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29801  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: February 16, 2009, 04:48:41 PM
Independence Forever: The 225th Anniversary of the Fourth of July
by Matthew Spalding, Ph.D.
Backgrounder #1451

June 19, 2001 |  | 

This Fourth of July marks the 225th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. This occasion is a great opportunity to renew our dedication to the principles of liberty and equality enshrined in what Thomas Jefferson called "the declaratory charter of our rights."

As a practical matter, the Declaration of Independence publicly announced to the world the unanimous decision of the American colonies to declare themselves free and independent states, absolved from any allegiance to Great Britain. But its greater meaning--then as well as now--is as a statement of the conditions of legitimate political authority and the proper ends of government, and its proclamation of a new ground of political rule in the sovereignty of the people. "If the American Revolution had produced nothing but the Declaration of Independence," wrote the great historian Samuel Eliot Morrison, "it would have been worthwhile."

Although Congress had appointed a distinguished committee--including John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston--the Declaration of Independence is chiefly the work of Thomas Jefferson. By his own account, Jefferson was neither aiming at originality nor taking from any particular writings but was expressing the "harmonizing sentiments of the day," as expressed in conversation, letters, essays, or "the elementary books of public right, as Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, etc." Jefferson intended the Declaration to be "an expression of the American mind," and wrote so as to "place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent."

The structure of the Declaration of Independence is that of a common law legal document. The ringing phrases of the document's famous second paragraph are a powerful synthesis of American constitutional and republican government theories. All men have a right to liberty only in so far as they are by nature equal, which is to say none are naturally superior, and deserve to rule, or inferior, and deserve to be ruled. Because men are endowed with these rights, the rights are unalienable, which means that they cannot be given up or taken away. And because individuals equally possess these rights, governments derive their just powers from the consent of those governed. The purpose of government is to secure these fundamental rights and, although prudence tells us that governments should not be changed for trivial reasons, the people retain the right to alter or abolish government when it becomes destructive of these ends.

The remainder of the document is a bill of indictment accusing King George III of some 30 offenses, some constitutional, some legal, and some matters of policy. The combined charges against the king were intended to demonstrate a history of repeated injuries, all having the object of establishing "an absolute tyranny" over America. Although the colonists were "disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable," the time had come to end the relationship: "But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government."

One charge that Jefferson had included, but Congress removed, was that the king had "waged cruel war against human nature" by introducing slavery and allowing the slave trade into the American colonies. A few delegates were unwilling to acknowledge that slavery violated the "most sacred rights of life and liberty," and the passage was dropped for the sake of unanimity. Thus was foreshadowed the central debate of the American Civil War, which Abraham Lincoln saw as a test to determine whether a nation "conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal" could long endure.

The Declaration of Independence and the liberties recognized in it are grounded in a higher law to which all human laws are answerable. This higher law can be understood to derive from reason--the truths of the Declaration are held to be "self-evident"--but also revelation. There are four references to God in the document: to "the laws of nature and nature's God"; to all men being "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights"; to "the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions"; and to "the protection of Divine Providence." The first term suggests a deity that is knowable by human reason, but the others--God as creator, as judge, and as providence--are more biblical, and add a theological context to the document. "And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift of God?" Jefferson asked in his Notes on the State of Virginia.

The true significance of the Declaration lies in its trans-historical meaning. Its appeal was not to any conventional law or political contract but to the equal rights possessed by all men and "the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and nature's God" entitled them. What is revolutionary about the Declaration of Independence is not that a particular group of Americans declared their independence under particular circumstances but that they did so by appealing to--and promising to base their particular government on--a universal standard of justice. It is in this sense that Abraham Lincoln praised "the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times."

The ringing phrases of the Declaration of Independence speak to all those who strive for liberty and seek to vindicate the principles of self-government. But it was an aged John Adams who, when he was asked to prepare a statement on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, delivered two words that still convey our great hope every Fourth of July: "Independence Forever."

Matthew Spalding, Ph.D.,is Director of the B. Kenneth Simon Center for American Studies at The Heritage Foundation.


I am well aware of the toil, and blood, and treasure, that it will cost us to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these states. Yet, through all the gloom, I can see the rays of light and glory; I can see that the end is more than worth all the means, and that posterity will triumph.

John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, July 3, 1776

There! His Majesty can now read my name without glasses. And he can double the reward on my head!

John Hancock (attributed), upon signing the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.

Benjamin Franklin (attributed), at the signing of the
Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

The flames kindled on the 4th of July 1776, have spread over too much of the globe to be extinguished by the feeble engines of despotism; on the contrary, they will consume these engines and all who work them.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, September 12, 1821

With respect to our rights, and the acts of the British government contravening those rights, there was but one opinion on this side of the water. All American whigs thought alike on these subjects. When forced, therefore, to resort to arms for redress, an appeal to the tribunal of the world was deemed proper for our justification. This was the object of the Declaration of Independence. Not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before; but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take. Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion. All its authority rests then on the harmonizing sentiments of the day, whether expressed in conversation, in letters, printed essays, or in the elementary books of public right, as Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, &c.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Henry Lee, May 8, 1825

Independence Forever.

John Adams, toast for the 50th Anniversary of the
Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1826

I have said that the Declaration of Independence is the ring-bolt to the chain of your nation's destiny; so, indeed, I regard it. The principles contained in that instrument are saving principles. Stand by those principles, be true to them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and at whatever cost.

Frederick Douglass, "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" July 5, 1852

The assertion that "all men are created equal" was of no practical use in effecting our separation from Great Britain; and it was placed in the Declaration, not for that, but for future use. Its authors meant it to be, thank God, it is now proving itself, a stumbling block to those who in after times might seek to turn a free people back into the hateful paths of despotism. They knew the proneness of prosperity to breed tyrants, and they meant when such should re-appear in this fair land and commence their vocation they should find left for them at least one hard nut to crack.

Abraham Lincoln, speech on the Dred Scott Decision, June 26, 1857

We have besides these men--descended by blood from our ancestors--among us perhaps half our people who are not descendants at all of these men, they are men who have come from Europe--German, Irish, French and Scandinavian--men that have come from Europe themselves, or whose ancestors have come hither and settled here, finding themselves our equals in all things. If they look back through this history to trace their connection with those days by blood, they find they have none, they cannot carry themselves back into that glorious epoch and make themselves feel that they are part of us, but when they look through that old Declaration of Independence they find that those old men say that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal," and then they feel that that moral sentiment taught in that day evidences their relation to those men, that it is the father of all moral principle in them, and that they have a right to claim it as though they were blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote that Declaration, and so they are. That is the electric cord in that Declaration that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together, that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world.

Abraham Lincoln, speech at Chicago, Illinois, July 10, 1858

We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create our Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first. Unless we cling to that, all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren sceptre in our grasp. If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like-minded as the fathers who created it. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We must cultivate the reverence which they had for the things that are holy. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed. We must keep replenished, that they may glow with a more compelling flame, the altar fires before which they worshiped.

Calvin Coolidge, speech on the 150th Anniversary of the
Declaration of Independence, July 5, 1926

Today, 186 years later, that Declaration whose yellowing parchment and fading, almost illegible lines I saw in the past week in the National Archives in Washington is still a revolutionary document. To read it today is to hear a trumpet call. For that Declaration unleashed not merely a revolution against the British, but a revolution in human affairs. . . . The theory of independence is as old as man himself, and it was not invented in this hall. But it was in this hall that the theory became a practice; that the word went out to all, in Thomas Jefferson's phrase, that "the God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time." And today this Nation--conceived in revolution, nurtured in liberty, maturing in independence--has no intention of abdicating its leadership in that worldwide movement for independence to any nation or society committed to systematic human oppression.

John F. Kennedy, address at Independence Hall, July 4, 1962

When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. . . . I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

Martin Luther King, "I Have A Dream," August 28, 1963

Our Declaration of Independence has been copied by emerging nations around the globe, its themes adopted in places many of us have never heard of. Here is this land, for the first time, it was decided that man is born with certain God-given rights. We the people declared that government is created by the people for their own convenience. Government has no power except those voluntarily granted it by the people. There have been revolutions before and since ours, revolutions that simply exchanged one set of rulers for another. Ours was a philosophical revolution that changed the very concept of government.

Ronald Reagan, address at Yorktown, October 19, 1981
29802  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India and India-Pak on: February 16, 2009, 03:56:23 PM
A point that is rather tangential to the subject of this piece I'm thinking , , , how about here
29803  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: February 16, 2009, 01:50:48 PM
These men deserve better from us here at home.
29804  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Interesting clip on: February 16, 2009, 01:35:56 PM
An 11 minute clip worth your time:
29805  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Darkness, Secrecy, , , and Knowledge wants to be free on: February 16, 2009, 01:07:20 PM
Absolutely-- but that would require actual travel and the attendant risks of death or capture.  A lot easier to hook up to youtube.
29806  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: February 16, 2009, 12:57:22 PM
Why I Have A Gun

My old grandpa said to me, "Son, there comes a time in every man's life when he stops bustin' knuckles and starts bustin' caps and usually it's when he becomes too old to take an ass whoopin'."

I don't have a gun to kill people.  I have a gun to keep from being killed.
I don't have a gun to scare people.  I have a gun because sometimes this world can be a scary place.
I don't have a gun because I'm paranoid.  I have a gun because there are real threats in the world.
I don't have a gun because I'm evil.  I have a gun because I have lived long enough to see the evil in the world.
I don't have a gun because I hate the government.  I have a gun because I understand the limitations of government.
I don't have a gun because I'm angry.  I have a gun so that I don't have to spend the rest of my life hating myself for failing to be prepared.
I don't have a gun because I want to shoot someone.  I have a gun because I want to die at a ripe old age in my bed, and not on a sidewalk somewhere tomorrow afternoon.
I don't have a gun because I'm a cowboy.  I have a gun because, when I die and go to Heaven, I want to be a cowboy.
I don't have a gun to make me feel like a man.  I have a gun because men know how to take care of themselves and the ones they love.
I don't have a gun because I feel inadequate.  I have a gun because unarmed and facing three armed thugs, I am inadequate.
I don't have a gun because I love it.  I have a gun because I love life and the people who make it meaningful to me.
Personally, I carry a gun because I'm too young to die and too old to take an ass whoopin'.

-- Author Unknown
29807  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: February 16, 2009, 12:20:55 PM
May I ask you to take this to
29808  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / A Buchanan rant on: February 16, 2009, 12:18:04 PM
A bit glib here and there, but the questions raised deserve to be part of the conversation.

         By Patrick J. Buchanan
Barack says we need to have a conversation about race in America. Fair enough. But this time, it has to be a two-way conversation.  White America needs to be heard from, not just lectured to. This time, the Silent Majority needs to have its convictions, grievances and demands heard. And among them are these:

First, America has been the best country on earth for black folks It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known. Wright ought to go down on his knees and thank God he is an American.
Second, no people anywhere has done more to lift up blacks than white Americans. Untold trillions have been spent since the ' 60s on welfare, food stamps, rent supplements, Section 8 housing, Pell grants, student loans, legal services, Medicaid, Earned Income Tax Credits and poverty programs designed to bring the African-American community into the mainstream.  Governments, businesses and colleges have engaged in discrimination against white folks -- with affirmative action, contract set-asides and quotas -- to advance black applicants over white applicants. Churches, foundations, civic groups, schools and individuals all over America have donated their time and money to support soup kitchens, adult education, day care, retirement and nursing homes for blacks.
We hear the grievances. Where is the gratitude??
Barack talks about new 'ladders of opportunity' for blacks. Let him go to Altoona?  And Johnstown, and ask the white kids in Catholic schools how many were visited lately by Ivy League recruiters handing out scholarships for 'deserving' white kids..? Is white America really responsible for the fact that the crime and incarceration rates for African-Americans are seven times those of white America?  Is it really white America's fault that illegitimacy in the African-American community has hit 70 percent and the black dropout rate from high schools in some cities has reached 50 percent?
Is that the fault of white America or, first and foremost, a failure of the black community itself?
As for racism, its ugliest manifestation is in interracial crime, and especially interracial crimes of violence. Is Barack Obama aware that while white criminals choose black victims 3 percent of the time, black criminals choose white victims 45 percent of the time?
Is Barack aware that black-on-white rapes are 100 times more common than the reverse, that black-on-white robberies were 139 times as common in the first three years of this decade as the reverse?
We have all heard ad nauseam from the Rev. Al about Tawana Brawley, the Duke rape case and Jena . And all turned out to be hoaxes. But  about the epidemic of black assaults on whites that are real, we hear nothing.
Sorry, Barack, some of us have heard it all before, about 40 years and 40 trillion tax dollars ago.
29809  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / VDH: Hardly the Best and the Brightest on: February 16, 2009, 11:12:43 AM
February 16, 2009
Hardly the Best and Brightest
by Victor Davis Hanson
Tribune Media Services

Most historians agree that earthquakes, droughts or barbarians did not unravel classical Athens or imperial Rome.

More likely the social contract between the elite and the more ordinary citizens finally began breaking apart — and with it the trust necessary for a society's collective investment and the payment of taxes. Then civilization itself begins to unwind.

Something like that has been occurring lately because of the actions on Wall Street and in Washington, D.C. The former "masters of the universe" who ran Wall Street took enormous risks to get multimillion-dollar bonuses, even as they piled up billions in debt for their soon-to-be-bankrupt companies.

Financial wizards like Robert Rubin at Citicorp, Richard Fuld at Lehman Brothers and Franklin Raines at Fannie Mae — all of whom made millions as they left behind imploding corporations — had degrees from America's top universities. They had sophisticated understanding of hedge funds, derivatives and sub-prime mortgages — everything, it seems, but moral responsibility for the investments of millions of their ordinary clients.

The result of such speculation by thousands of Wall Street gamblers was that millions of Americans who played by the rules, and put money each month away in their 401(k) plans and elsewhere, lost much of their retirement savings. Many likely will have to keep working well into their 60s or 70s, and delay passing on their jobs to a new generation awaiting employment.

Yet most disgraced Wall Street elites will retain their mega-bonuses and will not go to jail. Their legacy is having destroyed the financial confidence of a society that depends on putting capital safely away to be directed for investment by responsible overseers.

A sort of unraveling of the entire system of credit and debt may follow from the loss of confidence in Wall Street. Ads on radio now blare out to the rest of us how to renegotiate our mortgages, how to avoid paying the IRS and how to walk away from freely incurred credit-card debt. We hear not to trust in mutual funds or even banks — but instead, like medieval hoarders, to revert to the age-old safety of gold.

Apparently, the institutions run by our elites aren't trustworthy, so why should we put any faith in them?

Meanwhile, we are learning that the brightest and best-educated Americans at the highest levels of government simply refuse to pay their required taxes. Yet because the IRS audits a tiny percentage of taxpayers, voluntarily compliance with our tax code is the glue that holds together a sophisticated society and separates it from a failed state.

Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., is the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee that oversees our tax laws. But his lawyer recently admitted that Rangel didn't report some $75,000 in income.

