not foregone.
Mr. Sethi is the editor of the Friday Times and Daily Times in Lahore, Pakistan.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race
on: June 16, 2007, 11:01:14 AM
"Well in the case of sugar I guess if we don't impose a tariff then "innocent" Americans lose their jobs. Is it their fault Caribbeans have a lower cost of living and will and can work at much lower wages? Or subsidizing farmers may be in the national interest."
When consumers are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars per job "saved" other jobs elsewhere, and in greater number, are destroyed. The net result is a negative.
As for subsidizing farmers, I think it also a poor and counter-productive idea. Read PJ O'Rourke's chapter on the Dept. of Agriculture in his "Parliament of Whores" and you will never see this issue in the same way.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread
on: June 16, 2007, 10:52:40 AM
I saw that Royce is denying the use of 'hoids. He says he was using over the counter products. The recent case with the American who won the World title only to have it taken away, has given me a sense that these things sometimes are not cut and dried. Let the Truth be found.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Arafat's children
on: June 16, 2007, 10:49:33 AM
Gaza's mayhem is the bitter fruit of terror as statecraft.
Saturday, June 16, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT
Scores of Palestinians were killed this week in Gaza in factional fighting between loyalists of President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah and those of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas. As if on cue, it took about 24 hours before pundits the world over blamed the violence on Israel and President Bush.
This is the Israel that dismantled its settlements in Gaza in August 2005, a unilateral concession for which it asked, and got, nothing in return. And it is the U.S. President who, in a landmark speech five years ago this month, called on Palestinians to "elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror." Had Palestinians done so, they could be living today in a peaceful, independent state. Instead, in January 2006 they freely handed the reins of government to Hamas in parliamentary elections. What is happening today is the result of that choice--their choice.
That election didn't simply emerge from a vacuum, however. It is a consequence of the cult of violence that has typified the Palestinian movement for much of its history and which has been tolerated and often celebrated by the international community. If Palestinians now think they can advance their domestic interests by violence, nobody should be surprised: The way of the gun has been paying dividends for 40 years.
In 1972 Palestinian terrorists murdered Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. Yet only two years later Yasser Arafat addressed the U.N.'s General Assembly--the first non-government official so honored. In 1970 Arafat attempted to overthrow Jordan's King Hussein and tried to do the same a few years later in Lebanon. Yet in 1980, the European Community, in its Venice Declaration, recognized Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization as a legitimate negotiating partner.
In 1973, the National Security Agency recorded Arafat's telephoned instructions to PLO terrorists to murder Cleo Noel, the U.S. ambassador in Sudan, and his deputy George Curtis Moore. Yet in 1993, Arafat was welcomed in the White House for the signing of the Oslo Accords with Israel. That same year, the British National Criminal Intelligence Service reported that the PLO made its money from "extortion, payoffs, illegal arms-dealing, drug trafficking, money laundering and fraud." Yet over the next several years, the Palestinian Authority would become the largest single recipient of foreign aid on a per capita basis.
In 1996, after he had formally renounced terrorism in the Oslo Accords, Arafat told a rally in Gaza that "we are committed to all martyrs who died for the cause of Jerusalem starting with Ahmed Musa until the last martyr Yihye Ayyash"--Musa being the first PLO terrorist to be killed in 1965 and Ayyash being the Hamas mastermind of a series of suicide bombings in which scores of Israeli civilians were killed. Yet the Clinton Administration continued to pretend that Arafat was an ally in the fight against Hamas. In 2000, Arafat rejected an Israeli offer of statehood midwifed by President Clinton and instead initiated the bloody intifada that left 1,000 Israelis and 3,000 Palestinians dead.
In 2005, only months after Arafat's death, Israel dismantled its settlements and withdrew its forces from the Gaza Strip. Palestinians have used the opportunity to intensify their rocket fire at civilian targets within Israel. Last month, Israeli security services arrested two Gazan women, one of them pregnant, who were planning to enter Israel on medical pretexts in order to carry out suicide attacks. Yet the same month, the World Bank issued a report faulting Israel for restricting Palestinian freedom of movement.
Now it appears Hamas has taken control of the Gaza Strip's main road and its border with Egypt, as well as the offices of the so-called Preventive Security Services, traditionally a Fatah stronghold. "They are executing them one by one," a witness told the Associated Press of Hamas's reprisals against the Preventive Security personnel.
We do not pretend to know where all this will lead. On Thursday, Mr. Abbas dissolved the government and declared a state of emergency, though he seems powerless to change the course of events in Gaza. Israel could conceivably intervene, as could Egypt, and both states have powerful reasons to prevent the emergence of a Hamastan with close links to Iran hard on their borders. But neither do they wish to become stuck in the Strip's bottomless factionalism and fanaticism.
At the same time, pressure will surely mount on Israel and the U.S. to accept Hamas's ascendancy and begin negotiations with its leaders. According to this reasoning, the Bush Administration cannot demand democracy of the Palestinians and then refuse to recognize the results of a democratic election.
But leave aside the fact that Mr. Bush did not simply call for an election: Is it wise to negotiate with a group that kills its fellow Palestinians almost as freely as it does Israelis? And what would there be to negotiate about? The best-case scenario--a suspension of hostilities in exchange for renewed international funding--would simply give Hamas time and money to consolidate its rule and rebuild an arsenal for future terror assaults. Then, too, the last thing the Palestinians need is yet further validation from the wider world that the violence they now inflict so indiscriminately works.
The deeper lesson here is that a society that has spent the last decade celebrating suicide bombing would inevitably become a victim of its own nihilistic impulses. This is not the result of Mr. Bush's call for democratic responsibility; it is the bitter fruit of the decades of dictatorship and terrorism as statecraft that Yasser Arafat instilled among Palestinians.