Timothy Geithner is the new Treasury secretary and oversees the IRS. Yet Geithner improperly wrote off his son's summer camp fees as a dependent-care expense, and failed to pay thousands of dollars in Social Security and Medicare taxes.

Then there is former Sen. Tom Daschle, who was nominated to be secretary of Health and Human Services. It was revealed that he owed the IRS over $140,000 in taxes on unreported free limo services; as a result, he had to ask President Obama to withdraw his nomination.

Nancy Killefer, who just withdrew her name from consideration as "performance czar," did not pay required taxes for domestic help.

The husband of Labor secretary nominee, Hilda Solis, had over a dozen liens for back taxes on his property and just now paid up amid public outcry. (The issue is relevant, since the couple filed a joint income tax return.)

Daschle, Geithner, Killefer and Solis did not disclose their tax liabilities until they were nominated to high office and scrutinized by the press.

And they apparently did not pay their back taxes until their appointments were in jeopardy from public disclosures. That raises disturbing questions: Would we have known about such tax dodging had our best and brightest not wished career advancement in government? And would they have ever paid up if they had not been caught?

Take your pick — on the one side, we have free-market capitalists who took huge amounts of money as their companies eroded the savings of tens of millions; on the other, we have supposedly egalitarian liberals who skipped paying taxes.

The result is the same. Our best educated, wealthiest and most connected in matters of finance proved our dumbest — and our political leaders were less than ethical in meeting their moral responsibilities as citizens.

If ordinary Americans were to follow the examples of Wall Street and Washington elites, the nation would neither collect needed revenue nor invest its capital. All that is a recipe for national decline and fall.
29810  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India and India-Pak on: February 16, 2009, 11:08:09 AM
Ummm , , , why is this good post  , , , in this thread?  huh cheesy
29811  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: February 16, 2009, 11:07:01 AM
Delighted to have you with us JKrenz and look forward to more posts from you.

The following was sent to me as an example that the enemy does knife training, but the interview with John Boltono focuses more on the possible collapse of Pak.

and this just in

How on earth can we succeed in Afg if this is happening in Pakistan?!?  JKrenz, would love to get your input on this?


Pak govt agrees to Taliban Sharia in major region

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistani government officials announced Monday an agreement with the Taliban to allow strict Islamic law, or sharia, to be implemented in parts of North West Frontier Province.

Delegation members of pro-Taliban leader Soofi Mohammad at a meeting in Peshawar Monday.

 It marks a major concession by the Pakistani government in its attempt to hold off Taliban militants who have terrorized the region with beheadings, kidnappings, and the destruction of girls' schools.

The government will recognize sharia for the entire Malakand Division, which includes the Swat district -- a two-hour drive from Pakistan's capital, Islamabad -- the chief minister of North West Frontier Province Amir Haider Hoti announced Monday in a news conference. Islamic law is already being practiced in the area, where the Taliban have control.

Hoti said the people of the region want sharia which will fill the "vacuum" left by a lack of access to Pakistan's judicial system. He said he hoped it would bring peace to the region, where Pakistani forces have battled militants aligned with the Taliban.

"Those who chose to take the path of violence because of this decision, I appeal to all of them to work for the sake of peace now," Hoti said.

"There is no accounting for the sacrifice of all the people of Swat and the Malakand division. How many children have been orphaned? How many parents have lost their children? How many young people have been martyred? In my mind, I don't think that anyone can take this any more."

He also stressed that the recognition of Islamic law in the region "isn't something that hasn't happened before." He said previous agreements have been made regarding sharia, but were never implemented. He also said that the Islamic law will not go against basic civil liberties, although he did not explain how the government would make sure that provision would be upheld.

Sharia is defined as Islamic law but is interpreted with wide differences depending on the various sects of both Sunni and Shia Islam.

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So far, the Pakistani Taliban's interpretation of sharia has included banning girls from school, forcing women inside and outlawing forms of entertainment.

The agreement comes amid negotiations between Pakistani provincial officials and Taliban representatives, led by Sufi Mohammed. The Taliban on Sunday declared a 10-day cease-fire in Swat Valley, which Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan said was a gesture of good will towards the government.

The Taliban's control of Swat is believed to be the deepest advance by militants into Pakistan's settled areas -- meaning areas outside its federally administered tribal region along the border with Afghanistan.

The negotiations in North West Frontier Province are the latest attempt by Pakistan's civilian government -- which took power last year -- to achieve peace through diplomacy in areas where Taliban and al Qaeda leaders are believed to have free rein.

But analysts as well as critics within the establishment have warned that Pakistan's previous dealings with the Taliban have only given the fundamentalist Islamic militia time to regroup and gain more ground.

Khadim Hussain, a professor Bahria University in Islamabad who studies Pakistani politics, said the government has effectively surrendered the areas to the Taliban, thereby setting the stage for two contradictory, parallel states in North West Frontier Province.

"If you leave them like that and you give ... a semblance of peace in a particular area, what does that mean?" Hussain said. "It means you're capitulating. It means you're surrendering the state to them. It means your submitting the state authority to them because they are running a parallel state."

He said the government's decision amounts to a marriage of convenience made under duress.

Swat has been overrun by forces loyal to Maulana Fazlullah's banned hardline Islamic group, Tehreek Nifaz-e-Shariat Mohammadi (TNSM) which has allied itself with Taliban fighters. TNSM was once led by Sufi Mohammed, Fazlullah's father-in-law who is leading the latest negotiations. Sufi Mohammed was released from jail last year by Pakistani authorities after he agreed to cooperate with the government. He was jailed in 2002 after recruiting thousands of fighters to battle U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Fazlullah took over TNSM during Sufi Mohammed's jail stint and vowed to continue his fight to impose fundamentalist Islamic law in the region.

Last May, Pakistan's government announced it reached a peace deal with militants in Swat Valley. In the months that have followed, the Taliban have seized control of the region and carried out a violent campaign against government officials, including local politicians. The head of the Awami National Party -- which represents the region -- was forced to flee to Islamabad amid death threats from the Taliban.

Pakistan is under enormous pressure to control the militants within its borders, blamed for launching attacks in neighboring Afghanistan where U.S. and NATO forces are fighting militants.

The deal with the Taliban comes on the heels of a visit by U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke, who is now meeting with leaders in neighboring India. He said he is awaiting more details of Monday's agreement, but said it underlines the challenge of dealing with the rise of the Taliban.

The United States -- using unmanned drones -- has carried out several airstrikes inside Pakistan on suspected militant targets, including one on Monday that killed at least 15 people, Pakistani sources said. Such airstrikes, which sometimes result in civilian casualties, have aggravated tensions between the U.S. and Pakistan.

Pakistan's military operation in the region is unpopular among Pakistanis, but efforts to deal diplomatically with militants have not worked in the past.

Pakistan's previous leader, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, reached a cease-fire deal with militants in South Waziristan in 2006 which was widely blamed for giving al Qaeda and Taliban a stronger foothold in the
29812  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Darkness, Secrecy, , , and Knowledge wants to be free on: February 16, 2009, 11:02:53 AM
During the interview with John Bolton there is some footage of the enemy knife training.  Not that it looks very good, but I'm guessing they do get youtube , , ,
29813  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Class at Inosanto Academy on: February 15, 2009, 09:39:30 PM
Had a couple of really good EH regulars (including a TKD Olympian) and we worked the Kalimba Dodger single stick as a segue into the Arfful Dodger. 

It felt like a very good teaching progression.
29814  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Flex Stick 31" - Wrapped vs Foam on: February 15, 2009, 08:41:27 PM
About the difference between Jennifer Alba and Jennifer Aniston , , ,   cheesy

I'm thinking the reason the foam handles are the bigger sellers is because people want the stiffer stick , , ,  cheesy
29815  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: February 15, 2009, 08:29:30 PM
Yemen strikes multifaceted deals with al Qaeda
By JANE NOVAK February 11, 2009 8:03 PM

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh recently struck a deal with Ayman Zawahiri, and Yemen is in the process of emptying its jails of known jihadists. The Yemeni government is recruiting these established jihadists to attack its domestic enemies as it refrains from serious counter-terror measures against the newly formed Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The tripartite relationship between the Yemeni regime and al Qaeda enables all participants to further their goals at the expense of national, regional, and global security.

Yemen releases 95 jihadists

News reports from Yemen detail a meeting in Sana'a between President Saleh and a number of so-called reformed jihadists late January. The militants demanded freedom for imprisoned associates. A presidential committee identified 170 jihadists eligible for release, and 95 were released Saturday. Other reports indicate that authorities have cleared for release a total of 300 of the 400 total suspected al Qaeda in prison.

In the latest round of negotiations, Saleh reportedly asked the militants to engage in violence against the southern mobility movement. The southern uprising is bent on achieving the independence of South Yemen and is a substantial threat to Saleh's grip on power. Tariq al Fahdli was present at the meeting, and at a later meeting in Abyan, militants brandished an official order directing the military to supply the mercenary group with arms and ammunition. Fahdli fought alongside bin Laden in Afghanistan and has been accused of complicity in the 1992 Aden hotel bombing, the first al Qaeda attack that targeted American troops. Fahdli's sister is married to Brigadier General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar, President Saleh's half brother and a recruiter for bin Laden in the 1980s.

President Saleh deployed Fahdli and other Afghan Arabs against southern Socialists in 1994's civil war. Some bin Laden loyalists were rewarded with high positions in the administration and military after the 1994 civil war. More recently, General al Ahmar incorporated Sunni extremists into military ranks during the 2004-2008 Saada War against Shiite "Houthi" rebels. Militants legitimize both the 1994 and Saada deployments by referencing the "apostate" nature of the enemy. This task is made easier by the official media's description of both Socialists and Shiites as satanic.

The deployment of al Qaeda extremists as a government paramilitary affords the jihadists training, experience, contacts, financial benefit, and the ability to dictate to the regime and indoctrinate followers. Many are awarded military salaries and official positions. After years of integrating militants into Yemen's security forces and bureaucracy, aspects of the state have been co-opted by extremists.

Direct negotiations between the Yemeni president and al Qaeda operatives grew out of Yemen's "Dialog Program" established in 2002. Through discussion of the Koran, the program sought to gain assurances that jihadists would not launch assaults within Yemen but said nothing about the Islamic legitimacy of attacks on US troops in Iraq. The program ran until 2005 and was described by some participants as an expedited release program.

In 2005, President Saleh began openly negotiating with the jihadists. One such negotiation in 2006 was conducted by Saleh and the head of Yemen's Political Security Organization. The jihadists' representative was Rashad Mohammed Saeed (Abu al Feida), formerly a major figure in al Qaeda and the Taliban who has been seen in videos near Osama Bin Laden.

Saeed later described the outcome of the meeting with Saleh. "It was also agreed to cancel measures imposed on those who are released, like house arrest, the monthly signing of official register and taking permission if you wish to go another province in Yemen," he said. In 2006, Saeed praised Yemen as "the best country" to deal with militants and noted "The Yemeni government will not enter open confrontations with Mujahideen."

President Saleh has also arranged state jobs, cars, cash payments and even weddings for militants who pledged to follow the regime's dictates. Officials spin these negotiations as fostering rehabilitation and integration into society.

In January 2008, a spokesman for an al Qaeda cell in Yemen said the government had recruited some of its members to fight in the Saada War. In exchange, the security forces agreed to "ease the persecution of (al Qaeda) members." Ahmed Mansour said the group is and has been in contact with the government through intermediaries, adding bin Laden ordered a ban on attacks directed against the regime and that the US remains enemy number one. Other al Qaeda insiders who reference bin Laden's prohibition on assaults against Saleh's government include Nasser al Bahri (Abu Jandal), bin Laden's longtime bodyguard, and Rashad Saeed.

Al Qaeda Central

Another prong of President Saleh's tripartite relation with al Qaeda is with the group's central leadership, thought to currently be in Afghanistan or Pakistan. Yemen supplied thousands of recruits to the Afghan jihad in the 1980s, and Yemenis were among the top ranks in the organization, as well as forming the core of personnel who were guarding, feeding, and transporting bin Laden. Saleh welcomed thousands of Yemeni and non-Yemeni jihadists from Afghanistan after the withdrawal of the Soviets. Ayman Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden frequently visited and preached in Yemen in the 1990s and have many loyalists among Yemeni government ranks.

A long-standing pattern of negotiation exists. After al Qaeda operative Khallad bin Attash was arrested in Yemen in 1999, bin Laden contacted a Yemeni official and bargained for Attash's release. The Yemeni regime released Attash and promised not to confront al Qaeda. In exchange, bin Laden pledged not to attack the government. Attash later went on the play a role in the USS Cole bombing. Another round of negotiation appears to have taken place 2003 in which regime concessions resulted in immunity from attack.

A current agreement between Yemen's President Saleh and the al Qaeda terror group was referenced in a report here at The Long War Journal detailing communication between Ayman Zawahiri and President Saleh after September's embassy attack. A US military official reported that "Saleh feared his government would be the next target, but Zawahiri wanted al Qaeda prisoners released from Yemeni jails and committed al Qaeda foot soldiers to fight the Houthi rebels."

Active Jihadists

Although Yemen formally joined the US-led War on Terror after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Yemeni regime has facilitated jihadists' efforts externally, sheltered fighters internally, and repeatedly misled the US about their whereabouts and status. In early 2007, a Yemeni newspaper tallied 1800 Yemenis who traveled to Iraq for jihad; their families said the young men were trained by top level Yemeni military commanders.

Yemeni courts fail to criminalize attacks on US troops or civilians abroad. In a 2006 trial of 13 jihadists who fought in Iraq, the court found that it is not against Yemeni law to murder foreign nationals in "occupied" Muslim nations. Although the defendants admitted to fighting US and Iraqi forces, they faced no judicial penalty and were convicted only of document fraud.

Yemen refuses to extradite or imprison the al Qaeda operatives convicted of the terror attack on the USS Cole. President Saleh has been equally lenient with those convicted of attacks on tourists and oil facilities. Several were granted "house arrest" after escaping from prison. Yemen's banking system lacks the legal framework to criminalize terrorist financing.

Some analysts assert that some of the terror attacks since 2006 were orchestrated by Yemen's security forces in a bid to manipulate international perceptions or overshadow domestic political crises. One of Yemen's most wanted terrorists, Hamza Ali Saleh al Dhayiuani, said "I am ready to prove the reality that some attacks were planned in co-ordination and agreement of the Political Security and its agents to gain foreign support."

In November 2008, Al Quds Al Arabi carried an interview with a former terrorist in Yemen who was described as "very close to al Qaeda". The senior jihadi reported that the terrorist organization has entered a "positive phase" in planning an attack against the US that will "outdo by far" Sept. 11. Al Quds Al Arabi previously published bin Laden's 1998 fatwa against the US. The Yemeni former operative reported that he is contact with the current leaders of the organization in Yemen who in turn receive messages from bin Laden.

Al Qaida groups in Yemen and Saudi Arabia formally merged operations in January, under the name al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The group announced the merger at a press conference attended by a single journalist, Abdulea Shaya, employed as a researcher by the state news agency, SABA. The group was acknowledged by Ayman Zawahiri in a statement. AQAP is based in Yemen. Its leader is a Yemeni, Nasser al Wahishi, who was a close associate of Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. AQAP vowed to strike at Western interests and supply routes across the region. The new group and its broad goals appear to be a strategic development on the part of al Qaeda Central in furtherance of its global strategy.

The stated goals of AQAP mirror an April 2008 statement by Al Qaeda's central leadership which said establishing naval terror cells and control of the seas around Yemen is a "vital step" in achieving a global caliphate. The Bab al Mandeb waterway and Gulf of Aden were termed "of supreme strategic importance" in al Qaeda's long-term plan. The April statement highlighted the attacks on the USS Cole in 2001 and the French tanker Limburg in 2002 in Port Aden.

In response to the formation of AQAP, Saleh's regime made several announcements of its intent to find the group's hideout. Saleh called on tribal leaders and citizens to turn in the militants. Officials accused the opposition parties of supporting al Qaeda in an attempt to overthrow the state. Security forces set up checkpoints, engaged in hunting activities, and beat a man named al Zaheri because his name was similar to the al Qaeda chieftain's.

AQAP issued a communiqué explaining the unique configuration to its local members and legitimized fighting for the state by referencing the 1994 war. A copy of the letter was obtained by News Yemen. Echoing the earlier agreement by Saleh and Zawahiri late in 2008, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula explained to its followers that President Saleh wants jihadists to fight on behalf of the state, especially those who did already in 1994, against the enemies of unity-- southern oppositionists. AQAP in return will gain prison releases and unimpeded travel to external theaters of jihad, the letter explained.
29816  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: February 15, 2009, 08:03:28 PM

Former astronaut speaks out on global warming

By Associated Press | Sunday, February 15, 2009 | | Around the Nation

SANTA FE, N.M. - Former astronaut Harrison Schmitt, who walked on the moon and once served New Mexico in the U.S. Senate, doesn’t believe that humans are causing global warming.

"I don’t think the human effect is significant compared to the natural effect," said Schmitt, who is among 70 skeptics scheduled to speak next month at the International Conference on Climate Change in New York.  Schmitt contends that scientists "are being intimidated" if they disagree with the idea that burning fossil fuels has increased carbon dioxide levels, temperatures and sea levels.

"They’ve seen too many of their colleagues lose grant funding when they haven’t gone along with the so-called political consensus that we’re in a human-caused global warming," Schmitt said.

Dan Williams, publisher with the Chicago-based Heartland Institute, which is hosting the climate change conference, said he invited Schmitt after reading about his resignation from The Planetary Society, a nonprofit dedicated to space exploration.  Schmitt resigned after the group blamed global warming on human activity. In his resignation letter, the 74-year-old geologist argued that the "global
warming scare is being used as a political tool to increase government control over American lives, incomes and decision making."

Williams said Heartland is skeptical about the crisis that people are proclaiming in global warming.

"Not that the planet hasn’t warmed. We know it has or we’d all still be in the Ice Age," he said. "But it has not reached a crisis proportion and, even among us skeptics, there’s disagreement about how much man has been responsible for that warming."

Schmitt said historical documents indicate average temperatures have risen by 1 degree per century since around 1400 A.D., and the rise in carbon dioxide is because of the temperature rise.  Schmitt also said geological evidence indicates changes in sea level have been going on for thousands of years. He said smaller changes are related to changes in the elevation of land masses — for example, the Great Lakes are rising because the earth’s crust is rebounding from being depressed by glaciers.

Schmitt, who grew up in Silver City and now lives in Albuquerque, has a science degree from the California Institute of Technology. He also studied geology at the University of Oslo in Norway and took a doctorate in geology from Harvard University in 1964.
In 1972, he was one of the last men to walk on the moon as part of the Apollo 17 mission.

Schmitt said he’s heartened that the upcoming conference is made up of scientists who haven’t been manipulated by politics.
Of the global warming debate, he said: "It’s one of the few times you’ve seen a sizable portion of scientists who ought to be objective take a political position and it’s coloring their objectivity."
29817  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Flex Stick 31" - Wrapped vs Foam on: February 15, 2009, 04:53:56 PM
I prefer the wrapped (cloth) but Cindy has informed me that the foam handles are bigger sellers, so what do I know?
29818  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Flex Stick 31" - Wrapped vs Foam on: February 15, 2009, 03:58:01 PM
Shipping is a reality question.  Ask Cindy at

Let me look into the handles and get back to you.
29819  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Darkness, Secrecy, , , and Knowledge wants to be free on: February 14, 2009, 07:43:42 PM
To make room in the discussion for the interseting Maija is taking things, I have modified the name of the thread.
29820  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Music on: February 14, 2009, 07:26:34 PM
I saw FZ lead the Mothers of Invention at the Fillmore East  cool  Probably around 1969.  To be candid, Zappa often irritated me a bit-- he had great chops, but usually was disrespectful of the music, he had a hard time just playing.   Exception:  the Hot Rats album.  Yes the humor was still there, but with great vocals by Capt. Beefheart, Zappa jammed and played his ass off.
29821  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DBMAA site on: February 14, 2009, 07:11:48 PM
Our webmaster was doing some stuff-- brave husband on St. Valentine's Day!-- but as far as I can tell all is well now.  If anyone is having any problems, please post here.

29822  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A soldier's thoughts on: February 14, 2009, 07:06:35 PM
The following is posted here with permission.  It is from one of our brave soldiers currently in Afg who has just joined the DBMAA.  I asked him what he thought of the Afg-Pak and related threads here on this forum.  With identifying info deleted, here is his response:

Sir, I was actually reading the Afg-Pak thread before my meeting, I came back when I  finished and got your e-mail.

 Great stuff on there!  My personal opinion is that most Americans are weak willed (he is saying this in agreement with something I said, without my opening the subject I doubt he would have said anything-- Marc) because they have never really had to pay attention to what was going on in the world.  If some one doesn't want to hear about the war or anything else that they may view as a negative, they simply have to change the channel (plenty of other "reality" on these days), go to a different webpage or find any other thing to divert their attention.  A lot of people may just not care and figure that someone else will take care of the problem while those of us that do care and are trying to take care of the problem, either can't take care of the problem or our impact is minimal because so many just don't care.  Just one man's opinion.
I'm a ___________________ so we REALLY have to pay attention to what's going on around here and take into account all of the factors influencing what's going on (the "why" of it all), or we have a better chance of getting blown up when we roll out.
What me and my team do: " , , ,   No war can truly be "won" without the support of the populace and we can't gain the
support of the people by blowing their property up.  Even commie Chairman Mao understood this concept ("The richest source of power to wage war lies in the masses of the people.").  Today's military strategy seems to be the polar opposite of the "bomb the living piss out of 'em" carpet bombing strategy of WW2.
Ms. Ann Marlowe's piece on the last post of the Afg-Pak thread was pretty good.  I think she pretty much hit the nail on the head on most points.  I  do disagree with her opinion that we don't need more U.S. troops here.  We can't strengthen governance without security and whatever system of government ends up in place will not be self sustaining without the support
of a competent, well trained and legitimate ASF (Afghan Security Force).   ASF will be unable to attain that level of competency and training without security, i.e. more U.S. troops.  But she is correct when she said "Without improvements in these areas, no president and no amount of troops can stabilize Afghanistan.".  There are so many things contributing to the instability in this region and so little is being done about it.  ANA, ANP, and ASF receive low pay and sometimes go for months without pay at all.
 The ANP roll out in unarmored pick-up trucks and minimal if any body armor.  I think that's a big part of the reason for the high rate of casualties among them.  The TB are a bunch of bitches and avoid direct action and instead opt to employ the IED.  Most IEDs can probably vaporize a pick-up truck and whoever is in it.  U.S. forces roll in heavy armored vehicles and we wear so much body armor that we can probably survive ground zero of a nuclear blast.
 Incompetent and corrupt political leaders (hmmm... sounds familiar).  A  serious lack of checks and balances in the existing government structure (I do consider political parties one form of it).
Ok. Enough rambling for now.  I will definitely be posting on the forum as time permits.  A helluva lot of good stuff on there.
29823  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / English & French in Toronto on: February 14, 2009, 12:21:47 PM
WARNING:  In VERY bad taste:
29824  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Secrecy vs. Knowledge wants to be free on: February 14, 2009, 09:58:56 AM
Please forgive the re-posting here of this from elsewhere, but there is some overlap with the subject of this thread:

In Search of the Totality of Ritual & Reality
by Guro Crafty

Some of you may have noticed in our catalog that we have begun organizing our DVDs into two basic categories:  Ritual and Reality and this thread serves to introduce a new chapter in the DBMA mission of "Walk as a warrior for all your days".

We call it "The totality of Ritual & Reality" (c).

What I have come to appreciate is that because we are a diverse system, people come to us for diverse reasons.  Stated thus, the point is blindingly obvious, but that did not stop me from not appreciating it as much as I could and should have.   And it is because of these diverse reasons that we are now entering a period of reorganization.

What are these diverse reasons?

Some people come to us due to their interest in the ritual space, e.g. a Dog Brothers Gathering of the Pack and/or the health, fun, artistic and philosophical aspects of our system.   At the other end of the spectrum are people who are intensely interested in developing real world skills for real world problems.  In between the two are people who may not have pressing immediate real world concerns, but like the idea of using the ritual space of a DB Gathering as a moral venue to explore and prepare their adrenal state skills should the flying fickle finger of fate ever reach out and touch them to say "You are on, right here, right now."

What I have come to appreciate is that many members of the first group explicitly prefer to have their experience with us free of what Carl Jung might call "the shadow issues" of real world applications.  Similarly, many members of the third group seek precisely to deal effectively with the shadow of those serve or are in the thrall of the Dark.  Typically these people prefer to have their experience devoid of what might playfully be called "martial arts & crafts", "dead patterns and tippy tap drills" and the like.  And there is a third group  --those who prefer a blend and a balance of the preceding two archetypes.  Personally, this is where I find myself--  in search of the totality of ritual and reality.

Concerning the matters of the Reality dimension, as I get older I have come to appreciate with greater depth than before the moral complexities of teaching the reality dimension of a weapons oriented martial art that originated in jungle warfare.  I sometimes joke about how I used to be a lawyer, but decided to go for the big bucks in Real Contact Stickfighting--the meaning of course being that there really is not very much money in this path.  Although it is my profession, I am not a mercenary.  I do it because I believe in it as part of my path in walking with our Creator.  And because I believe in it I respect the power of its shadow.  There ARE people for whom this Art is not intended.  The reality dimension of this Art is for those who serve the various paths of the Heart-- those who seek to Protect. In a complementary fashion, in some cases the Ritual side of the Art can be a place of healing, forgiveness and transcendence for those who have spiritual wounds to heal, perhaps due to previous engagements with the Dark.
29825  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Crayon Physics on: February 14, 2009, 09:46:00 AM
Tricky Dog (A PhD in Physics btw!) turned me on to this.  Check out the demo on the front page!  I just ordered it.  I think the children will love it and if they don't I will!
29826  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: February 14, 2009, 09:20:03 AM
Of course the Obots have passed on drilling.

Good thing we freed Iraq!

Iraq’s oil reserve enough for 100 years- minister
February 14, 2009 - 02:25:20

KARBALA / Aswat al-Iraq: Iraqi Minister of Oil Hussein al-Shahrestani on Saturday said that Iraq has an oil reserve that will suffice for the next 100 years.
“Iraq has an estimated 400 geological compositions that have not yet been discovered,” the minister told several reporters, including a correspondent for Aswat al-Iraq news agency, during his visit to Karbala city today.

“Explored oil in Iraq reaches 115 billion barrels,” the minister said, adding that oil excavation companies will even increase Iraq’s reserve of crude oil.

“This will make Iraq home to the world’s largest oil reserve,” he noted.
29827  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: February 14, 2009, 07:47:05 AM
What do you fear more than anything else? In "Nineteen Eighty-Four," his 1948 novel about life under totalitarianism, George Orwell describes a mysterious torture chamber called Room 101 where prisoners are exposed to "the worst thing in the world" in order to make them talk. "It may be burial alive, or death by fire, or by drowning, or by impalement, or 50 other deaths," the chief interrogator explains. I thought of Room 101 when I read that the U.S. military uses loud music to soften up detainees who refuse to talk about their terrorist activities. Not surprisingly, some (though by no means all) of the musicians whose recordings have been used for this purpose want to have it stopped. Reprieve, a British legal charity that defends prisoners whose human rights are allegedly being violated, has gone so far as to launch Zero dB, an initiative specifically aimed at practitioners of what it calls "music torture."

President Obama's decision to close the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay and conduct a review of CIA interrogation techniques will doubtless have some as-yet-unknown impact on the use of music for coercive purposes. But speaking strictly as a critic, what I find most intriguing about this practice is the list of songs and performers reportedly used to "torture" detainees that Reprieve has posted on its Web site, It is an eclectic assemblage of tunes ranging from AC/DC's "Hell's Bells," a heavy-metal ditty that sounds as though it had been recorded by an orchestra of buzzsaws, to such seemingly innocuous fare as Don McLean's "American Pie" and the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive." To be sure, most of the records cited by Reprieve have one thing in common: They're ear-burstingly loud. But the presence on the list of "I Love You," the chirpy theme song of "Barney & Friends," a longtime staple of children's programming on PBS, suggests that the successful use of music as a tool of coercion entails more than mere volume.

I'm also struck by the fact that music is, so far as I know, the only art form used for such purposes. No doubt it would be unpleasant to be locked in a windowless room that had bad paintings hung on all four walls, but I can't envision even the most sensitive of spies blurting out the name of his controller to escape the looming presence of Andy Warhol or Thomas Kinkade. Yet I have no trouble imagining myself reduced to hysterical babbling after being forced to listen to shred, grunge and "I Love You" for 16-hour stretches, a technique said to have been employed by Guantanamo interrogators.

Music Used For Torture

British charity Reprieve, with the Musicians Union, has started an initiative called Zero dB which protests the practice of "music torture." Here is their list of music that has been used:

AC/DC ("Hells Bells," "Shoot to Thrill")AerosmithBarney the Dinosaur (theme song)Bee Gees ("Stayin' Alive")Britney SpearsBruce Springsteen ("Born in the USA")Christina Aguilera ("Dirrty")David Gray ("Babylon")DeicideDon McLean ("American Pie")Dope ("Die MF Die," "Take Your Best Shot")Dr. DreDrowning Pools ("Bodies")Eminem ("Kim," "Slim Shady," "White America")Lil' KimLimp BizkitMatchbox Twenty ("Gold")Meat LoafMetallica ("Enter Sandman")Neil Diamond ("America")Nine Inch Nails ("March of the Pigs," "Mr. Self Destruct")Prince ("Raspberry Beret")Queen ("We Are the Champions")Rage Against the Machine ("Killing in the Name")Red Hot Chili PeppersSaliva ("Click Click Boom")The "Sesame Street" theme songTupac ("All Eyes on Me")Donald Vance, who was imprisoned for 97 days at a U.S. military detention center in Iraq and is now suing the U.S. government, claims that interrogators there subjected him to a nonstop barrage of recorded music that made him suicidal. "It sort of removes you from you," he told an Associated Press reporter. "You can no longer formulate your own thoughts when you're in an environment like that."

I think I know what Mr. Vance means, sort of. I've gone to a lot of terrible plays in my capacity as the Journal's drama critic, but I'd much rather squirm through a bad play than a bad musical, much less a bad opera or symphony. No doubt this is partly because I have musical training, but I'm sure that it has more to do with the fundamental nature of the musical experience. Music, after all, is the most enveloping of the arts, the only one that creates the illusion of occupying both time and space. Live theater comes close, but it lacks music's all-encompassing quality. To enter into the presence of a piece of music, be it a Schubert sonata or a single by Metallica, is to be surrounded and permeated by its essence. The air is full of it -- and the clock is ruled by it. You can't get away from music, which explains its unparalleled power to disorient and disturb.

This power, it seems, is not limited to any one kind of music. Anyone who's paid a visit to New York's Penn Station in recent years knows that chamber music is regularly played over the station's public-address system. What most commuters don't know, however, is that this innovation was introduced in 1995 as part of the station's homelessness program, and that the purpose of the music, as an Amtrak official explained at the time, was both to "calm the frenzied traveler" and to "displace the negative element." Translation: Mozart drives away vagrants. Similarly, a number of high-school teachers have experimented in recent years, by all accounts successfully, with playing Frank Sinatra albums to miscreant teenagers during after-school detention periods.

I nevertheless find it significant -- and not a little comforting -- that the titles on Reprieve's list of Music to Confess By include "Hell's Bells" and Nine Inch Nails' "March of the Pigs" rather than, say, "Voi, che sapete" or "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning." Nor is this coincidental. As an interrogator for the U.S. Army's 361st Psychological Operations Company explained to Newsweek: "These people haven't heard heavy metal. They can't take it. If you play it for 24 hours, your brain and body functions start to slide, your train of thought slows down and your will is broken." The day anyone feels moved to say such things about "The Marriage of Figaro" is the day I'll apply for early retirement.

Mr. Teachout, the Journal's drama critic, writes "Sightings" every other Saturday and blogs about the arts at Write to him at
29828  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Looking for fighters for stickfighting TV series on: February 14, 2009, 07:04:09 AM
Woof All:

We have selected the fighters for the pilot shoot, which shall take place soon.   Those of you who dawdled getting your demo reels in , , , well, you snooze, you lose.  cheesy

Our producers feel confident we will get approval, in which case the next step will be to choose fighters for the show.  So if you want to be amongst those considered, well, "Tomorrow is promised to no one"-- time to get your demo reel/resume in!

The Adventure continues!
Marc/Crafty Dog
29829  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Doubt and Uncertainty on: February 14, 2009, 06:53:54 AM
Anyone trying to understand why the credit mess keeps getting messier needs only to have sat through Wednesday's hearing of the House Financial Services Committee. The eight bank CEOs were mere props. The stars were the politicians, who managed to demand more loans for consumers while simultaneously giving lenders new cause to wonder if they'll ever be repaid. This gathering of the esteemed Committee on Doubt and Uncertainty occurred as markets desperately need less of both.

Barney Frank.
Chairman Barney Frank's hearing was intended to flay the CEOs for not lending enough. It fell flat as political theater because banks have actually increased their lending in recent months. The people who aren't lending more are investors in nonbank financing such as asset-backed securities.

In fact, the nonbank credit market is normally much bigger than bank lending. But new issues backed by auto loans, credit cards and the like have been rare this year, as markets wonder how the government's next move will change the value of such investments. Buyers and sellers of existing securities are "sitting on the sidelines," according to Asset-Backed Alert, waiting for still another Washington recalibration of risk and reward.

Most investors who lend in these markets are not recipients of financial bailout money, so Congress can't simply browbeat them into making another big bet on the American consumer. They've been burned badly. They need reassurance that our capital markets operate with a consistent set of rules. The Committee on Doubt and Uncertainty offered only the assurance that the rules will keep changing.

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Early in the hearing, Mr. Frank urged all lenders not to foreclose on any mortgage borrowers until Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner unveils a new foreclosure mitigation plan. In fact, foreclosures had already started to decline due to Treasury-created uncertainty. Mr. Frank's admonition will cause a more rapid fall, since Citigroup, Bank of America and J.P. Morgan "volunteered" to a temporary freeze after the hearing.

Don't confuse this with a sign that the housing market is improving. The pols are simply delaying the pain until they decide how much to inflict on taxpayers versus investors. It's true that investors in consumer debt can expect subsidized financing from Mr. Geithner, but it's a flip of the coin whether the new subsidies will outweigh the costs of new foreclosure limits.

The safest bet is a huge new rescue of those who borrowed too much, and Mr. Geithner has already promised another $50 billion of your tax dollars. Meanwhile, Mr. Frank made clear that Congress's obsession with promoting homeownership is alive and well. He explained that his foreclosure moratorium pending the Geithner plan is to avoid a circumstance akin to a soldier who is killed after a ceasefire agreement but before the news has reached the front. Readers who don't equate moving into a rental with death in combat should direct their comments to Mr. Frank's office.

Maxine Waters (D., Calif.), for her part, demanded to know why some banks don't modify loan terms until borrowers are 60-days delinquent. Heck, why stop at mortgages? Shouldn't lenders convert all of their money-making contracts into losers?

If potential investors weren't frightened enough, Nydia Velazquez (D., N.Y.) then seized the microphone. She demanded to know if the assembled CEOs would back "cramdown" legislation, which rewrites the bankruptcy code to allow judges to reduce the amount people owe on their mortgages. So investors who might have jumped back into housing now must calculate the odds that this provision will pass the Senate, and if it does, how much bankruptcy judges will reduce their overall returns.

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein pointed out that a potential consequence of bankruptcy cramdowns is that "less capital flows into this market." The only CEO who sided with Rep. Velazquez was Citigroup's Vikram Pandit, who also agreed with nearly everything the politicians had to say. This is what a CEO does when his bank becomes a de facto ward of the state, as Citi now is. Unfortunately, Mr. Pandit's support for cramdowns will only discourage nongovernment investors in housing markets.

All in all, just another day's work for the Committee on Doubt and Uncertainty, which continues to believe that proposing more ways to punish lenders will somehow produce more lending.

29830  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Jeb Bush on: February 14, 2009, 06:49:31 AM

What comes through when Mr. Bush is asked about education is how radical his views are. He would toss out the traditional K-to-12 scheme in favor of a credit system, like colleges have.

"It's not based on seat time," he says. "It's whether you accomplished the task. Now we're like GM in its heyday of mass production. We don't have a flourishing education system that's customized. There's a whole world out there that didn't exist 10 years ago, which is online learning. We have the ability today to customize learning so we don't cast young people aside."

This is where Sweden comes in. "The idea that somehow Sweden would be the land of innovation, where private involvement in what was considered a government activity, is quite shocking to us Americans," Mr. Bush says. "But they're way ahead of us. They have a totally voucherized system. The kids come from Baghdad, Somalia -- this is in the tougher part of Stockholm -- and they're learning three languages by the time they finish. . . . there's no reason we can't have that except we're stuck in the old way."

29831  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: A writer's suggestions on: February 14, 2009, 06:28:16 AM
I have no idea whether whether this writer's suggestions are any good.  I post them because they assay making specific suggestions.
Catching my eye was the datum about a 5% casualty rate for the police.
The Taliban's synchronized suicide bombings on government buildings in Kabul this week will no doubt intensify President Barack Obama's desire to bring security to Afghanistan. On the campaign trail, Mr. Obama pledged to make the country the centerpiece of his foreign policy, calling for an Iraq-like surge of thousands of troops. Recently, he and Vice-President Joe Biden have also made it clear that they've lost patience with President Hamid Karzai's weak leadership and his toleration of corruption.

But the surge that Afghanistan needs isn't in U.S. troops, it's in strengthening governance and Afghan security forces. Without improvements in these areas, no president and no amount of troops can stabilize Afghanistan.

Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke, currently in the region, should make it clear to the Afghan people, if necessary through a blunt announcement, that the U.S. prefers Mr. Karzai not seek another term. Mr. Holbrooke should also meet immediately with the Afghan Parliament to discuss what can be done to improve governance, and to discuss possible changes to the disastrous 2004 Afghan constitution.

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There are three big structural problems enshrined in that document. First, the 34 provincial governors are not elected, but appointed and removed at will by the president. Second, members of parliament are elected on a provincial rather than on a district basis. And third, provincial councils are elected on a provincial rather than on a district basis and have no official policy role. Another issue is the absence of political parties.

Mr. Karzai's shuffling of notables from one governorship to another has been reactive, removing governors who either threaten him, criticize him, or are so incompetent that the American military has complained about them. He has swapped some provinces' governors twice in a year; Ghazni had four in 2008. The current system treats Afghan citizens like subjects, forced to suffer whatever their appointed local despot decides. Is it surprising that most Afghans don't stand up to the Taliban?

The system of parliamentary elections also disservices Afghans, since some provinces are the size of European countries and vary considerably in terrain, economy and ethnic composition. Under the current electoral system, the top vote-getters represent a province, but may come from only one district of a province, usually the richest and most populous, and from one tribe or ethnic group. (Imagine the members of the House of Representatives from California all hailing from Los Angeles or San Francisco and all being white men.)

Since provincial councils are also elected province-wide, Afghan citizens can't hold their representative accountable for local conditions, and representatives don't have ties to specific constituencies. (Imagine the entire New York State Assembly coming from Brooklyn.) Worse, these representatives, despite being closest to the people, serve nothing but an advisory role, and it's mainly the American military that listens to them at all.

Mr. Karzai lobbied the United Nations hard to discourage the formation of political parties, and he got his wish. This is the major reason why the country is in the laughable situation of having no declared opposition candidates for a (late) presidential election slated for August. Without parties, power aligns along traditional tribal and ethnic lines, and provides ample opportunity for drug gangs and foreign governments to buy politicians. Any Afghan MP will tell you that the Pakistanis, Iranians and Russians buy MPs.

In terms of security, the U.S. must throw additional support behind Afghan security forces, particularly those who fight the insurgency on the most grass-roots level, the Afghan National Police (ANP). We've poured a lot of money into the ANP since we took over training from our NATO allies -- the current annual budget is around $800 million -- but we should be spending more. It's more effective, and cheaper, than anything we can do with our troops in many areas.

At present, Afghanistan only has a fraction of the number of police it needs. Some 77,000 cops serve a nation of 32 million people, most of them in villages scattered across one of the most mountainous countries in the world. In the east and south, they are under attack from insurgents wielding automatic weapons and planting improvised explosive devices.

This already small force is being eroded by a shocking combat death rate and resulting high attrition. Last year 1,215 out of 77,000 police were slain by insurgents, and an additional 2,600 police were wounded or missing in action. This amounts to one out of 20 cops killed or wounded in 2008.

The numbers are worse when viewed on a local level, because most of the deaths are occurring in a handful of frontline provinces where Afghan police are consequently quitting in droves. Last year, police pay was raised to $180 a month for the lowest-tier job in the most dangerous provinces, but this is still less than private security firms offer for safer work.

With increased American support, the ANP can become a success story like the Afghan National Army. A widely respected institution, the army is modernizing rapidly, with 41 of its 69 battalions "capable of independent planning, execution, and sustainment of counterinsurgency operations," according to American military trainers. Increasing the size of the army is a good idea. So is paying current soldiers enough so they remain in the army.

The Taliban's increasing boldness and the incompetent presidency of Hamid Karzai are symptoms of deeper problems: illiteracy, a nonexistent civil society, undeveloped national institutions, and pervasive corruption. Reversing these trends will take years. But within the term of Mr. Obama's presidency, there's much that can be done to restore Afghanistan to order.

Ms. Marlowe is a New York-based writer who travels frequently to Afghanistan.

29832  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The illusion that symbols create reality; Transparency? on: February 14, 2009, 06:06:42 AM
I tangentially mention that this is the sort of article that belongs in this thead , , ,

Obama and the American dream

The most serious threat to American liberty is the illusion that symbols create reality.
As I watched the inauguration of America’s 44th president, I wondered what the commotion was about. It was billed as a larger than life historical event that would usher in a new era of change, but where was the tangible evidence for such a grandiose notion? Scenes of ecstatic joy, bringing multitudes of people to cry, break into song and exhibit a whole range of emotions, must find their rationale in a person's track record -- in real historical achievements. What exactly had Barack Obama done to inspire such hope?

We Filipinos are media junkies; decades-long exposure to American news and soap operas had convinced us that racism was defeated long ago. If this was Obama’s achievement it was old news, an old story. Moreover in his case the racism narrative of slavery and segregation was a borrowed one, not something from his own heritage. Stories are the stuff of symbols and, surely, America’s 44th president must have his own story—something in the tradition of Augustus Caesar, Joan of Arc, Gandhi, Mother Teresa or Pope John Paul II who were all heroic achievers.

By contrast, there is nothing very remarkable about what Barack Obama has done with his life so far. That he is an African-American with a diverse background within the context of America’s racial past may be enough these days to make him a symbol of hope, but it is hope premised on his potential to deliver great deeds, not on historical acts as in the case of the heroic figures mentioned above. In the case of Obama, the symbol precedes the story and the story precedes the acts.

Not until Obama acts will we know his true story and be able to judge whether it is a good story, capable of inspiring great deeds all round. If, for example, the new president were to honestly address the evils besetting the modern world -- not only wars in the guise of liberation to protect American interests, but also, at home, the destruction of marriage and the war on the unborn child (both of which disproportionately afflict black Americans) -- then he might begin to shine as a real symbol.

Obama's symbolism is very like that of America itself. Like the Obama story, the American story is also premised on potential. Disregarding what the New World’s settlers did to the Native American, the pilgrims’ background story of the oppressed seeking -- and finding -- liberty served as the perfect recipe for the American symbol as it has been officially known.

But the premise of liberty in the American story is but a potential and has remained in potency since the unfurling of the Stars and Stripes.

Proof that the story of the American symbol has not been actualized can be culled from America’s behavior, its policies, and most especially the popular ideas and lifestyles it has introduced to the world and established as norms: consumerism as the lifeblood of a capitalism oblivious to global warming and the logic of good values; liberalism as the essence of freedom; and imperialism as the motive of charity in the form of aid and intervention. All these ambiguities have left their mark on developing countries like my own.

The question now is whether Obama will actualize the American story. Will he write the story of the symbol and do the acts that should have preceded the story in the first place? Will Obama be that larger than life symbol that has been so grandiosely represented by America?

There is a serious threat to America, and it is not terrorism, global warming, or the economy; these are but consequences of the real threat. It is the illusion that symbols create reality.

An empty symbol cannot sustain itself. Like art and literature that are unable to capture the nature of things, they are forgotten. This is what sets apart the classics from the rest. Moreover, classics are filled with symbols which can be directly associated with reality, and so they stand the test of time and last. Symbol making seems to have become a frivolously empty process with empty stories, devoid of reason. This is what I thought as I watched the faces and various displays of emotion during the inauguration.

Ironically, the television screen that enabled me to watch Obama-mania in full flight is largely responsible for this state of affairs. Marshall McLuhan best captured it’s ambiguity in 1964 when he coined the phrase, “the medium is the message.” The visual media’s confusion of the reel and the real has become the very life of our times. Life imitates the media and reason has been replaced by the emotional force of personalities and symbols.

Hopefully, Obama will actualize the story of that American dream which has remained in potency for centuries. If he decides to do the acts needed to complete the story of the symbol that has been stamped on him, headlines will change and much of America’s (and the world’s) problems will eventually disappear. This is the real story of America—that it has yet to be great and that it has the potential to be so. I believe it can be realised.

Caterina F. Lorenzo-Molo is an Assistant Professor of the University of Asia and the Pacific's (UA&P) School of Communication (SCM) in the Philippines. She teaches and does research in communication ethics. Her articles have been published in Public Relations Review, Media Asia and Asia Business & Management (ABM). She is a mother of three young girls.
WSJ:  Transparency?  Hah!

In his closing remarks on the stimulus bill yesterday, House Appropriations Chairman David Obey called it "the largest change in domestic policy since the 1930s." We'd say more like the 1960s, which is bad enough, but his point about the bill's magnitude is right. The 1,073-page monstrosity includes the biggest spending increase since World War II, but more important is the fine print expanding the role of the federal government across the breadth of American business, health care, energy and welfare policy.

Given those stakes, you might think Congress would get more than a few hours to debate it. But, no, yesterday's roll call votes came less than 24 hours after House-Senate conferees had agreed to their deal. Democrats rushed the bill to the floor before Members could even read it, much less have time to broadcast the details so the public could offer its verdict.

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So much for Democratic promises of a new era of transparency. Only this Tuesday the House unanimously approved a resolution promising 48-hour public notice before holding a roll call. Even better, the bill could have been posted on the Internet, as candidate Barack Obama suggested during the campaign. Let voters see what they're getting for all this money. Not a chance.

This high-handed endgame follows the pattern of this bill from the start, with Republicans all but ignored until Democrats let three GOP Senators nibble around the edges to prevent a filibuster. With their huge majorities, Mr. Obey and Democrats got their epic victory. But far from a new, transparent way of governing, this bill represents the kind of old-fashioned partisan politics that Tom DeLay would have admired.

29833  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Spouse First on: February 14, 2009, 06:03:22 AM
Career choice: spouse first
Mr Right is unlikely to just turn up while a girl is getting on with her own life.
An interesting interesting article caught my eye this week with its catchy subtitle: "I should have ditched feminism for love, children and baking". In that article, Zoe Lewis writes about her regret at pursuing a career at the expense of relationships and children. Now nearly 37 and a successful playwright, she has woken up to the reality of an empty pot at the end of the feminist rainbow: "from what I see and feel, loving relationships and children bring more happiness than work ever can".

The article provides an interesting contrast to Guiomar Barbi Ochoa's wonderful story on MercatorNet of meeting the right man in a chance encounter at 33 years old. This was slightly ironic in that Ochoa had not been leaving things to chance but had pursued the matter of a spouse quite deliberately for some time -- unlike those of her peers who want to believe that you can do your own thing, pursue your career dreams and interests, and, at the right time the perfect man will simply pop into your life and sweep you off your feet. In my experience, however, this kind of dream encounter eludes many good women today who seem to be doing everything else according to plan -- that is, following their own careers, dreams and interests and "working on themselves" while trying to be happy and optimistic about their lives despite the continued lack of a partner.

Indeed, while a majority of young women still hope to get married, the statistics show that more and more women are remaining single into their thirties and beyond. This is perhaps especially true of women focused on pursuing their careers. In a Harvard Business Review article in 2002, economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett reported that in the 41-55 year age group, "Only 60 per cent of high-achieving women...are married, and this figure falls to 57 per cent in corporate America. By contrast, 76 per cent are married, and this figure rises to 83 per cent among ultra-achievers." Moreover, Hewlett found that "between a third and a half of all successful career women in the United States do not have children", yet, "These women have not chosen to remain childless. The vast majority, in fact, yearn for children." 

One explanation for this phenomenon was advanced by Danielle Crittenden in What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us (2000). There she writes that feminism, which launched young women on a quest for careers at the expense of children and family, overlooked a crucial difference between the sexes: the "disparity in sexual staying power". At a certain point an aging single woman will realize that "Men will outlast her. Men, particularly successful men, will be attractive and virile into their 50s. They can start families whenever they feel like it" while women's biological clocks are ringing in alarm by age 35. Crittenden concludes that for this reason, "it is men who have benefited most from women's determination to remain independent…moderately attractive bachelors in their 30s now possess the sexual power that once belonged only to models and millionaires. They have their pick of companions, and may callously disregard the increasingly desperate 30-ish single women around them".

Hewlett agrees with this conclusion: "Clearly, successful women professionals have slim pickings in the marriage department—particularly as they age. Professional men seeking to marry typically reach into a large pool of younger women, while professional women are limited to a shrinking pool of eligible peers. According to U. S. Census Bureau data, at age 28 there are four college-educated, single men for every three college-educated, single women. A decade later, the situation is radically changed. At age 38, there is one man for every three women."

While I was still in law school, I stumbled across Hewlett's book Creating a Life: Professional Women and the Quest for Children. Two years later, while working long evenings as a junior lawyer in a large corporate law firm in Manhattan, I realized that her analysis was right. Around me I saw aging single women lawyers working side-by-side with mostly married male colleagues (often with stay-at-home wives). It's harder for women to meet and marry men and have families when they are trying to get ahead in what is still, in essence, a man's world. It is a man's world because the career trajectory is much better suited to men than to women, in that our prime career-building years also coincide with women's peak years of fertility. In that sense, women have a much harder time "having it all".

One solution to this problem was proposed last year by Lori Gottlieb, a 40-year-old single mother of a child conceived via sperm donation. She wrote in the Atlantic that although she still describes herself as a feminist, she now admits her desire for a traditional family: "ask any soul-baring 40-year-old single heterosexual woman what she most longs for in life, and she probably won't tell you it's a better career or a smaller waistline or a bigger apartment. Most likely, she'll say that what she really wants is a husband (and, by extension, a child)." Gottlieb didn't seem to regret pursuing career and education, but she regretted holding out for a romanticized notion of true love. Her advice to younger women: settle while you're young, for "Mr. Good Enough".

Gottlieb's advice is certainly extreme and justifiably sparked much outrage, but there may be something to it, at least to the extent that she is asking women to be more realistic about men. Today, many women are so self-sufficient that they've in effect become their own men, providing for themselves and arranging for their own protection. They need men less than ever, which may also lead them to be more picky than they perhaps should be, holding out for a dreamy Hollywood version of "Mr. Romantic" while missing the good real men along the way.

But certainly, "settling" in one's search for a marriage partner can only be taken so far. Some criteria can perhaps be made more realistic, but I would not advocate for abandoning your core values and principles. Ochoa is right in that regard - marriage, as the most important partnership in life, has to be built on a solid foundation.

Yet perhaps there is another way that women may want to consider "settling", at least during their childbearing years. Today, there is a lot of pressure on women to be high achievers in every area – often, pressure they put on themselves. I can speak for myself: as a Harvard Law graduate, how could I not pursue a high-powered career? If I were to "settle" for a less demanding career path, if I were not to rise to the top in whatever field of work I chose, wouldn't I be wasting my brain and my education? On the other hand, as I laboured away my nights and weekends at the law firm, I also started to realize that my heavy-duty work schedule did not leave much space for a personal life. If I were to ever get married, I couldn't see how I would successfully juggle all my work demands while giving adequate time to a family.

In the end, something had to give. I knew within myself that work could never fulfil me as much as family and children. So I consciously chose my priorities: marriage and family first. At 27 years old, I quit the law firm and decided to pursue non-profit work, which was not only much more satisfying, but which also decreased my stress level and allowed me more free time.

I made conscious efforts to meet a future husband – not by compromising on his qualities, but by increasing the opportunities for meeting the right man. Incredibly, only three months after I quit the law firm, he ended up clicking on my photo on A year and a half later, we were married.

Now, nearly three years later, I am about to take a further step – becoming a stay-at-home mom to the baby we are soon expecting. While it's not always easy letting go of my own career for what may be either a short or long time, the truth is that I can't wait to be home with our baby, and I am the happiest I have ever been. I still agree with Crittenden and Hewlett, and I am so glad that I did not succumb to the pressure to focus on a career at this time in my life. Zoe Lewis is right, and the feminists got it wrong.

Lea Singh graduated from Harvard Law School in 2003. She works for a nonprofit organization in Ottawa, Canada.
29834  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Old man kills in self-protection on: February 13, 2009, 06:51:48 PM
29835  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: February 13, 2009, 06:49:54 PM
Must be a helluva backstory here , , ,
29836  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Looking for fighters for stickfighting TV series on: February 13, 2009, 05:49:35 PM
Tom S.

Please email me at ASAP
29837  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India and India-Pak on: February 13, 2009, 05:38:27 PM
More interesting stuff from the Indian POV:

With friend's comments:
Considering that the war is now moving to AF-PAK behooves us to familiarize oneself with the region. Here's a link to a citizen's power point presentation, which has some interesting maps being debated on the sub continent. Its easier to see them with the full screen mode
The feeling in Indian circles (wishful thinking ?) is that we must achieve a PIP (Peaceful Implosion of Pak), as opposed to a Violent Implosion of Pak...which seems to be ongoing. There is no clarity yet on US tactics or strategy...but there are elections planned in AFG,  and India. I expect 2009 to be interesting...
29838  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Alignment on: February 13, 2009, 04:21:29 PM
The following is one of the responses to the newsletter.  With permission it is used here: 

Thank you my friend, I would be Honored if you would use this material. I just want to give credit where credit is due. the material from which I studied to get this knowledge comes from the Postural Restoration Institute in Lincoln NE. I am in the process of getting certified in their method. 

Richard Artichoker

 Let me begin by saying that I am a Physical therapist and my primary area of interest is in postural rehabilitation.  I work with people from all walks of life  and the most common problems I see are Back and Neck and shoulder pain, followed closely by knee and foot pain, all of which can be traced Back to faulty postural habits and/or poor conditioning

      Your breakdown of desirable postural landmarks and positioning was very accurate and insightful, what i find The most interesting however was the fact that you were even aware that the nagging pains and injuries you were suffering from Status Post surgical repair of your knee was directly related to postural imbalances and dysfunction.  In my experience, even a lot of MD's  can't seem to make that connection and Orthopedists are the worst.

    here are some principles I espouse in the clinical setting that seem to help a majority of my patients.

          1) The Lumbo-pelvic-Femoral complex is THE keystone to correct alignment of the whole spine. without neutrality and stability of this complex  you CANNOT  correct dysfunctional anomalies further up the chain.   Now again, i repeat, you CANNOT correct up the chain without establishing a neutral and stable pelvis. This is a key concept in postural reeducation. There are many therapists and Chiropractors alike out there who will probably disagree with my last statement referring back to their succeses with resolving neck and or thoracic symptoms utilizing the standard therapeutic method of their given vocation and without addressing pelvic stability.  i contend however that utilization of  muscle, tendon and ligamentous stretching and joint mobilization with creating a neutral and stable framework and without balancing the Net forces across the joint is doing nothing but creating an Asymptomatic/pathological patient.  I use Newton's third law as my guiding principle. "for every force, there is an equal and Opposite reactive Force"  In order for a system to work in balance this statement must be true, lets look at a joint, a knee for example: a simple problem i encounter in the clinic is Patela/femoral instability. this syndrome is a result of unequal forces across the joint made up of the patella and femoral condyle  resulting in the patella tracking laterally in the condylar groove leading to rubbing of the lateral patela on the lateral femoral condyl. the standard  approach to treating this is to strengthen the VMO(Vastus Mediallis Oblique), reduce tension in the Illio-tibial band with heat and stretching and some progressive thinking therapists will also try and address misalignment issues between the femur and tibia usually with orthotics.  Ron Hruska of the Postural Restoration institute would probably say that this problem is more likely the result of Femoral pelvic misalignment especially during functional activities do to Glute max and hamstring weakness especially when encountered on the right side of the Body.

     The key to lumbo pelvic stabilization lies with these three muscle groups: Glute max, Hamstrings and Adductors. the patient must be assessed  for the following:can they Adduct? and can they extend their right hip without pelvic rotation. if not the three muscle groups mentioned previously must be strengthened while at the same time working to inhibit the Oppositional muscles such as The lateral quads and the hip flexors.

    2) Correct breathing is essential to correct thoracic and cervical spine alignment and function! I won't go too much into the details of this as I have taken up quite a bit of your Time as it is, but just keep in mind that your diaphragm is not one symmetrical muscle as i think many people would believe and we have a nice big liver positioned perfectly underneath our right diaphragmatic hemisphere.  so what?  well the amount of excursion that that right diaphragm has is essentially less that that of the left leading to asymmetry of the diaphragm as well as hyper-inflation of the left chest wall. Try this experiment. take a few of your students or any of the staff there and ask them to lie supine on a flat surface and observe how the lower ribs look in this position. Does the left rib cage look a little more expanded? do you notice flaring of the lower left rib cage?  can the person flex their left shoulder overhead in supine to 180 degrees? can the person Internal rotate their Right arm to full range with the right shoulder  at 90 degrees of abduction?  If the answer to the  first two questions is yes and the second two is NO then that person is experiencing thoracic rotation due to respiratory dysfunction.

I will simply leave you with that for Now Guru Denny, if you have any further questions I would  be happy to answer them Smiley  Take care and Hoka Hey Kola!
29839  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Alignment on: February 13, 2009, 04:16:19 PM
The following is from a recent DBMA Newsletter.  Have YOU signed up?


DBMA has as its mission statement "Walk as a Warrior for all your days". To this
 end, we have "The Three Fs": Fun, Fit, and Functional.  By this we mean that a)
 the Art should be fun to train b) it should promote Fitness, and Health c) It should
be Functional-- it should work.

This point about Fitness and Health is also made by one of my teachers, GM Myung
 Gyi, who speaks of The Three Hs":  Hurting, Healing, and Harmonizing". By this
he means that we come to the Art seeking to learn how to Hurt.  By so doing, we
accumulate injuries, and must learn to Heal them lest we and our comrades be reduced
in our capabilities, and by learning to Heal we learn Empathy and thus learn to
live a more harmonious life.

In DBMA we integrate the concept of The Three Hs into our curriculum.  In other
words, there are portions of our curriculum which are not directly about Fighting,
but are about Fitness, Health and Healing-- as well as Harmonizing.

As some of you may know, in 1992 I had a terrible knee injury wherein my ACL, PCL
and Lateral Collateral Ligaments were all snapped in half due to a horribly misapplied
throw by a training partner.  It took three surgeries over the course of many months
to replace these ligaments and during this time many muscles atrophied dramatically
which resulted in tremendous misalignment of my posture.  Thus, as I returned to
 training and fighting, many other injuries both small and large occurred.

Of necessity, I became extremely interested in matters having to due with postural
alignment and over time through research, investigation and experimentation, I developed
a body of principles which I call "The Self Help Principles".  Although in their
development I ran them by experts in many fields to favorable reviews, please understand
that I have absolutely no credentials in these matters and offer them only as what
works for me. As always in anything having to do with my teaching, for reasons of
legal liability I am Dog Brothers Inc and only you are responsible for you-- no
suing no one for no reason for nothing no how no way.

The first principle is the importance of postural alignment. When our posture is
 bad, certain parts of our body become overloaded.  As such they wear out more quickly
and are more susceptible to injury.

So the first question becomes "How can we tell if we are in alignment?"

It will be helpful if you have a training partner to observe you from the side.

Stand in front of a full length mirror with your eyes closed.  Open them and move

The first thing to notice is your feet.  They should be directly under your hip
socket and evenly weighted.  They should be parallel.  Many/most people will have
one or both feet pointed outwards to some degree.  This is a sign of imbalance between
the external rotators (e.g. the piriformis) and the internal rotators (e.g. the
adductor complex) of the femur.   Typically this correlates with pressure at the
 sacrum (where the spine and the pelvis meet)

The second thing is to notice whether your hips are level or tilt forward. If your
training partner lacks the eye to discern this, a simple indicator is whether your
belly has a tendency to protrude (no matter how much ab work you may do)  This is
a sign of tight hip flexors (psoas, ilio, and quads) and typically it correlates
with a tight/achy lower back

The third thing to notice is whether your thumbs point straight forward (parallel)
or inwards.  They should be parallel.  If they are inwards, there is an issue with
the shoulder being internally rotated/collapsed.  This correlates with shortened
 pec minor and overextended external rotators of shoulder (e.g. teres minor).  This
often correlates with an irritated bicep tendon under the front deltoid muscle of
the shoulder.

The fourth thing to notice is the position of the ears in relation to the shoulders.
 Your partner should see that your ears are directly above your shoulders-- the
seam of your t-shirt is a good indicator of exactly where. With many people the
ears are forward of the shoulders.  This correlates with a tight neck and trapezius
muscles-- and the solution is not to be found in the neck.

To put things right requires a synergistic series of exercises.  The muscular skeletal
system is a magnificent creation in tensegrity and to put things right requires
an understanding of how to restore function to a state of complementary opposites.

But that is another subject for another time and place.

The Adventure continues!
Guro Crafty
29840  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Friedman: Open Door Bailout on: February 13, 2009, 02:30:56 PM

Often I find Thomas (not George!) Friedman to have a rather exagerated sense of himself and possessed of an instinct for the specious, but this piece makes some very pertient points:

The Open-Door Bailout
Published: February 10, 2009
Bangalore, India

Leave it to a brainy Indian to come up with the cheapest and surest way to stimulate our economy: immigration.

“All you need to do is grant visas to two million Indians, Chinese and Koreans,” said Shekhar Gupta, editor of The Indian Express newspaper. “We will buy up all the subprime homes. We will work 18 hours a day to pay for them. We will immediately improve your savings rate — no Indian bank today has more than 2 percent nonperforming loans because not paying your mortgage is considered shameful here. And we will start new companies to create our own jobs and jobs for more Americans.”

While his tongue was slightly in cheek, Gupta and many other Indian business people I spoke to this week were trying to make a point that sometimes non-Americans can make best: “Dear America, please remember how you got to be the wealthiest country in history. It wasn’t through protectionism, or state-owned banks or fearing free trade. No, the formula was very simple: build this really flexible, really open economy, tolerate creative destruction so dead capital is quickly redeployed to better ideas and companies, pour into it the most diverse, smart and energetic immigrants from every corner of the world and then stir and repeat, stir and repeat, stir and repeat, stir and repeat.”

While I think President Obama has been doing his best to keep the worst protectionist impulses in Congress out of his stimulus plan, the U.S. Senate unfortunately voted on Feb. 6 to restrict banks and other financial institutions that receive taxpayer bailout money from hiring high-skilled immigrants on temporary work permits known as H-1B visas.

Bad signal. In an age when attracting the first-round intellectual draft choices from around the world is the most important competitive advantage a knowledge economy can have, why would we add barriers against such brainpower — anywhere? That’s called “Old Europe.” That’s spelled: S-T-U-P-I-D.

“If you do this, it will be one of the best things for India and one of the worst for Americans, [because] Indians will be forced to innovate at home,” said Subhash B. Dhar, a member of the executive council that runs Infosys, the well-known Indian technology company that sends Indian workers to the U.S. to support a wide range of firms. “We protected our jobs for many years and look where it got us. Do you know that for an Indian company, it is still easier to do business with a company in the U.S. than it is to do business today with another Indian state?”

Each Indian state tries to protect its little economy with its own rules. America should not be trying to copy that. “Your attitude,” said Dhar, should be “ ‘whoever can make us competitive and dominant, let’s bring them in.’ ”

If there is one thing we know for absolute certain, it’s this: Protectionism did not cause the Great Depression, but it sure helped to make it “Great.” From 1929 to 1934, world trade plunged by more than 60 percent — and we were all worse off.

We live in a technological age where every study shows that the more knowledge you have as a worker and the more knowledge workers you have as an economy, the faster your incomes will rise. Therefore, the centerpiece of our stimulus, the core driving principle, should be to stimulate everything that makes us smarter and attracts more smart people to our shores. That is the best way to create good jobs.

According to research by Vivek Wadhwa, a senior research associate at the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School, more than half of Silicon Valley start-ups were founded by immigrants over the last decade. These immigrant-founded tech companies employed 450,000 workers and had sales of $52 billion in 2005, said Wadhwa in an essay published this week on

He also cited a recent study by William R. Kerr of Harvard Business School and William F. Lincoln of the University of Michigan that “found that in periods when H-1B visa numbers went down, so did patent applications filed by immigrants [in the U.S.]. And when H-1B visa numbers went up, patent applications followed suit.”

We don’t want to come out of this crisis with just inflation, a mountain of debt and more shovel-ready jobs. We want to — we have to — come out of it with a new Intel, Google, Microsoft and Apple. I would have loved to have seen the stimulus package include a government-funded venture capital bank to help finance all the start-ups that are clearly not starting up today — in the clean-energy space they’re dying like flies — because of a lack of liquidity from traditional lending sources.

Newsweek had an essay this week that began: “Could Silicon Valley become another Detroit?” Well, yes, it could. When the best brains in the world are on sale, you don’t shut them out. You open your doors wider. We need to attack this financial crisis with green cards not just greenbacks, and with start-ups not just bailouts. One Detroit is enough.

29841  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam the religion on: February 13, 2009, 02:25:19 PM

Concerning the doctrines of deceit:
29842  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Why enable Russia? on: February 13, 2009, 02:23:14 PM
Why Nurture Russia's Illusions?
Excessive deference only strengthens Putin's hand.
Barack Obama wants to make friends with Russia, "press the reset button" as his Veep proposed the other day.

Sounds familiar. Bill Clinton bear hugged Boris Yeltsin and George W. Bush peered into successor Vladimir Putin's soul. Yet relations haven't been this bad since Konstantin Chernenko's days at the Kremlin.

So what? America is on a roll in Eurasia. Democracy, open markets and stability spread across the region in the Clinton and Bush eras. From Estonia to Georgia to Macedonia, free people want to join the West.

At every step of the way, Russia sought to undermine this great post-Cold War project. Grant that the Kremlin acts in defense of its perceived interests but so should the U.S., and continue down this same path.

Here Foggy Bottom's finest chime in: Yes, but imagine a world with a friendly Russia, able to help us, say, stop Iran's atomic bomb program. So let's not push so hard to deploy anti-Iran missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic that Russia hates -- use, if necessary, the excuse that costs and feasibility require further study. Back off on closer NATO ties for Ukraine and Georgia. Make Russia feel important and consulted. Joe Biden sketched out this sort of bargain at last weekend's Munich security conference.

The conceit is we can win the Kremlin over by modifying our behavior. Before Mr. Obama tries, he should be aware of recent history. On missile defense, American diplomats spent as much time negotiating with Russia as with the Central Europeans, offering Moscow the chance to join in. Nothing came of it. On Kosovo independence and Iran sanctions, Russia blocked the West at the U.N.

Last spring, NATO snubbed Georgia and Ukraine in a signal of good will to Mr. Putin. The day after, Mr. Putin privately told Mr. Bush that Ukraine wasn't "a real country" and belonged in the Russian fold. Five months later, Russia invaded Georgia and de facto annexed its breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Mr. Obama may be tempted to think Russia can be won over. After all, they would seem to need America (short for the West) far more than America needs Russia. We're not the enemy. Russia's real strategic challenges are in the East: China looks ravenously at the vast, mineral-rich, lightly populated Siberian steppe cut off from Moscow (to this day, you can't drive across Russia). And to the South: The arc of Islamic extremism, starting with a possibly nuclear Iran, a competitor for Caspian energy and influence.

And as Mr. Putin discovers each day his economy sinks further, Russia failed to take advantage of sky-high oil prices to diversify away from energy. It sells nothing of value to the world aside from gas, oil and second-rate weapons. Its infrastructure is decaying and its population in decline.

A Kremlin leader with a long-term view would see these grave threats to Russia's future and rush to build a close partnership with the West. But the interests of Mr. Putin and his small, thuggish, authoritarian clique don't necessarily coincide with that of Russia.

The Obama magic dust doesn't seem to work on a regime defined and legitimized by its deep dislike for America. Dmitry Medvedev, the Putin underling in the president's office, moved the state of the nation address to the day after the American election to spin the outcome for the domestic audience. The U.S., he said into the winds of pro-American sentiment sweeping across the world in the wake of the Obama win, was "selfish . . . mistaken, egotistical and sometime simply dangerous."

The Kremlin then welcomed Mr. Obama into the White House with the administration's first serious foreign policy headache. Taking $2 billion from its fast-depleting reserves, Russia bullied and bribed Kyrgyzstan to close a U.S. military airfield, the main transport hub for supplies going into Afghanistan. Russia's desire for a "sphere of influence" trumps the threat of resurgent extreme Islamism in its southern underbelly.

The thinking here is Cold War porridge. But the Russians were never offered a new narrative. Mikhail Gorbachev's idea of a "European family" and Yeltsin's reforms foundered. Mr. Putin went back to a familiar recipe: Russia, empire-builder and scourge of the West.

A Cold War mentality lingers in America, too. A foreign policy caste rich in Sovietologists by habit overstates Russia's importance. The embassy in Moscow is huge; bilateral meetings inevitably become "summits," like in the old days.

Mr. Obama's fresh start is a good time for a reality check. The U.S. can work with Russia, seen in its proper place. To even suggest that the Russians have a special say over the fate of a Ukraine or our alliance with the Czechs lets Mr. Putin nurture the illusion of supposed greatness, and helps him hang on to power.

Ultimately it's up to the Russians to decide to be friends. One day, someone in the Kremlin will have to confront a hard choice: Does an isolated and dysfunctional Russia want to modernize and join up with the West, look toward China, or continue its slow decline? Until then, Mr. Obama better stock up on aspirin and dampen his and our expectations about Russia.

Mr. Kaminski is a member of the Journal's editorial board.

I am sympathetic emotionally with this piece, but practical questions remain concerning supply routes to Afg, Russian enabling of Iranian nukes, the vulnerability of Georgia, etc.  Arguably Bush left us overextended, especially with regard to Russia.   What does our world strategy look like if Russia decides were are putting them in a corner and that they must be as difficult and disruptive as possible?  They may "deserve" it, but are we able to back it up?

Also, any chance that there is any merit to some of the Russian thinking?  E.g.  were we right to back Bosnia's breakaway?  What happened to early Clinton promises that NATO would not expand east?
29843  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The Camp David Myth on: February 13, 2009, 02:02:36 PM
Will Jimmy Carter be President Barack Obama's role model on how to bring peace to the Middle East?

Some, especially in Israel, view that prospect with apprehension. Others, like Ralph Nader, have greeted the possibility with enthusiasm, urging Mr. Obama to rely on Mr. Carter's "wise and seasoned counsel" in dealings with the volatile region. After all, Mr. Carter is renowned as the master craftsman of the historic accord between Egypt's Anwar Sadat and Israel's Menachem Begin at Camp David in September 1978, which opened the way for a formal peace agreement three months later.

The myth of Camp David hangs heavy over American foreign policy, and it's easy to see why. Of all the attempts to forge a Middle East peace, the 1978 treaty between Egypt and Israel has proved the most durable. Mr. Carter's admirers extol Camp David as an example of how one man's vision and negotiating skill brought former enemies together at the peace table, and as proof that a president can guide America toward a kinder, humbler foreign policy. Camp David was indeed Mr. Carter's one major foreign policy accomplishment amid a string of disasters including the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the rise of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, and Ayatollah Khomeini's ascent in Iran.

But the truth about Camp David belies this myth. The truth is that Mr. Carter never wanted an Egyptian-Israeli agreement, fought hard against it, and only agreed to go along with the process when it became clear that the rest of his foreign policy was in a shambles and he desperately needed to log a success.

As presidential candidate, Jimmy Carter was sharply critical of the kind of step-by-step personal diplomacy which had been practiced by his predecessors Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger. President Carter's preferred Middle East policy was to insist on a comprehensive settlement among all concerned parties -- including the Arab states' leading patron, the Soviet Union -- and to disparage Nixonian incrementalism.

Mr. Carter and his advisers all assumed that the key to peace in the region was to make Israel pull back to its pre-1967 borders and accept the principle of Palestinian self-determination in exchange for a guarantee of Israel's security. Nothing less than a comprehensive settlement, it was argued, could ward off future wars -- and there could be no agreement without the Soviets at the bargaining table. This was a policy that, if implemented, would have thrust the Cold War directly into the heart of Middle East politics. Nixon and Mr. Kissinger had strained to achieve the opposite.

Interestingly, the man who ultimately prevented this Carter-led calamity from unfolding was Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

After the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Sadat decided that Egypt needed to start from scratch in its relationship with Israel. Sadat found natural allies in Nixon and Mr. Kissinger after throwing out his Soviet patrons in 1972. With American support, he came to a disengagement agreement with Israel in 1973, and again in 1975. The culmination of this process was Sadat's historic trip to Jerusalem in November 1977, where he discussed a separate peace between Egypt and Israel, and forestalled Mr. Carter's plan for a Geneva peace conference.

It was this trip -- not Camp David -- that marked the true seismic shift in Middle East relations since Israel's founding. It came as an unwelcome surprise to the Carter foreign policy team, who still wanted their grandiose Geneva conference. In fact, for the better part of 1977, as Israel and Egypt negotiated, the White House persisted in acting as if nothing had happened. Even after Sadat's trip to Jerusalem, Mr. Carter announced that "a separate peace agreement between Egypt and Israel is not desirable."

But by the autumn of 1978, the rest of Mr. Carter's foreign policy had crumbled. He had pushed through an unpopular giveaway of the Panama Canal, allowed the Sandinistas to take power in Nicaragua as proxies of Cuba, and stood by while chaos grew in the Shah's Iran. Desperate for some kind of foreign policy success in order to bolster his chances for re-election in 1980, Mr. Carter finally decided to elbow his way into the game by setting up a meeting between Sadat and Begin at Camp David.

The rest of the story is now the stuff of legend: For 13 days Mr. Carter acted as the go-between for the two leaders. Yet for all their bluster and intransigence in public, Begin and Sadat were more than ready for a deal once they understood that the U.S. would do whatever was necessary to stop the Soviet Union and its Arab allies, such as the PLO, from derailing a peace. An agreement was hammered out for an Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai, coupled with vague language about Palestinian "autonomy." The item Mr. Carter had really wanted on the agenda -- a Palestinian state -- was kept at arm's length.

Camp David worked because it avoided all of Mr. Carter's usual foreign policy mistakes, particularly his insistence on a comprehensive solution. Instead, Sadat and Begin pursued limited goals. The agreement stressed a step-by-step process instead of insisting on immediate dramatic results. It excluded noncooperative entities like Syria and the PLO, rather than trying to accommodate their demands. And for once, Mr. Carter chose to operate behind the scenes à la Mr. Kissinger, instead of waging a media war through public statements and gestures. (The press were barred from the Camp David proceedings).

Above all and most significantly, Camp David sought peace instead of "justice." Liberals say there can be no peace without justice. But to many justice means the end of Israel or the creation of a separate Palestinian state. Sadat and Begin, in the teeth of Mr.Carter's own instincts both then and now, established at Camp David a sounder principle for negotiating peace. The chaos and violence in today's Gaza proves just how fatal trying to advance other formulations can be.

The true story of Camp David is one of two ironies. The first is that, far from being a symbol of a more modest foreign policy, Camp David rested on an assertion of go-it-alone American power. Both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush would be bitterly criticized later for following this winning technique. The second irony is that if any one man deserves credit for Camp David, it is not Jimmy Carter but Anwar Sadat. It was Sadat who managed to save Mr. Carter from himself and revealed the true secret about forging peace in the Middle East: The Palestinian issue is the doom, not the starting point, for lasting stability in the region.

Mr. Herman is the author of "Gandhi and Churchill: The Epic Rivalry That Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age" (Bantam, 2008).
29844  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Last Minute Changes on: February 13, 2009, 01:36:32 PM
The debate over the validity of evolutionary theory may be real enough when it comes to religious belief and cultural outlook. But it has nothing to do with science. No evidence seriously contradicts the idea that the plant and animal species found on Earth today are descended from common ancestors that existed long ago. Indeed, the evidence for natural selection is infinitely stronger than it was when Charles Darwin proposed it 150 years ago, mainly because later discoveries in the field of genetics supplied the biological mechanisms to explain the patterns that Darwin and his contemporaries were observing.

But scientists do disagree over the pace and time-span of human evolution. Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending begin "The 10,000 Year Explosion" with a remark from the paleontologist Stephen J. Gould, who said that "there's been no biological change in humans for 40,000 or 50,000 years." They also cite the evolutionist Ernst Mayr, who agrees that "man's evolution towards manness suddenly came to a halt" in the same epoch. Such claims capture the consensus in anthropology, too, which dates the emergence of "behaviorally modern humans" -- beings who acted much more like us than like their predecessors -- to about 45,000 years ago.

But is the timeline right? Did human evolution really stop? If not, our sense of who we are -- and how we got this way -- may be radically altered. Messrs. Cochran and Harpending, both scientists themselves, dismiss the standard view. Far from ending, they say, evolution has accelerated since humans left Africa 40,000 years ago and headed for Europe and Asia.

Evolution proceeds by changing the frequency of genetic variants, known as "alleles." In the case of natural selection, alleles that enable their bearers to leave behind more offspring will become more common in the next generation. Messrs. Cochran and Harpending claim that the rate of change in the human genome has been increasing in recent millennia, to the point of turmoil. Literally hundreds or thousands of alleles, they say, are under selection, meaning that our social and physical environments are favoring them over other -- usually older -- alleles. These "new" variants are sweeping the globe and becoming more common.

 The 10,000 Year Explosion
By Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending
(Basic, 288 pages, $27)
But genomes don't just speed up their evolution willy-nilly. So what happened, the authors ask, to keep human evolution going in the "recent" past? Two crucial events, they contend, had to do with food production. As humans learned the techniques of agriculture, they abandoned their diffuse hunter-gatherer ways and established cities and governments. The resulting population density made humans ripe for infectious diseases like smallpox and malaria. Alleles that helped protect against disease proved useful and won out.

The domestication of cattle for milk production also led to genetic change. Among people of northern European descent, lactose intolerance -- the inability to digest milk in adulthood -- is unusual today. But it was universal before a genetic mutation arose about 8,000 years ago that made lactose tolerance continue beyond childhood. Since you can get milk over and over from a cow, but can get meat from it only once, you can harvest a lot more calories over time for the same effort if you are lactose tolerant. Humans who had this attribute would have displaced those who didn't, all else being equal. (If your opponent has guns and you don't, drinking milk won't save you.)

To make their case for evolution having continued longer than is usually claimed, Messrs. Cochran and Harpending remind us that dramatic changes in human culture appeared about 40,000 years ago, resulting in painting, sculpture, and better tools and weapons. A sudden change in the human genome, they suggest, made for more creative, inventive brains. But how could such a change come about? The authors propose that the humans of 40,000 years ago occasionally mated with Neanderthals living in Europe, before the Neanderthals became extinct. The result was an "introgression" of Neanderthal alleles into the human lineage. Some of those alleles may have improved brain function enough to give their bearers an advantage in the struggle for survival, thus becoming common.

In their final chapter, Messrs. Cochran and Harpending venture into recorded history by observing two interesting facts about Ashkenazi Jews (those who lived in Europe after leaving the Middle East): They are disproportionately found among intellectual high-achievers -- Nobel Prize winners, world chess champions, people who score well on IQ tests -- and they are victims of rare genetic diseases, like Gaucher's and Tay-Sachs. The authors hypothesize that these two facts are connected by natural selection.

Just as sickle-cell anemia results from having two copies of an allele that protects you against malaria if you have just one, perhaps each Ashkenazi disease occurs when you have two copies of an allele that brings about something useful when you have just one. That useful thing, according to Messrs. Cochran and Harpending, is higher cognitive ability. They argue that the rare diseases are unfortunate side-effects of natural selection for intelligence, which Messrs. Cochran and Harpending think happened during the Middle Ages in Europe, when Jews rarely intermarried with other Europeans.

"The 10,000 Year Explosion" is important and fascinating but not without flaw. Messrs. Cochran and Harpending do not stop often enough to acknowledge and rebut the critics of their ideas. And though the authors cite historical sources and scientific articles in support of their thesis, they too often write in a speculative voice, qualifying claims with "possible," "likely," "might" and "probably." This voice is inevitable in any discussion of events tens of thousands of years ago. But it leads to another problem: The authors don't say enough about the developments in genetic science that allow them to make inferences about humanity's distant past. Readers will wonder, for instance, exactly how it is possible to recognize ancient Neanderthal DNA in our modern genomes. Despite all this, the provocative ideas in "The 10,000 Year Explosion" must be taken seriously by anyone who wants to understand human origins and humanity's future.

Mr. Chabris is a psychology professor at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y.

29845  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Brit cowardice: Brits ban Islam critic on: February 13, 2009, 01:30:42 PM
Geert Wilders is an unlikely free-speech symbol, as the Dutch lawmaker wants to ban the Quran. And Britain is an unlikely country to suppress free speech, but police yesterday detained Mr. Wilders at Heathrow Airport to stop him from speaking at the Mother of Parliaments.

Lord Malcolm Pearson had invited the leader of the Dutch Freedom Party -- who was indicted last month in his home country for "inciting hatred and discrimination" against Muslims -- to discuss his anti-Islam film "Fitna." The 15-minute video juxtaposes Quranic verses that call for jihad with clips of terror attacks.

But the British Home Office said his presence would pose a "serious threat to one of the fundamental interests of society," arguing that his statements on Islam "would threaten community harmony and therefore public security in the U.K." A Home Office spokesman further explained: "The government opposes extremism in all its forms."

In truth, the government is selective in opposing extremism, allowing last May, for example, Ibrahim Moussawi, a chief spokesman for the Iran-financed Islamist terror group Hezbollah, to enter the country and address meetings organized by the "Stop the War Coalition." In recent weeks, protesters against the Israeli Gaza offensive could freely express their support for Hamas, another Islamist terror group.

Barring Mr. Wilders from entering the country is not about opposing extremism but giving in to it. As insulting or offensive as Mr. Wilders's likening Islam to Nazism is, he doesn't call for violence, let alone terror. Nobody really thinks his presence will incite attacks on Muslims. Rather, the unspoken fear is that his visit will spark riots by Muslims.

Either the government is exaggerating the dangers, in which case his detention will only reinforce whatever prejudices people may have about Muslims. Or the threat analysis is correct and the free expression of Mr. Wilders's views really could have led to Muslim violence. In that case, the question is what sort of "community" would so easily turn violent, and where is the "harmony" that supposedly needs to be preserved?

Giving in to mob rule, real or imagined, is the abdication of democracy and the rule of law.

29846  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Outer Space issues on: February 13, 2009, 12:39:02 PM
U.S, Russia: The Implications of a Collision in Space
Stratfor Today » February 12, 2009 | 2155 GMT

USAF/Getty Images
A Delta-II rocket carrying Iridium satellites


An operational Iridium communications satellite and an old Russian communications relay satellite (widely reported as decommissioned) collided Feb. 10 over northern Siberia, destroying both spacecraft. Though details are still emerging, such an incident is extraordinarily unlikely. This unlikelihood itself may help shed light on the event and its implications.

Reports of the collision of two satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO) on Feb. 10 hit the world presses the morning of Feb. 12. One of the crafts involved was an operational Iridium Satellite LLC communications satellite (part of the U.S. company’s extensive constellation); the other was an old Russian communications relay satellite that has been widely reported as nonoperational for roughly a decade. Stratfor is patently unconcerned with the collision’s effects on Iridium’s global coverage, even though that coverage is commonly thought to include extensive service to the U.S. military. (The company says that any impact was minimal.) Nor is Stratfor particularly troubled by the potential danger to the International Space Station (ISS), which also was reported to be minimal — the ISS orbits well below the altitude of the collision.

What is disconcerting is that the collision happened at all. Everything that has followed so far — the statements from NASA, U.S. Strategic Command and Iridium and the questions about debris danger (especially to the ISS) — is all par for the course.

The operational Iridium 33 (NORAD ID 24946) communications satellite and the reportedly long-decommissioned Cosmos 2251 (NORAD ID 22675) collided over northern Siberia just before 1700 GMT on Feb. 10. At an altitude of 491 miles, the incident took place well within the most heavily used band of LEO. Nevertheless, this is the first time in history that two satellites have collided. The statistical likelihood of this happening — despite how “crowded” that particular band of LEO is — is extraordinarily low, as the distances and vast empty spaces involved are enormous. In addition, the U.S. military cooperates with other agencies and entities that operate satellites in order to predict and prevent potential collisions. If these two satellites’ orbits were indeed stable, any collision should have been foreseen (though even the U.S. military cannot constantly track every object in the sky).

This is therefore an anomalous event. And there are essentially two ways to look at it.

First is the skeptical view — that because the statistical likelihood is so low, something more is at play here. While more details will always shed more light on an event, this point of view is based on the idea that if the odds against an accidental event are in effect astronomical, then what might appear to be incidental might have been deliberate.

In short, any object in space can be an anti-satellite weapon. The speed of orbital velocity (thousands to tens of thousands of miles per hour) makes the impact of even a screw or a bolt potentially catastrophic. The problem is one of guidance.

Related Links
United States: The Weaponization of Space
U.S.: Satellites and Fractionalized Space
Space and the U.S. Military: Operationally Responsive Space
Space and the U.S. Military: From Strategic to Tactical Exploitation
U.S.: The Real Reason Behind Ballistic Missile Defense
Old Russian satellites might not be completely out of commission even after they cease to be useful for their original purpose. They might retain some maneuvering propellant, for example. But while an old satellite could be nudged into another’s path — in the case of Iridium 33, an established, stable orbit — the matter is a bit more complicated. While two 1,000- to 2,000-pound satellites are not small, they are not large, either. Actually achieving a collision requires more refined maneuvering capability and guidance, something not necessarily resident in the average early 1990s communications relay satellite (if that was all Cosmos 2251 really was).

Stratfor is not asserting that a long-dormant communications relay satellite was directed to hit another satellite. There is currently no evidence of it, and such an event has extremely long odds. But in an event that appears to be so improbable, some foul play is a potential explanation — especially in the year after the United States unequivocally demonstrated its anti-satellite capability in response to the 2007 Chinese anti-satellite demonstration. Russia is historically the only other player in the anti-satellite game, and at the moment, Moscow is seeking to convince Washington in as many ways as possible that Russia should be treated with deference and respect.

The alternative explanation is that reality no longer conforms to the conventional wisdom on the utter improbability of such a collision. Obviously, statistical probability is rooted in mathematical calculations, and there is no doubt that this event is both extraordinary and improbable. But the alternative to the deliberate cause theory is that the unlikely nevertheless took place.

Statistical realities remain, and even the most unlikely event can happen. Either way, satellites are not about to start dropping out of the sky. But a completely accidental collision could imply that what has traditionally been completely improbable is becoming, increasingly, merely unlikely — that the traffic in LEO has begun to approach a threshold where a new traffic management scheme is becoming necessary. The traffic management and debris problems in LEO have become increasingly prominent in recent years — there is no air traffic control in space — and the Pentagon has been clamoring for more money to protect its space-based assets and track debris.

In short, the Feb. 10 collision reportedly took place at orbital velocities of 17,500 miles per hour. Such energetic events create particularly large amounts of debris. Early estimates suggest some 600 pieces will be added to the list of some 18,000 objects currently cataloged and tracked orbiting the earth. Collisions like this increase the danger for satellites and manned spaceflight alike in those orbits and thus degrade the usability of whole swaths of LEO. This comes just as more and more countries (most recently Iran) are recognizing the economic and military benefits of satellites and are moving to become spacefaring. Though they are unlikely to occur through accident and coincidence, too many of these collisions and energetic events would considerably increase the debris problem. Such a development would begin to dramatically alter the landscape of LEO.
29847  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: February 13, 2009, 12:09:44 PM
United States Army Sgt. Hernandez

 Hernandez United States Army Sgt. Omar Hernandez came to America from Mexico with his family when he was six months old. He joined the Army Reserve when he was 19, deploying to Iraq in 2003. He changed to the regular Army in 2004 and returned to Iraq as an infantryman, earning his citizenship after his second tour. On 6 June 2007, during his third tour in Iraq as part of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Hernandez, three other American soldiers and nine Iraqis left Joint Security Station "Maverick" in Ghazaliya on a census patrol.

Just outside the station, however, the team was ambushed. Two Iraqi police were immediately shot. Hernandez returned fire, but was soon shot in the thigh himself. He later said it was "like Forrest Gump -- where he goes, 'Somethin' jumped up and bit me.'" Indeed -- the bullet entered the back and exited the front, just missing his femoral artery, but taking a third of his quadriceps with it. Despite his wound, Hernandez made it to the intersection where the two Iraqi police officers were down, dragging one 15 feet to safety. He then went back for the second, picking him up and carrying him on his shoulder. Hernandez made sure first aid was administered and then resumed firing on the enemy, only later accepting treatment himself. His actions saved the lives of the two Iraqis that day. "I couldn't let anyone die out there," he said. For his heroism, Hernandez received the Silver Star.

29848  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kill the Corp Tax on: February 13, 2009, 12:06:19 PM
"If lawmakers really want to trigger a recovery, they'll shelve their massive 'stimulus' bill -- a trillion-dollar debt plan that would actually weaken the economy. They'd do much better to take a simple but powerful step: reduce the corporate income tax rate to zero. Our nation's convoluted tax code (so confusing that even a high percentage of President Barack Obama's nominees apparently can't understand it) keeps a small army of accountants and tax lawyers employed. A simplified code might put them out of work. But that would be a small price to pay for a fairer system, one that helps create many more jobs for ordinary Americans. And creating jobs is what a federal stimulus is supposed to be all about. Lawmakers should think carefully before they borrow hundreds of billions of dollars, digging a deeper debt hole and expanding the size and scope of government. Far better to eliminate corporate taxes -- and unleash the job-creation power of our nation's entrepreneurs." --Heritage Foundation President Edwin Feulner, free enterprise economist
29849  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ammo tracking by govt. on: February 13, 2009, 11:54:33 AM
It has already started…
Ammunition Accountability Legislation
Remember that criminals, by definition, do not obey the law.  Therefore anti-freedom (anti-gun) legislation does not one damn thing to limit criminals.  It only affects those who abide by the law.
Obama said that he wasn't going to take your guns!  Well, it seems that he and his allies in the anti-gun world have no problem with taking your ammo!
The bill that is currently being pushed in 18 states requires all ammunition to be coded by the manufacture and a database maintained of all ammunition sales.  They will know how much you buy and what calibers.
Nobody can sell any ammunition after June 30, 2009 unless the ammunition is coded.
Any privately held uncoded ammunition must be destroyed by July 1, 2011.  (Including hand loaded ammo.) 
They will also charge a .05 cent tax on every round so every box of ammo you buy will go up at least $2.50 or more!
If they can deprive you of ammo they do not need to take your gun!
This legislation is currently pending in 18 states:  Alabama, Arizona,  California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington.
Send to your friends in these states AND fight to dissolve this BILL!!
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29850  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / T. Paine; Washington; Jefferson: on: February 13, 2009, 11:49:01 AM
"This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe. Hither have they fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still."

--Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776

"A people ... who are possessed of the spirit of commerce, who see and who will pursue their advantages may achieve almost anything." --George Washington
"If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it." --Thomas Jefferson

Lincoln's legacy at 200
By Mark Alexander

February 12 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln.

During his inauguration, Barack Hussein Obama insisted on using Lincoln's Bible as he took his oath of office. Those who know their history might understand why Obama then proceeded to choke on that oath.

Obama, the nation's first half-African American president, was playing on Lincoln's status as "The Great Emancipator," though Obama himself is certainly not the descendant of slaves. His ancestors may well have been slaveholders, though -- and I am not talking about his maternal line. Tens of millions of Africans have been enslaved by other Africans in centuries past. Even though Chattel (house and field) and Pawnship (debt and ransom) slavery was legally abolished in most African nations by the 1930s, millions of African men, women and children remain enslaved today, at least those who escape the slaughter of tribal rivalry.

Not to be outdone by the Obama inaugural, Republican organizations are issuing accolades in honor of their party's patriarch, on this template: "The (name of state) Republican Party salutes and honors Abraham Lincoln on the celebration of his 200th birthday. An extraordinary leader in extraordinary times, Abraham Lincoln's greatness was rooted in his principled leadership and defense of the Constitution."


If the Republican Party would spend more energy linking its birthright to our Constitution rather than Lincoln, it might still enjoy the popular support it had under Ronald Reagan.

Though Lincoln has already been canonized by those who settle for partial histories, in the words of John Adams, "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclination, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."

In our steadfast adherence to The Patriot Post's motto, Veritas Vos Liberabit ("the truth shall set you free"), and our mission to advocate for the restoration of constitutional limits on government, I am compelled to challenge our 16th president's iconic standing.

Lincoln is credited with being the greatest constitutional leader in history, having "preserved the Union," but his popular persona does not reconcile with the historical record. The constitutional federalism envisioned by our Founders and outlined by our Constitution's Bill of Rights was grossly violated by Abraham Lincoln. Arguably, he is responsible for the most grievous constitutional contravention in American history.

Needless to say, when one dares tread upon the record of such a divine figure as Lincoln, one risks all manner of ridicule, even hostility. That notwithstanding, we as Patriots should be willing to look at Lincoln's whole record, even though it may not please our sentiments or comport with the common folklore of most history books. Of course, challenging Lincoln's record is NOT tantamount to suggesting that he believed slavery was anything but an evil, abominable practice. Nor does this challenge suggest that Lincoln himself was not in possession of admirable qualities. It merely suggests, contrary to the popular record, that Lincoln was far from perfect.

It is fitting, then, in this week when the nation recognizes the anniversary of his birth, that we answer this question -- albeit at great peril to the sensibilities of some of our friends and colleagues.

Liberator of the oppressed...

The first of Lincoln's two most oft-noted achievements was ending the abomination of slavery. There is little doubt that Lincoln abhorred slavery, but likewise little doubt that he held racist views toward blacks. His own words undermine his hallowed status as the Great Emancipator.

For example, in his fourth debate with Stephen Douglas, Lincoln argued: "I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races -- that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race."

Lincoln declared, "What I would most desire would be the separation of the white and black races..."

In 1860, Lincoln racial views were explicit in these words: "They say that between the nigger and the crocodile they go for the nigger. The proportion, therefore, is, that as the crocodile to the nigger so is the nigger to the white man."

As for delivering slaves from bondage, it was two years after the commencement of hostilities that Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation -- to protests from free laborers in the North, who didn't want emancipated slaves migrating north and competing for their jobs. He did so only as a means to an end, victory in the bloody War Between the States -- "to do more to help the cause."

"My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery," said Lincoln in regard to the Proclamation. "If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union."

In truth, not a single slave was emancipated by the stroke of Lincoln's pen. The Proclamation freed only "slaves within any State ... the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States." In other words, Lincoln declared slaves were "free" in Confederate states, where his proclamation had no power, but excluded slaves in states that were not in rebellion, or areas controlled by the Union army. Slaves in Kentucky, Missouri, Delaware and Maryland were left in bondage.

His own secretary of state, William Seward, lamented, "We show our sympathy with slavery by emancipating slaves where we cannot reach them and holding them in bondage where we can set them free."

The great abolitionist Frederick Douglass was so angry with Lincoln for delaying the liberation of some slaves that he scarcely contacted him before 1863, noting that Lincoln was loyal only "to the welfare of the white race..." Ten years after Lincoln's death, Douglass wrote that Lincoln was "preeminently the white man's President" and American blacks were "at best only his step-children."

With his Proclamation, Lincoln succeeded in politicizing the issue and short-circuiting the moral solution to slavery, thus leaving the scourge of racial inequality to fester to this day -- in every state of the Union.

Many historians argue that Southern states would likely have reunited with Northern states before the end of the 19th century had Lincoln allowed for a peaceful and constitutionally accorded secession. Slavery would have been supplanted by moral imperative and technological advances in cotton production. Furthermore, under this reunification model, the constitutional order of the republic would have remained largely intact.

In fact, while the so-called "Civil War" (which by definition, the Union attack on the South was not) eradicated slavery, it also short-circuited the moral imperative regarding racism, leaving the nation with racial tensions that persist today. Ironically, there is now more evidence of ethnic tension in Boston than in Birmingham, in Los Angeles than in Atlanta, and in Chicago than in Charleston.

Preserve the Union...

Of course, the second of Lincoln's most famous achievements was the preservation of the Union.

Despite common folklore, northern aggression was not predicated upon freeing slaves, but, according to Lincoln, "preserving the Union." In his First Inaugural Address Lincoln declared, "I hold that in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution the Union of these States is perpetual. Perpetuity is implied, if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all national governments."

"Implied, if not expressed"?

This is the first colossal example of errant constitutional interpretation, the advent of the so-called "Living Constitution."

Lincoln also threatened the use of force to maintain the Union when he said, "In [preserving the Union] there needs to be no bloodshed or violence ... unless it be forced upon the national authority."

On the other hand, according to the Confederacy, the War Between the States had as its sole objective the preservation of the constitutional sovereignty of the several states.

The Founding Fathers established the constitutional Union as a voluntary agreement among the several states, subordinate to the Declaration of Independence, which never mentions the nation as a singular entity, but instead repeatedly references the states as sovereign bodies, unanimously asserting their independence. To that end, our Constitution's author, James Madison, in an 1825 letter to our Declaration of Independence's author, Thomas Jefferson, asserted, "On the distinctive principles of the Government ... of the U. States, the best guides are to be found in ... The Declaration of Independence, as the fundamental Act of Union of these States."

The states, in ratifying the Constitution, established the federal government as their agent -- not the other way around. At Virginia's ratification convention, for example, the delegates affirmed "that the powers granted under the Constitution being derived from the People of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to injury or oppression." Were this not true, the federal government would not have been established as federal, but instead a national, unitary and unlimited authority. In large measure as a consequence of the War Between the States, the "federal" government has grown to become an all-but unitary and unlimited authority.

Our Founders upheld the individual sovereignty of the states, even though the wisdom of secessionist movements was a source of debate from the day the Constitution was ratified. Tellingly, Alexander Hamilton, the utmost proponent of centralization among the Founders, noted in Federalist No. 81 that waging war against the states "would be altogether forced and unwarrantable." At the Constitutional Convention, Hamilton argued, "Can any reasonable man be well disposed toward a government which makes war and carnage the only means of supporting itself?"

To provide some context, three decades before the occupation of Fort Sumter, former secretary of war and then South Carolina Senator John C. Calhoun argued, "Stripped of all its covering, the naked question is, whether ours is a federal or consolidated government; a constitutional or absolute one; a government resting solidly on the basis of the sovereignty of the states, or on the unrestrained will of a majority; a form of government, as in all other unlimited ones, in which injustice, violence, and force must ultimately prevail."

Two decades before the commencement of hostilities between the states, John Quincy Adams wrote, "If the day should ever come (may Heaven avert it!) when the affections of the people of these States shall be alienated from each other ... far better will it be for the people of the disunited States to part in friendship with each other than to be held together by constraint. Then will be the time for reverting to the precedents which occurred at the formation and adoption of the Constitution, to form again a more perfect Union. ... I hold that it is no perjury, that it is no high-treason, but the exercise of a sacred right to offer such a petition."

But the causal case for states' rights is most aptly demonstrated by the words and actions of Gen. Robert E. Lee, who detested slavery and opposed secession. In 1860, however, Gen. Lee declined Lincoln's request that he take command of the Army of the Potomac, saying that his first allegiance was to his home state of Virginia: "I have, therefore, resigned my commission in the army, and save in defense of my native state ... I hope I may never be called on to draw my sword." He would, soon thereafter, take command of the Army of Northern Virginia, rallying his officers with these words: "Let each man resolve to be victorious, and that the right of self-government, liberty and peace shall find him a defender."

In his Gettysburg Address, Lincoln employed lofty rhetoric to conceal the truth of our nation's most costly war -- a war that resulted in the deaths of some 600,000 Americans and the severe disabling of more than 400,000 others. He claimed to be fighting so that "this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth." In fact, Lincoln was ensuring just the opposite by waging an appallingly bloody war while ignoring calls for negotiated peace. It was the "rebels" who were intent on self-government, and it was Lincoln who rejected their right to that end, despite our Founders' clear admonition to the contrary in the Declaration.

Moreover, had Lincoln's actions been subjected to the terms of the Fourth Geneva Convention (the first being codified in 1864), he and his principal military commanders, with Gen. William T. Sherman heading the list, would have been tried for war crimes. This included waging "total war" against not just combatants, but the entire civilian population. It is estimated that Sherman's march to the sea was responsible for the rape and murder of tens of thousands of civilians.

Further solidifying their wartime legacy, Sherman, Gen. Philip Sheridan, and young Brigadier General George Armstrong Custer (whose division blocked Gen. Lee's retreat from Appomattox), spent the next ten years waging unprecedented racial genocide against the Plains Indians.)

Lincoln's war may have preserved the Union geographically (at great cost to the Constitution), but politically and philosophically, the constitutional foundation for a voluntary union was shredded by sword, rifle and cannon.

"Reconstruction" followed the war, and with it an additional period of Southern probation, plunder and misery, leading Robert E. Lee to conclude, "If I had foreseen the use those people designed to make of their victory, there would have been no surrender at Appomattox Courthouse; no sir, not by me. Had I foreseen these results of subjugation, I would have preferred to die at Appomattox with my brave men, my sword in my right hand."

Little reported and lightly regarded in our history books is the way Lincoln abused and discarded the individual rights of Northern citizens. Tens of thousands of citizens were imprisoned (most without trial) for political opposition, or "treason," and their property confiscated. Habeas corpus and, in effect, the entire Bill of Rights was suspended. Newspapers were shut down and legislators detained so they could not offer any vote unfavorable to Lincoln's conquest.

In fact, the Declaration of Independence details remarkably similar abuses by King George to those committed by Lincoln: the "Military [became] independent of and superior to the Civil power"; he imposed taxes without consent; citizens were deprived "in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury"; state legislatures were suspended in order to prevent more secessions; he "plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people ... scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation."

The final analysis...

Chief among the spoils of victory is the privilege of writing the history.

Lincoln said, "Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing."

Lincoln's enduring reputation is the result of his martyrdom. He was murdered on Good Friday and the metaphorical comparisons between Lincoln and Jesus were numerous.

Typical is this observation three days after his death by Parke Godwin, editor of the New York Evening Post: "No loss has been comparable to his. Never in human history has there been so universal, so spontaneous, so profound an expression of a nation's bereavement. [He was] our supremest leader -- our safest counselor -- our wisest friend -- our dear father."

A more thorough and dispassionate reading of history, however, reveals a substantial expanse between his reputation and his character.

"America will never be destroyed from the outside," Lincoln declared. "If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves." Never were truer words spoken.

While the War Between the States concluded in 1865, the battle for states' rights -- the struggle to restore constitutional federalism -- remains spirited, particularly among the ranks of our Patriot readers.

In his inaugural speech, Barack Obama quoted Lincoln: "We are not enemies, but friends.... Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection."

Let us hope that he pays more heed to those words than did Lincoln.

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